Thursday, January 31, 2013

Are you READY?

First and Last Frost Dates, by Hardiness Zone
USDA Hardiness ZoneFirst Frost DateLast Frost Date
1July 15thJune 15th
2August 15thMay 15th
3September 15thMay 15th
4September 15thMay 15th
5October 15thApril 15th
6October 15thApril 15th
7October 15thApril 15th
8November 15thMarch 15th
9December 15thFebruary 15th
10December 15thJanuary 31st (sometimes earlier)
11No frost.No frost.
Wait a second....where's your Zone, Mama Pea?  I don't see a -2 Zone listed in this chart.

Can you believe it?  It's time for me to start planning on where the heck I'm going to start my seedlings.  Paul put up a grow light under the counter top in the kitchen a few years ago, but I really need more room.  But I have no idea where I'm going to put the new lights and shelves.  The basement is much too cold as we don't have a wood stove down there and just about anyplace upstairs (other than the kitchen counter) is a cat / dog / toddler accident just waiting to happen.  Maybe in the bedroom and tell Paul he'll have to wear one of those sleeping masks at night?

Wow, seems like the winter is just flying by!  Time to start sorting out those seed, planning your garden beds and dreaming about that first homegrown, juicy tomato!

Speaking of time flying by, Kelly over at Happy Hollow Homestead is celebrating a full YEAR of blogging by having a cool giveaway.  Go check her out and enter to win a cool look'n tote bag!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I'm embarrassed to admit something to my blog readers.  But I feel that in order to provide "full disclosure in farming" here at Krazo Acres, I must.

My goat has lice.

When my Mom was over during our beautifully strange almost-70-degree weather on Monday, she asked why Nettie's goat was all scraggly looking.  I told her that it looks like she's been biting at her coat to scratch.  So I went up to Nettie for a closer inspection, brushing her hair back to smooth it out, then parting the hair around her top line, I finally spied a tiny black, elongated looking bug.  I plucked it off her and took a good look at it.  And it looked exactly like this:

Not my picture, but found it on the web & it looks exactly like
the bug I found on Nettie.
I gave her another quick once-over, but didn't see any more.  Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough.  But just seeing that one bug, and the fact that Nettie had a dozen little spots on her coat where she was recently scratching/biting made me want to run screaming for the hills.  Lice was something "bad" farmers had.  Lice only appeared on mismanaged, unloved, unkempt livestock.

I went to get the bag of Hy-Yield Garden, Pet & Livestock Dust from the garage, made myself a homemade dusting applicator (i.e. plastic yogurt cup with crapload of holes poked in the lid) and dusted the crap out of her and the rest of her herd mates.  I did the same thing the following day, and spent more time looking through everyone's coat while "trapped" in the milk stand or on their leads while eating breakfast.  But I didn't find any more of the buggers, nor any of the supposed telltale signs of a lice infestation like bunches of white eggs attached to the hairs.

I highly doubt the bug I found was the only one, especially since Nettie was scratching in different areas on her back.  But I was a bit upset that I couldn't find any more of them as I really wanted to take one into the house (dead, of course) and get it under the microscope to properly ID the bugger.

After doing a internet search on products to deal with lice, I also learned a few things about the little skin chewing and blood sucking bastards.  If you're bored, or find your goats scratching a bit more than normal, here are some links to goat lice: Lice & More Lice.

Basically are two types of lice that frequent goats; biting lice and sucking lice (I'm pretty certain the one Nettie has is a sucking louse as it's head was in her flesh, kind'a like a tick).  And apparently they are more of a concern in the fall and winter as the summer heat and sun kills the little buggers.

Since the dusting powder does not kill any eggs, I'll have to re-apply the dust again in two weeks.  But I'll be checking her every day now while she's in the milk stand.  If there seems to be no change, I may go ahead and drench her with some Ivermectin.  I wouldn't consider going that far if she were milking, but since we won't have to worry about a milk withdrawal time because she's dried up now, that will probably be my next step.

And Mom, don't worry, goat lice do not live on people, so you can quit scratching!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Recycled hay

It was a beautiful and strangely wonderfully warm winter day on Saturday, the big red needle flirting with the 60 degree mark on the thermometer.  A great day to spend outside doing barn'ish stuff.

