Thursday, May 30, 2013

You hear that?

During my morning barn chores and milking routine this past Tuesday, as I was squirting away in the milk pail, I thought I heard the faint sound of peeping.  I stopped milking in order to hear more clearly.  But as soon as I strained an ear, a rooster was insistent on crowing or Pickles decided to yell or the dogs barked or some other noisy homestead thing happened.

So I finished milking and was about to go inside when I know I heard peeping.  I put my milk container on the fence post (bad idea, but luckily the milk stayed put) and followed the sounds of soft peeping.  Then I heard the tell-tale sound of a mother hen; that muffled, soft cluuk, cluuuk, clucking.

And lo & behold, there WERE chicks!

I knew that there was one particular hen that would go off in the giant wood pile to lay her eggs.  I would catch her coming out near the pile, doing that "Look at me, I just laid an egg!" cackle.  But I could never find her pile of eggs.  I just wrote it off as lost protein and one fewer egg sandwiches for us each day.  Then I just forgot about her.  Don't peg me as a bad chicken mommy, I've got like thirty-something chickens, most of which look exactly the same.

We tried corralling the hen and her six chicks so I could put them in the safety of the barn, but mother chicken was going to have nothing to do with that.  At one point I was able to catch one of the chicks.  I put it in the barn, hoping that it's incessant peeping would lure the mother closer to my net, but she was having nothing to do with that.  So I ended up taking the chick in the house overnight so it didn't get chilled (and listened to peep, peep, peep, PEEP-PEEP all night, thank you).  The next morning we tried to catch the hen and chicks again, and again with no luck.

Not wanting the mother hen to forget her other stolen offspring, I took it back outside, found where they were and put it down as close to them as possible.  The chick went running over to mom & mom welcomed it back.
Closest I can get to them before they high-tail it outt'a there.
They have survived at least two nights now, although I'm not exactly sure where they're hunkering down for the evenings.  Either back in the wood pile or under the tarps & between the large round hay bales.  I'd like to think that they'll make it on their own, but I've had three hens with "wild" chicks (meaning they weren't locked up at night) and only one chick has survived.  I'm hoping to be able to somehow get the hen captured and put in the dog kennel outside.  That way she won't be able to get out, but her chicks can get in.  Then I'll put everyone in a nice, secure pen until they are big enough to roam and know to go back in the coop at night.

That's my plan, anyhow.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Caprine Hydration Station

We have three of those store bought, big, black, rubber-like buckets for watering the animals.  The goats have used them, the chickens use them, the mule & mini-horse use them.  Although I admire their durability, I don't so much care for their prices.

As we have gradually added more and more critters to our homestead, we were in need of additional water containers.  We purchased two of the blue plastic 55-gallon barrels and Paul cut them up.  The taller bottom sections became our gut buckets (wonderful for deer & chicken butchering time as it's simple to hose out) and the bung hole on the smaller top section was epoxied to make it water-tight and those became water buckets for the mule and chickens.
Gut bucket on the left, mule water bucket on the right.
The chicken water bucket is about half as high as the mule bucket.
Since our goat herd keeps increasing, I've been having to haul water out to their pen more frequently, especially with the warmer weather creeping up on us.  If I'm not in the mood to wrestle with the unholy knots that magically appear in the 100' of hose, I'll just take one of several 5-gallon pails we have laying around the homestead and haul water from the faucet to the goat pen and dump it in the blue and black buckets.

At one point I just started leaving the 5-gallon bucket in the pen instead of transferring the water from one bucket to another.  And then I noticed that the prissy goats were only drinking from the white buckets.  Not that I blame them.  The water in the white buckets doesn't get as hot as the black or blue ones, and the fact that the chickens have a nasty habit of stepping in or crapping in the more shallow buckets is probably a bit of a turn-off to the goats.
Uhm, please refill our buckets with water exactly 68 degrees.
I now just keep four of the white 5-gallon buckets filled with "goat water".  They won't even touch the other buckets now.  But this is fine with me.  The blue & black ones get some sort of funky almost-impossible-to-scrub-out algae growing on them in the warm weather, but the white ones are easier to scrub out.  And the fact that the chickens don't drink from the white ones eliminates the elimination factor.  I still keep the other blue/black ones for the chickens though.

