Sunday, June 30, 2013

Adventures From Home

The grand kids were here Saturday and I told them we were going on a journey. "Right after we eat?", piped in our four year old with a hopeful tone. We are going on a culinary trip to China without ever leaving home. We are going to eat sweet and sour chicken, rice noodles, brown rice, and American green beans. Green beans because they are big and I figured the kids might just be able to use the chop sticks on them without too much trouble. Besides the other food was rather foreign to them.
 Why I didn't say Japan is beyond me because the chop sticks we were using were from Japan. One set Kirk picked up when he was there and one set a friend from Japan sent.  
 The kids found the sticks a real challenge. Green beans ended up being a good choice and the first thing gone off the plates.
 Our six year old was the most thrilled with the whole adventure and asked Sunday if we couldn't go on another culinary trip. She is our fashion, culture loving child. I had mentioned that I wanted to try a new dish which is made in Germany and many other countries. To this our four year old piped in, "Can we go to Wendy's?" We had to laugh. Yes, Wendy's is a foreign land to Grandma and Grandpa who rarely eat out but somehow I think she the whole part about country being somewhere else was not well explained.
Here is our four year old who soon gave up on using two sticks and began just poking beans with one. It wasn't long before she was asking if she just couldn't use her fork.  

With a little theatrical dramatics, the kids thought the whole thing was awesome. The children could try out new food, a new set of utensils in the comfort of their own home without worrying about strangers looking on, something our six year old is particularly conscious about.  

It is what we did with our own children. We went a bit further though and watched videos from the library of the country, learned some customs, and tried making some of the food. Today they love trying new foods and experiencing new cultures.

The memories of our home adventures make me laugh and still bring smiles to our grown children's faces.  We were especially busy at Christmas time where we choice a different country to model our celebration after. There was the time Kirk and I made a duck shaped pinata and filled it with candy. The kids beat the tar out of that thing and it never did break. Another year Kirk was a  Tomte and in my nightgown and a cone paper hat, snuck around to the front door, beyond red faced with embarrassment, and brought gifts to the kids. Maybe our experiences weren't completely authentic but they instilled a courage and excitement about trying new things that has never left them. Maybe haven't liked everything but that is okay too. If you never try, you will never know.  

Sometimes I think we have been blessed to not havr much money for our imaginations have run wild. We have taken many trips, we just hardly ever left home. Yes, we did go places. Day trips where we got up early, did livestock chores, and went to usually one paid event and as many free ones as we could find. Then we ate out once that day. The other two meals we brought our own food for. It took planning, more planning than just leaving home with a wallet of cash but that was part of the fun too, to choose just how we would spend our day. And best of all the kids learned far more as we gave them the allotted budget and they choice the fun.

We also found many who were willing to share their expertese with us such as the gentlemen who excavated the Fort Phil Karney and who took us on a private tour. Then there was the trip to watch a newpaper being printed, Christmas Eve reinactment of the 1800's at Fort Casper and many more adventures.  

We did take one normal family vacation. The kids were disappointed. They said the day trips and trips from home were far more fun than sitting in the car hour after hour between sites and activities.   
 And while there are great sites to see on a trip and many different foods to try, there are also natural wonders right in your own back yard one should never miss.

Kirk and I were sorting through metal piles trying to do some major cleaning up and under a number of the flat pieces of metal were these ant tunnels. I'm guessing they were carpenter ants but I'm no expert. What I never could find out was why the eggs were of two different sizes. In bees the smaller eggs are worker and the larger ones are drones. Occasionally you will see a queen egg but that is only if the queen is very old or the hive is very crowded.

I'd say the eggs grew in size and became the big eggs except there weren't any in between sizes so these are obviously different kinds of ants, not in species but maybe male or female or queen.

I do know that a unfertilized egg turns into a male and the queens have wings and if the food supply is good, the queen of the colony will produce many queens which will fly away to start their own colony. So are these big eggs queens or are they males?

And yes, we could have turned this into a culinary adventure too as in Mexico they eat ant eggs in various dishes, kind of like caviar, but I'm not sure I'm THAT adventurous. I prefer sweet and sour chicken or rather I think I do. Maybe ant eggs are really good too. I guess I might, I said might, try them if the right opportunity opened up. My friend says cheap caviar just tastes like salt but expensive caviar is divine. I'm waiting for the expensive ant eggs I guess but I don't know of a five star chef willing to serve them.  

