Tuesday, December 30, 2014

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Peppermint Candy Cane Uses

  Christmas is over and many of you have lots of those Peppermint Candy Canes left. Then there are those of us that find them on Super Clearance right after Christmas and like to buy up lots of them because they cost nearly nothing. But what do you do with all of them? We certainly don't want to throw them away, and they don't always hold over to the next year very well.

My personal favorite is to break them up into my Hot Chocolate throughout the Winter. You don't have to break them up very small, just 3 or 4 pieces is good. They dissolve very quickly and add such a wonderful, warm, minty flavor to your hot chocolate.

For you coffee drinkers that like some extra flavor in your coffee, they are also very good in your coffee. Try adding some vanilla creamer with a broken up candy cane to your coffee. Yum!

It amazes me how one flavor can be both warming and cooling. Peppermint in warm/hot beverages seems to make them even more warming. But in the summer, when added to chilled drinks, peppermint can be very cooling. Crush up some Peppermint Candy Canes and add them to your sun tea jar, or your steeping tea pot to dissolve before making into iced tea. You can also do this with your homemade lemonade. Such a cooling summer treat!

Crushed up candy canes are great added with your chocolate chips in Chocolate Chip Cookies. To crush your candy canes, simply place in a zipper freezer bag and roll over them with a rolling pin a few times until they are crushed to your desired size.

Crushed candy canes also make a fantastic ice cream sprinkle in summer! For us tightwads that usually stick to the less expensive ice creams, that usually means chocolate, vanilla and strawberry most often. A sprinkle of crushed candy canes over the top of a bowl of chocolate ice cream can quickly turn it into Mint Chocolate Ice Cream in an instant, for far less than it would cost to buy that flavor, which is usually found in the more expensive brands of ice cream.

When you really start to think of all you can do with those beautiful, minty Peppermint Candy Canes that are on clearance right now for nearly nothing in most stores, the uses seem nearly unlimited!

What do you like to do with your left over Peppermint Candy Canes? or any other flavor of Candy Canes?

Friday, November 28, 2014

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Medicate or Change?

This will be the first of many posts I make on this subject, so if this leaves you with more questions, feel free to ask away in the comments, and stay tuned for future posts.

TOILET PAPER - what is it really made out of? Although not as common these days, some toilet paper is still actually made from all new materials. Naturally, it would not be white, so it is heavily bleached with chemicals, of which traces stay in the toilet paper.

These traces of chemicals are usually very irritating to the skin. And what skin are we putting in on? None other than the most delicate skin on our bodies?  And then there are the traces of wood pulp. Anyone that has ever cut themselves "there" with a 'splinter' embedded in their toilet paper, can vouch that it is not only uncomfortable at the time, but for days to come, sometimes even getting infected and requiring medication.  NOT FUN!

Most toilet paper, now, is made of recycled materials. Is this really helping our Earth? We will get more into that at a later date. What I am getting to here is that toilet paper made this way requires even more chemicals. First, there are the de-inking chemicals. Then there are a host of other chemicals used in the entire process from the chemicals that the recycling papers already contain, to pulping all those old books, magazines, office papers, etc. to bleaching it out all nice and pretty white for the end product. Traces, sometimes large traces, of all those chemicals stay behind in the end product . . . . that soft, fluffy white roll of toilet tissue.

THEN . . . . . . you repeatedly . . . numerous times a day . . . . woller that chemical laden paper around on your most delicate parts of your body. Next thing you know, you are squirming in the grocery store trying to fight that "itch" in public. You keep having itches, tiny little cuts, tears, swelling, redness, rashes and/or a host of other irritations surface over time. If you knew that all of this was due to your toilet paper, would you do something about it? Change brands? Well, that might help if it was a particular dye or scent that was irritating you. But what if it was the basic chemicals in the toilet paper that was the evil villain irritating you? Would you buy creams, ointments and/or expensive prescription medications to counter the problems and keep on using toilet paper? If you knew your the chemicals in your toilet paper increased your chances of cancer and needing cancer treatments, would you keep using it? That just doesn't make sense!

There is another option. Family Cloth, or Reusable Toilet 'Paper'. (soft, fabric cotton wipes)  No, it isn't as bad as it sounds. Yes, this is something you have to wash over and over, just as you did those cloth baby diapers, but it is no worse. And they are free of all those irritating chemicals!

If you realized ..... if you knew, that your toilet paper was the culprit of making you 'sick there', would you continue to use that chemical laden throw away toilet paper and additionally purchase and use messy creams and ointments to try and counter the problem? Or would you switch to Reusable and launderable cotton cloth wipes and be free of all that misery? I have chosen the latter and life is so much better now!
If you knew that making this change would make intimacy better and more comfortable, would you change? If you knew that all of your "personal private problems" could be completely cleared up just by changing that one thing, changing from paper toilet paper, to washable cloth, would you change? Believe me, it is totally worth it! Just reducing my recurrent bladder infections to near nothing was worth it alone!

Thank you for reading my post.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

From us to you . . . . .



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WordlessWednesday - Our Cuddly Clyde

Our Precious, Cuddly, Ornery Clyde

Where Have We Been?! ! !

A few of our 'kids' snuggled up on their frumpy old couch.
  Oh, my! Have we EVER strayed from our blogs!!! Soooo . . . . What happened?  LIFE!!!

Yes, we have been SUPER busy, to say the least. Sad part is, it is these times that we are too busy to blog that we have the MOST to blog about! As we trudge through life, going about our work, tasks and chaos, we have soooo many blog posts running through our heads. Gosh, if I was to even get half of the ones I have written down in my head, posted here, you all would probably get tired of reading!

Just as it seems to be for everyone these days, life has been extra hard. We are more financially strapped than ever, our efforts to try and earn every penny we can seems to take up every waking minute of our days (and many of our sleeping minutes, too), and with nearly every thing we do to try and move forward in life, something seems to always be there fighting extra hard against us.  We get so focused on trying to just survive each day and each moment, and in the back of our minds we keep saying "we will get back on here tomorrow", but before you know it - tomorrow is months and months away!

Oh, how we miss being on here, posting our posts, reading our fellow bloggers' posts, and commenting around. And you know, we are no further ahead now than we were before we took this little break from blogging to try and throw ALL of our time into getting financially ahead. Actually, we are even further behind, I believe. And far more frustrated from not taking the time to vent our frustrations, and share our joys and discoveries.

SO, the rest of this year, we are going to try our hardest to get back on here, catch you all up to date with us, and catch up with all of you that we follow. We hope life has been treating you well, we thank you for keeping us on your blogging list, and we look forward to being back here on Blogger.

