Monday, February 28, 2011

Poppie, "I do have a Dad that helped make me who I am."

Poppie was a lost boy when I meant him at 19. He had been lost and looking to find himself most of his life. His parents knew each other for about two weeks when they married and had him nine months later. They separated when he was 4 months old, never really saw each other again and were divorced by the time Poppie was two. He and his mother returned home to her families farm. They lived on the last quarter section of land they had owned for three generations. They had, as a family migrated to their land from back east and his great uncle had actually been the first white child born in the county their land was in, so they had been there along time. They did not have electricity or indoor plumbing even thought they lived in an area where the neighbors had had it for generations. Poppie was potty trained with an outhouse and a slop bucket. His mother sort of brought him home to her parents and left him there with them and his bachelor uncle. She actually left him for over a year when he was eight and went to Arizona, when she returned she had a baby that she gave away to a cousin. She had a life to live and he was in the way. His grandparents loved him but in some ways let their resent of his mothers ways reflect on him. They were both in their seventies. The year Poppie turned 10 the cellar door fell on his grandfather and punctured his lung. He died a short time later in the hospital. Poppie got a new stepfather and went from living with his grandparents to his mother and her new husband. The husband liked to beat on Poppie, two weeks after the wedding Poppie got a half brother and 16 months later a half sister. Poppies grandmother died of a broken heart around the same time. Poppies stepdad had no extra money to take care of a kid that wasn't his. Poppie lived on scraps that were left over. Poppie actually fell out of the back of the pickup one time and they didn't take him to the hospital until he hadn't woken up for a whole day, he  had a fractured skill and had gravel in his back. Poppie made his escape when he turned 16 and got to enroll in job corp, he hadn't been in school since he was a freshman, as he had no clothes to wear to school. Poppie was a shy, reclusive child and Poppie never got angry at anyone or anything, it wasn't allowed.

I meant Poppie when I joined the YACC program in 1979, the moment I saw him I knew I would marry him, I think it was the lost scruffy puppy look that first drew me. He came around to the realization in the spring of 1980. We have been married 31 years this March. Shortly after we were married I found his dad for him, we got to meet him as he passed through are town in 1981, he was a truck driver and always on the road. In 1989 we spent a week with him and his fourth wife. She is a wonderful person and as we really got to know them both the same week was of equal importance in Poppies life. Two weeks after Poppie's accident with the tree his father called him and told him he was just diagnosed with terminal cancer. Poppie was still in bed when his father died two weeks later. He felt sadness for the friend that his father had become to him. His father never understood that Poppie couldn't feel a father son relationship for his dad, he didn't know what a father was and his father hadn't been that in his life. Shortly after his fathers dead Poppie was lamenting his father and said," you know he was never my father, however I did have one." I said "Oh?" He said "yes, your father is a close as I ever had."

Poppie had the knowing of it. My dad does treat him with all the love he has given all of his children, 12 plus the 8 in laws. Grandpa taught him things all along and helped him become the sensitive loving man he is today. Grandpa stood up for him and loved him as one of his own. I am glad Poppie has a dad. We all deserve one and some of us get really good time.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Poppie, "they are your goats not mine" yeah right, My goats. lol

When we lost Mama goat and Butterfly, as I said before Poppie was devastated. I was saddened but I was not attached to them. I knew I wanted more but at that stage it was more for Poppie and the girls. We receive Tink and Belle from our neighbor, and eventually lost one to goat birth and one we gave to the neighbors as a pet, she ended up being a free martin. She was neither truly female or male, which , I have read, happens in about 5% of the population in goats. I, over the winter, had read about boer goats and decided that I would like to get one and see if I liked them with the thought of creating a heard of diary and boer goats, milk from the diary and better meat from the boer. Goats have to have annual babies to keep in milk, it can be done other ways, I know, but it is much harder work to keep a nanny producing milk with out refreshing with having babies. I had also found out that buckling. like in the cow dairy industry. are not a prized consequences of birth. Dairies, cow or goat, cull the boy babies. I really didn't want to eat them at birth, chicken size, and even weanling's aren't a lot of eating meat, and to keep them longer cost alot of food without a lot of meat in the end. We have not real pasture so feed hay and pellets daily. Boers on the other hand are more like feeding, a beef calf as apposed to feeding a dairy calf, more meat for the lb of food fed. We decided we would have a mixed herd. I went forth with this plans in mind to buy my first does.

My friend Belle, had looked on craigslist and found a quality two year old doe and her granddaughter that was a newborn cross breed saanan/boer. The seller was a girl that had had them for 4-h but was going to go into dog mushing and no longer had a need for the doe and doeling, about 120 miles away. While Belle had found these goats I had found some boer cross goats about 85 miles away. The lady had a bumper crop and was trying to reduce her herd. Belle and I compared notes, both finds were worth looking at, as my intent was to end of with a herd of 6 does and a nice buck. The lady I had found had lots to choose from and the girl Belle had found had a high quality doe I was interested in. We decide to make appointments about a week apart to go to see and buy goats.We got in my truck, and as I own a big dodge ram, to save diesel and get better fuel mileage, I never drive faster than 62.5 miles an hour, the optimum mileage for my truck, so I am told. Mokie is used to my driving patterns, Belle was polite and never said a word but I think I drove her nuts, she travels a lot and I know she gets there faster than I do. Anyway, we started out on our hour plus trip, I had the directions and soon arrived at the place. I had expected it to be a big nice goat farm, as we drove through the nice subdivision, we were in the kind of area I expected to be. We drove over the last hill and into the little canyon ,off of the subdivision, we were faced with a sight.

The lady, we were to buy the goats from, had lived there 28 years, long before the subdivision with quarter of a million dollar homes had been made, we were faced with what can only be described as hillbilly hollow. Barb, her real name, is an implant from Texas, lost a her only daughter 20 years ago and sought solace in her loss in raising goats and dogs. She is, in my opinion, a true animal hoarder, and I am sure the bane of her neighbors existence. She is right on the edge of legal or they, in their nice homes, living right next to her, would have gotten her place condemned and her out of there a long time ago. I loved her the moment I meant her, as did Mokie, I am not sure that would be Belle's opinion, but we all understood in a moment she knew her stuff about goats. She had quality AI equipment and knowledge she had brought with her from Texas. Mokie and I have since visited her on numerous occasions and always come away with more knowledge and input from her odd life.

