Posts from the ‘Liberty’ Category

The Dream Evolves

Howdy, y’all! In looking back over last year’s entries, I realized I didn’t blog very much, and when I did, it was largely negative. I plan to change that πŸ™‚

I’ve been doing more research on sustainable living, and I have discovered earthbags! I think for hot, humid south Georgia, this will be a much better medium than bale-cob with which to build my home. Better adapted for the humidity, and I don’t think acquiring used feed bags will be a problem! I’ve seen a couple sites where people built a raised-bed planter as the first project, like this one, or this. The 2nd one is more true to the purpose of what I want – a garden to grow vegetables in πŸ™‚

Random Vent

I know, it’s been ages since I’ve been on here. Thought y’all might like to know I’m still alive, and I needed to get some stuff off my chest.

It’s still my dream to live God-sufficiently, but right now I just don’t see that happening. It appears that for a few more months at least, I’ll be living in my mom’s house, which means living by her rules. Which means no new critters. I had a really good line on some rabbits (the big ones, Flemish Giants) for breeding for meat rabbits, but she just doesn’t think that’s a good idea – she’s unsure that I have the time to devote to it, and she’s not sure that whatever ate the chickens won’t eat the rabbits.Β  So I will honor my mother. It’s hard to be so close to realizing a part of a dream, and to have it just be taken out of your hands.

I’m still at my Mom’s, btw, because she’s had a setback with her vision, and for the last month she’s had to rely on someone else to do all her driving. Her doctor did just give her the green light on driving, but he’s also going to do some more laser work in about 5 weeks, which most likely means another setback in her vision, and I (and other friends) will get to be driver again.

Not that I mind it – I truly don’t. My mom and I do get along great, but there is that old saying – the one that says something about 2 women in one house is one woman too many. And it’s been 2-1/2 years … I’m ready (emotionally at least) to move out, to have my space that consists of more than the bedroom I occupied as a child, with my son no longer in the bedroom that was my sister’s.

I’m ready for a divorce, but my ex is not. He wants ALL debt taken care of first. In a way I understand that, but I’m ready to move on with my life (no, there is no one in the picture, or even on the horizon right now), and that’s something my faith and belief system won’t let me do without our relationship being totally over legally. Believe me, it’s totally over in every way but legally right now..

Why do I feel like a failure? I know I’ve done the best I’ve can for my son, gotten us both out of a not-so-great situation, and now that I feel that it’s time to move on, I can’t. I can’t live my dream of having chickens for eggs, and rabbits for meat, and goats for milk and meat. I feel these are God-given desires, and yet I can’t act on them. I know God’s timing is perfect, but right now, it surely just feels like I’m in a great big huge let-down. I couldn’t even can my own tomato sauce this summer (something I very much wanted to do) because my blasted tomato bushes just didn’t produce enough! And unlike last year, I didn’t want to can with store-bought produce.

At least I still have 3 ducks on the pond – 2 boys and 1 girl; don’t know what happened to the other girl.Β  I sure do love to watch them swim, and let them eat out of my hand.

I do still love my job at the hardware/feed store (and don’t forget taxes during tax season). I love working with the owners’ family, a good Christian family. I love that my son can get off the bus at the store and stay until closing time with me, finishing his homework in the backroom, and playing with the owners’ children. I can see God’s blessing in this area of my life, at least.

Why is it so hard to count the blessings when the negatives seem to outweigh them on every side? Deep inside I know that’s not true, but it’s what feels real right now.

(I wrote this very tearfully, very painfully, very early this morning. Now I’ve gone back through and re-edited and taken out some things that truly were for “mine and God’s eyes only” – guess that’s why they invented that “save draft” button ;))

 

Setback :(

And to top everything else off (I wrote the previous post a couple weeks ago and scheduled   it to post today), ALL my chickens that got moved to the back yard have moved on to their final reward, thanks to some unnamed predator 😦 And I was really enjoying watching my Ameracauna rooster strut around, too.

