Friday, July 30, 2010

good quote

"A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one's accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes" -- Wendell Berry

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

so what does 15 thousand dollars look like?

In the farming world it's this! Well, dairy farming particularly. The kids and I helped out at a local barn's livestock auction on Monday. I say livestock, but in all honesty it was just cows. This little heifer is not even a year old, has not produced any offspring or even a drop of milk and was sold for just over 15,000.00!! I was stunned! Yes, she's very well built heifer, but seriously 15 thousand dollars?! If this is what Andrew needs to save up to buy, we're a bit further off than we thought!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

mustering chutzpah

Ugh! Today is a day that I will never forget, though at least one part I sincerely wish I could. If they can come up with an easy button, why can't they come up with a do over button? The kids headed out to the barn to do morning chores a minute or two before I did this morning because a friend had called and I was on the phone trying to help her with a question she was having. They came back into the house with a chicken, one of the laying hens that were hatched out this spring, it had to be a hen, couldn't have been a rooster! Ugh! Well suffice it to say I was pretty certain, like 99.9998% sure it's neck was broken, it's neck had been stuck in the chicken coop door and the rest of the details are a mystery. So here I was trying to remain calm and not vomit because of the circumstances that were inevitable were swirling around in my brain, this was not going to be a good day. I called Ron at work and told him about the hen and what was coming, ugh! was all I could think. We talked about which way would be the fastest and least painful, after all it was clear that she was in pain and it tore me up to see it. I got off the phone with him and took the hen outside and placed her on a hardwood stump that we got last year when we took care of the huge dead hemlock in the backyard. I had Andrew head into the garage to get my axe. She really seemed to be at peace in the sunshine. She just laid there on the stump in the sunshine with her eyes closed, Andrew handed my the axe and headed inside with Faith. I took a measurement of where I needed to land the axe and placed it in the grass. I headed inside too. I loaded the rifle, just in case I missed and there was another situation I needed to suddenly deal with took a few long inhalations of lavender to calm my nerves. I had never done anything like what I was about to do and never in a million years did I ever think I would be able to! I'm a vegetarian for crying out loud!! I'm also a caretaker of creation and this poor helpless creature I'd been entrusted to care for was in pain and there was nothing I could do for her expect to end her pain. So I took another few whiffs of the lavender and headed back out to the stump. She opened her eyes for a minute to see what had changed then quickly closed them and went back to peacefully laying there. I propped the rifle up within easy reach and picked up the axe and thanked her for her life and thanked her for eating lots of bugs for us. Took another measurement of where it needed to be placed and with one swift motion it was all over. I will spare you all the gory details but it's not something I ever care to do again. I'm just glad I was able to muster up the chutzpah to get the job done. I've only ever killed bugs; like mosquitoes or black flies, or mice; once I ran over a garden snake with the lawnmower because I was terrified of snakes and was sure it was after me! (I shudder to think of it!) I have never taken a life like this; I am ok with doing it because I know she is out of pain but I feel so bad that it had to happen. I'm not one to panic in situations like this; pretty level headed but I've wondered in the past level headed to what point? It there a point when level headedness goes out the window? It was nice to realize that when I wasn't sure this was something I'd ever be able to to I was! I was able to reach way down in a place I didn't know I had and do what needed to be done, I know that I got that strength from my Father and I am grateful!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Open Farm Day - one of my favorite days of the year

Yesterday at participating farms statewide was Open Farm Day and it just happens to be one of my favorite days of the year. Why? Because it gives me hope. Every year there are more and more people attending and better yet buying various items from these farms and the diversity of the consumer is growing as well. I love it! Often these farms have some type of demonstration or in some way educational and it's hard to choose which farm and which event to go to because there is so much to choose from! Yesterday Faith, Andrew and I went to two farms, both organic! Yea! One of our favorites is in the next town over and has a little bit of EVERYTHING, oh what an impressive place, inspiring and motivating. There we watched a demonstration on top bar hive beekeeping, something I totally NEED to try!
Natural wax from a top bar hive.
inspiration for a greenhouse........ (not coveting not coveting, not coveting....)

