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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

at least it was quick . . . oh, wait . . .

I'm a mur-diddly-urd-ler. Tonight I was driving home on Highway 38 (like an idiot, you'll see why) and instead of going 40 like I should have been, especially as a longtime resident of this area (again, you'll see why), I was going 50 (5 mph below the speed limit) so I could get home and get my sister off to my dad's Christmas party. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a family of deer, one of which I HIT, SENDING HER FLYING DOWN THE ROAD where she struggled for a few minutes, then expired. I feel awful. If only I hadn't been going so fast, maybe I could have stopped before I hit her. Such a waste of life, even if they do seem to lie in wait to cross the road until the exact moment at which they're most likely to be hit. I'm particularly bothered by the fact that she didn't die immediately, that she had to lie there in pain until her body finally gave up. I wasn't hurt, nor were the frillion jars of baby food that were causing me to be late in the first place. The policeman who was dispatched to take care of my mess said that they get about one deer a night in this county. I helped him pull her off the road, and she felt just like one of our goats. Now she'll probably go out to the bird refuge to feed the carrion birds, so I guess I can be all Mufasa about the whole thing.

Our car is brokus from the deer, so that's something to take care of. See? These are the things that happen when you get out of debt. Actually, we were very lucky that it wasn't a lot worse. The front grill is ripped out, but there is no damage to the gooey innards of the car, so we can drive it over the holidays and not have to figure out a way to haul all these people.

We have a ballpark estimate of what it will take to put a bathroom downstairs, and it isn't pretty. But I think we'll be able to do it, once we take care of the little setbacks that our broken cars are giving us.

I'm making sweet potatoes--again--for Christmas dinner at the Huffs'. I hope people don't get sick of them, because I certainly don't. One of the nice things about them is that they're easily made dairy- and gluten-free, which is a necessity at this meal. It seems like such a joyless and restrictive diet to me--I can barely take the dairy-free way while I'm breastfeeding. But then I guess you console yourself with all the fruits, veggies and meat that you can get your hands on. I'd rather eat a steak than a hamburger any day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

muddy holidays

The weather has been really warm lately--yesterday Grant was able to do the afternoon watering with the hose, so I didn't have to fill the buckets and haul them out. Every few waterings we have to dump out the dregs that are still left in the bottom of the bucket and get completely fresh water in there. Somehow in a way that is not readily apparent our goats are able to poop into the water bucket that is outside the pen, and whenever that happens we have to get all new water. John did a full cleaning of both the goats' and the chickens' water containers last Saturday, because they were starting to look a little manky. I don't worry as much about the chickens, because they will often choose to drink out of a puddle of rainwater and urine rather than their clean water bucket, so it's clearly not listed too high on their rider. The goats, however, will refuse to drink water that has so much as a leaf of alfalfa in it, which I don't get--isn't that kind of getting a twofer? Can't they think of it as Instant Breakfast?

Last night I put cinnamon in the chili I made for dinner, even though I feel that overuse of cinnamon is a hallmark of a weak/inexperienced cook. I also think it can be very effective in nontraditional usage situations, but it depends what the cinnamon is complementing or contrasting. If you toss some cinnamon into a crappy recipe, it's just going to taste like crap with cinnamon in it--and even worse than before, because now there's a jarring taste that calls attention to itself. But when you want a sweet, smoky heat that's a little more complex than just hot sauce, cinnamon is a worthy contender. Hopefully my use of it was acceptable--I thought it was pretty good. Not like my kids cared--they don't like chili yet, and they were all hopped up on goofballs because we made gingerbread houses at my mom's house. Speaking of which, I have to admire their restraint--they haven't made very many gingerbread houses, so they should still be very much in the throes of plastering candy on every surface.

Is that a chocolate Santa with candy presents I see?

No, I haven't been eating any candy. Why do you ask?

It would be super sad if this toy truck drove into the house and wrecked it, and then I had to eat it.

I have no idea what to cook for dinner tonight. I've made a conscious effort not eat out as much as I did last year during Voicemalecember. Too costly, too big of portions, too much of a hassle with my four heavenly angel children. I've got tomorrow taken care of--I'm going to try a roasted version of boiled dinner with kielbasa, rutabagas, parsnips and brussels sprouts. Tonight might be a PBJ night, which will make my kids happy. I've got two half-eaten loaves of bread from yesterday that need to be dealt with, anyway. I've made it through I think 2 or 3 of our buckets of food storage wheat--a wheat grinder makes a huge difference. Also we're almost done with the 25 lb. bag of oatmeal we got from Honeyville Grain. I put it in just about everything for a while; biscuits, bread, meat loaf, rolls, cookies . . . oatmeal . . . I was just afraid it would go rancid before we got through it all. Now I'm thinking I'll go buy another one, because it was so good in all those things.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

for eating

Things Chucking It I've done today:

  • made baguettes
  • made corn and crab chowder
  • taken real cookies (not Lofthouse, JOHN) to the women I visit/teach
  • fed, watered and grained the goats
I saw the piece they did on bread in this month's Martha Stewart Living, and decided to give the baguettes a shot. I was pretty apprehensive, because the bread I make is nothing fancy, and this required a weird kneading method that I'm pretty sure I did all wrong. You're supposed to pick up the sticky dough and toss one end onto the counter, then pull the other end toward yourself. Rinse, repeat for 8-10 minutes. But my dough wouldn't stretch the way it was supposed to--it was way too stiff. I suppose using Lehi Mill flour instead of King Arthur might have affected it. I know that once you get into serious baking that it's a very delicate and mercurial process, easily affected by many factors. Thankfully the baguettes turned out delicious, despite my hamhandedness, with crispy crust and chewy innards, just like they're supposed to.
Marie! The baguettes!

The chowder was supposed to have just crab in it, but I added clams, because I figured it already had clam juice, and it was tasting pretty bland. I used soy milk, but it turned out great anyway. It would have been better with crab instead of krab, but Smith's didn't get their crab in on time, so we had to make do.
sucky picture, yummy soup

I bought some army surplus wool blankets from Smith and Edward's to use as rugs and throws. Wool is some itchy stuff, but it's so warm. We'll be laughing all the way to the not-freezing-to-death-bank if it ever comes to that.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

more boring yak yak

To Do/Wants/Needs List:

  • hay
  • completed breeding of buck to does
  • gravel/bark in chicken run
  • new tarp over chicken run
  • chicken coop cleaned out
  • storage room cleaned out
  • serger
  • treadmill
  • TV
Justification for items on said list:
  • not moldy, because we have plenty of that already
  • we need meat and milk next year
  • stepping in Lake Chicken Poo is getting old
  • being wet is sad for chickens
  • stinky
  • downstairs bathroom needed
  • to make re-usable shopping bags (out of the jeans that the D.I. is too good to take)
  • to enable me to exercise and train for a 5K, because I am a wimp
  • I can't make myself use a treadmill unless I can watch some stories
see what I mean about the mold?

This week I made a bag out of an old pair of John's jeans. It's no beauty, but it will work, and the handles, they will not come off. So that's one less plastic bag to be added to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Marvel at my affection for Mother Gaia! For reals, though, even as wasteful as I am, I have a hard time throwing away a pair of jeans with nothing wrong but holey knees. And I've been wanting canvas shopping bags for a while, so . . . happy jean bags to me.

We bought a big ol' box of oranges from Lee's the other night. Ten bucks to prevent scurvy for the foreseeable future? Sign me up! Now the problem is where to store it. We have that nice big fruit room downstairs, but it's heated like the rest of the house, so it's not a great place to store potatoes or onions or oranges. For now the oranges live in the office, also referred to as Lesser Junk Mountain. (Greater Junk Mountain is our entire property, because we're really not much better than squatters.) Hold the phone. My husband with his giant, juicy chess club brain just reminded me that we can just close the vent in the fruit room. This is why I married him.

I've once again staved off the purchase of a recycled dog. I've noticed that my relapses are becoming more frequent, and this concerns me, because I know that I don't want a real dog, just an imaginary and therefore well-behaved one.

Friday, December 7, 2007

winter prep at baba capra

Because we live in what is currently a temperate zone, there are some things required to get our hippie mudhole ready for winter. We have to use Dame Electricity to help us out in keeping the animals' water thawed, and both of the devices we use specifically state not to plug them into extension cords. Unfortunately, the extension cords are a necessity at our house, since we don't have the goats and chickens living inside the house, and that would make the non-freeze appliances useless, so there you go. Hopefully we won't start the . . . ground, I guess . . . on fire with our reckless disregard of safety instructions.

the goat water bucket

the chicken water thingy--it's the upside-down cake pan-looking thing

Lately I've had to go out with the kids in the morning to do the chores, since we have discovered that, like many children, they just wander around outside until they think it's been long enough, then come back in and say they've done their chores. The goats are narcs, though, and we found out pretty soon what was going on. Turns out they're the kind of goats you have to feed every day. I've enjoyed being out there with the kids (and by kids I meant Captain America, because The Hulk is going through some sort of chore-avoidance phase), because it's so quiet outside, and it's fun to be working together. John is going to have a "take your kid to work" day every now and then. That's something that a lot of kids miss out on these days, now that they don't have to plow and plant and drive the silage truck when they're three. Working in a cube farm won't be as interesting, since it's unlikely that Daddy will get his arm torn off by a baler, but they'll have a better idea of what John does all day to keep our family in the lap of plenty, if not luxury.

