Updates from Yours Truely

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Turns out I’m gonna have to lay off the beer, vodka and Cheetos if I really want to get rid of the flab…no matter how much I work out. Sounds a bit extreme for this cowgirl.  But, considering the Catholic Church is on my good side for once, I’ve decided to give up fried foods for Lent this year. Lord help me. Working out and now this? What kind of outlaw am I becoming?

My little sister keeps on growing up and living her own life and somehow she manages to make it without taking any of my hard earned advice.

Planting season has arrived and kids are on the way. YEEEEEEEEEEHAW!!!

Hats off to all y’all, my rebel friends, OUTLAWS RULE!

My Imaginary Garden

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Here I go again, daydreaming of this year’s garden…imagining delicious tasting, perfectly plump, vine ripened tomatoes, crisp hot peppers, large, manageable mounds of fresh herbs strategically placed to ward off invasive insects, beautifully tapered crunchy-sweet carrots with strong tops that never break off when you tug them, oh and loads of summer squash growing on compact bush style plants that respect the boundaries of my weed-free garden paths! I’m dreaming of okra and tender green beans that never hide from me, sun ripened strawberries, those little tiny cucumbers you can make sweet pickles with, oh and sweet potatoes! Lettuce that stays sweet and buttery all summer long, onions and leeks and radishes and beets and swiss chard and pok choy and cow peas!!! A weed never grows in my garden and it’s always 85* and sunny with a slight breeze. There are no squash bugs, no aphids no fungus or blight. Everything is organic and the moon tells me secrets about when to plant and when to harvest.

Five Good Reasons to Raise Rabbits

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Five Reasons to Raise Rabbits:

  1. Low Cost
  2. Great Manure
  3. Easy to Breed
  4. Taste Good
  5. It’s Legal!

If you ask me rabbits are second only to chickens in terms of the best livestock to raise. They are small and quiet and very inexpensive to house and feed. They only eat a ¼ cup of food each day. Another bonus is that rabbit manure is what you call cold which means it’s ready to go right into the garden with no composting time required. It’ll really boost the nitrogen level in your soil too without burning your plants.

Rabbits are relatively easy to breed. You will want to house your does separate from your buck. When you’re ready for them to breed, you just put a doe in with the buck and let them do their thing. Don’t put him into her cage though because does are territorial and she might try to attack. When the buck is finished breeding, he’ll squeal and fall off of the doe’s back.

After breeding, if all goes well, your doe will kindle in 5 weeks. Four days before she’s due, put some bedding in her nest box. She should begin to nest and you’ll know the kits are on the way when she pulls out the fur on her belly for them. This makes the nest nice and soft and makes it easy for the kits to find their momma’s milk.

Rabbits are a great source of lean protein. They should be prepared at about 5-6 weeks old. At this age you can expect them to weigh somewhere around 3 lbs, maybe more depending on the breed. Rabbit tastes wonderful when cooked in the crock pot, stewed with homegrown veggies or pan fried with a mustard wine sauce. I have a great rabbit recipe posted on my Real Food Recipes page.

So if you can’t raise chickens for some silly reason like its against the law or what have you, give rabbits a try. Just tell your neighbors they are your pets. Lord knows no one wants to live next door to a farmer!

This post is linked to Homestead Barn Hop

You know what? Chicken butt!

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What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

That’s as scarce as hen’s teeth.

A hen that struts like a rooster is often invited for dinner.

I been workin’ as hard as a hen hauling wood.

Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.

He was madder than a wet settin’ hen.

She done flew the coop.

Don’t be such a chicken!

I been running around like a chicken with his head cut off.

What’s stuck in your craw?

Well don’t just stand around hatching rooster eggs.

Shake a tail feather my friend!

Good Neighbors Bring Bread

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Today, me and the hubs cut up an oak tree that fell in the side yard an eon ago. About half way through the project I caught a glimpse of our neighbor, Lucy, making her way up the drive with a bag in her hands. Come to find out Lucy’s daughter got herself a bread machine the other day and we’re the lucky recipients of her latest effort.

After the hauling and stacking of that old oak tree and the eating of Lucy’s daughter’s homemade banana walnut bread, it was high time for a nap. Just as I was about to doze off the phone rang. I answered to hear the earth shattering news that my dog was in the across-the-street neighbor’s yard. Not that that neighbor minded; he don’t live here…No the call was from the overly-concerned-about-everyone-else’s-dog-in-the-whole-freeking-world-neighbor who lives up the road a good bit. You know the one who is likely to “rescue” your dog from a 4 inch gap in your passenger side window while you run into the “convenience store” to grab a bag of Gardettos and a lemon lime Gatorade small enough to actually fit into the cup holder on your 27 year old pick-up? Yeah, that’s the one who called to inform me of my dog’s whereabouts on her way home from church this afternoon. Bless her heart.

