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2013 Hannibal Polar Plunge Fundraising Begins!

It’s that time again!  Remember when Cody, Isaac, and Charlie all did the Polar Plunge last year?  They raised over $1000 for Special Olympics with just the three of them.  Very cool stuff.  Thanks again to all who donated to Team SpeedKin!

Thanks to some spousal smack talk during last year’s event, Steve and I are joining the team this year!  And Duke is now old enough (minimum age is 10) so he’s doing it as well!  Cody and Charlie will rejoin the team but Isaac is branching off to form his own team.  (I’ll do another post once he gets his team & fundraising page up & running.)  That makes us a team of five and we’ve set a goal to raise, altogether, at least $1500 this year.  $300 bucks each.  (We are required to raise a minimum of $75 each before we can plunge.)  Let the begging begin!

For those new to this, let me explain:

What & When:  On Saturday, January 26th, we dress up in silly costumes (there may or may not be coconut bras involved) and run & fall into the freezing Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri.

Why:  To raise money for the Special Olympics of Missouri.  If you can spare $1, we’ll take it.  If you can spare a few thousand dollars, well, we need to talk about an under-the-table deal.  What?  I’m kidding!!  Seriously, whatever amount you’d like to donate will be appreciated and all proceeds go directly to the Special Olympics of Missouri.

Bonus:  The individual who raises the most money gets awarded The Golden Plunger!  Sweet!  (Edit:  Charlie has informed me that The Golden Plunger goes to the individual with the best costume.)

What You Can Do, Option #1:  Donate!  Donate through our online fundraising page here:  Team SpeedKin’s Fundraising Page.  Or get me a check (email me for my mailing address) for any amount, made out to SOMO (Special Olympics of Missouri).

What You Can Do, Option #2:  Join our team!  Do you have an overwhelmingly stupid urge to jump into the frigid Mississippi in January with us?  Let me know and you can join Team SpeedKin!

What You Can Do, Option #3:  Show up and cheer us on!  Even if you don’t want to part with any cash, we’d still really appreciate you coming out to use peer pressure and occasional threatening body language to ensure we don’t chicken out cheer us on that day.

I can’t wait!  Okay, I’m lying. I can wait.  I can wait until, like, July or something.  Crap, what did I get myself into??

Look forward to more begging between now and the end of January.  :-D

Hannibal Polar Plunge 2013.  Be there or be warm square.

I am so friggin’ moisturized.

GAPS Intro, Day 11.  Things are still going well… almost.  Night before last, we had to go to a 4-H Christmas dinner and we were to bring “finger foods”.  Knowing there wouldn’t likely be much of anything there for use to eat (more on that in a minute), I decided I’d better take a couple of things we could at least munch on to avoid boredom while everyone else ate.  (And, no, we couldn’t skip the dinner.  You’re required to attend so many meetings each year in order to do 4-H things so we had to go and watch everyone else eat.  Argh.)

I ended up making these brownies from The Well Fed Homestead — not quite GAPS Intro legal (because I used regular cocoa powder and vanilla extract) but not bad.  Ew.  We didn’t like them.  Charlie and Duke said they were okay but I think that’s just because they were desperate.  Heh.  I felt like complete crap & had a massive headache for 24 hours.  The kids didn’t have any reactions, thankfully.  It might have been something I forgot or did wrong — or maybe it’s just because we’re not big chocolate freaks that we didn’t care for them.  I’ll try it again in a few weeks.  I also made these absolutely wonderful peanut butter cups from Grain-Free Foodies!  Oh, man, they are sooo good!  (I know they weren’t the problem because I’ve already had all of the ingredients without any issues.)  I spooned the mix into peanut butter cup candy molds I have and froze them.  Because they’re mostly coconut oil,, they don’t get too hard to eat, just perfect.  Really, you have to try them!

