Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cream of Udder

This picture has nothing to do with today's blog. I took it last week.
I was too lazy to go to the barn and take an udder picture.
Get it ? An Udder Picture ? Like another picture ?
Oh go to bed.

Not unlike the House of Usher, Cream of Udder is also a bit scary. So yes of course I will explain. If you know my husband Keith (this is a rhetorical question, put your hand down) you know he is a man of few demands. So a few days ago when he asked me if I thought I would be able to MAKE our own udder balm for the cows chapped teats, yes that's what I said, chapped teats, its a farm term people...You know these blogs would not be half as long as they are if you numrockets would stay focused...As I was blogging, he asked about making udder balm.

As a totally experienced soap maker (4 months and only half my batches have failed) I was up for the challenge. He asked me again a couple of days ago. Sure, sure I said. Then again yesterday. I'm telling you he may look all mild mannered but he is relentless when it comes to chapped teats.

Stop it.

So I sent him to the barn for the near empty container of Udder Fancy  made by Crystal Creek, an organic product for our certified organic cows.

 "You look udderly fancy Marabella "
 "No, YOU look udderly fancy Moolina"
No, YOU do"
No YOU do"

The ingredient list was very similar to the soap supplies I had in my cupboard. Except for the Sunflower Oil, the Jojoba Oil, the Peanut Oil, the Glycerin, the Cedar wood Oil, the Lemon oil, the Peppermint Oil, The Clove oil, the Comfrey Extract and the Vitamins A, E and D, well I had it all. Basically I had the Canola oil, the Palm oil and the Coconut Oil and the Tea Tree Oil. So I substituted the finest fat in the world, a little Red Wattle Lard, yes it is certified organic.

Now the missing ingredient in the list above was Beeswax. We had that. A whole big bucket of that. Wax mixed with honey mixed with a few, OK, many bee parts. I asked Keith how to clean it up and he said, and I quote, "Just heat it and all the wax will rise to the top "

Funny guy.

I heated and it bubbled and turned into a huge brown mess. I tried to scoop some wax off the top but it kept getting all mixed back in with the Slum gum (a real word. Google it) I heated and scooped. What a mess ! I went to google myself.

I said STOP IT!

I went to Google and looked it up. Seems you are supposed to add a LARGE amount of water to the mix, boil it all, LET IT COOL and then the wax will separate.  Then just a good bottle of shampoo you must, repeat, and repeat again. About this time my husband suggested I might want to use a bigger pan for this process. He has No idea how close he was to having HIS.....nevermind.

Slowly I was able to get the 5 dinky ounces of wax clean enough to throw in with the rest of my Udder Rancy cause the whole globby pan of honey flavored swamp water was looking pretty brown. Those darn bee legs just don't want to break loose from their wax !!!!

After four hours I said good enough. I sloshed enough Tea Tree Oil in it you could smell it all the way into the Chatsworth American Legion and set it aside to solidify. Criminy. The things I do to save a buck these "self-sufficient" days.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Goodbye Middle Man

A year ago when we said goodbye to our Milk Middle Man and decided to sell our raw milk DIRECT to customers we knew we would meet many challenges. When we also decided to sell all our meat DIRECT to customers we assumed even more risk and challenges. Nothing to stand between us and our products The biggest challenge of all have been, I believe, finding others who have done the same and are willing to share what they have learned. Farmers are workers and few are writers so the How -To books are limited when it comes to promoting and advertising what your farm has to offer.

Joel Salatin of course has done wonders in this area as has Lynn Miller but we need more. We specifically need state specific how- to -books. I continue to search for one consolidated source, a well written book about the rules, regs and best advice for direct farm marketing in our home state of Illinois. Does anyone know of such a publication ?

