I love following Bad Mama Genny's blog. She makes me laugh till tears come out my head. She's giving away a mushroom kit - (and this is my selfish attempt at being entered in the drawing). But seriously, I encourage you to head over to her site and laugh along with me - and learn a few things too.
The holidays begin!
I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent the day with Cliff and Sharon my future in-laws. Sharon cooked and wow, it was delicious. Except for the "pink pie" - something that the family has been making and eating since grandma's time. I'm not sure what's in it, but I passed on seconds.
What are you thankful for this year? My blessings have been so many that it's difficult to count. Some of the things I'm thankful for though are:
Kevin being the wonderful man that he is, having him in my life - it has been enriched beyond my wildest imagination.
That we have family close by to spend time with. You never realize how important family is until you can't be with them.
Having the world's best friends ever!!! There's the QOL group which has grown, and grown, and grown. There are the Chica's - 6 of us and I value every moment I get to spend with them. Those I've met through classes, those I've met through animals. The friends who don't fit into any 'group' but who I love dearly all alone, and some I don't get to see often and miss. (Resolution for next year - connect with those I miss)
Having our farm, learning new skills, growing stronger and happier with each passing day.
The list goes on and on - but these are the highlights.
D&J - D is in the back, J is up front and center.
Is she pregnant? Lady S asked if she was getting bigger and I said no - but now I've noticed she's not fitting through the chicken coop entrance as easily as she used to.
As you know from a previous update, we have 2 goats (both does) that we bought from our neighbor Eric. They are Alpine/Nubian crosses and are 8 months old. Around December or so he said that I can borrow his Nubian buck to breed them. We are working on getting them to let us even pet them. They'd never been handled before and just to get them here from next door they had to be hog tied. Then the poor things cried and cried for days. They were scared and wanted to go home. They've settled down now and are finally starting to play, but it was a couple weeks before they would. They were always on guard. And it's the cutest thing - as big as they are, they can get into the chicken coop. They go up the little ramp that the chickens use to put themselves to bed each night. They figured out that the chicken feed is in there and they love it. They also go in there to get away from us when we want to get ahold of them. I've noticed that they let me get closer to them lately - not close enough to touch yet though, but as I'm the one who brings food, I'm not as scary as I was before.
I'm still looking for some Dexter cows (if anyone reads this and knows where I can get some locally, 200 - 300 mile radius, please let me know.) I've decided I'm going to raise pigs too - for a couple of reasons: 1) Pigs like to root in the ground. I'm hoping that I can use them to clean up my garden plots when the seasons are done. 2) Pigs have large litters a) I can sell the babies for money b) I can stock the freezer with healthy meat
I would also like to get more chickens. Even after my horrid ordeal with slaughtering one - I think I'm ready to try again... but not by chopping a head off. Instead I plan on using a cone. I've read, and been told that you can rub a chicken's head a certain way and they go to sleep, then you put them into a cone head first and hang them upside down. Slice their neck and the blood will drain out. No flopping chickens, and they die in their sleep. Can I do this? I'm not sure. Maybe Kevin will have to be the butcher.
Animals - what's a farm without animals?
We've grown! I put an add on Craigslist saying that if you are needing to get rid of your farm animals, I could take them off your hands - I listed what I would take which included ONE goat buck - well I got a message from "Lady S" who was needing to give up her beautiful buck Chauncey.
On the 20th of November we took a trip up near Idywild for a free buck named Chauncey - he's a Saanen / Oberhalsi cross. And in the process I believe I've gained a friend - and a few more animals. The "Lady S" is fabulously generous, funny and really knows her goats. She showed us how to worm, where & how to give shots and how to trim hooves. In addition to our beautiful (stinky - he's in rut) boy, we also bought a female named Diamond and two Tom Turkeys - which we decided to name "Tom-Tom" - they share it.
Here we are driving up and down the mountain like the hicks we proudly are. One goat inside the truck with the rear seat folded up, another in the bed of the truck sandwiched between hay bales and ply wood and a large dog cage tied to the top with 2 Turkeys. I'll bet everyone who saw us thought we bought our Thanksgiving dinner - but these guys get a free ride. Kevin kept asking me, "What are we going to do with turkeys?" I told him I didn't know but they were coming home with us anyway.
my truck still smells like goat...
