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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 10 Posts of 2015

Last year I went and found out what my top posts were for that year... I thought it was kind of fun. So I thought I'd do it again.

I think we can all agree this is the best picture of Nicholas. Ever. 

As always, my top posts of all time are about butchering, growing out pigz, and how to bottle feed baby goats. You can find a list of them on the right side of this page. 

But specifically for 2015 the top posts are....

I had really had it with those goats. Someone shared this in a group on the facebook, I went over to say hi, and then I promptly got banned from that group. *shrugs*  But folks ask me about goats and I tell them the truth.

2. How to prepare for butchering pigs. And the worst thing that could happen.  
If you are going to tackle butchering larger animals you need to be prepared for the worst thing that could happen.

3. Not every body gets to stay. Goats. Gone.
Based on #1, I just couldn't take it one more minute. No regrets.

I gained some really terrific friends this year - one of them needed a little pep talk about how to make your way in this part of the world. 

5. The Good Land's Official Winter Drink: The Wind Chill Factor.
Apparently all y'all are a bunch of drunks. Also, probably because of the pinterest. It is a tasty drink!

6. Don't think this can't happen to you - West Wind Acres.
This horrifying account of what happens when you have bad neighbors.... and you think you are doing the right thing.  You do not need to let anyone on your property without a warrant. Find an Ag friendly attorney, get a gate, and be careful of letting folks look around.
The one time... the one stinkin' time I buy meat from the store and this happens. Never again. 

I'm sure this was completely unrelated to #1 on this list *cough cough*. But I got a fun new name and thru a lot of nimble twists and turns was able to find and keep all my 'the facebook' pals. Thank heavens that they have changed the policy surrounding this situation.  Hopefully this whole thing will settle down and my identity crisis has been resolved. Thank you for all your support.

9. Pigs, pigs, pigs, pigs....and what to feed them.
People just really want to know about raising. pigz. Can you raise pigz? Yes you can!

10. The End of The King. TurkZilla is dead. 
The stunning end to a worthy foe. Kai carrying his head still haunts me. My husband still blames me. And I am glad that turkey is gone. 

And because #9 is really a pig overview... the next one on the list is one of my favorites so is in the honorary 10.5 position:

It was a very very bad day. It ended in a veritable schnitzel fit. And I found out a lot of folks out there love us. Thank you for all your kind words.  

All in all, a lot of things happened here on the farm. The best things were our superduper good dog days... our worst were when our animal friends were in peril. But we all made it thru another year. 

Next year? Who knows what is going to happen. But we'll just keep on keepin' on. Thank you for letting me share our funny little life with you.

Happy New Year everyone!!!


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pigz on the lam!

So there I was yesterday, busy. Doin' stuff. Happy. I thought it was a little unusual that I didn't see the pigz in the morning. I figured they would just hunkered down and they would eventually come up. What could possibly go wrong, right? I even made a saucy comment on 'the facebook' about not seeing the pigz. Hur hur hur...anybody seen my pigz? Hur hur hur......

Back in the salad days when the young pigz would not dream of traveling the countryside.

It turned out that the pigz were, in fact, on the lam. Running down the road. Off on a fine walkabout. Out there swashbuckling across the countryside having a big ol' pig time. They thought they were hilarious. I did not think they were hilarious. At all.

Normally I can see the pigz down out there pigging around. But on Sunday we had moved them down into the far far far hog lot down in the woods.  We spent a good portion of Sunday afternoon, in the rain, rebuilding the hog hut from a couple years ago. We filled it full of nice and dry fluffy straw. The weather was getting a big dicey so we figured moving them was our best move.

So yesterday morning I assumed the pigz were down there in their new lot. Me and the dog went down to check about mid-morning. Hum... how weird. They were not in the fluffy straw. Hum. Well. Maybe they found a better spot in the lot in Impenetrable Woods and I just couldn't see them. I called for them but most times the pigz don't come when I call. We have a mutual hatred. They didn't come up. It wasn't entirely unexpected.

Me and the dog went back up to the house. I made a huge pot of hard cooked eggs. I'd just call 'em and them pigz would come up like normal. They like eggs and would come for these. Easy peasy.

Just as the eggs finished cooking I found a message from the GoodNeighbor Mom saying that their son, "Jake," saw a couple of pigz running down the road and did I know where my pigz were?

We live on a very busy road. Not only was this a crisis because my pigz were on the lam, but livestock on the road is exceptionally dangerous. Not just for the stock, but hitting a 300lbs pig in your Hyundai is bad business. Someone could be killed. And not just the pigz. We've always kept up our fencing to keep all the stock off the road. If someone got hurt, or heaven forbid, killed then it would be on us.

A sort of white rage engulfed me. My pigz. On the road. Running.  I only had one thought..... You wanna run from me pigz? Fine. But you should know that I have a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long farming career. Skills that make me a nightmare for pigz like you...

I will look for you.
I will find you.
and I will kill you.

I grabbed my keys, my phone, and my dog. I only had my good barn jacket which is more like a sweatshirt but I didn't have time to get a winter coat or a hat. We jumped in the car and sped out of the drive, mud and gravel flying.

The first step to finding pigz? Start knocking on doors. Missing livestock is a great way to meet the neighbors. After a couple dead ends someone told me that no, she hadn't seen them but ol' Ralph had and he and Jessie were trying to get 'em.

