Ugly!

I know it’s not nice, but Jenny Hen is down right ugly!  She’s the oldest gal at nearly 4.  She’s on tenure now and thinks it’s her job to sit on anything that doesn’t move.  She sat on a bunch of golf balls for nearly 3 weeks!

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She’s molting and is walking around nearly butt naked!  I realized the other day, that if I don’t start culling out my old ladies I’ll soon have a petting zoo and I don’t think Honey would be too big on that.  I ought to do Jenny Hen in now while she’s naked, then I won’t have as many feathers to pluck.

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A face only a mama could love.

The new pullets ought to start laying next month.  Fingers crossed.  Our egg ration has been 1-2 eggs a day for quite some time. I’ve been dreaming of deviled eggs, eggs a la golden rod, egg salad…..anything with golden eggs.

I was looking for Annie’s egg today.  She usually lays it in the new hen house.  As I rounded the corner, I was chitter chattering to myself about goodness knows what….and I didn’t expect to catch her sitting on the nest….well, I startled her to death, and she squawked.  She jumped up and nearly scarred me to death.  I screamed, she screamed and then I laughed.  She gave me a working over about it too.  I heard about that for at least a half an hour….I sure didn’t mean to disturb her.  Heavens knows we need that second egg.

I’ve only named the two Silver Laced Wyandottes.  I ordered 5 of everything, but lost nearly half…so I’m only left with two Wyandottes.  They are Wyonna and Naomi Judd.

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I’ve got 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Black Australorps, 2 Barred Rocks and 4 Rhode Island Reds.  Since they’ve hardly developed personalities yet, I haven’t given most of them names yet.

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It’s lookin very rednecky and I need to get it cleaned up a bit.  But heck they love climbing and roosting all of the stuff.  The Buffys are really cute.  My gates need some repairs before winter settles in.  If we get iced like last year, the gate might fall clean off it’s hinges….or rather electric ties.

Raising chicks has been so easy.  My friend Carol told me it was but I didn’t believe her…ok Carol, it is easy.  I’m ready for some meat birds next spring!  But I’m gonna have to get some help with the butchering…I really do hate that job of slitting their throats.  A turkey would be a great adventure too.  Heck I pay a small fortune for a pastured organic turkey.

Now if we could only get some of our own fresh milk and these girls would really be eating in style.  Clabber for everyone.  All in God’s good time.

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More Bang For Your Buck

Who wouldn’t like to know that the food they are buying or growing is providing the ultimate nutritional value? Who wouldn’t want to know that their food is worth the price they are paying? I would.

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I just purchased a refractometer. It was very reasonably priced and will be a way for me to measure the nutrients not only in the food I buy, but also the food I grow for my family and my cows.

You might remember that when I was on a Pasture Walk last week, I asked the “soil expert” if he could explain Brix. And his response was simply that brix is measuring a plants sugar. What he didn’t say possibly because he didn’t know any better is that sugar is only one component of brix.

Brix simply is the “level of the crop correlated with its nutrient-density; brix is a valuable measurement in determining the nutritional value of the crop”. Rex Harrill explained in an interview posted for the Weston A Price Foundation how simple it can be to test our own food for brix. Using a refractometer you squeeze a few drops from the crop being tested onto the prism and “when the drops fall on the prism, you close the cover plate to spread it out and then look through the viewing end of the instrument where you will see an etched scale generally calibrated in 0-30 or 0-32 degrees Brix. Just as a pencil appears bent when placed in a beaker of water, the light passing through the plant juice droplet is bent so that a clear line is shown against the scaled background. The amount of bending is directly related to the richness of the plant juice (richer juice bends the light more).”

Rex Harrill continues to explain the work of Dr. Carey A. Reams:

“The genius of Reams-style farming is that he devised a way to calculate the energy released when various fertilizers worked their way down to equilibrium. For instance, Reams didn’t suggest that his clients simply scatter so many pounds (or so many tons) of ammonium sulfate on an acre of land. Reams taught his students how to calculate the energy that would be given up by a single molecule of ammonium and then determine exactly how many pounds of that, or any other fertilizer, to apply. In conventional farming fertilizer excesses are generally wasted and ultimately go off the land into the ground water, while shortages create a limited crop yield. Reams-style farming not only creates superior output, it is also very economical because any fertilizer applied is used by the plants, not lost. Dr. Dan Skow is probably the best known teacher currently explaining this desperately needed scientific aspect of agriculture to students around the country.”

He goes on to say; “Brix is a measure of energy. A high-Brix plant emits a far superior energetic electromagnetic spectrum than a low-Brix specimen. Insects “see” in this range and they “attack” plants with the weakest emanations. When the grower finally understands that all that talk about how healthy plants “resist” insects is really another way of saying that the strongest plants don’t attract insects in the first place, they are on the road to understanding Reams agriculture. A refractometer is merely a way for us to see by proxy what insects see with their eyes.”

