Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Exclusive portrait of me!....by a stranger.

The other day I was in town, just standing there talking to someone that I kind of know. To be truthful I just wanted to pet their dog - a big ol' fat headed rottie. All of a sudden this older man walks up to me, gets in kind of close, and says, "I like that hat." Then he handed me a piece of paper and walked off.

This is what he handed me....
This is exactly what I look like!

How hilarious was that? I was kind of surprised by the whole thing.  The woman I was talking to kind of laughed at my reaction and said not to worry.... that man was not some kind of weirdo. He just does that - he draws people and then gives the sketch to the person.

Of course, that's my favorite garden hat.

We've been having a terrific holiday weekend. Of course there is no real "day off" for me and my husband has to work today... But we've had a fun time. Yesterday we had an epic grill up of some huge steaks smothered in mushrooms..and asparagus and potato salad. We've also spent a lot of time this weekend laying on the floor with the dogs and watching TV. 

I've been working in the early morning because it's been so humid. I'm really glad with my progress but am stymied today because of the rain in the overnight. So we are focusing on getting the house cleaned up. 

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!  Has a stranger ever walked up to you and given you a sketch?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! We've got bugs!

Brace yourself.... starting immediately and until about three weeks from now all you will be seeing will be references to Starship Troopers. The bugs. They are here and they are real. This place crawls.

The bugs emerge from their old bodies. How gross is that?

I thought the whole 2016 cicada brood hatch was a big internet hoax.... but a couple days ago we went out and the whole property was covered in bugs. Yesterday I heard the first low whine of their bug noise... things could get interesting around here. It's starting to sound like a jungle out there.

There are holes all over. I didn't know what they were from. Eeep!

What does it mean? I dunno but there are bug bodies everywhere and weird little holes in the ground.

Remember when I was mowing down toward the pond the other day? It was hilarious because as soon as I was done the poultry rabble all came charging down the hill - all lead by the Guinea. Apparently he is our General Guinea now and is leading the troops into battle against the bugs. The poultry are going wild eating all the bugs. Well, not all of them.

One of my fatty hens givin' those bugs the business.

All of the poultry - the ducks, clucks, turkeys, and the lone guinea eat bugs... but not the geese. They are having a field day.

The bugs are mostly harmless - just creepy.

So far the worst that has happened was that one flew into me and I freaked out. I'm pretty sure I'm stepped on a bunch of them also.

Sorry for the blurry pic - but seriously... look how creepy they are - ew!

Zander and Kai think the bugs are interesting and keep trying to eat them...and we keep trying to stop them. My Bubby has a sensitive tummy so the last thing we want is for him to get sick from eating weird bugs. He was crying this morning and hopping around so we raced right outside. Based on these results we'll keep his nose up and the bug out of his mouth lest he suffers from some kind of...ahem... gastric distress.

In other non-bug news... the heat is on. Hot and swampy for the next ten days at least.

Happy Thursday everyone - do you have bugs?

Editor's note:  Look out! I snuck in an affiliate links in this post!  I'm supposed to tell you that I get a tiny portion of the sale when you click on one of these links, go to the Amazon page, and purchase something. Do you know you can get cool TV shows and movies from Amazon's Instant Video service? We use it all the time. Goodbye tons of DVD's everywhere... we are now (mostly) media free and just buy or rent movies online. Plus with our Prime subscription we get a ton of free movies and shows 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.  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Yesterday was just like summer....

It wasn't even ten days ago when we had a frost and it was very cold.... now it's just like summer. The forecast for the next ten days is mid-80*'s with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms. You can't get more summer than that!

Totally random pic of My Mr Good Dog helping me last summer.

Yesterday was like summer. I spent most of the afternoon behind the push mower cursing my task. Mowing. I hate it. But we need to get ahead of the jungle before it takes over.

The frost took out a row of beans and also killed off the tops of the potatoes. I need to replant the beans and I think the taters will bounce back. I also need to do some random planting including a row of beets. I've got some sprouts that are ready to be set out into the garden as well. I'm glad that I didn't put them out until now.

My favorite pic of Lucky. What a goof. 

The other weird thing going on is... bugs. The cicada brood is starting to emerge. It's.... creepy. I thought it was all a big lie but now I think it's a thing. We've noticed a few over the last several days but yesterday we really saw them coming out and on the trees. No loud noise yet. The chickens and ducks are doing their best to help rid of world of loud bugs. We might need more chickens. It's a lot of bugs.

I just can't get enough of Little Mo and his beautiful paws.

Today is planting and more mowing.