Just today I fit into the pants I was wearing once I lost all my Superman baby weight (and before I got pregnant with Pinga), which tells me at least two things:
  • I was super fat before I got pregnant
  • I had no idea how MUCH I was eating
Now, the weight hasn't melted off or some silly thing, but this is the fastest I've ever lost my baby weight, except with Captain America. I may actually be a normal size by the time Willa is a year old. So no wonder America is dying of fatness! We have no idea what and how much we're supposed to be eating! And even when we do know we have no discipline. And we're surrounded by frankenfoods like margarine and egg substitute. I subscribe to the same point of view as John's mom--she refuses to believe that eggs are bad for you. Here, take this chemical cocktail and fry it up in a pan that you've greased with another chemical cocktail--it's totally better for you than these whole, pure, unadulterated foods that came straight from their source with nary a test tube in between! Stupid Cooking Light and their frillion-ingredient (many of which are Not Found in Nature) recipes. They're improving, but they're still too fake for me. I'd rather have the real thing and eat less of it, which I'm slowly learning to do. Hey, I may not clean my house, but I clean my plate!

Monday, December 3, 2007

turns out love isn't in the air


But disinterest and gluttony are! Cyclone (the buck in residence) still hasn't displayed any procreative behaviors, and he eats all. the. time. I don't know when he's not eating. He's friendly enough, although he occasionally wants to come through the fence when the pace of his food supply has slackened, but he hasn't bred any of our does. Surely they don't care that he's a Boer? He's as big as they are and very stocky, so it can't be sizism, right? I could understand if he were a miniature goat, but this perplexes me. He's been here long enough that every one of the girls would have gone into estrus--some of them twice. I can't imagine they're doing it without our knowledge, because from what I've heard, once the van's a-rockin' you don't go a-knockin' for quite some time. Maybe they should try what my grandpa recommended to me (when I had reached the ripe old age of 21 and still wasn't married) and rub some bacon grease all over themselves.

I keep a pot of fruit and spices simmering on the stove during the winter to make the house smell nice and help add some humidity to the air. I'm going to try putting the glop into the garden once it's lost its smelliness, and see if it helps the soil at all. The kale is still going strong and the chickens glare at it jealously, since they're always shut up in the pen now. I wouldn't mind letting them out more if they'd stay over in the field, but they insist on camping out on the patio and covering it with poop. So that's what they get. I guess we could use a border collie for that--he'd stay busy! I wonder how Fauntleroy would handle that. He's a beast, just like anyone who's owned roosters would guess.

I'm starting to feel all doggy again. I know it would suck SO MUCH to actually own a dog, but I sure like the idea of having one for my kids--especially my oldest--to play with. But then what about the goats and the chickens? Is there even a breed that would play with my kids, guard my goats and herd them when necessary, keep the chickens off the patio and not eat the cat? I suspect not. A dog of all trades is master of none, after all.

I'm gradually ticking off the items on my Christmas list. Keeping a Google doc of present ideas and purchases has been very helpful in keeping things organized.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

crazy pills, all of them are taking

Thoughts had while contemplating the situation of the British teacher in Sudan, not all of them fair:

  • Why aren't people freaking out about this?
  • This is happening in Sudan? Figures.
  • Really? Muslims taking offense where none is meant? Wow. That never happens.*
  • Huh. I guess it's not just in America where people abdicate their parental responsibility, expect you to teach their children for little or no pay, and then get all up in your face about the myriad ways you suck at your job.
  • Serves her right for trying to teach those poor children that their vote can effect change.
  • That Muhammed must be some smooth talker to convince so many people that God--any God--would want them to abuse and murder people.*
I can't even think about this situation for very long, or I get all whipped up into a froth about how stupid people are, and how religion is often a handy excuse for atrocity. Deep cleansing breaths . . .

Okay. Thanksgiving report. The turkey was outstanding, because my Grandma knows from good cooking. It was moist and juicy and perfectly done (grr, raw turkey last year), and there were two of them, which is even better.

Pardon me while I go kill the spider who has broken The Pact and is brazenly walking around on the printer.

And we're back. The Pact is our agreement that I won't kill the spiders if they live outside or stay out of our way. You can't have critters climbing all over stuff.

The vegetable contingency was woefully underrepresented at our meal. There were a bunch of "salads" which were basically desserts, and my candied sweet potatoes, which, see above re: desserts. I ate some pumpkin pie filling without whipped cream, forgetting until I was halfway through that there is dairy in the filling itself, so . . . sorry, Willa. Thanksgiving afternoon we tied a quilt for my cousin who just got engaged.

We stayed Thanksgiving night with cattle ranching grandma, who is getting her bathroom redone and new carpet. We slept like babies and were almost on time the next morning to go tree fetching. Luckily my sister's young man was even later than us, so he took the heat off a little. Thanks, Jordan! We trekked out into the mountains and after very little searching or fanfare we cut our specimen, which was prettier than last year's tree. I got a lot of ribbing for that one. I like a Charlie Brown tree, because then the ornaments can hang. I hate those ones that you just kind of smoosh the ornaments into the rat's nest of branches. We all went back to my grandma's for chili and leftovers, then hit the shoe department at Al's, and I got some awesome skater shoes. I figure they're cute and comfortable, and I have a surly attitude toward The Man, so I'm cleared to wear them.

The buck isn't doing his job. No one has been bred so far. Lazy poo. What are we supposed to eat and drink next year?

I want to take all the money we would spend on buying Christmas gifts and use it to buy a goat or something else useful from the Heifer Project. Is that sucky of me? I don't know when I'm supposed to go Christmas shopping, since I'm a Voice Male widow for the next month. And what on earth am I supposed to buy everyone? John suggested Lofthouse cookies. I told him that was offensive because it's like saying, "Not only am I getting you something you don't need, I'm getting you something gross you don't need."

*I know, I know, the opinions expressed in Sudan and by the fundamentalists/extremists or whatever are not necessarily shared by the management of Islam, but like any religion, it's the creeps that get all the press.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

green is the new black

I'm getting a little tired of "Green" being shoehorned into every avenue. I admit that it's nice to have more products available that are all earth-loving, but I hate that no one seems to be able to act responsibly until Hollywood in its infinite wisdom and knowledge gets involved. NBC with its execrable "green programming" week is a particularly egregious example. I loved the episodes of 30 Rock and The Office, but that's talented writing, not green writing. Anyhoodle, back to the glitterati and their fat mouths--aren't they responsible for more than their fair share of the hideous waste and conspicuous consumption that goes on? If people would just not be irresponsible slobs in the first place . . .

And why is it newsworthy that Christians are saying "God is Green?" What Christian--or any other religious person--wouldn't already believe that? Why would anyone who believes in a Supreme Being want to take the beautiful home He gave us and turn it into a pigsty?

It's all just a little too self-congratulatory for me. So shut up, everyone. Stop being pigs, and then don't go yelling about how great you are when you do. Unless people ask, and then go ahead and proselyte a little bit. I think I probably need to heed my own advice, because I often find myself lecturing about why Chucking It is the best way of life, but I hope I don't come off as self-righteous as some people *cough* Al Gore *cough* do.

The buck is here. He stinks so much, you have no idea. And he truly is a very different kettle of fish--even the way he moves is violent, whether he's angry or not. He puts his front hooves up on the fence so he can get a better look at what's going on out in the yard, and he looks like a coiled spring, like he could launch over the 5-foot fence at any moment. Thankfully he's in there with 5 lovely does who have grudgingly accepted him into their fold for the time being, so he's not interested in leaving the goat pen.

I got my first seed catalog this week--it must be winter! I despair of ever being able to grow a fruit tree, since that's the first thing the goats go for whenever they escape. Our apple tree is still in okay shape, but it needs to grow a good many secondary branches on the south side to compensate for the eaten primary branch. And the apricot tree is an out-and-out failure. Maybe we can try grape vines. They're fast and easy, and maybe my lovely parents would be willing to help us build a trellis. I hate asking them to help us with anything because they're so busy, and they already have done so much, but I'm selfish enough that I do it anyway. I need to get my graph paper and write some good plans for how to organize and landscape our yard so we don't make a confused mess of it all. I'd like a bunch of native fruity trees to go along the back property line, some nice big shade trees, a pasture, a barn, some other outbuildings, the basement bathroom finished, a treadmill, double ovens, a new car for John . . . probably some world peace, too. For reals, though, making a house your own is a simultaneously joyful and vexing process. I hope that it's a good long time before Honeyville gets so populated that we have to move because they're putting the new highway through our living room, and that when they do the county pays us enough for our property that we can afford to move our house to a different location. I LOVE THIS HOUSE. I love everything about it, except for the usability problems of the basement, and we could fix that if we moved it onto a different foundation!

So, John's car. It went kaboom on Friday night, something related to the last time it went kaboom, and John's getting pretty sick of taking it back to be "fixed." But as Dave Ramsey says, we could expect as much now that we're debt-free except for our house. The oven is going out, too. We're hoping that with our mileage reimbursements and Charlie Tuna's no-longer-necessary car payments we can afford a good commuter car before too long.

