Friday, August 30, 2013

Mid America Homesteading Conference...Here I Come


Last year was the first, which for you math majors would make this year the Second Year for the Mid-America Homesteading Conference. Read more  HERE  Yes, you can still come, just pay at the door with cash or check.

The creation of Deborah Niemann,at  Antiquity Oaks,  the conference is a great opportunity to learn some real basics about homesteading. Up until now there has not been a comprehensive Central Illinois homesteading conference to attend, that dealt with more than a couple topics. Often the ones held in this area have been, and I say this carefully, conducted by "office types" rather than real farmers.

Of course, this farmer is behind schedule in prepping for this event and has no business blogging about it.  But I needed a break from all the ridiculous  well thought out rules our government have come up with related to growing and then butchering the livestock a farmer has raised.

There are rules about how and where the animal is raised, how the product is labeled, who it can be sold to, how it can be slaughtered which at first seemed somewhat reasonable but when I came to the part about singing Rock a Bye Baby to the chicken as you put his head in the killing cone...well I had my fill.

Not that I am opposed to humane slaughter, but I'll pick the melody on my own, thank you very much USDA.

Just trying to find the rules and regs in one spot is nearly impossible. And once you do find them in readable format you realize you are reading a publication from 1945. No wonder it was making sense!

Just like we discovered with raw milk, the rules, regs, policies and strong suggestions are scattered over several organizations, administrations and prone to multiple interpretations. But, I have a trump card when it comes to getting answers about home grown meat and his name is Mark Kohorst. Even though an employee of the government, Mark is reasonable.

He's been doing our meat inspections, required under the meat brokers license we have, for several years. He is in fact the ONE G-man I truly look forward to. I even invite him inside. And feed him coffee and cookies.

Now, leave me alone. I have just a few hours to pull my act together. And it's going to take some time being as my act is spread all over the place.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hot Child In the City, er Country

Sure enough the kids go back to school and the temps go up. That's is when my alter ego Water Woman goes into action. Just as curvy as Wonder Woman (to much so) I come to the rescue of our parched critters. My costume also draws attention like the superhero, shorts and a tank top, but it is not meant for the publics eyes so I keep a shirt with sleeves tied around my waist in case a customer shows up.

Research (my own) has shown that customers will spend more money in the store when the bat wings under my arms are covered and not flapping around distracting them from the roast they were going to purchase for Sunday dinner.

By noon it was nearly 90 and water buckets, pans were  half filled with hot water or empty. I start in the back corner with Wally and his girls. Fill up their pans, yell at them for drinking a few sips and then dumping them to get the ground wet, then push the hose over to the mud hole. It fills while I go to the calves.

We have 8 new ones plus the 7 we had before that. I use the kids red wagon to haul around filled buckets to them. It takes a few trips and by the time I'm done with them I am sweating like the overweight farm princess I am.

So I let the water from the hose run over my arms and legs and I splash more on my face and neck. A hint of a breeze shows up and I am motivated to continue. Our tiny baby broiler chicks are out of milk which is their main liquid during this high growth phase. I trudge back to the barn and get them cold fresh milk from our tank.

They are very happy. I am too cause the raw milk is working great. They should be very yummy in a few more weeks. Done fantasizing about fried chicken in November, I also find them another board to set up for more shade near their cage. I then watered all the rest of our poultry, leaving the hose run to make a little pond for our ducks.

Then onto the larger feeder pigs, 8 of them in the west pasture. I drag the hose over and weaving it carefully through the three hot wires I get it into their water trough, fill it and let it overflow into their mud hole. They hear the fresh water and come running from their shady shed. They slurp and drink and wallow but does anyone say thank you? Of course not.

Working my way north, I refill the dogs water bucket. Ashland DOES say thank you. He always does. You can rely on German Shepherds I have discovered.

Further north and somewhat east I grab a few apples from our over bearing trees and head back north to the horse pen. Apples to Doolin and Ennis, I check their automatic's working, wish we could afford about 10 more of them! I give them the apples and on the other side of their pen push the water hose into Mad Maxes water dishes.

