Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Weather and Diets and Frustration, Oh My!

To put it bluntly, the weather the past few days has sucked. MAJOR suckage, as the Darlin' Man would put it!
Wind, HIGH winds, sandstorms, occasionally spitting snow and colder temperatures.
I have to hand the laundry inside as if I hang it out on the line, it either gets blown off across the yard (to get tangled in the fence) or it gets so sand-filled, I have to wash it again!
Taking hay to the goats and alpacas can be problematical. If I get it to them without the wind snatching it out of my arms, it sometimes gets blown out of their pens. Animals, sometimes being smarter and more adaptable than people, have figured this out. They firmly place a foot into the middle of a flake and nibble around the edges! Smart goats and alpacas!
I have kept the chickens in their coop throughout this. I didn't think my neighbors would appreciate chickens flying through their yards!
It is still breezy today, but not as bad as it has been the last 2 or 3 days.
 I am about to change everyone's diet here. We are all feeling a little, you know, pudgy and ucky, after all the oh-so-rich-and-fattening holiday foods. Dinner salads, here we come!
The Darlin' Man hates dinner salads. Ditto for vegetarian meals.
His favorite meals:
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, buttered corn with sliced tomatoes on the side.
Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots, and my home baked bread.
My *Greek Feast* ...marinated meat (cut in tiny pieces) served in a rich gravy, cous-cous, pita bread, yogurt w/diced cucumbers, olives, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, 3 kinds of homemade hummus and a load of other stuff too numerous to write out.
Breakfast....bacon, eggs over easy and toast with butter and jam.

You get the picture. He likes rich food. He likes fatty foods. Fried foods. Bacon. Italian sausage. Steak.
I do, too, does everyone here.
But, in an effort to help ALL of us lose a little weight and feel healthier, I am going to change our diets. Gradually, though.
I cook everything from scratch, so more fresh and raw veggies and fruit should work into our diet easily.
Getting the Darlin' Man to accept more salads...not so easy!
We'll see how this goes....
Homesteading/Prepping is a lonely, frustrating endeavor some times.
I have a hard time getting anyone to actually help when I am doing my prepping. The homesteading stuff, like taking care of the livestock; is much easier.
But, getting someone to help package rice or beans or redo the medical volunteers....sigh...
Also, I rarely have the opportunity to meet people face-to-face. I never really go anywhere. I think I have been to the movies twice the whole time I have been here and the Darlin' Man has been able to take me out to eat maybe 8 times since I have been here.
This week his unit is again on one of their *camping trips*. So, I am really missing him.
Just whining here, but sometimes we all need to whine, I guess.
I know my efforts at prepping make a difference to my family. I know my homesteading efforts also make a difference.Just gets frustrating some days.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thank You's and I Am Such a Wuss!

I want to thank everyone that commented on my quandary about selling our sheep. Your kind words and comments really helped!
I had really never confronted a problem like that, but now, I know that regardless of where I live, I will probably encounter it more often.
I figured out that I most definitely lost a few bucks by selling the sheep as low as I did. But I felt better about where they ended up.
Which brings me to:
Am I too much of a wuss to sell livestock for meat purposes?
I really love each and every animal we have here.
Okay, except for those dang stupid Buff Orphington hens!
But the goats, rabbits, alpacas, geese, etc.And quite a few of the chickens.
We have butchered a young male goat before (and he was delicious!) and I was okay with that. But then, I knew how he was going to be slaughtered and everything.
I could butcher out a chicken or two or three if long as it wasn't Nugget, or Cab or Betty or Inky or Bo or, well, any of our hens that I have gotten close to. Which means I could butcher out any of the Buffs and most of the Reds...except Rosie. I like Rosie. And Calypso, our remaining Ameracuna.She's cute.
See what I mean!
Maybe if I had a flock of 300 sheep I could sell the culls willy-nilly without worrying about how each would be slaughtered.
I guess.
The Darlin' Man thinks I should stick to dairy animals...I dunno. I want to raise pigs and beef cattle, too and ducks for the table, etc once we move North, but I am beginning to second guess myself now.
I guess this is something I will have to think about.
While I am thinking, I'll have one of my favorite snacks...with no meat involved!

