Monday, September 24, 2012

technical difficulties.. my internet is down. be back soon

My internet was down for 6 days.  The satelite thing got fried... HHMMM we live in thunderstorm alley so go figure... My phone just was not cooperating with my blog.  The title was all I could muster.  I am back up and running now...

Boy will I miss the internet if our grid goes down!!!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Prepping on a dime... Or a nickel... Or nothing at all

Times are tough... VERY tough... Sometimes it seems like there is no way to be prepared when prepping supplies are so darned expensive... There are many ways though to prep without having to spend a small fortune... And for those of you that will just put it on a credit card, PLEASE think all of that interest you will be paying you might as well just take the cash and go use it to start your BBQ.  You would not do that now would you?

I worked as a RN for close to 20 years.  I brought home $3k a month or more.  I was in an accident and got hurt and can not work again.  My neck is now made of metal and I can not turn my head to look both directions to drive.  My arms constantly fall asleep because of nerve damage and I walk with a cane because of left overs from a nasty head injury...  With that said I had to switch really quick to a budget of less than $800 a month.  Because of that accident my preps got put into high gear.  It made a believer out of me in a hurry....

Here are some ways to prep on the cheap:
  1. Freecycle     So many people would rather give away items that are still useful.  You can find the group for your area by visiting www.
  2. Craigs list   This site also has a free items listing.  People will also sell things mighty cheap on here.  I recently purchased several hundred dollars worth of canning equipment for $100 and a brand new cheese press for $20 which would have normally cost me $50.
  3. Spring or fall clean up in cities.  This is the time when everyone puts out to the curb the junk they do not want.  Drive around and pick up what you do want... Many things can be re purposed into something very useful.
  4. Food pantry left overs.  Many food pantries get produce which will go bad if they do not give it away.  Call your local pantries and ask to be a "clean up family" Then you have lots of wonderful produce to can and preserve for free.
  5. Icing buckets:  These are food safe buckets.  Many of the bakeries will give them away.  All you have to do is ask.  This makes a 5 gallon food grade bucket free instead of $8 to buy one.
  6. Pickle jars, sour cream containers etc from restaurants:  These are quite handy for storing your food in and if you call your local food places you can generally get them free.  You also might be able to get leftovers if they have a buffet which can then be frozen or canned.
  7. Dollar stores: These places are a wealth of prepping supplies for a dollar.  The quality may not be great but hey a cheap band aid is better than no band aid at all!
  8. Make it yourself.  The Internet is full of plans for DIY things.  If you want a solar oven but can not afford the $100+ to buy one then make one yourself out of a cardboard box, black spray paint and aluminum foil.  Cost $5  Well bucket cost to buy $60 cost to make out of PVC and an old inner tube $5 or less if you can find the scrap PVC on the curb side.  Many times construction companies will throw away PVC, lumber etc and you can get it for free.  You can get an old inner tube from a tire shop for free if it is too torn up to be fixed and you only need a small piece.  Then the cost for the well bucket went down to $0.  The list goes on and on....
  9. Don't throw it away, Recycle, Re purpose, Reuse... My husband has asked me many times "why don't you just throw that away" Then down the road I would salvage a part off one thing that I saved to fix another or re purpose into something else.  He finally quit asking and now he won't throw anything away either unless it truly is just trash.  For example.  The net on our trampoline (the part you jump on) ripped.  It is no longer any good for the trampoline.  He wanted to throw it away.  I said no and turned it into free weed barrier instead of going to Lowes and spending $20 to buy some.  An old aquarium with a broken bottom became a planter.. A pallet became a very nice back porch that you can not even tell I used a pallet to build it...  I think you might get the idea...

Be creative.  Learning to think outside of our boxes that our disposable society has put us in sometimes can be difficult to say the least... We have been raised with the mentality of "just go buy it".  We must train ourselves to think differently about it.  Once you can get your brain into a "what else can that be mode" it gets easier.  I look at things and can come up with many alternative uses.  My hubby calls me the "queen of McGyver". 

My motto "If they can then I can"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The state of our world... Are we going to get zapped? Are you ready?

Okay I don't generally blog on politics or current events but there is so much unfolding on the news right now. I usually try to keep my political views out of my blog...  BUT Every time I look at the news someone else has either blown someone away or are threatening to blow someone away. 