I’m anxious to receive my refractometer that I bought on ebay. I found an organic farmer about an hour from our home who sells certified organic grains and hays. He gave me a bale of Orchard Grass Hay for my girls to taste. I thought I’d need a lesson on picking out good hay by sight, but once I got home and compared this new hay to the old hay I purchased…..well, it was a no brainer. The evidence was obvious to me. When I walked into his barn, my nose came alive with the fresh smell of hay. It smelled green.

The refractometer will tell me if his hay is all that it’s meant to be.  It will also tell me if my bovine girls will be getting nourishment this winter from his organic hay.  Dr Nelson Arden, DVM explains that nutrition is everything.  He says, “Poor intake of energy (and protein) always leaves the animals in poor shape to fight off any problem, be it metabolic (the prolapse) or infectious (the mastitis and salmonella infections.)

As One who has followed the Weston A Price diet for almost 3 yrs, I’ve often used the term “nutrient dense”.  Using a refractometer is a sure way to measure if my food is indeed nutrient dense.  Rex Harrill goes on to explain that low brix food will be tasteless and watery and those with high brix will be robust and flavorful.  His site gives lots of charts for you to know what the brix measurement should be on the foods you eat.  He was asked in the interview if one could measure brix in milk and meat.  He replied that milk of course could be measured because of it’s liquid state, but meat…..well, why not measure the brix in the pasture to determine the nutrient density of the grass the cows are eating. Because the pasture with the highest brix reading will produce highly nutrient dense meat and milk.

I believe that Dr Nelson Arden, DVM got it right….

Nutrition is everything!

Throwing Mud

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This is my very first attempt at ever trying to throw on the wheel. It was not centered. As I was bringing it up one side was thin and the other thick…so I pulled a spout on it! I wish I’d of thought to put a little handle on, but I’m so thrilled with my first piece on the wheel.

I sorta like this color Orcher. Non of us know how to say it, but it sounds like Okra. On the red clay it’s very earthy and I like earthy.

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This little cup turned out to actually be useful. It holds my tea strainer perfectly. It was suppose to be a mug, but it turned out way too small for me and the handle wasn’t right, so I cut it off. If I’m learning one thing from Pottery, it is patience. I hate to admit that I’m not a patient person. But pottery is not something to rush. It takes time and lots of patience to get each piece just right….and if you are me, then sometimes, it’s never JUST right, but good enough!

In some ways, I’m like the Amish. They don’t believe we can do anything perfectly….because only God is perfect, so they always leave an imperfection in their quilts. A visual reminder that only God is perfect. Mine are usually not an intended imperfection, but a reflection of who I am…..very imperfect.

I discovered today when some new pieces came out of the kiln, that the red clay shrinks considerably after the second firing! I mean considerably. So, in the future I need to make a mental note of that and expect my pre-glaze firing pieces to be bigger than I want. Hopefully I’ll be able to gauge it right since I love using the red clay. I’m attempting to replace all our store bought dishes with hand thrown/built pieces!  A lofty goal.

(I’ll be so glad to be rid of my Pfaltzgraff dishes I’ve had for almost 30 yrs!)

Self Sufficiency or God Reliant

As I try to become more and more self sufficient…..I really hate the way that sounds.  Because I’m not at all depending on myself for anything.  All I have comes from God and Scripture says that “He gives us everything we need for life and godliness.”  So, as I become more and more dependent upon my Heavenly Father for all that I need, I was happy to order a few long desired herbs for my Medicine Garden.  And I planted them asking for His blessing.

My packages arrived last week, beat-up a tad from their long journey across these United Sates.  I paid a small fortune to have them sent from Oregon to Maryland, but since it would of cost me much more to make the journey in my car, it was worth the sacrifice for these plants.

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Not all plants are equal in quality.  I’ve spent a small fortune on plants that didn’t have a good start and they were short lived.  I’ve also tried as I might to start some of these herbal plants by seed to no avail.

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Richo Cech is the owner of Horizon Herbs.  He’s been a guest on  Herb Mentor where I have been studying herbs for over 2 years.  I try to support some of the herbalist that are featured on Herb Mentor, mainly because I can.  And I’ve been longing for these herbs for a while.  I have always been a proponent of being able to care for oneself and with all of the chatter about health care, I needed the peace of mind knowing that my Medicine Garden holds just about anything I need to care for myself and my family.

I finalized the location for these new plants.  The small raised beds in the rear of my veggie garden are too shaded to do me any good.  Since Stinging Nettle is an invasive plant I wanted to contain it.  Motherwort needed part sun, so she went clear in the back with room to spread.  The Stinging Nettle went in the front of the same box.  The sweet and delicate leafed St John’s Wort went in the long box that I originally planned for sweet potatoes years ago, since the boxes were filled with sand, peat and dirt.  It would make a good drainage spot for SJW.  The Goldenseal was beautiful.  The roots were a lovely bright mustardy yellow.   And they went just outside my garden gate for full sun.  The Russian Comfrey roots went in the box with SJW.

