Friday, November 30, 2012

The Five C's of Survival Plus Three

Remember I told you I felt we had been running around a bit like a chicken with it's head cut off, well maybe I didn't exactly describe it like that but a friend, Dawn, got me thinking when she asked me what I thought were the basics we needed to prepare. I realized we had lots of skills but the question is, are they enough to survive the turbulent days ahead? It looks like the government isn't very serious about the fiscal cliff which includes the congress and difinitely not the President. And Mother Nature isn't exactly in a good mood either.

So with all this uncertainty the question that is looming in my head is will one area we lack in be our undoing? And even more pertenent is, what are those areas as we've just done things we wanted to learn and thought were important. Looking at the five C's of survival, I'm was seeing some huge gaps as I studied our preparedness.

I've since run into people who are down right panicked as they have just noticed the stack of dominos poised to fall.

This all spawned the beginning of watching the Ray Mears videos, for us recently, which are excellent, but no matter what every  survialist I checked, they all had basically the same five C's. though their choices of equipment were a bit different depending on location and personal taste. For instance, the prairie versus the mountain, the winter versus the jungle, they all need a few alterations to meet the needs of the terrain.

The five C's of survival are:
 Cutting device
Combustion device

That is great for the bare minimum servival and with this and skills you can obtain the other needs to survive but I'd rather not be in that situation if I can help it. I'll admit it. I like a little comfort. So what if I took the five C's and expounded on them to include 10 basic survival areas and several prepareness levels? Now that is something I could live with, literally, and fairly comfortably.  I won't say that 10 will be the final number but for now, I'm thinking on adding these basics to the above five.
. Food
. Water
. Cleaning
. Medical
. Financial

Then within these 10 basics are a list I'm working on of sub headings. The five C's are for survival in a short period of time.

How about a five C's survival fanny pack. Then a more comfortable 72 hour backpack with side duffle bags of even more comfort. Survivalist state crossing water sometimes means a loss of a backpack so they keep pockets full of even more basics. Hence, the many pocketed pants. I'm thinking if I bug out at that level I've got stock. They can carry some of the weight. I'm not leaving them behind and my back with every other disc bulging isn't carrying my entire survival pack.

So that leads me to needing a BUG OUT plan. Haven't you watched M.A.S.H?)  I don't have one but I'd better work on one though where we'd Bug Out to is the question. Where do you go when you live in the middle of nowhere? Alright, smarties, somewhere. There is the chance of fire like Colorado, Utah and other states suffered last year. Lots of Bugs Outs then so though in most disasters we'd stay put, we need to plan on leaving too.

You can take the 72-hour packs with you or just stay at home and they will get you by for a short time. The government recommends a 72 - hour kit and three weeks of food in your home. So I'm not so far off even though I think that isn't nearly enough. I'm sure the government thinks so too but they also have to think of the minimum they can talk the population into.

Now think of the storm, Sandy, people were without electric power, grocery store, and a gas station etc. That's level two where you need to sustain yourselves for a few weeks. Then level three to a more early 1930's out on the farm where they made there own cheese, butter, bread, etc. which would help you through a longer financial or supply shortage time frame. This includes a no shortage, no big national disaster but a personal disaster, loss of a job, medical emergency sapping your fund etc.

How different the storm Sandy would have been if a large number of people had taken responsibility for themselves before hand instead of felt they needed a nanny state where the government made things all better. Government help out some, okay, provide generators for everyone and takes food door to door, don't get rediculous. Come on, where's personal responsibility? Yes, we need to be mindful of the diabled and older residence in our neighborhoods, not the government. Remember, if the government has the power to give all, it also has the power to take all. The government redistributes, it does not make money.

Keep in mind that FEMA personally told me, when a tornado struck our town some years back, that it isn't a matter of IF but WHEN each of us will be in a disaster situation and that most likely each of us will be in more than one in our lifetime. Things are escalating and that might just be three or more by the time some of us leave this world.  FEMA was referring to natural disaster but cancer is also a disaster and becoming disabled is too so if you expound on disaster, you've upped the odds.

We can't control the government or governments oceans away which pull us to and fro, since we are all conected, but we can control us. What we do, what we know, and how much cushion we give ourselves from the storms. It will determine if it is a bump in the road or if it stops us in our tracks.

So I'm going to take each of these 10 topics and plan, learn, and prepare. You can come along for the ride. Bring your own horse because mine won't carry two. She bucks. That is the truth and it is a great simile for those who know about survival for they know that one can not take care of many. So don't think others will take you in just because you exist. They often turned others away in the pioneer days and someday they might again lest they not survive.

Kirk and I don't have enough supplies for our own imediate family, let alone any others. I don't care if they do volunteer free labor. It isn't a matter of want, it is a basic fact that we just don't have it. Besides free unskilled labor is like calling a three year old cleaning house, help. If you don't know what weeds to pull in my garden, I don't want you weeding it if it is the difference between us eating for the year or starving. It will be a extremely difficult decision. 

Instead of babbling on forever today about the need I'm going to start and I emphasize the word start with discussing CUT. Mainly because it seems to be one of the more simpler ones.