So for now, the grand kids, Kirk, and I will enjoy watching them and allow our minds to wonder.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Broken Rabbit

 "We bought a broken rabbit Grandma but it isn't really broken. You've got to come and see it." That was my first introduction to a broken rabbit. Before I just thought they were spotted.  Now of course I know New Zealand rabbit colors are red, black, white, or broken. Any other breed and I'm clueless. I can't tell you though if broken refers to brown and white or just black and white. It would make sense that there are red and white ones since I'd think if you cross a white rabbit and a red one you would get some of the litter with red and white broken.  

But now that I've seen the black and white broken ones, I've got to say I'm rather partial to them. My husband would give me a resounding NO!! if I asked for one but this little one is my favorite. We had a house rabbit once and it wasn't a positive experience. He terrorized the cat. The problem might have been that he came home as an adult male and we had a female cat. He chased her all over the house and peed on every rug. He didn't stay for long. Maybe if he had been castrated things would have been different. Who knows but at least he probably wouldn't have been marking territory.
 When our daughter said she wanted to raise rabbits I was kind of excited. Seriously, how can you resist this little black one? He reminds me of a hippo, he is so chunky and fat.
Then there is this cutey pie. All white like his daddy or is it a her? Our daughter and I stared at every one of these kits behinds and declared every one of them a girl --if they were kittens. Cat kittens I mean, not rabbit ones. But since these are rabbits, I guess you have to do the baby chick thing and gently squeeze their little opening to see if anything resembles testicles. They hide in the abdomen until the bucks are 9 to 20 weeks. I'm guessing they say that because a male can hide his manhood if he desired or is scared.  

With the question of gender so much in question ( I was going to say sex but with rabbits that answer is always yes, 365 days a year) it is lucky the males mature approximately one month later than the females and so by that time we should be able to figure out if this litter of eight minus one lost a couple days after birth is does or bucks. Most likely a combination of the two. 
The heavier and larger breeds taking longer to mature than the smaller breeds of rabbits. That puts maturity for New Zealand at about 7 months. This does not mean the doe will not become pregnant at an earlier age but her body will not be mature enough to handle the strain and her health is at peril if not her life and the kits. She isn't mature enough mentally either to handle the responsibilities of motherhood.

Oreo here did an awesome job. She had eight kits her first litter and they are all as fat as butterballs. Eight is a lot of babies to feed and tend to.

The next stage is what has me wondering. How will the grand kids handle putting these bunnies on the dinner table. Yes, that is what New Zealand rabbits are bred for. The bucks weighing in at 9 to 11 pounds and the senior does 10 to 12 pounds. Fryer weight being around 5 pounds in 8 weeks, pretty impressive.

Compare that to broiler chickens who reach the weight of 31/2  to 4 pounds at 8 weeks. I'd say the rabbits out do them. And since does are induced ovulators, meaning during copulations they release an egg, they are ready and able to become pregnant at the drop of a hat. 28 to 32 days later out pops  passel of baby bunnies.

No wonder so many pioneers raised rabbits. How come all you hear about is the family cow?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Just Got To Share

Busy day but I just wanted to tell you about something that happened. Sorry no pictures but I have really got to get to bed. It is late and I've had little sleep since my bed partner, our four year old grand daughter has been up the last two nights coughing her poor little lungs out. I'm afraid I might be coming down with it but how could I resist those cute little arms reaching out to touch me and sometimes the whispered words, " You there Grandma?" Yes, it is tough being little and sick. And where do the grand kids want to spend half there time when ill, at Grandma's of course. When our daughter came to pick up her sick daughter tonight, for just the night, (she will be back in the early morning) our youngest, who's one, was so excited to see that they were going in to Grandma and Granpa's that she beamed the whole way.  Then she laughed when she saw me. We do have such a good time together.

But others have been getting their share of babysitting in as Kirk and I have a great deal of fix er up work to do. Today I shoveled out a good size area and brought in the bricks to edge the walk way that will be rock that goes out the back garage door and along the back side. Kirk extended the hieght of the metal frame around the chimney stack that rises up from the basement and attaches to the side of the house. It is so we can bring in more dirt to slope away from the house. After thirty-two years of living here the dirt has sunk in a bit all the way around the house and that spells water running in the wrong direction so we are correcting that problem.