So if you're a keeper of goats & want a cheaper alternative to store bought water containers, try looking for some free 5-gallon buckets.  Free is good!  Besides, you can use that money you saved to buy more goats!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

First Farmer's Market

I've been going back & forth about setting up something at the local Farmer's Market.  There is a larger one in the "big" town about twenty minutes from us, but there's also a much smaller one at the local city park just down the road from us.  Like three miles from the house.  And there's no fee to be a vendor whereas the bigger town charges vendors to set up AND some dipstick revenuer came in two years ago and is now making vendors there collect sales tax.  (I feel a political rant coming up....must stop.)

I've been to the local market three or four times, just to get out of the house & to see if there were any goodies I just had to have.  And to sample some goodies, of course.  There were about a dozen participants there with the "normal" farmer's market stuff; soaps, fresh breads, a quiche guy, a couple stands selling fresh veggies/fruits and I maybe two or three people with crafty stuff.

At one point I was thinking about selling breads or cookies, but I felt like that would be rude since there was already a lady there selling bread.  But heck with it.  I make a pretty mean loaf of bread and darned wicked whole wheat chocolate chip cookies so I brought three loaves of bread, a batch of cookies and some goat milk soap I grabbed from our household stash of soap (since I had, like, a hundred stinking bars).

My friend brought some pint jars of goat milk, eggs, lettuce & spinach from her garden & some other miscellaneous plants.   I actually have buyers for all my extra eggs & goat milk so I didn't have any to bring.  Maybe I should get more goats & chickens!  (Can you hear Paul screaming?)

I was going to bring Rhiannon with but didn't get her up early enough.  The area the market is set up is a ways off the main road and there's a walking trail through a little wooded area, a large field and flushing bathrooms!!  I'm going to make sure we're both up earlier next week because I really want to bring her with.  I'm sure she'll enjoy the time outside someplace different than our front yard and there is room for her to roam around where I won't be worried about traffic or other hazards.  I also figured that having a toddler there might increase sales because of the "cute factor".  Or not.

So.  How did I do?  Well, I sold all three loaves of bread and four packs of the cookies (6 per pack) for a grand total of $16!  Sad, I know.  Now I just have to figure out my actual costs and see what I actually netted.  Probably not "worth" it for just those items, but I was only there for 2 1/2 hours and I probably could have sold more had I made more & stuck around until 12:30.

Next week I'll try to bring six loaves and I may make up some whole grain pancake mix (just add oil & egg) and bake some non-gluten rice cookies as there were at least three ladies that asked for wheat free goodies.  The lady that sold breads there last year wasn't here so I'm hoping that I'll be the new bread lady.  But if she does come back, oh well, I'm still going to bring my breads.  Capitalism & the free market and all that jazz.

So my first attempt at selling at a Farmer's Market was only a tiny financial success.  But I'm glad I did it.  It feels good to actually sell some of my stuff.  Kind'a like, "Holy crap, people will actually BUY my stuff!"  And I did come home feeling just a little bit proud of myself :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Is there a Secret Strawberry Society?

Because I may need somebody to get me in.

Last year my Mom graciously gifted me with a bucket o' strawberries she mercilessly ripped out of her raised beds.  I, being a cheap skate frugal minded person thought "Yahoo!  Free plants!" and went to planting them in our berry garden (very fitting, eh?).

The weather last summer was brutal and I lost some of the berry plants to the heat.  The ones that did the best were the ones that were in the middle section where I did not weed.  Apparently the weeds helped cool the plants whereas the weeded section of berries just shriveled up and died.

We didn't get more than a dozen berries last year although I wasn't expecting any.  After I heard all my other strawberry-growing blogging buddies talking about mulching their strawberries for the winter I figured I should probably be doing the same thing.  But I'm too cheap to buy straw or mulch, so I just heaped liberal amounts of fallen leaves over everything.  Not sure if I really had to because our winter was very mild this year, but everyone else was doing it so I figured I should be doing it.

This spring I picked all the leaves off the bed and transplanted several plants to the scorched area and the area where I had peppers last year in order to fill the entire bed with strawberry plants.