Apparently happy cows come from this farm too!
This farm has some of the most beautiful fibers in various stages of processing, I bought some mohair/lamb, a silvery color to blend with my llamas fiber and I cannot wait to see the finished product! Dreaming of the finished product!
The other farm was much smaller but had PYO organic raspberries so we took a few quart containers and went to town! I may have mentioned that raspberries just happen to be my favorite! I plan to freeze enough to make a pie, er, for the kids to have enough to make a pie for my birthday. They love to do that for me and have for the past couple years, I love it too! That way I'll enjoy this day twice, the first time with my children in the cool summer evening air surrounded by fields, livestock, flowers and trees and secondly remembering the day again later while enjoying the fruits of our labor surrounded by my children.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

sunshine you can smell

On our way back from the blueberry patch we drove past one of the many fields of sunflowers a local farmer grows for sunflower oil to use in his tractors instead of petroleum. Good for the Earth, good for the soul!

Good for the honeybees too!

an afternoon in the berry patch

Heard yesterday the blueberries were ready and boy were they ever! The kids and I went to a blueberry farm about 25 minutes away this afternoon and picked 18 quarts off 1 bush and a little off the one next to it! Thankfully the storm (to include 3 tornadoes!) that moved through last night took with it the humidity that's been making me feel like a slug for the past few weeks with it and gave us a splendid afternoon, with a nice breeze and loads of sunshine!

My wonderful helpers with our harvest. Will likely be making jam, muffins and a pie at some point tomorrow or Saturday, or tonight, who knows! Then I'll freeze the rest for the winter.

high summer

Monday, July 19, 2010

Father Daughter Bonding - again

I'll be willing to bet my Dad never thought he'd be spending a Sunday afternoon target shooting with his three daughters.

soapbox - how much is fair? reasonable? honest?

I was listening to the radio this morning to the local morning show hot topic for tomorrow advertisement and the question was asked, why are tickets to sporting events so expensive? Now I really like this morning show so I may actually tune in just to hear the response, but it got me thinking, perspective comes into to play again. Perspective and priorities.

A few weeks ago on a social networking site I posed the question what a reasonable, fair, honest wage for a farmer to earn was, I got a few off the cuff answers but not a dollar amount or salary. I thought about my own question for a while and thought well what it really boils down to is what are you willing to pay someone else to do that you are not willing or able to do yourself. Some people I know have told me point blank that they could not do what I do and others would not, I'm fine with either way, I'm not asking you to. For example I'm not willing to pay someone to pick up my trash weekly when I am perfectly capable of taking it there myself, however, I am more than willing to pay someone to sort through the trash and take care of it however it is done. I've watched 'Dirty Jobs' no thank you, that's not something I'm willing to do.

People complain about the price and quality of food and the price of health care. Health care is expensive, I think we can all agree on that. Cheap food really is an illusion, a price is paid somewhere, most of the price is paid with your health. I'm not the poster child for healthy eating, but I am making better food choices because I'm taking an active role in educating myself about it, I don't plan to or think I'm going to live forever, I just don't want to be sickly either. If you are not willing or able to grow your own food respect the efforts of those who are will and/or able and pay them fairly, reasonably and honestly. There is an old adage that states you get what you pay for, how many times have you heard that and had it not been accurate?

So this leads me back to sporting events well you can fill in the blank with anything in the entertainment area, concerts, sporting events, anything where a 'famous' person might be. I've gone to a few concerts and have enjoyed them immensely, but largely it had to do with the company I was with and the thought that went into the tickets.(Thank you Ron for the Toby tickets!) But the question was why are they so expensive, my opinion is because we allow them to be, because we as a society place so much 'value' on 'athleticism and talent' (I use the word talent here loosely!!) but I'm not sure why. Wasn't there an athlete just offered like 10 million dollars or something ridiculous like that? Seriously 10 million dollars? Who needs that kind of money? Wouldn't it be a better idea to pay teachers more? After all they are in large part shaping tomorrow through the kids in their classrooms. They have a huge part in equipping children to become what they were created to be, what happens if they fail? Where will that put those kids in relation to other kids whose teachers didn't fail? I'm in favor of paying teachers who teach well more, they are worth more, I have a very high respect for teachers, it's not an easy job, and it comes with a huge responsibility.