The first thing the goats did was escape the pen. I just laughed. All the stories I've read - I figured we are in for it now. We ended up letting them stay in the barn the first night and didn't move them to their pen until the next day because of Diamond. Ha Ha Ha! Chauncey was easy to move, Diamond was another story. We found that trying to make a goat move when she doesn't want to is like trying to move an oversized mattress by yourself. She was like a futon - I pulled, Kevin pushed and she just folded up in the middle. Her front legs weren't going anywhere! So we were able to get her into the barn somehow and that's where they stayed. The next morning Kevin was at work and I was alone with them. Once the barn door was opened, Chauncey came out, but not so for Diamond. I pulled, I pushed and finally gave up. I walked out and she followed me. I walked to the pen, opened the gate, walked in - and she followed me. I closed the door and was done. Wow, I wish I'd tried that the first day.
Max threw a happy fit when we got home with the new goats. Big dogs to play with. He was so excited. After 2 days of wearing out his name because of his non-stop barking, I finally let him into the pen with the animals. He wanted to play so badly, but they wouldn't have any of it. I let him stay until he was head butted enough that he winced. But I didn't let him stay long enough to get really hurt. I wanted him to know that they were serious and that in this instance, he might not be "top dog". Kevin has taken him in to the pen once after that to see if he's learned, and I think he has. He seems to be especially fascinated with Chauncey (probably because Diamond is the one that caused the wince and he's wary of her). He'll go up to the fence on his hind legs and they'll get nose to nose smelling each other. It's really cute.
Meet Chauncey - Saanen/Oberhasli cross and about 3 years old.
This is Diamond - she's an American Alpine
Tom-Tom - they are a Narragansett/Black Spanish cross
Join us on a pictorial walk around the property...
It turns out that the goats like to hike - and the turkeys follow. It's a long walk for them, and takes much longer, but it's great fun.
I did some pressure canning recently at my sister Jenny's house. I've done steam bath canning before, but I was never sure how to use a pressure canner. Now I know. I'd made up some home made chicken soup the night before and took it over. We warmed it up, poured it into cleaned, hot jars and put them into the canner. 1 1/2 hours after it had been at 15 pounds of pressure we turned it off. Then it takes time to allow the pressure to return to normal, you take the jars out of the canner and they need to sit for 24 hours - during this time the pressure and temperature in the jars stabilize, the jars seal properly.
It's been almost a week, so I opened a jar on Friday to have for lunch - I had to find out if it was still good - and it was! Yeah, I successfully canned meat. So now I have a bigger project. I was able to obtain ground beef in 5 pound tubes for just 75¢ a pound. I bought 100 pounds worth - and it's all in my freezer. I'm going to make up a couple different recipes and can them. Ideas I'm considering:
1) Chuckwagon beans 2) Kung Pao Chicken (but with ground beef instead) 3) Spaghetti Sauce with ground beef 4) Taco filling 5) Sloppy Joes 6) Cabbage Roll / Stuffed Pepper filling 7) Plain ground beef seasoned with onions & garlic 8) Chili
I have been given a pressure canner that is very, very old. It doesn't have a pressure regulator (the rocker) so I need to get one, and it needs a new seal. Reading up on this I should get a new air vent when you get a new seal. I also have a broken handle. I decided that I'll just replace all the parts and be done with it. The cost will be around $44 without tax and shipping. Much better than buying a new pressure canner at a cost of over $200.
But Oh, Oh, Oh! Monday night I had to pinch hit for the food storage class I take. Our regular speaker couldn't make it, so I decided to hold the class on water bath / steam canning. And low and behold what did I find in my garage, in an unopened box?? A pressure canner! Ok, I admit it - I'm a wannabe... I'd love to do crafts, so I buy the stuff but never know what to do with it, so it piles up. I want to do art, but I find I have no skill in that department - it doesn't stop me from buying paper, pens, pencils, etc... I used to want to can food - and so I bought the supplies... (I have a lot of unopened boxes of canning jars too) - but NOW I can. I had thought at one time that I might have a pressure canner, but then I located my pressure cooker and figured I'd been mistaken. I wasn't! And it feels so dang good to have one.