We also almost have the new front screen door up so all in all between cuddling with our grand daughter and doing chores we had a pretty productive day. Sorry no pictures. It is just a bit too much to get everything done but I'll try and get some up soon. As I write it is raining nicely outside. We were so.... extremely dry, it is nice to finally start getting some rains. I figured out how to send them our way. No, I don't do a rain dance, I simply put out the old paint cans in the back yard with the lids off to dry out so I can throw them in the garbage. It has rained three times in less than a week. So if you are a bit short on rain, give it a try. Doesn't work so well to dry out the cans but I'll take the rain any day over dried out paint.

What I wanted to tell you though was I used the rest of my potato flour today. I made country fried steaks out of some cube steak with garlic potatoes, milk gravy, and beans. Yum! but to thicken the gravy I used half flour and half potato flour. It added flavor and worked like a charm. The rest of the potato flour I used in the cinnamon raisin bread I made. I've just got a little more dried potatoes left to grind so hopefully my potato crop does well.

The end of the story that isn't told on the below link is that I found after putting the dried potato bits in the blender to break them up, it works great to then put them through the wheat grinder. For those of you who might of missed my post on making potatoe flour here it is. I figure the more kinds of flour I can make and use the more nutritious and versitile my cooking will be. Besides it makes great self-reliant prepareness.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Playing Dress Up

Fun at grandmas should be the title of this picture. Yesterday the girls spent the day with me and we had fun despite this little tyke above who has four teeth coming in and cries at the drop of a hat. She wanted to be held almost constantly while my four year old did also since she appears to be coming down with the pneumonia stuff that is going around. Her oldest sister had it and ran a high fever for eight days. Nasty stuff that is putting many little ones in the hospital.

So needing to occupy four quietyly, I figured it was a good time for a fashion show. It would delight the two older ones and the two younger ones could sit on my lap being entertained while I tried to also shoot photos. Just call me the contortionist.

 Just look at this big smile and you can see just how much fun we had.
 Who said pantaloons, a wool vest, an authentic sailor's hat, and a corn cob pipe intended for winter snowmen doesn't make an attractive outfit?
 This dress cost me only a few dollars at a second hand store. It was torn and I had to take it completely apart and remake it to fit this cuties's mom but it turned heads when it was done. It was part of a costume for the highschool play. With some peach fingerless gloves I'd made to match, hoop skirts, a fabricated peach lace fan, and the home-made pantaloons in the picture above, these girl's mom made a right attractive Southern Belle. The things you can do with a few sewing skills.
And a large number of potatoe chip clips. LOL I must have five or six of these things and they spend more time holding dress up clothes than actually on chip bags. The kids love them.

These cast offs and a pile more are hand me downs, parts of costumes I'd made from numerous plays our three children did from junior high on up, and things I've just picked up. When the girls were done they requested shoes. No, I don't yet have shoes in this fun stash. The oldest said to put in sensible shoes at the protest of her younger sister who wanted sparkly fashionable ones. I had to laugh, yes, these two are nothing alike.

I remember our two girls doing fashion shows at their grandparents house with some of these same clothes. Somethings never change and there is great comfort in that. As for the our four year old. She started to dress up in these clothes and found them huge. That's okay, she has a stash of dress up clothes of her own, just her size. Besides, she really didn't feel up to it.

Buying Realestate

Not much to say lately because how interesting is it to go on about home improvements like painting the conduit line that runs along the house the same color as the house so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb or filling in cement cracks in the driveway - not much. But I can tell you not to fill in the cracks with your fingers. They do the task nicely but they end up bright red with sores and you'll wish you hadn't. And you will likely not be finished with the task as mine was only a quarter of the way done before I had to stop and let my fingers heal. 

We do have some larger projects we are also working on but some of what we are presently doing is just clearing out things that have sat in the backyard cluttering up the place and in the house too. There is a bunch more of this to come. In life there comes a time to not start something new so much as just fix up or clean out the old.

That leaves little time for doing exciting new things for this blog but I the plan is to be done by October with our list. Then if we are still here next spring we have another list of visual improvements. Don't fear though I do have a few things I am working on and a few plans like making vinegar this fall. Thankfully the hail last night, that lasted for ever, didn't completely strip my plum and apples trees of their fruit. It did kill some of the plants in the garden and hammered the others. My garden is just a third of what it usually is because of the change of focus for the summer. It has been a bit unnerving to put in so little though because of the continued crop failures around the country due to fire, flood, and every other kind of disaster. Luckily we have plenty of food in the basement from last year's garden and though I like to have extra, I guess we will be using ours up this coming year. 

