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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Here he is.... Tommy

So we got another buck. I'm sure you're saying to yourself, "But OFG, why why WHY are you doing this... again?"  Well. A lot of reasons. Mostly on account of that crazy hair. Check it out. His name is Tommy.

Can't decide if it will be Tommy Lee or Tommy Two Tone

I had to drive a pretty good clip to go and get him but wow he was one sweet deal. He cost me a bucketload but I understand he is going to be worth it. See how flashy he is? I'll get some better pictures tomorrow. I got home very late and just in time to do very fast chores.

Of course I had to show him to the dogs first. They were amazed. Zander gave him a good woofing and Kai went all "wolf" on him. Oh yeah... she can spot big hunks of meat from a distance. She got in her hunting stance and was ready to hurl herself at him the second she got the chance. Dogs#1 and #2 were not impressed. But I was impressed later when I asked #1 where "the new goat was" and he ran directly to the Turkey House where Tommy was shacking up with Daisy and Darla.

After the dogs gave him a good sniffing - and Zander peed in his general direction - I hauled Tommy out of my truck and drug him over to check out the ladies. All the goats ran right over to the fence to see the fresh meat. They were amazed - but not like the dogs. More like a bunch of teenage girls. I didn't want to take a chance of penning him up with Dahli and Debbie so he bunked with the younger ladies. Today (Monday) I'll throw them all together and see what happens.

I'm absolutely, positively sure that I don't have any idea if Debbie and Dahli are bred. Sure we drove all over the state for them to go on a date with that huge Nubian buck.... but aside from being cranky they are not showing any signs of pregnancy. We'll see if Tommy makes them go all gaagaa.

If you are wondering how I drive goats around - this is how we get 'er done. Nibbles can comfortably fit in this, our biggest dog carrier. For the record our biggest dog carrier isn't big enough for our smallest dog so we use it for goats. Debbie and Dahli have to ride in the back of my husband's truck (it has a cap). Using a carrier like this works really well especially if you are driving alone. I like having car-riding goats contained in case they get a wild hair and end up in the front seat with me. 

Fair warning tho... this is one stinky ride. I made the mistake of turning on the heat - my eyes were watering from his stinky buck smell. Blech! But Tommy did great on the trip. He just laid himself down and sang along to the radio with me.

We'll see what happens. And what happens to Tommy... he might end up staying. All y'all can keep your 'told ya so's' to yourself. I said he MIGHT stay. We'll see. Harumph.

Happy Monday everyone - did you have a goat in your truck this weekend?

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Message from Little Mo

Hi. Dis is Little Mo. My momma went back to sleep and she said dat I should write dis post.

Me, Little Mo. The Notorious Mo-Zee.

My momma says thanks for all the fun wishes yesterday for her birthday. She ate all the cake and says that now she has "the diabeetus." I think she had too much of her special medicine too.

Here is a funny picture....

Dat big white doggie was trying to put his big nose in the cake and momma's med'cine.

My momma should be over "the diabeetus" tomorrow and will write her own post then. Now I am going to find my friend Nicholas and we are going to lay in the sunny spot on the dog bed.

Your friend,
Little Mo

Thursday, December 26, 2013

They Say It's My Birthday

Thanks, everyone, for my birthday wishes over on "the facebook!" Yay!

Having a birthday the day after Christmas garners a lot of questions.... so I'll answer them just for kicks.

1. Does it suck? Kinda. Mostly only because everyone is partied out. No one wants to go out to dinner and after eating all that Christmas food, no one wants cake. I also never got my birthday acknowledged in school. I think they had a "December Birthday" day or something but that was never the same as the kid who brought cupcakes in the middle of April.

2. Did my parents combine Christmas and birthday presents? Nope. Never and I'm pretty sure if someone tried that my mom would have given them the business. There was always a separate event and I really appreciated how my mom went out of her way to make sure it stayed that way.

My most fun memory was when I turned into a teenager and didn't want presents anymore - I always just wanted cash. So my mom would put my birthday money on the Christmas tree - all in $1 bills. It was a great way to handle it and to this day it is my best family memory.

3. What was my best birthday? Party in Vegas. Back in the day I could throw a lot of money around so I took some folks and we had a big time. A lavish dinner and good seats at Cirque du Soleil's O. And since I'm not a gambler when I actually put $1 is that big Price is Right slot machine - and won - well I was very excited. Very, very excited. I won a whole $40. The people who all came running up were very disappointed that I didn't hit the jackpot - but I was thrilled.

4. Worst birthday? Someone I really cared about drove past my house - on my birthday - on their way home to another state. I didn't even know they were here.

What's happening today? Nothing really - my hubby has to work and chores need to be done so mostly it's just a regular day. However, we are going to pick up a Coldstone cake before he leaves. Me alone in a house with 5 pounds of ice cream and cake? Challenge accepted!

What I'm really excited about happens tomorrow - my friend L is taking me out. She is so good to me - she laughs at my stupid jokes and always buys me lunch. I always feel lucky when I'm around her. So that will be my big day.

I actually really like birthdays. But everyone my age hides them and avoids it so I'm the odd man out.  What?  Am I selfish and only want attention and presents? Nope. No way. I just like cake and being with my friends. To tell the truth, I never really got presents as an adult. I just loved having big birthday dinners - it was my chance to take everyone that I loved out for a big deal and that was fun for me.

