Monday, December 25, 2017

Starting the 7th Week of the No Spend Challenge.

As usual, I can't seem to discipline myself to write on a regular basis and some of that is just me and some of it is that no matter how organized I am there is simply too much to do on a farm. Two weeks of the last four were spent in a grading extravaganza to end the semester and then I had to play catch up on the farm work.

In regards to food, I'm finding that we have plenty. I'm rather proud of this six week mark because it means that I am doing something right in this whole "self-suficient/self-reliant" journey we are on. The pantry is still full and although the freezer is less packed than before we still have enough...more than enough. 

 At this point, my only problem is boredom and craving things I know I can't have. The whole blooming thing is complicated by the fact that can't eat gluten and am supposed to eat a low-histamine diet...much of what we have stored is high in histamine.

The freezer still has plenty that I can pull out (like the Tikka Masala above) though there is little variety to what is in there. Okra, shredded zucchini, eggs, pesto, onions, blackberries and a dish I can "eggplant and tomatoes" and one pound of beef I'm saving for something interesting...chili perhaps? or maybe a meatloaf.

Starting out we had pumpkins, Delicata, Kobocha, and Spaghetti squash, as well as, two cabbages fresh. When we ran out of lettuce, that was the source of our "fresh" food, but I was dying for a salad. The lettuce and spinach I planted is up, but tiny in the coldframes (and I didn't get super good germination either). Just when I was ready to crack and run to the store for lettuce my mom traded me some spinach from her garden.

Today, I'm making feta and envisioning a frittata made with some of the frozen eggs and onions, fresh greens and feta with roasted sweet potatoes on the side (we still have two sweet potatoes and one russet). We still aren't getting any fresh eggs, but we have milk a plenty...something like 6 gallons before I started the cheese this morning. (Tomorrow, I'll make mozzarella....and there is still paneer from last week). I could be making yogurt and culturing buttermilk and there could be chevre' too if I weren't so slow and unmotivated to do it.

Some other side effects of this experiment have been interesting. The compost bin hasn't needed to be emptied with any kind of frequency. In other words, there has been very little food waste. I suspect this is because we are so very aware of the finite supply that we are loathe to let anything spoil. I have been making meals around what is going to go bad first...the first in, first out premise of prepper's pantries. I've also contented myself with the being the "human 'garbage' disposal" I eat all the leftovers even when I'm sick of them. Lucky me, right?

Another side effect, is of course the money we saved this month. (Although there are items that will need to be replenished next month). It has brought a very new awareness to my spending habits....more on that at a later date.

The best part though, not having to go to the store. I LOVE not having to run errands. LOVE it. Y'all know I'd be a hermit if I could be...yet more motivation to make this little farm self-sufficient. 

With only five more days of this challenge, I'm anticipating a continuation of sorts and I don't think I'll be buying much more than freshies like lettuce, carrots, apples, etc next week.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Week 2 of the No Spend Challenge: Still doing just fine.

Week 2 of the No Spend Challenge is past us...well, me. It was a weird week because I was home alone for the whole time. That means that I didn't cook much and ate mostly leftovers. I didn't bring out much of anything from the pantry and besides one lone Udi's hamburger bun I stayed out of the freezer too. I tend to either be voracious of appetite or lacking the desire to eat completely...there were a couple of lunches that were clearly "meh" days when I just ate something because I thought I might get hungry later, but I clearly wasn't hungry.
Brocolli from my Mom's garden.

 This week felt very stress free when it came to feeding just myself....I'm not as concerned about cooking whole meals when it is just me. I'm especially aware of amounts knowing that if I cook a big meal I'll be eating it for days on end, but cooking for just one night never seems to work.


Breakfasts: banana bread, pumpkin pie, oatmeal with very old canned peaches, and the aforementioned Udi's hamburger bun made into Pizza Toast (which is totally a thing).

Lunches: leftover soup, leftover chili,  leftover brown rice and broccoli, cream cheese/mozzarella rice crackers, potato and tortilla chips, salad, and apples.