Things Chucking It that I did this week:

  • made a chicken/turkey pot pie from scratch with our turkey leftovers (with top AND bottom crusts, which is the only true and proper way)
  • cleaned the DI chairs I bought for our living room
  • got new lamps for the living room, but made do with the existing side tables
  • put off buying a new rug and pillows until I make sure I really want them and can fit them into our budget
  • did the animal chores every day
Don't tell John, but next week I'm going to take a sledgehammer and knock down the shelves in our toy room downstairs to prepare it for our boys to move their bedroom down there. Ha! I make the jokes. I totally already told him, and I think we have agreed that he doesn't like the idea, but realizes I'm going to do it anyway. And I think he unwillingly agrees that the boys would really be better off down there. And they want to be downstairs, so there you have it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

giving

This just in: the Feed bags are FINALLY back in stock on Amazon, so everyone go and buy one right now. Also, you should try playing this vocabulary game that will make you feel either smart, dumb or frustrated, but any way you slice it you send 10 grains of rice for every word you know/guess correctly. And then we can compare vocab levels! I loves the English language, I do.

love is in the air

It's breeding season here at Baba Capra. We've got to figure out how to get the smelly bugger here. I hope he isn't too bad-tempered, but he probably is. The Male of the Species tends to be that way, no? Not always, which is why we love Bobcat so much, but usually they are nasty, foul-smelling reprobates.

We did some more manure transfer on Saturday, so it's smelling awesome out in the yard. I love those goats. While I was pitching the manure over the fence into the wheelbarrow they kept coming up and rubbing their heads on me and trying to get me to pet them. Sure, they're in heat, but they're kind of like that all the time. Such personable animals. Traci is such a good queen, and I really hope that Edna turns out to be as docile as her mom. Finola, even though I love her, is a freaknut and I'm sure it would affect the herd dynamic if she became the queen. Tilde still doesn't trust us, but I think she'll come around. I don't know what we're going to do for a milking parlor next year, because we certainly can't afford to build a barn yet. I have such lovely plans drawn up on my graph paper for an L-shaped barn with hay and feed storage, animal housing, and a milking parlor all accounted for. It would be wonderful, but as our Rich Uncle Skeleton hasn't passed on yet, we've got to wait and figure out how to pay for it.

The hot water tap in our shower is kerploo, so I got to fill pans of hot water out of the kitchen sink and transfer them to the tub this morning and have a bath. It was just like being a pioneer! Except for the cholera and malaria and outhouse and no running water at all and no women's suffrage and various other minor differences.

We also got most of the garden spots tilled on Saturday, at least enough that we can plant all the early, cool-season crops and till the rest of it once it warms up enough to plant the squashes and other heat-loving plants. I'm so excited for next year's garden. I think I might try potatoes, because I love them so. I am truly a product of my birthplace.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

everybody scream . . . everybody SCREAM

We're taking the boys trick-or-treating tonight. Grant is a pirate, Emmett is a skeleton, and Ike is a chicken. We have refused to comply with the Trunk-or-Treat directive, so we'll be driving along the highway courting disaster, and then if we have time we'll run over to Bear River and hit the houses of like-minded people. I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you're going to be eating that much candy, you'd darn well better work for it. And where's the fun in wandering up and down the halls of the church and getting candy dumped into your sack? It's not dark, it's not cold, it's not spooky. It's like on Christmas when parents find themselves forcing their children to stop enjoying the present that was just opened and move on to opening the next one. Don't be grateful for what you have! Let's shower you with garbage until you don't know the value of anything! We joke about that, but our blossoming awareness of how ridiculous we sounded, coupled with my increasing annoyance with how destructive our wild boys are, compounded with my desire to dispose of broken junk in a vain attempt to declutter our house, has resulted in far fewer toys in specific, and presents in general, being given on Christmas.

Finola is outside just yelling her head off. She's got to be in heat, because she has been going MAAA MAAA MAAA MAAA MAAA since yesterday afternoon. She's insane. Well, she's just going to have to wait until next time, because we can't be worrying about moving a buck in right now. We're busy getting candy! Kitty wants some candy!

We bought two matching fussy old lady chairs from the DI for our living room. I'm afraid I may have skewed my decorating scheme a little over to the "too much old used stuff" side, but I hate buying new things when the old ones have so much more personality. I think once I get a brown-toned rug and some brown-toned pillows for the chairs (which are blue), it might start to look a little more put-together and less regurgitated. I definitely need more modern touches, to add some straight lines here and there. I'm trying to find a pair of lamps that are modern, but not too minimalist and corner-y. One of my favorite new magazines is Domino, partly because it has fun representations of higgledy-piggledy decorating styles, and partly because it makes me laugh about how much stupid people will spend on stupid things. I wonder at what point it becomes unremarkable to spend upwards of $2000 each on a pair of sconces to flank the $1700 mirror in your hallway. Or $200 on half a cup of "hair repair serum." Hee.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

mistress progress

I heard on the news the other night that Proctor and Gamble is building a ginormous manufacturing plant in the tiny town where I grew up. John saw an interview a news station did with the man who sold P & G the land--he's in my parents' ward--and said you could tell that he felt conflicted about it. It's almost impossible to make a living as a farmer anymore, unless you're part of a huge conglomerate. So every day more of the arable land disappears, and more houses are built on it, and towns turn into cities, and cities turn into bigger cities, and the pollution gets worse, and people become more and more unfamiliar with the necessary ingredients to sustain life. Because? You can't eat asphalt and plate glass windows.

Of course, I love my wireless internet and my SUV and the salary my husband earns as a product manager, and I enjoy the rising property values in a growing area, and I like people being able to make a living at a job other than farming, because it is some crappy way to spend your life if you don't love it. It would be nice if people didn't build their houses on the farmland, though. And if the people who don't like gardening or farming could try to buy their goods from the people who do--the little guys, like my neighbors.

We had a cold snap last night, so the hose was frozen this morning when I went out to do chores. I got the no-freeze water bucket out of the garage and plugged it in for the goats. For being such picky animals that refused to eat anything but the leaves of our really nice hay, they sure do love the nasty yellow stuff we're left with now. It's the same thing when I change the straw in their huts. As soon as I wheel the straw bale in and start spreading it around, they go nuts and start putting it away like they haven't eaten all day. Finally! Something completely devoid of nutritive value!

Next month is breeding time, and we have a date all set up for them. The buck is going to come stay with us for a little while, and we'll try to make sure we see him breed all of the girls. Then we'll wait until everything goes crazy in the spring and they all kid within a couple of weeks of each other. I'm so excited to be done drinking soy milk. Our baby is a barfer, so I'm on the no-dairy diet now, also known as the Joy Removal Diet. But once the goats freshen in the spring, I'll at least be able to have decent milk on my cereal. The only cereal that tastes good with soy milk is Kashi, and in a pinch, Raisin Bran. I love chocolate soy milk, as do my children, but I don't like feeding it to them when I can avoid it.

We've decided to let the chickens run free all the time now, and just shut the gate at night so's they don't get et by skunks. The rooster has gotten mean enough that we can't get in to do anything without a big stick, so it just makes it easier on all of us if he's allowed to be Lord of the Manor out in the yard and keep the hens safe from all dangers perceived and actual. Plus that way they can eat more greens and do a better job of keeping the bugs at bay, which will make their eggs have nice orange yolks. I remember the first time I cracked open a real egg and how remarkable the color of the yolk was. Lemon bars made with real eggs are CRAZY. They don't even look like themselves.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I have seen the future . . . and it is unreliable

Yesterday I asked John if we could please buy a wagon and a team of horses. It seems that our technology wishes to shake off the chains of servitude, and it has all gone kerplooey. Because everyone loves lists, here is a list of things that have either gone on the fritz or completely failed in the recent past:

Charlie Tuna (our family car)
the Subaru (multiple times)
the DVD player
the wireless internet
the phone
the microwave

Frust. I'm closer to a technophile than a technophobe, but I am irritated when things don't work properly. Because my life is so hard, right?

On the brighter side, we have had gorgeous weather the past couple of days, and I can spend more time outside doing yard work. I bought a saw from Smith and Edwards so I can start my horrible hack job of pruning the lilacs. They are crazygonuts, and I've been unable to make much headway using my bypass loppers. I think that a good pruning would really help to rejuvenate them for next spring. The manure pile continues to mock me, but I have gotten three nice big piles of it dumped into the garden spot. I'm sure our neighbors are very thankful. Although, when I was talking to Orvil in church the other day I told him that I had been putting manure over in the garden, and he asked if I had a good source for manure. I was like, "Umm, yeah. Right behind my house? The goats?" I told him that we had tons, if he wants any. It comes in handy pellet form! Of course, it's not really in pellet form by the time we get to it, because it's all been mashed and mixed with urine (yum!) and hay.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

dogs . . . sigh

We're trying to decide whether or not to get a dog. I don't really want one, because I'm sure to get attitude from those crazy shelter workers who get all up in your face because you don't want the dog to actually sleep in your bed. But I look at it this way: Dogs are not hairy people. They need to work and earn their living, just like the rest of us. I would like a dog that could play with my kids; guard our family, property and livestock; and bring the goats in. I don't want a dog living in my house, because: hair, smell, and not bonding with the animals. I think I might be okay (I don't even know myself anymore) with letting the dog sleep in a crate in the laundry area at night, but then he's not outside making sure no funny business is going on. Grant claims he wants a dog, but you obviously can't trust a child who thinks he wants a pet, which is another reason I want a multipurpose dog. Then when the dog isn't fun for the kids anymore he'll still have jobs to do, and we can avoid the ick of having to take a perfectly good animal to the pound.

So, any ideas? From what I can gather from These Internets, a Stabyhoun would be a great all-purpose dog, but they are crazy hard to get here. And I'm sure that you have to sign in blood some contract that says you won't use the Stabyhoun for the purpose for which it was bred, which is to be a good all-around farm dog for poor farmers who can't afford more than one dog. Nope, only frisbee catching for this dog. No herding or guarding activities allowed!