Note: to everyone who is about to say "well just put the goats out there" instead of mowing. They are. Debbie and Nibbles are working on the patches of wild rose and other brambles. But goats don't neatly trim the grass to a nice, short, even level. We are noticing a LOT of ticks lately so the whole point of all this stupid mowing is not lawn beautification... it's to keep the ticks off the dogs. And me.

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Are you mowing? Planting? Do you have loud bugs?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Goodbye, Miss Duck

With a heavy heart I share the news that our Miss Duck has gone on to the great beyond... to that lovely pond in the sky. After all these years we found her dead. Goodbye, Miss Duck.

I'm pretty broken hearted, I really loved Miss Duck. She was our beautiful Muscovy hen that we've had for a good long time. The only thing Miss Duck ever wanted to do was set a nest and hatch babies. She loved all babies and took in all kinds of stragglers. Between her funny little walk, her gentle nature, and her sweet little peeping noises I just couldn't be more in love with her. I'm very sorry to see her go.

We got her from my pal, Bourbon Red....along with an enormous drake. Miss Duck and that drake were our first waterfowl and they were just terrific to have around. Miss Duck and that big drake made headlines .... and angry neighbors. But we learned a lot about ducks and we are glad for the huge herds of ducklings that have graced the farm over the years. You can read more about keeping ducks here.

Miss Duck had been failing for a while now and I was surprised that she lasted thru the winter. There was no sign of illness or struggle. Sometimes poultry just up and dies... we think Miss Duck must have been about 9 years old... so she had a good long run.

This is how I'll remember her.... sitting on a nest of little ducklings giving me that cute side-eye.

She just loved....


...a nest. And taking care of her babies.

Thanks, Miss Duck, for everything. Now waddle free of the cares of this life in that great pond in the sky....

Happy Monday, everyone. Do you love ducks?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I knew it was going to be a weird day when.....

I knew it was going to be a weird day when it started off with geese in the rear view....

Geese in the rear view. 

These two ganders goosed me for the very last time. Actually they had been beating up on OD, the old and cranky monarch of the barnyard. We have had an ongoing goose-cage-fight for the last couple of months and I finally was at my bitter end.

Not only have they been extremely aggressive toward me - and OD our main gander - but they have also been bothering poor Lucky. Our Dog#2 has been having problems with his mobility and has been cornered a couple times by ornery geese... I've had to send the rest of The Dog Horde out to protect their brother.

This is why you are leaving, honker.

Between the screaming, the biting, the random goosing, and them picking on the dog we decided we were going to reduce our goose number by half. These two drew the short straws. Also, I mighta sworn a blood oath to my fake brother that I'd never get rid of OD. That was before I knew that geese can live to be 20 years or more. Twenty.Years.

So I loaded up the extra ganders and took them up to the Mt. Hope Auction.

Of course they were perfect angels the whole way up there. It didn't change my plans a bit.

If you haven't been up Mt. Hope lately I'll let you know that the poultry auction is now in the lower parking lot, in the back, in the hoop barn.

The process was really easy peasy. Just like with the goats I just zoomed right up there early in the morning. The livestock auction starts at 11am and the poultry sale starts at 1pm. I think I was there about 10am. The goal is to get there before the auction starts. You can drop off on Tuesday evening but that doesn't work out for us because of the long long long long LONG drive. So I just get up early and hit the road as soon as I can.

I had to wander around a bit before another woman and I, also wandering around, looked at each other simultaneously and said, "What are you looking for?" We were both looking for the poultry sale. A random man who happened to be passing by answered and told us where to go. I just loved that - folks are friendly and approachable around here. It helps to remember this when trying new things. Folks are happy to help and no one is going to treat you badly if you are standing there looking around confused.

I re-moved the car, hopped out by the hoop barn, and walked up to the table and asked what to do. A very nice man told me it was OK to park where I was and to put the geese in the cages. So I did. I returned to the table and he took my name and address, gave me a tag to put on the cage, and that was it. I took my receipt, ran for the car, and drove away fast. I didn't even wave goodbye to those honkers. I didn't even feel bad.

The auction process is really easy. But why didn't I just list those geese on craigslist? Are you kidding - then I wouldn't have an excuse to go to Mrs. Yoder's. It may not be a surprise to you... but I killed it at the buffet. Again. No one made any money that day at that hallowed shrine to fried chicken.

By my third plate of chicken I had shamed the men next to me, horrified the obvious dieters who were there "for the salad bar," and there was a mob of little Am-lets cheering me on. When the waitress came around and asked what I wanted for dessert I told her, "Another piece of chicken."  I tell you the truth, I did not eat dinner last nite and at this writing, the next morning, I'm still not hungry.

