Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Friday, January 31, 2014

How to Watch TV without Cable

We are "cord cutters" are you? We don't have pay TV and we probably won't. We haven't had cable (dish, satellite, whatever...) since I gave up my Big Life and moved back here. Are we Luddites? Crazy people? Bored? Nope. We just didn't want to pay for it anymore and we are too busy to justify the costs. Plus there may be 900 different channels... but that doesn't mean there is anything worth watching.

Someone asked the other day how to watch TV without cable - here's how we do it.

We watch local channels 'over the air' with an antenna. There was one of those big TV antennas already set up when we moved here. So we just use that. It has it's drawbacks... namely that for some parts of the year we don't get "all" our channels. This means that sometimes we don't get the local NBC or ABC affiliate. Usually tho, this happens are different times of the year and honestly it's just not that big of a deal. I do like to watch Bryan Williams on the NBC evening news.... but if I can't then I just watch whatever channel we get.

Especially since you can get all of the major broadcasts online. This makes it especially easy to get caught up during the summer months when we miss the 6:30 nightly news because we are still outside. We just watch it later. This has the added bonus of skipping thru the stories that I'm not interested in. It's kinda like DVR but you don't have to record anything. It's just online waiting for you.

For my money, "appointment TV" is mostly dead. I understand the value of a shared experience but really - I can't stay up that late. I'd rather watch my shows when I want online. So I also check out the few shows I like on the NBC, CBS, and ABC websites. For instance, tonite I'm going to watch Person of Interest on the CBS website. I can get caught up on the last two episodes on my laptop sitting by the fire.

I still have to sit thru the commercials but it's easy enough just to browse 'the Reddit' or check in with "the facebook" while I'm waiting.

What about the other networks? Don't underestimate my love for Hulu. This is a great online TV site with tons of shows. Usually there is a delay from the broadcast date to the available on Hulu date. This can be a day or 8 days. Why? Because someone is trying to make money off your inability to wait to see it for free - so you have to keep up with it. They normally have just a couple episodes available at a time for free. You can pay for the Hulu+ but really.... I haven't seen any real value for this.

Regardless of the free or Hulu+ you still have to watch the commercials. However, you can "train" the Hulu into showing commercials that you want to see. In the upper right corner there is a "Was this ad relevant to you?" click that I use to get rid of bad or annoying commercials. Pretty much I have it trained to give me car or credit card commercials. Do I want a car or a credit card? Nope but at least they are entertaining and I don't have to hear about the possible side effects of whatever drug they are pushing.

The Hulu also has some of the other network shows from USA, SciFi. Fox, Comedy Central etc. For some of these you need the paid "Hulu +" version... but there are so many options there is surely something to see.

The Hulu has some original programming. Some of it was very smart and very funny. Not huge budgets but some good viewing. I really liked Battleground, The Booth at the End, and ISpy.

If you think I love 'the Hulu' then don't even get me started on 'the Netflix.' We had the Netflix back in the day when you got a DVD in the mail. We hated it. It was bulky and unsatisfying and only ever made me mad. The only reason I signed up was to get a free 30 day trial so I could watch House of Cards. Now I'm completely head over heels for 'the Netflix.' It's my new favorite crush. It costs about $8 a month and it's worth every penny. We can't even go to a move for $8. So for me it's totally worth it.

Folks who have cable might be disappointed with the Netflix because it has a lot of older shows and past seasons. But for me it's a veritable wonderland of shows I've never seen before. Nothing beats the winter blues like binge watching six hours straight of The Killing. Plus they have some newer movies... not a ton of them but it still is worth it.

Even if you don't watch any of their "stock" shows... I can't wait for more original programming from Netflix. House of Cards was stupendous and they have more shows on tap. And unlike appointment viewing where they leave you hanging for a week - you can watch them all at once or over a couple sittings.

And last.... the reason we really don't have cable.... Amazon Instant Video store. This is the grand poobah of why you will never, ever need cable. Anything you want to see is right here. You can get single episodes, full seasons, or past seasons of just about any TV show. They also have just released movies and sometimes movies that are still in the theater!  It's amazing. Really. Even better... if you buy Amazon Prime you can get unlimited online access to many of these shows and movies for free.

Amazon Prime is a yearly subscription that gets you free 2 day shipping of many products on Amazon, tons of movies and TV shows and free Kindle books. Right now the yearly subscription is $79 and there is a free 30 day trial. That's $80 for a year of TV and movies. I know folks are paying more than $80 a month for cable!

Even if you don't have Amazon Prime buying (or renting) movies online is a terrific value...and tons of fun. There are a couple different options. For instance last night I paid $1.99 for episode 2 of The Following. And no, I couldn't wait until it was free on the hulu. Yes, I am a sucker. I can also buy the whole season for a slight discount per episode but I'm trying to be more disciplined. Well see how that goes.

Want to watch all seasons of The Wire. They have them... all episodes or just one. They are all there for your viewing pleasure.

You want movies? Step right up - so many options. Mostly you can "rent" a movie that you will have access to for a couple days (or ten or thirty depending...) or you can "buy" that same movie for more money and you will always have access to it in your "Video Library."

All of this is instant on-demand on your computer. You don't "get" anything but access to viewing. I think this is great because you don't have your house cluttered up with all of those DVD boxes... and there is nothing to return like in the old days of movie rentals. Once your rental period is over the show or movie just disappears from your Video Library. 

The rental fees vary from $1.99 (or less) to $14 or more for new releases. Usually the price drops if you wait a week or so after they are first available. However, I was more than happy to "buy" one of the best action movies ever. Now I can watch all of that heart pounding action whenever I want in full HD glory.

So doesn't this mean that you have to watch on your computer? Yep or your tablet or your Kindle (depending) or whatever device you have. I don't mind watching on my laptop and we can plug a special cable into into our TV if we want to watch on the big-ish screen.

But isn't it all very confusing? Nope. It's just clicking around on your favorite websites.

Why not just get cable because it sounds like we are spending all that money anyway? Not really. This way we can control how much we are spending. And really most of what we watch is free. During the winter we watch a lot more shows because we are stuck inside... but once we get into the growing season I really just catch up on the news.

And one of the big reasons we don't have cable is so that we can avoid all that mindless viewing. You can't really believe that some of that crap they broadcast is doing anybody any good. Once you unplug from what is considered "normal" and you go to selected viewing... it's kind of shocking to see what is considered entertainment. Don't underestimate the amount of marketing and manipulation is going on during the average TV show or movie. Being able to pick and choose and to opt out is really valuable... so for us cutting the cord is absolutely worth it.

What do you think? Can you cut the cord?

Editor's note: Are any of these affiliate links? Yep - but only for Amazon's products. I won't get as much as a "thank you" from the Hulu or the Netflix for linking to them. But I think they are some great offerings and I'm happy to help you get out from under the thumb of cable and traditional networks. So remember if you order something thru my Amazon store,  from one of the links, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page I'll get a tiny percentage of the sale. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon to show your support. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We Are Calling it a Win!

We have defeated the evil Polar Vortex 2.0 - ha! Take THAT winter, you old so 'n so. I'm declaring it a win. No one died. No power was last. No pipes were frozen. No trucks were wrecked.... we are calling it a big victory!

Look deep into this nutella hot cocoa.. yes it was that good.  This sustained me yesterday.

