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Mom shrugged.

(My apologies to Ayn Rand for not coming up with a 45-page monologue to go along with this.)

Back around Christmas, I got a head cold and that turned into a sinus infection.  That lasted forever.  And have I told you about my freakishly long-rooted tooth that is in cahoots with my sinus cavity?  I had the one on my right side pulled a few years ago.  Ever since, I’ve regretted not having its match on the left side pulled.  Each time I get a sinus infection (and, man, am I prone to them), my tooth goes all haywire and gets inflamed, the side of my face blows up, and it feels like a million little pain elves are in my cheek & jaw, stabbing me with flaming, acid-laced daggers.

So on and on this went and, just as it was beginning to calm down, the flu hit.  It smacked every last one of us upside the head within about 24 hours.  So not fun.  We all took turns playing possum on the sofas while the house fell into piles of discarded tissues and other crud.  The boys were to have their Klondike campout with the Boy Scouts the weekend of the Polar Plunge but we decided that maybe, just maybe, 48+ hours out in the sub-freezing temps would not be good while still recovering from the flu.  But, of course, we went ahead and did the Polar Plunge anyway.  Not smart but at least it was short-lived not smart, right?

Now, here we are, still weak and coughing but, I think, on the mend at last.  Once I get my sinuses and tooth back under control, I’m going to have that sucker ripped out.  <—Please hold me to that because I know I’ll wuss out once the infection has passed.

So what’s my point?  Remember that we have been doing the GAPS diet?  Yeah, well.  After the flu hit, I was too sick to do the grocery shopping so asked Steve, on his way home from work, to just get a week’s worth of whatever was easy for everyone to fix for themselves as they were able to eat.  So, for a week or so, we ate frozen egg rolls, hot pockets, pizza rolls, frozen pizza, etc, etc.  Oh, yeah.  Most of the kids were begging for me to by “real food” a few days into it.  I was finally able to make it to the store this past Thursday so we’re working our way back to healthier eating but I don’t think I have it in me to do full GAPS intro for a third time so soon.

Where does that leave us?  At this point, we’re calling it GAPrimreal (GAPS + Primal + Real (Traditional) Foods).  :-D  We need time to just relax and recuperate.  In fact, after the last twelve months of seemingly endless injury and illness, I’m hereby declaring the remainder of 2013 the Year of Healing.  <—Please hold me to that as well.

There’s more shrugging happening as well but I’ll leave that for another post.  I feel lighter already.  Don’t you?

Happy 2013!

The new modem arrived and I got it installed.  And… we still don’t have reliable internet.  It’s up.  It’s down.  It’s up.  It’s down.  This morning, it’s actually been up for a few hours — mostly.  But, I have no doubt that it’ll go back to more down than up before too long, as it always does.  I’m not sure what we’re going to do.  We might upgrade to the new HughesNet Gen4, dunno.  We could switch to WildBlue but I hate their guts even more than I hate HughesNet.  There’s always mobile data but I’m hesitant to do that due to living in the boonies and in the middle of a giant hole of “extended data” in every friggin’ company’s coverage.  That doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.  HughesNet has the best deal for us out of all of the options so we’ll probably stick with them — if they can fix this frustrating problem.  In the meantime, if I go several days without posting, you know why and don’t have to worry.  I’ll be back when the internet cooperates.

GAPS re-Intro is going well.  I guess.  If you don’t count the Pizza Hut that night that Steve, Sr. came over to celebrate Christmas last week.  Ahem.

Cody and I restarted intro the 26th, the day after Christmas.  We’re spending five days on each stage, for a total of 30 days on intro.  We may end up going longer on some stages, if we feel we need to do so, but I don’t think there will be much of a need since we’re customizing a bit as we go anyway.  We’re trying to avoid foods we have allergies/sensitivities to, in order to not further cheese off our systems.  I figure as long as there are other, nourishing & unoffending foods to eat, we’ll stick with those longer so that we have more time to heal.  One size never fits all.