I also found a fun new place to get fried pies... Hershberger Farms has fried pies by the gross. I got a box of them. Very very delicious.

So now I'm just sitting around waiting for my big winnings to show up in the mail. I'm hoping that I'll get enough from the sale to cover my gas to drive up there... or my lunch. But even if I get $1 each for those geese the honk-less quiet is worth it.

Happy Thursday everyone! Did you rid yourself of angry geese? Get some fried chicken? Buy an unnecessary number of fried pies?

Monday, May 16, 2016

So there was a frost. It had better be the last one!

Can't tell if it was a hard freeze or not...much of the garden is still in the shade. But the water buckets outside were not frozen so hopefully everything will be OK. Most of the state was under either a frost or a freeze warning... some of my pals actually had snow yesterday!

All I want is lettuce. Real lettuce.

It's very late for a last frost... so this is something to note for my records.  It was cold enough to wear a hat last nite for chores so I was very glad we put all the plants in the garage. This week will be cool but will gradually warm up. We've had plenty of rain with more on the way. I really need to get some of this stuff planted out.

I'm hoping that my little lettuces that were not covered are OK. I'm really really tired of store food.  If I have to start over with my planting I might dramatically throw myself down.

But one good thing happened.... In order to get all the plants in the garage we had to do a huge clean out. Sometimes little emergencies make you do projects you've been putting off.  I'm starting a pile of stuff to take to the dump later this week. I'm pretty excited about it. It's liberating to get rid of stuff that is holding you down. We've been on a rampage to lighten our load of "stuff" lately. It's working.

Today and tomorrow I'll be dragging all my plants out of the garage. I'd better hurry because they are forecasting upper 80*'s within 10 days! Spring is ridiculous.

Happy frosty Monday everyone! Did you keep warm last nite?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

It was cold...but not a frost. Yet.

Sometimes people think that I'm only ever complaining about the weather but I use this blog as my personal record keeping. So sometimes my posts about weather are more about my records and planning. Altho today I am complaining.

Remember when it was summer and everyone was happy and full of tomatoes?

The weather guy is pointing out the snow that was in the northern part of the state earlier this morning. As for us, we only got down to about 40* last nite...but tonite they have a freeze warning off to the east and we are under the frost warning. The difference between a frost and a freeze is how long the below freezing temperatures last and if frost can settle on the plants.

Yesterday we spent about two hours moving all my tender plants and veg starts into the garage. It was a lot of work and thank heavens for my husband who figured out how to double our space to stack up the sprouts. I'm glad I didn't get all my little veggies planted out last week. I think everyone is a little surprised about this cold. I was also glad that I ordered more Agribon (the floating row cover stuff). I got just about everything covered in the garden. There is one row of peppers that might take a hit. 

I'll have to wait until Monday to take all the sprouts out of the garage. Then hopefully we will be in the clear.

Happy Sunday everyone! Did it frost/freeze/snow for you?

Friday, May 13, 2016

What would you do if you weren't afraid?

I love this question.... what would you do if you weren't afraid? What's the first thing that pops into your mind?

My Zander is entirely fearless. His boldness is the best thing about him.

Would you change your job? Change your mind? Get rid of everything you own and set off on a cross country walk? Get out of a relationship? Get into a relationship? Get out of a rut? Get into a pattern? Find yourself? Lose yourself?

Are you just meeting other people's expectations or are you living up to your own?

I first heard this question from Oprah a loooong time ago. I remember the first thing that popped into my mind was to change my life. Dramatically.

So I did.

I was living my "should" life back then. Everything I was doing was because I should....  but it really wasn't what I wanted to do. What I wanted was to wake up every day in a life where I didn't need a vacation.

I remember driving to work with someone in my very early twenties and I asked, "You mean I have to do this every day?..... This is stupid." I couldn't understand why the only "real" option was to work for someone else. It just felt stupid.

I kept having that same thought even when I was considered successful.... walking fast thru the Denver airport with my computer in my backpack, thinking about my work goals, and worrying about my stock options.

I had that thought when I had an office in a stunning high rise with a sweeping view of the water, waiting for my real estate agent to call me, while I looked over into pricey neighborhood where I was about to close on My Very Expensive House.

I had that thought when I was on the plane to Paris and my seatmate woke me up to show me we were over the very cold expanse and the Northern Lights were shining in waves across the ice.

This is stupid.