Pop-Up Children. Just one more way to draw attention to your farm  sign.
It might also draw the attention of DCFS . I'm just sayin'

In the meantime, I plug away at all the marketing ideas that have so far worked well for us. This blog, our web page, our Facebook Page,  our listings on The Stewards of The Land website, along    with,  and   (Now was that blatant self advertising or what ?!?) All good but not enough when your sole source of income is from the products of your farm. We considered hiring a plane that pulls your big banner across the sky but its out of our budget (for now). And besides, a marketing technique that causes our cattle to run through fences seems counter productive. Anytime a farmers herd of critters shows up in a neighbors well landscaped yard, one looses a few "direct-marketing" points. So we settled for the ever basic but still effective (we will see) Farm Sign. 

Look for it   (on County Rd 3200 and The Melvin-Chatsworth Blacktop) and drop in for a visit to our store. Open everyday 10 AM to 5 PM except Sunday when we are closed. We'd also  love to just take a minute and tell you about our farm, share with you our reasons for keeping animals outside on pasture, and show you the swollen bellies of our THREE Red Wattle gilts ready to give birth any day now. We wouldn't even mind selling  you some of our certified organic meat, a bag of popcorn and a bar of handmade soap. If you insisted.  (Thanks JD, good to see you guys)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pig of ill Repute

If you look at any site, including ALBC's (American Livestock Breed Conservancy) which talks of the Red Wattle you will find a common thread. First they will talk of the easy going 'Gentle Giant' nature. True. Then they will discuss their strong mothering capabilities. True and check. The sites will go on to talk of their tasty meat with a beef-like redness and texture. True, check and ditto.

Then they go screeching off the track. Their is a rumor that the Red Wattle breed lost its popularity in pioneer days when the woman folk discovered they had low levels of fat and therefore could not be used to make much soap.

Its obvious to me the pioneer woman they spoke to were lifting a little too much Poteen from their husbands backwoods stills. And I aim to prove this all scientific like. I started making soap about 5 months ago and my very first batch was made with Red Wattle lard. I have several bars left (because I always go over board with any new project that's why) and it is one great bar of soap. I made it before I knew about coconut oil, which makes for great lather, so these first bars lather well but not crazy well. Many people like the low lather soaps. Especially guys for some reason. Makes them feel less prissified I guess. I did make the first Red Wattle soap bars with olive oil so after using your skin is quite smooth AND clean.

Right now, as I pick at these keys in a slow-probably- had -too much -Poteen- myself- as- a- teenager- way, I have a LARGE batch of Red Wattle fat melting, or rendering, in my crock pots. I am preparing to make several new batches of RW soap for an event being held at Garfield Farm on Sunday  May 22. Specifically it is called the Garfield Farm Museum Rare Breeds Show and Sale  .  For more info call 630-584-8485. A very cheap event to attend and a great way to see some very cool animals. Also a fantastic opportunity to display your own rare breeds (husbands not accepted) and the products you have from such animals.

My first batch is "Gardner's Soap",  (yup, still working on the name, no where near good enough for an alternative rock soap) made with coffee grounds which is great for sloughing off dried dirt, plant material, manure and grease. I do not test my products on animals but I do test them all on my Gk's and that farmer who insists on crawling into bed with me every night. I should get his name, but why? I'll just forget it in the morning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

All work and no play make for a crabby Yaya

Once in a while I just have to LEAVE. I usually don't go far and I always come back. Well, sometimes I go far, or I did before we were "self-sufficient" AKA having limited funds, but another trip to Ireland is now WAY off but still, short trips are doable.

So we loaded up the kids, slung our backpacks over our shoulder, hopped the rail out of Pontiac and ended up on Michigan Avenue in one of the most wonderful cities in the world. A weekend trip to Chicago and all is well again. Oh, and a big THANK YOU to Amtrak. Four RT tickets only $16 each.

View from the 36th floor of Chicago Marriott Downtown
Very cheap stay thanks to
 Oh how I love Captain Kirk !
My sister Teresa and her kids accompanied us. The math would therefore be five kids and two adults; ooutnumbered for sure. But with Teresa's loving ways and my military -like approach, "You ! Yes You ! Stop going through the revolving doors on your hands and knees and go get your brother off the escalator. MOVE IT, MOVE IT , MOVE IT. !"  We managed to keep all 5 of them out of danger while exposing them to (instead of them being exposed at)  the culture and refinement Chicago is well known for.

