Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I'm Back, I Think

We went to the beach last week. It was nice to have a week away, but it's one of those things you can't exactly warn your blog followers about.

We went fishing on Thursday. We got a nice haul, but it was the beginning of the end for me. You have to understand, I'm one of those people who can make myself car sick when I'm driving. I went fishing last year and was fine, so I decided to go again this year. I was so sick. I toughed it out and kept fishing, but it was all I could do not to toss my cookies.

I managed to recover from sea sickness just in time to catch a stomach bug on Saturday. It's not like me to lie down during the day but I spent both Monday and Tuesday afternoons in bed. I'm finally feeling like I may be turning the corner.

Despite my illness, the garlic needed to come up. I was afraid if I left it until I felt better it'd split like it did last year.

When I got home, I noticed that some of the bucklings' horn buds were growing and they needed to be disbudded again. I got some done yesterday and will do the last boy today. It sucks. I really burned the stew out of them this time. I hope it's enough. It makes me feel better to see them playing like nothing even happened though. I just know I have to get this done right to sell them!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Udderly Fabulous

Phoebe freshened with the prettiest udder. I just started locking Ike away from her at night so I can milk her. I got a bit more than a quart this morning. I didn't strip her dry so Ike could have some breakfast.

Onyx is milking great for me too. Her girls are so pitiful crying for her in the morning. It breaks my heart. She decided to move in this picture so her right side is a little smooshed against her leg. I'll have to get a better picture.

I love having milk! I have been making cheese. I have been filling my cereal bowl to the brim. I can't wait to try some yogurt.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Update

I've been MIA. You might have noticed. Last week was standardized testing for the kids. Getting up at 6am to get the animals cared for before sitting in a small room in front of Scan-Tron sheets for several hours each day really kicked our butts. On the bright side, it gave me a whole lot of "Aren't you glad you're homeschooled" leverage.

Other than that, there's not much new going on. I still haven't gotten the peppers planted in the garden. The ants have eaten off the cantaloupe seeds, so they need to be reseeded today. I still need to get out there with some of these ideas for controlling them; I've been saving coffee grounds for a week.

Isn't this the most beautiful iris? Iris the goat went to her new home on Tuesday. Phoebe didn't even notice.

The goslings are getting bigger by the day.

Onyx's minimancha kids about about the cutest things ever. I am so tempted to keep one, but I am concerned about breeding them to our full-sized buck on their first freshening. Really, they need to go, but we sure are enjoying them while they're here. I'll probably keep a doeling from Kat or Onyx next year.

The baking soda-ACV shampoo routine is still going okay. I think I've entered the adjustment stage everyone warned about, but I'm going to push on through for a few more weeks.

One of my boys' pictures was selected to represent our homeschool group in the Audubon art competition at our local nature center. I'm so proud of him! His is the oil painting of the cardinals. He didn't will a top prize, but he won just getting selected to be there. The winners were all 5th graders and I may be am partial, but I think his was better than most. We took him out for a most extravagant dinner in celebration. Expensive, but we sure had fun and I want him to see how hard work pays off-so have all these years of Thursday art lessons with my aunt.

I am trying to get all of our fourth grade curriculum together. They keep asking when summer break is, but the truth is we will be schooling throughout the summer. I'm thinking of teaching Mon, Wed or Mon, Wed, Fri. I'd love for them to be about done with 4th grade by Christmas. We are going to step up our game this year.

I am trying to move to an approach where they are more responsible for their own educations. One thing I did was switch from Singapore to Saxon math. I never thought I'd use Saxon, but in reading all the reviews, I think it's exactly what we need in our quest to teach them to teach themselves. Cole is also expressing interest in being an architect. It seems like everyone who enjoys the Saxon approach goes on to be some sort of engineer or physicist.

Do any of you homeschool mothers have tips for putting kids more in charge of their own learning?

Monday, May 6, 2013

You Washed Your Hair With What?

I was talking to a friend at the park last week. She has the most lovely shiny, silky, soft curls. She shared with me that she used to use Wen shampoo, but uses baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV) now.

I use Wen and while I like the results, it's expensive. I decided to give baking soda and ACV a try. First, I did a search of how to do this properly and came up with this article. Then I raided the pantry. Hubby is so used to my odd ways, he didn't even bat an eye.