The 3 huge hogs in that pen do not move in the shade of their large home. I yell at the and still no response. I spray the hose into their mud hole and they come lumbering out. Fighting to lay in the spot where I am spraying the water, I have to move the hose back and forth across all their backs to keep them happy.


Finally they seem cooled off enough. I however have stinking sweat pooling into my eyes, my nose and all those other spots I need not mention. I make my way back to the spigot, turn it off. Then slowly retrace my steps across the farm and turn off any other hoses I may have left on.

Then, I remember my dry secret  garden back over by the horses. So back I go and switching the little toggle between the two hoses I turn on the sprinkler in my secret garden. By now I am very very warm so I stand in the sprinkler nearly giving myself a heart attack as the ice cold water shoots up and around my "solar collection receptacles."  A dripping mess, I feel I can go on.

Back down the length of the farm I turn off the hose leading to Wally's mud hole and the duck's water is cut off as well. Everyone seems to be handling the heat well. Done with my water chores I head inside have a big cold drink and take a long cool shower.

Then I took my clothes off.

Ten minutes later I get out of the shower, dry off and lay down in front of the fan, hoping UPS does not show up needing a signature.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Raw Milk Monday...Fear Mongering Continues

GK's crossing driveway lines with raw milk for calf feeding.
Looks like they forgot their hazardous waste sign again...Darn unreliable child labor
One of our milk customers today told me of an interesting event that had just occurred in her life today. Having taken her 14 year old soon to be freshman to the Dr's office for his required physical she was asked "when was the last time he has had raw milk?"

When our customer, who has been drinking raw milk since 2008, asked why the interest in raw milk she was told "because it is considered a high risk food"

Of course this customer of ours is no dummy and being a non-dummy she shared her info and history and LACK OF RAW MILK RELATED ILLNESS within her family with this health care giver.  Yeah for her. The other party was a bit appalled and actually said "Ewwwwww" when our customer admitted to drinking raw milk

Intriqued...I headed to my bat phone and called my local county office of the  Department of Public Health, I can only imagine how large my photo is getting in that office, you know the one they use for dart practice. Asking for the Director of Nursing , I was very happy to hear a familiar voice on the other end. She and I had worked together 20 years ago , newbies in the nurse management world.

I told her of my concern. I was even very honest with her about the fact that I am on the Dairy Work Group developed by the State Department of Public Health. She reviewed the current health physical form that the department distributes to all the medical clinics and Dr's offices in our counties. There was not a single word about raw milk on it. Yes, I believed her as really, why would she lie to me? In fact if it were her department spearheading this new paranoia wave about raw milk consumption you would think she'd love the chance to share her opinion with me.

But no. Instead she told me how strange it was that someone in the clinics was even talking about raw milk since she had not been informed of any raw milk illnesses "in a very long time"

So, who is generating this misinformation? The doctors offices themselves? The hospitals that own these clinics?  Looks like I have some more investigative work to do.

Anyone got a wide brimmed hat and some dark glasses?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Saponification Sunday. Cro Bar Returns!

So for those of you who have not yet heard, the offer on our farm ended up being WAY too low and the buyer would not come up and we could go down no further. So end of deal

But not the end of our dream for a simpler life. We'll get back to that next week.

Farm House. And Business. Still For Sale. New Add Coming Soon
This pic taken 0700 on South Pork Ranch this am



TODAY is Sunday and Sunday is a day for cleanliness and the washing away of all sin. Since I am not qualified for that,  (I have enough to handle with my own sin) you will have to settle for the washing away of dirt. And nothing does that better than my own Cro-Bar.

If you do not know the story of my Cro-Bar Soap than you have not been reading my blog long enough. Go back to the begging and get started. Don't worry we'll wait.

There, that didn't take long did it?