Such as : Ed Debevics

At Ed's the waitresses and waiters are experts at  being rude. If you cross them they'll toss a wadded up menu, or stack of straws at you. They'll make fun of your order, or your name or your clothes. They'll interrupt their work to dance nonsensically on the counter tops.

Not that different from meal time here.

After that, a visit to Rain Forrest Cafe. The large robotized critters freaked out the 3 yr old a bit but proved very entertaining to the rest of us.

Saturday evening we walked over to The Lego Store. Lots of things to see and do for free if you stand  strong to the requests for a life size (PLUS) Lego version of Andy.

All those Lego's. Amazing partner.
Sunday we stormed the Museum of Science and Industry. $45 for the four of us to entre' vous and worth every dime. We saw only half of the exhibits but came away exhausted and a bit further smarticated. The kids learned about tornadoes, tidal waves, color refracting, robotics etc...The highlight for me was taking my GK's through the coal mine. The same old coal mine my father took me through in the late  60's, the same one I took my kids through in the late 80's and early 90's. Holding Wesley on my lap in the rickety coal train car as it bumped along the tracks in the pitch black with his little hands holding tight to my face for security . (Yeah, he likes to hold faces when he is scared. What to make something of it ? Do you huh, do ya ?) Made me think of my own dad's big arms wrapped around me in that same old train car when I was just 4 or 5.  So a few more pics and I'll let you off the hook. Tomorrow, back to work.

Sister Teresa. Yes as a matter of fact.
 She is a saint

Niece Bridgette and nephew Connor best helpers 2011. Wes on crane

Allana and assistant run their first light show

Monday, April 18, 2011

Grad student ? Come on down !

Really, last week was fantastic with all our numerous farm visitors. Seems everyone is interested in our Gentle Giants

From left: Pregnant Red Wattle Lacey, Pregnant Red Wattle Debbie,
Far From Pregnant Red Wattle Farmer Keith, Pregant Crossbred Leopard
and Very Pregnant Red Wattle Morticia
On Friday we had another graduate student, just like Sasha, except this one was female, did not have a beard (hey, you never know, some of us middle age women lose track of our hair chins from time to time) and attended school in Massachusetts. Specifically her name was Kristin from Goddard College. Her topic was, "The Central Illinois Farmer Photo-Dairy Project" and involved an interview, a tour, photos she took and the opportunity for me to submit photos as well. Kristin also taught me the meaning of the phrase "Visual Ethnography."  Now, over 3 dys later, I of course cannot remember the definition, but I did log the phrase into my notebook of Name Ideas for Future Alternative Rock Bands.

Kristen Thiel, dedicated grad student, fighting her way
past the ever ferocious Fannie to get photos of naughty
Freddie locked away in the feed shed.

Unfortunately, the weather was cold and rainy. Very cold, and rainy and a tad windy. Then a F3 windy. So windy that just as we were finishing up with Kristin and right before the Pollock family arrived with their girl Barbara, our large calf hutch was lifted up into the air and thrown  mercilessly to the ground, releasing several animated calves into the yard.  Herd dog Freddie, still mostly untrained , would circle one calf while three others ran past him, then he'd chase that group leaving the one he did have under control to start running the wrong way. What a zoo !

Eventually all the wind blown animals were restrained into a makeshift yard of single wire electric fencing allowing us to thank Kristen for her time and usher the Pollacks down to the barn so their gal, a stunning Red Wattle looking for love, could be unloaded between tornados. In between rain showers we were able to load Mad Max out of his pasture and into our trailer and escort him to Barbra's love lair. Funny thing about that Mad Max. Loading him required virtually no effort on Keith's part other than telling Max why he had to get into the trailer. He practically RAN into it, the little horn hog that he is.