We were taken to a warren of goat huts and pens, in the middle was a large Boer buck chained to a car axle that had been planted into the ground. Poppie had run a junkyard on our property in the 90's so I knew how strong that post was. She said he was a lovey but I still had to wonder why he needed the steel post. His son was free ranging in the herd, he was nearly as big but not yet filled out. She offered me either buck, I thought long and hard, the older buck had paper, which I really want, and the young buck was 1/8 alpine, so a percentage goat, but she had not papered him, in the end I couldn't get around the steel post and went with the younger buck. He is my wonderful Caesar, she had called him junior, I don't know if he knew his name then but he does now and he is a much bigger buck that his father was. All my bucks are named after great men from history, whence Caesar, I also ended up with Zeus, and Rommy, short for Pharaoh Ramses the II.

Barb also, had does, one that I now suspect is Caesar's twin but she was cloudy on lineage at the time, Cleo, as in Cleopatra and her half sister, Joan of Ark, which I no longer have, she ended up being smaller than I wanted in my heard, so she is now a pet at a new home. I also came home with Cleo's twin bucklings and Joanie was pregnant, Mokie can home with a set of bottle twins. Belle did not buy any goats, and hasn't gone with us again to Barb's when we went back.  Mokie bought Flicka, Joanie's twin latter in the summer.  Barb always sends little withers she doesn't want to eat with us. She is a character, she is lonely and a bit of a sad soul, but she is a kick in the pants every minute you spend with her.

The next week we went on a road trip again.  Belle nicely offered to drive this time, I am sure to make the trip faster,  but in the end we took my truck. She had the directions and ultimately, we were glad we took my truck, as the destination ended up being at the top of a mountain in Idaho. We, after our trip the week before, were ready for any kind of odd place that we might arrive at. I have since found the alot of Goat ladies are odd souls and that is why so many are referred to as Crazy Goat ladies. I guess, Mokie, Belle and I are three of them.  The girl, selling the goats, and her family were lovely people, they had a lot of the Saanan goats, as the mom was raising them but not really into the Boers for her family. She also  home schooled her children so Belle, who does the same, had a lot of common ground with her and they got on quite well. We loaded up Rosie and Calico, Belle was getting the granddaughter for her own herd, and headed home. We stopped for lunch on the way back, Belle's treat, but we were home shortly. Incidentally, at the time I didn't know it, but it is illegal to transport any livestock across state lines with out, permits, quarantines and paperwork, my bad.

Rosie was my first purebred boer goat, and Cleo my first goat, they belong to me...... just ask Poppie, as he is talking baby talk to them and itching them in their favorite spots.... next time.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spring Fling Craft show, 1st annual and Little guy wrestling

Mokie and I went to the first annual Spring Fling get ready for Spring Craft show/fundraiser for the Friends of the library. It was the first time we were selling our soaps and my upcycled items. It was a fun event, the girls went with us as they had donated pumpkin bread, banana bread and chili bowls for the library to sell in their bake sale and chili feed. The event was a success for a first year, they are already making a list to tweak the next years event. There was a silent auction, for which I donated a cribbage board, and a raffle, Mokie donated a gift set of soap. Yogie went home early as she didn't want to  have chili but Booboo stayed and ate to many junk food items. She, on her own, has decided in the future to take an apple to eat instead of the cookies, rice crispy treats, cupcakes in an ice cream cone and chili with jalapeno corn bread. We sold a fair amount of soap, as it was our introductory event; and the lady next to us was selling soap and has sold soap in this area for a number of years. We do sell very different styles of soap so that was good. Got to know the other lady, in the past she had not always been kind to me but loved Mokie, today she was nice and that was a relief and maybe in the future we can build on the beginnings we made today.

Poppie went to see Eldest wrestle in his second wrestling event ever. My brother, his great uncle, went to help coach him which was nice. Eldest proudly brought home two blue ribbons, last time he got a blue and a red, so he was proud of his new accomplishment. Bug was so proud he bought him a wrestling hoodie, at the event, with his name on it. The truth of it was he would have gotten the hoodie even if he had lost but it was a nice reward. Bug is doing well by Eldest as when he was a boy he had been very good at wrestling and had let his friends tease into giving up, which he has not let Eldest do, he made him finish what he started, a good thing. Long trip for Poppie so he is having to rest up from the drive. Driving and walking, more than a block or so, are the hardest things on Poppie.  It has been a long eventful day and as I left the house at 7 this morning hadn't gotten to blog so this is just a little one to stay on track of  my goal of blogging daily, see you in the morning.....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Motherhood is God's gift to you as a woman

I think the mothers are one of the most interesting people you will ever meet. They are all as different as snowflakes, no matter who you strive, as a mother, to be like you are you and can't be someone or something you aren't. I like most mothers can remember the moment we became one, some mothers only remember the first time they became one, with awe. I remember each as a very special moment meant just for me and that child. Something we can't share with anyone but God, and as the child isn't capable of knowing, in that moment, it is ultimately just for you and God. Fathers, I am sure, in their own ways, have their own moments of awe, as well, but as it is just as personal for them I don't know of their experience, I only know of mine as a mother.

My oldest daughter, Goofy, was born when I was just short of 21. I was the oldest of all my siblings to have a child, ok, I come from a family of fast operators and it is very productive. Anyway, the moment the doctor laid her in my arms I couldn't imagine loving anything the way I loved her, her father stood beside me with tears running down his face, he had not wanted to be in the delivery room but later said he wouldn't miss it for anything ever. She was the end all, be all, of all things to me. My son, Bug, was born 19 months later, I was 3 week overdue and they had to induce me, it wasn't working and they were going to shut off the pump and send me to a bigger hospital to have him when he finally decided to make his entrance. He weigh 9 lbs and, as with all my births I did not use any drugs, and since he came in less than 40 minute no natural numbing occurred. The doctor said I couldn't have delivered him had he been any bigger. He was blue with complications so Poppie held him, my mother held him and my sister held him and then they put him in the incubator. I got to hold him for the first time when he was an hour old. I didn't feel anythings for him in the moment, he was pretty, fiesty and just there. I went home from the hospital and still all I could think of was the work, the other baby at home and I was just tired. When Bug was 3 weeks old I happened to see the last episode of MASH, when Hawkeye found out the mother had smothered her baby, I looked at the baby and all I could do was think of Bug.  I had to pick him up cuddle him, and in the moment, all the feelings of love I had came rushing forth. He was perfect.

