Monday, November 25, 2013

Gone for awhile... Part 1

I nearly forgot that I had this blog.  Nearly.

This past year has been a busy one for our family.

As far as animals go, we have had some changes.  We started out the year with two goats (one buck "on loan"), two sheep, 14 hens & a rooster, two cats, and a dog. 

Here is Cheese, Bella, and Meadow enjoying the snow in late December 2012.

We changed some things up in January 2013.  We had the sheep slaughtered.  I know you think that is mean, but we live on a mini-farm.  We just were not ready to have a herd (no proper fencing, etc.).  We also added two piglets, Phyllis & Waddles.  Yes, we named one piglet after my grandmother, Phyllis.  But she wanted me to do it, because she had sent the $ as a family Christmas present.

Cute, huh?!

We had fun playing with them when they were so little, but they grew FAST like all babies do.  By mid-summer, they too had gone to "farm animal heaven" and ended up in our freezer. 

We added another 3 goats by the end of May.  We purchased an Alpine goat "in milk", named Bambi.  She has been such a well-behaved, loveable girl.  And she has been a great milk producer at an average of 3 to 4 qts daily.  I have been mostly responsible for milking her.  I was milking her twice daily for months, but went down to once daily in the Fall.  We have definitely gotten used to drinking goats milk.

Cheese became the proud mother of twin baby does (girls).  They were so precious, just like their momma and her sister.  We sold Momma and babies, "Bree" & "Colby" in July.  They were a handful!  They found a great home together.

Speaking of baby animals... one cat ran off.  The other had 2 kittens.  Sam and Fluffy have been fun.  The kids love to snuggle with them.  Now if Daddy could just learn to like cats...

In July we added another animal.  We now have a dairy cow!  She is not in milk yet.  Lily is a pretty Jersey, on the smallish side.

And we now have rabbits...  like we didn't have enough animals to take care of!  We were given 6 rabbits, 4 bucks & 2 does, with the hutch and all.  We butchered all but 1 buck.  And he has since run off, not cool.  So we have 2 does right now.  They are solid white, New Zealand in breed.  They are very large and are great for meat.  We have found that rabbit is very tasty and easy to butcher.  We love it.

That about sums up the animal situation.  It probably seems strange that we have been acquiring new animals, butchering some, & selling off others.  We are still trying to see what works best for us.  We love the idea of milking a cow, but will also keep milking our goat.  We will keep rabbits for meat & breeding.  Chickens have worked well for us, due to ease & low expense. 

Sheep are not our thing.  They are too skittish (unless hand-raised) & boring. 

Pigs are great.  They are super easy and fill a freezer nicely.  We will likely get 2 more piglets this coming spring.

Goats... I do not see myself as a dairy goat herd owner.  One goat seems to suit me fine, and Bambi prefers to be the only goat.  She is easily bullied & loves to have me all to herself.  She's my baby.

So, watcha think?  Are we crazy?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude

I am grateful for this time of year, Thanksgiving.  It is namely an American holiday, but it is celebrated throughout the world under differing names during the harvest season.  It is a time for reflecting on the blessings in our lives, blessings over the past few seasons.  And a time to feast. Umm, I like to eat.  A little too much so, apparently.


There have been periods of my life when it has been much harder to see the blessings I have been given.  During these dark times, I often have thought "I will be happy when...".  I know that despite any trials I will ever be asked to face, there will always be blessings, there will always be things to be grateful for. 

I often reflect back to a lesson I had in YW years ago as a Laurel.  I do not remember the lesson, but I remember our Advisor giving us each a roll of calculator paper.  She asked us to write down daily everything we are grateful for, being specific about precise things or people.  We were asked to never replicate any entries.  I found that sometimes it was easy to fill the paper roll.  Other times it was much harder.  Some days I found only one or two things to add to my list.  But over time, the list was so long that it took an eternity to wind and unwind the roll.  It helped my attitude to change and my happiness to grow exponentially.  I was better able to feel the love my Heavenly Father has for me.

If I were to make a new list, it would take a very long time to read.  But there are certain blessings in my life that bring me the greatest happiness.  These center on my God, country, religion, family, friends, and home. 

I have an unshakable testimony of God, our Heavenly Father, that he is real, tangible, and loves us all.  I also have a testimony of his son Jesus Christ as our Creator and Saviour.  Through him, we can repent and be forgiven of our sins and we have the chance for eternal happiness. I know that the Holy Ghost is real and testifies of these truths. 

I am truly blessed to have certain freedoms available to me that allow me to enjoy these gifts as I see fit.  Our forefathers sought and fought for these freedoms and we are the beneficiaries of these blessings today.

I  will be eternally grateful for the opportunity I have had to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It is the true church.  I know this with all of my heart.  I have also been blessed to have gone to the temple to be sealed my husband for time and all eternity.  And have been blessed to have 5 children born under the covenant.