Are we on the Brink of WWIII???  All of our enemies are conspiring... Iran is threatening Israel, We are friends of Israel... China and Korea have made it clear that they will back Iran and we must by treaty back Israel.  China and Japan are fighting... Japans ambassador to China I understand was found dead... Will there be retribution?  Obama is talking about some kind of trade thing against China... (I just do not usually keep up with politics, I am much more of a math and science person, political mumbo jumbo is hubby's job)...Will they like it if he cuts any of their exports to us?  I mean really if you go to the store most of it is "made in China".  Korea and Iran will back China.  We will back Japan.. They have been our friend since we kicked their butts in the last war...  In fact they are one of our closest allies... Iran has already openly threatened our military bases in the gulf, but do you really think it will stay there?    And then heaven forbid there is that movie about Muhammed (forgive me if I spelled it wrong).  Everyone over there is going crazy and shooting people because of some silly movie.  I have seen many silly things being a parody on Christianity and I did not get offended enough to kill!!  Oh yeah thats right as Christians we "SHALL NOT KILL". So is our next world war going to be about religion?  I just wish everyone could play nice together in the sand box and quit fighting over the toys like toddlers!  Maybe we should just put all of the leaders into a boxing ring and then let them duke it out... That way there is no chance of collateral damage.

I have read that all of our enemies have EMP weapons of some kind...  This means they can blast one off and shut down our grid and kill all electronics.  I realize that the new fangled fighters and guided missle systems are cool and accurate but guess how much good they will be if an EMP weapon is used on us... We would be sitting ducks without even radar to see it coming...

I am not old enough to remember the last world war... I barely remember the Vietnam war and that stayed on another continent.  I do not think for one minute that they would keep it in the middle east... I believe that just like with 9/11 they would bring it here in a second and with the new weapons they have they would just knock out our power, detection grids and weapons and change our religion.

So I ask are you ready???  I will admittedly say I can still think of things I need to get.  I have a years worth of food storage, flashlights and batteries, a well to get water out of plus water stored, guns and ammo to protect us and animals a plenty to feed us BUT I am still lacking in several places

10 things I still need should our country get Zapped:
  1. Seeds to plant next spring should we not be able to buy any
  2. A solar generator or battery charger (12volt)
  3. An inverter to change DC power to AC
  4. I need to build a well bucket
  5. Iosat tablets in case of nuclear weapons
  6. a scythe to harvest wheat by hand
  7. More kerosene for heaters and lamps
  8. Pigs (I can not live without bacon and lard)
  9. build a smoker
  10. More ammo (hey everyone always needs more ammo, I went out and wasted 120 rounds of 5.56 yesterday playing with my AR)

I would strongly suggest everyone make a mental run down of your inventory and try to think of all the things you would need (not want, I have way more than 10 wants) should we get zapped!  Is any one else worried about us being caught in the middle of a war about religion? 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Using Mother Culture instead of Direct set for Cheese

There are 2 different types of cultures you can get for making cheese.

The first is "Direct Set" this is a predetermined amount of powder culture.  It is pricey when you have to use one packet for each 2 gallons of milk.  They cost $6 for 5 packets.  That is $1.20 for each 2 gallons of milk.  I make 4 gallon batches so that would be $2.40 for each wheel of cheese.

The second is "mother culture" This one is set up by making your starter then saving a "start" of it by freezing it in ice cube trays.  Then each ice cube makes another quart of starter.  The cost for it is $6 for 1 packet but then you keep using it over and over.  Out of my first packet I got 24 fresh starts frozen plus I made 4 gallons worth of cheese.  I have made to this date 20 gallons worth of cheese curd  So right now my cost is at $0.60 cents per 2 gallon batch and it will just keep going down with every batch I make.  I have 22 starts in the freezer so when I get that done used then my cost would be less than $.07 for each batch and then with the last batch I would refill my trays and start over even further reducing the cost.  After 2nd batch of cubes were used my cost then would be $.03 and after the third batch of cubes are used it would be $.01 for each batch.  After the 4th batch it would be basically free.....

As compared to direct set it paid for itself with the first quart.

Here is how to use it:

Sterilize your milk:  (Sorry no pics)

Pour 1 quart of milk into a canning jar and then put it into a pot with a rack underneath so the jar is not setting on the bottom of the pot and enough water to cover the top of the jar.  Bring this water to a boil and hold it there for 30 minutes. 

