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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Soggy Dog Day

Nothing to see here, folks, we are having a soggy dog day. What a rain!

Big, boring dog day. That's what we have.

We were no where near those big storms thundering across the South, thank heavens, but we are getting our share of the rain portion of that storm system.

Did everyone see the heroic efforts of this guy on the news this morning? Talk about a real life hero.

Nothing' but snoozin' and looking bored. Or sleeping.

With the weather firing up again today it's probably a good time for everyone to review their storm preps and get their plans in place. Even if you aren't in imminent danger, being prepared is essential.

Let's put up this post again and that video from last year you just have to see. It's the family inside a tornado - and how quickly the storm ripped apart their house. No one wants to think that this could happen to them - but that's what these folks probably thought also.

Believe me, you will feel better if the only thing you do today is go to this site, put in your zip code, and bookmark that page (or set up alerts) for your area.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Stay safe and get your storm prep planning done. A soggy dog day is the perfect time to get your ducks in a row.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Grazing Goats and Planting Potatoes

Yesterday the goats verily stampeded me to get out of their yard and into the green.... we went grazing on the hillside. They loved it.

Grazing goats - they are so happy to be out and about.

After this long winter they are sick of hay... And hey!  - they really want to get weeding. This is perfect for us because, despite our careful planning, we are starting to get low on hay. The even better news is that all of that stupid wild rose is starting to come out in the woods - and the goats just love it. They will have it all mowed down in no time.

I'm going to have to get busy and get the electric fence reconfigured so I don't have to sit there and watch the goats. Unfortunately they get scared if I'm not around - or they torment the dogs....  so for now I've been their personal goatherd. It's my least favorite farm chore but I use it as a break in my day and take a cold drink down to a comfortable chair and watch them goat around.

Daisy is making a cute little udder. She is going to be a milking superstar.

In about a month things will get extremely interesting - all four "big" goats are due within a couple days of each other. I honestly can't tell if Dahli is pregnant or not. But Daisy is developing the cutest little udder.

Debbie definitely is pregnant - she looks like she has two babies at the most. 

Nibs looks fabulous with her post-baby body. 

In planting news, I need to get in my notes that the rest of the potatoes got planted. The majority are just up the hill from the blueberry bushes... and the rest are in the bed next to my now-dead rose. Rats.

I'm really glad I spent the last couple work days tilling because it looks like we'll have some sporty weather these next couple of days and could have rain all week. I'll have a couple hours before the rain hits so I'll see if I can get a little more planting done.

Happy Monday everyone! Are you grazing goats or planting potatoes?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tub o' Nibs

Nibbles being cute with Daisy looking on....

Nibbles actually looks great and she is giving a good amount of milk. I'm about to take them all down to the woods to graze.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Most Dangerous Thing in the Barnyard

Our highest priority this weekend will be to get these meat chickens in the freezer. Altho..... we did get 2 more eggs from them yesterday and frankly I'm really wondering if we can get a few more "free meats" this way. But these fat girls aren't going to last much longer.

The scene of the crime. See the bailing twine? Dang.

As it is we found one "trapped" in the garage yesterday. Actually she just got stuck in a corner and couldn't get turned around. Creepy meats just aren't that smart... good thing I spied her out of the corner of my eye. Otherwise we would have spent the better part of our evening chore time looking for her.

This group of meats is really amazing - they are extremely far ranging and we've found them roaming around all over the property. But they are seriously on their last, shaky meat legs. We found this out the hard way the other nite.

When we are done with a bale of hay I've gotten in the habit of tying the twine on one of the cattle panels we've used for the meat pen. It's not even something that I've ever thought about. Just tie one on and walk away.

Unfortuantely my carelessness has led to the twine being a very dangerous danger to the not-so-smart meats. One of them got her creepy meat foot tangled up in one of the pieces of twine.... and she panicked. I probably don't have to elaborate... but let's just say that we found a badly beaten pile of meat when we went out for chores. Death by flapping which probably induced a creepy meat heart attack. Ugh.