The water weight loss seems to be slowing down now, right on time, as I’m down about 10 pounds since we started this.  I do seem to be having trouble eating enough.  There’s so much fat in what we eat, it doesn’t take much to fill me up, plus I find myself forgetting to eat.  That’s an old problem of mine, forgetting to eat, that I haven’t experienced in a few years!  It’s not a good problem to have — our bodies need fuel to run and even more so to heal.  I need to get a handle on it.

Yesterday, I started a bunch of pickles fermenting in one of the big Pickl-Its.  I think that’s the ferment we’re all most excited about!  I am trying to NOT get my hopes up too much for this batch, however.  I couldn’t find any pickling cucumbers this time of year so had to settle for slicing (English) cucumbers.  Ew.  But ya gotta work with what ya have, right?  These stupid things were so greasy from whatever crap they put on them to prevent shrinking & wrinkling, it was gross.  I had to find something to wipe my hands on in the store after just picking them up and putting them in the produce bag.  Disgusting.  I scrubbed those suckers like they were covered in maggot-infested pig crap.  I also started a couple of jars of beet kvass finally.  I’d had to wait for some jars & PI lids to be free or I’d have done them already.  I can’t wait to taste both new ferments!  By the way, the kimchi is now in the fridge, doing an additional 10-week cool ferment.  It smells so good!

Last night, I whipped up a quick batch of honey & coconut milk soap and set it to mold overnight.  It’s now curing on the organ.  I also decided to try my hand at coming up with my own, customized lotion recipe.  I love it better than any other I’ve tried so far!  Here’s what I did:

Melt 400 grams cocoa butter and 400 grams shea butter over low heat, then add in 200 grams avocado oil, 200 grams sweet almond oil, 20 vitamin E capsules (snipped open to squeeze the oil into the mix), and 40 drops each lemon and orange oils.  (I know some folks have trouble with citrus oils & sunlight but I never have.)  I poured it into a couple of big jars, stirring occasionally as it cooled, and left it overnight to finish setting up to whatever consistency it would be.  I lucked out because it was exactly as I wanted it.  This morning, I scooped it back out of the jars and stuck it in the KitchenAid with the whisk attachment, and whipped it, whipped it real good.  (Don’t tell me I’m the only one who remembers that stupid song?)  I whipped it a few minutes until it was light & fluffy, the consistency of good ol’ real whipped cream.  I scooped that fluffy mess into a couple of big jars for home use, and couple of small tubs to throw in my purse, and four half-pint jars for gift-giving.  Crap.  I’d better label them before Josie finds them and eats it all, thinking it is whipped cream.

I’m also in the middle of making a double batch of honey coconut milk soap this morning.  I figured as long as I have the stuff already out, I might as well go to town.  Might make another batch or two before I put it all away…  I’m also making some healing salve and finishing up that bee sting/insect bite salve for the MVBA silent auction this weekend.  Good thing the kids are working on independent projects in the basement this afternoon!

FYI: You know how, when baking and cooking, you drop bits on your hands and lick them off, taste a bit from this spoon, and from that pan and, before you know it, you’re stuffed?  Same thing happens when making soaps & lotions.  Well, except  you don’t eat them.  You drop a bit of this here — and rub it into your left arm.  You drop a bit of that stuff there — and rub it into your right arm.  You want to see how quickly this oil absorbs so you rub a bit on your left leg.  Hm, you wonder how that other fat will feel on your face so you rub a bit in there…  And pretty soon, you’re like a greased pig, sliding around the kitchen like a crazed pinball and you can’t hang on to a single spoon or spatula.  Yeah, I’m pretty moisturized right now.

Gingered Carrots!

GAPS Intro, Day 8:  Yesterday, we added in avocado and scrambled eggs.  I’m not a fan of either so that didn’t thrill me.  However, we did start adding in fermented veggies.  Prior to this, we’d only been sipping a spoonful of the juices from the fermented veggies.  The cranberries are incredible!  But the gingered carrots?  Holy smokes!  Seriously, they are the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted!  These are right up there with salsa as my -all-time favorite food — and that’s saying a lot!  Remember pickles back in the “old” days, truly fermented pickles, not the brine & salts types?  That’s what they taste like.  Oh, man, I’m in heaven and having trouble restraining myself.  We’re supposed to start out with a spoonful and increase it slowly.  Ha.  I could eat a half gallon of this stuff at a time.  I havne’t, though… yet.