I absolutely LOVE my husband.  He is the best husband and father ever.  And he's a hottie.  He still makes me giggle.  I am grateful he still puts up with me.  I have been blessed to have 5 healthy and energetic children to love.  They light up ye life and make it fun.

I have amazing friends that make life enjoyable.  They lift me up when I am down.  They support me and love me.  I only hope that I bless their lives, as well.

I love my home.  With all its funky wallpaper, bugs, and animal poop.  It is such a joy to live in such a beautiful area, among nature's beauty.  I enjoy the simplicity of life here.  It is so peaceful.

I could go on and on.  But, I won't.  I encourage you all to note the blessings you have and feel happiness in your own life.  Thanks for looking!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Working On My Food Storage

We have become much more acclimated to our surroundings.  I figured it was time to learn some new skills and work harder on adding to food storage.  It's deer hunting season.  We have 15+ of our 40 acres that is forested, with ample wildlife.  Dan is excited to bring home some serious meat.  I need to learn how to can it.

I was very fortunate to have found a "treasure" in our garage, left by the Wallaces.  I found an old pressure canner of decent size and great brand.  It is a Presto No. 7, 21 qt, manufactured in 1951.  It's older than my mom, ha ha.  I was able to easily order the parts necessary to get it going again (new sealing ring, automatic air vent, and weighted pressure gauge).  It sure beats paying $80+ for a flimsy one!  I think I will be able to experiment very soon.  :)

I should also be learning how to skin and process a deer.  I know you are all jealous!  I figured I needed to learn such things.  I am willing to try.  As long as my hubby removes the entrails when I am out of sight, I will help with the rest.  I am NOT that brave!  Yuck!

I have been wanting a wheat grinder SO BADLY.  I hope that we have the finances to purchase one soon.  I will likely order an electric model and purchase a hand grinder later.  I need something that will work for wheat, beans, rice, and chia seeds.  Maybe I should get this one...

I had mentioned previously about Bro. Allan.  He and his wife are excellent resources on food storage.  He had given a fireside last month on the subject and had mentioned 2 items to include in any food storage plan.  Chia Seeds and Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE).  Ever heard of either?  I had not. 

Chia Seeds:
Americans are lacking Omega-3 in our diets.  We have a host of medical issues related to this deficiency:  Cancer, Arthritis, Obesity, Heart disease, Arteriosclerosis, and Diabetes... to name the worst.  Chia seeds are the richest plant based source of Omega-3.  Period.  A 1/4 cup of the seeds equals nearly a pound of salmon.  And it is considerably cheaper than salmon.  And easier to store.

They also benefit us because:
  • 15 times more magnesium than broccoli
  • 6 times more calcium than whole milk
  • 3 times more iron than spinach
  • The omega-3:omega-6 balance is ideal for human consumption.
  • It also contains other very useful minerals: zinc, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, copper, and boron, which aids calcium assimilation. All of these minerals are also useful for good body chemistry. 
For more information:

My experience with Chia Seeds:
I purchased some earlier this week.  I have been taking the recommended 2 T a day.  I feel better.  I have more energy, think I lost a bit of weight (I hate weighing myself...), and am very "regular".  I definitely am much more hydrated, because you must drink alot of water to take them.

I will note that soaking the seeds in water before consuming is probably healthiest, but... blech!  The seeds absorb water at a nearly 9:1 ratio.  That means they resemble fish eggs in both appearance and texture.  And they are so gelatinous that it is much like drinking jello with seeds.  That is only if you flavor it, by adding juice of a drink mix.  But the taste is fine.  It hardly tastes at all. 

I have a dear friend that was merciful and ground some seeds for me.  It is much easier to just put some on any food you would normally eat.  It looks like you just added a very generous amount of pepper.  But it does not affect taste at all.  Much easier to stomach it in this fashion, in my opinion.  Make sure to drink lots of water!
Grapefruit Seed Extract:
It is amazing as a natural antibiotic.  The Allans served a mission in West Africa.  GSE was extremely effective when used for malaria, which is rampant there.  It would sometimes fully cure or at least minimize the effects.  It would make a wonderful addition to any food storage program.  it stores well and may very well be a life saver if medicine was scarce.

To read about the Allan's experience with GSE:
More information:

My experience with GSE:
I purchased a bottle of GSE vitamins and have been taking them for nearly a week.  I have had this small infection on my foot that started from a splinter that was impossible to remove.  I still have an infection, but it is lessening each day.  I attribute it directly to the GSE.  I have also been giving some to my dog. She has an eye that is red and slightly swollen.  It looks better, but not completely.  The Allans were using a higher dosage with their experiences.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eggs, Eggs, and More Eggs...