Colloquially "get 'em" usually means shoot 'em dead. I couldn't really blame the neighbors - loose pigz were kind of fair game. Especially around here. I thanked her profusely and me and the dog raced off to Ralph's place.

Knowing that Ralph as pretty hard core I musically tootled my car horn when I pulled in the drive and hoped he wouldn't shoot me as a trespasser. He was standing there waiting for me.

"You seen my pigz, friend?" I asked.

"Yep. They are down there. " He wasn't really exacting about where "down there was" but "there" was a huge field, a pond, and a wooded ravine - all crisscrossed by fencing.  I apologized again and said I brought my best dog to flush them out.

"You can't have a dog here." He said pointing to his own hound. Fair enough. So I apologized again, asked if the pigz had caused any damage, and then asked if I could park there. He sent me on my way. I took the dog home, gathered supplies, and raced back.

As casually as I could I stood at the top of a huge hill and yelled, "Pig! Pig! Pig!" Nothing. I couldn't see them. For all I knew they were halfway to town by now. "Pig! Pig! Pig!"

Then I'll be damned. Here they came walking along the ravine. They looked in my direction. I called again. They moved a little faster. I swear not only did I see smiles on their little piggy faces but I audibly heard this song. They were overjoyed to see me. I shook the feed bucket filled with corn and eggs.  They hurried in my direction. I could not believe they were coming to me.

I tried to call my husband. At work. Over an hour away. In his work truck. He didn't answer. So I sent him an informative text.

The pigz were very very far away. They didn't know how to get to me and looked confused. I started across the field. I crawled thru barbed wire....a couple of times. I made my way down to them and soon the pigz and I were looking at each other across one last barbed wire fence. They smiled at me.

I have never hated any living creature as much as I hated those pigz. Ever.

"Come on, pigz!" I said as happily as I could force myself. I was holding up the fence so they could crawl under. I tossed out some eggs. It worked. Now I just had to get the pigz home. But we were far away and there were many fences and an extremely busy road to contend with.

My phone rang. I was my husband. "You need to come home," I said as calmly as possible. "Right. Now." There was no way he could drive home in his work truck but he assured me that he was on the way.

I looked at the pigz and formulated a plan. I started off towards home as best I could. They came along happily, eager for more eggs. I kept shaking the bucket and they skipped along behind me.

Then we got to the road. The dangerous, busy road. I had all bad options so elected not to try and walk 600 pounds of pork along a dangerous and busy road all the way to our house. I figured my best option was take them directly across the street and head to the GoodNeighbor's place. They had several pens and a lot of fencing. It had to work.

The merry pig parade and I stepped out onto the road. I could hear traffic coming from both directions and I was in between two very blind hills. There is no way a semi driving 50mph or a teenager in a beater Nissan going 75mph would see me until the last second and one or all of us would be dead. We had to do this. Now.

"Come on Pig! Pig! Pig!" I called luring them with more eggs tossed to the other side of the road.

And then it happened. A car appeared. One of those nice Lexus SUV's. I started waving my arms wildly and by the Grace of God she got stopped. And then she started laughing. Hysterically. I could hear her from inside of her luxury car. Laughing. At me. I couldn't blame her - I'd laugh too.

"I used to be somebody!" I yelled to her. She couldn't hear me. Due to laughter.

I hurried the pigz into the newly plowed field - we were safely across the busy road. I could see the GoodNeighbor's house now and I started screaming for Jake. Me and the pigz started walking down the drive. Me ambling along with two pigz in tow.

"This is the best day ever!" This Pig said to That Pig. I hated them even more. I hated them with the intensity of a thousand suns. I would have my vengeance. Soon. If I had thought to get the gun I would have shot those pigz right there and gutted them in my neighbor's driveway. I wouldn't even have felt bad.

Jake appeared and we started strategizing. He sprang to action and got the pigz herded up and led into a holding pen. You remember Jake. He's saved our bacon before. He is like the Pig Whisperer. I loved Jake when he was a little boy but now that he's grown he is one of the finest young men that I'll ever know. He works hard, is respectful, helpful, and is a good and decent person. And he helped me save the pigz. Again. I thanked him for helping me get the pigz penned up and he went on his way to work.

I waited for The Big Man.

Behind me in the other lot the GoodNeighbor's cows were giving me mean looks. You know that cows don't like me. At this point I don't particularly like them either.

I called my husband again. "Status?" I demanded. I could hear that he was driving fast. Real fast. He was still about 20 minutes out. I stood hating the pigz and wary of the cows behind me. I couldn't leave. If the pigz got out of the holding pen they would be lost again. As it was they were trying to make an escape.

"DON'T!" I said in a voice that makes its point across all ages and species. They stopped.

Finally I heard the unmistakable sound of my husband's truck. I started up the hill toward the drive.

Seeing me cold, wet, and bedraggled The Big Man whipped off his coat and wrapped me in it. I provided data points, possibly courses of action, and my long list of complaints about the day. There was no easy solution. We could shoot the pigz where they stood but the wind had changed and it would be too warm to hang them overnight. The most direct way home required taking down a lot of fence. We had no trailer to transport them home... and even if we did they pigz wouldn't get in it....

"Cut the fence." He said. It was a drastic step. I hurried off to do just so.

Before I knew it the pig parade jauntily made it's way across a couple of properties and thru the huge hole I cut in the fence. The pigz were mostly incarcerated in the Dog Moat. They were ruining it. I hated the pigz even more. They skipped and danced around inside the Dog Moat like it was the best thing ever.