In the shower, I made a paste of the baking soda and water and rubbed it into my scalp. Then I rinsed well. I didn't put any soda into the ends, the article said that rinsing would wash that enough. In a bowl, I mixed a few tablespoons of ACV, a cup or 2 of water and a drop of lavender oil (so I wouldn't smell like a pickle). I swished the ends of my hair in the bowl then poured the rest over my scalp and rinsed.

I was surprised that even without any type of conditioner, my hair was soft and easy to comb out. It has been a couple of days since I washed it this way and it still looks clean and shiny.

Several articles say that it may take a few weeks for your hair to adjust to the new routine. I'm going to stick with it and hopefully I can quit buying expensive shampoo!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Police State in Boston

I have not seen much in the media about the way citizens were treated during the search for the Boston Marathon bombers and I think it's something everybody should be aware of.

I found this video absolutely shocking. People were evicted from their homes at gunpoint, their homes searched without warrants then left unsecured. Homes and vehicles were riddled with bullet holes. An entire city was put on lock down for a day.

As Americans, we are supposed to have protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Is kicking an old lady out of her home at gunpoint, without her diabetes medicine, then searching her home without permission considered reasonable now?

This is not the only video out there. I've seen cellphone videos taken by neighbors of the people across the street being forced out at gunpoint.

Ben Franklin said it best: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Cream, Glorious Cream!

A couple readers asked about the cream separator. It is the hand crank cream separator from Ukraine. If you've ever priced a cream separator, you've probably come across this baby. It's the most economical model available. I think it was about $110 delivered. It's a little scary to buy things from across the world, but it arrived just as promised.  It is much sturdier than I expected it to be from the ad. I'm pleased.

I separated just under a gallon of milk and got almost a pint of cream. Washing it really wasn't bad at all.

The video instructions said to pour some skim milk back through at the end to make sure to rinse through all the cream. I poured about a pint back through and should have poured a half gallon- there was so much cream still stuck in the cones when I was cleaning it. Live and learn.

The cream is in the fridge to make butter today. I added MM cultures and rennet to the milk and left it on the counter overnight. It's set up nicely now. I'll drain it in some cheese cloth before church. I'm not sure how the skim milk cheese will taste, but I'm sure it will be fine in ravioli or something.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Getting Caught Up on a Rainy Saturday

This rainy day has allowed me to work on some things around the house that I haven't been able to get to (like the blog?).

My parents gave me a cream separator for Christmas; however, in the world of dairy goats, there's not enough milk to separate at Christmastime. I finally broke the machine out. It's from Ukraine, so the instructions are helpless. Fortunately I found this great video showing how to set it up.

Without the video, I would never have known to take this mechanism apart. Can you believe all these cones? This is what it looks like put back together.

And the whole thing assembled:

Hubby and the boys are stopping on their way home to get some Marvel Mystery Oil so I can get this baby cranking.

It feels so great to have extra milk again! Trixie's milk took over two weeks to get sweet so imagine my surprise when Onyx's milk started looking like milk after 4 or 5 days.

Poor Baby Girl is destined to be lopsided. I called Auburn University Large Animal clinic the day before she delivered to ask if I should milk out her left half. That was the side that had mastitis last summer and we were afraid wouldn't ever produce. It had started dripping a little the day before she delivered. Scared me to death. I felt sure the mastitis was back. The vet wasn't convinced and said that most likely the connective tissues in that half were damaged from the infection last summer. That half would look different, but she'd be fine.

I decided not to milk her and she kidded the next day. The kids don't like that teat though because it's so much bigger than the other side, so I started milking it down twice a day so they could latch onto it. On Wednesday evening, the milk looked and smelled so good, I decided to try it. Yummy! I ran a CMT (California Mastitis Test) and it's negative!

I am so thrilled. I am getting half a gallon a day from that one side and I'm only milking it down enough for the kids to handle. Looks like I have my first gallon-a-day milker!

Now for hubby to get home so I can make some butter, or cream cheese, or whatever. I haven't decided, I just want to play with my machine.