I also have a very high respect for volunteer fire fighters. Think about each word for a minute.

Volunteer. Fire. Fighters.

I cannot imagine what these men and women must be made of. I cannot imagine volunteering to risk my life to go into someone else's burning home. I hope I never have to go into my own but would risk it if my kids were in there, no question. But seriously what is that worth to you? I'm in favor of paying firefighters to do what I am not. I am not willing to pay high prices for a ticket to a sporting event because it goes against what I value, against my perspective and priorities. I am willing to take that same money and so to a farmers market, a local business, a lemonade stand, or a fireman's breakfast fundraiser. To me each one of those is fair, honest and reasonable.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

100 bales in several more to go!

What to do for a birthday for a kid that has nearly everything, like so many American kids do?? Hummm...... Ding! (that's the sound of my brain coming up with a great idea!) I'll invite him down for a day on the farm! My nephew; whom you may have read about here, is like so many American kids that have more than everything they want and are nearly impossible to do anything for on special occasions, like birthdays. Well they don't call me Twistie for nothing! I printed up a flyer inviting him down in the summer for a day on the farm; the flyer said it entitled him to do farm things, like poop scoop, feed the animals, collect the eggs, lug water, stack hay, you know things the kids and I do everyday! You should have seen his face it was like I'd given him the moon! I had sort of planned to have him down at this time of year to really give him a whack at farm/country life by having him help with the hay. I've recently heard of "haycations" but thought I'd test the waters to see if it actually worked! ha ha! The hay was to arrive yesterday and I could use all the help I could get, as Garlic smashed my foot when I was picking out his feet the other night, due to his lack of balance, and I've got a pretty good idea I've got a broken bone or two in there. When the hay needs to be done it waits for no one, smashed foot or not. We had a dicey afternoon weather wise yesterday and it did not arrive, but was taken undercover, rain and hay do not mix well when you're looking at long term storage.... So the hay guy called and said it would be delivered in the morning. I was not about to let these kids be bored, so I came up with a new plan on the fly.

We pulled the garlic... Andrew lugged it to the porch...
We hung it up to dry...
We threw down the rest of last years hay to make room for this years hay...

They jumped into the hay which was stacked nearly to the top of the ladder... and did the evening barn chores. This was from 4 pm on. Three very tired children went to bed and slept as well as you can with the heat and a wiggly and notoriously gassy dog that they wanted to sleep with them not to mention the excitement of company! I'd have taken a picture but left the camera in the barn and was not about to limp back to the barn to get it. Though it was a great photo op!

Breakfast - fresh fruit and cereal! Isn't the fruit pretty?

The hay arrives and the heat does too, it's over 90 degrees and I've got 100 bales of hay to stack. Note, I do not have an elevator, yet, so each bale is lifted off and thrown overhead into the loft then stacked. It's hot, sweaty, scratchy, hard work but it smells SO good, not as good as second crop, which will come on another sweltering day in August but hay smells good and what a good job to have done. I'm so impressed with these kids, words cannot accurately describe how proud I am of them for their willingness to pitch in and help and only one or two complaints, and justified at that, it WAS hot!

That's a lot of hay, yet not even half of what I need for the year.

*My nephew thought this would make a good family picture so I let him take it. A hard working family!

Water break...

The hay is all unloaded and stacked in the barn in just shy of two hours!! We kicked butt and took names! I think that was the fastest unload in my history, I couldn't have done it without the help of my kids and my nephew. This is the From the Country Farm Hay Crew 2010 gulping down an ice cold root beer after a hard days work had been completed.

They told me it was the best root beer they'd ever tasted!

