Saturday, June 25, 2011

Oh, For Pity's Sake...Big Brother in the Toy Chest

Bring the Police State into your home!
That's your kids can play at being TSA agents!
This is not the only product this toy company offers...
Their description:  

Enemy spies will never suspect you're listening in on their secret plans when you stroll past, seemingly consumed by an important call on your cell phone. The Spy Decoy Listener looks like an ordinary flip phone but houses a directional microphone that amplifies sound, allowing you to hear distant discussions more clearly.If approached, quickly end your call and push the keypad before closing your phone to trigger the time-delayed ring. In 10 seconds you'll have a believable excuse to answer your phone and tune back in to confidential conversations around you.NOTE: Requires button cell batteries, included.

They also offer a lie detector kit, laser tripwire kit, motion detectors and other spy paraphernalia. And, of course, hand cuffs, so the little darlings can hold suspects for police interrogation....
Sure, a lot of fun for the kiddos, but at what cost psychologically?
Between these *toys* and the Lego TSA and Homeland Security toys, children are being taught to love the Police State (in my opinion).
Some days....I just want to scream....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Home Alone!

So, the fella and the kids took off yesterday evening for a road trip to see oldest daughter graduate in California.
I stayed behind to take care of the animals, etc.
VERY quiet here! Except for the chickens and goats, no one in the neighborhood was stirring when I got up.
I am moving the does into the small pen after I milk. Easier to catch them and I am pretty sure all three are pregnant, as Wang has been in with them for a little over a month.
Because I am all alone, I plan to get a few things done that are best done when few people are around.
Shampooing the carpets, washing all the bed linens, washing down a few walls.
I'm not cooking meals for the family, so I will just have a small meal when I feel like it and not have too much of a mess to clean up afterwards.
I also plan on rearranging a few things in the kitchen and getting in there to clean out the cabinets....way overdue!
I hope I can get everything I plan to do completed by Sunday when they get back!
What would you get accomplished with 4 days alone around your house?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cajeta Again

So, after reading all the comments and cautions from readers AND after getting feedback about the samples I gave to various friends, neighbors and store owners, there has been a slight change in plans.
First, I will be selling the cajeta in smaller jars. I'll save the big jars for my home canning.
I'll can the cajeta in half-pint jars instead.
Cajeta is rather intense in flavor, so most folks only use it as a *special* treat. A smaller jar just makes more sense.
I looked over the laws/restrictions/rules/etc. for selling homemade goods in Texas and in El Paso and I think there is a lot more there than I want to deal with!
Now, I can sell at Farmers Markets without going through all that red tape, I can also sell online with relatively little hassle.
So, I will do online and local (but limited) sales.
Now that I have settled all those issues...
Cajeta bubbling away on my stove, heading for yummy goodness! Still a few hours to go, but the house already smells delicious!
I love my dog, as I have mentioned before.
She is allowed ANYWHERE in the house, except one spot. She cannot get on our bed.
Guess where her favorite spot is?
Guess where I found her when I came in from milking?
I hadn't made the bed yet, and left the door open, so there she was!
And she really doesn't look like she is feeling guilty, either, lol!
Wang, our buck, wandering around the back patio while we were cleaning the pens!

Giveaway over at Krazo Acres!

Another goat herder heard from!
She is giving away a handmade washcloth and a bar of homemade goats milk soap!
Check it out!
Krazo Acres

