I made another great meal tonight. My new focus on not eating out (i.e. hemorrhaging money through the drive thru window) is paying off, but I don't think it would be going so well without the electric pressure cooker. I did my potatoes in there, tonight. All I did was quarter some baby reds, toss them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley, put a cup of water in the pressure cooker, put in the steamer basket, and pressure cook them for 10 minutes. They were delicious and yet so easy and tasty. I've found out I can make mashed potatoes in there, too, which will be quite a boon.
Then I made up some Morrocan spice rub and rubbed down some chicken legs with it and cooked them in the Nuwave oven. Chicken legs only take 30 minutes in the Nuwave. The chicken was pretty good, but I think it needed salt in addition to the rub. Next time I will do that since I have quite a bit of the rub left. There was enough chicken left over that I can make some chicken soup tomorrow.
I did spend some money today as I was in need of ground cloves, coriander, and cinnamon. Cloves are expensive, but fortunately a little goes a long way so it lasts much longer than my other spices. So $35 on spices.
I'm going to have to spring for a package of goat butter pretty soon. That's $11 for 8 ounces, but it lasts me a long time. I don't use it too often, I just like it on the rare occasions I actually make toast, which is only once or twice a month, usually. I am the only one who eats it. Well, I will make sure I do a complete check through of the freezers first, just in case I have one squirreled away in there, but I'm pretty sure I don't. I usually only buy one at a time. It's not a stock up item.
DH built me some new pantry storage shelves, so I am in the process of filling them and rearranging some of my other food supplies. Right now I have long-term storage mixed in with the working pantry, which is a pain in the neck. This should get that straightened out.
I need to work on the garden this weekend as well. It is time to get lettuce, spinach, green onions, kale, chard, and radishes going. There is some volunteer spinach coming up, but I need to transplant it, because it is not where I want it. I hope it stops raining long enough for me to do that. It cleared up this afternoon so I am hoping the weather holds and I am feeling up to it.
Viewing the 'Sustainable Living' Category
I made another great meal tonight. My new focus on not eating out (i.e. hemorrhaging money through the drive thru window) is paying off, but I don't think it would be going so well without the electric pressure cooker. I did my potatoes in there, tonight. All I did was quarter some baby reds, toss them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley, put a cup of water in the pressure cooker, put in the steamer basket, and pressure cook them for 10 minutes. They were delicious and yet so easy and tasty. I've found out I can make mashed potatoes in there, too, which will be quite a boon.
The funeral on Wednesday was beautiful. I was able to speak, which was a good thing, because neither DH nor SIL could manage, though MIL did. I got a lot of compliments on what I said, which was nice, because I did not go in with a prepared speech. I don't like speaking in public, but I didn't feel it could go by without one of us saying something.
My favorite of DH's cousins did not attend. Her grandson, who is only 5, has a brain tumor. They biopsied on Tuesday and found out it is a very aggressive cancer and the tumor was the size of a tennis ball. Wednesday he had the surgery to remove it and they were able to get it all, but they still had to see if it had spread to the bloodstream. I am at such a loss. I am so tired of cancer hitting my family. This year has been a horror.
I am still pretty sick, but Thursday was my worst day. I think I have turned the corner with this cold, but I've been wrong before and gone on a second downswing. Hopefully not this time, though. Unfortunately, both kids are down with it, and DH started sneezing like crazy today. He's dosing on vitamin C. I hope he can keep going, because I am not at the stage where I can do any of the household or farm chores. Well, I did manage to fold one load of towels and one of clothes and then had to rest before I could put them away.
DH's interview was on Friday. He was supposed to be interviewed by two people, but the second one had a death in the family and couldn't be there. So the first guy said he needed to talk to the second guy when he gets back and see if he felt he needed to interview DH, too, or just go based on the first guy's opinion. He wanted to know if DH could start immediately, so I guess that is promising, but I'm not getting my hopes up yet.
DH and I went down to pick up our turkey today. We asked for one in the 13 to 16 pound range when we ordered a few months ago, and it is 15.07 pounds. I also picked up some sausage since we didn't get any with our pork. They had chorizo, which I was excited about, because I've never been able to find a chorizo without some bad additives in it. So one day next week I will make chorizo con huevoes with rice for dinner. Or possibly for breakfast with cauliflower rice.
I also picked up some roasts for canning. The roasts from our beef all have bones in them and I like them for pot roast dinners, anyway. But I want to can some meat for stews and chuck roasts available at the farm have no bones so are easier to cut up. In the winter I like to have stew once a week and we've been out of canned beef for a couple of months now.
We're also going to juice up a bunch of the apples we got when we went to the orchard a while back. I clearly got too many. If I juice it, I can can it and it will be shelf stable. That is a relatively easy task, but it will still have to wait until I feel decent enough to do it.
I was really hoping to do a better job at blogging with daily blogs this month, but I just haven't had the energy, so catch up posts a couple times a week are just going to have to do it for now.
Last night we had something of a build up of leftovers in the fridge. I had some leftover spaghetti sauce with sausage in it from spaghetti night. And I had half a can of tomato sauce left from meatloaf night, so I combined those together. There wasn't enough meat in it for 4 people so I grabbed a cup of my freeze-dried sausage and rehydrated it.
Meanwhile, I looked through my pasta and ended up deciding on some shells I had. The shells were left from some Annie Bunnies shells and cheese that I stole the cheese powder packet out of to make cheesy popcorn one night, since it is a clean cheese powder. I cooked the shells in the microwave and by the time they were done, the sausage was fully hydrated.
I combined all of the ingredients together and poured them into a greased baking dish. Then I used up the last bit of Parmesan cheese, the last bit of extra sharp cheddar, some mozzarella and some regular cheddar on top. So I have two less almost empty cheese containers in the fridge now. I baked it at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes covered in foil and then for 5 minutes with the foil off.
It was a really good dinner and about 10 times easier to make than lasagna, but tasted just like my lasagna. Everyone was well pleased with it and except for some gravy, there are now no leftovers in the fridge.
If anyone wants to know how to cook pasta in the microwave, the trick is to heat the water first and then add the pasta for the regular amount of cooking time. Oh, and you need a plate over the top of the bowl you cook it in and to add a bit of oil and salt to the water. It works great for shells, macaroni, rotini, penne, and farfalle (bowties). Also, the wide egg noodles. I have not tried spaghetti, but I would imagine you'd need to break it in half or thirds and stir in the middle of the cook time.
What kind of leftover meals have you all made this week?
DH has been laid off for two weeks now and so far we are keeping the budget tight. No more allowances for the kids, no eating out, no frivolous spending. And there have been a couple of nights where grabbing burgers would have made life so much easier. But we are resisting.
DH is having to do a lot of running for his parents and of course is spending as much time as he can with his dad. They are going to try to get him into hospice today. He has a hard time staying awake because of the high dose of painkillers and his words are sometimes coming out the opposite of what he means, like saying up for down.
It started snowing last night. We haven't even had a frost up to this point and it was only supposed to get down to 35 degrees and be raining. So we got out the heater for the rabbit shed so their waters don't freeze and the heat lamp and heated water fount for the duck coop. Then we went into the garden and harvested the celery, the remaining tomatoes, and the acorn squash.
Today or tomorrow I will go gather the rose hips, since they taste sweeter after the first frost, which this qualifies as. I will be making rose hip syrup or jelly, I haven't decided yet. Rose hip syrup was made extensively through the U.K. during WWII. Because of rationing and the inability to import citrus, and because rose hips were free and could be gathered from the side of the roads, syrup was made so that they would have a source of vitamin C, especially for the children. It is higher in vitamin C than anything else.
In fact some areas paid people to go out and pick the rose hips, I think it was around a pence for a pound. It was a way to earn extra money during war time. Also some people made and sold the syrup as a way of earning money. The extra money was often used to buy rationed food items on the black market.