Today if I was going to plan a big event I'd love to have a big dog party with all my friends and their dogs. I'd invite Otto, Cowboy, Toby, Marv, Webster, a trio of herders, Clara, Big Sully, May, and even little Jacki - we'd have a huge meat cake with lots of bones for them. All the dogs would 'dog around' and all us humans would have a big BBQ, chocolate cake, and tequila. We'd sit around and watch the dog party go wild. Of course, I don't think it would work out very well because Kai hates other lady dogs and my #1 would try to be the boss of everyone - but I like to think about a big dog party and how fun it would be.

Happy my Birthday, everyone! Are you partied out or could you stand one more event? How about a big dog party?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Another Nice Day for Ducks

Did everyone survive that extremely weird storm over last couple of days? It hit us during the night - fortunately no damage but what a odd weather pattern!  We had a hellacious amount of rain and lost power for part of the night. Then yesterday the high temperature was 68*.... I had all the windows open and was in shorts.

The ducks loved it. They spent most of the day goofing around in the drainage ditch we worked on a couple years ago. All the water from the hill now runs into the drainage ditches and not into our house. Even tho the ditches were backfilled with gravel we still get a good stream going in the gully when we have a big rain. The ducks think it's the best thing ever.

I even dug them a few deeper holes so they could really splash around. This also helps direct the water into the drainage tile (that black bendy pipe stuff)... so it wasn't just or them. But it sure made them happy. 

Our ditch project was one of the more difficult projects we have done - mostly because it was so much work. However, we are extremely glad that we don't have all that water in our basement. So I'm giving it an A+ for sure.

Today we are back to winter. I had to get up, close the windows, and find my heavy jacket this morning. When we went outside there was some kind of frozen particulate matter falling from the sky.... and tomorrow we will be in the deep freeze.

Happy Monday everyone! Did you have a nice day for ducks?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Wow! I just have to say a special THANK YOU to the folks who have been using my Amazon store to do their Christmas shopping! I never see who buys what but wowza - thank you. Someone (you know who you are) made a big purchase recently and I am really, really grateful.

Our beautiful Peep rests easy in her gratitude for your Amazon store purchases.

How does it work and what can you buy? Anything. Well, anything that Amazon sells - movies, books, ebooks, groceries, garden stuff, toys. You may purchase one of my recommendations or anything you were going to buy anyway. When you use one of my links, that black Amazon search box on the right side of my blog, or just this link I will get a very small percentage of the sale. You purchase like normal and, aside from a code in the URL on the page, you won't even notice the difference. This affiliate program is a great way for folks like me to earn a little money to support our blogs. Every little bit helps.

So for all you who haven't done their Christmas shopping - you are running out of time. To help you navigate all that tricky gift giving I've put together a list of my favorite things to purchase for your favorite farmer.....

1. Buckets...buckets are my favorite thing. You can never get enough buckets. In fact, a couple of my favorite people gave me one of my favorite presents ever - a bucket filled with their farm products. I just loved it.

2. A pair of really good garden shears. I use these for everything.. and you can never have too many. I keep a pair in several locations so they are always at hand and ready for action.

3. Goes with out saying everyone needs an axe (really, a hatchet)....I don't have this one but isn't it beautiful?

4. This is my favorite garden tool - I always have this hoe with me. I like that it's easy to dig a trench with and it can really get in between the rows.

5. Honestly, we couldn't live without our garden trolley. Also known as our  bacon wagon of doom. I use is as a water trolley, moving stuff around the garden, and my favorite use.... hauling carcasses of slain pigz up the hill.

6. You can see my full kitchen list here but on my list of "must haves" I'd include my favorite knife , commercial grade baking sheets,an awesome meat saw, and the Presto 23-Quart Pressure Canner I love so much that I have two of them.

7. I'm always adding to my Book List but if I had to call out a few of my favorites then I'd have to say Ruhlman's  Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, the astoundingly easy to follow 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes, and the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.

8. Has someone been particularly good? Well then, here is a big ticket item that no one can possibly live without...the KitchenAid Classic . Already have one? Then get the grinder attachment.

9. While it isn't the jaw dropping goose pot, I just love my  Le Creuset braiser. If you only get one piece of Le Creuset this is it. I've been trying to break myself of the non-stick habit and this stunner is helping me. Easy to fry up some turkey schnitzel on the stove top then just pop into the oven to finish. This is an excellent piece of masterful cookware.

10. Last but not least.... don't forget a great hat to remind you that life is good

 My favorite hat in action.

Thanks again everyone! Do you have your shopping done? Quick! Give a click and get everything you need. Happy Saturday!

Editor's note: What? More affiliate links to Amazon and another disclaimer? Yep. I'm supposed to make sure all y'all know that these links are part of the affiliate program so you don't think I'm pulling a fast one on you. 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, December 20, 2013

Full Confession....

My full confession today is... we had to buy eggs. Yep. For the first time in I don't even remember... we had to buy eggs. Twice now.

The upside is that, apparently, eggs come in this handy carrying container I believe called a "carton." Purchased eggs do not come in a bucket - which is what I'm used to... very handy indeed this carton.

 This is a carton - a very handy egg carrying device.

So what do you do when the hens are on strike? Nothing. You could be mad but there's no sense in that. The fact is that we have a bunch of older-ish hens and a suddenly very cold winter with extremely short days.

Could we put a light out there in the hen house to get them started again? Sure but we're not. The thing is that we only need a couple eggs and since we have.... *counts on fingers*... many, many chickens if we got them all cranked back up we would be flooded with eggs. We've done this before and it just isn't prudent. We ran out of friends to give the eggs to and frankly, the chickens could use a break.

Back when we had useful chickens.

