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The Boys’ Club

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Please say hello to Jinx.  His name is Jinx because two days, a lot of rain, and two broken down vehicles later, we finally got him home.  I went to get him the first day and my Jeep started making a horrible noise (turned out to be nothing much, but scared me).  The next day, my mom offered to take me to get him.  Got about as far as I did the day before, BG hits the button for the window and the window falls down and won’t go back up.  We drove four hours with a garbage bag over the back door!

Jinx is my new registered Nigerian Dwarf billy-goat.  He’s still really young, but after a rather long and frustrating search during which only two of the dozen people I called returned my calls, I decided on him for several reasons.

  1. His grandsire was a national champion and his blood lines are known for milk production.
  2. The price was very right for a champion bloodline sire for my herd.
  3. He was young enough that I could raise him the way I wanted him, which is gentle and well-mannered.

Originally, I had not intended to worry about registration, but when I saw him for sale, I realized that BG is very into the animals. (She helps milk Auntie and feed the chickens every morning.)  If she wants to show in 4-H, having some sort of registered stock already in place would be ideal.  Thus, Jinx is my first registered goat.  I plan on added a couple of registered females later this year or next year, but for now I think we’re done, unless they folks come through on the offer of a free donkey.

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Posted by on March 21, 2016 in H.S.H.

 

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Chickens have arrived

After reading everything I could get my hands on, I bought baby chicks from my local feed store.  Four Ameracanas and four Black Austrolorps came home with me in a brown cardboard box.  Although, we had chickens when I was a kid, I have never raised chicks in a brooder situation before.  Lost one of the Ameracans the very first night.  This didn’t hurt me as much as loosing one of the Austrolorps would have since I got the Ameracanas mainly to amuse BG.  (Ameracanas lay blue eyes, which will be fun for BG, as I am also planning on getting green (Olive Eggers) and chocolate (Copper Maran) layers as well.  (Check out a quick google search for egg colors and you’ll understand why I’m doing it.  Its going to be fun!)

The first thing I learned is that the feed store where I bought my chicks had it right.  Wood shavings cut down on the smell and didn’t need to be changed as often as paper.  I also read that the ink in newspaper can be bad for your chicks.  As I know for a fact that chickens, along with other birds, are very susceptible to smells, I decided to avoid the newspaper, but paper was all I had for the first day, so I can honestly say…  Eww!  It stinks.  The wood shaving absurd more moisture and drier is less smelly.

The second thing I learned is that chickens are still the same;  they are some of the filthiest animals I’ve ever encountered.  I’ve never known another animal to make such a mess.  They poop everywhere; in their feed, in their water, everywhere!  That being said, I cleaned their waterer everyday.  Their feed dish less so, but it still got a good scrubbing at least once a week.

The third thing I learned is that while keeping the chicks in the house the first couple of nights was nice for my piece of mind, it did not work for my nose or anyone elses’.  Therefore, they moved to the back porch.  There was an old water tank that had rusted through in several spots that worked great for a brooder.  The holes were small enough that the chicks couldn’t escape and I wasn’t worried about another crawling in because of the kitties.  I made a lid out of hardware cloth and some old cabinet doors.  Add a brooder light and some wood shavings and wah-laa: chick home.  (I also had a thermometer to keep an eye on the temp, so that they didn’t get to cold.)

One of the things that was a problem was that the wood shavings kept getting into the food and water dispenser.  One really large broken tray from one of my pots and that problem was solved.  Basically, one of the terra-cotta dishes from under my potted plants broke.  I used one piece under the feeder and one under the waterer.  This lifted them up out of the shaving and kept them much cleaner.

Something else that I did different from what I had read was that I did not trash the food when shavings and poop got into it.  I poured it out in a pile in a corner of my brooder.  Those little chicks had a high ol’ time scratching and pecking.  It was quite entertaining for BG and myself to watch fluffy little chicks trying to learn to scratch and peck.

IMG_0021Alas, the brooder got too small and my young birds were moved yesterday to their new home.  Thanks to my uncle and aunt, I now have this hen-house.  Having reached the age, when they want to go and do without having to worry about animals, they no longer wanted chickens and the coop has stood empty for quite some time.  I was told that I could have it, no charge.  (Woohoo!)

Along the way, I lost one of my Ameracanas and picked up two more chicks that are supposed to be Silver-Laced Wyandottes.  The total at the moment is 9 pullets.  I’ll also be picking up six roosters this Thursday (hopefully).  I intend to raise them up, pick the best one and add the others to the freezer.  I’ll also be getting some Copper or possibly Cuckoo Marans, Oliver Eggers, and some more Black Austrolorps.

Black Austrolorps are going to be the majority because they make a great dual purpose bird.  They are great layers and meat producers, but they also tend to be great sitters.  I intent to start raising my own chicks to replace my older birds, but also to put in the freezer.  This is why I really wanted a good all around bird.  From my research that was the Black Austrolorps.  My opinion might change at a later date, but for now we’re going to give it a try.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2016 in H.S.H.

