Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I love to follow other peoples blogs. Some more than others. I especially love this one http://disasterfilm.blogspot.com/   Although I ask you please do not follow or comment on his blog as this fellow is well known for stealing all the comments from all the followers in the land. He is one big comment hog. I mean he says "Rainy today in the village" and he gets 100 comments. (Happy Birthday anyway John Gray)

Anyway, on his blog I don't want you to see, he has this great pic of a chicken staring right at you. I have been wanting to recreate that shot with our own poultry for awhile. Today I got down on the ground and gave it my best attempt.

Yeah they got the nice feather thing going. My hair would look good too
if all I had to do all day was eat bugs and worms.

Now keep in mind, I am not a chicken chic. I do not normally attach myself to birds. I find them dull and very dull. I appreciate them for the eggs they produce and the chicken caccitore I have consumed. I do not name them. Well except for this little Banty rooster a friend gave us last week, maybe I'm a little attached to him but it doesn't count as he's not a real rooster.

Anyway, I'm on the ground and they start to notice me a little. Suddenly I have a flashback to 1993 the year Keith and I were married. I ventured into the barn after work probably still in my 2 piece suit with peplum skirt no doubt, to say hello.  He was milking a goat and I see the cutest little fluffy yellow baby chick on the ground next to him. I scoop it up and before I can say Kentucky Fry this, I am attacked by a flurry of white feathers. Some crazed chicken is going for my head ! I pull the chick closer to me to protect it and the hen intensifies her attack. Keith is no help as he has now fallen off the milking stand as he rolls with laughter. He's trying to say "put the chick down" but he's laughing so hard he can't speak. Finally this Chicago raised bride figures out the nutso hen just wants her chick back. I put it down. I may not be very smart but at least I'm slow.

Anyway, back to the present. I am getting nervous. I'm vulnerable down here. They seem to sense this. They begin to move in.

Face to face with Birdzilla, I begin to wish I had fed them more corn and less
of the organic raw milk.
I hunker down behind my camera and try to look less threatening. I make nary a sound unless you count the minor incontinence I am experiencing. I always lose a little control when I sense my eyeballs are soon to be pecked upon. I wait them out. They send in backup chicks.

"To me she looks harmless. Lazy and
unmotivated, but harmless.
What do you think Esmerelda ?"
Still unpecked, I decide to go even closer. I came for an awesome chickie shot and I am going to get it. I zoom in. What happens ? Some Rooster Boy decides to get all cocky with me.

Get back girls, Midlife Farmwife is all mine.
I reach for my cell phone, I'm not above calling for help. After all these bird things can get out of control so quickly. One minute you are admiring a couple of lovebirds in a cage chatting it up with a hottie named Mitch and the next minute the freaky things are dive bombing you at the filling station and your whole backwards town goes up in flames. But before I can flip open my cheap Tracfone to see I am out of minutes AGAIN, Mr. all full of himself takes a sharp right and strikes a pose. Vogue.

Anyway, I never got the shot I wanted, but I did bond just a little with the egg squaters. Still, I'm not naming them and you can't make me.

But if I was...it would be Marsha, Jan and Cindy. The blond in front would of course be Marsha.
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My man John

If you are in the prime of your life like Keith and I, meaning you spent your wild teen years growing up in the 70's, you are aware of my man John...Vivian

John and his wife Louise , well educated corporate folk, left it all for a small run down farm in the east. Hey, we're going to do the same thing ! With the exception of $3000 they earned annually as substitute teachers and lecturers, they were totally self sufficient. Any "get back to nature" hippie worth their homemade hemp pipe, read this book and fantasized about living the same type of life. We all wanted to make our own wine, butcher rabbits (we were all meat eating hippies back then. Vegans were not invented yet) and tan our own hides to warm us in the winter.  It was this whole I'm free, You're free attitude that resulted in thousands of children being born with names like Willow, Bark and ...uh...Raven.

I bought this book in 1977 and have moved it from house to house for 34 years. I even dropped it in a mud puddle once but recovered it and dried it and continued moving it from location to location because ONE DAY...And that day will be June 9 when I tell you all that we are SELLING OUR FARM !