 Please be patient as we do this fixer upper stuff, I do have a few things I'm working on and I'll share them along the way. None of this trips our trigger as they say but we aren't rich folk so the task is left to us to do. And in that there is great learning too as we've never built a front porch over an exiting porch so that could be interesting. We've redone a bathroom but never the ceiling which needs done in our master bathroom so that will also be a new challenge.

The main reason for all of this hurry up and get done is the town's decision to move the livestock corrals where our animals reside. Presently we have the priveledge to lease a 100 by 150 ft. piece of land with a water hydrant on it. We then put up our own fences and buildings. The new facility will not have such freedoms and the town will build the buildings they desire and heavily regulate it at a substantial cost for the priveledge.   

 Hence, the fix it up and try and be in a better situation in order to make of a move of our own. That leads us to research real estate though Kirk has applied for a transfer we don't know yet of their decision. We have to just keep trying.  

But if it is the case that the answer is no, then the good Lord has something else in mind and we just have to keep looking for the window he is leaving open to us. The town's moving the livestock pens has shifting us into high gear and that is a good thing. We should have been working harder on the house, finishing up the planned remodeling instead of living for example with a bathroom that has a large hole in the linoleum due to me ripping it out when the shower had a leak five years ago.

And we should have put on a new front porch when the old one leaned drunkenly to one side. Meanwhile as we fix up our house to put it on the market, we are looking at the market in areas we would be interested in moving to. Land with water is a WHOLE lot more expensive than this almost none existant water area we live in. But if you are looking for land to be self-sufficient on, water and then soil quality are huge. Water in the form of a creek, water rights on a ditch, sufficient springs and of course a well that pumps lot of good quality water. You don't need all of the above but a sufficient combination of them to do the job. How else do you water your garden, orchard, livestock, and hopefully a field or two since percipitation for Wyoming is only 12 to 14 inches a year?

We are off tomorrow to look at more property and try and continue to figure this whole thing out, especially how to pay for it. The good advice my my ex-sister-in-law, who has been in realestate for over twenty years, is to look a great deal first and get a feel for what your money can buy before making a move. Then you will know a bargain when you see it. 

We own our home we presently live in so I looked into a bridge loan but they are really best for if you owe on an existing home and want to buy another one before selling the one your in. The problem with them is fewer agencies do this type of loan and the interest rate is much higher. The whole point is to get the best deal we can.

So how do we get a loan for a place with a low interest rate and low payments with a promise of a large portion of the loan being paid off when our existing house sells? Maybe it is impossible. We just can't afford the large loan payments we are seeing for the properties we have looked at. Put this house and a bit more money and the picture looks brighter but we have to sell this house and Kirk find comparable work pay.

When we have looked at places to buy, as we will do once more tomorrow, we have looked at the initial cost, the cost to fix up the existing property because I can't have carpet in the home as it lulls me to sleep, an allergic reaction that also shows up in my beet red face. We need a shop for Kirk's knife business, a garden spot, and I need something to build upon for the stock.  So that means remodeling costs have to be figured in. The more that needs changed, the more money it will cost and new is more expensive than used.

Rural places zoned for ag, not ag/ residential are half the cost on property taxes, something that continues even after the property is paid off so an expense we find important especially when Kirk retires. I can't ever retire from my job. LOL The other is places with convenants. I understand the reason people want them but I don't like them. It is others dictating how they want you to act and has the potential to turn into a vigilantee committee. It also bares costs at that could come at difficult times instead of more when YOU choose, such as road improvements. 

So what if we can't move for a while, well we are thinking about  investing in just land? I started looking into that more as without a job you can't move. What we will do with the stock is a big question but if we are looking for a window we have to look at all possibilities.

We are feeling more comfortable about investing in land than the stock market right now as the interest rates are low. Though the stock market may be doing well right now with our money, we've lost for us a small fortune over the years when it wasn't. It is high now and that means it will likely go down soon. I swear those running the stock market are an extremely emotional lot and the slightest hint at trouble and they tuck their tails between their legs and run. Why else does the market change so drastically when rumors fly?