I have only dried the hips for tea before. This will be my first year making jelly or syrup.
I think the phrase reduce, reuse, recycle needs one more addition. Remake. Today I remade a pillow. I have several old flat pillows laying around and I really needed a new big fluffy pillow, because I have to sleep with one between my knees as they are so bad. I've been sleeping with two lately and then one always slips during the night and I wake up.
So I found an old pillow case that was pretty faded and then I cut open a couple of the pillows, pulled out all the batting and proceeded to pull it apart and fluff out the really worn down bits. I stuffed the batting into the old pillow case until it was very full and bulging and then I hand sewed it shut. I made the stitches big enough to be picked out later if I need to add more batting in the future when it gets flattened down again.
I still have several old pillows and some other faded pillow cases, so I can make a few more of these. I don't know why I never threw the pillows out, but I always figured I'd have a use for the batting one day. Maybe for a quilt or something. But this works. Now my daughter wants me to make one for her, too. It maybe took me an hour to pull all the batting apart and stuff the pillow and was easy enough to do while listening to a podcast.
I have something I needed and I didn't have to spend any money for it. Anyone else done something like this lately? How have you remade something or used it in a new way?
We picked up the majority of our pork order today. The hanging weight on the hog (the amount after it has been gutted) was 245 pounds, so at $500 it worked out to $2.04 per pound. The bacon, ham, and sausage links will not be ready for another 7 to 10 days. Curing takes longer.
So anyone who has not purchased this way before can get an idea of what you get, this is what we have so far.
6 packages of spare ribs (at least 4 pounds each)
2 loin roasts (at least 2 pounds each)
3 shoulder roasts (at least 4 pounds each)
42 pounds ground pork
12 packages of pork chops (48 chops)
4 packages of pork steaks (16 steaks)
What is to come:
42 pounds of sausage links
I'm not sure how much bacon, but quite a bit
Now they told me that each hog has 2 hams of about 17 to 18 pounds. I am having each ham cut in half, so they should be 8 to 9 pounds each. Every time we make up a ham, I will can the excess in cubes in pints and half-pints. Then on pizza night, a half-pint will be perfect and on ham and potato soup night a pint will be perfect.
Actually, come to think of it, I am supposed to be getting some shanks, too. They were not in what I got today. I thought I had told them not cure those, but I can't remember for sure and they might have done so, which would explain why I didn't get them today. Curing will make them ham-like, too. No big deal if they were cured, but I need to remember to make sure they are in the second half of the order.
I am going to be making jam and pie filling with a lot of the frozen berries that were in the freezer. I needed to get them out of the way for the pork. A lot of these berries are from last year. I plan to make strawberry jam, blueberry pie filling, blackberry jam, and maybe bumbleberry jam, too (which is a combo of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry). Or syrup. We'll see. And then if I can find the frozen plums, plum sauce and plum butter.
But strawberry is first up, because it is DH's favorite, we're out, and he keeps buying it. He won't have to do that if we make it at home and keeping him out of the grocery store is always beneficial to our budget.
I went to the doctor today after being up all night and I have a kidney infection which explains everything in the past month with the exhaustion, the mid-back pain, the headache right where Ben Shapiro wears his yarmulke, the pain in my mid-back, the Charley horses in my calves, the more and more frequent runs to the bathroom, and as of two days ago, what I like to describe as kidney breath where it smells like something died in your throat somewhere.
He gave me an antibiotic, but made me make another appointment for tomorrow. He said if I felt better in the morning to cancel the appointment, but if not to come in and we'd determine whether or not I'd need IV antibiotics. He was pretty worried about me because I fell asleep on the table between when the nurse left and he came in. I told him it was just because I didn't sleep last night, but I don't think he believed me.
So do you think I came home and rested? No, I had a case of apricots that had to be dealt with today. So I made two double batches of jam and have 22 half-pints to show for it. Plus 2 more that went directly in the fridges of my family and my mother. I did it the easy way, though, and just liquified them in the Vitamix instead of cooking them down. It takes a half an hour off of every jam batch. It's a trick I learned a couple years ago when I got fed up with using a hand cranked food mill.
The rest of the apricots are all cut up and ready to be canned tomorrow. The hard part is over. Tomorrow all I need to do is put the apricots in the jars, make a simple syrup, ladle it into the jars, and water bath can it for 30 minutes. I should be out of the kitchen in an hour unless there is more than 7 quarts worth left. I don't think there is, but it's possible there is 8, which would mean doing a second water bath session as the canner only fits 7 quart jars.
I'm not doing anything else for the rest of the night tonight. DD will take over my rabbit duties. And we are all fending for ourselves for dinner. Which means I will likely just go to bed and not bother. I did way more than I should have, but I didn't want $40 worth of organic apricots to go bad. As it was I had to toss a few. I should have done it yesterday, but after physical therapy I was beat. The softest ones went in the jam. The firmer ones go in the jars tomorrow. They hold up better to the canning process.
All right, now I really should go get in bed and hope everything is better in the morning. Oh, and co-pay was $30 and $5.77 for the prescription.
So our half a beef was ready and hanging weight came to 335 pounds. She had estimated hanging weight would be 300 with it's full hanging weight being 600, but it was bigger. It cost $1005 for the half and $250.64 for the cut and wrap fee, a total of $1255.64. So that works out to $3.75 per pound for a grass fed beef, which is pretty spectacular, considering grass fed hamburger alone is $8 a pound here. While she is not certified organic, they do not spray their hay fields and they still use organic practices.
She uses a different butcher than the one who lost our half a hog last year and then turned our plain ground pork into sausage when we specifically asked for it to not be sausage, but plain. I was glad she used someone else. I really don't want to deal with the other company again. 2 out of 3 times they've screwed up, so I have no faith in them, but unfortunately most farmers use them. I'll probably go with this lady again, though, since she uses the other place.
Here's what it breaks down to with all steaks in packages of 2 and cut 3/4 inch thick, the roasts around 2 pounds each except for the rump roasts which are 3, and the brisket which is 4 or 5:
Ground Beef: 54 l 1/2 pound packages
Liver: 5 packages
Flank Steak: 1
Short Ribs: 5
Eye of Round: 2
Top Round Steak: 6
Bottom Round Roasts: 3
Sirloin Tip Roasts: 4
Chuck Roasts: 6
Pot Roasts: 3
Rump Roasts: 2
Soup Bones: 4
Tri Tip: 1
T-bone Steak: 5
Rib Eye Steaks: 7
So it should last us quite some time, though not a year. Maybe half a year to 3/4 of a year. I reckon everything but the hamburger will be gone at the 1/2 year and the hamburger will last longer. I won't be afraid to get a full beef next time if I decide I want one. I was worried about space, but it only filled 3 1/3 compartments in my giant chest freezer. That will help me plan for a future order based on space.
I have to learn how to cook certain cuts that I've never made before as well as the heart and liver. I didn't get the tongue, because I didn't think I could handle that. If we like the heart and the liver, that's good, and if we don't, we will cut it up into little pieces and dole it out as treats to the birds, because despite what many people think, chickens, ducks, and turkeys are not vegetarians and in fact, being fed an all-vegetarian diet is not good for them.
It is easy enough to supplement them if they don't free range and get their own bugs and worms with packaged meal worms or whatever bits of meat you might have that they can eat, either raw or cooked. They don't need a lot, but they do need some. Even extra eggs if your layers are prolific, scrambled or hard boiled and diced, works, even if it feels slightly cannibalistic.
So the liver and heart will get used even if not by us. Actually, I'll see if the in-laws want some, too, if we don't like it. There's a lot and I know they eat one of them. Humans first, then animals.