We’re now halfway through Stage 2.  Stages 1 through 3 are pretty boring.  Okay, really boring.  I can’t wait to move onto Stage 4.

So about that Pizza Hut thing…  I’d been feeling pretty crappy for a few days, down with a bad cold/mild flu/who cares it sucks.  Steve’s dad was due to come over for dinner to celebrate a slightly delayed Christmas and I didn’t have the energy to fix anything.  It was my worst day of the illness and I gave in to Steve offering to bring home pizza.  We’d been on GAPS since Thanksgiving and hadn’t cheated so it’s not like we were serial cheaters or anything, you know?  And no food we had on hand appealed to me whatsoever.  And you know what?  That pizza, while it tasted good, did not set off some sort of crazed feeding frenzy.  It had no ill effects on me at all.  And, I started feeling better.  By the next morning, I was feeling better than I had in a week.  I wasn’t carb deprived or anything like that as I’ve been very, very careful to keep lots & lots of good carbs in our diet so we don’t bonk.  But my body, in that instance, was greatly boosted by whatever combination of salt – fat – refined carbs – protein was in there.  No ill effects, no rebound, nothing negative whatsoever, and I was back to being on GAPS Intro the next day, right where I’d left off.

I just read Matt Stone’s Eat for Heat ebook.  It was on sale for 99 cents the other day so I nabbed it.  (For those not yet familiar with Matt Stone, check out his 180 Degree Health blog.)  He brings up some good points and I’m going to keep them in mind as I go through GAPS.  Again, I always try to remember that one size never fits all.  Forever tweaking — that’s me.  I love being my own guinea pig.  I love reading nutrition books from all sorts of sources, all different viewpoints, and seeing if I can fit it all together and try to come up with a big picture.  It’s like a giant jigaw puzzle to health.  It’s fun and, if I end up with improvements to my health along the way, it’s just that much cooler.

Speaking of that:  I’m hoping, with some personal tweaks and much, much attention paid to how my body reacts and manages healing, that I can avoid doing that whole two years on GAPS thing.  As the doctor who came up with the program wrote, it’s all very individualistic so don’t be afraid to change things up to suit your own health.  I’m hoping I can be off of GAPS in a year, rather than two, but I won’t know until I get there.  Maybe it’ll be sooner, maybe later.  I certainly think Charlie and Duke will be able to ease off of it rather quickly since youngsters bounce back rather quickly from most things and they were only a little “off” to begin with.  (Remember, they asked if they could go on GAPS.  I didn’t tell them to.)  Cody, I don’t know.  I’m not seeing any changes in his behavior at all.  He’s most assuredly not one of those glowing “massive & speedy recovery” from autism cases.  He’s exactly the same.  I have, however, noted that his frequent complaints of stomachaches have greatly lessened so there is, at least, that.

Okay, enough of nutrition crap.

Steve got a new milk stand built last week.  (We had to leave our old one behind on the move.)  It’s beautiful!  And a new hay feeder!  Also gorgeous!  He’s now started working on the garden fence so that we can get the goats & birds moved in to clear the overgrown, nasty, horribly weedy mess of a garden by spring planting time.  Oh, I can’t wait!!  I didn’t really get much gardening done last year because of the farmer’s market so I’m really, really crazed with pent-up gardening right now!

Yesterday, I finally made it through my seed stash and got everything reorganized.  I also updated my spreadsheet with the current seeds.  I simplified a few seeds into “mixes” because I just don’t care much what types as long as they give me something edible, like carrots.  My overall goal is to get most of these seeds used up so I can renew the stash with fresh seeds.  I’ll only “need” to order a few seeds this year as long as I keep that in mind.  Heh.  I am completely out of cucumber seeds, for example, so those are a need, rather than a want.  I’ve also decided that I’m going to renew my squash growing efforts.  I get so sick of losing to the squash bugs before getting but one or two fruit, that I gave up year before last.  This year, I’m going to grow squash, both summer and winter.  I’m going to plant them in oddball places, all willy-nilly in random spots in the garden, intermixed with other veggies and fruit.  I’m hoping that at least some of them will make it.

