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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top Ten Posts of 2014

I saw that some of the other bloggers were doing a "Top 10" list of their posts for 2014... so why not? Sure, I'll give it a go.  Wow, what a list! Actually I was kinda surprised at the results.

 Every body loves posts about pigz. 

To be sure, my all time top posts are all about growing out pigz, butchering, bottle feeding baby goats, goat polio, and how to keep you dog from killing your chickens.. But the top posts published in 2014 were about.... building my greenhouse. And pigz, butchering, dogs...and TV. Well that last one was kind of weird... but over all I'd say yep, these were the top posts. 

Here is the list:

1. How to watch TV without cable. This was even before Amazon Fire TV.. .now that it is on the way - we may never watch regular TV again!

2. How to transport 16' cattle panels. This was part of my series about building my greenhouse.

3. And that is all I got to say about that. I still don't have anything else to say about it. But I'm glad I have a new friend.

4. We butchered a goat. Tommy Boy meets his just end. We didn't even feel bad. Note: after all this time there is still a fair amount of insensitivity to this post. All y'all goat smugglers probably should not read this.

5. On training hard working farm dogs. Ah yes.. my favorite topic, with my favorite picture of my Dog#1. Folks are always asking me about how I work with the dogs. I'm still working on getting a GoPro to strap to my hat so you can see it in action. But here is a good overview of how I work with my dogs.

6. Project Goals: Hoop house green house. I started off declaring the project and by the end of the month it was up and running. I took my pal Bourbon Red's hoop house how-to and created a superduper greenhouse that I used all spring. Probably my favorite project.

7. Tommy Boy meets The Dog.  I'm guessing that this shows up on the list because of the reference links from both 'We Butchered a Goat' and 'On Training Hard Working Farm Dogs'.... but his gives a good account of how farm dogs should work. First that Dog#1 immediately took the right action...and that The Dread Commander Zander ran directly to my side. Zander earned a promotion for his good work and has moved on to actively performing our command "Guard Momma."

8. Baby goats and goat polio. About the same time every year folks start searching on two topics - how to bottle feed baby goats and how to treat goat polio. Note: I am not a vet. I don't play a vet on TV. But this is what we do and so far so good.

9. All American Pressure Cooker/Canner on sale. This sale was outstanding... wow what a deal! I keep track of the prices with a link on the right side of my blog. Right now it's about $200 but that $188 price was insane. Let's hope it comes back around.

10. Build a hoop house: Step One. Gather materials & planning. This is the first in the how-to. If you are interested here are the rest of the steps, here they are: Step One. Step Two. Step Three. Step Four.

All in all this has been a great year. We had some ups and downs - but we could not have asked for a better summer. Most of our projects were successful and the ones that weren't... well, we just did the best that we could. What's going to happen next year? Lots of things. I'm so excited about what we'll be working on and the new projects coming up.

Happy New Year everyone! I'm so glad to have you all in my life. Thank you so much for your support. I never thought my little blog, started mostly for my own record keeping, would lead me to so many new friends. Onward and upward, friends. Remember that we are all in this together.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Grinding Day - DONE!

I finally got done with grinding day which means our Merry Meatmas is DONE. Well... OK it will be done when the bacon is smoked. But we are mostly done. We have been swimming in pork for days now. Of course... all I want for dinner is chicken. *sigh*

So much grinding. I use the grinding attachment for one of my Kitchenaid mixers.

I have to say that this has been a hugely successful harvest. At first I thought, gosh this isn't enough meat... but then at the end of Grinding Day I realized we had more than enough. Our new freezer is a bigger one so it didn't look as full as I thought it should be... but then I also remembered that we have 42lbs of ham and bacon that will be picked up from the butcher next week.

Now we can just kick back, have some sloth, and relax until next summer.... HA! You're right, you know me too well. Are you kidding? Sit around? I have things to do!  I swear these extra couple of minutes of daylight are an absolute blessing.... I can't wait to get outside.

In the meantime, here are some links about past Meat and Grinding Days:

Meat Day Results
Making Chops and taking off the bacons
Lard n stock
Making bacon
More on bacon
How to brine and smoke a ham
Pancetta - how easy is this to make?

Can you part up half a hog? Sure! Why not? Get some good knives and then watch this (video #2), I love these guys.

Sometimes folks ask how they should portion up a half a hog - usually when they are getting it from a butcher. The answer is.... how do you usually use it? What do your normally buy? Also - get what is easy for you to make for dinner. Don't try and have "special occasion" meals only. This way you'll really use it for everyday meals and it won't just sit in the freezer.