We are out of garlic powder. Even though we have a ton of garlic in the garlic braid I made this summer from what I grew in the garden, sometimes I just like to use garlic powder. I put it in the dough for my homemade pizza and I use it to make the parsley butter sauce for my garlic pull apart bread. I like to add it to my bone broth, which I don't season when I make it, but a pinch of it in a mug of broth is perfect.
We are at the stage where we just can't run to the store for any little thing we are out of. The more we go to the store, the more we spend, so the goal is to simply stay out of the store as much as possible.
To that end I am making homemade garlic powder. It's really not that hard. It's just kind of tedious to peel all the cloves and then chop them up. It's also time consuming. But eventually I got through several heads of garlic, cut up the cloves into 1/4 inch slices, and now they are in the dehydrator. By morning it should be dry and then I can run it through the spice grinder to make my powder.
Fortunately garlic is not nearly as wet as onions. Onions take a long time to dry, about 3 days. So worth it though. It makes the best onion powder I've ever tasted, just like doing the garlic makes the best garlic powder. I want garlic powder to add to my homemade pesto which we will have on ravioli for dinner since I try to avoid tomato sauce as much as possible now. It kicks it up a notch even though it already has minced garlic in it.
It is good to know how to make things like this so that when I run out of something that is a staple to my cooking, I can make what I need instead of just running to the store and spending more money than I intended.
Have you ever heard of any government office starting their work week on a Sunday? Every government office starts their work week on a Monday. And ends it on Friday, but they definitely start on Mondays, so the corollary ought to be that if they did for some unknown reason work on weekends, their work week would end on Sunday. Logical, yes?
DH's work week started on Monday and ended on Sunday, also, logical. Every job he's ever worked, every job I've ever worked, Monday has been considered the first day of the work week and Sunday the last. The only place Sunday is the first day of the week is on the calendar.
So why, then, does unemployment consider the work week to start on Sunday and end on Saturday, instead of starting on Monday like the rest of the country?
DH's last day of work was on a Sunday. So that means his first week of being unemployed does not count, since he got paid for that Sunday and his wages that day are more than a week's unemployment. If he'd made less than that amount he'd have gotten the difference up to the max, but he did, so nothing for that week. He won't get anything for that week at all. *sighs*
I guess he didn't have qualifying job applications for that week anyway according to them, so it wouldn't even matter, but the hoops they special little qualifications they make you jump through here are ridiculous. He's been paying in without fail for 32 years. It should not be this hard to get a tiny little bit of it back.
Well, he's got properly qualifying and documented applications for this current week so it should start then, but won't arrive for a couple weeks after that. I want to tear my hair out. Actually, no, strike that. I want to tear someone else's hair out. Preferably one of the lawmakers who came up with some of these hoops. Or maybe they can just get stuck inside a giant stack of hoops conveniently dropped by a formerly unemployed fork lift driver with no hope of rescue for 24 hours and only 2 bottles of water and no bathroom. Actually make that 6 bottles of water and no bathroom.
I am actually thinking maybe there isn't much point in going after the gold plan. We might do bronze and pay far less out of pocket. In adding up our prescriptions and office visits at out of pocket cost, with the lowest cost plan that is still good insurance in a catastrophe, we'd be paying less than $1000 a month. With the gold plan we'd be paying about $1600 to $1700 a month out of pocket once we hit the deductible. Turns out the gold plan only has vision and dental for kids under 18, not adults, so that is all out of pocket anyway and is a game changer.
So back to the drawing board I guess. We have to do what will make our savings last the longest.
On the bright side, and I promise it has not all been doom and gloom around here, I sold a rabbit on Saturday for $83. That will pay for 3 to 4 month's of rabbit feed. We haven't sold any duck eggs because we are eating them all, but they have picked up production again, so between the ducks and the chickens we are getting enough eggs to eat daily again.
I am preserving food left and right from the garden. I have put up plums (canned, frozen, and dehydrated, made fruit leather, canned potatoes, green beans, and corn. I have frozen poblano, Anaheim, and bell peppers and am working on chopping up onions to freeze. The tomatoes are starting to produce. I might have enough to can two pints. That's not much, but they should start exploding in about 2 weeks.
The second crop of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and lettuce is coming along nicely. The third crop of kohlrabi and radishes is too. My first crop of chard planted this year is struggling a bit, but with the weather turn and some real rain for the first time this summer it is perking up. I will be planting carrots, radishes, and turnips today. And possibly spinach if I can find starts or seeds. The last frost has been mid-November lately so I should get it in under the wire. Carrots are 60 days, turnips are 50 days, and radishes are 24 to 40 days depending on variety. And I can use frost cloths if we get an early frost.
All right, well, I better get back to the garden as there is a break in the rain.
I definitely wasn't lazy this weekend, but I didn't do the canning. It was in the 90's and I just couldn't face making the house even hotter. And honestly, being on my feet that much when my ankles and knees were still swollen had no appeal.
I did work in the garden though. It had to be early in the morning and 7 p.m. to dark, though. I managed to get in about 4 hours of garden work each day, though. Having 2 foot tall raised beds and a chair meant I didn't have to put any pressure on my knees or ankles. Building those beds was the best thing we ever did for gardening.
I harvested 2 feet by 16 feet worth of yellow onions. I had already harvested half that earlier in the week in yellow onions and shallots. I still have 2 feet by 8 feet worth of red onions to harvest.
I harvested my purple potatoes. I was disappointed, but that's what I get for growing in containers. They always do much better in the ground. I got about 3 times what I planted. If I plant in the ground I get 5 to 6 times what I plant. There are still some volunteers in last years potato patch to dig. I don't know if they are reds or golds, though.
Some of the apples got picked--5 5 gallon buckets worth and then about 1 gallon of Italian plum/prunes. There was about a quart of strawberries and a handful of raspberries as well.
I've built the beds back up with compost and I've gotten some replanting for fall crops done. I've put in more kale, broccoli, radishes, kohlrabi, chard, and cauliflower. I am debating on whether or not I should put in another sowing of snow peas. I will be planting carrot and turnip seeds, probably tonight.
This morning, before it got too hot, I went out and gave everything in the back yard garden a deep watering and then spent about an hour taking the branches off the bottom foot of each tomato plant and then taking off all the suckers to thin out the foliage. This helps allow light and air circulation to the interior of the plant and lets the pollinators get into the flowers more freely. It also helps prevent disease from water splashing up onto the lower leaves and causing blight.
I had removed lower branches early on, but needed to do it again as some more had grown. I also removed any leaves or branches that had yellowed badly. It's important to stay on top of that stuff if you don't want to end up with blight.
I didn't go to my exercise class this morning. The swelling has gone down in my knees and ankles. They still hurt, though not as bad, but I didn't want to risk doing something to make them swell again. Even water exercise. I'll go to Wednesday's class though. I have been doing strengthening exercises this week and that seems to be helping.
Hopefully I can get some potatoes canned tomorrow morning. I have a dentist appointment at 2 p.m., but I should be able to get a batch done before that. I have 50 pounds to can. That should be 2 full canner batches and then close to another half of one. I should have around 21 quarts when I finish.
I've been in a lot of pain this month, hence me not posting much, and it is making it really hard for me to function at full capacity. Right now both of my knees and ankles are swollen up. I have no idea why my ankles are getting in on the action. I am alternating heat and ice and taking hydrocodone and Valerian root at night. I should be taking painkillers during the day right now as well, but I've got too much to do and I also need to be able to drive.
My neck is still really bad and giving me these awful headaches. I've got one of those joys of being a woman, a yeast infection. And my back is aching over my kidneys so much that I think I might have a kidney infection, too. There are some other symptoms as well. Ugh. I don't have time to go back to the doctor next week. But I'll have to because kidney infections don't go away on their own.
