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.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The unintended consequences of Nicholas.

You'll remember that our big fatty fat cat, Nicholas has a lot of hard days. His life is of constant struggle and hardship. He suffers much as he struggles thru life. One day at a time, little buddy.

 Nicholas. About to do crimes - or help me make something in the kitchen.

His biggest problem right now is that he is still on a reduction plan. Our goal is to get him down to 19 pounds. You heard me. DOWN to 19 pounds. How big is he? Big. Real big. But slowly he's been inching down the ounces and I think we age getting close to his goal weight. The Good Vet told me that getting cats to lose weight is almost impossible. That's right, Doc, tell me something I can't do... it guarantees that I will do it.

Nicholas can stand on his back legs and pull everything off the counters. Thanks, Nicholas.

So we've been working hard. The next time we take Nicholas to the vet I'm positive those scales will say 19 pounds. I know this because Nicholas has spent the last several days up on the kitchen counters. He hasn't been up there in years. These were the days he could easily heft his big carcass up on the counters. But not since then. However this new found agility has become a problem.

Partners in crime. Little Mo is surprisingly gangsta.

This morning I heard odd noises. Then Kai started with her tattle tail bark... so I hurried out to see what was going on.

"What's going on!" I demanded.

Nothing but innocent looks.

Then I noticed one too many dogs in the dog area.

"NICHOLAS!" I shrieked in surprise.

Nicholas is not supposed to be in the dog area. He teases Kai and Zander and that could go bad. Up until now it hasn't been a worry because there was no way Fatty-Fat A-Lot could get up and over the gate.

What happens when dogs get canned food. This is too much pushing and shoving for cats.

Today was a changing day. I'm pretty sure Nicholas was in the big garbage can full of dog food. Due to starvation.

So while I'm pleased that our formerly fat cat, Nicholas, is slimming down fast..... this has resulted in a lot of unintended consequences.

This is not officially a Hard Day for Nicholas.... but if he keeps it up then it could be. Looks like I'm going to have to do some figuring to keep our Nicholas out of trouble.

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pigs, pigs, pigs, pigs....and what to feed them.

You'll excuse me for doing a fast 'here's a buncha links' post for today but I'm having breakfast with Frank Underwood this morning. If I really apply myself I think I can watch all 13 hours today.

One of my most searched for phrases is "what to feed pigs." Or feeding pigs. This is my most popular pig post - it's our basic guidelines for how we feed out our pigs to butcher weight. We get the pigz in the spring, feed them all summer on a combination of bagged feed/corn, our farm products (goatmilk, eggs, and veg), and pasture. In the fall/early winter we butcher them ourselves. (You can find a lot of good how-to links here.)

We're all stuck in the house dreaming of our summer projects, right? OK so who is going to start with pig this year?  Is it hard? Nope. Can you do it? Yep! What do you need?

1. Really, really, really good fencing. This is the one thing that folks try and skimp on thinking they are smarter than pigz. Nope. The problem is that pigz are very very strong. Way stronger than you - so what you might think is secure is no big deal for them. Get extremely good fencing and then put hotwire on the inside - the strongest charger you can buy.

2. Somewhere to put them. Preferably far, far, far from your house and your neighbors. Run as much hose as you can away from the house. Then buy another hose and put the pigz are the end of it. You'll thank me for it when you don't have to smell those smelly pigz on a hot day.

3. Water. Make sure your hose runs all the way out there. Hauling water for pigz is the pits. It might sound like a good idea but in the summer you'll need a wallow for them to keep cool. They need a lot more water than you think. Then there is this foolishness. Yeah, I had to dump that out and refill it.

4. A feed plan. Sure, you can feed out pigz on bagged hog chow. Many real hog farmers wonder why we bother with our farm products 'n pasture approach. Bagged food will work just fine. You'll get a pig that you can butcher...... but it's just not our bag, baby. We could just buy pork if all we wanted was a commercially raised pig. But we like to stay away from the medicated foods and mostly soy grain diet. Plus, bagged hog chow can be expensive. We are cheap. So doing it our way works out.

5. A safety plan. Pigz can be big, mean, and dangerous. There is a point at which I do not get into the pen with them alone. My hardworking Dog Horde are trained to come with me into the pig yard if I have to go in there. This works for me really well. I also never go into the pig yard without something in my hand to defend myself. I never let them get between me and an exit. And like the ocean, I never turn my back on them. Farming is the most dangerous occupation - and some of that is because you are working with big, sometimes unpredictable animals. So have a plan and work that plan.

I should note that at this point there is always someone who gets all in a fit over my emphasis on having a safety plan. They will start going on and on about "all's you gotta do is snuggle them pigz and then..." Yeah. Well. That's great. If that works or you fine.  But that does not work for me. My husband can walk into the pig yard just fine - but even he has been tumbled over a time or two. Every real hog farmer I know has a story about "that one time." The worst thing that can happen here is if I get hurt. So we are cautious on purpose and if you are not then fine - but why would you try and advise me to be less cautious?

For the record, no I am not afraid of the pigz. Yes, I am "tough" enough. I wield my Dog Horde of big tough hard working occasionally hard to train dogs like a war hammer, I can reduce a grown man to tears, you do not want to get into a name calling contest with me... but to them pigz all I am in bait. So you can go on and snuggle them pigz all you like. I will not. And honestly - I just think I smell delicious and that's why them pigz want a piece of me. So do what works for you.

Remember that you can find a lot more links here - including our step by step butcher guide. Can you raise pigz and then butcher them yourself? Yes you can!