Monday, June 13, 2011

Starting a Home Grown Business

I have reached the point where I want to start a small home grown business.
Since I learned to make cajeta, I have found that this is an item in short supply in my area.
This is surprising, as it is a traditional Mexican food item and I live in an area that is approximately 80% Hispanic...and of those, 90%+ are of Mexican ancestry!
I checked local grocers, even the small Mexican stores. I had to take along a friend to translate, as in some of them, no one spoke English! I found one store that sells traditional cajeta--made from goats milk and cane sugar---and they charge 12 dollars for a 10 oz. jar!
From what I gathered, the Nestle product in a few stores is imported from Mexico, is made from cows milk and uses high fructose corn syrup in it's manufacture.The Mexican grocers bemoaned the fact that import regulations limit their options and they cannot provide their customers with the *true* cajeta they so desperately crave.
I dropped off a few samples here and there and with some friends.
Consensus is that I have will have no problem selling it. I will be the only person in the area making it in the traditional manner!
The fella is bankrolling my efforts. He bought me the canning jars I will be using.
I sat down this weekend and figured out my costs. I hate math! But, I struggled through (with help from the fella, a calculator and the Boy and the Girl) and figured out my cost at $4.00 per 16 oz. jar.
More or less...heh-heh. Math is NOT my best subject.
It's actually a little less, but we rounded up.
Cajeta is traditionally made in 3 flavors.
Regular (which I have been making)
Chocolate (tried last week, need to tweak the recipe)
Spicy (made with the addition of salt, jalapeno peppers and habenero peppers---trying that flavor this week)

I figured I will offer all three flavors once I have my recipes tweaked to the way I want them.
Since the traditional cajeta imported from Mexico sells for $12.00 a jar (10 oz.), I figured I would sell my 16 oz jars for $8 to $10 each. I just have to see what the market will bear around here.I guess it will depend on how the shop/grocer wants to do wholesale from me and then price it themselves (8 bucks a jar wholesale?), or let me put it n their shop on consignment (10 bucks a jar retail?)
Eventually, I will also sell online.
I also want to produce some more products, especially for my online store.
I make aprons and shoulder bags. Within the last month, I have been complimented by strangers on my shoulder bags and all asked where I bought them. I think they would sell. I make them out of scrap fabric and they only take 20 to 30 minutes to stitch up.
Since I am still recovering from the cajeta math torture, I'll put off figuring the costs for the bags!
Right now, the cajeta is simmering away on a back burner and I am about to do a test batch of chocolate cajeta in the crockpot.
The house smells so yummy it is unbelievable!

Keep checking back for the progress of this endeavor, as in around 3 or 4 weeks, I plan to do a cajeta give-away for my readers when I launch my online store!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Homestead Sickroom

In all my preps, I never thought about this one...a Sick Room.Not everyone has the space, of course, but if you do, it is a bit silly not to have one.
You see, I was sick this week. I ended up spending most of my time on the couch (really not the best place) and it got me to thinking about what preps to make for a sick room, especially when we get our homestead going.
I have first aid supplies...oh yes. But I don't have designated Sick Room supplies, which is a Bad Thing.
So, I set out this morning accruing supplies for a sick room.
First, a Rubbermaid tote.
I have several of those, with lids. I chose a big blue one.
The first things I want to put in there are those items that deal with some of the more distressing situations.
A sick person may become incontinent, losing control of their bladder or bowels.
According, the first thing will ne a 25 pack of *chuck pads*. (I have no idea why they are called *chucks*)
While I will include an extra set of sheets---possibly two extra sets, the pads are a wonderful thing to have especially in cases of small children and the elderly or for women after childbirth.
I will have to wander over to a local drugstore to get these, but I called around and I can get a pack of 25 for around 8 to 9 dollars, depending on the size I get.
Besides being incontinent, people confined to bed also may have bouts of constipation, particularly if they are on pain medications. So, a good laxative, stool softeners and a Fleets enema and a mineral oil enema will be included.
Some illnesses go the other way, so an anti-diarrheal  such as Imodium goes in the sick room tote.
 The tote can hold plenty, so I am going to get an extra hot water bottle/ice pack to tuck in there.

Some linen spray and some Lysol spray disinfectant, and some lavender sachets to help with sick room smells and to provide a calming effect (lavender is good for that!) .
I'll tuck in a quart bottle of chlorine bleach for sanitizing purposes.
A bottle of hand sanitizer and a big box of tissues.
A bedpan is a good idea, too.
Add a water pitcher and some disposable cups. A box of latex gloves.
A couple of aromatherapy candles in a favorite scent.(Include a lighter or matches)
Now, I have a pretty good first aid kit with bandages and medicines and such, this tote is for the sick room.
A couple of large black trash bags.
Swabs and cotton balls.
Two bottles of rubbing alcohol and one bottle of hydrogen peroxide.
Books and/or puzzle books for entertainment. Coloring books and crayons for kids.
I am still trying to figure out everything to put in the tote, so let me know if you can think of anything I have forgotten!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Goat Romping!