"Keep it up, pigz. Soon I will eat your liver with green beans and a nice Chianti." They didn't hear me because they were too busy rooting up the Dog Moat. My hatred for them deepened.

We thanked the GoodNeighbors for all their help. We laughed about the situation. I told them how their son had performed admirably.

For the next several hours we alternated between chasing the pigz all over our property and weaving a web of electric fence inside our smallest hog lot. While we were working the pigz would not stay in the woven wire fence. Once they tasted with sweet taste of freedom all they wanted to do was roam around and see the world.

At one point I saw my husband chasing them down by the pond. He had a hammer in his hand. I have to tell you I would have been OK with just about any possible outcome of that situation.  He got them back inside the fence.

Finally we made all the connections, closed all the gaps, and we plugged in the fence.

Here is a fact you should know about electric fence. If you have a charger that is made for 100 miles and strong enough to hold in buffalo and you restrict it to a small area say.... several hundred yards.... that fence will concentrate all that power and intensify it.

I swear to you I can hear the fence crackling up here inside the house. It's probably burning any wayward blade of grass that happens to touch it. Last nite, when I plugged it in I felt, and saw, the surrounding counties dim just a little...and the entire barnyard collectively took a step back from the perimeter at the same time.

It was done. There would be no escape. The pigz were contained.

We sat there for a good long while last nite. Down by that electric prison, watching the pigz test the fence and we smiled every time one of them caught the charge. The dogs hooted in delight. My Bubby peed in the general direction of the pigz and my beautiful Kai licked her lips looking at those porkers.

Well past dark we heard the shrieking squeals of pigz hitting the mega-ton powered electric fence and their cries filled the night sky... I nodded contentedly.

"That'll do, pig, that'll just do."

Happy Tuesday everyone. Did your pigz get loose? Did you find them? Are they really wishing they had not taken off on a grand adventure? We'll finally get a cold night in a day or so. And then... then pigz, I will have my vengeance.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

And for my birthday I got... sloth. And Cake!

Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes over on 'the facebook.' I guess there was some kind of weird setting so some folks couldn't post on my page.... But I think I fixed it. Thank you to everyone who either sent a PM or who came back around once it was fixed.

For my birthday this year I got... sloth. And cake!

I may or may not be sharing the cake.... we'll see how fast my husband is when I sneak it out of the freezer. And of course, ice cream cake is a breakfast food.

All I really wanted for my birthday was for the garbage guy to come and take ALL that garbage that we had forgotten to put out for a couple weeks. So we put it all out there .... and he left one can. I'm pretty sure he found that possum from the other day, got mad, and left one on purpose. So my wish did not come true. We'll try again next week.

The worst thing about having a December birthday is that everyone is partied out, over snacked, and broke. So no one wants to go out to dinner, shopping today is a nightmare, and most folks can't take one more piece of cake. So I'm thinking about moving my birthday to September next year. We'll see. 

But for now, my big plan is that I'm going to lay on the floor with the dogs and binge watch Black Sails. The present I got for myself was the Starz add-on subscription to my Amazon Prime..but I'll talk about that a different time.

So it's nothing but ice cream, dogs, and pirates. What could be better?

Happy Saturday everyone! And Happy Birthday to me! Thank you, truly, for all the loving and fun wishes.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Mud, Moonlight, and Merry

Yesterday I worked outside, in shorts, in the 68* sunshine. I even found some salamanders under the leaves I was raking. Weirdest Christmas Eve day ever... and best global warming.

No more bag fights at the Aldi's. Kai and Zander helping me with the pic.

Add to the wild swings in barometric pressure from the thunder storms, the tons of rain, and being so close to the winter solstice.... the full moon last nite as the final straw.... the barnyard was a big loopy mess. The goats were out of control, the chickens were out of their minds, and Kai barked at everyone.

What a crazy day!

But the best thing that has happened in a good long time was that I received an early birthday present. From now on, "Turnip the beet and jam!" is my new favorite thing. It might replace "you can't beat beets!"

But best of all now I have a real bag so I don't have to get in a fight with the Aldi's anymore. I always forget a bag and then it always goes bad.

I'll have to dig up that story. Let's just say that I haven't officially been asked to stay out of the store... but you know how that goes...

Anyway. I've been talking about something over on the facebook... 

If you are sitting around in big Christmas extravaganza with gift card burning a hole right in your pocket you might want to consider a book purchase by the My Sad Cat guy. Tom revealed that one of his cats, Roscoe - not the permanently sad cat but one of the "other cats" - was attacked and grievously injured by a dog. She has been under vet care for over two weeks and has endured a couple surgeries. He hasn't really talked about it but he gave this poignant update the other day. As of yesterday Roscoe was at home.

One of the great things that has happened was that someone, not Tom, reminded people that there is a donate button on his website. Because of that one statement some very generous folks helped ease the burden of the catastrophic vet bills. But if you wanted a funny book or a calendar you can know that it's going to a good cause. The cost of Roscoe's vet care will be extraordinary. (Note: these are not affiliate links so I don't get anything for talking about them - just directing you to the books.)

A lot of us know what it's like when you have a beloved pet in dire circumstances. So we are all pulling for Roscoe.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#myglamorouslife and the haiku to celebrate it.

.... plus I just had to get that picture off the front page of my blog from yesterday.

