Monday, October 29, 2012

Super Storm Sandy

I want to take a moment to wish everyone in the path of Sandy well.  Please stay safe...  Every year one storm or another takes lives whether it be from the tornado's in this part of the country to hurricanes to winter storms.  Sandy looks to have the possibility of being one of the worst storms on the history books.  She seems to be poised to take many, many lives. 
So just please stay safe and warm.  Be prepared.......

Monday, October 22, 2012

A new cheese press

I admit it I BROKE my other cheese press.  It was a dinky one I had bought off of eBay when I first started making cheese.  I wanted a really nice one but hey $300 just was not in my budget.    Cheddar cheese has to be pressed at very heavy weights because the curds are so tough.  The dinky one just could not do it. So I looked really hard at the expensive one and thought "I could make something similiar to that" I searched around and found springs which I had to buy online and they had a $50 minimum order...  I went to Lowes and bought red oak boards and the hardware.  Then I got busy.  Sawing and bolting.  I still have to fashion a handle right now I am using just a nut that I am turning with a wrench to tighten it down.

This is the end result of my engineering:
I made it big enough so that:
A. I could fit my bathroom scale under it to determine the pressure it exerts and
B so that I could get a bigger piece of PVC and make 10" rounds

I put my scale under it and finger tightened the nuts down.  Then with 3 full turns on each side I had 20lbs, 6 turns =40lbs and 9 turns = almost 60lbs just what I needed for cheddar as easy as can be...

And here is the first round of cheddar I made with it:
The curd is nice and tight and I made it for a fraction of what I could buy it for!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Being Thrifty 101

One of my favorite blogs posted an article about being frugal and asked all of us to also post one and link to theirs.  Almost 3 years ago I was in an accident that ended my long time career being a RN.  I was used to making really good money!  That sent me down to less than $800 a month.  I had to learn really quick how to cut corners and save money. I understand that due to urban restrictions some may not be able to do this  Here are a few tips:

1. The three R's of bring thrifty:  Recycle, Re purpose and Reuse
     I try to save everything that could possibly be re-used.  Here are some top ones that most throw away:
  1. Soda bottles.  20 ounce bottles get used for rabbit water bottles.  The 2 liter bottles get used to store things like rice and beans.  Wash them with a little bleach water and then let dry well.  Use a funnel to pour in your stuff to be stored.
  2. Creamer bottles: Wash and then dry they are great for storing your spices in.
  3. Old bread sacks.  I get my friends to save me their bread sacks to store my own in.
  4. 4. egg cartons.  I also have people save these for me.  They are great to package my own eggs or use them when you are taking something apart to keep small parts organized and labeled.
  5. Newspapers: These can be used for new chicks, making fire logs, used as weed barrier.  The comics make great wrapping paper.
  6. scrap wood from local builders.  Many a projects have been done with scrap lumber like nest boxes, gates etc.  You might have to pull out a few nails but hey it's free.
  7. pill bottles: these are great for storing things like pins and the small ones are great for pre-measuring black powder for primitive firearms.
  8. Butter bowls, cottage cheese containers etc.  Redneck Tupperware!!!
  9. Frosting buckets from the local bakery... Why pay for a food safe bucket when you can get them for free!
Before you throw something away think... Is there anything else this can be used for????

2. Hang out your clothes.  The sun is alot cheaper than the dryer.

3. Get a goat... My milk costs me less than $1 a gallon figuring feed costs.  A gallon of milk in town is $4.29.  I can make cheese for about 10% of what it would cost at the store.

4. Cook from scratch.  Buy ingredients rather than ready to serve meals.  You can make your own TV dinners by freezing left overs or canning them for an open the jar meal!

5. Dollar stores... It is so much cheaper to go to the Dollar General than to Wal-Mart

6. Use coupons Many stores will double coupons but only use them on things you would normally buy.  Don't buy something just because you have a coupon.

7.  Price Match.  I check the online ads for all of the local stores and write down the best prices.  Then I go to Wal-mart and tell them about it.  Potatoes at Wal-Mart was $3.97  Save-alot in the next town had them for $2.95 it saved me a dollar and I didn't have to drive.  The stores usually have to be within 20 miles to get the price match.

8.  Thrift stores and Yard sales... I just today bot a wooden over the toilet shelf for $2 cost at Wal-Mart $69.97 I have to tighten the screws but hey the new one I would've had to put together.  I refuse to pay full price for clothes.  Many times people sell gently used things that are still just as good as something new.

9.  Ebay.. I always check Ebay before I go buy something.  For example the cost to buy a new all metal cream separator over $1200 I got one on ebay that works like a champ and looks new even though it is 80 years old for $175.

10. has a free section and also classifieds for sale.  I have bought many things there ALOT cheaper than at the store.  And gotten them free.

11.  My latest score 6 dozen canning jars for FREE  Cost to buy $60

12. Clearance and after season sales.  Buy your next years Halloween stuff on November 1st same with Thanks giving and Christmas.  Buy your bathing suit when Wal-Mart has them for $2 or $3 instead of $25 the next year.  My latest score beginning of summer I bought my daughter several pairs of jeans and long sleeved shirts for $2 or less at Wal-Mart

13. Factory Company stores: I buy my Little Debbies at their company store.  They have boxes that are damaged for 50 cents a box.  I buy Simmons Chicken battered and ready to fry 5lbs for $5.95.  The Allens store always has their canned goods way cheap also.

