Friday, December 30, 2011

How do you homeschool/UNschool? - We play games!

Today we played Candyland, because its one of Mini Wilds favorites! (I think he likes all the brightly colored candy lol). We also played Learning Resources $Money Bags (coin value game). And the big one, Wildcraft!
The website describes the game as "A cooperative board game that teaches edible and medicinal plants"

It is a great visual learning tool! There is a story that goes along with it is about Grandma letting the kids go up her mountain alone this time to collect huckleberries. Along the way, the kids remember Grandmas information about the different areas and herbs/plants along the path.

At first he wasn't to sure, he said it might be to hard, but when he saw the plant cards he got excited and then when he saw the trouble cards (wasp stings, fever, etc) he really got excited! He said HEY!! We have these plants (dandelions, which are on the back of the plant cards) growing all OVER!!! Each time we've had to cover a sun spot (meaning the sun is moving across the sky) he says "Uh oh, we better hurry up!" =o) The game comes with an herbal chart (the only thing I wish they'd done more with was to include each herb that is on the plant cards, maybe as a folding chart) that goes with some of the plant cards & gives brief information about what it can be used for. Each time Mini Wild had a card that was covered on the chart, we'd read it and talk about them (insomnia, gas, stress, etc).

He enjoyed using the cooperative cards to help me as I was the one with the most troubles lol! He'd scan the circles at the bottom of the trouble card and then scan his herbal pile to find the match. He started to remember the plant icons and got fast at finding the right herb!

I highly recommend this game (I earned my Masters in Herbology in 2003 and I really enjoyed this game!), especially if you want to learn about or teach your kids about edible plants and using them as medicines! I am not affiliated with this company nor am I receiving any compensation for this post, I am sharing my opinion. My son is a very visual learner and this game held his interest, even with the reading portions (the story & the herb chart).

Oh, and he won ;o)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why didn't he know? Label GMOs on EVERYTHING!!!

We had to pick up hog feed this morning, so we headed out early this morning on our 3 hour round trip to the feed mill.

On the way there we talked about the questions we wanted to ask about the goats grain as well as the horses. Our goats grain has Ammonium Chloride mixed in it, which is something that is beneficial for bucks to help prevent Urinary Calculi aka Urinary Stones. Since we don't have any bucks we wanted to know if we could get the feed without it.

Mr. Wild wanted to know if we could feed the horses and the cattle the same grain mix, with the exception being our Jerseys (but they don't run in the same field as the rest of the cattle & horses, so they are fed separately).

The manager was there so we started asking questions. He said we could have our own goat grain mixed, but they only mix it by a ton & a half. If mixed at a smaller ratio they said it wouldn't get mixed in properly and that it would cost us MORE per bag if we bought in a smaller amount. We buy 300 lbs at a time and currently don't have a dry location to store a ton of feed that isn't for ALL the animals. We decided to call around to the other feed mills before buying. Kinda disappointed, but we understand they are a big mill and we are a small farm (for now).

Next we asked about the horse & cattle. He said they do carry a very basic mix of SOYbean meal, corn gluten and shelled corn. As soon as he said SOY I started shaking my head NO. I let him finish and then I said NO, I will NOT feed ANY of our animals anything with SOY in it. The manager asked why and I told him that 95% (its more like 98%) of soy that is grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. He looked at me like I had suddenly grown a fish face and said he wasn't aware of that. I asked him if he knew if their corn was GMO and he said he didn't know, that he wasn't aware of that EITHER!!

This man, whose family not only owns the feed mill but the hundreds of acres surrounding it where they GROW many of the ingredients in their feed DOESN'T KNOW IF THEY ARE GROWING GMO!

