What A Farmgirl's Night Out Looks Like

This past year has been one of great transition. Two daughters, the ag loving ones, moved out completely and one got married.  I tool a full time job outside of the home and that was quite a change.  I had it in my head that maybe the season of the farm animals had past.  We would just have a few chickens and that would be that.

I told myself that it was okay, in due time the farm animals would come back but to just be happy with so little responsibility.  No wondering during a storm if everyone was okay, no fighting a biting North wind to feed and water, no more middle of the night checks because someone made a “funny” noise in the barn.  Just enjoy a good night’s sleep.

After all, we only have one acre and I don’t drive an F250 anymore and we don’t have a livestock trailer- you see it’s just not that season.

But, the problem you see, is that once you have had the experience of seeing goats born in the middle of the night, or had the pleasure of a bottle calf thrive as you care for them, or tasted the meat and eggs from animals raised with love and good food- you just can’t forget it or leave it.

So, two weekends ago my husband and I had planned a date night in the city- Dallas, TX to be exact- complete with a hotel and nice dinner and nice breakfast the next morning.  So he calls me the day before and asks if I want the night in the city or if I want to go to the family auction that sells small livestock…

I choose the livestock auction.  So our date consisted of sitting in bleachers bidding on chickens, quail, dairy calves and the like.

I had more fun than I have had in many moons!

This is what makes my heart happy.  I have just come to accept that glamorous for me is a pair of great fitting bluejeans and Ariat boots.  I have dreams of perfect makeup and hair with done nails- but in the end, this farm and the animals that call it home bring me such joy that I just can’t escape it- irregardless of the work it entails.

jersey calves 2

Meet 46 & 48- two bull dairy calves.  These fellows are riding great in the back of my Nissan Pathfinder- on cardboard of course.  For those of you who have ever transported cattle of any kind know how they like to poop in transit- but God was smiling on me and nobody pooped.  Had they relieved themselves the cardboard would have made no difference and my Pathfinder would have never been the same.

chickens on the ride home

 

We have a trio of Mille Fluer D’Ulcce and three Rhode Island Reds.  The Rhode Island Reds are already laying large brown eggs for us.  The Mille Fluer are bantams and have their own precious little house that I will show you latter.

new satin rabbit

This little lady – a Satin Doe- got to ride in the front seat as I sat in the back to prevent the calves from crawling all over the SUV.  Not pictured are 8 quail.

We didn’t have enough cages, but not to fear, the auction sells those, too.  Really, it can be a dangerous place.

More information and better pictures are coming as I talk about the roles of the animals on such a small holding and how we do buy and have good success from auctions.

 

 

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There May Be Snow, But The Seasons Have Changed: A Different Kind Of Snow Day With A Hot Chocolate Recipe

Jonathan in the ice

I love snow days, I always have.  Once we began the farm, snow days were certainly different from the snow days where we just got to bundle up and watch movies.  Making sure the animals have water, shelter, and extra feed can take away from the pleasure at times, but it also brings its own kind of pleasure.

At this stage, the number of our animals is greatly reduced  and Jonathan, who loves snow and ice and cold, was happy to carry out the duties awaiting him.  Sierra and I got to stay indoors and relax.

BUT here is the thing that made this snow day different- my oldest two were not at home, they were at their homes.  In the past, even though they had moved out, they still came home- to my home- on snow days and got iced in with us.  This time they did not.

Savannah called midday and I said to Sierra, “I bet she is calling to see if her daddy thinks she can drive on the roads and come home.”  Well, she was calling to see if he thought it safe to drive but she was wanting to go to Dakota not here.  Home for now means being wherever Dakota is, home for her is now more about a person than a place.  And that is good, given that their wedding is now just a few months away.

As for Cheyenne a day at home with no college or work meant a day at her home.  She now lives with my grandmother, her great-grandmother.  I know that home very well as I have spent many days there with two of my most beloved women.  I know that she spent plenty of time standing in front of the Deerborn heater warming her backside then turning around to warm the front.  Central heat is nice but there is something about having a warm spot to back up to on a cold day.  She was content in a warm house full of love- her home.