I just CUT my husband's hair this morning. I know, you were expecting knife and we'll get to that. To me, cut also means hair on a 1930's self-sufficient level where you are trying to save money. We've save thousands since I've been cutting the family hair since the kids were very small. Now I often do the grand kids. A basic, good quality pair of hair scissors is a must. Get the kind that can be sharpened. Not the ones that you buy replacement blades for - added expense. A good book on how to is also a help but don't think that will get you by completely. Cowlicks and individual hair traits have a way of throwing in their share of obstacles. Give me experience any day over just book learning. I want a surgeon who's done surgery, not one who's just read the books. Granted you are not going to die over a hair cut, though teenager might think they will.  

Now to learn how to sharpen scissor myself. That is a needed skill level. We've thought about it today and Kirk's belt grinders aren't the only sharpening tools we should have. We need some basic sharpening stones and some knowledge along with them.

CUT also means sewing scissor. Something completely different than hair ones. For one thing, they are much larger. Also buy a pair that can be sharpened. I've got two pair needing just that.
Now to CUT as in knives. I love nice kitchen knives and use them all the time so a good basic set is a must. But going back to even more basics is knives for the survival kit. Kirk and I discussed this, he being the expert. You don't need something this fancy but even this will do the job nicely if need be.

Your choice of knife is very personal since we've met people doing the same job and wanted completely different knives for the task from quite large to quite small. Is one of them wrong? No, just has a different size of hand or does things a bit differently. For our area, prairie and off in the distance Rocky Mountains, we've decided on a medium pocket knife for cleaning fish and small tasks such as cutting rope. Then a fixed blade for larger survival tasks. The style of pocket knife we carry now is different so I expect our choices for our survival kits will be different too.

Since we are not rich and use knives in our daily lives, we have decided that we will need to gather them before leaving. Knives aren't the only thing we realize so we need a Bug Out list where we have a pre-planned number of  things to gather before leaving. And may I emphasize, I don't mean look for. I mean gather from pre-determined storing locations. Like presently where we have flashlights and headlamps in set locations. Do they always stay there? Sometimes they wonder off but not for long since we use them regularly too.

Since this is getting long, I'm going to talk about CUT as in ax or hatchet another time along with our plans for a log splitter. Splitter on our list comes under CUT but firewood under COMBUSTION.

Maybe not everything will fit your needs but I bet you'll learn a thing or two. And I'm not going to talk about this on every blog. It will be a additional conversation. Have a great day and get to thinking about your surval basics. Maybe you'll add one to mine.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Unprepared For the Future

It snowed five inches or so and with that push, I started decorating for Christmas. I'd just as soon push the whole event back a couple months. I'm not ready for we lost months of work to family problems and there has been no way to gain back the ground lost no matter how hard we tried. With this depressive situation weighing problems of our own dog pile on top and we lost the strength to fight back. Goals went by the way side and it felt like we were just surviving.

Then this fall I watched the political arena turn further in the wrong direction, a fiscal cliff in January being only the first in a series of crises that loom in our future. Politicians appear to be still avoiding doing hard things, creating a taller cliff to which to fall off of. Further complicating our recovery is the belief that if you are a large company you no longer have the right to buy, sale, and fail, a firm belief of our founding fathers, and must be rescued to continue unsound business practices. This putting off of doing hard things has created problems that no longer have simple answers. 

We have in our personal life also put off some hard things and need to change directions.

Unrest dominates the world with wars and rumors of wars spurred by greed spreading ever further to distant lands and like a game of dominoes, the problems of our nation and the world stand poised. Just a slight tip, one will fall upon another and another and another. We won't be able to stop them. Band aids that we have used frequently in the past no longer will mask the problem, they having grown too large.   

As we watch storm clouds build, Kirk and I grow restless, yet in the Lord's wisdom he has given us a hard lesson in this year of troubles. We need to stand firm or the world will buffet us from our foundation. We did not accomplish our goals this year because we became distracted by other's troubles. We can reach out and help but we can not allow ourselves to be pulled down. If we loose sight of our task of moving to higher ground, we also will be washed away in a flood of problems. This year we have allowed others to shift us to a looser footing but we have begun to climb once more.

The scriptures tell us that, " If we are prepared, we will not fear." It's a guage of how well we are doing. If we are fearful, we need to prepare more fervently. I'm feeling a bit fearful and that tells me much about my preparedness.

I've had a "Oh my!" inspiration watching Ray Mears whom I just discovered. He is a survival expert and he has pointed out my errors. You see we looked at our 72 hour kit after watching a few of his shows. We had all kinds of things but had not paid enough attention to the five basics of survival. They are the five C's. I think that is what can be said of much of our preparedness for the future. It has not been well enough planned and some of the most important things have not been attended to. Some of our basics are missing though we have all kinds of lovely things and have lots of skills.  

It isn't that we have failed to plan. We have failed to take the time to outline the very basics of what we need to know and do. Does the future greatly concern you and have you begun to prepare for a more difficult future? What do you want to learn the most?   