I put Nettie and Annette out on leads to munch on what's left of the green grass in the back yard.  I planned on giving the remaining penned goats some fresh hay, but first wanted to clean up their feeding area.  The frekking picky goats waste hay like it's nobody's business (well, except for mine as we're paying for all that wasted hay).  So every so often I have to clean out the area where I fork their breakfast / lunch / dinner and clean up the hay "unfit for caprine consumption".  I put it in one of the larger wheel barrows and wheel it around and into the goat / chicken area where I use it for bedding for the kidding pens and chicken coops.  Regardless to say, we've never been short on animal bedding.

As soon as I wheeled the barrow (?) into the goat pen, I was mobbed by Pickles, Chop Suey and Lily. Who thought that I had just brought them the most special, most delicious present in the world; hay worthy of their rumen.
No more than five minutes ago, this hay was not good enough for
them to eat.  Now it was suddenly delicious.  It's all in the marketing.
I left them with the wheelbarrow for the day.  When I went to put the chickens up for the night, Lily was laying in the wheelbarrow.  Probably pooping in it so as to really make it unfit for munching.  I don't think I could pull off another "recycling" of the hay after that.  Guess I'll have to really use it for bedding this time around.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Where'd it all go?

Here is what's left of our wood pile.  Actually, it's even smaller than that as I took that picture two days ago.

When Paul first stacked all that firewood, there were four pallets full, all about 4' high.  I remember looking at the beautiful sight in the summer and thinking to myself that it would last forever.  Well, forever came early.  And it would have been even earlier had we not been having this warm weather (again) this winter.  We're supposed to have a high of almost 70 degrees on Tuesday.

It's not like we're out of wood.  There's still this:
And this:

But I just have to get my bum in gear and haul / stack the stuff nearer to the house.  And get some serious time on the log splitter.  Maybe when it's warm this week.  If I can resist the urge to plant something, that is.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

You'll poke yer eye out!

It was a beautiful day today, 59 degrees according to the little thermometer out on the back deck.  A bit squishy, but almost sixty degrees at the end of January?  I'll take it.

Grandma, Rhiannon and I were enjoying the warm weather as were the goats.  Jumping around like nutjobs, butting heads and all those other goat-goings-on.  Lily and Chop Suey were roughhousing around and Nettie came in to break things up.  But when she got in the middle of it, Lily threw her head back and poked Nettie straight in the eyeball with one of her horns.

Nettie went reeling back and I tried to get a look at her.  She was keeping the eye squinted shut and I couldn't really get a good look at it.  After about a half-hour I went back to check on her and her eye was open and luckily it didn't look like there was any damage done.

I know that this is a pretty isolated incident, and it's not like Lily meant to poke Nettie in the eye (or at least that's what I keep telling myself), but it does reaffirm my decision to strive for a hornless goat herd.  My plan was to sell Lily after she kidded with at least one doeling and to also sell Herman, her horned brother, after he was used to breed Pickles later this year.  I really do like the looks of horned goats, but I'd like to lessen the chances of any potential horn-inflicted injuries.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chickens Check'n Out

Sunday I found a teeny-tiny egg in one of the nesting boxes.  Although I thought it could have just be a "fluke" laid by one of the older hens, maybe an egg without a yolk which isn't that uncommon, I'm pretty certain that it's a pullet egg.  Because the next day there was another tiny egg in the same  nest box.  The new girls (and guys) were hatched four & a half months ago so I guess it's about time to start keeping an eye out for eggs.....or egg hiding places.

The main reason that I first thought it might just be a tiny egg from the older hens is that it was in the nesting boxes where the older hens roost.  The newer hens still refuse to go in with the older gals so they are roosting in the small kidding pen.  If I were to find a pullet egg, I would have expected it to be in there where they roost.  I've tried hand-delivering the younger birds to the other side, but it gets really, really old doing that night after night.  And at one point I locked up the barn so the younger hens couldn't even get into the smaller kidding pen, but they just sat in front of the barn door, on the ground.   I could have left them there overnight, but I'd just as well have put a sign that said "KFC Buffet Open Tonight" as they would have been eaten by the local nocturnal wildlife.

I usually don't have this much difficulty in getting the younger hens into the main roosting area; I just close off the place they normally hang out and make sure the light is on in the main area.  Then they just "go into the light".  Not sure why this batch isn't getting it.

