Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Show and Tell




We give tours.
But we do not charge for them.
Because then we'd be practicing "agritourism" and our farm insurance would go up.
So we give tours, we do not charge for those tours but we do accept donations from tour groups.

This group was here just a couple of days ago and what a fun gathering of future farmers they were. Members of Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living, they traveled over two hours one way, most of them from Chicago, just to see what it is we do here.

Some days we ourselves have no idea what we're doing here but we do our best to muddle through anyway.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Farm Sale Update...closer and closer.

No blog for a week !  Not intentional just so much going on. After you've  read , if you still haven't decided you have better thing to do, I've supplied you with some current pics (taken just days ago) of The Poor Farm. For your review and of course comment.

Sale contracts have been written and revised by both parties and both attorneys.The next step, signatures. Of course as with all contracts there are contingencies. Like the sun must be shining on the day of closing and all Red Wattle pigs must pass inspection.

I'm certain the pigs will shine, no guarantees on the sun.

And so we are now seriously working on an "exclusion list." That would be a list of all the items NOT included in the sale. And I thought putting together the inventory list of items that were included in the sale was time consuming. HA!

Seems we must be clear about all the items not included in the sale. Critical items like tire swings, hay racks with broken floors, miles and miles of old electric wire, the horse who does nothing but eat too much anyway.  But really, I don't mind, anything for the cause, not to mention a successful farm sale.

It does now seem that this indeed is becoming reality and I am in a bit of a panic.

Frankly, Panic and I are old friends. She motivates me when she is not vexing me. Panic always rears her ugly head when stressors build. She wants me to flip out just because I start school full time  in 8 days, and because we must find some sort of shelter to live in the winter on The Poor Farm, which will require electric hookup and well inspections and hook ups. We must continue to can and freeze as much produce as possible, we must pack up 21 years worth of inventory and then decide what gets moved, what gets stored and where, and what gets used in the short term in the interim home (still not found) before we move it into the permanent home(still not built.) Panic...I laugh in your face. Ha ha ha ha.

All the above talk about a house is of course if we decide to build. Life in one big tent is looking better and better. The animals however are insisting on something more permanent. Which must be built NOW but not really now because there is no money until the farm sale is final. Then NOW will most likely not occur for at least another 30 days which brings us to fall and cooler weather and then frost and then snow.

Which means if we don't get the animal barn built soon and we don't find shelter for ourselves soon we'll all be holed up in my daughters tiny in town garage for a bit. But really, no worries, I'm not panicked.

That happens tomorrow.

And now the walk through The Poor Farm as promised.

 
Shed.
Future Soap Shack? Chicken Coop?
Writers Retreat?
 

 
 

The Shed up Close.
 

Kitchen sink. Just $15 at the Restore
Out with the old and in with...
even older.

View towards the east. Small grove of
non-weeping willows. Happy willows?

 

Path going south.
Probable future pasture sight.

Look ! Another path. This one on south end
heading west.

And now the path weaves through our
wild flower patch,
aka the weeds.

I like to call this one
"Old post with Wire"
Reprints just $150 each

I call this one
"Old post with old wire and old gate"
Because it has more metal reprints are $151 each

Heading north along west side. Unknown flowers.
I'm sure they are very rare


 
Wooded spot on west side. Another ideal place for
a writers shed. Of course it would not be
permanent and therefore would not require
any kind of permit...
(just in case IDPH is snooping on my blog again.)

Old pig shed in middle of The Poor Farm.
Circa 1865.
I'm sure Lincoln slept there

Path through the wild grapevine
on the north side

Grapevine out of control

The Driveway.
Gravel donations will be accepted

The Midlife Farmwife wearing her
happy to maybe be moving soon face.



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Midlife Farmwife Summer Apparel Warning Key

Example of Code Green Apparel


After a lovely July where temps only occasionally got above 80 and most every night was cool and perfect, we find ourselves heading into August.

I think the party is over. Today it was quite warm, nearly hot and with virtually no breeze this Midlife Farmwife found herself shedding clothes. In order to protect those with delicate eyes, weak constitutions and/or children I am presenting for the first time.