Especially with all that ground beef in the freezer. So I gathered up my pressure canner (new & old to show the difference), my water bath canner and my steam bath canner. I used a recipe from the Ball book on canning called Cranberry Apple Preserves. I cut everything up and cooked it in class in front of everyone on a portable burner. It smelled so good. Alas my water never got hot and so we preteneded to can it. I went through all the motions, explained about the steam and put the lid on. We then pretended that the time had passed and opened the canner, used the tongs to take the jar (just one since it was pretend) out of the canner, and set it on a towel to cool. It was so much fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it. They asked lots of questions and when I didn't have the answer, someone else did. I passed around little taster cups and spoons for everyone to try. Then I scooped the rest up into the jars I had ready. Some people bought some - but everyone was challenged instead to can something before the next class (in 2 weeks) and return the jar canned. That was Kevin's idea and it was such a good one! I hope I get a lot of different things. More importantly, I hope everyone gives it a try themselves.
11-25-11 I successfully canned the chuckwagon beans. I gave my small office refrigerator to Kevin when I quit working at Quest Diagnostics so that he could put his lunch in it and keep it safe until it was time to eat. Sometimes he doesn't find the time and days will go by before he eats what I sent him - and he still doesn't refrigerate it. ICK! I worry - so now if I send him something I canned, it can stay out of the refrigerator until he does actually take time for lunch, and I won't worry about him getting sick from eating old food.
I had a proud moment on Friday. I've been working for a company part-time mostly getting them ready for a huge inspection. They had a time frame when the inspection would happen, but not a specific date. Well that date was Friday. I wasn't in the office so I texted my boss at the end of the day to ask how it went. She said that I was her hero.
Let me explain: An "MSDS" is a Material Safety Data Sheet - most everything man made will have one, from acids, paints, reagents, sharpie markers, etc. The idea is to let you know how safe or hazard an item is and what to do should someone use the product improperly and get injured - like if they splashed themselves in the eyes with a chemical, smelled something that made them pass out, ect.
I had been tasked with making sure that the laboratory had all of the MSDS for the products they use. Now I've been called "anal" and "OCD" when it comes to safety, rules, regulations... but it's because I don't want to get caught with my pants down, so to speak.
Well, it paid off on Friday. Two of the MSDS that the inspector asked for was hand soap and bleach. These are very common items in a laboratory (and a home) and are often overlooked, but I had the MSDS for both of those items. I've also been working extra in a particular department that needed some extra support. The didn't find any deficiencies for the reagents or the instruments. Oh, and the company passed their inspection. YEAH! I'm so happy for them. THIS is what I miss about work - having a sense of accomplishment, seeing my hard work pay off.
I still don't want to work full time, but it's moments like these that make me nostalgic for the day to day stress that I used to thrive on. I just need to find a way to get that jolt of accomplishment from the farm.
Cliff and Sharon helped us weed the garden area this weekend - boy was it a mess. We trimmed some trees in order to back the truck in to move the pile to the compost pile - and found something 'extra' in the tree. Check out the pictures.
The pile of weeds
Hmmm... what's that black spot? We'd never noticed it before we had to trim the tree.
Yes, it's a dead crow. Petrified stiff. It got caught in the tangle of branches.
Yes I made him wear gloves before he touched it. It went off to the dump today when the trash was picked up.
It's been getting colder - we've had frost on the ground already, the wood stove has been put to good use, and Santa should be on his way soon... he can't possibly miss the mailbox!
Isn't this a homey scene?
Frog Tape & Spray Paint - I love how it turned out.
In this period of holidays, wars, Occupy Wall Street protests, and world financial disaster, I leave you with this:
It isn't what you have in your pocket that makes you thankful, but what you have in your heart. -- Author Unknown