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Extraordinaire

In the fall of 2011 I did a pumpkin taste testing contest between New England Sugar Pie pumpkins and Rouge vif Detampes pumpkins. I tried  a new way of cooking them, leaving them whole versus cutting them up to cook. Each method of cooking has its advantages but in the end, I decided that the New England Sugar Pie pumpkin variety was the winner. I changed my mind. A woman can do that don't you think?
Well, new evidence has come to light in the case and it has been decided, by me, that it was shear ignorance on my part that lowered the Rouge vif Detampes pumpkin to excellent animal fodder, though it is that and much more. It's is that the two pumpkins are so different from each other in flavor and texture. As a side note, the seeds of a pumpkin make great chicken wormer
As I skimmed the blog I'd written then, I can't believe I even said that I liked the New England Sugar Pie over the Rouge vif Detampes, but I did. Since then I've had a freezer teaming with both kinds of pumpkin and I've learned a thing or too. The New England Sugar Pie is a small pumpkin with traditional earthy pumpkin flavor and a creamy texture. 

The Rouge vif Detampes or Cinderella pumpkin, which inspired the carriage in the Walt Disney movie Cinderella, is very light, sweet tasting with a stringy texture.

The first time around I was dealing with the pumpkin's stringiness and excess amount of liquid. I used the blender to smooth the stringiness and drained the pumpkin to drain off part of the liquid. Much of the flavor though, I learned from Cooks magazine, is bound up in the liquid so that is the reason why  the dishes cooked with it seemed a bit weak in flavor.

What's a girl to do? Well, I took a tip from the Cook's magazine and then wondered off into my own pasture. You see they tried to tell me that pumpkin in a can wasn't any different tasting than cooking fresh pumpkins and making pie so don't go to the effort of doing it yourself.

I'm here to tell you that isn't true. UNLESS, you use those nasty pumpkins that are in the store meant for jack-o-latterns. So don't be fooled by the sign that says pumpkins for pies. Know your varieties and make sure the sign states what kind of pumpkin they are because pumpkins are not created equal. I've been growing pumpkins for years and was very disappointed. I grew pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns and made pies with them and I grew pumpkins that the catalogue said were for pies but they all tasted bad and in disgust, I quit raising pie pumpkins.

Then I began using only organic and heirloom seeds and since I was looking in a new direction, I happened upon an article about all kinds of heirloom pumpkins. They were all shapes and sizes and some even had wart like growths. The writer claimed they each had a different flavor and my interest was peeked. I'd noticed that heirloom seeds grew to more flavorful vegetables also.

By the time I ordered, many of the heirloom varieties were gone and in the narrower selection choices, I ended up with New England Sugar Pie, Long Pie, and Rouge vif Detampes. I haven't yet grown Long Pie but I should this next summer. I did put in the Rouge vif Detampes both summers. With lots and lots of pumpkin puree in the freezer, I figured I'd feed the Rouge vif Detampes to the chickens but the drought hit all squashes hard and I only had two pumpkins for my efforts. 
Making Thanksgiving pie this year, I learned a thing or two. I had put the Rouge vif Detampes in the blender before freezing, breaking up the stringiness. The problem with freezing is it brings out the liquids. Something it has a great deal of anyway. I strained the pumpkin puree after thawing. 
The liquid I put into a pot and boiled it, reducing the amount of liquid and concentrating the pumpkin flavor.

Then I added the pumpkin puree and heated it. Slowly I added sugar to taste, along with the spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, also to taste. It was amazing but I ended up adding just a little over half of the sugar called for in my traditional recipe.  
I then added my eggs, two because I was making two pies, and some heavily creamed fresh goat's milk. Just enough to obtain the right consistency.
When the mixture had cooked a while, about ten minutes, getting really hot and mud pot like. You know, plop, plop as the bubbles pop but before it begins to burn.
Hot filling allows the pie to cook more quickly and not absorb so much into the crust. The crust needed some help. I tried a butter based one instead of a lard or shortening based one and it was a bit hard. Maybe I worked it a bit too much.
Then I cooked the pie at 400 Fahrenheit for ten minutes as Cook's magazine recommended to keep the pumpkin from curdling and turned it down to 300 for a while until just about done. Needing to do chores, I turned off the oven, leaving the pies inside, and left. When I returned they were done.
We had Thanksgiving at Kirk's brothers and there was a pie there with store canned pumpkin filling. The taste wasn't even on the same planet. So Cook's magazine, you need to try heirloom pumpkins. Then again, does the general public have access to such wonderful delights? What a blessing to grow your own. I can't wait to try a new variety of pumpkins this summer.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Spending Time

"How do you get Angry Birds on this thing?"

The newest Disney movie "The Princess and the 30 Pound Puppy".

"Do these glasses make me look old?" 
Not much time to blog this week when these munchkins are spending much more than the usual twenty some hours at our house. And though the older girls aren't a big deal, this adorable little one needs lots and lots of grandma time especially when it has been run to daisy's and brownies, run to ballet, run to storytime, run to after school Thanksgiving special at the library. Yup, I'm on the run but don't give up on me.  Today I'm try a new way to make pumpkin pie to intensify the flavors with fresh pumpkin and I've got much much more.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Founder In Goats

 Got Milk? Remember those commercials?
You would think this was one of those but it's only our Chicory stealing milk from the cats. Or is it? After all it is Chicory's own milk that they are lapping. Our Chicory has never quit loving the taste of warm, fresh milk.