Now we needed 500 lbs of hog feed, 300 lbs of goat feed, 500 lbs of cattle feed & 250 lbs of horse feed. We didn't buy any of it. I told Mr. Wild that I was not going to feed our animals THAT WE ARE RAISING FOR FOOD modified anything! And that I am sick to my stomach that we didn't ask these questions sooner, because we've been doing just that for months. The manager of the feed mill isn't the only one who showed his ignorance today =o(

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cleaning out the barn

As the old paneling burns

Our farm was built before the Great Depression and kept in the same family until we bought it. During our cleaning we've found some really neat, useful things (think 5 gal buckets galore of different types of nails) and lots of old rotten wood. This has been our 4th burn, this pile was about 4 ft tall and just as wide. This picture is about 8-9 hours after we started burning, still about 2 ft tall.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Countdown to Popeyes calving - Due Feb. 8th




Our Jersey cow, Popeye is getting so close to her due date. This will be her 3rd calf. She was bred to a beautiful, huge registered Jersey bull. We're hoping she has a little heifer, but definitely a healthy calf!

I'm going to document these next couple of weeks with (hopefully) lots of pictures. Some of the are going to be graphic. But knowledge is good right! I'll warn ya in the title, so it won't be a surprise for those of you that don't want to see.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hard decisions

Belle (black/white pygmy) & Cloudy (white ND) in Vegas.

When we moved to KY from NV, we brought 2 of our goats with us. I couldn't handle leaving them behind, they were my bottle babies, one of which I got when she (Heinz) was 4 hours old, the other when he (Stripies) was 8 days old. Both had lost their mamas, Stripies mom died when he was 3 days old & he was the only survivor out of the 4 kids. Heinz was also 1 of 4 and her mom rejected her. Stripies came from a friends ranch, she begged me to take him as she was already bottle raising 2 lambs and was so sad after losing the goats (she lost many kids that winter). Heinz came from a local goat farmer (in Vegas!) and she cried as she put Heinz in my arms. She gave me her email address and asked that I send her pictures and updates. We still keep in touch =o)

Heinz (black Alpine) & Stripies (white ND wether) in Vegas.

Before we left Vegas, we had 4 goats, Belle, Cloudy, Stripies & Heinz. Belle was pregnant and I didn't want to risk her losing them. We contacted a farm outside of Vegas, they came and bought her and Cloudy (they were BFF's).

Cloudy (left) & Belle (pregnant, right) in Vegas.

After we got to KY, we started looking for goats. They are such intelligent, charming, mischievious animals =o) They are beautiful, gentle and sweet. They are naughty, rambunctious and curious. They are nosy, pushy and lazy. They are foragers, tree climbers and natural fertilizers. We found many goats and we started building our herd.

In Kentucky, after bush-hogging.

Vegas was very dry and very rocky. We trimmed the goats hooves twice a year because they had rocks to play on that kept them worn down. Eastern KY is very wet and very green. We've had to trim the goats hooves every other month. We've also had to fight foot rot because of all the wet mud that is a big part of the farm, especially when the grasses have been eaten and trampled. In Vegas we didn't have coughs or wheezing or pink eye. In KY, we've had it all and then some. We've had to use medicines that we swore we'd never put into our animals. We've had to hold them down and we've had to put 1 down.

One of the mama does, in Kentucky.

Mr. Wild and I have been discussing whats in everybodys best interest. We can't continue this way, not when animals are in pain. We had the vet come out, we've had old-timers come over and they've all said the same thing. The mud is a huge problem. We need to put down rock. The amount of rock we need is expensive, almost $4000 expensive. We've got a LOT of animals that we need to feed through winter. Our goats are not raised for food. Not for us anyways, I don't like the taste of the meat, never have. We were told that we could have them processed into pepperoni. We don't eat that much pepperoni and its illegal for us to sell any of our meat as we aren't set up for that.

Oreo (American Alpine buck) hanging with the chickens (In KY).

So we decided we needed to sell most of the herd. We contacted the man we bought our 1st cow from as he use to be a Boer goat breeder. We told him our situation and asked him if he could help us find new homes, good homes, for our goats. Last night we took 11 of the 15 goats to his ranch and sold them. I tried really hard to not cry as we were loading & unloading them. Mr. Wild & I didn't talk much in the truck on the way there. They all have names, they come when called, they know the routine at our farm, they are talked to, petted, loved. The cow man assured us that the people we sold to are good farmers, kind farmers that will take great care of our herd. And their farms aren't big mud pits because farmer Paul talked Mr. Wild into bush-hogging too much. Yeah, I'm a little mad about that!

Monday, December 19, 2011

What to do ... with all the rabbit poo ...