There were tons of flowers and soon, tons of little tiny berries!  Then about a week ago, I started to pick a handful of berries every day.  But now when I go out there, the berries are already half rotted! Some of them look as if something teeny-tiny buggy thing has been nibbling on it, but most of them are just black/brown & smooshy on the side touching the earth.  Is there something I should be doing?  But I'm telling you right now that I am most definitely not going to put individual teeny-tiny little blankets underneath each berry or anything like that.
The ones that made it into the house; not quite ripe on the left,
eating berries in the bucket, chicken scraps on the left.
Too many icky parts for my liking and not enough in the eat'n bucket.
Also I was wondering if I shouldn't be waiting so long to pick them.  Can you pick almost-ripe berries and then let them ripen in the house or in a paper bag or something like that?  We were picking berries tonight and probably every third berry was flung over the fence to the very appreciative goats & chickens.  And then even then, the ones that did make it into the "for human consumption" bucket were still not quite perfect and I did a lot of strawberry triage before they made it into the "for eating" bucket.

So, oh growers of strawberries, what am I doing wrong?  I'm not an herbicide / pesticide kind'a gal so that's out of the question.  Or is this just the way non-commercial berry growing & picking happens in real life?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Last Chance, Bonnie Williams!!

Oh Bonnie, where ARE you?!
Bonnie's not in here.
You won the giveaway!

Don't want to be rude, but if I don't hear from you by this Friday evening I'm going to do another drawing.

If anybody know's how to contact Bonnie, please let me know.  Otherwise I'll draw another name for the book & big honking bar of chocolate (which, amazingly is still intact) on Saturday morning.

Monday, May 20, 2013

(Trying to) Chicken Proof the Herb Garden

My front yard and any un-fenced areas of vegetation is continually and systematically destroyed by small, feathered, bipedal, endothermic, tetrapods.  Or, in layman's terms......


I have a love/hate relationship with my chickens.  They give me delicious eggs and occasionally (or not-so-occasionally if the roosters are peckerheads) provide us with a delectable supper.  They also eat a lot of bugs around the house as well as aerate the litter in the goat pen, add plenty of material to the compost heap, take care of our kitchen scraps and provide hours of entertainment.

But they also lay waste to any unprotected greenery, especially those plants that are young, tender and vulnerable to the scratching claws of the avian monsters.  Spring flowers have to be a tough breed around here as the moment something green pops out of the ground, the chickens are all over it.  And it seems the second I turn my back from planting something, they are right there, digging & scratching up the dirt right around the base of the plant.  And the plant rarely makes it through the excavation process.

I suppose we could build a fenced chicken run.  But I'm too lazy (and I've got Paul too busy).  And even though I am constantly running outside, screaming at the biddies to get out of the gardens, I do enjoy seeing them free ranging around the property and chasing bugs.

So if I want a garden, it's a must to have it fenced in somehow.  A few years ago Paul put up a permanent fence around the berry garden and that is pretty much chicken-free.  The two raised beds in the front yard have hardware attached to the sides so I can put PVC pipes on them to create a hoop structure and cover it with netting or plastic.  But my flower garden is subjected to yearly excavation. Only the tough flowers like iris, day lilies and well-established bushes survive.  I've planted countless other flowers there only to see them dead before they bloom.

I've been working on getting a herb garden in the front yard.  Two years ago I selected a site right around the well head and planted some iris and day lilies around it.  They took off nicely.  The next year I expanded it and just threw in some melon plants (because I ran out of room everywhere else).  We only got a handful of melons though because of the chickens.  This year I was eager to start putting herbs in my herb garden.  At first I thought I was just going to have to live with the fact that any herbs would have to be placed in pots and just have a garden bed filled with pots instead of actually placing the plants in the ground.
Spring 2011
Spring 2012
But then I got a brilliant idea.  The reason the plants never make it is that the chicken love to scratch up the freshly turned soil right around the plants, not necessarily because they are eating the plants themselves (although it does occasionally happen).  So what if I denied the birds access to the soil around my herbs?  Mulching, no matter how thickly spread, would just invite them to scratch around more.  I hate landscaping fabric.  Mini-fences around each plant wasn't going to happen.  So I used what we have an almost limitless supply of; Rocks!

There is a section of our property that I call our quarry.  Although the term quarry could be used for just about every inch of our homesteading ground, this particular area has some really nice looking, flat rocks.  Perfect for laying around newly planted herbs!
Newly planted Sage & a volunteer Yarrow.
Spring 2013.....and the herbs are still standing!
The garden has been planted for three days now and I have not lost a single herb or flower to the chickens.  There is evidence of chicken scratching as some of the mulch has been kicked up onto some of the rocks, but the plants themselves have been spared!  I think I have finally discovered the secret to gardening with!

