Button Up Your Shirt

I find it difficult to buy shirts these days. I prefer to wear button up shirts and I like for them to be pretty and feminine, but it has become increasingly difficult to buy a decent shirt that actually buttons all the way up. They used to. Now they stop short in my opinion. Take this shirt, for instance.

I like the material, the way it is made and the way it fits. But it needs to have one more button to make it decently modest for me. I understand that for many people this would not be an issue at all. 
But frankly, and excuse me, I am sick and tired of looking at cleavage everywhere I turn. Keep it to yourself. It doesn’t belong out in public. I had an administrator in Alaska once that described part of the school dress code like this. “No cleavage front or rear. Students and staff alike.” Ditto. Has anyone heard of Sodom and Gomorrah? Since when is it okay for indecent clothing to be considered fashionable and reasonable for public display? And just because some people prefer that fashion, why is it almost impossible to buy clothing that is not revealing? Frank and I both agree that it is disgraceful the way some mothers dress their daughters. I am saddened by what has become the norm for many people in our society.

Well, back to my shirt problem. I tried sewing on a hook and eye, but the shirt didn’t lay flat, so it didn’t look good. I was glad to find out that this shirt came with an extra button on the inside seam. So I decided to make another button hole. 

I started off by removing the extra button….

figuring out where to put the new button hole, then I started sewing.

I could have set up the button hole attachment on my sewing machine, but by the time I had it ready, I would just about have this one made by hand.

When I finished sewing the button hole, I opened it up using a seam ripper.


I matched up the two sides of the shirt to figure out where the button needed to be attached. 

There. No one will ever be able to tell this shirt didn’t come this way unless they very closely inspect the button holes and see that the thread I used is a shade darker than the original button holes. Now I am comfortable wearing my pretty, new shirt.

I am grateful God has blessed me with the opportunity to learn so many different things in my life, both skills and morals.

Until next time – Fern

Radio – Become a Ham, Part 4

Hello, Frank here.

Hi everyone. I hope the world it treating you good. Okay, we have covered electrical principals, Ohm’s Law and calculating power. The time frames I’m using comes from the No Nonsense Study Guide, Technician Class by Dan Romanchik, KB6NU. 

One more area that some people have a little difficulty with is the metric system. Some people ask, “Why do we use the metric system?” Because radio was developed in Europe and Europe uses the metric system. It’s that simple. Using metric is not my first choice, and it may not be yours either, but this is the system that is used in multiple professions and it is used in amateur radio. So when I sit around and whine to my wife about why does it have to be this way, she tells me to suck it up and put on my big girl panties and deal with it. God how I love being married!

Okay. We are going to be talking about the terms milli, micro, pico, kilo and mega. The last two you are already familiar with because if you get an electric bill and you look at the power consumed it will be in kilowatts. If you’ve ever adjusted the dial on a commercial radio station, that’s the FM radio in your car, you have also used the term mega. 

Okay. If you have a meter stick in your house, great. Or if you have a tape measure that also has metric on it, please get it. If you don’t, then use your imagination. A meter is about three inches longer than a yard stick. A yard is 36 inches, or 3 feet, so a meter is about, about 3 inches longer than a yard stick. Now you have an approximate idea of how long a meter is. A meter is divided into centimeters and millimeters. For the benefit of teaching here, how much is one cent in relationship to one dollar? It takes 100 pennies, or cents, to make a dollar. A cent is 1/100 of a dollar. Therefore, you have 100 centimeters in a meter. For those of us stuck in a different mind frame, a centimeter is a little bigger than 1/4 inch and smaller than 1/2 inch. Okay. So. 

One centimeter = one hundredth of a meter
Now follow me here. 
A milli = one thousandth of a meter
Okay, now follow me closely here. 
100 centimeters = 1 meter
Since a millimeter = 1/1000 of a meter
then, 1000 millimeters = 1 meter

Now, remember when we are talking about meters, we are talking about length. You can also have a millisecond, a milliamp and a millivolt, these are all 1/1000 of whatever you are dealing with. So –

1 milliamp = 1/1000 of an amp or .001 amps.
500 milliamps = .500 amps OR 1/2 amp
If you have 1000 milliamps, you have 1 amp

If you are still reading, then let’s go to micro. Micro means one millionth of an item or quantity. I know it’s hard to think in terms like, one millionth of a second, which is time. But we will use those when dealing with voltage. So. 

 A centi is 100th or .01
A milli is 1/1000 or .001
A micro is 1/1000000 or .000001 

I’m not going to discuss pico because it deals with one trillionth of a quantity and it’s not something you really need to know.

