Thank God for Rebels!

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Go to any “in town” farmers market on opening day and you’ll see the hustle and bustle of a diverse crowd varying in age, ethnicity and culture. You’ll see one or two large farms overflowing with greenhouse veggies and possibly someone selling grass fed meats, eggs and pasteurized cow milk. You will also find many small farmers with a handful of whatever is in season trying but usually failing to keep pace with the demand for specialty produce and “value added” products.

The fact of the matter is the demand is greater than the supply which in most markets is beneficial to the seller. Not so for the small farmer.

Consider this scenario for example. You raise dairy goats and milk them and have enough milk left over to sell a few gallons each week during the peak milking season. Word spreads through the grape vine and soon moms, dads, and grandparents start asking to buy some of your milk for the infants out there having tummy trouble. These folks are desperate for an alternative to the nasty corn-syrup-solids formula prescribed by their pediatricians. The local health food store calls and wants you to be their sole supplier of goat milk because all their customers are asking for it. Before long you’re overwhelmed with requests for the stuff to the point you need to double your herd just to keep up.

Here’s the catch, state law prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk. “Well then” you think, “I’ll just get a pasreurizer. I saw one for about $300 in a catalogue.” Not that easy. The thing is, not just any pasteuriszer will do. Plus you have to invest in a chilling tank, and a whole host of other outrageously priced items totaling somewhere in the vicinity of a half million dollars. And by the way, your potential customers don’t want their milk pasteurized.

So now you’ve invested in your goats, barns, fencing, milk room, milking supplies etc. and everyone wants to buy your wonderful product but you aren’t allowed to sell it.  Not to mention you will NEVER be able to afford what it takes to be a legitimate dairy. So what next? What would YOU do?

Say you have invested in a market garden. You buy heirloom seeds, start them indoors, plant them in raised beds you made from scratch without tilling. You know, you do it right. You show up on opening day with field greens, onions, herbs, swiss chard maybe even some broccoli if you’re lucky. You spend and hour setting up with the sun in your face but you’re just glad to be there…until a huge white van pulls up right next to you and out jumps a team of folks in matching aprons who proceed to build a small grocery store there on the lawn in a matter of ten minutes. They whip out loads of “certified organic” lettuces, asparagus, melons, peaches, huge heads of cabbage, collards, cases of strawberries, and bananas. So what next? What would YOU do?

Where does the small farmer fit in? How can we market our products when the government owns the rights to the very language we used to use?

Nevertheless there are those brave souls who seek us out, who don’t mind signing “herd share contracts” or making “donations” for one product or another. These folks are the heart and soul of small farms across America. Without them real food might otherwise be relegated exclusively to rural communities where owning a few goats isn’t all that uncommon.

Yes, I killed my Dinner.

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People seem really weird-ed out about meeting their food face to face. It reminds them what they eat everyday used to be alive and that gets them thinking. No one likes to think all that much. It’s just kind of uncomfortable. So most people would rather go on believing chicken comes from Kroger, in a nicely packaged Styrofoam container. Chicken doesn’t have a face or internal organs. It doesn’t have bones. It’s just a bag of breaded strips we hope our children will eat without complaining.

So it’s no surprise that, ” Is it hard to eat it after you, ya know…kill it and everything?” is the usual response I get when someone finds out we raise chickens for meat. Most people think it’s sad and mean to raise an animal and then eat it. I suppose they don’t consider the alternative because it requires a lot of ya know…thinking.

But let’s go there for a minute. Whether or not you eat chicken, eggs, dairy, whatever: Unless you grow your own food or get what you eat from someone you know, you are supporting companies that are destroying the earth, causing disease, erosion, and toxic runoff, exploiting “immigrant” workers, promoting the use of dangerous chemicals, genetically modifying the “fresh” vegetables you feed your children, using bovine growth hormones, irradiating meat, and practicing unclean and morally despicable livestock management.