Dinners: leftover chili, brown rice with broccoli (and it's leftovers), roasted chickens with mashed potatoes, dressing, broccoli and squash (and it's leftovers).

Household (more supplies to made a handle for the flue cleaning brush): $9.35
Solstice gifts (exempt and from my own account): 62.72

Total: $72.07
Exempt: 62.72
Total expenditures Non-exempt: $9.35

Something else came up this week besides the awareness of food and waste during this No Spend Challenge. A couple of things broke...the first thing was the stopper for the kitchen sink...I suspect most folks don't stopper both sides of their sink, but I do. I use one side to wash and the other side I fill with a bleach solution to sanitize my milking and cheesemaking equipment. I do this every day. I need two stoppers, so I had to get creative. I hit the garage and my box of odds and ends. The Krueger family motto is "It will be good for something if we never use it," and apparently that has rubbed off on me. 

I have this box of bits and pieces...the bolts that came with a goat trough, the screws and wall anchors from shelf brackets, the leftovers and the "what the hell am I supposed to do with this" pieces that come with stuff...I have no idea what that little ziploc of nuts, bolts, and washers came with but they were just the right size for the little, nuts and washers! So my sink stopper now has a fancy skinny bolt for the pull....looks weird, but it works.

The best part of this (besides not spending any money buying a new one...prices range from $4.99 to $15.10 on Amazon) was feeling like I was smart and resourceful. You really can't knock the feeling that you can take care of yourself with materials on hand.
Broken and fixed!
The second thing that broke was my cell phone case. I dropped it (which is why I need a case) on the rug with a dull thump and it blew itself has been cracked for months, so this wasn't too surprising. One piece would not go back, but I didn't manage to snap the other two back on and they seem to be holding. I'm not sure how long this will last and I'm not sure if I will replace it, but I do feel like the phone (which is really a tiny computer) is an investment that I should protect. Since I'm a very clumsy farmer my phone gets dropped and banged around a lot. For the moment I'm going to try to treat it gently and make it last until it just won't stay on, then I'll decide what to do.

Oh yeah, and after stressing about eggs last week (and the chickens haven't laid a single one this week) I remember that I had several dozen frozen!! WOOT WOOT! That means frittatas. YUM.

This week JC will only be home a couple of days, but I've got menus made for when he is home and I'll eat the leftovers. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Week 1 of the No Spend Challenge: Eating like Kings!

Well, the first week of our No Spend Challenge is over and as JC said last night, "What is this here? Oh, sweet potatoes! Man, we are eating like Kings." I'm not sure that royalty would get all excited about having sweet potatoes in their black bean/corn/quinoa chili, but we sure did. 

Some things I noticed this week. Breakfast is my least favorite meal of the day because of two things. One, I simply don't feel much like eating in the mornings and two, my choices are limited (no gluten, low histamine, etc.). I really noticed breakfast, it seemed the most limited...I could have cereal, oatmeal, or eggs(which we will talk about in a bit).This challenge reminded me that there are things in the freezer and I re-discovered fruit smoothies. WOOT! WOOT! (Too bad I really think of smoothies as summer food). We have big bags of blueberries and mango from Costco and I canned grape juice from wild grapes. There are also blackberries from our garden, but those seem a little too "precious" to use for smoothies (more on that "precious" word later). 

Oddly enough, the fridge actually started out kind of empty even though I bought a lot of food a week ago Friday. Most of it was dry goods or winter squash and potatoes. As always I'm very grateful that we have our own source of milk, especially since we can also make cheese. We had some cheddar and gouda from Veldhuizen, which is mostly gone, but the mozzarella I make each week lasts all week. The fresh cheese generally is the backbone of my lunch and I tend to nibble on a slice or two if I'm feeling like a snack.

We didn't harvest much from the garden except greens...the above are beet and Swiss chard that we chopped for scrambled eggs for dinner. Which brings me to the next important thing. This time of year the hens are (because of the short days) not very productive. We've gotten three eggs this week, but I used 7. I only have 10 and I am acutely aware of that number. Eggs are PRECIOUS, y'all. Who knew? We are accustomed to having eggs at least once a week for dinner and I boil some each week for lunch and have eggs for breakfast sometimes too. 