This morning I turned the goats loose in the backyard to browse and romp and so I could clean the goat pens.
Happy goat romp was the result!
Pic heavy!
Patches "I'm ready for my close up!"
Champagne and her little doe Cloris, that's Geordi in the background.
Back in the bachelor pen, Geordi and Paulis. Paulis was just separated from Patches (his mom) today, so after he was put in the pen with Geordi  Paulis has been bawling his head off . Paulis (the white goat) is a wether and scheduled to be butchered by the end of the month. Geordi (Gabby's little one) may not get butchered for several months, if at all, due to some medical issues he has had. Not sure we can trust his meat, so I may try to find a home for him as a pet.

Summer Heat

Yes, the heat is on here...ugh! Hot, hot days!
An oven is a dry heat, too...but I am not gonna crawl into one of them!
As I have noted before, I don't do well in heat. I get ill. I have cramps, I throw up, I get severe headaches. Doesn't matter how much I hydrate, I can drink 3 gallons of water a day and still have these maladies.
I have been this way since infancy, more or less. In cold climates, I thrive. In hot climates, I wilt.
The past few years I have had air conditioning. I always keep my AC on the coldest setting.
However, I do not have that option here. We have evaporation coolers (AKA "swamp coolers") and they cool the house down 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the outside. Not a big help with temperatures going over 100!
So, in an effort to avoid the worst heat, I have flipped my schedule.
I am getting up between 2 and 3 am, feeding the goats, having breakfast, then milking the goats. I water my garden beds sometime around 3:30 or so,do my housework (except for vacuuming) and generally catch up on the news online, etc.I get the fella off to work and the kids off to school (they have one more day this week and the Girl starts summer school this coming Monday).
I generally finish up with everything around the house by 11 am and then go to bed. With two fans blowing on me. The kids get me up when they come in around 4:30 pm.
I get up and fix dinner then, the fella gets home and I generally go back to bed around 11pm.
Weird schedule, but it is working for me.

I know some people that are seemingly "allergic to the cold". They can't function at all when the temperature drops below 60 degrees.I, on the other hand, rarely put on a sweater until the temperatures dive below 32 degrees. I have been known to go barefoot in the snow!

I guess some people are *cold* people and some are *heat* people.
The fella stopped at the store the other day and found some great sales going on in the meat department.
He got a couple of nice lean pot roasts that were in the *must sell today* bin. And they were also marked "Buy one get one free". It was a deal...a good one.
I repackaged them after he got them home...two pot roasts became the basis for 5 meals! Possibly six...
First things first...a sharp knife, my vacuum sealer and cutting board and the bags for the sealer.

The pot roast cut up. I now have two small pot roasts (each enough for one meal, with possible some left for sandwiches left over), stir fry meat, beef stew meat (I cut meat for stir fry smaller), and some nice thick slices I will marinade and braise for a nice meal.
All sealed up and ready for the freezer!
I am always on the lookout for bargain buys and I guess it has rubbed off on the fella!
I buy hamburger in the big bulk packages and separate it into one meal packages as well.
My garden has suffered from the heat as well...I am having to replant most of it, but we have a very long growing season here, so I guess I will have much bounty come September or so!
The only thing thriving right now are my snowpeas.
They popped up within just a couple of days from when I planted! This was taken when they had been planted less than a week!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How Much Is Enough?

I have seen this question posed on many blogs and forums about preparedness.
How much _________ is enough?
The blank can be filled in with many items:
Fuel (gas or diesel)
First Aid Supplies
Pet Food

It is really a hard question for many of us. How much IS *enough*.? Is there ever really *enough*?
I have seen people that (I thought ) were a bit ridiculous about their preps.
Usually when the person has food storage enough to feed a small army for 2 years, they are seriously lacking in another area, such as guns & ammo, first aid supplies, etc.
We have all seen the guy with 40 guns and 10 thousand rounds of ammo for each...and in his pantry are just a couple of bags of beans.
I have seen people with first aid supplies that would rival a decent sized emergency room that didn't own a single gun and their pantry was filled with mainly microwave meals.

I think the best way to be *prepped* is to approach it thoughtfully and in a balanced manner.