I have been giving away free eggs constantly and I still cannot keep up.  I guess its time to figure out new ways to use them up and/or 'store' them.

I found a great tutorial on drying fresh eggs on another blog.

3 easy steps to drying eggs:
1. Scramble them.  Do not use any form of oil.
 2. Dry them.  She used her dehydrator, but an oven will work.  Make sure there is NO moisture left.
 3. Crumble them by hand or blend them for storing.  Supposedly they just taste like hard cooked scrambled eggs.

It is very possible to "freeze" eggs, as well.  on this same blog, she puts a pinch of salt in a dozen eggs, scrambles them, and pours them into ice cube trays.  when they are frozen solid, she pops them out and puts them in a double freezer bag for later use.  She says that one cube equals one egg.  When ready to use, put them in a bowl in the refrigerator to thaw and use as normal.  Handy.

For more detailed instructions on how to freeze eggs, visit this blog:

I will certainly try both methods, although freezing appeals to me more.  At some point, my hens will slow down on egg production.  Hopefully.  Otherwise, we may be selling some hens or even eating some!

For ideas on egg recipes:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Loving Missouri

Just in case you have not figured it out yet, I love living here.  A lot.  There are some serious benefits to living in an area with 1) seasons, 2) great people, and 3) amazing history. 

We had one week this summer that was seriously HOT.  Like Houston hot.  And of course, my BFF Tasha was here that week.  Poor girl.  The 4th of July was blazing hot.  But the rest of the summer was completely tolerable and nice.  It was great to be able to go swimming with the kids at the pool in Albany whwere they could meet up with their friends or go to the Mozingo lake. 

The kids were able to visit with Tasha and her kids, hang out with besties, and relax at home.  We really didn't go anywhere, but it was nice.

Fall began with milder weather in September and actual evidence in the leaves.  Wow!  I thought it was so funny when Emma asked me if the trees were sick.  She just didn't see much of that in Houston.  LOL. 

We are starting to see evidence of a real winter already.  I seriously cannot wait!

Great People:
Yes, we do have a nutter for a neighbor (no, freak-O has not moved and does not plan to anymore).  But there are some amazing people that we have met.  The kids all have best friends that seem to have been made for them.  Seth is especially patient and kind to Dallin.  So nice.  Even the grown-ups have wonderful friends!

I am getting to know some people that own properties here and are here part of the year.  They bring serious knowledge of the gospel.  It has been such a blessing to have some firesides about some of their knowledge about church history or preparedness.  Very intersesting!  If you are curious about some of these things, check out this website from Brother Allan  Check out his links on the left bar for : "religious writings" and "health".

Amazing History:
We live in an area that is rich in church history from 3 eras:  Anciently (Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Garden of Eden), Book of Mormon era (Zarahemla), and Latter-Day (Far West, Independence, Liberty).  I have been able to visit most of these areas and learn so much more. 

I went to Carthage Jail and Nauvoo this summer with the YW.  It was so amazing!  I could feel the spirit so strong at Carthage upon our arrival.  I struggled to keep the tears back!  I loved sharing that with the girls.  We also went to Nauvoo and saw the Pageant that night.  Interstingly enough:  the prophet Joseph Smith had recived revelation that Zarahelma was to be built (or re-built?) across the river in Iowa.  Hmm! Coincidence?

Here's a pic of the girls and I in Carthage.

At the Visitors Center in Nauvoo.

Some of the girls with some cute pageant boys in Nauvoo.

I had previously visited Independence, where the Garden of Eden was once located and where the New Jerusalem will be built.  There is a really cool visitors center there.  The kids loved it!

In August, we visited Far West with the Youth.  There was a thriving LDS community there for a short spell.  they built some houses and dedicated a temple lot, but were forced to leave before doing anything more than placing cornerstones for the temple.  Something I learned that day:  The temple site is the exact location where Cain killed Abel.  Wow!  I suppose that is why it is sacred.

In September, the youngest 3 kids and I went to Adam-Ondi-Ahman (AoA).  We were curious to see what it was like.  I am grateful to have had this experience with them!  I explained what was significant about this site and asked the kids if they would like to go.  They were so excited!  As we got out, Cole said to me, "Mom, let's be very quiet and reverent, so we will feel the Holy Ghost".  It was very important to him to be there.  He told me later that he thought he would see Adam and Jesus there one day.  Special boy!

Zoe, Emma, and Cole in front of the Valley of Adam-Ondi-Ahman

Not only is AoA the place where adam dwelt and blessed his posterity before he passed, but it has significance to other times, as well.  Apparently the Nephites knew about this place.  There is an old alter dating back to their times on Tower Hill (on AoA property).  And it has future significance, as well. It will be the site of a future grand council where Jesus Christ will meet with His stewards of all dispensations and receive back the keys of the kingdom in preparation for His Second Coming. Wow!