It was only -10* without the wind this morning so I rushed right out at oh.... 10am to see the damage. None. Nada. Nope. The meat chickens were happily clucking around, the geese were screaming at me, the goats were glaring, and the dogs just couldn't get enough of the cold and sunny morning.

Then I kicked everyone out of their coops, milked Debbie, found my old hen, and declared our complete and utter (udder?) victory. The goats are in the sunshine, the ducks are bathing in the snow, and the geese are still screaming.

Nibbles looks like she has been eating frosting out of the can for the last several weeks. She is huge. Large and in charge. We are gonna work on a pregnancy fitness program for her ... starting tomorrow when we reach up into the 20*'s.

Oh happy day we WON!

Happy Wednesday everyone - doin' OK?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How to Stay Warm in a Cold House

Would it freak you out if I told you that we set our thermostat to 56*... if we have it on at all? Yep. It's true. We are, inadvertently, one of those cold house people. I think it was a "thing" a while ago - like a hipster thing. But the truth is... I just don't like our furnace.

There's nothing wrong with the furnace - it's kinda new and it works like a charm. I just don't like it. It never really feels warm to me. Plus, it goes without saying that we are cheap. Real cheap. Cold house cheap. We have one of those heating oil furnaces - not natural gas/propane. Heating oil. That's pretty much just diesel. If we watch our P's and Q's we only have to fill the tank every other year. So neither of us like to run it much. Even on these extra cold days the furnace is off. If we turn it on then we only run it for 30 minutes or so.

So are you totally freakin' out, man, that we would voluntarily have a cold house? Wondering what's wrong with us? Or are you one of those people who has the furnace cranked up to 75* and are complaining about your heating bill? Or is your gas company telling you to "conserve" or else? Not us. We just go about it a different way.

Down here by the wood stove it's a balmy 70* degrees and I'm starting to look around for my shorts...so it's not like the whole house is cold. For once this ridiculous late 1970's split level house is good for something. The wood stove is downstairs, surrounded by cat puddles, and the heat rises to the main level and keeps the house mostly warm. If you like mid-50's.

Right now I think it's about 58* up there but that's because I've been having a baking day. This works out perfectly for us because the dogs stay upstairs and they like the cooler temperatures. Having big snow dogs means an evening laying by the fire is their nightmare. In the summer they push and shove to get the spot over the air conditioning vent so none of them are interested in the furnace blasting. And to tell you the truth, both of us like to sleep in a cool bedroom - if we had our druthers we'd be very happy sleeping in a meat locker. So this works out for us.

We just make adjustments when we are in the house - especially upstairs. First, dress for success. Both of us just layer up. I usually have fleece leggings, wool sox, shoes, a heavy tshirt, and a flannel shirt....and my secret weapon.. a hat. Yep. I know who you are and you are laughing but go ahead... nothing make the noggin happier than rockin' a warm knit hat. Honestly it's miraculous. Go ahead.. try it.

Next, make sure you are keeping the cold out of the house so the warm can take over. Get those doors and windows sealed. Then get some heavy drapes to really block out the cold. But be sure to get all the sunlight you can - so open then during the sunny parts of the day.

We aren't really "window dressing" people... and frankly for most of the windows the only ones that can see in are the chickens. So sometimes we improvise with heavy blankets for the bare windows if it's going to be really cold.

Then, as Mavis says, "Use all the heat you pay for." I like her tip of peeping open the oven when you are done baking. However, I like to say that first you should have a baking day - strategically on the coldest days.

Get some bread going, start some snacks, make pizza (with that 500* oven preheat..), and to really hit it out of the park - make a really big roast or a slowly braised dish. Really swing for the fences and get a turkey and roast it up. Turkey? Sure! Why not? Or a big ol' pork roast - that's good too. Anything to keep the oven going and as a bonus - you get dinner. And snacks. Put what you don't eat right away into the freezer and then when you need cookies - they are there waiting for you.

Next, bring on the bodies. In extreme situations, pile everyone into the same room. I almost never have the dogs sleep in the room with us but one nite a couple months ago they were all in there with me. I can tell you that 450lbs of dogs generated enough heat to make the bedroom at least 15* warmer than the rest of the house. When they say a "three dog night" they are not kidding. Note, none of these dogs were actually ON the bed with me.

However, regardless of being dogless at night I almost always have our oldest and boniest cat, Teddi Grumpkins, to keep me warm. The cats tend to pile on us when the fire downstairs gets low... or if they want something. Or if I sit down somewhere. So get cats. Lots and lots of cats.

And last... you just kinda get used to it. We are cool weather people naturally so it's easy for me to be in a coolish house. When we go to other people's houses we think it's just really weird if it's too warm.... like 65* or more. Now if you weren't used to it and woke up one morning to see it was 51* then it might be too weird for you but we aren't overly concerned. About 56* is pretty normal. But downstairs by the wood stove is usually pretty nice...and that is where you will usually find me. 

Happy Tuesday everyone! Are you keeping warm in a cool house?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Baby Goats and Goat Polio

I'm getting a lot of folks looking for information on how to bottle feed baby goats and also on how to treat goat polio. So I'm just going to give some quick links and a really cute video.

My post, "How to Bottle Feed Baby Goats or Be the Udder" is apparently world famous. I think it's because of this screamingly cute video of Nibbles' babies, the Too Cutes.

How totes adorbs is this? Toteable goats getting their yum on...

But I also think it helps that we aren't so uptight about bottle feeding goats... and that the sad lamentations of uncooperative goats - even cute ones - has zero effect on my cold, cold heart. We do not have any crying over bottle feeding baby goats. Just success. Maybe these methods won't work for you but they work great for us.

 Or the easiest solution to bottle feeding baby goats - just get another goat to do it. Thanks Dahli!

Next, it seems that folks are having problems with goat polio. This is my guide for treating goats with Polioencephalomalacia. But first, remember: I am not a vet. I don't play a vet on TV. I never wanted to be a vet. I am not diagnosing your goat now or ever. If you goat is sick, call your vet. Got it?

We have a lot of experience with goat polio because Debbie gets it every year. Nope she hasn't flopped over dead yet and nope it's not because of the cruel and unusual treatment she gets here. My completely unsubstantiated, un-scientific guess is that it's probably because she is just susceptible to it and due to only eating hay. Even good hay. I believe this because as soon as we trot her out to stand in the bramble patch to eat blackberries she gets better. Wildly better. As in, "What? Was there a problem?" better. I'm sure there are real goat people who disagree but that's OK.

So during the winter we battle Debbie's reoccurring goat polio by staying ahead of it and springing to action if we see signs of stress. Giving your goat Vitamin B will not hurt her and whatever her body doesn't use will just get excreted. So if you goat is acting weird, isn't eating, is "star gazing" or stiff legged do not hesitate! Take action immediately. If you are lucky you can get the injectable form of thiamine (which is just Vitamin B1) from a vet... but if you can't get a vet to come out or if your goat has symptoms then run right down to your nearest grocery or drug store and get the people version of Vitamin B1 tablets until help arrives.

Happy Monday everyone! Is your goat acting weird? Are you bottle feeding baby goats?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sustanined Cold

Unless you've been living under a rock you're probably aware that the Death Cold of DOOM is on its way. Oh yeah... the Polar Vortex has the nerve to show back up. All they way down to Florida. Buckle up, friends, we are in for a cold ride.