I sold little Iris to Phoebe and Scilla's breeder. She is such a dear, sweet girl, but Phoebe won't let her nurse unless I put her on the stand. The lady I sold her to will be bottle feeding other babies so it won't be any trouble to add Iris and I'm happy to know that she will have a great home.

Don't forget Derby Day! I love horse racing. And mint juleps.

Silkie Chicks

I am a horrible, awful, very, very, sad mother. If anyone has followed this blog for any period of time, you know about our quest for silkies. If not, here's a quick recap:

Spring 2012: Cole saved up $18 and bought 3 silkie chicks. All three died within a week.

May 2012: I found an ad on Craigslist in Panama City Beach, FL for silkies. We picked three chicks up while we were at the beach and smuggled them into the condo while on vacation.

Fall 2012: All three turned out to be hens. I purchased a dozen silkie eggs for $30 on Ebay. None hatched.

December 2012: I found an ad on backyard chickens for a silkie rooster. The seller talked me into 2 roosters and I mailed him $35.

February 2013: The seller still had not shipped our roosters. I wrote requesting my check back. Have never heard from seller again.

March 2013: I found a Craigslist ad for 2 silkie roosters 45 minutes north of us. We packed up and made the trip, finally ending up with Mist and Oreo. They were 6 months old, but Mist and Oreo didn't seem to know what to do with the hens.

April 2013: The roosters figured it out, the hens went broody, and we set about 15 eggs to hatch, some in the bator, some under the broodies.

May 2013: Two of the eggs hatched! I candled a couple of the eggs under the hens and they were still viable. When I'd candled the eggs in the bator earlier in the hatch cycle, those two eggs were further along than the other eggs because they'd already started to develop under the hens when I moved them to the bator.

May 3, 2013: The two hatchlings had been in the bator about 24 hours. We moved them to a bin before heading out to a birthday party for the evening. Our plan was to sneak them under the hens last night. We got home from the party and found them dead. I'd cooked them. I feel HORRIBLE. Cole has been waiting so long for these birds. Pray that all these other eggs hatch for us.

10 Ways To Kill Ants… Organically

Thank you, thank you to everyone who emailed me ideas about my ant problem. I am starting in on this list today- well, perhaps tomorrow since the rain would just wash everything away today.

1. Baking soda is poisonous to ants, spinkle it ...around your plants to ensure ants will stay away.

2. Flour & Baby Powder will keep ants from reaching your plants, ants will not cross the powder – so circle your plants with it.

3. You can use coffee grounds, chili powder, cinnamon, peppermint or black pepper. All deter ants and if you pour coffee grounds directly on an anthill, they will eat the coffee grounds and implode.

4. Grits, instant rice & cream of wheat can be sprinkled around plants. The ant will eat a piece of whichever you sprinkle, drink water and the grain expands and kills the ant. :)

5. Fill a spray bottle with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water and spray on plants. The acid in vinegar will kills ants.

6. Mix together one-third cup of molasses, six tablespoons of sugar, and six tablespoons of active dry yeast into a smooth paste. Use the mixture to coat strips of cardboard. Keep out of reach of pets and small children. You can leave mixture on a saucer outside anthill and they’ll eat it and die!

7. Fold contact paper in half, with the sticky side out and make a circle around base of plant. The ants get stuck on the paper – problem solved.

8. Cut off the bottom of a paper cup and cut a slit up the side of the cup and coat outside with vaseline and place around base of plant. You can also use packing tape.

9. Mix one cup of borax, two-thirds a cup sugar and one cup water. Dip cotton balls in the solution and place in areas near your anthill Ants will leave the plants alone and ingest the sweet mixture. The borax kills the ants.

10. Diatomaceous Earth is a commonly sold organic pesticide that will destroy the insects outer skeletons, causing the pests to die from dehydration.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Leaf Cutter Ants

I am losing my mind! I had a new breed of ant appear in my garden last fall and they are driving me crazy. They're some sort of leaf cutter ant.

Here they are on a potato. Since they arrived on the scene, I have not been able to grow any lettuce or carrots- they eat off the seedlings as soon as they emerge. They have eaten 4 potatoes, numerous collards, 2 Japanese eggpplants, half my cucumber seedlings, and the equivalent of 2 rows of bean seedlings.

Did I mention that they bite too?! Does anyone have any ideas to control them?