Carrot-Raisin Salad

2 cups grated raw carrot
1 cup crushed pineapple or pineapple tidbits with juice
1/2 to 1 cup raisins (depends on how much you like raisins)
1/4 to 1/2 cup walnut pieces or pecan pieces if you have them (really not necessary, but nice to add)

Mix all of the above together, chill for a couple hours or overnight, serve! I like to serve mine in a lettuce cup.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Decision Made

Well, the cringe factor won out.
I sold our two remaining sheep to a different buyer and for a lower price than the *ethnic* buyers would have paid.
I made less money, in fact, I may have not broken even, but I was able to sleep.
The family I sold them to lives locally and is large. Like 10 kids large with many extended family members showing up for meals and celebrations. Multiple generations in the same household.
They couldn't afford my asking price and had resigned themselves to only buying one.
I didn't exactly give them a 2 for 1 deal...but it was close.
Three of the sons arrived to pick up the sheep. They caught them quickly and hog tied them. One petted the ewe and commented on how soft her wool was. He said his mother and grandmother will use the pelt to make a woven blanket (they briefly explained that it will be cut into narrow strips and put on a loom). One brother admired the rams horns and said he was thinking of making knife handles from them. In short, they will use every part of the sheep, nothing will be wasted.
They put the sheep in the back of their old SUV and took them home. Their grandfather will be in charge of butchering them. They told me the slaughter will be quick. The sheep will provide many meals over the rest of the winter for their family PLUS will be the star ingredient for the celebration of one of their daughters 15th birthday next month. (A Really Big Deal in Hispanic families!)
So, my sheep are sold, I cleaned out their pen so I can transfer my pregnant goats into it.

I feel okay.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

When Farming and Personal Ethics Clash

What do you do?
Here's an issue...I am selling our sheep. We have realized that these are not the type of sheep we want and we are trying to pare down our animals before we move.
I sold one ewe this morning. The buyer plans to butcher her. When he and his brother picked her up, they caught her quickly---with barely any distress to the animal---quickly and efficiently tied her up and gently placed her in the back of their pick up truck. The buyer told me he was going to fatten her up for a week or two before butchering her. I asked him how he planned to kill her and he told me he would be using a bolt gun as it caused the animal the least amount of pain.
I'm okay with that.
Another buyer---that is well known in this area---has called about the other two sheep. He kills his animals by bleeding them out---slowly---due to his cultural/religious beliefs. I find this offensive and unnecessarily cruel. They are hung by their back legs before they are bled. It can take up to a half hour or longer.
I know, I know, dead is dead, regardless of how it happens.
But something in me absolutely cringes at that barbaric method.
I raise my animals with love and respect and care. The ones we butcher, we dispatch quickly, with as little pain and distress possible.
I need to sell these sheep.
But I am balking at selling them to this guy.
I have until tomorrow morning to decide (that's when he will call back).
What do you think?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Morning Ramblings