Happy Friday everyone! And now if you will excuse me.. Mr. Underwood will see me now.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Getting back to normal. A farm update.

After all the hubbub yesterday we are getting back to normal here. Well, normal for us. What a day!

Our entire egg harvest from yesterday. Thanks, ladies.

So our cold is continuing and even tho we are getting a little bit of a break this weekend... it looks like the arctic air will be back. The weather guys say this will be the pattern for the next couple of weeks. At least I'm getting stuff done in the house?

Unfortunately the sustained cold is starting to take it's toll. The goats don't know whether to shed their undercoats - or not. Debbie and Nibbles look like old sweaters gone bad. I don't really want to comb them out.... but they are just looking ratty and tired.

The good news is that all of the goats seem to be hearty and healthy. And pregnant. Except for Nibbles who was not bred on purpose. The jury is still out on Debbie - she may or may not be pregnant. If she isn't that is almost OK... she has had a couple tough pregnancies so if her time as a goat-producer is over then that is alright with us. Dahli and Daisy, tho, look terrific and are starting to get pudgy. Once again we are so glad we waited to breed them until late in the season. Milking is sub-zero weather is not fun for anyone. 

The ducks are doing OK. However, our Miss Duck seemed to have a wound on her foot yesterday. I could not catch her to see but I'll try again today. Everyone is is just bored and tired of being locked inside. They were all out yesterday ducking around and enjoying the sunshine. It was fun to see them in a group. They all had a lot to say.

The hens have stopped laying and we gave up on the layer mash. With these cold conditions and everyone mad and stuck inside - no one is going to lay anything... except that adorable little egg shown above.

The worst is that Tractor Supply will be getting/has already gotten their chicks! And it's just too cold to get any so my creepy meat empire will have to wait. We don't have a good winter set up right now so it looks like I'll have to buy another package of chicken from the store.

The geese - the geese continue their reign of terror. OD has gotten even more aggressive which makes me wonder if Cindi has a nest somewhere - or if she is about to start laying.

That's the update here. Thanks again, everyone, for your support in my ridiculous 'the facebook' situation. We'll see what happens next.

Very truly yours,
Brunhilda Goosenstein.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

And now for something completely different...

*OFG walks out onto a darkened stage illuminated by a single spotlight. You can tell it's her because she's wearing work boots, a dirty shirt, and has a bad ponytail. Instead of a Life is Good hat, she has a duck on her head... and she is carrying a bowl of pudding. Little Mo hurries out to the stage and adjusts the microphone stand. OFG takes center stage.*

Yeah so, there I was yesterday... happy. I was about to tell everyone what a great time I had driving into town after being stuck under a Snow Emergency Level 1 and 2 all weekend. Just as I was trying to log into 'the facebook' I found out that my account was blocked.

*The crowd gasps*

I know. Can you believe it? 

*OFG takes the duck off her head and sets it down in a little box on the stage. The duck hen shuffles around happily to find a good spot in the nest. *

So I've been trying to figure out what to do and how to resurrect that account. It's touchy business. Apparently someone got a bee in their bonnet because I was using a "pen name" and not a real enough name. What's the big whoop? Honestly I do not know. But someone reported it and now I'm stuck.

I guess I posted just one too many pictures and videos of Lil Bub and that was just too much for someone with too much time on their hands. I might know who did it. If it was you then.... whatever. I've had way more important people be way more petty to me. This is my reaction to your feeble attempt to ruin my day. 

Maybe it was just some well meaning soul who had too much righteous indignation. Who knows.


I don't want to be "that guy"... but I think I need build a facebook business page. One of the categories that I can use is "blogger" and hopefully that will be good enough for everyone who's jot and tittles were in a twist.  You can find the new page here. It would be great if you "liked" it so I can get the conversation going again. I know you all want to know what kind of pudding I made.  *OFG holds up the bowl of pudding-y delight.*

The only thing is that it makes it kind of wonky for me to comment on friend's pages - so I'm trying to work that out.

That's the long and short of it. Let's go ahead and take some questions...

*Someone in the audience stands up* "OFG! Why... I mean.. what's this all about? Why does anyone care if you are using a pen name?"

Well, it's a sticky wicket. Mostly, tho, I think it's about money. You can read this lively and er... um... colorful... account of what happened when some performers used their stage names for their facebook ID's. 

But what that article doesn't really highlight is why some people may want to use a different name. Not because they are trying to pull something over on the rest of the users...but you can imagine that teachers or police officers - and their families -  could be at risk of certain people wanted to target them.  Or just regular people who may find themselves in harms way if ...for instance.... their stalker wanted to track them down. Who would begrudge these folks if they didn't want to use their full name?

I'm not sure why this is such a big concern for the few people that it might fall into these categories. I have an idea that 'the facebook' bigwigs would take an entirely different view of it if it was their daughter, son, brother, or sister was trying to be anonymous for a reason.

One option, of course, is just not to use it... and who knows, maybe I'll have to learn to tweet or something. I might end up with a smart phone and then I'd be all Instagraming and regramming and would be so over the facebook that they could take their rigid and stupid rules and screw right on off. Who knows? 

Next question - you there?

* A feisty redhead holding a chiweenie service dog stands up and take the mic....*
"Uh... so what is your story, OFG? Why are you using a pen name for 'the facebook'?"

Why wouldn't I? Remember that I set up this ID years ago - when I left that unnamed forum. Everyone knew me - and knows me - as OFG. Facebook went public after that - and so you can draw your own conclusions. Before they were trying to get users... now they are trying to make money from them.

