Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Finally, New Baby Goats !!!!

Finally Daisy our Boer Doe had 2 kids this morning. She was bred to our Pygmy Buck Chief so these are Boer/Pygmy cross. These are the first to be bred and birthed here on the farm. I am more than a little proud as I'm sure you can tell. 1 boy and 1 girl, and she could have another. She is still pretty big and looks as if she may have another kid in there somewhere. Have to wait and see. Well, gotta get back down to the kids. Just wanted to post the GREAT NEWS and a few pictures, there will be many, many more to come.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Trying to get back to the blog

I'm sorry for not posting but there is just not much going on here right now. We are still trying to recoup from the Christmas rush and our trip to West Virginia with the family. Be getting back to you soon with updates on my New Years Declaration. I'm getting myself prepared for the battle ahead.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

Just wanted to send a Big Merry Christmas to all my friends out there. Hope you have a wonderful and save holiday. May all your wishes come true.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gifts for the boys in my family

This is the gift that I have chosen for 2 of my nephews. They are at that age were they are impressionable, and I want that impression to be a good one. The American Boy's Handy Book is the ideal gift in my opinion for any boy that falls into the 9 - 12 age group. Hey, I'm 41 and I think it's the greatest thing ever. A lot of good useful information in this book for people of all ages I think. Below is a product description of the book and you can click here to learn more.

Product Description
Originally published in 1890, The American Boy’s Handy Book is the ultimate collection of timeless boyhood activities. Written and illustrated by America's founding father of scouting, this book shows how to have fun while being constructive, creative and daring. The American Boy’s Handy Book is packed with tips, instructions, and illustrations for things boys don't learn while playing video games and surfing the Internet. From making fireworks, shooting arrows, and fighting war kites, to building a raft, riding a sled and training a dog, the author encourages boys to be boys, be active, enjoy some innocent mischief, and develop their self confidence and character (although they probably won't realize these last two are happening).

Now does that sound pretty cool or what?? I would have loved a book like this when I was their age. I have read some of it, don't tell, and man it's full of great stuff that they can use for the rest of their life. This is a wonderful addition to any young (or old) boys collection. I added a little hand written message for each boy on the inside flap of each book also. Maybe some day they will pull that book from it's shelf and remember the great times it provided them over the years and maybe, just maybe they will remember ol' Uncle Chris too.
Now with a book like that you gotta have a good knife to go along with you on the journey, right? OK, so I added to each a inexpensive 7 function swiss army (type) knife. I have carried one on my key chain for years and it has been a life saver for me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

OK, not really. But I do really like the song. It's an old one which makes it even better when played on our old Victrola. We have been trying to make it feel a little more like Christmas around here, which seems to be pretty hard, so we brought out the Christmas hits from the past. These are, as I'm sure you can tell, really old 78's (which means that they are to be played a 78 rpm's to play correctly). They are a little scratched up but still sound wonderful on the old Victrola. Here is the only Hippopotamus that I want around here at Christmas or any other time for that matter You can go to this link to hear it, and yes it will be your new favorite.
Another favorite is Gene Autry, with Here Comes Santa Claus. Another oldie. Man, that voice just makes me feel good all over. Calms me yet excites me all at the same time. Listen to it here and see it played on a record player.

Well ya gotta have something to play all that old music on, what better that an old Victor Victrola complete with the hand crank on the side. A friend found this ad on the net some time ago and printed it and gave it to me. Can you believe this thing cost $425.00 in 1925-26. That was near the price of a new car at that time. Who ever purchased this one new must have had some coin, if ya know what I mean. I would love to be able to tell you a nice long story about how this has been in the family for years and years. The truth, I bought it at an Antique store maybe 12 - 15 years ago in West Virginia. Well, I could have made up a good story for ya, but I have a hard enough time keeping the truth straight. I would never be able to remember a lie to tell it twice. hehe!!

Ours is not new condition or anything but it's still really nice for it's age, going on 100 years old. There are small cups to hold extra needles to the back left and I also found a place on line to buy needles NEW !! Can you believe that?? Notice the volume, you just open or close the cabinet doors to adjust. lol Man, I love things that are that simple and work so well.