Now when we get into the early spring those ladies had better get with the program. Especially when we get pigz again - then we will need all the eggs they can give us. But for now we have a bunch of laze about hens.

Is anyone else buying eggs? Does it kind of freak you out? We get them locally but they still aren't as nice as our own. Of course, now that we aren't rollin' in eggs - that's all I want to eat.

Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We're gonna need a bigger bucket... part 2

If you are using 'the google' to search for that cute commercial of the elf gal saying "We're gonna need a bigger bucket" - my apologies.... but you have the wrong number. You might want to just keep on searching for that commercial. If I may, the commercial you should be searching for is this one, not the elf one. But have a good day! Move along now... nothing to see here. For the record I had an Audi once and it was a beautiful car so you should buy one.

Non-farm people... just concentrate on this picture. Don't scroll down.

Friends, this blog shows up in weird search results. Right now I'm getting a bunch of hits from an offhand post title I made a couple years ago. Honestly it wasn't a cultural reference, we literally needed a bigger milking bucket for that superstar milker we had for the summer.

This is what they are seeing instead. Non-farm people, that is a bucket busting goat udder.

All those poor saps are looking for a commercial but they are seeing this post instead. And yes, I'm laughing a lot... I can just see all those city slickers spitting out their Jamba Juices and Mocha Caramel Peppermint frappes all over their phones or laptops when they behold the glory that is Sunny's big ol' udder. It was, in fact, udderly fabulous.

Now stranger, or friend,  if you need some eyewash or brain bleach how's about if you take a look at this. It's just lovely. My wish for you today is that you let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Be careful of what you search and click on!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Twelve Days of Christmas... OFG Style

The other day on "the facebook" someone posted the very adorable Twelve Days of Christmas by Kerri over on City Girl Farming. It was perfect. Very lovely. When I read stuff like that I think to myself, "Dang! Why can't I have that idyllic life?"

But you know that I will always tell you the truth about farming. The truth is that our farmy Christmas is more like something Tim Burton came up with. All nuts, all the time, and rarely is there an idyllic scene. I assure you that if there was a barred rock in the pear tree I would be throwing sticks at her and yelling to "Come down from there this minute and lay me an egg!"

So a bunch of malcontents urged me to come up with my own Twelve Days of Christmas. Here's what you get, you sons-o-golly-whats. You know of whom I speak.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me.... Nothing. But I finally found that missing pigz head.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me... two roos named Stew and I finally found that missing pigz head.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me... three screaming ganders, two roos named Stew, and I finally found that missing pigz head.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me..... four badass dogs, three screaming ganders, two roos named Stew, and I finally found that missing pigz head.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me... five goofy goats! Four badass dogs, three screaming ganders, two roos named Stew, and I finally found that missing pigz head.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me.... six turks a-gobbling, five goofy goats! Four badass dogs, three screaming ganders, two roos named Stew, and I finally found that missing pigz head.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me.... seven runner ducks, six turks a-gobbling, five goofy goats! Four badass dogs, three screaming ganders, two roos named Stew, and I finally found that missing pigz head.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me.... eight insane cats, seven runner ducks, six turks a-gobbling, five goofy goats! Four badass dogs, three screaming ganders, two roos named Stew, and I finally found that missing pigz head.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me....nine creepy meats, eight insane cats, seven runner ducks, six turks a-gobbling, five goofy goats! Four badass dogs, three screaming ganders, two roos named Stew, and I finally found that missing pigz head.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me... ten misplaced tools, nine creepy meats, eight insane cats, seven runner ducks, six turks a-gobbling, five goofy goats! Four badass dogs, three screaming ganders, two roos named Stew, and I finally found that missing pigz head.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me... eleven random chickens, ten misplaced tools, nine creepy meats, eight insane cats, seven runner ducks, six turks a-gobbling, five goofy goats! Four badass dogs, three screaming ganders, two roos named Stew, and I finally found that missing pigz head. 

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me.... twelve missing eggs, eleven random chickens, ten misplaced tools, nine creepy meats, eight insane cats, seven runner ducks, six turks a-gobbling, five goofy goats! Four badass dogs, three screaming ganders, two roos named Stew, and I finally found that missing pigz head.   

Happy Holly Jolly everyone!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

More on antibiotics - what would it be like without them?

Thanks to everyone for their comments here and also over on "the facebook" on yesterday's post about the FDA limiting the use of antibiotics in livestock.

 Our turkeys have zero antibiotics in them.

What really got me thinking about this is was that my pal M posted an article last week about what it would be like if we didn't have antibiotics and reminded us what it was like before. I think we take it for granted that a scratch or a mild infection isn't going to kill us anymore. And The Black Death? Sure it still exists but it can be treated easily.

[Note: that's not my "The Black Death" but the real plague that killed a huge portion of the population every time it came around. Those people needed an Insane Cat Posse...]

Both of these dogs have had more antibiotics than any of our livestock. Look at Baby Bubby!!

I have to tell you it kind of freaks me out to think about how a disease that killed so many people and completely changed our culture's social structure can now be treated by a handful of pills that they give away for free or sell for $4 at our Kroger (with a prescription of course).


One of the things this article...and also this one that my friend JA and I both read... talk about is that if we lose the use of antibiotics - not only will we not have a way to treat sinus infections, for instance, but all kinds of medical treatments. Cancer treatments, traumatic injuries, common surgeries would also be at risk.

Will the FDA's new rules help with any of this? I dunno... some of us feel like it's a little too little and a little to late. The overuse of antibiotics is a concern for everyone. But where do you draw the line?