Snow goofs.

If you don't live in the Plains/Mid-West/East Side you might be wondering what all the crying is about - it's cold in the winter, right? Yep. But this is something else. Also this has been a prolonged period of sustained cold. Normally we'd have a few extremely cold days, complain about it, then get back to "cold but tolerable." This.. this is something different. This gal does a good job of telling you what we are headed for. Tuesday and Wednesday are gonna be one cold mutha.

The branch manager.

For our friends in the South please get your storm preps done, read up on how to keep your pipes from freezing, put shoes/boots, warm socks, and a jacket in your car for your drive to work (you know who you are), and stock up on feed and straw. We midwesterners may be rolling our eyes at your "cold" temps but really - we are worried about you and your flocks

So what do you do when we are headed for -11* actual and -35* wind chills?

The best you can.

At this point you might need to brace yourself for some losses - and extremely dangerous working conditions. This weather is no joke. If it normally takes you 45 minutes to do chores but you could get frostbite in 15 minutes.. well. You need to get your ducks in a row. This chart shows how winds and temperature combine for those "feels like" temps and also how fast frostbite can occur. So get ready now to deal with this cold.

How are you supposed to work in those conditions? Carefully, my friend, very carefully. Bundle up, layer up, and keep covered up. If this cold weather is new to you and you don't have a good winter jacket leave right now, go to Old Navy, and buy one of their oversized puffy coats on sale for like $15. Seriously. We buy them by the gross and never think twice about them getting ruined.

Then have a clear strategy for doing your chores. Don't leave it to "We'll just hurry." Nope. Have it planned out in your mind for the least amount of walking around and the least amount of exposure.  Don't walk over to the hen house empty handed to get their water buckets. Take all the feed over and bring the buckets back. Carry a shake of hay in one hand and a scoop of feed in the other. If it normally takes 4 trips back and forth then get organized so you can do it in two.

Snow face.

Having extra buckets ready makes everything easy. If you can't break the ice out of the buckets, bring them inside and turn them upside down in the bathtub to thaw out.

Our main "base" is our garage/barn. The faucet is right by the door. So we have empty, or thawed out, buckets ready to go. We each have specific tasks so there is no over lap or "Oh I thought you were getting the goose buckets?" Then we regroup in our garage, warm up, and plan or next attack. For Tuesday/Wed I think I might have chores alone - which means I'll have to break up the tasks into two different groups - one for the Turkey House Side and one for the Chicken House side - with a warm up break for me inside.

Next, get all your critters warmly bedded down. Make sure everyone is double stacked and out of the wind. Normally our turkeys are in the turkey house. Not now... the turkeys are bunking with the chickens. It's nothing but tailfeathers to elbows in there. They are stacked in tight. This is good because all those bodies create heat and all that snuggling keeps everyone warm. It is the truth that the hen house is probably the warmest spot and we have no heat lamps out there.

If you can, wait until the sun comes up to do morning chores.... and start evening chores well before sundown. This way everyone is closed up, settled, and as warm as possible until you get the doors open...and in the afternoon they have time to get their houses warmed up before the real cold take hold..

Snow face derp.

For these next cold days the entire barnyard will be cooped up - including the barncats. This will result in some angry scowls but that's OK. Somehow everyone will get along - even the most bitter enemies know that something is wrong and they will all simmer down.

Of course as soon as this weather breaks will get the doors open and shove everyone outside. We ran the goats over to the goat yard today. It was pretty funny watching them mush thru the snow. Mostly they will just stay inside the goat house but having too close of quarters for too long isn't a great solution.

What about little critters? Thankfully we don't have any goats kidding this early in the season. But if you do then check out my friend Vicki's post about goats in coats and how to put together a kid warming station.

My other resources for this kind of Insanity Cold are:

* This post on extreme cold weather livestock care
* Defeating the Four Horsemen of the Snowpocalypse
* Cold weather goat shufflin'
* My Storm Prep list
* The National Weather Service site - put in your zip code for current conditions, watches, and warnings.

Be sure you've done your storm preps for the house also. The last time we had the extra cold temps one of my pal's was out of power as a result of something not weather related. Normally it would just be annoying but busted pipes and whatnot are not funny at all. Got your alternative heat source ready to go? Did you have a baking day? Do you have the laundry done? Water? Supplies? Trucks gassed up?

We can do this, right folks? This next winter blast? All together now - we can do this!

Happy Sunday everyone! It's time for another piece of pie and some snuggling with Nicholas.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Workin' Dog Harness

We got the new harness for Zander! It's a real "working dog" harness and I'm thrilled. At first our Bubby was a little nervous about it.

 Worried Bubby look.

But we realized that we have only ever put a harness or a collar on him when we were going to the vet. So I have him a rawhide chew and told him how handsome he was.

Like a boss.

Then he got the feel for it and was rockin' it like a boss.

Wait. Go back. What? We don't collar our dogs? Nope. Or cats or goats or anybody else. Can you believe it? So.... what happens if I have to get ahold of someone?

Normally we just control everyone with verbal commands or a loud hand clap to get their attention. But, son, if we have a situation that is so far out of control that I have to snatch you up then it is going to be by the hide. That's how we do it around here.

So why the harness? A couple reasons. First, we didn't have a collar or a harness that was big enough for Zander. We found this out the hard way when we had to rush him to the vet in what can only be described as Commander Zander's PoopStorm 2014. I don't mind telling you... it was ugly. But we got him fixed up (and I just used a slip leash for the visit). However, this wasn't an optimal solution and we needed to do something.

He's got the hang of it. Look at his upright and proud carriage....and a goofy Bub look.

Dogs like Zander - thick necks and huge shoulders - can easily slip out of collars so breeders in the know recommend this kind of harness. For Zander we actually went one model up... mostly because it was exceptionally sturdy... and how great would it be if he could pull stuff? So we got him the the pulling model.  *OFG dreams of mushing thru the snow with her Dog Horde*  We also liked this model because the "handle" on top of the harness is much more pronounced and easy to grab.

Since Zander is getting a promotion I need to have a way to take him into the barnyard with me and a harness is a great way to keep him close. We've worked with Kai in a harness and she loves it. She did great when she helped us last year with our Hog Harvest (careful with this click it's to a butcher post). Looking forward to this fall you can bet I'll be standing there with both Kai and Zander as back up for our next butchering day.

In the meantime I'll be teaching Zander our commands "guard Momma" by positioning him in front of me as needed. I'll also see if he can help round the goats up. I can use the "handle" to keep him by my side while I teach him to walk calmly around the goats to herd them up.

Plus the pulling features of the harness will allow me to give him a "job" of carrying or pulling things (who needs a pony to pull a cart when we have a dog this big!). One of the things we teach our dogs is "Find momma/daddy." This is great command to send the dogs between us. So if one of us is at the top of the hill with the tools and the other is down fixing the fence - we can easily send Zander down with tools clipped on his harness. How great is that?  And I can probably get a holder for my phone so Zander can be my radio man.

We are thrilled with this harness and can't wait to get to work. You can be sure that we will get one for Kai also. She loves her current harness - which we call her "pretty girl necklace" - but she'll get a real workin' dog harness soon.

Thanks to the folks at Julius K-9 for their fine products!

Happy Friday everyone! Any body got any real mushing dogs?