The Midlife Farmwife Summer Apparel Warning Key

     Code Green...All is well. Weather is perfect and Farmwife is appropriately dressed.
     Code Blue.....All is still well because it's cold outside. No way any skin is showing.
     Code Yellow...Caution ahead. Sun is heating up. Legs and arms might be bared.
     Code Orange...It's over 80. Shorts in place. Tank Top mandatory. Flapping arm tissue may
                             cause eye injuries. Keep your distance.
     Code Red.. It's over 90 degrees outside .Farmwife might only be dressed  in old lady swimsuit.                                   Large amounts of skin exposed Visitors should wear sunglasses
                             and/or blinders and will be required to sign liability waiver.
     Code Purple...It's over 100 degrees. MAY DAY...MAYDAY  Farmwife may not be dressed at all.
                            If she is it will be in paper napkins. As she could spontaneously combust it would
                            best to reschedule your farm visit for 2015.


From time to time when I am feeling charitable and wish to provide sufficient warning I will post this key here on my blog and perhaps even on Facebook. Be aware though, if I am really hot and crabby I may not give two cents about warning anybody (too busy taking my fourth shower of the day...outside... with the pigs.) It is best to understand...you are visiting our farm at your own risk.

Please once again refer to the above warning scale. I suggest you memorize it.


 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

If it's Not One Thing, It's an Udder.

 

 


 

 
The life of a cow here is pretty sweet. Lots of room to roam, plenty of lovely pasture, and you only have to show up to work twice a day for about 20 mins at a time. Yeah it's all fun and games until some clod steps on your privates.

And when they damage your sargeants and your generals as well then it's hardly worth getting yourself upright and into the parlor for a round of equally uncomfortable treatments but our cow Mindy was a trooper recently.

Keith noticed an odd occurrance when milking her yesterday. He put on the four inflations, one to each teat and then, big surprise, milk starts pouring out of the TOP of her teat. Hmmmm, that can't be good.

A quick call to our amazing vet Al Whitman in Piper City, Il and soon enough Mindy is taken care of and Keith and I are even more educated about the bovine we care for. We were offered the option of a referral to the large vet clinic at the University Of Illinois but we opted for Home Care. We knew once in a large vet setting our animal would be more stressed (it's about an hour from our home) and she most likely would be treated with antibiotics which would negate her organic status.

So we kept her here understanding she might not gain function of the teat but since the injury was not life threatening and her immune system strong we felt confident she would heal well on her own. Although originally we thought the injury may have been an accidental horn goring from one of our other cows, doc thought it looked more like a hoof injury. When Mindy was lying down some other big fat cow probably stepped on her upper teat.



For now we do not know if the injury was pre-planned or truly a case of one cow just getting into anothers personal space. The investigation continues but most of the girls are being quiet about the whole deal.

Suffice it to say, Mindy is the new cow in the milking herd group, just having had her first calf a few days ago and inappropriate herd hazing is a strong possibility. Please note the administration of South Pork Ranch does not condone this behavior but we cannot be everywhere all the time now can we?

 Mindy was a real trooper through it all.  She allowed, with no fuss at all, our vet to give her a sedative and a local to numb the area. After a little bit he then oh so delicately stitched closed the wound while our GK's watched and provide emotional support to the patient.




 Mindy "danced" a little but no kick, no struggle. Six stiches later she was allowed to rest and enjoy the remainder of her sedative. We did milk her that evening as letting the milk build up in that quarter would've caused her more pain and possibly mastitis. Her milk will be separated from the rest of the tank until she is better healed.



We were told there was only a 50/50 chance that the teat would function properly so we made the decision right then we would take Mindy with us when we move to the Poor Farm. Her possible new status as a "three titter," as my husband so classily referred to her, would work just fine to meet our future milk needs at our littler farm of the future. We have also come to admire her very calm nature, even when she is not sedated!

So ladies remember. Never jump up suddenly without checking first to see that some fat cow is not standing on your mammary system.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pork Rub


 
Yeah, you're thinking BBQ sauce but you're a bit premature. I'm talking about Diatomaceous Earth, the wonder powder we like to rub on our pigs (cats, dogs, calves but I can never get the peacocks to sit still long enough.)

If you are not familiar with Diatomaceous earth or DE, it is a very fine white powder made up of the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae which was discovered in Germany in 1837.  It is used to control parasites (mechanical insecticide) in animals along with about 100 other uses such as  a filtration aid, a mild abrasive in toothpaste, absorbent in liquids, reinforcing filler in plastics and rubber, ingredient in cat litter, activator in blood clotting studies etc..

The powder which consists of all these microscopic bits of dead diatoms (ANOTHER great name for a band "The Dead Diatoms") is lethal to parasites, worms, bedbugs, cockroach, ants, fleas and what we see sometimes in our hogs...lice.  The fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects' exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate and die. It can be used on animals both internally and externally. Because DE is considered natural it is approved for use by the National Organic Program .