Not all is bad though. I've gotten two and a half garden beds replanted and the soil is ready for one and a half more garden beds. I've put in more broccoli, kale, radishes, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard. When I pull the onions this weekend I will add the soil and then replant with carrots and turnips and maybe some more kohlrabi and radishes. I'm not going to put in anymore cabbage.
I've got enough garlic now for the year. My own braid, and then one I got from the no spray garden when I placed my order for 50 pounds of Yukon golds that I'll be getting tomorrow. I'll be canning those this week. I'll also be canning the purple potatoes I grew after I harvest them tomorrow. And I will be making some blueberry pie filling to can out of last year's blueberries, since they cannot survive another year in the freezer, and anyway, we have 15 new gallons in there (total picked was 17 gallons).
A large number of plums should be ripe tomorrow or the next day so those will need to get picked and I'll need to can some and dehydrate some. I'll also need to pick some more basil and sage for dehydrating and gather the last of the bee balm petals to dry for tea. I also need to gather the echinacea, yarrow, hyssop, and calendula for tea and comfrey for salve making. And deal with all the bundles of dried herbs that have been on the wall for a few weeks already.
I need to dice some of the onions and cut into strips some of the onions that I have pulled and have gone through the drying time and freeze them for future use. I also need to mince some for dehydrating and making onion powder. I need to dice or strip up my current batch of sweet peppers as well for the freezer and mince and dry my first red cayenne pepper and then grind that into powder. I need to make more garlic powder as well. It is going to really be a busy weekend and coming week.
As soon as DH gets home, whenever that will be, I want to go through all the meat in the freezers and pull anything that is old and thaw it and can it. If we catch it before freezer burn sets in, it can last several more years that way. Or get eaten quickly, which is more likely.
Since I'll be canning all day tomorrow I need to remember to put a roast in one crockpot and potatoes in the other one and have the zucchini cut up and all ready to go into the oven before getting started, because I never want to cook after a day spent canning. Which tends to lead to takeout and we are trying not to do that until DH gets a new job. The only time we have was on DD's 20th birthday, so I think we are doing pretty good.
Weight loss is going well. Things with my mother-in-law are improving. FIL is undergoing chemotherapy now. He is also being treated for 2 blood clots in his leg. They put him on one of the newer blood thinners.
DH still hasn't heard an offer for the company b job. They've hired about 8 to 10 of the 100 or so people they need to hire and are going very slow about it. No one's been hired for his department yet, though. They are supposed to fully take over in 2 days. I'm not sure how they can without a full staff. It's going to be crazy days up there for a while.
If they do ever offer him a position, I've gone through the budget and we can handle a $500 a month paycut further, but it will mean we won't be able to save for the house. And we can handle a $1000 a month paycut if we only pay Mom $500 a month instead of $1000 a month. That last scenario I do not want. Right now we have just under 3 years to go on that loan and I don't want to extend it any longer.
I guess if we do, I'll have to get serious about writing my book series. I have it outlined and the characters are all developed and the town is, too. I've got a couple friends that self-publish on Amazon and do well and say I should, too. Of course they are basing that off my old fanfiction and not original fiction. But if I can make anything with it, it can go into the farm down payment fund. Or into paying Mom off faster and freeing up that amount of money for good.
Well, this has rambled on enough and the painkillers are starting to take effect, so I'll wrap it up now and hope it all makes sense and my brain didn't wander off towards the end. If it did, I'll fix it in the morning. The post, not my brain.
It has been a very busy week for me here. I have canned 15 pints of rabbit meat, 7 quarts and 4 half pints of rabbit bone broth, 9 pints of leek and potato soup, made two trays of rabbit jerky, dehydrated 3 trays of Thai basil from my Aerogarden and 3 trays of leeks, and am currently steeping dandelion petals for at least 12 hours so I can make and can dandelion jelly tomorrow.
I made the leek and potato soup from scratch in the crockpot, using some leeks that had overwintered in the garden. I had to pull them all up so I could add about a foot of compost and new soil to the bed, so I had to do something with them. I used 3 quarts of canned Yukon gold potatoes in the process. The first quart was pureed with the leeks and then the other 2 quarts were added about an hour from the end so it would have hearty chunks of potatoes as well, so no expense really. We had it for dinner before canning the rest.
As for the jelly, we have the sugar, pectin, and lemon juice in our food storage and the dandelions were free from our no spray yard. The amount of jelly I make here will last for the year and while I will make some strawberry jelly as well in late May or early June just because it is our favorite, I wouldn't actually need to.
I will make some buttermilk biscuits tomorrow and we will have them with the fresh jelly that is left over. It never comes out completely even, there's always about a quarter of a pint left it seems, and there is nothing like jelly made in the morning slathered on hot from the oven biscuits at dinner time.
The eat from the pantry challenge is going well. So far the only purchase I have made this week at the grocery store was for fresh fruit (watermelon, blueberries, and a cantaloupe) and a gallon of milk. I did also pick up some cleaning supplies and Puffs tissues. DD has the flu (the actual flu) and the rest of us have allergies and went through my stockpile pretty hard and fast. I ended up spending $45.47.
I will spend a little bit more on payday. I am going to try my hand at making homemade laundry detergent. I have always held off on making it as I can never find Washing Soda. Well, I found out how you can make regular baking soda into Washing Soda by baking it in the oven at a certain temperature. So all I need to buy is Borax and either Fels Naptha or Zote soap, which Walmart carries. Don't really like going all the way over there, but it'll be worth the trip for the savings on the soap.
And I am going to buy some plant starts for the garden. I did not get my seeds going soon enough so have decided that I will get a few starts. Not a lot though, just some kale and maybe shallots, green onions, and red and yellow keeping onions. Several things I can direct seed into the garden in about 2 more weeks so there is no need to start them inside.
I did get my tomatoes and peppers started today. They are on a plant heat mat on my seed growing stand. We can't plant those until the end of May or beginning of June regardless, so they'll be fine. I started those at the end of March last year and they were ready in time. I'm not worried about it. I had excellent germination using a regular heating pad last year, so I think it'll be just as good with a heat mat actually made to sprout heat loving plants.
Tomorrow I will plant some seeds in the garden. I will put in parsnips, 3 types of carrots, radishes, and snap and snow peas. All of those things can be planted at this time of year. We think we've finally blocked out all the escape routes for the chickens, so the garden should be safe to plant in now. I do need to purchase a new hose nozzle so I can mist the carrots, parsnips, and radishes until they sprout. They can't take full on watering until they've developed a root system.
I have a feeling this will be another excellent gardening and homesteading year.
I think I broke myself today. I moved 2 cubic yards of garden soil by myself. It took me 4 hours to do it, and I took a little break between every load because I did not want to stress my body out too much. And now my shoulder and my neck hate me. But all in all, I am actually doing better than I thought I would be. And I know I will sleep hard tonight.
I am mad at the chickens. They keep escaping and they dug up and broke my newly planted kale. I only planted it two days ago. It wouldn't be so bad if they had just dug it up, but they broke off all the leaves in the process. I'm going to have to figure something out to protect the beds if the little monsters are going to keep being such escape artists.
I transplanted about 24 strawberry plants into my gutter garden and then dug up and separated the rest of them, replanting a little over half and potting the rest up to hopefully sell for $10 bucks for a flat of 24. I have one flat of Junebearing and one flat of Everbearing.
My eat from the pantry challenge is going well, but it has only been two days. Dinner last night was spice-rubbed rabbit, fried red potatoes with onions and bell peppers, salad, strawberries, and mixed veggies. Tonight it was spaghetti with Italian sausage, green beans, strawberries, and pull apart garlic herb bread since I had leftover pizza dough from earlier in the week.