I've also got an excess of roosters.  There's Blackie (I just now came up with that original name), the rooster that was attacked by the no-longer-here dog.  He's a nice rooster and although he's still a little gimpy and on the lower end of the pecking order, he's still getting it on with the hens so he can stay.  Then there are two Barred Rock mix roosters, one with a limp (not my fault, I swear!) and the other is a nice big'un.  Then there's Mr. Flashy (again, just came up with that name).  And I know that there are probably another six immature roosters running around the place.  There's a young black rooster with a rose comb that has just started chasing after the hens as well as another two Barred Rock mixes and a really fugly looking one.

So.  Who to keep?  Who to eat?  I'm sick of shoveling out chicken feed like it's going out of style so at least half of the roosters have to go.  I'm thinking the limpy Barred Rock, and all the younger roosters except the black rose-combed one.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to try Susan's Chicken Taco Soup and Mama Pea's Chicken 'n Dumplings, so I've got at least two on death row.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

(Stuff to go with) Soup Sunday

Yes, yet another Sunday shall pass without me posting a Soup from the Krazo Acres recipe box.

Although I didn't make one of my soups, I did end up making Mama Pea's Cream of Mushroom Soup last night.  And if you've never had homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup, I'm telling you that you are missing some seriously sensational soup.  I followed Mama Pea's recipe almost to a T.  I ended up doubling the recipe and adding two cloves of garlic.  Everyone had seconds (or thirds).

Tami over at 500 dollar tomato was yammering yesterday about her husband's buffet addiction and subsequent purchase of a package of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuit mix so that got me to thinking.  Scary, I know.

Since I couldn't manage to do an original Soup Sunday recipe, I figured I could at least crank out something to accompany a soup....namely homemade Cheddar & Garlic biscuits!

You can use Bisquick or homemade biscuit mix.  Here's a recipe for the homemade mix:

4 1/2 cups flour, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 4 Tbsp. baking powder, 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. oil, 1 tsp. salt.  Combine dry ingredients first, then slowly pour in the oil and mix until the consistency of, well, baking mix.

Cheddar & Garlic Biscuits

3 1/4 cup baking mix, 1 cup cold milk, 1/4 cup cold butter, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 cup melted butter, parsley, garlic salt.

Cut the cold butter into several pats & then blend into the baking mix with a pastry knife or fork until it's pretty much even throughout the mix.  Then add the cheese & garlic powder & combine.  Add the milk and mix with big honk'n spoon just until blended (it will be pretty stiff & sticky).  Plop biscuits onto baking sheet & place in oven pre-heated to 450 degrees for 10 - 13 minutes.  As soon as they come out of the oven, brush melted butter on the tops & sprinkle on some garlic salt & parsley.
Mama Pea's Cream of Mushroom Soup &
Homemade Cheddar Garlic Biscuits
(Minus the butter topping & parsley, I forgot!!)
Yes, I know that you'll have leftover biscuit mix if you made the homemade recipe.  Just keep it in a zippy bag in the freezer or fridge & when you got the hankering for just a few biscuits, just add some milk, stir it until it looks biscuit'ie, then pop it in the oven.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tub O' Grub

Well, I went to the local Walmart to get some prices on my Two-Week, Two-People Emergency Food Storage thingy, hereafter called the Tub o' Grub (T.O.G.).  I spent more time in the convenience food aisle yesterday than I think I've spent in my entire life.  I have to admit, I was pretty amazed.  You can buy just about ANY food item in a plastic pouch now, most of them are the "Just add Water" types and you don't even have to go to a camping store!  And because of my new found knowledge of this plethora of Almost-Ready-To-Eat items, I did a bit of tweaking on my original post to include some of these items.

The cost for the new two-person, two-week menu was approximately $135 (before tax).  I bought generic brands when available.  This does not include water or the actual storage tub for your grub.  I'm was almost tempted to purchase all the items on my list just to see how large of a container one would need to keep the food, but in all honesty, we just don't eat most of that stuff.  This little exercise was for my sister Christine, if you remember.

So now that we have the menu, the shopping list and the costs, how are we going to cook all this stuff?  If you're at the point where you have to actually open up and use your T.O.G., you may also be in the situation where there the flow of energy you use to power up your microwave or conventional oven (electricity or natural gas) has been interrupted.  So how do you heat up all those meals?