Sometimes I get weird, slightly unkind remarks from people about my life. Or I should say, what they think my life is like. It's like they are mad at me and I should never complain about my "easy" life.  I assure you the reality is much different from the imagined fairy tale life people dream up. Take this for instance......

Note to my husband on the fridge this morning. 

It reads, "There might be a mostly dead possum by the front door. If he is faking it plz shoot him. Might be all dead. ps Don't kiss the dogs  *smiley face* *heart*"

When I got up this morning there was $20 by my car keys. I honestly don't know if that is supposed to be a bounty or if my husband thinks I should get a new hobby.

There was no sad, single gunshot this morning at 4 in the AM.

That possum wasn't faking it.

This... this... my friends, is not the glamorous life that some of you imagine. But it is indeed #myglamorouslife

I couldn't make this up if I tried.

What happened was that there was a possum on the front porch last nite when I opened the door to take the dogs out. For all of you who labor under the delusion that possums can't be any kind of threat because they move too slow... I'm hear to tell you that when properly motivated possums can be faster than a greased iguana.

Kai was faster. So was Zander.

Then there was this horrible varmint tug o'war. I thought the possum was dead. So I told the dogs to drop it. It wasn't dead yet.

"GET IT!" I screamed and jumped back.

They did. But fearing that Zander and Kai might actually get into a real fight over that possumy prize, I made them drop it and leave it for good. They did.

I thought Possum had expired...but you never know for sure. He mighta been twitching a little so technically the possum was "mostly" dead when we went in. I didn't want to wake up The Big Man to shoot it....so I just let 'might be faking it' possums lay.

Kai was mad and she wanted her possum back. I gave everyone treats...but Kai was still mad.

In the morning - after finding my prize money - I went out and shoveled that narsty thing into a bag and put it in a locking trash can. It wasn't faking it.

Now I've got $20 whole dollars burning a hole right in my pocket. I'm overjoyed. Just about anything can happen now. In fact, I'm so happy I've written a haiku about the whole thing.

You know that I like to to slam poetry ...and rap.... lot's of rapping.... But today this requires the refinement of the haiku.

I call this. "He's not faking it."

Possum! On the porch!
Get it! Leave it! No - GET IT!
He's not faking it

Happy Tuesday everyone! Did you have a possum on the porch? Did you get $20?

Monday, December 21, 2015

The day I became too immature for Christmas cookies.

Just so's ya know... I'm still feverish so I take no responsibility for what I'm about to write. In fact, I might have to do a rare double post to hide these shenanigans from my more gentle readers. Consider yourself warned. And now... the day in which I became too immature for Christmas cookies...

 This. Henceforth known as "The Implement."

It was Friday and I vaguely remember it due to fever. But I do recall that my husband has been an exceptionally good sport with me loafing around due to sickness. And he does love Christmas. And cookies. I determined that when he came home from a very long day of work that he should have Christmas cookies - just like Grandma used to make.

It is a fact that I inherited the box of baking supplies, cook books, and all Grandma's carefully recorded notes on each and every Christmas cookie baking spree. She was very diligent with her record keeping so I knew I'd be able to recreate a lovely childhood memory for my loving husband.

Also, my friend J posted a picture of her own cookies and we decided they were a breakfast food. They looked pretty good. So I knew which ones I was going to make. The pecan tassies. The are a chore to make but my loving husband is worth it. I got to work, found the box of cooking tools, opened it gleefully..... and then was reminded why I don't make pecan tassies.

Immaturity. I'm lousy with it.

When I first got the treasured box of cooking tools. I happily opened it right up, eager to gleen all of that wisdom that Grandma had accumulated over the years... and then.... I spied It. I quickly replaced lid on the box and stomped away. I was sure someone was playing a joke on me. It wasn't funny. At all.

To be sure it took me a long long long long time to work up the courage to ask my husband what That was. I never could ask him. Grandma was the very pillar of Christian virtues. Saintly in all her ways there is no way she would have what-one-might-think-it-was in her possession. Ever. There had to be an explanation. For years the box sat untouched. Finally, my curiosity got the better of me.

One day, I peered cautiously into The Box. There It was. Mocking me. I used a spatula to poke it. Nothing happened. I got gloves and with as much dignity I could muster I gingerly picked it up and looked at it trying to determine what it might be. It turned out to be labeled. Oh. It was indeed not That. It was a tart maker. Mini tarts. Entirely respectable.

It's a tart maker, you filthy animals.

If I wasn't already strung out on all kinds of cold remedies I would have had to take a shot of bourbon for courage and to steady my nerves enough to to use The Implement. Not wanting to risk additional liver damage I sojourned forth into dangerous territory entirely sober.  I could do this. For my loving husband.

This is how you use it. It is entirely respectable.

The snickering commenced. Followed by stupid emails to friends. There was shrieking laughing. A number of loudly declared "I can't even's." I barely got thru it. The Implement looked at me accusingly. I screamed with laughter again.  Even Nicholas eventually left the room.

Finally it was over.

All that was left was to clean the kitchen back up and retire the Implement back to the box of tools. It goes without saying, there was no way I was hand washing it. With several cats looking on nervously I took my longest kitchen tongs, grasp the Implement, and put it in the dishwasher.

And no one will ever speak about this again.

To make matters worse, it turned out that I didn't even have any pecans. Not being one to tell the difference between one nut and another I just used walnuts. Then I improved them by adding a few chocolate chips to one of the batches. It may be a bastardization but I think it worked just fine. Here is mostly the recipe. 