Mokie came into the world with all the love I had for her in my heart the moment they layed her in my arms, She was as pretty as anything you ever saw. Big black eyes that looked up to me as if I were her everything. Yogie came to me as a granddaughter first, I was there at her birth and have photos her interacting with me in the delivery room, I gave her her first bath as they tended to her mother. She began living with me full time when she was 13 months old, she called me Nannie and we had a very close ,Nannie and granddaugher, relationship. Her mother, mothered her when she had time, alot like a dolly on a shelf. She got a sister and things had to be shared more for her. One day when Poppie, Yogie, Booboo and I were going to a doctor's vist for Poppie, when she was 27 months old, we stopped at a rest area, for Poppie to get out and walk around, doctor's orders when traveling more than an hour. I looked back  to check on the girls and there she was crying in her car seat. I said, "Sweetie, what is wrong?" She said, "Nannie, why does Booboo call you mommie?" I said "Honey, do you want to call me mommie?" She sobbed "yes!" In that moment she was no longer my granddaughter she had well and truely been the daughter of my heart for sometime; but out of respect and the hope that Goofy would get it together and be the mother they needed, we had tried to be grandparents. I knew in that moment she, they both, needed Poppie and I to take a stand and be their parents in name and doing not just in out hearts. Booboo, had been my daughter for a long time at this point, I had cut her imblical cord, her first words had been "ut oh", and as she didn't have anyone to call mama she had said "NaNa" hard sounds for a 9 months old, and later shortened it to Mama on her own, she had been my baby from the first, I had given her her first bath, feed her, diapered her and been her momma. They were legally adopted, 18 months later, with the full consent of Goofy, their biological father Matt, had defaulted and not come to court.

All my children came from God, they took their own unique paths to my life, they wounldn't be who they are if I had born them all. God in the end always knows what is best for us in our lives.... Next time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Yogurt, Kefir and first cheese

The girls really are big fans of yogurt but as I had been advised the goat milk does make really good yogurt I didn't really try to make yogurt, and may someday, but not at thist point. I did read up on goat yogurt and that is why in the end I didn't really try. During my studies I did keep reading about something called kefir. Kefir is sort of little bit like buttermilk and a little bit like yogurt. It is also kept a lot like sourdough stater so it was something that seemed to be right up my alley. My friend the goat lady, and since that is not how I see her at this point I will call her Belle, her southern gentleman husband has such a nice southern drawl that that seems somehow approperiate. Belle showed me how to keep Kefir and gave me my first kefir grains, kefir grains are like the sourdough starter you would get from someone, to start your sourdough, without having to age it to useablity. They are white and sort of look like a little mass of soft gooey grains. I took them home and pour my goat milk in it and let it set over night to age.

The next morning Yogie, Booboo and I couldn't wait to see what our grains had produced. We had a nice buttermilk thickness jar of Kefir. We strained out our grains and faithfully put new milk in them and we feed our sourdough. Might as well they both like to be tended daily, if possible, if not they don't like to not be feed very long or they get angry and turn on you, if you can't care for them regularly they can both hibernate a little in the frig and a little longer in the freezer.  The little chore done we blended our kefir with some fresh strawberries and a little honey, it was a wonderful smoothie. We also froze some of the smoothie in the freezer and had kefir ice cream as a snack before bed. I don't have to be sneaky with the girls they actually enjoy healthy eating and as I am a little obsessive about it they tend to be too. Poppies rules is "I don't care if you put the healthy stuff in mine just don't tell me about it and I like it to taste good." We do try to make it taste good and he is a trooper. When my older kids were little the rules was "if you say yuck you get a second helping", so they would say to people, when we were quests, "I really like that, Grandma, but I would rather not have any more", they always got kudos for being polite.  We were the only ones that knew the higher motivation was no second helping.

The girls love kefir, however everyday long tern was not something they could do, I do like to use kefir several times a year but in the end I am not as good at keeping Kefir as I am sourdough. I did experiment with straining the kefir over night in cheese cloth and making quick, goat cheese, the kind that is cream cheese thickness. It is wonderful with herbs and garlic on veggies. I also saved it up and made blue and cheddar kefir cheese, that were good as well, these are all cheeses that are possible with out rennet, all good choices for vegerarians. Kefir cheeses are all softer than rennet cheese, but all good steps, for me toward making rennet cheese. I did try making lemon juice, goat cheese and was to heavy handed on the straining of the cheese and ended up with a great fake parmesan cheese, was very good sprinkled on speghitt. I didn't even have to grate it. I was setting myself up for a pattern, too much pressing but at this time didn't know it, hind sight is so revealing. Cheese making is very addictive the more I made the more I wanted to make. I purchased, rennet, some cultures and got Poppie to make me a press I was ready to make "real" cheese.... next time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Poppie likes to smoke

Poppie being a workaholic spent most of his life working, he worked alot when the older kids were small, he now regrets the time he didn't spend with his older kids. I try to tell him he was doing the best he could at the time, he needed to make money to feed, cloth and house them. His parents had split when he was little, his grandparents and uncle helped raise him until he was 10 where upon he got a stepfather that liked to beat on him. His parenting skills were not develop in youth and having not really had a father he was making it up as he went along. He was and is determined to correct any short comings he had made with his older kids and try and do a better job with the younger kids. Our older kids are pretty good kids on the whole so I think he did a pretty good job for a young father the first time around. You really can't compare a father at 21 with a father at 51, can you? The reality of it is that, Poppie, is one of the most gentle men you will every meet and he would give you the shirt off his back... But I digress.

Poppie needs things to keep him busy that aren't to hard physically, he has a 10 lb weight limit and is not allowed to work at anything more than a couple hours. So I try hard to get him doing a hobbys, since I am an artist, by trade, I tend to encourage him artistically. He is now making knives, does some wood working, frame making and has come a long ways to becoming an artist in his own right, true we do things in a combined manner which gives alot of our work a male and female perspective which is unique and different. One of the things he has really taken to is smoking briskets. We have a big family barbecue every 4th of July and some of the extended family, around 45,  attend for Poppies brisket and the fire works.  One of his nicest compliments was from a friend from the deep souths, mother, who said it tasted just like being back home in Alabama. I would say that was high praise. So Poppie thought he had a handle on smoking hams and bacons. I don't think he realized it would be a whole different process.