Cro-Bar soap is named for my French blog buddy Cro-Magnon.  Creamy pretty on top and somewhat abrasive inside it is how I would decide the perfect Frenchman would be, but what do I know? Never been to France, never dated a Frenchman. And I've never been to England, But I kinda like the Beatles.

Back to soap.

This one is dang fun and a challenge to make. The night before I opened a can of Guinness, poured it down my throat. Later when I felt like it. I opened another can (12 oz) and poured it into a bowl to "decant"

Yup, I am one high class beer drinker I am.

The next am when all bubbles were gone from the booze I added 3 oz of very strong fresh coffee. There would have been more but son Colton was visiting that day and he's a big coffee hound.  Put it in an ice bath to cool. When cold I added my lye. (complete recipe below ) Be sure that beer has no bubbles left or you will have volcano lye mix spilling up and over your pitcher! Set the lye/coffee/beef liquid aside. Set aside a tablespoon of the coffee grounds.

Now mix up your water and lye solution for your top layer of soap. Let it cool and set aside

Mix up a teaspoon of Titanium dioxide with 2 Tablespoons very hot water and mix it well with a mini-frother. You will use this to lighten up your top layer of soap.

 To make it more fun I switched up the basic oil recipe a bit. Not because I am so  creative but more because I was low on base oils and had to mix and match. Having very little coconut oil, I used palm kernel oil as well. Low on Olive oil, I used sunflower oil (from very local sunflowers), and sweet almond oil. Not at all low on castor oil, I used all the recipe called for.

GMO Free Sunflower Oil from
Staff of Life Farm ,Dwight, Illinois
Be sure to have your molds all ready

Using 1/4 of the oil mixture (see exact amt below) add  it to the plain lye water and then mix till it emulsifies. Add the TD water and mix till medium trace. Set aside DO NOT SCENT

Now add your lye/coffee. Guinness mix to the remaining base oils (exact amt below)When you have a light trace add in your coffee grounds and your eo's. Hit it with your hand mixer for just a couple seconds or it will get way to thick, stir with a wide spoon to distribute tour grounds well and when at a medium trace pout it all into your mold.

Let it set a few minutes. Stir your white soap which should still be a nice thin trace. When your bottom layer feels thicker and a little white soap drizzled on top STAYS on top, mix your white soap longer for a medium trace. Then pour it over your first layer using a spatula to keep it from breaking through.



Wait another couple of minutes then take a small stainless steel whisk and plunge it up and down the soap pushing it through the white layer into the brown layer and back out all the way up and down the length of the soap mold. Don't worry about getting it right or wrong. It will come out looking fun no matter how you do it.


And besides if it comes out looking just like mine I'll have to sue you for soap idea theft and I can't afford that right now. Our farm did not sell or didn't you hear?

So after 14 hours this batch was plenty hard and ready to cut. Smells very most excellent good and all woodsy man eating a cinnamon coffee cake. Yum. Plus the little bits of coffee grounds are great for removing dirt after a hard day in the garden.

Thanks again Cro-Magnon for lending your name to this mediocre soap crafter.

           Cro-Magnon Soap Recipe; Reinvented

(Remember ALL soap recipes should be run thru the lye calculator of choice. Also this recipe is not for beginners. Be sure you know how to make basic soap before trying this recipe)

Master batch of oils:
     Sweet Almond     6oz
     Castor Oil       6.4 oz
     Coconut Oil       5.2 oz
     Palm Kernal Oil   20 oz
     Sunflower Oil     26 oz

Top layer: Lye 2.25 oz lye and 5 oz Water and 15.9 oz of the base oil mix

Bottom Layer  6.75 oz lye and 12 oz Guinness Beer and 3 oz Strong Coffee and 47.7 oz of the base oil mix

For top layer whitening: 1 teaspoon Titanium Dioxide Powder well dissolved in two tablespoons of hot water

EO's for bottom layer. 2 oz of Cedarwood EO and 1 oz Cinnamon EO
1 teaspoon used coffee grounds

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Farm for Sale...Still

So finally, we have received an answer. Our counter offer to the very low offer we received the other day was turned down by the gentleman we have been working with for over 8 weeks.