Nothing is worse than a totally preventable barnyard death. Especially when it's your groceries -  wasted meat is the worst!

The most dangerous thing in the barnyard usually isn't a varmint or some menacing piece of equipment... it's usually your own carelessness.  In my case, it was a carelessly tied piece of bailing twine.

Another "Most Dangerous Thing"..... is a bucket of water. I can't tell you how sorrowful I've felt finding a chick drown in a bucket of water. One time I went out to find a poult swimming... swimming I tell you... in an open bucket... Thank heavens I went out, randomly, and found her!

Other dangers.... a board or even a pitchfork propped up right where a wayward goose can waddle under and causing it to fall and hit someone. Bale of straw? Don't ever leave it propped up on one end - make sure you lay it down.

Patio chair left in the goat yard so that you can sit out there? Just wait until you hear your herd queen screaming hysterically.... and then you run out there to find one of the goat babies hanging upside down by a hock. For heavens sakes. I swear Debbie was having a panic attack. When I got the baby free (unharmed) Debbie actually came over to me, and put her head against me until she stopped shaking. I can't tell if she was thanking me or scolding me.

The weirdest barnyard injury? My little garage duck was horribly mauled by a lawnmower. Now, the mower wasn't running. It wasn't even moving. It was parked in the garage. But somehow she got her foot tangled up in it.  Badly. I mean to tell you that was some serious business. We can't believe that she lived...and that she recovered. She's a little more gimpy now but she's doing great - and she avoids going over by the mower now.

The barnyard is fraught with danger, friends. Most of which you couldn't imagine. Keep an eye on your buckets, keep your duck away from the mower, and from now on... don't leave your bailing twine tied to the pen. For heavens sakes.

Happy Friday everyone! Is your barnyard filled with danger?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why Not Rabbits?

Sometimes folks ask me why we don't raise meat rabbits. Rabbits are easy to raise, don't take up a lot of space, are extremely economical, and well... breed like rabbits. So why not? The answer is simple- we won't.

Fatty meat chicken. Not a meat rabbit.

The fact is that there is no "good"reason why we don't raise rabbits for the table. When I say "good" I mean there is no logical and/or logistical reason. For instance, there are a lot of good/logical/logistical reasons why we don't have milk cows. We don't have pasture, they are expensive to buy, and if I get kicked in the head by a goat I'll just get mad, get my knives, and start the grill. If I get kicked in the head by a cow I'll just lay there in a heap for hours until my husband gets home. We think those are "good" reasons not to have to cow.

Not to mention the last time I had to chase the neighbor's cows.... one of them turned around and chased me. As I stood my ground, trying to "puff up and look big," I thought to myself, "Damn... this is just stupid."

You see, our whole success at this farming thing depends on me not getting hurt. I need to be able to get up, walk on two legs, and use both arms to do hard manual labor... all while performing high-level cognitive reasoning. Loss of any of those puts us in a tight spot.

But rabbits aren't going to run me down, kick me (too) hard, or do much more than leave me with a bad bite.... so why not?

We just won't.

Notice I didn't say "can't." There is a world of difference between can't and won't. It's important to understand the difference and be OK with it. Sometimes I think folks think farming is a competitive sport and everyone has to do the same thing. Nope. Not true. The only way this works is if you start with what you've got, do what you can, and do what works for you.

Our beautiful Pep, not a meat rabbit but is shaped like one. Plus she is a goof.

We won't raise rabbits for the table because... well. We're soft on them. Any time I see a meat rabbit all I can think of is our beautiful cat, Pepper. Pep is mostly bunny shaped and has soft and luxurious fur. Bunny-like fur. Anytime I think of butchering rabbits all I can see in my mind's eye is Pepper in a pot. The Big Man raised rabbits as a kid for 4H... so he's soft on them too. So we just won't do it. We are OK with that.