First all, THE most important *prep* is:

What good are 40 buckets of wheat if you have no clue how to prepare it? It was great that your friend at the hospital *hooked you up* with some *premo* first aid supplies, but if you have no knowledge on how to use them, you will be a danger to anyone you try to assist.Having guns and ammo is a great idea---unless you don't practice!
Study is a bad word to some folks, but a delightful one to me. I study cookbooks as I were cramming for the SATs! I experiment with recipes. "What if I didn't have THIS ingredient? What would I substitute?" I have studied yeast as if my life depended on it. The care and feeding of, how to *capture* wild yeast for baking, etc. Why? Because someday I may not have easy access to yeast for baking and , darnit, I like bread!
I study first aid manuals with the same intensity. Why? Because someday my life or someone else's may be dependent upon my knowledge. Same goes for medicinal herbs.
So the VERY first thing you want in your *preps* is KNOWLEDGE and SKILLS.
You can NEVER have *enough* of  Knowledge and Skills!

Next, you want:
Tools can be categorized as items that will allow you to make the best use of your *preps*. A decent wheat grinder, reloading equipment, food dehydrator, canning jars, garden rakes, etc. These are all tools.
Yes, you can eat that wheat without grinding it, but after a while, that would be pretty boring!

Lastly, you need the actual:
I suggest to everyone that asks me about getting started to do it one month at a time. Work your budget out for that month and figure out how much money you have left for groceries. Include one 50 pound bag of rice and a 20 pound bag of pinto beans on your grocery list. Not that expensive!
I know storage may be an issue.
Currently, because of a shopping trip my fella made today, we have this on the washer:
That's a total of 200 pounds of rice and 80 pounds of pinto beans.
NOT effective storage, but tomorrow I will fix that.
Here is how you can store a massive amount of beans and rice in a fairly small space:

 Yes, those are soda bottles, 2 and 3 liter soda bottles. I scald them out, dry them out completely and add a couple of bay leaves to each bottle. If I have space in my freezer, I also freeze each bottle overnight to make sure no insects are present. The bay leaves keep any insect eggs that may be present from hatching. You can also do this with flour and just about any grain.
The bottles you see above are in a very tiny closet in my laundry room that has six shelves. You can also store them under your bed or in any other nooks and crannies you have around the house.

If you can afford more than one bag of each, get two of each. Maybe get a bucket of wheat. A lot of Wal-Marts and Costco's and Sam's Club locations now carry *prep* supplies, including wheat, dehydrated vegetables and fruit, etc. Buy what you can afford.

Remember to rotate what you buy for preps. I eat rice, and so does the rest of the family. We have rice curries, home-made rice cakes, rice & kim-chi, etc., a rice based dish at least twice a week!

When you have a three month supply of food, start looking into other preps...guns, first aid, etc.
If you do not have a well/spring of your own, bottle your own water (easy to do in 2 liter bottles) and squirrel that away, too!

Two and three liter bottles are easily obtained, even if you do not drink soda. Get friends and family to save them for you, check your local recycling center to see if they will give you some, etc.

With ALL your preps, try to take 3 month *bites*. It is less intimidating that way. Watch for sales of prep items. Remember to rotate your supplies and always pay attention to expiration dates, especially on first aid supplies!
My basic philosophy is to have 1 year's worth of supplies.
If I had one years worth of supplies, would I stop *prepping*?
No...because I am always adding to my knowledge and skills base in order to use all my preps more effectively.
How much is enough for you?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Book Bomb on Amazon!

No, we aren't bombing them with books...a book bomb is when everyone orders the same book on the same day and thus, it shows up higher on their book listings.
The book in question?
The book was written by Patrice, who also writes the blog Rural Revolution  (and if you don't follow her blog, you should!)
Her book is being released on June 7th and if you can afford it, lets all *book bomb* on that day and order it!
Order from Amazon here on June 7th!
The book is only 10.95 on Amazon, plus shipping.
Well worth the price when you consider you are getting the wisdom and know-how of a woman that IS "living the dream" in Idaho...raising kids and critters, keeping a husband corralled (sorry Patrice, had to go for the alliteration!), running a home business and homeschooling!