Are all shelter people this way? Because all the people I've talked to have given the distinct impression that they would rather the dog stay in the cage in the kennel for months on end than be a working dog that lives in the backyard and runs around in the pasture with our goats. This is why people go to Kmart and get the free puppies out of the box, because they don't get a hefty serving of judgment to go along with it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

fall activities

There's a blurb in this month's Sunset magazine about Logan, which is just over the mountain from us. They recommend hiking the Crimson Trail, which John has done but I have not. I think we'll try it in the next couple of weekends with our kids--it will help them get some wiggles out. When we were there on Labor Day we stopped at an apple orchard in Paradise and got some apples and cider. They let their chickens run around in the orchard and say it helps keep the bugs down--I think that's a great idea. Fauntleroy does present a problem, however. He's a teensy bit vicious, and I don't think we could just let them run loose all the time. Someday when he's gone to the great henhouse in the sky we'll let the ladies out into the yard more often.

We're going to plant squashes in the garden spot instead of a fruit tree. I have accepted my true nature as a cucurbitaceaephile, and we're going to turn that spot into Squash Mountain. I cooked a Hubbard squash last night and I have now eaten the entire thing myself. It was transcendant. I love winter squash so much I want to marry it and have little hard-skinned babies full of seeds, packed with beta carotene and suitable for long-term storage.

I made applesauce last night and it is The New Huff Family Way. It's chunky and I eat it warm, so it's like eating apple pie filling. John has always hated applesauce, but he likes this. Plus I leave the skins on, which helps the fiber content some.

We need to collect some of the goat manure and till it into the ground over behind the lilac bushes and improve the soil a little, even though it's already the nicest dirt on the property. The dirt here in Honeyville is so much richer than that nonsense we had in Lehi. I couldn't make a clay pot out of this stuff if my life depended on it. But here's a little-known fact: poop is super heavy, and difficult to transport when you don't have a goat-drawn manure spreader. Or any other kind of manure spreader, for that matter. So I'm afraid it's going to be a long slog of filling the wheelbarrow with the pitchfork, then driving it over to the garden and dumping it. Rinse and repeat several hundred times.

Here are some things I want to plant in our new, improved garden spaces next year:

Potatoes
Cantaloupe
Watermelon
Leeks
Onions
Tomatoes
Garlic
Swiss chard
Mesclun
Mache
Zucchini
Straightneck squash
Buttercup squash
Hubbard squash (the blue variety, because that's my grandma's favorite)
Green beans
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Radishes
Rhubarb
Kale
Basil
Cilantro
Dill
Parsley
Pattypan squash (a better variety next year--I hated the stuff we got this time)
Pumpkins
Spaghetti squash

My family makes squash pie, not pumpkin pie, and we like to use Blue Hubbard. Also, we cook the filling and shells separately, then fill the cooked shells with squash and eat it immediately. This is so much better than any other pumpkin pie recipe, I don't know why people bother with eating it any other way. I hate those crusts that are somehow soggy and leathery at the same time. This way you get crisp, flaky crust with perfectly creamy innards. Yum!

It's time to cut the hay again, if we can get more than a day without rain. It's never a lot of rain, but it comes just often enough to prevent any cut from being able to dry.

We're going to try to get our kids through a corn maze this year--I think they'd love it. It's so crazy expensive, though, you kind of just want to wander around in your neighbor's field for free.

Friday, September 21, 2007

meat is a topic of interest to me

Today my grandma is coming to visit and pick up a bunch of sweet peppers to make relish--and we're on the receiving list this year, which is fun. I'm not usually a relish person, but this is not too sweet, and it's great on Sloppy Joes. (This is my grandma from Grace.) My kids love visiting her, because she buys fun kid foods that they usually don't get here, they get to play in the treehouse and ride horses, and it's even more rural than where we live, so they can run around like even crazier monkeys. It doesn't hurt that she lets them mow her lawn with the riding lawnmower, either. She's an incredible lady, which is why we named our daughter after her. I figured she couldn't go wrong being named after two strong women. Strong women are something we have in spades in our family--coming from all directions. Some of us (cough, cough) veer toward bullheadedness, but we can still be quite nice.

Aside: I looked it up, and it seems that both toward and towards are okay. Phew!

It turns out that the local beef is SCRUMTRILLESCENT. Seriously. I made braised short ribs with polenta and you have no idea. They were falling off the bone, and so tender and juicy. I do love red meat, heaven help me.

We've toyed with the idea of raising a pig, but I'm not sure. It would be another avenue for disposal of slop--we can feed pork to the chickens, and chicken to the pig, right? I wonder about that. They're both the sort of animal that will eat anything you put in front of them, but it's not a good idea to encourage them to cannibalize, I think. But what about meat from animals outside their species? Is that grody, too? I haven't decided. We typically put meat leftovers in the garbage, though I suppose we could give them to the cat. He'd love it, as it would help him in his mission to become the size of an ottoman. Anyway, if we can throw together some panels and stick the pig over by the ash tree so it would have shade and room to move around, that might be something I could deal with. I wonder. It's worth looking into. I like pork, but pigs are kind of yucky in their habits--eating their own poo , dividing the hoof and chewing not the cud and whatnot. Should we really be eating an animal like that? These are the things I think about.

Tilde's horns are growing. Not superfast or anything, but they're definitely going to need to be dealt with. I think we'll try the elastrator method--I certainly don't want to cut them off and have that opening into her skull. Edna has some little nubs, but they don't seem to be growing at all. I'm hoping that they'll have good udders when they freshen in the spring. Catwoman has one more chance, and then we're going to have to cull her, I think. We just can't keep everyone, and her udder looks like it's not attached very well. I'm interested to see how Tilde and Edna perform in the milking stand next spring--I was so pleased with everyone last year once we started milking out by the pen. Goats are so intelligent, and I probably shouldn't anthropomorphize them (especially if we're going to continue eating them), but they really do have different personalities. Finola throws very gregarious and affectionate kids, and Traci seems to be more varied in her offspring. Captain Stubing and Audrey were both very friendly, but Edna was a little more standoffish. However, she is a lot calmer than Audrey, and she doesn't make the horrid noise that Audrey did.

In the next couple of months the ladies are probably going to have a new roommate--it's breeding season, and I imagine our neighbors would rather let us borrow their buck rather than take on the care and feeding of five additional goats for a month. I'm trying to decide what to do about Finola. We think we might give her another shot with Bobcat and hope for the best out of her broken uterus. She's not getting any younger, as John says, and we really want a Finola/Bobcat baby.

I think we'll plant another fruit tree on the south side of the garage where our "garden" currently is. It'll provide shade for the chickens, and we can let them run around in a bigger area and keep the worms out of the fruit. Our apricot tree was a bloody balls-up, but maybe over by the garage we'd have better luck keeping it away from the goats.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

toward or towards? you'd think I'd know by now

Here's something Chucking It that I did yesterday: I made a Red Velvet Cake from scratch. We had a birthday at our house, and we were out of cake mixes. I've always thought that angel food cake was worth the trouble, because it tastes like poo if it's not homemade. But I've never tasted any other homemade cake that was really any good at all. Maybe I've just had bad luck. Anyway, I have to wonder what y'all are so excited about with the Red Velvet. It was a good cake, don't get me wrong, nice and moist, with a tender crumb, but I don't get why it's so famous. Is it just the red color? Because that seems like a stupid reason to like a cake.

In other news, we just got our couch back from having slipcovers made. It's awesome--I bought a bunch of canvas from Smith and Edwards, took it to Eva Jane's Interiors in Perry (sorry, no website), and it turned out exactly the way I wanted. The woman who slipcovered it is so very good at her job. I want her to make slipcovers for all my furniture. Also, we just bought a rockin' dresser from the DI (You can tell I'm a Utahn because I call it "The DI.") which we put in the boys' room. It was made once upon a time for the Sahara casino in Vegas, and it is bombproof. The drawers are dovetailed front and back and it weighs a frillion pounds. I'm going to paint it once I figure out how to paint the laminate sheet on the top--probably a nice creamy white or a pearly gray. Then I'm totally going to commandeer it once the boys are done with it. I love buying cheap old furniture. It goes better with my house, anyway, and it's far better made than anything we could get new for the same price. $80 for that dresser, and it has nine nice, big drawers.