Aside from my obsession with police K9's and Military Working Dogs - I only use the facebook as a way to chittychat with my friends from my blog. So... that's what it was. Would any of my friends know who I was if I showed up as Brunhilda Goosenstein? *shrugs*

And since you asked, I don't have contact with most of the people from my former life on purpose. Not all of my stories are hilarious - and the reason I'm not visible to everyone in my past is one of them.

But my big concern with all of this is that I might not be able to find all my pals. So I'll be trying to find a way to track everyone down. But mostly my friends are your friends... so if you could put the word out to check out this new page and "like" it then at least I could start finding everyone.

OK - last question? Please - there you go.

* A man who looks remarkably like Clark Kent stands up, he's wearing a press badge from Entertainment Landfill.* OFG, I think the big question we are all wondering is... why the duck?

Oh, her? It's just funnier to walk out on stage with a duck on your head.

So that's the story. I want to thank everyone who came looking for me. Really, from the bottom of my heart I appreciate it so much. And a special thank you to the folks who helped me get this worked out. I missed everyone very much. I'm hoping we can get this all worked out in the next day or two and just laugh about it later.

Onward and upwards, right?

Monday, February 23, 2015


Another day, another record low "high" for the day (9* it already happened), windchills well below zero, everyone is stuck inside. We are supposed to be around 40* at this time of year not gripped in a Siberian cold snap. No one is happy.

*insert more complaining about cold here*

*complain about winter chores here*

*be glad only the turkey died and that it was NOT my fault here*

*include adorable picture of dogs playing in snow here*

*lamely suggest that we can make it just a little while longer here*

*resort to binging on 'the netflix' and pudding here*

The  Lather...rinse repeat.....

  Let's just think about summer.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

The End of The King. TurkZilla is dead.

Friends, yesterday marked the end of an era. TurkZilla, our top turkey.... is dead.

A magnificent foe.

The light in his hateful eye has faded. I will never again gaze upon his regal bearing. Hear his terrible, trumpeting gobble. No more shall mine eye behold his wrathful charge. Gone are the days that I warn visitors, "I can call the dogs back but you are on our own with that turkey." Or yell, "Dog! Get over here and get this stupid turkey off me!"


I went out yesterday to the hen house to a quiet calm. I saw TZ on the floor, his feathers akimbo.

"Hey, little buddy....whatcha doing?" I asked hopefully but alas there was no reply.

Nervously I poked him with my boot, ready for him rise like a phoenix, fly into a blind rage, and kill me where I stood.... nothing.



Real dead.

He wasn't faking it.

The chickens looked at me for guidance. I shrugged.

Then it hit me. TZ is...I mean... was.... my husband's favorite piece of poultry. At one point I wanted to put TZ in a sack and haul his ornery carcass up to the auction where I could fetch a good price but I was denied - and warned - that, and I quote here, "Nothing had better happen to that turkey when I'm gone at work all day!"

There I stood with the dead turkey. My husband would never believe me that TZ just flopped over dead. I considered staging a crime scene as there was no apparent sign of struggle or illness. But I would be found out. I decided to take my chances. I determined to distract my husband with schnitzel when he got home... and then ease him into the news. It had to work.

But first I had to get a huge dead turkey out of my damn hen house.

"Dogs!"  I knew they would help.

Kai carried his head, I took the trotters, and Dog#1 and #2 each took a wing. Zander was in time out for naughtiness or I would have just hooked the huge burden up to Zander's working dog harness and had him haul it out of there.

Reverently we carried the fallen king to the empty Duck Garage. It went mostly as planned.

"Kai! Do NOT chew on his head!"

We left TZ there in a rigor-frozen heap.  Then I went inside to tighten up my story. Everyone knew I hated that stupid turkey. There is no way I wouldn't be blamed.

Later, finally, The Big Man came home. He roared down the driveway and opened the door to his truck.

"Honey!" I yelled from the porch, "The turkey is dead and it's not my fault!"  I probably shouldn't have said that.

He huffed.

Shortly thereafter we made our way up to the Duck Garage. The dogs and I tried to look as innocent as possible. The Big Man opened the door and beheld the sight of the fallen king.

"It looks like he just laid down and died...... of a broken heart because of your hatred for him." Said my husband.

And then The Big Man sighed heavily and turned and lumbered off.

The dogs and I stood there and looked at each other. Kai started to say something but I cut her off, "No, Kai you may not eat that turkey now." She huffed and trotted off after her father. As I watched my husband stalk off towards schnitzel I thought, "At last....I'm free." I could go out in the yard now without risking death by turkey.

Thusly ended the days of TurkZilla. The biggest, meanest, orneriest terror of the barnyard. Farewell now, Good Prince, think no more of the trouble of this world, and go gobble in the halls of your ancestors.

A sad day here, Friends, there will be lamentation later this afternoon, the flag will be flown at half mast, and taps will be played at sundown. Each one of you should hug your turkeys close, you never know when you might go out and find them dead of a broken heart - which was totally not my fault.

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Something old, Fire, and it's way below 0*

I was going to complain about our extreme cold which is somewhere between -15* and -10*...and yeah that is without the wind. But then I thought, we need some laughs instead. Good thing I saw this list from NW Edible Life - doesn't everyone love her? You'll remember she was the one that did this landmark post on aggressive duck sex which sent us all to fits.

You will never look at adorable little ducks the same after reading this.