He at first decided he would alter an old antique refrigerator to accomplish the task, but I figured he would need something a little different. I went on line, my new found friend, and read numerous articles on cold smoking as apposed to hot smoking which was what he does with his briskets. I finally purchased a book, which I rarely do, as Poppie needs it on paper in hand to get a real grasp of a written idea. So after reading the section on smoke house, backwards and forewords, the other section on brines he had no interest in, which I studied. He built a smoke house off the side of his chicken house, he did put the refrigerator smoke right next to it, after all it is bigger than his previous smoker and the 4th comes every year. He was ready for the meat; and now I just had to get it ready for his smoke house.

We butchered our sow, once we were assured that the weather wouldn't not be getting above 45 day or night, and as we live in Montana not a problem after late October really. I read all I could on brining and decided that I wanted to dry brine, we had brined 20 years ago with hit and miss results. I found part of the problem we had described in the readings, I studied. We had prepared our liquid brine fine, the egg floated and everything. What we hadn't known was that as the meat draws in the salt from the brine and it needs to be refreshed something they don't tell you in any of the recipes. I now know how to do quality liquid brine but thought the dry brining sounds better and is supposed to have a better result. Old tried and true recipes are simple, lots of good quality plain food salt.  If you are on the no salt craze this is not the time to skimp, if you do try this and don't use enough salt it will make you sick.  You can use the sodium nitrates or prague but they are not actually necessary and they do add the chemicals I am trying so hard to remove from my life. Basically you layer the meat with adequate amount of salt per pound in a crock or wooden barrel and let it set for a time per pound, you then remove the meat, rinses, and dry for several day, and then smoke. If you want good old country ham you don't actually smoke it you dry and then age at blow 45 for 3 plus months, up to years if you  have the place to store it in at under 45 degrees.

Poppie smoked the meat  in his little smoke house with apple wood, cherry wood and alder. He had nice little flameless smoldering coals, in the bottom of his smokehouse. He feed the little fire between two day and two weeks depending up what he was smoking, bacons or an 18 lb ham.  Poppie who hadn't eaten bacon in years loved it and is now a bacon man again. The hams are just as nice, smoky, firm, and so much better for you than the injected hams you get from the new processing. I will adjust my times in the salt a little next time as they are just a little salty, but that was a first time try error.  Next time I will tell you about my attempts at kefirs and cheese...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pigs come to Nannyland

We had decided to add pigs to our little farm so in the January of 2010 we, Mokie and Son tend to follow along in any of our animal endeavors, got 4 little females. They seemed to be a bit smaller, 19 to 25 lbs, than I had remembered them being when we had raised them 20 years before but I put that thought to faulty memory. I should have gone with  my gut instinct, but hind sight is 20/20. We had them about 3 days when Son, who had decide he would house them until they were big enough to go in to a regular pig sty, noticed they were having seizures. So began calls to the vet, two hour feedings of sugar water and long nights, two days in we lost the first little girl, pork chop, she died of an apparent heart attack. We were frustrated nothing the vet had told us was helping and admittedly he had never seen this before. Son called a couple in their 80's that was a friend on his family, they recalled it happening once to them, she advised Epsom salts. Son was hesitant to use this as he tends to always be cautious. I got on the Internet and there it was, they were suffering from hypoglycemia, and Epsom salts was the answer. They started showing sign of improving right away. They all, however had varying stages of blindness, knowing we were going to raise one each to adulthood as breeding Sows we purchased two more for that and kept the blind ones as hogs to eat. The were Sausage, Ham and Ribs. We have since found out that the breeder was a novice, he didn't know number one a weaner pig is around 40 lbs when they are  sellable and they have to be feed grain and weaned before they are sold. I should have really listened to the little person inside of me when they were too small, but we learned allot about how to do it right, and that vets in small towns aren't always aware of all animals they may be ask to administer to.

Just before the pigs were to come to our property, Poppie and I built a hog shed and run, we used logs from the woods and fashioned a cute little log cabin, Poppie drilled the holes and I pounded the 12 inch spikes. The building took about 5 hours to accomplish, we wear both wore out and I lost my original gold band in the doing. We looked but I never did find it, after 30 years it was hard to have lost my old friend and symbol of love for my husband. I had another nicer one but it wasn't the first one, the special one, and Poppie didn't seem to understand as he likes the newer one. I think it was a Mars and Venus moment. I mourned the loss of that band as God had made us one with its promise, we were still one in all the ways that matter and God let me know that, and so life went on. The pigs loved their little enclosure, they had an all the time feeder, a constant flow waterer that all they had to do was push with their nose and ,wallah. they had water.  A friend of mine was amazed that they stayed put, she had dealt with them in the past and they wouldn't stay in, I told her pigs are lazy give them food and water and they have no place to go. If they run out of food the smart little devils will go looking for their own and you are hard pressed to keep them in. During the Summer they actually got out three times always when the feeder got low or had just run out and Poppie hadn't noticed it. These pigs were harder to deal with when they got out as they couldn't see or couldn't see well and they got scared of what they heard or the shadows they could see. Actually except for once only one of them actually left the comfort of their sty.

October came and it was butchering time, Bug and my friend took theirs and had them professionally processed. We refused to do that, number one why save the money raising them, two why go to the trouble of feeding them chemically free and then have them injected with junk to process the hams and bacons. The two processed ones dressed out at 210 and 209 lbs of meat, the one we processed had 300 lbs. We cut and ground the fresh meats, and brined and smoked the hams and bacons... next time I will tell you of Poppies smoke house and dry brining.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Goats give milk and need to be milked every day... as needy as babies.