Editor's note: Again with the associate links to Amazon? Yep - someone is going to ask so here are the links to the harnesses. Remember if you order something thru my Amazon store,  from one of the links, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page I'll get a tiny percentage of the sale. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon to show your support. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Polar Vortex: Nicholas's Hard Day #9

Nicholas crawled up in my lap and gave a heavy sigh. I didn't have to ask what was weighing on his heavy heart... I already knew. The Polar Vortex... it's back.

 Nicholas can't stand the cold. 

"What's wrong little buddy?" I asked as he shoved my laptop out of the way and stretched his big frame across my lap.

"I need love, Momma, I need love to warm my cold, cold, heart. I might die of the cold." He said.

I looked at the room thermometer. "Honey, its 72* in here. That woodstove is throwing like 55million BTU's and I'm in shorts. You aren't going to die of the cold."

"So cold....." He woed......."Sooo.... soooo.... cold...." The huge cat sniffed like he was gonna work up a tear.

"You wanna go watch the birds in the window? I just gave them some more food. That's fun - looking at the birds, right?" I hoped to snap him out of the winter of his discontent.

Nicholas needs my love to keep him warm.

"No." He mewed pitifully. "I'll just stay here in your lap. Your love will keep me warm."

It is a fact that cats have slightly higher body temperatures than people and I was getting hot under this enormous fur blanket draped all over me. Also the room was getting warmer thanks to the big load of wood we got over the weekend.

"You sure you don't want to get up and go and do something, Nicholas?" I asked squirming under our largest cat. I was starting to lose feeling in my legs.

"No, Momma, I'll.... just...... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz."

And he was asleep. I was trapped under a heavy Nicholas or the better part of an hour on that, his most recent  Hard Day which was the ninth of such.

We can do this, people, right? We can get thru this next cold stretch? Please? Someone? Someone please say we can DO this?

Nicholas's Hard Day #1
Nicholas's Hard Day #2
Nicholas's Hard Day #3
Nicholas's Hard Day #4
Nicholas's Hard Day #5
Nicholas's Hard Day #6 
Nicholas's Hard Day #7
Nicholas's Hard Day#8
Nicholas's Hard Day #9 
Nicholas's Hard Day #10 

Happy Wednesday everyone! I'm going to be spending a lot of time by the fire today. I can just tell.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On training hard working farm dogs.

I got a kick out of one of the questions on my post the other day about that little buckling and how he met the dog. And thanks, also, everyone for your fun comments and on 'the facebook' about Zander's heroic performance. 

The question was, did I train the dogs to do that?

 My Extremely Good Sir.

The answer is... did I train the dogs? Yep. To do that? Not necessarily. I train them to be good working dogs, to be obedient to me, to learn how to work the way I want them to, and to want to be helpful. I can thank their breed's tendencies to be naturally protective, have higher than average smarts, and to be excited to work with me. I guess you can say that we encouraged these traits.....and we tweaked their natural behaviors so it made sense with what we do here on the farm.

Can you train your dog to do this kind of thing? Maybe. As my friend SD always says, you get the dog you deserve. Meaning, it's a lot of work and you get what you put into it. We put a lot of work into it and it's totally worth it.

Our beautiful Kai, would kill ducks all day long if I left her unsupervised.

Right now I'm sitting here waiting for the UPS guy to bring me the new working dog harness I just ordered for Zander. I can't wait. This will allow me to work with him more with the livestock...and frankly our largest collar doesn't fit him and our biggest harness is now too small. (Dog brag: his chest is 42". You read that right.)

My best dog training posts can be found here on my What I Know About Dogs page. It links to my dog training tips. My most important posts are probably:

Never Bring A Goat To A Dog Fight. The most important rule in livestock... don't ever let your dogs play with your goats. Or livestock. Ever. Not even once.

More on Dogs and Livestock. More on why we have these big dogs. What about the livestock - aren't they in danger? Yes. But....

And one of my favorites.... Go Watch the Gate. Farm doggin' level - expert. Watch Ti at work with a baby goat.

Notorious poop eater. Rarely unsupervised outside.

When I got to The Good Land I had virtually no experience as an adult with dogs. We had dogs when I was growing up but they were just good family dogs with no real training. What I had going for me was that I'm naturally bossy and I'm very disciplined in some things. I'm not disciplined in folding the laundry and putting it away... But I can guarantee you that I wield my pack with the iron first of discipline. No shenanigans. No "OK just this once." No "My dog owns me." Nope. Nada. None of that.  We are a lean, mean, hard workin' farm dog machine. I am relentless in my dog training.

I also can't be frustrated, fatigued, or worn down by sneaky, naughty, or bad behavior. The Dog Horde knows with 100% accuracy what will happen when they don't do their jobs or if they misbehave.

Dog tumble. We encourage this to get the wiggles out.

I'm also clear on the limits the dogs have. I would be a fool to just let Kai and Zander, with their higher than average prey drives, out into the hen yard. It would be a poultry massacre. But Titan? Sure he goes out by himself. Mostly I know what he's doing out there and I never leave him unsupervised very long. And honestly... he's usually waiting by the door for me. If I let Lucky outside unsupervised he would just eat a lot of goose poop and I can't have that so that's why he stays where I can see him.

How do you get your dog to do what you want? Show him how to work. Be consistent. Tell him what to do as opposed to always harping at him what NOT to do. Be with them. Cultivate a good relationship so they are eager to work with you. Dogs love to have a job. They love when you are their boss and together you are out there doing the work. Dogs love to be part of a group that accomplishes something - even if it is going out to get the mail. Dogs love when you are happy with them. It's not any more complicated than that.

As far as training tools feel free to check out Dogs and Dog Training section of my Amazon store.  For me, the most important books on dog training are:

Be the Pack Leaderby Cesar Milan. The key concept here is that you have to be the boss of your dog. Throw that "dogs are just little people" crap right in the trash. Your dog is happiest being a dog.

How to Be Your Dog's Best Friendby the Monks of New Skete. This focuses on training German Shepherds but has outstanding training techniques for all dogs. Plus the brothers really know their stuff. If you are getting a puppy I can't recommend enough,  The Art of Raising a Puppy.

The Farmer's Dog is more of a technical training manual for herding dogs... but wow I really learned a lot from it.

What kind of dog should you get? I dunno. But the first thing you should do is throw out that notion that just because a dog is a certain breed then you are going to have instant success. Nope. Not going to happen. Regardless of breed, pedigree, or who that dog's momma is you need to train him.

It also depends on your family situation. Families should have family dogs. Kids and "tough" dogs don't always go well together. Even if you can train your kids to treat that dog well... inevitably children come with friends - and they may not know what to do. Also if you have a highly protective dog he might not know when your kids and their friends are just rough housing - or if your kid is really in danger.

The Black Death. Like a boss. We just think of him as our Bubby.

Not everyone can or should have a big dog. You can't fake it with dogs and if someone in your family is the least bit nervous then that dog will know it and use it to their advantage to challenge them. Then you have the sad situation where the dog is branded as "bad" and dumped at the shelter. Or worse.  Most any medium-ish barking dog will send thieves and ne'erdowellers to rob the next house... so don't get more dog than is appropriate. This is not a character judgement or a contest - it's just good sense. 

