Monday, November 28, 2011

Somebody to Love

We have a new pet at our home.

Or should I say, My husband has a new pet.


My husband dotes on Hokey. Hand feeds him. Changes his swimming water with fresh warm water about once every hour. Sits on the couch watching TV together. And today, my husband brought home feeder fish.

Hokey ate about 5 already.

My husband is RIGHT NOW feeding him another and trying to get a video of it. I think, the duck might pop, but I do hear Hokey, "Peep, Peep, Peep,"ing from the other room for more.

Anybody know if you can house train a duck? Google here I come.....


We are so excited to announce our first chicks!

Yes, we have raised MANY birds since moving to our home sweet home. But these chicks are from our very own eggs lain by the hens we have joyfully raised since April.

See their beautiful eggs!!!

We have just been putting them in their as they are laid. So for the next month we are expecting more hatches at any time. From now one we will be holding them for up to a week to make it a little more organized.

Sunday night we saw two eggs had pipped!

And this morning were greeted by two beautiful chicks. It is always sooooo surprising how little they are, how soft, how adorable. Sweet, sweet babies.

Yeah, I think mine are pretty sweet too.

Monday, November 14, 2011

BEST Read of the Day: FULL of Awesome

I found this absolutely marvelous read today.
Pigtail Pals: Waking Up Full Of Awesome.

There was a time when you were five years old,
and you woke up full of awesome.

You knew you were awesome.

You loved yourself.

You thought you were beautiful,
even with missing teeth and messy hair and mismatched socks inside your grubby sneakers.

You loved your body, and the things it could do.

You thought you were strong.

You knew you were smart.

Do you still have it?
The awesome.

Did someone take it from you?
Did you let them?
Did you hand it over, because someone told you weren’t beautiful enough, thin enough, smart enough, good enough?
Why the hell would you listen to them?
Did you consider they might be full of shit?

Wouldn’t that be nuts, to tell my little girl below that in another five or ten years she might hate herself because she doesn’t look like a starving and Photoshopped fashion model?
Or even more bizarre, that she should be sexy over smart, beautiful over bold?
Are you freaking kidding me?

Look at her. She is full of awesome.

You were, once. Maybe you still are. Maybe you are in the process of getting it back.

All I know is that if you aren’t waking up feeling like this about yourself, you are really missing out.

Tonight's Research - How to Butcher a Cow

A couple of weeks ago my family went to the Livestock Auction. For me, this was like visiting a toy store. Row upon row of sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, and cows, cows, cows and more cows. The prices blew me away. I strongly urge everyone to check out their local auction house.

I want a dairy cow SOOOOOOOOOO much.

But I know very little about their needs and care. It was recommended that we start with a beef cow first. This way we learn to care for a cow and then, after we have that figured out, get a milk cow, adding the duties of breeding, calving, and milking.

Some of caring for a cow seems pretty simple. Fencing, Pasture, Housing. Looking ahead at the needs of our farmstead, we realize, we will be raising some of these animals directly for food, ie. beef.

Do we have what it takes to slaughter and butcher an animal for our dinner?

We have done chicken, duck, rabbit, and now goat just in the short time since moving out here. Honestly, the hardest issue with this is our soft squishy hearts. Silly farmers crying over their dinner. But we thank the Lord for our animals, and for helping us to provide an enjoyable, free range, healthy life for them, before they bless our table.

It seems that the mere size of the animal is going to be the largest difference. Will we be able to hang it for more ease on our backs, and have gravity help with the skinning? What tools are needed? Sharp knives for separating meat and skin, strong saw for cutting through joints and bones.

I look forward to some homegrown beef. And I pray and long for the day we have some sweet homegrown milk and cheese to go along with it. And I will enjoy every morning looking out upon my growing farmstead, with poultry scratching and squawking through the gardens and orchards, cows and goats munching the tall grasses and nuzzling my hand as I walk by them, and my children laughing and playing in the trees and mud. Sounds like a piece of heaven to me.

How to Butcher a Cow

Diagram of How to Butcher a Beef Cow

YouTube Video: Butchering a Cow

HowStuffWorks: How to slaughter and butcher a cow – A fascinating look at the meat we eat

MadeManual: How To Butcher A Cow

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Resource Found - 52 Weeks of Food Storage

I came across this list today while scanning Pinterest, my latest obsession (thanks kd).

52 Weeks of Food Storage
For around $10 a week you can slowly build your food storage to provide 52 weeks of food for 2 adults.

I found this list at One Good Thing by Jillie.

