Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cheese Woes

Since we have an abundance of milk now that Nettie's kids have been sold, I've been having to make cheese twice a week.  I usually just make a quick whole milk "ricotta" using vinegar to get a curd, but one can only use so much fresh ricotta-type cheese.

I want mozzarella.  We use a LOT of it since homemade pizza is on the menu at least once a week.  And I'm really itching to try a lasagna recipe from Tiny Gardener.  I hate to admit that I've had to stock my freezer with store bought mozzarella since I just CAN NOT get a consistent mozzarella on my own.

About two months ago I made a decent mozzarella.  The time before last was a disaster.  As was yesterday's attempt.

I've tried two or three different recipes, this one being my go-to recipe.  I don't know if it's my goat's milk.  I don't know if I'm not being clean enough (and I really do make an extra effort when it comes to milk & cheese).  I didn't know if it was the rennet I bought.

So I finally set out do do some sleuthing.  I took a cup of three day old goat milk and warmed it up to 90 degrees, sprinkled a 1/16 tsp. of rennet in it and let it sit for five minutes.  And got a very respectable curd.  The package the rennet came in says that 1/16 teaspoon will set 1-3 gallons, but it's been my experience that I need to use at least twice that to get a good firm'ish curd.  Like a 1/4 tsp. for just a gallon.  Which makes the rennet more expensive per use (and kind'a pisses me off because it was like $25 for 50 grams).

Anyways.  As I sit here, I am still waiting for my milk to set a decent curd in my current batch of mozzarella.  Which it is not.  After twenty minutes.  Although I did use just under 1/4 tsp. of the rennet.  I'm sick of wasting milk.  I guess I'll just have to make sure I double (or triple) the company's "recommended" amount of rennet.  And shoot them a little email saying how disappointed I am in their product or the suggested strength of the rennet.

I let the milk set for a half hour and then cut the "curd".   Which wasn't so much a curd as it was a loosely held together mass of milk solids.  And the whey, which should be a yellow, mostly clear liquid, was pretty much pale white and cloudy.  Which means that there was still potential cheese in that liquid (thus pretty much wasted) that would not hold a curd.  But I persevered.  I was not going to lose another gallon of milk.

I took my "curds" up to 105 degrees, stirred slowly, strained and then did the microwave thing in order to cook more whey out of it and stretch it.

And here's what I finally ended up with:

A ball of mozzarella weighing 12 1/2 ounces (the bowl weight was already taken into account).  Not bad.  But if I'm going to make a pizza and lasagna this weekend, I'd better make another batch or two!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fornicating Anasa tristis

Or in other - and much more offensive words...

....fucking squash bugs.  

My gardens have been plagued with this kind of squash bug for years:

But now it seems as if the word has gone around the block that Krazo Acres is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat, have sex and raise a family in my squash garden.

So now I have the dreaded Squash Vine Borer, and not one, but two Cucumber Beetles, which I just recently identified.  And the worst thing about identifying the SVB is that I've seen the adults around the yard the past month and though, "Oh, I shouldn't kill those, they look kind'a pretty and they might be a good bug", not knowing that I should have been stomping the crap out of them each and every time I saw one.  
Squash Vine Borers doing the nasty.
Apparently the Cucumber Beetles haven't found my cucumbers yet
as they are currently eating holes in the leaves of my squash plants.
I've been going over each and every squash plant in the garden and every day I find more adults.  I usually squash one or two bugs in each squash hill but haven't seen any adolescents and only two clusters of eggs so far.  I have twenty-four mounds of zucchini, yellow, acorn and butternut squash out there and the heck if I am going to let these bastards destroy my Spring and Fall harvests.  

At this point I hope I'll be able to keep them in check, but if they get too bad I am going to have to resort to some sort of pesticide, be it organic-lovey-dovey stuff or Agent Orange.  

There's a break in the rain right now (we've had rain for the last week!  whoo hoo!) so I'm off to crush the exoskeletons of some more Cucurbita-eating bastard insects.

Monday, July 29, 2013

And some of my Not So Favorite Things

During my baking day on Thursday, my Nutrimill just up and quit.  Luckily I had already ground several pounds of wheat, so it wasn't a disaster, but it was still a major bummer.  Several months ago one of the grinding teeth came loose & got stuck, thus rendering the mill inoperable.  But Paul (my hero!) was able to take it apart, find the problem, and then reassemble the mill so I could use it again.  