And because our counter offer was way below our asking price to begin with we are NOT going any lower. We have already compromised so much.

So here we are...the proud owners of TWO farms.


But, we're OK. We have some great plans. And soon we will share them with you. Today though we have some wound licking to do.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

These Boots Are Made for Working.




Interns are becoming very popular on the small family farm. Working for very little or in some cases for free, it is often a situation that benefits both parties. The interns learn basic farm skills and the farmer gets badly needed labor.

In the 18 years we've been on this farm we've had teenage boy interns (some were relatives) teenage girl interns (same thing), family interns (the Schulte Family was the BEST) adult males, adult females and one really odd fellow who worked outside a total of 8 minutes over two whole days and ate twice as much as Keith and I combined. And then this last week we had...

Our first 9 year old intern.

Meet Sadie, a customer's daughter . This animal lover and farmer-want-to-be was by far the most amazing intern we've ever had.(I'm not counting  my own GK's since they have been here pretty much since birth)

Sadie came out of the goodness of her own heart ready to work and learn. So not wanting to disappoint here we got busy with our day. Pigs needed to be fed and ducks and chickens needed grain. But before that, we had our free range cattle to be tamed before the annual Fall Rodeo.

Oh how I wish we had something as exciting as a rodeo to get her involved in but even though I may be as stunning as the Flaming Red Head, Ree Drummond, (just add a bottle of grey hair dye with water and shake me crazy hard with my 13 year old Kitchen Aide Mixer) I am still no Pioneer Woman.

But we still found lots of tasks to keep our intern Sadie busy.


 Our over abundance of apples needed to be collected form the yard and recycled to the seemingly starving equines, both Ennis and her sidekick (because literally that is what he is best known for, his sidekick) Doolin.

The day ended happily meaning Sadie was returned to her mother in one piece. Moms can get all grumpy about their kids being returned in a "Do It Yourself" type of Kit.
P.S. What I liked most about Sadie? Her footwear. She came dressed to work. No ballet slippers, no Flip Flops, no ultra popular-ultra expensive athletic shoes with purple laces.
She had leather work boots with scuffs. Always a sign that your intern intends to WORK. An intern that shows up in a prom dress? NOT a good sign.

Now about that counter offer on our farm. We're still waiting. Our buyer told our realtor last night about this time,  he'd give her an answer tonight which officially ends at midnight, a mere 6 hours from now. Hmmmmm now what can I do to occupy myself for the next 360 minutes?

Build a new earth berm home? Good idea.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Show Me The Money...No Don't

South Pork Ranch as it stood (under another name) in the 1950's
The house still stands (right) and provides great shelter
to this Midlife Farmwife and her family

I wish we were filthy rich. Because if we were, I would advertise our farm in the paper FREE to a good home (owner) Then I would interview families who were in need and I would enjoy all the crockpots that came out of the woodwork. Even the ones who wore cone hats made of aluminum foil. Except I would immediately eliminate those whose head garb was created out of the new and improved "non-stick" Reynolds wrap because that stuff is so expensive you'd have to be certifiably CRAZY to waste a big hunk of it making an Anti-Alien hat. And then I would give away our farm, to the most deserving, family or individual.

Yeah, that's what I would do because this back and forth with the offer stuff is really really tough.
Yes, my friends, what I am telling you is this...we have an offer on the farm. And we have counter offered. And now we wait. And make plans for the what ifs.

What if the return offer is one we can live with? That means we'll be moving quickly since that is what the possible new owner has asked us to do. A quick move means we will be going through 20 years of accumulated crap,  er, belongings in zero time. What stays? What goes? What gets deposited at Good Will or shows up, SURPRISE!, on my sisters door steps. Which of the antiques will go to our kids now instead of after we die? Who gets the One-of-a-kind oil painting of a pea-hen in a pearl necklace? No, I am not kidding. She is stunning.