After Keith and I were married I discovered he also owned a copy of this book, even claiming that MY copy was HIS copy. He could not explain the dried mud splashes all over the cover but he was sure MY copy was HIS copy. Well, now it is OUR copy because ONE DAY...ONE DAY...is now baby, right now

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rorschack Soap Blot Test

Quick. Don't think about it. What do you see in this bar of soap ?

OK. Next one, same thing. First impression only.

And finally the last Rorschach Soap Blot example. Remember go with your gut.

So shall we compare ? This is what I saw.

 Bar number one: Profile pic of a seeing eye dog suffering from some nasty brain damage after using    one of those goofy Flo-Bee haircutting devices.
Bar number two:Leonardo DiCaprio's boot going under the waves as he leaves the Titanic
Bar number three Monarch Butterfly breaking free from an over frosted brownie

Thanks for playing.
The really really scary thing is my soap was supposed to come out looking like this:

Ah well, so much being a "self-taught" soaper. The smell ? Mine is similar to an orange piece rolled in an old Recess Cup and left out in the sun all summer. Oddly sweet like gym socks of that boy you really liked in high school.

Just a reminder: http://seanachaidaughter.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One day...one day.

Keith and I were talking about our future, specifically where we might want to retire ONE DAY.  A day way way in the future. We chewed on and spit out some of the obvious locations such as Florida (no way, hate that state) Arizona (too many Roadrunners) and Ireland (OK that was always just my dream). We settled on a small place not too far from here. Its called

Off-The-Grid and it  located here in Central Illinois . You might know of Off-The-Grid, its also been called Back-to-the-Land and many of the hippie type of the 60's and 70's took up residence there.

 Sqeaky Fromm comes to mind but she is a bad , very bad, example of sustainable living.

So in looking at our future retirement home of REAL Homesteading where 90% of our needs are met by our own hard work, it became clear we have a large amount of work to do in order to prepare. Seems funny to have to "prepare" to live off the land but reality is such. Our first step will be research. The book kind to start but then real solid research, the type that will require finding those who live off the grid and visiting them.

Still speaking in vague terms am I not.? Our future plan is to live as frugally and simply as possible without outside jobs and very minimal cash income.  Our retirement home will not be this farmhouse but instead will consist of a very tiny home attached to a work shop which would then be attached to a barn. We want to grow 95% of our own food, heat our home entirely with wood and /or wood and some other fuel. We will raise only enough animals for our own consumption.

 This livestock would include a couple cows, a few pigs, some chickens, turkeys and rabbits.  We think 10 acres of mixed woods and pasture would suffice. There will be no lawns to mow only pasture to graze. I would also like water such as a river, pond or small lake since I won't get to retire on Corkscrew Hill as I had dreamed of. What little cash we will need will be acquired through the selling of extra food or items we can make such as soap and through talents such as writing or teaching others how to live in Off The Grid Ville

Seems like a huge task to get ready for does it not ? Worry not Mon Cherie, we have lots of time to do our homework. Moving to Off The Grid is way off, WAY WAY off. But, if any of you know of folks really living this way please let us know about them. We have many  questions.

Keith and I after coffee this am glowing
with excitement about our new
"retirement" plans.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

One Odd Duck

Met this fellow today at the Rare Animal Show at Garfield Farm http://www.garfieldfarm.org/ in LaFox, Illinois. He was charming.

Hats were very popular at this event. Some were the expected sort being as it was hot and sunny.

Some were time period specific due to the numerous demonstrations being given.

"John ? JOHN ! Could you slow down please, my cullottes are in that bag."

While others sported suspicious looking eyes beneath their brims.

Some women get gawked at, me; I get glared at.

One brilliant hat managed to match itself perfectly to its owners blouse. Now that takes some planning. I'm lucky to get both arms inside the sleeves of my top let alone match it to something.

HRH Kate and new groom William attempted to avoid the
paparazzi by  disguising themselves as midwest farmers
but her hat gave her away.

All in all the day was great fun. Many of the animals on display and available for petting were critically endangered as are our two Red Wattle hogs we brought along for the day.

But as adorable as we believe our pigs are, they were even more cute and cuddly creatures scattered about the farm, like these Chinchilla rabbits.

Well, the granddaughter thought they were cute and cuddly. The grandson thought he'd borrow a few of the hare's carrots for a snack when no one was looking. He forgot he was on the Kid-Cam.