Cool milk:
Remove the jar and run cool water over it until the temp reaches about 70 degrees.

Add one pack of mother culture to cooled milk.  Replace the lid and shake it up.

Allow to ripen for about 12 to 15 hours.  You will know it is ready when it is thick like buttermilk.

See how it coats the inside of the jar
After it is done fill a clean ice cube tray with your starter and freeze the cubes.
Frozen cubes of starter
Place your frozen cubes into a freezer bag and label what kind of starter it is.

To make another batch of it repeat the above steps except add a cube instead of the packet of starter.

When you run low on cubes just fill another tray with your prepared starter and freeze.  This can go on indefiantely so you can see how the cost would actually become less than a penny after several batches.

Use your prepared starter within 1 week and you can store your cubes up to 2 years in the freezer.

To use the starter:

Place your milk in a large pot and add 5 ounces of prepared starter to each  2 gallons of milk and then allow to ripen for 60 minutes.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The self sufficient life and how to live it by John Seymour

I have to admit there are many books that I just absolutely love.  This one is definately one of my favorites.  It is the most comprehensive book I have found for the homestead.

It has everything from how to design a self sufficient farm to how to make bricks and everything in between.

Chapter 1  The Meaning of Self Sufficiency
This chapter describes the seasons and the cycles your homestead will go thru.  It tells how to design your homestead beginnign with the urban garden and ending with a 5 acre farm so that you utilize what you have available in the most efficient way possible.

Chapter 2   Food from the garden
This chapter tells you everything you could ever want to know about growing a garden.  What types of beds to use, what types of plants to plant in certain beds, diseases, pests andf how to deal with them.  It has an illustrated area with pictures of different plants.  It talks about seeds, harvesting, cultivation throughout the year and even an area on greenhouses.

Chapter 3 Food from Animals
This chapter has information about pretty much any barnyard beastie you could want.  Tricks to raising them, breeding them, butchering them.  It talks about the different breeds and what things they are best suited for.  It has illustrated how to's on butchering, cleaning and cutting up the carcass.  Basically if it is edible and from an animal this book explains it in this chapter.

Chapter 4  Food from the fields
This is the chapter all about fields... Clearing, cultivating, sowing and harvesting grains, root crops and hay.

Chapter 5  Food from the wild
This chapter is all about wild game, wild plants, wild fruit, wild nuts and mushrooms.  Basically if you did not plant it or raise it then this chapter will tell you about it.  Don't know how to butcher a rabbit?  It's there complete with illustrated step by steps...

Chapter 6  In the dairy
Everything you need to know about the dairy side of your farm.  From how to plan and lay out a cow shed to how to milk and continuing on to how to make butter and cheese.

Chapter 7  In the kitchen
This chapter deals with all aspects of food storage and preservation.  Along with some really nice recipes.  It has plans for a storage room, how to can, how to freeze, making pickles, making jelly or jam, making bread, and so on...

Chapter 8 Brewing and winemaking
That title is pretty self explanatory.  It is about making beer and wine.

Chapter 9  Energy and Waste
How to build an outdoor toilet (yep a neccessity of survival).  Alternative energy sources are explained in detail.

Chapter 10  Crafts and Skills
This one is all about the other things like building, plumbing, how to make a brick, how to thatch a roof, how to tie different knots, making tools or how to make a basket.  Want to spin your own yarn and then weave your own fabric?  It's there along with directions on how to build the loom.  Want to tan a hide (and I do not mean the kind of hide on your childrens back sides) it is there.  Want to get sugar from beets?  The instructions are there....

The last few pages have further resources that would be of help in your endeavors to be self sufficient.  There are a ton of web sites you can visit...

It is my suggestion that you either buy or borrow this book.  You can get it easily  (click here  to go directly to it) on 

I hope you would find this book as enjoyable to read as I have.  It has even captivated my 11 year old daughter.  She got the idea  to build a teepee last summer out of hay..  Hers was obviously much messier than the book described, but it was fun... They camped in it and played in it for about 2 weeks until the wind destroyed it.  These pictures were taken after the wind had beat it up for a couple of days.  She used PVC as a frame that was tied together at the top with twine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Cheddar Experiment

About 2 months ago I made a wheel of cheddar. It was starting to look very dry so in fear that our cheese was ruining we cut it open.
The directions I found were "Old World".  It did not use wax but instead I mummy wrapped the cheese with cheese cloth.    I put a layer on the top and bottom and coated it with olive oil and then I wrapped a strip around the edge of it.  It was then put in my daughters basement to age. 