I couldn't understand why I couldn't have a life where I didn't need to have a vacation to by happy. Why couldn't every day feel like this?

I stood by and watched both my parents die from cancers that were not immediately related to their lifestyle. It was random and unnecessary. It was cruel and incredible unfair. The only good thing that happened was that I had no one left to answer to and no one who set any "shoulds."

To be fair, both of them would be laughing hilariously at my life right now. I'm sure neither of them would believe that I walked away from a very comfortable life to move out here and butcher pigz in my yard. Both of them would be stunned for different reasons.

But both of them would be very very glad that I finally ended up with The Big Man. Both of them loved him very much and were stupefied that we broke up in college and also in our 20's. Both would be extremely glad that he finally married me so I couldn't get away. Neither of them would dream that this would be our life now.

We have a funny little life. Every once in a while we start laughing about it. A lot of people ask us about how we did it. We usually just shrug and say that it was because of the age old recipe for success... where preparation meet opportunity. I can't figure out if we are incredibly brave or remarkably foolish.

I was trying to explain this to some folks and they mostly just stood wide-eyed looking at me. Most people ask me how I knew for sure this would work?

I didn't.

I didn't have charts or graphs or spreadsheets or even a vision statement. 

I wasn't entirely without a plan but the problem was that the economy crashed just when we were getting started. If you weren't caught up in all of that then you don't know how bad it was. It was a lot worse for some other people. I know folks who lost their homes, their careers, their families. We just lost the security of having at least one pretty good job. But what we gained was the opportunity to build this life - our life together. No one was going to help us. In fact, it felt like a lot of people were working against us. But we made it work. So my plan didn't even matter. It was useless once everything went bad.

I think it is less about planning and really comes down to how much confidence do you have that you can make it work. How do you handle adversity? When the chips are down are you ready to take action? Are you willing to do what needs to be done? Do you fight the problem or fight each other?

How do you handle fear?

I'm really only afraid of three things - bears, sharks, and the house burning down. OK.. technically four...I'm afraid of catfish... but come on, that is just common sense.

I watch people gripped with fear and it doesn't make sense to me. Mostly they are afraid of a thought. Or someone else's thought - which makes even less sense to me.

I am not afraid failure, criticism, expectations, judgement, or ridicule... and least of all someone else's thoughts about me.

I think I have the good kind of courage... not the 'here hold my beer and watch this' kind of courage... but more like the confidence to figure out what is the worst thing that can happen and then the expectation that we can overcome that "worst thing."

We are doing a lot of thinking right now.. What about you? What would you do if you weren't afraid? Why aren't you doing that? What is holding you back?

Happy Friday, everyone!  Lots of thinking going on here. What about you?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Liebster Blog awards 2016....and 10 fun questions!

I absolutely love these fun blog awards. I know that some folks don't - and that is fine. I just really like to learn more about people and their lives. Thanks so much to Liz at Eight Acres for passing on this award and task to me! Everyone knows, Liz, right? She has a farm in Australia...and cows. And adorable dogs. She also writes ebooks. She is also super duper smart and I'm lucky to know her.

Award graphic here. Done. 

The idea of the Liebster Blog Awards is to discover new blogs and here's what you need to do to take part:
  • Ensure you thank the person who has nominated you and include links back to their blog, after all it's important you share their lovely blog too!
  • Include a photo/badge of the Liebster Blog Awards logo on your blog post to show you've taken part. 
  • Answer the 10 questions asked by the blogger who has nominated you
  • Nominate 5 bloggers that you want to share with your followers and blog viewers
  • Create 10 new questions to ask your nominees - have some fun!
  • Ensure you make your nominees aware that they have been nominated so they know to answer their questions!

So that is the business end of it... on the to the fun!

Here are Liz's 10 questions for me.... 

 1. If you had a big lottery win what would you do with it all?
Easiest one in the stack! I have this one all figured out. Even tho I came up with this a long time I go I stand by this plan. Totally.

2. How do you think you'd fair in a zombie apocalypse?

Someone once asked this over on the fb.... pretty much we'd just go out and lock the gate, mine the driveway, and man the gun turrets.  We'd be just fine. But fair warning for any of you nogoodnicks who think they'd just mosey on over. Remember our motto is, "Everybody plucks."

We'd actually be fine for a good long time. We are a pretty far walk from urban centers, we have water on the property, and food on the hoof. We'd do just fine in a total collapse or famine. Plague tho? I'd be the first to fall. I'm not even kidding.