I'm one of the people who needs them. Whenever I get sick it's almost always bacterial - I almost never get a virus. After hearing from a new doctor, or whoever is in the Urgent Care, that they "don't just hand out antibiotics like candy" and why was I asking for them I almost always end up with a prescription. Is this necessary? For me - yep. I follow a predictable pattern that ends in pneumonia. Am I over-using them or just unlucky?

What about for on-farm use? What will this mean for folks like us who need antibiotics from time to time for our barnyard? Are we over using them? What are we going to do when these regulations kick in - are we just screwed? A bunch of us do our own vet work. Now before the rest of you have a stroke, please just calm down. Not everyone has access to a large animal vet even for smaller barnyard animals... or a vet who can treat goats and chickens.

I can tell you that for a lot of us smaller farms if we can't get antibiotics for our occasional use there will probably be a lot more livestock ending up in a shallow grave. You can parse it out any way you want to but I am just not going to pay a $100 vet bill for a $5 chicken - even if she is my favorite layer. 

I once asked the local vet about a specific antibiotic for Nibbles (recommended to me by a guy who had forgotten more about goat then any of us will ever learn). The vet literally lost his mind. After he yelled at me for "over using antibiotics" he said that he didn't treat goats and in fact had only one semester of farm animal care in his vet program. OK. Speaking for myself, we don't buy treated or medicated feed for any of our milk or meat producers and we make most of our food here. It was a fact that everything that vet ate that day was commercially produced in feedlots teaming with all kinds of drugs. So was overusing? Was he going off half-cocked or was I the one that was ill informed?

So we've circled back around to antibiotic use in feed and in commercially produced meat again. Are these new mandates going to work? Some folks feel that there are so many loopholes that this will be side stepped and it will be business as usual for the big CAFO's.

But you have to start somewhere, right?

Even if you don't grow your own meat you can still do your part. Find a local meat source, check labels, and talk to your store's meat manager. Be aware of what you are eating. Drive right on by that drive thru and go home and make your own supper. I promise you, after a while you won't even miss it.

As for me, I had non-medicated turkey for breakfast and we'll probably have non-medicated pork for dinner. Who knows what gonna happen for lunch - but I guarantee it wont be teaming with antibiotics.

Happy Saturday, everyone! Thanks again for all of your comments. Let's keep this discussion going as these new regulations unfold. Remember, we are all in this together.

Friday, December 13, 2013

FDA limits antibiotic use in livestock

Was anyone else surprised to see that the FDA will limit antibiotic use in livestock? They want antibiotics to be dispensed by vets and end the practice of using these drugs in feed.

The reason is for the rise of drug resistant infections which are causing a lot of concern in the medical community. I liked this interview.

I was glad to see this change but I'm wondering how this will play out. Either it won't have any effect at all.... or there will be some big changes in commercially grown livestock. I'm guessing that we will see prices rise or just more food production will be shipped out of this country.

There has been a lot of talk about "life after antibiotics" lately. A couple weeks ago we watched a PBS show on superbugs and I have to tell you - it was terrifying. I found the entire program here.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. It just kind of makes you wonder if we've waited too long to take action.

In the meantime I'm working on our meat strategy for next year. I think we will have 3 pigs. One for early harvesting and two for extremely late in the fall. We'll see what happens.

Happy Friday everyone - what are your thoughts on this? Do you think it will help?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cold Weather Goat Care: Goat Shufflin'

If you are reading this Thursday morning there is a good chance that it's about 9* out there. We've had a pretty good cold snap here and this is the coldest night and morning. With weather this cold there is only one thing to do.... Goat Shuffling. As in, every day I'm shufflin'.

Oh Nibs...

With such cold weather looming I felt I had to take action with the goats. For the last couple days I've had Debbie and Dahli separated from Nibs and the babies. Mostly because I can't tell if Debbie is pregnant and also because I caught Darla and Daisy milk stealin' off their Grandma Debbie. So the best solution was to separate them. I shoveled out one side of the turkey house and marched Debbie and Dahli right over there. They hated it. "Tough!" I said as I locked them in.

They aren't suffering.

In truth the turkey house is the best spot. You'd think those fool goats would be happy in their luxury accommodations. Nope. "Too bad!" I said as I locked them the next night. The complaining continued.

Nibs and her chicken-friends start to gather solar energy. That roo is stew on legs, btw. Soon.

Goats do pretty well in cold weather. As long as they are out of the wind, dry, well fed, and well watered they should be just fine for whatever winter throws at them. Our goat winterization program includes bedding them down in deep straw, putting tarps on the outside of the goat house to keep the wind out, and a stepped up feeding program. Mostly you want to feed more hay as that keeps their rumens ruminating which feeds their internal furnace.

The hardest part is keeping them watered. Goats are very happy to get warm water during winter. We don't "top off" their buckets with warm water, we bust out the ice, dump the bucket and start with all warm water. Putting out cold water from the outside tap is largely ineffective. First the water will freeze faster (or so we have determined) and also... they might not drink it.

Normally we don't feed the fickle inclinations of goats... but they really need to keep up with their hydration. So I fill up a couple of buckets of warmish-to-hot water from the tap and haul it out there. I'm careful, tho, not to have it too hot. Sure the goats can take hot water but if your chickens get to it first and scald their crops... well then. Might as well get the axe. So warm water is fine.

My sad snow covered wheelbarrow. Someone should put it in the garage.

Next, don't skimp on the hay. You might cringe to see those silly goats waste all that hay that you've paid good money for... but don't worry. What the chickens don't pick thru will be fabulous compost for your garden. Keep pouring on the hay.