Well, most of us have an outdoor grill.  But do you have enough fuel to get that grill going?  Make sure that you always have an extra, and full propane bottle (or three) immediately available.  Our propane grill has a handy-dandy little side burner, something that I would highly suggest looking into if you are currently in the market for a grill.  During the summer grilling season, I would use that side burner to heat up things like baked beans and not worry about heating up the house by turning on the kitchen stove.  During an emergency, the side burner would be much easier to use to heat up water than having to use the entire grill.  The grill will also be used as an oven to bake the various muffins in your T.O.G., just place an upside down high-walled cake pan over the grill grate and then put your muffin tin on top of that.  You'll have to monkey around with the burners to keep a somewhat constant temperature though.  And avoid the temptation to open the grill lid often when using it as an oven, you'll lose heat and waste fuel!  You'll also need an oven-proof pot and a large oven-proof (i.e. no plastic handles) frying pan to boil water and cook/heat up meals.

Another way to cook your meals is to use a Coleman Camp Stove.  This way you can cook indoors (although make sure you have adequate ventilation) without worrying about attracting undue attention to yourself (Hey, look! The neighbors are grilling, let's go over there and ask them to share their food since we didn't bother to prepare for ourselves.) or having to deal with unfavorable weather conditions.

A fellow blogging friend of mine, Mike Yukon over at ---Living Prepared---, has done several great posts on the Coleman Stove and the handy-dandy Coleman Oven that can be used with it.  If you are considering getting one for yourself, check out these posts: Camp Stove Oven by Coleman and Camp Stove Oven Improvement as well as his DIY post on refilling the mini-propane bottles normally used with the Coleman Stove, Refilling 1-lb. propane cylinders.  His blog is filled with real-life, personal reviews on lots of products that one might purchase to round out their camping gear or keep at home for emergency use.

The Coleman Camp Stove is around $60 and the oven attachment is $35.  You can get the small 1-lb. propane bottles at Walmart or camping store.  There is also an attachment that you can use to hook up the Coleman Camp Stove directly to a larger propane bottle.

In the very near future, I plan on doing a few posts using some of the items listed in Christine's T.O.G. and actually making them on the outdoor grill or on the Coleman Camp Stove.  Just to show her it can be done!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Convert or Convince?

No, I'm not talking about religion or politics.  I'm talking about the "Preparedness Movement".  There's been so much talk about it lately, probably in part to the Prepper shows on television (which I admittedly have not seen, so cannot honestly comment on) and part to do with the way our country is headed.

Is this media attention a good or bad thing?  I'm not sure yet.  But if it makes even one of your friends, family members or occasional acquaintance become more self-reliant and responsible, I'm thinking it's a good thing.

My sister recently asked me for information on what stuff I put into her Emergency Backpack (I had made one for her and Mom years ago...wonder if they have been updated??  Hint-hint.)  because a friend of hers wanted to make one for each member of her immediate family.  I was thrilled to hear that!  I'm nowhere near being an expert crisis preparedness kind'a person, nor would I actually consider the backpacks "Bug-out-bags" or properly equipped for the Zombie invasion, but they make a dandy addition to the emergency equipment in your vehicle.

If you want to see what I have in my vehicle backpack, click here.

It's been quite a while since I've done any posts about food storage or emergency preparedness and this backpack request got me to thinking.  We have a nicely stocked pantry.   Wheat, rice, beans, flour, sugar, canned fruit & vegetables (homemade & store bought) and home canned meats.  Most of our pantry consists of "raw" or basic staples.  Stuff that will require home processing to make into suitable meals.  We don't really have an "Emergency" food storage plan, as in we don't have a special storage area or container for a time of crisis.  Our entire pantry is our food storage plan, be it for every day cooking or in times of unexpected need.

But what about those people who do not (for whatever reason) want to store those basic staples, but want to be prepared in the event of a natural or man made disaster?  People who prefer ready-to-eat or almost-ready-to-eat meals (uhm, Christine???).  There's no use in asking a person that is used to cooking Macaroni & Cheese and hot dogs for dinner to suddenly start storing fifty pound bags of pinto beans in their pantry.  Those beans would just sit in the bag until kingdom come.  So instead of trying to convert someone to rice and hard red wheat berries, I figured I could convince them to have an emergency food supply if the items were a bit more realistic for them.

After doing a bit of thinking and a smidgen of research, I've complied a list of easily prepared, readily available and shelf stable grocery items that could be put into a large plastic tub along with a menu and instruction for meal preparation.  This would hold two weeks worth of food for two people and could be stored in an out-of-the-way place.