Butcher goats? Sure. We think are ready to do that this fall. Chickens? Heck we can do that all day long. Pigs? Lambs? Buffalo? Sure, sure, and while we could I'm not sure we have the set up for a full sized bison but we'd sure give it a go.

But rabbits? We just both get a little nervous and start avoiding eye contact. Now, the folks I know who raise rabbits love it - they think it's easier than dressing chickens and can't imagine why we are squeamish about it. We just stand there and shrug.

We don't know why folks don't like to butcher chickens. We don't think they are too gross, are not put off by the feathers (we skin chickens anyway), and it's extremely easy for us to let the meat chickens roam around the farm until their day of glory comes. But we won't try and over convince you if it's not your thing. Everyone has their limit and that's OK. Rabbits are past our limit.

Should YOU raise rabbits? Absolutely! I'm 100% behind that and will encourage you all I can.  Just because it's not for us doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a try. Folks who can't have chickens (due to zoning or what not) say that rabbits are the answer. They are quiet, don't take up much room, provide a ton of excellent compost, and nosy neighbors will be none the wiser. Rabbit meat is lean and lovely and they have an excellent feed to meat conversion. Plus when they have babies you say they "kindle" which is a hilarious word, if you ask me.

And you can cook rabbit in all kinds of ways, including like this.

If I were to get started I would get the Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits. Also, I know a guy who knows a guy who wrote a book about Backyard Meat Rabbits as part of his Urban Rabbit Project. How terrific is that?

So what do you think? Are you are fan of raising rabbits for the table? Thinking about it? Just because it's not for us doesn't mean that it isn't the perfect project for you. Come on now, hop right out and find out the story on meat rabbits.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Editor's note: Again with the affiliate links to Amazon and another disclaimer? Yep! And also I have an update to this post about the All American pressure canner. Looks like that great sale has come and gone. I've moved the All American ad down lower on this page so I can keep track of that sale and to see if it comes back. However, the Presto 23 quart canner is still a terrific deal at just $75 and that includes FREE SHIPPING from Amazon. I have two Presto's and I just love them. 
If you like this blog or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts - and you have to buy something from Amazon anyway - why not start your purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page? I'll get a tiny percentage of the sale which helps me maintain the "cost" of this blog. Every little bit helps - Thanks!  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Planting update and Bubby Buckethead

Yesterday was a productive garden day. I ran right out and started planting potatoes before the sun hit the garden. I had a lot of helpers....and some malcontents. I need to get some notes down....

Hey look it's me!

We planted potatoes by the far gate near the shattered remains of my asparagus patch. It's gone. Dang.

Then we did a row of sweet onions and some broccoli near the weird apple tree that has never fruited. 

Zander and Kai helped. Mostly they looked bored. 

Bubby Buckethead. You know who you are. But isn't he a dream?

"Please throw the stick, please throw the stick, please throw the stick...."

Then the chickens showed up. I immediately implemented my #1 chicken deterrent. For his efforts all he wanted was for me to throw the stick. I did and he kept chasing the hennies out of the garden.

Easiest way to keep the hens out. I covered the hoops with netting.

Then we put more passive chicken deterrent devices in place. This works really well - I put some netting over the hoops until the seeds start to sprout.

Destroyers and usurpers! Curse them!

After planting I did a lot of tilling. I'm still working on improving the soil in the upper garden. The heat and sunshine helped kill off the uprooted weeds. I'll be doing some deep mulching which will also help.

I'm also working on strategic planting. We don't know if the predictions for a hot and dry summer are going to happen, but I'm making sure to plant stuff with heavy water requirements closest to the water source. With enough hoses I can reach just about everywhere in the Upper Garden - but for the furthest reaches the water pressure isn't very good. So by planting close to the house I can set up the sprinklers most effectively.

As for now we got a bit of rain which is perfect for the stuff I planted yesterday. Soon I'll be moving stuff out of the greenhouse but we are still a bit early.

