Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Good, The Bad & The Ignorant

The Good; we have a goat in the freezer and one in the oven right now.

And it smells DEE-licious!  We butchered each of them basically in two halves; top & bottom.  It just fits in the oven.  So we’ll have homegrown pulled goat slathered in homemade BBQ sauce on homemade rolls tonight for dinner.
The Bad; the goat butchering was not planned.
Harley attacked two of the doelings early this morning.  Both of them had large puncture wounds in their back legs and one of them was unable to walk.  It didn’t take me very long to determine that they were going to end up in the freezer. 
The Ignorant; Me.
Long story short (or kind’a short)…..Harley & Moonshine have been on the loose again.  A new neighbor down the road picked them up & called us.  Paul brought them back home on his way home from work and I put Harley in the backyard goat pen as it was the only place he could not (easily) escape.  I had put Nettie’s two doelings in the pen earlier and Harley didn’t seem to really care about them so I just kept an eye and ear open for any signs / sounds of foul play.  Paul woke me up before he left for work this morning to tell me that the goats had blood on their legs.  It must have happened fairly recently as the wounds were fresh.  I thought I heard the goats yell a little earlier in the morning, but nothing that sounded bad.   The goats in the front pen were making more noise than they ever did.
So I unknowingly sent my two nicest doelings to slaughter last night.  And royally pissed Paul off.  He was just on his way to work and now he had to help me kill and butcher two goats that weren’t meant for the freezer.  Paul was two & a half hours late for work (although he did call in), and I finished cleaning up the small stuff and started preparing the carcass for din-din.  Oh, and Grandma came over early to watch Rhiannon while this all went on (thanks Mom!).
Now what?
Well, I now have no doubt that Harley can NOT be trusted with goats or chickens.  Oh, didn’t I mention the chickens yet?  Our next door neighbors just told me yesterday that they had to lock up their chickens in the pen because Harley had been chasing them.  They’ve also lost two hens, but can’t positively say Harley did it.  I also caught Harley chasing our Rooster a few days ago.  His time here may be coming to an end.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lightbulb Moment

I had one of those moments yesterday.  You know, one of those that hit you like a brick upside the head.  The kind of idea that says, “What’s wrong with you that you just now figured this out?”

Rhiannon and I were watering the gardens yesterday morning.  Well, I was watering the gardens while Rhiannon was watering the dog, the cat, the tree trunk, the porch, the rocks, etc., when I was standing on the side of the house where our new temporary garden is.  It’s not the best location as there are a few large trees that shade the garden during the day, but it’s what Paul scraped up for me and heak if I wasn’t going to use it.  Anyways…..
With the exception that this area doesn’t get quite enough sunlight, and the soil pretty much sucks, I like it because it’s close to the house and it’s just about thirty feet from the water faucet on the side of the house; which I suppose is the only good thing going for it now.  Watering, which I absolutely hate doing, is much easier when I don’t have to mess with dragging a hose around too far.  Then I started thinking how nice it would be if there was a garden right here:

This side of the house is pretty much covered in plantain, clover and some grasses.  It gets a LOT of sun in the summer as the shadows from the trees don’t really touch the area because of the East / West  orientation although it does receive some shade in the winter as it’s on the north side of the house. 
Wouldn’t that be a great place to put some raised beds?  The area has a slope to it, so placing beds in a step-like manner would also stop some of the rain from rushing down to the back of the house like it does now.  Lots of sunlight and close to the water faucet!  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.  I suppose because it’s just the forgotten side of the house.  You know, the side that is just “there” and only serves for sucking gasoline in the lawnmower (when I remember to mow down there).
Can’t wait ‘till I tell Paul about my new gardening revelation!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gardening Grief

Here’s a picture of the squash I started in peat pellets indoors earlier this spring:

And here’s a picture of the squash seeds that I just threw into a mound about two or three weeks ago:
Not much difference, hugh? 
Here’s a picture of my berry garden:
Notice any raspberry or blackberry bushes in the above picture?  Nope.  Not a one.  Because they all died.  Since this area was void of anything living, Paul put some of the zucchini plants in there.
And here’s a picture of the wild berries that are growing by the house in a mound that was pushed over to make room for the new garden spot:
Didn’t plant them, didn’t water them, didn’t tend to them in the least bit. 
And in the other section of the berry garden where there were supposed to be blueberries, we have Lamb’s Quarter.  Which I kept in there since I was determined to get something edible out of that area.
Technically, the berry garden bomb was my fault.  I didn’t water the raspberries or blueberries nearly enough last year and they just didn’t make it through the winter.  It also didn’t help that the blueberry bushes that did survive my neglect were nibbled on by the goats before Paul was able to put up a permanent fence around the berry garden.  So this year we’re planting just anything in the “berry” garden because there’s plenty of room (i.e. no stinking berries) and I’d hate to see that area just sit there.  I do plan on getting more blueberry and raspberry / blackberry bushes next spring though and will be more diligent in trying to keep them alive.
I’ve been really good watering the fruit trees though.  Probably because the hose is closer and I can just leave the water on them for a while, do something else, then move the hose to the next tree instead of just standing there waiting for chiggers.  But even though we’ve been taking relatively good care of the eighteen various trees, there isn’t a single fruit on any of them.  Not.  One.   There were plenty of flowers on all of them this spring, but not a single peach, nectarine, cherry, apple or pear fruit.  My mom said that they have the same problem.  Not sure if we had a late frost come after the flowers appeared or what.  So that’s a big goose-egg on getting anything from our trees this year.
The raised beds in front of the house are doing fairly well though.  I have three or four types of tomatoes and three types of peppers, four rows of onions, four rows of turnips (which I still need to thin out), some cabbage and eggplant.  Although the eggplant are stunted.  They haven’t grown a lick since I put them out there.  They were started in the peat pots earlier this spring, but I think I left them in there too long and now they just won’t grow.  I had this same problem last year.  You’d think I would have learned, but nope. 
So what have I learned? 
That I will no longer start squash indoors.  It’s just too easy to get them started directly in the ground. 
Same goes for the peas.  The ones I started in pots & transplanted didn’t make it.  The ones I direct sowed into the ground did wonderfully.
That you can’t keep seedlings in the peat pots the entire time they are indoors.  They need to be transplanted into some “real” soil or they will be stunted when I finally get them outside.
I will be more diligent in watering my berries and other perennial plants.  I may even set an alarm on my phone to remind me to do it.  (I really hate watering the garden, even more than weeding)
I will also try not to buy too many plants (unless it’s a really, really good sale) then let them sit on the front porch and then have Paul finally plant them (and rightfully complaining about it) because I didn’t get around to it.
Hope your gardens are doing better than ours! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hello? D.C.F.S.?

Yes, I’d like to report a case of neglect.
One of my neighbors has been leaving her children alone for an extended period of time during the day.  I’ve also seen several other non-family members go in and out of the house.  At one point I peeked in on the kids (when the mom was nowhere to be seen) and was horrified to find that she had neglected them to the point that several of them had been broken and eaten.
For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not talking about human kids.  My fictitious call was made to the Department of Chicken and Fowl Services.  I’d say that the Chicken Abuse hotline was also fictitious, but knowing the FDA (or USDA or whatever Alphabet bureau), there may actually be such a department.  Anyhow. 
The Barred Rock hen that had gone broody a week or so ago was obviously only half-heartedly into raising a family.  I had put a total of thirteen eggs under her and she (or her evil coop-mates) had managed to break, crack and eat a total of six of them.  The others were covered in dried up egg yolk from their recently deceased egg-mates.  She sat on the eggs for the first four or five days, but after that I noticed that she had been leaving the nest box more and more frequently.  Not sure if the other birds were pushing her out of the nest box (because you know, even though there are twelve nest boxes, THAT particular one is the BEST) or she just need to get out of the house and do some dirt-scratching or other chicken-doings.  I was even bringing her food and water so she wouldn’t have to leave the box, but apparently that wasn’t enough to keep her there.
My Not-So-Much Broody Hen before going out on the town.
The one broody Silkie hen that I have is still raising her single chick.  One stinking chick; and it’s another Silkie at that.  I tried putting the standard sized eggs under her but she kept moving off them.  And it wasn’t like I could put more than three underneath her.  So I let her set on several of her own eggs and only managed to hatch out one.  The other Silkie hen doesn’t even lay more than two eggs a week and has shown no sign of going broody.  I had thought that getting Silkies would solve my incubating / brooding problem, but I guess not.
I also found the carcass of our only Rhode Island Red being gnawed on by the dogs a few days ago.  I’m pretty sure that they weren’t the cause of the hen’s demise, but just happened to find what was left of her and decided that it would make a nice snack.
So I suppose I’m back to having to stick eggs in the incubator if I want to replenish our laying hens this year.  If I start collecting eggs now, any hens that manage to hatch & survive should start laying this winter.  Kind’a weird thinking about winter when it’s 90 degrees outside.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yep, that's me, Stylish (Ha!)

Stehpanie over at
Our Life on the Broken Road awarded me the Stylish Blogger Award…….like over a week ago. 
Sorry I haven’t accepted it until now.  I have no excuse except that I just plum forgot.  Hehe.   Plum forgot.  How often do you hear that?  Weird.
Anyhow, in order to perpetuate the spam-like Stylish Blogger Award, I must divulge seven things about myself that you may not know (nor may really WANT to know) and then pass it on to another blogger.
Even though I’ve already let you all into my secret life when I previously told you seven deep & dark secrets in accordance with accepting the Versatile Blogger Award from Susan at e-i-e-i-omg!, I will try to amuse (and possible scare) you with seven more not-really-that-interesting tidbits about myself.

My second toe is longer than my big toe.
I have an impressive collection of dragon related items.
I had braces when I was in high school.  Probably the root of my fear of dentists.
I eat my beef, venison and goat steaks pretty much raw.  Well, I do have DH singe the outside, but for only like ten seconds.  (This does not apply to chicken, fish or pork though.)
Although I am an avid carnivore, I don’t like meat on my pizza.  Not even pepperoni.
I hate monkeys.  Not sure why.  Just do.
As a kid, I used to collect ants in a Tic-Tac box and shake them up or otherwise torture them.  (If you believe in Karma and reincarnation, I’m probably coming back as an ant at least once.)