When she kidded for the first time as a yearling, she went down badly in her pasterns and thinking she was lacking in calcium, the previous owners gave her, her own milk to drink. Not every goat will do this but I have known some who will nurse off another goat.

We do the same thing, give her all of the milk her little ones don't consume along with a little medical calcium booster after she kids. Sometimes we give a little calcium booster before and leave her dry for a longer period of time than we would otherwise do, four months.
Chicory also has difficulty in giving birth and the triplets she's had the past three years have all had to be pulled though the labor has gone better each year.
Why do we bother? Well, these problems aren't hereditary. Her mother did not have problems and none of her daughters either. They pop out their young on their own and narry a pastern problem.
But as she has grown older, a whole whopping four years old, it has become very apparent that she had founder when she was one. She use to have excessive growth of her hooves especially in her toes. I keep them trimmed from once to twice a month to keep her on her toes as much as possible. If this founder has anything to do with the pastern drop near kidding, I don't know. I can't find anything on it so it might be a separate problem.
How do I know it is founder? Well look closely at this front hoof. See how she is walking on the heels of her hoof. It is because of the growth of a bone in her hoof. There is an excellent article by Onion Creek Ranch just click on Founder  Below is an excerpt.

Laminitis and its subsequent result, Founder, are diseases found in intensively-managed herds of goats. The usual cause is simple -- improper feeding. One of the many bad effects of overfeeding processed/sacked grains or feed that is too high in grain-induced energy ("hot" feeds) is Founder. A goat that has foundered will walk on calloused front knees and will have very overgrown hooves; the animal will have difficulty walking flat on the soles of its hooves because the bones in the feet have rotated out of normal position, shifting weight bearing to its heels. The hooves may feel hot to the touch, especially near the coronary band where the hoof wall meets the leg. Acute Laminits/Founder produces hooves that are sore and hot; when the condition becomes chronic, the bones of the feet become malformed and the hooves are overgrown. Chronic Founder is the type most often seen in goats. Founder is is not curable but it can be managed -- with great effort -- for the duration of the life of the goat. The term "founder" derives from the sinking of the bones in the hoof.
When a producer overfeeds grain concentrates, one of the bad things that can happen is that the laminae of the hoof is affected. "Laminitis" is the term used to describe the initial outbreak of the disease when the laminae become inflamed and break down, releasing its hold on the bones in the hoof. "Founder" describes the resulting downward rotation of the third phalanx bone in the hoof. The laminae is a web of tissue and blood vessels that holds the bones of the hoof in place. When the laminae breaks down, the blood vessels will either collapse or flood the hooves with blood, releasing the bones from their proper positions. When the third phalanx bone rotates downward, it may actually penetrate the sole of the hoof -- making walking very difficult for the goat because weight bearing has been shifted to its heels. Usually the front feet are first affected, but a severely foundered goat will walk on its front knees with its back legs uncharacteristically forward under its body. Abnormal hoof growth also occurs. The toes turn up -- growing into a "pixie-shoe" shape. A foundered hoof has thick walls, extra material on the sole, and grows abnormally fast and irregularly in shape -- for the rest of the life of the goat.
Chicory has begun to moan when she puts weight on her front hooves when she walks. Not quite as bad right after trimming and so the amount of noise is more of a cue than how long her hooves look to whether I need to trim them.
I also notice only this year a difference when she is being milked and hence grained. She's never done this before. So I dried her up and ended the grain rations. Though she has never had a hot grain feed. I'm very careful to keep my goats intake of corn to a minimum. Their ration is mainly wheat, beet pulp, sunflower seeds, and oats. They gets lots and lots of hay.
Chicory was the only goat in the show herd I bought her from that was effected with founder and this can be the case with only one goat effected. I have to assume the founder was brought on by complications when she kidded along with her diet for she did have a difficult first kidding.
These problems are what brought Chicory down into our price range.
This fall Chicory has developed a congested udder that has baffled me to no end. She has a hard, but not hot, udder for five days and then it would be soft for one and then hard again for five more before softening. And I mean HARD. I knew it wasn't an infection but finally desperate I dose her with two rounds of mastitis medication in the both teats twice, three days apart. It was such a heavy dose she became a bit nauseated. Just like I thought, it did nothing. Will she be able to feed her kids this spring if I breed her? I'm not sure.
What choices do I have now? Carrying kids would make her feet hurt worse but I'd really like a nice daughter out of her.
I have a grand daughter and a great grand daughter.
 The grand daughter has become our milk producer. Meagan has a beautiful udder for a yearling. I'm not so thrilled with her split hooves. There is always something though. I'm down to milking once a day and still getting a half a gallon from her.
Yes, I have a daughter. She is growing so.... fast I'm worried about her foundering except she doesn't get but a tiny bit of grain just because I'm giving a little to two much smaller does to increase their size before breeding. I think Daisy here has her father's size gene. He is the largest buck the long experienced linear appraiser judge had ever seen. I only have Daisy, a daughter, because I became to busy to get her sold. Now I kick myself for selling the two I did. I should of kept one of them and sold Daisy here for I've seen one of the other daughters and I think she is better. I'm tempted to buy a doeling this spring from her if the owner will sell and of course she has a doeling. 
So now I'm thinking I will breed Chicory once more, hope she does well in the pregnancy and then decide whether to put her down this next summer. I will have five does, though very young, milking and hopefully that is enough milk. Too bad it has come to this since Chicory is only four years old and in her prime.   