It's Monday morning and I have started the dough for bread (6 to 8 loaves for the week) and started the Darlin' Mans laundry. His unit had to go out in the field last week (I call it a *camping trip*) from Monday until Friday, so he has presented me with a weeks worth of laundry and a rather dusty duffle bag.
So, while the bread dough rises and the laundry churns, I figured I would just ramble a bit about some things that have been on my mind this morning.
The repercussions of the Sandy Hook shooting continue to spread. I hear now that managers of Wal-Mart stores have been told by *corporate* not to order ammo to restock. Some online stores  have pulled all guns and gun parts. For how long? Who knows.
I suspect there is much more going on than what the media has told us. The *facts*, as presented, simply do not "add up". Victims were identified by photos only, family members/parents were not allowed to see the bodies for identification or to say goodbye, and a *group* is the spokesperson for the parents---even to the point that VP Biden had to go through the spokesman group to speak to any of the parents.
As my dad used to say "there's something screwy going on".
False Flag event? Maybe.
Evil? Definitely.
As we plan our move and look at more and more properties, I have convinced the Darlin' Man that it makes WAY more sense to have a *ready pantry* and no cabinets. I showed him picture after picture of kitchens from the 1700s on up to the 1930s and he saw the sense and frugality of it. It didn't hurt that I got him to sit down and watch a home improvement show where they redid a kitchen. The cabinets ALONE were over 14 thousand dollars! I told him I would rather buy a few better appliances (such as a good wood stove!) than have those silly cabinets...most of which have been constructed with fiberboard backs (glorified cardboard!) and other cheap components.
If you get RLTV, watch this show: A Taste of History . Oh My Goodness! This chef cooks all his recipes in spider pans and cast iron dutch ovens, etc., in an open hearth fireplace.
Spider pan for those that don't know: made me want to figure out a way to have an open hearth fireplace in my kitchen! The recipes are easily adaptable to be made on a stove or in an oven, but still, the romantic in me thinks everything would taste better being cooked on an open hearth!
RLTV is for the over 50 among us. Yes, we now have an *old geezer* network, as the kids here say.
Speaking of cooking, I had a minor meltdown yesterday at lunch when I found out I was missing a needed ingredient for a recipe I had planned to make for lunch. That drives me CRAZY! Especially when I find out the ingredient was casually snacked into oblivion by people I normally hold great affection for!
Apple-Walnut-Chicken Salad Wraps
1 cup cooked chicken, diced
2 cups peeled apples, diced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins or dried cherries or dried cranberries
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup mayo or miracle whip (I like the miracle whip). You might want to use more or less. Depends on personal tastes.
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Romaine lettuce
Whole wheat tortillas or *wraps*
Directions: Mix everything except lettuce and wraps together until moistened. Can be covered and chilled in refrigerator overnight or used immediately.
Warm tortillas or wraps (makes them flexible so they don't crack), put torn romaine lettuce on wrap/tortilla. Put 3 or 4 tablespoons of apple chicken mix on lettuce, wrap up like a burrito, serve! walnuts were gone. Also my golden raisins. So I made a stir fry for lunch instead.
 And I think I am gonna hide my fancy recipe fixin's next time!
I have not yet sold the sheep, so I think I am going to drop the price on the CL ad.
Going over all the critters here with the Darlin' Man, we made some decisions for the move AND for what we will raise in the future.

Chickens....we will definitely keep going with chickens!  HOWEVER...I will NOT raise Buff Orphingtons again! Yeah, yeah, I know there are a lot of Buff devotees out there, but all the ones we have had are horrible, stubborn, peck-y, hateful birds! I don't know what breed we will go with, but NO MORE BUFFS!

Turkeys: The Darlin' Man loves the turkeys. Me? Ehhhh...not so much. He wants to continue to raise them, so I have told him that that ball is totally in HIS court! Same with the peafowl and the exotic pheasants he also wants to raise.

Geese and Ducks: I like them, so I suspect we will raise them when we move. Besides...what is better than roasted duck with that luscious crispy skin.....drooooooooool!

Alpacas and Goats will definitely go with us and continue to be with us where-ever we go! I want to add some other goat breeds in...some Saa'an and some Swiss Alpine.

I also want a couple of cows, a horse and the fella wants a mule. We also want sheep...just gotta settle on a breed. Still in discussion.

Rabbits? Not so sure. The Darlin' Man doesn't like rabbit meat, I do, so this is still under discussion.
Well, the washer is finished with the first load, so I have to hang them up and start another load. I suspect I will do around 10 loads before I am done. The bread dough is still rising, but I'll be punching it down and shaping loaves within an hour or so.
Happy Monday to all!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Those Pesky Resolutions!

Having thought it out some more, I have finally come up with some resolutions...but not the ones people normally make. You know the "lose weight, learn Chinese, run a triathlon" stuff.