For us, big roasts are just kind of a waste. There are only two of us so a big roast is just kind of silly. To be honest the both of us just really like meat fried up in a pan - and pork chops. So a good portion of the shoulders are just cut up into "stew meat" sized chunks and portioned into one pound freezer bags. These thaw out quickly and then can be used, for stew, stir fries, or just... meat lighted floured, salt and peppered, and then fried up in a pan. Easy peasy.

We use ground pork like folks use ground beef - for burgers, taco meat, etc. So we have a lot of that also. And since the secret is out that sausage is just seasoned ground meat... we don't make sausage on Grinding Day. We just thaw out a pack of fresh ground pork and season it when we need it. Mostly we like bulk sausage, not links, so this works out.

I portioned out the ribs so that we can do them up in our favorite way.  The one mistake we have made is try and "save" them for a special occasion. We end up forgetting. So my goal is to make these ribs before the 1st of June.

The one thing I'm doing differently is that I'm not making stock right away. So I put some of the big, meaty bones into the freezer. We'll see how this goes. I might forget about them... but I'm hoping that I'll use them for making stew. I hope I remember.

I'm glad we have put this Hog Harvest to rest. Now I can go about the business of getting prepped for next year.

Happy Tuesday everyone - are you finally done with all your meat processing?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Happy Dogs

We are still grinding thru our Merry Meatmas.... so much meat. The dogs have been in hog heaven - they have been getting a lot of meat trimmings and bones.

Kai loves getting bones. 

But she really takes her time with them. 

Zander is so excited he has to brace himself.

Happy Sunday everyone! Do you have happy dogs?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mr. Tibbles - not dead.

It's always a very long, slow walk out to check on an injured farm critter. Such was my walk yesterday.

Mr. Tibbles in his days of glory

We found Mr. Tibbles the night before - hanging upside down by his leg on the field fence. Whenever he flopped around the field fence hit the electric fence. Who knows how long he was out there and how many times he got shocked. It was horrible. I have absolutely no idea how he ended up like that.

I ran as soon as I saw him - it was miracle I even found him because he was behind the chicken house. It was just by happenstance I walked around the corner. I yelled for my hubs to turn off the fence. I got my favorite salmon favorelle roo untangled but he was looking grim. Mr. Tibbles, like most of the male poultry, hates me... but he is the most beautiful roo we have and I love him. Plus just look at those feathers!

I carried him over to the Turkey House to bunk down for the night in a coop near Nibbles. There seemed to be about a 50/50 chance that he would/not make it. So when me and the dog went out there in the morning I was greatly relieved to find him alive. He hung out in Nibbles' pen for the day alone. Then again for evening chores.... I did the long slow walk out to see if he made it thru the day.

I didn't see him right away.... so I sent the dog in to check....and then I heard squawking. Whew! Of course he was hiding in a corner... bah! Mr. Tibbles why do you torment me so!

Mr. Tibbles seems to have fully recovered. He's staying in the garage today just to make sure the other roos don't go after him but I think he will be back to full roo speed tomorrow.

I'm very pleased to report that Mr. Tibbles is not dead.

Happy Saturday everyone! Did you find your most beautiful rooster hanging upside down in the fence?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Thank you for the birthday wishes!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes over on "the facebook." I was absolutely thrilled to receive so many birthday wishes!  Thank you, everyone, who took the time to send a fun greeting. I had a great day and yes, it started with the most perfect breakfast food, ice cream cake.

It was awesome.

But the best part of the day was that I met by friend for lunch and it was the best birthday treat ever. She always encourages me and reminds me of my successes. My lunch with her was the best gift ever.

And the sun shined. That was just what I needed.

And then my favorite chef posted a picture of my favorite life-changing meal.... and then acknowledged my comment on the facebook. I'm sure it was his marketing staff but I still went all fangirl over it. Whoot!

So I would say that this has been a very successful birthday.

I was going to head into civilization to buy The Most Expensive Cheese Knife In The History of the World... but then I remembered that the entire free world would be swarming the shopping centers. So that is going to have to wait until next week. But seriously, why is this $34? I need to have it. You know I take cutting the cheese very seriously.

Anyway, what was my birthday wish? For more homegrown pork and creepy meats for everyone!

Happy Friday everyone - thank you so much for making my birthday very happy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Last minute gifts?

I wasn't going to do a post today as we are still recovering from Festivus.... but then I noticed that the Amazon Fire TV is on sale! You'll remember how excited I was about the Fire TV Stick... but now the set top box is $20 off for a price of $79!  If you are looking for a last minute gift this could be a winner.