So, we continue our path towards spiritual enlightenment, or at least towards a house that doesn't look like a squatters' encampment.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

families hate the earth

Can anyone tell me why there is such a limited selection of hybrid vehicles? Especially those that can fit more than 5 people? Aren't those people-haulers the cars that have the worst fuel economy? I have been irritated about this for a long time. Why is it only SUV drivers who get the remarks, and not minivan drivers? I have said for years now that once you put 7 people in a car, you're going to need a bigger engine to get them around, and once you put in that bigger engine, it doesn't matter what shape the car is, it's going to get crap gas mileage. I've been searching for a 7-passenger hybrid vehicle for about 8 years now, and only recently have there appeared any choices at all. I can't figure that out. Does the industry just assume that anyone who has more than 3 children must not care about Our Mother the Earth, or even saving money on gas? I'm sure there are a lot of families who can't justify the somewhat larger initial expense of a hybrid vs. a conventional car, but I'm sure that if a small-town hausfrau like me is interested, there's got to be a customer base out there. But I guess I can go out and buy . . . umm . . . looks like only the Toyota Highlander and the Chevy Silverado can do anything for me. Gee. I mean, come on, they're making hybrid TRUCKS, but not minivans? And I hates me a minivan, because they look like giant grubs to me, but when I look around, it seems that there are a lot of people who don't share my opinion re: hideous. And we need a truck for all of the farmy errands that constantly have to be done, and it needs to fit all the varmints. So I guess we'll have to get started on saving that $30,000. Doesn't it seem to anyone else that families with lots of children and farmers might actually be fairly likely to want to conserve resources and save money all in the same go? Annoyed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

captain stubing exits stage right

It is a saddish day for us here at Baba Capra. John took Umlaut, Captain Stubing and Audrey to the livestock auction today. It was difficult for me, since I didn't know what kind of homes they were going to, and I hate the idea of them being mistreated or neglected. But Audrey is going to a dairy, and Stubing and Umlaut are being fattened up to be sold as white packages. And that's not too bad. The thing that concerns me is not knowing what the boys' situation will be until they're butchered. I really hope they aren't going to some sort of feedlot where there are animals nose to derriere awash in a sea of their own excrement, eating food that is completely wrong for their systems and kept from passing through death's door at an inconvenient time by being pumped full of antibiotics. We've made the break from feedlot beef, and are using goat to replace lamb (and most of the lamb we have eaten hasn't been feedlot). It's not too difficult to make responsible fish decisions, especially since we don't eat a ton of it as a family (except for me--I could founder on sashimi), and we haven't purchased farmed salmon for about five years. Now we need to figure out how to get a supply of chicken and pork, and that's going to be a problem. We have some neighbors who raise their own meat chickens, but I'm sure they wouldn't want to do extras for us, because it is a truly hateful activity--you'll notice that we don't do it ourselves. We did it once so we'd know how, but that's it unless we're forced into it.

Our hayfield is a headache still. When we first moved here, the man who bought the property behind us (I'll tell that story later) asked a friend of his to cut the hay. Well, the first crop was mostly June grass, as you could expect from a 20-year-old hayfield. Also, he waited until the alfalfa had all blossomed, so there was practically no nutritive value left in it, then he left it out in the field to get rained on. So it was junk--but 2 of the three junk-making factors were his fault. Not wanting that to happen again, John asked my cousin Ryan (who farms about 700+ acres in the area) to cut our field for the rest of the summer. Ryan cut the other three crops on time, so we ended up with really great hay, except for the last crop, because it rained steadily for days in a row, and everyone around here got what they call "licorice" hay, because it's black with rot. Meanwhile, the neighbor's friend cut all of his hay crops about two weeks later than they should be cut, and generally continued cementing his reputation as one of the most incompetent farmers in the area. This spring, Ryan cut our first crop of hay--the June grass--and evidently our neighbor was expecting his friend to cut the rest of the crops, and got really upset when Ryan showed up for the second cutting. Another detail is that we let the neighbor come put a ditch on the south side of our field so he could get water to his part of the field. Stupid morons that we were, because that opens up the box of easements, and possibly affects our property value. So we have an antagonistic relationship with our neighbor, even though John paid him twice what good hay was worth, and at least three times what the garbage we got was worth. We figure it's best to cut ties as much as possible, because every dealing we have with him exacerbates the problem. The neighbor across the street approached us about cutting our hay and using some of it for his horses, so the last couple of cuttings we've had him cut our half of the field, and it has been a worse disaster than using the other guy. He cuts it way late, doesn't rake it, and this time hasn't even picked up the bales. At least this guy has a reason, since he has a whole other job besides farming, and of course he gets pretty busy. John is really frustrated about it, though, because what with his job, Voice Male (also known as his Other Job) and his church calling, it's not like he has the time to worry about one more thing that was supposed to be taken off his hands. It's annoying. Someday I hope to have a truck that I can drive and fit all the kids into, and I can take care of more of the honey-do errands.

So, the man who bought the property behind us. Here's an overview. This is a guy who sued the state of Nevada for exterminating his pigeons during the bird-flu scare, and used the money to buy a Hummer and put a trailer house in a flood plain next to a railroad track. Really.

Last night was Back To School Night. They're still not finished with the construction of the addition, but it looks like it will be pretty nice. I'm sad that they closed down Honeyville Elementary, because it would be fun for the kids to just walk a block up the hill to school. Especially since Century Elementary is now being expanded for the second time, and the classes are getting huge. I've got to believe that it's not all kids from Bear River that are making it so full. Surely we have enough kids here in Honeyville--and Deweyville, since their school got torn down--that we could support an elementary school. I hate the disposable approach to old buildings that seems so prevalent. Old schools and old churches are so interesting.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

tarpaper still

My brother- and sister-in-law have lent us the orange cleaner they used to get the tarpaper off their floor, and I'm pleased to say that it works pretty well. There are a lot of areas that need multiple coats--like 5 or 6--but at least I can see some progress being made. I've set a goal for myself to get the floor cleaned and painted by Christmas, so today I have on some groovy kneepads that keep coming unstrapped when I kneel down, the dadgummers.

I called our electrician the other day to install the new lights in the kitchen, but he hasn't called back yet. He's always wicked busy, because he's the best electrician around. We loved the job he did for us when he rewired the entire house after we moved in. He cleans up after himself, instead of leaving a bunch of plaster and wire ends and dust everywhere, and he's really meticulous in his work. I think these lights will look nice, and I think they'll provide a lot more light than the manky chandelier we have now. It's not hideous or anything, but one of the arms is nonfunctional, and I hate cooking in the dark. It makes me feel like I'm eating at that horrible Friday's restaurant in Provo. Once we take the chandelier out, maybe I'll see if I can remove the fake candle parts and put real candles in the arms, and hang it outside over the patio.

This past Sunday we had goat again. John's parents came to dinner because his dad taught a marriage class in our ward, and they were not looking forward to having goat, but I think they really liked it--his dad had seconds, anyway. This time I braised it and I was much happier with the results. It's such a mild-tasting meat, and when it's braised it's really tender and juicy, too. I've had other people in our family try it, and they're all pleasantly surprised by how good it is. You sear the meat, then deglaze the pan with a little bit of stock and add the mirepoix, then return the meat to the pan and add the rest of the stock, then it's into the oven for long, slow cooking. Good stuff, Brother Maynard.

We had our first tomatoes on Sunday. They were good, but a little wonky, as First Tomatoes tend to be. It's like the plant has to work the kinks out for the first couple, then it takes a break before it showers you in fruit. We've been eating squash almost every day, much to Emmett's chagrin. He renounces squash and all its dark works.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

if you can heat milk, you can make cheese

Last Wednesday I taught a cheesemaking class for our RS cooking group. I was nervous, because I am a scatterbrain, and I get tongue-tied in front of a group when I'm discussing things on which I don't consider myself an expert. But it went pretty well, and I think a few of the women got excited when they realized that they really could make their own cheese. I made mozzarella, queso blanco, mascarpone and creme fraiche. I was going to make a nice roasted garlic chevre, but the baby goats had snuck out of their pen on the only morning I could milk, so that went out the window.

The queso blanco I cooked in a stir fry with straightneck squash, the creme fraiche and mascarpone we ate with apricots, and I drizzled olive oil on the mozzarella and put a little S & P on it. It was pretty much the best mozzarella I've ever made--it was so soft and creamy. I was really pleased. I'm fresh out of cheesecloth and butter muslin now. I had a great big hunk of it, but I kept forgetting that I had it boiling (to kill the germs) in the morning after I milked, and I burned a bunch of it. Duh.

We have a family reunion this weekend, so we're going to have to find someone to take care of the creatures while we're gone. My family (as in my mom and dad and their kids) are in charge of dinner Friday night, and we're having corn on the cob, pulled pork sandwiches, some other stuff, and jello for dessert. Hee. We are such Utahns. I don't get it though. My mom rarely made jello when I was growing up, and she makes it pretty regularly now. Maybe it goes hand-in-hand with buying fancy groceries and relaxing their discipline.

We have partaken of a leg roast and a shoulder roast from our goat meat, and it was yummy. It was similar to lamb, but tougher (since Violet was over a year old, I'm guessing) and milder. So that's that taken care of. I'm interested to see what the chops taste like. I love me some lamb chop with handles on 'em.

I've got to go and do some dishes and laundry. We have friends coming over tonight, and we have to hide our shame so we don't look quite so much like the pigs we are. I've discovered that the only chores I do consistently are those that I enjoy, or that a living being's survival depends on. I keep my kids and animals fed and watered, and I am usually in the throes of some remodeling project, but laundry just kind of gets washed, dried and piled on my bed. Sue me. Somedays it feels like we're going to drown in the clutter, but I just can't figure out a good organizing scheme for it all. Sigh.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

yo-ho, yo-ho, a sweaty life for me

We're starting to come up for air, finally. Babies are very time-consuming, but it takes older children to make you appreciate how easy a new baby really is. It's so nice to have a child who lies still and doesn't color her face with marker, or dump weed-killer all over the hay, or throw all the eggs into the chicken run to be eaten by the chickens, or take 40-plus minutes to feed and water the goats because of all the time spent fighting, or throw rocks through the windows, or spray shaving gel all over the bathroom . . . I could go on like this for hours. And keep in mind that all of these things except for the window-rocking have taken place within the last three days. They wear me to a frazzle.

