Saturday, August 30, 2014

Taking a Break

Though I have pictures for lots of blogs to come and several blogs started, I will need to take a break from blogging for a couple weeks. Not that I've been writing up a storm lately but life has become very challenging. There are the issues on our own front. We have three month old kid goats that need weaned and no place to separate them off to, to name  one of the least of our problems. We still have two houses to care for as the other one has yet to sell. Our problems are minor in comparison with others though.

We are bringing Kirk's dad from the hospital to his home today. It has been a difficult couple months of one health problem after another for him. He is 88 years old and his body is giving out. The doctors believe he has but a few days left and he will no longer be with us.

It is the time of harvest and I've seven boxes of fruit showing up on Sunday. I ordered them in May. The garden is in full swing and I'm trying to sneak in a little, and I'm getting only a little, time in to sew the 200 bag order due by the first of November. I look forward to my family of my sisters, their husbands, my brother, and my dad for a reunion. They will be here next weekend. The reunions we use to have, have been canceled due to life's emergencies. This one will come no matter what. It will be most precious as cancer has raised its ugly head amongst two members of the group. Life is so uncertain.

Please be patient, I will be back when I can lift my head above water as they say. I'm praying that will be in two weeks. I  need the writing as it is a therapy for my nerves. Until then know I am thinking of you and longing for quiet moments to write.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Powdered Dried Vegetables

Run out of people to give your zucchini to? Don't forget to freeze some and dry some. I tried putting some zucchini in the blender and then drying it - don't do it. It didn't work so well as it was hard to get off the plastic sheets on the dehydrator trays.

 It did powder up finer than the sliced zucchini but not worth the waste.
Slice instead and then put it through the blender to chop it up. I stored my zucchini last year sliced in ziplock bags but this time I'm powdering it and putting it in canning jars. It takes up less space that way. 
If you have a mandolin, the job is super quick. I love mine and use it almost every day during this time of year.
Some of you will recall that I like to dry vegetables, turn them to powder, and then add them to noodles, breads, and taco shells to boost the flavor and increase the nutrition level. I've done sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beets, spinach, and zucchini. I have LOVED my powdered hot pepper mix also that I don't use in noodles or taco shell but I love it in chili and Mexican dishes. No, dried hot peppers aren't in my noodles. I have yet to try them in taco shells but I should. It should be replaced this year but I've not hot peppers to do it with so I guess it will hopefully be next year. 
This year I'm doing some bell peppers dried. Just ones that I had in my bountiful basket but weren't getting used fresh. We have been on the road wa....y too much but hopefully that will come to an end soon. That has meant I don't get cooking done like I'd like and more food goes to waste, something that really bugs me. Sti...ll I'm doing my best and one can't do more than that. I'm to the point where I've thrown out most of my goals and started over. Not that the goals aren't still there, they just got shoved into next year. That includes doing a great deal of canning and freezing.  
 I am going to do quite a bit of drying of food. It is much quicker than canning. Beets are going today into the dehydrator. What a sorry crop I've had but it is okay, I've still some canned so I'll make it another year with cutting back on how much we eat of them.