Completely unrelated pic of our Peep. Can you feel the tortitude from there? 
Yes, that is the dog's new bed. She does not care.

I really wanted to spread the good news about this sale. I could not tell when the sale ends... so I ordered mine already. It won't get here until next week but that is OK, I'm still excited to try the voice commands. Altho I'm sure the dogs will probably think that I'm talking to them.

If you need a gift to give tonite/tomorrow (or just for yourself) you could go for a one year subscription to Amazon Prime. Not only does it provide two-day shipping for Amazon purchases, but you get access to tons of movies and TV shows. Why not give someone the gift of binging on The Wireduring their week off?

But if you need something to bring a hostess or you just are out of ideas.... I have to say that this homemade bittersweet chocolate syrup is fast, easy, and everyone loves chocolate.  Put it in a jar, slap a bow on top, and voila! Merry Christmas! I made a batch the other nite and yes, it is a breakfast food.

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! How was your Festivus? Are you TV binging? Eating hot fudge sauce out of a jar? Me too, friend, me too.

Editors note: I really wasn't expecting to do a post - least of all one with last minute affiliate links but really - this is a great sale. I'm not sure how they are going to handle HBO Go.. but I'm excited to find out. Anywhoo... this is your official notice that if you order something by clicking one of these links or use the black Amazon search box on the side of the page I will get a tiny portion of the sale. It never costs you one cent more and I never know who orders what.  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 for your support!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Takin' in the bacons and meat, meat, meat, and more meat.

We are extremely glad that we butchered the pigz over the weekend - wow what a rain last nite! And now our temps aren't even below 40*. We are glad we took advantage of the cold weather when we had it and before the mud showed up in full force. But now we've lost our "organic refrigeration" and I need to get all of this meat processed.

 Nicholas swings for the fences shortly before he got a time out.

Yesterday I took two of the hams and two of the bacons to a local "custom butcher" to be cured and smoked. I talked about this on our butcher day post yesterday - we are having some of the hams and half of the bacons processed by a professional butcher. My husband likes the bacon better and I like that it is sliced thin and will be vacuum packed. Plus I don't have any more room in any of the fridges to hold any more meat so I was glad to send some of it out for professional processing.

My husband loaded up the hams and the bacons on ice in our huge 72-hour cooler - I just had to drive it there. Icing down huge hunks of meat in a big cooler is a great way to get and keep meat cooled when you need extra room.

I really like our butcher. Of course he remembered me right when I walked in... on account of how sometimes I make an impression.

"Ahh... Mrs. The Big Man.... how you doin'?" He said... and then he laughed.  I get that a lot.

Of course, we got to talking while I was telling him how I wanted the 42 pounds of meat processed. We wanted the hams cured and smoked, then cut into at least 1 inch steaks..and then wrapped. The bacons were to be cured and smoked, sliced thick, then wrapped in one pound packages. If you can believe it the wrapping is a huge part of the cost. This time we opted for the vacuum sealed packs instead of just wrapped in freezer paper.

I told him that we didn't have pigz last summer - which is why it had been a while since we've seen him. And I explained how we had turkeys... so many turkeys.

"Did you butcher them yourself?" He asked?

"Sure we did!"

"Well, look at you." He said smiling proudly at me - in the same way the older ladies in the grocery store look at me when they see me buying canning jars.

These little moments are really touching for me. I feel a kind of connection to those generations - one generation back - that I'm really grateful for. Pretty soon these folks will be gone and most of their institutional knowledge with them. I feel like there are some of us who are working as hard as we can.. and as fast as we can to capture it before it is lost. 

When folks like that and people like me meet it's like a little miracle that always encourages me.

He was telling me how he bought 42 chickens at the auction for their local fair. We laughed at how we are both just terrible at plucking and I told him we always opt for just skinning poultry.

This moment just screamed to be captured in black and white.

He said that he works with his grown son and a couple of the highschool boys there at his shop. After he got the chickens he had the boys come out and he told them that they were going to process the birds.  He said that it was his "gift" to them. Sure they were going to get the chickens... but his real gift was teaching them how to butcher and process the chickens.

Hearing that just made me so grateful that we have this life. Butchering is becoming a lost art - and as we talked about yesterday - sometimes the folks around you have a very negative view of it. But don't let that dissuade you from learning.

I'll get my hams and my bacons back after the first of the year. Of course, I'll have my home cured and smoked bacons ready before then.... but I'll be very glad to see our butcher again.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Are you working on your bacons? Is your house filled with meat, meat, meat, and more meat? Guess what we are having for dinner? MEAT!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hog Harvest 2014

We finally butchered our pigz on Saturday! What a day! Despite being ill-prepared, not having the best weather conditions, forgetting to plug in the new freezer, and feeling a little rushed.... everything went very well. The last couple days have all been about processing meat. There is more of that on the agenda today.