All is well that ends with cookies. And yes, they are a breakfast food.

That is all I have to say about that.

Happy Monday everyone! Are you making Christmas cookies? They are a breakfast food, you know.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

It's winter now. For a day.

Not that I'm entirely complaining... but I do need to note this for my records that The Year We Were Winter-Free is progressing along nicely.

Unrelated pic: this popped up on 'the facebook' the other day. My Bubby was so little! Now there is no "empty" space on the floor when they are all in here. It is entirely covered in big ol' dogs. Sometimes people ask me if the house smells like cats because of The Insane Cat Posse... no. The house smells like dog a$$. Big.Dog.Toots. All damn day.


This morning it was very cold with an even colder morning on tap for tomorrow. I think it will be about 22* (that's Freedom Units and not metric for you international readers...). And then it will warm up and be in the 50* and 60* for next week. Chance of a white Christmas = zero.

Who's happy about this? The cold, I mean? Kai. No one was happier than Kai to run right out there to and run around crazily in the cold than Kai. She went wild this morning racing around in the little bit of snow we have on the ground.. And then I got mad because it was cold and we all went inside. Now Kai is mad and is making plans to travel to the Land of Snow and Ice.

What's happening here?

Nothing. It hasn't been a great week here so there has been minimal activity. Remember my wonky hip? Yeah. I thought I had escaped the festive annual Hip Wonk but nope. I was laid low again. Then just as I was ambulatory again I made the mistake of being around people. So then I ended up sick... then hungover by the sickness cure, then a general malaise set in. So I spent most of the week watching cat videos on the interweb. Now I'm just mad and waiting for it to be 60* again.

They showed the extended forecast and it looks like the suckers on the West Coast are going to get our cold and snow and it's nothing but smooth sailing for us. I am not complaining. I'll take a temperate winter any day.

The mild weather also gives me the chance to work on some projects I've been putting off while I was waiting for winter to hit. More on that just as soon as I can get off the couch.

Happy Saturday everyone!
ps. THANK YOU to everyone who made purchases from my completely lame, entirely sensible wishlist! I can't see who orders what so I cannot thank you personally... but I'm very grateful for every click!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My completely lame, entirely sensible wishlist.

When I was younger I completely agreed with Lucy from Peanuts when she said the only thing she ever wanted for Christmas was real estate. So when we took posession of this farm the day or so after Christmas I could check that life goal off my list.

An unrelated pic of my Zander. Look at those loving eyes!

From then on I really never thought about my own wishlist - once you buy yourself a farm that Chia pet from the office gift exchange just seems silly. If pressed I usually say that what I really want for Christmas is a pallet of 2 x 4's, 15 tons of gravel, and a backhoe rental for two days. But no one ever gets you that.

Recently we had to come up with a gift idea for ourselves. I really didn't have a clue what to say. Our life here works because we don't spend a lot of time caught up in consumerism. We just never think about it. We don't even buy each other gifts. So I really had to think hard about what gift I would want. In the end I came up with a completely lame, entirely sensible wishlist. Here it is.

1. A crock pot. A big one. Not even a fancy programmable one or the shiny stainless one. Just a regular old crockpot. I think my current pokey pot is about 20 years old and at some point I'm going to burn down the house with it. I use it all time. Constantly. When I'm parting up chickens it's so easy to just put a trimmed carcass in the slow cooker at nite and have rich and delicious broth the next day.

2. A toaster oven - a fancy one. This one is even a convection oven. I'm not even going to tell you how long I've had my current toaster oven. But I truly am going to burn the house down if I use it one more time. We've had plenty of toast fires in the old one and it's time to put it out to pasture.

3. Another one of these. If you were on 'the facebook' the other day then you know that my mouse died and I couldn't click on anything. No amount of banging on it seemed to do any good. I was going to town anyway so I got one at the store but I probably need a backup. And before you say it - there was already a lively discussion about why I wasn't using the mousepad on my laptop. The reason is due to my bad hand to eye coordination and that I always rest my hand on it and end up unintentionally buying something from the One-Click ordering.

4. I told you this was a lame list. I can't find my pliers anywhere. I'm sure they are out there laying in the yard somewhere...but I can't find them. Or my wire cutters either.

5. I still need a GoPro. If I had one then I could do all kinds of neat stuff... especially if I had a drone.I could terrorize the chickens and send the goats running. *thinks about how cool that would be......*

6. Based on recent world events I'm pretty sure that it's not unreasonable to want this. Most of our emergency food is either canned or on the hoof. But if we ever had to 'bug out' then we'd need an alternative to stuffing about a dozen squawking meat chickens into the car with the dogs.  Of course, if you start to talk about stuff like this then people think you are a nutter. But I'm just saying......I may have picked the wrong time to start watching this,and to have read this,and I should not have started this series,then all of a sudden a Faraday cage or bagjust doesnt seem like such a bad idea.

7. One day I'll tell you a hilarious story about why we need this. I'm pretty sure it was an alcohol related incident. Based on the shattered remains of the perpetrator's  headlight - I'm pretty sure whoever slammed into our extra big mailbox got the shorter end of the stick. But we are still mad about our ruined mailbox.

8. Still holding out for that goose pot....probably not going to happen.

9. OK fine.. if really pressed for what I really want.... I could use a really nice camera. This is some kind of fancypantsy bundle with all kinds of stuff that I don't even know what they are.... but I could figure out how to use them. Probably. I should probably just stick with the crock pot.