I did have to spend some money today. I spent $40.47 buying Claritin D for my son and generic Prilosec for my daughter. Man, Claritin D is expensive. I miss having allergy medicine being paid for by insurance. It used to be $15 for a 30 day supply. Now it is $22 plus tax for a 15 day supply. Prescriptions aren't taxable. OTC meds are. We tried DS on generic, but it didn't work for him. The generic is a lot cheaper, but that doesn't matter if he can't breathe.
I need to start making ice. I am usually lazy and just buy bags of ice, but with the challenge that is not an option. I have lots of ice cube trays so it isn't like I can't do it, just that it is kind of a pain. But the whole goal of the challenge is to stop spending money on convenience items, which honestly eat up a lot of the grocery budget. I just need to remember to actually do it.
We lost another rabbit. Our red buck. After having to put two down a couple of weeks ago, this just was devastating. I didn't know he was that sick or we would have put him down with the other two. He only had one symptom and he seemed to be responding to treatment.
We only have 3 other rabbits that got sick. Coccidia is super contagious, but they are away from the pregnant rabbits, thankfully. One is completely free of symptoms and the other two are getting another round of Corid. Both are eating well and one is gaining back the weight she lost, but has diarrhea. I will have to pick dandelion leaves for her tomorrow and give her blackberry canes as well. Those help with it.
I won't put those rabbits back into the breeding program until they have been free of symptoms for 8 weeks. Even with Persephone, who is better, trying to get her back in too soon may put stress on her that is enough to cause it to reoccur.
So now we don't have any red bucks and no way of breeding more. I'm not ready to bring any new rabbits in, not with the outbreak. Leo is still not well enough to breed does, so Starbuck is the only one on duty right now. We have 4 red does (2 of which are Wildfire's daughters so I still have the line, thankfully) and 2 white ones that are healthy. 2 of the red does are due to kindle this week. We do have a lovely little white buck growing up, but I really don't want another white buck. I want a red one or a broken one or a black one.
Tomorrow I am going to do nothing but the basics. Feed and water the animals. Feed and water the children. Be lazy. I think I got enough done today for the whole weekend. I was going to plant radishes, carrots, and peas, but not until I can keep those rotten chicken escape artists from getting out again.
I was interviewed last month by The Homestead Nation and it went up on youtube on Tuesday night. It talks about how I am raising meat animals, a big garden, and trying to be as self-sufficient as possible on half an acre in the city and what brought me on this journey. It was a really fun interview. Brad and Tommy are great.
I have found The Homestead Nation to be an excellent resource for all kinds of information in regards to this lifestyle. They also cover some preparedness issues. If anyone is interested in seeing it, it is here:
It's a little over half an hour long, so make sure you have a chunk of time if you are going to watch it.
On Thursday we picked up 1/4 of a beef cow (yes, cow, not steer) at the butcher's. The meet itself was $475. The cut and wrap was $195.71. Total cost was $670.71. It worked out to about $3 per pound for grass fed organic beef. I also got 40 pounds of tallow. I only asked for 10, but they give it away, so now I have an overwhelming amount of frozen beef fat to render.
It is for making soaps and lotions, though, so it will all get used eventually. I might also use some for the deep fat fryer. Tallow used to be what all the restaurants used to cook their fries in before they all switched to hydrogenated vegetable oil for "health" reasons, only we know now that is far worse.
It has filled up 3 compartments in the freezer. It is amazing how little space it takes up. If I hadn't had the tallow it all would have fit in two compartments, which is 1/8 of the overall chest freezer space. It will last a long time, though.
We had the first meat from it last night for dinner and it is very flavorful.
We lost power on Saturday in the massive wind storm Western WA had. We were out of power for a little over 8 hours, so we ended up getting takeout from a place that still had power. We spent $48 for 4 people. If it had gone more than that day we would have gotten out the camp stove and started using it to cook on. We had hot water since our water heater is gas and the pilot light was still on.
I made a couple of videos from the day of the storm and the day after showing damages.
It got pretty bad in places, but most of the county has power back as of today. We lost a bush and had a lot of damage to some squash vines, corn, and tomato plants, but otherwise came through pretty unscathed. The animals were okay, especially after we put the shutter up over the windows of the rabbit shed. All of their roofs stayed on.
The first half week of school went well for my son. Although he is already starting to pull some of the same stuff as last year. We are nipping it in the bud, though. It's not my fault if he stays up too late playing video games after being told to go to bed. He doesn't get to be "sick" and stay home and sleep because he made wrong choices. He gets to go to school anyway. And his video game machine gets to sleep in my room until the weekend.
My mom had her 76th birthday on the 28th and then my husband had his 46th birthday on the 30th, but it was all very laid back. We had too much work to do to really celebrate. We had to clean 18 rabbit cages over the weekend, plus we were canning. Farm chores and garden preservation do not stop just because someone is now a year older.
It has been raining pretty non-stop for the last two days. Since it has only rained twice prior to this the entire summer, it is very good for the area, but I feel spoiled after such a nice summer for wanting it to stop. And I'm worried it will spoil and split the rest of my tomatoes. The weather is supposed to get nice again by Friday, at least for a few days.
It is amazing to me that 2 3 gallon buckets of tomatoes from the garden, an onion, 2 bell peppers, and 5 cloves of garlic boiled down for 4 to 5 hours are what it takes to make 4.5 quarts of spaghetti sauce. How the heck do they sell it so cheap in the stores? I don't get it.
Even the organic tomato sauce is cheap. Yet tomatoes, even in season like now, are freakishly expensive when you don't grow them yourself. And ketchup? How is ketchup so cheap? I seriously do not get it after all the processing I've been doing.
Oh, well. I now have a total of 4 quart jars, 5 pint and a half jars, and one pint of completely homemade spaghetti sauce. And judging from the tomatoes still on my table and the unripe ones still on the plants, there is no end in sight. It tastes amazing though.
It has been a very busy week for me in the kitchen. I have canned 7 quarts of dill pickles (please, make the cucumbers stop now), 13 pint and a half jars and 1 pint jar of green beans, 5 quarts of rabbit meat, and 14 quarts of Yukon Gold potatoes. I made a batch of rabbit jerky.
I have chopped and frozen several quart size baggies worth of bell peppers and onions, and made a quart of salsa from the garden today because I had several tomatoes that were finally ripe all at once.
I am close to the $800 mark on how much produce I have gotten from my organic garden this spring and summer and with these tomatoes ripening it is going to easily reach the $1000 mark. And that doesn't even take into account the numerous acorn and sweet meat squashes coming on. This was so worth the $400 it took to build this garden.
Tomorrow I have to make bone broth from all the rabbit bones and then I will need to can it the next day. I want to try to get another 20 pounds of potatoes canned and another 20 pounds of green beans. And I think next week will be the start of some serious tomato harvesting and canning, too.
We will be butchering chickens at that point, too. None too soon as some of them are starting in with mini-crowing. Nothing loud and it's pretty pathetic rooster cries, but we want to keep it that way and get it done before they start waking the neighborhood.
Fortunately I can easily can diced tomatoes and salsa. Sauce and ketchup will just have to wait until the chickens are done. Since we will have a plucker, I think we can get through 15 to 20 chickens a day. Should take us 3 to 4 days to do it. DH can butcher 8 rabbits in an hour. Chickens are more work than that, but I think we can spend about 3 hours a day on it and get it done pretty easily. Or at least quickly.
We get our 1/4 of a beef on Friday. I've made enough room in the freezer by canning a lot of the rabbit meat that was in there over the last few weeks. There will be room for our 30 chickens, too.
It will be nice not to have to buy much in the way of meat (pretty much just seafood and bacon) for the next half year or so.
I was able to do a little more today without completely feeling like my head was in outer space, but I kept my son with me or my mother with me while I did things. I had top pick green beans, about 3 pints worth and then I pulled out the spent vines, which was about 1/4 of them and fed them to the birds who will love me forever for it, or at least until tomorrow.