The lack of eggs isn't the only thing that this very first week has made me aware of....carrots and lettuce! Oh, how I love my carrots and nothing is better than a salad in the middle of winter because even though we do salad we eat more seasonally than most folks and that little bit of fresh is awesome in Winter when we are eating lots of greens and roots and storage veg. It was only Day 3 when I started to think about eggs, carrots, and lettuce...okay, actually I started to fret a bit. I don't want to do without, but part of this challenge is to test the kitchen/pantry and garden.

With that niggely fretful feeling at the back of my head I got motivated to make sure we would have more in the coming months from the garden. Since we are having a weirdly warm November I headed out to the garden with my box of seeds to plant all the things I had just neglected to get in earlier...all I had were some old ones from last year, but I seeded carrots, parsnips, beets, radishes, lettuce, and spinach. All are up, but the parsnips (and I actually don't know what the seedlings look like so maybe they are up and I just don't know it). 

Breakfast: cereal milk/boiled eggs/smoothies/oatmeal

Lunch components: roasted red pepper and tomato soup (add rice or pasta), cream cheese/mozzarella and rice crackers, tuna salad, pickles, potato chips, apples, JC had at least one grilled cheese

Dinners: tomato soup with rice and salad, scrambled eggs with greens, onions, peppers and tomatoes and oven fries, salmon cakes, delicata squash and herby rice, leftover tomato soup, pizza and salad, black bean/corn/quinoa chili with tortilla chips and cheddar cheese.
Desserts: Pumpkin pie with whipped cream and banana bread.

Gas (exempt per my rules): $49.34
Feed order (exempt, money saved out of Sept paycheck): $800
Drinks/restroom "rental": $6.08 (I have a hard and fast rule that you have to make a purchase to use a restroom. Plus, roadtrip OCD rules...must stop here, must get tea because I always do).
Household (flue cleaning tools): $9.59
JC muck boots (on the list for weeks, got a coupon, so exempt): $14.40
cat food (exempt per my rules): $10.61

Total: $890. 02
Exempt: $874.35
Total expenditures NON-EXEMPT: $15.67
(I also co-op my feed and I sold two coming in, not out!)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Day 3 of the No Spend Challenge

Filtering the morning milk.

Almost every Monday, I make cheese for the coming week. During the wait times (and there are several) I generally just waste time surfing facebook or Pinterest. Today, I decided that I needed to be productive as it is occurring to me that I will need to be a little more organized in the coming weeks in order to feed us well without shopping. Also this is a rare week when my husband will be home all seven nights, so I can't just have cereal or popcorn for dinner (not that I do that or anything!).

I want to be as transparent as possible here. I decided to do this challenge AFTER my big monthly shopping trip to the city. I spent $323 dollars on Friday. So, we are starting this challenge with the maximum amount of food that we might have in a month. With that said, we are looking at this as a test of pantry and freezer for any "What If "scenarios. This year of hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires has made us more aware of our "What Ifs." We want to test the pantry/freezer/farm/garden in a simulation of "disaster, fires, floods, [or] killer bees" (Faith No More, anyone?? google it).(Sorry, but my brain works in song lyrics more often than not).

Anyway, being transparent. The pantry is full, two freezers are full, but the fridge is surprisingly empty. I bought a lot of apples, potatoes, onions, winter squash, and pumpkins. Of course, we have milk, eggs, and cheese. I did buy lettuce and it occurs to me that we will be very sad when that runs out. We do like to have something fresh in winter. When this occurred to me I rummaged around and found some old seed packets from last year and got seeds in the soil in the coldframes....fingers crossed for germination. It won't help us in the next 50 days, but thinking about doing without got the fire lit under my ass (lettuce should have been seeded a while back). 

This week's menus weren't much of a challenge because we do have so much stored. I'll do a recap at the end of the week, but I don't see that we are going to have any issues pulling together good meals for the next 7 days. 

