Thursday, April 27, 2017

More Buttons

 Remember grandma's button box or rather metal tin. That is what my grandmas had, didn't yours? My favorite one was my dad's moms, a round blue decorated (if my memory serves me right) metal tin stuffed half full of treasures. My Grandmothers lived through the Great Depression and 'waste not want not' was heavily employed so clothing, buttons, and zippers were given a second life. 

 I'm feeling that The Great Depression is just around the corner for us as I just completed our yearly budget. Yes, it is four months into the new year but we had to purchase a used Yedi and so I checked and sure enough stretched tight became dong! But wait you say, 'What is a Yedi?' You don't have a Yedi? Well maybe you do but just call it a Yukon. There are lots of them but only one Yedi which is much warmer and more personable don't you think?

That may not make sense but why does naming cut up weiners in corn bread, 'Dogs in a Bog' cause excitement at the dining room table with the grandkids? Or why does naming the bear hanging on our entry wall Cocoa, somehow give him a cuddly protective feeling instead of scaring the grandkids at night when they wonder off to the bathroom in the dark? Sometimes perception goes a long ways.

 So now you know what has me clipping buttons off of used clothing once again and thinking about what supplies I have that I could turn into something that would bring in a little income. This stained shirt that refused to come clean donated its buttons yesterday. Yes indeed, my button collection is not reserved to one tin but three organizer bins and yes, the grandkids like to go through it too. And should I admit it......hmmmmm I'll confess, I have one more storage bin in reserve. You know the say, "Build it and they will come" 
I feel no shame for I have used many used buttons and intend to use many more used buttons in the next year. How many use or used did I use in one sentence or is it two sentences? Oh dear, can you tell I had little sleep last night? Late night and a 4:30 am  morning to load goats going to their new home creates a silly me. 

 My latest treasure are these unusual buttons I found on a wool skirt I was taking apart to felt the fabric. I'm referring to the bottom two metal buttons of which there were several more. The skirt had a gross grain ribbon threaded through them and then sewn from the top of the short skirt to the bottom. The buttons fastened the skirt shut. Now this has me thinking that it might be fun making some buttons like this of my own creation. See I will need that extra button tray.

Did I tell you I like to make buttons. You might say I have a bit of a button fetish. Those little scraps of gorgeous woods and Mastodon ivory left over from my husband's knife making just keep calling to me,'Make something from me.' The question is "Will I have time to answer?"

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My You Have Changed Ellie

 Ellie is loads of help or thinks she is. Kirk was putting up some more fence panels yesterday to block the beef from the pasture so that it could grow without  munching mouths tearing it up. When the grass is short, animals have a tendency to crop the vegetation too short. The plant's crowns die leaving us with dirt. Add hooves on wet ground and what was a little tilling in summer turns to over tilling in spring. Their hooves simply tear up the ground leaving a dead muddy field.  Bye, bye pasture.

Hubby got the job done just in time as this is what today looks like. Not quite this much snow was in the forecast but snow was inevitable. Old Man Winter has to get his last big {Hoorah! for the end of April. Each year there is a BIG snowstorm the last week or two. Well, almost. I can think of a few naps he took over the years but very few. 

This end of April storm brought over eighteen inches of snow with howling winds that closed even the county roads. Ten to seventeen more inches of the white stuff is due in the next few days. Old Man Winter obviously wants winter back.

But enough already. I'm want spring. Again, a picture from yesterday.Weather is cruel and has left me depressed today but thankful we pushed this past weekend to get things done. Old Man Winter is about as reliable as Old Faithful so we know by now to 'getter done' as we say up north. Oh you don't know Old Faithful? I'm referring to the famous sight in Yellowstone Park or Jellystone as we call it from the Yogi Bear cartoon. It is just north of us a little ways.

Last summer we had the stock graze the pasture pretty short in order to clear out the old grass and weeds. It helped kill quite a few sagebrush too. A huge added bonus. This way it opens up the area to more light and clears off the old dead grass. The pasture is really looking pretty now. A little more sagebrush could die but we don't want all the sagebrush gone as on our steep slope, it helps to hold the soil and stops the snow creating a small drift behind each one. Mixing goats and cattle is a proven winner as they forage for differing plants balancing out your pastures.

We had a big shock when we moved here. Our old property was clay, clay, and well heavier clay. What a huge muddy mess that made when moisture came. Here our ground is rather rocky and sandy so an amazing amount of moisture seeps right down into the ground. We see very little mud. Could be why the area has lots of natural springs. We even have a geyser of our own. It goes glub, glub, glub. A little bubble that pops up under the crooked old tree. It makes laugh, I love it!
 But there was something else I wanted to show you. Look at the bovine on the left. That's Ellie, our Brown Swiss/ Normandy cross heifer and then look down below at the photo of her as a young calf. Talk about a color change. Yup, she's black as coal now. Not what I expected. I'm really liking the way she is turning out conformation wise and sweet, oh my! she loves nothing more than someone to pay attention to her. I can rub her all over and pick up her feet. She will even pick a foot up for you if you rub between her legs, cocking it out to the side so you can reach in better. Personality wise, she will make one dandy milk cow.
But what is up with this stark color change. I've never seen a bovine change so drastically have you?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Homemade Mustard

One of my goals this year is to learn to make the condiments I use most. That means mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and mayonnaise. Then I want to go a step further and grow as much of the ingredients as possible. Of course not all in one year's time. It will be an ongoing project for years to come. I have grown brown and white mustard seed one summer three years ago but the harvest wasn't great. My first mistake was putting the seed in the not so fertile old garden. I plan on doing that again this summer. Not the putting it in the old garden but in growing a new crop. Then if all goes well I need to work on a screen that separates the seeds and the chaff. The brown mustard seeds are much smaller than the white and that might create the need for two screens. Then of course I need to come up with a good mustard mixture or two or three if lucky. 