Cheddar wrapped in cheesecloth

Lipase is the stuff that you add to cows milk to make the cheese sharpen as it ages.  The more you add the sharper it will get.  Goats milk on the other hand is naturally high in lipase so I did not add any.  After only 2 months we had what could definately be deemed as a medium cheddar.  It was not far from being sharp...  The instructions had said to age it 6-24 months depending on the sharpness desired.

It took me many hours to make this cheese.  I had 3 hours alone invested in the "cheddaring" process.  This is where I allowed the curd mass to matt together then I sliced it and stacked the slices on top of each other.  I kept it warm and turned and stacked ever 15 minutes for 2 hours.  It is my understanding that this process allows the production of lactic acid.  That high lactic acid content is what makes Cheddar different than Colby.

Because the cheese had no wax the rind dried.  Even though we kept olive oil on it I still ended up with about 1/2 inch of dried rind that was un-useable.
You can see the dark hard rind all the way around

After cutting off the rind though a very yummy inside was exposed.  It has a nice texture which is kind of crumbly.  It was absolutely delicious.  I just hate the idea that so much of it went to the dogs.  Although they were definately not displeased with the idea.
Wonderful on crackers

So lessons learned:
  1. If I decide to invest another whole day to make cheddar then I will definately just wax it to age. 
  2. You do not have to age cheese made with goats milk nearly as long as cows milk cheese in order to obtain a sharp taste. 
  3. Must build a bigger cheese press so that I can make larger wheels of this one.
  4. Do not tell your family of cheese lovers that they can eat as much as they want or a 4 pound wheel will be gone in only a few minutes!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

HELP... With Goat horns... Any Suggestions???

Okay I am at a loss with my 6 month old Alpine doe.  We got her when she was 3 days old and bottle fed her.  Needless to say she is SPOILED and a big BRAT!!!  She and Jack were our first and we had no idea how to disbud them or the equipment to do so.  I have since learned how and have gotten a kid box and a X50 disbudding iron for our next baby.  Yes I have learned my lesson...

Here is my dilemma.  We have red wire field fencing.  Her horns are about 6 inches long and very slender.  She is getting her head into the 3rd from the bottom row of squares and then gets stuck and I have to push and pull the wire to get it open enough to get her head out.  Then the idiot walks down the fence 5 feet and sticks it right back in!!!!! This happens multiple times a day EVERY day!!! Today she got her head stuck on the neighbors side of our property and of course he was scared it would hurt her.  She really seriously thought God said Trains when he said line up for Brains and she did NOT want to go for a ride!!!!

I have read about using castrating bands to remove the horns, but I am not comfortable with doing it because I am afraid I will hurt her.  I have an elastrator and I have green bands I just need to hear from someone who has actually done this, how to and what the risks are.

If any of my readers have experience in removing or trimming horns and can give me good advice OR if anybody has any ideas what to do I would love to hear from you...  Just leave it in comments.  I moderate all the comments so if you do not want it posted for others to see just start the comment out with "do not post" and I will be more than happy to read and converse via email and NOT post the comment/email on the blog.

This is what I did for the time being to keep her head out of the fence... I now have a goat that looks as stupid as she acts....

Please and Thank you......

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Questions or Comments

I wanted everyone to know that questions or comments are welcome.  It has been nice to get a couple very kind comments.  If anyone has any questions about canning or food preservation I would be more than happy to answer them.  If I do not readily know the answer from my own experiences and learning what works and what doesn't, then I will do my best to research an answer.  The whole reason I put this blog up was to help educate and to pass on my own experiences and to help others.  It would help me greatly in knowing what my readers want to know about.  Thank you to everyone...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Baby Birds like BBQ sauce

Yesterday was Labor day as we all know and we had a BBQ and invited friends and family.  This morning was clean up the mess time....  While I was washing dishes I had a cookie sheet that my husband had cooked the ribs on.  The BBQ sauce was caked and burnt on 1/4 of an inch thick, so I set it out the back door for the dogs figuring I could wash it and sanitize it after they had scraped the worst off.  Well it ended up that the dog was run off of it by a bunch of 6 week old baby Guinea's and Chicks.  I snapped this picture thru my glass door.....