When he got home from work, I gave him my saddest, most pathetic "please help poor little ol' me" face and asked him to take the mill apart again.  Which he did.  And determined that it wasn't going to be an easy fix, nor one that he could guarantee would squeeze much more life out of it.

I guess I should have prepared myself for the eventual death of the Nutrimill.  I though that I was going to just buy another one just like it, but then I got cold feet.  

Should I buy another Nutrimill?  I was pretty happy with the one I had.  But is there something else out there?  Would I feel like an unfaithful tramp if I switched brands now after a solid 8 years of happy grinding?

Should I try a different mill?  And if I do try another, which one?  It's not like I have a few thousand dollars to spend on several different mills and then and then send the ones I don't like if they would even take them back.  And what if the new mill doesn't grind as nicely as my old mill?  What if it grinds better than my old mill?  Will I harbor bad feelings against my Nutrimill for it's sub-par performance?

Should I just go back to using my Carolyn-powered Country Living Grain mill?  Goodness knows that I need the exercise, but I think I'd just give up after several grinding sessions and just end up buying crappy white bread at the Walmart instead of having to lug the 674 lb. mill out and sweat my butt off just trying to make enough flour for a loaf of bread, let alone enough for the baked goods I bring to the Farmers Market.

Should I upgrade to a "better" mill?  There's a really fancy looking one for like $600.  The Nutrimill is like $250.  If I knew for certain that I'd get 2 1/2 times more life out of it (i.e. it would last me like twenty years) I'd buy it.  Maybe.  But you never know.

So, any grain mill owners out there than can give me their opinions before I flip out and just buy the first thing that comes up on ebay then regret it and complain about it for the next eight years?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Some of my favorite things

After filling Rhiannon's new bookcase with some of her favorite books (and still trying to find room for all the others), it got me to thinking how much I enjoyed some of the same books.

As a child, I remember sitting with one of Richard Scary's big books and just looking and looking at the pictures for like hours.  I still enjoy looking at the books, even when Rhiannon's not around!  My favorite was What Do People Do all Day.  I don't remember what happened to my copy, but when I bought Rhiannon her own, I noticed that there were pages "missing".  Upon further research, I found out that the older one had like 20 more pages than the new abridged version.  Feeling a little jipped, I went to look on ebay to see if I could find the unabridged version.  It's like $150 for some of them!  Boy, do I wish I had my original copy!  Every once in a while I look at the older versions and go back and forth in my head if I should buy it, but I just can't bring myself to spend that much money.  Maybe when I win the lottery (guess I need to start playing, hugh?).

Anyways, this got me to thinking, and that usually brings about a blog post!  Here are some of my favorite books when I was a child:

The Fire Cat
By Esther Averill
The Marble Cake Cat
By Marjorie Allen

The Wednesday Witch
By Ruth Chew
Page from the original What Do People Do All Day book
by Richard Scarry
Grimm's Fairy Tales
My favorite was The Tinderbox
I'm sure there are many, many more that I will recall after I post this.  And you would think that The Little House books would be on my childhood book list, but I only just first read them in 2005.  Rhiannon isn't patient enough for more than short stories with lots of pictures right now, but I can't wait to read her Laura Ingalls Wilder's books and then take her up to Mansfield to actually see some of her items.  We went up to the museum & her Missouri home a few years before Rhiannon was born and I though it was the neatest thing to actually see Pa's fiddle.  

One of Paul's favorite childhood books:
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
By Virginia Lee Burton
It's great to be able to read to Rhiannon the same books our parents and grandparents shared with us.  

What were some of your favorite childhood books?  I'd love it if you'd share with us!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Better Homes and Gardens

...or in my case,

Adequate Shelter and Weeds.  Doesn't have the same catchy ring to it, does it?

Anyhow.  While I was busy doing my Thursday Bake-A-Thon in anticipation for tomorrow's Farmer's Market (which I am actually still doing), Rhiannon and Grandma refurbished a plain Jane, cheap-o particle board bookcase:

And turned it into this:
It's difficult to see in the picture, but the back of the
bookcase is painted a light pink.  How girly!
The bookcase is one more project that we (with Grandma's help and nagging, I mean, powers of persuasion) have been working on in order to finally reclaim my bedroom and living room.  When Rhiannon was born, she had her crib in our bedroom.  Her clothes were in my closet.  Her baby bathroom necessities filled the master bath.  And her toys and books filled the entire upstairs bookcase.