Feel free to share this list with others, or to share ideas here with us.  It's an easy, no-brainer way to get someone started on their way to being more prepared for any number of disasters - be it natural, man made, personal or financial.  And it doesn't entail spending tons of money on fancy freeze-dried meals or MRE's.

Menu (repeat twice)
Breakfast – Oatmeal
Lunch – Rice A Roni (your choice), Corn muffins
Dinner – Shredded BBQ Chicken, side of baked beans & leftover corn muffins
Snacks – Canned fruit

Breakfast – Pancakes w/maple syrup
Lunch – Complete Meal bowls (your choice)
Dinner – Pasta with Sauce #1
Snacks – Chocolate bar

Breakfast – PB&J on flatbread
Lunch – Ramen soup with mixed veggies
Dinner – Chicken with mashed potatoes & gravy, stuffing, canned corn
Snacks – Chewy Bars                                                                   

Breakfast – Oatmeal
Lunch – Mac & Cheese with Cheese & garlic biscuits
Dinner – Pasta with Sauce #2
Snacks – Canned fruit

Breakfast – Pancakes with maple syrup
Lunch – Chili with cornbread muffins
Dinner – Tuna Helper    
Snacks – Banana nut muffins                                                                                                                   

Breakfast – PB&J on flatbread
Lunch – Rice a Roni (chicken flavor), Cream of Chicken Soup
Dinner – Pasta with Sauce #3, leftover flatbread
Snacks – Chewy bars             

Breakfast - Oatmeal
Lunch - Complete Meal bowls (your choice)
Dinner- Chicken w/Spanish Rice a Roni, Refried Beans
Snacks - Chocolate bar

Shopping List (for two weeks, two people)

Tuna Fish 5 oz. cans 4, Chicken breast 12.5 oz cans 10, Tuna helper 2, Spaghetti 1 lb. box 3, Pasta sauce (pick a variety) 6, Meals in a cup (your choice) 4, Instant Oatmeal packets 3 boxes, Rice a Roni chicken flavor 2, Rice a Roni Spanish Rice 2, Rice a Roni (your choice) 2, Cream of Chicken soup 2, Powdered milk 1, Vegetable oil 1, Canned fruit 4, Mac & Cheese (w/cheese pouch, not powdered) 2, Instant potatoes 1, Cornbread muffin mix 4, Cheddar & garlic biscuit mix 2, Banana Nut muffins 2, Granola or Chewy bars 2 boxes, Jiffy Pizza Crust Mix (for the flatbread) 4, Peanut butter 1, Jelly 1, Baked beans 2, Canned mixed veggies 4, Complete Pancake mix 2 boxes, Ramen Noodles 4, Canned chili 4, Maple Syrup 1, BBQ Sauce 1, Chicken gravy packet 2, Stuffing mix 2, Canned corn 2, Refried beans 2, Taco seasoning 2, Cooking spray 1, Chocolate bars 4, Dried mixed fruit 2 bags, Tea bags (your choice) 2 boxes, Hard candy 1 bag.  Thirty gallons of water for drinking & meal preparation (in various containers; gallon jugs, individual "sport" bottles, etc.).

This menu and shopping list is obviously very specific, but can easily be changed.  Don't like Chili?  Just swap it out with some canned Ravioli, or one of those instant single-serving Pad Tai Noodle meals.  The reasoning I made it so precise was that I didn't want my sister having to "think" about it, just DO it.  I'd also say that I made the menu pretty fancy and varied for something that's supposed to be for "Emergency" only, so you could just have three or four different menu days instead of seven.  There are also four days out of the week that includes tuna or chicken and those items are pretty pricey.  You could easily reduce the number of "protein days" and replace them with more noodles or rice or pasta.  I tried to limit the items to almost-ready-to-heat-n-eat; products that only needed water, oil or milk (powdered) to make.  You could easily add in meals that require eggs and just add some powdered eggs to your list.

Another reason for this menu being so specific is that I wanted and needed Christine to be able to USE this stuff after a time (she likes chicken, therefore the ten cans of chicken breasts).  As many of us know, the best storage system is "Store what you Eat, Eat what you Store".  I suppose one could just toss the stuff after a few years & replace it with new items and mentally write it off as a cost of having this little "insurance" policy, but I'd prefer if it was used and not wasted.