Seeing as how the hay essentially flew off the wagon and it was over 90 degrees and part of the overnight trip to the farm deal I took the kids to the lake to cool off. I was impressed, nobody drown from exhaustion! I was not however impressed with the language of the people around us or the couple having a fight at the picnic table not 15 feet from us. Talk about a way to ruin a trip to the beach! Needless to say, we didn't stay long.
One night ended up turning into two nights because of the hay and tomorrows plans, which is no big deal, he's having a good time as are Faith and Andrew and when I drop him off tomorrow and his mom tucks him in bed it'll be like "Good Night Son, see you next Tuesday!"
So what did I give my nephew for his birthday? Hopefully a lifetime of fond memories. (and maybe a good night's sleep.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

soapbox - ingredients vs. ingredients

You are aware that I raised some broilers this spring for my husband, well I decided to cook one for him the other night, and here's where the story begins....

Because I was curious and wanted his opinion I wanted to do a side be side comparison, not that I had any doubt that my pastured and organically raised chicken would come out on top, but I wanted to show him the difference, I don't eat meat, haven't in over 20 years, so I could not be the "guinea pig" but I'd heard that home grown meat was a bit tougher; not like shoe leather, just not limp like supermarket chicken. So I cooked one chicken breast from the supermarket and the homegrown broiler and had him try them. He said the home grown chicken was "GOOD!" But the real story and now my soapbox for the day is this. I placed the wrapper to the chicken in the trash upside down (don't worry, it was taken out shortly after) and walked away, back to the cooking chicken. A short while later I threw something else out in the trash and just happened to glance down at the trash and see the back side of the 'supermarket' chicken. I'd never actually looked at it, didn't ever cross my mind that there would be an ingredient list for a package of boneless skinless chicken breast!!!! I pulled it out of the trash to look at and it and read the ingredients for said boneless skinless chicken breast. At the bottom of the list it had a phone number to call with questions, I wonder if that phone number ever gets used, not once have I ever read an ingredient list for chicken but have never called about it either and I wondered if anybody ever had. I've got a good mind to do just that, but how does one tactfully ask "Why is there xanthan gum, carageenan, 'natural flavor', etc. in my chicken breast?" Better yet, how does one truthfully (yeah right from a huge food giant?!) answer that?! Then I was reading Joel Salatin's book, You Can Farm this morning; about raising pastured poultry in fact; and came across a section of the book that said, ..."when TIME magazine reports that roughly 10 percent of the weight of supermarket chicken is fecal soup."... (Guess the big food giant decided to leave that off the ingredient list, likely figuring it might turn people off to eating it huh?) So I decided to show the ingredients from my chicken vs, their chicken and do a side by side comparison for you too.

One organically raised pastured cornish rock cross. (This picture was taken a few weeks prior to harvest.)
Dressed and ready to go, rub down with olive oil, salt and pepper,
Add a sprig or two of rosemary, (grown in my garden of course!) under the skin and in the cavity,

place in rotisserie and cook for appropriate amount of time. Seriously, that's it, nothing else, nothing I cannot pronounce or know what it is, ie. 'natural flavor' if it's natural why is it added to the chicken? Isn't chicken flavor by itself natural and enough? Truth be told I would not be at all surprised if it were MSG.
'supermarket chicken' ingredients, yum!
So there you have it, the story I've been wanting to post for days now but with this ancient computer so near death it's been difficult to do anything with much less blog on and post pictures as well. UGH! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject, makes you want to run right out and buy some 'supermarket chicken' huh?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

lesson learned

when you bite off more than you can handle, it'll come back to bite you!