 If I've learned one thing it is you should can for more than a year's use. Last year we had hail that wiped out the garden. That meant we ate the left overs jars from the year before. This year the old garden has such a bad PH problem that I planted peas three times and each time they died. That is the garden with the beets. I can see it will take a few years to get things set up like I'd like.   
This year my food storage will be pulled down to the bare bones as I use up what I have and give the old canned food to the chickens. I have a ton of green beans in bottles with a bountiful crop coming on this year. Chickens will love me this winter and in a way I will be eating those green beans through the eggs.  
When the beets are finished drying I will do scallions from the garden. Oh how I love onions dried. I've learned that despite having fresh onions in a dish, a dash of dried onion also adds a nice punch of flavor. In chicken noodle soup it is a must for a full rich broth.  I've dried a little spinach this year and I emphasize little since it was in the old garden. I'll just have to dry lots of zucchini to make up for the lack of spinach. Hoping next year will be better. I had planned on saving seed but have given up on the idea. Things aren't going smoothly in our lives and that is one of the goals that got thrown out the window for this year.
I do hope I get a decent crop of carrots. I put them in really late and it is already getting cool. We've had sixties and low 40's at night this last week. A cool September is in the forecast and I don't doubt it will be as it has already snowed in the mountains. This photo is from before it snowed. The snow has never left the high elevations. I'm guessing if I went where the snow capped peaks are I'd see the snow is pink or green - not white. Have you ever seen pink or green snow? I have a few times in the Beartooth Mountains. It is a growth of some kind that creeps across it. You find it in snow banks where the snow has set for a long time and the temperatures are high but not so high it all melts like now when it is the end of summer but snow is still on the tallest peaks of the mountains.
I've been telling the rain clouds that rain is welcome but do not turn to snow. Our acreage was covered in a thick layer of snow all winter and the soil stayed cold even after the temperatures finally started to rise. It was a very late spring. That meant my garden is really slow. The corn wasn't put in the ground until the third week in June. Usually I get beans the end of July but this year it was the middle of August. My corn is the prettiest thing, tall and lushly thick. BUT it just started to tassel and grow cobs. I'm thinking I may have to try another kind of seed. I've been traveling a great deal lately and every garden I peer at through the window has tasseled corn. The corn is skinny, rather bare with very few leaves, but it is tasseled with ears. Will mine make it before the snow flies? I'm strongly questioning it. It is beautiful but 'pretty is and pretty does'. This might end up being goat feed.
 People ask if I planted early corn? I did. The earliest I could find and it was meant for Alaska. I fertilized it twice but not more than twice, so why so... tall? The neighbors tell me I have the longest growing time up here on the hill of the whole valley but how much longer is the question? I can breathe a little easier since we have lots of frozen corn our daughter brought us from Colorado last year.
My do I keep getting off topic. As for dried vegetables, I want to use some dried bell pepper along with dried onions in tomato sauce dishes and soups. Think what it would do to chili, YUM! Yes, some fresh as well would go in but adding dried would enrich the flavor. Dried vegetables take up so little room and since my storage room is in bad need of a overhaul in the way of building cupboards, food storage needing less space is quite appealing right now.
Now that we are back on the subject, don't forget to dry as well as freeze and can. It is a great way to use those not so perfect crops. I know I'm going to be doing more potatoes that way this fall. Remember I have quite a few potatoes in the old garden that haven't faired so well. I'm thinking potato flour big time. I emphasize thinking as I really don't know what is below those shrimpy plants. I'm hoping to explore potato flour in noodles and not just bread.   Well it is nighty night and a muscle relaxer for me. I've been in bed most of the day with spasms. Life just stays wa...y to exciting for me.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hypothermia Chicken

 Kirk hollered, " Come quick, one of the chickens is in trouble, bring towels!" Still in my pajamas, I ran outside with towels and Kirk led me to a soppin wet chicken huddled by the goat watering tank. Myrna, the Aracauna , was indeed in trouble. Kirk found her straddled in the tank and rushed to remove her but the soaking wet heap couldn't walk for the racking shivers that jerked her body back and forth. She had severe hypothermia. I called for our oldest grand daughter to go and get the blow dryer and I scooped the chicken up in the towels and headed for the electric outlet on the front porch.

Hypothermia is an old enemy. I often suffer from a mild case of it and once a severe level after a surgery. I've treated many species of animals in various stages. Only once before have I dealt with this level and it was a sheep that was run into a frozen pond by a dog in the winter time. Myrna was in BAD shape.
Forming a tunnel in the towels, I blew warm air inside. Then when she wasn't shivering quite so badly, I was able to gently lift each wing and blow dry underneath, fluffing her feathers as if I were creating a puffy hair style. Then last of all I lifted her up and blew dry her belly. When the painful jerking had ceased and she was just lightly shivering, our oldest grand daughter swore she could almost hear a purr. We fluffed and dried for minutes or more and then when we stopped a soft shiver would run through her now and then. We opted to keep her wrapped up in the towels and put her in the nest in the chicken coop, doors closed. She remained huddled inside the towels.
After a while Kirk went out and checked on her fearful that the trauma still might have been too much for her but there she was pecking on the plexi-glass door windows asking to be let out. No green egg today but can you blame her? I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't lay much the rest of the week. I'm just glad our little miss bug catcher is fine once more.     