The "22 Signs You Are Desperate To Quit Your Office Job To Become A Homesteader" is pretty darn spot on. It got me thinking about how I flew to coop on my own corporate life.

Back then, tho, I didn't know I would end up actually farming. I just knew that my life had to change. We've been talking about this a lot lately. The Big Man and I get a lot of guff about our life and we don't get it. We are happy and we aren't hurting anyone. We know plenty of people who are living the life they "should" - but if you scratch the surface you see it isn't always that pretty.

Folks we know have waited their whole lives to retire to "do" stuff are laid up by injuries, maladies, or just don't make it that far. The worst story I knew of was a tech guy who struck it rich, cashed out, and moved to Tahoe with his family. The second day they were there he walked outside and shut the door too hard - the snow from the roof fell down and killed him. I still can't get over that one.

Or folks who are splashing around in big vats of money from their high paying jobs - but who don't have time to live their own life. They pay other people to do it. Or people on the other end of the scale who, thru bad luck and bad decisions, live in a financial ruin with no discernible way out.

So what's with all the guff? I don't think folks wish they had our life as much as they wish they had the gumption to get up and do it. So how did I do it?

I'm not sure. I think I'm just a regular person but I have never...ahem... lacked for confidence. And I have good courage - not the "here hold my beer while I do something foolish" but "good" courage. The kind you get from setting your jaw, setting your foot firmly, and making it work.  I feel the Hand of Provision on me so I have confidence that whatever happens I can make the best of it.

I'm also not one to sit around and be angry if someone else strikes it big. You can waste a lot of time and energy bemoaning why you don't have someone else's Blessing.  I don't live in a chronic state of lack where there isn't enough good stuff for everyone. I've never had an existential crisis and I don't (usually) sit around and wish I was somewhere else (altho right now I'd really love to be on Maui). Attitude really is everything.

So when the opportunity came up I took it. I jumped. Maybe it was foolish but we made the best of it. Was it perfect? No. Not by a long shot but The Big Man and I do the best we can and just keep swimming.

But what about a plan? And charts? Nope. We just knew that we could rely on ourselves to work it out.

What's my best advice for how to quit your office job and become a homesteader? Work really hard and really smart. Position yourself to be debt free. Learn skills and prepare yourself mentally. If you are a younger person then get the best education you can afford and manage your career in such a way that you can make money while you are young. Don't just let your life happen to you. Don't waste your time on foolish pursuits and folly. Turn off the TV so you are not beguiled by a competitive, consumer life.  And quit comparing yourself to your friends on facebook. Develop optimism. Concentrate on gratitude.  Do the good works that you are appointed to do. And then when you get the chance. Just jump.

So my 'something old' I wrote this a while ago. Here is my story of how I gave ran screaming from my old life and got here. Names have been changed to protect the guilty but I still laugh about that poor gal having such a hard time trying to tell me I was laid off - when in fact that's exactly what I wanted. A while ago it clicked and I figured out who was in the room with her and I still laugh about it. It was my former boss and he was too much of a coward to tell me himself. I don't miss that guy at all. I don't miss my corporate life. I do miss Maui but even now, sitting here still well below 0*, I don't think I could go back.

Happy Friday everyone! Are you sitting around in your office job? Are you working on flying the coop? What are you waiting for? Jump!

ps. I noticed the Amazon Fire TVis on sale again! Check it out - the price is $84 and you can read here why it is worth every penny to us. I'm adding a badge to my blog on the right side so I can keep track of the price and let you know when it's on sale. This is especially important because Vikings Season 3is now available online! I know what I'm going to be doing today. Yay!

And I'll put my official affiliate link notice here. Consider yourselves duly informed that I get a tiny portion of the sale when you click on one of the links, go to the Amazon page, and purchase something.  You can support this blog by just clicking one of these links. Or using the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. It doesn't cost you once cent more but helps me with the "cost" of this blog. THANKS! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

More with the snow...

Unless you've been living under a rock - or a different part of the world - you probably know that we are deep in the grip of The White Death. Snow. It's everywhere.

My beautiful Kai is happy about the snow.

I can honestly say that I've had enough. Remember when we all thought it was over? Yeah, right.

Today will probably be another inside day for the barncats and most of the flocks. They already have a windchill warning up for when this stupid snow stops - which looks to be in a couple hours. After the snow passes the cold will really settle in.

My Most Excellent Good Dog is happy too.

But Friday could be a looloo..... extremely bitter cold. The goats are still giving me fits. I'm really starting to regret not breeding Nibbles. She is in heat now and it's terrible. She and Dahli won't leave each other alone and we do not have great options for splitting them up. If the weather were milder we'd have better options. So we will just tough it out.

The good news is that all my old biddies and young hens are doing great. We haven't had any losses and everyone is hanging in there. The geese are fine.

My collection of black and white dogs.

If anything I'm thrilled with how well the hen house is holding up. It really keeps the heat in and the hennies have busied themselves with scratching around the straw bale we put in there for them. A couple ventured out into the snow but mostly they sit in the door way and look out at the world. 

One thing I am very very grateful for is not having winter pigz. They would have been a misery. But truth be told, if we had pigz we would have made an extra effort to get them butchered. Hauling water in this weather would have been futile.

My slightly derpy Fighting Uruk-hai.

That's the situation here. Snow, sloth, anger at incarceration. But we'll just keep on keepin' on.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bacon Sushi. It's a thing.

Has everyone seen this video on how to make bacon sushi? I'd link to the site but some of it is now over capacity. Wow!
This is the only "sushi" I will ever eat.