One of our bucks

We've currently got 38 rabbits, so we've got LOTS of poop! Every other day we open the doors on the outside of the barn and shovel it out into buckets. (Our barn is an old tobacco barn, so every couple of feet there's a door that opens outward. We enclosed one side of the barn for the rabbit area.) During the summer and early fall, some of it was getting spread through the gardens, some of it was going to neighbors for their tomato plants (where it will provide lots of nitrogen and phosphorus and help build soil, but a lot of it was being dumped into the forest where the chickens would have a field day scratching through it!

The other day Mr. Wild was talking with one of our farmer friends, they were talking about an upcoming project that we're hoping to get involved with (with our rabbits, but thats another post in the making!). Mr. Wild made a joke about being buried in rabbit poop and the friend told him that there are "specialized" gardeners that would pay good money for the rabbits poo. That they have even put ads in Craigslist! Mr. Wild told him that we don't know any of these specialized gardeners. The friend said he'd introduce us to a few of them at the next auction and put the word out. Green is good ;o)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Giveaway - the urban homestead (expanded & revised edition) Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City - CLOSED - WINNER ANNOUNCED


Here are 5 ways you can enter to win
A brand new copy of this awesome book!

1. You must leave a comment on this blog for entry. Only comments here on this blog post will be accepted as an entry. (Be sure to leave an email address so that we can contact you if you do not have a blog). (1 entry)

2. Tell us what your favorite homesteading book is (please include the author). (1 entry)

3. Become a follower of our blog. (click the FOLLOW button ---> ) (1 entry)

4. Become a fan of Rogue Wild Farm on Facebook. (Please come back here and leave a comment with your Facebook name &/or page). (1 entry)

5. Tell us what your favorite thing to grow is and how you use it. (1 entry)

Good luck all!

This contest ends on Friday, December 23, 2011 at 11:59pm East Coast Time.
Item ships to US addresses only.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bourbon Balls - part I

Pecan halves, Makers Mark Whisky and a jar with a lid.

1 cup Pecans (it calls for chopped nuts, but I prefer the halves).

5 Tablespoons Makers Mark Whisky.

The bowl was just for pictures, I don't recommend using it because I lost about 1 tbsp when trying to pour it into the funnel.

Dump the pecans into the jar, put the funnel in (the yellow tip at the top) and pour the bourbon in.

Seal the jar and shake up. I try to shake it up and roll the pecans around every couple of hours. Overnight I turn the jar on its side so the coverage is more even.

Part II tomorrow =o)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sunsational Sunflower Seed Non-Dairy Milk

We've made almond milk and hemp seed milk, have thought about making acorn milk, so when I stumbled upon this post about Sunflower Seed Non-Dairy Milk, I had to check it out. They are hosting a giveaway, which is always a bonus!

Sunsational Sunflower Seed Non-Dairy Milk & Giveaway

Bananagrams & other games we use for UNschooling

(Our game this morning)

One of the Yahoo groups I subscribe to is for homeschooling. I enjoy reading about the different ways that parents are choosing to teach their kids. I definitely enjoy the extremely creative ways that are shared, especially when it comes to boring subjects. This is an area that we've had to embrace because our youngest son (who just turned 16), has a language delay. We started homeschooling/unschooling late (he was a freshman in high school), which is another post because I haven't been ready to talk about it, but it's been one of the best decisions EVER!! It's also been one of the hardest!

This morning, in the daily group email, was a woman talking about her struggle with homeschooling her young son. She missed the free time she had with her husband playing XBOX and she didn't like dealing with a whiny kid. She was asking for opinions on sending her son back to public school so she could be "normal". I have to be honest, this irritated me. It sounded like she didn't want to deal with her kid, but rather have play time with her husband. I responded to the email, being as polite as I could even though I wanted to say more, much more, with suggestions for unschooling. I've noticed that a lot of parents think homeschool has to be public school at home. But if public school wasn't working at school, why would it work at home? If you don't change the way the learning is done, what are you changing? I'm getting off my soap box, because this too is another post waiting in the wings!