Because, our new house will be tiny and stuff will need to go NOW.

But on the other hand what if the return offer is indeed not satisfactory? Because the hubs and I set a bottom line, the line we will NOT go under, what if our buyer-to-be can't hit that mark? Then that means so many other things. We switch immediately back into small farm owner with a mortgage to pay, a farm store to stock (I've had 4 farmers wanting to sell their products in our store, all on hold) and a new restaurant owner who took time to visit last week and is ready to order this week. And our plans to downsize, although possible, will not be done rapidly. Just to meet the orders we've already taken for next years beef requires an additional livestock purchase.

Keith is doing that right now. Driving 8 hours round trip, after morning chores, and before evening chores,  to buy certified organic calves. Which by the way will need to be added to our current inventory list thus altering (again) our final sale price.

The answer from our really just a day away.

That's right. In 24 hours our fate will be...what? Fated? Fatafied? Fatuated?
Anyway, our quadry between new farm, old farm, green farm, blue farm will be over.

I can hardly stand it. Can you?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Raw Milk Monday...Tiers of the Future?

Please note: If you are new to my blog you can catch up on the reasons for my raw milk passion and the struggles our own farm have experienced, by reading any of the previous posts on the topic I have written over the last 3 years . To do so, simply enter "Raw Milk" in the search bar under the picture of our house, on the right.

“The cow is of the bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other milk.”
Ogden Nash, Free Wheeling    

"Free Milk to the first person who gets that annoying fly off my nose"
Polly the cow at South Pork Ranch
For years we lived, if not completely in fear, but certainly in caution, of our own state government. Due to advice from other farmers, here say seen in newspapers (sorry, I can no longer call it "reporting" since so few actually do the research and then "report"), the words of do's and don'ts to follow when selling or transporting raw milk within the state boundaries, and the news shared by legitimate researchers, we have learned that Illinois was not a true supporter of small farmers.

Especially small farmers who played with cows udders.

But the actions of Illinois raw milk farmers in the last few months may cause the state of Illinois to re-evaluate their position. Next month we, the raw milk farmers and consumers of Illinois meet again with those from The Illinois Department of Public Health. the FDA, the USDA, along with reps from several big dairy.

This meeting may very well change the history of raw milk production and sales in Illinois.

We, the group of pro-raw milk folk, will continue to push a two tier system for raw milk production. The first Tier will be for those farmers who want to keep life simple . Farmers who sell direct to the consumer off their farm and into the consumers container, will be required to register with the state but that's all. No mandatory testing of either the livestock or the consumer and no inspections or testing.  And the consumer splits the risk (and trust) with the raw milk farmer.

The Second Tier will require much more of the farmer (Registration, Inspection, Testing of the milk, the farmer, the cow and maybe even the farmers second wives neighbors kids, the details are not yet final) . None of the items this group is recommending is final yet. But in return the farmer will be allowed to sell their milk from their home AND at the farmers market AND maybe even in the retail establishment. Time shall tell.

So, after a long summer of selling raw milk in a variety of ways, farmers will meet again in Sept. with the higher ups who believe that raw milk is best sold not at all. In the meantime we are enjoying our bit of raw milk freedom. Last week I saw a farmer selling raw milk out of his tractor cab in the middle of the mall and another one was offering it as a "gateway drink" just outside our local taverns door. Just kidding....or am I ???

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Saponification Sunday. Alkanet Love

This is how I do it. I fill a small glass with 1/2 cup of Sunflower oil (or sweet almond) and 2 heaping teaspoons of Alkanet root powder. I forget about it for 2-3 days on my counter top. Maybe a week. OK once for 10 days. Then I pour the concoction through a coffee filter attached to a wide mouth jar with a rubber band.