But! On to other topics. We have taken Violet and Nona to the chop, and are just waiting for the packing plant to call us and tell us that our white packages are ready. I'm curious to see how they taste. If they make decent eating then we'll go full speed ahead with our plan to breed all the does to the Boer buck to get some meat. And hopefully next year I'll do a better job of milking. This year has been too loopy, and frankly, I am too tired from taking care of my own milking situation to worry about the goats.

Next week I'm teaching a cheesemaking class to a group of women in our ward. I think I'll do a chevre, a mascarpone/creme fraiche, a mozzarella, and a queso blanco. I'm going to make some of them this week to remind myself of the process--chevre and mascarpone I don't need to worry about, but it's been a while since I've made mozzarella or queso blanco.

We bought a used swamp cooler on Monday. I kind of like the smell of them--they make me feel like I'm on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. And although they don't do as well at cooling as A/C, they also don't create urban heat islands, so there you go. We still haven't hooked it up because we've been too busy, but hopefully we can get it taken care of tomorrow morning. The temps have been in the upper nineties here, and it hasn't been getting cool at night, so we're even sweating in our basement coolness lair. Sucks, dude.

Some exciting news--we have a cantaloupe fruit on our cantaloupe plant. That is a first for us, and we're hoping not to destroy it with our ineptitude. The watermelon is still barren, but is vining all over the garden, and the early prolific straightneck squash is all of those. The patty pans should be ready in a couple of days, and we have some nice big green tomatoes. This is the golden time for gardens--we're going to be lousy with produce. Plus we've gotten a couple of nice batches of cherries from the fruit stand, and apricots are up next.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

pause for a moment

We've been very busy having a baby at our house. She is beautiful and suffers from day/night confusion, just like all babies.

The tomatoes are growing like crazy, the spinach and lettuce have officially gone feral, and the melons and squash are healthy and happy--and not eaten by squash bugs yet. I wonder if we'll get a melon worth eating. Our growing season is a little too short for melons to really thrive, but a home-grown melon is such a joy.

We're going to take some of the goats to the livestock auction, since nobody seems to want to buy dairy goats in this area. Call it a lesson learned. This fall we're going to breed the does to a Boer buck, then we'll have our meat supply for next year--hopefully. We're going to slaughter a couple of them to see what the meat is like, which is sad, but necessary.

Monday, June 11, 2007

what has transpired

Today I took the kids to a nearby water park. Three of my sisters came too--thank goodness they were there. I felt very ready to be done by the end of the afternoon. All that stomping around on cement is not easy on a nine-months-pregnant body. It was a lot of fun, and all three of the boys loved it. I'm thankful that our kids all love the water. Grant and Emmett are a couple of crispity crunchety lobster children, even though I put sunscreen on them. I should have done a second coat at lunchtime, but I am a bad mother and forgot.

This morning was a hectic mess trying to get ready to go, and of course Emmett picked today to have a battle of wills over what was being served for breakfast. We were out of milk, which, how do you run out of milk when you're milking 4 goats, but somehow we did, which meant that he couldn't have brown sugar and milk on his oatmeal, and had to have applesauce and cinnamon. Which is evidently poisonous. So I set my course for the celestial kingdom back by about 20 years this morning, what with the threats and the yelling and the spanking. Everyone was bawling at one point, but eventually he rallied and ate a goodly portion of his horrifying mush. It's our fault, because we've had the kids out far too late for far too many nights in the recent past, and of course that's going to affect their behavior. But in spite of the terrible beginning, we all had a great day, and they all got to bed on time tonight, and will hopefully sleep in until 9:00 tomorrow morning, just to take the edge off.

Our soap is cured and we've started using it--so far I really like it. John was concerned that the fragrance would give him a headache, but it hasn't, and he hasn't gotten a rash, which he often does from soap. I gave a bar of it to my mom, but she's been keeping it in her car because she likes how nice it smells. She said she wants to buy another bar from me so she can have one to use. That makes me feel happy that it's at least not a crashing disaster. So maybe I'll be able to sell it at the little shop down the road. Probably no one will buy it, just like no one will buy our goats.

Last Saturday we visited my grandma in Grace. She's run a cattle ranch most of her life, with the only consistent help coming from one of my uncles. She's quite a woman. She seems a lot more spry than she did the last time we visited--maybe because it's still the beginning of summer and she hasn't been run ragged yet by all of her house guests, because cattle rancher or not, she's getting on in years, and there are a few people who don't seem to grasp that. So whenever we visit we try to make her life a little easier, by doing such uncommon things as bringing a lot of food with us and cleaning up after ourselves. Kooky vittles.

Friday is baby day, unless our doctor changes his mind and says I'm not close enough. I'm just way too sick of being pregnant, and this way John will get two full weekends at home before he has to get back to the family history mines. So I'm being induced after all, even though I sort of wanted to see what it was like to go into labor on my own. We still haven't decided on a name, because I like grandma names, and John like names that people have actually heard before. I guess we'll see what she looks like when she comes out. In which case I guess she'll be named Bald Red Screamer.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

the art and science of keeping a house from falling down around your ears

I've been tagged by Heidi for a great meme that, as I was reading it, I was figuring out what my answers would be. So yay for us all! And also, I'll be DARNED if I'm going to not fill it out now that my honor has been challenged!

THE ABCs of HOMEMAKING
  • Aprons- yes or no? If yes, what does your favorite look like?
    • Yes, although you wouldn't be able to tell from the mess I always have all over me--partly due to the pregnant belly. My favorite apron is one I made from a tea towel with fruit on it. It's my Sunday-go-to-meeting apron.
  • Bake-What's your favorite thing to bake?
    • bread and chocolate chip cookies
  • Clothesline- yes or no?
    • I grew up with a clothesline, and I like the idea of one, but like Heidi, I take issue with the crispiness
  • Donuts- have you ever made them?
    • nope
  • Every day-Name one homemaking thing you do every day.
    • cook meals
  • Freezer-Do you have a separate deep freeze?
    • Yes, thank goodness. We also have an extra fridge that came with the house, so we're as rich as Nazis.
  • Garbage disposal- yes or no?
    • yes, but we give most scraps to the chickens
  • Handbook- what is your favorite homemaking resource?
    • probably the internets
  • Ironing- do you love it or hate it?
    • neither--I don't do it that often, but I don't mind it
  • Junk drawer- yes or no? Where is it?
    • Try junk room. Or rooms. The office, John's side of the bed in our bedroom, the top of our dresser, the kitchen counters, and one of the basement bedrooms. Lots of clutter, but not dirtiness. I can't, what with the drinking of the raw goat milk and the making of the cheese.
  • Kitchen-What is your kitchen color and decorating scheme?
    • Our walls are cream and avocadoish. Our cabinets are knotty alder, and our floor is currently a mix of untreated wood, tarpaper, linoleum, plywood, and two layers of vinyl. Someday the floor will be a green and white check pattern like a cafeteria.
  • Love- What is your favorite part of homemaking?
    • cooking (including baking and cheesemaking)
  • Mop- yes or no?
    • yes, but not very often since the kitchen floor became The Project That Ate Our Family
  • Nylons- wash by hand or in the washing machine?
    • washing machine, of course
  • Pizza-What do you put on your pizza?
    • veggies
  • Quiet- what do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
    • nap, read or mess around online--we call it "town stuff" at our house
  • Recipe card box- yes or no? What does it look like?
    • clear with a yellow lid, but I rarely use it
  • Style-What style is your house?
    • Craftsman, white with a red brick porch
  • Tablecloths and napkins- yes or no?
    • tablecloths and cloth napkins for guests, bare table and paper napkins the rest of the time
  • Under the kitchen sink- is it organized or toxic wasteland?
    • organized, because most of the toxic stuff is in the cabinet above the dryer
  • Vacuum-how many times per week?
    • maybe once
  • Wash- how many loads of laundry do you do per week?
    • probably around 5 or 6
  • X's- do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?
    • no--that's why I never get anything useful done
  • Yard- yes or no? Who does what?
    • A great big yard with troublesome old grass, huge bushes and spruce trees, only not in a place where they provide any shade. John mows, and I do all the gardening, flower and veg.
  • Zzzz's- what is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?
    • sometimes dishes, sometimes throwing a load in the washer or dryer

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

a-mincing we will go

Last Wednesday we had the unpleasant task of emasculating Captain Stubing and Umlaut. We decided to use a Burdizzo-type tool, which is sort of like a hand-held clamp that locks into position when closed. I hate the idea of the elastic bands, and I didn't want to cut them open if I didn't have to. So the clamp it was. We gave them a shot of painkiller beforehand, and also used this time to give all the babies their CD&T booster shot. We were fairly certain that I wouldn't be able to hold the fellas still enough, so John was the holder and I was the clamper. He sat in a lawn chair and held each one of them on his lap, kind of in a sitting position, and I fidgeted around with their . . . business and found the cord, then clamped it for 7 seconds. Much screaming ensued--funnily enough, little boy goats don't like having their scrotums clamped. So now we wait for 3 weeks to see if it took, at which point the little package should be firmer and not have increased in size at all. I'll say this--as hateful as it was, I far prefer it to disbudding, because once you shut the tool, it's on there, and you don't have to keep holding it.

Our disbudding has been a colossal failure this year. I think Traci's babies are the only ones who aren't going to have scurs. Grr. I was just so worried, and it looked like we were burning down to the skull, but I guess we didn't burn enough. Tilde and Umlaut and Nona all have little horn buds that look completely unaffected. I have read here and there that you can use the elastic bands on the horns, and it seems to work well and not be invasive. But maybe we're going to have to eat them all anyway, so it won't really matter.