Now that I've finished with that requirement, on to the next.......which blogger shall become the next victim of the Blogger Awards???

Rivenfae of Wolf Woods......come on down!  You're the next contestant on the Blog is Write!  (I know that doesn't make much sense, but what else rhymes with The Price is Right?)

She just posted a bunch of pictures of her garden and also did a review of a food'ish movie called "What's on Your Plate?".  It's now on my list of movies to watch this summer.

So go check out her blog and make fun of her, I mean, congratulate her for winning the Stylish Blogger Award.

Monday, June 20, 2011

One of "Those"

Ever have one of those days (weeks, months) when it seems like no matter what you do, it isn’t enough?
This weekend, for example.  Paul and I were busy the entire weekend (well, maybe a hot-afternoon-nap somewhere in there) and I really don’t know what we accomplished.  I mean it was all like piddly stuff.  Stuff that needed to be done, but gave no outward appearance that anything had actually been done. 
Garden watered.  Weeds pulled (some of them).  Goats / Chickens / Mule / Horse / Dogs / Cats / Humans watered, fed, milked & eggs collected (where appropriate).  Laundry washed & hung to dry. Rugs hosed off and dried.  Front deck washed.  Bread made.  Floors swept.  Dishes washed (about a million times).  And more than a dozen man-like-chores (that I don’t comprehend nor want to) that Paul did in the garage, on the car, on the dozer & tractor. 
And I still need to cut the lawn.  And do another load of laundry, and sweep the floors again…
Then to make things worse, I still can’t shake the crummy mood I got after talking to the Extension Agent this morning.  I had taken in a soil sample last week and the guy called me this morning asking what we wanted to accomplish with the area so he could give us some ideas.  I told him that we’d like to have pasture to support (at least during the spring & summer) our small herd of dairy goats, the mule and a mini-horse.  His answer to just about everything was “Roundup the entire area & plant your Bermuda or MaxQ Fescue.”  I mentioned that we didn’t want to use mass amounts of Roundup (or other herbicides) in the pasture where our milk and meat grazed and he reassured me that he was 100% positive that Roundup was safe.  I made mention that there were actually other studies (not funded my Monsanto) that suggested otherwise.  I think it’s at that point where I lost him. 
I couldn’t get another word in that I think he absorbed.  I understand that he is used to having people come to him wanting to get the most out of their pasture with the least amount of effort and money, but it seems that he didn’t even want to think about other non-chemical options.  And I know that this is cattle country and not goat country, but you’d think that someone with an Agricultural background (or is it just book-educated?) would be able to give additional options that didn’t require the frequent addition of harmful chemicals to the land.
I guess we’re just weird that we don’t want to contaminate our land with poisons.  That we don’t want our family ingesting milk, meat and eggs that come from animals grazing on that poisoned land.  Sigh....
But right now, I just feel like sitting indoors all day, popping Sponge Bob in the DVD player, making a bowl of popcorn and zoning out with Rhiannon on the couch.
Hopefully I’ll be back in the Farm-Zone tomorrow. 


Well, actually two.  Rhiannon can’t seem to pick just one.

I’d post a picture of the scientific method, but as Rhiannon has been in “I can’t stand to have clothes on” kick, I didn’t think it appropriate for the blog.  Although it would have made a great blackmail picture when she got to be a teenager.
There were a total of thirty entries from the Krazo Acres blog, Homesteading Today and my Facebook page.  The first name drawn was Susan from the blog, the second was Natural Beauty Farm from HT.
So gals, send me your mailing address ( and I’ll get you the Girlie Washcloth and hockey-puck looking bar of goat milk soap.  Although I’ll have to start another washcloth this afternoon so give me a day or so to get your prizes to the post office
Thanks for playing and Happy Sudsing!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mice is a Four-Letter Word