One of the games we LOVE is Bananagrams! It's like Words with Friends or Scrabble, but theres not board, no point squares, just building upon the words. If it's a new word for our son, we talk about what it means and then move on to the next turn. We don't follow the directions for the game because it calls for each player to build their own words, we have more fun building off each other. We also have tried picking a subject, like food or animals, and making words.

We use UNO Attack for math. It never fails, every single time the cards get spit out, our son busts out laughing. How awesome to see him laugh and smile and HAVE FUN while we're learning math!! We have him either add, subtract or multiply the number that is on top with the number HE is playing. We also use Yahtzee!, Dominoes and baking. As you can see, our son is very visual =o)

Some of the shows we watch (yes WE, I watch them with him so I can ask him about what we've seen) are Dinosaur Train, Sid the Science Kid, Word World, Legend Quest (Syfy), How the States got their Shapes (History), History's Mysteries (History International), Ancient X-Files (Nat. Geo.), Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (Travel), Ace of Cakes (FOOD), Dangerous Encounters w/ Brady Barr (Nat. Geo. Wild), How the Universe Works (SCI), Dirt Girl World (SPRT), America's Great Parks (Green), The Electric Company. We don't watch them everyday, but we do scan the guide to see if whats on is going to be interesting.

Homeschooling/UNschooling is a very personal decision to make, one that has to weigh all of the positives & negatives, because it doesn't just affect the child(ren), it changes everything for the whole family!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Turnips & soup - recipe

Our friend Paul has been bringing us turnips, LOTS of turnips!! He planted some & then his wife planted some, but they didn't tell each other that they'd each done it, so now they have double the harvest! And we, along with everybody they know ;o) are reaping the benefits. They are HUGE, bigger than grapefruits, so we're having to be creative in using them up. So far we've fried them in lard with potatoes & sweet onions, we've boiled them & mashed them up with garlic like mashed potatoes. We've eaten them raw sliced up like an apple, with slices of cheese & chives. We've baked them like baked potatoes too! I even sliced up a couple, along with some butternut squash & gave it to the chickens & turkeys!

I was super happy to stumble upon this recipe for Turnip Soup!

I asked Pauls wife why they grew turnips but not potatoes. She told me that Paul (who will be 72 soon) had to watch his potassium levels. A potato has 1554mg of potassium, while a turnip has 248mg! That's 44% vs 7% of the daily value! A potato has 68.0g of carbs, while a turnip has 8.4g. She's come up with creative ways to use turnips in place of potatoes too, including her amazing Hashed Turnip casserole! I'm still working on getting that recipe ;o)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Our bees are ordered!

They are an Italian/Carniolan blend. We went with this blend because of their winter hardiness (it gets cold & snowy in KY), but also they are very gentle excellent producers that use less propolis than other races of bees.

We'll be using 5 frame nucs (Nucleus Colonies, are small honey bee colonies created from larger colonies. The term refers both to the smaller size box and the colony of honeybees within it. The name is derived from the fact that a nuc hive is centered around a queen - the nucleus of the honey bee colony).

This is part of the bee farm that we ordered from. He has got such an awesome set-up and has been working with bees for over 10 years!

Another honeybee farm shot.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Month 12 - Lotus pose

Back in 2001, when I started Massage Therapy school, I also started learning about yoga. My Acupressure instructor was also a yoga teacher and she peaked my curiousity. One of my favorite books is the yoga year by Celia Toler.

Each month builds upon the previous month with detailed pose descriptions and images. Right now I'm on Month 12 (I know, duh, right!) and I was re-reading the first page of the chapter when this "The poses you have learned have not only stretched the body, in all senses, but still the mind, and so month 12 finally offers the full Lotus Pose, of special significance in yoga for breathing and meditation. The theme of the month is the quietness and stillness needed to allow the lotus to blossom." struck me as being perfect for this crazy time of year.