The best part of the show was the relaxation factor. Not one single obnoxious sign about, "Animals can be dirty, therefore if you touch them you will be dirty and will probably die so you must drench yourself in this chemical lung burning sanitizer."  Nor did I see any of those other equally obnoxious "You break it you've bought it " signs which always get placed in front of the angora wool displays.

Naaaa. Garfield Farm was one reasonable place. Extremely kid friendly. Not only animals to see but animals to touch...

and HOLD

The only part of the day that needed improvement was the blatant self promotion of farm products. Some people were just relentless. Soap made from pig lard and real lye. Imagine

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just a shadow of her former self

I took my 92 year old aunt Bernie (my deceased fathers sister) to the doctor today. She had not been out of her very protected surroundings in several months. She has had many opportunities to do so, either with my sister Mary or I, or with one of the groups in her assisted living facility but she has had no real interest. She has become accustomed to her routine.

But today was a good day. Very warm (finally) and sunny, she seemed to be looking forward to the 5 minute drive over to the hospital where her Dr's office is located.

The journey may have been short but it tired her quickly. She started out walking while pushing her walker and ended up with me pushing her back out of the hospital while she sat in her walker. (One of those cool walkers with a seat built in...BRILLIANT. She was so tired by the time we drove back to her place that I had to lift her legs out of my car. Yes, I took the rest of her as well, not just her legs, why do you people ask such silly things ?

When I got her back upstairs and settled in her recliner for a nap she told me, "I'd be dead if it wasn't for you." I smiled lamely at her when she continued sarcastically, "Thanks a lot !" Implying death might not be so bad at this point. We giggled and I understood. Well I tried to understand. In her eyes, even at 52,  I am a youthful, healthy, vibrant woman full of energy with her whole life ahead of her, while she is worn out and worn down. She often wonders out loud why God has not taken her yet.

I am unable to answer that question, but I am grateful and appreciative of the time we have together. She is the last link to my parents and I will miss her terribly when she is gone.

I am selfish that way.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Breaking News

I wanted to wait until after my birthday for this very major announcement. Oh yeah, you WISH the announcement had to do with my quitting my blog.You're out of luck Chuck,better make a new plan, Stan, because I am doing exactly the opposite.

I'm expanding.

Yup, more of me, more of the time. Lord help YOU. For many months I have been feeling pulled towards doing more with my cyber time. By "more" I mean something of more value. For the last two years I have been all over the blog boogie board. A little bit of family, a little bit of farm, a little bit of grand kid talk, a little political (THERE ! Another grand band name. Little Political How do I do that ?!") and lately more than a little about soap, of all things.

 By the way last night I made a horrible batch of brown soap so I rebatched it, added superfat and great blue colors and new smell and now it is the most fabulous midnight blue soap bar that I will call NIGHT SHIFT in honor of all the night shift workers in all the world especially my friends at Gibson Area Hospital, my daughter Raven, son Colton,  and my newest night nurse stalker, John  in North Wales . Wait ! You got it wrong. He's not a stalker of night nurses, he is a night nurse who stalks my blog as I do his, But I digress.

Air  R  E ?

Oh yeah. My new blogs.

This one, the Midlife FarmKook will remain right here. But the focus will be slightly right of center. I will speak of the usual family and daily farm life stuff. The real great farm life stuff. The fun stuff. Stuff that makes my heart SING. OK you get it.

Farmer Keith and GK Wes ,window shopping
in Chicago after making pork deliveries last week.

Blog number two, already up and running but in a very secret way until now, is called The Seanachai's Daughter. I started it several months ago in a different  "venue" (I hate that word, weddings used to held at the VFW club house, now they are held in "Venues," what a load of donkey ripeness.) I'm using WordPress to produce it. That blog will focus on my fledgling writing including excerpts from my Novel in Progress, some poetry (you said it I didn't) and short stories. You can visit my new blog here: http://seanachaidaughter.wordpress.com/

Blog number three will be made public very soon. It is at this moment unnamed but its focus will be strong and clear; farmer rights and struggles in a time of government suffocation. I am a renegade farmer and I have reached my boiling point. Farm after farm after farm has been being raided, shut down, and destroyed over ridiculous things like the sales of raw milk and yogurt. Other champions have risen to this calling and its now my turn to put up or shut up. This new blog will focus specifically on events occurring here in Central Illinois to champion farmers and generally on actions being taken nationally. Congressman Ron Paul has gone out on a political limb through his support of raw milk sales and he needs farmer support in this work.