Happy planting everyone! Do you have good garden helpers? Or just malcontents?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tiny Sprouts and Pear Blossoms

This whole weekend was glorious. Both Saturday and Sunday were nothing but blue sky and sunshine. We had a terrific time.

Come on, basil! Grow! Grow!

I was thrilled to see the tiniest sprouts coming up in the greenhouse. This whole winter I've been dying for fresh basil and now it's on the way.

I have big plans for this little tomato sprout.

And this little tomato will grow up to be a giant and produce huge, 1 pound fruit. But right now it's barely bigger than the perlite in the soil mix.

We are going to have a lot of pears.

Our pears are doing great. We might not have any peaches this year but our pears will be off the hook. The other great news was that the trees were buzzing. They might not be our beez but we'll share our blossoms with them.

We also got some chickens butchered on Saturday. We now have 10 left. Unfortunately we probably butchered the one that was laying eggs! We'll fire up the incubator here soon to see if these eggs I've been saving will give us free meat.

At this writing the sun is just coming up and I can't wait to run right out and plant more potatoes. The Dog Horde will help me... but when I say "help" I mean they will probably just give me bored looks and then go and hunt bunnies down in the woods.

Happy Monday everyone! It's another glorious day!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Back to planting potatoes

Before all of this adorableness - and snow - happened I was planting potatoes...

Sprouted spud.

We had plenty of spuds left over from last year. The taters I couldn't get canned or frozen just happily sat in a bucket taking up space. Then they started to sprout.

Potatoes growing in a bucket.

You know how potatoes you get from the store just get mushy and weird if you don't use them? This is what happened to farm fresh potatoes. From last fall. They never got mushy or weird. They grew. In a bucket without any water or soil.  Isn't that amazing?

My potato planting method is extremely simple and can be found here. But I'll shorthand it for you - till up the spot for your potato patch - but don't put a lot of effort into it. Dig a small trench, throw potato parts on the ground, cover with dirt, then heavily mulch with clean straw. Then it's just a matter of sitting back and waiting - and keeping the chickens out of the straw.

Straw them in deeply.

I know that planting potatoes sounds like it should be more complicated but it's not. I found this method in a great gardening book by Barbara Doyen called The Farmer's Wife Guide To Growing A Great Garden. This little book provides all kinds of terrific, common sense information in an easy and fun little book. She also provides farm-style recipes. It's just terrific. 

Anyway, I pile all the branches from trimming the fruit trees on top of the straw to keep the chickens from digging up the potatoes. Or whatever I can find. Once the plants take hold they will be fine. While they are growing I just keep piling on the clean straw to keep the weeds down and to keep the potatoes from being exposed to sunlight.

The best thing about this method is that you get potatoes... and fabulously improved, weed free soil when they are ready. When you dig up the potatoes you are basically tilling the soil - and then you can plant a fall crop of beans. Talk about a win! Tilled, weed free, clean soil and then the nitrogen gets "fixed" from the beans. Next year you are ready for tomatoes. Easy peasy.

Two things that worked really well last year were.... first, canning potatoes. I'm telling you this is the best thing going. No more of that senseless peeling - they are all ready to go in a jar. So easy. Next, freezing blanched potatoes in serving sized freezer bags. Now THIS is easy. Both make excellent fried potatoes. But I think I prefer the frozen ones for mashed potatoes. 

Look! They were really growing!

Today I'm hoping to get a few more rows of potatoes planted. I keep finding buckets of potatoes - all of them are sprouting... and none of them are weird and mushy.

Happy Friday everyone! Do you have your potatoes planted?

Editor's note:  Check it out - this is an affiliate link. 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. Thanks!

Planting potatoes

Note: I have no idea why this republished today... it was from a couple years ago and I updated it this morning with a link to the book.... hum..... oh well.. Carry on...