Have a safe and FANTASTIC Thanksgiving weekend!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tightwad Tuesday - Crusty Cereal

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   Did you get the outside edge of your cake you just baked too done? Is it a little too hard and crusty on one or all sides? Not to worry. It isn't a total waste. In fact, it can be turned into something very delicious!

I apologize in advance for no other pics, as when I did this with my chocolate cake the other day, I ate it all before I thought to take pics along the way.  And I really don't want to purposely try making another one just for the pics.

Cut off the portion that is hard and crusty, even if it is a little toasty. It will still be good. Now, cut this hard, crusty portion up into small, bite-sized pieces.

Place these bite-sized pieces into cereal bowls and pour milk over all. And there you have it! Homemade Cereal!! It is actually very good, and your kids will think it is great fun! If you unfortunately have a large amount of toasty cake, you can always cut it up and freeze it to use as cereal for breakfasts, as desired.

Nothing wasted, nothing tossed. But awww.... poor chickens. They didn't get to eat the boo boo this time.

Have a wonderful day and scrumptious cooking this week!

Saturday, July 5, 2014


To all of our wonderful members!!!

Regretfully, we must tighten down the security on our commenting. We were hoping we never had to do this, but, unfortunately, the "strange" comments have gotten totally out of hand, to say the least!

We will start by somewhat tightening down, and hope that does it, but if not, we will have to tighten down further. We greatly apologize for any disgusting messages that have made it through the spam filter and into the body of our blog. I am still hunting them and hope to get them all off before the weekend is out. If you see any, PLEASE point them out to us!!!

We want your experience on our blog to be a happy, wholesome experience. Please bear with us while we take care of this problem and if you have any suggestions, by all means, share them with us in the comments!

Thank you so much for your patience, your visits and your contributions to Two Farms One! We can't thank all of our readers enough for helping our blog grow so fast!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014


The solar panels are up, mounted on top of the well house, the charge controller, battery and inverter are hooked up.  Even with the cloudy skies we have had for the past couple of weeks, and a number of trees which cast too much shade in the evening,  electricity is being generated.  Am I excited?  You bet I am.  Am I disappointed?  Yes, but not devastated.  I have very mixed feelings about how this project is turning out.  Let me explain why.    
This has been an ongoing, pocket change funded project for quite some time.  It has been a matter of researching the concepts, locating supplies and equipment, then one by one, saving up pocket change and purchasing those items.  As the items are purchased and the work is done on each step, that step is added and the next step begins.   
As with any project, good solid information is hard to find unless you are willing and able to pay for the instruction books and videos.  Even then, it is easy to spend the money only to find that the information is incomplete at best, and not suited for those with small funding (experience talking here).  These factors make trial and error a necessary adventure.

In a previous post, I mentioned that my hope was to power my water well with this first set of panels.  That is where the disappointment comes in.  With all the wires hooked up and the battery at full charge, sun shining brightly on the panels and the well pump hooked up to the inverter, I was filled with dread and anticipation as I flipped the switch to start the pump.  With a sinking in the pit of my stomach, I heard a very short lived buzz, then silence.  I had purchased an inverter powerful enough to RUN the pump, but had miscalculated the amount of extra power it takes to START the pump.  This is also the case with my table saw and band saw, both of which have big enough motors to require starting capacitors. 

Now, enough of the disappointment.  The exciting part is that the inverter is powerful enough to fun the computer, as well as several of my woodworking tools such as the planer, joiner and several other power tools that don't require a lot of extra power to start.  This is exciting to me.  Even though I can't run the well from this little system, I can alternate between the computer and tools in my wood shop.  Yes there are bugs to work out (there always are), and mindset changes to be made, but we are one step closer to going off grid.

Water supply is obviously very important, so now it becomes a question of whether to work toward a larger inverter for the existing pump, or to get a 12volt or 24 volt pump that will pull less power without the need for an inverter.  There is, however, only one answer for the more powerful tools.  A larger inverter will be required.  In all probability, the item that I am able to purchase first (larger inverter or DC powered pump) will be the next step.  Between now and then, I am enjoying using electric that does not run through my meter.

I would love to see your input and comments on this subject.  Thank You.

Monday, June 23, 2014

(DF) FOOD FROM HOME: Homegrown and wild harvested

With grocery prices (and prices of everything else) soaring, it is sometimes hard to decide what to cut back on to stay within budget.  However, on the farm, it is possible to avoid having to cut so many corners on food. 

As an example, last night I had a tasty, nutritious and satisfying meal, with very little outlay of cash.  By very little, I mean almost none.  All of the main ingredients were either from the garden or wild harvested on the property.  The only exceptions were a little butter, a couple of teaspoons of natural sugar, a dash of salt and a very small amount of flour.

The green beans were fresh picked from the garden, as was the garlic which was cooked with them, while they were spiced with stone mint harvested in the woods (I use it like oregano).  The mushrooms (chanterelles) were also harvested in the woods on the property.  The eggs and milk used in the batter were from my own chickens and goat.  The blackberries were picked in the pasture, and the milk they were served with was, once again, from my goat.

A little salt in the mushroom batter and beans, some flour in the mushroom batter, the butter the mushrooms were sauteed in and a bit of sugar for the berries, were the only ingredients that did not originate here on the farm.  Potentially, in the future, even those ingredients will be produced here (or a substitute for them) with the exception of salt.  Yet another goal in the journey toward self-sufficiency.

For now, this is pretty close to being a completely homegrown meal.  Did I also mention that it was delicious?  It was absolutely delightful, and made much sweeter by the fact that it was grown here on the farm.  The only thing missing was meat.  We haven't gotten to the point of major meat production yet, but it is cool and rainy today and the local wildlife better watch out.

As a caution, I must warn you to be careful when picking any wild edible.  While there are many plants and mushrooms that are edible and tasty, there are, of course, some that can be quite deadly.  Be sure you know what you are picking, and if there is even the slightest doubt, don't eat it.  There are no known antidote for the toxins in some of the bad ones, so be extremely careful.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I know that some of you have been wondering how things turned out with my cheap homade solar panels.  The fact is that the panels turned out fine, but the hookup is still in progress.  As some of you may be aware, this is one of my pocket change projects, which progresses in stages as accumulated pocket change allows.  During the time between stages, I have been learning more about how the process works, so the time isn't wasted.

Initially, there were two main reasons I decided to work toward going solar.  The first and most obvious, was to cut the energy bills.  The second, based on laws requiring power companies to pay for any extra power that a person generates, was the hope of making a little money.  Lets face it, everyone knows it would be totally sweet to get a check from the power company instead of the other way around, even if the check was only a few dollars.  Turns out that it is not quite that simple.

Obviously, to send power back to the power company, there has to be equipment connected to the grid to convert the power to a compatible form.  This equipment is known as a grid tie inverter.  These are expensive and are supposed to be hooked up by licensed professionals who are trained accordingly.  For the record, I AM NOT that trained professional.  Needless to say, the cost of such a system would be far beyond the scope of a pocket change project.  There had to be another way.

