Thursday, May 30, 2013

Informed Consumerism

I highly recommend everyone be an informed consumer. It is so easy to go about our lives not looking at the ingredients of processed foods and just pretending that there is no problem, nor will there ever be a problem, with our food.

This is NOT the case. There is a huge problem with our food, and it is all thanks to Monsanto and the mad scientists that made their "super crops" a reality.

Doesn't it sound like the plot from a bad B-movie from the early 90's? It does to me! It would have been called something along the lines of "Mutant Crops Attack."

I would also highly recommend buying organic, GMO-free AND local when possible (if you are like me living in a very rural area - this will not always be possible, sadly enough).

Photo courtesy of

Please watch this 17-minute video. It is less time than a sitcom on television and it will help everyone see what is happening with our "big crops" in today's world - especially those of you who may not have your eyes and ears open yet. I understand, truly I do. I was an uninformed consumer for a long time. Then I had children. More importantly, I had a child with severe allergies. I have to look at everything closely. When does she thrive best? When she eats fresh fruits and vegetables that are organic. When does she do poorly? When she eats processed foods that contain any soy, corn or canned tomato products. There isn't a coincidence here... Just watch the video and see for yourself.

Our Common Roots GMO Video

Farmers also need to step up. Not just farmers, who I know have a massive heartache ahead of them while trying to get away from Monsanto (watch the Food, Inc. documentary to see the pressure and force with which farmers are harassed by Monsanto and their goons), but also land owners who allow farmers to use Monsanto products on their land.

There is nothing more disappointing to me than listening to someone complain about the corn products that effect them so negatively, followed by the revelation that said corn products are grown on their property. It is beyond my ability to understand how someone makes everyone around them suffer for their own health problems and then reveals that they earn an income (the amount may be miniscule, that isn't the point) by growing (or allowing it to be grown) on a piece of land they have control over.

If each and every land owner does not take a stand, all of our land has nowhere to go but down. These GMO crops are spreading like wildfire due to the wind and natural pollination by local insects and birds.

There was an article just written about a GMO wheat being discovered growing in Oregon, when there has been no GMO wheat crops approved yet to be grown in our country at all. Now there is a huge investigation being done in several states.

If you watch the video, you will also learn that crops are being found in Canada, where none were yet approved to be grown. All thanks to mother nature doing what she does best...

Another wonderful point in the video is that our honey will also be affected. I hadn't even considered that before. This is why I open my eyes and ears to everything. I can get so focused on one point that I forget the other portions that will suffer too.

That is my 2-cents on the issue. I highly recommend being informed, not just for yourself but for the future of all living creatures. You are free to decide if it is worth it to you, but please at least take the time to watch the video to see if it is something you might, just possibly, think you want to be informed about.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Chicken Hatching Fun!

Our chicks began hatching Sunday afternoon! It has been so exciting! There are 11 hatched so far, out of 20 eggs total (a few I think were duds - but because this is my first time I left them in there, checking regularly that they weren't smelling funky and rotting, just in case I wasn't seeing what I thought I was seeing when I candled them).

A Rhode Island Red rooster breeding with White Plymouth Rock hens is called a Red Sex Link. The cockerels should be yellow-er in color when hatched, and the females may vary more, but should all be more red than anything else. So far, I know which ones are which. The full RIRs are the ones with the darker stripes down the back - that is what all the RIR chicks looked like that we got last year. Can you see which ones are which in the picture? Hint: There is only one full RIR so far (in this picture) and one cross cockerel.

Here are two more that have only recently hatched.

I have a feeling only 1 of the remaining eggs in the incubator might possibly hatch now. It has pipped, and I've heard it chirp a few times, but it still hasn't emerged. The others I haven't even seen rock, let alone pip. They may all be duds.

*Soon to come - picture of the 11 chicks currently in the brooder, just as soon as the Little Man wakes from his nap. He's currently sharing space with them for a day or two while we build a door for the shed that will hold the brooder outside. Pictures will come of that soon too!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Steer on the Homestead? Could be!

It looks like a steer could be here in the near future. I have very little beef left in the deep freeze, and the elk and deer have also dwindled down to nothing but ground (and I am looking forward to buying pork fat from the butcher so I can make lots of sausage! Posts to follow).