Planting potatoes is as easy as throwing them on the ground. I'm telling you I learned the easiest, sure fire way to get a good harvest of taters from Barb Doyen's spectacular book, The Farmer's Wife Guide To Growing A Great Garden I'm sure there's lots of other ways, but lets face it. I have bad soil so I needed a way to grow stuff and improve the soil at the same time. This tater method does both. Here's how.

It's as easy as throwing taters on the ground.

Step 1: Pick your worst growing spot and give it a little bit of a rototill. My tiller creates two little, side by side dug out rows which makes the next step even easier.

Step 2: Get your seed taters and cut them so that each piece has a bit of a sprout, or an eye. I usually do this as I'm going along.

Step 3: Throw the cut pieces on the ground. Aim for your little rows. If you'd like, take your hoe and cover them a bit. But don't spend a lot of time on this - just enough to anchor them.

Step 4: Mulch deeply with fresh straw.

Tater Row - ready for action!

That's it. I'm not even kidding. As the summer goes along I add more fresh straw to make sure the taters are completely covered and just the grow-y end is sticking up.

I know. It sounds like there is no way it could work but it sure does. Really! For whatever reason the taters kind of dig themselves down into the ground. So when they are ready all you have to do is grab a pitch fork and its like the world's best Easter egg hunt (with digging). Not only will have you have spectacular friable soil, but you've killed the weeds, and when you are done digging - you've tilled up a place for next season. So get your barn litter and mulch again and voila! You're ready to plant in the spring.

And wow do you get great results! Remember all the taters we had last year? We also really loved how well canning potatoes worked. I know it sounds stupid, but wow its easy and fun to get all the prep work done so you can have a quick supper any time. We are going for tons of taters this year.

I planted two batches. The first was the long row of taters featured above. I created this row just below the Pasture Mix in the front of the property outside of the fence. I'm not particularily worried about varmints, but I want to fence that area anyway. So any malfeasance will just give me a reason to hurry up and get it done.

This first batch was from the taters we kept by from last year. They are a mix of Yukon Gold (best variety ever) and Red Pontiac. They had a ton of sprouts on them and very little rotten ones. I had two half-full five gallon buckets. They are planted really close in this row.

The second batch are all Yukon Gold - a 5 pound bag from the feed store. The taters were lovely but really they looked like they should just be peeled and cooked. They only have a few sprouts each - which I didn't feel was a great value considering the price. I planted these on the north east corner of the upper garden along the fenceline by the cow peas.

Cow peas - who knows what they are but I like cows and I like peas so I think we're good.

In other news - Wednesday was hot. Like summer hot. Like - I have the 'air conditioning' on hot. What's with that? Fortunately the creepy meats all seemed to have lived but I was nervous there for a while. Pigz are doing well. I think they realized that I'm "She who brings the yums." Great. Not I'll have to spend all summer convincing them that I'm not their mommy and I don't love them. Sheesh!

Happy Thursday everyone!

Editor's note:  Check it out - I have an Amazon store for my blog. 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. Thanks!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nibbles had her babies!

Yeah, so remember yesterday I said that there was no way Nibs would have her babies that day? She's always trying to make a liar out of me. Check out these little cuties!

These could be the best litter yet. This little splashy gal arrived first. Just LOOK at her coloring! For no good reason we are calling her, Snickerdoodle.

Totable little goat! Totes adorbs.

This is the first time Nibs has had all long-eared babies. We were pretty surprised. The baby daddy is a flashy show buck - entirely Nigerian. We normally only have one long eared baby but this was a surprise. Goats with ears? Who knew!?!

Then this big girl arrived - she as a big bundle. In honor of that crazy bloodmoon/eclipse we had the other night we are calling her Moonpie. She has one partial moonspot on her side. Her main buff color is a new one for us. Isn't she a dream?

Moon mark on Moonpie

Nibbles is fine and is actually taking care of them so she gets an A+. I'm afraid it won't last, tho, so we are keeping an eye on them. But for now they are adorable and very funny.