So much for a peaceful nap. By the time I got off the phone and my boots on and my hat on and my jacket on and then off again (cause the daffodils are blooming and its too damn hot for a jacket even though it’s the first week in FEBRUARY. Hear that Mother Nature?! Its FEBRUARY!!), the goats were hollarin’ for their dinner and the dog was headed up the drive. Time to feed.

An hour later I was back in the house to whip up some skillet mac n’ cheese with a side of vodka. Yep, suppose I can think of many worse ways to spend a Sunday in February. Thank you Jesus. Life sure is good.

This post is linked to Homestead Barn Hop

A Year in Goats Part I: Spring

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Oh right, I’m a FARMER…

Here’s what the heck I have to say about tending your goat herd in the springtime.

  • Deworm and trim hooves after each kidding.
  • Provide Copper supplements to lactating does.
  • Disbud and tattoo kids.
  • Rotate pastures if possible.

My year begins in March with the onset of kidding season. I chose to kid a bit later than other farmers, mainly because I don’t find bringing frozen kids into the house to warm by the fire in the least bit cute and I have learned through experience that it’s much easier to keep new moms healthy when the pasture is green. She will be able to get more of what she needs to produce milk for her kids and heal from the birthing process if she has access to leaves and brush than if she’s on a diet of hay and grain.

So the day after kidding I always give my new moms a dose of dewormer and a thorough hoof trimming. They won’t have had either treatment since just before breeding and the birthing hormones trigger a worm population increase. I will also give my does a copper bolus shortly after they kid. This is something I learned the hard way…Even if you provide free choice minerals for your herd, and I highly recommend that you do; your goats may still need some supplements, particularly copper and selenium. However, copper can be toxic when overdosed so do your homework on this one and find out of you have copper deficient soil in your area before you go crazy with it. Cows also require higher amounts of copper than other livestock so you might get some insight on the copper levels in your area by speaking to local cattle farmers. You might even find your goats perform better on minerals formulated for cattle rather than your typical goat mineral.

I disbud all kids as soon as soon as I can feel the little bumps on each side of the top of their head. I will tattoo them the following week. I will blog more about disbudding at another time.

When the kids are two weeks old I latch them up with other kids at 7pm every night. That way their mom’s will have plenty of milk for me in the morning. And so the milk season begins! Around 7am I milk my lactating does on a stand in my milk parlor. While on the milk stand, they receive their morning grain and a good brushing. I examine their eyelids for any signs of anemia, check for mastitis and trim their hooves whenever they need it.

Early spring is also when I rotate my does onto a new pasture if possible. Sometimes, I have other groups taking up all of my spare paddocks so its not possible to give one a rest over winter. It is most certainly ideal however, to move your herd from one paddock to the next to avoid parasite overload and to promote regrowth and diversity in your available browse.

Maybe next week I’ll do Part II. But then again you never can tell with me can ya?

This post is linked to Barn Hop and Works For Me Wednesdays.

Password to Dressing Broiler Hens

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WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS PICTURES OF CHICKEN BLOOD AND GUTS AND OTHER GROSSNESS.

I am including pictures in this post for informational purposes only. The pictures were taken in a respectful manner and are not to be shared for any purpose other than as an educational tool for those interested in learning how to process  broiler hens for themselves.

If you think you are going to be offended, please don’t read it.

The rest of you are invited to read more. The password is Free2Farm. Please click here to enter the password. Thanks y’all!

This post is linked to Homestead Barn Hop, Hearth and Soul, Real Food Wednesdays, Works for Me Wednesdays, Simple Lives Thursdays, and Fight Back Friday.


Dirty Thinkin’

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When you dig around in the dirt, grow and harvest your own food, it kind of gets into your bones and you start thinkin’ about deep stuff. Stuff like “all dirt is is a bunch of poop and dead stuff.” Am I right? And that’s where we get our nutrients, from the dirt (poop and dead stuff). We just keep consuming one another, excreting what we can’t use and eventually we die and rot back into the dirt. Then something else grows out of us. According to this line if thinking as far as I can tell there’s not much difference between plants and animals. Its kind of like we’re just recycled versions of one another. I like that. It makes me feel so cozy here on my little farm with the garden, the weeds, the poop and the chickens.

The 3 L’s of Handmade Soap

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Soap is near and dear to my heart and my wallet (which is one of the reasons it’s near and dear to my heart). I love soap for its many exclusive traits including the fact that it cleanses, but more so because I can actually make it on my farm and sell it to people legally. Soap is the only “unregulated” product I’ve found that I can sell to the public and fortunately it happens to be a very popular item. However, I’ve also discovered not all handmade soap is created equally.

There are some things that will set a good handmade soap apart from the rest. These details are quite important because as you may have noticed; there are a lot of soap products on the market these days. But first let’s talk about why handmade soap is so different and better than commercially manufactured soap like products. See More…

This post is liked to Works for Me Wednesdays and Simple Lives Thursday.

You know you’re a redneck when…

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I have “kill chickens” on my to do list this week, right there between “pay water bill” and “call CPA”.

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