I picked 3 jalapenos and about a dozen strawbrerries and a yellow crookneck squash and then watered the 3 large beds for the day.
Then I took my son to the front yard and had him pick the zucchini and our first front yard yellow crookneck squash. I still can't bend down without getting dizzy and in the front yard I can't sit down at a chair to work since everything is in the ground and not raised beds.
Then he picked a bucket full of cucumbers. There are cantaloupe coming and loads of acorn squash and the sweet meat has squash on it, too, now. One of the vines had climbed up a stalk of corn and was making it's way across the top of several other stalks so we had to unwind and disconnect it, then redirect to the ground. These squashes will get too heavy to be airborne!
Then after a break he brought the 8 rabbits that had been thawing in the fridge to the freezer and I cut the meat off the bones of all the back legs and back pieces. We had half the front legs for dinner tonight and I refroze the other 8 front legs for another night when we want barbecue "wings." The rib cage pieces are soaking in a brine and we will have them for dinner Thursday night as southern fried rabbit.
I took the meat that I had deboned and it filled 5 quart jars and then I canned them. That will make for some nice stews, enchiladas, and pulled rabbit for future meals this fall and winter. Tomorrow I will roast the bones and then start another pot of bone broth going that I will also can. It'll have to be after my doctor's appointment tomorrow, though. I will also can the green beans I picked today. I should have 2 pint and a half jars there.
I need to pull out 8 more bags of rabbit meat to defrost from the freezer. I am trying to get as much canned as possible between now and when our 1/4 beef share is ready at the end of the month and also have room for the meat chickens we will be butchering in September. And then make sure there will be room for the turkeys we will order. We will be canning some of the hamburger and some of the beef roasts as well. Having so much canned meat on hand makes the school year go so smoothly where meals are concerned.
I need to try to make it over to the canning sale as well. 2 stores are having one and it's about the same so I'll go to whichever one I am closest to. I also want to buy some carrots to can. What I grow won't be enough. I'm down to 3 or 4 jars of carrots so it is very low.
The only thing I'm lower on is potatoes. And from the looks of what Mom dug up today, I will probably need to order potatoes to make up for it. Probably 50 pounds and then again 50 pounds later in the season. I'd really like to have 104 quarts of potatoes on the shelves before I'm through. That will allow us to have potatoes twice a week. 156 quarts would be more ideal, but I'm not sure if that will happen or not.
It sounds like a lot to be doing, but the kids will be helping me and so will Mom. We'll get it done and I will take rest as I need it.
Yesterday DH and I went grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. I am hoping not to have to shop again except for milk and bananas for about 3 weeks. It is pretty hard to do with the pain and fogginess from my broken nose and what actually probably is a mild concussion. Or else just a reaction to the pain medication. Hard to say, but I feel very out of it.
I spent $162.71. We got a few packaged meals and some other things that will make it easy to fill in around the produce coming in from the garden and the meat in the freezer.
We have canned a lot this week. My husband has done a lot of it under my supervision simply because I get dizzy a lot right now. But between the two of us we have canned:
7 quarts and 1 pint of beef
6 quarts and 1 pint of rabbit
6 quarts of zucchini and summer squash
3 pint and a half jars of green beans
13 pints of rabbit bone broth
6 pints of bread and butter pickles
6 quarts of garlic dill pickles
We also made a batch of rabbit jerky with the abdominal flaps that can be very chewy and basically are only good for being ground or making jerky. Some people make bacon with it, but I feel it is too chewy for bacon.
We plan to can hamburger and more beef chunks today and more rabbit tomorrow. I need to do another batch of garlic dill pickles as the cucumbers are getting ridiculous.
I have an order in with a local place for 20 pounds of no spray green beans. We are having issues with the pole bean crop so I wanted to make sure I had enough green beans canned for the year. I think between that and what we do get from our garden it will cover it. I will be buying some carrots soon, too. We are down to 4 quarts of canned carrots. The ones I am growing are more for fresh eating and a little dehydrating as they don't get very big.
We also have an order in for dill since the stores keep running out. They don't seem to be stocking very well for pickling season this year. They do have those super expensive little plastic packets, but one of those costs about as much as a huge bunch of fresh dill.
I bought a garlic braid since my garlic crop failed. It has about 40 heads of garlic on it, which will meet my needs for the year. I have 5 or 6 left on last year's braid so am going to slice up the cloves, dehydrate them, and grind into powder.
Fortunately a lot of this stuff I can do sitting down. I do have to be careful not to push too hard, but it is difficult when there is so much to do to get ready for winter.
I heard the other day that our beef share should be ready on August 28th or thereabouts. I am getting 1/4 of a grass fed, organic beef. It will work out to $4 per pound. We will can most of the roasts and some of the hamburger. I will also be getting 10 pounds of tallow to render for soap making and lotion making. Beef fat is very good for those things and very healthy for the body, as opposed to a lot of the chemically laden soaps and lotions.
Next month the meat chickens will be ready to butcher as well, so I'll be putting 30 chickens in the freezer. We'll also have 3 rabbits ready to butcher then, too. So lots of work coming up, but it will be so worth it to not buy much meat for a year at the store. And in the long run we save a lot of money buy buying in bulk and preserving or raising our own and preserving.
We will still have to buy sea food since DH's big fishing trip fell through. I was pretty disappointed as they were going to be fishing for King salmon and one of those would have been around 35 pounds, plenty for a year. But life happens and there is nothing we can do about it now.
I have been saving up my Swagbucks for a while and finally had enough Amazon gift cards to pay for about half of the deluxe model of Excalibur Dehydrator, the one with both temperature settings and a 26 hour timer with automatic shut off. I was trying to go for the whole thing to be free, but then my piece of junk dehydrator quit working. I am in the middle of herb drying season and while I can borrow my mother's cheap piece of junk dehydrator, and did, to keep limping along, it was the push I needed to just go ahead and make the purchase.
I had $121.75 in gift cards and it cost $225. I also had to purchase the fruit leather trays because they don't come with any model of the machine. Well, maybe the $500 professional one, but no. I ended up paying a total of $156.63. Part of that was tax of $20.76 and then the trays were $32.62 (for 9) and the rest was the part of the dehydrator not covered by the gift cards.
With the fruit leather trays I can dehydrate tomato puree, mashed squash, even chicken stock all to be ground to make powders. Dehydrated chicken stock put through a spice grinder makes boullion powder without any of those nasty chemicals from store bought versions. As well as very tiny herb leaves like thyme or flower petals like calendula without having to worry about them falling through trays.
Right now I have 5 trays of basil dehydrating which will be followed tomorrow by more calendula, lemon balm, and yarrow. I am hoping that I won't have to buy many herbs this year at all and I will be able to make salves and other herbal remedies. I'm already on my way with the calendula:
I did dry all of my oregano in bundles up on the wall and not in the dehydrator. If you'd like to see how I process that I did a video of it, too.
Herbs are so expensive for such a tiny amount, especially if you want organic. I will really be saving a lot of money this year by growing so many myself.
I'm really getting into herbal healing, doing a lot of research and trying to figure out what works best for my needs. Heaven knows the store bought remedies are not working well for me. While I don't think herbs are going to be a miracle cure, so far from what I've done myself with essential oils, they do seem to work. I will approach it with healthy skepticism until I have first hand experience with all of it.
I went to Joe's Garden and bought some broccoli and cauliflower and green onion plugs and got those planted today to replace all the ones I've harvested. I also bought some more basil plants. I spent $25.38 there.
I haven't been updating much on the garden output as I've just been trying to keep up with it and getting it eaten and/or preserved. But I've been keeping a tally and so far I've harvested enough food to equal $602.50 if I bought the same thing in the organic section of the grocery store.