I do have 7 more biddies/bitties (baby chickens for those of you not from the south) on the front porch under a heat lamp at night – 3 pullets: 1 Ameracauna, 1 Rhode Island Red, and 1 Australorp, and 4 bantams – don’t know boys / girls or breeds, although 3 I highly believe to be BB Reds, and 1 is a feather footed something. Now to figure out how to predator proof the chicken coop in 2-3 more weeks so I can safely move them out there. Contemplating getting either a Golden Comet or a Barred Rock pullet – last 2 breeds we have in stock here at the hardware/feed store. Well, we still have lots of RIR’s, but I already have one of those.

‘Course, my 4 very stupid – very cute, but very stupid ducks are thriving! I promise a post of pics with the ducks eventually just because they are so cute. Might just be learning to like duck eggs, since whatever the predator is (possum is what we’re leaning towards) has left the ducks alone. Although, either way, still got another 4 months or so before either ducks start laying eggs, and another 5 or so before the biddies I have left start laying.

Signing off now,

Beth

Update on Life

I have a rare extra few minutes, so here’s an update on what’s been going on since January. (Disclaimer – I’d like for there to be pix, but those are what take forever, so, sorry, you’ll just have to Google stuff, I guess :shrug )

My “I love my job” has turned into an absolute dream job! I’m officially still doing taxes, but about 6 weeks ago or so, tax business really started slowing down, and spring inventory really started to pick up … ummm, let me back up a bit further.

My boss (wonderful lady, love her!) has a local tax office. She and her husband own the local feed/hardware store. (Somewhere in the archives – time again, or I’d go digging for the link to it – is a blog post where I actually talk about The General Store; that’s the place πŸ™‚ )

So, as I was saying, tax business started slowing down, and spring inventory started really coming in, and another pair of computer-knowledgeable hands to get said inventory into the computer was wanted, so I got drafted! And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! It can be crazy hectic at times when the store is filled with customers, and there’s an office (or a warehouse) full of inventory that needs to be put into the computer, but that’s the nature of the beast. Oh, and I forgot to mention – the C’s have 3 kids of their own, a 7- and 6- year old girl, and a 9-month old girl. So if Teddy has to come to work with me, that’s perfectly ok, because odds are good their girls will be also. And how cool is it (I know, not everybody would think so, but I enjoy it) that part of my job description is “Here, hold the baby.” πŸ˜‰

Side benefits of working where I do – I get a dozen farm fresh eggs about every week (whenever I run out, I just ask for more).Β  But in about 5 – 6 more months, I won’t need to ask. I bought chickens! Don’t know yet if I have boys or girls, I (currently) have 4 total – 2 Aracauna’s (break out google again; these are the ones that lay the Easter Eggs), and 2 bantams (smaller chickens). My bantams, based on my own google searches, are 1 each Silver Sebright, and 1 either B.B. Red (also know as Cubalaya which I stated in an earlier post as a chicken that I want πŸ˜€ ) or Silver Duckwing (which is just a cool name πŸ˜‰ ). The hatchery the store orders from sends bantams not only as straight run (they won’t separate the boys from the girls) but as assorted bantams, which means there are all kinds of breeds too. My bantam that’s an either/or also brings new meaning to the term “small” – it is TINY compared not only to the full-size (but still growing) chickens, but also to the other bantam. We are getting in more chickens in 3 weeks, though πŸ˜€ This batch will be all pullets (all hens – 90% accuracy says the hatchery), and I plan to get 2 more Aracauna. We’re also getting in just a few more of the assorted, straight run bantams. If I see anymore with the markings of my cute itty-bitty biddy πŸ˜‰Β  (which is why I picked that one – it was just so cute!) I plan to get those also.

I LOVE my chickens! They are finally starting to make the occasional “cluck” noise, instead of just the “peep” of a baby bird noise. I love to go sit and just watch my “chickie birds” as I call them, or sometimes I call ’em “the clucks.” Very relaxing to me to just sit and watch.