And if covering the garden area with rocks doesn't work.....I'll use the rock to bash the head in of whichever chicken I find digging it up.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

So, now what?

In a weak-willed moment at the local nursery, I put a pack of these in my basket:

We love sweet potatoes.  Last year when they were on like super-sale (like 30 cents a pound or something), I bought a bunch of them and canned them.  They normally run around 88 cents per pound, and I'm too cheap to buy them when they are that high.

So when I saw the slips, I figured I should buy them - screw the grocery store!  Can you say "Impulse Shopper"?

But anyhow.  Now that I have them, what do I do with them?  Having only attempted growing normal potatoes once in my life and miserably failing at that, I cannot say that I have any idea what to do with white potatoes let alone sweet potatoes.  I'm pretty sure they kinda-sorta grow the same way, but I'm also pretty sure that there are differences in them.  The first being that you just don't throw a teeny-tiny sweet potato seed in the ground, you start with a slip.  But that's the extent of my sweet 'tater knowledge.

I'm off to do some internet searching on it, but since I'm always more prone to listen to those I actually know and might have some real experience, I'm hoping that you'll give me some pointers on how you grow yours.

Edited:  I must point out that we have NO soil so to speak.  We have rocks, clay and more rocks.  The garden beds that DO contain soil have been spoken for already so I'm hoping that maybe I can plant them in a bunch of wasted hay or "kind'a dirt" like regular potatoes.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Gardening question for the day

Q:  How long should it take you to plant a dozen pepper plants?

A:  Too long.  Plus another hour.

Because you know that one cannot simple go outside, dig a hole & throw the plant in the ground.  Oh no.  First you must find the shovel & trowel that the dog has taken from on top of the picnic table and hidden somewhere in the front yard.  Then you have to cart the plants from the back porch, through the house, avoid a potentially catastrophic bone-breaking fall from overly friendly cats trying to rub up against your leg while carrying too many plants at one time, through the front door without letting twenty million flies in, schooch humongous sloppy dog out of the way, across the front yard avoiding same overly friendly sloppy dog, and attempt to open broken garden gate propped open by two 2x6's using your foot so the dogs don't follow you into the garden.

Once securely inside the garden, you realize that you still need additional items to make planting of the peppers easier.  Bucket for compost, gloves, trowel/shovel that you eventually found, etc., and after procuring said items realize that that you really should weed some of the area where the plants will be going.

Willy-nilly weed the blueberry bed (where the peppers are going).  Toss delectable goodies over the fence into the goat pen where the goats act as if they haven't been feed in a week and a half and listen to the sound of goat skulls being cracked against each other.....all over a handful of weeds which they will eventually turn their nose up at because there was a bit of dirt on it.

While in the garden, I notice that the bed containing our grape vines is wildly overgrown.  Start weeding that bed. Finally realize that I haven't put my gloves on so am now picking thorns out of my flesh because the stinking horse nettle plants that have taken over.

Take a short break for a beverage and to cool down (it was in the upper 80's you know) and go back out to plant the peppers.  Again.  But before I can get to the garden, I notice that I haven't finished weeding my soon-to-be herb garden and since I'm in a weeding mood I move over there and finish that job.  Of course the chickens are suddenly interested in this area and I have to shoo them away (i.e. scream like a raving lunatic) every ten seconds or they will destroy what few plants I have yet to "chicken proof".

I can now go back to planting the peppers.  Again-again.  Except I now realize that Herman has (yet again) his head stuck in the fence.  I could just leave him there and hope he'll eventually maneuver his why-do-I-have-horned-goats head out of there, but it is awfully hot outside and I don't want him to get overheated yelling and struggling.  So I walk over to the other side of the pen (because it would just be too easy if he kept getting stuck on the near side of the pen) and get his head unstuck.  While I'm on the far side of the goat pen, I stop to admire the wild phlox growing back there.  Then start walking farther down the path trying to ID some other wild plants, taking a sprig or two here and there and bring them in the house for later positive identification.  Since I'm at the house and near the water faucet I start to untangle the 100' of knotted hell mess of hose that will allow me to water the pepper plants that I will eventually put into the ground.

But now that I have the hose handy, I may as well top off the goat / chicken water buckets and give them some cool water.  So.  Back to the peppers.  Again-again-again.

And this time I actually did what I set out to do several hours earlier....plant the peppers!!!