Lots of my friends and family are rushing around, trying to out-do last years decorations and baking while trying to find yet another "perfect" gift. They seem rushed, frazzled, irritated and stressed. I've shared my love of yoga and the peaceful benefits I've reaped with them (hoping they'll breathe a little) and thought I'd share it here too. =o)

I had to add the link for these awesome yoga (lotus group) cookie cutters, and yoga (down-dog-group)! You're welcome ;o)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Making deer jerky - Recipe

5 lbs of meat
3 cups soy sauce
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
2-3 Tablespoons Tabasco
2 teaspoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper

Brine 8 hours overnight
Soak wood chips overnight

Smoke 3-5 hours (depending on thickness of meat pieces)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Calendula Balm

I've been making this balm for about 6 years and its become our go-to for cuts, scrapes, rashes, etc.

As the weather is getting colder and the heater kicking on more frequently, I've noticed that my knuckles are starting to get chapped, so I pulled out my last container of this balm (my next-to-last container is up in the barn, we'd used it on our jersey cows teats). I thought I'd share the recipe with you and hope you'll find many uses for it like we have!

I use dry herbs/flowers and have a small crock-pot that is specifically for infusing.

1/8 oz (3.55 grams) St. Johns Wort flower (dried & ground)
1/8 oz (3.55 grams) Comfrey leaf (dried & ground)
1 cup Calendula petals (dried)
1/2 cup Lavender buds (dried)

1 cup Castor Oil
2 cups Aloe Butter
1/3 cup Hemp Seed Oil
2 cups (1.5 bars) organic beeswax

Lavender essential oil (optional)

Place the herbs and oils (excluding the essential oil) in the crock-pot and turn to the lowest heat. Place the lid on and let the mixture steep, usually 3-4 hours. (For larger batches I let it steep up to 6 hours). Check frequently, stirring, to prevent overheating. Turn off heat and let steep for up to 1 week, creating a beautiful dark green oil.

Strain herbs from oil. (I use double layered cheese cloth & strain into a large glass measuring cup).

(If you're not going to finish the balm immediately, store the oil in a glass jar with a tight lid, in a cool dark place. Also, you'll need to warm the oil back up prior to mixing with the beeswax)

Melt the beeswax slowly (I chop the bars up and melt in 20-30 second intervals in the microwave).

Mix the warm oils & beeswax together. (You want the oils to be warm so that the beeswax doesn't start to cool off and harden before you mix and pour).

Add 4-6 drops Lavender essential oil. Mix thoroughly.

Pour into small containers. Let cool. Put lids on.

These make great gifts and excellent additions to the diaper bag or first aid kit.

Homemade goat treats - ginger crisps

Occasionally we give our goats little treats like raisins, bananas and ginger snap cookies. They go absolutely NUTS over the cookies! I came across this recipe in The Old Farmers Almanac 2012 and started making our own version. Everybody likes them!

For the horse, we crumble up a couple cookies with chopped apples. For the cows, we crumble a dozen into their grain trough.

For the chickens, turkeys, guineas & peacocks, we crumble up half a dozen and mix it into their scratch.

The dogs get a couple too.

Here's the recipe (I made a couple of ingredient swaps):

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 3/4 cup acorn flour, 3/4 cup all-purpose flour)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (I used 1/8 tsp sea salt)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark-brown sugar
1 large egg (I used a duck egg)
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses (I used black strap molasses)

Here are a few links about using acorns in recipes:
Acorn Pasta and the Mechanics of Eating Acorns, Acorns and the Forager’s Dilemma, and Rich, Sweet & Wild: Acorn and Pine Nut Infused Butter, Wild Things Roundup: Acorn Sweets by Kiva and Loba.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Everything but the oink - butchers cuts

When we took our hogs to the butcher he asked what we wanted, what type of cuts. We looked at him with the blankest of looks. I finally told him that we were new to having our animals butchered and could he please explain to us the different types. The butcher was very patient as he went over the different areas of the pig and what cuts come from each area. We also asked him for suggestions as it was kinda overwhelming in the moment.

As we were leaving, Mr. Wild and I laughed at each other, in that "I thought you knew about all this" kinda way. When we got home I got online and started looking for meat cutting information. I came across Ask The Meatman meat cutting chart posters. We ordered the notebook size charts for pork and beef. The came a couple of days later and just in time because our cow went to the butcher last week!