And would you look at those ears!

The star of the day, tho, was my Dog#1. After all the hullabaloo of the babies arrival I let the dogs smell my hands. Kai and Zander thought they smelled delicious but my #1 was immediately on the job. A little later I asked him, "Where's the babies?" and he trotted right over to where Nibbles and the babies were - and he was eager to start guarding them. So he'll be helping me when we transition the babies to bottles. Good dog!

In the meantime the air is filled with the tiny little squeaky toy noises of little baby goats!

Happy Thursday everyone! Would you just look at these little cutie pies!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This has to be the end of winter. Last snow. It has to be.

Last Sunday when it was sunny and 80* and I just could not make myself believe that it was going to snow again. It did. This is my official record keeping note that yesterday's snow was the last. Stick a fork in it, this winter has to be done. It snowed really hard yesterday morning.

 Sunday was glorious.

But we are just getting some blooms!  My orchard friends are not expecting peaches this year. "Maybe a few."  He said. But nothing like the basket busting crop last year. They tell me that they get a really good crop every 2 or 3 years. Drat.

And then this happened...

The pears seem to be doing OK but we haven't seen any other blossoms yet. By this time last year we had apple and peach blossoms - and we had a lost hard frost also, on the 21st. This morning it was 21* when I took the dogs out.

I know that city folks and our friends in more temperate regions are probably tired of hearing about all this weather. But it's really been a looloo. I can't get anything planted yet and can only do so much work outside. This, of course, pushes back any harvest. So it's all very frustrating.

But keeping these notes makes it easier for future planning.  I like being able to see where our progress is in relation to previous years. And it helps me figure out what I should be working on next. 

In other news.... Nibbles should be ready to have her babies soon. Probably not today but soon. Maybe tomorrow? I checked this morning and she looks irritated but not ready to burst. One thing that I'm glad about is that we waited so late to breed the goats. This cold winter has made a difficult kidding season for many folks.

Today we'll have more sunshine and blue sky. And hopefully we will get to our normal temperature soon.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, April 14, 2014

All our beez died....

So, all our beez died. They didn't make it thru this long and difficult winter. We think that they did OK up until the last polar vortex got us. It had been warm one day then bitterly cold the next - we think that is what did them in. It's very sad.

Back when we had beez and were happy.

We talked to a lady in town who said she knew some folks who moved their hives into their basement on the coldest nites. To tell you the truth I would have never thought of that. I can't imagine that would go well for us. I'm picturing over-interested cats covered in honey, wax, and angry beez.

We did what we could which was to take up most of the honey. We left some of it out there, tho,  in the off chance a swarm is out and about and wants to move right on into our a nice and roomy hive.

Not a bad supper - Honey Soy chicken.

The good news is that the honey is terrific. Last nite we made Honey Soy chicken and it was really good. I can't wait to drizzle some of the honey over goat cheese once the goats ramp up to full production next month.

In the meantime the crazy weather is making us all insane. At this writing (a couple hours before sunrise on Monday) its 73*...but it will snow within 24 hours. It's all a little ridiculous. I'm glad I didn't put any plants out yet and I hope my greenhouse will keep my seedlings from freezing tomorrow morning.

Happy Monday everyone - did your beez make it?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Steaming Hard Cooked Eggs

Friends, you know we've all been here....

You desperately want a plate of deviled eggs - but your farm eggs are so fresh that they are too hard to peel. The pain is real.

Well, suffer no more. Stop boiling those hard cooked eggs - steam them.

Yep. It sounds crazy - right? When my pal Bourbon Red told me to give it a try I immediately wrote it off as some sort of ridiculous idea. But then .... well... maybe I'd try it.

It totally works.

I couldn't believe it. Fresh eggs - as is fresh that day - peeled like a dream. I wasn't left with a big nasty, jagged, ripped apart egg... it was smooth and perfect and perfectly cooked.