I'm not sure this is an entirely new thing - people have been wrapping meat with bacon for a while. But I think this is catching on because you can cook it and not make it in a smoker - which is more approachable for some folks.

I gave this a try the other day with low expectations... but it totally worked!

I literally made this with leftovers - I had several pieces of bacon and a little bit of ground pork. I watched the vid and then also took some tips from the process here.

If I had known this was going to actually work I probably would have taken more pictures.

You don't need some kind of fancy sushi mat thingy - I just put down some waxed paper. Then I lined up the bacon - some of the slicers were wider at one end so I alternated the wide and thin ends so it was as uniform as possible.

Then I put the unseasoned fresh ground pork on top of the bacon, another layer of waxed paper, and used a rolling pin to flatten it out as evenly as possible - making sure that  it all stayed on the bacon layer.

A little cheese - I used what I had which was some shredded colby jack. Then I rolled it up - which was much more easy than I expected.

I knew that cooking it would be messy and that fat would render - so I lined a small baking sheet with foil and set the roll on a wire rack. Just for kicks I put some sliced onions in the bottom of the pan. Then I put the whole shootin' match in a preheated 350* oven for about 25 minutes.

It seemed to be doing just fine but at this point I went off recipe. I don't particularily like BBQ sauce so I drizzled some of our home made maple syrup over it. Then kept cooking it for another 10 minutes. Then another drizzle of syrup and turned up the heat to 425* for the last few minutes. It worked!

I made sure to check the internal temperature for 165* before I took it out of the oven. If I would have done anything different I would have broiled it for a few minutes to really crisp up the bacon. No sprinkles or anything were required. No dipping sauce - just meat meat meat and more meat...and a little cheese.

This sliced up really well and wow it was so much fun! Next time I might season the pork a little more. But this was totally fun and it worked! If I knew that I would have worked so well I really would have taken better - and more - pictures. But this was so easy that I will be doing this again. It's kind of like little bite sized bacon cheeseburgers. Whoot! Go meat!

Happy Tuesday everyone! Are you still stuck inside? The Cold of DOOM is making everyone cranky here.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Big White Out

This is what it looks like out there right now....

 Yep. So much fun.

And this is all that I can think about... I miss my lettuce bucket. 

The other day I had to buy stuff to make salad and it was about $9 of what I could have gotten for free in my yard. I miss my lettuce. I miss my basil. I miss going and pulling a green onion.

Instead The Big White Out of Doom is upon us. This storm is really blowing thru. Tomorrow the high may be 6* with windchills in the -20*. It's gonna be a crippler. No one will be outside tomorrow. I've already shut the goats in for today.

Currently the goats are in the Goat House. The only reason they are still there is because I had just taken them a huge armload of hay. We've decided to move them to the Turkey House later this afternoon. I guess a little more destruction is better than chancing it with a heatlamp.

My biggest concern - aside from them all fighting and destroying the Turkey House some more - is that one morning Dahlia got out of the Turkey House. I'm not sure how. But if she gets out tonite/early tomorrow morning then she might be a goner. Let's hope for once she behaves.

Chores tomorrow will be done in double time with warm-ups in the garage. Hopefully we will catch a break and it won't be so bad.

Happy Saturday everyone - are you staying warm? How's the storm where you are?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sloth and Fire

We are entering another cold snap so today is perfect for sloth and Fire.

 And I mean this kind of fire...

and this kind of Fire. 

If you are over on the facebook then you know I absolutely love our Amazon Fire TV. We snagged it when they had a sale just before Christmas and it's still our favorite thing. Folks have been asking me about it so I'm going to show you what it is and why it's so great.

Very simply Amazon Fire TV is a way to watch TV online.... on your TV. In the past if we wanted to watch shows and movies online then we had to watch on my laptop.... or plug a big cord into the TV from my laptop. It was awful but it was the only way both of us could watch.

I never really minded when it was just me - I just watched on my laptop and I got a lot of mileage out of my NetFlix account.  But trying to hook up the TV was a disaster. We almost never did it and it always just made my husband mad. It kind of went like this....

.... *extremely exciting part of the movie*..... and then one of the cats would step on the cord and the TV screen would go blue, us screaming: PEPPER!!!  Or we'd lose the connection with Amazon right when Godzilla was about to.... about... what? What?

 It was just stupid.

So usually it was just me and Nicholas huddled around my cat-hair-covered laptop trying to hear what was going on. All of that is over.

I honestly could not figure out what the advertising for Amazon Fire was when it first came out. I did not know why Gary Busey was yelling weird things at the TV and did not care. But then I stumbled upon a how-to video that explained it and it all made sense.

Look how little it is!

The Amazon Fire TVturns your TV into an online viewing machine!  You can watch any of the shows or movies from Amazon Instant Video, NetFlix, or Youtube right from your couch without hooking anything else up.

Now this is how movie night goes.... We turn on the TV, use the TV remote to click to "Input 2", pick up the most adorable remote ever and click on the movie we want. We can even use the voice command thingy AND IT WORKS.

This snazzy little remote changed everything.

So the other nite we commanded the TV to play Fury and watched an action packed, fabulous movie without once yelling at Pepper. No one tripped over the cord, the picture quality was excellent, and in just a few clicks and we were viewing. And since the Fire TV is already linked to your Amazon account it's all set up if you want to buy shows and movies. Easy peasy!

Originally we were going to get the Fire TV Stickbut the sale before Christmas for the Fire box got us. As far as we can tell the big difference between the Fire Stick and the Fire box is that the Stick is about $40, is much smaller, and does not come with the gaming options. We have never even checked out the gaming stuff.