Power source- Crank handle several turns and enjoy. "Off-grid entertainment"

And what would Christmas be with out Sponge Bob hangin' around. hehe!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Laundry Soap and New Blog

Well, we ran out of laundry detergent today and I thought I would whip up a batch that I had seen on a blog that I read often. Cath posted how to make it and I referred back to the post before I went to town to pick up the ingredients. God, I hate to have to leave the farm for anything, just don't care much for the outside world anymore at all. Too busy for me. Anyhow I got my goods and once back home mixed them just like Cath said. Wow, it works great !! I had made some once before that was a liquid soap and I just didn't care for it. It worked ok, but was kinda clumpy. This batch is a keeper for sure. Thanks Cath for the inspiration, seems reading blogs is where most of mine come from these days. Speaking of which, Cath has a new blog where she has come out of the closet about her food storage activities. I think she came out of the closet so she could make some more room for her massive canned food supplies. Anyhow, check out her new blog with pantry pictures for all of us food storage lovers. She and Big Daddy have a pretty nice set up looks like to me. It's worth your time to check it out just to see the cabin where she and Big Daddy and the kids hang out on long weekends. Give 'em a look, your gonna love that cabin... I do....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I have been such a Fool !!

For those who follow this blog you may remember my New Years Declaration post. Well, I have been doing some thinking about it and thought I would run some numbers just to seen how much I have wasted and how much I will save by making these changes. I am focusing on Cigarettes and Pop in this post. To my way of thinking I will be more devoted to the task when I see how much money I can save since my health obviously hasn't mattered much to me. The numbers nearly made me hit the floor although I should have hit the roof after seeing my wasteful ways. And here I am trying to live a life with less consumerism. Check out the stupidity below.

20 cans of Diet Coke per day = 7300 cans per year = 608.33 Twelve packs per year @ $3.18 = $1934.49 per year or $161.20 per month or $40.30 per week.

1 1/2 pack of cigarettes per day = 547.5 packs per year = 54.75 cartons per year @ $27.56 per carton = $1508.91 per year or $125.74 per month or $31.43 per week.

Savings of quiting both

$3443.40 per year

$286.95 per month

$71.74 per week

$10.25 per day

Kinda knocks ya off your feet don't it !! I hang my head in shame looking at the amount of money that I have wasted that could have gone to improve the life of my family. Just think of the amount of food storage that represents........the upgrade to solar power that would make us independent of the energy company's (and a few years of this budget would do that).........the debts that could be satisfied and gone forever..........the money that could have been saved away for emergencies. Keep in mind also that this is a conservative dollar amount too. There are times (many of them too) that I run out of these that I have bought at a (bargain?) and had to run out and pay even more for these items of destruction at close by convenience stores. So the amount shown is actually more. Now add to that the fuel cost for these addiction runs and it's even more!

Well that all stops on January 1, 2009 !!! No longer will I be controlled by my addictions !! No longer will I be money in the bank to those that manufacture and sell these products !! No longer will I smoke and drink away the future well being of my family !! The Buck Stops Here !!

Sometimes we just can't wait.

Well UPS and FedEx trucks have been wearing a path to our house the last few days with Internet purchases for Christmas. Liv has been getting some great deals from Amazon with some things less than half their original price. Makes for a little better Christmas for all you could say. Well Katie wasn't feeling too well this evening and we thought an early Christmas gift may make her feel a little better. Liv went to the back of the house and brought back this thing by Playskool, a Cherry Blossom Market, A part of the Dream Town Collection. $17.99 with free shipping from Amazon. It was a big hit to say the least.

How much is that baby girl in the window?? ( Can you see her there ) Don't matter how much she is, believe me you can't afford it.