I guess that is what I get for buying damaged goods. It was worth it though because she has given us nine kids and a wonderful personality that has given us a great deal of laughs and joy. Not to mention all the milk and education.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Grain Roller, Was It Worth It?


I bought this Marcato grain roller hoping to rolled my own grains. I have found through experience that rolled oats go bad but wheat stays good for years and years. So I figured storing whole oats would be a good way to keep them for long term storage. So with two rebates from our cell phones we had to replace and a gift certificate I'd gotten for wellness testing, I had almost enough to replace our wheat grinder that bit the dust and buy this grain roller.
I couldn't find much information on it, as in someone who actually uses it. I can see with the little time I've spent today fussing with it, the instructions are WAY too simplistic. Especially since three-fourths of the slim booklet is in foreign languages. 
 Oh well, what's new? Most of what I know is from the Internet and exploration on my own. Since oatmeal was my main goal, I drug in a bag of triple cleaned oats that I bought for the livestock and began my adventure. That is all human grain is, triple cleaned. I know this because that is how I use to buy wheat from the farmers so I figured the livestock could share a little, after all I'm the one buying.

When the result was this. I began looking on the Internet to see if they grew a different strain of oats for animals than humans. I knew that farmers in the area I grew up contracted with different beer companies and raised different strains of barley which they claim imparted a distinct flavor to the beer. I don't drink booze so I've not tested the fact. Some of you might know this for sure.

Hoping not all was lost, I tried taking this outside to the little breeze that was blowing but it did what I thought and took the whole shibang with it. Nope, no winnowing done with this.  Good thing I only did a small amount.

Then I tried some white wheat kernels.
They didn't roll real well either but better than the oats so I called in frustration the shop I'd ordered my roller from. They recommended soaking the grain for a minute in water. I used hot water and tried 2 minutes. The result was better. But now I have moist rolled wheat that has to be used right away and it still looks way too smooshed. 
The Internet speaks of a couple ways of swelling the grains before rolling. Definitely more than  a minute in warm water. 
 I'm wondering about steaming the grains since that is what they do when they roll grains commercially for livestock. The Internet site didn't mention this but it did say heating in the oven for over and hour on low. That is a lot of energy used.
Steaming might work for grains like rye and wheat but there still was the problem of the whole oats which the store said didn't need soaking. Fine but the hulls still needed removed, something they didn't mention. I suppose they've never seen whole oats since this was the city I called.  
When I used some cracked oats I'd gotten from the health food store in Colorado some months back., that I need to use it up....
I actually had real oatmeal. Whoo, hoo!!. A quick oats style since the pieces were small but oatmeal none the less. I'm planning on making oatmeal bread and cookies tomorrow. I'll throw in the tiny bit of rolled wheat too. But tonight I'm blogging.

That didn't take care of my question, " How can I store oats whole so I can make the choice of flour or oatmeal?" Hulling your own oats didn't look feasible as I guess the equipment is expensive and for as little as I would use it, it is just not cost effective. The roller was I think $119 and the dehuller is in the hundreds to thousands. That leaves buying dehulled oats.

Organic dehulled oats aren't cheap and so I'm looking into buying 35 pounds of hulled oats for storage. Can't afford any bigger size but actually I can't afford it at all right now. I believe in checking things out wa....y before purchasing. The grain roller I've had my eye on for a year and a half.

Then as I was searching for organic hulled oats, I ran across a few articles on hulless oats. They are naturally 95% hulless. It sounded pretty good when I read about Avena Nuda as it grows in wasteland, cultivated ground and meadows, especially on heavier soils. Wasteland, and heavy soil we've got. But it doesn't like cold temperatures which we've also got and a short growing season.

Then I saw Paul hulless oats grown by North Dakota Agriculture Experiment Station in 1984. We're neighbors and since North Dakota knows about short growing seasons and especially about cold weather this strain was sounding good. BUT then I saw the low yields and though I'm wanting to try growing small patches of grain to gain the knowledge necessary in case I need it in the future, I'll just keep an eye on this project for future investigation. I need to know a whole lot more before I begin. 

I'm a bit disappointed in my grain roller. It doesn't quite do what I want but then again, I think part of that is ignorance on my part. I need to do a bit more work to figure out just how to prepare the whole grains before rolling. I'll definitely try  steaming them. To me, a hundred bucks is alot of money even if most of the cost of my wheat grinder and grain roller were bought with rebate and reward cards. I could have bought something else with them. I'll keep you updated on my results but for now I've got other projects waiting since I have enough rolled grains for bread and cookies.