The first goat that we got, Mama and Butterfly, were my first experience with milking anything. She was half Pygmy and I know now that she had a small udder that was difficult to milk, however I didn't know that then. I bought her and her baby and watched as the lady, I would later become great friends with, but had just meant, showed me a quick two minute demonstration. We took them home, Poppie, made a stanchion the next day. A stanchion is a milking stand, you put grain, goat candy, in the feeder that holds their head still while you mik the goat. I could not make her udder work no matter how I tried alone. Poppie held the jar. It is easier to milk in a jar or kitchenaide bowl with a goat, you can move them faster out of the way and they can't get their feet in the bucket when they are naughty and kick out. I got a 1/2 cup the first time out and that was using a two handed stripping method, which is a bad way to treat a goat, again I didn't know that then. I tried for the next few days and never got the hang of it and decided to let Mama feed her baby in peace. She died shortly thereafter.

Mokie purchased Pansy soon after I had purchased Mama, from the same lady, she was and is a wonderful milker. Mokie took to milking like a duck takes to water. She milked from the back of the goat as her father-in-law had showed her how to do. She had been milking awhile and I asked her to show me, my hands are very strong in different ways than Mokies and I still had difficulties. We couldn't figure out why, I carve with dremels and foredom all day long sometimes and I am literaly much stronger than her, but it was a mystery why I couldn't get it. The epiphany came one day when we were talking about Mokie making a cake for Boys birthday. She decorates cakes and uses cake decorating bags, which is the exact motion, that it takes to milk a goat. I still work at it but it seems I am really not needed to milk the goats, Mokie showed her sisters Yogie and Booboo, then 7 and 6, how to milk and they were just like her, ducks to water, by summers end 2010 they were both milking two goats apiece twice aday and helping milk a friends goat down the road periodicly. 

The grand kids all come out to see Yogie and booboo milking and they want to do it too, the catch is if you milk it you got to drink it, here on this little hobby farm. They tried to milk so they had to try the milk. Our first tries at the milk were amazing, I though it would be odd or strange tasting, but as the lady I got the goats from had told me, if you get it from teat to cold in less than 20 minutes, and you have clean milking habits, it really doesn't taste much different, and it doesn't. My girls, Boy and Cubbie had been used to drinking it warm from the goat with chocolate powder in it, I myself can't actually do it that way, but they loved it. The grand kids decided they would try it that way as well. Buga liked it, M wasn't much impressed, Song decided it was wonderful and Eldest said, "Nannie that was the worst thing I ever tried" I told him that it was disrespectful of the goat to milk her and not try to enjoy the fruits of her efforts, He tried again, he still doesn't really like it but will drink it.  Now when the grand kids come up they say "is that goats milk or real milk" my girls tell them its just milk, milk is milk. I am proud of their attitude, in reality, goats milk is a very low fat milk. It doesn't have cream that rises to the top, or very little, and that depends upon breed of goat. It is actually homogenized, as is, and that it is why it is so good for babies to drink if they can't drink their mothers milk and you don't want to use formula. Milk adds up when you milk twice daily and you can only drink so much, kefir and cheese were my first options of what to do with the time.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sourdough a new adventure with an old friend

I grew up eating sourdough pancakes, waffles, breads, doughnuts etc... so I had a long relationship with it. I raised my older children on it, it was a staple of my life. I came across an article in one of my cook books that I had clipped out and stuck in there years ago. I read it and it made my mind think maybe there is somethings I didn't know or hadn't contemplated on sourdough. I got on the Internet and read all sorts of articles, new and old, love the antique writings that you can find, so I decided to re-establish a relationship with an old friend. Years ago, in middle school, I had done experiments with breads, sourdoughs and gluten's as my science project, won a blue ribbon, I decided to experiment again. I made up a batch of my standard sourdough starter, which is made up of potato water, flour and yeast, I set it aside in a glass, antique wire closure mason jar. I fed it daily, to make it grow, and in short time had a usable new starter. I also followed the instructions on an antique starter, which was made from boiling potatoes setting them aside to get a crust of mold and age a week or so, after the aging you scrape off the mold and throw it away, you use the rest of the potatoes in combination with flour and water to make a starter. Each day I tended both in separate batches.

Once the starters had matured, aged and soured a bit I took out my old faithful recipe and the antique one, that had accompanied the old starter recipe,to make up loaves of bread. I ended up with four very nice loaves. One of each recipe, made from each of the starters, two that tasted good, as the old family recipe had always, but they did not slice well in to toast or for making sandwiches. The other two loaves were nice and firm, good taste and sliced so marvelously that you could toast them. They, by the they, had almost no ingredients in them so very economical too, so we had a winner on making bread that could be a replacement for our daily use. Yes, we make it regularly and do not and have not purchased any bread since.

The recipe for the bread is, first you make a sponge; which consists of  two cups of starter in a large bowl, add 7 and a half cups of warm water, stir in 9 cups of flour, I like a mixture of half ground wheat and half unbleached all purpose flour, but some times I make it all wheat or a mixture of different flours. You let the mixture set 8 to 24 hours to basically become a large batch of starter, or sponge, you also have to re feed your original starter anytime you take from it so I add two cups of four and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of warm water to the starter in it's jar. Once you have allowed the sponge to grow and it should grow up to the top of the bowl and collapse before it is really ready to make into bread, that is why it is 8 to 24 hours, as this can vary depending on warmth of the house or the weather. It is now time to make the bread dough, I add 1/2 cup oil, any good oil, it can be butter, lard, olive oil, canola..., a 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of salt, again any kinds will do honey, molasses, and kosher are all good options. I then add 9 cups of flour, your choice, and stir it up good. I then pour it into a well of flour on my marble bread making slab, on my counter, and knead until it is a nice stiff dough. I put it into a large greased bowl to grow for around 4 hours, sometime longer sometimes less, you want it to double. Once it has doubled in size you can now slice and knead it into loaves, it will make around 6 large loaves or 9 small loaves or 15 chili bowls or 8 flat bread or pizza crusts, or anything you might want to make from it. I bake the big loaves a 425 for around 30 minutes. You can add high heat and stem to your oven followed by moderate heat to get really nice crusty artisan breads too. They are worth the effort.

Our sourdough baking is a weekly ritual and in the summer the girls sell theirs at the farmers market, I did decide eventually to pour the two starters together and I think together they made the best starter of the three. I do once in awhile hibernate my starter by feeding it and putting it into the refrigerator, and remembering to feed it weekly, otherwise when out it should be feed daily for the best starter. I did make a sourdough starter with a kefir recipe later when I was making cheese but that is another blog.....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A second chance, I should try better to get it right!