I had my first introduction to Stinging Nettle.  I’d been warned repeatedly that it lives up to it’s name.  Yes it does sting.  The little pricks from it’s leaves left me with an irritating rash on my fingers for a day or so.  I remembered my gloves when planting time came around.

I can’t imagine every having enough of these wonderful herbs.  I use them almost daily for menopausal health and for various other maladies.  I cannot wait to harvest the bright yellow flowers from SJW and the bright yellow roots from Goldenseal.  Nettle will make the loveliest green tincture next spring for allergy season.  It’s full of Vit A, C & iron.

Of course after receiving Richo’s book I made another list of more herbs that I seriously can’t live without.  How could I of ever forgotten my beloved Arnica!  I use arnica everyday for aches and pains.

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Richo suggests fall planting to give them a good start.  With all the rain and snow these new herbs ought to get off to a good start and be ready for harvesting next spring and summer.

“Lord, I pray you will bless my gardens and cause them to prosper and grow, giving us food for nourishment and medicine.”

Wordless Wednesday

YEAH RIGHT!!!!!

Did you really fall for that?

Come on….then you don’t know me.

I’ve never been wordless. Ask my father, who use to pay me 25 cents for 15 min’s of silence! Really. I don’t ever remember getting the money. Ok, maybe once!

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I think Josie’s body condition looks good two weeks after we pulled a dead calf. Since giving Josie and Joy additional supplements to the little grain they get daily, their coats are velvety soft.

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Here she is catching a few winks and dreaming of more grain. (Please excuse her dirty backside.)

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Joy is wearing a new spiked nose ring. I put the bovine girls together on Sunday, hoping that we will be able to see a standing heat in Joy. But, I didn’t want to take any chances of her trying to suck Josie again. She looks pretty cute! And she manages quite well at swinging it out of her way.

As soon as I put the girls back together on Sunday, Josie started sniffing Joy. She made the funniest faces. She’d curl her upper lip up and smile toward the sky! Then in the evening when I was saying good night, Josie tried to mount Joy! That’s what’s called a standing heat. Of course Josie is twice the size as Joy, but she tried. I marked my calendar.

We made a decision this weekend about whether to get a goat or another cow. We decided to use what we’ve got, because I don’t want a third cow and Honey doesn’t want a goat (YET). Joy will be 12 months Oct 20 and she is near breeding age. We will begin AI-ing her soon. I called my AI tech and gave him a heads up that I’ll be needing his services for my heifer. Now I have to order Jersey bull semen!

Another first! OMIGOLLY, who ever thought I’d be talking like this??? Not me! When I first started using these terms, I’d whisper in public while blushing….AI you know, artificial……they’d get it before I’d have to finish it. Now I just let it all hang out. No shame here.

Honey and I agreed that we’d continue to try and breed Joy until the latest calving date acceptable to me, which will be in January. I’m not thrilled about having a winter calf. I think there are just too many issues to worry about. I am willing to have a calf no later than October (9 months gestation). So we have quite a few months to try, probably beginning in November with two possible conception dates 21 days apart. The sooner the better for all of us, but not too soon for Joy. She’s grown quite a bit this summer and I’ll measure her with the dairy tape to get an estimate on her weight. If all is good then it’s a go!

I’m looking for a Miniature Jersey Bull as the sire. Here’s a pic of Pvt Pyle! Since Joy is a petite girl, I’d like for her to have a smaller calf and Mini Jersey’s have a smaller frame than Standard Jerseys. Or I can find a Registered Jersey sire that breeds small calves. So many things to think about.

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Joy has really pretty coloring now, although it’s bound to change before she’s 2 yrs old.

An Attempt To Revise Pasture Walks

Well, I couldn’t find the “auto-saved” version of the Pasture Walks post, so I’m going to attempt to list a couple things I remember adding.

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My Bovine Girls on a Pasture Walk of their own!  They come running when ever I enter the pasture.  I do love my girls!  The feelings are mutual!

I was a little ticked that there wasn’t a disclaimer at the Pasture Walk when I signed in with my name, address and phone because when I got home and read some of the literature, this is what I found. “Conservation plans in most counties are voluntary, however if a landowner participates in USDA sponsored programs, an approved conservation plan may be required.” GREAT! Maybe they will forget me if I don’t go back for more pristine pasture walks!

The article titled Farming for Health in Acres USA, said, “There are those, including some consultants (might I add Soil Experts!), who do not understand what the sap/juice brix reading means or how to feed a crop to get brix to increase. They tend to believe that the soil test prevails over all else and seek to find the perfect soil test report. As a result they cannot seem to grasp the brix principles.” Aaha, I did step on the “Soil Experts” toes or rather his entire foot! No wonder he was offended that I asked about Brix.