I am also the proud (wasn’t so sure about that til last night, but that’s a whole other L-O-N-G story we won’t go into) owner of 4 Khaki Campbell ducks (go google that one πŸ˜‰ ) – they’re almost 5 weeks old now and they’re HUGE! Still not ready for the pond though, which is why I bought them (so we’d have ducks in the pond). So my stinky – yet loveable – ducks are hanging out in the dog kennel in the back yard for a while longer. Gotta wait til they’re fully feathered so they have the best chance of getting away from the natural predators we have around here (coyote, fox, owl, etc). And in the meantime, I fill the water tub once a day, and the food dish twice a day (who knew ducks ate so much?!?), and supplement with the earliest of the spring vegetables that didn’t sell at the store that we know nobody’s gonna buy (like, ummm, say, broccoli that’s already bolted πŸ˜‰ ) And should they truly survive and thrive, I discovered by reading my “Encyclopedia of Country Living” (go google that one, too, if you don’t know about that book) I did good, because they are the best egg laying ducks! And I just bought ’em cuz they were cute πŸ™‚ (One of the kids that comes into the store calls them “Chocolate Ducks” and they name has stuck for us.) My ducks are (not always affectionately) known as “The Quack Pack,” and it’s been nice to actually hear some quacks instead of just baby bird “cheeps.”

So, I love my job, and I know own critters πŸ™‚ There was a little more I wanted to cover, but I gotta get ready to go to work! One last thing though – 28 March made 9 months smoke-free!!!!

(not previewing, just hitting post, so please forgive any typos)

Cheap and natural cleaning ideas, pumpkin cookin’, and a little randomness

Back to the basics (and cheap!) cleaning supplies/tips:

I try to use only vinegar, baking soda, and borax for cleaning – well, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (these things are AMAZING!). Only exceptions so far are laundry soap, dish soap, and mopping – please share if you have natural cleaning tips for these πŸ˜€ Don’t have to worry about chemicals in my food, etc, and it’s so much cheaper. I’ve only recently discovered borax, but I’m telling you, when I started cleaning the counter-tops (who knew that was a hyphenated word?) with it, they literally sparkled! And these are just standard counter-tops, nothing fancy like granite or anything,Β  but I seriously don’t think they sparkled this much brand new! (Only down-side to borax is that you have to give a wipe down with clean water after.) My sister is much more serious, and also includes bleach in the mix (she worked in a nursing home for a while – bleach goes in her dishwater, etc).

We keep the vinegar in a spray bottle, and just use it like we would any spray cleaner, and if you need some added “umph” add some baking soda (cleans up grease stains like you would not believe!). I use the vinegar and/or baking soda for spot cleaning, and the borax for the full wipe-down. Another note on vinegar – kills ants DEAD. D-E-A-D, dead! Won’t prevent ’em, but if you’ve got a trail of ants coming in, spray those suckers with vinegar and watch ’em die – instantly. And borax is supposed to be good against roaches.

Also, I’ve started using a “glug” (I don’t measure, just dump from the box) of borax in with my wash, which is what it’s intended for, actually. I can’t believe all the money I spent for years on Oxi-clean and/or off-brands, when borax does just as good a job, AND helps with my hard well water!

And these things are SO much cheaper than traditional cleaning supplies. Now to figure out how to cheapen up laundry and dish soap…. (Haven’t tried making my own)

A tip for “I ran out of dishwasher detergent” – which works just as good, and is cheaper. Can’t take credit for it; it was suggested to me, and it works great. Put NO MORE THAN a quarter size circle of regular dish soap (this is what ensures it won’t blow up with bubbles) in your dishwasher’s soap dispenser. Fill the rest of the way with bleach. If you wish something in the pre-rinse cycle, only add a glug of bleach, no dish soap (b/c a little will leak out of the pop-open dispenser, and you don’t want a kitchen full of bubbles).

Hmmm, the borax box says something about cleaning fine china – might have to experiment with it in the dishwasher and see what happens.