Even Alton Brown agrees..... this is a great video that explains it all (just about 3 mins). I'm absolutely sold on steaming hard cooked eggs.

And now if you excuse me... I'm going to go and steam up another batch of eggs so we can have deviled eggs all day long.

Note: if you can't see the video  - he says to steam the eggs for 15  - 20 minutes. I used 15 minutes and they turned out perfect. I put them in an ice water bath after steaming for about 5 minutes and peeled them so easily I couldn't believe it. I've tried doing this with eggs after boiling and it never worked for me.

Happy Sunday everyone! This is a revolution!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bacon Scramble

Yikes - looks like there might be fewer feeder pigs this year. Does everyone know about this? The virus that is killing piglets?

That is a beautiful pig. So much bacon...

We'll be looking for pigs in the next couple of weeks. This virus tho, is some serious business. This story talks about how quickly it spreads and how it can wipe out a new crop of bacon seeds fast. The good news is tho, if the piglets make it, they will be fine. And no, doesn't look like it is a threat to people. Altho lack of bacon is a crime.

The last sentence of that article is staying with me, "We're all used to: 'We've got plenty of food, it's cheap. We'll eat what we want to,'" Meyer said. "We Americans are very spoiled by that, but this is one of those times that we're going to find out that when one of these things hits, it costs us a lot of money."

For a lot of reasons I've been thinking about this very thing. I'm concerned about the drought that has been on the West Coast - and if we are going to have a hotter than normal summer... and if we are already heading into the growing season without a lot of bacon. You know that food prices are just going to keep going up.  And no joke... the drug cartels in Mexico are killing each other over... limes. So what do you think is going to happen if there is a real food shortage and not just a garnish fruit?

What do you do?

Make your own food. Get a garden growing, get some meat chickens, do what you can with what you have. I know a bunch of folks who raise meat rabbits for their table and do a bang up job. Rabbits are easy to raise, easy to process, and well... breed like rabbits.

Well. They are made of meat....

As for us... we may have to look at alternatives to pigs. Very soon we are going to be flooded with goats... so this could be the first ever Year of the Goat BBQ. It is the world's most popular meat.

I'm also keeping my eye open for lambs. The trouble with lambs around here is that everyone wants them for 4H projects. Which is great - unless you are the person that wants to just have sheep and don't need the fancy, ribbon winning ones. They are expensive.

Another option would be to swoop in and scoop up some bull calves from the dairy operations around here. If we are going to have buckets and buckets of goat milk, well then, might as well feed out a bull calf, finish him on pasture, and call it veal. Is that horrible? No - what do you think they do with all the male calves on a dairy?

So we'll see what happen. But however it turns out - this could be a very interesting year in farming.

Happy Friday everyone - do you have your meat strategy worked out?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

It's getting hot in here...

Yesterday we had a beautiful blue sky day - it was perfect to get some seedling started in the greenhouse.
Yikes - um... gettin' a little hot in here...

But boy was I surprised when it got to almost 90* in there!

Fortunately I had thought about this and implemented Project Ventilation. If I had done much better planning I would have constructed a window in the closed end - but remember that I'm not intending to keep the plastic on for the whole summer. I'll be using the hoop as a trellis after this summer really gets growing.

Quick and easy ventilation system.

So these binder clips were a fast and easy solution. I just untucked the plastic from the closed end and clipped the plastic about a third of the way down.

I also took down the plastic on the door leaving just the screen in place. I need to find a better solution for this - for instance I think I need to get some hooks so that I can open and close the plastic on the door more easily. The screen door is necessary to keep the chickens out. And other birds looking for a quick snack.

The screen door keeps over-interested chickens out.

When it started to cool down I just put the plastic back up - easy peasy!

Today I'll be potting up more seeds and hopefully will get some potatoes planted. We are headed for 75* and super sunny - good thing I have a way to keep the greenhouse from over heating.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Super Sandwich.... the Monte Cristo!