As always we used this step by step method as detailed by my pal, Bourbon Red, to butcher the pigz. This is the only reference we use and it works perfectly for us. Altho, I could watch this guy all day. Talk about having your processes down! We were not that elegant.

But before we continue.... here is your official warning. This is going to be a detailed post about butchering! We are going to have PICTURES and we are gonna talk about making meat! And when I say making meat I mean we are gonna talk about slaughtering, gutting, and all kinds of stuff! Proceed only if you can handle it. It's OK if you can't - just look away... But if you are going to cry or be offended then you are doing it to yourself! If you send me a mean comment, a nasty email, or heaven forbid, write a blog post about how horrible I am or whatever I will:  1. Laugh at you. 2. Make fun of you to my real friends. 3. Not read or post it anyway. 4. Never think about you again. Thoughtful comments and questions are welcome! But keep your nastygrams to yourself. This is it.. your very last warning...I am not kidding! Are you sure you can handle this? How about if you just read about how Nicholas has a hard life instead? Are you SURE!?! OK here we go....

So we marched out there at the crack of 10am which was way too late but we didn't want to hurry. While I prefer it to be about 20* when we butcher we were standing on the edge of a warm front and we really needed to get this done before the rains made everything a horrible mess. It was already muddy enough and the ground was not entirely frozen.

After. That's a lot of pork.

Previously we have been able to get out there, get the pigz positioned, and then the shooting goes like clockwork. That's not what happened this time. The first pig did not go down immediately so it took a while. We'll talk more about this a different day. But the second pig was picture perfect. The Big Man shot him once, the pig fell to his knees, and then my hubs stuck him for a text book bleed out.

Unfortunately this all happened far from our intended work area and in the mud. The deep mud.

My Fighting Uruk-Hai's best day ever.

We spent a good deal of time devising a method to drag the carcasses out of the mud and implementing our plan. In the meantime, Kai thought this was the best thing that every happened to her. While we set up the pulleys and such she stood triumphantly over "her" kill. My Dog#1 just eyed the pigz suspiciously lest they spring to life.

Where was Zander? My biggest disappointment for this day was that our Bubby was not at my side. All that time spent this summer training him to work the pigz and "Guard Momma" was for naught. If you combine a Big Rowdy Dog + Bad Joints + Ice then you get... Rest + Rx's + Restricted activity. So our Bubby was inside so he could not do further damage to his knee. But he came out afterward and thought it was amazing. And yes, we are aware that we may be looking at one or two expensive knee surgeries for him.  Our Lucky never likes the shooting so he kept Bubby company inside.

My work surface. We use a piece of wood to keep the carcass from rolling around.

Once we got the pigz out of the mud and hauled the first and biggest one up the hill with the ancient garden tractor we were able to quickly and easily gut the carcass. We used our Bacon Wagon of Doom as a work surface. This lets me sit down to work and then also we can trolly the carcass to where it needs to be hung. Using the trolley is definitely our best idea yet. The sides of the trolly fold down for easy access and afterwards we can just hose the whole thing off.

Since this was taking longer than we expected we hurriedly hung carcass #1 up in a tree to cool while we went to retrieve the second carcass. Unfortunately the tractor was then out of gas but we just used the Bacon Wagon (of Doom) to get it up the hill.

Due to being cold, tired, and hungry I skinned this carcass very badly. It looked like a old blind man skinned it using a dull spoon. We shrugged, got sandwiches, and then halved the carcass using a new blade in our sawsall. It worked perfectly. Then it was easy to trolly the carcass into the garage, hoist it up, and hang it from the rafters. The garage was staying about 30* so it was perfect.

Due to sandwiches, the second carcass went much better... which was just what we needed because later today I'm going to take the two hams and the two bacons from this pig to our local custom butcher shop to be cured, smoked, and wrapped.

Why aren't we doing them ourselves? No matter what, professionally processed bacon is just more bacony. We don't have a slicer so having the pros do it results in a more store-like product. I like our home cured bacon better than pro processed... but my hubs likes it better from the butcher. So we split the difference. I'm keeping two bacons to do here at home and taking two in to the butcher. We can - and will - cure and smoke small hams but not a full one... we just don't have a big enough smoker. 

The second carcass was also hung in the garage. Then we just needed to get cleaned up, warmed up, and get our chores done.

I ended up being really dirty.