The problem with just buying land is you have to eventually develop it. A road, septic system, a well, running electricity and utilities are just the begining costs. My ex-sister-in-law said on a little place you could easily pay 20,000 for fencing costs alone. You do all this and then you've got a house to build, garage,  a shop, and out buildings. I'm not so sure land is the way to go especially when it is ten years to retirement to pay off the land and all of these costs.

My research says to also check into the county planning division to see if they have future plans for the land area in which you want to buy. What if they are planning on changing the zoning? What if they are building a major highway, a garbage dump, an airport, or some unwanted facility nearby? I hadn't thought about that. Then there is the 20 to 50 percent down payment required on land only transactions. And if the area has convenents or an another group which requires yearly fees then you still owe the fees for road maintenance for example even though you don't presently live there and use the road.  

Yet, since a bird in hand is worth two in the bush, I'm thinking right now some kind of land investment sounds better. Land we can subsist on when things fall completely apart. Call me a doomsdayer if you like but a government who has run a muck like ours rampid with corruption spells big trouble for its citizens until things are righted. I don't care if you do like the present president and aren't worried about the intrusions and out of control spending. It is the direction that we are headed in that is so alarming because the next guy could build on the present controlls over the citizens and their would then be a dicatorship. I wish people could think beyond the moment to the path we are headed down. Though land besides our money can be stolen by the government, it looks the better bet right now for financial safety.  

My sister has some friends that recently spent time in an area of a foreign country where they grew almost everything they needed and what they didn't they bartered for on the side. They had no money. It can me done and that is what we have been preparing to learn to do, just in case. I've read my scriptures and I know what is coming, just not quite sure how soon. The signs are all around us.

So wise reader, have you got any advice for us babes in the woods? We could sure use some right now.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Learning Each Day Sometimes The Hard Way

What a dummy. I thought that I was so smart that I could tell the difference between buttermilk and sour cream in the jars after they cultured so I didn't label the jars before hand. Yeah, well, for the first time the buttermilk did not come out kind of slimy in texture. They both came out looking like sour cream. Why oh why do I do this?

And as for the tortillas, well I made them with ghee this time and oh how I'm missing my lard. They were good but just not nearly as yummy. I asked the butcher if he ever had any left over pig fat and he said no. They have a tendency to keep any extra and freeze it for fall to mix with deer and elk meat. Now I've got to find someone who is raising their own hogs and ask for the leaf lard. The butcher would then have to give it to them if asked. The store lard has me questioning what dangers might be hidden inside since hogs in commercial settings are fed all kinds of things. I'd rather avoid buying it. 

Matilda why oh why didn't you have any fat. I guess I'm not the only one though because the butcher said the Meisheon pigs he's done didn't have much fat or meat either. It is hardly a consolation that I didn't mess up in the way I raised her because I still don't have any lard for my freezer. And this was the year I was going to make goat milk soap too and do far more cooking with lard. Far more doesn't take much since I probably use it once a year.

I also made banana bread with ghee instead of shortening. It was good but you could taste the difference. That is all of us except our son. could tell His taste buds aren't as sensitive. I was pleased because it was one more move to eliminate shortening from our diet and find substitutes that work well in each of my shortening recipes. I have gotten rid of most of my shortening recipes but there are a few that are too good and have lingered. The ghee was cold from the refrigerator and I'm guessing this is why I had to add a slight bit more milk to the recipe to get the consistency to come out right.
I saw on a facebook page last weekend a reference to an experiment done by a gal who tested which developed mold first, store milk or fresh? She left them both in canning jars on the kitchen counter top. It wasn't a real surprise to me because when you think about it, you pasteurize your milk or cream to kill many of the bacteria in order to create a void in which the new culture can fill without interference and develop the bacteria you desire.

I'm not sure why fresh milk doesn't taste as good after a few days but I'm guessing it is the cream that is effected because if I separate my milk it lasts longer in the refrigerator.  It also has a sugary taste. Store milk makes me leary as it lasts far too long in the fridge without changing and it looks blue not white like home milk. 

 In my wanderings into the Internet this is what I discovered.
pasteurized milk typically has a refrigerated shelf life of two to three weeks, whereas ultra-pasteurized milk can last much longer, sometimes two to three months
Did you know that Organic milk is typically ultra-pasteurized?