Week 1 – 6 lbs. salt
Week 2 – 5 cans cream of chicken soup
Week 3 – 20 lbs. sugar
Week 4 – 8 cans tomato soup
Week 5 – 25 lbs. flour
Week 6 – 6 lbs. pasta
Week 7 – 6 lbs. brown sugar
Week 8 – 8 cans tuna
Week 9 – 1 lb. each of yeast, baking soda and baking powder
Week 10 - 50 lbs. wheat
Week 11 – 8 cans tomato soup
Week 12 – 20 lbs. sugar
Week 13 – 10 lbs. powdered milk
Week 14 – 7 boxes macaroni & cheese
Week 15 – 25 lbs. rice
Week 16 – 5 cans cream of chicken soup
Week 17 – 1 bottle vitamins
Week 18 – 12 cans evaporated milk
Week 19 – 5 cans cream of mushroom soup
Week 20 – 50 lbs. wheat
Week 21 – 8 cans tomato soup
Week 22 – 10 lbs. beans
Week 23 – 8 cans tuna
Week 24 – 3 lbs. shortening, 3 lbs. oil
Week 25 – 25 lbs. rice
Week 26 – 5 lbs. honey
Week 27 – 10 lbs. powdered milk
Week 28 – 20 lbs. sugar
Week 29 – 5 lbs. peanut butter
Week 30 – 50 lbs. wheat
Week 31 – 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
Week 32 – 2 qt. mayonnaise
Week 33 – 1 bottle aspirin
Week 34 – 5 cans cream of chicken
Week 35 – 50 lbs. wheat
Week 36 – 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
Week 37 – 6 lbs. salt
Week 38 – 10 lbs. beans
Week 39 – 8 cans tomato soup
Week 40 – 25 lbs. flour
Week 41 – 5 cans cream of chicken
Week 42 – 20 lbs. sugar
Week 43 – 1 bottle vitamins
Week 44 – 8 cans tuna
Week 45 – 50 lbs. wheat
Week 46 – 6 lbs. pasta
Week 47 – 20 lbs. sugar
Week 48 – 6 cans cream of mushroom
Week 49 – 5 lbs. honey
Week 50 – 10 lbs. of rolled oats
Week 51 – 8 cans tomato soup
Week 52 – 50 lbs. wheat

You will end up with: (for 2 people)

300 lbs. wheat-----need 600 lbs.--includes rolled oats, pasta,
12 lbs. pasta
50 lbs. rice
50 lbs. flour
10 lbs. rolled oats
100 lbs. sugar----need 120 lbs. --includes honey, brown sugar
10 lbs. honey
6 lbs. brown sugar
20 lbs. powdered milk----need 150 lbs.
12 cans evaporated milk---
3 lbs. shortening---- need 70 lbs.
3 lb. oil
2 qt. mayonnaise
5 lbs. peanut butter
2 qt. mayonnaise
5 lbs. peanut butter
24 cans of tuna fish----need 40 lbs. of meats
20 lbs. beans---need 190 lbs of legumes
1 lb. yeast
1 lb. baking soda
1 lb. baking powder
12 lbs. salt
2 bottles vitamins
1 bottle of aspirin
11 cans cream of mushroom soup
20 cans of cream of chicken soup
40 cans of tomato soup
21 boxes macaroni and cheese

Now this list does not include water needs at all. It is recommended that you provide one gallon of water per person per day. This covers drinking water and minimal hygiene needs. And as the list points out, it doesn't actually fill in all your food needs. Meat, beans, wheat, sugar, fats are lacking.
I think toothbrushes and first aid kits are important too. :)

Here is a food storage calculator so that you can estimate what your particular family's needs are.

But, this is an excellent resource to start with!

For many people the idea of food storage is daunting. How can one purchase hundreds of lbs of food and still remain within a tight budget? How does one store such goods?

The good news is, that many have come before you. Today, they can be called preppers, survivalists and such. But in days gone by, they were simply called homesteaders, pioneers, farmers... you know... NORMAL. Many of you remember playing Oregon Trail? Remember purchasing 100 lbs of salted beef? Same concept.

Now Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA recommends everyone to stock up at least 3 days worth of food and water for emergency preparedness. That means at least 3 days of food and water for you and your spouse, your children, your pets. And.... what about your mother? Your neighbors and their children? It is something to think about.

Especially if you are a follower of Christ. Off The Grid News - Practicing Biblical Hospitality In Hard Times: Are You Ready For 2011? clearly shows how time and again the bible calls us to step forward for others, to prepare to be hospitable, even in the face of our want. Maybe you think it won't come to that. But... you would do well to think and plan ahead. You would do well to prepare, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Don't think it is necessary?

Here is a list of US declared Natural disasters from 2011 alone. It could happen anytime and anyplace.

Gird yourself.
Say your prayers.
And stand tall.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tonight's Research - Learn a Language for 'Frugal' People

My husband and I have discussed learning languages for a while now for our homeschool, and for ourselves as well. We are most familiar with the Rosetta Stone program. But since we are oddballs, in every sense of the word, we do not run Microsoft or Mac on our PCs. We run linux. And while linux rocks in security, ease of use, administrating any number of business and home systems, and especially in cost, there is one small hurtle to overcome. Many programmers do not write their software with us in mind.

Of course, we will overcome. :)

So began our search for alternative methods to learn a language.