Susan over at e-i-e-i-omg! just posted about her vehicle / mouse problems.  “Lucky” for her, it turned out to have a somewhat happy ending (if you consider forking over $75 for the removal of a tiny rodent from your station wagon good fortune).
Since she was brave enough to share with us all the fact that she had a rodent setting up housekeeping in her vehicle, I figured I could copy her idea (and relieve me from the task of trying to think of a blog post for the day).
I hate mice - no wait - I loathe mice.  I think just about everyone has the same feelings.
Although I didn’t always hate the furry, beady-eyed creatures.  I recall one instance in my youth that we had a mouse in the pantry.  My Dad got one of those new sticky-traps (they were new back then) and put it in the cupboard.  When I opened the door to get my morning Lucky Charms, I saw the cute little creature stuck to the sticky board; and it was still alive.  Looking at me with those little black eyes.  Twitching his little pink nose.  Trying in vain to wrench himself from the evil stickiness.  We did this.  We put this mouse-torturing device in our house and now he was doomed.
So I did what any other little animal-loving city girl would do.  I picked the sticky board up and tried to feed the mouse.  Tried to give it water out of a spoon.  Tried to peel its little rodent body off the sticky board.  All, of course, to no avail.  Not exactly sure what happened to him, although I’m assuming my Dad found out what I was doing and put an end to it.
Fast forward twenty (or so) years. 
Most of the words I utter when finding a mouse around our house consist of only four letters.  I am constantly battling the mice in the barn.  I’ve tried to coax a feral cat to take up residence in the barn, but no luck.  I try to make sure I sweep the barn floors of the spilled goat food, but it just ends up right outside the barn anyhow.  I’ve been trying to keep mouse-house-building-stuff out of the barn, but they always seem to pull something into the barn to nest in.   The sticky traps don’t work very well in the barn.  Not sure why.  One trap that does work is the water-filled-bucket kind’a trap.  (Remind me to post a picture of that soon).  But for some reason we haven’t had it in the barn for over a year.  (And remind me to put it back in the barn.)
When I do manage to do a good cleaning out of the goat barn, I usually end up squashing a half dozen or more little mice and tossing them to the chickens.  Chickens just love eating mice.  Weird, hugh? 
About two weeks ago, I was driving into town and turned the A/C on.  And heard a horrible thump-thump-thump-WACK noise coming from the air vents.  So I quickly turned the air off.  Waited several minutes and tried again.  Thump-thump-thump-whirrrrrrrr…..then nothing.  Just cool air conditioning.  Unfortunately, I knew exactly what was happening as the same thing occurred a few years ago.  But, even more unfortunate was the fact that after Paul pulled the dashboard apart this time to get to the blower and squirrel cage fan thingy (funny how they call it squirrel cage, hugh?), he did NOT find the mouse in the fan and couldn’t really tear much more of the dashboard apart without compromising the air bag.
So, can you guess what my car smells like?  Let me remind you that it’s been in the upper 90’s and humid for the past several weeks.  My original theory was that I would park the car in a sunny spot with the windows rolled up for a few days and cook the critter to a crispy, non-stinky corpse and we’d just live with the fact that we had a mouse-mummy lodged somewhere in the ventilation system of the vehicle.
Well, it didn’t work.  The smell has subsided (or I’m just getting used to it).  I’ve also put an air freshener in the car, but it still doesn’t smell very nice.  I wonder if they have one of those pine tree shaped air fresheners that have “anti-rotting-rodent” smell?
In the meantime, my car smells like Coconut a’la Decomposing-Rodent.
Think I can market that fragrance combo to Yankee Candle?

*** Don’t forget to enter the Girlie Giveaway!  Click HERE ***

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Clean Getaway - I mean - Giveaway!

Gardening season, as poor as it may seem around here, is well underway.  And my hands and feet are looking like I’m a genuine hillbilly.  It doesn’t help that I have a knack for walking around outside barefoot.

Dirty finger and toenails, calluses on the soles of my feet, sweating in the heat of the afternoon sun.  Doesn’t that just sound wonderful?
But since most of us aren’t going to don rubber gloves and Tyvek suits to do our gardening and barn chores, we have to really, really scrub up when we want to get clean.
I took Rhiannon to the city pool yesterday and I was embarrassed at how unkempt my feet were.  It’s not like I didn’t scrub them up real well before going out in public; heak, I even shaved my legs (like you really needed / wanted to know that).  But after seeing all those other fancy painted toenails and feet adorned with pretty shiny anklets, it made me want to, well, feel girlie like everyone else.
So this evening, after my weed-pulling and barn chores are finished, I’m going to treat myself to an at-home spa using my new homemade cotton washcloth and homemade soap, slather on some good smelling lotion and embellish my toenails with some brightly colored enamel.
“Come on already Carolyn, what’s all this talk about you have to do with free stuff for us?” you ask? 
Well, I’ve been in a crocheting mood lately and have been whipping out little washcloths and dishcloths in my down time (i.e. in the middle of the day when it’s a million degrees outside). 
I made a few washcloths for Rhiannon and figured that I was deserving enough to have my own.  Even though it’s just a stupid washcloth, it was mine and I made it and my simple “jump in the scalding water to scrub all that dirt off” shower was somehow made more special.
“No, really Carolyn, what does this have to do with US?”
Ok, ok. 
For your sudsing and washing pleasure, I present to you the following:

One handmade (by yours truly) girlie looking washcloth and one bar of goat milk soap (with help from Nettie & the gals in the barn).
You get not one, but two chances to win!  First entry is that you simply make a comment that you want to enter the contest.  Second entry I’ll make you work for……if you have a blog, link to this page on your blog & let me know you did so in another comment. 
Contest closes sometime on Monday (whenever I get around to sorting out entries).
Good luck!
PS – for those men that follow my blog and don’t want to enter the “Girlie Washcloth Contest”  because they feel their masculinity will be challenged, enter anyhow and say “It’s for my wife / girlfriend / daughter” and none of us will make fun of you for entering the contest.  Well, not in front of you at least.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Quiche for Breakfast. And Lunch. And Supper

The chickens are popping out eggs even through this unseasonably hot weather.  And I’m now milking four goats.

So, what does one do with an abundance of eggs and milk?  Make a Quiche of course!  For like every household in the county.