Mad Max to the right and the petite Lady Barbara to the left

Once Babs and Max were properly introduced, "Pig, meet pig," they seemed only mildly interested in each other. They were however, greatly interested in the grain Keith spread out for them. But you learn quite a bit about someone the first time you share a meal with them, so who are we to question their priorities ? This will be Max's first girl from another farm and we are all looking forward to the results. Hopefully a happy healthy litter of the still critically Red Wattles in 4 months time. We know they will be gorgeous because that Barbara is some looker. The Lucille Ball of Red Wattles I would say. Shiny copper red hair with a glimmer of gold. Made our Max look a little dull but of course I did not say this out loud. Would hate to deflate that ego of his when he needed it most.

After dinner, the couple takes a stroll. Max waits to make his move.

Putting these two together required (by me) the writing of my first semen contract. An interesting list of do's and don'ts regarding who was responsible for what, when and where. Although it  was fairly simple, I took the contract writing  very seriously until some goofball cousin of mine, via Facebook, suggested I should now be referred to as "Semen Meister".

I get no respect. Nada

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who let the hogs out ? Woof woof woof woof woof.

   We have been blessed with some great  visitors this week and more to come tomorrow. On Tuesday, in addition to our reliable and hardworking intern Aaron, we had a PhD Candidate from U of I, Sasha, come for a chat and a tour. Of all the topics in all the gin joints in all the world, he chooses "Rare Swine Breed Conservation" for his thesis. How fun for us to drone on and on about the Red Wattle to someone who actually wanted to hear about it, instead of to our family who only pretends to want to hear about them...again. Sasha even asked if he could back some time and WORK with us. Heck YES, Mr. PhD . I knew we would like him when he pulled a pair of official Muck boots from his car. We liked him even more when he called our Red Wattles the " Maytag of Livestock" referring to the fact that they rarely get sick.

Keith (with beard) telling Sasha (with beard)
about the gentleness of our
Red Wattle Boar, Mad Max

Keith SHOWING  Sasha how gentle our Gentle Giant really is.

Today, two women from Washington (as in Illinois) came  to tour the farm and before leaving not only did they buy meat from our store and raw milk but they also ordered a whole hog and a 1/2  beef. Thank you. Thank you very much.

This afternoon, the well traveled and ambitious Matt and his cool mom came to check out the Red Wattle feeder pigs we had for sale. They are newbie homesteaders from the Lemont area. They asked fantastic, well thought out questions and reminded us why it is we do what we do. We often forget, that is why people need to remind us. If these two take 1/10 as good care of our pigs as they do their chickens, those pigs will be a couple of  deliriously happy porkers. There, I did it again ! Another great name for a rock band just pulled out of thin air. Really, how do I do it ?

Tomorrow, another student writing a paper about the relationships between farmers and their land, is coming for another interview. Traveling all the way from Massachusetts you might wonder how she found our little farmette. Well, she's actually a local, from Chenoa. Small town girl goes to big city college in order to write a paper about a small town farm. We'll looking forward to meeting her.

Tomorrow afternoon, we'll embark on an all new adventure. A woman from Wisconsin is bringing her Red Wattle gilt "Barbara" to meet up with  (code for  "meet up with" ) our Red Wattle Boa,r Mad Max. Hmmm, I wonder if she would mind if I called her "Babs" ? Yeah, you're right. I should probably wait until after the official breeding event before I get all casual with her. If she and Mad Max don't hit it off right away we have made accommodations for Miss B to spend a few nights. Keith and Aaron cleaned out one of the barn stalls on Tuesday and it is looking mighty cozy in there  what with the chandelier  (Yes Kristy, its yours) and the bottle of  wine cooling in the waterer. Yes, I am aware candles are more romantic but HELLO ! Its a barn, with straw.  You People.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dear Mom

Dear Mom

Sorry this letter is late. I meant to write it yesterday, the anniversary of your death 13 years ago but I got busy doing really important things. Like what you ask ? Oh you know, dishes and uh laundry and um, oh yeah I had to take some more pictures of the silly peacocks strutting their stuff all over the farm. Yeah, I know. Sorry.