Some neighbors of ours called the other day and said they have a friend who might be willing to trade flooring for goats, which would be great for us. Get rid of extra goats and get our kitchen floor taken care of in one fell swoop. Our kitchen floor is a right mess. I can't figure out how to get this rotten tarpaper off, and I'm leaning toward just getting some cork tiles and putting them down. I'd really rather have the wood, but not if it's going to take me the rest of my life to get it done.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

shine on, you crazy diamond

What does "chucking it" mean to me?

  • living in a rural area
  • letting my children be children, rather than shuttling them back and forth to countless extracurricular activities that they may or may not enjoy
  • understanding that it's important for our bodies to be exposed to germs to build our immune systems (I'm looking at YOU, antibacterial soaps and clothes and sprays and who-knows-what-all)
  • trying to feed my family healthy, locally-grown foods
  • not having a gaming system in my house
  • not plopping my children in front of the TV all day
  • treating animals, whether they be pets or food, with respect
  • knowing some of the vanishing skills that include cooking, baking bread, canning and cheesemaking (and possibly soapmaking--we'll see how that goes)
  • not getting all wiggety-wack about this stuff, and understanding that even small efforts will help, and extremism is dangerous
What does "chucking it" mean to the people who drive past my house?
  • hamburger and other food wrappers
  • soda cups
  • beer cans
  • gloves
  • sports paraphernalia
  • empty bags
  • Powerade bottles full of urine
I know, right?

What should we do about the feral cat who has adopted our garage and had a litter of kittens in it? Call animal control? Shoot her? I don't want to take the chance of her biting our cat or our kids and giving them rabies or some other stupid thing. For now we've moved Aebleskiver's food and water into the house to hopefully drive her back to where she came from. Grrr.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

no explosions . . . yet

Well, we made the soap. I used frozen goat milk from an ice cube tray, lye, olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, and lavender essential oil for the fragrance. There were no problems with adding the lye to the milk--probably because it was frozen. John was very helpful and ran in and out of the house washing things and fetching things. His undergraduate degree was in chemistry, so he knows from bases and acids. He was a tremendous help. We used the stick blender to get it to trace, which I was thankful for--otherwise I'd still be out there stirring. Now it has to repose undisturbed for 12-18 hours, after which we can cut it into individual bars, which then have to cure for 3 weeks. It's kind of a creamy yellow color--it looked like hollandaise sauce for a while. I'm excited to see how it works.

The goat demonstration last night went very well. Traci was very patient, and put up with a lot of noise and crowding. The kids loved the goats and petted them all night, and everyone asked a lot of questions--especially about the disbudding scars on the babies' heads. We were able to let a few kids try milking, and some of them were even able to get a few streams of milk out. I sometimes wonder if milking ability is an inborn trait--I was able to milk the first time I tried. It just seems intuitive--squeeze the top of the teat to seal the milk into it, then squeeze the milk out. But maybe it's because I'm a female mammal. The woman in charge of the whole thing took a lot of pictures of the event, which she is going to send to me, so I can put them on our Local Harvest site. It was a lot of fun.

Friday, May 18, 2007

sticking it to Big Soap

I have all my supplies now for making soap. I'm a little nervous, because of the whole "blow your family to kingdom come with a lye volcano" potential. But I have a ton of undrinkable milk from when I milked Violet before the Penicillin was completely out of her system. I couldn't bear to throw it all away, so I froze it and decided I may as well learn how to make soap, especially since I can't sell my milk. Stupid USDA.

I'm going to make the soap tomorrow when John is home to keep the kids out of harm's way. I hope everything goes well.

Tonight we're taking Traci and the triplets down to Ogden for a family barbecue at the Ogden Prep Academy. They did a fundraiser for Heifer International, and the woman who organized it thought it would be neat for the kids and families to see what sort of animals they'd bought, and how a goat can feed a family. They want me to answer questions and possibly do a milking demonstration. I hope everything goes well--Traci is our go-to gal for things like this, because she is so low-key. Give her something to eat and you can do whatever you want.

Yesterday on our local NPR station they did a show about animals feeling pleasure. I don't know that anyone who's ever met an animal could doubt that they do. I see it every morning when I milk the goats--they bury their heads in the grain feeder and you can almost hear their sighs of contentment and rapture, as though they're saying, "Now this, this is some top-drawer stuff here. This is what GRAIN should TASTE like!"

Unsurprisingly, the guest was a vegetarian, so he felt it necessary to get up into that whole mess. I think animals feel both pleasure and pain, which drives my desire to eat animals who've lived a happy life. But I do not feel that they are our equals--they are in our stewardship, and it is our duty to provide for them, but part of the reason for their very existence is to in turn provide for us. Humans are omnivores--look at our teeth if you doubt it. Meat is good for us, when used correctly. Moderation is our friend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

winter greens?

I just found out--from my awesome new book--that kale can grow through the winter. What? Coming from a family that did not eat greens, other than those from the store, this was completely new to me. But it's true--kale is cold-hardy to -10. How about that? And collards will produce until Thanksgiving in some cases. This is great! I love greens in all their forms--except maybe beet greens. I haven't tried those. I wasn't too jazzed about salads growing up. I thought they were fine, just nothing to get worked up about. Then I got a job in Provo (a little less than 2 hours south of here) soon after I graduated from college, and I stayed with my aunt and uncle while I was looking for an apartment. One night we had a salad whose main ingredient was butter lettuce, and I was floored. It was the most delicious salad I had ever eaten. But I grew up on iceberg, which I always thought tasted like bland aspirin. It's strange, because we always had a ginormous garden--why didn't my parents grow spinach? It's one of the most rewarding crops to grow, as far as the sow to reap ratio goes. We grew peas, tomatoes, beets, turnips, onions, cucumbers, summer and winter squashes, carrots, potatoes, beans, corn . . . I'm probably forgetting a lot of stuff, because we were swimming in produce. We tried brussels sprouts and cabbage one year, but my mom didn't like how worm-prone they were.

So it wasn't until I had that eye-opening and palate-awakening salad at my aunt's house that I realized that iceberg wasn't the only choice available. Thus began my magical mystery tour of all that the edible leafy world has to offer. Now I plant spinach and loose-leaf lettuces every year in our garden. I intended to plant collards and chard this year, but: fat pregnant lady. My mom tried chard last year, but found half of a worm in the bottom of her bowl and was creeped out by it. Worms are not fun to see or eat.

Because of my new discovery I ordered some kale and collard seeds this afternoon, along with some herbs. I haven't got any dill, and I need some to do pickles this summer. Emmett is a big fan. I'm hoping to mooch some cucumbers off my mom.

Monday, May 14, 2007

testify

I got the book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" for Mother's Day--I called John and left a message asking for it specifically, then hounded him until he called our sister-in-law to pick it up from Costco for him, so I could get it yesterday. Don't judge me. He hasn't gotten his wallet back from Delta yet after losing it on the flight from Salt Lake to Atlanta--I had to take matters into my own hands!

Anyhoo, the book is just what I hoped it would be. I love me some Barbara Kingsolver. Everyone should go out and buy this book right now. It's also a dangerous book for me to read, because of my proclivity toward weird hippie behaviors. Thankfully for my family I'm also too lazy to be a true zealot about not eating anything out of season, but I would like to get to that point. Buy local! She even touches on a subject that I've preached about before, which is that buying organic is not as great as it sounds. Neat that you're eating an organic apple--what about all the fossil fuels used in transporting it from its place of origin to your supermarket? When Wal-Mart, or as I like to call it, The Great Satan, started carrying organic produce I think I caused a tide shift with the force of my eye-roll. Granted, I'm a jaded conspiracy theorist, but I really couldn't have asked for a better demonstration that the "organic" label is all sound and fury, signifying nothing. It's just that now farmer's markets and fruit stands will be added to the list of local businesses going under because of the new behemoth in their community.

Now as a member of my church, I have heard all this kind of thing before. Eat fruits and vegetables in their season. Eat meat sparingly. This is not news to me, and shouldn't be to anyone who's read their scriptures. Which just serves as another example to me that the Word of Wisdom is inspired--fruits and vegetables are best and most nutritious when consumed in season and close to their source. Meat isn't meant to be eaten all the time. All that jazz. And in turn you can help keep the farmland next to you from being turned into another urban heat island, and your farmer friends can have a livelihood. All part of being a decent human being, you know?

Friday, May 11, 2007

pause for deep breath

It's been busy around here. Kidding season is well over, but that means milking season is upon us. Also there are a lot of things to do as far as general herd management goes at this time of year. All the kids have to be disbudded, which is a gruesome activity that I hate. I've only seen it done, and studied as much as I could on the Fias Co Farm website, which is very thorough in its explanation. But the actual experience is a whole lot more difficult, when you're a rank amateur trying to burn a kid's horns off. I always feel like I'm burning too much, and I've gone past the "copper ring" state to the "burning a hole in their skull" state. But almost all of the kids' horns look weird, like they might have scurs, which means I haven't burned enough. Yuck. John was gone to England for a week, so we had to wait to do Nona until he got home, and I felt a little better about hers until I saw that the horn buds were oozing a little bit of blood, which means that she'll probably be just like all the others. Of all our goats, I think Captain Stubing--the first one we did--has the best-looking horns of the bunch. Sigh.