Our next step for cold weather goat care is..... get those door open. Yep. Get those goats outside. Actually get them into the sunshine like Nibs in the above picture. It is a fact that goats are solar powered. They will lay there and soak up the sun and love it. Again, make sure they are out of the wind and dry.

Even if it's not sunny we still open all the doors. Fresh air is essential for livestock. This is why our critter buildings are not air tight. Remember that all those pooping machines out there are creating ammonia with all that crappin' and peeing. The buildings need to breathe to make sure your livestock don't develop respiratory problems.

What about little jackets? Hand knit sweaters? Heat lamps? 

Nope. Nope. Nope. Not here. First, we need to make sure we have stock that can tolerate the weather. One of the primary factors in deciding what livestock we have is their weatherability. Are they appropriate for this climate? Yes? Then they can stay. If not then they need to move along.

We only deploy heat lamps in the most dire of situations or during kidding season. And then only after we have carefully considered the conscious decision, "Is this worth the risk of burning down the hen and goat houses?"

But don't we have heat lamps on the meat chickens and turkeys? Yep. But most of the poultry aren't bat crap crazy. I've seen the goats do the most ridiculous things - especially if there is any kind of power cord involved. As a species I am surprised that goats have lasted this long especially considering their own foolishness.

So what do we do on the coldest night and most frigid morning?

We heap them all together in the warmest spot. Don't forget your animals will generate their own heat - the more bodies the merrier. During exceptionally cold nights we've heaped all kinds of strange bedfellows together.

Right now all of the goats are shoved into a smallish, or should I say, "cozy" side of the turkey house. The other side of the turkey house has five mammoth meat toms and TurkZilla... and they have a heat lamp. Between the poultry-only heat lamp, the close quarters, the deep bedding, and seeing how the turkey house is the most protected outbuilding we have.. I'm fairly confidant that everyone is going to be just fine.

Now as soon as the sun clears the horizon I'll be out there shuffling Nibs, Darla, and Daisy back to the goat yard when they can soak up the sun. Debbie and Dahli will be enjoying the soft glow of electric heat from the turkey side. Then they will all get a big shake of hay, a scoop of feed, and lots of warm water.

Happy Thursday everyone! Are you shufflin' your goats today?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My-Toe-Crisis 2013...Round Two

We are not craven people. We do not flinch. Nothing ruffles, flusters, or rattles us. We look danger in the face and laugh. We can butcher just about anything and can tackle just about any hard core farm chore.


You'll remember when we had the first Toe Crisis of 2013 - that's when our Peep popped a toe and we had to rush her to the vet? Who could have possibly guessed that we'd be in for a two-fer?

Our beautiful Kai, dreams of the Land of Snow and Ice

This time the event that sent both of us hard core, tough as nails, get 'er done farmers into a full fledged attack of the willies was.....  Kai's broken toenail.

To be fair it was kind of gruesome. She had broken her toenail mostly off and it was cracked up into the quick. There was no fixing it and we had to do something.

Queue hysterical call to the vet, followed by me kicking my husband out of bed with orders that we were leaving in SIX minutes, hurried chores, a chase, flying tackle, and shoving a big scared bear hunter into the back seat of our truck. We, in fact, left in six minutes. We got there in record time.

It was the same vet who fixed Peep's toe. She arrived with a toolkit of toe fixin' paraphernalia. "You again?" She asked.

There was a bit of a wrestling match. It is the truth that Kai is 103lbs of "nope." She is very stubborn and can become the immoveable object. I'm more stubborn and can move immoveable objects. I drug her out from under the chair and assumed the position - mostly me laying on Kai and holding her in a half-Nelson. I realize that most vet techs are supposed to do this, but frankly, they take one look at our Kai and just let me do it. The vet examined Kai's poor paw.

"Give it to me straight, Doc, do you want to muzzle her? Give her a shot to knock her out? Get the gloves?" I was not convinced this would end well.

"No, let's just see here."

And then in one smooth motion the vet ripped the broken part of the toenail clean off.

Shrieking. Shrieking like little girls. That's what happened next. Shrieking. After a while I realized it was us who was shrieking and not Kai. She could not have cared less but was more concerned about getting her foot wrapped. You want to reduce a couple of hard core farm types to a quivering mass of hysteria? Broken toenail will do it every time.

The vet explained the why's and the wherefore's to us but honestly we were both clutching each other and shaking. There is no way ever we could have done that. Ever. Never.

Mercifully the vet was extremely generous to us and the total bill was less than the gas we had to buy to drive up there. Kai ran for the truck and I paid with shaking hands. Honestly we were so overwrought by the situation that we had to go home and lay down for the rest of the day. Kai? She was fine. She had the wrapping pulled off with in 5 minutes of getting home but I had more vet wrap, much to her chagrin.

Pretty much we are now just giving it a chance to grow out. We kept it dry the first couple days and now we are just trying to keep her from messing with it. She's upstairs right now with a sock on her paw.

When I say I don't even ask, "What's going to happen next?" I am not kidding. We are just hoping that this is the end of My-Toe-Crisis 2013.

For now I'm just hoping that a certain science teacher out there appreciates all the work I put into this stupid mitosis joke... My Toe (cri)Sis... get it? You know who you are, wife of the Worlds Worst Friday Punster....


Happy Tuesday everyone! Anybody else got a toe two-fer that tops this?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Power Inverter and Storm Prep List

Some of us were talking about generators and storm preps over on 'the facebook' the other day and they were asking about the power inverter we have for our truck. Here is one like it....