My mother thinks that to show someone you love them you should feed them, feed them and feed them, I think I would have liked a hug better. I have had an up and down relationship with weight all my life, as do most of my siblings. I raised my older children with the thoughts of changing the patterning but even though I tried to self educate myself I raised them a lot like my mother in the end. Thank goodness, my son is built like Poppie so no problems there, the girls are a combination so that gives them a better chance to start on their paths in life.  I tried the method of, do as I say and not as I do, to no great avail. I, as an older adult, had gotten the concepts more firmly in hand but my children were adults or nearly adults ready to make their own way in this world. That is as it should be, I try not to meddle having been the victim of parental meddling for many, many years. I am not saying my parents aren't wonderful people, it just, that my mother does like, the power, in the power and control struggle. So when God gave me a second chance to make a difference in a young persons life I grabbed on with both hands.

My little girls are being raised to appreciate all the gifts of the garden, beets are their number one favorite followed by all things green, orange or yellow. They both have good palettes Yogie's a little more developed than Booboo's. We stopped using any form of pop or soda in our home about three years ago, before that they had been allowed the occasional diet soda, but I had determined that was not a good thing either so in our home, none is allowed, they can order it at the restaurant, if they choose, but not in the house, they don't actually order it but could if they wanted it. We have made homemade sourdough breads in our home exclusively for about 2 and half years. They both make a mean sponge and sold their homemade sourdough at the local farmer's market last summer. This patterning had set us up, to go to the goats and the pigs, for more elimination of as many chemicals, from our lives, as we can.

Spring of 2010 we got our first pigs, raised one for a friend, one for our son, one to breed and one to eat. We butchered her in late October, processed our own meat, and dry brined and smoked our own hams and bacons. They are wonderful, some a little salty but we will fix that with the next batch. We butchered two little bucklings and two bucks at the same time as the hog. Poppie liked the ground goat, a good thing seeings as how we have a whole field of them. The buck I ground with some of the hog and made 75 lbs of summer sausage and it was eaten by friends and family with in two months so it was well received. I can't wait to do it again without the buck meat, it has a terrible odor and a little gamey, so next time with withers it will be much better.

Goats come with babies, and lots and lots of milk. I first studied up one how to make cheeses. I am a mostly self taught person and thoroughly study a subject, backwards and forewords, before I jump in with both feet. I knew quite a lot of what I was going to do with the milk just had to start out. Made lots of cheese the summer of 2010, some a total success and some not so much, lol. I studied up on soap making in the fall and made my first batches, from the milk I had frozen in the summer, the beginning of winter. Next time.... sourdough making 101..

Friday, February 18, 2011

Horses to Goats to cougars to Nannyland

My kids all love animals in their own ways, that isn't to say they always make the right choices for their circumstances. That is why I have seven dogs, 5 cats, more hand-me-downs than not.  My son was sure he needed two horse, not really, so who ended up with them long term. They were expensive to feed and Poppie could no longer even ride one, if he wanted to, so we decided that we needed to give them away, I know they are expensive and we should have sold them, but feed is more expensive long term so we were glad someone else was feeding them and not us. We told the girls we would get them goats to replace the loss in their lives. We bought a little half pygmy and half dairy goat and her baby. They were wonderful replacements, ate less and delightful to interact with and they couldn't hurt you if they stepped on you. We got them in June of 2009.   August of 2009 Poppie came into the house with a devastated look on his face and asked me to come outside, with out the girls, a cougar had come in the night and killed Mama and Butterfly. He had gotten so attached he cried at their loss, The FWP officer came, it was so hot the dogs could not pick up a scent to track the cougar. My neighbor lost three goats over the next two months as well. Someone heard we lost the goats and gave us a pregnant female and a little buck. Poppie had almost not let me take them as his loss of the two earlier had been so hard on him, but we whined and he gave in.  We had them about a month and a half when the cougar killed the female, again the FWP officer came, the little buck was terrified as he was so stinky the cougar didn't want him but he had witnessed it all. She had been carrying twins, they tried to trap the cougar no luck. We saw a Tom, a female with twin yearling kittens but no luck getting them.  My neighbor, that had lost goats, gave us two little females and all winter they were fine. So we believed the cougars were gone.

The goats were a joy to have and we decided that instead of the pet goats we would like to have milking goats. I also had heard of meat goats so started looking to buy some of each. We got our first boer goats in the spring of 2010, a big registered boer female, Rosie, a female boer, Cleo, a big boer buck, Caesar, Cleo had a set of twin bucklings about a month old when we got her. We decided then and there that we needed a naming plan, the food animals on our little hobby farm would hence forth have food names, it didn't mater what, as longs as it was food, the bucklings became withers and they were Carrots and Beets. The lady I had bought the goats from had given us some little bucklings to make into withers so we also had, Kohlrabi, Stew, Cream Corn and Licorice. Our momma goats are flowers or Great woman from history, and our bucks are Great men from history. I had also agreed to take three peacocks to warn of the cougars presence if they came back, very loud animal and a good alarm system at anything that makes a different sound.

Mokie and Son (her husband) got goats at the same time, they live next door so together we have 2 1/2 acres. They ended up with a little herd of about 6 average and we have a herd that averages 11. We grew to love our goats daily, mind you at this point we had never tried goats milk or goats meat so, we sort of had the cart before the goat, so to speak.

April 2010, Mokie's first doe had triplets, two little buckling and a doe. My little pygmy, that the neighbor had given me as a pet, had been pregnant with triplets, I tried to save them but they were two big and in the end I lost all of them, I nearly quit on the goats right then and there. My family and friends comforted me advising that the reality of farming is that animals die, it is a life and death cycle, you can't enjoy the birthing and growing without being prepared of the dying. I dug her grave by hand and buried her myself, tears streaming down my face. I only remembered later that I had had Mokies ring on my hand, as she had given it to me to safe keep when we were trying to pull babies, it was buried and stayed with Tink and her babies in her grave. Second ring I lost that week as I had been helping Poppie make a pig pen and when I was pounding stakes in the logs had lost my gold band in the dirt and couldn't find it.