I make an easy oil-based pie crust and smoosh it into the pie plate (I’m too lazy to roll it out), bake it at 400 degrees for ten minutes.
Two cups of milk, five eggs, goat cheese, chives, onions, S&P get mixed together and poured into the pie crust.  Back in the oven at 375 degrees for just under an hour and it’s done. 
I guess my recipe isn’t a traditional quiche as the recipes I found usually call for fewer eggs and even cream instead of milk.  I could never get mine to set up properly when using fewer than five eggs, so this recipe is more “egg-y” than “custard-y”, but that’s fine with me.
Speaking of chickens and eggs, one of my Barred Rock hens has gone broody.  She’s been in one of the nest boxes for three or four days now and gets pretty ticked when you schooch her over to gather eggs.  Why do they pick the hottest part of the year to do this?  The coop isn’t the most comfortable place in the summer.  Maybe I can get Paul make a window in one of the back coop doors to provide some ventilation (as if he doesn’t have anything better to do).
We’re down to only thirteen or fourteen laying hens now, so I suppose it’s time to start the next batch of our omelet producers.  I started collecting nice eggs for her to set on so I’ll keep shoving them under her until there are a dozen or so.  Last year I had two hens go broody on me during the summer and out of twenty or so eggs only five hatched.  And I only have one hen to show for it now.  The rest of the eggs were either rotten or were broken by time the incubation period was over.  Not sure if it was because of the heat or that they just weren’t careful with their clutch.
On a totally different note, I’ve got another Give-Away coming up!  Check in tomorrow to see what the prize is!  Don’t hold your breath; it’s not that exciting.  But hey, who doesn’t like to win a prize??
 P.S. - Tom S., you still need to email me (  your mailing address so I can send you Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance!  It’s starting to collect dust (again) on my desk.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First (meager) Harvest

Today was our first official harvest from the garden.  Well, technically I’ve been given two very un-ripe Roma tomatoes from Rhiannon before this; she has a knack for picking not-quite-ready produce from the gardens (and stepping on squash plants, ripping up tomato seedlings, etc.).

I sowed four 4’ sections of Early Gray Peas directly into the ground earlier this spring.  Most of them survived the deluge we received last month & were just starting to show signs of heat-exhaustion (or whatever you want to call it) from the heat wave we’ve had the past three weeks.  If I had to guess, I’d say there forty plants that survived.  The plants on the southernmost raised beds did the best while the ones on the opposite side didn’t do half as well.  Not sure if it’s because the southern bed received more sun or what.
I actually have no idea if it was time to pick the peas (being a first-time pea-picker), but the leaves on the vines were starting to turn yellow in some spots and some of the larger pods were just starting to take on a yellow-greenish tinge as opposed to the bright green pods.  We also sampled many of them as we walked by lately and the larger ones weren’t as sweet and even starting to taste a bit starchy.  So I figured now was good enough. 

From the sixty or so plants I started, here’s what we got:

Two & a half cups of shelled peas.  That’s like one side dish for four people.  For one meal. 
Now don’t get me wrong…..I was happy to get them.  And I’m also painfully aware that we didn’t do much in the garden this year so I didn’t even harbor the slightest hope of having enough peas to put in the freezer.  But it was a painful realization for me.  We are so very, very lacking in the garden department. 
Rhiannon "helping" shell peas.

Can you imagine how many rows of peas you’d have to plant and keep alive until harvest to provide your family with enough to eat during harvest season as well as putting some up for the winter?  I suppose peas aren’t the best example as I’m not sure how well peas can, but you get my drift.
I know that there are many people who do manage to grow enough to get their family through a year, but in general I suspect that there are many, many more that are only providing a small part of their vegetable / fruit needs from their own garden.
I’m not knocking those that don’t have the time, money or labor (or even urge) to grow a year’s worth of food for their families as I believe any little bit helps.  Even if it’s just a few buckets of tomatoes or peppers on your patio you’re still providing more than if you did nothing.  It’s just that now my mind is reeling with the amount of effort required to attain such a garden that I wouldn’t have to buy canned stuff at the grocery.
If you've read The Little House on the Prairie books, do you remember when Laura’s teacher brought an orange for each student to take home for Christmas?  Do you remember how utterly ecstatic she was to receive such an exotic gift?  And to think it really wasn’t that long ago.
For those of us not living in Florida or California, can you imagine going to the supermarket and not being able to get bananas, oranges or grapefruits?
Or how about the fact that we can get those same fruits, or even native fruits in the dead of winter?
I’m starting to ramble on now.  But I suppose my point is that we are so very, very lucky to be able to have a grocery store that can provide us with items we would not only be unable to grow on our own land, but also be able to get those items in the middle of February.
So what happens when that ever-so-delicate web of food logistics gets a snag?  Just look at the stores during a hurricane or blizzard warning; the lines, the mobs, the empty shelves.  And that’s what happens when there is a day or two warning and the supply lines are still functioning. 

I’m not suggesting that TEOTWAWKI is imminent (although I’m not NOT suggesting it won’t happen), but I think it would be cheap insurance to sharpen up those gardening skills and keep your pantry stocked.  You have home, auto and life insurance don’t you?  So why don’t more people have pantry “insurance”?