 

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Two wasn’t enough, Part II

First there was Ice Cream and Chili.  Now there is Muppet, her sister (Auntie), and Muppet’s kids (Fish and Chips).  That’s right; four new goats have joined our little homestead.  These are Nigerian Dwarf goats and have a fairly interesting history, which you can read about HERE!   One of the benefits being that they can be bred all year, so that you can stagger the breedings, so that you have milk all year.

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Muppet and her babies, Fish (the brown facing away) and Chips (the one right behind her).

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A better shot of Chips, who is a complete sweetheart and about the size of a football on legs.

The extremely nice folks that we got the goats from kept Auntie’s doe, so I am now happily milking morning and evening.  So far it has been a family event.  CC and BG help and we’re all getting a kick out of it.  Despite this being her first kid and never having been milked before, Auntie has been the soul of patience.  BG has even gotten to milk her a little bit, which makes her four-year-old heart full to bursting.

On a more practical note, Auntie’s milk tasted disgusting when I first started milking her.  Her previous owners had her on dry pellets and hay; no grass, no real forage.  My father had always told me that if you want sweet milk, feed sweet feed to your milker.  His suggestion was corn, but I learned that sweet feed works very well indeed and isn’t all that expensive.  I say not that expensive because Auntie gets literally a cup in the morning and a cup in the evening while she’s in the stanchion.  This serves several purposes actually.

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Auntie is Muppet’s younger full sister.

  1. Her milk is now super sweet and delicious, less than five days later.
  2. She can’t wait to jump up onto the milking stanchion and stick her head in the catch.
  3. She comes running at a simple call.
  4. She has gone from having to corner her to catch her, to coming when she’s called and begging for pettings.

Despite being a member of the rodeo team in high school, I have no desire to rodeo these days, especially first thing in the morning, usually before I’ve had coffee.  I’ll pay the $10.99 for fifty pounds of sweet feed.  Thanks!

 

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2016 in H.S.H.

 

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Back In The Garden

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My big pot of spinach that I hope to keep producing all summer long.

When we moved, I didn’t bring one plant with me.  It broke my heart, but we had to pare down the load.

I’m happy to say that I am no longer plant less.

Thanks to my mom and my cousin I have pots galore and have started filling them.  I, actually, started my new garden in December when I snagged a key lime tree that was dying in the cold at Wal-Mart,  I’ve since added spinach, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, onions, rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, lavender, ginger, sage, spearmint, and peppermint.

BG is my helper as always and I promised her that she could plant whatever she wanted in her portion of the garden.  So far she’s chosen two pots of flowers and seeds for more.  I hope that her enthusiasm for gardening continues.  There is something terribly special about being able to share something I really enjoy with my daughter and know that she’s having fun as well.  As a treat I bought her lilies that should bloom all summer long.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2016 in In the Garden

 

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SOLD!

We’ll be closing on our house this coming week and if that seems fast to you, consider how I feel!  The house market it apparently smoking hot because we had three offers within three days of putting the house on the market.  I’ve always maintained that when the time is right, things will fall into place.  Let me tell you…  This has only strengthened that belief.

Everything is going so well, CC and I are both slightly dazed, but that hasn’t stopped us from snapping and snarling at each other.  The stress of getting everything together has been horrendous, but we knew it was going to be, so we’ve been really clear about not getting to upset about being short with each other.  That’s gone a long way towards keeping the peace.

Now let’s talk turkey.

We’ve hauled away four to five times the amount of stuff that we’re taking with us.  Good stuff.  Stuff that someone somewhere is going to be overjoyed to have.  When we started there was a horrible feeling of insecurity that went with getting rid of it all.  We’d put something on the pile to go with us because we couldn’t bear to part with it, but as the hours and possessions passed, we’d revisit the “going” pile and pull stuff out and shake out heads at ourselves.

Many of you might be thinking that we’re paring down to nothing, but that simply isn’t the case.  I’ll give you a good example.  I have a hand-crocheted wall hanging of my last name.  It’s beautiful!  I’m not taking it.  Why?  Because as beautiful as it is and as much as I appreciate the time and effort and thought that went into the making and giving of this gift, it is NOT my ‘style’.  I’m not in love with it.  I’ve kept it because I felt bad about throwing it out.  For someone else, it might be just the thing, but for me…  not so much.  CC and I discussed it and we concurred, that it just wasn’t our thing.  On the other hand, I have already packed up my seed collection and the baby doll that my grandmother made for me when I was a little thing.

The difference is love.  There is no point in having a bunch of stuff that you don’t really love cluttering up your life.  It weighs on your mind, even if you never consciously think about it.  I know because my load is lighter with every load we haul to the thrift store and each treasure that I unearth from the clutter.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2015 in Thoughts

 

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Someday has finally come!