So that is my lame wishlist. If you need gift ideas for yourself or someone else... I have a much more reasonable and not lame list of 20 things under $20 here. Or there is this list of ten things that make my life easier here.

Whatever you need I hope you'll consider starting your shopping by clicking on one of these links. If you do then I will get a tiny potion of the sale. One of the many reasons I love the Amazon is that they have affiliate programs like this that help micro-business owners like me make a little money by advertising products - like this list.

But don't worry - I only link to items that I actually have and use... or things that I really want. Aside from the small commission from Amazon I don't get anything else from providing these links. I can't be bought and so no one ever sends me stuff to review or promote.

So what do you think? Do you need anything Amazon? You can support this blog by just clicking one of these links. Or using the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. It doesn't cost you once cent more but helps me with the "cost" of this blog. 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.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Quick! You still have time to shop! What are you buying?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fixing the footbridge

The mild weather is giving me a chance to do a bunch of smaller projects that I had not gotten to earlier. One of them was fixing the footbridge.

The footbridge was in bad shape. It needed fixin'.

The drainage ditch behind the garage is just deep enough that if try and wheel barrow over it you get stuck.... except for a few places. Previously we had a working footbridge that solved this problem. But for whatever reason we took it up and then never put it back. It was really bothering me. So I finally did something about it.

"Footbridge" is kind of a big word for some 2 x 10's whacked together over top of two 4x4's. But it works so that is fine with us. The cost of goods on this was very low. I think I got the original 2 x 10's from the cull lumber bin at the Home Depot. They probably cost about $1 each and were already cut to 4 feet. The final total cost of goods for this project was $0 plus materials available. I didn't have to buy anything to get this done.

The first step was moving the bridge into position. It hadn't been moved for a while but I was able to drag it over there. I might have sustained an injury doing this - but I was victorious.

Next I had to dig into the dirt a bit to level the top of the bridge and also make it easy to trolley a wheelbarrow up there. The digging was the easy part. The hard part was that all the chickens wanted to help. They are not as helpful as they think they are... so I finally had to give them some corn so they would leave me alone. It worked.

The digging was the most time consuming part of this task. But I got the footbridge level.

There were some rotten pieces of wood that had to go.

Next, I had to take up some of the bad pieces of wood. Technically the top of the footbridge is 2 x10's and 2 x 8's.... honestly I just used whatever I had. I left one of the pieces that was a little sketchy but that's OK. I figured that I would be better off replacing any wood in the spring if I needed to do that. At some point winter is going to catch up with us.

You can see how I anchored the 4x's. And the replacement cross pieces.

A little more leveling then I just needed to affix the new cross pieces. I dug around in the garage and over by the Turkey House for the final cross pieces. I ended up having just what I needed.

The gravel at both ends. Also, unhelpful chickens.

Finally I just had to put some gravel at both ends. This provides a smooth and easy way to roll the trolley or wheelbarrow over the bridge.

As silly as it sounds, having to take one less step down into the drainage ditch and then one more step back up onto the hill makes a huge difference. Sometimes very small, annoying projects are worth the effort.

The gravel makes a little ramp up onto the bridge.

Now, I'm sure there are a few "you're not doing it right!'s" out there who have developed a twitch in their eye over my shabby workmanship. That is just fine. My point here is that sometimes "good enough" is good enough. If this gets us thru the winter then it is still a victory. Yes, I could have taken a lot more time and put in a lot more effort to make this "perfect." But I don't struggle with perfectionism At all.

Sometimes you just have to make a little progress. That little progress feels like success. Success leads to more success... which leads to confidence.... which allows you to go and do projects that you'd never thought of doing before.

I have always had Negative Nancys around me telling everything that I can't do. The best way to defeat that is to get up and just do it. I never thought I could paint a bedroom by myself.. let alone use tools to build stuff. Then I was told my building projects would never last. But they did.

Sometimes you are your own Negative Nancy and you come up with a hundred reasons why you can't do a project. Wanting everything to be perfect is one of those reasons. But if you can scratch that off your list all you really are left with is excuses. So get up! Go and get your projects done. It doesn't have to be perfect.

Happy Monday everyone! Are you still enjoying the mild winter!?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Not so frozen broccoli

Very very late in the summer I planted a bunch of broccoli just hopping it would mature..it's getting there. But if it goes directly to bolt I'll laugh. What a 'winter' we've been having!

Not-so-frozen broccoli.

Normally anything in the garden would be dead and it would be totally frozen out there. But today it's going to be about 60*. I don't mind telling you that this whole mild winter is working out for me.

This decorative cabbage is stunning. 

One of the things I'm especially excited about is that we have barely used any heating oil or firewood. It may not sound like much but it's nice to have the savings.

The celery is still hanging in there. 

And I'm still able to work outside so I'm perfectly OK with this whole global warming thing.

Happy Friday everyone! Do you still have veg in the garden? How's your mild winter going?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

These two...... I got you, Little Brother

This happened yesterday - our biggest cat, Nicholas, snuggled up and put a protective paw around his favorite buddy, Little Mo. Little Mo had a hard day on Sunday so he needed some extra lovin's.

I got you, Little Brother.

Technically they are not really brothers - they are not litter mates. But we are all one big happy family here.  Nicholas and Little Mo are best pals and basically inseparable. They couldn't be more different. Nicholas is our best inside hunter and our most expressive cat... and Little Mo was The World's Worst Barncat who always looks a little sad and a little surprised.