Right now I have just one Ball Park Mustard mixture that I'm not real happy with. It has too much of a bite to it and my tongue gets hung up on the heat and can't find the flavor. It is a problem I have with many peppers and sauces made with them. And yes, mustard has the same hot stuff that peppers have in them so while hubby and our oldest daughter's tongues are finding a wonderful melody in many sauces, mine just screams FIRE!!! It must be a taste bud thing. 
That is my problem with this mustard recipe. I mixed in a little sugar and a little more salt after three weeks of it sitting on the counter but it still is hot. I'm going to do a little more research and tweak the batch once more. Then I think I'll mix another batch up. Was it cold water or was it hot that I'm suppose to use to cool down the heat. I've forgotten but it make a difference I'm told. Plus aging on the counter top versus in the refrigerator changes the heat too. After that is tamed then maybe I can taste the other ingredients and find that melody the family talks about but eludes me. When I get that far I can play with brown mustard and white mustard combinations. There is black mustard too but I'll probably never get that far.

I started with a mustard powder with this recipe. But to be self-sufficient, I need to move on to grinding it myself.  Hmmmmm.... how can I do that with the equipment I have on hand? Would we like a crushed method better? That would be easier to achieve? So many questions and as yet, no answers.

I do know I want to use mustard more in cooking. Not just on hamburgers but in cream sauces or in soups or ..... I don't know yet. My only familiarity with mustard is Ball Park, honey mustard, or Dijon needs expanding. Yes, I'm really mustard naive.
But a girl has to start somewhere so Ball Park it is. The mustard of my youth. 
So far the Ball Park Mustard recipe doesn't resemble Ball Park I've ever tasted but that could be my fault. I don't know what I'm doing. 

One thing I know for certain is making mustard was eezy peezy when you buy the powder and I will work from there.

Meanwhile I'll keep hoping the vinegar in the pantry does its thing and I can use it in up coming mustard mixtures. But for now my goal is simply to create a batch of mustard that turns out better than my first.

 An added bonus is that mustard is in the Brassicas family and inhibits the growth of existing cancer cells and prevents them from forming. Surprising how many anti cancer things I'm finding that were a common table fair of our ancestors.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Electricity Went Out on Our Chicks and Ducks!!

We had one of those howling wind, heavy wet snow, spring storms that took the power out for hours. It was just getting started when we went off to church. When we got home the garage door opener refused to work, our first clue the power was out.The first thing we checked was the baby chicks and ducks. They require 95 degree temperatures and light the first week of their lives. 90 the next and 85 the next. We found them huddled in a tight group yelling at the top of their lungs. We gripped the old metal horse trough they were in and headed into the house by the dying fire.
Not exactly a heat lamp but the closest thing to it. We stoked it up and the house was soon warm again. As for us, we were in luck. The chicken breasts and potatoes I'd put in crock pots before church were done cooking. A real blessing when there are four hungry kids with empty bellies. Hours later the power came on just long enough for our oldest granddaughter to get a shower and then it went off again. The kids did not mind as they were having a blast with the ducks and how often do you have baby ducks in the HOUSE.
 It was a great time for the kids and the ducks to bond and now we know each ducks individual personality.This is Eva and she is loud and busy. Is it a girl, who knows, we will find out when she or he quacks. A male does a hoarse whisper and a female quacks loud and distinctly. With the wonders of technology we were able to hear the difference on the Internet. When the power came back on that is. She will be a Blue Swedish duck. 
This is the four year old's, no five year old's duck. Our granddaughter just had a birthday this week. Sasha is not fond of her owner but then small children are not usually great with animals. Even our oldest who is twelve was having a hard time with her. The only one Sasha really likes and will hold still for is me. Sasha will be a black Swedish duck.
This is Rascal. The sweetest one of the bunch. This is a crested Swedish Duck. Rascal has complete confidence in his owner or her owner.

 The two of them hit it off big but then of course this child has a natural way with animals. She was the one who got by with Chicory, a goat we had years ago. Chicory pinned the grandchild in the blue shirt up against the fence. Did not hurt her just was establishing social hierarchy. It is what herd animals do and the granddaughers were all small back then, about the goats size. Chicory tried it with this granddaughter who was really small and she popped her in the face with out every looking at her and walked on by. Perfect! "None of that and you aren't worth my time or attention." is what this child's slap and body language basically said. She never had a problem with Chicory again. 

We had a yak that disliked kids and this stood her ground just outside the fence when the yak lowered its head and made light charging motions. The yak was puzzled at not getting a reaction. The yak then quit.This is the child very like me in personality. My dad always said he could not believe the things I could get away with doing with animals that no one else could do. With animals the trick is to simply just speak their language. I use to be able to do a impressive moma pig talk. I once called a tiny piglet that had gotten loose in a field back into my arms.

This is our oldest grandaughter's duck though the little child asked to hold her. She calls her Mystery since we at first wondered if it might be a white Swedish duck but it is looking more gray as time goes on. 

Blue Swedish ducks are the only recognized color in many countries as they are the original color developed in Sweden. The light gray or rather blue made them harder to see and predators killed fewer of them. They are very hardy and their meat is suppose to be very flavorful. Some call it sweet. We have no plans on eating these cuties but if they populate --- I can't say the same for their offspring. Large numbers will attract fox and coyotes to the yard. We already frequently see tracks of a single coyote and a fox that checks out the place in the middle of the night or early morning. 

For now we will just enjoy the adventures of having ducks, a brace of them.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Lessons Learned the Hard Way.