Anybody else have experience in this area to share?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Meat Equipment

 One thing I want to make clear. I'm not pushing this product. A question was posed about what meat grinder I use and what it costs. I'm going to FINALLY answer. Hold on to your hats because our grinder if purchased today is $200 US dollars more than when we bought ours umpteen years ago.

Now it is $739 dollars. It seems to be the trend of higher prices. Don't know if it costs that much more to make, less demand, or what but this puppy is high priced. 

If you aren't a serious meat cutter, buy something smaller is a less expensive price. Another option would be to buy used. Advertise in your area, "Wanted, used meat grinder" you might find a bargain. But first do your homework. Decide how big and what brands you would be interested in. E-bay and used meat processing web sites exist online as another option. Meat shops and grocery stores that are going out of business or replacing equipment sometimes have something but beware of the volume of business they do. A meat plant might have really big equipment. Our meat saw happens to be used from an old butcher shop. It works great.

I understand few can fork out $736 dollars for a meat grinder. We are a one income family and hence money doesn't flow freely. I've spent years saving to purchase one item, often asking for money instead of gifts for Christmas and birthdays. Then I turn around and do it over again and again. I spent three or four years saving for my present spinning wheel. We have the largest hand meat grinder on the right. We used it for years and even added a motor but when we began doing beef, no way, was this going to work. My arm would have worn off.

So if something is a need, be creative. Our meat grinder is from Cabelas and for years we have been using Cabelas gift cards and points to obtain merchandise, sometimes adding a little cash to make up the difference. With a priority list we saved and purchased one thing at a time. Sometimes it will take us a few years like in the case of the meat grinder. Some people have cards that earn them flying miles, well, we buy self-sufficiency equipment with ours. It would be out of our purchasing ability any other way.

And though I'm not always keen on buying equipment that has a number of attachments because I'm afraid the main piece will go bad and there I sit with all the attachments and nothing to run them on, BUT room is essential. A small industrial grade meat grinder and cuber take up lots of room. A meat grinder and the cuber attachment, not so much. This is important when you have a slicer, large rolls of meat wrap paper, food grade tubs, etc. etc. and they all have to fit in a small space of storage. We have a single garage and a small home.

We have been collecting this equipment since all our kids were home and beyond, our youngest is 28, so that is over fourteen years. You don't have to be rich to have your own equipment, just determined. And I don't recommend going to the lengths we've gone unless you do 1200 pound animals such as beef. We spent years will a small meat grinder doing our elk, deer, lambs, and occasional goat.

On rare occasions we purchased half a beef and had a shop process it but that was rare because that kind of money just didn't happen often while our kids were small. Then when we started raising and butchering our own beef and two hogs, it was just too much volume and a small industrial grinder was needed. Usually we did the beef one year and the hogs the next because of freezer room and the money pinch. With this small volume on our  our type of equipment, it should last a life-time and beyond.
So I recommend that you first think long and hard about just what are your needs and the type of processing that suites you? For us one of our favorite extras is the cuber.We LOVE, LOVE our cuber. I have pretty severe TMJ but have no problem since we cube all our elk, deer, and some of our tougher cuts of beef and pig. My favorite meat cubed is pork. YUM! Somehow it transforms it into something extra wonderful.

Our grinder gets a work out. We don't just grind beef for hamburger but pork too. I purchased a couple packages of ground chicken from the store too see what it was like and I liked it. Now I'm open to purchasing turkey or chicken and grinding it, if the price happens to be right. Our grinder could really get a work out in the future. Our volume of ground meat is high since we mixed in with our beef and pork sausage or hamburger, deer scraps. Scraps meaning meat that was a bit too tough and sinewy for steaks or stew. I freeze it and thaw when we are ready to process a beef or pig. I don't stop there but grind fat too to render for soap and leaf lard for pies. For us, the grinder and cuber are a must.
We just purchased another piece of equipment last month with gift certificates given from a vendor to our husband and $12 bucks of our own. It is a hamburger patty maker that attaches to the meat grinder. We have a hand run press hamburger maker but it takes a great deal of time to weigh the meat balls for consistency and press each one. I give up long before I make as many as I want.

Time is the cruncher. Many hands makes light work but many hands have all grown up and left home. That means it usually comes down to just these two hands by that point in the meat processing, hubby having gone back to his main job, making money to keep a roof over our heads and pay for our daily needs. I am my own schedule to keep and have only so much time to a lot also before other duties are screaming loud and clear in their urgency to be done.

Each year we try something new in meat processing. We have books and a video and my brain, which is never still. I'm sure my husband would like to turn it off sometimes. Poor man, but he never says a word as I say again and again, "What if....? That has led to a love of sausage patties of various flavors and degree of fat, made into hamburger patties and frozen. We love these in the place of a hamburger and they make a quick fast meal, plopped frozen on the grill, cooked, and sandwiched in home-made bread or bun. They are a wonderful change up from plain hamburgers. This is fast food, our style. The sausage stuffer isn't used so much as we always slice our round sausages so they lay flat anyway.

There are a number of smaller grinders on the market if you do your own elk, deer, lamb, goat, and maybe a pig now and then that will do the job nicely.  Save your money. Don't gear up to this level if your not doing large animals. I'll do another post later on what I believe is the bare necessities of meat processing equipment and the luxuries I think are worth the buck.