Next we have to castrate/dock/emasculate or whatever Captain Stubing and Umlaut. We went with a Burdizzo-type tool, because the elastic band idea sounds awful, and I don't want to cut them open if I don't have to. Captain Stubing isn't too bad, but Umlaut is already acting far too bucky for my tastes--he keeps mounting Tilde and Nona, and they keep trying to get away from him. He needs to just settle down--he's not even a month old, for crying out loud! Pervert.

Milking is going really well. I haven't been separating the babies at night, because of one thing or another, but I'm still getting 2 1/2 quarts of milk every morning, which is almost enough to get us through a day. I'm going to separate the babies tonight, and we'll see how much milk I get--and how long it takes me. I don't think our 6 quart bucket will hold it all.

John was glad we went through some kiddings before our baby is due, to kind of remind ourselves what that whole childbirth thing is like. Thankfully people have a lot more help--medicinal and otherwise--when they go through it.

Our lawn is totally getting away from us. It's a sea of dandelion seedheads and brownish grass. Poor John is beside himself. He thinks we're cursed, or at least that our superpower is killing lawns. It would be nice if we had a pump system worked up to use the irrigation water on our lawn, so we didn't have to use the culinary water. Then it wouldn't cost so much to have a dead lawn.

The strawberries are ripening, the spinach and lettuce are on, and the peas are growing nicely. Emmett loves raw spinach, but hates it cooked. Makes sense. I learned to love spinach by first trying it raw. I've found that I really like greens, like kale and collards and spinach and chard. I didn't grow anything besides spinach this year, though. Just planting the few things I did was enough to wipe me out. Being pregnant is difficult when you're trying to be all provident-livingy. I love having produce in the garden, and I'm looking forward to the local fruit stands opening for the year. Cherries, apricots and peaches--especially peaches. Brigham City has the most wonderful peaches. So juicy and flavorful. I read a stupid thing in a magazine the other day that said that peaches continue to ripen after picking. Umm. It depends on what you mean by "ripen." If you mean "soften and eventually rot without ever gaining another degree on the Brix scale," then I guess so. But people, there is a lot of produce out there that is not meant to be picked green and shipped all over creation. Strawberries are not meant to be the size of golf balls with the taste of sawdust. Melons are meant to smell and taste like melons. Peaches and nectarines are meant to be softer than rocks, and juicy and fragrant. A blackberry that is worth eating cannot be shipped. Seriously. I mean, it's nice to be able to get produce year-round, but frozen or canned is better, because at least those things were harvested near the point of ripeness. Except berries. There's just no way to get a good berry out of season.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

easier to buy than sell

We're in a goat pickle. As is often the case with live animals, they are much easier to buy than sell. Since I can't sell any dairy products, we can't possibly keep all of these goats. So we're going to sell everyone but Finola, Catwoman, Tilde, and Captain Stubing. It makes me sad, but we just don't have the room or the money to keep them all. I've put out a sign in the front yard advertising the goats, but no luck yet. We've had some people call and stop by, but no one seems to want them badly enough to buy them. They're a really good deal for registered Nubians, especially ones that have such good genes. If worse comes to worst then we can take them to the auction, people say. But I'd rather not if I can help it--I'd really rather sell them to someone as meat goats than to someone who's going to mistreat or neglect them. Better to have a good life cut short than a miserable long life. And they're such good goats--good mothers and very friendly, except for Violet--she's coming around, but very slowly. She's a great mom, but really doesn't like to be milked. And who can blame her?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

spelunking a goat

Last night we were about to start eating dinner when John looked outside and noticed Violet licking a black goatbaby--I don't know why our goats like to be so sneaky. Finola, Catwoman and Violet all did stealth kiddings on us. We got all our gear and ran outside to make sure everything was okay. The baby was fine, and we did the navel bit, then tried to get her to nurse. She was very uninterested, so we felt her belly, and that is the fattest dang baby tummy I have ever felt so soon after birth. She's definitely her father's daughter--black with white ears. She has some brown on her legs, and looks like a great big woolly bear caterpillar. We named her Nona. Violet is being a great mom. I think it really helped her to see all of the other mamas and babies, so it wasn't a totally freaky experience for her. We're concerned that Violet is retaining a dead kid, because her girl business is red and puffy and inflamed-looking, just like Finola's was. So this morning I got on the shoulder-length glove and stuck my hand up there, but I am a total moron when it comes to knowing the interior ladyparts of goats. I felt around and couldn't find any sort of hole to stick my hand in once it was in there up to the wrist, and I couldn't feel any baby parts in there. We also couldn't feel anything from bouncing Violet, so I guess we've done what we can. She'll probably throw a rotten mass of blood and bones and hair in a few days and then we'll feel terrible. Poor Violet.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

bread success

Last night our RS class was making wheat bread by hand--no mixer allowed. It was a lot of fun. I've never not used my Bosch to mix and knead my bread, so I was proud that it actually turned out not just edible, but delicious. (Confession--I had to make it twice, because the first time I blithely dumped in the entire flour ration, and it turned out to be a stiff, grody mess. The next time I added way less flour, so my dough was nice and elastic.) I've had good luck with the various wheat bread recipes I've used--I think using hard white instead of red wheat might have something to do with it. I remember some sorry loaves of wheat bread I've encountered in my youth, and I'll say no thanks to the leaden, bland, crumbly disasters they were.

The UPS man just delivered our disbudding iron, so we can do that tonight. Should be an adventure, as I'm the only one who's seen it done in real life. It's freaky--you take a red-hot cylindrical tool and burn the horn buds off the goat kid. Yipes! But horns are just too dangerous, for the goats and for us. They may not be quite as friendly with us for a while--we'll see. Currently the goatbabies love me like a second mother, which I think proves the Fias Co Farm lady's belief that goats do not need to be bottle-fed to be friendly toward humans. You just need to spend a lot of time with them.

I've been rubbing Neosporin (well, actually, Kroger-brand knockoff Neosporin) on Blind Edna's eyes, and it seems to have helped immensely. Her left eye appears normal, and her right eye looks almost normal. They were both goopy and swollen almost shut last week, and her right eye looked especially bad--all cloudy and bloodshot. Hopefully it was just an infection and she'll be all right. Then we can go back to calling her Dame Edna.

I've tried to find a local source for soapmaking supplies, and the lye is proving difficult to track down. Thanks, meth-heads! We all appreciate your efforts to further erode our civil liberties. Which, I realize that buying lye isn't an inalienable right, but it's frustrating to not be able to buy a simple product that was used innocently for decades. If they love meth so much, why don't they just get their lye the old-fashioned way? At least they'd be working for it. Jerks. It's similar to raising an animal to slaughter yourself--if people had any idea of the amount of effort it takes to properly raise an animal for food, and how terrible it is to have to butcher it, maybe they wouldn't be so excited about eating meat for every meal.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

life is expensive

Saturday morning we all got up and started our day. I was getting ready for our Relief Society Super Saturday activity, which, barf. I'm just not a crafty gal, and I think most of it is some tacky crap. And why would you want the exact same pillow, wall hanging, or what-have-you that your neighbor has? But it turns out Catwoman had just finished kidding twins and was completely detached from them. Like "Why is my poop hairy and alive? And why is it messing around with my downstairs?" So we had a long, long morning of tying and dipping navels, splinting ears, and encouraging parent-child bonding. Thanks, Catwoman! I appreciate your being cool to me and making it so I had a proper reason to stay home and play goat mom.

The peas, spinach and lettuce are all growing well, as are the strawberries and assorted other plants I planted a couple of weeks ago. I haven't gotten to the squash and cukes yet, but I have until the end of the month. The veg garden is starting to get weedy where I haven't planted, and I don't want to till again. The moneys, they do not grow on trees. It's all very well to try to be self-sufficient, and to try to expand your sticking-it-to-the-man skills, but even in rural areas that doesn't come cheap. Here's what we've spent just in the last month:

  • 30 bales of hay: $180
  • double calf hutch: $500
  • Penicillin: not much--under $10, because animal meds are cheap, usually

Things we still need to spend money on are:

  • fencing for the entire property
  • replacing the massive single-paned windows in our beautiful Craftsman house
  • air-conditioning (thinks my husband--I'm trying to tough it out and be a proper dirty hippie)
  • some sort of milking area with sides so we can keep out of the weather (we found that the ladies perform much better when they are milked near each other out by the pen, and the wind sucks--we're currently using that double calf hutch as a milking parlor, but we'll lose it as soon as Violet gets ready to kid)
  • magic wand for removal of the tarpaper on our kitchen floor
  • new baby arriving in June
I'm sure there's a lot more I can't remember right now, but it's not trivial, the amount of money we need for this stuff. I also found out yesterday that I can't sell my goat milk, even if I pasteurize it, because I hand milk. So anything comestible is out of consideration, and I have four goats, which means lots of extra milk. I guess it's goat milk soap, which will be fun, but I am so proud of how delicious the milk and cheese are! Hopefully we can sell our surplus kids and soap and try to dig ourselves out of the financial hole that animal husbandry has put us in.

Also, Finola threw another dead kid on Friday morning--another black one. Sad. I wanted some little black goats running around with our brown ones--it currently appears as though we have a goat-cloning machine. She has been despondent about it, but has finally succeeded in grafting herself into Catwoman's family. So now the twins take turns nursing from their mother and their grandmother. Silly goats--it's aight with me, though, because now there's a goatbaby to take care of Finola's evening milking for us.