 "In all labor there is profit.", the saying goes. I learned a big one this spring. Last year I used the empty rabbit cages to put hens in when they became broody. Cardboard in the bottom and pine shavings and the hens were thrilled, happily remaining on her eggs until all eggs that were going to hatch, did. It worked great!
But then entered difficulties that accompany a daughter who has been diagnosed with cancer. Things at home did not get done and that included thinning the rabbit population. Hence, the great set up last year with using the rabbit cages was not available. No big deal right? I can just put the first two setters together in the small chicken coop. It is cozy, warm, and plenty of room for two to choose a nesting site. The food and water was nearby and I would be dealing with only one set up and not two in separate rabbit cages. The first few days worked great. Then the bossy hen on the left stole all the eggs from the hen on the right leaving her screaming at the top of her lungs in indignation. Not knowing which eggs were which, I had to leave them with bossy pants and turn the to be first time mama outside. The question then became whether the brown hen would sit on the eggs long enough to hatch them all since they were different ages.

Then a black hen decided to lay and with the Tulsa trip looming, I put her inside as well and crossed my fingers. While gone, our daughter complained that some of the eggs had begun to smell. I told her to hang in there, I'd be back shortly. Shortly turned in to six days and the whole time I was praying that the brown hen would not interrupt the black hen. I came home to a stinking coop and planned on doing something the next day when the brown hen hatched two chicks and was running all around in a tizzy worrying over them. She had forgotten the eggs she was suppose to be setting on. They were now cold and dead. Maybe it was my mood after a long week at Tulsa but I snatched up her chicks and shooed her out into the yard. The chicks I put under a heat lamp. I was in no mood to baby her when she had only 2.

The 2 chicks would not be alone for long since Australorps were due into the feed store any day. My Australorps did not come but ducks did. Now we had 2 ducks and 2 chicks, with Australorps joining them the next week and a couple days later four ducks. That was when I discovered two chicks running around with the black hen. She had abandoned her other eggs too. This set up definitely does not work. We now have quite the batch of mismatch ages of ducks and chicks. Its okay, they get along fine and a big lesson was learned - use the rabbit cages for broody hens. That is where the profit comes in - maybe not financially but I now know what does not work for us.

Friday, April 7, 2017

I think I'm Addicted to Ducks.

I think I'm addicted. I brought three more ducklings home. They are so.... cute. Even my husband concurs. The little yellow duck you can see amongst all the black chicks in the picture kept falling asleep, his head lolling to the side and then he'd fall over. It was hilarious.
The little black Swedish duckling with the crested head kept jumping up trying to see over the top of the store box he was carried home in. That crest on top makes me smile and we are working on a name that means trouble.

My oldest daughter was laughing so hard at the friendly trio that I was bringing home that she has decided that she wants ducks instead of chickens when she buys her own home. I say have both. From what I've observed they get along fabulously. My mother-in-law spent over an hour laughing at them. I just had to drop by and show her before heading home. I also took them to see our youngest grand daughter who is five months old. She smiled BIG! 

There is at least three kinds of different Swedish ducks in the four. I figured all the better diversity of genetics for breeding. And truthfully, for once I let my emotions make the pick. Now cross your fingers we have one boy and the rest girls, not the other way around. No, they do not come sexed.
The Pekin and this chick are best buds, about the same age, if not the same size. They preen each other and sleep together joined by the Swedish duck and the other chick about the same age. When the Pekin and Swede goes off to take a bath, the chick screams for his return.
But you are probably wondering, what do I have planned for the ducks? Miss Practical here always has a plan though it maybe not be well thought out. This one is pretty sketchy. I started researching on caring for duck. It has been a very long time since we had ducks and my memory faint on the subject. Besides our set up is different and they won't be raised for meat but for a permacultural environment. This our problem and our plan. The chickens about destroyed the garden last year. We learned that six isn't too bad but twenty chickens in a garden is shear bedlum. Once they have had a taste for it, they are not taking turns and sneak through the gate the moment you open it and the ones who can fly do, over the seven foot fence. 

They believe in a level playing field. I'm trying to achieve an Elliot Coleman style garden with dirt heaped, permanent growing beds and well worn paths. Done right they will over time not need rotatilling, just lightly turned over with a fork, not a kitchen fork. The paths will become well worn and weed free. That is where the Swedish ducks come in. They don't level the ground, they don't fly so they remain fenced. They love bugs, worms, and especially GRASS!!! They, unlike chickens, can be herded from the, to be expanded and to be re-fenced orchard, the new garden in the making, and the expanded old garden.

What we have learned in the few years we have lived here is, we do not have the time and energy to do all the things we need to accomplish. Creating a permaculture will give us the more for less while working with nature.The biggest job will be figuring out how to do that. Presently we build and then redo in a better fashion when mistakes are made apparent. It will take some years to accomplish since the same tasks have to be done over and over until it works well. For instance, the garden needs re-fenced as we've learned the deer now stay out, unless we leave the gate open, but the rabbits eat their way in. No to plastic deer fencing, yes to woven wire. We need a watering system so I can quit spending so much time moving the hose. To establish what we have in mind we need permanent beds which we learned are in need of a little adjustment because of how the winds blows the sprinkling water. So it goes with all our projects.