I also surveyed the garden for potentials...we currently have: turnip/collard/beet greens (I suppose if we were starving we could eat the beets and  turnips, but they were planted in Spring and left until now for their greens only). I also have Swiss Chard, parsley, cilantro, garlic chives, rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, spearmint and cat mint that can be harvested now. I've planted parsnips, carrots, more beets, radishes, and spinach in addition to the lettuce. None of that has germinated yet (again, I was late getting them in...maybe this warm weather will work to my advantage). 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Beginning of Winter and a No Spend Challenge

Although we are still over a month from the Winter Solstice, this year more than any other time I am feeling like Winter has begun. It is not a matter of us experiencing Winter weather (today was overcast and 70 degrees), but a feeling that it is indeed a time to slow down and rest.

Yesterday Mom and I spent the entire day in the city. Our stops in order were: Petsmart, Joann Fabrics, Half-Price Books, Central Market, Whole Foods, Costco. While all the cashiers we encountered were friendly, the general public was not. Traffic was ridiculous and in several stores we were assaulted by fake cinnamon fragrance and aisle after aisle of christmas decor. It felt crowded and it made me edgy. Too many people, buying too much shit. Even with the grumpy hordes and the stink of cinnamon the day was just fine until I got to the local HEB store to pick up cat food. Normally they play music that I can sing along to...I actually like going there and that is one of the feels welcoming with its classic rock piped in. But christmas music isn't welcoming, especially not this early. Looking back over the day I realized that there was christmas crap everywhere and a push to buy more and more and more and more.

I have of late become aware of my profligate spending, my lazy habits, my food ruts, and my general grumpiness about humanity. I was so grumpy that last night after mulling it over I came up with a plan.

JC and I had talked about doing a Eat from the Pantry challenge in January. By last night I was convinced that not only did we need to Eat from the Pantry we also needed a No Spend challenge. (I was inspired by Erica at

Winter Squash

I thought that this might be a good time, as we transition into the dormant season, to test my mantra of "Work hard all Summer, so you can rest all Winter." By the Pagan calendar November 1st marked the beginning of this season of Winter rest. 

So, from today until January 1st, for the next 50 days I'm vowing to Eat/Cook from the freezer/pantry/garden/farm and Spend NO MONEY! 

My motivations: 
1. Test the pantry and use what we have (no waste).
2. Save money.
3. Stop running around (errands kill a whole day every week).
4. Break my routine food ruts
5. Break my Amazon habit.
6. Cultivate gratitude and appreciation for what we have now, not what we think we need.

Some exceptions:
1. Obviously, regular household bills get paid.
2. Gas is exempt.
3. Cat food is exempt. (we do not stock up on this).
4. Solstice gifts are exempt (though I'm brainstorming some handmade things).
5. My current credit card gets paid, but is now dormant until January 1. (I will not dictate to JC about his credit card, he can do what he wants. This is a household challenge).
6. We keep a running list, so if we get a coupon or a reward "check" for a list item we will not waste the discount/reward (think, Staples ink rewards for recycling).
7. My Coyote Creek Feed order is exempt because I saved out the payment in September.
8. Seeds and seed starting is exempt because I begin starting seeds on January 1 and I don't want to start late.

I'm going to try to hold myself accountable here and practice good record keeping (which is already a New Year's Resolution for 2018, because I suck at keeping track of things).

Monday, November 6, 2017


Shipping Special! (Through December 15th, then I’m taking a long Winter’s nap!)

I hate shipping…but, I’m willing to do it if it is SIMPLE. So, I’m using a Small Flat Rate Box from USPS that ships for $6.25. Spend a minimum of $18.00 up to $30.00 and I’ll ship for $3.00. Over $30 I’ll ship for FREE, but there is a catch…I can only cram so much into that little box. 