So there you have it. Announcement over. Please go back to your regular programming, but don't forget to come back. Put it on a Post-It Note.  Works for me...sometimes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Birthday to She

                                            Really, I think I look pretty good for my age.

I'll be back at the blog-wheel tomorrow after resting up from all my parties.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I need Help

Yeah yeah yeah, you are all so funny. Of course I need help, laughing at the obvious is what the insane do. I am speaking of serious garden history here and all you people can do is snicker your doodles at me. Get a grip and lend a hand will ya ? What prey tell is this ?

He came to me about a decade ago. A friend of mine gave him  to me. It was part of a stone wall in the garden of a  San Fransisco Victorian home he had just purchased. He didn't like it. "Its more your thing."

He was right I do love HIM, not "it." The lion head is heavy, very heavy and appears to be made of molded concrete. The back of the head is flat. Inside his mouth is a hole. He is about 16 inches tall and 12 inches wide and his eyes follow me wherever I go.

Any ideas ? Age ? Use ?  Value ? You never know when I might chuck this whole sustainable farming thing and head back to Ooghterard, County Galway to make my living selling seaweed soap. I might need some cash.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Farmers Market Lessons Learned

Can you see all that rain in the intersection behind this table ?
Well take my word for it, it was WET !

Our first Farmers Market of the Season was a complete disaster. Pouring rain the first 3 hours which made set up of tents and tables wet and cold. Many items were rained on, labels were blown away and customers were scared away. I should've packed my herbs more professionally and most people thought my soap was food and walked away unhappy that it wasn't.

The biggest disaster; I forgot to bring coffee.

                                     Later, I decided our first Farmers Market of the Season
                                                   was an amazing success.

 Despite the pouring rain several Stewards of the Land members arrived  to help set up. Two tents and four plastic "walls" later we had built a nice little fort house. All we needed was a camp fire. I estimate 25 customers visited us in the POURING rain, including a good friend of mine who had worked a 12 hour shift the night before. She drove 25 miles to the Market and then had to drive 50 minutes to get home. She even bought soap, a bunch of soap. How special was that ?!

One customer was determined enough to drive up to the curb, roll down her window and call out her order. "Asparagus !" She cried. Her order was filled and money was collected. Fortunately the local police were not in the area because exchanging money curbside through the open window of a car, can be suspicious.

Kris Travis's display of products from Spence Farms.
  Now why didn't I think to bring some crates ?!

During the quiet times, I actually got to sit and visit with some other members of our group. We talked not only of farming but of kids, parents, grand kids, jobs, life stessors and health  issues. We also managed to talk a bit about dreams for ourselves. I discovered I really did not know these woman very well, the same woman l that I had known casually for some time, and I discovered that I really LIKED them.

If the weather had been perfect we would have missed that opportunity.
We also would have been WARM and DRY...oh well

Here's to next weekend's market ! What could happen ? A tornado ? No problem, we'll just put up a few  more plastic walls, AND START A RAGING FIRE.

         P.S. Special thanks to the Kupferschmids for loan of their business's yard
                                              for our Farmers Market
                         See them at The Antique Shoppe  301 W. Oak St 
                                           Fairbury, IL  815-692-3379

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Technical Difficulties

Please enjoy this lovely pastoral scene as our cows head out to the pastoral area. I'm having technical difficulties posting my next blog topic. I can't really type thus the technical difficulty. Stay tuned for further developments.

View from our front porch. Bustling Chatsworth in the distance

Friday, May 13, 2011

I got your CHIVES right here !

Less than 24 hours until The Stewards of The Land first Farmers Market of the Season. We have confirmation of the following

     Grass Fed Beef
     Organic Pork
     Free Range Eggs
     Herbs like Chives,



     Hand Crafted soap to clean up your cooking mess

Really, its soap, not caramel bars. Made with 95% organic materials
 I call it "Hippie Hemp Soap". due to the  Hemp Oil in it which is great for dry skin
 No dummy, you can't smoke it, but you
can bathe with it.

Not only will you be able to buy fresh produce but we are located in front of one of the coolest antique Shoppes I have even seen. So make a Saturday out of it and come visit us at 301 W. Oak Street in Fairbury, Illinois, USA

That "USA" part is for the thousand or so of my blog followers coming from other countries. You know who you are ! Still time to grab a flight over to see us. I'll get the guest room ready. There, I chased the cat off the guest bed, the guest bed is ready.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Feed a pig, starve a fever.

