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Eye Health--Vitamins and Diet

August 12th, 2018 at 05:12 pm

I cancelled my subscription to the eye supplement I have been taking since the retinal tear. It was for floaters and it did seem to work for the first few months, but after my other eye developed a boat load of floaters last month, I have concluded that it no longer has any value.

Instead I am trying a vitamin regimen of selenium, lutein, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, and gingko biloba. I've been doing that for a week and the floaters seem lighter. I have also started doing some eye circulation exercises that are supposed to help with eye tiredness. I am also trying to eat more foods with beta carotene.

So that means I will try to focus a little more on orange sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and other dark leafies, butternut squash and other orange-fleshed squashes, cantaloupe, lettuce, red and orange bell peppers, apricots, peaches, nectarines, broccoli, and pea pods. I will be canning a case of nectarines this year and I already have a lot of apricot preserves.

Hopefully I will see some improvement. Squash is cheap and I like it and sweet potatoes are cheap here, too, even the organic ones, and of course, so are carrots, so I will likely lean towards them the most. It will add some nice variety to the diet as well. I tend to lean too heavily on regular potatoes, pasta, and rice for the carbs in our diet. These will be better for us. I think my goal will be too have something orange on my plate at least once a day.

For CreditCardFree on Thrive Life

March 26th, 2018 at 03:55 pm

CreditCardFree asked me to talk about Thrive Life freeze-dried foods, what I like, what I don't, what I use, and whether or not it really saves money.

I think it would be easier for me to say what products I don't like than what I do like, since I have liked almost everything I have tried. I dislike their instant potatoes. I find the texture to be a little rubbery and unless you season the heck out of them they have no flavor. I don't like the asparagus, it reconstitutes to be very mushy. I don't like the Passionfruit yogurt bites. I don't care for the larger chicken slices and the larger beef slices, as I think it takes far too long for them to reconstitute, longer than claimed.

The small beef and small chicken I like a lot, as well as the ground beef crumbles and the sausage crumbles. I have not tried any of the vegetarian meat products.

What I use most are the onions, the bell peppers, the chili peppers, the potato dices, the celery, the carrots, the green onions and the sweet corn. The sweet corn tastes like candy and we often eat it right from the can like popcorn.

I use the sour cream powder a lot. I have wasted so much sour cream over the years, so to be able to make out the exact amount per recipe with none leftover to mold in the fridge has saved us quite a bit. I also like their instant milk, for those days when we run out and I need a cup for making potatoes or something. I love the butter powder, too, because we have also run out of butter on occasion. I can just make up as much as we need or put some in a recipe.

I also use their seasoning blends, sauce mixes, bouillons, and tomato powder (which is in place of using tomato paste). They have no MSG or other suspect ingredients in these, which is amazing for bouillon. Less occasionally I use the kale and spinach in soups. We love the yogurt bites in vanilla, cherry, strawberry, pomegranate, and blueberry. That's one of my favorite things, actually, as I hate the texture of regular yogurt and I can just eat these straight without adding water and the texture issue isn't there.

I do use the freeze-dried fruit, but I haven't quit buying regular fruit. My kids like the fruit a lot and eat it as is. I think it is great for putting into cereal or muffins, but I don't care to just snack on it.

Most of the veggies are good. I like the broccoli, green beans (though I prefer my home canned), zucchini, and cauliflower. My husband likes the mushrooms (I can't eat mushrooms). The sweet potatoes and butternut squash are pretty good. Nothing is going to be crisp with freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, so I usually use fresh veggies for stir-fries, and these go into casseroles and egg bakes. My MIL likes eating the cauliflower straight out of the can.

Their instant brown rice and instant white rice we use on occasion. They are good, but I'm not sure they are any better than minute rice. I do like the fact that they have some instant beans. My son raves about the multi-grain pancake mix.

I do see some money saving. Because I am not having to peel anything, I am not paying for the weight of the part of the food that gets peeled off and thrown away. It is already cut up into the right size, so I am not having to spend time cutting up onions or other veggies, which saves my hands. With the RA, my hands often hurt too much to peel and chop, so that is a meal saver on those days. It doesn't have the chance to rot in the fridge before I can use it, so I'm not then having to pay to throw it away.

I tend to buy the products that are more pricey when they go on sale. They have different products on sale each month and then they do two semi-annual sales a year that have almost everything discounted. They have one day flash sales once in a while as well. The meat and the yogurt are most expensive so I only buy those when they are on sale and the same with the more expensive fruits (raspberries, grapes, cherries, pears). The rest is pretty well-priced and if you buy more than $100 on the monthly delivery program the shipping is free.