You can see that Nicholas's huge mousestomper paws are bigger than Little Mo's back feet entirely. Mo's tiny little Mickey Mouse paws are no threat to anyone - instead of Daggers of Doom they are pretty much Doom Spoons. Nicholas charges into adventure while Little Mo slinks into the shadows. Nicholas slays the dangers in life while Little Mo has virtually no tools to handle life's adversities. Mo's only superpower is the suck all the adorableness out of a room with his wide eyes.

Sunday we had a full scale freak out over Little Mo. He didn't eat breakfast. For a cat who has never missed a meal it was pretty surprising. Of course, we had somewhere to go that day because there is never a convenient crisis. We didn't know if we'd end up at the after hours vet..... or if Little Mo just ate a bunch of popcorn that we left out from movie nite.

After a lot of futzing we determined that Mo was not in crisis. Later we learned that he was just fine and ate dinner like normal. What's the big deal? Cats - especially shy ones like Little Mo - hide their symptoms. Sometime you have no idea anything is wrong before it is too late.

When she was young one of my old lady cats was on the brink of total kidney failure and the only clue was that she sat someone else at night. That was it. I took her to the vet and the only symptom to report was that she wasn't watching TV with me. After some scoffing by the office staff the blood work revealed a crisis. We got her fixed up and she went on to live 18 good long years. So we take changes in behavior seriously.

So now Little Mo is back to rights after a hard day of us hovering over him. Nicholas gave him some extra snuggles and all is right with the world.

I'm also using this picture of Nicholas to catch OneVikingGirl's attention.... I used your spice suggestion on roasted turnips and they were terrific! Thanks so much.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

It worked!

Remember when I planted my fall cover crops - entirely too late? Well, it worked! This is a little over a month's worth of growth.


I can't tell if it is due to the winter hardiness of the seeds or if we've just had  nice mild weater but wow I've got sprouts!

The mix contained buckwheat, Autrian winter pea, hairy vetch, and daikon radish. I think most of these have come up. If I'm lucky enough to have them grow a little more I can let the geese in to graze these sections. They still have plenty to eat but this would be a nice forage for them.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Are your winter cover crops covering?

ps. Thanks to everyone for your purchases from my Cyber Monday 20 for $20 list! I really appreciate it!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The cake double flip. Or how to stack a layer cake.

Just a quick follow up to my cake post the other day. Does everyone know this trick? You'd think that stacking a layer cake would be easy peasy but if I don't do it this way the top cake ends up cracked or all over the counter. Apologies in advance for bad food pix.... I did this at night.

You'll need two plates. 

Let your cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes when you take your layer cakes out of the oven. Then turn them out onto a cooling rack. You might have to tap the pans to get the cakes to come out. Then let the cakes cook completely. I think it works best if you use two separate cooling racks - one for each layer.

This makes it easy to flip the first layer out onto the serving plate. Having the bottom of the cake rest of the plate gives it a more stable base.

First layer done. Top layer ready to flip.

Now for the double flip.

Flip one.... The cake off the rack and onto the second plate.

Turn the top layer out onto your extra plate. This makes it so the top of this layer is face up. But you want the bottom of this layer to be the top of the cake - clear as mud?  This way the top of the cake will be mostly flat. You can also just cut the round, curved part of the cake off so that it's flat but come on, that is a waste of cake!

Here comes the double flip........

From the plate, flip the top layer onto the frosted top of the bottom layer.....

Now the bottom is the top! If you'd just done one flip the top of the cake would be face up.

Voila!  The bottom of the top layer is now the top of the cake! Easy peasy!

Done! Now the bottom of the second layer is the very top. Nice and easy to frost.

This always seems like magic to me. Cake magic is the best kind.

I made this cake for someone's birthday and they were very appreciative. The cake is super duper lemony.... a nice pick-me-up from traditional holiday tastes.

Happy Monday everyone! Do you do the double cake flip?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Big turnips

Big turnips... I got 'em.

That's one big turnip. 

Even tho I didn't do a great job of thinning them - this project has still worked out.

The turnips situation has been working out very well. Remember that I planted them late in the summer for several reasons. First, I knew I wanted to improve the soil - turnips do a great job of that. Next, I could use them for fodder for the pigz. Last, I just love turnips! They are particularly good after a frost.

The last several mornings the dogs and I have gone and picked a bucket of huge turnips and then thrown them at the pigz. Everyone is happy.

Happy Saturday, everyone, are you still picking turnips?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Any minute now.... And butcher days.

We got a little snow last nite... it actually stuck to the ground. Kai was over joyed and went completely snow crazy. There rest of us glared at it.

There is is. The White Death.


While I don't mind a mild winter at all.... there are no freezing nights or days in the foreseeable future. This creates a problem. A pig problem. We need to get those pigz in the freezer. Soon. They are nice and delicious and I am tired of feeding them. They should be feeding me.

My kale has been hanging in there...now snowed on.

But I need two frozen nights and days. We like to butcher at about 20*. This ensures the ground is nice and frozen and it also allows us to cool the pork halves quickly by hanging them outside or in the garage. Then it gives me two days to get the meat cut up, portioned, and into the freezer. A 50* day is just not going to cut it.

So any day now we can have a little bit of winter. Otherwise my dreams of a bacon filled Christmas will be over.