Time to rip those pea vines out and replace them with something else.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fish (guts) 'N Chips

Paul went fishing yesterday and brought home a nice sized catfish!

He doesn’t get on the lake or river very often, so it’s a treat when he comes home with supper in the cooler.
Catfish nuggets...
                                                        And what's left of the chips (fries).

We’re fortunate to have the lake and river just a short drive (or even a walk) away, not only for cooling off in the summer heat, but for a source of fresh fish. The water is one of the reasons we moved here.
So, do you have any ponds, lakes or rivers near you that you can utilize as both recreation and a food source?  Don’t overlook your local park districts and state parks; just make sure that the water isn’t polluted to the point that you’d be putting icky fish on your dinner plates. 
Even if you’re not lucky enough to have real SEA-food (you know….shrimp, scallops, lobster, $$$) there are plenty of other delicious fresh water fish.  My two favorites are Walleye and Catfish, although I wouldn’t turn away a plate full of battered and fried panfish like Bluegill or Sunfish.
Now that I have your mouth watering, let’s talk fish guts!

If you’re even the most novice of novice, gardeners, I’m sure you’ve at least heard of fish emulsion.  So what better use of a container of fresh fish skin, bones and guts than to make some homemade fish emulsion for our garden?
I read somewhere online that it’s as simple as taking a 5-gallon bucket, filling it half-way with vegetable material, sawdust or leaves, 2 tablespoons of Epsom Salt and the fish guts.  Finish filling the bucket ¾ of the way with water & leave it out in the sun.  Stir once a day for two weeks and voilà – Fish Emulsion!
So now I’m off to find a suitable (i.e. not cracked) 5-gallon bucket (and a place where the cats, dogs, chickens, opossums, raccoons, etc. won't get to it) and start our homemade kick-butt fertilizer. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Heavenly Halitosis

Another oven-less day!  Made a huge salad yesterday and topped it off with chunks of garlic-seasoned chicken breast and homemade garlic & onion salad dressing.  Side of huge croutons (made from the herb bread cooked in the grill) and a glass of sweet tea and call it a Supper!

I’ve been lazy lately (let’s face it, I’ve always been kind’a lazy) and our salads have been topped with…….store-bought dressing!  Oh, the horror!
I know, I know!  What kind of homesteading-wanna-be am I that I purchase that crummy mass-produced, frankenfood dressing at the supermarket??  Well I’m glad to say that I no longer have any bottled salad dressing in the house and will be (hopefully) making my own dressings from now on.
Not only is it like waaaaaayyyy cheaper - and better tasting - but you can mess with it until it’s to your liking!  I suppose the real drawback is that it doesn’t keep for more than a few days.  But then again, that’s usually the drawback for any type of homemade foodstuff.
We are garlic and onion lovers here at Krazo Acres.  I have the morning Dragon Breath to prove it.  I just feel sorry for little Rhiannon because she’s also taken a liking to garlic and onions……who wants to kiss a baby-powdered, soft-skinned, cutie-pie toddler with garlic breath??  Double time on the teeth brushing!
Here’s the recipe if you wann’a try it:

1 cup Mayonnaise (Click HERE for homemade recipe)
½ cup Sour Cream (or Greek-style yogurt….which is basically really thick yogurt)
1 Tbsp. White Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Small Onion, chopped
½ tsp. Salt
1 Clove Garlic, minced or through garlic press (or ½ tsp. garlic powder)
1 Tbsp. Chives (or parsley, gives it nice green specks of color)
Milk – Optional, to make it thinner

Chuck all of the above into blender, zip until onions are chopped up fine.  Chill in fridge before using.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Moth Buddy

It was an insect-filled morning......

There was a Luna moth by the front door.

And I found a teeny-tiny praying mantis on the grill (which I carefully relocated to the safety of my pea trellis before turning on the burners).  I tried to get a picture of her, but she was just so tiny that the camera wouldn’t focus properly.
And then, my nemesis, the Bald Faced Hornet!
Which was no match against me and my cat-like reflexes.  Actually, it was more like me cussing, jumping up and down, pivoting and dodging while flailing the swatter around in all directions.
I was hoping that this was a queen since it was so much larger than the other ones I’ve been seeing, but knowing my luck, it probably wasn’t.
Last year I was at war with the bald-faced-buggers.  Every time I went into the barn to milk, they would be there, relentlessly dive-bombing my head.  I’m assuming they frequented the barn not only to torment me, but to take advantage of the flies buzzing around the barn.  It was actually kind of interesting to see them hunting flies midair….although not interesting enough for me to stop trying to crush their exoskeleton and splatter their guts any chance I got.  At one point mid-summer, I would have to milk the goats one-handed as I had to keep a swatter in the other hand. 
After killing dozens of them, I decided that I had to tackle the problem at the source.  And that meant trompsing through the tick and chigger infested tangle of wood to find the nest.  But I didn’t find it, and before the winter and the insect-killing frosts came to the woods, I received no fewer than five stings. 
When Paul was dozing down some of the Evil, I mean, Enchanted Forest earlier this spring I noticed something hanging in the trees just where he had stopped.  And guess what it was?