I don't buy the Simple Plates, which are the pre-made meal kits. I think they are expensive for what they are. They are meant to compete with things like Blue Apron and Freshly. While I got several when I got my consultant starter kit, most of them have mushrooms mixed in with the rest of the veggies, so I can't eat them. The family has liked what they have tried, but I wouldn't purchase them myself.

They do have some starter packs called Chef Kits that come in a set for $105 and come with recipes and you can make several recipes from each kit. They have a Southwest Chicken Kit, a Ground Beef Kit, and a Pulled Pork Kit. A lot of people like to start off with those so they can make a few meals and see if they like them. Or they have variety packs of vegetables, fruits, yogurts, and cheese which brings the price down a bit.

I seldom buy their cheese, but when their Parmesan or Monteray Jack goes on sale I will get some if I am out. Those we use so little of that it is not worth buying from the store because it'll go bad before we can use it all. But cheddar and mozzarella I still buy fresh as it is cheaper.

What it is great for is the shelf-life. Most products are one year after being opened, with three exceptions, the ham, the turkey, and the pulled pork. The ham is awful anyway. I forgot to say that I didn't like the ham. It didn't taste like ham to me, just pork and not well flavored. Unopened products have a shelf-life of 25 years, so there is that.

So like all things, you have to comparison shop and get some items on sale. But it has been worth it for me to save my hands a lot of work.

For everything you buy, you get points and after you get enough points you can cash them in for free product. As a consultant I also get a commission off of anyone's purchase from my website: https://www.thrivelife.com/luckyrobinshomestead. If anyone signs up for the monthly delivery (which requires a $25 purchase each month) I get a larger percentage commission and if people sign up to be consultants under me I get a percentage of their sales. It only goes four levels so it is not an unending pyramid. As a consultant I am required to spend $50 a month, which I more than spend anyway. I also have the expense of the website which is $10 a month. But I so far have been making about $60 each month. I don't really work the business, though. I have a couple people that purchase each month. I get a little business from my youtube channel, but I don't do parties or anything. If I did, I could make a lot more, but this is more passive for me.

Anyway, I hope that answered all of your questions and if not, let me know and I will try to answer any more you have.

This and That

February 5th, 2018 at 10:16 pm

We spent the weekend working in storage again. I found 55 cents, bringing my total of found money this year to $2.68 American and $1.60 Canadian. We pulled out 5 big black garbage bags of stuff and filled an 18 gallon and a 25 gallon tote with paper to recycle. I also have another box we filled about 8 inches high with papers to be shredded. We donated two more boxes of books.

I paid off all of the medical bills from my daughter's ER visit. It was upwards of $8000. Our Emergency Fund is down to $5000 or so. I don't have the exact numbers. It is depressing and a little scary to have so little in savings, especially when we still don't know how long DH will actually have a job for.

We have no safety net now if he loses his job. DD still needs to have her sinus surgery, so we will use part of the tax refund for that. It really can't be put off any longer and who knows when we will have insurance again if DH gets laid off. The insurance is really good at least for however long we get to keep it, even if they are taking a boat load of money out of his paycheck for it.

It was nice to see the extra money in the paycheck this week from the tax cut. We'll only see it for this month, though, since in March it will go into the 401K. We really don't want to not put money in the 401K, so as soon as he qualifies it is going in even if it is only 2%.

I've been doing a low carb diet for a week now and lost 10 pounds. I am keeping my total carbs to 60 grams a day, which is what the bariatric specialist recommended last time. This time I am doing it without a weekly cheat day. I am really pushing the water. I feel better already, which is nice because last week I had that nasty stomach virus that's been going around.

The only thing that is bad about this diet is that my acne is acting up. It is supposed to be because when you lose fat the toxins that were locked in those cells come out whatever way they can. In my case it is through cystic acne. It hurts and I hate it, but I'm not going to give up, because I have to get this weight off my body. I don't want to spend the rest of my life like this. It physically hurts too much.

There really hasn't been much going on. Well, other than we lost another rabbit and now I'm afraid there might be something going around the herd. We lost Bonfire, who was out of Firefly and Wildfire, who are both gone, too. But we have her daughter Sadie and we haven't yet sold or butchered her other three offspring so if we want to keep another one, we could.

Then again, I've been thinking of downsizing, so I don't know. But right now this puts us at only 3 breeding age does and I'd like 4. But I might like a doe out of Sadie and Vincent when I breed them, so I don't know. They might not even have a likely candidate in their first litter, either.

The garden is starting to put some volunteers up. There is spinach growing and sorrel. There are onions and garlic as well, that I did not plant in the fall, so maybe they seeded or maybe ones I planted early last spring that never came up, came up now. The kale overwintered and there are some beets, too. I am looking forward to spring and rebirth and growing things and green coming back to the trees and flowers. It always makes me feel better when the dreariness of winter lifts.