Here are the combinations:

3 bars of soap (your choice: plain, buttermilk, lavender, or cinnamon/oatmeal): $18.00 + 3.00
4 bars of soap (your choice)     : $24.00 + 3.00
2 bars of soap, one washcloth, and one soap deck (What a nice gift!)      : $23.00 + 3.00
4 soap decks (not sure why you would want decks but no soap, but…)           : $20.00 + 3.00
2 bars of soap and 2 soap decks     : $22.00 + 3.00

5 bars of soap (your choice)       : $30.00 + $0 
6 bars of soap (your choice)       : $36.00 + $0

Please note that these will not be cute bundles ready for gifting…the box is SMALL and I’ll have to pack carefully to get these combinations to fit. 

Locals, even though the special is for shipping I’ll offer one special for you: 
1 bar of soap, 1 washcloth, and 1 soap deck for $15.00 (but you have to pick it up at the farm)

There are only 9 washcloths available: 3 white, 2 orange, 2 purple, 1 gray, and 1 aqua.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Late Fall

Farm lunch: Fresh mozzarella, Roma tomato, Genovese basil (dried last summer).

Today I made cheese, like almost every other week of the year. I tend toward fresh cheeses: chèvre, mozzarella, ricotta, paneer and the occasional feta. Fast, but fresh. This year we didn’t have enough milk to even consider making hard cheeses and that was okay with me. We don’t need much, just a little something fresh each week. It has become routine and ritual for me the making of the weekly cheese. It is an integral act in my role as farmer and cook and maker. 
A few years ago I took a cheesemaking class and was confronted with another goat raiser who was setting up a commercial dairy. She was a bit of a know-it-all and we clashed almost from the beginning. She refuted practically everything I said and the class would have been so much better for me if I hadn’t had been so on edge and hadn’t had to begin censoring myself. I’m not much for confrontation, so when she would refute me I would just shake it off, but…I know my shit y’all. I read incessantly. I buy books just for reference. I read articles. I ask questions. I take notes. In other words, I have an insatiable curiosity and am well-educated.   
One of the things she picked apart was a statement I made about the differences I see between my Spring milk, the Summer milk, and then the Fall/Winter milk. I was hoping to learn something or to confirm my theories. Instead, she made me angry and uncomfortable. I made the mistake of attempting to defend this statement that my milk was indeed different depending on season…I started with, “Well, in the Spring and Summer the girls are on feed and browsing, no hay.” I had a few more things to say, but she cut me off and insisted, and I do mean INSISTED that I could not possibly be raising goats without feeding hay year round. She implied both that I was full of shit regarding the differences in milk throughout the season AND that I was neglecting my girls. Just remembering this is pissing me off again, but on that day I just shut up. Shut. Up. 
Here’s the thing. I hand milk. I shepherd my goats to browse for about four months each Summer. I manage my pastures and forest carefully. I understand seasonal and the seasons on this land. I know this Place. I understand terroir (which I can’t say to save my life). I KNOW that my girls are healthy. I KNOW my milk is different from season to season. I KNOW this, because I am connected so very closely with, not just the goats, but with the earth, the seasons, the light, the dark.
I also understand that folks (like her) who are producing cheese in a more commercial capacity use feed and hay to keep the milk as consistent as possible. That is what people want, right? Most folks want to buy the same cheese week after week. No surprises. Nothing strange, or off, or unfamiliar. Nothing wrong with that. I also know that she was likely working in huge vats of milk….I work with 2 gallons at a time. I work with my hands in the curd. I stretch the cheese by hand. I am hyper aware of the changes from week to week and frankly, from goat to goat. (Ruby makes creamy milk, Fanny does not).
For us, we want to find the balance between feeding goats and letting goats feed themselves. We want the strange and unfamiliar because it means that we are tapped in to the seasonal aspect of milk and cheese. I relish the changing of the seasons and I mark those changes not just by shorter days or cooler mornings, but by less milk that makes more cheese. By mozzarella that stretches “weird”. By lazy girls curled in cuddle puddles. By frozen hands on warm teats. 
Milk and fresh cheese are seasonal. We force the girls to keep producing through the Winter, but it isn’t necessarily natural. I worry about these things. I ponder them. Making cheese is a contemplative time for me. It is a “hurry up and wait” and watch the thermometer activity. Today’s lunch of fresh cheese, one of the season’s last Roma tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with dried basil was confirmation that I’m doing this the right way for us, for now (which might not be the right way for someone else).