We are planning to do a pig soon and in a few months a beef. I have a feeling it will be wise for us to lay away what food we can now. I'm a bit concerned about the drought and agriculture's stability. A friend just purchased four bales of hay at the feed store $15.90 a bale. OUCH! She is forced to sell her horses. 

So if you are a do-it-yourselfer meat processer, what are your favorite extras and what do you think is eccential?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Government Plunder

Today is the day to vote. If you don't, you have no right to complain about the government, for you did nothing to invoke change. Change is badly needed. A change in direction from our greedy tendencies. A need to stand on our own as a nation but first as individuals. For we collectively define a nation. If our national government is corrupt, then most likely our local government is too. What does that say for our families? A nation is a collective group of individuals and families. 
That said, you can probably surmise that I have some pretty strong ideas about the proper role of government. I am naturally of an independent nature, just ask my mother who was it that made the arrangements for her own piano lessons when she was four or five even though she had never met the teacher before?
We were once an independent nation of men and women who gave their time, talents, and wealth to the betterment of generations to come. These patriots didn't enjoy the benefits of their sacrifice. Their efforts were that we might have a better life. How many can you say work that their posterity will have a better life? Yes, we have grown to a nation of people who think they are entitled simply because they exist. 
After study of history, I believe the national government has the sole object and only legitimate end to protect the citizens in the enjoyment of life, liberty an property, and when the government assumes other functions it usurpates and oppresses. The national government should leave the details of all other services to state and local government where the people have more intimate say and control. 
Though our national government originally was set up with the idea to protect the citizens in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property. Remember, we have the right to the pursuit of happiness, NOT the guarantee of it. Somehow in our greed the government has become an agency that's almost sole job is the re-distribution of wealth because of  the natural nature of man's tendency to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort. Just visit the grocery store if you doubt where we are on this. Pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pre-made almost everything including apples already sliced and peeled. Is this not the lengths to which Americans will avoid labor? This poises a fundamental flaw.
How do I know this?  I'm am a fan of history believing that you either learn from someone else's mistakes or make them yourself. I highly value quotes by great men of the past who are wiser than I. They forge the foundation for my beliefs and actions. 
 John of Salisbury said in 1159 of those that study history. "We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours." 
We can stand a little taller because of the wisdom of those who have gone before and because we can choose to watch something and see where that leads. So those who study the past more clearly see the future and the present. This study curbs the weak tendencies in my natural nature as I see the fruit of behaviors years in the future. I've read and re-read the pamphlet, The Law, first published in 1850 by Fredrick Bastiat. Wow, it spells out the misguided direction our nation is headed  because of our tendency to do as little for as much as possible. 
"Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.
But it is also true that man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.
Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain--- and since labor is pain in itself--- it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work.
When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor. It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of work. All measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder"
Heard of pork bellies in laws passed by congress? Simply put, they are plunder. 
This being said, one of my most passionate areas is about this re-distribution of wealth by our national government. Though I am  independent by nature, I'm dependent upon my husband for my livelihood due to my health and Autism. Though he brings home the bacon, so to speak, I'm the one who cooks it.  We have established a division of labor. He makes the money and I do my best to stretch the dollars. The division of labor between us is not defined in stone as we do what needs done. An old ranching rule that means who's ever available does whatever they can of what needs done, which is not limited to outside or inside chores.
Could I have qualified years ago for government assistance, yes, I've no doubt. Could some of our children of qualified also because of their Autism, sure. Would our lives have been easier because of this re-distribution of wealth -- probably. But I was kept in check by George Washington's words, " Never trouble another for what you can do yourself."
Margaret Thatcher puts it, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." 