Meal Planning for the Week

November 27th, 2017 at 12:52 am

We've done a pretty good job of dealing with our Thanksgiving leftovers. Dinner Friday was simply a repeat of the day before. I made up 12 TV dinners for the freezer. I made a big batch of turkey noodle soup. Word of warning, if you use purple carrots in your soup, your soup will be purple. Tasted great, though. Then I diced up the remainder of the meat, which was about 2 cups worth, and froze it and will make stir-fried rice with it in a day or two.

I still have to deal with the bones. I froze them, but I plan to make turkey broth with them this week and then can it. Any remaining meat on the bones will fall off and then I can pick it out and freeze it, either for a casserole or more stir-fried rice. In the past I have made enchiladas with leftover turkey, too, but we had so much stuffing and so many potatoes that I thought it was wiser just to make up the TV dinners, since we are trying to get away from buying store bought emergency TV dinners completely. There was absolutely no wasted food from our Thanksgiving this year. I feel great about that.

Day One:
Slow Cooker BBQ Meatloaf
Fried Potatoes
Green Beans
Canned Pears

Day Two:
Chili Beef Noodle Skillet
Broccoli
Apples

Day Three:
Hearty Beef Casserole
Clementine Oranges

Day Four:
Sesame Chicken
Broccoli/Cauliflower
Turkey Fried Rice
Canned Pineapple

Day Five:
Brined Pork Chops
Fried Potatoes
Green Beans
Apples

Day Six:
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Garlic Bread
Broccoli/Cauliflower
Grapes

Day Seven:
Chicken and Veggie Stir-fry
Turkey Fried Rice
Canned Pineapple

Keeping Things Tight

November 3rd, 2017 at 06:29 am

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.

Picked up Our Pork Order--Breakdown on Cuts

October 20th, 2017 at 05:28 pm

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
4 hams

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.

Adding to Our Food Storage in Preparation for Job Loss

September 26th, 2017 at 08:14 pm

I spent the day canning and as much work as it is, I now have an additional 24 pints of potatoes on the shelves and Mom has 8 for her. It goes a lot faster when two people are doing the work, but even so we were at it for 4 hours with only a five minute break.

I hope to do 20 more pounds in a couple of days, but it depends on whether they have any at the no-spray farm or not. I am still trying to track down more green beans as I'd like to put up another 20 pounds. And I'll need to track down some sweet meat squash as I did not grow any this year, though I've got acorn squash growing. That doesn't keep for 10 months, though, just a few. Sweet meat keeps a long time.

I put in a pretty large order of freeze dried foods. I've been cooking with some of that fairly frequently, especially the chopped onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers. I find it much easier on days that I have arthritis flare ups or exhaustion caused by the auto immune stuff, that I can still cook without having to peel and chop things, I just have to rehydrate it first.

I will probably do one more order next month when their semi-annual sale is on. That is the time to order the freeze-dried meats because the discount is substantial. They work great in chili, spaghetti, and tacos. And in soups. I like this company a lot as it is all non-GMO certified with almost everything coming from North America, most of it the US.

I'll have to put it on hold after that until DH gets another job. We should be able to pretty much weather six months without having to go to the grocery store except for greens once the garden dies.

The Week Just Whizzed By

September 22nd, 2017 at 07:53 pm

DH arrived home on Friday morning last week and he'll be leaving again on Sunday. It feels like I've barely seen him as he's been doing so much running for his parents and appointments. DH spent all day Wednesday in Seattle with his parents. The day before that he got his permanent crown put on.

My son had a dental cleaning, my daughter and I had eye exams and I had a tiny cavity filled on the front of one of my teeth. It was an old filling that had fallen out being replaced by a new one. I had physical therapy and my daughter had an MRI.

We also went to the mall so I could find a new purse as my old one was falling apart. DS had a job interview at the same time, so we saved a trip. Now DH is over doing will and living will stuff with his parents. Tomorrow we have to butcher and then go to BelleWood Acres to U-pick apples and then run over to another farm and see if they have green beans.

DH and I did manage to eke out enough time to watch the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie together Thursday night. I need to do a couple of payday reports, and figure out how much we've spent on medical/dental this week, but the majority of money went to the Citi card.

Thing 1: Daughter's brain MRI came back and there is nothing physically wrong with her brain. Meanwhile the new migraine medication is working well.

Thing 2: The cancer doctor in Seattle is starting FIL on some auto-immune drugs that may help prolong his life. We're talking about a few months though. So we are still looking at 6 months to a year, though that seems better than just the 6 months he was told by a local doctor 6 weeks ago. He seemed in much better spirits when we saw him yesterday.