As I understand it, someone who is not me hooks up this doohickey to the truck battery... then plugs in an extension cord... which we plug into whatever in the house. The one we have is mostly for small appliances like charging up the laptop or powering the TV. You can also get more powerful ones.

The great thing about this kind of whatchamacallit is that it's easy to use, cheaper than a generator, and can run a lot of stuff. The downside is that you have to use the gas in your truck. As with a generator, make sure you don't run your truck (or generator) in the garage attached to your house.

Another great storm prep tool is a hand crank weather radio. Some of them even have phone chargers in them. I'm not a "gadget" person but this one really makes sense to me.

Pretty much we can make the best of any weather situation. We are typically ready for a power outage at any time - and can do OK for a while without services or utilities.

The only time when things would really get ugly would be if I wasn't able to make coffee. I'm not kidding. So I love my trusty french press coffee maker. But don't forget to have some beans already ground if the weather looks bad.

I also have a variety of pots and pans that I can use either on the wood burning stove or outside on the gas grill. If you don't already have a bunch of Lodge cast iron pansthen now is the time to get busy. Properly seasoned and cared for they will last a lifetime. Even if you "ruin" them you can always re-season them.

Don't forget to have a million MagLites... with batteries, of course. 

That's my quick list of storm prep tools. Do you have someone who is hard to buy for on your Christmas list? How about a one of these items? Nothing says "love" like a power inverter!

Happy Monday everyone!  Are you still in the deep freeze? Any body with their power out?

Editor's note: Are these affiliate links to Amazon? You betcha! Anything you buy from Amazon from these links gets me a tiny percentage of the sale. It doesn't cost you one cent more but it 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. It can be anything - one of my recommendations, books, movies, or whatever you need to buy anyway. Thanks! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chickens in Cold Weather and An Amazing Goose Pot

Since much of the country is in the deep freeze I thought I'd throw out some cold weather chicken care tips. We are sitting at a shivery 20*-something with a possibility of freezing rain and ice.

You can read more about extreme cold weather chicken are here and also here.

Basically what you want to do is give your birds the tools they need to weather the cold.... and let them do it. If you have food and water in the hen house your hennies will stick pretty close - especially if it is not sunny. They will be just fine outside, however, if they can find a sunny spot out of the wind.

Unless its bitterly cold (single digits or below 0*) we open the hen house doors so they can get fresh air. They won't like the snow anyway so they should stay inside.

The only poultry that get any special handling are our meat birds. The creepy meat chickens are still small enough to need a couple heat lamps. The last few remaining meat turkeys also have a heat lamp and we have them closed up in the turkey house. The meat birds don't have as many feathers are "normal" poultry - and we also think they don't preen themselves well enough to enjoy the insulating benefits of fluffy feathers.

The only ones we don't worry about at all are... the geese. Every once in a while I"ll see a question about cold weather care for geese and I kinda giggle. I know someone who went on a frozen tundra adventure and they had a goose down filled sleeping bag that was good to -20* or something like that. Provided your geese are preening and dry - they will be just fine.

We have plenty of hens that keep each other warm in the hen house. In fact, it has to get VERY cold for us to put a heat lamp out there. But if you only have a couple hennies then you may want to get a farm-use heat lamp and bulb. Be very careful - don't burn down your hen house.

Be extra careful also with giving them hot water. You should provide warmish - not hot - water. They could burn their wattles or worse - scald their crops - if the water is too hot.

Check out a more detailed overview here and also here.

Yesterday over on 'the facebook' we were all slack jawed and buggy-eyed over this spectacular post by Ruhlman. Not only does he have a fantastic method for cooking your goose (which will also work for duck as well) but his big ol' goose pot had us drooling on our keyboards.

Here is the pot..... called a Goose Pot.

It is insane and yeah I would love one..... in blue..... *sigh*..... And yeah you read that price correctly. Can you believe it? But hey! The shipping is free - ha!

It's only about 3:30pm but we are going to head out soon for evening chores. We want to make sure we have everyone bedded down and fed well. It's only going to get colder so might as well head out there.

Happy Sunday everyone! Are you dreaming of a blue goose pot?

Editor's note: Did I honestly put an affiliate link to a $575 pot? You betcha! If anyone actually buys it I'll be stunned. Then I will hand write you a letter of thanks and have Kai seal it with a kiss. In the meantime all y'all are welcome to use the Amazon search box on the right side of this page or click here to shop for whatever you were going to buy anyway. Purchase just like normal and I'll get a tiny percentage of the sale. It doesn't cost you one cent more but it helps me with the "cost" of this blog. Thanks!

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Land of Ice and Snow - The Departure

We started this Adventure Tail here ....but the story really began here... And now Part Three of The Land of Ice and Snow - The Departure.

It seemed that the rest of Bandit's visit would be mostly unremarkable. As the gossips expected Bandit and Col Ti spent a lot of time together. However, Bandit's free-spirited ways ground fiercely against Col Ti's stoic discipline. He would wake her early for rounds or troop inspections and she would reply, “OK” and then roll over and go back to sleep. Or she would disappear for most of the morning without any explanation only to return later with a newly killed deer slung over her shoulder. She lived, it seemed, without any sense of duty.

Princess Kai kept her distance.  True to his word, Zander made sure that Kai and Bandit did not cross paths. The Princess was still sulking from being humiliated and dismissed by the older hunter. Kai naturally did not like other females, least of all of her own kind. So for Kai to be so enthusiastic about Bandit's arrival and then be rejected was a deep wound. Zander knew that Kai had always longed for an older sister.  Expecting Bandit to fulfill this role could only lead to disappointment – and it did.