About this time I start getting questions so I'll tackle the most common ones.

Wasn't it horrible?!?! Did you cry??
No. No, it is not horrible. It was not stressful. We had a great time and no one cried... well... Kai had actual tears of joy in her eyes when she saw them pigz on the ground and realized she could run right over and try to eat one or both of them. Then later she had tears when I told her to Leave It! And Go Watch The House... then she walked away really really really slowly while grumbling about how I was not the boss of her. Well, turns out I am the boss of her. So, yes, Kai cried. But not us.

But... but you touched something DEAD! And it was MEAT! Are you now suffering from PBDS (Post Butchering Day Stress)?
Under that skin is a whole lot of pork. That's how you make meat.  Yes I touched it and no, I was not grossed out. We don't think it's stressful - other than we weren't particularly well organized this time. I think it's a "thing" now that you are supposed to feel overwhelmed and emotionally drained and have some kind of existential crisis over butchering... but we just don't. We are exceptionally grateful for our full harvest and all we can think about is that this is the culmination of all our hard work. We were over joyed. We focused on the task and make a lot of stupid jokes. So no, we don't think it's stressful.

The only part I think is gross are the trotters. Ew!

I could NEVER do that!
Yes, you could. The only thing holding you back is your own thinking.  As a man thinketh, so is he. Have you convinced yourself that you can't do this? Then you can't. Did someone tell you that you couldn't do this? Who told you that lie and how long have you believed it? There used to be a time where just about everyone was involved in the process of making food - now it's becoming a lost art. Don't fall into the trap of believing that just because the people around you think it's gross - or that they tell you can't do it - that you really can't butcher at home. Sure you can! We are just regular people and the biggest reason that we are able to butcher is because we are willing to do the work. So you can too.

Doesn't it take a whole group of people? 
Nope. Two reasonably strong people can do this just fine. Sure one person could do it alone - but you probably shouldn't. There are some things that could go wrong so butchering alone is not a great idea. In fact, we make sure that someone offsite knows what we are doing just in case we aren't heard from again... at least that someone could send the sheriff out to look for us. And it's more fun to have someone to work with and extra hands to help do the work.

What tools did you use?
Here is my list. I kind of went between a couple different knives... mostly I used my scimeter because I love it so much. The sawsall (with a new blade) makes parting up the carcass very easy.

Chickens love to peck a the hide.

What did you do with the guts n stuff?
One day I will tell you a very hilarious story about this. But for now just assume our garbage guy really really really hates picking up at our house. And also...I left one of the hides out for the chickens to peck at - it was their best day ever.

We heard on 'the facebook' that you were stomping around in the yard at nite with a flashlight looking for the pig heads - did you find them?
No comment.

I've got to get busy breaking down the rest of these pork halves. Our fridges are totally stuffed full of meat and the new freezer was finally plugged in and is doing great.

Happy Monday everyone! Are you butchering?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Behold the bacon!

We had a terrific weekend. Guess what we did?  But my hands are too tired to type. So...Behold! The bacon...

Me and Porter Cable gettin' it done.

More details over the next couple days.... In the meantime there is meat everywhere and the house smells like roast pork and sauerkraut.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2014

I think it worked...and you still have a little bit of time!

I think our goat breeding worked! At least... I think it did. We won't know for sure until about the 28th. But there is a lot of this going on.....

 ...they never lay like this. 

All of the goats are starting to look different - their belly shapes are different and they are all licking their sides. A lot. And laying around which is kind of weird for them.

I think Debbie already looks different.

The goats are also acting like crazy people. I think there might be a coup d'etat going on with Daisy making a play to be the Queen B. As in Queen B*tch. She is really something these days and may be trying to overthrow Debbie who has been our herd queen. Unfortunately, Nibbles is getting the worst of it. She is the only mini in a herd of full sized goats...and they are really beating her up.

It looks like she took a pretty hard hit to the face the other day - and when I opened the goat house Dahlia's scur was bashed off. So nothing but goat wars.

The tricky part is that Nibbles is extremely destructive when she is alone. Since she isn't getting along with anyone right now it's going to be hard to figure out who should bunk with each other. There is going to be a lot of goat shuffling this winter. 

And now a commercial word from our sponsor..................

Just in case you haven't done all of your shopping there is still time to get your last minute orders in! What do you need and who do you need to shop for? Need some help with suggestions? Please allow me...

How about the top 10 things that make my life easier? The milk frother is a huge hit - thanks to the folks who ordered it!

Or my favorite tools?