And the zucchini, summer squash, peppers, beans, corn and tomatoes are just starting to fruit and we still have potatoes and winter squash, cucumbers, watermelon, sunflower seeds, and cantaloupe to come. We have now paid back the amount we spent on building the raised beds and the money we spent on bringing in three cubic yards of good organic soil. I am beyond thrilled at this garden year.
We had two litters of rabbit kits born this weekend. There were five whites born on the 3rd and 7 reds born on the 4th. The red runt died, though. It had no sucking reflex and couldn't nurse. But we still have 11 healthy kits. One of the rabbits didn't deliver though. Sometimes when it is too hot the bucks will go temporarily sterile. This is the second time this has happened this year, though it was a different doe each time. I am glad I am breeding 3 pairs at a time.
I've got orders for fertile turkey eggs. The first one will be filled tomorrow. It's just two. Then I have an order for 12, then 2, then 12 again. It's only 50 cents an egg. I could charge more, these are heritage breed turkeys and rare, but I am in it more for breed preservation than for making money. It's nice having a waiting list. I just wish I had more than one female so I could fill orders faster, but we don't have the space for it so that will have to wait until we buy our farm and move.
I feel like I am starting to settle into a routine now between the garden and the farm chores and making all of my meals from what is available here and not by making a quick run to the store or getting take out. As the garden moves into heavier production more time needs to be spent there.
I have harvested a pound of snow peas from the garden this week, 2 bunches of kale, 1 head of lettuce, 2 bunches of green onions, and 3 kohlrabi. My broccoli is getting close to harvest size, which astounds me. It is all so early, but with this weather, I can't blame it.
I am enjoying the cooking this week more than I have in a long while. I don't know if it is just access to super fresh ingredients from the garden or knowing it is all food I grew and/or preserved myself, but it feels different. I haven't felt any resentment over cooking like I sometimes do. I mean I love cooking, but I am often irritated when it all falls on me. This last week I don't seem to care about that. It's like an attitude has shifted. Of course the children are helping far more than they ever have before so maybe that is why?
Some things were quite challenging since the hot water tank that feeds the main kitchen went out and had to be replaced. We couldn't use the dishwasher and every pot and pan that we cooked in had to be hauled down to the half-kitchen that had hot water. That went on for 5 days, but we got a new tank put in and had hot water again last night.
As promised here is the video of my meals for the first week of the challenge:
I am looking forward to the rest of this challenge. It is good to be feeling so positive about it.
So DH texted me and they found a bed for the extra four nights so we won't have to worry about the four days he had to take off to be home for DD's graduation. I won't have to touch the college fund, the January Money Fund, or the Emergency Fund. So now I can focus on building the JMF and the Tire Fund with no stress hanging over my head. Or at least no more stress than usual. Which is quite a relief.
I sold 2 dozen duck eggs this morning for $9. I gave her a discount since she brought me a dozen egg cartons.
We had one litter of kits born today. Ruby had 5 reds. We are still waiting on Serenity and Phoebe to have their litters. They were due on Sunday, so they are overdue now. Phoebe has pulled fur, but other than building a very nice nest, Serenity shows no signs of being in labor. Hopefully I will come out to more kits in the morning.
As I said in my meal planning post I am going to try to go the whole month eating only from the Pantry/Freezers/Garden. I did go and buy flour and sugar today. I will only buy milk, but I will go u-pick some strawberries to make jam as I won't miss out on making jam for the year when the local berries are in season. I do have a jar of pectin so I won't need to buy that for making jam.
I picked my first snow peas today. I am so happy to have them. We will have them in this week's stir-fry dinner. It is only one serving's worth, so if we put it in the stir-fry we'll all get to have some. We should have a ton more in a couple days and then we can each have a serving of them.
...so you can see what I've been up to when I'm not stressing out over DD's medical issues.
The Raised Bed Garden:
The kits at the 3 week mark.
The Raised Bed Garden Again
The Gutter Garden and George
3 Sisters Garden and Potato Garden
Gina, who thinks she is a duck.
That is how life has felt lately. I've done a lot and had a lot more still left to do.
I have sold $72 worth of rabbit meat and 2 dozen duck eggs for $9 (discounted .50 each since they brought their own egg cartons). I have also traded 10 fertile duck hatching eggs for 14 calendula starts. It was supposed to be 12, but there were a couple extra plants hitchhiking in.
The garden is doing beautifully. I have got lots of things planted and I am hardening off four trays of my seedlings and have four more trays under the lights. They have done great and almost everything I planted has sprouted. I think I have a germination failure rate of 1 out of 50 seeds so far. Except for the green onions, but I have to be patient. Those can take 14 days to germinate from seed. So they still might come up. That was old seed though so who knows?
I've got my carrots, zucchini, and yellow summer squash planted. All of the garden beds have been built and all but two have been fully filled. The irrigation system has been put in to everything but those last two beds. We will finish those up when DH comes home towards the end of next week.
We had 3 litters of rabbit kits born a week ago Sunday. One died due to an improperly nipped umbilical cord, so we have 14 live ones in this batch.
We have let the turkeys come out to free range for a few hours a day on days it is not raining. They are enjoying hanging with the other birds. I let them out mostly in the afternoons. Gina lays her egg around 5 p.m. and if she is in the coop she will lay it from the perch, which means splat. If she is outside she will lay it on the ground. She is not laying consistently yet.
I have made a ton of videos for my other blog, so thought I'd share them here as well. Most of them are pretty short.
Newborn litters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmHkqdzSD9k
The turkeys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlIvIEF8jJ8
Raised Bed Garden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMN9vIWLxZc
Gutter Garden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2f1IhwwwWU
Kits at 5 days old: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmB_RYTzaoA
Kits at 8 days old (fully furred) and 8 weeks old: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFc6aF7xuP0
It was a long weekend here on the farmlet, but all of the does kindled their litters and with the exception of a tiny runt, nothing was wrong with any of them. They all look healthy and strong, even the runt who was wiggly and vocal. I have never had a kit this small before and I hope it will make it. It is teeny. It is as wide as my index finger and as long as my pinky. In comparison, a normal sized new born kit is about two fingers wide and as long as my middle finger.
You can see for yourself how small it is. He is towards the middle of the photo surrounded by his bigger siblings.
This is Firefly's first litter and she had seven. If the littlest one survives it will probably have to be grown out two to three weeks longer than the rest.
The other two litters are doing well. Persephone had six, four of which are bigger than the other two, but even those smaller ones are still way bigger than the runt.
Luna Blue's litter was also six. Hers are all really big, but since Leo is the father that is to be expected. You can definitely see the difference in size in this photo.
So with 19 kits, 3 of which will have to grow out longer, I am glad I held off breeding on Wednesday. I think I will wait until the 11th and then breed 3 does again.
I sold 2 dozen eggs on Friday, making farm sales for February $105 and $132.50 for 2015. I will take a dozen to my physical therapist tomorrow. We are starting to get a surplus built up again and by tomorrow I should have 3 dozen. I plan to make a pound cake this week and 2 batches of peanut butter cookies. I may make some egg bread, too. We'll see.
I have lost 21 pounds so far since December 31st. I have 2 days let in the first round of my six month diet bet. Unless something goes drastically wrong, I should win it.
I am pretty excited about some of the upcoming things on the farm. I sent a check off today for $330 to a local sustainable farmer who raises rabbits as well. He's going to be importing organic rabbit pellets from Modesto Mills in California and has offered to let anyone in the county get in on his order, no shipping fees. Since he wasn't sure how often at first he'd be ordering, I got a 2 month supply, or 600 pounds. Well, technically, this is more than a 2 month supply at the moment, because we have no kits and are just feeding the 13 adults and 1 junior who will be an adult in another month.