I am so excited to learn more and see more sites!  I love it here!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Autumn Around Us...

I haven't posted in months and I have been chastised for it.  Repeatedly.  I have been busy, but also just very lazy.  The kids started school in mid-August.  How nice is it to have ALL the kids in school all day 4 days a week?! (We don't have school on Mondays here...)  So nice that I have become lazy and spoiled.  My only 'job' is maintaining the house and caring for our animals.  And still I am surprisingly behind on laundry.  ugh!

This is the kids' first day of school.  Dallin would not cooperate.  Emma is in K, cole in 2nd, Zoe in 4th, Aubree in 6th (Jr.High), and Dallin is in 8th grade.  They ride the bus together to and from school.  It is so nice.

I cannot believe my baby is in school!

Our animals are doing well. 

Our 23 hens are producing eggs too well.  We have been gathering 18+ eggs a day for months.  We simply cannot give them away fast enough.  I have been offering hens to friends to alleviate the massive amounts of eggs.  Fried eggs, boiled eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs... Just the look of eggs make me feel queasy...

Check out this monster sized egg we found one day.  It is next to a medium sized egg.

On a good note... one of our hens hatched some chicks!  2 survived.  "HennyPenny" is currently raising her babies and they are in the "homely" stage.  One may be a rooster.

We lost one of our goats, Sprinkles a few months back.  We had tied her out and she strangled herself.  We were really sad. :(

Our surviving goat, Cheese, is healthy, but highly annoying.  What was once "cute" is now a nuisance.  She thinks it is precious to sit on our laps.  When an animal is 100+ lbs with horns... so NOT precious!  I have started tethering her in the yard, because otherwise she can get out of her enclosure in 1 second.  Allowing her to wander freely means tons of poop on the front steps and the possibility of a goat running in the house.  Both are uncool.  Trying to get a goat out of the drivers seat is always fun, as is trying to unload groceries.  I have to fight her for the bread and veggies every time.  And the most awesome thing: imagine welcoming guests to your door, with goat droppings everywhere.  "You know you're a red-neck when..."


We had purchased another lamb as a sister for Bella to hang out with.  They love being with the goat, too.  The sheep (Bella & Meadow) are healthy, large, and so sweet.  Compared to our goat, anyway.  They are very attached to Cheese, so sometimes they get loose and get in trouble also.  But they are followers that are much easier to handle.  Fun stuff.

It is nearly time to breed the goat and sheep.  I cannot wait for them to be mothers. Meadow will be a wonderful mother.  She loves to "mother" the cats.  She even beat up my mom's pup when he pestered the cats.  LOL.

At least Cheese will earn her keep with some milk!  Mmmm!  Chevre...

My children have been enjoying school (mostly) and the wonderful Fall weather.  Of course it is hot some days and cold the next, but that is fun to us.  This morning we awoke to frost and ice everywhere! Emma had a blast "skating" across a mud puddle.

We had a Fall Festival with a Hay ride at the Branch on a nice cool day.  We had a blast.  Halloween was fun.  But as usual I did not take pictures.  We are looking forward to having Thanksgiving with the Branch at the church.  We love it here!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Days

I have survived my week of Girls' Camp and am now enjoying the easy summer days at home.  The kids and I have been going to the pool in Albany a lot.  They enjoy seeing friends from church and school there.  And I enjoy being able to sit back and observe without being in the water (its cold!!!) the whole time. 

Our animals are growing steadily and thriving.  Bella is still scrawny next to her new sister, Meadow.  But she is growing and seems happy enough.  Bella has been shedding, and now that much of her longer hair has shed, she looks much better. 

The twins are happy as ever.  They were recently weaned, and did  NOT like missing babas.  But they are doing fine without them.  They enjoy all things mischievous, including climbing into our vehicles and on the lawn mower, escaping their pen, and head-butting cats.  That is so funny to watch!  Thank heavens they have yet to attack our garden... knock on wood!

The chickens look like adults already!  I know I need to begin looking for eggs soon.  Wow!  Our roosters are starting to "crow", although it sounds kinda pathetic.  They are NOT quite fully developed yet.  Almost!

Our fruits are growing, although it has rained seldom and they need a good rain.  We have squash that can be eaten any day now and have our first cucumber.  Yeah!  We need to get the knack of gardening here.  The soil is rich and absorbs water, but we have little vermin to deal with (moles, field mice, rabbits, raccoons...).  We are still learning!

Tomorrow is Cole's 7th Birthday!  He is so excited!  We need to make it fun!  ;)

Next week:  My best friend Tasha is coming with her kids to visit!  I am SO EXCITED!  I miss her and the kids SO BADLY!  And Cole and Emma miss their best friends Scott and Brooklyn.  Aubree cannot wait to see her sweet baby, Tayven (neither can I)!  Happy dance, happy dance!