My wish list.... thanks to Farmer Liz's suggestion (congrats on your blog-anniversary!!)  I am now using the magnetic knife holder to also hold my huge spatulas...and all kinds of other things.

There is always my favorite book list - still my top picks for farming/homesteading.

Or canning tools?

Thanks to everyone who made their purchases from Amazon link or,  from my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. I never know who purchases what or I'd thank you personally. It doesn't cost one more cent extra to use my Amazon affiliate links but I get a small percentage of the sale that helps support this blog. You can buy just about anything from Amazon - tools, books, movies - especially their online service, kitchen stuff, or hard to find specialty grocery items.

Happy Friday everyone - thank you so much for your support!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

We need some summer

These long dark days are wearing me down... we need some summer! Remember when it was summer and everyone was happy?

And there was so much sunshine!

And everything was growing.....

Everything was delicious....

Shine could just while away the days in the good earth and shade of all that green.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Do you miss summer?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter Hens

I kept trying to take pix of my winter hens yesterday.. but they kept getting photobombed by...

this turkey....

and Daisy.

Get out of my pictures, people!

Imagine if you will big, fluffy, fat hens happily pecking around. The chickens are doing great right now. We are getting a steady supply of eggs and most everyone is over their bad molt. Fortunately we've had really mild weather so far so everyone is out chickening around.

They all want to stay out as long as possible but these short days are just really frustrating for everyone. There is almost always a chase at night to get the last ones in. I don't blame them. These short days are making my cranky also. We need to start heading toward more daylight.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Are your chickens out and about?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

10 things that make my life easier.

I was talking with a soon-to-be farmer and it got me thinking about all the lessons that I had to learn and all the things I had to figure out myself. I kinda wish someone would have given me a quick list of things that can make your life easier. Not the big stuff like canning supplies or favorite tools... but little fixes. Like this:

1. These stainless S-hooks from Ikea.  I have about 20 of these and I use them for hanging up most of my pots and all kinds of kitchen tools like strainers and big spatulas. Another great use? I use them to hang cheese to drain, or even wet jackets from the shower curtain rod. And outside for butchering. Be sure to get the big ones - 4.25" - they are incredibly sturdy.

2. This farm is fueled entirely by coffee - I love my stovetop espresso maker. What about a fancy Keurig coffee maker? I'm not a hater but I really don't have any real estate on my counter for something that big. Altho my full confession is that I have been extremely jelly of one of my pals for his ability to instantly have a coffee at any moment... you know who you are.

3. Don't forget a milk frother.  I can also make whipped cream with this one. You know... in case of an emergency. This happens more than you think. I love this little gadget so much. I use it everyday.

4. I have a stack of these colanders - they are the right size for my sink. They are easy to carry out to the garden and also to hang on a fence post until I'm ready to bring in some produce.

5. Mine fit in a food grade bucket like this. It's a great way to drain cheese.

6. We always have a bunch of these - I like the 20 cc syringes - without the needle. They are used for dosing the goats (or dogs) or whoever. The 3ML are a good size also. We have them by the gross.

7. Hands down, these are still the best hoof trimmers I've ever used. They are a dream within a dream and radically changed my relationship with the goats. Now, instead of a brawl, goat hoof trimming takes minutes and does not require Bloodstop. Or swearing. Easy peasy. I also use them for snipping the twine on straw or hay. It's not an appropriate use but that is OK.

8. When I march out there to get a goat for hoof trimming this is what I have in my hand. Well. Technically ours is a John Deere leash... but this narrow, 4 foot leash with a "clicker" on the end works perfectly. It's short to keep the goat by my side, it's thin so it's easy to use, and I use it as a slip leash. That is... I put the "clicker" end thru the loop to form a slip leash. It goes over the goat's head (or I put and end around their neck and thread it thru the loop) and voila! I have an easily controlled goat. I can also use the "clicker" to latch the goat on a hook or the fence if I need both hands.

We don't collar anyone - not the dogs, not the goats, and certainly not the cats. So having an easy to use "slip leash" is a breeze. But how do I get ahold of goats/dogs/cats? Friend, a loud hand clap and a "Come here!" works for just about everyone. Sometimes the goats need a bit of a chase but we just run them into the goat house and get them while cornered.

9. Everyone needs a fence tool - or five. No matter what you are doing you probably need a fence tool. Get a bunch of them and keep them where you work.

10. And buckets. I always need lots and lots of buckets. Get more buckets. Or better yet, get some good tools and fill a bucket for the perfect gift! 

Happy Thursday everyone! Do you have 10 things that make your life easier?