The hope is the ducks will help weed the garden, especially the pesky grass that keeps creeping in and they will remove unwanted bugs, and poop. Lots of poop. Poop like geese, not like chickens. Messier, yes, but not hot so it is not damaging if fresh. It might be rather gross not to kneel in but I have ideas about that too. If you raise ducks let me know. I could sure use some tips. I'm not so confident as things have not working out so swell with the bunnies. My bad. My ignorance but I'm learning and I'm not giving up. I just hope things go more smoothly with the ducks.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A New Livestock Project

 Yes, the four year old talked grandpa into ducks. 
 After all she had been faithful in helping feed the kid goats so when we checked at the feed store for Australorp chicks and spied ducks well....
 How could he say no? Her mama, our daughter, had ducks too when she was young. She loved her ducks and so I guess it is no surprise her daughter does too. In fact we have a picture of her on a float we made for a parade with her duck in her arms. We raised some Rouens, (they look like Mallards) and we raised Pekin ducks but I don't want those. I did rather covet having one of the beautiful brown Kahkii Campbell ducklings I saw when our grand daughter chose a Pekin and a Swedish. Practicality weighed against emotions and home we came with just the two. 
The ducklings were soon named --- Goostoff, the yellow one; and Daisy, the black one but I think Daisy is about to have a name change. The four year is wavering on it. Her favorite duck is Daisy. She begs to hold her though Daisy squirms and squawks. I think I heard that while I was gone, Goostoff pecked her. That would do it. He is more aggressive.
 As for me, I like them both but I'm leaning toward the Swedish breed. Sweden is cold and snowy and so are we. Besides, I am a Swede on my grandmother's side. Her parents and most of her siblings having been born in Sweden. And who should I see looking at me in the mirror, yes, my Swedish grandmother. So I'm thinking if the Swedish breed were created in Sweden, they just might get along fine here since they are known for their exceptional hardiness and cold resistance. They weigh from 6 1/2 to 8 pounds and have wonderfully flavored meat. Heaven forbid should we ever have to eat Daisy but should she have offspring.... 

I read that they are broody. I so hope Daisy is a she and she has little ones. Then again what if the Pekin is a girl and the Swede is a boy? Pekins are not broody and Swedish ducks are. I think we need more ducks. In fact I just called and am heading in to pick up three. Check back, I've a surprise waiting and I'll tell you what I have planned for them. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Back From Cancer Center of America

 Were you looking for me? I did not mean to be silent for a week  but our trip lasted far longer than we planned. Things were not going well for our daughter who has two cases of breast cancer. Doctors locally had no clear course of action and the information train was pretty silent so off we went to The Cancer Center of America in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There they specialize in breast cancer though they treat many other kinds also. We figured if anyone knew what to do, they would. We left Saturday morning to catch a flight. The one that ended with the airplane in pieces on the runway. No it did not crash but the mechanic soon had it disassembled. That was after he took forty minutes getting to the airport to go to work since it is Saturday and this is podunkville. (We are the least populated state in the union). Over an hour later, it was clear the fix was not going to be fast and we waited for another plane. That meant our flight connection in Denver was missed. Which meant we spent the night in Denver, courtesy of United since all flights to Tulsa were booked.  

We arrived at the center just after lunch, having missed all our morning appointments that started at 8 am. It became a week of reschedule, reschedule since there were those test that left questions in the doctor's minds and led to other tests. Our mornings began with the first appointment at 8 am lasting a half an hour or an hour at most and another right after that one until it was 4 pm. We had a half an hour for lunch. Norm for the center but stress filled for us but the information level was WOW!! What we thought was going to be a few days stretched into six with our daughter's case being one placed before a team of doctors who meet on Wednesday and Thursday at noon. She has a type of cancer which is suppose to hit someone in their 70's or 80's and maybe 60's but not mid thirties. 

What we learned from the Geneticist was that our daughter's cancer was not in the BRCA 1 type but another gene all together so a different genetic testing needed done. We could not tie the specific cancer to our family though one great and one grandmother on the other side had breast cancer. What kind we have to find out. Whether the cancers were related at all is a question since the grandmothers were older and your immune system breaks down when you get older. That is why our daughter felt out of place at the center where she was surrounded by the aged. 

Did one side or the other carry the gene is the question. The test was run. We learned with this cancer it involves only one gene so it is not a combination of Kirk and I. That much we know. We also learned that prostate cancer is linked to breast cancer. My father had that but was it related since he was aged at the time?

The Geneticist said cancer linked genes are showing up at younger and younger ages. The great grandmother who had this type of cancer at 80 has a daughter who had it at 60, who had a daughter who had it at 40, who had a daughter who had it in her 20's. Why? The cause, they are guessing is diet and the environment triggering it at a younger age. Our world is full of pollutants. Our lives are filled with stress that attacks our immune system. Diet and stress are the two things our daughter's doctor said he is sure caused hers. She likes convenience foods.

The scary truth is that we all have cancer cells in us. Our bodies when functioning well kick them out. One of the reasons for drinking lots of good clean water. Keep the flushing system going and send those babies down the drain. If your immune system goes down due to declining health and stress, they populate and cluster, you are then diagnosed with cancer. Hard to imagine but a 9 year old in Utah was just recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Wonder if it was in the family? What must her diet and her mother's who gave birth to her must of been like? If baby's placentas are now being found to have high levels of BPA, then it is no wonder babies are born with cancer or develop it as children. If 1 in 3 women will get cancer and 1 in 2 men, what does that say about our diets? Since formaldehyde is in perfume and perfume is in everything then how can we not get cancer is my question.

The hopeful part is that even if you have a cancer gene, it will not activate unless your immune system is compromised. That is where you have the control. You can invite cancer or not. After seeing the pain and suffering around us during our visit, I am more motivated than ever to not invite it, that is after I recover from the trip. Wow, it took its toll on me but on with the story.  