Searching for "another way" led to the consideration of what is called a plug and play grid tie inverter.  The purpose of this device is to convert the electricity to the proper form and send it back to the power company through the wiring in your home, shop, etc, by plugging it into a power outlet.  This sounded great, and best of all, the expense would be manageable.  Awesome, right?  Not so fast.

In the process of researching the grid tie inverter, I found reference to it not being legal to use.  Not legal is a bit of a drawback, to say the least.  My first thought was that if it isn't legal to use it, it shouldn't be legal to make or sell it.  More research was in order, because as much as we rely on computers and the Internet, anyone can say anything on the computer, but that doesn't necessarily make it true.

Thus began the search for the legality of what I hoped to do.  To say that such information is not easy to find would be an understatement on a galactic scale.  Finding someone who could shed light was not nearly so easy as finding those who could (and would) make it more obscure.  With any search, there are bound to be set backs and side tracks, and one of the more disappointing of these was a clause in the net metering law itself.  Hold that thought for a few minutes>

The only concrete information I could find about the legality of plug and play inverters was that they apparently had not been tested enough and though legal to use, the power company has the option of disconnecting the service if you do.  I never found the actual law involving this, but it was at least a consistent understanding from a number of sources.  The side track, however, made it a non issue.  It seems that the net metering law which requires power companies to pay for extra electricity sent back to them, also has an exemption for electric cooperatives, and you guessed it, my power company is a cooperative.  Instead of paying for the electricity, they are allowed to credit the extra power to your account to cover times when you don't produce enough.  Alright, that sounded good, all the extra power of the sunny summer months could cover the winter months when there is not as much sunshine.  Great, maybe even worth the investment for the professionally installed inverter, even without a check coming in.  NOT SO FAST!!! 

That might work great in some states, but I live in Oklahoma.  Under Oklahoma law, the electric cooperative doesn't have to roll the credit over for a year (like most states), they only have to roll it over for the month.  In other words, extra power produced on a sunny day in August, is only credited until the end of August, and only covers low production days for that month.  Any unused credit for the month is lost, and the power company gets it free. 

Sorry, but the power company doesn't give me electricity free, so I do not intend to give it to them.  Fair is fair. Another option, the one I have chosen, is to use a regular power inverter.  With this option, I can have separate systems for different usage areas, making it unnecessary to run wires for long distances.  It also allows me to get the bugs worked out of one small system before spending the time and money to set up the whole farm.  My first usage area will be the well, which should show a return on the investment, in the form of a lower bill,  in the first billing cycle, and one more small step toward self-sufficiency.  Water is used every day (though we try to conserve as much as possible), and the well pump pulls a significant amount of energy each time it starts up.

Tomorrow, I am supposed to pick up the battery, and I have already purchased an inverter and charge controller.  Today, I finished the final welds on the mounting frame, though I may have to drill a couple more bolt holes to adjust the angle.  Yes, it is getting close to the moment of truth.  As soon as the system is operational, I will post pics and some details of the hookup.   Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


By the time the bees were settled in their new home, it was Memorial day weekend.  All seemed well, so I left the bees to themselves during this busy time.  I did not have plans to be away for the weekend, but others did which added to my workload somewhat (taking care of my daughter's critters while she was gone), and there was some catching up here before the middle of the following week when I knew I would be away a lot.

Wednesday morning was finally warmer and almost sunny.  My first thought was to check the bees, but my sister had an appointment in Tulsa that morning so I drover her.  What I found on Thursday, when I opened the hive to try and locate the queen, was devastating to me.  There were hardly any live bees, lots of dead bees and the brood comb, which should have supplied replacements, was completely taken over by some type of maggots.  All the brood was dead, most of the adult bees were dead and the rest, including the queen, were dying.

Devastation, sadness and discouragement were the order of the day (and for several days to come).  It is hard to imagine being so broken up over a bunch of insects, but I am still sad when I think of it.  Life goes on, but for several days I replayed in my mind the procedures of capturing the bees, searching for anything I might have done differently that could have had a better result.  There may have been something, but I was unable to find it in my mind or in my reference books.  It seems that I handled it correctly, based on my personal experience and the information I had available (though under other circumstances, I would have chosen to do it a bit later in the season).

Sometimes a captured colony just doesn't survive, whether something is done a little wrong, the colony just isn't strong enough for the stress, or for any of countless reasons that we may not even understand.  Of course, on the flip side of that coin, sometimes they do survive and thrive.  It is this thought that will not let me give up.  The number of honeybees pollinating flowers here and the lack of local bee keepers, tells me that there is a bee tree nearby.  You can bet I will be looking for it.  If I don't find the bee tree, early spring will find me looking for bees to purchase.

Working with bees again, even for such a short time, reminded me how much I have missed it the past several years.  Beekeeping is a part of me that I lost but certainly intend to have back.  As an added bonus, it is a SWEET addition to the quest for self-sufficiency here at TwoFarmsOne. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Wednesday morning, having found the entrance the previous day, I put on my protective gear and fired up the bee smoker. then began removing a few pieces of siding from the wall to reveal the underlying boards where the bees were entering.  Within a few minutes, boards were revealed and the first board was removed.  Between the wall studs, there was honeycomb, but the bees were not on it at that location.  Removing boards and occasionally pumping smoke into the hive to keep the bees calm, I worked my way down to the bottom end of the honeycomb which ended within inches of the bottom plate..  There were no bees, brood or honey in these honey combs, so I would have to work upward to find the colony.

Moving higher and higher on the ladder, I slowly removed the outside wall all the way to the top plate.  Yes, the honeycomb reached all the way up the wall, from the bottom of the first floor to the top of the second (sorry I forgot to take pictures of the higher levels).  In the upper half of the comb is where the bees, brood and honey were.  There were far fewer bees than I had expected and much less brood and honey, though I hadn't expected lots of honey this early in the season.

By now, it was mid-day and time to start removing the bees.  Piece by piece, I removed honeycomb, carefully searching each piece for the queen, then placing it in a flat pan.  The pan would only hold a few pieces so it was down the ladder to put brood comb (some were partly filled with honey) into the hive body I had brought for this purpose.  The bees from the non-brood comb were gently brushed into the hive with a soft brush, all the while searching a second time for the queen.  This process was repeated over and over again until all the comb with honey or brood were out of the wall space.  One of the last few pieces of comb was where the queen and her entourage were finally located and were introduced to the hive.  When this was finished, I removed the empty comb from the wall.  All of the honeycomb which was not placed in the hive had been placed in containers with lids so the bees would not attempt to salvage the honey and wax and be more likely to work in the new hive.