Editors note: Did you get your holiday shopping done? Were you going to order something  from Amazon today anyway? Give a click on one of the links on this page or my store or use the black Amazon search box on the side of the page. If you do I will get a tiny portion of the sale and it won't cost you one more cent. 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!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pigs. Not in the frezer.

You know... sometimes life is very frustrating. The other day I went downstairs to get something out of the freezer and everything was thawed out. AGAIN! I panicked. I swore. I hurried up and sorted out what was still mostly frozen and what wasn't. I couldn't believe we had another freezer fail.

Remember this foolishness from over the summer?

I ended up with about six packages of meat that were mostly thawed out. I didn't want to try and refreeze them... that would deteriorate the quality. So I just put them in our coldest fridge and we are working our way thru them. I was very mad. Very, very mad.

Thank heavens we didn't butcher the pigz yet!

When my husband got home we investigated the situation and we determined the cause of the freezer fail was..... cats. It seems our Gate Diablo is trying to work against us. Some how he (or Moose) stepped on the button on the power strip the freezer was plugged into...and turned it off. I must have been off for days and neither of us noticed.

We cursed ourselves that we didn't take one pal's suggestion and get and get a freezer alarm.

But believe me we have learned our lesson. And we moved the power strip so little paws can't turn it off again.We've also been eating our way thru all that meat. Fortunately we had divided up the pork we just butchered so there were only several packages and not most of a pig.

And this?

But my roasted corn and all those peppers are pretty much doomed. We are going to use them - but the quality is kind of poor. So I'll be using the corn in a corn pudding and such.

In the meantime, the pigz are still out there. We haven't gotten our ducks in a row to have a butcher day.  First I was too sick, then we needed to get another freezer to replace the one that really died.....and now it's going to be too warm this weekend. The one time I really need it to be 20* and it may not even be freezing!

So we are just going to keep moving along.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Did one of your cats turn off your freezer? Are you eating meat, meat, meat, and more meat because of it?

Editors note: Hey did you order something  from Amazon thru one of the links or my store? THANK YOU SO MUCH! I never know who orders what but I really appreciate it. Someone bought something big - you know who you are but I don't. I'm sending you hugs and many many thanks. 

Do you need to do some online shopping? You can just give a click or use the black Amazon search box on the side of the page. If you do I will get a tiny portion 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!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Goats: Mission Accomplished!

Mercifully, I believe that we are now done with goat breeding for this season. Yesterday was a goat-a-rific day. And by that I mean it was horrible and I'm glad it's over.


We loaded up Debbie and Daisy and headed over to the farm near us to visit that terrific Alpine buck and his sidekick. We should have been there for exactly 10 minutes. Things did not work out as we expected.

I have to hand it to Daisy. She was done in 2 minutes. The little buck I renamed, "Mr. Wonderful" got the job done and without further ado I handed Daisy's leash to my husband and he walked her out of the goat pen. Check.

Then there was Debbie. Yes, she was in heat. Yes, she knows how this goes. No, she would not cooperate. We all ended up trying to hold her. It was terrible. I can't believe we skipped church for that. I'm very sure that what happened in that buck pen, and my participation, are a smiting offense. Ew.

The buck owners were very sympathetic and resorted to baby talk to try and calm Debbie down. That is not how I do things. I went directly to Yosemite Sam. I informed Debbie to quit goofing around and get over there and get her business taken care of. She didn't. There was running, a chase, more foolishness. I just about gave up.

I told the nice folks that maybe we should just come back tomorrow. I think Debbie heard me and panicked because then she got her business taken care of. I handed over the buck fee, we loaded up the goats, and drove away covered in buck stank and irritation.

I got home, burned my clothes, beached everything else, and applied bourbon to my day. It took the edge off.

If things go according to plan then the due dates should be:

Daisy:  April 30th
Debbie: April 27 - May 1

We bred the goats pretty darn late last year... but the extreme cold at the end of the season made us glad that we did. That is one of the reasons we waited again so long this time. Also, these due dates are closer to the time where there will be a lot of bramble leafing out...and only about a month away from the first hay cutting.

We aren't overly concerned about selling the kids - especially since we found out how easy it is to take them to the auction. If Debbie has a doeling I might consider keeping her as a future milker. The buck came from really good milking lines - and had pretty interesting coloring. So we'll see.

Nibs. Outstanding in her field. She's a pip, isn't she?

What about Nibs? No dice. We think that she has performed admiraly during her tenure here and now she can just relax. But mostly because if we have three gals who can milk a gallon a day (Deb, Dahli, and Daisy) there really isn't any reason to have Nibs and her "maybe a quart or so" production. We thank Nibbles for all her years of service, will give her a lovely pen as a token of our thanks, and then put her out to pasture. And really... we mean pasture. From now on she can just be outstanding in her field. And maybe work on that attitude.