But wait, there was one important thing we did. We celebrated Jason's birthday with him. Yes, he's 23 now can you believe it ? And he wanted us to tell you he forgives you (finally) for dying on his birthday which you might recall happened to be Easter that same year. Really, going to heaven on Easter, and they say I"M the showboat in this family. Kidding, just kidding.

Seriously, we all really do miss you. I for one miss the way you would come in my back door yelling "Anyone home ?" Not that it mattered. You would just come in, make yourself some coffee , grab a magazine and wait till someone showed up. Pretty much what I did at your house wasn't it ? I also miss your bobby pins and the way you could put them to good use for all kinds of things. Hair curling, lock picking, car battery jump cables. Oh you did too.  Yes you did. I also miss the way no coffee was ever too strong or too old for you to drink, how you could never  cut the bulk bologna in even pieces with one side being 1/8 in thick and the other side being an inch thick.

I really miss how you would wear my too big U of I sweatshirts, Mary's too small bell bottom jeans, Peg's
banana clips and Teresa's Disney shoes FOR A NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN , and you did not care what other people thought. What ? Yes, you're right. I shouldn't be name dropping U of I clothing when I got expelled after one semester. Sorry...What tone ? OK, OK I'm really sorry this time.

So let me just wind this up by saying again we miss you. You left us far too early. 67 is nothing, you were a baby with lots of life left in you. What was that ? Apparently not  ? Good to see you still have your sense of humor. Yes, I know. You always had one but dad was always the one clowning around while you had to be the responsible one and no one ever really knew how funny you could be.

Mom, we knew. And we appreciate all you did for all of us all those years and
We love you very very much.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Raw Law

Raw milk evolves into raw ice cream with a little help
from farmer  Keith and the Kitchen Aid mixer

A year ago Keith and I decided to cease selling our milk to Foremost Farms after a decade long relationship with them. This decision came about right about the time they told us they would stop BUYING our milk from us if we continued to sell small amounts of raw milk  directly off our farm. Coincidence ? Hardly. If you would like to see the whole story click here

Hard to believe it has been a year. So much has happened. Our income from Foremost Farms disappeared overnight, as did quite a bit of our anxiety in regards to our raw milk sales. Many of our fellow dairy farming friends expressed concern for us. We were surprised by the number of them who were misinformed about the raw milk laws of Illinois. Some thought we would go to jail or be "shut down." These fears are not unfounded in light of the goofy actions happening across our country due in great part to legislation that is outdated and not based on research. To date it is still legal to sell raw milk in Illinois as long as the consumer brings their own container to the dairy farm. Sadly the law states we cannot advertise that we sell raw milk.( For a list of the current raw milk laws in each state go here )

Frustrating.   Beyond frustrating. How is it that one law says YES you can sell raw milk while the another law says NO, you may not advertise.?  And one more question still unanswered, what is the definition of  "advertise ".  The restriction flys in direct opposition (in my opinion) to THIS law I came across recently

505 ILCS 70/0.01) (from Ch. 5, par. 90z)

Sec. 0.01. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Farm Products Marketing Act.

(Source: P.A. 86‑1324.)

(505 ILCS 70/1) (from Ch. 5, par. 91)

Sec. 1. Every farmer, fruit and vine grower, and gardener, shall have an undisputed right to sell the produce of his farm, orchard, vineyard and garden in any place or market where such articles are usually sold, and in any quantity he may think proper, without paying any state, county or city tax, or license, for doing so, any law, city or town ordinance to the contrary notwithstanding: Provided, that the corporate authorities of any such city, town or village may prohibit the obstruction of its streets, alleys and public places for any such purpose: And, provided further, that nothing in this Act shall be so construed as to authorize the sale of spirituous, vinous or malt liquors, contrary to laws which now are or hereafter may be in force prohibiting the sale thereof.

(Source: P.A. 84‑1308.)