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Is Your Opinion?

First of all, the pine needle tea from a different pine tree was indeed green, interesting. Hubby's finger is still really swollen but no infection. I'm going to have to look up how to lower the swelling but things have gotten really crazy. I'm really having a hard time blogging this summer. I promise I have been shooting photos and have a long list of posts to finish or do but no time.

For instance right now I've four children sleeping in my room. Presently a slumber party without grandma. I'm determined to say at least something on here and then climb in with a bunch of wiggly bodies. Thankfully three are on the floor and only one in the bed.
 Has anyone come to the same conclusion as I? Regular onions are a whole heaping scoop bigger than scallions in the same amount of time. I haven't eaten the scallions except in a dish so I've yet to determine if flavor makes them worth growing. I know if you are just looking at time, fertilizer, and water then the regular onions are much more economical.
 But first I need to give these scallions a taste test not in a dish where the flavor was masked a bit.
As for cucumbers the pickling ones are hands down superior in flavor. My mother-in-law said the same thing. I'm definitely putting more pickling in than slicers even though you get more cucumber volume wise on the slicers. If you re wondering why it has taken me this long to figure this out, it is because I couldn't get cucumbers to grow in my garden t the old house. I finally gave up.
The small bush style plant on these has me wondering if I shouldn't try growing them in the house this winter if I could ever get around to doing that project.
Does anyone else have the same opining? What do you think about onions versus scallions?
As for the Egyptian onions or walking onions as they are also called, I'm so far sold. I think everyone of the bulbs sprouted despite some being up rooted by the chickens a time or two. So far they have me sold. I'll try and get a word or two more in soon but my eyes just won't stay open tonight so nighty night.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Hubby has an boo, boo. He smashed his finger badly. I'd show it to you but it would not make a funny photo like the donkey one of me. No, this one would make some look away. As for me,  I'm likely to say ew.....w let me see when confronted by such things. I'm morbid that way. The damage is bad enough that one of these days Kirk will loose the nail and maybe it won't grow back. I'm not sure that where he smashed it, that it might not have damaged the growth plate. Do you call it a growth plate. Anyway, the thingy where the nail originates. How about that? I'm sure he did it so he could get out of fencing. LOL

Anyway, we needed to treat the wound and since his friend gave him some root of something, the something we will have to find out what it is, we did as he said and made a poultice. What Kirk thought the piece of dried up root was makes no sense when you coupled the fact that his friend reportedly grew it. The something that he thought he said is not possible to grow here. Thoroughly confused? I know it was tough.

The point is this friend's Native American grandmother taught him the use of it. He keeps some at work and at home for just such an emergency as a smashed finger or worse. We were told to make a poultice and cover the wound with it. Not real sure how you make a poultice but what sprung into our minds was to use Neosporin as the base. The Neosporin is a jell. The finely chopped root mixed in nicely and spread well, staying in place.

But first we soaked Kirk's finger in a bowl of pine needle tea with the companionship of all his fingers, easier that way I guess. Pine needle tea because after all we are trying to work on our natural medicine plan. The one where we use things that grow here or we can grow here.

I've been photographing the wild flowers this summer and looking up what some of them are in hopes of finding medicinal plants for our natural flower garden we plan to put in next summer. I figure if it grows native, it will need less water and care. The only problem is I'll have no idea what the medicinal plant looks like before they blossoms. The garden may take several years.

A few plants and seeds I want to add that aren't native. Calendula flowers are one of them. They volunteered, reseeding themselves, every year at the old house after the initial planting. For now, I'm just study things out. So far I'm not seeing the medicinal plants being eaten by the deer, another bonus.

I'm also going to add some things that the bees particularly love like bee balm. I have a photo of some I found along the road but I'm still looking for it. Alas, I'm having trouble finding the photo. Computer issues. Natives, bee loving, and a few just pretties I like will all mix to make this flower garden.

I have been paying attention to what plants the honey bees tend to and what ones the bumble bees like. I do hope bee balm is in the honey bee list as alas, there are no honey bees where the plants were for me to observe. Another goal is to fill the yard with food for the bees. That is why I'm keeping a list of what they visit and when so I can work on keeping them busy most of the summer months.