I grew accustomed to having beef on a semi-regular basis, so we decided to go ahead and go in on half a steer with my husband's best friend. I like mixing the ground beef with ground deer and elk since those two have very little fat in them.
That is a Scottish Highland breed. The last one was called Steve. I think we'll just call all soon-to-be-dinner cattle Steve from now on. The girls always referred to any beef we had as Steve when we were eating it (they only met that steer once, but it stuck with them). We ate Steve stew often during the winter months. Tasty!

(See, to prove my point my 6 year old just walked over and said "Oh, is that Steve?" LOL!)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Time is of the Essense... or not.

It never fails. Once you have children, you lose a lot of that "me" time that was once found in abundance.

Well, I went that next step and took away even more "me" time so that I could provide fresh, organic eggs and [raw] milk to my children on a daily basis. My poor toe nails are more un-polished than polished these days (and by un-polished, I mean there is paint on them - but it's chipped so much that more nail is showing than is not, hehe).

Don't mind the crooked toes - I have a tendency to run into things and break them. My girls take after me, poor dears.

I don't regret it, but I do realize that sometimes I don't look much like a woman, let alone a woman who cares what she looks like. I don't necessarily believe this is a bad thing, but having moved to my wonderful State from California, where everyone cares about that sort of thing, it's still an odd state of being sometimes.

I tend to go to the post office wearing a raggedy, torn up shirt (or flannel) over Carhartt or Dickie's pants (or holey jeans, if they aren't holey in any "wrong" places yet). The lovely thing about the oil-field town is that there are other women there who look even dirtier than me. But the truly nice thing about it is when the nose-in-the-air women are out and about and don't look too thrilled to see my outfit. Makes me smile every time. I work hard and I have no shame in that. I don't want to look all gussied up daily because then I wouldn't want to get my hands dirty (or my shoes, which are usually covered in goat poop, chicken poop, horse poop, rabbit poop, prairie dog poop, and every other kind of wild turd to be found in our desert). I'm also not the gussied-up type.

Some days I would love to dress up and get all fancy - and then I remember that it takes a lot of work to get that way and I appreciate my life even more.

I love being a backwards girl. I was always a tomboy, so this is nothing new for me. There are just less people around to judge me for it than when I lived in California.

My house is the same way. Especially in the summer. There will be dirty dishes galore next to and in the sink, dirt clumps on the carpet, and rocks in the kitchen every summer. We have things to do and little time to do it. Because this is when my house will always be the messiest, this is also the time of year we have the most visitors. Irony. Gotta love it.

I make no apologies or excuses. I do not say "please excuse the mess" when people arrive. You either deal with the mess or you don't visit. Either one works for me. I prefer to be outdoors when I can be comfortable while outdoors; in Wyoming that isn't very often.

Now, if only I could get my 3 month old to cooperate so I could spend even more time outside right now... Things to do, things to do... Naparoo, naparoo...

Rebekah Teal is a former city-girl-turned-farm-girl who writes for Mary Janes Farm magazine and blog. She did an article for the April/May issue listing 6 "riches of country living that I've discovered." #4 just happened to be about how her looks no longer mattered like they did in the big city. #6, neighbors who are ACTUALLY neighborly - even though they don't live nearly as close as the neighbors in the city! I've only recently started getting this magazine, and some of it is a bit too frills for me, but there is a lot of good information too. Don't be surprised if I share a tid-bit here and there for you.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fromage Blanc - i.e. fancy cheese name for easy cheese

After reading a blog post on The Prairie Homestead a few days ago, I decided to take her idea of using fresh milk to make this cheese: fomage blanc.  It is very simple and easy. I just used a fresh half gallon of milk from yesterday's morning milking, added some rennet and mesophilic culture, put a piece of cheesecloth on top and held it in place by the half gallon jar band (I used a canning jar). This morning it was ready to be drained for 6 hours.

The half gallon jar I had the milk in for 24 hours; draining the cheese into a pitcher.

I'm going to use it in place of cottage or ricotta cheese in lasagna when my in-laws arrive this weekend. Mmmm mmm good!

The completed cheese after it's been chilling in the fridge overnight (next to some homemade fresh french bread my neighbor gave me yesterday - it was delicious). I might have to make more fresh cheese now so I can eat it and still have some left for the lasagna!

I could use the leftover whey to make ricotta. I think that I will set this one aside and use it for cooking. I will be making salisbury steaks (actually, they've already been put together and formed, just awaiting a thawing from the freezer) and mashed potatoes. The whey will be good in place of milk in the potatoes and gravy. Yum!

For the full instructions and measurements to make fromage blanc please go to Jill's recipe here.