This is the first year that I have seen a distinct separation from my home to their own homes even though they moved away two years ago.  I thought it would be more upsetting but its not.  It is in its due time.  There are seasons in our life, not just spring and winter, but seasons for certain types of living.  My season for having all of my babies at home has passed.  I love having time to focus with the younger two and I love having teenagers.  Most people find me crazy, but I love it.  Its a new season, but a good one.  Each season has its place.  The mistake most mothers make is to try and hold on to one season for too long.  This simply causes strife and conflict and it will not stop the season from changing.  The seasons will change with or without our permission, best to embrace the change and enjoy every moment for what it is.

So, today we will enjoy another day at home with just the younger two and make some more memories and drink hot chocolate!  I have my own hot chocolate recipe I developed and we  just love it.

Here it is so you can make homemade hot chocolate that tastes way better than anything from a package.

Hot Chocolate

2 Cups whole milk

3 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons of Cocoa

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla

Mix together and heat through in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Top with marshmallows if you desire (which we do).

The sugar could be substituted with organic raw sugar, honey, or agave nectar if you are looking for an unprocessed version.

One. Last. Time…

Old Timers around my part of the country refer to what is called “Good Friday Gardens”  because they never put out warm season crops such as tomatoes before Good Friday- the Friday before Easter Sunday.  Here is why- 9 times out of 10 we will get a freeze or at least very close to freezing the week or so before Easter.

As I write this the temperature is falling and we are looking at the mid-thirties overnight.  So long as we stay above freezing the vast majortiy of our plants will be just fine.  Quite a few won’t even care if we dip below freezing.  However; tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, Basil and other such warm season crops do mind very much if we get into the thirties at all.  So, we have been covering what is already planted and wrapping up those items that have already blossomed and are putting on fruit.

sierra in the garden covering squash

The squash plants were covered in plastic pots with plastic staked over the top so this confounded wind doesn’t blow them to kingdom come.

jonathan in the garden covering peach trees

Jonathan is working to stabilize the frame he and Tony built to protect the peach trees.

family covering peach trees

A farm requires a family to pull together.  Covering our crops and praying that the temps hold above freezing.  The white rectangle is covering the tomato patch.

sierra covering tomatoes

Sierra helped me put pots over all the 50 tomato plants and 20 Basil plants.  There are three times as many tomato plants to go out, but those are still safe inside the greenhouse.

tony and J covering peaches

My two favorite men.

peach tree covered

Here is our harvester peach tree all tucked in for the night.  The cold weather won’t kill the tree but we are concerned about damage to the young fruit growing on the little limbs.  We are just to close to the end of all this cold weather to leave it to chance.  We are determined to get a peach this year!

Once this was done, we all trooped inside for hot chocolate and a wonderful meal of sauteed Swiss Chard, mushrooms, bacon and eggs.

swiss chard, mushrooms and eggs

swiss chard from the garden

Swiss Chard is a beautiful crop and one we did not have to cover as it doesn’t mind the cold.

So, here we go just one last time.  Easter comes this Sunday and this winter will just be a memory.

Boy, Is This A Happy Girl!

When you begin a homestead or organic garden, you develop a new perspective.  What was once refuse  has become gold.  I now drive around neighborhoods looking for bags of leaves left out by the curb, if I find some we pull over and it is kind of like a Chinese fire drill- we all hop out toss the bags in the back of the truck and hop back in.  Well, yesterday on the way out to visit my grandmother I passed by a house with HUGE bags of leaves and lots of them, the only problem was that they were still in the yard of the house.  Stuff on the curb for the garbage man is free game, but I won’t go into a person’s yard without permission- What to do?  It just so happens we knew the couple that own the house from Tony’s days on the ambulance and I was able to find them on Facebook.

mother load of leaves

She was very nice and said I most certainly could get the leaves.  This truck load is only half!!!  Really, I am delighted.

earth worm in the pine needles

Before visiting with my grandmother, I stopped by my parents house and gathered a load of organic mulch- pine needles.  Using a pitch fork that I ran just under the needles but not into the soil, I scooped up a wonderful pick up load full. I also found this cute little guy working the soil under the needles.