It's the little things

It's the little things around here that seem to bring a smile to my face. Yesterday I was wondering around the place and found a box that our Muscovy ducks have been laying eggs in. I have several wooden boxes around the place so you just never know where you may or may not find an egg. Eggs have been in short supply for a while. I think, like chickens, ducks butts must freeze shut. hehe!! In this box I found 4 eggs. Well I wasn't sure how long they had been there so what should I do? I decided to mark the eggs with a marker so I will know they are the ones that have been there and if a new egg is laid I will be able to tell. The ducks of course came running when they saw me around this box so I made sure to feed them well in this spot. Thinking this would keep them close to the area, I also filled the box with straw and replaced the eggs where I found them. This morning, a new egg. I was so happy to find that egg, it was like an early Christmas gift from the Duck Gods. Long story short, by marking the eggs I was able to get an egg that I knew was fresh.

Monday, December 15, 2008

This Post is for Amy

My dear friend Amy has started a new blog that showcases her vintage items that she has collected over time. Her new blog lets us all see the wonderful pieces she has and gives us some information on them or asks questions when she's not sure. Amy has a great blog and I encourage you all to go and see the vintage stuff she has, Amy is what I like to call "Good People". She has a really nice green bowl that belonged to her aunt on there now. This got me to thinking about a green bowl that we have and I wanted to share it with Amy and all of you too.

Picked this one up at an estate sale a few years ago along with a box of other glassware. This one kinda struck my eye because it is such an unusual shape. No name or mark of any kind on it anywhere. I have never seen another one quite like it, it is a 3 sided bowl and came with utensils which is very unusual as well. The utensils are plastic which started to be popular during the 60's. To me it's just a real pretty green salad bowl. I am not a collector but I keep what I like and I like this one.

This is one of my favorites, I'm sure you all remember the Spruce Goose. This cup is made by Anchor Hocking.

New Years Declarations !!

I have decided that this year there will be no New years resolutions, there will be declarations instead. Resolutions are too easy to wiggle out of if you ask me. My list will be Declarations. I declare I will do these things, or die trying. My list is complicated and my goals are high but this is a time in my life that I need to demand more of myself, as we all should. Let's get serious about what changes need to be made and tackle them head on with a vengeance. Here is a list of my Declarations.

  1. I DECLARE, I will stop smoking these cigarettes. Marlboro has shortened my life and emptied my pockets long enough.
  2. I DECLARE, I will stop my addiction to diet coke, 20 a day is just a little out of hand.
  3. I DECLARE, I will make better use of the things available to me, my garden and my livestock, my land and my water source.
  4. I DECLARE, I will produce electricity in a usable amount, be it solar, wind or micro hydro power. I will begin my energy independence this coming year.
  5. I DECLARE, I will learn new skills to help improve our way of life. Soap making, Cheese making and Blacksmithing are among them.
  6. I DECLARE, I will be a better brother, son, father, husband and friend to those I love.
  7. I DECLARE, I will continue to gather and store food and other perps necessary to protect my family.
  8. I DECLARE, I will make better use of my finances. I have never seen a well that won't run dry.
  9. I DECLARE, I will take better care of the things that have been given me. My cars, animals, tools, property and my life to name a few.
  10. I DECLARE, I will take time to smell the roses. Time management will be a top priority.

I will be posting on the success of these Declarations in the near future and will be honest with you and myself as to the outcome. I encourage my readers to call me out on these Declarations. If I haven't mentioned them in some time, ask why! Don't let me forget that I made these DECLARATIONS right here for the whole world to see and hear and that I am obligated to fulfill them.

I am interested to know your plans for the New Year. Are you making resolutions or DECLARATIONS ??

Friday, December 12, 2008

She was the Greatest Lake of all !!

There is a time in my life that I hold onto more than any other. This time was spent with my Great Grandmother on my Mother's side. She was destined to be great from the start of her life. She was born, Lake Erie Blankenship, on March 20th, 1893. In 1911 she met and married Francis Mathers Harless and they were married on September the 3rd of that year. Francis and Lake lived a happy life together for the next 59 years until Francis "went to be with the Lord". For some reason when we speak of them that is what is said, they"went to be with the Lord". I think it is because we just can't stand the thought of them dieing or being dead and out of the great respect that we all have for them both. All the great grandchildren called them Big Mawmaw and Big Pawpaw although we don't know where those names came from nor did we ever question it. The names fit and stuck. I can hardly remember Big Pawpaw, only a few images in my mind of how he looked. Those memories are of him sitting in his rocking chair in front of the ever present fire place.