It's not like I want to make it look like our house is void of my toddler or her toddler related items, but I have been craving a little "adult only" space.  The bedroom, my closet, and the bathroom (almost) have been emptied of building blocks, stuffed animals and Dr. Seuss books.  Although I've been gradually making my space my space again, I'm sure that we'll find the occasional lost dinosaur in my shoes or Goodnight Moon stuffed in between my Peterson's Field Guides.  But I don't mind.

With the exception of today, we've had four - count 'em - four days of rain.  Mostly intermittent downpours, but still we're still very grateful for it.  My new squash & cucumber plants didn't wash down to the creek and the rest of the new garden where it was once barren rock and dust is now rock and dried mud and weeds.  Like wherethehelldidtheycomefrom weeds.  Horse nettle, woolly croton, maypop, amaranth and two other weeds I haven't identified yet (found one; Prickly Sida).  Of course, all but the maypop are pretty much useless as either an herb, human munchies or goat munchies.

Guess I'll be yanking weeds after the Farmer's Market tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dirty Old Goat and Hot Pussy

No, I'm not talking about Pioneer Preppy and some skanky female.  And yes, not only am I going to hell for the title of this post, but will probably have a bazillion new "hits" on my blog because of it.

Sorry to disappoint those of you that came here hoping to see porn.  You can close this window now.

Ok.  For the rest of us, here is what I'm really talking about:

Nettie looks pathetic.
I'm almost too embarrassed to show you a picture of her.
Several weeks ago we put out a new Goat-lyx tub for the Caprine Crew.  They went through a 60 lb. tub in just under eight months.  They were actually without any GoaxLix for about three weeks before I went to get more.  And when they realized what I had brought them, they all ran to it like it was goat cocaine.  And proceeded to push / shove / butt everyone else out of the way, all trying to stick their faces in the tub at the same time and thus ensuring that goat faces were smooshed and smashed into the sticky, molasses filled tub.  Resulting in some very sticky-faced and unattractive goats.

Along with their protein/mineral tub, I also try (as in they keep dumping it so sometimes they are without) to keep a bowl filled up with baking soda for their licking pleasure.  Nettie kindly reminds me when there is no longer any baking soda in the bowl. She knows where the 5-gallon bucket is stored and can manage to open the sort'a-kind'a goat proof latch where said bucket o'sodium bicarbonate is kept.  Then will help herself.....and drag out all the other items stored in that part of the shed after satisfying her mineral craving.

Oh, and as for the warm feline:
That is Outside Kitty!
Sitting RIGHT next to me, waiting to be scratched.
The dogs and Outside Kitty have been surviving the heat by hunkering down underneath the front porch in the pea gravel. They don't move much when it's this hot and just kind'a look like they're melting into a pool of molten fur.  Charlie appreciates a block of ice to chew on, but Moonshine couldn't care less.  And I feel extra sorry for Outside Kitty because he's black and doesn't pant.  Doesn't like ice cubes either.  Exactly how do cats get rid of extra heat?  I know dogs pant instead of sweating, but do cats sweat?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Outside Kitty is now my almost constant companion when doing barn chores.  I no longer have to do Drive-By Pettings either!  All I have to do is Meowmeowmeowmeow to him and he'll come trotting up to me and even sit on the porch bench with me.  Wanting to be petted.  Like, now.  Like, more.  Like, swats me (claws sheathed) to get himself a good back or head scratching.

I've created a monster.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Yesterday afternoon we got some REAL rain!

And some wind, and lots of lightning, and some big-sloppy-dog-run-uninvited-into-the-house because of the subsequent thunder.

It came fast and it came down hard.  Even though it was only about a half hour's worth, I was thrilled.  I have yet to get a rain gauge for the homestead but it's on the list for the next trip into town.  I can never rely on the local rain amounts as I honestly believe that there is a black hole of aridity that surrounds our homestead.  The last two times our area had rain, we got spit.  Heck, not even spit.  Like a dribble or drizzle or "did a bird just pee on me" kind'a rainfall.  I should still be happy when our general area gets rainfall (even though I just sit on my porch, staring up into the darkened sky, listening to the thunder and sobbing because we don't get any moisture out of it) because that means local hay production gets a little boost.  I just have to water the garden more.  Like every stinking day.  Sometimes twice a day.  But now I may actually get a day off from being a slave to the hose.

We even got some more light rain earlier this morning and the weather forecast gurus are predicting a 50% chance or rain for the next two days.  Whoo hoo!