So the other day I was driving to Hannibal and I saw a black panther cross not five feet in front of my car.  No, really!  I was freaked out!  I know there are reports of them elsewhere in the country but I’d never heard of any around here.  I don’t know if it escaped from some zoo or a goofy animal lover had it as a pet or maybe it escaped from some shady animal transport…  But, boy, did that get my pulse going!

Yesterday, friends who like to hunt but not eat the meat called us up to get another deer.  That makes #8 for us this winter.  Woo hoo!  We could go through a couple dozen of them if we were to get them.  We’re definitely a family of meat eaters.  This deer was about 150# and we only had, until yesterday, a rope strung around a rafter on the front porch.   (We had a pulley in OK but it got left behind.  *sigh*)   Steve was at work and, while Cody and I have done this before, I decided it was time to to buy a friggin’ pulley already.  Man, what a difference!   We got that sucker strung up and I spent the afternoon butchering.  I even started teaching Cody to butcher.  He’s been the butchering assistant for both Steve and me for a few years but he’s always gagged and groaned through it.  A couple of weeks ago, Steve hit (another) deer on the way to work and called me at 4:00 a.m. to come and get it.  Of course, it wasn’t gutted so I set to work on the tailgate once I got it home.  I thought for sure Cody would blow chunks on the gutting but he made it through — with the help of lots of disgusting jokes.  ;-)  So, this time, he thought he might ready to try his hand at skinning and quartering.  He did great!  Coming from a puking assistant to being an extra set of hands during gutting to asking to learn how to skin & butcher?  Very cool!

Christmas on Crack, Pancakes, and Swollen Nuts.

GAPS Intro, Day 6.  I missed a couple of days since the last GAPS Intro update but there was really nothing worth mentioning. It’s up & down as to how we’re feeling day to day but, overall, we’re improving.  My swelling everywhere has really started going down.  I’ve lost a bit over seven pounds so far.  I can really move water weight around — up to ten pounds each day when I’m eating crap.  Once I get the worst of the swelling down, the weight loss should throttle way back to a reasonable rate.

We’re easing into Stage 3 right now.  Yesterday, we added in pancakes — a mixture of eggs, winter squash, and nut butter.  They were okay — a definite treat as far as something different being added in!  This morning, I made them without the nut butter and we all liked them much better except for Charlie.  Knowing my issues with nuts, I’m going to be very, very careful for a while, holding them off to a bare minimum as long as I can to allow more healing.  But, the things you can do with nut flours will really open up what I can make for treats which will really help with the kids’ morale.  Steve brought home a couple of three-pound bags of raw almonds from Sam’s last night.  Per the Mighty Internet, I soaked them overnight, dumped & rinsed this morning, and am soaking again for the rest of the day, to dump & rinse again this evening.  I’ll then put them in the dehydrator at a low temp for 24 hours or so, then finish off with roasting.  That process should remove/neutralize a lot of the offending critters *crossing fingers* so we can eat them with less issues.  After some gentle experiments with them to see if we react okay, I can grind them into flour and make occasional — but much appreciated! — treats.  That’s the grand plan anyway.  Cross your fingers & toes for us!  Side note:  Nuts really swell up when you soak them!  Of course, it makes sense and I expected it but I was surprised at how much swelling there was.

We moved ShowTime in with Oatmeal yesterday.  Those two were going at each other through the fence so we figured, what the heck, the more, the merrier, right?  So that makes three does that will be bred in the same month.  That’s going to make for a very busy April & May!