The time that I remember most is when my mother and I lived with Big Mawmaw while my father was away on a cruise in the Navy. This was only about 6 or 8 months and I was just a small boy, but the memories are were burned into my mind by that old coal fireplace. I was probably between 4 and 5 years old at the time. We had electricity but no cable tv, there was a tv in the room where my mother and I slept and sometimes you could even get a little bit of a picture on it but never any sound. That was fine though, there were many good stories to heard, much better than anything I have seen on tv since that time.

Big Mawmaw and Big Pawpaw had live in the old house since they were first married, no one knows for sure who built it or how old it was. Big Mawmaw said it had always been there and I say she's right. Little more than a tar paper shack, there was more love shared in that old house than any other I have been in. I can remember when my mother and I were staying there, I would lie on the feather bed at night and listen to mom and Big Mawmaw talk about everything from chickens to the Vietnam War. When they had something to say that they didn't want me to know, they would spell it, knowing that I would not have any idea what they were talking about. One night that we all remember even now, I was hungry and wanting to get in on this spelling thing, I ask my mom if she would fix me a 'G O P T'. They had no clue what I was talking about so after a few laughs I told them that I had spelled grilled cheese sandwich. At my moms house we still call 'em that, fix me a GOPT. To this day I still can't spell. I can also remember mom waiting outside the outhouse door for me during those cold nights of winter. No bathroom in the house, besides that's nasty, poop right inside your house where you eat. LOL How times have changed. Now we use the bathroom in the house and go outside to eat, crazy folk we are. Staying warm was never a problem in that old house. Big Mawmaw could get that old fireplace so hot it would burn the front of your pants off. Peoples faces would glow red after just a few minutes in there. We all gathered in what was really Mawmaw's bedroom, it was in the front of the house and the room had 2 old wood rockers in there. People would sit in the floor or on her old feather bed and there was a stool for the electric organ that she would play. Oh, that organ. She loved to play and loved it even more when someone ask her to. She would wobble over and pull the stool out and take a seat, turn the switch on and that thing would hum so loud where she had it turned up all the way. It was such a funny site. She would then play the prettiest and loudest music you ever heard. On Sunday after church, many times people would stop by Aunt Lake's house and many of the old timers called her. They would have church (round 2 for the day) right there in Mawmaw's bedroom, organ music and all. Many a preacher had dinner at that house. For years, Sundays were spent there, family and friends from all around would come.

This is a picture of me and my Big Mawmaw. I was maybe 10 at the time. I'm sure it was around Christmas because you can see present on the bed. If you look close you can see a picture of the Last Supper hanging on the wall to the right.

This is the old house where so many good memories where made. As you can see there are 2 chimneys to keep the house good and warm and another that you can't see for the old wood cookstove. There was only a walk bridge to the house across the creek. This photo was taken on the side where you parked your car. To get a car or truck on that side you had to drive through the creek at a spot just left of the picture. Me and my cousins would have the time of our life around this old place. Located in Logan County West Virginia in an old coal mining community called Emmett. The creek that flow by Big Mawmaw's house is Elk Creek, and that is what eveyone calls the area, no one ever calls it Emmett.

Here is a picture taken from the same location only different season. The old house is gone now. A flower garden takes it's place as a tribute to the woman that held the whole family together. The last year or two of her life she bought a small mobile home and placed it behind the house. It was much easier for her to take care of during those last few months. My uncle lives in the mobile home now with his wife and they take good care of the place. Visiting with them always brings me back to the old house where Big Mawmaw lived and the good times we all shared there. Big Mawmaw went be with the Lord on February 3rd, 1990. Named after one of the great lakes, Lake Erie Harless was surely The Greatest Lake of all.

Wind fall and Snow Day

As you may have read in my last post, we had snow last night. It's beautiful though there's only about 2 or 3 inches on the ground. As Liv was going to town to deliver some cake's and such she was stopped by a tree crossing the drive. The heavy wet snow was just too much for this old dead pine and it made it's last stand to no avail. I had to get the chainsaw and clear it out so she could get through and I of course took the camera along. The funny thing is that I took pictures of everything but the fallen tree before I cut it up. I guess I just got carried away with the task at hand. So, here's so random pictures around the farm.