Thing 3: I've made the decision to give up the chickens. I think I've made the decision to give up the ducks, too. I don't want to give up the ducks, but I really do think it is for the best.

Spendy Day

July 26th, 2017 at 10:50 pm

I spent $35.41 on gas today at the Safeway gas station. The van was running on fumes and that bought 16.712 gallons. I paid $2.12 a gallon. I got 10 cents per gallon off for paying in cash and then I had 4 points, so got an additional 40 cents a gallon off.

I end up getting a lot of points from my mother. She doesn't have her own club card, so she just gives them DH's phone number and what she buys counts towards our points. It really builds up fast that way.

I also picked up two prescriptions at Walgreens for $21.08, then swung by the fruit stand and bought nectarines, corn, and watermelon, all from Eastern WA. He has someone who drives over the pass and brings back produce four times a week and he also sells local stuff, but our corn won't be ready until the end of August here, and nectarines and watermelon are not a crop in Western WA.

I also had a two hour session at P.T. today, so that was $120. She did some massage on my foot, because super klutz that I am, I dropped a glass Pyrex storage bowl on it yesterday. I still occasionally drop things randomly due to the nerve damage in my hand.

The medication the rheumatologist gave me seems to be working really well, so I hope it doesn't screw with my eyes. It's the first time I haven't has severe joint pain in ages. I still have it on the left side ankle, hip, and knee, but I don't feel it much on the right side anymore except just in my hand and wrist sometimes as opposed to all the time. I still get the random swelling, but it doesn't stick around for days, just usually 24 to 48 hours now. So a major improvement.

My FIL was in the hospital for four days and has now been moved to a nursing home. I don't think it is for good, just that he needs more care than MIL is capable of giving him. He ended up getting a blood transfusion and IV fluids, but they still couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. It wasn't his heart (he's had a previous myocardial infarction), it wasn't his kidneys (one only has 4% function as a result of the heart thing), and it wasn't the cancer. His blood pressure was really low, he had a high fever, and chills that wouldn't stop. Prayers for him would be appreciated.

My daughter's new psychiatrist wants her to see a nutritional counselor, but the woman has a two month wait time for new patients. She has a partner that does the same stuff, but that woman doesn't take insurance, so she's out. We can't absorb the cost of anymore out of pocket stuff. The shrink won't see her if she isn't seeing a therapist. I thought the shrink was supposed to take the place of the therapist.

I mean, if she's just there to prescribe pills and not to help fix the underlying problems, she's not that much good to us. Although the new pill is making a major difference and I am glad to have her off the certraline. I've seen huge progress with her anxiety issues and she isn't acting depressed anymore, either. I just wish the medicine didn't make her so sleepy.

DS and I are doing low carb and heading towards the keto diet. It is nice to have someone to do things with. He is carrying an extra 20 pounds he wants to get rid of. He's been going out on 2 hour walks for the last week or so, but he's too self-conscious to go use the gym by himself. If I can stop hurting myself long enough with my clumsiness, we'll start going to the pool together again.

There's not that much else going on. We don't have any pregnant livestock so the youngest babies are coming up on ten weeks old. I don't breed for July or August delivery as it is too hard on the animals with the heat in those months. The garden continues to thrive and produce. So really nothing to speak of on the farm front, either.

I'll try to do a payday report for last Friday tomorrow. Or maybe I'll just wait until Friday and bundle them in one post.

Well, Maybe Not

May 30th, 2017 at 04:59 pm

I woke up in so much pain this morning, that I think maybe I just shouldn't exercise. It might be the weather swing, there was a huge change in barometric pressure overnight, but I think it is probably a combination. I've gotten better through the day as the muscles warmed up. I hate to think even swimming might be something I can't do. I will give it another few tries before I decide, but youch, it was bad.

If I can't swim, then there is no point in retaining our family gym membership. My son is the only one who would want to use it, but he can use our kettle bells, treadmill, his bike, and the free weights we have if it comes to that. If we get it welded, we have a weight bench set up in the garage he could use as well. Or we can get him an individual membership, since the branch of our gym that does not have the pool is within walking/safe biking distance.

The one exercise I seem to be okay with is gardening. Yes, I have to go slow and take frequent breaks, but I am able to maintain the garden mostly on my own. I do need help weed-eating the paths, but because the raised beds are two feet high, I can easily do weeding and planting and harvesting.