CC and I have been saying for years that we were going to sale out and move back to the country where we belong, but we kept putting it off for this reason and that reason.  Lately, my health has become such that putting it off is no longer an option.  We have to get out of the rat race and move to a more laid back life.  We’ve had some concerns about uprooting BG, but in the end we don’t think it is really going to be a bad thing.  Let’s face it, we’ll all be much happier when she’s got more room to run around.  There is going to be some adjustment, but honestly there isn’t one of us that this move isn’t going to help.

We’ve put the house on the market and despite the fact that we’re in the process of sorting and packing, it will start being shown today.  I’m embarrassed for people to see it looking like it does, but who knew we had so much crap!  I mean, I knew we had a lot of stuff we didn’t need, but this is ridiculous.

I’ve found shoes that wouldn’t have fit BG last year and the worst part?  She never wore them!  They were in a box full of clothes that we were waiting for her to grow into.  We never even opened the box when any of it would fit her.  In our defense, she has a grandmother that sends several boxes of clothes every month.  Still no excuse.

 

We also have a lot of duplicates.  We have them because this one doesn’t do this very well, but it is great for this and so on.  For a laugh, I took a moment and looked at what a good one would cost that did all these things well.  I wasn’t laughing.  For the price I spent on all the cheap ones, I could have had one good one that did everything well.  I know exactly how it happens.  I see the price of the quality item and quell.  Instead, I buy the cheap one and when I get it home, I’m not happy with how it does this or that.  Then I go out and spend more money for one that says it fixing that problem.  The only problem with that is that is doesn’t do something else as well as the first one, so I wind up keeping both of them.  If I had just spent the money in the first place, I could have had one that did everything well.  I know, you know what I’m talking about.  I didn’t use an actual item in this example because there were too many of them.
The whole process would be too depressing, if it were not for the fact that getting rid of the crap is such a relief.  You literally feel like you’ve shed actual physical weight.  This feeling of relief made me realize that all those self-help and organization gurus are absolutely correct; having less is more freeing.

What this means for us moving forward boils down to several key points.

  1. Assess everything that we want to bring into the house for function and quality.
  2. Assess everything we have on a regular basis to see if it is still relevant to our lives.
  3. Change our mindset of more being better.  (Quality beats quantity.)

The thing that I’ve learned from this is that spring cleaning is not a joke.  It is important in this day and age to assess constantly.  We, as a society, live in houses that are so much bigger than what we really need that we accumulate stuff we don’t need.  Let me explain.  There are three of us and we’ve been living in (half of) a 1700 square foot house.  Half of that total is downstairs.  Do you know how much we actually used downstairs?  Two rooms; one was the laundry room and the other was filled with our books.  We’ve gotten rid of no less than three huge boxes of books just because we don’t read them, they aren’t that good, and we don’t want to move them.  That’s sad.  We’ve had those books for at least the three years we’ve lived here and we don’t even want them!

So let’s look at the math.  Assuming that the library and the laundry room take up half of the basement, that’s about 425 square feet.  Add that to the upstairs that we actually use and you come up with 1275 square feet.  That’s not that big of a house by American standards.  CC and I discussed it and what we came to realize is that if we had more land outside out house, we’d spend more time outside, which means you could probably shave even more off that number.

Smaller house – less money spent.  Less crap – less money spent.  Less money spent – less money needed.  Less money needed – more options for everything!  Think about it!  If you didn’t have to pay for all that crap that you really don’t use or want, would you still have to work as hard?  Would you be able to live on the income from the job that you’d really enjoy, but maybe doesn’t pay as much as you currently need?  Could you cut back to part-time?  How much (in money and other stuff) is your lifestyle costing you?  Do you really love it that much?

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2015 in A Penny Saved, Thoughts

 

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Leeks All Summer

So one of the things that you can grow from kitchen scraps is leeks.  All you have to save is the smallest part of the white with the attached roots.  You know, that part that you cut off and throw in the trash or compost pile.  Put it in water and watch it sprout.  Once mine sprouts up good, I moved them to a raised bed outside that gets lots of light.

Now when I want leeks, I simply walk out my front door and snip off a plant or two about an inch above the ground.  Within days, it had already sprouted right back up from the stump.  With four plants, I’ve had all the leeks I’ve wanted this summer.  However, I didn’t really understanding how to cook with them.  Since I’ve had them and learned how they flavor food, I’m going to need more.  With that in mind, the next time I go to the grocery store, I’ll pick up a bundle and pop the scraps into water, which brings me to my next thought.

I’ve already started noticing a yellow tinge to the leaves, which is always my first cue that fall is here.  I’m going to want leeks this winter.  Instead of adding this new bunch to the established bed in the yard, I think, I’ll try to start them in a planter in the window.

Once, I get the ones started in the window, I’ll probably try to bring the ones in the yard into the house.  We shall see how that works out for me.

 

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2015 in In the Garden

 

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