The trusted farm dog, Smokey.

Chief, our pygmy buck don't seem as excited about the snow as I am.

The girls saying "Look here comes Daddy, where's that feed bucket"??

OK, now time to head up the drive to move that tree.

This one will probably come down next. For now I will leave it, I think everything deserves a second chance.

Driveway is clear. I will cut the rest of the tree up for emergency firewood. I don't really like to use pine but ya just never know what winter may have up it's sleeve.

Another picture along the driveway.

This is my second Love. This Honda ATV is the greatest thing I have ever owned, couldn't make it without it. Here it is ready for action.

This is a symbol of the real me. Folks around here call me Taz sometimes. hehe!! They say it's because of the way I fly into any task that do. I think it's funny.

Man I love this work horse. Makes my life much easier, I cut the tree in bigger sections that I would have if I had to carry them all. I can tie my tow rope to the large pieces and to the back of my ATV and then drag them away. Saves this poor boy's back a lot of lifting.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snowy Night

We have had plenty of rain the last 2 days. Tonight, Thursday, well it's early Friday morning as I post this, it turned to a wet snow. We have around 2 to 3 inches on the ground now. I love snow and had to take a few pictures for you all. These were taken while standing with the front door open, using only the camera's flash. Some droopy pine trees. In the last picture you can see Katie's Tree house/Swing Set and some of Smokie's footprints in the snow.

Pups are spoken for

Thanks to freecycle both pups are now spoken for. I know they will both have good homes for Christmas and will bring joy to their new owners. Thanks to all that looked.


Free Puppies

Posted these pups on and I needed a place to let folks come and see the pictures. These pups are being offered locally so if I have anyone that reads this blog and is close by and you would like a pup just let me know. 1 male and 1 female born October 11. Poodle mix and they don't shed at all. I have had their mother for about 6 years now. God these things are too cute but I can only deal with so may animals. Come and get your Christmas Pups today.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

OK, so I cheated a little

I have always wanted to try making soap at home. The main reason we raise goats is to be able to get milk to make soap and cheese and then pretend we are going to sell them. Well, the goats are bred and we hope to get milk soon but I wanted to make soap now. After a little research I ran across a method call Remelt and Pour, this seemed to be able to give me my soap making fix for now. I plan on making my own lye from wood ashes from our wood stove for the process later on and use milk from our goats along with fresh herbs from our garden but that is in the future. It seems like everywhere I looked homesteading bloggers where making soap, I'm easily influenced and wanted a piece of the action. I rounded up some goodies from around the house and got into the process. Here is what sorta, kinda happened.

Grabbed 3 bars of Dial soap that we got at a bulk store. = cheap
Took out my good ole pocket knife and shaved into pieces. This Old Timer has worn a hole in many a jean pocket as you can tell.

Let me say that I should have used a grater for this, these large pieces took a long time to melt. Hey, there's my smoke's, been looking for those.

Placed the soap in my make shift double broiler. = Glass bowl inside of a pot. Add some water and mix and melt. Sorta looks like gravy to me. hehe!!

Found some of this bath treatment stuff under the bathroom sink, yep we got a sink and a crapper in the house. We're big time around here, nothin to good for my woman. Why, the other day we was at the Dollar store and I told her to get anything she wanted. Ain't nothin in there to good fer my woman. lol Anyway added this powder to the mix and stir some more.

Ain't got any of 'em fancy soap molds or anything but Liv had these cupcake trays that she said just didn't work out to good for and was kind enough to let me use them if I promised I'd leave her alone and let her do her cake thing. Deal !! These are plastic or something, they are flexible. (or "bendy" as Katie says ) Pour in the mix that I melted, not real neat like either as you can see. After it sets a bit I can clean it up some.
A couple hours later I removed them from the pans/tray to continue to dry.

