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!