The nest!  It was a bitter sweet find though.  As much as I was happy to have finally found the nest, it was empty as the workers die in the winter and the queen (that bitch) finds a comfy little pile of leaves or dirt to hide in and hibernate until the following spring
I’ve only been visited by two, maybe three bald faced hornets so far this year, but I’m sure as the summer months drag on their numbers will increase.  Hopefully I’ll be able to find the nest before I receive too many stings this year.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cooking Outside

Yesterday was the first official day of cooking without using my oven or range.  Since it’s been like a million degrees outside and the house is only slightly cooler, I figured it was better to discontinue using the oven and range.

We had steaks, canned corn, sautéed onions & mushrooms and flatbread for Supper.
The flatbread is basically just an herbed white bread dough, rolled out thin.  I generously brushed olive oil on the sides that were on the grill, brushed some more oil on the top and sprinkled some parmesan cheese on it right before I took it out of the grill.  Next time I’ll slice some zucchini, onions and tomatoes really thin and put them on top of the flatbread while they’re grilling. 
The white blobs on the grill are the flatbread.
Having a side-burner is a great help when cooking on the grill.

After the steaks were done (in like forty-five seconds.....I like my steak to “Moo”), I kept the burners on low / medium on one side of the grill to keep the temps around 400 degrees, flipped an old cake pan upside down on the non-burner side, then placed my loaf of bread (half of the flatbread recipe, but left to rise) on top of the cake pan.  

I’m happy to say that I will still be able to bake bread without turning on the stove inside! 

We almost finished off an entire jar of pears for dessert; another no-heat option.  These were the pears that one of Paul’s co-workers gave us last year and I canned them up.  They were DE-licious!

Now I have to think of what to make tonight!
PS – Susan, would you please email me your “secret” fix so I can post comments again?  Thanks!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Does it get this hot in Africa?

Really.  Does it? 
We’ve had some near 100 degree temperatures and that was just the first week of June.  We went right from Soggy Spring to Scorching Summer in like three weeks.
I’ve been meaning to clean out the kidding pen and chicken coop, but I just can’t manage to get up the courage to do it just yet.  I’m hoping that we’ll get some sort of break from the heat this week and I’ll get them cleaned out then.  I just can’t bear the thought of not only sweating like a pig in the 95 degree heat, but having all that chicken litter dust sticking to my sweat covered self and eventually dripping down into parts unmentionable.  Needed that visual, didn’t ya?  Sorry.
I suppose I could have done it early morning Sunday (when it was only 75 degrees), but we really needed to disbud Cloud’s doeling and it seemed better to do it that morning since it was cooler.  Everything went well and I was finally able to put the disbudding box and iron away for the season.  So the chicken coop and kidding pen remain un-cleaned.
We also said farewell to one of Annette’s kids.  Annette is still saying “goodbye” (imagine constant goat-bleating in the background, even with the doors and windows closed up). 

Her little buckling went to his new home to become a future herd sire.  What a sweet job, hugh?
This heat has also been making cooking anything inside almost unbearable.  We had defrosted one of the chickens several days ago and it really needed to be cooked, but I didn’t want to turn the oven on for an hour & a half. 
Smoker to the rescue!
Paul seasoned the bird, started a fire in the smoker and smoked the chicken for several hours.  We munched on right-outa-the-smoker chicken (before I could even get a picture of the whole bird) and had cold chicken the next day for lunch. 

I’m trying to plan meals that require little or no cooking indoors.  I have the grill and smoker at my disposal.  We just got beef from one of Paul’s co-workers last week so I defrosted a few t-bones (hey, who needs a holiday excuse to eat a fancy-pants cut of steak??) and a pack of burger for Sloppy Joes.  Throw in a few huge mixed salads with grilled chicken on top, some sort of pasta, pizza on the grill one night and I’ve got a week’s worth of suppers! 
I may even try baking a loaf of bread inside the grill.  Anyone ever try that?
PS – Still not ignoring y’all, I can comment on some blog pages, but not mine. :*(

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh no! WE'RE the bad neighbors!

While I was sitting at the computer typing my blog for today (which will now be posted tomorrow), the phone rang.  It seems that Moonshine, the wonder-beagle-mutt, has been wandering around lately and was hanging out at the neighbor’s house about a mile up the road.  I wasn’t’ sure why she’d go all the way up there (being old, short-legged and quite pudgy) until I realized that they have been hosting some picnics the past few weekends and it seems that she’s been giving the sad-doggie-eyes to any and everyone that had food.
So I drove up there to apologize and opened the car door to a less-than-enthusiastic mutt. They said it wasn’t a problem and that the younger daughter was enjoying the visits, but I still feel badly about it.  I’m one of those anal people who think that their animals should stay on their own property.  Although I will admit that our next door neighbor’s dogs visit our place and I really don’t mind.  But generally speaking, I think your animals belong on your property, not wandering around. 
Then on the drive back, I saw Harley by the other neighbor’s driveway (they weren’t home).  Harley has been following the car when we leave.  At first, he would stop at our next door neighbor’s house and visit with their dogs.  Now he’s wandering a bit farther to the second and third homes and I’m afraid that his travels will continue until he eventually follows us all the way up to the mule barn.  Which wouldn’t be too bad except the mule barn is awfully close to a busy road.  Not interstate kind’a busy, but still busy enough that I’d be worried.
Harley will follow us back when he sees the car go back towards the house, which is good, but I’m not sure how we’re going to get him to “Go Home” when we tell him to instead of following the car.
No, we don’t have our place fenced in except for the goats (and don’t plan on it in the near future).  No, we can’t keep Harley chained up.  I suppose I’m now just one of those kind of dog owners. Guess I’ll be checking out some dog training books from the library.  Any ideas?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Something's Better than Nuth'n