Although I have no idea why it took so long for me to do so.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thankful for a rainy day

This past winter, Paul has been working on getting a fence line cleared and three weeks ago I spread grass seed over the open area.   Paul then hooked up a big cedar tree to the tractor and drug it across the area to get the seed smooshed in a bit.  We were lucky enough to time it right with Mother Nature that we had a nice light rain soon afterwards and again about a week later.

The fence line and the open area right around it will provide grazing for Ms. Melman (the mule) and the wooded interior will provide plenty of browse for the goats.

For the past week, it's been pretty hot and I've been worried about the newly forming grass.  The area is really too far away from the house to use the hose on it so we were just going to have to pray that rain would come before all those new little delicate shoots became crispy and dead.

Just before I started to really worry, we got rain!  Yesterday evening we had a rainstorm.  Not for long, but enough to ease my hydration worries.  And today it's overcast and sprinkling!

4/20: Just seeded
5/6: Little bit o' green showing
5/16: More green! 
So even though it's a bit gloomy out and not very conducive for gardening or playing outside, I'm happy for the moisture.  Besides, there is plenty to do indoors.  Like make cookies.  Or a cake.  Or banana bread.....

PS - Oh Bonnie Williams......were are you?  You won the giveaway & I cannot guarantee that this big honking bar of chocolate will last much longer in this chocolate-loving household!! :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Garden and Tiny's Yarden

My vegetable garden is pretty much nonexistent.  Half of the tomato plants I started from seed this winter were torn up by the chickens.  The other half (which were in the somewhat-protected area of the berry garden) are still alive, but not thriving.
Sad little tomato plant.  One of the few survivors
of the Great Chicken Scratching Massacre of 2013.
Not a single pepper plant came up from my starts and since it's way too late to start them from seed now, I broke down and bought a green, yellow and red variety from the local nursery.

I planted cucumbers and peas along one of the garden fences a few weeks back and the peas are coming up nicely.  The cucumbers, not so much.  Hopefully I can keep the rogue chickens out of the garden and they will find other things to scratch at and destroy.
Cucumbers; not so nice looking.
Peas; pretty nice looking.
Chickens are little feathered excavating machines.  Destructive beyond imagination.  You wouldn't think that those little biddies could rip up so much vegetation in so little time.  If one were to park oneself right outside my house, you would see me busting out of the screen door like a rocket, screaming "Freaking Chickens in the Garden!!" at the top of my lungs, flailing my arms in the air at least three times a day.
Trying to flee the scene of the crime.
Of course, this is really no excuse for me to have been so late with the garden.  I could have put up the netting over the still-bare raised beds in the front yard.  Or we could lock down the chickens. Although that would require us to build a pen for them and that's not very high on the priority list.

So my garden is still not planted.  But it's on this week's To Do List.  I've got to get the peppers in, plant the squash & melon seeds and maybe even work on my kind'a newish herb garden (big reveal on the next post.....exciting, I know).

But speaking of something new, did you know that Tiny Gardener has a Facebook Page called Yarden?  Yup, she does!  Do you like stalking strangers (and mind you, she is most definitely strange) from your laptop and peering into the lives of their suburban poultry and gardening?  Then go "Like" her page over on the evil Facebook!  I'm sure she'd be happy for the company.  Tell her I sent ya.  And tell her that she doesn't post nearly enough cat pictures.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dude, where's my goat?

We've been blessed with some much needed spring rains the past week.  Of course, it just so happened to be when my sister and her husband were visiting.  Go figure.  But it just gave Christine an excuse to not do yard work.  Moving sticks, buckets of rocks and "fluffing" the burn pile is hard work.  Not to mention it curtailed her search for the elusive Wabblenuts bird.

Even though the rain put a little bit of a damper on the human activities, it did wonders for bringing out the jungle in the back yard.  I had been putting the goats out there on lines, but obviously not often enough:
I thought I put the goats out here.
Oh, there you are!
New Goat trying to eat her way out of the back yard.
I can only put three goats out in that area at a time otherwise they get tangled up.  Although, even if only one of them were out there she'd manage to make macrame out of the ropes.  In like fifteen seconds.  They will get their lead rope knotted around a twig stuck in the ground and then wind themselves around it four-thousand times until they are left with only six inches of rope.  This is why I cringe when I hear of someone thinking of getting a goat and just staking it out someplace instead of having a fenced area.