One of the questions the butcher asked was did we want everything? The organs, the ears, the feet, etc. I told him that I didn't know what to do with all of that and to please donate it or use it for his family. It was a bit embarrassing! In my defense though, Las Vegas doesn't have butchers like Kentucky does. We'd happened to find one in Arizona but his wait time was over a year and his prices were astronomical! One thing we learned is that when deer season is in, the butchers fill up fast, that's good to know for next year!

In researching how to use all of the pig, not just so I can answer the butcher next time, but also because we've talked about eventually doing our own, I found Using everything but the oink. Very, very informative!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dealing with the not so pretty side of raising animals

Almost everything we raise is for food, the goats, peacocks & horse being the exceptions.

We are raising rabbits, turkeys, guineas, chickens, cattle, hogs and ducks to feed our family throughout the year. We've bought most of our animals as babies, so we have control over how they are raised and fed. Our one mistake being the first set of hogs.

We're raising California & New Zealand rabbits. We picked those because they have a great feed to meat conversion rate and they're big, up to 14 lbs! We currently have 8 bucks and 15 does at breeding ages. We also have 8 kits (baby rabbits) under 2 months old, from 3 different litters. For me, one of the hardest things to separate is the excitement and sweetness of new babies. I keep detailed records of breedings and births, so I know when its time and I watch to make sure the does are ok during and after.

This morning during feeding I noticed that one of our does was pulling lots of hair really fast. It was time! This will be her 2nd litter, her 1st litter didn't survive. I gave her some straw and moved a heat lamp over her cage, ready to be plugged in after she'd given birth. We don't like to interfer, other than offering extra nesting materials. This evening when I checked on her, she'd had the babies and I could see lots of movement under all the fur! I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

On November 6th, one of our New Zealand does had her first litter. She made an awesome thick nest and everything was looking great, lots of movement under the fur and straw everyday. Until this morning. I shine a light into each of the nesting boxes to watch for movement. I saw a little bit of black fur, looked like a tiny ear, poking out of the nest. I didn't disturb anything and watched for movement. There was a little, but not like it'd been the days before. I checked mama, she was good. This evening when I checked again, she'd uncovered the babies and they were dead. There weren't any marks on them, everything was were it should be. Its so hard when you don't know what causes them to die.

I took them out and put them in a small box. It brought tears to my eyes. One of them had its mouth open and I could see the tiny teeth. I wanted to hold it, to somehow breathe life back into it. Writing about it is making me tear up again. I know that they are raised for food, they don't have names and aren't pets, but it doesn't make dealing with the deaths any easier. I write everything down in the rabbit binder and brush my tears away, hoping that her next litter will be stronger.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Making your own salt

I came across this blog post on Facebook by Handjobs For The Home. How awesome is that name!! You've got to check this out!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Have you tried Kombucha yet?

I've been reading about Kombucha tea for a couple of weeks, so I was really excited to see that Food Renegade was hosting a giveaway for The Ultimate Kombucha Starter Kit! How awesome is that!! Click this link to check it out!

Squirrel hunting & an awesome recipe!

This image is from Scary Squirrel World. It made me laugh =o)

Its been squirrel hunting season for a few weeks now. I've been determined to get a few of them, especially the big grey one that sits in the tree out front, taunting me every time I come outside. He even followed us up the hill when we were running fence, sitting high up in the big oak tree dropping acorns around us. He sits and watches. Until I get the gun out. Then he starts jumping around, up & down from branch to branch, even from tree to tree! He is still taunting me, every morning.

Mr. Wild and I went hunting on the back of the farm and actually got 3 squirrels! I'd not cleaned one before, but was happy to see how its just like cleaning a rabbit! My next plan is to learn how to cure the skins and use them.

Here's the recipe we used (courtesy of The Wild Butcher From Field to Table book:

Southern Fried Squirrel (or Rabbit) with Gravy

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (We used 1/4 t. sea salt)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (we used cracked pepper)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional (we used it)
2 squirrels or 1 wild rabbit, cut up
Vegetable oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt & Pepper

(We had buttermilk that was getting ready to expire, so we added it to the recipe. After coating the squirrel pieces in the flour mixture, we dipped it into the buttermilk and then put it into the oil. Delicious!!!)

Makes 2-3 servings

1. In large plastic food-storage bag, combine 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper & 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Shake to mix.