We still don’t have any Christmas decorations up and, honestly, I have no idea where to put the tree this year.  We’re rearranged the living room to allow for maximum seating (and plants!  Heh.) which leaves no tree space.  On the other hand, we no longer have a tree.  Our big fake tree we’ve had for years finally bit the dust last year.  We do have a few smaller ones so maybe I’ll work some sort of miracle today and find space for a couple of those.  I’d like to get some outside lights up this year, too, now that we’ve moved the dog pen and have regained our front porch.  Hmm, I’ll have to send Steve digging through the basement tonight to see what we have in the outdoor light department.

Speaking of outdoor lights…  Holy crap.  There’s this house that turns on their outdoor lights every year, religiously every night.  They’ve framed the house with lights stringing from the eaves to the porch railings, even on the garage.  But, good grief, they’re butt ugly!  There’s plain white on part and various multi-colored on other sections with no rhyme or reason.  Even worse, they have them all on the blinking setting — but not at all timed!  Not that I’m some sort of Christmas decoration expert by any means but, dang, this particular house causes epileptic fits!  I think each little section of lights is on a different timer and each timer is set to a different — and random — interval.  Imagine Christmas as an Angry Rambo on Crack — that’s what these lights are.  And they’re out in the middle of flat cornfields so you can see it for.ev.er.  Seriously, these lights cause an instant and overwhelming rage-filled trance in me.  Yeah, rage-filled trance.  I never knew there was such a thing.

And on that note, I’ll close.    ;-)

Ghee, dirty goats, and prudish poultry.

Gaps Intro Day 3:  I think we’re over the hump?  At least the first hump.  Everyone seems to be a bit spunkier today.  Charlie hit a low spot yesterday, I think and Duke hit his a few hours before that.  They’re both significantly peppier today and laughing & smiling like usual.  I’ve made sure to push the (veggie) carbs, plus ginger tea with honey, to keep up everyone’s energy.  We did the yogurt sensitivity test last night and we all passed.  So, today, we’ve added in a half cup of yogurt each.  None of us are big yogurt people but it’s certainly a treat.  (We do love yogurt as a base for our smoothies but we can’t have fruits yet.)  I fermented the yogurt in the Pickl-It and it’s noticeably tastier.

Besides adding in yogurt today, we’ve also added in raw egg yolks, stirred into broth… except the stupid birds aren’t laying for crap so we don’t have many.  I’ll have to buy eggs tomorrow.  The gingered carrot ferment was done so I moved those two jars into the fridge.  We each had a spoonful of the probiotic-rich brine this morning and will see how we do with it.  If all goes well, we’ll soon be able to introduce the fermented veggies themselves.  Personally, I’m very much looking forward to that!  Starting today, we also get to add in ghee so I made about 2 1/2 pints earlier today.

Oatmeal is settling in nicely.  This morning, we moved Susie and Maggie in with him.  He and Maggie got right down to business.  Again and again and again.  Right outside my window.  Have they no sense of decency?  Sheesh.  Susie wants nothing to do with him.  I picked her and Maggie because they were both the hottest-t0-trot when there was a fence between them.  Maggie is no tease but Susie seems to have changed her morals once faced with the goods.  We may end up trading in another more receptive doe tonight.

The poultry have started weirding out.  All of a sudden, there are a gazillion ducks and chickens roaming about freely in the yard and garden — outside their fence.  We’ve changed nothing with their fencing so I guess they’ve suddenly decided the grass is greener over there.  Either that or they’re too embarrased by the goat hanky panky right in their faces and have fled for pruder pastures.  Can’t say I really blame them.

I picked what will likely be the last of the parsley and celery to add to the birds in the roaster this morning.  I think that’s the very, very end of this year’s garden.  *sigh*  Time to turn my sites to seeds for 2013!

At long last, dear Oatmeal.