As soon as I get around to it, I'll have a post that will deal with the actual preparation of the foodstuffs  in an emergency and if I get around to it, the actual costs of this 2-week menu.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Oh sNOw!

Well, guess we couldn't expect to have NO snow the entire winter:

And as luck would have it, I was actually in town when it started.  So I had to drive home in it.  There must have been a quarter inch on the roads!  And my knuckles were white from gripping the steering wheel so tightly.

Now before all you "Oh, it's -10 below here today and we've got 3' of snow on the ground, but that's cool with us" people roll your eyes and give me a huffy "Pffft", let me mention that our "town" doesn't have snow plows.  If we're lucky, the county road grader will come down to plow if the snow get like, say, a foot deep and the road & bridge department has nothing better to do with their five graders and eleven-hundred-something miles of gravel roads to plow.  And you know that salt stuff that highway departments normally put out before and during a snow?  Not so much happening around here.  

I only had eight miles to get back home.  I was behind a person (handicap plates, btw, although around here you're more likely to see them than "normal" plates) that was having quite a time staying between the yellow and white lines.  I made sure I was WAY behind him/her because I didn't really want to have to slam on the brakes and end up skidding off the side of the road, rolling down the hill and crushing my skull against a large hickory and a boulder.

So on the way back home I stopped up by Ms. Melman again to top off the water bucket and fork out some more hay just in case I couldn't make it up the insanely steep hill with the vehicles.  Yes.  I've become a Snow-wimp.  But at least I didn't stop at the store for French Toast Fixin's (you know; milk, eggs & white bread).

The goats, who were kind'a nibbling on the n.s.g.h. (not so good hay), now refuse to touch it.  Because you know, it got some snow on it.  I swear I'm going to let them starve before I fork out any more hay for them.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Grumbling Goats

I went through the last of the good goat hay (g.g.h.) on Friday, so that means they've eaten through two round bales in five months.  The first bale lasted almost three months, this last one was gone in two.  But when the first bale was opened, I was able to tie the goats out for fresh greens and we didn't have Herman or Lily and Pickles was still a baby and mostly drinking milk.

There are four more bales of the g.g.h. still under cover, but I figured we may as well see how they'd take to the $39 bales Paul picked up last month.  I guessed they were going to pick through it as it was much more stemmy than the g.g.h. and not as green.

Well, when I put the new not so good hay (n.s.g.h.) out for them, they immediately started shoving, butting and pushing to get to it.  Nettie thrust her head in the middle of the pile, trying to find gawd knows what.....and pulled her head right back out.  Then she nosed around the hay on the outer sides. Then just stood there, staring at me.  Probably thinking, "Uhm, when do you intend on feeding us?"

The Boer goats, Herman, Lily and Pickles sniffed around a bit and then dug right in.  Annette and Chop Suey started munching, but gave me a disgruntled sideways glance.

I am not going to break open any of the other bales of g.g.h. until they have finished this bale.  The only thing that makes me worry is that Annette and Nettie are both pregnant and that they'll be needing extra protein.  Everybody still gets grain every day, although not nearly as much as when they're milking, so they are getting a good amount of protein that way.  I'll probably break down and buy a 50-pound bag of alfalfa pellets and feed the preggo goats separately.

I'm not too worried about Ms. Melman and Nugget eating the n.s.g.h.; it's plenty good for them.  I just so happen to have the frekking'ist pickiest goats this side of the Mississippi.

And they say goats will eat anything.  Ain't that right, Hoosier Girl??

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Soup Sunday - Vegetable Broth

Well, since I totally screwed the pooch and forgot about Mama Pea's Soup Sunday last week, I guess I should share one this week.

This has got to be the easiest, albeit a bit boring, soup to make.  Well, except for maybe opening a can of Campbell's, but I'm thinking we're all looking for the Mmmmmm, Mmmmmm, HOMEMADE good kind'a soup.

As a few of you are aware, I'd been doing a juice fast last week.  And in order to do a juice fast, you need tons, and I mean TONS of vegetables.  And since I had veggies (veggies, veggies, veggies, veggies.....embrace it Susan) coming out of my ears, I figured I might as well make some vegetable broth.

I cut up carrots, onions and celery and put them in a pot with three cloves of crushed garlic.  Added a little glug of olive oil to the pan and sauteed the bunch for about five minutes, until the onions just started to soften.  The I dumped in about 8 cups of water, a teaspoon or two of parsley and a few bay leaves.