On another note, now that my old camera is back in kinda-service, any guesses on what kind of goose we have (see above picture)?  I'm thinking African, but that's just from pictures on the internet.  He now has a stripe going down the back of his neck,his feet changed from black to orange'ish and the feathers that are coming in look like they could be colored like an African goose.  Or s/he could just be a mutt.  Not that I really care.  As long as s/he isn't a jerk.  And if the goose is a peckerhead, well then, I've always wanted to have a Christmas goose.  Should be nice and plump by then.

Speaking of winter food, I was just this morning wondering exactly what the goose would be eating during our not-so-green periods of the year.  Right now the goose (no, we don't have a name for him yet) eats some of the chicken feed, but the majority of the day he's keeping my lawn trimmed.  What happens come winter when there's no greenery around?  Will he eat hay?  And do I have to introduce him to it beforehand just to make sure he'll actually eat it?  I'm not going to be running out to the grocery store to buy him romaine lettuce and spinach and I'm not going to be starting up a greenhouse just to grow him some grass.

Any goose-keepers want to chime in?  I'd appreciate it :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Farmer's Market Fun

Yesterday was the second week I brought Rhiannon with me to the Farmer's Market.  I thought I'd have a hard time getting her up so early (we try to be there at 6:30) but once I say the words "Farmer's Market" she snaps her eyes open and jumps out of bed to get ready.

I've been helping the produce guy set up his stand the past three weeks.  And when he gets busy I'll help bag produce & take money while Rhiannon takes care of "her" little stand and eagerly awaits customers.  She is becoming such the salesperson.  Last week a lady asked for a bar of soap and when Rhiannon put her bar in a bag, she said "You want two soaps!" which the very nice, kind, toddler-appeasing woman said, "Well, I think you're right, I would like two soaps!"  I then quietly told Rhiannon not to be such a pushy salesperson.  We're also working on our math skills by collecting money and giving back change.  It's nice that the customers are more than willing to wait the extra time and give Rhiannon a chance to do everything.

And when our stand is lacking customers, Rhiannon comes over to the produce stand and helps fill the baskets with potatoes and peaches and cucumbers.  I love to see her actually enjoying helping others out.  It makes her feel needed and all grown up that she can help out Mr. Clarence (the produce guy).  When things are slow going, Rhiannon can play in the volleyball sand court, kick her soccer ball around the field or even walk through the little "Enchanted Forest" path (all within Mommy-vision, of course).  

I brought four large loaves of bread, three smaller round loaves, soap, goat cheese, milk and a dozen eggs.  I also baked twice as many cookies as normal and still sold all of them.  By 11 o'clock we had sold out of everything but a half-pound of goat cheese and a loaf of bread.  The bread & cheese went to a friend so I actually went home almost empty handed.

Why "almost"?  Well, in payment for helping out the produce guy, we loaded the front seat down with two watermelons, a cantaloupe the size of a bowling ball, a couple peaches and tomatoes and a pint of local honey!  So not only did I make some goat-food money from the sale of our baked goods, but we got a bunch of local produce.  I LOVE bartering :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Don't want no piece of that

I had grand dreams of having Pickles and Lily, the beginnings of our Boer goat meat herd, bred in the beginning of June for November babies.  They were both over a year old, good weight & health and it would still be warm enough in the beginning of November to not have to worry about it being too cold for the kiddings.

But Herman wanted nothing to do with the ladies.  I'd been trying to judge the girl's heat cycles as best as I could, either by their tail flagging, yelling, mounting the other goats or goo on the backside, but I haven't seen ANY of those signs yet.  I also figured that Herman would be lip flapping and pissing himself and all that romantic goat stuff when they were in heat.  But I haven't seen any of that either.

I brought Pickles into Herman's pen three times, whenever I thought she might be in heat.  But nothing happened.  Well, something did happen, but not what I had hoped for.  Herman was just aggressive to Pickles, rearing up and doing the "I'm gonna headbutt you!" thing.  No ear nibbling, no sniffing of the backside, no pissing all over himself, no bucky grunting.  At all.  I almost miss Pan.  He was a terrific stud goat (but a complete a*hole otherwise) and I could tell when the gals were in heat just by his behavior.  And once I brought a gal into his pen he took his job seriously.