Knowing we were in the market for a good Kinder buck, a local friend alerted me when she saw some come up for sale on a regional list.  A few back & forth emails and we decided on Oatmeal.  He comes from good lines and has proven himself worthy in the making-of-good-offspring department.  Then life conspired against us for a couple of months and I had to cancel out on his owner a couple of times.  That poor woman still held him for me and even met me halfway.  She’s so much nicer than me!  So off we bopped today to the prearranged meeting spot on the outskirts of St. Louis and we are now one big-conjoned goat richer.  Yay!

Oatmeal is out there getting the girls all excited right now.  Well, as best he can with a fence between them.  We put Patrick, the wether, in to keep him company.  Those nutty does are making complete fools of themselves.  Tails are a’waggin’, tongues are a’flappin’, and assorted other dirty goat behaviors.

GAPS Intro, Day 2:  We’re still on Stage 1 and all is well.  Duke was sick as a dog last night and the rest of us have been visiting Nauseaville off and on.  This afternoon seems to be a bit better so I’m hoping that at least the worst of this round is behind us.  More rounds coming up, I’m sure.  The food is still very yummy so that makes it much easier.  Duke did add an egg yolk to his broth for lunch so I guess that puts him in Stage 2?  I forgot to do the yogurt sensitivity test last night so will try to remember to do after tonight’s bee meeting.  We each had a cup of ginger tea yesterday afternoon, with just a touch of honey.  It tasted amazing so I think we’ll use that as an afternoon treat to look forward to each day.

We lost yet more chickens yesterday.  I swear those stupid birds just look for an excuse to die.  We never lose any ducks and geese, only chickens.  Maybe this is a sign for us to forget chickens for a while, huh?  We’ll see what spring brings, I guess.

I bought 40 pounds of beef fat a couple weeks back and, over Thanksgiving, rendered just over half of it down.  I know most people then pour it into mason jars but I like to pour it out into shallow cookie sheets.  Once it cools, stick it in the freezer to harden even more.  Once that’s done, you can cut/shatter/break the tallow into smaller pieces, as if it were almond bark.  I then store it in old ice cream tubs in the freezer and just pull out pieces of the “bark” as I need them.  So much handier than messing with spooning out of jars and cluttering up the fridge and/or counter more than they already are.

Much goat debauchery right outside my window right now.  Ew.

Happy 19th Birthday, Cody!

Cody turned 19 yesterday. Wow.

Thanksgiving was fun.  We had a small gathering here on Friday and then another dinner with some of my relatives in Bloomington on Saturday.  Sunday, I took Isaac down to Mizzou for a NaNoWriMo write-in.  All weekend long, it was one bad food choice after another.  That’s why I’ve waited to start the GAPS diet until today.  Being on the road during intro would just flat-out suck!

Today is GAPS Intro Day 1.  So far, so good.  The food is yummy.  We’ve had variations on broth + veggies + meat — it’s amazing how many different looks/tastes/textures you can get out of the same stuff.  Of course, it’s only noon…  I tossed a turkey in the 18-quart roaster last night, along with some celery, onions, garlic, and salt & pepper.  We’ve not yet dug into the turkey meat itself but the broth is starting to get yummy.  I also have a 6-quart crockpot full of already-finished turkey broth.  (I keep gobs of turkey and beef broth in the freezer so I can just pull out a quart or two when needed.)  I boiled up five pounds of ground venison this morning as well, kept in the fridge so we can add it to our meals throughout the day.  Onions, garlic, winter squash, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots are all well-stocked so we can add handfuls to everything we cook.  Gotta keep the (veggie) carbs up so we don’t bonk.  We will do a sensitivity test for yogurt tonight at bedtime and, if all is well, we’ll add that in tomorrow.  Starting this morning, I’ll be culturing our yogurt in the Pickl-Its jars.  A few days/weeks down the road, we’ll do the same for kefir.