I forget about it a few more days. I then remove the filter with all the alkanet debri in it, discard it and weigh the bright reddish colored oil. If it weighs two oz, then I will deduct that amount of oil (be sure it's the same type of oil) from my recipe total. In other words if my recipe calls for 6 oz of Sunflower oil and I've ended up with 2 oz of alkanet infused oil, I will only add 4 oz of Sunflower oil to the rest of my oils in the recipe.

Then I will add the two oz of my alkanet infused oil into my soap batter after it has come to trace. I will stir the infused oil into the rest of the batter with a spoon so as to keep increased thickening to a minimum. Then I stir in (slowly) my essential oils.

When I am sure my mold is ready, I will hit the whole soap batter a couple of times with my hand mixer and pour into the mold.

Unless at the half way point I decide to color 4/5ths of my batter with the alkanet, add a little titanium dioxide to the remaining batter, swirl in a little of the alkanet infused soap batter which has now turned a wonderful blue-purple, tilt the mold sideways, prop it up with a pan lid and pour the swirled batter on top.

Which would give me this.

After a little time in the mold, the slant held and I came up with this

Another day and I was able to slice into bars.
Scented deeply with Patchouli, Rosemary, Lavender and Grapefruit EO's it is a winner. In my never to be humble soap making opinion.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Yes Chef!

Our daughter-in-law- Tab, a great chef in her own right has taught us a little about the world of cooking. Although a graduate of a well known culinary school she at this time is keeping her job, cooking for a local nursing home and its special residents, even though she could make a lot more money in a high end restaurant.

She's just cool that way.

Her attachment to the elderly in that home outweighs her need to be famous, but we know her time will come.

A couple other chefs with a dream came to our farm yesterday. Meet Dustin Allen (left) and his brother Kyle Allen (right) who own EDGE restaurant in Peoria, Illinois. They are on a mission.

Convinced that the best food to serve is local, fresh food, direct from the farmer, they spent the day visiting small farms in our area and talking about how those products are being raised and how they might best be put to use in their restaurant. As Dustin put it "I have no desire to buy food off some truck that's traveled all over the country."

The brothers were beyond "down home". They were easy to talk to, easy to ask questions of and excited about the type of fresh, chemical free food they can provide to their customers. They welcome challenges and told us "if a farmer has grown a large amount of something and needs to move it we want them to call us. We love last minute challenges. "

It's times like this when young, enthusiastic, hard working, folk show up on our farm and get excited about what we are doing here that Keith and I question our decision to sell the farm. But not for long. Speaking of which, we have received our first offer and we are seriously considering it.

But if we turn it down or it doesn't pan out, you can bet we will be keeping in touch with the Allen brothers. Because every farmer needs an "Edge."

EDGE is located at 5832 N Knoxville Rd in Peoria  Ph is 309-692-3343  Opening day is just a few weeks away. Call the restaurant for exact date or follow the guys on FACEBOOK !

Friday, August 16, 2013

Home Sweet Home?

7 days ago I found some property (and a derelict house) on the internet just 17 miles from here
We looked. We bid. We bid three more times
Apparently someone else had a vision too.
And the bank accepted our bid.

Good Lord in Heaven, what have we done?!?!?!

If you saw house pics from my other post about this home, you'll understand there will be no "remodeling" done. Demolition is the only choice. But as Keith and I worry about the minor specifics like, is the well good? Is there asbestos in the house? Or dead Uncle Rufus in the root cellar?

The GK's are all about the possibilities.
"We can put the secret garden here under the willows"
"We can build a pond on the other side of the secret garden"
"This is where the tree house will go. We'll make it out of the old barn wood"
"We'll build the barn by the pond so the animals always have water and lots of shade"
At 9 and almost 6 their world is filled with potential. Their dreams innocent and simple. Their motivation is pure and their willingness to take the path less traveled will make it that much easier for these two middle aged eejits to follow.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Castration Illustration

And now for something totally promised. Several months ago I did a post on castration of piglets. It was OK but not as good as I wanted.  Yes, only I would feel unsatisfied with castration instructions. Be grateful you are not married to me.