As you can imagine, there were bees flying everywhere.  They were now entering and leaving the new hive and defending it, but there were still a good number of bees in the wall space gathering any honey that had been spilled or missed in their old location.  As expected, they could be seen gathering this honey and returning to the hive.  This process would continue for a while.

By late afternoon, with the work done, it was time to let the bees settle into their new home, so I left the hive where it was and made arrangements to come back after dark when the bees would be in for the night.  Sure enough, with darkness, the bees had settled and the vast majority of them were in the hive.  There were a few holdouts who stayed with the remnants of the old comb, but most had accepted their new home.  With a ratchet strap across the top to keep the hive parts from shifting and releasing bees into my Jeep Cherokee during transit and a small wad of green grass in the entrance to keep them from crawling out, I loaded the hive and started the 40 mile trip home.

I had hurriedly cleared out a place for the hive and set up a stand the day before, so upon arrival the hive was placed on the stand, the grass and strap removed and now it was up to the bees.

The next few days were cool and rainy, and with not much in the way of flowers for the bees to feed on, and with them needing to produce honey and wax quickly, I fed them so they could save flight time until they were well established.  As you can see from this photo taken a couple of days later, they were entering and leaving the hive, even though it was cool and damp (when it warmed up, there was more activity but I didn't have the camera with me).  Nothing to do now but wait for the bees to do their work, and to make a decision before the following Friday whether to re-queen. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Red Banded Bananas

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You know, I could not even begin to tell you when the last time was that I bought a regular priced banana. Full price is just way too high (although they are still much cheaper than most fruits), and since they ripen so quickly, you can almost be certain to find them on mark down at least once a week.

Now, the title of this post states "Red Banded Bananas", but I often find them in stuffed full bags for a buck a bag or 3 pounds for a dollar.

With bananas constantly getting ripe and going on markdown every few days, it doesn't make sense to ever buy the full priced bananas. I mean, you have to wait for the full priced bananas to get ripe enough to eat them, and by then, you usually come across the mark down ones. I have one relative that buys mostly the full priced bananas. They are usually pretty green where she gets them. Then she complains about wanting one, but having to wait a few days for them to get ripe enough to eat one. By the time she can eat one of her full priced ones, I have usually found markdown bananas TWICE! I just don't see the logic in getting the full priced ones.

One of our stores has a very unique way of marking theirs down. They never have overripe bananas to mark down! Each day they bag up all of the loose, single bananas and mark them down. These are the pretty, not quite ripe, bananas, sometimes still pretty green. Plus, each day, they have a certain number of bags they use and they just "bag up" bananas until they have used up those bags, placing a mark down price on the bag, just as low as the overripe bananas at the other stores. I love this concept! What is even better is when I am out shopping and can catch these, slightly green bananas on mark down, AND the overripe ones marked down at another store. This works extra good for me because with all the work around here, I usually only go in to town once every week or so for necessities. When I find both on mark down like this, I have bananas to use right away, then by the time they are gone, the marked down green ones are ready to eat! Now THAT'S a bargain AND convenient, and keeps me from running out of bananas in between shopping trips! Well, that is, unless my dog Dusty finds them . . . . but that is a funny story for another post.

As for those narrow, little sticky red bands . . . . . those irritate the heck out of me! You can never find the end to untape them. and most of the produce people seem to think they need to be on good and tight, which badly bruises all of the bananas right through the middle. I have had some that, by the next day, only half of them in the bunch were usable because of that tight, little, narrow red band, and THAT isn't cost effective. Course, the chickens enjoy those.

All in All, Red Banded, Pre-Bagged, or Loose . . . . . Mark down bananas are the way to go! Which way do you prefer to purchase your bananas?

Monday, May 12, 2014


Tuesday came and I went to look at the bees.  The house is an old two storied house, in need of repairs and with plenty of small openings for bees and other such creatures to make themselves at home.  I was led to a point on the outside wall where the bees had been seen.  Sure enough, there they were, lovely creatures, flying in and out between bricks nrar a corner.  The bricks in question covered the outside of the wall on one side of the corner, the other side, a narrow wall outside the star well, was covered with siding.

Where the bees were entering through a hole in the brick mortar, made it appear that they were going straight into the wider wall behind the bricks.  With bricks in the way, we went inside, where I listened to the wall with a stethascope.  Turns out that the walls were plaster and lath, covered with a layer of drywall.  No sound a colony of bees could make would penetrate that wall.  Next, we drilled small holes through the plaster so sounds could get through.  Still no sound, not in the wall or the floor, not upstairs or downstairs.  Could they be between the bricks and the wall?  Maybe there would be room 

After a few minutes on the ladder, removing a few bricks, it became obvious that they were turning behind the bricks and making their way into the narrow wall of the stair well.  At least the bricks would not all have to be removed, though those at the corner would have to be pulled out to allow the siding and underlying boards to be removed.

By the time we had found the entrance, it was late afternoon so we decided to wait until the next morning to start ripping out walls.  We were all hoping I could get to the bees by removing boards from the outside of the house.  The alternative would be opening the wall inside the star well which would let the house fill up with unhappy bees.  I don't have to explain the drawbacks involved with this method.  In short, it is always better to keep stinging insects (no matter how beneficial) on the outside of the house.

During the drive home, my thoughts were filled with visualizations of how much of the space inside the wall might be filled with honeycomb and bees, what removing the boards might entail and hopes of a good night sleep.  Tomorrow would not be an easy day.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


First, in answer to the obvious question, no the bees were not in mine or Anna's walls.  This story started last Friday when Anna called me, all excited at the prospect of bees.  But wait, there is a bit of history/background before I start.

Several years ago (actually more than several), I started beekeeping.  My first bees were captured from a bee tree in my woods.  After several years of successful beekeeping, disease wiped out my bees and life and finances got in the way of starting back up.  That was almost 20 years ago.  About four years ago, I decided to make new hives in my workshop and get bees.  Delays and priorities worked their magic but I managed to get most of the woodwork finished for one hive.  By "most of the woodwork" I mean everything wooden except the bottom board.  These hive parts have been sitting on my workbench waiting for me to finish.

Now, forward to last Friday.  I had taken time in the middle of my work day to pick up parts for the truck so I could fix it over the weekend, and was on my way back to work when the phone rang.  It was Anna, sounding excited so I pulled to the side of the road to talk.  The excitement was because of a post on a facebook page she had set up for garden discussion.  Someone had posted that there were honeybees in their wall and they needed someone to remove them.  Anna had told them she would ask me if I was interested, and promptly called me.