Q&A: Does organic milk last longer?
Oct 17, 2008 10:10 AM
Why does the organic milk I buy last so much longer than regular milk? —J.H., Holden, Mass.
Organic milk often undergoes "ultrapasteurization," in which the milk is heated to a very hot 280° F (137.8° C) for 2 seconds, rather than the 161° F (71.7° C) for 15 seconds used in conventional pasteurization. By killing more bacteria, the extra heat extends the milk's expiration date. It's not clear whether organic-milk producers ultrapasteurize as an additional safeguard against bacteria, since organic cows consume no antibiotics, or simply to extend shelf life. Properly refrigerated, ultrapasteurized milk has a shelf life of 40 to 60 days unopened, compared with 15 to 17 days for milk pasteurized the regular way. But you should consume all milk within 7 to 10 days after opening.
Consumer Report

I don't care if store bought milk is organic or not. Milk that can last that long has got to be bad for you. So I looked into it a bit further and found this.
Pasteurized milk serves as a good medium for pathogenic bacterial growth. Some pathogenic bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes, which causes Listeriosis, can survive the pasteurization process. The FDA states that there is a yearly 2.6% incidence rate for Salmonellae and a 6.5% incidence rate for Listeria monocytogenes due to pasteurized dairy products. Pasteurized milk also contains large amounts of dead bacteria that should not be consumed as their metabolites act as toxins. Whereas raw milk has a built-in safety system of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli species, immunoglobulins, leukocytes, enzymes such as lactoperoxidase and lactoferrin, as well as numerous other compounds which work synergistically to inhibit pathogenic microbes. These compounds are all inactivated or destroyed by pasteurization. Organic Pastures Dairy, the leading supplier of raw milk in California, did a challenge test and found that their raw milk does not support the growth of salmonella, E. Coli 0157:H7 or Listeria monocytogenes.In January 1974, Consumer Reports stated that 44% of 125 tested samples of pasteurized milk violated safety regulations. Consumer Reports asserted that pasteurization is an excuse for the sale of dirty milk, that it may be used to mask low quality milk and that it promotes carelessness and discourages efforts to produce clean milk. The same can be said today of conventionally produced milk. Pasteurization does not solve the problem of raw contaminated milk, but instead allows this problem to continue to exist. It allows large companies that produce pasteurized dairy products to get away with milk made from unhealthy cows raised in unsanitary, factory-farm conditions. Grass-fed raw milk from small farmers will actually decrease the number of food-borne illnesses due to dairy and it will be easier to pinpoint the source of the contamination (should it occur) unlike large dairy plants that get their milk from numerous farms. Raw, grass-fed milk is a nutrient-dense food that is healthy for most people to consume since cows raised on pasture produce healthier milk than cows from confined animal feeding operations. The main reason why raw milk from small farms is vilified is simple – it’s to protect the interests of the dairy industry.

It has become that if you don't do it yourself it probably isn't real safe. That is why we are working so hard to get this place ready to sell and in the mean time learning a thing or two. Don't use your fingers to spread concrete into the cracks in your driveway, they will end up with open sores on the tips, red, and tender. And if you don't normally use chemical sprays and are completely ignorant about them like me, you might be surprised to find out that the packaging lies. One application does not kill weeds. It only makes a few look a bit wimpy and most of the others will look as right as rain. I'm hoping two doses will. We are resisting using Round Up because it is manufactured by Monosato. Do any of you have a good brand that works. We have a thistle outbreak that multiplied greatly from last year to this. Far more than simply pulling will do with all the other tasks waiting to be done. So I'm being practical and spraying, something I've not done in the 32 years we've lived here. But we have to get things done to sell and the chances are the next owners are going to be more disturbed by the thistle than the chemicals used. Sad isn't it?

I'm also working on a quilt for my mom when I'm taking some rest time during the day. My first of this kind. I'll take pictures and show you but right now I've got to get some sleep because my hubby has tomorrow off and it is put the pedal to the medal day once more. Not that today wasn't one of those days too.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Busy Doesn't Begin to Describe It.

I know this site has been a bit silent but we have been at a dead run ever since it stopped raining and my hubby got home. We could use a little rain again but while we pray for more, we have to steam ahead on projects.

We made a tentative list for June and the first week into it we have built a small retainer wall, hauled in a truck load of dirt and begun building up the soil around the house in the front, finished the window wells,  ran underground drain pipe connecting the two down spouts on each end of the length of the garage, and managed to disasterize the house because of neglect.  

The livestock pens aren't the same either. Touch, our buck goat, was sold.

