Sunday, November 25, 2012

So....We Went To The Feedstore....

Yup, that dangerous place. The last few months visits to the feedstore and animal emporium have gone pretty smoothly.
But, we needed a rooster. The feed store wanted to charge 30 bucks for one and there was NO WAY I was going to pay that much. So, I told the Darlin' Man that *I* would do the negotiating this time.
We needed feed for the peafowl anyway, so we had reason to be there.
And I went to the back where they keep the critters and saw him:
How gorgeous is he!? Black and grey leghorn...just so pretty! The hens were mightily impressed! So impressed, in fact, that within 20 minutes of his arrival, 3 hens laid eggs! Maybe it was the shock of seeing such a beautiful rooster in their midst. He has a beautiful crow, too. Very musical, as crows go. We named him *Cab* after Cab Calloway, because he looks so dapper and has that musical crow. He rode home in my lap, not fussing at all and he lets me pick him up and pet him without protest.
Cab has taken matters well under his wing in the chicken coop. The hens have started laying again, after a bit of a dry spell. After weeks of only an egg now and again, they laid a total of 4 eggs yesterday and 5 eggs so far today! And Ugly Betty is TOTALLY entranced by the *new man* in her life. She stays as close to him as possible and cuddled up to him last night on the roost.
So, a very warm Frippery Farm welcome to Cab!

Cab was not our only purchase (of course). The Darlin' Man spotted something back in the animal pens that caught his attention, so we brought them home as well...
Meet Daphne and Drake:

Heloise does a photobomb!
Daphne is the white duck with the fluffy *hair style*. She is some sort of cross between a white crested duck and a harlequin duck, while drake is almost solid black with dark beetle green plumage on his head, so we are not sure what kind of mix he is. They have settled in with Xander and Heloise, the geese, although there was a bit of a quarrel over swimming rights to the pool in their pen, but they seem to have worked that out.

So, one rooster and two ducks....AND, I negotiated and got all three for $40.00.
I know, a bit higher than other parts of the country, but darn good here!

Okay, now a bit of a question for any readers out there that know about sheep.
This is our first go-round raising sheep.
We have Corizon, Selene and Remus the ram.
Can anyone identify the specific breed of sheep they are for me?
We bought them off of Roy the animal guy and he said the ewes were Navajo sheep and the ram...he wasn't sure (massive eye roll on that, ya know).
Here are some pics of  Remus (the ewes are in the background on one pic):

I know that they shed their wool naturally, no shearing required, but other than that, not too sure about them. Any help with this question appreciated!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Toilet Paper and The Apocalypse

I like watching "Doomsday Preppers" Yes, sometimes I find myself giggling at some of the things people are doing to prepare, but a lot of the time I am taking note of some preps I may have not thought of.
One thing that confounds me, though, is the amount of toilet paper some of those folks store!
I mean, Holy Cow!, a FOUR YEARS supply of toilet paper? My mind boggles at the thought of the expense and the storage space required for that much TP.
Price some washcloths down at Family Dollar or Dollar General. They sell stacks of them for $5.00. 10 or 15 to a bundle, I think. Or take old towels and cut them into washcloths. Seal them up with your food saver (5 or 10 to a bag when the air is vacuumed out) or just put them into ziplock bags and store them all in a 5 gallon bucket. You can put a lot of washcloths in one 5 gallon bucket! After the SHTF or whatever, use them for bathroom hygiene and wash them, then reuse. Easier and more compact to store and much less expense!
A few rolls of toilet paper for traveling and/other emergencies would be prudent, but for day to
 day living and use after the Apocalypse, I'd rather have the washcloths!
Which brings me to other paper products that so many in modern society depend on.
Paper towels...really? REALLY? What ever happened to sponges, mops, dish towels, dish cloths and cleaning rags?
Tissues....get handkerchiefs for everyone in the family. Right now, around Christmas, is a good time to buy them as it is the only time of the year you see them in the stores...Mothers Day and Fathers Day stores carry them as well, just not as many.You can buy them already monogrammed with the persons initial or embroider on a pretty design or initial. Not talented at embroidery? Inexpensive fabric paint will work just as well!
Napkins....again, cloth napkins are readily available, or you can cut up an old tablecloth to make them.
Some napkins I designed on my zazzle store.
Paper brainer here! There are so many pretty placemats out there that can be wiped clean or tossed into the wash, it is ridiculous to buy the paper ones!
Kotex/Tampons/Menstrual Pads....Yes, you can save money here, too! Get cloth menstrual pads! Many good companies make them and they are actually healthier than using the paper ones...the paper ones are laden with chemicals and increase the chance of yeast infections and rashes.
One source of cloth menstrual pads.