14.  Grow your own food and can it yourself.  You can get alot of veges from a $1 pack of seed.  You do not need acreage to do it.  Containers on a patio will produce a bunch.

Well that's not all but its a list long enough for you to get the idea.  Oh also if it breaks research and maybe you can fix it yourself rather than paying someone to do it!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Welcome to our new beasties... Bacon Monster and Pork Chop

Well here they are.  Hubby and I have been working hard for a couple weeks to get them a pen ready and a house.  Finally I found piggies for sale at a good price and close to home.  My daughter and I went in halves on these too little porkers.  My grandson named one "Monster" So I am calling him "Bacon Monster" and the other "Pork Chop" to always remind the kids exactly what these guys are for and it isn't to get attached to.

They are 12 weeks old right now and we are planning on taking them to the butcher this spring.  One more giant step toward self sufficiency and swearing off the Wal-Mart grocery shelves!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Update on Quacks babes...An orphan chicken and a blind goat

The chickens that my duck hatched did not fare so well.  Only one has survived and because it is an "only child"  it is spoiled, his name is "Bitty Bird" thanks to my 4 year old grandson. I had to take the two remaining chicks away from her after she almost drowned them in a puddle, only one of them survived.  He lives in our barn with our blind goat.  Yes thats right BLIND goat Sonny.  Some friends of ours are going out of the country so we adopted their pet goat who is totally blind.

The two have become friends.  It is almost a symbiotic relationship.  The chicken sleeps on top of the goat.  He chirps if another chicken or something gets too close to the goat and if he starts chirping Sonny the goat gets up.  Every time I go out to the barn and Sonny is laying down, Bitty will be on top of him.  I have seen at times when Bitty is being chased by another chick he will fly up and sit on Sonny's back and go for a ride.
Bitty bird on top of Sonny

They share a feeder.  I tried to take a picture but Sonny moved before my phone could snap it.

This chicken has become so tame it is almost irritating.  If you are out in the barn and sit down to take a break he will jump up onto your lap and then up to your shoulder he goes.
Bitty taking a break

Bitty standing guard
One time I was out in the barn and a bigger chick started picking on Bitty.  He flew up caught the back of my shirt and climbed all the way to my shoulder then started chirping loudly in my ear like he was telling on that other chick.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Industrial Food: What are they feeding us?

You have heard the old saying "You are what you eat".  The big food companies have to keep their foods stable for a very long time so they add preservatives.  For people like me that have a list of allergies that can not go on one page without making 2 columns that can be a BIG problem.

I have never been able to eat much cheese.  It makes me itch if I eat alot of it.  Now keep in mind I am not allergic to dairy products.  I am however allergic to a multitude of antibiotics and specifically ALL of the "Mycins"... If the name ends in "mycin" then I can not have it.  The same goes with "cillins".  Before I started making my own cheese I bought cheese from the store just like everyone else.  Now that I am making it I can eat it.  Store bought cheese has "Natamycin" added to prevent it from molding.  They all have it.  Here are 2 different brands bought from 2 different stores.  The first is the label from a bag of shredded cheddar from Sam's Club and the second is a block of cheddar from Aldi.

Please note the front label on the bag:
It says "Natural" My natural cheddar has 5 ingredients:
Annato coloring (natural coloring made from the Annato tree)
Mesophillic starter

Obviously my definition of natural and theirs are worlds apart.

Now here is another point to ponder.  We live in a world of "super bugs" created by the over use of  antibiotics.  One of them is called VRE "Vancomycin resistant enterococcus"  This bug is resistant to all of the "mycins".  Allergies are treated by making us "resistant" to the things we are allergic to.  This is accomplished by giving us very small amounts of the allergen over a period of time.  So my ponder point is this.  Could the resistant strains of super bugs have been created by these small doses of antibiotics in our food?  Mycins in our cheese?  Cillins in our meat?

If you have allergies, I suggest reading carefully the backs of all packages.  Although that is not even fool proof as they are not required to put in everything.  For example many chickens are given Tetramycin in their water.  The chicken consumes the tetramycin then is butchered.  You will not see all of the things that the chicken has consumed prior to slaughter on the package only that it contains a chicken.

The only way to really know what you are eating is to grow, process and produce all of your food.  That is not possible for many city dwellers.  But even the cities have farm land around them.  You can go to the farmers market or get to know a farmer and buy directly from the farm.  You can inquire of their practices regarding what you are buying from them to eat.

Many states have laws that say you can not buy or sell raw dairy products. In Arkansas I can sell 100 gallons a month of goats milk.  I can not however sell the cheese or butter made from it.  And cows milk is right up there with illicit drugs.  The powers that be have put farmers that sell milk in the same classification as a meth dealer!!!  Write to your Governor and complain about those laws.  We should be able to buy what we want to eat and eat whatever we want to.  Our government has become so audacious in its control that it is telling us what we can and can not consume.  I think the worst one was New York saying you can no longer buy a large cup of soda.  Really???  I thought this was supposed to be the "land of the free"  Look at some of the presidential executive orders we are no longer free!  Look at laws on the books regarding food and farmers... Nope, Not free!!!