Honeybees are always a good addition to a self-sufficient farm, and of course I was interested.  Only one problem.  Remember the bee hive on my workbench?  That's right, no bottom board.  Limited time and lack of the preferred material (cypress is best for bottom boards) would make timing an issue.  Also, there was the matter of foundations.  Foundations are sheets of wax stamped with honeycomb pattern for the bees to start the comb from.  These attach to frames in the hive, and though the bees are quite capable of designing their own honeycomb, the frames and foundations give guidelines to make working with the hive easier for the beekeeper and safer for the bees.

The only option would be to buy the bottom board and foundations from a bee supply.  Finding bee supplies locally is not an easy thing.  You just can't go down to the corner store and pick up hive parts, so all the suppliers I knew of from my beekeeping past were mail order.  Shipping time would be an issue with ordering by mail or online since the people were in a bit of a hurry due to sting allergies.  Extermination was even mentioned.

Anna went on line in search of bee supplies while I finished my work day.  Searching online led to a small, home based business in Tulsa.  A bit of a drive but worth the time savings, if they had what we needed.  Monday would find me on the phone to Ozark Bee Supply in hopes of finding the needed parts in time to save the bees from extermination.

Bright and early Monday morning found me on the phone.  Of course Ozark Bee Supply had what we needed, but being a small home based business with no set business hours, they would not be there that day.  Disappointment was hard to disguise in my voice I am sure, but in light of the circumstances, arrangements were made for me to pick up the supplies that afternoon.

There are reasons I like small businesses and dealing with real people, accommodation, quality products and reasonable prices are a few of those reasons.  I found all of these with Ozark Bee Supply and an added measure of helpful advice.

By early afternoon I had picked Anna up at her house and we were on our way to Tulsa to pick up bee supplies and do a bit of other shopping.  The other shopping stories will have to wait for another time.  Meanwhile, at the end of the day, though there would be some required assembly the following morning, we were almost ready to attempt the rescue.  With equipment in hand, I called the homeowner to make arrangements to assess the situation.  We agreed on a time for Tuesday. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

(AF) Need Your Input on our Info Links, Please!

Hello, Everyone! Not sure weather to say Good Morning, or Good Nite. After I type this, I am going to finally go to bed for a bit, so for me . . . Good Nite.

One of our wonderful readers was so kind to give us some feedback on our InfoLinks advertising. And YES, we LOVE constructive feedback! She mentioned that the InfoLinks was getting annoying when trying to read our posts. She also stated that they blocked some of the post content from being able to be seen.

On our end, we can't see that anything is being blocked. We would greatly appreciate it if someone on the Reader End could explain this in more detail.

We want ALL the feedback we can possibly get from our Readers in reference to the InfoLinks advertising we have on our Blog. We want our readers to be happy and really enjoy sitting down and reading our blog. So, if we find that this advertising platform is causing difficulties for our readers . . . . making it difficult to smoothly read our posts, we will certainly remove it.

Thank you very much, in advance, for all of your valued input! And thank you for reading our blog!

UPDATE:  I tried to temporarily turn off the Infolinks . . . funny, it didn't work. You are supposed to be able to do that. I set it to only ONE link per page .... funny, that wouldn't work, either. This does NOT make me happy. The options are there, but it isn't working. And in answer to someone's question... "Are you making money at it?" NO, in all this time, we STILL have not made it to the first payout.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Yes, I am serious, I planted corn in a stump patch.  About a month and a half ago, I decided to clear the trees at the north end of the garden.  The small patch of ground in question is good soil, and with a little work (alright, a lot of work) it will be a good addition to the main garden.  The first photo, is of the piece of ground in question immediately after I cut the trees into firewood, before the brush was burned.  In the background, you can see the trees, which is what the newly cleared patch looked like  the day before.

Over time, I burned the brush and moved the firewood, then marked off where it would need tilled in relation to the new fence line at the back edge.  Now it was ready to till, as soon as I could find the time.

In case you have never tried it, tilling or plowing in a stump patch can be an interesting process.  My first such experience with this concept was when I was very young (seven or eight years old).  My Grandfather had farmed all his life with a team of horses and I wanted to learn how.  He showed me how to put on the harness and hook up the plow, then we went to plow his garden.  There was a newly cleared area at the edge, and sure enough, the plow caught a root and jumped sideways, throwing me down.  My Grandfather laughed and explained how if I had been taller, I would have been kicked in the ribs by the plow handles.  Years later, while breaking a mule to plow, I experienced what he was talking about. No fun at all, I might add.

Over the years, I have also plowed in new ground with tractors.  There are no plow handles to kick you in the ribs, but it can make for a wild ride at times.  Also no fun at all.

Day before yesterday was my first experience using the garden tiller among stumps.  With a good deal of effort, some cursing and numerous stops to cut elm roots from around the tiller tines, the small patch finally got tilled.  Not a pretty job of tilling to say the least, but it was tilled deep enough to plant.  During this process, I found that under just the right circumstances, the tiller handles, like old fashioned plow handles, can thoroughly kick you in the ribs.  Yes, I have very sore ribs (bruised, not broken).  Almost fifty years later, and with different equipment, the process remains the same.  You guessed it, still no fun at all.

As you can see in the second picture, the small patch looks a little different.  What you can not see is that I planted corn among those stumps this morning.  The rows are not straight and there are skips where the stumps are, but given good weather (including a bit of rain), a bit of mercy from the munchers and, of course, a few good  blessings, there will be a bit of corn grown there this year.

It will take a few years for the stumps to rot out, but experience has shown me that it will get easier each time it is worked, and soon it will be as good as the rest of the garden.  I can almost taste the fresh corn now.  YUM!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Economical (and natural) Flea Remedy for the House

  In many areas of the US right now, it is that time of year, once again, where the fleas take off and take over!  One day all is well, then the next day you get up and WHAM . . . . you have fleas by the thousands!

Now, I don't know about you, but I hate using chemical flea killers in my house (or on my pets). And, actually, those toxic, chemical flea killers don't seem to be nearly as effective as two of the natural ones that I use.

The first one I use, and have for years, is just plain old SALT. Yep, table or canning salt. Very cheap, and ultra effective. You simply sprinkle it around on your carpets and floors, then leave for as long as you can possibly leave it. It works by drying the air in the fleas' habitat, which kills them because they have to have humidity to survive. The only draw back I have found with this is when my house is super humid. When I have high humidity in my house, the salt will "draw" the moisture, leaving my floors damp, and even wet sometimes, which can make it kind of slippery. Still, I feel it is worth it to get rid of the fleas without using any toxic chemicals.

(NOTE: Don't get the bright idea to "salt" your pets to get rid of their fleas. If your pets are loaded with fleas, they are also loaded with tiny little bites. The salt will 'draw' the pet's blood right out of those bites and 'bleed them out", killing them).