(especially since I'm not as organized as I'd like to be...)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

serious humidity

over 80 % humidity, so think I honestly think you could cut it with a knife!

pampered poultry

Yes, that's a brand new box fan and yes, it's in the broiler pen. Its been so hot here this past week and broilers are dropping like flies! One friend lost 5 recently and another lost like 70! that was his entire flock! He had a 3 foot barrel fan on them to boot! To say he is devastated would be an understatement! These guys are just three weeks old but the heat still bothers them. Turkeys not so much, so far. I've started putting them all out on pasture this week, but in the heat of the day here of late they've been parked in front of the fan, and seemingly enjoying it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Meet Sawyer and Huck

My two renegade turkeys. Named for Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, (Sawyer because he's already a tom, ha ha!) you know, always out on adventures and getting into trouble! Well these two darling little turkeys could not be more appropriately named. I was up about 5 am the other morning chasing these two boys back into their pen, this was after I'd been woken up be an absurdly shrill PEEP PEEP PEEP PEEP (it's always 4 times) at 5 am I am not nice, I am not a morning person and I actually laid there debating going out and rescuing them, again, no this was not the first time they'd gotten out. But I heard the cat out there and figured I'd better go protect my investment, she's an EXCELLENT mouser, but I did not want to find out how she is with turkey poults. I must have been quite a sight, out there in my hot pink bathrobe stumbling around without my glasses (because am 5 am I'm not thinking clearly either...), bent over like a hunchback, clapping and psst'ing at these naught little boys! The first time it was just Sawyer that got out, then he coerced Huck to venture out as well, well wouldn't you know it when they get out they immediately start that aforementioned PEEP PEEP PEEP PEEPing freaking out because it's a big scary world out there and they have no momma to redirect them. Ugh, one thing I never thought I'd be was a surrogate momma turkey! Let me tell you it didn't take me long after that to fix the problem well enough for it not to happen again!

*Bet I didn't strike you as the hot pink bathrobe type huh? I made it a hundred years ago when Faith was little, she though it was "so pitty Mommy" and it made her smile.

ba ba black sheep have you any wool?

yes sir yes sir three bags full! And this is some of it! Actually I've got over a dozen bags of wool, most of it llama. There is a small spinning mill I'm going to take it to in the next town over as there is WAY too much for me to do myself. Besides, I've got the pygora to spin as well. I think I may try to combine some pygora and llama and see how it turns out. That will be neat to have yarn from my boys!

Monday, July 5, 2010

to the lake!!

Another first for Faith and Andrew! Their grandfather took them tubing for the first time ever! They were a little freaked out but had SO much fun.

that's me...

...most of the time I'm totally fine with it but sometimes it sucks!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

soapbox - independence and freedom

This post may anger some of you readers, let me assure you it was not intended to do so. I hope you'll read it despite that and maybe you'll understand where I'm coming from.

My sister and I were talking the other day and she asked me if I had any plans for the weekend, Independence Day. My response was, "Ha! Independence! Ironic for a country that is completely dependant on foreign oil and money!"

Let me first say I realize what Independence Day is for and I appreciate immeasurably the price that has been paid and will continue to be paid for it.

But seriously, we say that we are free, and we are willing to die for it but my question is how free are we and how free do we want to be? I love my country and the hardworking American citizens in it, but I wonder why a country as great as ours need to borrow money from other countries? Why, if we can put a man on the moon, do life saving surgery on on unborn babies, or split atoms can we not figure out a way to stop sending our money over seas to foreign oil. I wonder why big foreign oil companies are drilling off our coasts? Whether you are for or against it does not matter, it's happening anyway!

Proverbs 22:7 tells us that ..."the borrower is slave to the lender." Is that freedom?