The other thing I'll say is that if you are considering another dog because the one you have now isn't "good enough" then you might have some more thinking to do. If you don't have control over the dog you have now... what makes you think that another dog is going to be any different? Certain breeds will have specific traits but if those characteristics aren't cultivated and that dog isn't trained then all you'll have is two goofball dogs who are more interested in digging in the garbage then working for you. What is going to change with the new dog? The effort you are putting into him? Why aren't you putting that same effort into your existing dog?

Sure you could train a chihuahua to herd goats (you know who you are) .. altho it's kind of a crazy idea... so a herding dog makes much more sense. But if that little dog of yours is a nightmare then carefully consider getting a high energy dog who might be smarter than you, bores easily, is stubborn, and needs a lot of exercise. If you are gone to work 15 hours a day then come home and let that dog out of its crate and out in the yard unsupervised.... and wonder why he's killing your chickens.. well. You might be looking at the wrong end of the leash.

So be realistic in what is appropriate for you and your life.

He's looking at goat shenanigans and wondering when I'm going to call him to action.

We have big and tough dogs because it suits our personality, needs, and family structure. I need big dogs to help me with bigger-than-me livestock. My husband and I are both tough characters and work together to make sure we keep our pack structure and hierarchy in line... and we both agree on standards of dog behavior. So having "tough" dogs works for us. But it's not for everyone.

So that is the long answer to, "Did you train your dogs to do that?"

Happy Tuesday everyone! Are you waiting for the UPS guy to bring something?

Editor's note: Is your UPS guy bringing you something from Amazon? He should be! Quick! Order something thru my Amazon store or from one of the links, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. Remember, anything you buy from Amazon or from these links gets me a tiny percentage of the sale. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon. Thanks!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Cold is Getting Old

So it's not the Polar Vortex... it's just an Arctic Blast... Well. I feel much better about the coming freezing weather for this next week.

Sunflowers.... I'm just waiting for sunflowers...

In the meantime.... remember when it was summer and everyone was happy? Yeah... so do I. I just know that we are on the down side and sliding toward the warm weather. Come on spring!

Happy Sunday everyone! Bundle up - the Arctic Blast is coming!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

And that is all that I got to say about that.

A rattly truck squeaked to a stop in front of the feedstore in a certain small town. The driver heard the ruckus inside before he even got to the steps and opened the door to the shop. Townsfolk were hollerin' – real mean like –  at someone. The crowd was big and angry. A small figure was taking the brunt of their anger. She was defiant but there was no mistaking the tears behind her eyes.

Just behind the driver a short, unkempt woman with a dirty shirt, a bad pony tail, and muddy workboots walked thru the door.

“Hey there, OFG!” Said the man from the truck. When he smiled his eyes twinkled like the morning stars. When he hugged her hello it was like green fields and blue skies. She felt like the sun was shining just for her.

“Shep!” She cried, “I'm so glad to see you!”  He was like an older brother she always wanted. He was comforting and kind and always gave her good advice.

They called him Ol' Shep on account of how he was a good shepherd – he was the best and that was the truth of it. But he wasn't particularly old, of course. He was tall and broad and strong. Ol' Shep looked like he'd been roughly used by the weather and he was well scarred by his work. He always carried his shepherds hook. He had never been known to stop looking for a lost sheep until he found it. Everyone who knew him loved him. He didn't always say much but when he did – it mattered.

OFG noticed the crowd and their anger and the woman who was gettin' the worst of it. She gestured with her head toward the goin's on, “What's that about, Shep?” OFG asked.

“Well,” He said, “You know how folks are... that woman... she's made some mistakes.”

“That's terrible. Does she really deserve all that hollerin'? I mean, what could she have done?” OFG was looking at the crowd. The woman was on the ground now and someone had kicked her. She pulled herself into a ball trying to protect herself. OFG wondered how far this was going to go. She gave Shep a worried look. Shep nodded his head faintly, concern on his face also.

OFG then recognized the woman. She had seen her around...and yeah. That woman had made some mistakes. Farming mistakes. Business mistakes. There had been losses. Some of it was just bad luck.  It could have happened to anyone.

“Someone should do something, Shep.” Said OFG.

“Yep. Someone should.” Shep was looking right at her.

“Oh no...no.. no.. not me.” Shep was still looking at OFG with those morning star eyes. “That gal doesn't even know me, Shep. That is not my fight. She's doing just fine on her own. She'll figure it out.”

Just then a tear welled up in the woman's eye... the crowd started to laugh and mock her. The woman tried to get to her feet under her but someone pushed her roughly aside and she fell. “Serves you right!” Someone from the crowd yelled.

Ol' Shep put his hand on OFG's shoulder and pushed her forward. “I got you, don't you worry.” He said.

OFG surveyed the crowd. They were all there.... Hypocrite Harry, Do Nothing Dorothy, Loud Mouth Lucy, Mean Spirited Margie, Self Righteous Steve, Flaw Finder Fred, the one they called Mocking Jay, and all the rest. Malcontents. Trouble makers. Meddlers. Criticizers.

OFG squared her shoulders, Ol' Shep's hand was still on her back. “Hey!” She called to the crowd.

Some of them turned to her. “Oh good. You're here, OFG! Look! Just look what we got here. This one...” Said their ringleader, Mean Spirited Margie, as she shoved the woman down again.  Mocking Jay laughed loudly.

“What are you doing to her? Why don't you just leave her alone! Do you really have time to come here and make fun of this woman?” Asked OFG.  “Ain't you got chores or something farm related you should be doin', Margie?”

“Oh no! I got nothin' to do all day but call out all this gal's problems. She made mistakes and she got too big for her britches and we are gonna put her in her place.”

“That's right,” Said Flaw Finder Fred, “Too big for her britches! Unlike us decent folks who ain't got the pride on them – like her.”

Flaw Finder Fred kicked at the woman with his dirty boot. “Ain't no one likes anybody who's got the pride on them. Take me for instance, all's I got is humility. Tip top number one humility that is me.” He pointed to himself proudly.

“Is that right?” Asked OFG wonderin' where all that humility went to if you used yourself as the plumb line for the judgment of others.

“And she is trying to make money off her farm!” Called Hypocrite Harry. “Can you believe it! She's trying to earn a living from her farm. And sellin' things! Yes she is! Sellin' things.” He practically hissed.

“How's that farm market doin' you for, Harry? You makin' money on it. On your farm?” Said OFG giving Harry a hard look.

“Well. Now that's different.” Said Harry.

“Really.” Answered OFG still lookin' at the hypocrite standing in front of her.

Loud Mouth Lucy pushed forward from the crowd. “You don't get it, OFG, that woman – some of her chickens died. Died! It was horrible. Just horrible. Whoever heard of chickens dyin' on a farm! And she raised her pigs in the mud! The MUD!” Lucy got a fan out of her oversized purse and started fanning herself like she had the vapors.

This was all getting to be to much for OFG.

“Which one of you had livestock losses last year? Or I should ask, who didn't?” OFG called to the crowd, “You? Fred? Didn't you lose a whole clutch of chicks? Lucy, didn't your ducks all get killed by coyotes? Steve, I believe it was you who lost 3 baby goats to the cold, wasn't it?” OFG looked each of them in the eye.

Now came Do Nothing Dorothy. “OFG everybody knows that livestock shouldn't die! You haven't had any losses, now have you, dear?”