 

great pile of pine needles

Of course, this  meant that this morning before I dropped Sierra off a the library to volunteer  I had to empty the bed of the truck.  Once #3 was delivered to the library I swung over and grabbed the bags.  Those double size bags are HEAVY, so #4 the strapping young man who likes to sleep late will be going on the second trip.  Who needs a gym when you have all this exercise?  We will also hit the furniture stores on this trip and gather cardboard.

perfect toad stole in the pine needles

Another bright spot in my evening was finding this perfect little toad stool under the needles & getting several bags of newspapers from my Auntie.  Auntie is my grandmother’s sister and they live around the corner from each other.  Both enjoy our visits and I always wonder why I don’t do more visiting.

So, what in the world am I going to do with all this stuff, you may ask?  I am going to sheet compost as far as I can.  Last year I battled the Bermuda and in several areas the Bermuda won.  This time around, I am going to spread the cardboard all around my fruit trees and berry vines.  Once the cardboard is down, I will pile rabbit manure (from under our hutches), wood shavings, pine needles and leaves.  The goal of the layer of mulch is to be 6 inches thick.  This will suppress weeds and grass along with mulching my trees and feeding them as the layers breakdown in to compost.  This may not eradicate the Bermuda, but it will give my the upper hand and I can spray what does come along with 20% vinegar which will kill it in a day.

The point I would like to make is that organic gardening does not have to be expensive- you just have to look at what you have in a different way.

Well now, Ain't that a kick in the pants…

Things have been bustling around the farm as we work like crazy starting, bumping, and feeding seeds and seedlings for all the wonderful people who will buy herbs from us this coming season.   The past two weeks or so have brought us very nice and warm weather, but then this…

herb farm under ice

We had a lovely time selling herbs at our first market of the season, the Athens, TX farmer’s market.  It was warm and pretty, I worked outside in shorts bumping seedlings after I returned home and even went to bed with the windows open in my bedroom.  Then it happened, the blue norther blew in, the winds shifted so hard the noise woke me up.  I shut the window.

The rain came and then the ice and all the way the temperature went down, down, down.

garden trellis in the ice

Now, I have lived here all my life and I never get used to the sudden changes- it just boggles my mind! At 6 pm on Saturday my thermometer registered 72’F by 6 pm on Sunday it was 21’F.  That is hard on every thing- plants, animals and humans. I also knew that while the weather was so warm and wonderful that it would be foolish to plant any thing that could be killed by a freeze, it is Texas after all and I knew we weren’t out of winters grasp just yet.  My head did understand this concept, but I just kept hoping the weathermen would be wrong,  you know considering that they are only right 30% of the time.   Well, no they got it right. We are in a very deep freeze with all the roads coated in a thick layer of ice.

garden box with cover

Did I mention that our well is not working?  We had water at 6:30 this morning and then it just stopped.  We have and have had a heater in the pump house to keep the pipes from freezing so at this time we are just waiting.  As it is still 18′ F outside, it may be a bit until we know exactly what is going on.

I am quite happy to report that the greenhouse never dropped below 45’F and it is quite pleasant in there right now.  All the thousands of seedlings are happy and bright, growing right along.  I am also happy to report that by weeks end, our highs will be in the 60’s again.  

green house march 2014

The average last frost date for my area is March 15th, but given the past spring, this winter and the Farmer’s Almanac- I don’t think it will be safe to put out tomatoes, basil, and such until Easter.  The old timers had “Good Friday Gardens” for a reason.  But there are plenty of gardening options from March to April- Kale, Spinach, Cilantro, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Cilantro, beets, radishes, carrots,  and such will do just fine, even with a light freeze.  If you can cover the plants, you can put out broccoli, green beans, and squash.

So stay warm and dream of large gardens!

Two Brown Eggs, A Leaky Chicken House, & One Happy Duck

Duck is quite happy with all the water, she keeps splashing about having a raucous good time.

Duck is quite happy with all the water, she keeps splashing about having a raucous good time.

I sat down to type up a new post about an hour ago.  Just as I began, I heard the rain begin with gusto.  Sigh…  Guess what I did?  I put on my trust old coat (technically it is my husband’s but I have commandeered it as it has a really long waist and covers my back side.  If there is one thing I cannot stand now that I am older  is drafts), muckers, hat and went out in it.  You see, we have just built a chicken house on our little place and each time it has rained the inside has been wet.  This is not good.  Chickens can endure some harsh conditions, but they need to be able to get dry, especially while they sleep.  Once you have small livestock, you will never again enjoy the sounds of a rain storm without a care in your head.