Having just completed her first round of chemo on Friday, we rushed to the airport with only minutes to spare. The stress continued as once again I set off the alarm on the scanner  just like I did in Denver on the trip to Tulsa and had to be frisked. Nope, not the metal plate in my back but a mysterious object yet to be identified. Our daughter had a special device on her return trip that delivers a drug to boost her white blood cell levels after chemo and she had to be frisked also. Delay, delay, and with stress mounting, we made a run for the plane. 

Stress and chemo, not good and our daughter began to feel pretty rough. In Denver we asked to be seated first though our tickets said we were in the third boarding group. Not hard to accomplish when our daughter looked white as a ghost, had a barf bag held to her face, and clutched a bag that clearly read Cancer Center. The sight drew lots of sympathetic glances our way. The plane was late. Then after boarding, it was delayed due to a malfunction of the navigation system. Not exactly a comforting thought. Well over an hour later, they said they got it fixed but my brain couldn't help but think, "Wonder if it is truly fixed or will it go out again during flight?" I did some quick calculating. If it is now seven, when we were suppose to be landing, then we are going to get land in the dark.The navigation system had better work.

 Soon my iron clad stomach was sympathizing with my daughter's. It had just started to relax when we came closer to the airport and the plane began heaving up and down, up and down, then sideways repeatedly with white things hurdling outside our window. Not just a snowstorm but a blizzard that caused the pilot to overshoot the runway and send us zooming upward at a steep ascend. He couldn't see. He circled and checked out another runway facing another direction. I swear he went part way down and then up again, then circled before he descended once more, and we finally felt the wheels touch down. 

Whew, relief or was it? Now we only had a two hour drive in the dark, in a blizzard, to get home. Oh joy! Not!! It looked really bad when we discovered four inches on top the vehicle with more coming down fast. We checked out the weather report via our other daughter who was watching the kids and livestock. We just needed to drive far enough and we would be out of it. But where would that be? Luckily there was a convoy of cars headed our way. A group of school kids had been on a trip to Costa Rica and were headed home to just twenty miles from ours. We followed tail lights. 

Despite how difficult the trip was, the cool thing is our daughter has lots and lots of people watching over her. More specialists that I could even imagine could be involved in such a journey. While we soaked in the tons of information, I made a few vows on our trip. They all have to do with trying to avoid cancer while increasing our health. The health that took a real hammering while we were gone. Not so good food, tons of stress, and lack of sleep has my adrenals keeping me up at night. I keep waking up with way too low body temps. My system is exhausted. When I recover a little, my vows will begin.

P.S. I admit I showed the scheduler a picture of the view out our living room window on Thursday. I said could you PLEASE hurry and get us home. I need my peaceful view. She heartily agreed. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Marion Gave Birth

Our middle daughter and I are flying out tomorrow to a cancer center to find some answers that have eluded the local doctors. That puts hubby and the oldest daughter in charge of four grand daughters and babies galore. Those who follow on Facebook know that we had our first batch of kits ,Wednesday. Eight in total to a first time mom. They are fat, happy, and doing well. We are proud of our sweet natured girl. I really need to get to naming some of my critters. This doe and her sister have none. As you can guess I've been a little preoccupied lately.
The triplets born a while back are doing well but bottle fed as it stresses their mom to no end to just watch over them. I need to find homes for two of the kids soon as Belle has lost a great deal of weight. She will pick up when the kids are gone. I'm saying two because I will keep the black one and watch her. I really like the way she looks. That brings the total of babies to 11.
Then just a little while ago twins were born to Marion. The last one had its head sticking out with no legs. Not good so I did a little rearranging, I pulled one leg forward and since there was plenty of room I pulled gently and out came buck number two. Whew! I'm sure the home crew is saying as their delivery experience is nil - hubby and maybe once - oldest daughter.
As I write I'm still waiting for the arrival of the afterbirth but in the meanwhile I gave the kids a little colostrum and set them under the heat lamp. Pretty nice outside but the one buck I pulled is feeling slightly rough. Warm him up and he should be ready to hog down on the colostrum when I introduce it once more. At that point when they are standing, I will put them on momma's teats and Marion can raise these two with a little bottle feeding to make sure I can sell them earlier than weaned  --if I get a chance.
I mentioned in the last birthing post that you needed to get to know each doe. This one is not like her mother. She showed signs that she would give birth  on today ----- yesterday. The top line down her hip was pushed into a sharp ridge. You can see it here. The tail head was extremely loose. Her flanks sucked in deep because the twins had moved into position just outside the birthing canal. The missing link was a udder that was filling with colostrum. 32 years of experience has taught me a thing or two and saved me lots of sleep lost. Marion's hips tilted even more sharply today slanted downward in a slide position. This is the direction in which you pull when you are trying to extract kids. NOT OUTWARD! Downward and with a steady pull while holding the two front legs is the norm.

In this case it was a leg and the neck near the shoulders since there was lots of room and I could see from the condition of the kid that I needed to hurry. As soon as he was out, I swung him in an arch back and forth a couple times using centrifical force to extract fluid from his lungs and stuck my finger in his mouth to clean it out. He still wasn't breathing so I stuck a finger down his throat a little to force a gag, which he did. I had a live kid. The eyes when I was delivering had me questioning that fact. I then rubbed him roughly to stimulate him. He gasped and began to breath normal. My next move would have been to evaluate him to see if CPR was in order if I had gotten no response. I've done CPR on many different species right after birth. You get a feel before you start whether too much time has passed or whether you need to just jump start things.  
 Marion's bag had not filled yet at delivery but some does fill while in labor and others wait until after. This girl bags up fully after delivery. Not something I like and has her way down the score card. But... I need milk and so Marion is here for the time being. When you breed your does, you should put Ole Reliable in first. She is the doe which bags up nicely before birth and has lots of colostrum. You never know when that colostrum will be the difference between life and death of kids to come from another doe. Right now Ole Reliable, Belle, is first as she is my heaviest milker and colostrum provider.
That puts spare colostrum in the freezer.