“Where did you get such a ridiculous notion, Dorothy? Of course I've had losses.  Do you... wait...do you even farm? I thought you lived in town.” Said OFG.

“Well I read it on the Wiki, for heavens sakes!”, Said Dorothy, “I don't actually have to farm to know about it. Any fool could see...” But then Dorothy's voice kinda trailed off then she heard what she was saying out loud. “Well... I mean...” Flustered, Dorothy muttered something and headed out the door.  She slammed it with a huff.

Some others in the crowd had started to drift off also.

The complainers, the agitators, the pointers, the mockers, the fault finders, the hangers on, the former friends, and the worst -  the folks who just wanted to feel important by putting someone else down. OFG was disgusted by the lot of them.

“But she deserves it!” Said Ranting Randy. “... why, there was someone who knew someone who saw a guy a the Gas n Sip who said their cousin was ripped off by that woman.”

“Then I'm sure there is a better way to handle it then a bunch of you goofs all getting together to nit and pick every little...and big... mistake that someone has made.  If you don't like what she sells then don't buy it. If you don't want to hear what she has to say then don't read it. But why would you all get together every other day and hash and rehash it all?” Said OFG wondering if any of them had any sense at all.

“How about you, Schadenfreude Shelly, do you really feel better by mocking someone who may lose their livelihood? You really don't have anything better to say or do?” Said OFG incredulously. She was getting mad now and put her hands on her hips.

“Well she's POOR!” Spat Point It Out Paul. “She ain't got no money and talks about it.”

“Yes,” Said OFG nodding her head, “Because I never heard of anyone having hard times during the worst financial stretch in several generations. Yep. I'm positive she is the only one with money troubles. If I had a dollar for everyone who made a bad financial decision in the last couple years … well, then I wouldn't have any money problems either.”

“Oh hell's bells.” Said Paul as he slapped his leg with his dirty hat and stomped out toward the door.

“Look,” Said OFG to the rest of the crowd, “I'm not saying that mistakes weren't made. I'm not defending everything this woman has done – I don't even know her. But what I do know is that you probably don't have the full story. All's you are is a bunch of strangers on the internet.  And you have to know that what you are doing is senseless.  And mean. How would you like every mistake you've ever made scrawled all over the interweb? What if every loss, every incorrectly spoken word, or every hard lesson learned was used against you? Is this really how you would want to be treated?”

The crowd started muttering and backing away from the woman. Pretty soon the crowd had broken up and it was OFG and the woman in the feedstore. “You want a ride home, honey?” Asked OFG.

The woman just shook her head, got up from the floor, and hurried out the door.

OFG turned to see Ol' Shep still standing there. He was smiling at her as he handed a flier he pulled from the bulletin board. It was about an anti-bullying program starting over at the local high school.

“I think some of the grown ups around here need this more than that kids, Shep. Maybe we should start a new program for adults?”

Shep just kinda laughed and looked down at his boots and then back up to OFG.  “Well, OFG, that program has been around for a while but I suspect folks have just forgotten that you should treat others the way you'd want to be treated.”

“Ah yes. I think I remember that one. We should all keep that in mind, huh? I get that....But why are they so mean?” Said OFG.

“You see, OFG, everyone wants grace. But no one wants to give it. If you are the one who's had a run of bad luck or had a hard loss or said something stupid... well. Then you'd want folks to overlook it and move on. But them folks... well. All they want to do is put other people down. If you were to hang out their laundry you'd see their mistakes too. See their losses and all the dumb things they have said or done. It's a hard thing. But you can bet that if they were the one getting kicked around all they would want is someone to step up for them. ”  He smiled at her.

“You done good, OFG.” Said Shep “You done real good. Now come here. ” He hugged her goodbye and promised to come round her place. “You keep your head on straight, now.” He called as he walked out to his rattly old truck, put his shepherds hook in the back, and climbed into the drivers seat.

“You think that did any good, Father?” Said Shep to the older one in the passenger seat.

“We'll see, Son, sometimes it just takes one person to make a difference. You know that.” Said the Father. “But you keep your eye on that OFG just in case the crowd turns ugly on her.”

“Oh. I'm not worried about her. She's good and tough.” Ol' Shep smiled and they pulled onto the road and drove away thru sunshine, blue skies, and green fields.

Editor's Note:
For those of you who don't know what this is about just go on about your day.  I'm not giving it any more airplay. Do not read any further. Have a great weekend.

For those of you who do know what this is about and came over here expecting me to jump in with you in making fun of someone who has made mistakes or has hard times.... well then. You have come to the wrong place. We don't do that here. We don't ridicule or belittle or make fun of people who may or may not deserve the kind of stuff you are dishing out.  If that is you then shame on you. Get your kit together and get off my blog, get off my facebook, and do not comment here.  And if I may quote the great bard, Taylor Swift.... "All you are is mean."

You wanna have something to say about me in your mean farm girls club because I don't have time for your foolishness? Do it. I ain't about to bawl because of what you might say about me. I will mock you privately to my real friends - then delete, block, and unfriend you and I will never think about you again. 

Smell ya, later, haters. Go on and get out of here. And that is all that I got to say about that.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Butchering hogs

This is for my buddy who needs to get out there and butcher that hog but had some kind of excuse about why he couldn't look up the instructions. You know of whom I speak...

How to - the best step by step guide ever. (And mighty popular on the pinterest if I may say so)
WARNING: new people and folks willing to make that risky click... I am not kidding this link is to an extremely graphic how to butcher post. Blood, guts, headless hogs layin' there in the snow. Do not click it if you are going to burst into tears.

Then here is the 2011 "What really happened" post. MORE PICTURES of a glorious tale of butchering victory. Guts n everything. Don't click if you can't handle it.

2012 was just as awesome... but this time we did a late summer/early fall butchering where we learned that summer hog butchering sucks. But it works.  This was the second hog.

Remember that we butchered early in the year in 2013....we did not have summer hogs for a fall harvest. This is day one of two and this could also be my best disclaimer yet. Plus I got to use the phrase, "... the dogs and I would rush in and I would sledge that pig with the axe." Glorious. What a day! Kai was so brave - her first real hog harvest.

And just to show off... my favorite self portrait yet. Mine enemy was slain. 

There wasn't much reporting of the actual doin's for hog #4...other than that pig got out and we found him in the dog yard. Zander gave him a good woofing and peed in its general direction.

So there you have it, friend, get out there and get that hog butchered.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lunar Headache

I keep trying to write a post today but I have a shrieking headache. I think the full moon has been giving me fits....and the weather swung the other way back into winter. Whatever the reason I keep squinting at the screen and all I see is stars. So let's just look at Little Mo and I'll smell you guys later...

Little Mo, the cure for everything. Isn't he 'totes adorbs'?

Happy whatever-day-it-is! Did the full moon give you fits?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tommy Boy Meets The Dog

I still can't get over the hair....

 Tommy Boy and his wild, wild, hair....

So. Tommy met The Dog. That.... guy.... I told him to watch his P's and Q's but Tommy didn't and he took a run at me. He shouldn't have reared up on his hind legs. He shouldn't have put his head down or reached ramming speed.  And worst of all, he really shouldn't have done this when my #1 Dog was in the goat yard with me. There won't be anymore of those shenanigans.