Chicken in  the Coop

After each storm, I have made modifications that I thought would fix it- to no avail.  So, the only way to know is to go out when it is raining and sit and watch.  Well, the problem is where the nails have attached the tin to the lathes on the roof. The roof is leaking like a sieve. Strange, considering that we used the correct sort of nail with a little rubber washer attached to prevent just this sort of thing.  Regardless, this problem must be addressed.  When the weather is dry and warmish- God only knows when that will be- we can calk the nail holes but for today I had to improvise.  There were a few pieces very thin plywood in the scrap pile so I took these and wedged them on the ceiling.  This will at least cause the water to run to one spot instead of all over the coop.  The girls really haven’t seemed to mind so much they are eating and scratching about out in the rain.

Easter egger chickens

We really don’t need any more water right now.  It rained last week, then that froze while ice coated everything except the roads in my neck of the woods.  It has been so cold that the ice stuck around for days and when it did melt it was like another rain storm.  Frankly, I hate this weather.  I am a Texas girl and we like the heat.  There was a time not so long ago that I thought 45′ was cold.  This morning when I saw 45′ on the thermometer, I thought “Great, it is warm enough for a run before the rain comes.”  Well, it didn’t take long to remember that this is still on the cool side.  But, the cold air in my lungs and just being outside did me a world of good.  I didn’t beat the rain, however, a light shower came while I was running.  Oh well, that is what hoodies are for.  I am hoping the weather men have it together as they are predicting sunshine and 60’s next week.  Hooray!

Two beautiful eggs in the coop this morning.  Laid by the black and white hens- Dominiques

Two beautiful eggs in the coop this morning. Laid by the black and white hens- Dominique Hens

I may not like the ice, but it did make for some pretty landscapes.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJonathan and the Duck are the only ones happy with this weather.  Jonathan enjoys breaking the ice out of water bowls- what a handy fellow to have around!

 

Please Help The Small Farmer- The FDA has a new law that will put many out of business.

What follows below is an overview of the Food Safety Modernization Act- what congress passed left room for the small organic farmer.  The name seems harmless enough and our food should be safe, but there is so much more to it.  In the regulations the FDA is trying to implement All producers, both big and small are being lumped together an will have very expensive regulations saddled on their businesses.  There is a small farm exemption but what constitutes a small farm is very unclear and the FDA is given the authority to revoke a small farms exemption without any proof of a public health concern.  Once the exemption is revoked, the exemption is gone for good.  This huge expense placed on small farms will force many out of business- as stated by the FDA, a fact with which the agency seems to be unconcerned.  Loosing the small organic farmers from your local farmer’s markets will not make your food supply more safe- it will be devastating to your food supply.

In addition to all of this, most of the food contamination cases we have seen in the past have been traced back to the super large industrial farms shipping produce in from foreign countries including Mexico.  These safety regulations will not apply to them.  Therefore, those companies can offer cheap produce and food that is largely unchecked upon entry to our country and our local farmers will have to increase their prices to cover the cost of the regulations and unnecessary testing.  Therefore, the local small farmers will have an even harder time competing.

After reading the overview, please follow the link at the bottom to a site that will allow you to comment directly to the FDA with your concerns.  This site even has letters typed up that you can  copy and paste into the comment section at the FDA’s website.  It will take a bit of your time, but all of us have to stand up for our food supplies and the endangered species called the American small farmer.  Please help.  The comment deadline is November 15th.  We can change the fact that the law is in place at this time, but we can have a voice to make certain that the guidelines adopted are clear and helpful to the small farmers.

What is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)?

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the first major update of federal food safety laws since 1938. FSMA gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broad new powers to prevent food safety problems, detect and respond to food safety issues, and improve the safety of imported foods. FSMA does not change food safety regulations for meat, poultry, and egg products, which are under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s jurisdiction.

FSMA authorizes new regulations at the farm level for producers and certain facilities. Specifically, FSMA mandates the establishment of:

FSMA includes key provisions to make these new regulations scale-appropriate, conservation-friendly, and accessible to certified organic producers and value-added producers. The regulations focus on addressing food safety risks from microbial pathogen contamination (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Shigella). FSMA does not address food safety risks from genetically engineered crops, pesticide use, or antibiotic resistance.