The milli and the micro, remember, are smaller than one, and kilo and mega are larger than one. Ok. Here goes.

Kilo = 1000
Example: one kilowatt = 1000 watts
A kilometer = 1000 meters

Your electric bill comes in kilowatts. The radio stations on the AM dial in your car radio come in kilohertz. 

Example: 1000 kilohertz on your AM dial, means 
1000 x 1000 = 1,000,000
That is 1000 kilohertz or 1,000,000 hertz
Mega = 1,000,000 of a quantity

You say well, I tune in my FM radio to 100 megahertz and listen to Willie Nelson sing. Well, maybe not Willie Nelson, but 100 megahertz is 
100 x 1,000,000 which will give you 100,000,000 hertz. Okay. Forget your AM and FM radio, and let’s go back to 1000 kilohertz. We did the math up above, and we got 1,000,000 hertz. 

 1,000,000 hertz is also = to 1 megahertz
Because mega = one million
therefore, 1000 kilohertz = one megahertz

To convert kilo to mega, move the decimal point 3 places to the left. We will use that information. But you say, “What’s a hertz?” It’s a car rental place at the airport. And it really is.

Okay. Let’s go back a little bit. The wall outlet in your house is approximately 120 volts AC 60 cycles per second. What that means

is one sine wave going from zero up to positive, back down to zero, continues going downward, then comes back up to zero. That is one sine wave. That is also one cycle, or one hertz. Now, I’ve said your wall socket has 60 cycles/second. That is also 60 hertz per second. Okay. AM radio, on your car radio dial, operates between about 670 and 1500 kilohertz, or KHZ. The FM radio stations in your car operate somewhere between 88 and 1.7 megahertz, or MHZ.

So, yes, the radio station on the FM dial has about 100,000,000 hertz per second. Okee-dokee? And, yes, it is measurable. But that’s not our concern right now.

Go back to your manual on page 9 and you will see a description of what I just tried to explain. These are the question that are on the Technician’s test and what you need to know is the correct answer that goes with the correct question. Hopefully you have gone to one of the previously mentioned websites and started completing the free practice tests. If you are reading this, then you are probably aware that this is not a free government program and you  

are going to have to take the test and match the questions and the answers. It’s helpful if you know what this information means, but it is not required. All that is required, is that you match the right answer to the right question. As I told you earlier, my wife, or YL, scored better on both tests than I did and she doesn’t know and doesn’t care what any of this means. If you want to know what the information means the ARRL website has books for sale that will teach you what the information actually means. If that is not your path, then just memorize the answers. 

An example of this is on the bottom of page 9 where it deals with decibels (dB). It gives you three ratios – 3dB, 6dB, and 10dB. Look at each one. 3dB is a ratio of 2 to 1. 6 dB is a ratio of 4 to 1. 10 dB is a ratio of 10 to 1. You don’t need to know what it means. Most people that talk dB’s have no clue what they’re talking about. They know that the bigger the dB, the better. But for test purposes, there are only three choices. Memorize the answers. However your mind works, find a way to relate 3, 6, and 10 to the ratio.

Okay. We are finished for today. I hope this has helped somebody on the planet. In the near future, we are going to talk about electronic principles

and components. A whole lot of this you will find to be common sense, and the rest you will just memorize. Please read ahead, take the Technician practice tests and when you are consistently scoring 85% or better, arrange to take the test. A buddy of mine took the Technician and General test on the same day and passed both of them. So don’t wait for me. If you’re one of those that has the ability to learn on your own, do so. If you have a question, send it to me. If you want to talk to a

human, contact your local ham radio club. But remember, safety overrides everything. Where I live it is raining right now, with occasional claps of thunder. All of my antennas are disconnected and I am not sitting in a bubble bath of hot water during an electrical storm. Think safe. Don’t be stupid. Always follow the safety rules. I mentioned a long time ago, you don’t want to fry your little girl’s brain by doing something stupid. No joke. If you have questions let me know.