And just WHY do I want a "good" castration post? Because it is needed. Other homesteaders who buy piglets from us often ask about the procedure and with more folks going into the "raise your own business" without any previous farming experience, I thought it would be helpful to show and tell.

Caution, following pics are graphic.

Materials needed. Castration kit , I prefer the one with curved blades. Available at any farm supply store. Large 60 cc syringe filled with Iodine solution. Paper towels. A strong helper. An even stronger stomach. Carry all your supplies in a five gallon bucket which you will use as a seat.


Timing. Castrating piglets around one week of age works best. It can be done later but the longer you wait the bigger the pig gets, the harder he is to hold, the bigger the cut, the longer the recovery time, the greater the chance of get the picture.


Degrees of separation. Mamma pigs are unpredictable. It is their job to protect their babies. It is our job to protect ourselves. So we load mama into our very secure livestock trailer (With a treat of course) and move her to another part of the farm so she can't hear babies calling 911.


Isolation. Secure your piglets into a small working area. We use straw bales to build a small fort to contain them. Then spread out more clean bedding for the newly castrated males to return to.

Identification. Boys have balls and girls do not. Yes, at age 54 I know these important things. That is why they call me YaYa. Very easy bulges to see on young piglets. Many can be seen from a glance at their backside, or catch them and turn them over. Release the girls out of the holding pen and head them toward the clean bedding. Keep the boys in their little fort.

Lottery time. Some of our piglets draw straws. The weathiest ones will flip coins. While they are doing that we reach in the group and grab. Have your helper sit on the overturned bucket with piglet in his/her lap.

Wash the area well with Iodine solution (ours is 1%) You want to remove any debri from this area because when you cut the skin any bacteria on it gets pushed inside the little piglet. The rubbing of the iodine over this area is as you can imagine, very enjoyable for the little guy. Sort of the calm before the storm...
Positioning. Place the piglet in helpers lap, belly up and his lower regions towards the floor. Gravity is your friend here, helping to pull little testicles downwards. When they are small the helper can use his right hand to hold piglets right limbs and his left hand to hold piglets left limbs. The helper is then holding the piglet between his slightly open legs. You can see the cause for extreme caution here, can you not? Oh , and don't forget the trust factor. I trust Keith to hold still. He trusts me to keep my scapel on the smaller male mammal in the barn.

You will make two incisions on either side of the midline directly over the bulging testicle. Don't worry about going too deep since the testicle will be of new use anyway but try to make the length of your incision no more than an inch. This will be plenty of room to push on either side of the cut and pop the little testicle into view.
You will then pull the testicle away from the body and cut the small blood vessel  and white connective tissue. Some piglets will scream and squirm. Some will be still. Most do yell briefly.
You can see above the location of both incisions as well as the blood vessel and connective tissue you will cut free. I am holding the testicle between my thumb and finger.  Immediately after I flood the open areas with more Iodine and we let the piglet down so he can find his mates.
Yes, they do walk a little sorely but they will be running in a very short time. Make sure you get a NEW CLEAN STERILE blade before you go to the next piglet. Using a dirty blade is a great way to spread infection and dull blades HURT. Once all piglets are done and you've cleaned up your area we return the mama to her babies. Nursing is essential as it is both comforting and releases endorphins in the piglets which helps with pain control and healing.
Be sure to check piglets in an hour or so and make sure none are having bleeding issue. In the 5 years I've been doing this we've never had an issue and no infections. Probably due to the Iodine overkill by this retired RN but also in part to the fact that piglets have been nursing for several days and immune systems are in good order.
Tomorrow we'll return to regular programing. No blood , I promise.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Saponification Sunday Raw Monday Egads Tuesday

Figured I might as well include Tuesday since I'm behind again in my regular posts. Life has gotten...wild. After seeing the 7 acres (Friday), we found out about on (Thursday) and calling our plumber to check to see if the place had a well (Saturday), making the official offer today (Monday) and yet another offer when the bank that owned the property wanted "best and highest offer" (just an hour ago)...We're still waiting to hear on that last offer. We do know there is one other bidding against us.