I’ll try to get my seed inventory page here updated today and/or tomorrow so those folks who trade with me can take a look-see.  I guess I’d better get a move on and do that.  It helps me finalize — in my mind — what I’ll need to order and I really need to get that done soon.  It’s already time to start wintersowing!  Yay!!

I meant to talk about New Year’s resolutions, a.k.a. Goals for 2013 around the homestead here, but I got distracted.  I swear, you put a shiny plant in my radar and my mind is gone.  Poof!

Ruts, cinnamon soap, local resources, and WAPF.

Full GAPS continues with Steve, Nellie, and Josie mostly on board now.  (Isaac eats what the family does, of course, but he eats the cafeteria lunch offered when he’s at school, whatever that might be.)  I, the main cook, seem to be stuck in a rut and desperately need to break out of that.  I think I’ll be doing some dinner-inspiration hunting and menu planning over the next few days before I have a mutiny on my hands.  Once we’ve gotten past Christmas, I’m going back to redo the Intro, much more slowly this time.  I’d have already started it since this is a “slow” time of the year for me in regards to not having to drive to this activity & that activity constantly but we haven’t even started our Christmas shopping yet, nor made any neighbor treats, nor have I begun my holiday sewing.  It’s going to be a busy, busy few days starting tomorrow and I don’t want to have to deal with that on Intro.  Bah humbug!  And my schedule picks back up to insane levels by the second week in January so I’ve got a small window to get the worst of Intro over with before having to deal with too much reality.

There.  I’ve said it out loud so now I’m committed.

I made another batch of honey coconut milk soap/shampoo the other day.  I made it just like all of the others but something different happened this time.  I added the honey at trace and it started turning red!  I’ve never had that happen before.  I’ve added honey both at the end of the hot process, right before molding it, and at trace and never had it do this.  It also turned thin.  I was worried, wondering if I’d just wasted a batch of goods, but I mixed the snot out of it with the stick blender and it began thickening again after a long while.  After it cooked for an hour or so, I tongue tested it for a zap and it was fine but it smelled like… something.  I couldn’t put my finger on it but the smell and now dark brown color begged for cinnamon.  So in went some cinnamon before I molded it.  The kids all came running in, wondering if I was making GAPS-friendly cinnamon rolls.  Ha, no.  I unmolded and cut it and it’s a gorgeous deep, chocolate brown — and smells of cinnamon, of course.  But that cinnamon makes it a bit scratchy so we’ll save it for using on rough feet & muddy gardening hands, rather than scrubbing down kids in the tub.  How do I know this?  Because goofy Steve grabbed a bar this morning to shower with, not even waiting for it to harden with curing.

I’ve been working on the SlowMoFood site this week, when my sucky internet cooperates.  While I’m very much not a person with any style, sense of design, or taste whatsoever, I’m liking the the way it’s starting to look.  Besides fiddling with its looks & navigation, I’m also working on adding pages for “local resources” and “online resources”.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Who in the area has raw milk?”, “Where can I get fresh, local produce that’s not swimming in chemical goo?”, and that sort of thing.  So, instead of trying to keep all of that info in my head to share when asked, I figured it was time to compile it all in one place a bit more reliable than my brain.  I’ve searched and searched but not found a resource like that already in existence for our area.  Maybe this will help us all connect, both local consumers and local producers.  While I was at it, I thought maybe an online resource page would also be helpful for certain things that are not available locally.  There are a bazillion of them out there already but I’ve found better deals & better products not always on the same, or any, lists.  Now when I run out of something and need to reorder I don’t have to wrack my brain and/or google for hours trying to re-find where I got the best product/deal last time.