Besides kits and kids, I have two baby ducks my hubby promised the four-year-old so I purchased them on Thursday at the local feed store. There are also two chicks of ours which their story needs to be told but at another date.

We have two more doe rabbits due very soon and two hens sitting on chicks. Also an incubator with eggs. Still having trouble with that thing though I bought a new heater system for it last year.

If you don't hear from me for a little while, remember, I am out of town but will be back soon. My family will make sure of that--- LOL


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

BPA in Canned Food

I've shared what I've learned about plastics. Now I'm going to tell you the other criminal lurking in your kitchen cupboards ----- cans. They are bad guys too for they contain BPA in high levels.
This is one of a cazillion articles that talks about BPA in cans.

EWG's tests found:
  • Of all foods tested, chicken soup, infant formula, and ravioli had BPA levels of highest concern. Just one to three servings of foods with these concentrations could expose a woman or child to BPA at levels that caused serious adverse effects in animal tests.
  • For 1 in 10 cans of all food tested, and 1 in 3 cans of infant formula, a single serving contained enough BPA to expose a woman or infant to BPA levels more than 200 times the government's traditional safe level of exposure for industrial chemicals. The government typically mandates a 1,000- to 3,000-fold margin of safety between human exposures and levels found to harm lab animals, but these servings contained levels of BPA less than 5 times lower than doses that harmed lab animals.
 BPA testing in canned food. We contracted with a national analytical laboratory to test 97 cans of food we purchased in March 2006 in three major, chain supermarkets in Atlanta, Georgia; Oakland, California; and Clinton, Connecticut. The lab tested 30 brands of food altogether, 27 national brands and 3 store brands. Among the foods we tested are 20 of the 40 canned foods most commonly consumed by women of childbearing age (NHANES, 2002), including soda, canned tuna, peaches, pineapples, green beans, corn, and tomato and chicken noodle soups. We also tested canned infant formula. The lab detected BPA in fifty-seven percent of all cans.

BPA is a heavily produced industrial compound that has been detected in more than 2,000 people worldwide, including more than 95 percent of 400 people in the United States. More than 100 peer-reviewed studies have found BPA to be toxic at low doses, some similar to those found in people, yet not a single regulatory agency has updated safety standards to reflect this low-dose toxicity. FDA estimates that 17% of the U.S. diet comprises canned food; they last examined BPA exposures from food in 1996 but failed to set a safety standard.

There are some companies who are switching to non BPA liners but whether they are using BPS instead is another question - some do. I do know that the acids in foods eat the lining of cans so besides BPA, you are eating metal. In my twenties a research doctor told me I was allergic to the lining of cans and to avoid them when possible. Can't remember exactly what it was in the lining that he said to avoid but I've  slowly been doing just that. The hold outs are pineapple and olives. I don't use much of those two items but I keep a few on hand. I also buy oysters in the can on occasion to make oyster soup and Devil Ham for my husbands breakfast sandwich. Neither item is used often enough to probably cause us any real lasting harm. And I am trying to produce more and more of what we eat. My goal is for that to include Devil Ham and mustard so watch in the future to see how that works out.

I do know that the more acidic the contents the more of the can that is eaten which puts tomatoes up there in the high no, no level.  So what can one do. Foods in glass jars is a much better choice and more and more companies are giving consumers this option.  So when you see grapefruit or tomatoes in a jar, think about purchasing them instead. Now that I say that, do tomatoes come in a jar? I don't go down that isle of the store since I've started canning tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, salsa and the like myself so I'm rather in the dark.

As I was researching cans I happened upon a site He wrote of there being BPA in aluminum cans, and in thermal paper receipts such as in cinema tickets, airline tickets, and receipts at stores. There is even BPA in some dental sealants and composites. It seems like we just can't avoid the stuff. Maybe we can't completely but we can decrease dramatically the amount of exposure. Maybe someday the government will ban the stuff but don't hold your breath, America is usually the last in line to do so.

Meanwhile, join me, I am changing the plastics in my kitchen, avoiding microwaving them and freezing them which increases the release of BPA. I am decreasing the amount of cans we use. I'm not throwing up my hands and saying "Everything is bad for us! I'm just going to ignore it.", which I'm sure is the reason for cancer being so high 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 2 men is just because of the fact people are burying their heads in the sand. Disease and cancer are caused from immune systems being over loaded and not fed proper nutrition. So if you want to be next in line be my guest but as for me and my house, we will work harder to preserve our health.

Our daughter is dealing with cancer and it isn't pretty. She  is only 34 and the next youngest person a large cancer center has seen  with her type of cancer is 47. Cancer is hitting people at a younger and younger age. Babies are even being born with it. Will you be next?


Friday, March 17, 2017

What Plastics Are Safe?

 I was visiting with my daughter-in-law and she commented that she had changed out all of her drink containers to BPA free ones and felt her family was much safer now. I had just recently done some research into BPA and plastics and had some bad news for her.  I want to share with you, my friends what I found since plastics have come to the forefront of my mind recently. Our daughter was diagnoses with two cases of breast cancer and they are further investigating to see whether she has cancer elsewhere also. Her cancers are estrogen and progesterone fed and a source of imitation hormones is plastics.

 "We know that, "BPA causes hormone disruption, reproduction harm, increased risk of certain cancers, malformation of organs in children, risk of miscarriage, sperm defects, and increased risk of mental disabilities in babies. 93% of 2517 urine samples from people older than six years old showed detectable levels of BPA." A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control  

The research is conclusive in the area of BPA and simply put, it is toxic. But what most don't know is that most companies have replaced BPA with BPS, which is just another bisphenol.