So lets see, I ,the farmer,  have the right to sell the produce from my farm but I don't have the right to advertise that I am selling it other than word of mouth. WHY ? How is it my neighbor can put a sign in his front yard advertising his free-range eggs, his pumpkins, her apples and berries ? How can you tell me that I cannot advertise one of our farm products from which we make a living. ?

I find these laws related to raw milk in Illinois to be  illogical and inconsistent.  It is past time that someone in Illinois took on the challenge of  getting these laws changed.

Anyone ? Anyone ?

Oh OK. I'll start walking the talk, but I could use some new athletic shoes (size 10 W)  if anyone is in the mood to donate to the cause.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Follow the Blue Brick Road

Awhile back I suggested to Keith we dispose of the encyclopedias: the ones purchased about two decades ago when "search engine" was something you did when the car would not start. As expected , he suggested we hang onto them. "Maybe the grand kids will use them."

He was right. They grandkids found a use for them.

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Half-Breed, That's all I ever heard"

Ah yes. Cher. Who could ever forget Cher ? Thought of her the other day as I was watching our new litter of Half-Breeds running with their own mama. Half Red Wattle, half a bunch of other stuff, many of them look almost 100% Red Wattle in their body type.  Our RW boar Mad Max sure knows his business.

Sow Spot with 5 week old piglets. Check out those hams-to-be
And No, Freddie has not been beheaded. He just has to stick his nose
in everyone's business.
 Their mama was a feeder pig we bought from another farmer a couple of years ago. Keith named her Dot and after searching many name books, pig encyclopedias, and of course the 2008 Version of "Who's Who in Swine" he named her sister, Spot. The two of them are long and big boned and because they have been handled daily by humankind, they are quite friendly.

The first time we bred them to a Red Wattle Boar, we knew we were onto something. The Spotted Wattle was hatched. The piglets were long like their mama's with about 50-75% of them carrying the famous wattles under their necks. Most were red in color, some had spots. All were solid , husky meat types. This last batch of piglets springing forth from Dot had even more fun coloring-white socks. Now genetically that confuses me because when it comes to genetics I am easily confused. Neither parent had white socks. Did these leggings come from a grand pig or did I leave a bucket of white paint out in the pasture...again ?

Now of course the hard decision rears its ugly snout. Which babes do we raise for meat?  Which do sell as feeders to others ?  Which shall we keep for our own breeding program ? 

Yes, hello.  Is this thing on ? Yeah, Ok.
My name is Four Socks, you may have seen me in "Dances with Hooves"
Anyway, I'm asking for your vote to remain on the farm for future breeding stock.
Please and Thank You

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Goodbye Aunt Jemima and Hello Uncle Willard !

As a baby boomer I grew up with all the fun people.  Captain Crunch, Dr Pepper, Ronald McDonald, Tony the Tiger and Aunt Jemima.

I also have a weight problem.

Post World War II, the mama's of the world grew tired of the hard work it required to cook a healthy meal and they willingly turned to the new world of processed food followed very quickly by fast food and before we knew it our cupboards were filled with boxes and boxes of instant this and that , while our freezers bulged with cartons of "goodies" like fish sticks, pizza bites and ice cream. Demand resulted in mass production which resulted in crap food at a minimal price. Cooking got easier and folks  got fatter.

Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and others saw an opportunity and began  charging people to learn about good selling said people THEIR version of packaged and boxed processed food, coupled with fresh fruit and veggies. People lost weight. Stopped the diets, gained the weight back, went back on the diets and money exchanged hands over and over. The Fast Food Kings saw their own opportunity and developed the Dollar Menu's so our country's poor could be fat just like the rich.

The cycles of fat and thin, good food and bad food (like food can have a character trait) diets and non-diets continues to gain momentum and struck me full in the face this past weekend when I purchased this small glass jar of real maple syrup from our friends at Spence Farms.

Cost ?   $12.

Yes, thats right, $12. Now why on Gods still green earth would I do such a thing when I could spend $3.19 (on sale) for a much larger bottle of Aunt Jemima Quasi-Syrup ?. I do afterall have to feed three grandchildren on the weekends. Three who love French Toast and Pancakes and would eat them three times a day.