Bring the soup up to a boil, then reduce heat and keep on a low simmer for several hours (I think I had mine on the stove for 2 1/2).  Some of the water will evaporate during the cooking time, so make sure to add some back in every once in a while and add salt to taste.

Normally I would keep all those good vegetables in the soup, but this time I wanted to make a simple broth so when I took it off the stove I strained everything through a sieve lined with a few layers of cheesecloth.

This is also a good way to use up all your vegetable peelings.  Because you DO keep all those peelings in a zippy bag in the freezer until you've got enough to make soup, right?!

That's what I thought.

Oh, and for something totally unrelated, I give to you my first RCP (Random Cat Picture):
Evil Kitty, not entirely happy about being wrapped up in a scarf.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Homemade Toothpaste

Paul's been nagging asking me to make some more homemade toothpaste for like five months now.  And I just got around to it.  Part lazy, part lack of ingredients.  But I finally did it.  Not only because I was at the health food store in town and was able to obtain the vegetable glycerin, but because I really felt sorry for him.  He's been using plain baking soda (dumped into a plastic NyQuil dose cup, btw, making it look even more pathetic) to brush his teeth.  I know there are people who swear by just using baking soda or baking soda & peroxide, but man does it taste salty.  So much that my lips pucker just thinking about someone else using it.  Rhiannon uses a kid's non-fluoride toothpaste and I'm a whatever's on sale commercial toothpaste kind'a gal even though I prefer the homemade kind.

So, if you're ready to get off the commercially made toothpaste train, here's a easy-peasy recipe for you.  And in my usual style, I don't have an exact recipe.
Container, vegetable glycerin, baking soda, peppermint oil.  That's it!
First of all, find a container to put your toothpaste in.  Then fill the container about 2/3's full of baking soda, then dump it out into a larger bowl for mixing.  Gradually pour in the vegetable glycerin until it's the consistency of cake icing.  You could stop there, but I like mine minty flavored, so I add a few drops of peppermint extract.  I've also used cinnamon or spearmint, just make sure to add it a few drops at a time as extracts are very potent.

Happy & healthy brushing!

Monday, January 7, 2013


Well, since we were up with a bit of a cough this evening, and since it technically was time to pick the name for my Dark & Dreary Days Giveaway.......

Terri T. is the big winner!!  Ding-ding-ding!!!

Please email me your address at CarolynRenee at Centurytel dot net and I'll get your CD's out to you.

Oh yeah, and the big honking bar of chocolate!

Thanks all for participating and letting us know what your favorite seed companies are.

Now let's get our seed lists finished and orders in.  Before we know it, it'll be time for starts!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Milk cravings

I haven't milked Nettie or Annette for three weeks now.  It's actually quite nice not to have to milk when it's freezing outside, but I'm having milk withdrawals.  This happens every year.  But this year I planned (a little) ahead.

I managed to freeze a half dozen smaller bottles and two gallon jugs of milk before I dried the does up, but I've already gone through the smaller bottles.  And I won't have any fresh milk until Annette kids, which is like two months away (actually, 53 days away.....but who's counting?).

I've been letting Rhiannon have the milk if she wants cereal or oatmeal, and I've been using it sparingly in my tea.  I had put an ad in the local paper looking for a source of fresh milk, but nobody has answered.  When I was at the store a few days ago I glanced at the price of milk; $4.65 a gallon!  I'd have no problem paying that for fresh milk, but store milk?  No way!  I'll be using powdered milk for cooking or baking and once our frozen milk is gone, we'll just go without until kidding time.  I would have frozen more, but our freezer space was at a premium and I really couldn't jam much more in there than I already had.

Oh, and speaking of milk cravings, guess who is back to crying for a cup of milk whenever I go out to the barn to feed the goats?

Outside Kitty came back!  He was only "gone" for a day, and he may have actually still been here and was just giving me the cold shoulder (or a furry middle finger).  I even got him to eat in the barn, but he's much more skittish now whenever I move, probably thinking I'm going to lock him up again.  But when I'm away from the barn, he runs right up and meows hoping for a snack.  Which I am of course, obliged to provide.

Yes, I'm a total sucker.

PS - If you haven't already, click HERE to enter to win some Mother Earth News CD's and a H.B.B.O.C. (Honk'n Big Bar of Chocolate)!  Entries close tonight at midnight!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

You Shall Not Pass!