FDA has released its proposed (draft) Produce Rule and Preventive Controls Rule and is seeking public comments on both! 

Why Does it Matter?

Everyone has a role in ensuring safe food from field to fork. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) includes new regulations of practices on produce farms and in facilities that process food for people to eat. This means it represents some big changes to our food system – and it is extremely important for the Food and Drug Administration to get these regulations right so that they improve food safety without placing an unfair burden on family farms.

The risk of foodborne illness — that is, the risk of getting sick or dying from food contaminated with pathogens like E. coli — is largely preventable by good food safety measures applied at every stage of the food supply chain. Examples of good measures include hand washing and keeping foods at the right temperature. However, it’s not as simple as requiring all farms and facilities to meet identical safety requirements. Depending on the complexity of the supply chain, types of food, and practices implemented from farm to table, different kinds of farms and facilities face different types of risks when it comes to contamination that could cause illness.

With the right approach, we will be able to help ensure good food safety practices across the nation without placing an unfair burden on family farmers.

Ultimately, we want to ensure a safe food supply, strong on-farm conservation of natural resources, and thriving family farms and small value-added farm and food businesses. With regulations and requirements that are tailored to different types and sizes of operations, we can achieve these objectives.

Where Did FSMA Come From?

Due to a rise in major outbreaks of foodborne illnesses and increasing bioterrorism concerns after 9/11, both Congress and the Administration proposed new food safety measures in 2009 that expanded food safety regulations to the farm level. Previously, food safety regulatory oversight was focused mainly on the processing, food handling, and manufacturing sectors – areas shown to be of highest risk for foodborne pathogen contamination.

In 2009 and 2010, Congress debated a number of food safety proposals that directly and indirectly affected farms and on-farm processing. These proposals extended regulatory authorities to farms and made some on-farm safety standards mandatory. Concurrently, the Obama Administration created an inter-agency Food Safety Working Group through which the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture started adopting new food safety standards and oversight.

Given the potential impacts of these new food safety proposals on sustainable food production, NSAC created a task force and engaged in the legislative debate. NSAC’s priority was to make sure that the new food safety measures worked for sustainable and organic farmers, and for consumers who wanted access to fresh, local food. Due to NSAC’s leadership and the actions of thousands of farmers and concerned consumers, the new food safety law that Congress passed and that President Obama signed – the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) – included the following critical provisions:

What Happens Next?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started the lengthy process of implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FDA is currently in what is known as the rulemaking stage – meaning they are turning the bill – FSMA – passed by Congress into actual rules and regulations. They have released their proposed (draft) regulations for public comment as part of this process. These proposed regulations show FDA’s thinking on how to implement the provisions in FSMA and are not yet final. Currently, FDA is requesting comments on two proposed regulations:

After FDA has received and reviewed the comments, the agency will prepare to publish final rules (with rules as big as these, the agency might opt to release another draft set of rules before finalizing them). All of the positive provisions listed above that Congress passed as part of FSMA must make it into the final rules published by FDA to become part of the new regulations.

NSAC is carefully analyzing the proposed rules to ensure this happens, and we need your help – it is critical for sustainable farmers and consumers who care about where their food comes from to write comments to FDA about the proposed regulations to ensure that FDA correctly implements FSMA! Check out the links below to learn more about the two rules – and then submit your own comments to FDA!

 

Click HERE for the page to enable you to leave your comment with the FDA.  There is a button for producers and a button for consumers.

Thank you for you time.

Just another note- the FDA that is charged with inspection, regulation, and enforcing the exemption rule is staffed with many big Monsanto boys appointed by the President- going back several terms.  Is it any wonder that this act is damaging to small farmers?  Monsanto has been suing and bulling small farmers for years and putting them out of business.

Five Things Friday

Wow, Friday is here again.  Here are my five things this week that really get under my skin:

#5- 500 people standing in line at Wal-mart and only 2 checkers are open.  Really?  Does Wal-Mart really have to worry about making ends meet to the point that they can’t open a few more lines?  This item would have once been #1 on my things that irritate me but now that I have decided to read while I wait, I don’t mind so much.  Do I carry a book with me?  NO!  I simply read any and all magazines I want to while waiting in line.  I figure that if they don’t want me reading magazines and not buying them then they will open more checkers.  So, now I pick the line that has the best selection of magazines, forget which line is longer- the longer the better means more time to read.