Another very effective (and cheap) remedy I tried last year was Stall Dry. Yes, that stuff you get at the Farm Store to sprinkle around in your livestock stalls to deodorize and dry them. This, too, dries the air in the fleas' habitat and, I found very effective to kill the fleas. It also deodorized my house from pet odors! And I didn't find it to "wet" the floors like the salt can often do.

Although I have used the Salt Method for many, many  years with great results, I am going to try the Stall Dry again this year (I didn't try it until the end of the season last year) and see how it works on long term in comparison to the salt. So far, I really like it. I put it down once last Fall and it kept working for the entire month before our first freezes. I never had fleas in the house again until just this week. I would be cautious, though, when vacuuming it up as any powder can bust your vacuum bag if overloaded. No problem for me, though, I use a broom, not a vacuum. I hate carpet.

Thank you all for reading my post, and I will do my best to get back on here, now, and catch up with everyone. Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, April 27, 2014


What I have really been up to here on Dave's Farm obviously has had nothing to do with posting here for the past couple of months.  I will not go into much detail in this post, but will instead, give a brief rundown and hopefully find time to fill in details in later posts.  If anything is of interest, mention it in a comment and I will make a point.  Basically I am mainly posting to show that I still live and haven't completely lost my mind (alright, that last one is debatable).

A while back, my older sister who is completely non-ambulatory, was diagnosed with cancer.  I have been taking her every day for five weeks of radiation which ended about a week ago.  They say the outlook is good, but there may be more treatment a few weeks down the road.

About three weeks ago, I left my job at the corporate retailer (Wal-Mart).  I am now self employed, currently contracting welding repairs, and actual rebuilding of trailers for my son's small trucking company.  The work is harder but, amazingly, I get home and am physically and mentally able to work here on the farm.  It also takes less hours to pay the bills, leaving more time to work here.

During my absence, the main garden has been planted, trees have been cut for expansion and some of the newly cleared areas have been tilled and planted.  Since we got carried away on the onion sets, the space is needed for sweet potatoes and corn, so wish me luck tilling around the stumps.

There is a continuing question of storage for all the food we plan to grow in the enlarged garden.  The answer, of course, is a big cellar.  A couple of weeks ago, I managed to get an acquaintance who owns a small excavating company to bring out a backhoe.  A couple of hours and a chunk of cash later, there is a big hole in the hillside ready for me to build a cellar in.  The drainage gravel and pipes are here, and ready for me to squeeze enough time to start building.

Certainly there are things I have forgotten to mention, but I think that is at least most of the high spots.  Hopefully things will settle down enough that I can spend a bit more time here keeping thing updated.  There are also pictures of some of the progress, which I will add to future posts (and yes, I finally got a decent camera so they should be clear).

Friday, April 4, 2014

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Cayenne Pepper & Hip Pain

  Pharmacy Friday this week is going to be somewhat of an update on one I wrote quite awhile back about using Cayenne Pepper for pain, a testament you might say. You can read the first one HERE.

I have been consistently using Cayenne pepper in my diet now for at least 2 years. I not only use it in my hot chocolate as I had stated in my original article, but any time I am eating a food that it will be good in, I add a dash or two, or more if the dish will be good with a little heat. My best results come from using 6 to 10 dashes at a time, but less more often works great, too. If you sprinkle it in your food just before you eat it and don't let it set (eat immediately). the heat level will be minimal. The heat level can really build as the dish stands. No problem, though, if you like hot stuff. I keep it next to my salt shaker, which makes it very easy to just grab and sprinkle.

The results have been amazingly fantastic!!! Completely gone are my sleepless nights of tooth gritting hip pain. I won't say that I never have any pain in my hip any more, but I will say that it is only minimal on a rare occasion, usually when inclement weather is about to hit, but not always then, now, either. Even then, it is no longer extreme pain, just a little annoying pain. Although I still have other issues with my legs, hips, back, etc., my mobility has still GREATLY increased and now, after 2 years of faithfully eating my powdered Cayenne pepper any time I can, my days of having to use a cane are seldom.

I will admit, if I get out and turn over a garden patch with a shovel, I may end up having to take a Tylenol and drag my cane back out for a day or two, but at least now after such a chore, it only takes one Tylenol once or twice, a cane for only a day or two, and then I am back up and going. Gone are the days of prescription pain meds and a few days in bed after such a strenuous chore.

The results have been gradual, but one day it really hit me, "Hey! I have been sleeping all night without that knife sticking in my hip all through the night!" And it lets Dave sleep better, too, because I am not groaning, whimpering, and rolling over and over every few minutes all night, trying desperately to find a position that will get me some pain relief. I LOVE my Cayenne pepper and I get so excited when I think of the terrific results it has given me! It is most definitely one of God's many blessings upon us. It is cheap (free if you grow it yourself, but I am having problems getting that one kind of pepper to grow), 100% natural, and extremely effective with no side effects that I have seen so far.
If you have ever had any side effects from using Cayenne pepper in your diet, we would love to hear what it (they) might be.
We also welcome all of your input on this subject, and any results you might have had.

Thank you so much for visiting Two Farms One and for reading this post! Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

(DF) SPRINGTIME THUNDERSTORMS: And warm weather, and sleet, and, snow, and really cold and...........

Saturday, March first was a really nice day (yes March came in like a lamb).  The air was damp and warm, smelling of early spring rain, and a soft warm breeze was blowing,  Grateful for the warm weather and being off work, I spent the afternoon working outside in short sleeves. Of course, the work I was doing was in preparation for the next cold front.

The forecast for the next day was for falling temperatures and precipitation, so some things on the farm had to be done.  Firewood had to be hauled in, extra bedding was needed for the goats and chickens, and the million and one other activities on the farm that have to be stepped up a notch for cold weather.

Sunday morning was a completely different picture.  As promised, the temperature had dropped below freezing and it had rained lightly during the night, leaving a light covering of ice on everything outside.  Sleet had also begun to fall lightly (a light spring shower if the temp had been a bit warmer).  If not for my  corporate work schedule, it would have been a wonderful morning to stay in the house, but I was scheduled to work.  The drive in was on roads white with ice and sleet, but not yet treacherous.

Abut an hour after arriving at work, it began to thunder.  Yes, I did say thunder.  Lightening flashed and thunder rolled like a really nice springtime thunderstorm, then large grains sleet began to fall heavily, like a froze n downpour.  This storms came in waves through the day, piling up about three inches of sleet on the ground.  The temperatures had been falling all day as well so there was no melting or clumping of the sleet.  Roads, parking lots and everything else was covered with ice pellets like piles of course beach sand.

The drive home was a bit more difficult, though not extremely bad.  Arriving at home, I found that the temperature had fallen to fourteen degrees (this was late afternoon).  Overnight, the temperature dropped near zero, freezing pipes, and generally making for a miserable Monday morning.  Tuesday finally got above freezing and cleared the ice from most of the roads, but we will still have ice around for a while, even with warmer temperatures the rest of the week.