I’m not judging anyone for shopping at Kroger or Publix or Whole Foods. I shop there too when I have to and sometimes just for convenience. The fact is, it’s nearly impossible not to rely on factory farming or industrialized food because there’s so much power and control hindering small farmers from marketing their products to consumers who are eager for change.

So to answer the earlier question, no it’s not hard to eat a hen I raised and killed because I know she enjoyed her life in fresh air and sunshine. She ate grass and bugs and had clean water to drink. She was allowed to be a chicken. The day she died, I picked her up and carried her to my back deck. I placed her head first into a cone and tied her feet with twine. I gently held her neck as my husband slit it open with a sharp knife. The blood flowed from her neck into a bucket on the deck. After a few minutes of bleeding, she drew her last breath and was gone.  I had to work for that hen. It took effort to keep her healthy without antibiotics. I was involved in the process of growing her for food. I pampered her and in exchange she became a source of health and nutrition for me.

What’s so weird about that? I think its one of the coolest things I’ve learned so far. And no I don’t name them. Do you name your tomatoes?

Simple Laundry Powder You can Make at Home…that really works

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The dog days of summer are upon us which means you’ll find me keeping busy with indoor projects until the heat wave is over. One of my favorite chill-out pastimes is making laundry powder. There are many reasons why making laundry soap is so fun.  It’s cheap, simple and practical, three of my favorite things. It is an all natural, simply packaged alternative to brand-named detergents and the Outlaw Goddess seems to have a thing for laundry.

Here’s the recipe:

2 cups of grated all natural soap

1 cup borax

1 cup washing soda

A few drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)

You just mix everything in a bowl and pour into a storage container. 1 tablespoon does an entire load!

What I do:

I make goats milk soap with milk from my own goats. I sell my soap at a local market. The soaps that don’t sell after so long wind up grated in the food processor and turned into laundry powder. Borax and washing soda can be hard to find so I order those ingredients online from Ace Hardware. They ship everything to my local store and I pick it all up there.

Hope y’all give this a try and let me know how it turns out.

This post is part of the Thrifty Thursday blog hop on Saved by Love Creations

News? What News?

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So is it wrong that I don’t really know what’s going on with the oil spill or any other world news for that matter? I mean at this point I get my news from facebook for heaven’s sake. Thankfully I have a diverse group of friends so at least I’m getting lots of points of view right? But my old friend Guilt here, seems to think I should be following along a bit more carefully. And perhaps I should but would knowing and worrying benefit the situation? I’m thinking not. Besides it’s not that I don’t care. It’s quite the opposite really. It’s that I care so much it hurts and I’d rather not put myself through the agony. The thing is I have grown to LOATHE the television and let’s face it, that’s where the news is. Oh sure I could subscribe to a newspaper of some sort or go online…but I guess I’m not that devoted to pain and agony.

The big story for me, the news of the freekin’ century, is there are just too many people and the inevitable consequence is we are destroying other species and depleting our natural resources. This is huge. I mean what other news is there? Oh yeah, that our economy is a sham, based on nothing, propped up by personal debt and the spending of fictitious money? That’s yesterday’s news. If you haven’t gotten a plan for it yet, you might want to start stashing a few garden seeds and brush up on your survival skills. Just sayin’. My strategy is to make changes on a personal level, pray (which I keep forgetting to do), and reach out to other people who are trying to make a difference.

So do I have to…should I be tuning in? Is there anything I can do as an individual to change what’s going on out there just by knowing about it? Of course. The answer is yes. I should be way more informed. But then I have to ask, who can I trust to give me the real deal? For now it will remain my good buddies on facebook. Cop-out or not that’s how I roll.

Try these Fried Green Tomatoes

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I got this recipe from Garden and Gun magazine. Of course I recommend using farm eggs and goat milk but y’all know that much already.

