Thursday, January 24, 2019

Goodbye Critters

 Of all the critters we have kept on our little acre, my goats were always my favorite. Sure they were harder to take care of. Their food was heavier to carry, the cleanup chores were never-ending, and we spent way more money on them than any of the other animals. But their personalities were worth every single dime and minute spent on them- to me. I miss them the most.
 Last week my surgeon told me there was nothing else that could be done to help my back pain except surgery. He left the decision to me and I chose to have it. The procedure will be less invasive than traditional back surgery but the recovery will be slow. I will be in a brace. Lifting and movement will be restricted. When I asked about the timeline, I was told it would probably be a year before I could move a bale of straw or hay. A year. For the first several weeks I won't be allowed to lift over 5 pounds. I'm pretty sure a bucket full of goat pellets weighs more than that!
 So, in the best interest of the critters, I made the decision to sell them. It just wasn't in the budget to hire someone for that length of time to come out every day to take care of them. The goats went as a herd to a new family. We also sold the rabbits since I won't be able to clean their cages. Some of our fancy roosters went to auction but most of the chickens have made their way to freezer camp.
 Right now I still have a few hens and some turkeys. Their fate is undetermined at this time. My backyard feels like a ghost town. The quiet is deafening when I step out. I find myself hollering to the turkeys just so I can hear them holler back. 
 It could be months before the insurance company approves the surgery and I thought about holding off on the critter sales until I knew for sure. But I'm a "rip the band-aid off fast" kind of girl. I knew it was going to hurt and I needed it to be done quick. 
 Now I'm keeping myself busy trying to figure out what I'm going to do with myself during this down time. I don't know what my gardening season is going to look like. Lifting a canner will be out of the question. But sitting for long periods is not recommended either. Hmmm. I think there is going to be a lesson or two in this experience- finding a purpose and homesteading while disabled for sure.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Kitchen Gadgets

 Sharing about the Instant Pot I got for Christmas got me to thinking about all the other kitchen gadgets I have. There are a lot of them!

We started remodeling our kitchen a couple years ago. I'd estimate we're about 1/8 of the way finished. That may sound awful to most people but we knew going into it that we'd not be finishing it for a looong time. With DH on the road most of the time and our limited budget, we had a choice of taking it slow or not doing it at all. I'm still not sure if we made the right decision.

 While the kitchen is torn apart, most of the things that go into the non-existent cabinets or on the counter top are stowed away in boxes in the spare bedroom upstairs. Everything in the kitchen right now is a bare necessity. So every time I need a tool: stand mixer, extra sauce pan, blender, ladle, etc... I have to find the box it's in and bring it downstairs. Sometimes those items get piled up on the kitchen table instead of returned to the box right away- that's another headache in itself.

 What I'm learning through this disaster adventure is I have a lot of gadgets I don't need. And I have a few I can't live without. I also have a few that I desperately want to use but the hassle of carrying them up and down stairs is stopping me (stand mixers aren't lightweight!) There's also some gadgets that aren't easy to use while the kitchen isn't put together or that only get used during certain seasons.

 At the beginning of the remodel I bought a French Press to make coffee when the kitchen was in shambles. So far I've used it twice. It's going to Goodwill soon. The drip coffee pot is back to it's spot in the kitchen and when it can't be there, we set it up on the bathroom counter- just like a lot of motels do. The slow cooker has a spot on the bathroom counter, also. The little mini chopper, stick blender, and small blender/grinder get used at least weekly.

 On the other hand, the counter top grill, waffle iron, blender, and various other shiny things that have been boxed up for so long I've forgotten what they were have not been used once since we started. Why do I have these things?!?

 Meanwhile, in the summertime, boxes of fresh produce tools (zoodle maker, salad spinner, etc...) and the dehydrator are taking up ALL. THE. SPACE. And the toaster oven gets regular use to prevent heating up the kitchen. When winter time arrives, we pull out the canners and all the tools that go with them to take advantage of the extra heat.

 Sometimes it feels like my kitchen needs another kitchen. I think that's a good sign of a healthy homesteading life. In my quest for a good balance, this remodel project has helped me to see what I need to eliminate to make my kitchen more user friendly. Less clutter in the cabinets will be a great way to celebrate when it's finished! Er, um, someday.

How about you? What kitchen gadget do you use the most? Which one did you donate or regift?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Christmas Gifts

I got an Instant Pot for Christmas! It's a fancy schmancy electric pressure cooker/slow cooker/steamer/.....  I've wanted one for a long time because (according to the box) one can sterilize milk and make yogurt in them.

Now that I've got one, I'm itching to try that feature out. But, alas, there's no raw milk here. Not yet, anyway. I have two does who are looking very pregnant so hopefully soon we will have kids. And MILK!

I've tried sterilizing milk on the stove top a few times but it always ends up tasting really "cooked" and usually I scorched it.  Blech. So we normally drink it raw. Don't get me wrong, I have no objections to drinking raw milk, that I got from my own healthy goat with an udder I've washed. And I've made tons of yogurt using the Styrofoam cooler method. But I would like to make a lot more cheese and all the recipes start with pasteurized milk.