My wife just reminded me that our world is looking a little iffy as we go along. This might be one of the only means of communication when the electricity goes off. You might ask, “If the electricity goes off, it goes off everywhere.” That’s true. And your car may not run because of no

gasoline, but if you will pop the hood, clean off your 12 volt battery, top it off with distilled water, connect a 10 watt solar panel that you can find at thousands of stores, then you have a car battery that will stay charged and you can listen to radio, whether it’s AM or FM. Now put the vehicle very close to your house. The antennas on your car will work great, connect them to the radios inside your house, run a small cord from your battery to your 12

volt radio in your house. Whether it be CB, GMRS, VHF/UHF, MURS, HF, scanner, weather radio, SW – you can have world wide communications off of that little 12 volt battery, a small 10 watt solar panel, a tad bit of creativity and a little gumption. You can now listen to radio broadcasts from around the world. And if you need to, you can talk to people in your local community and with the right radio and the right antenna you can talk to people around the world. Now if you find this inspiring, great. Then refer back to the beginning of this article, get up, put on your big girl panties, and get it done. Time is short. That little girl I mentioned earlier? It may save her life, her mommy’s life and her daddy’s life.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Goat Breeding Season

March 2013 kids

We traditionally turn our buck in with our does to breed October 1st so we will have kids in March. It is a good time of year to have kids here. It is usually not too cold and some of the grass is starting to come up and provide some fresh green forage for the does when they begin producing milk. We have had some accidental births at odd times of the year due to unplanned breeding, but our preference is to breed according to our schedule. This is another one of those things that is strictly a personal preference. Many people do things differently and we all have our own reasons for why we do things ‘our’ way. This is how we do it.

Velvet and Copper are both One Stripe’s girls

A doe will normally come into standing heat for one day out of 21. It is the only time she will breed. The average gestation for a doe is 150 days. I have had some does that kid at exactly 150 days and some that go until 155 days. This kind of information is only gained with daily observation of the herd and good record keeping. We don’t always know when a doe has bred, but there are usually signs that let you know she is coming into or out of heat, which makes an approximate date available. Keeping good does for a few years will also provide information about gestational tendencies. I had a doe that consistently went for 155 days except for once when she had quadruplets. Then she only went for 153 days, still 3 days beyond average.

We attempted to breed two of our four does in July this year so they would kid in December. The other two we planned to breed in October for March kidding. This would keep us in milk year round instead of having all of the does dry up in January. We will find out over the next three weeks if anyone bred in July, but I don’t think so. At least we didn’t have any indications that they did.

Velvet last March before her first kid.

A few days ago Velvet came into heat so we went ahead and turned Theodore, better known as Teddy, in with the does. Frank named him after Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy is a three year old buck we bought this past spring. He is amazingly easy to handle and will walk anywhere lead by his collar or a leash. He is also a nice, big goat that could add some size to our herd.

One Stripe and Teddy

The problem is twofold with Teddy. When we turned him in with the does in July he became more aggressive to us by trying to push on us. Not butt us, but push us around physically. The next problem was he didn’t like Pearl, our Great Pyrenees. At first he kind of avoided her, then he started rearing up like he wanted to butt heads with her, like goats do. Pearl started staying out in the pasture instead of sleeping in the barn with the goats which was her customary spot. Then one day when we went to feed, Teddy butted Pearl and smashed her into the birthing pens in the barn. That was not a good day for Teddy. That was when we decided his days were numbered. We will use him for this breeding season and when all of the does are bred, he will be leaving.

I keep a document with a table to record dates of breeding and estimated dates for kidding. I always hope I don’t need to record a second or third breeding. We had a doe that bred again for the last time, finally, on Christmas eve. I don’t know why it took her so many times, sometimes it just happens that way.

                                Goat Breeding Schedule
Due Date
Due Date
Due Date
One Stripe
July 19
Dec 16
August 6
January 3
Sept 26
Feb 23
As the does breed I will add dates to the table. We wait to see if any does breed again after 21 days to make sure everyone ‘took’ before we remove the buck. I have read that some people only put the doe and buck together for a few hours then separate them. I know others that run their herd together all of the time and the kids are born throughout the year. It is all a matter of preference and what the purpose is for the goats. 

Copper is our only yearling this year and will be having her first kids.

It would be great to have our breeding completed in the next 30 days. If all of the does come into heat and become pregnant during the first breeding, it will be time for Teddy to go and just about time to butcher the three wethers we have. Then for a short period of time we will be down to four does. Then comes kidding season, which is a great time of year. And that means spring is coming and it will be time to plant the garden again.

Even though I had hoped One Stripe bred in July, it looks like she will be breeding again in the next few days.

It is a good seasonal life with something going on during each part of the year. No two years are quite the same and there is always something new to be learned. Enjoy the last vestiges of summer as we slide into the cooler fall weather. The leaves will be changing here before we know it.
Until next time – Fern

Great Homegrown Nachos

We had all of the ingredients handy for making nachos, and it sounded like a great evening meal. The more I thought about it, the more interesting it sounded. Here is the way we made them.