#4- Ants– I HATE ants.  We have been battling them all summer.  They build under every rock edge I have around my gardens.  They bite me every time I weed the gardens.  Trying to control them organically meant putting out dried molasses- which usually works great.  However, the ants seemed to thrive.  I had a chat with my Extension Agent and come to find out I have Pharaoh Ants, also known as sugar ants.  I was feeding the bloody devils!

#3- Smart Farm Animals– Smart farm animals are the most irritating things you can encounter on this earth.  The reason being is they can figure out any gate latch, constantly check all fences for any holes, wait for the moment when a barn door has been left open and never give you a moments peace.   And when they do get out, they will ALWAYS remember where the feed is stored and where your favorite rose bush is planted.  However, the dumb animals- they stay in their pens, eat the feed that you bring them and generally have no plans to take over the world.

#2  The Burn Pile-  Now its not really the burn pile that irritates me, when you live in the country this is just a fact of life.  Trees fall, storms blow limbs down so you usually have a pile.  What bothers me ( I would say “what aggravates the piss out of me” but my mother doesn’t like it when I say that and my city friends get the weirdest looks on their faces when I do, so I will refrain) is when a young person is told to put something in the burn pile and what I get is what is pictured to the left.  What Part of “IN the burn pile did you not understand?”  These boxes are clearly not in the pile.  I would blame his teachers, but he is home schooled.burn pile

#1- When I hear someone say, “Young people don’t…” you can fill in the blank but usually I hear it in regards to young people understanding what it means to work hard, how the country should run or about being appreciative.  Well, if the young people don’t it is because the old people didn’t.  The younger generation only possess what the previous generation gave them.  If the children have not been taught then it is our fault.  I love my young people, they are responsible, kind, courteous and brave.  I put in a lot of work to see that fruit. So, if you don’t like what you see then get involved and build some relationships with young people.  Our future is in their hands, we should invest in them.

la mancha dairy goatNow if you will excuse me, I am sure there is some smart farm animal misbehaving.  Don’t let Salsa’s innocent expression fool you, anarchy lurks behind those eyes!

Five Things Friday

I have seen several of these “five things Friday” posts and they are usually along the lines of things that inspire you or photographs.  Well, my five things are of a different vain.  I have decided to do Five Things That Chap My Hide.  So here we go, we will be counting them down from least aggravating to most aggravating, the same kind of order that David Letterman uses.

#5- Pony tail holders and bobby pins– these irritate me because they can never be found.  A whole package can disappear with in 48 hours leaving all 4 females looking for them desperately while the 2 males help look just to shut us up but really can’t understand why we can’t keep up with these items.  The next time my mother says, “Well, it didn’t sprout legs and run off.” I will submit exhibit A- ponytail holders and bobby pins as evidence that things do sprout legs and run off.  Exhibit B would be the empty black cups and pots that I use for the herbs- they run all over my yard on their own.

#4-Self-filling laundry hampers– I don’t know how we keep managing to purchase these defective hampers, but we do.  Every time I get one emptied I walk in an hour later and it is half full.  I like a glass half full but not a laundry hamper.

#3- Walmart– you knew at least one item would have to do with Wal-mart.  Actually, I could have done a whole list every Friday for a year on this subject, but today we will keep it to just one thing.  There is this huge warehouse behind Wal-Mart and never, I mean NEVER, is there anything stored back there.  If the shelf is empty or just has 2 items and you need 3 of the thing- don’t even ask because I can tell you that they do NOT have anymore in the back.

#2- Flu-shot advertisements– these things should be outlawed.  How these companies can claim that you are protected from the flu guaranteed I do not know.  The truth is there are numerous strains of the flu and one strain can mutate into another strain as the season progresses.  The idea that the one or two strains that you get vaccinated for will be the only ones you are exposed to is ridiculous.  The odds are better at the Black Jack table in Vegas.  If you really want to protect yourself, eat more herbs and use herbal supplements to boost your immune system.

#1- Stupid Questions– Whoever said, “There is no such thing as a stupid question” never had children.  Example: My daughter walks into my room and says, “I spilled milk in the kitchen, do you want me to clean it up?” My response, “No, we have fairies that fly around the house every night and clean.”