I have just found a treasure trove, and here it is.

Melnyks - Learn Mandarin Chinese Podcast:

Russian Pod 101:

Arabic Pod 101:

Hebrew Podcasts:

Notes In Spanish Podcast:

Laura Speaks Dutch Podcast:

These are just a few languages that I looked up, but I bet there are plenty more out there if you look for them.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tonight's Research - Cock or Hen?

It was not long after we moved on our homestead, that we purchased our very first little chicks. I had attempted to read and comprehend the how to's of chicken raising. Like so many other tasks, I have learned that I can garner so much more by DOING the task, than reading about it. Seeing those little peeping chicks at my local hardware/farm/garden store (run by my local mayor even lol) I knew I just had to jump in.

We started with 6 chicks.

I had no idea what I was purchasing, so I purchased 2 of each from the three varieties available. I afterwards took the time to read up on their breeds to discover their traits. Which lead me to go back and purchase 6 more of the egg laying varieties.

From their we purchased Muscovy ducks and discovered our family is allergic to duck eggs. That was NOT pleasant. But duck meat is tasty, so we decided to continue raising them for meat. Besides, they are EXCELLENT at controlling the slugs, which are so plentiful here.

We purchased a Little Giant incubator. We found a local poultry farm that sells fertile eggs to incubate. A distant relative sold us a beautiful Leahy Forced Air Incubator.

After our first batch hatched, we immediately started another. We can always tell the chickens and ducks we have hatched for ourselves vs those hatched by others. They know us. They linger longer, and come closer to us. They eat out of our hands and follow us around the yard. They may not be cuddly like kittens, but they are so soft and fluffy, so beautiful. If you are gentle, they will let you hold them and pet them.

One of the difficulties of raising our own chicks is determining their sex. I have read about and attempted the vent sexing methods. Obviously it takes a much better trained eye. I don't feel badly about that. At poultry houses and hatcheries they pay vent sexers big bucks for doing a difficult job with a low percentage of mistakes. I hope that over time, I will improve. Until then, I look at my growing chicks and try to determine, are you my future egg layer? Are you my next mama hen? Are you a strong rooster who will defend my flock? Or are you dinner?

Our first incubated hatch resulted in 4 Rhode Island Reds, and 2 Plymouth Barred Rocks. It became clear after time that 3 of the Reds were roosters, with one little, well protected hen. More on that later. :)

The Pic only shows one of the Plymouth Barred Rocks, but my 2 rocks looked the same. They both had wattles and combs. I know now, that alot of hens have these traits as well. So I googled 'Plymouth Barred Rock' and searched for those vintage chicken breed posters. I am considering getting a few of those to grace my farmstead, especially as we raise some of these unique breeds.

I found this beauty.

After looking at this I can see..... my two little chickens are boys. This doesn't necessarily mean they will be gracing our table soon. We have a batch that is just one month or so younger, and we may keep one or both depending on the number of females available. They may be put to better and more enjoyable use.

And they have proved themselves to be quite excellent protectors of their 'flock' already. On my farmstead, I also have two sweet cats. I got them for my children, who love them dearly, usually by carrying them with their legs dangling everywhere, by laying on top of them, and by squeezing them when they clearly don't want to be squeezed. And my good little furballs take it. They don't bite or scratch. They do run for all their worth when they see their chance. I am trying to instill in my children the appropriate care of their animals, but it is still a learning process.

My cats have discovered the joy of hunting. They have, most excellently, caught numerous mice since being here. For a while, it was one or two a day! But I haven't seen any for a couple of weeks now, and have noticed that my cats have been stalking these younger chicks. I was quite concerned and was in fact, standing by with some pebbles in my hand ready for the rescue.

I watched silently as the cat crept slowly closer, and closer. Then I noticed something. Calmly, and at first unnoticed, the roosters, (yes all 5 of them) surrounded that one little hen. They continued pecking and scratching and gave the cat no indication that he was seen closing in. Our little black panther, Whiskers, inched closer and then braced to pounce. And the roosters charged him! Wings out and necks bracing! The cat turned and ran away with a little squeal.

It was the funniest thing I have seen in quite a while. Nothing like a good laugh.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tonight's Research - Aloe

I was given a beautiful gift this summer from my mother in law, an enormous aloe plant. Over the summer we used a few pieces on my children's scrapes and scratches, we learned that ducks LOVE aloe and had to bring the plant to safety before they devoured it, and it grew ... even more enormous.

So tonight I read up on Aloe....

How to Propagate Aloe Plants: Choosing a small 2-4 inch young aloe leaf, break it off the stalk and let it dry before planting it in loose, moist soil.

How to Harvest Aloe Gel: Break off a large, whole stalk of aloe, or utilize any accidental breaks. Using a knife, cut the skin off the semi solid gel mass inside. Slime it wherever needed.

How to Preserve Aloe Gel: Fresh is best. But you can freeze single use servings in an ice-cube trays.