I finally made it out to the garden to cut what greens remained.  I probably ended up with about three or four gallons of various kales, mustards, collards, and chards.  They’re all getting dehydrated and will get added to soups & stews throughout the winter.  Once dehydrated, it’s easy to crumble them up and sneak them into just about anything — without anyone but the cook knowing.  ;-)

I fermented some cranberries with ginger over the weekend.  Man, they’re good!!!  Just a little bit will do ya and a drizzle of honey is needed but, oh, man.  Great stuff.  I also started some ginger carrots and kimchi.  The carrots will be done this week but the kimchi will take a few weeks.  I also meant to start sauerkraut but Steve ended up needing all of the cabbage we had for egg rolls.  I’ll buy some more cabbage next shopping day and get the sauerkraut started next weekend.  That also takes a few weeks to ferment.

Good grief, I’m hungry and tired.  Must be the combination of the weekend’s crap food extravaganza and the new diet.  I’ve been eating constantly today so it’s not a lack of food.  Heh.

I think I’ll just let this go as the Most Boring Blog Post Ever.  I’ve got no oomph today.

Seeds, Oliver, beekeeping class, ferments, and GAPS diet.

Seed catalogs have started to arrive.  Doesn’t it seem a bit earlier this year?  I don’t remember getting catalogs before December.  Whatever, it’s nice to start figuring the next season’s planting as we head into the dark, chilly part of the year.  I’ll be sticking to the usuals, such as peppers, tomatoes, beans, etc, but I want to get more herbs going this year, along with root veggies, and maybe try again with the squash family.  (Why am I the only person on the planet who cannot grow squash??)

This past weekend, Isaac was in a musical at the high school.  He was in the chorus, playing one of the orphans and, later on, one of the thieves.  Rehearsals had been going on for two to three months — that was a lot of work, I bet.  They put on three shows over the weekend and we went to the Saturday evening one.  It was really amazing!  I was so incredibly impressed!  Not just at the hard work & talent involved but that people can get up on stage and do… anything.. in front of so many people — without having a nervous breakdown and passing out.  *shudder*  Taking him to & from rehearsals felt like a major pain in the butt at the time (it wasn’t, really; it only took a few minutes out of my day) but seeing the show made it all worth it on my end.  I hope he chooses to do more!

Our beekeeping club will be having their annual holiday dinner in a couple of weeks.  Man, those people are some good cooks!  At each holiday dinner, they hold a silent auction.  Most everyone brings something or two to put on the table and then we all mill around and jot down bids.  It’s to raise funds for the club and it’s just plain ol’ fun.  We’re not talking big ticket items, just little things.  I think last year I made a bee-themed bag?  This year, I’m making some bee sting/bug bite balm.  I’ve got some herbs infusing for it right now.  Maybe if I get enough time after Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll sew something up as well.

Speaking of the bee club, they’ve decided on a time for the 2013 beginning beekeeping class.  I’ll make a separate post about it down the road but, for now, it’s going to be February 16 from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.  Same as always:  Everyone is welcome, kids included.  You get not the class but also membership into the world’s best local beekeeping club, the Illinois state beekeeping association (you don’t have to live in Illinois), a free beginning beekeeping book, and door prizes.  The cost is $30 — that’s for the entire family, not per person, and includes everything I listed.  Good, good stuff from good, good people.  If you’re in northeastern Missouri, southeastern Iowa, or western Illinois and are at all interested in learning about bees, this is where you want to be.  You won’t be pressured to buy bees — at all — but you will have an opportunity to get in on the group buy if you wish.  Shoot me an email or leave a comment if you want more info.

I recently got in a much-awaited order:  Pickl-It jars.  Oh, man, I’m excited!  I’ve done great with ferments like kombucha, viili yogurt, and kefir — even doing some salsa now & then.  But, overall, I’ve had horrid luck fermenting veggies.  Sauerkraut, I’ve tried repeatedly and all have been disasters.  Blech.  Now, armed with the Pickl-Its, I can give t another go — anaerobically, as it should be.  This week, I’m prepping to start sauerkraut, kimchi, cranberries, ginger carrots, and beet kvass.  I got the beet tops cut off the beets this morning and put into the dehydrator.  I’ll pound those to dust and sneak them into various soups & stews over the winter.  I can’t stand the things but I can’t stand to let them go to waste , either.  From the book I have on anaerobic ferments, it says the beets need to sit for a week or so without their tops to concentrate the sugars, before I make the beet roots themselves into beet kvass.  I should be able to get the other ferments going over the next couple of days, though.  I’ll keep you all updated on my new fermenting adventures!