This state is facing a HUGE budget shortfall and we'll be electing a new governor in the fall so he/she will inherit the problem and the current governor will just step down, scott free! UGH! I don't envy the next governor. I realize it's not solely one person at fault but when will it stop? Does our state/country need to become bankrupt before it stops? How much debt does a country need to have before it is bankrupt? Trillions of dollars? Quadrillions? When is enough enough? I don't want to be slave to the lender, I don't want my children or grandchildren to be slave to the lender. I want freedom! I know it's going to hurt; I'm ok with that, and it's going to be a while before we conquer that mountain of debt but I know it will be worth it when we do. I think the best thing to do when you find yourself in the bottom of a hole is to STOP DIGGING! If the only thing we have to use to get out from under that enormous mountain is a spoon, USE IT!!! Eventually we'll get a spade, then a backhoe, then an excavator, etc. I don't have all the answers, I'm just really tired of seeing my husband work so hard and seeing all the taxes he pays being squandered and pissed away on stupidity! My 9 year old son gets it! He knows you have to save for things you really want and if you don't have the money you don't buy "it" whatever "it" is. He has wanted a cow for at least three years now, at first I thought it was a phase but 2 years ago when he decided on his own to put his birthday money in his savings account to save for a cow I knew he was serious. It's hard for him sometimes, (and that's ok) when he has a couple dollars in his pocket and heads into a store, temptation is everywhere. Today at the register there was 2 foot expanding gel-type snake thing-y, (aka junk!) he asked me if he could buy it. I've never said he couldn't buy anything; it's his money, he can spend it however he wants; I just ask what he wants more, that snake or his cow. Without fail he decided the cow is more important. Does he have the cow? No! Could we buy him the cow? Absolutely! Would that teach him anything? No! When he does get his cow he will know the importance of spending wisely, saving and sacrificing in order to get what you really want. When he has his cow he'll be able to enjoy it because he won't be slave to the person lending him the money because there won't be one! A lesson our country could stand to learn.

So that's my soapbox for tonight, there are my thoughts on the matter, what are yours? I wish you all a very happy and safe independence day. Enjoy it, it's one of my favorite holidays!

the harvest has begun

Yesterday I took the first batch of broilers to be "harvested." I had such a pit in my stomach and in no way looked forward to this. They had been let out of their coop to forage and be chickens for week (after being weaned off the heat lamp) and they all knew the drill when I'd show up. They'd congregate at the opening of the door climbing over one another and pushing their way to the front in hopes they'd be the first one out. I'd call to them and they followed me to the pasture, and there they'd spend the day, eating, sleeping, scratching, pecking, feeling (gentle) rain showers, sunshine and wind. They'd dust themselves in a dirt bath nearly every day and were content, happy. Yesterday when I went to put them in the crates to take them to the butcher it was completely different. The only thing I can think of to describe it is what I would think a soldier headed off to battle must look like. Knowing full well he/she may not return but boldly and bravely forging ahead. They stood there quietly not running to the door but let me pick up each one and place it in the crate without a fight. It was very peaceful. I sincerely hope that they had a good life here are From the Country Farm and only had one bad day. The hard part was over quickly and as humanely as that can be and afterward I went to Mom's house to prepare them for the freezer. She has a fancy Kangen machine that makes great water, so we washed off the birds in that and packed them up for the freezer.
patting the birds dry
Mom and I bagging them up.
As difficult as this day was, it was rewarding in a sense as well. Knowing the birds I raised will nourish my husband and will be so much healthier for him made it worth the pit in my stomach.
*Faith took these pictures.

a pool for the pigs

It was so hot here today, I think if I lived on a paved road we easily could have fried an egg on it! It was hot but the breeze made it bearable, thank God for the breeze! I went out to make sure the girls (pigs) had water after all they cannot sweat to cool off, unlike me, I sweat enough for the two pigs, myself and at least three other people! Oh, that's right, women don't sweat, we glisten.... who ever made up that cock and bull story never worked a day in their life! I sweat! They had slurped up all their breakfast and were nearly bone dry when I went out. Well, I had seen the giant hole they had excavated overnight thinking that was a good thing as the cool earth would help keep them cool, then I had the bright idea of filling up the hole with water. Holy pigs were they excited! I hooked a wagon to the tractor to make toting water faster and easier. Carted many water buckets to the impromptu swimming hole figuring that even in the water didn't stay it would make mud for them to play in. They done into it like you or I would into double fudge brownie ice cream! Literally squealing with delight.

Andrew wanted to get in the mud with them, (shocked aren't you?) but there wasn't much room with both pigs in there so he decided to sit on the edge and splash water on Freedom and give her a "marsarge." I think she really enjoyed it, have you ever seen a smiling pig?

Freedom enjoying her pool and "marsarge" or should I call it the day spa?

Beautifully happy cooled off pigs.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

a somber evening...

...knowing that "the boys" (broilers) are headed to be harvested tomorow...