Oh dear, I did get way off track. I'd best get back to the original story. We've made pine needle tea before at the old place. It was winter and the needles from a blue spruce made a green colored tea. We drank it for it's vitamin C properties and as a survival experiment. Granted I'd made the mixture too strong but whoa!, Nothing I'd like to drink on a regular basis. Definitely tasted like pine needles. If you are interested in giving it a try be sure to look up pine needle teas as there are two kinds of pine trees that are poisonous.The two bad kinds are not naturally in Wyoming. That is why they don't come to mind as I put the names in the don't need category of my brain.

The tree I used this time looked to be a blue spruce also but the tea turned out a rosey peach color - very pretty. Not sure if it is the time of year of use that changed the color or if I'm mistaken on what kind of tree it is. I'm going to try another pine tree in the yard tomorrow. Will it be green? The purpose for the pine needle tea is not the high vitamin C's but the anti-bacterial property in them.

I'll let you know what the root ends up being. I'm hoping indeed that his friend grows it and we can get a start. Always looking for things that grow well in our new location.

Do you have a medicinal garden?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Goat/Sheep Wedding Bell?

 I had things all planned out. It was going to work out great. Lilly Pad was going to live with Jubull. I didn't want the new little buck to be all alone. In a short few weeks he will be weaned. Then for a short period he will be with the other little goats, then he will have to be separated when he is in danger of breeding the does before we wanted him to. The best part of this idea is they like each other. Not in a best friends kind of way but he is polite. When he can be put in with the girls, she will occupy our freezer. How can I do it? You might recall I don't like Columbia wool to spin. It is spungy and I just don't like the feel of it against my skin. I've a beautiful sweater I made from a lambs wool and though I like it, I don't want another. I have no other use for her except as a companion for a brief period of time. Besides, if I added shearing to our list of things to do my husband would shoot me. Maybe not literally but definitely figuratively.

The plan seemed perfect. That is until my friend, the one that gave Lilly to me, sweetly informed me that she had just learned that sheep and goats can cross. WHAT? Goats have 60 chromosomes and sheep have 54. How could this be possible? She informed me on Facebook. You know how reliable Facebook is. I had to look it up. Sure enough, around the world a few were born this past spring. Strange looking creatures.

Does this mean wedding bell? Oh I hope not. Here I thought putting a sheep and a goat together would be ideal. Oh dear, Lilly Pad has been trying to nurse off of Rachel, Abagail's daughter who isn't even two months old. Does this mean she thinks she is a goat? Or does this means she just misses her momma? It is quite a strange sight as Lilly is bigger than Rachel. Why Lilly Pad keeps it up is beyond me. There is nothing there yet. Oh no, what have I got myself into?

This is what I found out on the Internet:
"Technically speaking, a ‘Sheep-Goat-Chimera’ is the name when the sheep and goat embryos are combined in a lab. Interestingly, in the mature animal, the ‘sheep’ parts were woolly and the ‘goat’ parts were hairy. There is another mechanism by which a geep or shoat can be produced, however. It usually involves a goat learning how to put on a Barry White record and the sheep shearing her wool into the shape of a negligee… While this also results in geep/shoat production, the offspring is, technically, a ‘hybrid’ rather than the lab-produced ‘chimera’. The main difference here, however, is that hybrid geep/shoat cannot reproduce – but the chimera geep/shoat can – but it can only pass on either sheep or goat genes."

This is really rare right? That should mean were safe - maybe.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Thoughts of Survival