I don't know how I lived my whole life without trying a Monte Cristo sandwich. Maybe I thought it was too weird... but it's not, friends. It's amazing.

Look at it. Just LOOK at that sandwich!

My problem with french toast is that it doesn't have enough protein in it. But this... this sandwich solves that problem. Sure you'll still have a sugar high but it's worth it.

I love the Brown Eyed Baker so you can check out her recipe and method here.

As for me it's just a matter of making the custard and keeping the ham and cheese sandwich together until you get it into the fry pan. Some purists believe this has to be served with preserves but are you kidding me? With all this fabulous maple syrup we've been cooking down? Salty from the ham, sweet from the syrup, and fabulous from the custard. This is a taste sensation.

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Have you waited too long to try a Monte Cristo? You've got to give it a go. Really. You'll be surprised.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Free Meat!

Look what we found.....

Creepy meat eggs.

Some of the meat chickens are laying! I always think this is hilarious but this time they seem to be consistently producing about an egg a day. That's one egg total for all of the meat hens. Not great production numbers but still - better than nothing.

I'm taking up these eggs and we'll see if we can get them to hatch in the incubator. I have no idea if they are viable or not - but might as well try. What's better than free meat, right?

Nice and plump.

Our fatty creepy meats are really... fat.  They are like little bowling balls. This is the group from last fall. They are overdue for being butchered but it's been so darn cold that we haven't been able to do it. We can't believe they have done so well in this bitter winter. We think we only lost one - and that was due to a creepy meat heart attack. I think we lost one of the chicks and that is about it. Wow!

Yesterday was a big harvest day. We set the meat roosters directly to the freezer. Hopefully in the next couple weekends we'll get the rest of the meats sent to their glory.

Happy Monday everyone! Do you have any free meat?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Best Hoof Trimmers EVER

Friends, my life has been changed. My hoof trimmers. I am not lyin'.

Nibs was.... reluctant.... to let me trim her hooves.

A while ago my pals over at High Tail Farms posted this stupendous how-to on Trimming Goat Hooves. I have to admit my eyes were opened. Previously I either hacked my way thru trimming the goat's hooves... or I just got the neighbor kid to do it. Adventures in trimming for me always ended with a fight, someone bleeding, or crying - and not by me.

But wow! High Tail Farms really hit the nail right on the head about how to get it done. I was absolutely mesmerized. So I had to find out what tools they were using.... it had to be something really special.

And it was.

These are, hands down, the best hoof trimmers EVER. They have revolutionized goat care for me.

Truth be told, I would have never ordered these. I'm entirely too literal sometimes and similar trimmers have been labeled as "hoof rot trimmers." Well. My goats don't have hoof rot - ergo I do not need them. Foolish me.

I was still skeptical when the trimmers arrived. I stomped out to try them out on my least annoying goat, Debbie. It was like a hot knife thru butter. I was done before she even noticed I was holding her foot. Next up... my most annoying goat - Nibbles. She barely batted an eye. You'll remember that I very nearly killed her one time. These trimmers work so fast and cut so quickly that Nibs didn't have a chance to have a breakdown. Just snip snip snip and away she went.

I even got Daisy and Darla done in record time. Honestly I couldn't believe it.

I don't know if it is because the blades are so sharp, are so strong, or because they are designed for success - really I don't even care. This is the best money I've spent on goat care.

If you hate doing your goat hooves the run, don't walk to order these hoof trimmers.You won't be sorry.

Then run right over and check out these incredible step by step instructions by High Tail Farms

Does everyone know High Tail? They are so much fun. HighTail Farms is located in Hammond, Louisiana. They are dedicated to providing people with ethically raised and humanely processed pastured poultry and sheep, fresh eggs, and raw meat for pet food. Check them out! You can find them on 'the facebook' here

Do you hate trimming goat hooves? Then you just need the right tool for the job!  Come on everyone, right out and give those goaties some beautifully trimmed feet!

Happy Saturday everyone! 

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