Whatever else can be said about the weather, this was not our normal springtime thunderstorm.  Normal or not, it did get us some much needed moisture, so I won't complain too much.  Until nest time, stay warm.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Do you know what you eat?  This may sound like a silly question, but I am totally serious.  This is not a question of whether you know the difference between beans and broccoli.  Though there is the possibility of eating bacon or sausage that tastes like pork but is really turkey, or eating prepared foods with hidden additives, most people have a general idea of what they are eating.  More accurately, this is a question of whether or not you are actually acquainted with the food you eat, and if so, just how closely acquainted.

Anna and I are constantly reading labels on food packaging in the interest of a better awareness of what is really in the foods we eat.  The awareness we gain allows us to make better decisions where food additives are concerned, hopefully leading to better health.  With this in mind, consider that yesterday, I ate some really nice peanut butter with a very short ingredient list (peanuts and salt).  In a sense, I know this food.  I know what it is, what it is made of and that it tastes great.  As a bonus, I also know that it is not supposed to have any additives.  What I do not Know, since I didn't grow the peanuts, is what kind of soil the peanuts grew in, what fertilizers and/or insecticides were used, or how they were processed.  In short, I know something of this food but I am in no way acquainted with it.

By contrast, the eggs in my refrigerator came from my own chickens.  I know what these chickens eat, how healthy they are and some of them even hatched from eggs laid by my own chickens and hatched in my incubator.  I also know when the eggs were laid and which hen laid each of them.  In short, I not only know this food, I am closely acquainted with it.  This also goes for things like the fried chicken and okra Anna and I ate on New Years day.  The chicken was raised here on Dave's farm, hatched from an egg laid by my hen, raised to adulthood and prepared for cooking.  I handled the whole process here.  The okra grew on Anna's farm where she worked up the soil, planted the seeds, watered the plants, picked the pods then cut prepared and froze them for our use.  As you can see, we were very well acquainted with that meal and enjoyed it all the more for that acquaintance.

Anna and I will continue to read labels, but more importantly, we will continue to be fully acquainted with more and more of our food until, eventually, we may not have to read labels at all.  With all the food additives and poor processing practices in the industry today, I strongly encourage you to consider getting better acquainted with your own food.

Wordless Wednesday - Me & Grandbaby Reese

My oldest son's youngest of 3 girls.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Our Nearly Free Livestock Garden

Livestock Garden composted, smoothed out, ready to plant!
 As Dave & I continue to work towards turning our farm(s) into a self-sustaining farm, we question each and every thing we do, asking ourselves how we could do each thing we do around our farm in a more self-sustainable, self sufficient way.

Last Fall, as unexpected illnesses and serious injuries cropped up, making finances tighter than ever, we were struggling extra hard to come up with money for our livestock feeds. Chicken feed was the hardest, as that time of year, we had plenty of brush to cut and feed to the goats. So we ransacked our own cabinets and those of our family and close friends, digging out all that old, out-dated food that had really been needing to be tossed, to keep our chickens fed until we could get back to work and earn some more money to buy some more feed with. (At my house, we can't let the chickens free range because we have to have my herd of dogs running loose to keep the thieves and stalkers off of my property. Plus, they would eat all of my kitchen garden and the neighbors would steal them.)

In addition to all of that, I fed the chickens any excess and deteriorating garden veggies and fruits, along with all the wild edibles I could find to pick. (Which wasn't much since we were drought mode). The chickens loved it! So, we got to thinking, why are we working our tails off to buy all this commercial feed for our chickens (which probably is loaded with chemicals and pesticides, anyway), when we have all this land space and could be growing some for them?! And it would be more healthy for them, and chemical free, which means healthier eggs and meat for us.

So we began planning out a small, 'test' Chicken Garden to plant this Spring. We figured we would start with a small garden for just the chickens, then if it went well, plant some for the goats next year, too. But as we began to pick and choose the veggies to plant in our little Chicken Garden, we realized that our chickens may not eat all of the plants and what they don't, the goats will (such as .... chickens might eat the peas, and the goats would eat the vines), so we started calling it our Livestock Garden. And, I am sure, we will not be able to resist temptation and will want to give our goats 'treats' from the little garden.

Our plan is to keep track of how much (in weight) we harvest from the little space (only about 7 feet x 7 feet), and how much feed it saves us from having to purchase. Then at the end of the season, we can go over our calculations and see if it would be feasible to plant a larger Livestock Garden, one that would nearly eliminate our Chicken Feed bill completely.

We are using up old seeds, leftover seeds, and seeds that we have saved from last year's harvest.. Last year, several people (family and friends) gave me some old seeds. Some of them just didn't want to garden anymore, and some of them are adamant about starting with fresh, new seeds every year. Me, I don't mind planting old seeds and just planting them a little thicker, if it means I don't have to buy any of them and it results in free food for me and my critters! I also found some seeds at the end of the season last year that were 90% off! And yes, I stocked up! That means a $1 package of seeds only cost 10 cents! The 4/$1 seeds were only 2.5 cents per package! We will be using a few of those seeds in the garden, also, but they will probably be the only cost we have for it, which won't be much.

That is our Boxer Fifi in the first pic. She is a bit of a camera hog, lol. Although she is at Anna's Farm right now, hard at work guarding, that is Dave's baby and she IS ultra attached to Dave!

I will give you all updates as our little Livestock Garden progresses. Right now, we still have freezing temps, so nothing much is growing but a couple clumps of wild lettuce, which I will leave in there because the chickens love it, too, and Nature gave it to us for free!

This is what the ground looked like before we started. Many years ago, it was a gravel road bed. Last year we grew some great okra and squash right here.You really can grow food anywhere if you compost enough.

Monday, February 24, 2014

50,000 + Page Views!!!

Today, we passed the 50,000 + page views mark! I know that to some longtime bloggers, that might not seem like much, but to us, that is HUGE!!! And we couldn't have done it without ALL of our many, wonderful viewers!

And we want to give you our most sincerest . . . . . .

Thank you! . . .  Thank You!! . . . . . THANK YOU!!!!

And yes, I am really getting tired of winter and I got a little carried away, today, with the Spring Green on our layout. So if the color scheme I chose is offensive to anyone in any way, or is even the slightest bit distracting, PLEASE let one of us know.

And once again. THANK YOU for making our blog successful! We could never have done it without you! We truly love each and every one of our readers! Have a fantastic day!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


As always, there are plenty of projects needing done and not much time.  I have been, for some time now, working on a wide range of projects.  Projects that are started but seem never to get finished.  VERY DISCOURAGING!