But Herman.  Oh, Herman.  I mean, by looking at his backside and those obscenely large caprine-baby-makers hanging & swinging around down there, one would think he'd be just raring to go to town with one of the ladies.  Technically, he's more than old enough to be breeding (he's almost sixteen months old) and there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with him.  He gets good hay, plenty of grain, and I'm even nice to him.  Unlike Pan, who constantly pissed himself and stunk like nothing you every experienced, I can scratch him and pet him and he doesn't stink to AllHolyHell.  Occasionally he'll rear up when I come around to feed him grain at night, but I give him a quick crack and he stops.

But now that my optimum window of breeding opportunity has passed, I'm going to have to wait until fall when I have my dairy gals bred.  And hope that he's interested.

Maybe I should start looking for some goat-porn videos or magazines.  Because if he doesn't get the job done, he'll be in the freezer and we'll be snacking on goat jerky come fall.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Desert of the Ozarks

The last few years (at least three, if not four) have been really bad moisture-wise for us here.  When we first decided to move here, I thought our biggest problem would be the rocks.  I didn't consider having to garden in such an arid environment.  The only good thing I can say about our lack of rainfall is that I haven't had to mow the stinking lawn very often.

Hay prices are still way up there and my gardens need daily watering during the hottest days otherwise they'd be brown and crispy the next day.  I think I'm going to have to seriously look into Desert Farming and get some tip and tricks in order for our garden to be productive, let alone survive.

I've lost another two blueberry bushes.  I think we've lost seven or eight since I planted them several years ago.  I thought that they would do well here as we have a huge blueberry farm just outside of town.  And it's not like I'm not watering them, I just think the heat is just too much for the younger plants and they just give up.

My strawberry bed is starting to scorch and even though they are way past berry-producing time, I've been watering them.  Or should I not be?  This is our second season with them and I'd hate to see them die because they did so well.  I think I'm also going to have to thin out the bed as they have gone bonkers and shooting out runners like crazy.  When do I snip off the runners and what do I do with them?  Do I just put them in "storage" somewhere until fall or next spring?  Do I plant them someplace else now?

We have a well so we haven't had to deal with exuberant water bills during these droughts, but there's always the thought in the back of my head that our well will one day run dry.  Getting rain barrels and gutters are in the hopefully-no-so-distant-future and maybe even a cistern below the house.  But we're planning on putting a metal roof on the house (cha-ching!) so the gutters & water collection would wait until then.

My new I-was-going-to-wait-another-year garden is on a slope, so water runoff is a problem.  I heavily mulched around the new apple trees, raspberry/blackberry canes and hazelnut bushes, but a lot of water still runs downhill.  I put in four mounds of cucumbers directly downhill from the trees in order to catch some of the runoff.  And when they get bigger, they'll be able to climb up the fence surrounding them.  That is, if the whatever it is ate two of the cucumber plants last night don't continue their salad buffet.  I've been making little earth dams surrounding each of the vegetable plantings and it helps, but I'd eventually like to make a long terrace using cedar logs or something under each row.  When I dug holes for the squash with the tractor auger, instead of smoothing out the circular mound of dirt/rocks directly around the holes, I left it there.  Then I filled the holes up with "dirt", compost & goat poo, but left it below the level of the mounds so when I water there's a depression where the seeds/plants are to contain most of the water and prevent it from washing away.

So far, the new garden area has sixteen mounds of summer squash (zucchini, yellow straight neck, patty pan), four mounds of butternut squash, four mounds of acorn squash, the rapidly-disappearing cucumber mounds, a few watermelon seeds stuck in random places and a 40' row of yellow wax beans.  Since I really do want this to be a Permaculture kind'a garden, I've got two types of butterfly bushes and some Iris to plant in there.  If I can find some lavender on sale at the nursery I'll buy a couple of those and stick them somewhere in there too.  I want to encourage pollinating insects.  We haven't had many honey bees around so I haven't even been killing the wasps as I know they are doing a lot of the pollinating around here.

My herb / rock garden is doing well, but I actually think I may be over watering some of the plants.  The lavender and oregano aren't growing as much as the basil, mint and cilantro.  I also have three volunteer watermelon vines meandering around the herb garden and there are even tiny little baby watermelons on the vines.  As long as the stupid chickens don't find them and peck them to death, we may actually have watermelon before winter!  Last year our watermelon crop was late.  We had watermelon ripen when I actually had to fire up the wood stove one October evening.  Strange to be eating a slice of fresh watermelon next to the fire.

Just checked the weekly forecast and no sign of rain.  Again.  Guess Rhiannon & I will be going to the library and checking out some books on desert gardening.