Tommy's previous own let me know that he could be "protective" of his lady loves and when I brought Debbie into the goat yard after being sequestered with Nibs for a few days.. let's just say that Tommy went gaga for her. Admittedly he was a little out of his mind with goaty love. But we believe in rules, discipline, and self control around here. My #1 Dog in my chief enforcer.

My #1 Dog and Chief Enforcer.

I'll use this opportunity as a reminder to never, ever let your dog "play" with your goats. My #1 was not playin' and Tommy Boy got the business end of my #1's "Don't Touch My Momma" wrath.  My Good Sir had that buck laid out in a heartbeat. Tommy Boy was dazed and in a ruined heap wondering what happened. That goat was fine, of course, and of course I called Titan off. Tommy Boy is giving me a wide berth now - as he should.

It should be noted that these are pretty high level, professional working dog maneuvers and if your dog is sitting beside you on the couch eating ice cream out of your bowl... well.. it might not go so well for you. But my #1 Dog works with me in the barnyard and knows exactly what the limits are and when to engage the livestock. I've learned to trust his instincts - it's part of what makes us such a good team. He knew exactly what he was doing.

It's important that the livestock see my working dogs as an extension of me, their shepherd. This allows me to work more easily in the barnyard without always looking over my shoulder to see who is running up on me. In most cases, if anyone is out of line all I really need to do is yell, "Dog!" and the troops scatter or get into formation - which ever is appropriate. Tommy Boy is now clear on this concept.

Zander, The Brute Squad. May be getting a promotion.

The big story in all of this, tho, was Zander. Kai and Zander were in the dog yard when I got Titan out to help me in the barnyard. I didn't latch their gate right but I figured it would be OK for just a second. As soon as all of this went down with Tommy Boy I turned around... and there was Zander standing right behind me.

This was a wow moment for me and I absolutely beamed with pride. Here's the thing. I was at the top of the goat yard but Dog#1 had Tommy in the lower yard - by that gate. If Zander really just wanted to get in on the "kill" then he would have gone to the lower gate. But instead he busted out of the dog yard to guard me. This is huge. This means that he knows guarding me is more important than chasing prey...and this means.... bigger livestock could be in our future.

This could be a game changer. We'll have to see. But regardless it could be that Zander is going to get a promotion here very soon.

In the meantime, we will find out next week if Tommy Boy was worth the drive. Darla and Daisy are looking a little more puffy ...we'll have to see if they come back into heat. All my goat dreams could be coming true. If we end up with a herd of goats I know that I have the man power.. or should I say "dog power" to keep them all in line.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Are your dogs helping you?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Heating with Slats

Wow did we score a sweet deal this weekend! We needed to load up on firewood so we drove over to our local Amish guy.

 Slats for firewood.

Unfortunately they did not have a full truckload of firewood (for $60) but did we want to fill up our big truck with some "slats?"

"Um.... I dunno....."

"It's only $35?"


Wow what a deal! The local Amish guys have their own sawmills, not only do they give away sawdust (you have to load it yourself) but they also sell the outside pieces of the lumber they mill. Basically they are cut up pieces of the extra parts of bark and wood left over to square up the wood pieces to be processed later. I had heard about these "slats" from someone else... but I wasn't sold on using it for heating. I mean how could it work? 

It works like a dream. First it was extremely well seasoned and very easy to split up into even smaller pieces. Next, it's almost entirely hardwood. We found a couple pieces of pine but it's mostly maple, oak, and cherry. Some of the pieces are really big.

Bucket of kindling

There are also some really small pieces - we were sure to get some of those. When I loaded out the truck I put these smaller slats into buckets and we will use them for kindling. The first fire I made with the slats was the easiest start I've had this whole season. It burns like a dream, is easy to handle, and makes a nice hot fire. Based on the number of cats in puddles around the stove I'd say it was a hit.

The only downside is that these slats do not stack neatly. I was able to put them in different piles based on size but it's mostly just a heap. Some of the pieces are absolutely stunning and some are in perfect blocks. I'd say this was one of our best purchases and we will definitely be back to get another load.

But not today - we are already at 40* heading to 50*! Someone keep me from getting out there and planting something! What a relief from the brutal cold earlier... but when it gets cold again we are ready to heat the house with slats.

Happy Monday everyone!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

All American-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner ON SALE!

Stop the presses! Go and get your wallet! Holy moly have you seen the price on the All American 921 21-1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner?  I don't know when or for how long but wow this is a great price...This is the 21.5 quart model number 921 for just $188! With FREE shipping!


 If I had $200 sitting in my pocket I would hop right on this deal.... heaven knows I love my Presto - both of them - but I always wanted this baby. When I looked at a second canner I remember that the All American being closer to $300 which is why I couldn't get it. But for $188 this is a great deal.

Will it "pay for itself?" Sure! If you use it, of course. Home canning is fun and easy and yields terrific results. I dunno about you but processed food is getting creepier and creeper so I'm always glad to just do it myself. Want to get started in canning? This is the ticket.

Thanks to my pal, L, who brought this to my attention.

Happy Saturday everyone! Are you looking at canners - quick! Grab this terrific deal while it lasts!

Editor's note: Again with the affiliate links to Amazon and another disclaimer? Yep you betcha! But what a deal - how could you blame me? Remember, anything you buy from Amazon from these links gets me a tiny percentage of the sale. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. Thanks! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Creepy Meat Wagon... of DOOM!

Yesterday, Thursday, I completed probably the most hilarious project to date. I trolleyed the meat chickens from their former home in the garage across the yard and into their new spot in the turkey house. It was extremely funny.

The meats were shocked. Shocked I tell you.

Normally when we move the meat chickens we transport them in buckets... because they are young and small. However, this winter's creepy meats are more chicken sized and one alone would fill a bucket. There was no conceivable way, I determined, to herd the meats all the way across the yard. And I wasn't going to carry one meat at a time. So I had to get creative.

Enter the garden trolley. It's one of my favorite things. Originally christened the "Bacon Wagon of DOOM" by Chai Chai it soon became the Creepy Meat Wagon... of, you know, ... Doom. It was awesome.

My Dog#1 thought it was amazing.

At first the meats eyed my trolley with suspicion. Then they freaked out. Then they thought it was pretty good. They were ridin' high and enjoying the scenery.

You have to see this footage of the meats rollin' along!

Pretty soon we got over to the turkey house. When we rolled down the slight incline they all hunkered down like they were on some kind of creepy meat roller coaster. Only one of them put their wings up in defiance... however, upon closer inspection I saw that it was only because he kind of got tangled up in the piece of hog panel I used as a top to keep them all in the wagon.

Once they found the food they didn't care about their new space.

I popped each one out and into one side of the turkey house. They were astounded. Then they found the food and could not have cared less where they were. Until I brought out a water bucket. Then they went back to being astounded and had a big discussion about it. It was their first real bucket.

Action shots of the meat creepin' around their new spot.

With the first batch settled I gathered and trolleyed the rest of the meats over - with my #1 Dog's help. He kept them in line and generally danced around at all the excitement.

It was quite a day here draggin' around my creepy meat in the Doom Wagon.

Happy Friday everyone - do you have a Creepy Meat Wagon of Doom?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I found my old hen!

I can now safely say that we all made it! Take THAT you stupid polar vortex and get the heck out out out! I have had it. Ugh!

Smell ya later, polar vortex! Why don't you make some tracks and leave!