And ya know what?  Because I don’t have enough on my plate already, I’m thinking I’m going to start a local WAPF chapter.  I have no idea yet what that exactly that will entail so I may yet live to regret it.  More on that later as I find out.  (FYI:  WAPF has a wackadoodle sort of feel for a lot of people and I used to get that same vibe.  Then I realized I was lumping in a bunch of other crap, such as Mercola.  *gag*  Once I cleared my head of the self-induced confusion, I realized the organization held a lot of value for me.  Like anything, no one is going to agree on every. single. issue but, overall, I think they serve a great purpose — to get people to open their minds to traditional, healthful foods and start backing away from the crap foods that I see usually fill most grocery carts.)

So there ya go.  I was going to rant on the Boy Scouts but I have some parmesan-topped broccoli calling my name.

It’s out to get me and you can’t convince me otherwise.

Remember the Christmas Crack house?  I was driving by it last night and, from a mile or more away, I could see that it was no longer blinking, just constant lights.  It doesn’t look half bad like that, thought I.  The blinky crackhead timers must have blown themselves out, I mused.  Until I got closer.  As I passed directly in front of it, not daring to take my eyes off of it in case it should be mere trickery, it blinked.  For three whole seconds.  No one else on the road but me.  And it blinked.  Deliberately.  At me.  After I passed, the lights all came back on, nice & steadily glowing in a menacing manner.  It knows.  And it is letting me know that it will make me pay.  It’s personal now.

Speaking of things trying to kill me, holy Super Smelly Grandmas!  Geez.  I don’t know if this is a common thing on GAPS but I’ve become a bloodhound.  My nose now has super powers.  I’m picking up odors from all sorts of places — and I don’t even want to think about where half of them are coming from.  So we’re sitting at the season’s first basketball practice the other night and in walks Super Smelly Grandma.  Of course, she has to sit right next to me.  I swear the woman had bathed in perfume five minutes before practice.  And, of course, I’m allergic to perfumes and sprout an immediate & massive headache and feel like barfing all over the freshly-buffed gym floor.  But she’s so nice and I don’t want to hurt her feelings so there I remain, getting sicker and sicker, my eyes actually started to tear from the intense smell.  I couldn’t think through my pounding head, couldn’t figure out a solution.  I was frozen in place and simply could not move.   Finally, Nellie came over and saved me by asking me to take her to the bathroom.  Whew.  I picked up all of our things and, once done with bathroom duties, we nonchalantly resettled far away.  I’m used to walking past people with perfumes and air fresheners, dryer-sheet-clothed folks, and that sort of thing but this one just took the cake as the most miserable experience my poor nose has ever had.  I’d have been sick without the GAPS-super-powered nose anyway but that just made it even more intolerable.

GAPS Day 17:  Well, we’re not actually on Intro any longer.  Yesterday, we moved on to full GAPS.  Just a smidge over two weeks on the pretty darned restrictive GAPS Intro is a great accomplishment for Charlie and Duke, I’d say!  I’m very proud of them!  (Cody and I will go back and re-do the GAPS Intro at a much slower pace after we give ourselves a break, sticking with full GAPS in the meantime.)  Even more impressive?  We had four holiday dinners to attend during Intro and they didn’t slip up at all.  :-D  I need to print out a full-GAPS list of allowed foods for them — there are several out there but I especially love this one from Well Fed Homestead for its simplicity and thoroughness:  What can you eat on the GAPS Intro Diet?

While there’s nothing exciting going on in the garden right now, we are building up our wood chip reserve for next year.  The electric company has been doing quite a bit of tree trimming recently.  Steve & Cody have been able to go get a few truck/trailer loads of wood chips in the last couple of weeks.  I know the neighbors must think we’re nuts to have such a huge, long pile of them in the back yard (and a smaller one in the front yard).

(Is anyone else procrastinating on Christmas gifts?  I’ve made a few things but I’ve not yet started on the bulk of it.  Of course, it doesn’t help that my fabric stash is buried in basement piles of crap.)

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.