3. If you had six months warning do you think you could grow all you needed to feed yourself and your family?

Yep. No problem especially with that much warning. We'd have a herd of goats, chickens, and a full larder to last for a good long time. The best thing about having a small farm is that it all works together. The goats graze the bramble, which makes the milk, which feeds the chickens, which feeds the pigz... which makes me bacon. We can grow enough fodder for most of the troops and everyone here free ranges because it's free. The only changes we'd make were to add cows because we'd need a steer just to feed the dogs.

4. What life-skill should every child have to learn in school?

I love this question. Money management. I see folks doing the darnedest things. Why are you buying that pizza on credit? Stop getting chips and a half a gallon of soda every time you stop at the gas station. Quit thinking that you "deserve" to have that vacation that you can't afford. What you deserve is financial freedom not slavery to debt. 

It's no wonder tho - no one prepares you for how to make a budget, live within your means, pay taxes, or manage a bank account. Folks act like managing your household is easy - but people need real business skills to get by in the world. Everyone learns from TV shows or sound bites...and that is not effective at all. Debt is a crippler and will ruin where you want to go in life.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I would like to live somewhere that does not have winter. I'm so over the snow. For most of my adult life I would have said "Maui." I used to go every year at least once and I love it there. But now we have too many dogs and cats and I couldn't put them thru quarantine. So I'm going with somewhere in the US where there is lots of sunshine, no winter, and where I would not need to mow the grass. I should look into that....

6. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to live more self-sufficiently?

Start working on your skills now. Learn how to cook, prepare and store food, and how to garden. Begin buying good tools and learn how to use them. Buy larger cuts of meat and learn how to break them down. Use every opportunity to learn new skills. Don't hire someone to paint your house or build some shelves - do it yourself. Determine to learn how to fix mechanical tools and vehicles. Get outside and learn how to work all day. Get in shape. Read a lot. Ask questions. Do not be afraid to try new things. Volunteer or "intern" at a local farm so you can see what it's really like. Develop a network of (online) friends who already have a self-sufficiency lifestyle.

7. What's your most hated food?

Bananas. By the way, that one banana is still stinking up the whole house.

8. What is your favourite quote/saying?

"Today is a good day to die!" Which is, of course, always best in the original Klingon
Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam

9. Is there a time you've made a massive fool of yourself in public that you laugh about now?

Sure. Like.... every day. Just ask my husband. He's mortified by me every time we go somewhere. I swear that he turns and walks away from me every time I scream his name when we are in the store. Ha!  Actually I learned to laugh at myself a long time ago so I don't get embarrassed. I do goofy things all the time and I'm the one laughing the loudest.  Like when this happen to me. The folks at the feed store really do start laughing when I walk in. I'm not even kidding.

10. If you had a warning label what would it say? 

When angry stand outside of a 10 foot radius and throw chocolate.  My temperament runs from easy going and slap happy to do-not-poke-it-with-a-stick rage. Sometimes it turns on a dime. In real life I swear like a drunken sailor. So I'm loud and can peel the paint off the walls with my foul mouth.  Mostly because of pigz. And my voice carries. Far. Really, really far. Sometimes because of bad neighbors. I'm not allowed to talk to the neighbors anymore. Pretty much just don't even start with me. Maybe my warning label should say that. This is surprising to people because I'm usually really happy and fun. 

Here are my 10 questions....
1. What is your favorite season and why?
2. What are you watching? TV shows? Movies?
3. What advice would you give your younger self?
4. How do you think you'd do in a zombie apocalypse?
5. What skill do you want to learn how to do?
6. What movie or book would you like to live in?
7. If you had the whole day to yourself, what would you do?
8. What is your favorite blog post (from your blog) and why?
9. If you had a warning label what would it say?
10. What would you do if you were not afraid? 

And the five blogger I would like to nominate are.....

Vera from Snippets from Labartere... she might have already been nominated but I just love Vera. She is fun and funny and they have been doing a terrific job on renovating their farm in France. 

Two Men and a Little Farm..... I just really like to see that we are all out there working. There is always something going on. (Hi 1st Man!) 

Homesteading Housewives... who are really Half Moon Hollow Farms now. I love these gals. Talk about a can-do spirit!

My pal, Dave, over at the Gastronomic Gardener has been really to busy to blog lately....but his pictures are so beautiful. 

And I'm not sure my blog pal, Ken, is into these things.. but he has some time on his hands right now so maybe this can be a fun distraction. The best thing about Living the Life in Saint-Aignan is that everything they do is done beautifully.  Ken could be unloading the dishwasher and we'd love seeing the pictures.