So here are the questions we get:

Is it worth it?
Yep. Every cent. I can't tell you how easy it is and how much that has made a difference. I am not a gadget person at all... but this is really terrific.

But why would you pay for that when you have cable or can get a "smart" TV?
We don't have cable so the cost of the Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Prime is still much cheaper then a cable bill. Smart TV? Sure. How much money do you have? They tried to sell us one for $1200 and we laughed at them. I'm sure the prices are going to come down but we are not willing to pay that much more. We've been checking out new TV's and not all the Smart ones come with the Amazon app to watch stuff on Amazon Instant Video or Prime. The sales guy said that most of the LG TV's have it but not all of the brands.

What about Roku?
*shrugs* The nerds say it's about the same but we have Amazon Primewith access to tons of free shows and movies... and buy most of our movies from Amazon so it makes sense for us to stay in that "eco-sphere." It is so easy.

What else?
We also really like the original programing from Amazon (and NetFlix) - as far as companies go I'm betting on them to take us to a new level. Amazon has their new original programing for free with your Prime account. They did a preview last year where you could watch any of the show's pilots and then provide feedback - they kept the best shows and ended up winning a ton of awards. They are doing the same thing right now I'm betting on The Man in the High Castle.

What else?
My friend L had a great point - she said that their TV is mounted to the wall and that trying to hook up a laptop to it with a cord was unrealistic. If we tried this I am positive someone, perhaps me, would trip over the cord and rip the TV right off the wall.

Also - how cool is this? There are a lot of shows you can use for homeschooling. I would have never had thought of that but isn't that a great idea?

But... but what about cable?
Cable can screw right on off. They have completely missed the boat and are now scrambling to catch up. Remember when they changed TV forever with The Sopranos? Now all I hear about is how none of their customers are happy with the service, it's expensive, and there is never anything on. The only thing that interests me is that HBO is finally getting on board with online viewing with their HBO Go... and we think that current customers will get that when it comes out thru Amazon Prime. Of course the only reason I'm interested in that is so I can see Game of Thrones. I'm still mad tho that they want to sell a channel and not by-the-show.

What's so great about online viewing?
You can watch what you want, when you want. I can't stay up late enough for most of the network shows.... so I just watch them the next day or whenever. And I never have to sit around thru a totally dumb show waiting for what I really want to watch to come on.

Plus I totally love binging - which is watching a bunch of episodes in a row. Why wait until next week? Plus there are no commercials. I'd pay to never see another "ED" commercial again. Seriously.  Right now I'm watching Spartacus which is really terrific but we are all counting down the days until House of Cards Season 3 comes out. I will be very busy that day parked directly in front of our TV with my Fire TV remote in one hand and Nicholas snuggled under my other arm.

Any drawbacks?
Yes. For the first few weeks I couldn't pry the Fire TV remote out of my husband's hand. I am not kidding. He went from angrily lumbering off anytime we wanted to watch anything online to being a full on fan. He also went thru and monkeyed up my Watch List. I had so carefully groomed it..and now it's full of Red Green and stupid BBC fake sci-fi shows. So I'm kind of irritated about that too. Otherwise we just love it.

Happy Friday everyone! Are you getting with the program and watching online?

Editors note: It's Friday - how about some affiliate links in this post? Why do I always put this at the bottom of these posts?  Technically I'm supposed to tell you this which is why I'm including this editor's note. How does it work? Easy peasy. I get a tiny portion of the sale when you click on one of the links, go to the Amazon page, and purchase something. It can be anything - this book, movies, or something you need from Amazon anyway.  Do you need anything Amazon? You can support this blog by just clicking one of these links. Or using the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. It doesn't cost you once cent more but helps me with the "cost" of this blog. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. Thanks!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Friable soil, can you dig it?

Yesterday it was barely warm enough to work outside for a bit. I ran right out to my treasure trove.....

Can you believe it? We got a whole stack of broken down boxes. 

One of the more irritating things about this property is that we have that weird, invasive weed garlic mustard. It's everywhere and it grows when nothing else does. I'm constantly battling it in the gardens.

With all our poultry and pets there is no way I'd just use herbicide. This year my goal is to smother it. This is where the cardboard comes in. Yesterday I laid it out all over ones of the gardens.

I doubled it over so anything under it will die! Die! Die! I hope.

The next step is to shovel out the chicken house and put that barn litter on top of the cardboard. By the time the planting season comes around I'm hoping to have nothing but weed free, friable soil just waiting to be planted.

Friable soil, can you dig it? Yes... yes I can.

Unfortunately my outside work day was cut short when the wind kicked up. I was able to give a hard trimming to the peach trees. So either they are going to be magnificent and will be loaded with fruit... or I killed them. We'll see.

We have another huge cold front coming thru and one of those weird days when we've already had our high temperature. There are windchill warnings for later today. I need to figure out something to do with the goats. Later this week we may hit a new 100-year record for low temperatures.... well below 0*.

I have two bad choices with the goats - put them back in the Turkey House which they will continue to destroy - or put a heat lamp out in the Goat House and risk them screwing around and burning the whole place to the ground. For whatever reason Dahlia is just a maniac right now. She has taken over being the Herd Queen from Debbie - which does not bode well.

Ratty Nibbles and goofy Daisy.

Nibbles just looks terrible and her attitude is worse. Don't worry - that's just her under coat coming out - like Bubby. But wow... lookin' bad, Nibs.