Until I get milk, I'm busy learning how to use the Instant Pot to make other yummy things. I'm not totally comfortable with it yet, but I'm getting closer!  Today I fixed a hamburger for lunch in it. It turned out very tender and tasty! But it took 20 minutes from start to finish. I wouldn't call that "instant." Of course it probably would have been done a lot sooner if I hadn't stopped to read the manual after every step! I'm sure I'll get better with practice.

Anyone else get a homesteading gadget for Christmas?

Speaking of Christmas, check out the Hoosier Hubby page if you'd like to see him playing with his present.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Where's Winter?

The daytime highs for the next several days will be in the 50s here. For the past week or so I've been slogging through mud to feed the critters. There's mud on the eggs from the hens' feet. There's mud in the run which is really slick after the poo mixes into it. I'd be afraid of falling but it's deep enough to suck my boots down. Mud, mud, mud! I'm not Winter's biggest fan but I would prefer to be doing chores on frozen ground instead of tracking muck in every day.

Even though the days are warm, the temperature hovers around freezing at night. That means I can't leave the hoses hooked up. So I either carry water in buckets or use the pocket hoses that I carry back into the house when I'm finished. Buckets are faster when I just need to refresh but if the containers need a good refill, I pull out the hoses. It takes a lot of time to walk back and forth to the spigot when you can only carry 2 small buckets at a time. The cats love it though. It's great fun to them to twirl around my ankles while I'm trying not to spill the water!

By the middle of next week we should be back to colder weather. I'll probably need to be reminded about how much I complained this week when I start to whine about the cold! There really is no pleasing me!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hello 2019!

"O give thanks unto the LORD for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever." Psalm 118:1

Here it is! 2019: A new year to count our blessings, put off the old sorrows, and look forward to whatever is to come.

Since the last time I updated here, I was blessed with a new grandson. He's a perfectly beautiful baby and I'm thrilled to be able to say I have 2 grandsons now. They put a smile on my face and bring me so much happiness! The oldest is just reaching the age to realize that Grammy has neat critters in her backyard and we spend hours watching them out the kitchen window. He especially likes the turkeys!

Our original plan for New Year's Day was to go on a "First Day Hike" at one of Indiana's state parks but I have a bad cold so, instead, we're hanging out in our jammies at home. I gave DH a long overdue haircut this morning and I think we'll have a tv marathon this afternoon. Yesterday he smoked a huge brisket so we have plenty of leftovers for today. I think some napping might be in order, too!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye 2018!

Not sad to see this year go!! I spent 2018 just trying to keep my head above water. The clouds are just beginning to clear and I'm on track to get my homesteading life back. See you next year! Let's make it a great one!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


I've received notice that Blogger is updating- removing some features and adding new ones. I'm sharing that with you so you will know beforehand if things go a little weird here for a while. I'll do my best to keep everything sane but I'm not a techie! I'd noticed several weeks ago that comments from y'all had stopped showing up in my inbox and so I've been trying to stay on top of them by opening up each post daily for a few days after they posted. Let me tell ya, those comments mean the world to me- even a silly smiley face lets me know someone is reading. I don't usually have time to reply to any except for questions but I READ THEM ALL. Last week was really difficult because I got hit with a spammer who decided to comment on several old posts. Of course Blogger decided to send all of THOSE to my inbox. So I've enabled moderating for a few days and hopefully the bad guys will go away soon!

While Blogger might be making the writing part of my life crazy, the rest of me is trying to settle back to a new normal. Very early in the morning on May 12, the nursing home called to tell me they were sending my Grandma to the ER to evaluate her breathing and fever. I met her there and it was decided she would be admitted for pneumonia. After a long day of hospital sitting, I rushed home to do the evening milking and check on the critters. Just as I was finishing up, I realized my mother hadn't been answering my text message updates on grandma. Back to town I went to check on her. Luckily I have a key to her apartment because she was sleeping and it was very hard to wake her up. It only took a few minutes to discern something was off, so I took her to the ER for an evaluation. The doctor found a mass on her brain and admitted her to the hospital as well. It turned out the mass was a hemorrhage due to stroke and she is now in rehab, recovering from that. I wish so bad that I could say Grandma recovered and was back to her old self in the nursing home. Unfortunately, she developed congestive heart failure along with the pneumonia. On May 19 she went on to her forever home.

During the past week I've been keeping extra busy. DH had been home with me for the funeral and stayed through the holiday. Although he became an expert goat milker while I was staying at the hospital, I gradually took that responsibility back. We did a lot of work, planting and mowing and watering and repairing. I entered a photography contest (more on that in a future post) at a local event. I've run back and forth to rehab to visit Mom and do her laundry. All of that activity helped me to cope with the loss of Grandma.

But I'm slowing back down to just regular old busy now. Soon Mom will be home and the trips to town will trickle down. DH has returned to work. My grief fogged brain is starting to clear. Writing has resumed and I'll be moving forward with blog posts- if Blogger cooperates!