ο»ΏOn to the randomness – I had some issues (largely not cooking it long enough), but I got my pumpkin murdered and cooked, well 1/2 of it at least. Thanks to the crock pot, all is well! I have 8 cups of pumpkin puree cooling in freezer bags on the counter waiting to go in the freezer. the other 1/2 pumpkin in the fridge still needs to be scooped, crocked, pureed (hey, I spelled that one right 1st try!), and then bagged up to join in on the freezer party. Funny how a 2-qt crock pot exactly full yields pretty much exactly 8 cups πŸ˜‰ (Okay, so one of the bags has about 2-1/2 cups in it, close enough….)

Scrubbed and ready to be cut up!

Holy pumpkin, Batman!

Make room! Everybody’s gotta fit! Except the little boy, that is πŸ˜‰ And yes, this is a standard size oven. Note the pumpkin in the bottom right is actually touching the rack above it. It would not fit on the upper rack. Made things interesting when it came time to play “switch places in the oven.”

Told you it was touching the rack πŸ˜‰

4 baggies, ready for the freezer. Libbey, who’s that?

Tip: when I’m filling baggies with stuff for the freezer, I detest having to clean out the zipper portion/top of the bag before sealing it. I figured out how to get around that today! Since I now have a canning funnel (translation: big bottom opening), I just held the baggie up around the bottom of the funnel – carefully – the puree was still HOT – and scooped in 2 1-cup measuring cupfuls into each baggie, then scraped the bits that stayed in the funnel down into the baggie with a spatula. Viola! No more messy baggie tops πŸ˜€

Another tip somebody taught me long ago: don’t you hate when you’re lining a pan with aluminum foil trying to get it in the corners? It crinkles really badly, and sometimes tears? Use your pan as a mold; turn the pan upside down, lay the sheet of foil on top, and fold the corners DOWN.

Now take the foil off, turn the pan right side up, and insert! There will be a little bit of crinkling in the corners as the outside of the pan is a little bigger than the inside, but this is SO much easier, IMO.

And last, but not least, I think I’ve found a new addiction – canning! In addition to pumpkin stuff yesterday (well, I did the puree part this morning), I also made grape jelly πŸ™‚

My steam canner says it will process 7 pints or quarts, but I found out yesterday that it holds quite well 2 1/2 pint jars (see my pretty Italian amphora jar in the middle?) and 6 4 oz jelly jars. I just processed the whole lot at the 10 minutes it said to process for 1/2 pints; somebody please correct me if I did wrong! (Everybody sealed and jellied though :D) And I’ve already given away one of the 4 oz jars, and hope to give 2 more this afternoon – it really, truly is so much better to give than to receive!

South Georgia "Growing Local" Conference (via the irresistible fleet of bicycles)

REALLY hoping I can go to this πŸ™‚

South Georgia "Growing Local" Conference South Georgia “Growing Local” Conference November 12, 2010 – November 13, 2010 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Registration is now open for the South Georgia Growing Local Food Conference to be held Nov. 12 and 13 at the UGA Black Shank Farm in Tifton, Georgia! The conference is intended to educate and stimulate the local-food and healthy-food movement in southern Georgia. Events begin on Friday afternoon with a self-guided farm tour, followed by an Okravore P … Read More

via the irresistible fleet of bicycles

Dream big – critter wishlist

I hate when I can’t sleep. I was exhausted, I get up from the recliner doing computer-y/facebook-y things, I fix the coffee pot for in the morning (I’d love a french press – Christmas present idea, anybody, hint, hint), take my shower, and proceed to lay in the bed tossing and turning from 11-12:30 before I decide to get up and get some of the thoughts OUT of my head and ONTO the computer screen, in hopes that MAYBE they’ll shut up and let me sleep.

So I just posted one blog on what’s been running around in my head (read previous entry), now for a dreaming entry for a few years down the road. πŸ˜‰ I’ve been saying that I want goats for dairy and some meat, chickens for eggs and meat, and most likely rabbits for meat and tanning hides. And then I come across this website: American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. I’m sure by know you’re familiar with the whole hybrid/heritage plant seed thing – well, this is pretty much the same thing, but with animals instead of plants! And most of the breeds are endangered, and it lets you know the breeds unique to North America, and which are feral (or at least started that way).