In other news, I’m going to be starting on the GAPS diet Monday.  GAPS stands for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”.  Don’t let the “psychology” part of it fool you — while I may be completely psycho, it’s also for allergies and a gazillion other things.  It’s not a permanent diet but a temporary, healing diet.  The first month or so, the “intro” is rather restrictve but it’s very quick.  You start out with a limited range of well-cooked meats & veggies that are not likely to offend your system and then add other things back in, one by one, backing off if they cause you any issues.  Once you’re on the full GAPS diet, it’s pretty  easy as the choices are plenty.  The gut continues to heal and, after a year or two, all should be as well as can be and you can transition to a normal diet, to hopefully include even grains and other major offenders.  I’m going on it for my severe allergies.  There’s not much I can eat anymore without some sort of reaction — and those reactions are getting worse and worse.  I went on the full GAPS diet last year and saw some remarkable improvements, even without doing the intro.  It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure, but I’ve experimented on myself enough to think this could be at least part of the answer for me.  Either that or I end up in the ER one of these days with one of these stupid reactions to food.

So now ya know.  I’m sure I’ll be rambling on about GAPS this or that stages & foods over the next few months, probably some whining along with it.  Keep me in line, folks!

Switching to journaling mode

I’ve got a camera and phone full of photos, backed up n”news” to put up here, and I’m getting none of it posted.  Time to steal an idea from Glenda and Ilene and just go into journal mode.  It’ll be much easier for me to keep up that way, what with all of my schedule chaos.  I’ll try to stick in bits & pieces from my backlog here & there as I get the time & inclination.

Ready?  Good!

We got another new goat — a Pygmy doe.  She was a freebie that someone needed a home for.  Her name is Maggie.  We definitely weren’t looking for a Pygmy (or any more does for that matter) but we’ll see how she fits in.

We’ve now run out of Molly’s Herbals worm formulas and, as planned, I’ve started making my own.  The wormwood formula I’m making is a combination of wormwood, black walnut hull, and fennel.  The weekly formula is pumpkin seeds, fennel, mugwort, thyme, hyssop, cloves, and brown mustard seed.  I’ll keep a close eye on them and see how they do on it, tweaking as needed (and I learn more).

Worming has been a major pain in the butt, as we’d been mixing the formulas with water and then shooting it down their throats with a drenching gun.  Not fun.  I finally bought some slippery elm powder and made dosage balls, ala Molly’s Herbals.  The goats all LOVE it!  Wish we’d done that much sooner.

We also got all of the goats coppered up.  I bought copper for cattle and then downsized the capsules.  Steve used a balling gun to try and get it down the goats’ throats.  Ha.  Man, that sucked.  I ended up finding a pet pill gun, such as you would use on a cat or dog, and that worked much better.  I’m glad we only have to do that every few months.  Sheesh.

The birds have all been in winter stingy mode with the eggs.  We use no supplemental lighting so we’re lucky to get one to two dozen each week.  We did get  started butchering some extra drakes (male ducks) but need to do more, along with the older hens and a couple of extra roosters.  That extra feed expense each week really hurts when we’re not even getting enough eggs for our own family.  Maybe we’ll get around to butchering a few more over this long weekend.  Steve was supposed to work but just found out that he gets a four-day weekend.  Yay!

That’ll do for now.  I’ll try to keep up a bit better from here on out.  The next month or so should see me with a slightly calmer schedule so I’ll have no excuses.  :-)

I love balls!

Happy Halloween!  ‘Tis the season for sugar overload, right?  I’m cool with that.  The kids dress up and get to gorge themselves on candy one night each year.