Although you can use your bare hands to spread the powder, our skin is too tough for the little dead diatoms to injure, I like to use a thick sock.




I don't lose as much of the powder to the wind that way. And because our pigs have mud holes which means dried mud on their bods, the sock keeps my paws cleaner as well. I'll grab a handful of DE and rub it on our breeder hogs who because they stay with us several years tend to attract the external parasites. A favorite spot for flies and lice to lay their eggs on hogs is right behind the ear.

For extra measure and to take care of any internals parasites we also shake some of the powder in our animals bedding and in their feed. When coupled with powdered garlic, also added to feed rations we are able to control parasites without using any chemicals.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saponification Sunday...It's About Time!

 


It's not that I don't make soap anymore, I do.
It's not that I don't want to continue Saponification Sunday, I do.
It's not that I don't want to share all the excitement that revolves around mystical magical lye, I do.
It's just THERE'S NO FREAKIN' TIME!!!!

Was I yelling? I didn't mean to yell.
It's late, I'm tired, but don't you worry. I have soap pictures, yes I do.


Charcoal was the drug of choice this week. Nice black, finely powdered, charcoal. I love coloring my soap with this stuff even though it can be messy. I feel it is worth the black lung you'll invariably concoct at the end of your saponification session.

I used to keep mine in a little baggy but I always felt guilty when I store anything powdered in a baggy and spent too much time looking out the window for Big Brother so instead I store my charcoal in a glass spice bottle with a shaker top which works much better anyway.  I generally add my charcoal to some of the olive oil from my soap recipe and then add it back to the traced soap I want to color.

For this bar I used just about  a 1/4 tsp to my main two pound soap batch to get that blue-grey color and then about 1 tsp to the smaller amount of soap I used to make the darker swirls. These swirls were a combination of in the pot as well as in the mold. I believe I even added and swirled some of the black soap into the pot WHILE I was pouring it into the mold.


Which is why when folks ask me to recreate a soap they liked I generally just look at them in a dull-witted way. I'm not one for repeating soap recipes 'cause I'm not one for remembering soap recipes.

Yes, I am aware there is such a thing as a pen and paper. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

This particular soap looks great wet. All sleek and shiny like a seal in Galway Bay I might say. It is scented with pure Eucalyptus Essential Oil.


I think it also looks nice on our bathroom sink just in front of the crazy faucets from IKEA no one wanted me to buy cause they had never seen such an odd design and besides everyone knows IKEA makes cheap crud and the stuff never lasts but I ignored them and I bought the faucets and they are still working five years later, so there.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Farm Sale Update...To Jinx or Not to Jinx




South Pork Ranch Banner
Inventory item #45
Well folks...as of this am, we have an offer.
It's a nice offer, not too low, not too high (is there such a thing?)

But of course attorneys must be involved, contingencies must be written, inventory must be finalized ,yes they would like the calf hutches, but no they do not need the livestock trailer, that kind of stuff.

Details, details and more details.

So we must wait for financing to be approved and attorneys to return from vacations (the nerve!) We must put serious thought into the possibility that if all goes through we may be moving in a short amount of time. Do you all have the slightest inkling of what this all means?

It means we may be getting what we asked for, a very simple life, on a very simple piece of land to be run by (wait for it) a couple of simpletons. Good thing we actually planted a garden this year and even better that I got over my inane fear of pressure canners and started putting up the food we'll need to survive.

Including 7 pounds of cabbage soaking in brine as I write, since I decided no decent homestead should be without homemade sauerkraut. If it fails I plan to consume it as cabbage wine, I'm not about to throw out several hours of work you know. Who else wants a glass?

So we wait and watch the wheels of Real Estate Purchase Contracts turn at a slower rate than we would like while feeling it's all spinning faster than we'll be able to keep up. We'll need to seriously downsize our belongings due to the tiny detail we have no new house to move into. Will we buy a trailer? Move a barn onto the property and build a small apartment in between the cow and pig stalls? Or will we try to build a tire house in the few short months we'll have before winter?

I am not kidding about the tire house.

Will we have a big garage sale or just donate all the extra stuff?
Will we buy a yurt to live in just for this fall and winter?
Will we get tired of going in circles if we live in a yurt?
Will there be enough $ left over to homestead full time?
Will we get tired of eating all that sauerkraut?
Will I remember to go to school?

SCHOOL?!? Whose bleepin' idea was it to return to college anyway?

We are excited and scared witless. What if the offer is withdrawn? But more importantly,what if it isn't and this really is the beginning of that last great chapter of our lives?