There has been a lot to harvest, lately, too. Two days ago, for example, I filled 4 2 gallon containers with six types of lettuce and spinach. I also pulled about 20 carrots. A couple days before that I had a 5 gallon bucket full of chard and kale and 2 full of sorrel. We can't eat all of it. I gave a big bag to the neighbor and at least half of it goes to help feed the animals. They appreciate the fresh greens.

I will soon have strawberries, green onions, and kohlrabi to harvest, and the broccoli may not be far behind. The snow peas are blossoming, so I hope to see peas in the next week or two as well. It can't come at a better time, when I have to cut the grocery bill so drastically.

Made it to the Pool and Started a New Dietbet

May 29th, 2017 at 08:14 pm

In an effort to start exercising again, we made it to the pool today. It was during open swim and while there was a free lap lane, I didn't swim laps. What I did was grab a pool noodle, stick it under my arms, and then do the bicycling legs while floating thing for 20 minutes. Then I pretty much just floated for a while. Gravity is not my friend right now, so anything that helps me defy it is wonderful.

I figured I should take it easy in the beginning as I don't want to hurt myself when I am just getting started. I have no stamina right now. A lot of times working in the garden I end up huffing and puffing. I am just so out of shape. It's a good thing I took it easy, too, because my legs felt like jelly when I got out.

I sat in the hot tub for about 15 minutes and then took a nice long shower, since no one else was in the locker room. I am almost out of my swim shampoo and conditioner. It takes the chlorine out of my hair so I will need to buy some more soon if I keep this up.

I picked up the new pool schedule for the summer and there is only one water Zumba class a week. I am not ready to go to that or water aerobics, though. Not until my feet and ankles are doing better. Hopefully I'll get some kind of medication from the rheumatologist and it will help with all the swelling and tightness that reoccurs.

I also signed up for two dietbets, one a six month transformer and one a month long kickstarter. I finally feel motivated enough to get this weight loss thing moving again. I didn't have to put any money out since I still have a bunch in my account. The kickstarter starts on June 1st and the transformer starts tomorrow.

My son is wanting to eat more healthy and so we will be supporting each other. I am probably going to make my daughter get on the band wagon as well. I hope DH does, too. He's gained back a lot of weight and it is messing with his back. I'm going to stop buying the junk food for the most part. If it isn't in the house no one can eat it in front of me and tempt me.

I'm sure my weight is contributing to my ankle pain and that it isn't all arthritis. It's just so bad and I can't do this to myself anymore. So for now I am motivated and hopefully I can stay motivated.

I am getting my positive attitude back. I think my brain is either adjusting to the spot in my vision or the Occu Power is actually helping to diminish it. Either way it is less irritating than it was even a couple days ago.

I am trying to keep that attitude going, but DH's work is really testing my frustration levels. They waited until the last minute to decide whether he was going to be coming up on Mondays or Thursdays, and finally told him the day he left as he was heading out to catch a plane that it was Thursdays.

Today he gets a call from his boss's boss wondering where he is, because his boss, who said he would take care of putting all the paperwork together, didn't. His boss is the same guy who months ago, conveniently "lost" all three copies of the resume DH gave him and claimed he never received one from him even though DH personally handed him copies of it twice. It feels an awful lot like sabotage part 2.

So while it is now all worked out and in the future he will be starting on Mondays, he has lost 3 days of work out of this coming hitch. That is a big chunk of money that we were depending on.

I won't be able to put anything in the EF and I'm not sure where else I will be able to make cuts. I may actually have to pull from the EF to cover this. I was hoping to buy some new rabbit cages and replace my daughter's bed and put some money aside in case I have to pay for the full amount of the laser eye surgery. Maybe I can get by with buying almost no food in the next six weeks. It'll mean eating a lot of greens from the garden, which we have, and eating from our freezer and canning pantry. Maybe I'll do a challenge.

DH has not heard from the other company who said they'd let him know by the 14th. He will follow up with them tomorrow. I told him he needs to continue job hunting. I just don't trust these guys and all their last minute stuff. The fact that quite a few of them seem to have permanent cases of cranial rectal inversion doesn't help either.

But think positive. I can do that. I need to do that.

Picked Up Our Beef--Breakdown on Cuts

May 24th, 2017 at 08:41 pm

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
Heart: 1
Liver: 5 packages
Flank Steak: 1
Short Ribs: 5
Porterhouse: 2
Eye of Round: 2
Top Round Steak: 6
Sirloin: 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
Brisket: 1
Tenderloin: 2
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.

No Grain, No Pain

May 3rd, 2017 at 04:08 pm

So I am reading the book No Grain, No Pain by Dr. Peter Osborne. He says that grain causes inflammation in those with autoimmune diseases and that eliminating it from you diet can result in a massive decrease in the amount of pain people with autoimmune diseases have.