Fried Green Tomatoes
Ingredients
4 to 6 green tomatoes, sliced

Wash
2 cups buttermilk (old-fashioned whole buttermilk that still has fat in it) mixed with 2 large eggs

Dredge
2 cups White Lily (self-rising) flour mixed with 1 cup stone-ground (medium) cornmeal,
½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. onion powder, generous pinch of salt, and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups canola oil mixed with
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

Preparation
Place sliced tomatoes in colander. Salt lightly, and let sit for about 5 minutes to help draw out moisture. Rinse under cool water and pat dry with paper towels.

Working one at a time, completely coat each tomato slice in the wash and then in the dredge, gently shaking off excess.

In a cast-iron skillet over high heat, bring butter and canola oil to 350ºF. Reduce heat to stabilize. Working 3 slices at a time, fry the tomatoes until golden brown, turning only once (about 3 to 4 minutes total cooking time). Use a spatula to flip the tomatoes away from you so you don’t get splashed. Transfer each batch to drain on brown paper bags.

Serve topped with fresh goat cheese and a dash of your favorite hot sauce!

How to Give Yourself a Raise: Part 1

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I like things that are simple, practical and cheap. Lucky for me The Outlaw Goddess has got stuff like that figured out. Here’s something I’ve learned along my travels with her:

How to Give Yourself a Raise: Part 1

Take inventory of the wealth in your life and be thankful for it.

The absolute best thing you can do for yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed, confused, or needy is to remember that by most of the world’s standards the poorest American lives a life of luxury. Take a few moments to inventory the creature comforts you are privileged with each day. Realize the fact that YOU live like kings and queens for no particular reason. Reflect on the people in your life who bring meaning, joy and positive energy to you and others.

People who are not aware of their own wealth seek status through material possessions. They squander what little resources they have on interest payments and flashy gadgets. They neglect to protect their wealth because they are unaware it exists. Don’t be a fool.  Begin with gratitude.

Be sure to express gratitude whenever you can for all the things that make you RICH. If you do this, in no time at all you will begin to realize your own wealth. That is the magic key. Knowing you are already rich is power. Once you understand your self worth you will naturally want to protect and nurture it. When you are feeling secure, you will be inclined to share and when that happens, your wealth will grow beyond expectations.

Tough Love

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I bought my first and only home during the housing bubble. At the time I was a waitress at a breakfast restaurant in Atlanta and my husband worked for an architect. We knew we couldn’t afford to buy in Atlanta because the prices were so inflated. Neither one of us was willing to go into that much debt anyway because we could clearly see the homes weren’t worth what they were selling for. I knew several friends who had done all sorts of stupid things just to get into a house with the hopes of flipping it. Not us. We were in it for the long haul. We wanted a home, not an “investment” and we were on a very limited income. Besides, if you owe on your home it’s not an asset; it’s a liability. I learned that secret from one of those motivational speakers PBS puts on during pledge week.

So I did what seemed the perfectly normal, reasonable thing to do. I began researching markets in our price range. I consulted consumer advocates, learned what scams to avoid and developed a strategy which included saving up a down payment, getting our credit scores and stuff like that. BORING right?

Eventually we saved up enough to put 15% down on a double wide trailer, 16 acres, a pole barn, giant satellite dish, rusty swing-set and a crab shaped sand box. All that for the same amount we had been paying in rent for our 600 square foot basement apartment in the city. Oh, and this was a 20 year fixed rate mortgage at 7.15% interest.

I’m telling y’all this because I’m cranky about certain things right now, namely where my hard earned dollars are being spent. I didn’t know the ins and outs of the mortgage industry but I had enough sense to divide my yearly income by 12 and figure how much I could afford each month. People got screwed during the housing bubble because they wanted to believe a lie and because most of us are materialistic, status-hungry idiots. The good information was out there. The warning signs were there too. I know because I read them.

Now I’m wondering, who’s the idiot? After all I’m the one stuck paying for other people’s greed driven mistakes because these days Americans seem to believe it’s our right to have a bunch of stuff and if we can’t afford the stuff we want, someone else should give it to us.

Get real America. Take responsibility.

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