I bought it because I am than I was a year ago. I have learned that a larger amount of money spent on a smaller amount of healthy food is far better for my body, my relationship with my neighbors AND my budget. Lets go back to the $1 menu at McD's. Research has shown that folks will buy many more of the $1 sandwiches , filled with little healthy meat grown inhumanely on large feedlots, than they need or intended to buy in the first place. They figure "They  are only $1, I might as well get 2 or 3 of them."

I had that same mindset for years in regards to syrup. The stuff is relatively cheap so why not let the kids poor it themselves so that the pancakes are swimming in it ? So the kids ended up with cheap food that spread far more calories into their little bodies than was ever needed.

Then along comes Uncle Willard AKA Will Travis and his family. Located just a few miles from our home I am ashamed to admit this was my first time with Uncle Willards Sticky Yum Yum.  But I had heard the reviews and hating to be left out, I reserved my bottle. Last weekend we made the trek to Spence Farm ,   paid our very hard earned cash for their very hard earmed hand harvested and  hand created, syrup. It was an even trade. More than even.

Never has so little sweetness volume wise,  given my family so much joy. Thirty minutes alone was spent with my three GK's just "taste-testing" the syrup, comparing it in blindfolded and highly scientific studies , with Aunt Jemima's brew. Each time the kids could identify which was the REAL syrup and which was so less than real. And each time they picked Uncle Willards as their favorite, including the 3 year old.

We treasured that bottle of syrup and drizzled it slowly over our food instead of flooding our food with it. We were actually able to taste the woodiness in it coming  from, you guessed it, the real wood fires used on Spence Farm to boil down the sap. We treated the syrup like the treasure it was, not wanting to waste either our own money nor the efforts of those who worked so hard to bring us the really good stuff.

Something to think about the next time you are faced with the choice of buying a mass produced item produced by the masses versus selecting an item hand grown or hand made with gunuine effort and care from a neighbor or a friend.

We Salute You,  Uncle Williard !

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Look at me , look at me, LOOK AT ME !

Yes, believe it or not ,the elusive and mystical white peacock with its silvery plumes and masculine chicken legs. resides here on South Pork Ranch in Chatsworth Illinois. In early Druid  times of Southern Wales he was thought to have awesome powers. If a famine struck peasant was lucky enough to see one and prove such by obtaining one of the creatures beautiful tail feathers, he would be rewarded with overwhelming wealth and good fortune. His critical wife would honor him and once again find him wildly attractive despite his poor dental hygiene and his 19 children would respect him, bragging about his wisdom to all their sheep thieving friends. His landlord would GIVE him the one room shack slash barn  in which he was living. The peasant would be able to speak many languages endearing him to the leaders of the world who would seek his opinion in all matters of importance.

Oh please. Its just a bird. I made up all that stuff.

But they are fun to watch. Strutting all over the farm like they are somebirdy.  First when you approach, you get the full frontal view but if you offend them in any way like say, looking at them they blow you off  with this view:

Nice, eh ? Once you've calmed their huge egos you might be lucky to get a  Barbra Streisand side view. Usually saved for bigger camera's like those of National Graphic, consider yourself lucky to get  his,  "this is my best side" pose.

Trying to impress anything else with feathers, such as the lowly chicken, the uninterested duck, the also too self involved rooster,  the white peacock soon becomes bored with the attention of such common farm animals and flounces off.

I mean really just look at that back leg, extended with heel up. Is that not a "flounce" ? He has never quite gotten over the fact that he ended up here instead of at Brookfield  Zoo like so many of his performance minded family members.  Receiving a urgent call from his agent he rushes to his private jet

Seconds later, because he was so busy with his model runway classes and never got around to getting his flying license, he crashes beak first into the chicken yard.

Mr. Bird Cage here is just one of several critters gearing up for spring. In fact, The South Pork Ranch Spring Review will be on stage for the next few weeks. Matings, birthings, flouncings,  etc etc...Mardi Gras time, farm style.