Happy Thursday, everyone! Did you get outside to work a little be before the next cold wave?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

So I had to BUY chicken.

Yep. I had to buy a package of chicken. At the store. Who the heck can afford to buy meat? Holy tomatoes.

I can't believe I miss these creepy little meat balls.

Thru a series of freezer failures and exceptionally bad planning we were left with a treasure trove of pork and zero chicken. Technically I don't think we even have any turkey left. It's all pork all the time.  Good thing we aren't picky.

But I just had to get some of that sweet chickeny goodness the other day so I broke down and got a package of chicken at the store. It was fine. Expensive. But fine. Not as great at our own but it was fine.

Shovel sized meats. Just about right.

We really need to get our poultry production back on track. I found myself slowly driving passed the Tractor Supply looking for their "Chick Days" signs...... soon. My friends in the South said they are starting to get chicks available locally this spring. I can't wait.

So why don't we just order more chicks now? It's still too cold. Remember that chicks are shipped thru the mail. Even tho our local post is terrific - everyone has some terrible story about getting a box of dead chicks either thru back luck or neglect. So we aren't chancing it. Also - we don't have anywhere to put them. We can't have them inside right now and the garage is too cold for baby chicks.

We actually prefer overwintering meat chickens. We've had more losses from the summer heat than from the cold. But we need to have our meat chicks ordered by October or early November to make sure they are feathered out and strong enough to over winter. We didn't do that last year and now our chicken coffers are empty. We'll be the first ones in line when meat chicks are available locally.

Dog #1 supervising creepy little meats.

If you are gearing up for getting creepy meats then here are some links for you:

Top 10 Butcher Day Tips - my complete tool list and what you need to know to cowboy up and get out there to butcher chickens.

Did you know that fatty meats ladies lay eggs? Who says you have to butcher at 7 weeks? I could not get these free meat eggs to hatch but I'll be working on it next time.

Should you let your meat loose? Sure - but be sure to supervise them or have a hoop house.

Gross things we've found while butchering. Not as bad as it sounds but check out the fatty livers on these guys.

More gross things and how to render all that chicken fat into a lovely and delicious cooking fat. Sometimes your find eggs IN the chicken. Can you believe that? Hands down chicken fat is my favorite cooking medium. You can call it schmaltz if you'd like - but anytime I have to saute something I reach for a jar of chicken fat and not vegetable oil.

What a bucket of chicken means to us. My favorite meat chicken related day and how to move them.... when you aren't using the Creepy Meat Wagon of DOOM.

I just realized that I don't have one simplified "How to raise meat chickens" post - I'll have to work on that. So stay tuned. 

One last thing I'd like to call out is that if you are in Washington State or are willing to travel there, the guys over at Farmstead Meatsmith are offering a hands on chicken butchering class.  These guys are really terrific and I learned a lot about breaking down a side of pork by watching their video.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Did you have to buy a package of chicken? Anyone excited about creepy meats?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Shaggy Dog and going to the vet.

Sometimes this is blog is my personal record keeping. Like today. I need to note that Zander has been blowing his coat. This is important because it's almost a month earlier than last year. I'm hoping this means there will be an early spring.

He is a mess. We are calling him Shaggy Dog.

I'm pretty sure that there is an old saying that "When Bubby blows his coat - so does winter" or something like that. But I have to believe we are on the downside of cold and running up to spring. In the meantime I am spending a lot of time raking him out. So. Much. Fur.

Hey look! It's me with Bubby and Kai!

I also need to note that we went to the vet. I need to make another appointment for Dog#1 in a couple weeks. We are doing the series of Lyme disease shots for the Dog Horde.There are two shots for each dog.... so there is going to be a lot of driving around with dogs. Luckily Dog#1 is just fine in the car.

I'm noting this because I need to remember when to make the appointments and also because I didn't really know about this. Lyme disease is starting to make it's way into our state. The vet said some of the spread is caused by hunters going to the eastern states and bringing the ticks back on their deer carcasses. Can you believe that? So it's a thing here now.

I guess I should say outright that this is not an invitation for everyone to start fighting about vaccines. Do what is best for you and your dogs. I just gotta remember to go back.

Last year we were very smirky and told the vet that we don't have ticks because of all the poultry. Which is largely true - but then we all spent a lot of time in the woods and that didn't work out for a lot of us. Once we get more of that area cleared we can see if the chickens will go down there and work their magic.

My cat is sad because I don't understand her inner struggle with the general malaise that engulfs her.

Our cat Pepper also got drug along for an appointment for a weird bump. After a lot of gagging by yours truly they fixed her up and she was declared bump-free. I had prepped the vet and the tech that Pep is a squirmer and we might need more strong people to hold her down for the exam. Of course Pep was the model citizen and they all laughed at me and said, "Not this little angel?" The tech cuddled Pep while Pep shot death rays out of her eyes at me. Her wagon is fixed tho.

That's the word here. More cold but no snow. Today is inside but I'm dying to get off farm again. I've got mine eye fixed on some fancy pastries....

Happy Tuesday everyone! Is the fur flying there? Are you driving around with a happy dog and an angry cat?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mo Paws and it's 50*

Yesterday was sunny and beautiful. All of the stupid snow melted...and even tho it's a big swampy mess out there at least it's not 0*. I have high hopes for spring showing up sometime soon.

Little Mo's beautiful paws.  He really is my Chief of Staff.

But not this week. Today will be cloudy and 50*, then rain, then back to freezing. But that is OK. It will give me time to do some work outside. And then I can think about tapping the trees.