(Thanks for reading....reminder. These posts are mostly in their Rough Draft stage.)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Gentle, but Sure

Harry Who

I remember the first time we had to dispatch an injured chicken. The details of how the injury happened are, as most of my memories, hazy. I think Mesa (the one we call The Brown Dog) attacked her; I know her crop was torn. Irreparable. My husband’s stroke with the knife wasn’t sure. The knife’s edge wasn’t sharp. The minutes that followed made me fell useless, and sad, and ashamed. I was a party to causing prolonged suffering when I had intended to release her from a long slow death. We later watched a video of a woman harvesting a hen from the soup pot. She was calm, her voice soothing, her hands gentle but sure. This was the way.
Years have passed since then. The last rooster I dispatched had a heat stroke. I found him down, the fire ants feasting on his eyes, but still alive. Without a knife to hand I plunged him into a bucket of water head first. I held him there until he calmed—mere seconds, though it felt like longer. Writing this now, I know it sounds cruel, to drown him. But I knew then, as I know now that he was almost gone when I found him and the fire ants…the agony that must have been. I acted with haste because of the ants. I knew going to the house to fetch a knife and coming back would take longer than the time it would take to get the ants off, for the last breath to come. Now I carry a pocket knife, rarely used, always sharp. It was that silver Buck knife, one stroke of the blade, I used today.
Harry Who had been sick for more than two weeks and down (unable to walk) for most of it. He was eating and drinking, but not improving. JC and I had discussed it last night and I awoke this morning at 5:30 (an hour earlier than usual) knowing I had a grim job to do today. I did not vary my routine; I did not hurry. Instead I prepared myself and my space. I made time just for this task knowing the burden of taking life and the import of doing it right. 
With my pocket knife in my pocket, I tied on an apron (not to protect my clothes, but to swaddle Harry). I picked the place for his planting, moved a chair into the space, then went to the barn.
I took Harry out into the morning sun, made sure he was clean of poop, fed him tiny chopped bits of pumpkin and halves of pear tomatoes. I talked with him and held him and when I felt that he was calm and I was calm and ready, I cradled him and walked him to the garden. Harry had not, before he went down, ever been touched by us. He was aloof and regal, the protector of his flock, not a pet. It was during this walk to the garden that I knew he was ready because he was in my arms as if he had always been cradled and carried instead of this being the first time.
When I sat down with him tucked between my thighs, his head hanging down between my knees, I wrapped him in the apron. He was peaceful, there was no panic, no struggle. I grasped his head gently in my left hand and committed to easing him out of this world, no rush. When it was time, my stroke was sure, my knife sharp.

I gave him and his blood back to the earth.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Daily Writing Challenge: Day 2: The Treehouse

I've challenged myself to sit down and write EVERY won't all end up here as I'm old school and using a journal for the daily writing, but I do think that I need to make myself publicly accountable even though no one is likely to read this. (This is a second draft of my second day's writing)