When you stake your goats out on a lead, you have to be within sight or hearing distance.  Because they will get tangled in something or end up having it wrapped around their foot.  Or head.  Or horns.  Well, at least mine do. But maybe my goats are just exceptionally stupid.  Or I am for letting them out there in the first place.  It's just that all that lush, green grass is going to waste if they aren't eating it and it drives me nuts just to mow it down.

You know you're an owner of grazing critters when you drive down the road and see the all that "wasted" grass and sob.  The tall grasses on the side of the roads, the lawns surrounding homes, the utility easements and even the state parks.  All that beautiful, green, yummy grass that just gets mowed down.  And every stinking time (much to Paul's annoyance) I say aloud, "Look at all that grass my goats could be eating!!"

Speaking of which, I need to swap out the goats.  Pickles is screaming (imagine that) to be let out of the pen and I think Nettie has stuffed herself with enough clover for now.

PS - Bonnie Williams, you were the winner of my giveaway, please email me your mailing address so I can ship your goodies to you!

Saturday, May 11, 2013


And the winner of the book and big honk'n bar of chocolate is.....

Drum roll please.......

Bonnie Williams!

Congrats girl!  Shoot me an email at CarolynRenee at centurytel dot net with your mailing address and choice of book and I'll ship your prizes out to you.

Thanks everyone for participating.  These giveaways may not be Publisher's Clearinghouse huge, but they're still fun :)

I read all the nice cat comments to my feline crew and they said, "Thank you".

Well, not really.  Evil Kitty just walked over the keyboard.  Crackers ran underneath the bed, Susan just stared at me and Outside Kitty said "pffffttttthhhhh" or something like that.

Still love 'em though.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Really, I didn't forget

I just got a bit sidetracked with the latest Raw Milk Rant.

So here's the giveaway you've all been waiting for.  Or not.

Pick one of the following gently used books:

And get a bar of chocolate as big as my kid's head as a bonus!

All you have to do is make a comment on this post and tell me how much you like cats.  Even if you don't.  Because although you may utterly detest animals from the feline family, I'm going to make you say you love them if you want to win the goodies.

Contest ends at Midnight this Friday night.  Winner will be announced on Saturday morning whenever I wake up and get around to posting it on the blog.  Open to US residents only.

And if you want a chance to win an awesome quilting book, head on over to Mama Pea's blog, A Home Grown Journal.  But hurry, her giveaway ends tomorrow night (Thursday) at 9 pm!

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Me? Pissed off? Imagine that.

Ok, another Raw Milk Update from Donna at South Pork Ranch:

Midlife Farmwife: Raw Milk Update

I know, I know, it's just a link.  And that means that you'll have to do a little bit of reading to get the whole story.  But if you're not familiar with the war that is on Donna's barn doorstep, please take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with what she is doing.  In my opinion, she IS the Joan of Arc for Raw Milk in Illinois.

But here's a (not so) snappy-quick synopsis of what's currently happening in Illinois:

The holier-than-thou, we-know-better-than-you, screw-your-local-farmer Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been on the attack regarding the sale of raw milk.  Pretending to listen to the advocates of raw milk.  Giving them lip service while telling them to kiss their fatgovernmentass in the process.  If you think that the political process is a "fair and balanced" way to handle things like what you can or cannot cram in your maw, you are going to be horribly disappointed.

This is a classic example of our current political system.  Governmental departments wanting to impose more rules upon their "servants" when they don't even bother to follow their own rules.  More rules, more permits, more bureaucratic red tape, more hoops to jump though.  Oh, and they're going to need more tax money from you in order to save you from yourself.

Don't fool yourselves.  Although Donna gave Molly Lamb (director at the IDPH) a chance to listen to the "other" side, Mrs. Lamb and her associates never considered changing the "proposed" rules.  Rules they tried to sneak into the legislature without even letting those being affected by them into the discussion group.  Had it not been for Donna, this probably would have gone pretty much unnoticed.  Which is what most government operations rely on.  Stealth, secrecy, untruths.  They invited raw milk advocates simply so they could say "we listened to both sides" even though through the eyes of the IDPH, those proposed rules were as good as law.

Some may say that I don't have a dog in this hunt.  I no longer live in Illinois (thank goodness....sorry Donna) so this will not directly impact my ability to produce, sell or consume raw milk.  But this is NOT about my right to drink a glass of raw milk.  It is about control.  Plain and simple.  And for those of you that think I've put my tin foil hat on a wee-bit tight, it is YOU that is wearing the tin foil hat.  If you cannot see the writing on the wall, if you cannot feel the noose tightening, if you cannot hear the drums of war, then I think you need to turn off Dancing with The Stars and wake up.  Or just get in line, don't resist, and get in the boxcar.