Even though it is now Thursday we are still recovering from our weekend.  Sick kids, sick pigs, sick freezer, sick well. Yes the well ! When the sun came out seems all things began to fall apart. Sadly, not all things were fixable. Thus the story of  piglet above.

Mother Red Wattle, Morticia, had her very first litter last week. A lovely birth in a lovely hutch. 8 beautiful piglets.48 hrs later Keith noted 6 dead babes, and a very uninterested mother. At my urging he brought the two "survivors" inside. Flat ears and wrinkled skin it was evident they were dehydrated. We did our best, heated bed, frequent feedings but they did not make it. One Internet article even suggested bowl feeding instead of syringes like I usually do

As you can see, they took right to it ! I was amazed. But it didn't last. Two bowl feedings and they began listless and uninterested. 24 hrs after bringing them inside the first one died and 12 hrs after that baby sister followed. Several articles say less than 10% of piglets removed from their mothers for whatever reason, will survive with human help.
I hated losing that litter. Hated it. The grand kids handling it better than me "Yaya you warned us they might not live !" Still researching things we could have done differently. Was it a mama sow issue ? Do we risk breeding her again ? Was it our issue ? Should mother sow been moved father away from the herd so she could not see them and then would concentrate on her duties ? I have learned that it can take many generations of hog raising in order to breed out problems and breed in strong genetics (Thank you Walter) but I am sooo impatient.

Oh how I wish we had 100 acres to let them all roam free. I do believe having more room for more natural selection of their farrowing digs would make a difference. Struggling with our 10 acres we are unsure of what is best. HOWEVER, right next door to Morticia was Leopard in the same sized lot and the exact same farrowing shed. Another new mama , not a Red Wattle but a crossbred, who had her litter on the same day in the same exact circumstances. All of her babies are doing great. THRIVING in fact.

So...opinions ? Suggestions ?  Hit me baby.

The kids ? Thanks for asking. Both ended up with Strep Throat. They are improving. The freezer ? After removing tons of meat, the thermostat was repaired and the tons of meat was moved back in. The well ? Its broken part (I can't remember the name of it) was also repaired and thirsty cows got to drink again. The bowl Piglet is slurping milk from ? Its so cool isn't it ?  Kindo Art Deco meets Andy Wahol. Got it in San Francisco two decades ago. Suspicious circumstances and thats all I'm saying. Its used to be my favorite salad bowl... USED to be.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Marketing the Farmer at The Farmers Market

Fruits and nuts. Just a few things you might find at your local Farmers Market. Tis the season. Its a strange season though. One you have to watch veeery carefully. For example, after delivering some meat today to Naturally Yours Grocery (Thank You NY) I noticed a few folks set up in the Farmers Market area on North University Ave. in Peoria. Not many, as it is early in the season. Early , being the key word here. I walked up to the first vendor and noticed gorgeous, shiny red tomatoes. Tomatoes ? On May 8th in Central Illinois ? Next to that were bright green zucchini. Hmmm and hmmmm. I began my line of questioning.

-Are these your veggies ?
-Naa. Mine are the ones down there with the dirt on them.
-The radishes and green onions ?
-Yeah, they are from my garden.
-Where are these from ? (I point to the magazine glossy, all the same size tomatoes)
-Those are grown in Florida. My boss brings them up
-Uh huh. But you grew the dirty ones?

Guess which ones I bought ? Yup, you people are so smart. I bought the dirty ones, the imperfect ones , the slightly droopy ones, THE REAL ONES. And I am sure when I prepare them they will be the TASTY ones as well.

So if you live local and are ready to start your Farmers Market Season, be sure and stop by this one this Saturday .

                           Farmers Market
             Every Saturday all Summer 8-12
                        Grass Beef, Organic Pork
                                       Free Range Eggs
                              Fresh Produce,Herbs and
                        Handcrafted Soaps and MORE

                Held at The Antique Shoppe
               301 W. Oak St  Fairbury, Ill

               Sponsored by The Stewards of The Land LLC

P.S. If you mention this blog I'll give you 10% off any South Pork Ranch's frozen meat and handcrafted soap. Hope to see you then !