We're having a hard time staying focused on the day to day  farm life we are still very much involved in . But we are. I did in fact make soap yesterday. Here is the proof.

An "ombre" soap related to the fading colors in the layer, I scented it purely with Lavender EO. Sometimes I tire of the lavender but they always sell quickly.

The blue is from Indigo powder . I use 1 tsp to every two pounds of oil. The crackles in the soap come with titanium dioxide which I use to color the soap white or to lighten the other colors I use. Even though I mix it very well I always get some crackles. I now longer fight this, I think it adds character to the soap. Especially this one making it look very Palm Springs Desert like .
The lavender sprigs re from my own garden. This is the first year I've ever gotten my lavender plants to winter over. I buy them in the spring, plant them, enjoy them and they die over winter.

Not this year. Wouldn't you know it? We'll probably sell the place for sure now that the lavender is growing. I had fun with this batch of soap on the topside as well. Lots of nice waves. So enough of Saponification Sunday. (Whose crock pot idea was it to limit topics to particular days of the week anyway? I can barely remember how to put my bra on  "hooks in front? back? side?" and I'm supposed to remember that Monday is raw milk day?!?)

Speaking of which  raw milk sales have continued. Man, have they continued. Even though we have a waiting list and folks who can't commit to a particular day must come between 4-6pm with no guarantee there will be milk...they still keep coming. At the rate of two new customers each week.

Tomorrow I promise you something SHOCKING! You all come back now, hear?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Land Ho!!!




So, No. The farm has not sold.

Even though the fellow who was very interested is still very interested. Even though we've met several times and has finished up a business plan with him to present to his bank.

Even though we are more than ready to move towards our simple new life...we can't just yet.

Or can we?

While doing just a brief internet search for property in our area two days ago, I cam across a listing for a house on 7 acres.   In the area we wanted.   With lots of trees. And no close neighbors. The price was fabulous. Great for a couple of middle aged hippie homesteader want to be's. hmmm. I wonder what the catch is. So we called the realtor and made a visit.

Here's the catch.

The house is "as is" which in realtor lingo is several steps below "fixer upper". So far below that for this particular house you'd have to invest $20,000 just to elevate to the level of "fixer upper"

A few minor leakage issues come to mind. Like a hole the size of a bed in the ceiling. And then there was the creative electrical work. Oh, and the sunken pool on the side of the house. Not to mention the warped floors and the one room that made the realtor so nervous she wouldn't let us go in. And oh yeah, we couldn't find the well. Is there a well?

But truthfully. No problem. We're here for the land man. Let the raccoons have the house. We'll build a yurt and give away most of our material belongings and sell the items that might bring us some extra cash cause let me tell you.


With 7acres we could do all we wanted homestead wise. Yes we could. The area is rolling and covered with trees. Willows and oaks and maples. It has room for all the animals we need, for garden spots, room to build a new house. An earth home or a straw bale home or a steel shipping container home. Our winds are spinning with the possibilities!

The location is almost perfect. It is private and quiet and closer to our grandchildren. No source of water like a pond or stream which we would've liked but there is a real low spot, sort of marshy where the willows are growing. I'm thinking we could build a pond right there! It is crazy overgrown and covered with weeds and trash and old decayed buildings and

We love it!

So, we have made an offer. And even if our farm does not sell, then this little piece of heaven will serve as our vacation home (we may splurge and put a mobile home on it, I saw one on Craigs list for $1000. Just our price range) It will take us years anyway to tear the old house down that sits on it and remove a couple odd vehicles left by the previous owners.

But the GK's approved and in fact worried excessively that their mother would not be able to find the new farm even though it is just 12 miles from her house instead of the 30 we all travel now.

Go ahead us nuts. 1-800-you-R-nuts.

Don't worry if we don't answer. We are hoping to be at the new place, investigating a junk filled van or two. Who knows what treasures we might find?