So MANY chemicals are used in the production of paper products. Drive through any town that has a paper mill sometime. Roll down the windows, inhale.
Pretty bad, isn't it? Beside the air pollution, the water pollution is even worse.
Some paper products are currently necessary....cardboard for boxes to ship things in, writing paper, newspaper, paper to print books on.
But paper products that are created and intended for one use and then disposal into our already over burdened landfills....not really necessary.
Think about decreasing your use of paper products and increasing your use of cloth products that can be washed and reused.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Food Storage Soups

One of my all-time favorite things to fix from my food storage is Soup!
If you don't have food storage yet, soup is still an easy meal for you to make on a busy day.

I'm going to try to write out these recipes so they can be used either storage or off the grocery store shelf.

Ham and Lentil Soup

1 pound ham, diced (about 1 & 1/2 to 2 cups)
4 cups dried lentils
1/2 an onion, diced fine (about 3/4 of a cup)
2 medium carrots diced (about a cup)
1 stalk celery, sliced in about 1/4 inch slices (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

Melt butter (or heat oil) in large stock pot. Add all ingredients except lentils. Saute over
medium heat until onions are translucent and ham is starting to brown.
Add lentils and enough water to cover plus about 3 inches over ingredients. Maybe 3 or so quarts of water.
Bring to a boil, cover and turn down to simmer.
After 30 minutes, check to see if lentils are soft. If not, let simmer another 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve with croutons or a loaf of crusty home made bread.

NOW, to switch this over to a food storage meal.....
A lot of *preppers* have DAK hams in their food storage. This soup is perfect to use those hams in!
Lentils, of course, are a wonderful thing to keep in your food storage and the uses for them are myriad.
Onions, carrots and celery, all easily dried for storage or easily obtainable dehydrated can be rehydrated for this soup.
Most preppers have some oil (olive or otherwise) stored. If you have some of those freeze dried butter granules in your food storage, add a teraspoon to whatever oil you are using to add some flavor.

Almost every recipe can be twisted and tweaked a bit to be adaptable to your food storage.
My recipe for Beef and Barley soup is exactly like my recipe for Ham and Lentil soup, I just use barley instead of lentils and a pound of beef (cut up like for stir-fry and browned a bit more) instead of the ham. Sometimes I add a few mushrooms, too.
To make it from your Food Storage, make the same adaptations for dehydrated onions, carrots and celery, etc. as you do for the Ham and Lentil.
For the beef....if you do not have canned beef, use Beef Jerky!
That's right, Beef Jerky can be used to make beef stews and soups and it is quite tasty! Or use Venison Jerky.
In the Old West during cattle drives, or as pioneers moved west, jerky soups and stews were common place.
I have found that if you rehydrate the night before by soaking the jerky (cut it into small pieces first) in water and simmering it for about an hour, it makes it faster the next day when you make your soup.
Some people drain off that first batch of water before adding the beef to the soup mix, as a lot of salt leeches out, but you can leave it as is and just pour the rehydrated jerky, water and all in the soup. Just don't add any salt to your soup!
Why are soups so important for survival?
The broth is suitable for small children, infants, the elderly and anyone who is sick and may be unable to eat a *heavy* meal. The broth is chock full of vitamins, proteins and minerals and is easily digestible.
In a SHTF situation, soup is a good antidote to a diet of MREs and other survival rations. Those rations can constipate you and a soup will taste *fresh* and add fiber and fluids to your digestive system to help alleviate that problem.
Cooking for a crowd? Soup can feed more people cheaply than just about any other meal.
Soup can be made from many items you already have in your food storage.
 So, enjoy one of these crisp and chilly Fall evenings with a nice bowl of soup!

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Trouble With Recipes and Other Stuff

The holidays are upon us and that means I am searching for recipes to bring some variety to our holiday meals.
I have plenty of recipes, it is just that I like to place a surprise or two on the table at the holidays.
So, I go through my cookbooks, I search online and I read blogs, I check out shows on the Cooking Channel and the Food Network and (yes, don't judge!), I prowl around Martha Stewarts website.

Here's my problem with recipes:
S-O-O-O-O-O many of the ones I find these days include instructions such as "pulse for 30 seconds in food processor" or "use dough hooks with stand mixer".
I don't have a food processor OR a stand mixer!
Then the measurements. Look, I don't do well with those, lol! I think I have a measuring cup....somewhere. Ditto on the measuring spoons.
I use canning jars to measure a lot, and my hands a lot of the time, too. So, I can usually *ballpark* it.
And why, oh why, would anyone come up with a recipe that has mostly normal, you-can-find-at-the-store-every-day ingredients and then toss in something like "add 3 grams of tears from a bereaved meer-cat" or some other equally exotic ingredient that you can't find anywhere except at the exotic grocer down the block from the recipe creators home!
Come on  guys, we are average folks out here!
At least give me a reasonable substitution I can use!

