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.