But we have kits due on Saturday/Sunday, so in about 4 weeks that consumption will go up to 300 pounds a month. This does a little more than double our rabbit feed costs, but with the new small animal slaughter house starting to butcher rabbits this spring, I will be able to sell WSDA approved meat if I use them. Rabbit meat from rabbits fed organically gets upwards of $15 a pound. So selling one rabbit would cover the cost of 2 bags of feed. I have interest from people who I have not sold to yet, because of not having the WSDA approval.
I do not mind raising the feed costs, since our old feed that used to be GMO free no longer is with the heavy introduction of GMO alfalfa into the rabbit feed supply a year or so ago. Which, by the way, has coincided with increased kit mortality in many rabbitries across the states. It may not show up in humans this quickly, but with something like the rabbit population where generations are born in a very short time span, it can very quickly be seen. Not proven, but the anecdotal evidence amongst breeders is pretty high. Just another reason to thank Monsanto for their constant interference in nature and scientifically proven (by non-M researchers) lower yields (despite advertising higher ones).
We don't buy alfalfa hay anymore as there is just no real way to track that unless we buy farm direct, which we may do this summer (and eventually will grow ourselves when we buy our 5 acre farm).
So anyway, I am happy to find organic non-GMO feed again for my rabbits. We will do a slow switchover, as a rapid feed change can kill the bunnies. But we have 200 pounds of the old feed left, so we should be good with a gradual switch over. Might have to buy an additional 100 pounds, but we will play that by ear.
Here is a short rabbit video I made yesterday. It shows the different nesting styles of my three rabbits who are currently pregnant.
Aside from the auto deductions and the AMEX bill, which have money set aside for them, I am hoping for a no spend week starting tomorrow and going through next Tuesday. We have plenty of food, milk, and medication and toiletries in the house and no reason to spend any money on anything, so this week should be a breeze to get through. I won't have physical therapy again for 8 days, which I will have to pay, or I'd be trying to go no spend until January 9th, which is our next payday.
Today we spent $75 on rabbit feed and oats and I spent $90 on physical therapy.
The kids start back to school on Monday and normally I would buy lunch meat, but I am just going to make an extra pizza on Sunday and then they can take that for lunches. They both like cold pizza over sandwiches anyway and since I make it with lots of onions and peppers it is reasonably well balanced.
My husband taught my FIL and my mom how to butcher rabbits so they could help do it and DH could keep his injured finger out of them, so on Monday they butchered 10. These ones were a few weeks older than our norm, so it'll be close to 35 pounds of meat and about 2.5 pounds of livers. I will be working on cutting it all up tomorrow for grinding. We should get about 35 pounds of burger after the bones are taken out.
Then I will boil up the bones, pick off the remaining meat, and can the stock. I might even make up some ready made soups to can with the meat from the bones, although generally I save that for making enchiladas.
I am about ready to start cooking again, even though I'm not over this illness. My brain is starting to unfog, which is good. And since DH just left for Alaska and won't be able to help, I am glad I feel like I am capable to start at least making dinners again.
Yesterday I got my $78 check in the mail from Pinecone. We also got the $50 Safeway gift card for Christmas from DH's work. DH came home last night. He will be here for 22 days. It is nice having him home again.
Change of plans on the Christmas bonus. I was hoping to put half of it into the 401K, but apparently the only choices there actually are is to contribute the percentage you normally contribute from each paycheck, or put all of it in. I didn't want to jack up the percentage because it would then interfere with the next paycheck, too.
Since we don't know how much the van is going to cost to fix, I guess it is just as well. I will try to put half of it into the Emergency Fund instead. As long as there is enough to start DH's bachelor's program, I don't forsee that being too much of a problem.
This morning DH had the car towed to the dealership and they are dealing with both the fact that it won't start and the fact that it is leaking water into the seat belt well every time it rains, resulting in a soaked driver's side seat belt. There might be a leak in the moon roof, but they were able to rule out a defective door seal.
We will know more tomorrow, but it is $99 to diagnose what is wrong with the starter (or whatever) and $99 to diagnose the leak, so we are already $200 into this before anything is actually fixed. Oh, and it cost $70 to tow it the 3 miles to the dealership, but I think we will get that reimbursed from our insurance. I believe we have towing on it. We used to. Might have stopped that when we got AAA, though. I didn't want to do another AAA call, because that is for emergencies (even if they do take forever) and we only get so many service calls per year.
I have made the decision not to keep one of Sienna's kits. One of the does has a white spot on her face (as does one of the bucks, and Sienna had a white spot on her shoulder) and this is a genetic flaw. The other one doesn't but with 2 kits showing up with it, I don't want to take that chance as it is a disqualification for show. We wouldn't be able to sell any of her kits as show quality. The other doe kit is very jumpy, too. We didn't start working with them young enough for them not to be skittish, because of course we never expected to lose Sienna.
Cinnabun has had a personality change anyway, since we moved her into Sienna's cage. She is now being pretty sweet, so between her and Firefly, I have enough female reds. I had briefly considered keeping a red buck kit, but again, that white spot could turn up and also if I raise another red buck kit, I don't want him to be related to Wildfire. I want more diversity than that.
I miss Sienna, but keeping one of her kits won't bring her back and won't strengthen my lines, so I am trying to be practical.
I have someone who has expressed interest in buying duck eggs for hatching. Hopefully she will get back to me soon because it will take a few days to collect them. Hatching eggs cannot be washed or refrigerated and have to be treated differently than normally collected eggs. And they can only be kept for 7 days before going into the incubator. After that viability plummets.
Not much else going on. The kids will go on a field trip on Friday. They will pack a lunch, but will also need money for dinner. DH and I will go coat shopping while they are gone, so there are a few expenses coming up.
We will have to wait until the current spate of aggressive wind storms are over before butchering rabbits. Bad weather freaks them out and we try to keep the experience as calm as possible for them so they are not stressed. We have 18 to do over the next 3 weeks and then we will be done butchering again until June. It'll be nice to put that chore away for several months. It'll also be nice to have another 45 pounds of meat in the freezer.
I've been thinking a lot about what I've accomplished this year and what I want to accomplish next year. The last couple of years have been pretty big for us in paying down debt and this year was, too.
Milestones hit in 2014:
--Paying off the Mortgage
--Hitting the halfway mark on paying off the loan to Mom
--Paying down the van loan far enough that we owe less on it than it is worth
--Hitting $10K on the Emergency Fund. It wasn't there for long, but it was there, and it will be again by the end of this year so I count that as a win.
We have also made great strides towards becoming self-sufficient, though we still have a long way to go. What happened this year:
--Expanding the farm to four types of livestock as well as building the housing for those animals
--Butchering chickens, turkeys, and ducks for our own consumption (joining the rabbits we have been doing previously), so we almost never have to purchase meat (just the occasional beef and pork)
Joining a Bartering and Sales group within the local farm community, within which I have been able to sell rabbit breeding stock, rabbit livers for dog food, duck eggs, and barter for raw goat's milk cheddar and chevre, natural homemade salves, and beef
Found a processing facility that is WSDA approved AND nearby so if we want to move into meat sales next year, we can
Grew a marginally successful organic garden that netted 80 pounds of potatoes, 20 pounds of tomatoes, 8 quarts of green beans, 2 quarts of yellow beans, excessive amounts of lettuce, kale, and leeks, 15 bunches of green onions, enough parsley (still drying) for a year, 12 heads of broccoli, 5 heads of cauliflower, 1 pound of chard 1 dozen kohlrabi, 10 pounds of cucumbers, 30 pounds of zucchini, 35 pounds of sweet meat squash, 5 gallons of blueberries, 10 quarts of raspberries, 3 gallons of blackberries, enough apples for 80 pints of applesauce and 22 quarts of pie apples, and 10 pounds of Italian plums. This provided nicely for us and our animals.
All in all, the year has been a lot more successful than it has felt at times. I think we can be very happy with what we have accomplished.
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