I have decided, I want the Cubalaya chicken! They just look cool πŸ™‚ And they’re supposedly very tame, too, and good layers of not-white eggs. (Mama doesn’t want white eggs b/c it’s easier to pick the shell out if it’s brown – and she makes a VERY good point I’ve discovered in the 18 months I’ve lived here.)

Rabbits – It’s gonna be the Silver Fox Rabbit for my homestead. Love that silver/black fur! (The white bunnies with the pink “lab rat” eyes just creep me out *shudder*)

Based on the list, I still haven’t decided on a goat breed, although the Tennessee Fainting Goat does just sound nifty, but not what I need if my primary goal is milk. Maybe the arapawa goat, but it doesn’t say if it’s a good milker or not, although I’d hazard a guess it might be since it was the goats colonists brought over. I also keep coming back to the Nigerian Dwarf Goat, because they’re cool looking, and small, and most likely not to have horns(!), but there’s also the fact of – the smaller the goat, the smaller the teat, which means the smaller surface available to figure out how to milk. But lots of people do it; why couldn’t I?

I had also not been thinking pigs AT ALL (I do like my bacon and pulled pork, though), until I saw the handsome face of the Guinea Hog, also known as the Pineywoods Guinea, Acorn Eater, and Yard Pig – well gee, we live in pine country, surrounded by oak trees, and in further reading of the article, wanna know why they were kept in the yard? Snake patrol! THAT’S my kinda pig πŸ˜€ S/he might find a home on my homestead, after all!

And sheep is another one I hadn’t been thinking about. Doesn’t it just get too stinkin’ hot down here in south/central GA for sheep? Apparently not for the Gulf Coast Native Sheep. They don’t grow wool on their face, legs, and bellies, and are resistant to some other stuff that other sheep breeds aren’t down here in the deep humid south. And since I like to crochet, and that takes yarn, and yarn can be made from wool…. Maybe. I could also achieve similar results with good ol’ “southern snow” – aka “the touch, the feel, of cotton. The fabric of our lives” (must be sung in your head with the smooth sultry tones of Aaron Neville…. ;-))

And I know I’d been thinking goats instead of cows. More goats in the same amount of land, the milk is supposedly better for us, goats are SMALLER and weigh less, but isn’t the Red Poll Cow pretty? And I’ll save you a trip to Google – poll means “no horns.” (you’re welcome :-)) And they’re red, too! (Have you figured out a theme here yet – color, I like color!)

And even though it’s something I hadn’t consciously thought about, I do want ducks and geese. (We’ve got plenty of wild turkeys, they hide in the pine trees and gobble at me early in the morning.) I like the Cotton Patch Goose breed, especially if I decide to do the aforementioned, ahem, cotton patch. But for another reason, too. When I was in high school, our church youth group performed a musical called “The Cotton Patch Gospel.” (Gimme a shout out if you’ve heard of it….) It’s essentially the life of Christ, set in rural GA. The writers were pretty accurate, and figured out the correct distances between all the biblical cities, and transferred that over to GA cities – a lot of it takes place in Gainsville, GA. And instead of being crucified, Jesus is strung up by a lynch mob. Now back to our regular scheduled blog πŸ˜‰

Ducks – I know I want ducks, but just haven’t picked one yet. There’s not a breed that “speaks to me” like in the other animal categories. I mean, what’s a pond without ducks?

And a donkey, I know I want a donkey for guard purposes (you can thank my sister for putting this thought in my head).

And in addition to all the yard cats (I know, I know, I still haven’t posted obligatory cute cat pix – I’ll get there), I want 2 house cats once I have a house of my own πŸ˜‰

And I think that’s it, but I’m not really sure, b/c FINALLY I’m yawning good and having problems keeping my eyes open. So hopefully I can go lay down again and actually go to sleep this time.