We enjoyed the births that came latter through the spring, Rosie had twins in August and was the last of the girls to do so. The Cougar killed all but one of my neighbors goats in August, the Fwp officer came and finally got the Cougar but we had called the media before they really did take it seriously, both the male and the female were taken in the end. So hopefully we will not have anymore trouble with cougars....  Nannyland was born and a reality of our lives.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My biggest fear has always been sharp things

Okay, so 3 months in bed when you are a workaholic that isn't allowed,normally, to do anything that your family perceives might be too much weight or that you might be hurting yourself doing is a loooong time. What he didn't know was that part of it was a pleasure and part of it was longer for us. We were so glad he was alive, his brain bleed had been very dangerous and scary. He didn't help much at the hospital he wanted to go home and "this was messing up his Easter with his girls". It was 6 weeks before he could get up for an hour, another 6 weeks before he got to be up long term. Three months in bed and he was ready to go get firewood. My friends said why are you letting him think that way, he should never be allowed to do that again. The reality is that he was 47 and needed to be allowed all the dignity that comes with the pride of being his own man, I understood it then, and now, and helped him get back to where he needed to be. My son  the logger taught me to cut down trees, and my biggest fears in this world are getting cut and something falling on my head, go figure, this helped cure both of those problems...

Almost 3 months to the day after the accident we were in the woods, Booboo, Yogie, Bug (my son), Daughter (his wife), Eldest (his son) 5, M (his daughter)2, Poppie and I. We were there to get a small load of wood and help Nannie learn to cut down trees, so we could get out of the house, and Poppie could be in his woods. We spent the next hour with my very obsessive son teaching me the finer points of tree falling. I did well and he was proud, that I did it right and that he had been the one to teach me. I learned to buck them up and the little ones loaded their load. Poppie got to get out, his arms hurt from his crutches that he had to use for another 2 months. When we got home he said, "It had always been upset me that you wouldn't let me go get wood alone, and now I am thankful you never let me, I would have died. I will never go without someone with me the rest of my life" I think that was his way of saying thank you for all we had done to save him that day. No he never will go alone.

 I cut down trees for almost three months before he was ready to cut his first one down again. He was so scared, more scared than I was the when I had cut down the first one I did. He succeeded with flying colors, cold sweat pouring down his face. He said, "I didn't know if I could, I almost didn't try. I am glad I did." He went on to the next with all the years experience showing in his cutting, but that one was probably the hardest thing he had ever done. I was so proud of him. We hauled 20 cord of wood that year, lots of the people in our community received free wood, he sold some too. He was back to the man he had always been, except the limp that took about a year to leave and the oddly shaped leg that had screws sticking out for about a year before they had to remove two, but he wouldn't let them take the bar as his leg had been so bad it really needed it for extra support. Oh, and as the doctor had said he had a little bit or a personality change from the skull fracture, he does anger a bit more quickly, but as he never angered really before, no one but me really sees it, Mokie (my youngest biological daughter) does a little. I think maybe that is a good thing in the long run of things.

The winter came in, no more trips to the woods, he was lamenting it when he happened to talk about his growing up on his grandfathers farm, about a quarter section of ground, that had once been a number of sections of land. He spoke of how that farm had made him safe, he loved the planting, harvesting and the animals... The sparks of Nannyland were born in that moment and soon we took our first step toward time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The day our little world stood still at warp speed

The four of us, Booboo(4), Yogie (5), Poppie and Nannie, by the way the girls don't call us Poppie and Nannie just the grand kids and psyduo grand kids do, were out scouting likely candidates for our load of wood. Poppie only allowed loads to at box level as to not scratch his new truck and that was a lot of wood for the two little ones to help stack anyway. The girls and I had gathers pieces of drift wood or artistic forest wood pieces, rocks, Booboo likes rock, Poppie's truck got it's first dent when she was throwing them in and was too little to get her rock over the box edge. The morning was going well we had eaten a lunch of fried cabbage and bacon before we had left so the girls were all full and ready to expend the energy they had filled up on. We had cut down a few little trees, small enough that the girls could easily manage them and decided to cut one for me to load. There was a little leaner in the tree and Poppie had tried to cut it out but it had only stuck in the tree more so he was  frustrated and decided it wouldn't be a problem. The girls and I were back by the truck about 50 feet away to watch and yell timber when it came down. The tree came down the girls yelled "timber" and Poppie was nowhere to be seen.

I screamed for him and didn't see him anywhere, so I ran over the windfall as fast I could to get to where he had been, when I got there he was laying about 10 yards away. He was in a fetal position, having been an emt-b for 6 years, that made me terrified. I knelt down by him; he was making a gruntle pig like noise and blood was streaming down his face from his nose. I instinctively wiped it away and gave him a once over, his left leg was under him in a z shape. I reached out and in a swiping motion pulled it out in one smooth movement. He came to in a screaming instant. I reached under him to check that he didn't have a puncture in his back, I thought maybe the noise he had been making had been a punctured lung or something. I couldn't find anything, I was sure his back was broken or his neck so moved him as little as possible. He had blood coming from around his eye and a big bloody bruise on his left temple. He said, "Help me up, I need to go home." I said "I can't I need to get an ambulance." He said "Just get me to my truck so I can go home." I told him I couldn't, even though he only weighted 184lbs I couldn't lift him, oh by the way, Poppie is 6"6" so very thin, He tried to use his left leg, it shot a pain into him, after he came to he said, "What happened to my leg?" I said, " A tree landed on you and I have to go get an ambulance." His mind must have been trying to figure it out because he was silent. I turned and Yogie was beside me screaming and totally melted down. Booboo stood silently beside her taking in things in a manner that only she does. I said to Yogie, "I have to go get the ambulance and can't leave daddy by himself can you set on this log and hold his hand?" She screamed "NO,NO Mamma don't leave me." Booboo said, "I will hold daddy's hand." I looked at her and couldn't imagine leaving her or him for that matter, We wear only 3 miles from town but it was going to be a long three miles and as our ambulance is a volunteer operation a long wait with a man who may not be conscious. I said."Boo are you sure you can?" She said, "I will hold daddy's hand."  I talked to Poppie and tried to get him to understand what I had to do. He seemed aware of what was going on but I am not sure he did. I sat Booboo on the log that had hit him as it was tucked up tight against him and there was nowhere else for her to sit and be by him, the little leaner was about 5 inches across. I grabbed my sobbing child that clung to me like a little monkey and made my way back across the windfall. I turned that, at the moment, tank sized truck around on a billy goat trail and drove the 1/2 mile to the main forest road. I sped down the road to town, and made my way to the sheriff's office.