2. Add squirrel pieces; shake to coat

3. In large skillet, heat 1/8 inch oil for squirrel, or 1/4 inch oil for rabbit, over medium-high heat until hot.

4. Add coated meat; brown on all sides.

5. Reduce heat; cover tightly. Cook over very low heat until tender, 35 to 45 minutes for squirrel, 20 to 25 minutes for rabbits, turning pieces once.

6. Remove cover, cook 5 minutes longer to crisp. Transfer meat to plate lined with paper towels. Set aside and keep warm.

7. Discard all but 3 Tablespoons oil. Over medium heat, stir flour into reserved oil. Blend in milk.

8. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly.

9. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with meat.

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig ... a lesson learned

I picked up the meat from our butchered hogs yesterday. As I was paying, I told the guy that I'd see him in the spring. He said "so you guys are raising up some more then?" I said yes, that we'd gotten a couple more from the market. He stood there for a couple of seconds and then said "Ya know if you lay the feed to them you'll get a good bunch of meat off 'em. These hogs, they didn't look so good when we cut them open, you could tell that, well, they weren't fed real well."

I smiled and nodded as I exploded with anger inside. I told him that we'd bought these hogs from our neighbors friend 2 months prior to bringing them in. I thanked him again and left.

Now, I wasn't angry at the man for telling me the truth about the condition of the hogs. I was angry at myself & my husband for not knowing better and I was angry at our neighbor & his friend for screwing us! They knew that they hadn't taken care of the hogs properly & had stunted their growth.

When we moved here we started going to the auctions & markets, to see what was for sale & to talk to the other farmers & ranchers. We slowly started purchasing our livestock. We got invited to go to a private pig sale with one of the guys we'd met. We were sitting up in our barn a couple days later talking about going to the sale when our neighbor tells us that him & his friend have been raising up hogs & that they'd sell us a couple & save us some money. So we drove out to the friends house to look at them. We were told that they were babies, about 3 months old & that the big one was a great mama, was ready to be bred back as soon as a boar was found.

They told us how they'd been feeding them, when they'd bought the babies, when the mama had last had a litter. We felt like they were being really upfront and were truly trying to help us save some money & get started. So we said we'd buy them, but could we keep them there for a couple of weeks while we got our hog lot ready. They said sure, if we supplied the feed. No problem we said, we went that day & bought 200 lbs of feed.

The friend told us he was going to separate our hogs from his. Mr. Wild went & helped move them. There were 5 babies and we'd picked ours out. Two weeks later we went by & it was time to move them. The friend said he'd round them up & get them in the trailer so that when Mr. Wild got there, they'd be ready to go. They were unloaded as the sun was setting & everyone was hot & ready to be done for the day. So we fired up the grill, got some beers & kicked back by the creek.

The next morning we went out to feed the hogs & they are really small & thin. I asked Mr. Wild why they were there, those were NOT the ones we'd picked out. He looked at me and said they were loaded before he got there. He said he thinks we were given the smallest of the bunch, that that was why the "friend" offered to load them for us. He said "we'll lay the feed to them, we'll fatten them up!" That was the end of July. Our plan was to take them to butcher beginning of December.

A few weeks go by & we notice that they don't seem to be gaining weight. We ask if they'd been wormed, no they hadn't. So we give them deworming medicine. We're sitting around in the barn again with the same neighbor & he starts talking about how he's upset with the friend because he's just found out that the friend isn't feeding their hogs right, that he's letting them go days without feed. He says he wants to move his hog but doesn't want to make the friend mad. Mr. Wild & I just look at each other. We're new to this area, we don't know all the "rules" yet, so we don't say anything.

We go to market the end of August & buy two baby hogs. Our sole goal is to feed them through winter to butcher in the spring. In the 2 months we've had them, they have already grown larger than the original hogs. We feed them every morning & every evening, make sure they have fresh water everyday & all of the table & garden scraps we have. You know, common sense stuff!

Two weeks ago, we get invited to a hog roast. The neighbors friend has sold one of the hogs to another friend & its bbq time. Mr. Wild goes to help butcher & while the hog is hanging from the tractor, the guy that bought it says "man this hog isn't very big, where's all the meat!??!" The guy that sold it just laughs.

