Sunday, September 30, 2012

New Chickens

Just a line - we received our new egg-laying crew on Friday. 30 Buff Orpingtons - 25 hens and 5 roosters. Next spring we will probably sell down to a dozen or so. With all these chicks we are "running about 40 head of chicken" at the Far Better Farmstead. Not including the 21 in the freezer............

  - Daddy

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Devotional - Self-Sufficiency?

In these times I hear a lot of talk about self-sufficiency. I have books with self-sufficiency in the title and  I read a lot of blogs and web sites about self-sufficiency. It is right and well to live a more frugal and perhaps old-timey lifestyle. However, as I reflect on the term, I am sure that it is most definitely NOT my goal to be self-sufficient.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

DIY Window cleaner

     Okay, I am going to admit that I really don't enjoy cleaning house.  I love the house when it is clean and everything smells fresh but actually doing the work is one of my least favorite things to do.  I would rather be outside with the children or with the animals.  I don't even mind weeding the flower beds and the garden and mowing the grass can be quiet meditating.  So amazingly enough I have cleaned several windows today.  What, you may ask, ever inspired me to do such a thing like that?  After all, that is housework.
     It really was a combination of things.  First, the front door had so many hand prints on it that I thought my vision was going blurry.  It had to be cleaned and I couldn't put it off another day.  Next, I made my own window cleaner!  Yep, that's right! I made it all by myself with things I had here at home.
     I guess your wondering why I would ever make my own window cleaner.  That stuff isn't very expensive at the stores and I don't use it that often.  Well, my daddy always calls me a tightwad.  He says that I am so tight that I squeak when I walk.  So this one is for you daddy!
1/4 Cup Alcohol
1/2 Cup Vinegar
1-1/2 Cups Water
Food Coloring Optional
     True, it does only cost pennies.  This helps our budget.  (Yes I said that bad "b" word.)  I am a stay at home mom so I try to save money whenever possible.  This was a "no brain er" product to make.  I use three ingredients:  water, vinegar and rubbing alcohol (I also chose to add a little food coloring for color so the kids didn't use my window cleaner to spray my plants or each other).  The way I figure it I pay less than a quarter for my new cleaner.  Now that is affordable!

Whizbang Chicken Plucker

I have built a chicken plucker based on Herrick Kimball's plans from Whizbang Books. Herrick also writes a superb blog called The Deliberate Agrarian. Herrick is a good Christian guy and I recommend anything he writes or sells (even if he is a yankee!)  More on the plucker and meat chickens later, but for now, here's our video of Callie using the plucker:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Raw Milk

For most of the 6,000 or so years man has been populating the earth, raw milk was the only milk available. For that matter, I'd say raw milk still dominates worldwide. No one told me that raw milk was so controversial! Even mentioning it to folks of my parent's generation brings winces of pain. They were trained by public schooling to believe that industrial food was safer, cleaner, and more modern than any farm or homemade product. Milk from the cow was for poor folks and was of questionable quality.

Anyway, little did I know, but you can't buy raw milk from the store in North Carolina. It's a good thing that I live about 14 miles from South Carolina, where freedom and raw milk reign!  Gas is also about 45 cents per gallon cheaper in SC than NC so I ran "down" to Pickens on Saturday and picked up some raw milk and gasoline.
Raw Holstein Milk from M&M Dairy in Westminster, SC
I purchased my milk from Bee Well Honey Farm Store in downtown Pickens (across from CVS). The milk was from M & M Dairy Farm in nearby Westminster. First off, the Bee Well Honey farm is a really neat store. They sell all sorts of beekeeping supplies as well as fresh honey, meats, and milk. M & M dairy is a grade A dairy and licensed to sell raw milk in SC.

I picked up 2 gallons. We made mozzarella cheese with 1 gallon and consumed the other gallon. Let me say that this milk is delicious and also makes great cheese. I don't know what I was expecting - I think some sort of thick or gamey taste. Not so, it was fresh and "clean" tasting. In a side-by-side comparison with "Big Box" milk, the Raw Milk tastes creamier and lighter. The aftertaste is stronger with the "Big Box" milk. The only downside is that Raw Milk is about twice as expensive- so we will have to buy it occasionally for a treat. Hopefully next year, Lord willing, we will be producing a little milk of our own.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sadie's Stanchion (Milk Stand)

We have finished a stanchion for Sadie, our Nigerian Dwarf goat. Sadie is a very sweet goat but very playful, so we assumed she would not want to go in or near the stanchion. Were we surprised! It is amazing what a little sweet feed can do........
Not the best location, but we want to train her first

Yum! This sweet feed tastes like doughnuts!

Gentle and calm
We built the stanchion from plans in a goat magazine (you know the ones that they have at Tractor Supply) for about $55 total. Not bad.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Trout Fishing at Home

We have a pond stocked with brook trout on our land. Three of our children went fishing last Saturday and caught two trout. Then they shot and edited their own video of the fish cleaning - which I thought was adorable. Augustus, our son, dug his own worms, baited his hook, caught the fish, and got it off the hook by himself. He has done all of that before, but Saturday was the first time he cleaned a fish all by himself. I was very proud of him. The first fish - the one in the video - was a little "short" after cleaning, but the second one looked like a pro had processed it.Good job Augustus!

Then of course Augustus wanted the fish for supper. I added some butter, garlic, salt, and pepper to the fish, wrapped it in aluminum foil, and threw it on the grill for 20 minutes. He loved it!

Trout for supper - and raised right here!

Just another day together here on the Far Better Farmstead!