The goat fence has been officially ongoing for a very long time, and it is not alone.  Though a couple of solar panels are now finished, they are not yet installed.  The greenhouse is not covered either, though all of the materials are ready.  Fruit and nut trees are still in pots, but not planted.  The list goes on and on.  You may have also noticed that I haven't written much lately.  Now, it is time to start thinking of planting some  early garden crops such as potatoes and onions.

There are several reasons for this lack of finished projects.  Money (and the getting of it) is one factor (lets face it, a job takes a lot of time).  Unexpected delays such as family illness, car trouble and such is another.  At the end of the day, with all excuses and other factors aside, one big reason is that I have a serious personal issue.  I have a terrible tendency to start more projects than there is time and energy to complete.  Then, I get bogged down, loose focus and take on more projects.

Money is a necessary evil in our society.  We have grown accustomed to such luxuries as driving cars, using electric lights and power tools, wearing good clothes, and the like, all of which cost money.  Unfortunately, making money takes time and energy (time and energy that could be spent finishing projects which might make more money in the long run).  My current corporate job is low pay and though my hours have been cut back drastically, an erratic schedule doesn't allow much daylight time to work on other projects.

Like the need for money, emergency situations such as family illness or auto repairs take time and resources.  Taking a family member to the hospital and subsequent Dr. visits and treatment takes time away from the farm and, sometimes, the corporate job as well (simply because family needs are one of my extremely high priorities).  Thankfully, recent vehicle repairs have been relatively minor, only serving as minor delays and major annoyance.

As for project overload and lack of focus, I have come to believe that the solution is more about setting priorities and goals than about available time and resources.  More about self discipline than about time vs abundance of projects.  Now if I can just put these concepts into play.  Yes, I am working on this but it is taking time to change a lifetime of bad habits.  Please don't misunderstand, there is slow but continual progress on a number of projects during any given week, and that progress actually gets those projects finished in due course of time.  Of course, there are also projects that never really get finished such as cutting hay in summer and firewood in winter (they get finished for the season but are back in full force for the next round).  These ongoing chores also take time away from more permanent accomplishments.

Those projects which, through persistence, get finished, serve to encourage.  Getting the garden tilled up early in the winter was just such an instance.  A few passes with the tiller at a setting, over a period of time and the project was finished.  The tilled soil was allowed to freeze and thaw and to take on the winter snow, making it much nicer to work with now for spring planting.

Friday, with some focus and hard work, a good section of fence row (a long term priority and over due project) was cleared and a big pile of firewood cut in the bargain.  In the afternoon, four rows of onion sets were planted and two more rows Saturday morning.  Yes, there is still some fence row left to be cleared and there are still more onion sets to plant, but noticeable progress was made. noticeable progress is always encouraging to me.  Now if I can just stay focused.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


And we got to enjoy it together!!!!

(DF) WINTER 2013 - 2014 UPDATE

Yes it IS winter!!  Local people are heavily complaining about this being a "really bad", "extremely cold", and countless other exclamations describing this winter.  At the same time, wedged between the arctic blasts, there are days that are almost hot. My memories of winters past make the cold temps seem almost normal.  Well, normal based on my childhood at least (which was a few years back).

Having grown up on a small dairy, my winter daily routine often included breaking thick ice on the stock ponds so the cattle could drink.  Yes, I did say daily, and yes, I did say thick.  We had an old chopping axe we sued for this purpose, and it was a hard job chopping through, even when I was older.  This routine would begin in early December and last through much of February. Though temps have been really cold this winter, chopping ice would not be needed daily (if I had cattle).  With frequent warm days, some in the 70 degree range, the ice is intermittent. 

What IS worse than I remember, is the roller coaster ride the temps are taking and the wind.  Sunday (1/26) the high was just over 70 degrees, Monday was very windy and a high in the low 20;s, with some predictions of single digits for nighttime low. It has been up and down like that all winter so far.

Problem is that the cold seems extreme here, mainly because over the past 30 years or so it has been pretty mild.  Sure there have been cold times, some with ice storms or deep snow.  This has happened occasionally but briefly every winter, Just enough to remind us what season it is, only to warm back up for prolonged periods.  Being used to the warmth, the contrast is brutal..

Now, to find the good in all of this.  For one, the repeated freezing and thawing of the ground helps loosen the soil, hopefully leading to a good growing season.  There is also the consideration of how well insect pests survive the extremes.  Grasshoppers have been a real and increasing problem the past few years, so we will hope the harsh winter helps knock down their population.  I am sure there are other positive considerations that don't currently come to mind (please let us know in the comments if you think of any).  Hopefully, there is enough positive to offset the cold cracked fingers, the inconvenience of heavy winter coats, broken pipes, extra animal feed and all the other negative aspects.

All in all, whether it is colder, warmer, windier, or more of a roller coaster ride than "normal" is not really the concern.  Whatever else this winter is, was, or will be, right now it is JUST PLAIN COLD.  So stay warm and remember, it will be summer soon, and we can complain about the heat.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


The first week of 2014 has passed.  It has not passed quietly or gently, but we have made it through the beginning of the new year all the same.

We began the new year at Anna's Farm.  January first was a beautiful day filled with warmth and sunshine.  There was work to be done, as there always is on the farm.  Firewood need cut (though it was quite warm, it was still January after all). Despite the work, we spent the morning relaxing and enjoying the weather and each other's company.

Afternoon came and I cut some firewood while Anna started a fire outside to cook our new year's dinner.  Later, we dined on fried chicken (raised on Dave's farm), Okra (grown on Anna's farm) and corn cakes which were, unfortunately, not produced on either of our farms (maybe next year).  All in all it was a wonderful day, though it ended far too soon.

To our dismay, Anna woke up the following morning with the flu, and has been trying to deal with it ever since.  As anyone on the farm knows, the animals have to be fed no matter how bad one feels, so she has been struggling this past week.  It breaks my heart that I haven't been there to help.

The two days after new years day, I was off work.  Thursday and Friday, I spent trying to finish projects left over from 2013.  The old barn I was tearing down in the spring when I injured my foot, is now finished except for some minor cleanup.  A solar panel I started pre-injury also got finished, and the garden is now tilled up.

Saturday found me back at work but feeling unduly tired and achy, which I chalked up to pushing through projects.  Sunday morning was cold and a couple of inches of snow covered the ground.  I also woke up knowing why I felt tired and achy the day before, I had the flu.  Though I could not afford to miss work, the rest of the week has been spent trying to recover and doing only what what is necessary here on the farm.  As an added bonus, it turned really cold, with night time lows around 0 and highs in the teens.

During this first week of 2014, I predicted that we won't reach our goals this year without a fight.  Since Anna and I never planned to go down without a fight anyway, we are confident that this will be a good year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!