Our children could go on and on about the things they have learned from work. They began raising livestock when they were five, a bum lamb to be bottle fed and later sold. Then came a group of ewes and their lambs for 4-H when they were eight. They divided their income between expenses, savings, tithing to the church, and pleasures. Thus at an early age they learned to handle money. At thirteen they all also had another income from a regular babysitting job or a paper route. Did we over work our kids, they wouldn't say so. We built tremendous fond memories, confidence, talents, and spend a great deal of time together. My not working allowed me to help devote my time to teaching our children and home-school of course. 
Oh yes, we had our Tom Sawyer of the bunch. LOL She was good at talking her siblings into doing her chores. Her motto being, "If I can get someone else to do it, why should I do it myself?" Now she is a frugal consumer and a HARD worker.  
And even though you might have feelings of, "Everyone else is getting some, I want my share." which I heard my dear mother say about a government hand out one time -- resist. Think first, have I done all I can? Have I toned my imperfections in my personality, am I an asset to my employer or am I just a pain in the butt because of my self serving laziness and temper? Do I give my employer at the very least a hard honest days work for the pay? Have I honed and expanded my work skill? Am I humble? All labor that is necessary to sustain life is worthy of our and efforts and doing well.  
Am I saying that no one needs government assistance? No, there are those that need  help. But I believe in a hand up, not a hand out is in order. Helping the person to better be able to help themsleves rather than a removal of responsibilities. Give a boy a fish and he's fed for the day. Teach a boy to fish and you feed him for life time kind of thing.  And hand ups should be shifted to the local level where the needs can be better monitored. It is proven that people give more generously locally than through forced charities such as government welfare so they would be better funded without force. "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence - it is force! ( Fedrick Bastiat) Just think what happens when you don't pay the government.
Our government doesn't know what a hand up is. If the help motivates the person to do less for themselves, you haven't helped. you've done damage. For instance, if you have a baby with government welfare insurance, you pay nothing. If you have personal insurance, you pay a percentage. How come not having personal insurance benefits more?
I know of many who choose a lower paying job without insurance  and expect the government to bail them out or assist in their living expenses, school lunches, medical needs etc. I have no... problem with someone who honestly needs help by no fault of their own. We've been in circumstances where we had to come up with $12,000 one year for medical costs and another year $10, 000. Kirk is a welder and doesn't make that much money. We have insurance and through great sacrifice, we came up with the money and stood on our own. We are stronger because of it. Life was never meant to be easy.
I know many who choose not to better themselves and instead choose the easy route. "The fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law."(Federic Bastiats Law) May I also add needs, though many people are completely confused about wants versus needs.
I know a gal that works at the grocery store as a clerk at the cash register and she has arthritis so.... bad she can barely stand and walking is very difficult but she is at work five days a week doing her part to support herself. Does she have insurance, no. Does she need a helping hand on occasion, yes. But she is as self-sufficient and frugal with her means as she can be.  What would happen if everyone was motivated to take care of themselves as much as possible, not help themselves to as much as possible?

"Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Where are the patriots that gave their time, talents, fortunes, and many even their lives? Are they all gone or can they be raised up once more? Maybe we need to stand a little taller by studying the past so that we know where we stand in history and where we are headed. The Greatest Generation is the name given to a group of people living during WWII. What I have never heard said though is that these are those who sacrificed and sufferend through the Depression. That is what made them great not easy living. What will it take to turn this nation around in another direction?
My mother recently said in a resentful tone, " Well I never did any of those things because my mother never taught me."

I gently took her by the shoulder, looked directly into her eyes and smiled, " My mother mother never taught me either but that never stopped me."

Remember to vote. Set an example. A nation in it's most basic form is a collective group of individuals and families. Change the moral health of ourselves and our families and you change a nation. Fellow American, we have work to do.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Frozen Clothes

 With the cooler temperatures, it is getting trickier and trickier to get my laundry done. I watch the weather closely to see what days are warmest and what ones have the least wind. It doesn't work to hang out clothes when the wind is blowing 35 to 40 miles an hour. My clothes might end up at the neighbors.

To get three loads done, which is what my clothes line will hold, I have to have the clothes washed the night before and put them out at first light to get them dry by evening.

Our drier has been broken since June and Kirk and I have been too busy to get around to take it apart to check, if for sure, it is just the heating element. With the calendar still booked, I might yet figure out an old questions I've had for years. Do clothes dry more quickly if frozen?

I remember my mom sprinkling her ironing with a pop bottle that had a contraption in the top, a cork with a metal piece that had lots of holes in it.  Then she would stuff the clothes in a clear plastic bag and place them into the freezer. When she got around it, she'd iron. This method helped to smooth out the wrinkles more effectively than ironing alone but she never hung clothes out in freezing cold weather.
I've read of the pioneers hanging out their wash in the winter, they froze, and then they brought them in to dry. Sounds like a lot of work to do a load of laundry. I can't help but wonder how in the world they kept up with a baby and all those cloth diapers. A heated basement in this instance would be a big plus. 
I've been in a position before where I had to dry clothes on my two collapsible clothes racks in front of our basement free standing stove but it hasn't been cold enough to keep our stove going. I'm wondering if I'm going to have to start doing a load at a time and hanging them on the racks to slowly dry in our cool basement. Surely it isn't colder down there than outside. But I can't even do a full load at a time.  
This has my brain whirling, you know how it works. I can't help wondering about hanging clothes out in the freezing weather and drying inside. I bet the wrinkles disappear just like when mom use to freezer her ironing. Once at least I've got to try hanging clothes outside to freeze and then dry inside just to see what happens.
 One Internet site said since water freezes it stretches the fibers in clothes. Wonder if they spring back or just stay stretched? You know how hanging jeans on the line leaves them larger than those thrown in the dryer. Would frozen jeans be even larger? Not a bad idea for those who have to lay on the bed to get the zipper up.
A step further is drying clothes in freezing cold weather. It's possible I guess. The process is called sublimation, frozen water molecules go from ice to gas, floating away. We have dry air most of the year but in many areas of the USA, the air is dryer in the winter than in the summer and hence the clothes dry faster. Icicles have pressure that is low but pressure in the air is even lower when dry, drawing the moisture away from the clothes. A breeze can speed up this process.
So would the clothes dry faster frozen and then brought in to dry on a rack or left outside to dry frozen?
Some of you are wondering why this is even important, after all we have electric and gas driers? But if the shortage of electricity happens, like they are expecting in the future, we could be looking to save energy cost any way we can. Some of you might already be there because of your economic situation.