I’ve been daydreaming about treehouses lately—though treehouse might be inaccurate as I don’t want to hurt a free with anchors, impose myself on the tree’s space, or get in its way. Perhaps I could call it an elevated shack or a sky lodge or some other silly thing—I just want to be as tall as a tree and while away the time.
This morning as I walked the dog in the forest I envisioned a stilted house (or should that be a house on stilts?) all wood and windows with a tin roof and a tiny balcony, the better for being in the trees. My little house on legs would blend right in, the trees would accept us as one of their own. There would be a swing under it, on rough hemp rope and hopefully it will develop a squeak because all the best swings have squeaks in my memory. 
Inside I will have soft rugs and a stuffed chair and my childhood wrought iron bed layered with quilts and pillows perfect for nesting. There would of course be a teapot and books. Many, many books. There would be an old-fashioned mailbox by the front door to put your phone in and a welcome mat on which to leave your shoes. 
I would hang the walls with paintings of owls and birds and starry nights. There would be shelves for the books and the collections of things the forest gives me like feathers and special rocks, all my hagstones would hang in the windows with stars made of stained glass and wispy curtain made of dreams. There would be no chores or lists of things to do there…it would be a place to read, or write, or draw, or think. A quiet place away…just away. Away from chores, and phones, and screens, and lists.
It’s the lists that keep me down, that bind me to the burden. I cannot say that the list is always on actual paper because it is more of a continuous awareness that everywhere my eyes rest there is work to be done. One thing is no sooner done  (or fixed) than something else insists it needs attention. This farm cries for attention, the house needs TLC, the dogs, the goats, the chickens, the garden; something is always demanded of me and somewhere along the way I forgot that I need attention, and TLC, and time, and space, too.
If I neglect the goats or the garden the consequences are dire—that’s how I think of it—something or someone will die. But I need to remember that the consequences of neglecting myself are dire too. I forget to eat. I forget how to sleep. I forget to dream. I forget to live.

So my little daydream shack in the sky is a form of self-care—maybe someday I’ll build it, but for now I go there in my mind.

Monday, May 22, 2017

On Selling Eggs and Eating Seasonally (with a bonus recipe).

I carefully chose these pictures of eggs and began formulating a post...after months and months my writing skills are rusty...once the pictures appeared here, my head was empty. The whole post I'd formulated in my head just evaporated. I guess that is what happens when you don't practice what you preach (write, write, write...every. damn. day.)

Carol's egg...

I have a vague sense of wanting to articulate something about the ways in which the seasons dictate our they should I think. I also just did a mini-vent on Facebook regarding the whole "I suck at selling shit even when it is good shit" and "I'm really fucking tired of trying to convince people to buy local and support a real person instead of a multi-gazillion dollar egg factory."

So, this was either going to be a lovely, philosophical post about eating seasonally and living seasonally OR it was going to be diatribe against all.the.people who just don't get it. Let's just go with diatribe and get on with it.

I work really hard on this farm and you never even make your feed money back on eggs. Never.

My little brother, back when he was nine or so, crunched the numbers on egg farming. Even at nine (and his plan included like no overhead because he was planning on living in a tent!??!) he figured out that you could not make any money selling eggs.

That is totally the, a $5.00 dozen of eggs doesn't even buy feed and that assumes that you actually SELL some of the eggs. What mostly happens is that I can't convince folks to pay $5.00 (because factory eggs are super cheap) and they don't fucking care that we are ethical and humane and feed them good feed, and fresh veggies from the garden. No one gives a shit about organic or sustainable. No one cares that they will die of old age here where they are loved and talked to, where they have access to fresh air and sunshine.

This isn't actually about making money or breaking even for me. It is about supporting local agriculture, about supporting your neighbors, about saying no to factory farming and cruelty,  about seeing this one woman who works hard and supporting her. Supporting me. And even though I threw myself in at the end, it really isn't about me.

I believe that this would be a much better world to live in if we supported our neighbors and their efforts, if we looked to the smallest businesses instead the largest to feed us, if we learned to eat seasonally (yea, I worked that part in too).

I've just handled 19+ dozen eggs and we are just entering the abundance of Summer. In the winter we got excited when we got 1 or 2 eggs in a day. Last time I advertised eggs for sale no one wanted/needed was all crickets. I get it. Sort of...

Now, we get about 6 or 8 a day...I don't even count anymore. I take for granted that it is more than enough, more than we need. Even though I take the abundance for granted you have to do something with all those eggs...and since I clearly suck at selling these eggs...the best eggs in the world, then I have to get creative.

Going into the freezer for Future Frittatas (that is totally a thing now)

Today, I had more than a lot...19.5 dozen to be exact.