Or going to the lake.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Blood, Sweat & Shit (and tears)

Farming, or pretending to farm in my case, involves much, much more than just plopping seeds into the ground, watering them and picking the fruits.  Raising livestock is more than cute, bouncing goat kids.

I could write a thousand-page book on the not-so-cute and not-so-clean happenings here at Krazo Acres farm.  And it's not even like we have a "real" farm.  Some of our farm animals should probably be considered more pets than livestock and my gardens don't provide enough sustenance for more than a few meals.

Eggs are easy though, right?  Feed the chickens, water 'em, go out and collect farm fresh eggs!  But apparently most of my twenty-one laying hens are in fact, not laying.  And one of them that did have an egg under her thinks nothing of not only pecking at my hand when trying to remove eggs from the nest (before they boil in their own shells from the heat) but felt that it was necessary to take a noticeable hunk of flesh out of my knuckle.

Paul spent two full days this weekend hauling, moving and stacking hay with a friend.  In the gawd-awful heat.  The trailer was so loaded down that he had to turn the A/C off in the truck so it didn't overheat.  They moved 132 large round bales.  Although we had a decent spring cutting, it already looks like "drought" will be the buzzword for the rest of the year.  At least we have a year's worth under cover now and I wont have to be fretting over where we're getting our hay later in the season.  I even think we have enough to get a cow.  (Can you hear Paul screaming?)

I've continued the slow progression of getting more seeds into the ground and hoping that they produce something edible.....for us and not the chickens, deer, armadillos or squirrels.  I have to keep on myself to continue planting.  For whatever reason, I keep forgetting that there are more than two times to plant stuff (i.e. Spring & Fall gardens).  I should be popping seeds into the ground at least every other week.

But in order to pop seeds into the ground, I have to prepare the seed bed by amending our "soil" with semi-composted hay, goat poop and whatever dirt I can find in order to give the seedlings a fighting chance.  I've been scraping the non-vegetative ground in the goat yard and putting it into a 55-gallon garbage can and dragging it over to the new garden.  The goat yard is so dry that even the tiniest breeze will kick up goatpoochickenshitdust and I end up covered in dehydrated caprine crap.  Oh, and a gritty taste in my mouth.  Any guesses to what I've been inhaling and basically eating while I'm out there?  Yep.  Goat shit.

Some of you may have noticed that I've been absent from my blog for a while.  Last week I made the difficult decision to schedule a "final" appointment for my 16 year old feline companion, Crackers.  I had almost an entire week to think about it and it was driving me nuts.  She finally went to join her sister, Cheese, in that big ol' bowl of cream in the sky.  Or maybe she decided to come back again to comfort another human friend.  Whatever her fate, I hope she enjoys her next adventure.

Cheese & Crackers
I miss you both

Friday, July 5, 2013

Everybody still have all their digits?

I hope everyone rung in the 5th of July with all digits attached and all critters accounted for.

Today was my sixth Farmers Market.  I totally forgot to do a post on my "Piss on the Revenuers" day at the market last week.  I kind'a ran out of steam, or at least calmed down, since the week before and I didn't do anything really nasty (and I'm sure you'd all roll your eyes if I did three political-ranting blog posts in a row).  I did, however, pass out some patriotic postcards with my version of the Gadsden snake on it, spoke to many people who were disgusted at the fact that the market was being targeted by the ADFA (Arkansas Dept. of Finance & Admin.) and also gave away loaves of bread and bags of cookies and told those who asked, "Why?".....because I would rather give my goods away than collect sales tax in the name of the State.  I will not be their tax collecting bitch.

Everyone was appalled at the pettiness of the ADFA and some even got pretty riled up.  Hopefully some of them will actually call or email Ms. Clipboard (who's name, phone number & email I gladly gave out).

Oh, and I forgot to mention.  Not only were all the vendors expected to fill out the 7 page application and possibly submit quarterly tax reports, but what Ms. Clipboard failed to mention to anyone was that there was also a fifty dollar application fee.  I'm not sure if it was per year or just a one time deal, but regardless, it is still outrageous for them to impose such a fee upon vendors who are lucky to make twenty dollars in sales (not income, mind you).