Well, we are giving it a try for a week and then hopefully for 30 days. It will be hard. Rice, corn, and bread are pretty woven in to my meal plans. It's not as hard for me as it will be for my daughter, since I only ate them at one meal a day anyway. I have plenty of base items that are gluten free anyway, like coconut aminos or fish sauce, so I can make my sauces for stir-fries without worrying. And we can eat riced cauliflower done up like stir-fried rice. I am still keeping pork and shellfish out of the diet as well, since those are not recommended for lupus.

There are a couple of vitamins I will have to get different brands of because they use corn oil. And while reading through the ingredients on all the bottles, I discovered polysorbate 80 in one of them, so I'll have to get a different brand of that as well. Hopefully I can find them without those ingredients. It's only 3 vitamins I need to replace. The other 6 have clean ingredients. So that won't get too expensive all at once. It is the gel capsules that are the problem.

Somewhat Productive Day

April 16th, 2017 at 06:38 pm

I spent about 2 hours in the garden today and I will probably be paying for it for the next two days. I got all the strawberry plants that I had dug up and separated while DH was still home transplanted back into the garden. What had been in one 8 x 2 foot bed is now in three 8 x 2 foot beds and I have two 18 count flats worth of strawberry crowns still in 4 inch pots. I will probably sell them. The stores sell them for $1.50 a pot now so I can probably easily get 50 cents a plant.

After that I got about half of my copra keeping onions in. I need my son to add a bag of soil to the one end of the garden bed because it is much lower than the other before I plant the rest. I planted some blue lobelia, a blue harmony anemone, a purple and white cinnararia, and a blue and white cinnararia. I pulled some weeds, though there weren't very many in the raised beds, just a few.

I have some celery, curly-leafed parsley, and flat leafed parsley that I need to plant still, but I ran out of steam. I am really glad that dinner is in the crockpot. I made rack of lamb. All I did was cover it heavily with herbs de provence. I've made it several times before and it is always so falling off the bone tender and wonderful. I don't usually splurge for lamb, especially rack of lamb, but it was worth it for today. Sides are strawberries, broccoli, and baked sweet potatoes.

I am thinking of going...well, not exactly kosher, but eliminating all of the meats that were considered unclean in Leviticus. Which means bottom feeder fish, shellfish, and pork will be eliminated from my diet. Not sure about rabbit. Hare is excluded, but rabbit is a different species and not specifically mentioned. I think it probably is, though. We've been selling most of our rabbit anyway.

To be honest, sometimes having the rabbits really gets to me, like when we lose litters. Or during butchering time. Sometimes I think it would be nice to narrow down the numbers, keep a few for pets, a few for sales, and not have so much. But they pay for themselves and the family really enjoys the meat. So do I, but I do want to try this kinda kosher thing and see if it makes any difference to my health. I'd still make it for the others.

I can get on very well with the right kind of fish, chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, duck, goose, quail, etc. I eat mostly chicken and turkey anyway. I'd miss lobster, crab, and shrimp, but I don't eat much of that anyway because of the expense.

I see the doctor tomorrow morning. She's new in the practice. I am hoping she is not a ditz like one of the other female doctors and one of the other male doctors. I wanted to see my own doctor, but the receptionist thought I should get in for pain meds on Monday and we could figure out everything else from there. My doctor didn't have an opening this week, as usual. Who knows? If I like this woman, I may switch to her. I have no attachment to my own doctor. I'm lucky if I see him once a year and have no loyalty to him at all, though I like him.

I think I'll go to bed early tonight. I wish this exhaustion would stop. Two hours of fairly slow, but steady working, should not wipe me out this way.

Well, I Wasn't Lazy

August 15th, 2016 at 12:38 pm

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.

A Lot of Pain and A Lot of Canning Coming Up

August 13th, 2016 at 02:19 am

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.

I've Gotten a Lot Done

April 6th, 2016 at 05:39 pm

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.

Interview

October 22nd, 2015 at 10:03 am

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQfQYj60EIQ

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.

Exercise and Related Expenses

October 17th, 2015 at 02:40 pm

Water Aerobics: 45 minutes
Water Weights: 15 minutes
Laps: 16 in 30 minutes
Total exercise: 90 minutes

I was really happy to find out that during lap swim on Saturdays and Sundays they are completely dead. I had the whole pool to myself while I was swimming laps after my class. Someone did finally come in to swim laps as I was changing afterwards. This is great because I hate swimming when it is crowded.

I did 4 water aerobics classes this week, 2 with the weights during the last 15 minutes. There are no classes tomorrow, so I will go and swim laps. I did not want to get out of the pool today. It makes me feel so good. I didn't realize how much I missed swimming laps. It is so peaceful and calm and I love the way the sunlight looks on the bottom of the pool as it streams through the window. It makes me feel like I am somewhere tropical.