Cory went to the butchers. That was a traumatic event. Not that I was sorry to see him go. It was quite the opposite. I thought I was going to dance all the way home. We haven't been able to work the yaks through the chute since he came. He riles them up too much and isn't above charging us if pressed. That made getting him in a smaller, confined area, which was the requirement of the meat processor, quite a trick.

My dear ranching friends were headed back to South Dakota but volunteered to help pen him in the shed. It was a day early but that was okay because there was no way I was going to manage penning him by myself. Kirk was gone and I'm doubtful if the two of us could have done it as it was tricky with just three. Cory is extremely excitable and Corriente cattle like to jump. That makes the fence a suggestion, (Please stay in here.)  Not a firm barrier. To makes matters worse, Cory doesn't mind using his horns to make his point when he doesn't want to do something. He has BIG horns. This is one of the hazards of buying an animal and not raising one so you  can instilling manners. 

Not sure just how aggressive Cory would get, I brought my horns too, a pitch fork. Luckily with a great deal of patience and a huge blessing from above, we managed to get him in the shed where we'd put a couple heavy panels across the opening.  When he realized he was enclosed, he became very agitated and kept challenging the fence, threatening to jump over. That meant I kept racing back and forth to get in front of him to block his way.

He finally calmed down when my friends hid around the corner and laughingly offered to bring me a pillow, blanket, and sandwich for the long night. Luckily, Cory likes me and after some threats mixed with a great deal of sweet talking he calmed down enough to begin eating. In this volatile state between calm and berserk, it made the two days left very tense as I ran to the corrals three times a day to make sure he never ran out of food or clear water. Keeping him happy was a huge priority.

 Though he was staying in, it didn't mean Cory was happy about it. When  the meat processor showed up he took one look at the stranger and went ballistic. "Let's get him some grain and see if he won't eat it." the processor suggested. I knew better. There was only one way to calm him down, a bullet so I hollered for him to hurry. While the processor went to his truck, Cory was worse than when the ranchers were there and kept me racing back and forth as he charged the fence.  Once not quite fast enough to stop him, he managed one hesitant leap with me screaming, "No, Cory!". He managed to get his two front feet over the top and part of his chest. Only because I startled him as he was leaping. It was enough though that he could of wiggled across the top of the fence but I rushed in and beat him back. There was no way I was going to chase him around the pen. I wanted this steer dead. 

Believe me, when it is time to butchering a steer or a hog, you'll know. As the meat processor says, It isn't when the steer is to perfection meat wise that people call him. It's when they get tired of wrestling with a problem. Yes, animals that get close to butcher size start getting full of themselves and often begin destroying fence, getting out, or being ornery with their owner. Cory occasionally challenge me when I came in the pen and I'd have to act tough without invoking a fight. He wanted to be top dog now that he was getting big but I was determined it wasn't going to happen or my safety was really at risk.

So when I started screaming, "You'd better hurry and bring the gun, FAST! I don't know how much longer I can keep him contained.", some of you will understand having been there yourselves.

Then yesterday we banded the bucks, all but two. We use bands this time of year instead of cutting because the flies are few making maggots getting in around the band pretty slim. I've dug maggots out with tweezers before and don't wish to do it again. Tonight we dehorned the last two kids, Madelynn's, and since chores are never done it is feet trimming time and shed cleaning once more.

But first, I really should get my garden in. My plants in the living room are HUGE. I've decided to put only the plants in the garden and skip any seed planting. I want out of here so bad I can hardly stand it. I like the house but the soil is horrible and my animals are too far away. We are going to concentrate on the house and getting it ready to sell. That means all else has to take a back seat.

June is a lovely weather month to get the outside worked done and July and August the inside for it is much hotter. So that is the schedule.

That doesn't mean I don't ache to try new things. My daughter sent me off on a search looking up how to make pectin from citrus. You grate the zest off and use the white pith for pectin while the inside is for juice or whatever else you want. Sounds very resourceful and I've got to try it sometime, just not now.

Plus, I'm aching to make cultured butter. Had some from the, via my step-dad, and YUM! I'm sure it was cow and though the package didn't say cultured, it had to be because of the flavor. The instructions I found recommended using Mesophilic culture but I've not the time right now to get my frozen culture going and keep it going. I did try using some home-made cultured sour cream thrown in a chilled blender container but even with ice cubes I couldn't get it to form. Oh well, I guess I need to experiment more and research a bit further. For now I've got more than enough on my plate.

What is keeping you busy?