Unfortunately her scare tactics worked because we've lost one produce vendor, one plant lady, one craft vendor and the fudge lady.  And another really sickening thing about it is that the craft lady just last week lost her husband to Alzheimer's disease.  Her crafts were her escape and now she is no longer going to come to the market because she doesn't want to bother with all the paperwork and doesn't want to chance getting in trouble if she doesn't comply.  We're still trying to talk her into coming back though and we promised that we'd all pitch in for bail money if she did get thrown into the slammer for selling birdhouses!

Basically, the vendors that are left agreed that we were all going to continue selling our wares like Ms. Clipboard was never there.  I guess we'll just all go to jail together for tax evasion.  Maybe I should start up a collection jar at the market for our bail money.

Hmmm, seems like this post did end up being a little bit of a rant.  But to make up for it, I'm going to give you one of my new favorite cookie recipes.  In my farmers market baking whirlwind that happens every Thursday now, I was trying to think of a different type of cookie to bring with.  I normally bring whole wheat chocolate chip (WWCC) cookies and a second type depending on how I feel or what ingredients I have available.  Three weeks ago I made a few modifications to my WWCC and came up with this keeper of a recipe:

German Chocolate Cookies

2 1/4 C. WW Flour
1 tsp. each Salt & Baking Soda
1/2 C. Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 C. Sugar
1 C. Butter
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 C. Shredded Coconut
1 C. Chopped Pecans

Combine first three ingredients & set aside.  Cream sugar & butter, then add eggs & vanilla & mix.  Add flour/salt/soda/cocoa & mix, then add coconut/pecans & mix.

375 degree oven for 13 minutes or so

I had someone request them again so I brought them with this morning and sold all but one pack (and glad for it because that meant I got to take some back home for us to eat).

Enjoy!  And enjoy my self-imposed rant-free week!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Employment Wanted

I foresee a flood of Employment Wanted Ads in the papers:

Conspiracy Theorist looking for employment.  Due to the current (and past) political / governmental agencies proving that I am, in fact, not delusional, I have run out of both "conspiracies" and "theories" to which I can provide myself with a steady means of employment.

If you, or anyone you know, is looking for a level headed, hard working and trustworthy person who is not blinded by sparkles, DWTS or free government handouts, please contact me.  Will work for any of the "4 B's".


Can we all please finally admit that our government is as bad, if not worse than Orwell's Big Brother?  Drones flying over the US, snapping pictures here & there & everywhere, putting it into their database for future "reference" (i.e. incriminating evidence for some past, present or future "crime" you may have committed).

The Snowden leaks (poor guy will forever be remembered for that, and nothing else), and now the Postal Service admitting that they are photographing every piece of mail.  Not actually opening the mail, because that would be, like, illegal.  And they don't do illegal things, right?  I suppose the same people who actually believed that our own government wasn't reading our emails or listening to our phone calls will still deny that they are secretly (until they get caught) opening our mail (and to think they call us nutjobs).  Honestly, what's the difference?

Oh, but they're just keeping a digital copy of the outside of the letter in their mega-database, in case, you like send some letter to the president dusted with anthrax (the bacteria, not the band.  Does anybody even listen to them anymore??).  Any person with half a brain would realize that so much personal information can be gleaned from the return address of the letter.  Financial institutions, magazine subscriptions, political leanings, personal letters from the US and afar.

So now that the unbelievers (i.e. those that made fun of the government conspiracy theorists) are faced with the fact that some of those theories are in fact undeniably true, what is their response now?

I suspect the same old lines:

If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't have to worry.

If you're not committing a crime, they aren't interested in you.

Why would they care about little ol' me?  They're just out for those "terrorists".

It's the price we pay to live in a civilized society.

No.  It's the price we are paying for being apathetic, irresponsible and immoral.  And do you really think living in this kind of "civilized" society is really civilized?  When our own government is spying on every single one of us and using our own money (stolen in the form of taxes) to do so?  That is not a civilized society, that is living with a tyrannical government with it's boot inches from your throat, daring you to do one little thing "wrong" or "illegal".  Period.

Happy Independence Day, indeed.

What this day was meant to be

Lest we forget, or forget to "remind" our civil servants of the original reason for today's celebration.....

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

So, after re-reading this document (you did read it, right?), the official reasons for our forefathers for breaking with their homeland and starting a new nation, do you see anything strange?  Today, the Citizens of The United States are celebrating a holiday in remembrance of this document, yet our current form of government and elected officials are pretty much doing the same things ol' King George got raked over the coals for.