As I stood listening to the butcher talk about how to take care of hogs, all of the stuff that had happened was running through my head. I wanted to call the neighbor & tell him off. But I won't. I also won't buy another animal from him or his friends. We've learned over the last few months that there is a big difference between the guys that play farmer and the guys that actually ARE farmers. Knowledge is a big key factor in that. I'm thankful for the meat that we did get, which only filled the big chest freezer about 1/4. Lesson learned!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hatching percentages

Mr. Wild was talking with another farmer recently about using an incubator and hatching success. We'd been tracking our eggs-in/hatched-out for a couple of months so we looked back to see how we'd been doing. The other farmer said he was having 10% to 18% hatch rate.

In August:
Eggs in = 111
Hatched out = 55
Un-hatched eggs = 56
Bad eggs/weeping = 0
Hatch success = (55/111) 50%

In September:
Eggs in = 127
Hatched out = 22
Un-hatched eggs = 19
Bad eggs/weeping = 86
Hatch success = (22/127) 17%

We had a few issues in September.

The first one was when one of the guys down the road decided to cut his trees and one of the branches took out the power lines. We are really rural so it was the next day before the power company fixed it. The heat & humidity were really high.

The second one was the temperature knob got bumped by the dog in a fit of excitement over a mouse in the shop (the old tack room in the barn). In the midst of us trying to get the dog out of the shop before she knocked everything over, we completely forgot about fixing the knob. It was 2 days later before we fixed it.

The third one was Mini Wild putting the eggs in the incubator and not latching it shut. Again, the heat & humidity.

So basically in September, most of the eggs were cooked. It was awful. The smell was terrible!!! In the process of cleaning it out and removing the sticky eggs from the trays, I had one pop in my face and spew foul purple liquid all over me. Mr. Wild started gagging and I dropped the tray of eggs, which then caused more of them to pop. I had to run to the house to get my clothes off and SCRUB the stench off of me. September was a total fail.

The one thing we haven't kept track of is the eggs that we've given to family & friends. Those numbers are in the dozens!

In October:
Eggs in = 197
Hatched out =
Un-hatched eggs =
Bad eggs =

I'll post these numbers next month.

Friday, October 28, 2011

When local government is way out of line - What happens in Vegas is NOT staying in Vegas!

This story Farm-to-Fork Farm Dinner Fiasco had a happy ending at the dinner party, but what is ahead for them? What is ahead for those of us who are doing the same thing they are?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hatching out chicks

A full incubator.  I mark the date on every egg so I can keep track of "due dates"

The sponges help with the humidity inside the incubator.  The egg trays came from Cutler Supply.  The previous owner of the incubator was using regular egg cartons, this was allowing the water from the sponges to pool under the eggs causing all sorts of nastiness.  These trays are awesome!!

Some of our hatched chicks (ignore the date on the photos)

Brand new chicks drying in the bottom drawer of the incubator.

More of our incubator babies.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Goat introduction

Blue - blue-tick Boer doe

 Oreo - American Alpine buck

Cinna - Boer doe

Dirty Deeds - Nigerian Dwarf buck (soon to be wether)

Mad Hatter - Alpine/Nubian mix buck

Big Mama (back left) - Boer doe, pregnant; Silver (center) - Pygmy doe; Mad Hatter in the corner

Snickers - Alpine/Nubian mix doe with her babies, Sterling (front) buck & Fiona (middle) doe.  The lady we got her from said she was in with a Pygmy buck as well as an Alpine buck and she didn't know which one got her pregnant.  We're thinking they both did!  Sterling is much tinier that his sister and his face is different.  We're hoping he is a Pygmy mix so we can breed him with our Pygmy doe, Silver.

Oreo again with Heinz .  She's almost 10 months old now!

I need to get updated pictures of Stripies and our other doe, Alice.  Right now all the goats are on an acre with electric fence surrounding it.  We've only had a couple of escapes, mostly because the smaller ones went under it following the ducks!  We're working on getting our whole perimeter fenced with 5 ft wove wire with 2 stands of electric, it's a LOT of work!