It is late. I'm waiting on the oven to heat up to temp and the bread to bake. Summer means not turning it on until it has cooled off in the evening. Cooled off is a relative term I know depending on where you live. Here, we are in the fifties at night or low, low sixties at the highest - heavenly.  When it begins to cool, we throw our windows and doors wide open and let the cool air circulate throughout the house, air conditioning being reserved for only the hottest of days. In this manner we wake to  68 degrees most mornings in the house, my favorite temperature.
Heat and I are enemies. It clashes with my Addison's disease and lays me low. Cold may not be pleasant but at least I can put on more clothes. Sweatshirt weather is my favorite.
Maybe that is one more reason the Lord put us here in the boondocks where we are nestled against the mountains. It is definitely cooler than where our son lives 25 miles away. Definitely cooler than where we use to live about 140 miles away. And that definitely means a change in gardening. At our son's and back at the old house they have had a fair number of 90's and at our old house quite a few 100's.We have had only a couple or so 90's and it can stay that way.
Right now I'm listening to it rain and sitting on the back deck under the large overhand that protects it. The clouded heavens make darkness complete but it is a cozy darkness. A darkness that envelopes you and makes the world seem intimate. The porch lights creates a room all my own.
As I type away, the leaky sky ebbs and the torrent of water that gushed down the down spouts slows to a plinking rhythm. It creates an accompaniment to the creek's whispers as the noises of the heavens still. From the corner of my eye I see brown and look up from my computer screen to see a doe walk along the edges of the light's reach. I can hear the tearing of the grass as she feeds unconcerned by my presence. Soon another doe joins her. They slowly wonder off around the corner of the house as the oven beeps, informing me it is up to temp.
Have I told you lately, I LOVE this place!!! At the old house yes, I also cooked late at night with the windows flung open but there was no serenading of a creek or companionship of nature, just sounds of traffic, televisions blaring, and music playing. As I enjoy the moment, my body screams SLEEP, SLEEP but that will come soon, bread is baking, the last of the chores before bedtime. I spent most of last week chasing the dotted lines down highways in both directions. So this evening I had to culture yogurt, start sauerkraut, make two desserts, bake bread and a yummy new casserole, as casseroly as I get. It a a new cabbage dish, a winner and I'll be sharing it with you. 
One of the things I've been contemplating lately is when we have to live off of a garden what would we plant? I can see that a survival garden isn't the same as a supplemental garden. Too many enjoy nows and things to can or freeze. There is only so much space and so much energy and so it has to really count. I question if we will always have electricity or will the interruption of it become common place? We are getting a taste of that as brown outs happen fairly often and power outages for a few minutes to hours happens about twice a month. I'm told we live in the forgotten valley of the county. It can be rather nice sometimes. My thoughts never still they wander off to will we need to rig something up like they do with donkeys that go around and around to pump water up from a well only we will probably be using goats? Should look into that just in case. Good food for thought anyway.
Warfare in the future is to be increasingly a cyber one. Knock out the banking and electricity and a nation comes to a stand still. Our daughter has friends in the military who specialize in just that, defensively and offensively. That is why my thoughts turn to what did the pioneers grow and do? There is so much history concentrated on the wars and treks but not so much on the daily sustaining things of life.
Potatoes and cabbage are two of the things I've come to conclusion were a staple. But it is late and for tonight I going to give thanks for the things I've learned to date, one of which is to mark my milk, and yogurt jars with the date they were put in the refrigerator with a dry erase pen. A refrigerator, another one of those conveniences we've come to depend upon. I've looked into natural refrigeration. Something I've yet to share with you. But for now, I'm going to sleep for tomorrow will come all too soon.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Donkey Face

 Had a tough last week? Me too! To tried to keep my spirits up, I photographed part of it. Call it a morbid sense of humor or a strong developed coping mechanism -- you take your pick but I was sporting the donkey look most of the week and I did look funny.