{In the case of BPS, there's reason to believe it is just as dangerous to human health, and possibly more so, than BPA, although the research is not nearly as abundant just yet. Writing in the journal Toxicology In Vitro, researchers stated:ii
"In 2011, the European Commission has restricted the use of Bisphenol A in plastic infant feeding bottles. In a response to this restriction, Bisphenol S is now often used as a component of plastic substitutes for the production of babybottles. One of the major concerns leading to the restriction of Bisphenol A was its weak estrogenic activity. By using two highly standardised transactivation assays, we could demonstrate that the estrogenic activity of Bisphenol A and Bisphenol S is of a comparable potency."
Not only does BPS appear to have similar hormone-mimicking characteristics to BPA, but research suggests it is actually significantly less biodegradable, and more heat-stable and photo-resistant, than BPA. GreenMedInfo reports:
"... while regulators wait for manufacturers who promote their products with "BPA-Free!" stickers at the same moment that they infuse them with BPS to voluntarily reformulate,there isevidence now that BPS may actually have worse effects to environmental and human health, alike..
"... BPS' relative inability to biodegrade indicates: 1) once it is absorbed into the human body, it may accumulate there for longer periods of time. 2) it is more likely to persist in the environment, making external exposures to it, and its many metabolites, much more likely than the faster degrading BPA. In other words, its potential to do harm will worsen along the axis of time, not lessen, which is a common argument made for the purported "safety" of BPA."}}
So what we have here is a switcheroo. One bad guy in exchange for another bad guy probably worse than the first. The whole BPA free campaign has millions of Americans making the switch but are we are no safer than before. Disturbing isn't it?

So once again here is an example of where we have to protect ourselves because no one else is going to do it. But how? How does one tell for sure if they have a BPA containing plastic?
This is what Mayo's says:

{A resin code of 7 appearing on plastic containers indicates that the container may be made of a BPA-containing plastic.  It is a rounded triangle with a seven inside.
Some exploratory scientific studies have appeared in the public literature that have raised questions about the safety of ingesting the low levels of BPA that can migrate into food from food contact materials. To address these questions the National Toxicology Program, partnering with FDA’s NCTR, is carrying out in-depth studies to answer key questions and clarify uncertainties about BPA

The testing showed that more than 70 percent of the products released chemicals that acted like estrogen. And that was before they exposed the stuff to real-world conditions: simulated sunlight, dishwashing and microwaving, Bittner says.  Then, you greatly increase the probability that you're going to get chemicals having estrogenic activity released," he says, adding that more than 95 percent
of the products tested positive after undergoing this sort of stress.The team concentrated on BPA-free baby bottles and water bottles, Bittner says, "and all of them released chemicals having estrogenic activity." Sometimes the BPA-free products had even more activity than products known to contain BPA.
"We've long cautioned consumers to avoid extreme heat and cooling for plastics, to discard scratched and worn plastics and we feel like this [study] validates one of our many concerns," she says.}

#5 Rubbermaid storage containers. Love these as the lids fit multiple sizes and they stack so nicely. I found the idea of Pinterest to use a tension rod to hold things in place in a drawer. LOVE IT!!

Here is a hint to whether a plastic may contain BPA. Hard plastic containers have a triangle with a number inside. If it is #3 or #7, it probably is made with BPA. Remember that heat, sunlight, or very cold temperatures causes greater release of BPA's in plastic so don't freeze or put plastics in the dishwasher.

The Green Guide, owned by The National Geographic Society devoted to greener living recommends plastics with the numbers #2, #4, and #5. I've just started checking in my own kitchen to see what numbers are lurking in my cupboards.

Another bad guy is Styrofoam.

This is what Green Guide has to say about it:
{Containers made of polystyrene (PS, or plastic #6, also known as Styrofoam) can also be dangerous, as its base component, styrene, has been associated with skin, eye and respiratory irritation, depression, fatigue, compromised kidney function, and central nervous system damage. Take-out restaurant orders often come in polystyrene containers, which also should be emptied into safer containers once you get them home.}

Once again a tension rod used to hold things in place. This idea is especially nice with drink containers.
There is no way to eliminate plastics from our society and why should we? I think a more sensible approach is to limit where and how we use them. The next blog talks a bit more about this and I will show you another place where food manufacturers are hiding BPA. But meanwhile tell me, how many of you were surprised by this information? I sure was.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Birthing Process

Fresh milk!!! I am so excited. I can finally quit using frozen. Good thing because I'm about out. Yes, indeed Belle gave birth last Wednesday. Those of you who follow Easy Living the Hard Way Facebook page know this and have seen the photos but since this is an informational post, I've got lots to teach some of you. The rest of you can tell me if indeed this has been your experience. 

 But first let me introduce the oldest, a lovely young doe with great potential. She was born around two in the afternoon. The hour in which Belle had her first set of twins, five kidding seasons ago. Yes, a doe will normally have her kids within a three hour window of the first time she gives birth. If you know the day your doe bred and how many days that particular doe's gestation is, then you know when to head for the barn and keep a close eye out for possible complications. This has become more and more important as the years go by and my energy level keeps taking vacations. Getting up in the night for nothing makes getting up in the early morning to get grandkids off to school much more difficult than when I was young.

That means I have a tendency when possible to cull the night kidders. Two o'clock in the afternoon is perfect and that is just when Belle's had her first lovely little brown doe.