 I hurried down the hall passing the Justice of the Peace, she saw that Yogie and I were distraught and ask what had happened, I tried to fill her in as I walked down the long hall to the dispatch window, She hugged us and let us continue to get help. I knocked on the darkened window and the head detention officer came to the window. The head dispatcher was processing radio traffic. He told her we needed an ambulance and she began a page, No one answered. she paged again, still no answer, and again, no answer, she turned an asked who is this for. Both the detention officer and I looked at her like she was nuts, as I had worked with both of them for 8 years, but she didn't recognize me. I don't know why. We told her and she said, my husbands name with fear in her voice, we said "yes." She made a land line call and one of our friends on the ambulance said she could come from teaching at the school, the fire chief advised he could drive even though he wasn't an ambulance attendant. They finally got one more attendant to come. They came to the fire hall and I drove out to show them where to go. I drove up the forest road and stopped at the little tiny road, the ambulance could not go up the road. The teacher/attendant came with me, the fire chief followed in his truck and the other attendant stayed with the ambulance. We drove up the little road and stopped, it had taken me one hour to return, I said to Booboo "Is daddy OK?", he raised his hand above her head and waved. She said, "Mamma, daddy tried to move his bloke leg 3 times". (She had problems saying blended sounds with r's in them.) and apparently it had registered with her because each time he did he passed out and she was alone and not once had she let his hand go. She was my little hero in that moment. The brave little might had, with the patience of Job, sat there and taken care of her daddy, alone in the silent forest in all her innocence. My son-in-law ,with anxiety disorder, later said to her, "You were so brave I could not have done what you did today." It made her so proud.  We packed Poppie out, 3 people carrying one man on a litter, one wearing dainty teaching shoes.

We got Poppie patched up, he had a skull fracture, a shattered left leg that will forever have a titanium bar in it and a bunch of pins, that match the ones in his back. Road rash where that tree skidded down his spine, but not one injury to his already fragile back, God does take care of dogs and idiots... He whinned for the 3 months he had to spend in bed, praised his little daughters and still can't remember most of the first two weeks of the ordeal; can't say the same about the nurses that he was mean to ( he is the nicest person ever) so that was due to the skull fracture.  Next time I will tell you about learning to cut down trees as Poppie couldn't for awhile and the need to find, workaholic Poppie something to keep him busy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The path to Nannyland

The first year away from the sheriff's office was a budgeting marvel but we made it through, and didn't starve. We had to watch everything we did knowing the money would soon run out and I would actually have to get on the internet and try to sell come of my carvings or get a new job. I am a self taught artist and had sold items at craft shows for years, as more of a hobby than anything else. I had sold painting, native American drums, pen and ink drawings, cards and originals, but the thought of that being our only source of income was daunting. I quit the sheriffs office February of 2005 and I listed my first carvings on ebay February of 2006. I am a little bit obsessive complusive about studing something to death before I jump in and try,  to my amazement it took off and by September of 2005 I was a power seller on ebay, which at that time you had to make 1000 a month to be. We had the money we needed to live on but it was a 12 hour a day job, which still made for little time with the family. My older kids helped out, we rented trailer houses to two of them and their spouses; low rent but it helped out. November of 2006 my husband went to court for his social security and it was granted to him. The judge gave him praise for the home we had provided for our two little girls, it was nice to hear but it was never about accolades. It was always about the knowing that God provides us with all of our children each comes to us in Gods own way. I explain it to the girls this way. "I carried you in my heart and not in my tummy." That has always been enough for the two of them. Life got to be less of a daily hand to mouth battle. We had always been happy but the pressure was off and we could enjoy life a little more, for the next 6 months I didn't list one item on ebay. We bought a new used dodge ram truck, cash, put a down payment on a modular home and had it set up on our property. We went and got firewood two or three times a week, our personal favorite way to go and enjoy the woods that God made for us to explore. Poppie cut, the girls and I carried and stacked it as he can't lift more than 10lbs. Those two little ones can stack a mean load of wood, and all the holes better be full or they will let you know about it, maybe a little obsessive themselves. Live was good, just day to day living, loving and growing. My son married the love of his live, she came with two wonderful little ones, a grandson and granddaughter, my son could not love them more if he was biologically their dad (and soon he will get to adopt them). My youngest biological daughter married my oldest daughters ex-husband's brother and in the summer of 2006 we had a little grandson, We now had 4 grandchildren, as my oldest daughter had had a little granddaughter in the fall of 2005. She at the time was taking good care of her daughter and trying to make a good go at the second chance we had helped her to get.  March of 2007 we were cutting firewood when my husband accidentally fell a tree on himself. It was the most terrifying moment I have ever experienced in my life. Next time I will tell you of the heroics of a 4 year old.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How Nannie became a Nannie

I raised all my children and in the spring of 2001 my oldest daughter had a whorl wind romance and got married, by the summer of 2002 I was to have my first grandchild. I was contemplative of the fact that my mother lived next door and that might be confusing for the grandchildren to understand that grandma lived next to grandma so I thought Nannie would suit me just fine. Nannies come with Poppies so that is who we are to our grandchildren. During the course of the next year my daughters marriage fell apart and she was pregnant again, the divorce took a long time and my daughter was not a strong person, she had had some abuse as a child from a family acquaintance and a boy friend so in the end could not raise her two children. When the second little one was born we took over the raising of the two little girls. At first we tried to help them reunite as a family but in the end it was better for the girls to stay permanently with us and we got to adopt them. We are the only family they remember as a unit. Poppie had become disabled during this same time so they were a God send to keep him going while he had 4 surgeries on his back, went through pain that sometimes he could not stand if he hadn't had them to take care of while I worked as a dispatcher at our local 911. When they were 2 1/2 and 18 months I knew I had to stay home to take care of the three of them, I resigned my position with nothing more than the money I drew from my pension, and the artistic ability God had given me a total leap of faith. God supplied us with plenty, I made a good living for the next two years before my husband got his disability from the Social Security. I am now a full time mommy, nannie, wife and working artist. Next time I will tell you how nannyland came to be part of our lives.