The cause? A menopausal honey bee that flying out of the hive soundrd angrier than a ticked off Tasmanian Devil, or what I'd imagine they sound like, and headed right for me. The me that was casually walking by the hive on the way to dump a load of old hay out of the wheel barrow I was lugging. How do I know she was menopausal. I don't. Maybe she was just chewed out by the queen for a sloppy job or had a fight with another bee. I don't know but she definitely was out for revenge when she spotted me. I was the nearest target. The kamikaze bee, attacked., but not before she had pumped as much venom in as she could while I set down the wheel barrow and reached up on top my head to pinch her between my finger tips and scrape her stinger out. A bee's stinger rips from her behind when she stings, leaving a gaping hole and she naturally dies. If you can get her before she has pumped all she has in her tank, you can reduce the effect as there is less venom to deal with. Is it called venom? It was venom in my case anyway.
 This was about nine in the morning. By two in the afternoon my forehead had begun to swell. See the nice little hump? Then by six at night my eyes had started to swell and the bridge of my nose widened enhancing my donkey look. I took a prescription allergy pill.
By ten I had a hard time seeing out of my eyes. I did not have any Benadryl in the cupboard. I only thought I did or I would have asked hubby to pick some up on his way home. I told my husband when he awoke in the morning to wake me up and make sure my eyes weren't swollen completely shut. I could see pretty well but upon rising the water level rushed back in but not as bad as the night before. Time wise that meant my human alarm clock came in at four a.m. By 9:00 a.m. the swelling had come down a little and with a bit clearer vision I went to town to buy Benadryl before church started. I try not to patronize businesses on Sunday so that workers have the choice to attend the church of their choosing also. Because not many others share my beliefs many establishments stay open including my husband's job. The Biblical teaching is not alive and well. Emergency personnel working in hospitals and police departments are excluded of course. They are a part of the 'ox in the mire' scenario.  That Sunday my 'ox was in the mire' as we L.D.S. like to say, (it means an emergency) and since I didn't put the ox there, the bee did, I felt justified in buying Benadryl and Benadryl only. I had taken the last of my prescription allergy pills and there were no refills. It will of course require a doctor's visit. They always do. My husband was amazed at how clearly he could see the water under the skin. I'm a walking science experiment.

The biggest laugh was how slow my body took to react. I have MAJOR hypo-metabolism.  But hey, I reacted that day and not the next. I've done that before too. It is why I'm so fluffy. That and the steroids I'm on for my Addison's disease. That evening when swollen up badly, I did dishes a few at a time. If I walked across the room after getting off of the couch, it meant a full degree drop in temperature. I tested it. I knew there couldn't be a huge draft in the kitchen. The living room and kitchen are one room. Sure enough my Addison's disease had taken a direct hit. I dared not do much more for fear of shutting my body's system down. The bee episode lasted four days.
 That was after this one a few days earlier. I reached up to comb my hair before bed and noticed a rather large lump on my arm. I have a really high pain tolerance. I practice ignoring pain on a daily basis. Anyway, I was grapping ahold of Daisy's collar to pull her back from going into the creep feed I'd set up so Lilly Pad, the sheep, could be separated from the goats at night (some of the goats are not nice to her in a confined space). Before I could close it off,  Daisy made a dash for it. She felt me take ahold of her collar and lunged forward. My hand lost its grip and flew backward colliding with Meagan's horn scurr. Ouch! but I had no time to whimper as goats were crowding the gate to be milked. Chickens needed closing up, etc. etc.

Not the best photo. Couldn't give you the full effect. It's pretty hard to photograph your arm yourself. My arms just aren't that long. Or should I say one arm isn't enough longer than the other to get the job done properly. For some reason my face was easier to photograph, hmm..... Kirk had already gone to bed and when I told him to reach up and feel my arm. He threw back the covers and came flying out of bed and turned on the light in alarm. Yeah, it was big.

The bruise is lovely with shades of purple, blue, yellow, and even a white area in the middle. It took a week to arrive as it is what you call a bone bruise. I've still got a pretty good lump on the bone. Up close the bruise is much prettier. It reaches from my wrist a good way down my arm.

Now this is the part where you say, "A....h, you poor girl!!! But wait, that wasn't all. I thought I had another packet of my hormone squares that I put under my tongue at night. It has five essential hormones to keep me somewhat balanced. I take more in tablet form. I didn't have any. I scoured my refrigerator, no luck, but the refrigerator looks the better for it. I had to wait five days before the pharmacy compounded the mixture and it arrived in the mail. Yes, I was a physical and emotional basket case.

BUT that wasn't all. I was suffering from a 'I'm not getting enough done and things just aren't going well' depression that my husband was also suffering from at the same time. Misery likes company.

I spent the week contemplating the book I'm reading titled 'Not My Will, But Thine' by Neil A. Maxwell which talks about not being set on what we want but doing what the Lord wants. Also I thought a great deal about the talk by Dallin H. Oaks that was titled, ' Good, Better, and Best'. It has been a time of depression, mild anger at not getting my way, and acceptance. The normal course emotions go through when we have to let go. My thoughts on the subject are for another blog. Today maybe you could be just a little sympathetic and understand that my silence was due to my hunkering down and surviving the last couple weeks as I readjusted my attitude and goals.