I was a little late for her arrival but hey, she was still all wet and slimy so it could not have been by more than a few minutes. I ran back for towels and the Betadine to do my job. I waited as mom and baby greeted each other and kept looking for the tell tale signs of the next arrival -- nothing. 'Well, this was getting ridiculous', I thought so I slipped under Belle and filled a baby bottle with colostrum. You can see there is no shortage of it. Look at that udder. I always make sure each kid gets as much colostrum as possible in them even if I am going to leave them to nurse their mother.  The only way to accurately gauge that is to bottle feed them the first time. After that I can teach them to nurse or let nature take its course. Yeah, like I've ever really done that. LOL "What if they get too weak or one of the other kids pushes them aside." See, I just can't take the pressure so I interfere. No one seems to mind.

This particular doe I leave her to mother the little ones but she is not keen on nursing. She was not taught to by her first owner and it did not come natural to her. In fact she would not even mother her kids until she came to my house. I started to teach her to suckle her little ones but then I thought I would like to keep some of her offspring and bottle feeding alleviates weaning problems. My does will nurse forever if given a chance and the kids can slip through the tiniest holes to get their moms so no, I don't let any little ones I want to keep nurse.  The other reason I bottle feed most of my kids is that they can go to new homes right away since feeding them does not require their mother.  This gives me the milk I need for the kitchen.

As I gauged whether I was going to keep this little one, I kept looking for sign of Belle being uncomfortable and pawing the ground but she was relaxed and happy. Relaxed and happy is not what I needed. You don't have this size of an udder and sides sticking wa... y out for nothing on a hay diet. There had to more kids inside. Each of our does will follow a certain pattern year after year that is characteristic of her as an individual when she gives birth. There are odd years of course when the doe refuses to follow her set pattern but for the most part she will do the same thing year after year.

I decided to just watch and wait. I would on a younger doe pull the rest of the kids I knew were inside if she was in hard labor and they failed to appear within twenty or thirty minutes. That or labor was not progressing along meaning a possible breach birth or two kids who's legs were tangled near the opening. The reason is if you wait too long the kids will be dead. But Belle was comfortable and relaxed and this was not her first kidding season. Experience has taught me after thirty one years of delivering kids and a gut feeling born of, been there done that's. This felt right and so I bent down and filled a bottle as she stood licking her baby. Milking stimulates uterus contractions. Sneaky aren't I?

 I've learned that with older does they often have a longer labor. More light labor in the beginning and a period of rest in between kids is common. More so between the first and second kid. The third follows shortly after. Patience is a virtue with these older girls. Sure enough, a little under an hour later Belle acted agitated and pawed the ground a few times and just three pushes later I saw.....

 The water bag with two feed inside. They are the dark mass just below her tail. Three pushes and out came a strapping buck. Most of the time a water bag appears first and then the feet but not with this doe. Five minutes later and three pushes, out came a little doe looking like her mother. Belle was done, she had her triplets.
How did I know she was done? Three kids is the normal max for a dairy goat. I've only had one doe have four. Four is too many since a doe rarely has enough milk for that many. Besides there are the pushier kids that hog all the milk. If left alone one or two of them will die.You don't want four. I did not expect four and besides, Belle's sides were sunk in in an empty look.

Some does take a while to pass their after birth but Belle's began to appear shortly after. This is what it looks like. No water bag, and no feet sticking out. Nope -- notice the fibrous texture though. This is the placenta and it has little buttons inside. No, not buttons like the ones on your coat but round dark red solid tissue masses that they call buttons. When I would be in charge of a mare foaling for our neighbors, I was required to count the buttons to make sure the mare had not retained part of her placenta. 

I admit, I never count the buttons in a goat's placenta. I have no idea how many there are suppose to be so how would I know if they are all there? The only thing I make sure of is that the goat does pass her placenta and hopefully in one long connected mass. It should of course be in proportion in size to the amount of kids it held. If it does not come out it putrefies. Big time infection. If ;your doe fails to pass hers within twelve hours I'd head to the vet for a Lutalyce shot. It will put the doe back into labor. She'll hate you but it is for her own good.  How do I know this -- experience.

Don't be alarmed, when your doe bleeds a light amount after giving birth. This can last for a few days and sometimes slightly longer in goats that had a tough delivery. To slow and stop the flow on a doe who is in my opinion bleeding more than I'd lie, I milk more frequently. This naturally tightens back up the uterus, stopping the flow. The larger the uterus size due to multiple kids, the longer it takes for the uterus to shrink back to pre-pregnancy size. If there is an infection, the bloody discharge after birth will become a more maroon color, not a red blood color. It will be thicker, and have a nasty smell to it. Then she needs a penicillin shot, a few of them.

I've taught my does to hold still without restraint in the pen and I bend over at will to fill baby bottles right from the tap. Since I bottle feed four times a day, 6 am, 12 noon, 6 pm, and 10 pm, this is plenty enough to get things cramping. With triplets, for the first few days where there is only colostrum being produced, this method empties my doe's utter each feeding. If there is extra like there was with Belle, I freeze it just in case I need it for kids born to another doe. At night I am sure to drain the doe fully before heading to bed.

 At five years of age, Belle was in light labor for several days after giving birth. She did not eat a great deal or drink much. Then on the third day, it abated and her milk began to come in. By the next day she was crying for relief in the morning. "Please milk me!!" 

She gave 3/4 a gallon this morning and the same amount tonight. Impressive for a Nubian on her first day of her milk coming in. Her supply will steady increase for a while before leveling off. The second morning, this morning, she gave the same amount. 

Remember, the more demand for milk, the more the doe will produce, within reason of course. This means milking three times a day produces more milk than milking twice a day and of course once a day. Milking frequently will up production but if sustained over a long period of time, this will decrease the longevity of your doe. Since I was gone much of yesterday, I only milked twice. Today, I will milk three times and give this poor girl some relief as her production should be greater yet.