Now that I am done fussing, I will go chill like our farm cat- Cheezit

Now that I am done fussing, I will go chill like our farm cat- Cheezit

Chickens Again and Rose Pruning Goats

Luffa gourds to go with the herbal body scrubs.

Luffa gourds to go with the herbal body scrubs.

Each morning I wake up with a very full to-do list.  Everyday I go to bed with a lot scratched off the list and yet at the end of the week there is so much yet to be done.  As I write tonight, I can feel the slight sting on the back of my neck left by the sun.  We reached 90′ today, but the breeze was so cool and the sun was so pleasant that I didn’t even notice while I was working at my table.  Often, I am in the herb gardens in the morning when neighbors head off to work.  I wonder as they pass by if they realize that I am in my office?  Probably not, I know what I do looks much like a hobby to lookers on.  However, if you could see my to-do list you would know that it is definitely not a hobby.

Whenever family or friends ask what I have been up to, I usually say “more of the same” .  By that I mean more harvesting, drying, and processing of herbs.  More planting, propagating, and watering of herbs.  More retrieving the escape artist goat, planning for the breeding of animals, more feeding of what we have and so on.  But really, no day is ever the same.

We learn new things every day, too.  Like today, I learned how to unhook a fuel line on the riding lawnmower and how to drain the gas tank.  Why would I do this?  Well, because diesel doesn’t work will in a gasoline engine.  It seems that, according to my husband, the label on the can with diesel came off.  He was at work or he would have known better than to use that can in the lawnmower, but I was ignorant of the fact that the gas can did not in fact contain gasoline.  Yes, I know many of you rule followers are appalled to hear that we used a gasoline can to hold diesel, but if you knew my husband you would not be surprised.  Anyway, I am still a bit suspicious as to whether the can was ever marked properly- I do know my husband.  But, I noticed that the lawn mower did not run quite right and parked it immediately.  When Tony called to check in he was just so thrilled with the news.  Never fear, I know my way around an engine well enough to manage.  The tank is drained and we will refill with the right fuel and see how it goes.  Once before, I added the wrong fuel (not diesel) to the push mower.  When we took the mower to the shop, the old fellow said that it wouldn’t matter much, no worries.  I like that sort of answer and will proceed forward as if this is no big deal until proven otherwise.  The can in question with the push mower was also not marked properly- I should know better by now, right- so I still don’t think I am to blame.

Thankfully, the vast majority of the farm got mowed before the refueling incident.  I am relieved due to the fact that we are looking at rain for the better part of the coming week.  If I hadn’t gotten the mowing done we could have lost a small child in the grass by the time mowing was again possible.  I am hoping to get more seeds into beds before the rain begins.  I love fall gardening!  We have many types of  lettuce growing along with spinach, kale, radishes, beets, and greens.  All the herbs are growing like mad and I am harvesting heavy each week.  Buds are appearing all over the rose bushes, those that were not pinched back by the heat were “pruned” by the goats when they got out while we were in Galveston.  I can’t even begin to communicate what went through my mind when I received the text that said “Are the goats supposed to be in the front yard?”  Mercifully, they hadn’t done much damage when my older daughters found them.  Seriously, though, I have only pruned my own roses a few times the goats have always seen to that chore for me.

The new chickens bedded down for the night.

The new chickens bedded down for the night.

Speaking of goats, my two bred does are building udders and I am excited.  There is nothing cuter than baby goats- except maybe baby pigs.  Raw goats milk will soon by back on the menu in the Ross household, oh happy day!  The farm is expanding and the business is growing.  New chickens have arrived, 6 Dominique hens and 1 Black Wyandotte Rooster.  The rabbits have been moved to their new home.  The chickens and the rabbits will be housed in a new building we are building.  So far, the rabbits are in their side and the chickens are in a tractor for the time being.  Of course, the birds free range in the day.  Propagation has begun in earnest, time to get Spring 2014 under way.  Lavender, mint, & rosemary are in such demand that I have to begin now for next year.  However, I am selling all that I root just as soon as it is ready but I am certain that I will get ahead of the demand sooner or later.  Not that I mind, selling the herbs is the name of the game.

I hope you all had a wonderful day!

 

The freshly tilled garden patch, soon to be seeded with hairy vetch.

The freshly tilled garden patch, soon to be seeded with hairy vetch.