We live in the kind'a county.  Not like middle-of-freaking-nowhere country, but country enough that pick up trucks, cattle and guys spitting chaw (ick, ick, ICKY!!) are seen on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

We also just so happen to live at the end of a gravel road, a mile from the "main" road through our respective town.  And we get a lot of turn-arounds at the house.

It's not that I'm anti-social (Shit, who am I kidding.  If no one came down here in a year and a half I'd be thrilled.) or freaked out about hockey-mask-wearing and chain-saw-wielding freaks from wandering down here (give me a rifle & you can kiss you & your Huskavarna goodbye), but these constant turn-arounds are beginning to piss me off.

I understand that people get lost.  I understand that people sometimes just want to take a drive through the country and sight-see.  But when those incidents happen with this frequency, something has to be done about it before I go postal on the next person who makes a gravel-slinging U-Turn in the middle of my front yard.

So what did my wonderful husband do during his vacation last week?  He put up this:
Our first official farm gate!

I know that Mom is going to be grumbling about it under her breath and I'm sure that there will be times (like when it's pouring rain outside) that I'll be crabbing about having to get out of the car to open it, get back in the car, get out again to close it, then finally back in the car.  We're also going to have to build one of those little package delivery boxes or something for the mail/FedEx/UPS guys.  But I'm mighty happy to see that unwritten but obvious "Unwelcome" sign guarding the front of our driveway.  I'll worry less about people ripping through my front yard, wondering if they'll end up hitting a chicken, dog or cat or goodness forbid, Rhiannon playing outside.  I'll worry less about shady characters scoping out our place looking to steal our broken down lawnmower or run off with our pile of rocks (if only).  And what about our "Welcomed" guests?  Well, you know who you are and know how we are, so you should know better than to be offended by the gate.  And if you have to wonder if you're one of the "welcomed" persons.....well, then you probably aren't.

But honestly, I'm just tickled that we have a farm gate.  Because I've always wanted one.  Because it somehow makes our place seem like more of a "real" farm when you have to get out of your truck to open a big-ol' gate.  Silly, I know.

So if you're planning on paying us a visit, you'd better call ahead or plan on parking your vehicle at the gate and hoofing it down to the house.

Oh, and make sure you let me know you're coming ahead of time.  You know.  Just in case.  (Wink-wink)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lost and Found

Outside Kitty made a break for it sometime yesterday afternoon.  One of the goats (Nettie, I suspect) managed to push in the wire to the kidding pen door where I had him trapped against his will safely contained and the cat obviously saw it's chance at freedom and left.

Nettie is beginning to be such a bugger.  She manages to open the back shed doors (latched, btw) and the chicken coop doors just because she can.  And she's also pushed in the wire on the little kidding pen so the chickens that go in there at night can get out before I open them up in the morning and end up pooping all over the barn floor.  I really need to get wooden slats up instead of just using the wire mesh.

Anyways....I went out last night to close up the chickens and do my crazy-cat-lady "meow-meow-kitty" to see if Outside Kitty was still hanging around and he didn't meow back nor show himself.  So I put the can of cat food right under the barn.  It was still there this morning.  So I'm a bit bummed about losing Outside Kitty, but I guess it just goes to show that some animals will not tolerate any infringement on their freedoms.  He had a warm, fluffy bed with two warm meals a day and still jumped at the chance to get out of there and out into the freezing wild.  Hopefully he'll come back soon and not harbor nasty feelings towards me.

Speaking of freezing, I've had to break out the big guns this morning:
Although it looks like a potential crime scene where I cracked a pooping
cat's head in with a meat tenderizer, it's just my ice chipping equipment.
My official ice chipping & skimming equipment.  It got down to nineteen degrees last night (yeah, yeah, I can see all you Northerners rolling your eyes) so I had a thick layer of ice to whack out of the water buckets.  The kitty litter scoop is for scooping out the floating ice.  For years I used my hands to skim the ice out. Duh.

But on a good note, look at what I found:
The "missing" first disk to the M.E.N. set!  Used, but still good!
Well, Paul was actually the one who found it.  So now who ever is so lucky as to win my Dark & Dreary Days Giveaway will have the complete set of Mother Earth News CD's.  If you haven't already entered, just click on the link and get your name in the hat!