Paul scraped another garden area for me a few days ago and planted the remaining squash and tomatoes I started from seed. 

Rhiannon and I also dug in a row of black oil sunflower seeds just for the heak of it and they’ve already started to push through the dirt, in like three days!  Talk about almost-instant gratification! 
Rhiannon's "Dump a Bunch" method of seed sowing.  Think I'll need to thin 'em??

Not exactly sure what I’m going to do with the sunflowers as I’m pretty much certain the birds, deer, squirrels, raccoons (and with my luck, even the darned snakes) will be snacking on them before I can harvest any seeds.
Even though I had high hopes of having a large garden this year with plenty to can for the pantry, my ambitions weren’t quite matched by my actions and the garden doesn’t consist of much.  I also lost all twelve eggplants, twelve cabbage and about ten tomato plants due to the swamp-like conditions we had last month from all the stinking rain.  I suppose that means we’ll have a drought next month.  It’s too late to start tomatoes and peppers from seed and too hot to plant lettuce or spinach.  So I’m going to cheat; I’m going to buy some plants from the local nursery.
I don’t expect to find many varieties; probably the old standbys like California Wonder Peppers, Big / Better Boy Tomatoes and other hybrid vegetables.  Even though I’m probably going to end up paying close to $2 for a small six-pack cell of plants, I figure I’ll still be way ahead as opposed to buying stuff from the super market.
So if you had a bad start (or no start at all) on your seedlings this winter or didn’t have time to sow seeds directly in the ground (or the dog ran over your squash plants, the green worms ate your turnips down to nubs, the toddler pulled up half your peas while helping you weed), don’t give up!  Go to your local nursery or Big Box home improvement center and buy yourself a flat of vegetables.  If you didn’t manage to get that garden tilled under or fenced in, try planting them in containers.  Put them around the front porch where they will be easy to water.  Just plant SOMETHING!
Unless you really do like those high-priced, tasteless, pesticide-laden tomatoes at the Wal-Mart Supercenter.
Oh, by the way, I’m not ignoring your comments…..stupid blogger isn’t letting me comment again.  Anyone know if it's something fixable or do I have to wait for the blogger-gods to fix it? 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Leaves of Grass

I wonder if Whitman ever contemplated the cutting, raking and baling of all those millions of blades of vegetation. 
After waiting what seems like forever, the hay fields in our area have finally been able to be cut, dried and baled! 

Our local feed store ran out of the large square and round bales in early April.  We could still buy small squares of sub-par mixed grass for $7.50 a bale though.  No thanks.  Luckily we have a secret squirrel source and Paul was able to get another 50 small squares to hold us out to the first cutting of the season. 
On top of the empty hay barns, last month our area received record amounts of rainfall and caused flooding in the lakes and rivers.  There seemed to be no end to the rain and I was getting a bit uneasy about our hay supply since it seemed that the first haying would be happening much later than normal.
We still have about twenty bales left in the barn, but have plans to go out and buy some hay in the fields in the next day or so.  I’m sure there are others just as anxious as we are to get some fresh munchies for their livestock.
I really hate having to rely on buying hay for the critters, especially during the spring and summer when there seems to be grass growing everywhere – everywhere except on our place that is.  Well, that isn’t entirely true.  The grass we do have is lush, but it isn’t where we could let the goats, mule or horse out to graze as those areas are either in the front yard with the fruit trees or around the garden where we don’t have fencing.  Right now there is only one area besides the goat pen that is fenced for grazing and it isn’t that large.  I’ll keep three goats in that area at a time and rotate them every other day so everyone has a chance to munch on greens.  The goats that are in the pen have hay, but I’ve also been trying to cut three or four bags of fresh grass for the pen-bound goats using the push mower every day.
Any time I go past a large lawn or a field being cut just for the sake of keeping the vegetation down, I think to myself, “My goats could be eating that!” or “Do you know how many bales of hay that could have been?”. 
I know it’s not just having the grass, but the fencing required to keep the livestock contained to the grassy areas.  And it’s not just having the grass to hay, but having the equipment to actually process the grass into hay suitable for storage.  It’s all about logistics.
Paul has been working on making pasture out of the woods with the dozer and tractor, but it’s slow going.   And once the areas are removed of trees, we still have to plant grass and fence in the areas.  If you ever move to the country and want livestock, learn from my mistake and buy something with some pasture and fencing!  I will never again complain about the price of pastureland.