The best news is that after being missing all day I found my old hen - she was not there this morning and I was afraid that she didn't make it on our last horribly cold nite. But when I went out for chores I looked in one last spot...and there she was! She was kind of trapped under something in the garage.

She is a completely useless, lame, rickety, somewhat featherless, old bitty but I just love her.

So now that she is freed, fed, and happy I can finally relax knowing that we all made it. We didn't have any losses. These last several days have been really tough. Chores were hard, it was exhausting being outside, the house was difficult to heat, the dogs were bored, and the wind was relentless...but we made it.

Tomorrow it should be above freezing and I think I'll work outside the whole time.

Just like me - the barnyard hated being cooped up. The hens flew out of the chicken house, the ducks headed for the sunshine, and the geese generally tromped around screaming at everything and pooping on every surface.

The goats were glad to get outside too. But more on that later...

For now everyone can finally exhale and relax. We conquered the Evil Polar Vortex of DOOM!

Happy I-don't-even-know-what-day-it-is, everyone! Did you survive? Everyone OK?

Monday, January 6, 2014

It was so cold the interweb froze!

I'm not sure why I was surprised when our internet gave out earlier today - we are holding steady at a -6* with a -27* windchill. Zoikes! It was so cold the internet froze!

Me and the dog on the ice planet, Hoth.

Actually I don't know why we lost service but it's back on. Hopefully it will stay on but if not - we are just fine. In fact we are doing great. Everyone is tucked in and we are by the fire.

Tonite will be our hardest, coldest night but hopefully we'll be on the upswing by Wednesday.

For everyone in the polar vortex - stay strong, stay warm. Come on over to 'the facebook' where we've been comparing windchills all day. So far C. in Minnesota is winning. And we all have pretty hard feelings for the folks in Cali - you know of whom I speak....

For the folks in the south who've never seen this kind of thing.... be very careful this kind of extreme cold. Believe me, is nothing to fool around with. Check out ready.gov's checklist of do's and don'ts for yourself and your home. Keep your chickens in, keep your faucets dripping, and keep an emergency kit in your car (hat, gloves, boots, heavy jacket, blanket, etc.). Don't think just because there are not high winds that you won't lose power so be vigilant and stay ahead of the cold. 

Everyone in our barnyard is doing just fine. But technically they are not in the barnyard but they are all in houses and coops - tightly buttoned up and double stacked. It's amazing how the animals know that this is a bad situation and when they would normally be killing each other... well.. right now it's all the Peaceable Kingdom. Give it a couple days and they will be back to fighting and carrying on, I'm sure.

Stoke the fires and pile on the cats - it's looking to be a four dog night for sure!

Stay warm everyone!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Dowager Teddi Grumpkins

In honor of tonite's premier of Downton Abbey I present to you the Dowager Teddi Grumpkins...

 Teddi is our grumpiest cat

When I first heard about it I thought the show was called DownTOWN Abbey and I thought it was a sitcom about a cloister of hip and urban young nuns and their wacky adventures in the city. Boy, was I disappointed.

To tell you the truth I'm not a fan of Downton Abbey. I know that people love it but there's not enough car chases, aliens, explosions, or running gun battles for me. If a show or movie doesn't have enough good one liners like, "Get to da choppa!" then I'm not just interested. But if you like it then that is just great, I hope you love the premiere.

Back to Teddi.

We met her in our Adventure Tails in Part 2 of Kai and Bandit's tale.  One of my friends always catches my movie references... but I stumped him this time with my Dowager. He thought I was talking about the wise cracking Dowager Countess of Grantham from Downton Abbey. But really I had in mind this stunning scene from the  Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor from 1987. This is how I see Teddi but really she is just kind of an old, crazy bag lady.

Teddi has hated me the entire time she has been here. She had a hard luck story but she is on the upswing for sure. Teddi finally figured out that I'm warm and now she has a use for me. She sleeps with me because I'm snugly and let her cuddle up under the covers.  Her hatred has turned into being just mostly mildly annoyed with me. I consider this a giant leap forward.

Isn't she cute? We think she is about 93 years old.

We really thought Teddi was circling the drain a while ago. But she has seemed to bounce back. Our Good Vet was really surprised at how well she was doing that last time we took Teddi in to get her tires rotated and her oil checked. Now she doesn't even have that heart murmur. I'd like to think that it's because she's getting so much snuggling.

I'll be doing a lot of snuggling tonite. Our weather hasn't changed yet but we will be having -10* windchills starting tomorrow and it will only get worse. Fortunately for me, and thanks to a pal, I have plenty of action and adventure viewing. So tonite while you are all oohing and awwing over Downton Abbey you can bet that Teddi and I will be watching intergalactic bounty hunters, tales of valor, and all kinds of running gun battles.

Happy Viewing everyone!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tommy Boy - Nailed It

So remember just the other day I gave a list of goat due dates? Well, let's just scrap that and start all over. Apparently all that driving around I did for Dahli and Debbie didn't amount to a hill of beans. Good thing we got Tommy.

There he is, Tommy Boy. Look at that hair!

Based on the horrific goings-on that occurred yesterday we can assume that neither Debbie nor Dahli were bred by that huge Nubian. For the record, Tommy loves it here. Debbie and Dahli love him. It's all worked out very nicely.

He's short but Debbie likes him.

Going forward the new dates appear to be:

Nibbles 4/17 - 4/19
Debbie 5/28
Dahli 5/28 - 5/30
Daisy 5/27 - 5/31
Darla 5/24 - 5/28

I'm going to be swimmin' in goatie babies. And you know how excited I am to be making..... All. That. Money. Hundred dolla billz, y'all. Ching-ching gettin' paid over here... It's all about the pentiums, baby.. I mean.. benjamins.
[Editor's note: you know who you are, fellow Weird Al fan.]

But what if I don't sell all those babies? Well, if we have some leftovers then we will take all that folding money from our big sales, fence around the pond, and let the remaining goaties continue our clearing project. Then this fall we can fire up the grill, have us some goat chops, and think about how we are reaching our goals by effectively managing our farm.

My favorite, Miss Duck - not a stanky goat.

Back to Debbie and Dahli - what's the deal with them not being bred? I dunno.  It may have to do with the fact that I can't count and might have had the days wrong. But actually I think my friend Vicki had it figured out. She thought that maybe all that riding around in the truck may be throwing the Double D's out of heat.

I thought maybe Vicki was crazy but then the owner of that Nubian buck basically said the same thing about her own doe... well, then it didn't sound so crazy after all. If I think about it, the best success we've had was when Debbie was left with a buck for several weeks or when we had SnaggleHorn here. So that could be it.

Am I now sold on having a buck on staff full time?


We are still gonna have to find a place for him to be in his "off season." And we are going to have to do more fencing. There is also the big concern - what if he gets to the ladies and breeds them before we are ready for that?

And then there is all that stank.

Also, he'll need a friend. I am not his friend. Fortunately for him, he just runs from me. I didn't even have to get the dog. But at some point I'm going to have to pull him out of the goat yard and he will need a buddy.

So we'll hope for all's well that ends well, possibly in a goat barbeque. But let's keep our fingers crossed for two perfect doelings from each momma and a new fenced in area for Tommy Boy.

Happy Saturday, everyone! What do you think about Tommy Boy's hair?

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