Happy Thursday everyone! Anyone else want to take a crack at the 10 questions? What are your answers?


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Talk about a turn around! Wow!

So yesterday sucked. It just did. But talk about a turn around! Despite all the minor annoyances that really added up yesterday ended really well.

Our Shine, King of Barncats has made a nest of my Agribon... so I ordered more. He was not affected by my bad mood.

First, tho, I'd like to say THANKS for all the support. I think a lot of us are feeling on edge and yesterday was just tough all around. So I really appreciated the comments. We really are all in this together. Today is a better day already.

My Most Excellent Good Dog just looked at me like this for most of the day.

However, I'm pretty sure there was a tick on me last nite and in my terror I think I winged it across the room. Now, of course, I'll probably have to burn the house down to get rid of it.
*looks around for tick*

But back to our strong finish.....

Our fuzzy buzz saw, Peeper, hissed at me and then bit me. I'm not even kidding. I still love her Peep peets.

I did the best I could yesterday and most folks stayed out past the 10 foot safety zone... except for Nicholas who spent most of the day in lock up for being naughty. I did the best I could to get things done and I achieved a few 'wins.' But the big win was when my husband came home with a huge and beautiful hunk of salmon, asparagus, and brussels sprouts.

Nothing ever gets my Bubby down. He got the run-arounds, inside last nite. Literally running in circles.

I made a cool and fun cake that they kept talking about on the Great British Baking Show...which was totally fun and easy. I loved watching Season One on 'the netflix.' What is so great about this show? Unlike the American version of competitive shows these people were all fun, kind to each other, and no one was snotty or hurtful. They helped each other and were glad for each other's success. Can you have a show about reasonably good people doing reasonably good things? Yes you can!

So we ended up having a really nice dinner and since it was raining all we could do was relax on the couch. It was perfect.

Little Mo just found a nice place to nap until the storm was over.

But then it got even better! Does everyone know my friend Liz over at Eight Acres? How great is this? I woke up to find that she gave me on blog award. I LOVE these!  What do you win? The chance to have some fun, spread some joy, and make new friends. I'll be working on the post but I love working backwards thru these to find new blog friends and learn about people's lives.

Happy Wednesday everyone - did you get a turn around? Still having a bad day? How about a hug? Now that I'm salmon-powered I'm on the upswing. Now come here and I'll hug you and give you a cheer! Yay! You can do it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Minor annoyances

Today has been filled with minor annoyances. I woke up grumpy and it's only getting worse. At this point everyone with a tail is avoiding eye contact and they are giving me at 10 foot radius.... except for Nicholas who is in time out for trying to pull my sandwich off the counter.

Tensions are high. This situation ended badly. Cats don't like to share.

By 9am it had only gotten worse because I realized that I didn't have any hay for the goats who refuse to walk outside because the grass is wet. I know this because my shoes and socks were already wet from walking in the wet grass so I kinda understood how they felt.

It got worse because I messed up The Paperwork, The People Who Annoy Me were annoying me, I couldn't find what I needed in town yesterday,  I tweaked my back, and it feels like someone is sticking a red hot poker in my eye. And worse... there is a banana in the kitchen stinking to high heaven. I can feel it in there rotting with its.... putrescence...and rotting.

Just when it couldn't get any worse I remembered that it could, in fact, get worse.

The weather lady reminded us that about a year ago it was a record breaking hot day.....and I remembered that all of this happened...it was a day of days.  It was pretty bad when it all went down. 

Looking back that day was way worse than this day.

In the end that slew of problems was fixed.... my husband figured out how to fix the air conditioning without an expensive repair bill, I was able to fix the floor, we got rid of the most annoying of the goats, that duck is still around, and Nicholas... well he is still in the way of everything but I love him so it's OK.

One of the things that I like best about my marriage is that my husband and I don't turn on each other in the face of adversity - we turned toward each other. We make a plan and get it done. So we were able to solve all those problems without blaming each other - instead we cheered each other on.  So we can get thru this bad day also.

I'm determined to have a turn around today. I changed my shoes, changed directions, changed my mind, and am working on a better attitude. While I can't get any gardening done today I can work on some other things and be glad that what is planted is really growing well.

This was waiting for my husband the other day - a well known banana lover- because he had a bad day. 
It's part of how we cheer each other on.

In a little while I'm going to go and get hay, mail The Paperwork, and get some ice cream. One way or another that banana will be gone by the end of the day.

When life gives you bananas - make a split!

Happy Tuesday, everyone - how are you doing? Hanging in there or do you have soggy shoes? Do you want a banana split?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

What's a smoker?