I am sleeping better and I did learn that if I go in the hot tub after I get out of the pool and get warmed back up, I don't have the huge, ravenous must eat now response when I get home, but on days I don't use the hot tub, I get that. I mean, I still want to eat lunch, but it doesn't feel like I must eat everything I see. I think that happens because the fastest way for the body to warm up is to eat.

This club membership is definitely paying for itself. I don't know if I will be going 7 days a week. 4 for sure, but with attempts for more. I am careful to do only what my knee allows and wear my knee brace in the water, but I can already feel some strength returning to my knee.

The only downside is that I have to wash my hair and dry it every time I use the pool and I'll have to spend more money on conditioner or there will be some serious damage. Still, it is so worth it. At least my hair is still above my shoulders so it won't be like it was when my hair was at my waist. Although I am growing it back out at least long enough to put into a pony tail.

I am having to spend some money now on some things related to swimming.

$12 goggles
$57 for a second swimsuit
$12 for a big beach sized towel

I still need to purchase a second knee brace and a second beach towel. With two of everything I can alternate use and stuff can dry naturally so I'm not having to launder it every day or put on a wet suit.

I also spent $60 on new bras. It would have been twice that except for the sale and discount I got them on (thanks to Laura). I have really been needing them with the weight loss but was holding off because I need very supportive ones without underwire and they are expensive. I had to buy new underwear last week. Mine was falling off. I guess that is a good reason, right?

Back on an Exercise Program

October 8th, 2015 at 03:03 pm

We made the decision last week to go back to the athletic club we used to go to before we got serious about paying off the van (which was paid off in March or April). It's $109 a month for the 4 of us. It is more expensive than other gyms, but other gyms don't have pools and that is where I need to do that majority of my exercise due to my knee.

Today my daughter and I completed our fourth water aerobics class. I never did one of these the last time we were members and I have to say that we are both having a really good time with it. I was really sore the first two times, but I don't have that anymore.

The only thing I don't like is that there is a different teacher for every class. Some of the knee work is a little challenging, but we all go at our own pace and I don't do any jumping from just that leg and so far I am doing well. I feel stronger and I feel like my leg is getting better. I also am sleeping better.

I just wish my coordination was better. For someone who has great rhythm when it comes to playing musical instruments, I seem to have some issues with making my feet do something that my arms aren't doing as well. Like feet in and out when arms are going up and down. If my arms go in and out while my feet go in and out I'm fine.

I hope to start swimming laps again soon, but I would have to do that at night time or at 6 a.m.. Which is okay, but means I have to get all the farm chores done either later or earlier. But I always love swimming laps. It makes me feel so energized.

The only other thing I can really do at the club is the recumbent bike. Well, I could do the weight machines, but I don't want to. I will when I get stronger, probably. I'd like to strengthen my quads and the muscles around the knee cap. We do some work with weights in water aerobics, though, so there is some resistance training going on.

I hope this exercise will help with the weight loss. I've been stalled since the big loss earlier this year. I'd really like to see it going down again, which is why I'm not much fussed about spending the $109 each month for the club. Why do I always forget how good I feel after exercising? And while exercising?

Menu Planning for the Week

October 5th, 2015 at 02:55 pm

Monday:
Teriyaki Beef short ribs
Acorn squash (from the garden)
Strawberries (from the garden)
Salad (from the garden)

Tuesday:
Garlic Butter Chicken
Baked sweet potatoes
Broccoli and cauliflower
Apple

Wednesday:
Beef Pot roast
Roasted Zucchini and Summer Squash (from the garden)
Baked potatoes (from the garden)
Watermelon (from the garden)

Thursday:
Herb roasted rabbit (home raised)
Fried potatoes (from the garden)
Green beans (from the garden)
Home canned nectarines

Friday:
Sloppy Hoppies (home raised rabbit) on homemade buns
Cole slaw (cabbage from the garden)
Canned pineapple

Saturday:
Spaghetti with home grown and homemade spaghetti sauce and rabbit meatballs
Garlic bread
Oranges

Sunday:
Barbecue Rabbit Wings
Leftover vegetables from the week
Applesauce


1/4 Beef and Wind Storm

September 1st, 2015 at 08:12 am

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FciaxrDMHtE

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7ElDGouEDk

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.

Why is Tomato Sauce so Cheap?

August 31st, 2015 at 10:28 pm

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.

Also Canning and Preserving

August 23rd, 2015 at 10:57 pm

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.

Harvesting and Preserving

August 13th, 2015 at 12:11 am

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.