The IDPH will claim that these new rules are being implemented for the safety & health of all.  That people cannot be trusted to buy milk from somewhere other than a 7-11 (do they even have those anymore??)  That you will not be allowed to enter into a private contract for the purchase of a perfectly safe food from a non-corporate or non-government-approved facility.

Right now the IDPH has their sights on raw milk.  Evil, horrible, toxic raw milk.  Pasteurization is the only safe way to consume milk.  Because they say so.  So if you want to produce, sell or consume milk, it damned well better be pasteurized and produced by a multi-million dollar mega farm.

So the Department of Health wants unpasteurized milk to be illegal.  In their eyes, pasteurization is absolutely necessary, the only way to safely consume milk and because of that they are attempting to pass laws so no one can produce/sell/consume non-pasteurized milk (or cheese, or yogurt, etc.).

Stay with me here, I'm getting to the point even though it may seem to segue a bit.

Did you know that the USDA and FDA approves of the irradiation of foods?  (Click here for a quick info sheet on why it's bad)  What happens when these same governmental agencies start passing laws that state only irradiated foods are allowed to be sold?  That only irradiated foods are "safe".  That eating something that hasn't been subjected to radiation is evil, horrible, toxic.

Another steering committee is assembled.  "Real Food Advocates" are reluctantly invited to these meetings, and only because somebody was diligent enough to keep an eye on the government agencies.  But the big produce corporations/farms have had their people stuffing money in the government department purses for years now.  New laws are passed, "for the safety and health" of the general public.

Now you cannot grow/sell/consume non-irradiated foods.  Meaning that the food in your front yard, that you planted, cared for, harvested has suddenly become illegal.  The only way you would be able to legally eat food would be if you purchased it from your local mega-grocery store.  

Oh the Department of Health wouldn't necessarily make growing your own food illegal.  They would just make it impossible to do it according to their wishes; the same thing they are doing for raw milk.  They wouldn't outlaw your garden, they would just make it impossible for you to be able to afford to garden.  You would have to buy an insanely expensive contraption capable of irradiating your produce and build a separate holding facility for your produce per USDA specs (based upon specs for mega-farms and totally unnecessary and financially impossible for you). You would have to pay for monthly government inspections, lab work and onsite testing of your food.  You would have to apply for permits, tax stamps, ID tags, special equipment and relinquish any possibility of having the slightest control over what you or your family eats.

Any non-irradiated foods found by authorities would be doused with bleach and dumped into landfills.  Jack booted thugs with black bullet-proof jackets and waving AR-15's would break through your front door, shoot your dog, hold you at gunpoint while they torched your gardens.  Your children would be kidnapped and handed over to the DCFS because you've been convicted of child abuse for knowingly feeding your children the "poisoned" food you grew.  And this all transpired because you dared grow and sell your own non-irradiated strawberries to a family down the road.


How far am I stretching this?  They already do this to raw milk farmers who dare sell their milk.

I don't care how you feel about drinking raw milk.  If you don't want to drink it, then don't.  And don't call those sounding the alarm a bunch of paranoid nutjobs.  These atrocities sanctioned by our own government against peaceful and lawful citizens happen on a daily basis.

Don't be blinded by man behind the curtain.  This is not about raw milk.  This is not about irradiated foods.  This is about a bunch of arrogant, self-serving people in positions of "power" that want to stay in power by making you powerless.  By making you a criminal.

Don't fall for it.

Monday, May 6, 2013


You've GOT to be kidding me.

People have actually clicked on my blog ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine times?!?

Man, you guys REALLY need to get a hobby!

But since there is really no reason not to celebrate something, I'm going to do a giveaway once I hit the 100,000 mark.  Not sure what it is, but I'll think of something fun and let you all in on it.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Canned Chicken Lesson

Last fall, I had decided that I was going to try to can some of the meat birds we butchered instead of just stuffing them in the freezer.  Part of my reasoning was that canned meat stays just fine in a power outage.  If the power goes out, even though we have a generator, the food in the freezers are still at risk.

I has successfully canned chicken breasts and was happy with the results.  I've seen a few articles on canning chicken legs/thighs so figured it should be my next chicken-canning step.