A couple of my non-USA friends asked me about the smoker I was using to make ribs and beans the other day. So let's check it out! What's a smoker? THIS! And yes you should have one.


American BBQ is practically a religion and it varies across different regions of the country. Texas BBQ is completely different, in terms of technique/ingredients/spices than for instance, someone plank-smoking salmon in the Pacific Northwest. If you walk into a dive in North Carolina and ask for pulled pork what you will get would be completely different from BBQ in Nashville. Everyone thinks their own regional BBQ is "right."

I think they are all right.  And what we all have in common is that we march out there with some kind of meat in hand, make a fire, and then cook it. We love doing this. It's totally a thing here in the States. A smoker is just one kind of method to make BBQ.

The very best source to sort this all out is Steven Raichlen the author of The Barbecue Bible and host of many many TV shows about cooking meat on fire. We love this guy. Some people watch sports - we watch this guy cook meat in a million different ways. He is fun, approachable, and detailed. If you've never made ribs or smoked a chicken before this guy will walk you thru every step of the way.

You end up with perfectly cooked ribs.

We used the recipe in this book to make our ribs the other day. Even tho we didn't follow the recipe exactly we use the techniques. It works out perfectly every time.

The smoker we have is an offset barrel smoker. It is not fancy and is about 12 years old.  It's pretty beat up, the handle is broken but I love it and I'm probably taking it to the grave. It's absolutely perfect and gets the job done.

You see that little roundy part on the far left? That's where you put the fire...actually it's kinda where you put the charcoal to generate heat to cook the meat and then you put wood chips on top of the fire or charcoal to generate the smoke that flavors the meat. It sounds more complicated than it is.

 The smoker in action... Bubby's eye view.

It's simple to use, works great, and makes for a fun afternoon of sitting around with the dogs making meat.

You can also just use it as a charcoal grill. Most folks in the States have a gas grill out on their patio that is fueled by propane. It's an easy peasy way to immediately cook meat over a hot fire. So for instance when we have burgers we just light the gas grill, wait a couple minutes for it to heat up, make the burgers, and turn the grill off. Super easy.

But if we wanted to grill them over charcoal we'll get this smoker set up, make a charcoal fire in the main body of the thing, and then cook the burgers (or steaks) directly over the charcoal. What's the difference? Depending on who you are it's either a heresy or convenience. I'm telling you.... Americans are very seriously about cooking meat over fire. We just do whatever works for us. A multi-purpose took like this off-set smoker gives us lots of options.

Seriously. Look at that!

Now if we want to smoke a big ol' fresh ham roast like this.... we use the offset box to make a fire. The roast is not directly over the heat source but it still cooks. The sticky glaze on the fresh ham roast kind of captures the smoke flavor and makes it delicious. And the longer cooking time makes it amazing. In this post you can see the video of the smoke and how it all works.

To be sure there are a million different kinds of smokers. Most folks have some iteration of the one we have but you can get very very fancy ones. The guys around here who do hog roasts use custom made, superbig smokers that they pull around in trailers. And yep - they cook a whole hog. It's glorious. You can see an example of this in Michael Pollan's extraordinary documentary on the Netflix called, "Cooked." He shows an old school North Carolina hog roast that is just heavenly.

You can also get an electric version. This kind of cabinet version uses electric heat cook the meat but allows you to add wood chips to add the smoke flavor. I do not have one but I know some folks who do and wow can they smoke a chicken in it! Theirs is something like this - it is also the best rated one on Amazon. If other folks have one and recommend it I can add the links.

I also use the smoker to make our bacon. After curing the bacon and letting it dry, I make a small, smokey fire (in the offset section) using apple would and let the bacon smoke for most of the day.... it's soooooo beautiful.
You can see it here - with video!
And here....

I think a lot of American have some kind of BBQ out on their patio but some folks have extremely elaborate set ups. For most of my adult life I've had at least two gas grills and a smoker and they don't just sit idly by. My dream within a dream is to have an entire outdoor kitchen, a smoke house, and a huge pit for whole hog roasts. But for now I'll stick with my good ol' offset smoker.

Happy Thursday everyone. Non-US folks.... does this make sense? What questions do you have?

Editors note: Yay! Affiliate links in this post!  I'm supposed to tell you 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. It can be anything - this book, a cool smoker or BBQ , 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!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Your food is trying to kill you, people are insane, and I-told-you-so about pigz.

It has been an incredible news cycle this morning... where do I even begin?