The humongous Bourbon turkey we had died of a respiratory infection and I am having to treat ALL the turkeys for it.
Therefore, we have had to buy a turkey for the Thanksgiving table. I won't eat a turkey with these antibiotics in it's system. Fortunately, we know others in the area that raise turkeys, so we are assured of getting a turkey that has been organically raised.
My big deal on the table for Thanksgiving is NOT the turkey...I am pretty good at turning out a decent turkey.
My big deal is the stuffing/dressing.
It is so delicious, yet so darn easy to make!
Cubed up bread (wheat, white, rye or corn...all good!), spices and herbs and maybe a few add celery, sausage, walnuts or pecans or almonds, all sorts of good things can be tossed into your stuffing/dressing!
So, I am coming up with some new stuffing ideas this year...maybe some hazelnuts added in? Dates?
Dunno, but I know I'll get creative with it!

What dish do you get the most creative with during the holidays? Or...what's your favorite holiday dish?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Back from my Break

Sorry about the long break I took, but there were a lot of things I had to take care of.
You know when you clean your desk, or your room or whatever and get rid of ALL the clutter. You sit back and think "Wow! Got all that done! My space looks so clean and neat, I'll NEVER let it get all cluttered again!" Yeah....but slowly and surely, that clean, neat space gets cluttered again until one day you realize you can't see your desk or floor or whatever anymore.
Well, life can be like that, too. Just when you think you have everything neatly boxed up and can see a clear path to your next goal, BLAMMO!, your life is suddenly cluttered and filled with more tasks and things that need your attention.
That has basically been my life for the last month.
It's a bit better now.
But not everything has gone smoothly...

The new turkeys?
That big bourbon turned out to be pure e-v-i-l . He stomped and pecked to death Trixie and Timothy.
We have sold him to a friend, but they are leaving him here until Christmas. He is now in his own cage...solitary confinement, so to speak.
I also put the Royal Palm tom in his own private pen. Better safe than sorry.

The puppies?
I have one left. I found good homes for the three that have left. Someone is coming to check out the last pup this afternoon. (The black female we call "Lady".) I wanted to keep the runt of the litter, the little brown one. We ended up naming her "Cuddles" because of her habit of hopping on the couch and cuddling up to whomever was there. But....last night a family arrived to look at the biggest pup in the litter, Colossus, our last remaining male. Mom, Dad and their little girl who was around 4 years old. The three puppies we had left at that point all ran outside and Cuddles and that little girl looked at each other...and it was a done deal. Cuddles ran up to her, the little girl bent done...and Cuddles jumped into her arms. And the look on the little girls face...yeah, couldn't argue with that! Colossus left about an hour later, when a family with a little boy showed up and he and Colossus had their "love at first sight" moment.
Baby, our mama-dog, has dealt with the puppies leaving quite well. No fussing. In fact, she seems to be happy about it. She is getting more attention from us and that is just fine with her!

The Darlin' Man did an *end run* around me and acquired a second peacock for our flock of peafowl. I actually didn't know about it until I went out the next morning to feed!  Thought I was seeing double for a second as he and Pericles were sharing a roost.

I need a new rooster. We are currently *roosterless* and it is having a bad effect on our hens. They are NOT happy. Unhappy hens = fewer eggs. NOT good! A few of our older hens died, but I think that was due to age more than anything else. Priscilla, our oldest hen was one of them. Made me sad as she was such a lovely hen and a good layer. The climate here, with the severe heat in summer and the extremely low humidity, is not conducive to chickens having a long life.
So, I am haunting Craigslist looking for a rooster. I looked down at the feedstore, but they raised their price from 10 bucks for a rooster to 30 bucks!!! RIDICULOUS! Now that cold weather is here, maybe they will drop their price, but I won't hold my breath!

The bunnies are doing fine. We sold the baby bunnies to the feedstore and they sold out of them within 24 hours! We took store credit as it was a better deal and were able to get feed for the chickens and peafowl and turkeys, plus a bag of doggie treats.

I am gearing up for the holidays and doing a lot of baking, so that is taking up some of my time. Also doing some quilting and that is taking a LOT of my time. I need to get to the fabric store to grab some fabric and maybe the thrift store to get some old blankets for quilt filler. Batting is SOOOO expensive, so I usually just use old blankets that I wash and mend before using them in a quilt. For the *reverse* side of my quilts, I usually just use a sheet in a color/pattern that complements the quilt.

That's what I have been doing and it just eats up my time. Also, getting the livestock pens ready for winter. Raking them out, putting down fresh bedding, etc.

Hope everyone out there is getting ready for winter...