Gradually the chip started to erode off Kai's shoulder and soon the four of them – Zander, Kai, Col Ti, and Bandit found themselves talking and drinking late into the night. Although they had to be beg her, Bandit eventually started telling spectacular tales of victories from her youth. Kai was spellbound. Something in her pulled toward these stories of a wide, rugged country and dangerous hunts. The way of the BearHunters was calling to Kai.

Bandits exotic voice and tales of valor were intoxicating. She became well liked at court and many sought to befriend her. Kai was flattered when she realized that Bandit was spending more time with her than with anyone. Including Col Ti. One night Kai saw them arguing. Bandit was shaking her head and when Col Ti reached for her – Bandit pulled away. Since that night Bandit had been cool to Col Ti. Secretly Kai was thrilled to have Bandit to herself. The Princess spent every spare minute with Bandit hounding her about details of every hunt.

Many visitors came from distant parts of The Good Land to see Bandit. She was surprisingly patient with those who came just to see her striking blue eyes. Even the Dowager Teddi Grumpkins came to court to meet Bandit. The Dowager had not left her quarters in many months due to old age and her coming blindness. That she would come to visit Bandit was an honor.

It was said that the Dowager Teddi was exiled from her own lands. She was found by Rangers, starved and alone, in the Deep Woods. She must have done something disgraceful in her homeland because the Healers discovered Teddi's front paws had been mutilated and were useless. Her teeth were also broken out. No one in The Good Land could conceive of something so awful. There were whispers that the Dowager must have been a traitor to be cast out penniless, crippled, and broken. Some wanted to leave Teddi to her death in the Deep Woods but OFG would not hear of it. 

Teddi was brought into the household, given fine quarters, and nursed back to health. Even though old age and senility had taken whatever grandness she once had, OFG would not allow Teddi to be ridiculed. Teddi's erratic, and sometimes destructive, behavior was politely overlooked. She received the tenderest of care.

Now in the Great Hall after so long an absence the Dowager Teddi was wheeled in atop a kind of trolley laden with pillows and soft pelts. Bandit stood patiently as the Dowager Teddi leaned forward, touched her face and muttered quietly “Ah yes.. yes I see. Very blue indeed.” All nodded respectfully even though they all knew that the Dowager Teddi could not even see down to her mangled front paws.

When the effort of coming to court had overtaken the ancient one, her caretakers wheeled the Dowager Teddi reverently back to her quarters where she was put back to bed. In a land where strength and honor were the highest virtues no one uttered a single mocking word even for such a frail creature.  They all knew when their days of usefulness to the Good Land ended, or if they were denied a glorious warrior's death in battle, then they would all be afforded the same respectful care.

Despite the apparently falling out between them Bandit and Col Ti continued to work together.  Every morning Bandit and Kai trained on the parade grounds after troop inspections. Col Ti and Zander often joined them. One such morning OFG and Little Mo went out to see how the training was proceeding. Kai and Bandit were engaged in hand to hand combat, both breathing hard.

Kai stepped in to take a swing but Bandit expertly avoided the blow, feigned a step back, and landed a sharp blow on Kai's neck.

“Little Kai! You fight like a child! You always fight what is in front of you! Look ahead - look to my next move.” Bandit said.

Kai was snarling and back in her fighting stance. She lunged again. Once more Bandit danced out of the way and struck Kai as they passed.

OFG and Little Mo were watching from a distance. “Our visitor does not address the Princess as her title, Sir” Said Little Mo.

“No.” Said OFG watching intensely.

“Do you think it is.... damaging... for the rest of the troops, Sir? It is unseemly for Bandit to take such liberties.”  Little Mo was worried that this lack of decorum would spread through the troops.  No one dared call their Princess “Little Kai.”

“Humility is a virtue, Little Mo.” Said OFG as they turned to go. “Perhaps having an equal is good for our Kai. But make an example of anyone else who dares be disrespectful.”

Little Mo nodded.

As the walked away they could hear the sparring continue. Another swing and a miss followed by Col Ti's roaring laughter. Then his surprised, “Hey!...” And a tumble of bodies.

OFG paused and raised an eyebrow to Little Mo, “And perhaps you should....”

“Send for the Healers? Yes, Sir. I'll have someone sent right out.”

Kai's fierceness was just one of the reasons she was such a good warrior – and her dogged determination made her even better.  But still, thought OFG, Bandit was right. Kai needed to control her impulses and fight with her head - not just with her courage.

Later that night, at supper, Col Ti arrived with a newly stitched up wound on his ear. Kai, for her part, had a new scar over her eye. Bandit, walking between them, wore only her obvious pride for the young BearHunter apprentice shining in her startling blue eyes.

“I want to go with Bandit. She is going to the far northlands and I want to go and hunt the great white bear of the Lands of Ice and Snow.”  It was more of a statement than a question.

In truth Col Ti had warned OFG that this was coming. Kai stood before her mother.

“We will leave in two days time and return when I have earned my BearKiller name.” Kai's jaw was set and her chin was lifted just a little in defiance.

“I see.” Said OFG. She began pacing behind her desk, hands clasp behind her back, her face emotionless.

“The Princess has reached her full maturity, Sir.” Said Little Mo. “And you were younger than she is now when you....”

“Thank you, Little Mo.” Said OFG gruffly.

Kai's jaw fell open. Little Mo was an unlikely ally.  She looked at the former troubadour quizzically.