First up, we see how commercially produced food is doing a terrific job of keeping us all safe. Did everyone see this big recall? Here is the list from the CDC. It was weird to me that some of this is organic food and you'd think it would be better. But, as I understand it, once you get listeria in your production facility it is extremely difficult to get out.

After I saw the news I was out there willing my lettuce to grow - with my mind power.

If you are a small farmer and you want to sell your products to friends and neighbors or maybe at the local farm market you will soon be subject to hellacious food safety regulation. To be fair they do have some exceptions for smaller businesses -  but some of the farmers I know are shaking their heads. This may put a lot of farms out of business or at least dissuade them from even starting. This seems ridiculous when they hold up commercial production as the shining beacon of safety. I have to admit that I'm surprised that frozen foods are now kinda of hinky.
*scratches "buy frozen food" off my list...*

Hurry up, celery!!!

Personally, I can't wait for my garden to hurry up and start producing. I had to buy some celery the other day and I looked at it very suspiciously. At this point I'd rather take my chances from food grown in my dirt and that has very possibly been peed on by dogs than some of the big processors.

Mouse-poison-free onions.

Next, if the listeria from your frozen peas isn't gonna try and kill you.... there is this guy. Honestly what kind of world are we living in that produces this kind of behavior. One of the few 'salad bar' types of set ups that I like to go to is the one at Whole Foods. Now I'm going to be looking at it - and the other customers - kinda funny. It really makes me mad because the near-ish Whole Foods has a really nice Indian food buffet.
*scratches "go to Whole Foods" off my list...*

Potatoes are actually coming along pretty well. Hurry up.

So what are you going to do? Grow your own? Sure! But first a note of caution... your food on the hoof might be trying to kill you also. Violently. A couple of points about this story ...but first I feel like I can give the naysayers a told-you-so... I frequently get angry folks telling me that pigs are gentle loving creatures that just need snuggles.


Here is the hard truth: Pigs can be big, mean, and dangerous and all the snuggling is the world is not going to change the fact that any animal can have a bad day. When you couple that with a powerful animal... well.. things can go badly.

So before you run right out to get your pigz this summer carefully evaluate your facilities and your abilities to handle a large and possibly mean creature. 

Back to my points.....aside from the obvious that I hope these folks recover quickly and I'm very sorry to hear this happened.

1. I take great comfort in the fact that if I was attacked by a mean pig the very first thing my husband would do when we got home would be to walk directly out there and shoot that pig until it was completely dead. Be assured that pig would die a hard death.

2. These folks need better dogs. I'm always glad that I have my Brute Squad with me - even if we don't actually get into the pen with the pigz.  My crew have saved me from being buffaloed by big pigz many times.

3. The funny thing about this report is that they wonder why a pig would do that? Oh honey, pigz don't need a reason. Maybe it was sick or hurt but don't make the mistake of thinking that big, mean, and dangerous animals are reasonable or need a reason to do anything. 

As I said, whenever I talk about this I generally get berated by well meaning people with a "nah-UH!" and then am told I'm just ridiculous or that I'm "afraid of pig." Friends, I assure you that I have zero fear of pigz. I do, however, know what they are capable of so I never put my self in a position where I can be cornered and I always have the dogs with me.

I don't know about you but all of the food news today is crazy. Sometimes I think we should just forget all this work, move to the city, get a condo, and be regular people. But then I see stuff like this and I resolve that we are just going to keep producing our own food.

Good luck, everyone, it's crazy out there!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ribs and beans

We made ribs and beans this weekend - they were terrific! Last year I was making it my goal to be sure and use our ribs earlier rather than later... so we are going for earlier.

We smoke them to perfection. My hubs did a terrific job.

You can find the recipe here - this is a terrific way to get started with ribs. Plus the recipe has butter and bourbon in it. Seriously! What's not to love! Don't have those exact ingredients? That's fine - just use what you have. I think the rub was mostly an off the shelf spice mix and the mop sauce was honey, butter, bourbon, and who knows what else....but I kinda wanted to drink it because it smelled so good.


I also really like to make quick and smokey beans - here is the how to link. I didn't have the "right ingredients for this either. I just used what I had. For instance I didn't have Worcestershire sauce so I used soy sauce - and I used sorghum molasses instead of sugar. I also added a handful of frozen corn. Just heat up the beans on the stove, then move to the smoker while the ribs are going. They are absolutely perfect and they make your cast iron skillet smell like a campfire.

These ribs were so good that I might be digging around in the freezer for more ribs for next weekend.

Happy Monday everyone! Are you grilling like it's summer?

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