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Acres USA goes on to say, “Only plants take in carbon dioxide and water in the presence of chlorophyll and sunlight to manufacture sugar.” Everything that a farmer harvests comes from this sugar! It’s basic elementary botany!  That even I am beginning to comprehend!

It was quite obvious that I wasn’t with kindred spirits on this walk. No one there except the older “Soil Expert” had ever heard of brix. Neither did most of them care what it was. There was one lady that I’d been chatting with and she did say, “I learn something new every time I come on one of these Pasture Walks”. But I’m afraid it fell on deaf ears.  I would think that even horse owners would want to create high brix grass.  The more nutrients an animal gets from the grass they eat, the healthier they will be.  Granted a horse is not a rumanent animal.  A cow has to graze on grass or hay 24 hrs a day!  They graze and they rest.  They graze and they rest, all day long.  My girls ancestors were chased by predators and so they will graze ravenously filling their rumen and then they will go some place safe and rest, bringing up their cud working on good digestion.  They do this 24/7!  They truly are amazing animals.  All the while making delicious, nutritious milk from grass!  Wow!  That’s why I care about brix.

It’s reported that researchers at MI State U, in the early 60’s demonstrated that foliar applications for nutrients are up to 10 times as efficient as soil applications pound for pound. Why on earth (no pun intended!) would I spread 1 ton of lime per acre (as one of the horse lovers at the walk did) when I could spray my pasture crop with a sea mineral and reap greater benefits by raising my brix? I’m still trying to figure it all out, and I’m so glad that Acres USA is available to this green horn! (I can’t even figure out how I’d get 1 ton of lime! I sure can’t get it in my mini van or Honey’s little Ford Ranger! That would be at least 3 tons that I’d need!) I am adding nutrients to my soil though. I feed my bovine girls kelp every day. They love the stuff and they kindly deposit it all over my pasture for me. When I mow I sorta spread it around, but not too much since cows are very picky about eating anything that’s been touched by their poop. My pasture is now christened with beautiful lush green mounds of grass where the girls have left their poop. And they won’t eat it for 3 years! My pasture is going to be beautiful in 3 years.

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Cow Pie crusting over and drying out

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This is the area that Joy has over grazed because she was tethered here at night. She’s roaming free on the range now! Happy Cows!  You can see the mounds of green grass that were fertilized with cow poo.  But they pass those up.

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Notice the deer in the background….they stay out of the fenced in pasture for the most part. A little fawn will wonder in once in a while, but they haven’t been a problem for me. For the most part my pasture is looking pretty good with a diversity of grasses. I’m trying to device a plan to work in rotational pasture management and possibly use strip grazing next year. That will allow them to graze an area for a day, a week or what ever I think works best. When I think they’ve grazed it sufficiently, but not over grazed it, then I’ll close it off with electric and move them to the next pasture. After I’ve rotated them around to all the areas, then it’s back to the original area and we’ll start all over again.  I suppose there should be a sacrifice pasture that they can use and eat hay until the others are in the proper shape to move them back to.

So much to think about.

Happy Trails to you until we meet again!

The Frustrations of Blogging

This morning I checked in on my Pasture Walk post to see if it was updated.  And to my horror….IT WASN’T!!!! I really hate that part about writing a blog.  When I spend hours and hours trying to edit a post before it’s published and I forget one little button………“Update Post”! I could kick myself.

I did a bit of reading this weekend and reread a July issue of Acres USA.  In that issue was an article on Brix and many other great applicable topics.  So in my updated post I expanded on Brix and now it’s gone.  Why the post didn’t do an auto save, I’ll never know.  I really do hate these machines sometimes!

Now I’m just too frazzled to even think about writing it all over again.  It was so perfect yesterday.  Or at least I thought it was perfect.  Now it’s gone forever.

That’s happened a couple times now and it’s a real bummer.  So bare with me if I take a break and recoup.  It’s really frustrating when I’m typing soooo fast and hit a wrong key…..and everything vanishes!!!!!  Gone in a stroke of a key.  Gone into cyberspace!  Gone forever!  Gone as if I had never written or thought it.  Just gone!

I know.  Life has more pressing important issues to deal with.  So, I’m off to deal with some of them.  I’ll fill you in on Brix at another time.  I’ll let you know about making our decisions on cow vs goat.  I’ll let you know how my bovine girls are doing.  I’ll fill you in on my herbal medicine garden and pottery and so many other things that it takes my brain to be in gear for.

Until then, I wish you a happy and joy filled day.  Get out in this beautiful autumn weather and thank God for a new day.  This new day is a gift from Him.  Embrace each and everyone one of them.  Carpe Diem.  Seize The Day!