OFG hadn't slept since Col Ti told her that Kai was going with Bandit. She knew Kai was an excellent hunter and she did not lack courage. While she felt some pride in her Princess for wanting to go on this quest OFG was overwhelmed with a sense of dread. If Kai stayed within her borders OFG could protect her, or so she hoped.

She had nearly lost Kai when her stubborn girl had gone after that huge hog alone. OFG still shuddered when she remembered Kai's broken body. She had stayed awake, never leaving Kai's side, for almost three whole days.

OFG had viciously cursed the Healers when Kai did not awaken. She had gone so far as to tell them that if Kai died they would be buried in the same grave. When Kai was not revived on the second day one of the Healers, fearing for his own life, tried to steal away under cover of nightfall. He was hunted down by Col Ti and executed on the parade grounds before noon the following day. Cowardice was not tolerated in the Good Land.

Everyone rejoiced when Kai finally recovered – especially the Healers. OFG swore she would not risk losing her precious girl again. But trying to control Kai was like trying to rein in the wind. It was useless to stop her. The least she could do was make sure Kai was well provisioned.

She continued pacing a while. Then OFG stopped and looked out the window.

“Very well. I'll ride with you and Bandit for two days past the North Gate.”

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Here it comes...

At this writing (about 7am on Thursday) it is about 60* - this is the warmest it's going to be until, you know... April or so. I woke up earlier to thunder and lightening.  Here it comes - Winter. Are you ready?

If you haven't been watching the news, it's time to buckle up. There is a huge cold air mass coming down to put us all in the deep freeze. Of course we are kind of on the line so we are going to be dealing with a big rain, then the wintery mix, ice, and then a bunch of snow.

I spent the last couple days outside in shorts and a tshirt getting the very last of the garden ripped out or tucked in. Today we'll be getting the last of our storm preps done. I need to get many buckets filled with water and make sure I bed everyone down really well. We also have to put the heat lamps back on for the last of the turkeys and the creepy meat chicks.

Inside I'll be having a baking day, getting all the laundry done, and making sure the sink is cleaned out...and taking a shower. Why the cleaning? Because if we lose power it's much easier to bear if we start out clean, with a workspace, and with clean clothes.

This is a true FTE - that's French Toast Emergency. All the suckers will be out there buying milk, eggs, and bread.... while I'm finishing up the dishes.

I need to get a couple of farm notes down before I forget...

1. Debbie might not be bred. She was acting funny on Tuesday the 3rd which means I need to have a plan worked out for her by ....well... Christmas Eve, for heavens sakes. Last year Dahli was bred on Christmas so I guess that it's not too surprising.

2. We got a load of firewood, also on Tuesday. I'm noting this so I can track how long it lasts. I don't think we are going back to that guy tho. He was kind of particular and over interested in the details. Plus the stack wasn't covered so the top was kind of rotten. We didn't have to take the bad ones... but I think the wood was kind of old. Also we don't think we got as much as we've gotten from other places.

Provided the rain stops, we'll be bringing some more wood up from our woods. But it's kind of nice to have already split firewood. Just not this stuff.

Happy Thursday everyone! Winter is coming... are you ready?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Guess who we saw checking out the chickens the other day....

If you click on the picture you can see a better close up.

Yep. There she is - a big ol' hawk sitting around looking at what is available on the chicken buffet.

I have to say that I have a love-hate relationship with hawks. I just love them... as long as they are not killing my chickens.

We have several species of hawks around here. Of course, I don't have any idea what they are... I don't even particularly like birds. We just see them all the time when we are driving around.....and you know... up in the tree by the chicken yard.

We have this big hawk (and her mate is somewhere...) who lives back more toward the woods.... and then we have smaller hawks that live mostly along the fence line on the sides of our property. We hear them all the time and see them almost every day. Remember when we saw one of the larger hawks fishing down on our pond for a snake?

Unfortunately we've lost several chickens to hawks. You can tell because the attacks are in the daytime and sometimes they only eat the heads and necks. It's very frustrating.

What can you do? Pretty much just be mad.

You can do all kinds of things like provide covered runs for the chickens but that is not practical for us. We have too large of an area to effectively cover so we rely mostly on existing cover - like the pine trees, the wisteria covered pergola, and the big grasses near the hen yards.

I used to terrorize my Audubon friends by telling the we threw sticks at the swooping hawks. That's not true, of course.... what really happens is that we've taught the dogs to sight the hawks. When they do we all go running toward the chickens. If the roosters are doing their jobs they start screaming and all the hennies run for cover. About that time me and the dogs show up and this usually scares the hawks away. After a while the hawks figure they have easier pickin's elsewhere and go and hunt in someone else's hen yard.

Having the goats with the chickens also seems to help. Or any larger poultry or livestock seem to be a deterrent. The geese are particularly helpful at screaming when hawks are around. Unfortunately the geese also shriek when the wind blows so it's kind of hard to tell what really is going on out there. Mostly tho I spend a lot of time outside. So I not only keep a weather eye to the sky, but I also keep an eye out for birds of prey.

Any body else have a big ol' hawk sitting in the tree by the henyard?

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Snow Goats

This was the scene just a few days ago..... so much snow.

It was so bad that we just kept the goats in their house all day. But when we let them out they ran right over to the drooping pine branches to get some needles.

Debbie was exceptionally cute in the snow..... here is her snowface...

My goals this week are to get the firewood supply built back up before our next round of snow....and to get some beans canned.  Happy Monday everyone!  Did you have a good holiday?
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