Just in case you'd like to see how things go around here for butcher day... you can check out these links. Obviously these are posts ABOUT BUTCHERING so they are detailed accounts of what happens. If you don't want to know then for crying out loud don't click on them. Otherwise... I think the whole thing is pretty interesting.

The best step by step hog butchering post.

How to prepare for butcher day - and the worst thing that could happen. 

Hog Harvest 2014

Hog Harvest 2013

My favorite self portrait. Ever. No really, it's glorious.

That one time we had to butcher not-in-winter and it sucked.

Hog Harvest 2011

That should give you plenty of information. But folks always have questions so I'll be happy to answer them or just give a cheer if you need some encouragement.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Walnut Caramel Filling - Deconstructing the Best Cake Ever.

Sometimes I make recipes up as I go. Usually I'll pull together different pieces from other recipes and hope it works out. This one worked out and it was a winner. I have got to get these details down so I don't forget what I did to make the Best Cake Ever.

 Here it is. The cake the changed my life. Thank you for the dryer, Cake!

Normally I won't eat cake unless it's chocolate. Sure I love gingerbread pudding cake sometimes. Or strawberry. Or Lemon. Sometimes. But I just don't care unless it's chocolate. But my husband doesn't love chocolate the way I do so I decided to make him the perfect cake. Just for him.

I started with my favorite Pumpkin Spice Cake. The secret really is the applesauce. But instead of making a sheet cake I used two round cake pans. This recipe fit perfectly.

The base cake was a pumpkin spice. It is very moist. Yes I cooked down the pumpkin for it.

Next, I needed a filling. I do not like nuts in cake. But my husband does so I thought a caramel-nut filling would be perfect. You probably remember that I'm not great with caramel - it's dangerous and I almost always am this close to burning the house down. However, this sauce one was very easy. It bubbled up but nothing like "real" caramel. This sauce also did not seize up like all my other failed caramel sauces. You can easily eat the rest of it right out of the jar from the fridge. For breakfast.

Then, I really wanted a special frosting. I do love cream cheese frosting. This recipe was a nice basic one. The only thing I don't like about cream cheese frosting is the cream cheese. I think the store cream cheese tastes like plastic. I know it's a little pretentious... but I made the cream cheese. Yes I did.

Making cream cheese is actually really easy. I used this recipe for mascarpone. Made this way it's basically the same as cream cheese. Pretty much you just heat cream to about 190*, stir in lemon juice, let it set up, then strain in the fridge for a day or so. Totally easy and it doesn't taste like plastic. I did, however, have to plan this so that the cream cheese was ready when the cake making day was here.

Brush the cake with booze? Sure!

I also made the butter - which is also super easy. Why? Why not. I always think it's weird when people recoil in horror at the thought of me doing work when I can just go and buy that thing. I just kinda like doing my own thing. Plus, homemade butter is a far superior product. It just is.

Making and assembling the cake was easy. It looks like a lot of steps but not really:

* I made sure I had plenty of butter- and that the mascarpone was ready.
* I cooked down a pumpkin a couple days before and then went the extra mile to re-cook it in a pan on the stove to make sure I got most of the liquid out of it.
* I made sure the oven was preheated and I prepared the pans.
* Making the batter for the cake was very simple - however, I did not have applesauce so I used apple butter and that was just fine.
* I let the cakes cool for about 15 or 20 minutes in the pans before I inverted them on a rack.
* The caramel-walnut sauce was very quick and easy. But I needed to let it cool so it would firm up before I could put the cake together. I put the sauce in the fridge for about 10 minutes - and I stirred it every couple of minutes. This worked out perfectly.
* One of the pumpkin layer cake recipies I found suggested brushing rum on the cake and letting it soak in. You know I love cooking with bourbon so hey - sure! Why not? However, I only brushed one half of the bottom layer with bourbon. It turned out to be unnecessary and almost was distracting from the caramel. Note to self: just drink the bourbon from now on.
* I piled on a generous layer of the filling on the bottom layer - but not all the way out to the edges as I knew it would kind of squish out. 
* Then, I double flipped the top layer of the cake onto the filling - do you know this trick? You want the bottom of the second cake to be the top of the whole thing. Flip the cake from the cooling rack onto a plate it will be right side up, then flip the cake onto the bottom layer and now the bottom is the top. I'll have to take pix next time. If I don't do it this way the cake ends up on the floor or cracked.
* Last, I made the frosting and really laid it on thick.

Pretty much we had the cake for dinner. Even I was surprised that it was so good. I love it when stuff works out - I'm always kind of shocked. This was definitely a winner so I'll be making it again.

In fact, it was so good my husband basically pushed the plate back, put his fork down, and then ran right down to his computer, and ordered me a new dryer. I knew the cake was good but I did not know it would be life changing.

Now everyone is happy. The cake was a big success and my new dryer is whisper quiet. I once again have fluffy soft clothes and we have proven, as always, that cake is in fact a breakfast food.

Happy Tuesday everybody! Do you need your life changed? Quick! Make this cake!

Note: sometimes people ask me why I don't just put the recipes in these posts. The answer is that they aren't mine unless I actually make them up. I usually don't so I just link to the actual recipes to avoid any kind of intellectual property disputes. Plus, other bloggers make money from their sites so it isn't fair to take that away from them. So that is why I don't copy recipes and post them here. Give a click, say hey to the other bloggers, and cut n paste them into your files. Yay!

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