First and foremost, I am going to eat more consciously.
I have noticed more and more during the past year that certain foods have a bad effect on me. The Darlin' Man took me grocery shopping a couple of months ago and we stopped for "fast food". I was mildly ill the rest of the day AND all night into the next day.
A few weeks later, I bought a rare treat for me...a package of potato chips. Same effect the fast food had on me, only not as harsh.
After reading the ingredients on the back of the chips and making a call to a couple of fast food places and looking up their websites and checking their ingredients, I discovered the culprit:
Canola Oil aka Rapeseed oil, one of the most GMO'd items on the market (after corn).
Most fast food places use a mix of peanut, canola and corn oil in their fryers and on their grills.
The potato chips were fried in a combination of peanut and canola oil.
Because corn is highly GMO'd, I have avoided it as much as possible. I use olive oil, a little peanut oil, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil and occasionally, lard.
But I never realized how much canola oil was sneaking into my house!
So, I have redoubled my efforts in reading labels.
I cook/bake almost everything from scratch, so I am able to control (for the most part) the food my family gets and the ingredients of said food. I consider it my responsibility to put the most healthful food I can on the table.
Besides my diet, I am going to try to get in better condition, physically. If I lose weight, fine. If I don't, fine. I just want to be in better condition!

My other big resolution is to try to educate and help more of my family, friends and neighbors in *prepping*.
The more people that are prepared, the fewer that will need` assistance in case there is a natural disaster or other situation.

So, now that those pesky resolutions are out of the way, I need to go rake out the alpaca pen!
Hope everyone out there is having a good start to 2013!    

Saturday, January 5, 2013

First Post of 2013....and Changes!

I am trying to fix up my blog a little, so you may notice some changes here and there!

So, what has the first week of 2013 brought me?

Alpacas, of course! And, yes, I am reading up on them furiously!
I confess, I am now suffering (gladly) by the onset of  "Alpaca Love".
It's a lot like "Goat Love", except, you know...Alpacas! They are so cute and fuzzy and have these quirky personalities,,,and yes, they are adorable. Total SQUEEEEEEEEE moment when you pet them!
I have discovered that they will approach me and be generally friendly when I wear my two tone green jacket. HOWEVER, when I wear my identical jacket that is white and gray, they scamper to the back of the pen with a "Get it away!" attitude.
Fashion critics, hmph!
Also, hair in braids, okay, hair in a ponytail...not so much.
Like I said, quirky.
Still no buyers for the sheep, so I guess I will lower the price on them, even if we take a bit of a loss.
We had SNOW Thursday night and into Friday.
I loved it!
Of course, that put me in the minority here among the humans here at Frippery Farm!
I love the snow, I love winter in general.
The dogs, alpacas and sheep and goats were just fine with the snow. The dogs loved racing around in the yard in the scant 2 inches we got. The ducks, Daphne and Drake were totally confused. You see, sometimes when I make popcorn and we don't eat it all, I toss it to the ducks, who really love it.
The ducks saw the big flakes of snow drifting down and I guess their little ducky brains thought "POPCORN" and they ran around the pen trying to catch as much as they could in their little bills.
Poor things...although I admit I laughed at them. Then I felt so guilty I made them a small batch of popcorn to make them happy.
Christmas/Yule was wonderful...I got a huge camp dutch oven, a shotgun and some lovely smelling bath stuff and lotion. We had a real live tree this year (finally!) and I was able to get the Darlin' Man out of his "Grinch" attitude for once . (Christmas is NOT his favorite holiday, he hates the commercialization, etc., plus has some bad memories from childhood Christmases)
I finally finished a quilt for my grandson and sent that to him, along with a scarf and a python skin bag I made for his mom, and  I bought some silly novelty shot glasses for his dad (my son) as his dad loves those things.
The fella got another firearm he had been dreaming of and ammo to go with it, which always makes him happy!
The Girl got books, mainly, plus some other things she had asked for and The Boy got the small video camera he had been begging for. My son got clothes and a video game. I made a python skin guitar strap for one of my sons back east, and a lovely wrap/scarf for his girlfriend. So, a little of this and that to everyone, some home made, some not.
I got EVERYONE underwear and socks...which makes me look like a party pooper (HAH!), but, honestly, I do most of the laundry and I know when they need new socks and underwear!
No New Years Resolutions yet...I figure I have until the end of January to make official ones.
As far as my blog. I am going to go more into prepping and food storage this year. We gave bulk bags of rice and beans for presents this year, as we are trying to make more of our friends and families aware of the sensibility of food storage and prepping.