But the rest of the year?  We try to keep things a little saner.  Still, it seems that everywhere we go, someone is offering the kids candy.  Candy here, candy there, oftentimes without parental approval.  People just assume that all kids can have candy.  They don’t bother to ask about allergies or other health issues.  They just shove candy down your kids’ throats as soon as your back is turned.  Hrmph.

Okay, so not everyone does that.  Lots of folks do ask — and even make it a point to get my permission without the kids hearing it.  I love those people!  And I get that even the non-askers mean well, I really do.  It’s just that there are a few health & allergy issues in this family that make fighting off candy every. single. week. a bit tiresome.  Poking those issues in the eye once a year is tolerable.  A couple of times every week, not so much.

Of course, the kids are always strong enough to just say no, right?  Bwahahahaa!!!  Um, no.  Unless you hang something over their heads.  Something shiny and/or sugary.  Enter homemade candy…  For every piece of crap candy they turn down while out & about, they get two — count ‘em — TWO pieces of homemade candy.  Homemade candy, as in I control the ingredients.

This week, I made up a couple of different candies.  Not just for kids anti-crap-candy bribes, er, rewards, but also to keep my grubby paws out of the Halloween candy the kids bring home and for taking a treat to the monthly bee meeting.  Allow me to introduce you to Mounds & Balls:

These are a homemade take on Mounds bars.  You know, the poorer cousin of Almond Joy?  The recipe I based mine on can be found at Elana’s Pantry.  I used honey in place of the agave nectar and added more.  Otherwise I used roughly the same ratios but I did just eyeball it all.  I also had no fancy-pants Mounds molds so I rednecked it.  I used a ginormous cookie sheet, lined with wax paper, and smooshed the coconut goo out over it until it was more or less even.  Then I melted the chocolate chips in the microwave and spread out over the top of the coconut goo.  After that, I let it harden in the deep freeze for a few minutes, then inverted on the counter and spread more melted chocolate over the was-bottom-now-top, formerly-uncoated-side of the coconut goo.  Back into the freezer for a few, then onto the counter for cutting into squares.

A word on cutting before you lose your mind turning all of that hardened chocolate into a yummy but shredded disaster:  Save yourself some heartache and score the top chocolate with the tip of your knife.  Then cut… with patience.  And be prepared to eat the screw ups before anyone sees them.

Now for these little darlings… or what’s left of them.  I could not stop eating them!  Holy crap, they’re good.  I started with Butter Believer’s creamy Ball Snacks recipe .  I had no dates to use but, honestly, I think they would have messed up the whole ball mojo for my taste buds so I’m glad I left them out.  I stuck almonds on the food processor and whirred them for a bit — but not into butter mode, then added about half as much shredded coconut as the nuts and a good blob of coconut oil and some glugs of honey.  and then some more coconut oil and yet more honey.  You know, until it looked, felt, & tasted right.  I’m all anal about proportions like that.  Play with it.  Lick the spoon and your fingers.  A lot.  Eventually, birds will sing and you’ll know you have it right for your taste buds.

Shove that puppy in the fridge for a half hour or so to firm up a bit.  That’ll make it easier for the next step:  Roll between your hands, by the spoonful, to form balls.  Some I tossed in cocoa powder but I preferred them plain.  (I’m not a chocolate freak.)  Then toss those sucker back in the deep freeze quick before you eat them all.

I’m storing all of these in the freezer for safekeeping.  (The coconut oil doesn’t get break-your-teeth-off hard, just nice and firm.) It makes it more difficult to mindlessly munch them all into oblivion.  In theory.  The sad reality of it is I’ve nearly finished off all of the leftover balls.  *shame*  I believe that the Mounds were the crowd favorite but I think they’re all nuts.  Balls are where it’s at, people!

Please pretend you didn’t just see me walk to the deep freeze to sneak a couple more from the freezer while writing this.

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