Everything went well during the canning process and my bounty was put into the pantry downstairs.  Every once in a while I'd peek at the chicken shelf and wonder when I would ever try the legs.  I finally broke down a few days ago (mostly because I was too lazy to cook a "real" supper and Paul wasn't going to let me get off presenting him with a bowl of oatmeal).  We had a container full of leftover rice in the fridge from the night before so I made an impromptu chicken and rice meal.

First of all, let me say that the canned chicken legs / thighs are not very pretty looking.  Because of being cooked with the bones, the liquid turned into gelatin.
Looks like something in an old school science lab, don't it??
Mom may never eat over at our house again.
And don't even let me try to put into the words the strange noises it made as I used the spatula to scoop out the contents.  I heated the contents up until the gelatin was liquefied and attempted to pick the meat off the bones.  I say attempted because everything was very, very tender and a lot of the meat was just a squishy mess.

I strained the remaining broth and tiny meat pieces through a sieve and squished out the liquid.  This was made into a very tasty chicken gravy with just the addition of some milk & flour, the bones tossed in the compost heap and the mass of squishy chicken meat went to the very appreciative cats.

The meat I did manage to pick off in somewhat larger pieces was very tender and tasty, but best used in recipes calling for shredded chicken like maybe a BBQ sandwich, pot pie or in my case, plopped on top of a bed of rice and chicken gravy.

Although it didn't turn out as nice as I had hoped, I'm glad that I canned the legs & thighs (and thankful that I only have three more quart jars left in the pantry).  Now I know that when I can chicken, it will be breasts only.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Goshdarn Gherkin


Guess who got stuck under the barn again yesterday?

Went out to the barn for mid morning livestock check.  Pickles yelling.  From underneath the barn.

Go to the far side of the barn to try and coax her out.  Toss some grain on the ground & the chickens just end up mobbing it, freaking Pickles out and making her go the other way of course.

Pickles still yelling.  I yell back at Pickles.  Using language usually only heard at scary truck stops.  I contemplate "encouraging" her to scoot her stupid caprine butt out the other way by spraying her with the garden hose.  (Yes, I'm mean, call PETA on me, see if I give a shit)  Garden hose will not reach that far.  Probably good thing as it would just make my inevitable time spent under the barn a muddy mess.

Have nice "going to town" clothes on.  I am NOT going under there and pulling her sorry backside out of there.  It's cool under the barn, she can just sit there and yell her bloody lungs out until I get back home.

Fast forward three (maybe four) hours later.  All is quiet.  Until I open the goat pen gate.  Pickles yelling.  From, you guessed it, underneath the barn.

I put on another crummy shirt, lay down the tarp and wiggle my way under the barn.  Again.  Except I'm not "fitting" under there as easily as the day before.  She's farther back.  I close my eyes and have a nightmare about being stuck in a cave underground (I think I'm subconsciously claustrophobic; I often have dreams where I'm stuck in some tiny room or cave or hallway and can't get back out).  Being well endowed in the upper half of my body is not working to my advantage.  I actually have to squish a little in order to reach Pickles.  Who is just as uncooperative as yesterday.  Then I realize - a little late - that there is nobody here (with the exception of Rhiannon who is inside the house watching The Three Stooges) to help ME out if I get stuck.

I calm myself down, close my eyes and chant soothingly in a sing-song like manner; "Oh Pickles, I'm going to bash your furry little skull in if we get out of here."  It's the tone of the chant, not the words themselves you know.

Well, we both eventually make it out.  And good thing she runs across the goat yard because if she were any closer to me I'd have kicked her.

I don't get it.  Why does she suddenly find it necessary to cram her body all the way under the low part of the barn?  Is it because the weather has been warmer lately and she used to be able to fit there last summer, but now is much more plump and unable to fit where she once did?  Is she just frekking stupid?  Is she just trying (and succeeding) to piss me off?

Whatever the reason, I am not going to pull her out again.  If she gets stuck she can stay there until she shimmies her way out on her own, convinces the chickens to dig her a tunnel out or starves to death.  But then I'd have to pull her rotted, decomposing body out of there anyhow.  So maybe that's not such a good idea.

Pickles was supposed to be the matriarch of our meat goat herd.  She keeps this up and the only domain she will rule over is the inside of our chest freezer.

I'm telling you SciFiChick, heed my goatposts.