How many "repeated injuries and usurpations" has our current government committed against it's citizens?  How many of the "Facts" of "Tyranny over these States" in this document are executed against us by the hoards of swarms of  "New Offices"?  One could use those compilation of reasons as a check-off list to things our current government is doing or has done.

Are you just celebrating a day off work on the fourth day in the month of July, or celebrating the anniversary of the declaration of our independence from a tyrannical government?

And more importantly, when are we going to hold our current tyrannical government up to the same standards or are we just pretending to care about that day way back in 1776?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Planting the Fall Garden

My Spring garden was pretty much a  bust.

I procrastinated too much and got the peas in the ground too late; they didn't yield much before they lost the battle with our darned-near-100-degree heat last week.

I planted twelve various store bought peppers in the open areas in the berry garden and although there are a few silver dollar sized fruits on the plants, the plants themselves are still pretty small.

Most of the tomatoes I started indoors are doing well.  The ones that are fenced in, that is.  The ones that I planted outside of the mostly-chicken-proof area were dead in two days.  The ones in the fenced berry garden are already starting to take over an area and I will soon have to bring a machete with in order to harvest them.

And my volunteer squash?  Oh, my poor squash.  There were three Patty-Pan'ish plants two yellow squash plants and one butternut plant.  I fought a fierce battle with the damned squash bugs but even with my daily picking, squashing, drowning, stomping of their tiny little eggs and bodies, I lost the war.  A few days ago I picked the last three tiny squashes and gave up.  In less than four days, the plants were gone.  Like totally dead, flattened, sucked of their life and matted into the surrounding garden area.  You wouldn't hardly be able to tell that they were even there just a week ago.  Scary.

And to make matters worse, some of them have started attacking my cucumbers!!  I've already lost one plant and I'm really trying to save the other five.  I've only harvested three cucumbers from the first larger plant (the one that died thanks to the squash bugs) and it was soooo sad.....there were lots of teeny-tiny baby cucumbers on the vine!  I suspect that I'll lose all of the cucumbers too.

But, hope springs eternal.  Right?

So remember that new garden plot that I said I was just going to keep idle and just keep adding wasted hay and compost & maybe some green manure to?  Well, I started planting it.  If only to move away from the darned squash bugs.  Paul had the auger hooked up to the tractor so I figured I shouldn't waste the opportunity to use mechanical means to bust through the ground (I'd call it soil, except there is very little "soil" to speak of) and stick some seeds in there.  And yes, I DID need to use the auger for that task.  I actually hand dug eight holes for eight squash plants and it took me hours.  Yes.  Several HOURS just to chop through the ground.  Pick ax and rock bar and a spade-thingy that looks like an instrument of murder.  I filled up the empty holes with compost and stuck my seeds in.  Then, since the area is not fenced off, I made little round rock fortresses around the holes in an effort to deter the chickens from scratching the young seedlings into oblivion.  We'll see how that works.  If you see a post titled "F'n Chickens!" in the next week, you'll know it didn't go well.

Speaking of rock fortresses, my herb garden is going great!  The chickens haven't been able to scratch the herbs to death and things are taking off like gangbusters.  I'd take a picture, but alas, I have yet to order the darned thing.  Which I may just do after I've finished this post.  I'm going to buy one that Mike Yukon over at Living Prepared bought.  He is always doing reviews and other neat comparison things on his blog.  Everything from digital cameras and rocket stoves to raising potatoes in 5-gallon buckets and even eating meat that's months old (and surviving to tell the tale!).  Go say hello if you've got time on your "Just one more blog and I'll go outside" clock :)

I'm off to plant some more.....I mean, buy that camera.

And then plant some more :)

Paul's Take
I told her not to plant the tomatoes that close together.  And now she's doing the same thing with the squash in the fall garden.  Does ANYbody ever listen to me?


Monday, July 1, 2013

Wee-ner! (Better late than never)

Busy weekend, busy morning!  That's my excuse for not getting the winner's name up yesterday morning.  The weather has been BEE-U-TEE-FULL so we've been spending just about every daylight hour working or just enjoying the weather outdoors.

Anyways, the winner of the book & chocolate bar giveaway is.......


Sorry, no official pictures of the name drawing as my camera is still on the fritz and I still don't have my new one (although I know exactly what I want but have been too lazy to order the darned thing).  You'll just have to trust me that the drawing was as fair as is usual.

So Nancy, shoot me an email at carolynrenee at centurytel dot net with your mailing address and I'll get your book & chocolate bar out to you asap!

Thanks all for playing :)