Grocery Shopping and Food Preserving

August 10th, 2015 at 01:22 pm

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.

January Money Fund Deposits 2 & 3 and Some Garden Stuff

July 16th, 2015 at 09:43 pm

$2907.63 Starting Balance
+__34.50 Coin Jar and Egg Money
+__10.00 Weekly Deposit
----------------------
$2952.13 Ending Balance

$1047.87 to go to hit my goal of $4K.

It's a slow build, but I am getting there. I still haven't gotten new tires, even though I have the money in the tire fund. We were going to get them last week while DH was home and then he was only home for one week instead of two and it just didn't happen.

I am not driving much, though, with school out, just to the grocery store or the library, PT and the chiropractor. I am maybe driving 10 miles a week right now. And it's not like the tires are bald or anything, just getting to the needing to be replaced point.

My green beans are getting ripe. I harvested a couple quarts this morning. I've picked 5 zucchini this week, only one of which was a monster, and two large bunches of radishes. My biggest watermelon is now bigger than a tennis ball. Yesterday it was about half that size so you have an idea of how fast it is growing. The snap peas are winding down but I am still getting a handful every other day or so. Lettuce, chard, and kale are still going crazy.

I am harvesting and drying sage, yarrow, dandelion leaves, dandelion roots, basil, calendula, thyme, lemon balm, and marjoram. I bought the book (well, with a gift card I got for Christmas) Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide and I am really learning a lot so far. It took me forever to find any herb books. There were 14 different books on growing pot in the local B&N (cause it's legal here, though I recall seeing a few in the garden section a few years ago before it was) and only 3 on herbs and one was on cooking with them and the other was far too technical for where I'm at. I am saving herbs for culinary and medical uses, some for medical use in the rabbits, like blackberry and raspberry leaves, dandelion, and comfrey.

In reading this book and seeing these remedies I am kind of starting to understand why that little old lady who lived in the woods in the 1700's and had all these healing things at her fingertips might have been considered magical or even a witch. Traditional medicine was nowhere near "there" yet at the time. It must have seemed like something very "other" to those without the knowledge of how to use it.

I'll just be happy if I can do something to clear up some of my colds, allergies, and skin issues, because traditional doesn't work for me. I still need to learn more about essential oils as well and maybe even learn how to make them myself from herbs, though that is a long way down the road as I don't have the space to grow that amount of herbs here.

CCF (I think) had asked what I am doing with essential oils and the only thing I have done so far is to make flu bombs, 5 drops of melalucca oil, 5 drops of oregano oil, 3 drops of lemon oil, and 3 drops of On Guard in a size 00 capsule taken at the onset of flu symptoms or colds, 3 x per day with meals (otherwise you will burp it up all day long) for 48 to 72 hours. It does shorten the duration. It doesn't prevent them, unfortunately, but shorter is better.

Anyway, that's a bit of what I've been up to. I've been making vlogs almost daily on my youtube channel, but not blogging as much as I should be, either here or on the farm blog. There is just so much to do it is easier to just talk into a camera for a few minutes a day than to find the time to sit down and write. But I miss it so I'll try to find the time to sit down and write a little more often.





Finally Bought My Excalibur

July 7th, 2015 at 10:40 pm

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Nf1XLNCzj0

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4hUBym8C2c

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.

Garden and Eat from the Pantry Challenge

June 9th, 2015 at 03:12 pm

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzII-hvqugA

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEWnzVbQ7UA

I am looking forward to the rest of this challenge. It is good to be feeling so positive about it.

Pantry Challenge/Meal Planning for the Week

June 7th, 2015 at 06:55 pm

So far the Eat from the Pantry/Freezer/Garden Challenge is going very well here. The garden is really getting going so I am very happy with it. Tomorrow will be my seventh day on it, so after dinner I will post a video with all 7 meals so you can see what I've been doing if you want.

I had to shift some things based on what I had already and the kids wanting pizza, but for the most part I stuck to last week's meal plan. This week's will be:

Monday:
Southern Fried Rabbit (this got shifted)
Fried potatoes
Cole slaw
Grapes

Tuesday:
Lamb chops (for me and the kids)
Pulled pork (for DH)
Broccoli
Canned pineapple

Wednesday:
Rabbit enchiladas
Mexican rice
Salad
Canned nectarines

Thursday:
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Garlic bread
Snow peas

Friday:
Brined pork chops
Fried potatoes
Green beans
Applesauce

Saturday:
Homemade pizza (pepperoni, ham, bell peppers and onions)
Cole slaw

Sunday:
Rabbit bacon cheeseburgers
French fries
Salad
Strawberries (frozen if not enough are ripe yet)


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