So what does one do with that many eggs? (when you suck at selling stuff)

4 dozen went to family members
4 dozen were offered up for sale
4 dozen were frozen (to be made into quiches and frittatas in the middle of the Winter)
2 dozen were boiled to be fed back to the chickens (and before you get all squeamish let me remind you that some humans eat their own, yea....not weird)
10 singles were boiled for humans and dogs to eat
and there are still 4.5 dozen in the fridge from last week...

Diatribe over....and it was a pretty mild one actually. Thanks for noticing. 

BONUS: If you have excess eggs to freeze.
Break 10-12 eggs in a bowl.
Lightly stir to incorporate the yolks and white (do not beat or whip)
Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt.

Thaw in the fridge (this will look like your worst fridge nightmare...marvel in the total weirdness of thawing gross!)

Basic Frittata
10-12 eggs
1 cup of cheese (grated or chèvre or whatever)
vegetables of choice (you can also add bacon or ham)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix it together and put it in a skillet
cook on the stovetop for 10 minutes 
cook in the oven for 20 minutes
Preheat to 375 degrees
Layer everything in a pie plate, pour eggs over the top
Bakes 45 minutes, until all is set.
***this is my preference because 45 minutes is enough time to put goats to bed. So you pop dinner in the oven then hustle like mad to get back before it burns!!!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Purpose and Projects...20 days without News or Facebook (and 11 days without a Netflix binge).

I cannot believe how much I am getting done...below is a project that I mentioned in my last post. My greenhouse was built two years ago as a birthday present and has stood unfinished since then. Although I've been using it, it was truly unfinished. I spent a day and a half putting up this wall on the north side (the other walls are windows). Thanks to my news fast my mind was empty of distressing things and I was about to let it wander at will. 

As I worked alone, I thought back to when I first learned how to work with wood. It was after my Dad died and Mom and I (out of necessity) had to start learning how to do things for ourselves. Fifteen years ago (or so) she and I tackled replacing some of the siding that was rotting. We learned as we went...we figured it out as we went along. We made lots of mistakes. We figured out how to cut angles...we figured out how to fix PVC spigots when we broke them while we worked...and we worked side by side; which is how it has been ever since.

Salvaged siding (and new scraps before paint).

As I let my mind drift past the significance of my using this siding...the siding from my childhood home, the siding that taught us how to work with thoughts settled on the siding itself. With a gulping sob, I realized that much of this siding was likely the same siding my Dad put up in 1978. My dad was a gardener extraordinaire, so it was all the more poignant that I was using this salvaged siding to build a wall in MY greenhouse. My heart was just a tiny bit broken that afternoon...there are so many things I would like to ask my Dad about many. things.

Part of my childhood home.
 The greenhouse is still not finished, but I have a plan drawn out. It is solitary work and I will get back to it soon. I stopped work on it to work side by side with my husband on an inside project. For ages and ages I wanted to build a Murphy bed. While my dream studio would be one large room with a vaulted ceiling and lots of natural light, I know I'm never going to get that. Instead I'm culling out lots of small spaces to create and daydream and work. I have the greenhouse, the barn, a sewing room, and now I will be able to paint and draw and glue and mess in the guest room and the Murphy bed will allow me more space.

Murphy Bed
We have guests so very rarely and I've had to work around this bed for years. It has been a struggle. This is the room where I cure all my soap and where I make the price tags for bags and animals and such. It has pissed me off over and over that stupid bed, so now I can make it go away!! We finished the bed together and then I took over the building of the shelves on my own (though I will admit to having MANY issues getting started and I asked for help a lot).

Murphy Bed and customized storage.
I struggled and fought with the shelves today, but finally I have finished. In a fit of frustration (when I literally cut something a inch too short AND at a weird angle???) I almost crashed on the couch and turned on Netflix. Almost.

The last 20 days have been very interesting and I'm learning a lot about myself. It seems like when I am bored, anxious, angry, frustrated, etc. I will, instead of just riding out the feelings, seek to erase them with surfing or watching TV. After 20 days, I realize that I just have to feel the feelings and get past it. After 20 days, I realize that I do better when I have an agenda when I get up in the morning.

Aimless doesn't work for me and it makes me anxious...ugly circle, huh?