He spends a lot of time keeping them clean. His little Mickey Mouse hands... we love him.

All the melting snow made us realize how bad our driveway has become. I'm pretty sure that we are going to need to get a big load of gravel sometimes soon. That will be a project for later on.

Happy Sunday everyone! Are you enjoying mild temperatures and melting snow?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Five things I do not like about goats.

You'll remember that I didn't know a lot about them when I got my first goats. All I knew was that they would eat poison ivy. When I drove up to meet that gal who was selling Nibbles and her annoying sister I asked a lot of questions. One of them was, "What are three things that surprised you about owning goats." I don't remember the other two but the point that I do recall was that she said, "How developed their personalities are."

Sure they start out little and cute....

"Humm.... " I thought to myself. How fun to have happy little creatures who have a lot of individuality and spunk.



After all this time what I can tell you that their "developed personalities" have still not won me over. Which brings us to this post which I will call..... Five things I don't like about goats.

This is how it starts. Just wait. They will start pushing and shoving soon.

1. The bellyaching. We like the La Mancha breed because they seem to be the quietest in the goat world. But I can tell you for a fact there is still a fair amount of bitchin' happening out there. I don't like it. For a lot of reasons we didn't breed Nibbles this year and I'm beginning to think it was a mistake. From time to time, when I'm trying to make her life better, she just stands there and screams. I think it's from the continuing heat she's been having.

Nibbles and her bad attitude. Every day. Every. Dang. Day.

2. They are destructive. During our last cold snap we tried putting the goats in the Turkey House which holds the heat better, would be easier to run a heat lamp out to (which we never had to), and is more protected form the wind. You'd think we sent them to the gulag with the way they acted. Instead of enjoying the snugly warmth they pretty much destroyed the inside of the Turkey House. I'll have some major fixing to do later this spring. I'll need to replace some of the wire mesh, fix the doors,  and all the latches. I could have grilled them all. So now they are mad that they can't go back over there. Tough too bads . And you'll remember that buck that jumped thru a glass window. We still need to fix that too.

Good thing you are pregnant, Daisy!

3. They get out of the fence. Normally we don't have many escapes from the goat yard but wow were we surprised the other day when we got home and all the goats where standing in the driveway. Thank heavens they didn't get into the garage and eat all the feed! Somehow they had gotten one of the gates opened. Other folks have more problems with escaping goats then we do - mostly because the dogs let me know if goats are out...and the goats know that the dogs mean business. But since we were gone most of the day - the goats just thought they should go on a walk about.

Lookin' ratty, Debbie, you are looking really ratty. Just eat the minerals and stop fooling around!

4. The require a certain amount of fiddling and upkeep. We are entering the time of year when Debbie starts to fall apart. After months of only eating hay she almost always gets a case of goat polio.... which is as bad as it sounds. We've been fixing her up lately.  People more experienced than you and me say that some goats are just more prone to it - so we are doing a lot of fixing and upkeep. Hopefully the weather will break and we can get her the best fix - which is to eat fresh browse and lots of blackberry leaves.
Every day. Every. Dang. Day.

5. The foolishness. I like order and discipline. Not tomfoolery and hijinks. Goats are chalk full of foolishness and it wears on my soul. Every day. Every stinkin' day we have to go thru the goat food dance and I'm about to lose my mind. The pushing, the shoveling, the wailing, and the stark ingratitude when those silly girls act like they have never been fed before and probably will never been fed again. Right now Dahlia is the worst. She has decided that she is the queen bee and is tormenting everyone including me. It's a good thing she is pregnant and has a history of being a good producer.

One of my blog pals recently decided to stick with cows and ... ahem.. ended their relationship with goats. I have to say that I'm leaning that way. They are a fair amount of work and I just really do not love them at all.

But then I think about how much money those goats actually save us. People ask me why we keep animals that I don't like. The hard answer is that the milk they produce makes it possible for us to keep the circle of life going here on our little farm. The goat milk feeds the chickens who produce the eggs that make our bacon.

When the goats are really producing we just keep pouring that milk on the entire barnyard - we think we save 30% at least on our feed costs by foregoing expensive layer mash and hog chow and sticking with feeding goat milk and corn. So the math works for us.

Good thing, goats, otherwise I might be handing out pink slips.

Happy Friday everyone! Are your goats gettin' your goat? How annoying are they? Do you love them? That's fine. Someone has to... not me. Harrumph.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

More on Shine

Thanks, everyone, for your fun comments on our epic saga, A Tale for Winter. As with all of our Adventure Tails... they are Not Entirely Fiction.

 We sure love our Shine!

Our beloved King of Barncats, Shine, did end up with a festering wound on his foot. In fact, one of his claws was torn off down to the quick (*winces*) and then he had a puncture wound nearby. We have no idea how any of this happened. Thank heavens my husband saw it. We took him to the vet when it didn't get better after a day and she fixed him right up.

He got a long acting antibiotic shot (as giving him daily medication would have been very difficult) and an Rx to stay incarcerated for several days. We gave him extra rations and lots of snuggles. After a couple days he was right a rain.  I"ll probably talk more about the importance of barncats soon - ours are worth their weight in gold.

As for Bitty, I'm sure she will have a lot of adventures soon. But this morning she was playing with a potato on the floor.

We really did find Bitty in a dumpster. She started out as "Scruff" but then she changed to Itty Bitty. you can read more of her story here. Our Bitty - what a girl!

Happy Thursday everyone!

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