Kinda looks like candy of some kind here. lol

The next day that are still not set up good, it takes a few days or so I have read. They look like can biscuit's in this picture. Man they smell good, the bath treatment stuff had oatmeal in it too and you can smell it. Not very pretty soap but, it was a trial run. I had no extra $$ invested and I sorta got my feet wet in this whole soap making thing. I have much to learn I know but this was a good confidence build for me. I will feel a little better when I try to make my first batch of real homemade soap now that I have cheated a little.

Cheaters soap/Canned biscuits

Check out this Wonderful Christmas Story

In my travels around the internet and world the of bloggers I found another good'n. Goats in the Garden, and they have a wonderful Christmas Story that I would encourage everyone to read. It will only take a few minutes but you will want to stay longer and enjoy the rest of the blog too. So, head on over and tell 'em The Scavenger sent ya over. Follow this link and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Frugal Food Storage

I can't stress enough how important it is to have food storage for you and your family. In this day and time it is essential to put away some extra food for hard times that may or may not be ahead. I have read and learned much about this subject over the past few years and have added to my storage due to the lessons learned. One of my favorite sites is by Marie and I highly recommend you to read and learn from her blog and any others that you may find on food storage. Marie is always happy to answer questions from her readers as are most all bloggers.

First let me say that you don't have to spend a fortune to have food storage. No need to let the mortgage slide or the utilities go unpaid to start this endeavor. The first thing I would recommend is to check your local sales paper. Ours came in the mail today and there are a lot of good bargains to be had by someone interested in keeping their family feed. Here is just an example of what I see in this sales paper. These are just the items that require no special needs for storage, they can be just set in your pantry or a shelf.

Hormel Chilli w/Beans 16oz - $1

Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce 160z - $1

Hunt's Diced Tomatoes 14.5oz - $1

Hunts Tomato paste or sauce 15oz -$1

Store Brand pasta Sauce 26oz $1

Creamette Dry Pasta 16oz -$1

Kraft Easy Mac Cups 2.05oz -$1

Pasta Roni 7.25oz -$1

Rice A Roni 3.8oz -$1

Store Brand Canned Vegetables 11-15.25oz 2 for $1

I am in no way recommending these brands, just posting what I see here in the paper. I hope this will give you an idea of how simple and inexpensive it is and can be to begin your food storage. Do some research as to how much you need and then look at the sales papers in your area. These items are all $1 or less, from only one sales store sales paper and can be simply stored on a shelf with no extra effort on your part. There are many items that are available for $1 or less, just take a look around and see for yourself. Good Luck and please start today.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cold Farm Pictures

As promised, here are some pictures of the pallet barn. Remember that I said it's not the prettiest thing you ever laid your eyes on. As of now I have $3.18 invested in this project, that's for nails. I reused a lot of the nails that I pulled out of some of the other lumber but still had to have some new ones to get this far. As of now I am using a weather proof tarp for the roof, not gonna add this to the cost because it is temporary (hehe!!). I will no doubt have to buy some tin for the roof in the future but this will do fine for now. I had the old door, just had to cut it off a little. It really won't look too bad after a coat of paint, probably a sorta light green (we use this color for other small projects and we have given it the name 'ugly green')Plan on adding to the barn in the very near future so I used the few pallets that I had left to extend the back wall a little. Later, I will put the wall on the right and wall in the front with the roof. Once I get this part done, I will build another one just like it in front of it spacing it out about 10 ft. The 2 structures will then be facing each other. Then I will set posts and join the two with a roof that will be higher than the two. I plan to floor this section, in the middle, and be able to store hay up there.Feeding tray thingy, I just used a top to an old gas grill. Turn it upside down and nail to the wall. If I put it up any higher they seem to want to jump up in it and lay there, so I keep it at ground level.Water bucket placed in old tires. The tires are packed with old hay on the sides and bottom to keep the water from freezing and it keeps the goats from turning it over too.Daisy's T & A pictures. LOL As you can see she's getting a pretty nice milk sack.The ducks always come running to see if there is any feed that may have spilled on the ground. I always try to spill some for them. hehe!!

It's 21 degrees this morning as I take these pictures. Pond is froze over pretty good.

OK, now stop laughing at my pityful little barn project and enjoy the rest of your day.