Happy Monday everyone! Did you miss church because of goat breeding?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

My new favorite salad. And goats.

Have you used up all your leftovers? We finally either got thru all of ours or put them in the freezer. You remember that we kind of had a late Tday.
 All the lovely flavors of Thanksgiving.

Even tho I had to hang up my lettuce bucket for the season..... I still love salad. Even if I have to buy lettuce. Luckily I still have some parsley and greens going in the green house. But that is about it.

This is my version of a cobb salad crossed with a chopped salad. I don't know what it is, but I just really like chopped salad. Maybe it's that there are no weird, hard to eat, huge pieces of lettuce falling off my fork. Turkey, lettuce, onion, parsley, blue cheese, hard boiled egg (technically this is a mustard egg), a spoon full of cranberries (why not?), and some mayo in a nice big bowl....


.... then mix it up. I like to use kitchen tongs to give it a toss. Don't forget salt and pepper.

I gave up on bottled salad dressing a long time ago. Anymore it just tastes like corn syrup. Sometimes I'll make an easy ranch dressing. Mayo, sour cream, a little buttermilk and then seasoned with an Italian seasoning mix - shaken together in a pint jar. But now I've even gotten further away from that. I think we've all learned that salad is just a vehicle for a lot of dressing. But once you focus on the tastes of the greens and the ingredients you start to wonder what you saw in store bought dressing.

If you like a creamy salad then a little bit of mayo or sour cream will set you up. I think the difference is seasoning the greens so it's not boring. And bacon. Salad should have bacon. I didn't have any bacon in this salad because I used it in something else. But next time there will be bacon... oh yes there will be.

Aside from making a big salad today we are also taking the goats to be bred. I hope this works. More on this after we have achieved or objective... or wasted our time and gas on goats being ridiculous.

Happy Sunday everyone! Do you still have home grown greens or do you have to buy lettuce?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Nicholas's Hard Day #10

This picture defines my life with Nicholas lately. It is a story of woe and hardship. And him trying to steal the food right off my plate.


Nicholas had a very, very hard day recently. It included a trip to the emergency vet and a follow up to our Good Vet. He suffered humiliations galore. Unfortunately,  the vet staff at the ER also suffered. I told them he was a fighter and a biter but they didn't believe me. When I heard their screams I yelled to them to "get the gloves." I wasn't kidding.

We went home with a sack full of medication and a warning to "bring a muzzle for that puma" the next time we came in. Fortunately our Good Vet knows how to handle our Nicholas so the follow up visit went much better.

 Nicholas lives large. Real large.

"Go and get that scale and prepare to be amazed!" I declared to the vet tech. I was close to victory. The months of hard work were about to pay off. I was smug in the face of my success.

I hauled Nicholas's huge carcass out of our biggest carrier and plomped him down on the scale.

"Yeah. Twenty pounds and..." Said the vet tech.

"WHAT!?!?! No! No, that can't be right!" I was confused.

"The ER vet said he was 19 pounds. That is his goal weight We needed to get him down to 19 pounds!"

"DOWN to 19 pounds?" She asked incredulously.

"Yes, yes, yes... see here?" I snatched the chart out of her hands. "Remember when he was 23 pounds and Dr. M said that we needed to get him down to 19 pounds? We did it! We did it!"

She just shook her head. "Maybe next time."

He wears the weight well. I mean... look how fluffy he is.

I was defeated. Surely there was some mistake. For months Nicholas has suffered near starvation every single day. I know because of the constant complaining. Every morning he comes in to get me out of bed by throwing his huge self on top of me. It's like having a bear lay across your chest.

"Get off me, Fatty Pancake!" I try and shove him off but inevitably he resorts to cannibalism and starts gnawing on my fingers. It has been grueling.

Such as been my life with Nicholas. We cut his food ration, we portion it out, we make him share, we scatter dry food on the floor so it takes him longer to eat, we take up any left over dog food..and heaven knows he can't get up on the counters.

"Well," She said hopefully, "All scales are a little different so maybe....."

And then I didn't hear her anymore. We would just have to keep working to get our biggest cat down to a more reasonable size. More food portioning, more running laps up and down the hall, more of me carrying him down the stairs to he has to run back up.... but we can do it.

Nicholas will just need to have more hard days. This has been the 10th. We can do this.

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

Happy Friday everyone! Do you have a jumbo sized cat? Are you trying to get him down to 19 pounds?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...