The ingredients we used include:

Some of the jalapeno peppers that were left over when we canned up six pints last night.

A few of the onions we grew this summer. Growing onions has never been successful in our garden. This is about as big as they get. We’ll try again next year and see if we can master growing that vegetable to normal size.

Some of our salsa we put up in August. We grew the tomatoes and peppers for this salsa. We had to buy the onions (see above) and cilantro. This is the first time we have tried our canned salsa this year. We have been able to keep a fresh quart in the frig most of the summer.

Chevron roast from a wether we butchered last fall. This was a nice hind quarters we cooked up last month. I like to freeze up the extra meat in quart size freezer bags to use later in meals like this.

I use corn tortillas that we fry up. We use olive oil for anything requiring oil when we cook. 

Cheddar cheese. This was the wheel that stuck in the cheese press when we made it. I wondered how it would come out.

It had some spots of mold here and there and the general surface was a little bumpy. I decided to cut off a thin layer of the entire surface.

It won’t go to waste. Pearl, our Great Pyrenees, loves cheese. The cheese is a very nice mild flavored cheddar that has aged for five months. 

After I fried the chips, I diced the onions and roast for the first layer.

Then I added some peppers and salsa…..

And topped it with shredded cheddar.

These nachos were some of the best we have ever had. No, really, they were! Part of the reason is that we raised the goats that gave us the milk that made the cheese. Another part is growing the tomatoes, peppers and little onions. Then there was that wether that was born here that we butchered and cooked, he tasted really good. It always amazes us that we can harvest and eat from the work of our hands. And it tastes good to boot!

Until next time – Fern

Drying and Canning Peppers

Our peppers are still producing well, so it’s time to preserve some of them. We have been eating fresh peppers for some time and have used some to make salsa. We really like pickled jalapeno peppers and have enough at one time to put up a few pints. Our sweet peppers are doing well and we usually eat them fresh or add them to squash relish. We haven’t preserved any to use during the winter before, but this year we are trying our hand at dehydrating them.

Peppers have some nutrients that are not found in many other foods, so they are good addition as a food storage item.

The jar contains the first batch of dehydrated peppers. It is surprising how little space they take up after they are dried.

The first year we canned jalapeno peppers I followed the recipe in my Ball canning book which called for running them through the

water bath canner for 10 minutes. They were really soft and mushy and we didn’t like them well at all. I tried to alter the recipe enough that they wouldn’t be so soft to no avail. Last year I didn’t use the water bath at all. I boiled the vinegar and water, packed the peppers in hot jars, poured on the boiling liquid, put the lids on tightly and covered them with a towel to seal. That worked fine, but we have been rethinking the safety of using that method. With all of that said, here is the latest version of my pickled peppers.

I cut up my peppers (make sure you wear gloves!) a couple of days ago and refrigerated them. This evening after work I had enough time to can them but I didn’t want them to be cold, so I had to figure that into my recipe.

6 cups vinegar
2 cups water
3 cloves garlic crushed
(I used dried minced garlic)
Let this boil gently for 5 minutes then remove the garlic.

At this point, since my peppers were refrigerator cold, I added them to the boiling liquid and returned them to a boil.

While I was waiting for everything to boil, I decided it would be a good time to start a batch of chevre cheese. We aren’t getting near as much milk right now, but we still had enough to make a batch of cheese. Our favorite way to spice up some of this cheese is with dried onions and salt. Since we are dehydrating some of the peppers I started thinking about how I might use them and this cheese recipe came to mind. We both agree that the dried peppers will be good with the onions, so we will be able to try it out in a few days after the cheese is made.

I got an idea from CQ over at Hickory Holler Farm when she shared how she cans up her dill pickles. I think it will improve the safety factor of canning peppers without making them mushy and I thought I would give it a try. While the liquid for the peppers was boiling, I put my lids and rings on to simmer and put my six jars covered in water in the water bath to heat. I let the water bath come to a boil, then turned off

the fire. Then I took out one jar at a time, filled it with peppers and boiling liquid, put the lid and ring on tight, then returned it to the water bath until all of the jars were filled. I did not turn the fire back on under the water bath, but left the jars in the almost boiling water for 10 minutes before I removed them and put them under a heavy towel to cool. I have been rewarded with the sound of pinging lids sealing.

Some days, this time of year, it would be much easier to let the garden go and enjoy a slower pace in the evening after work. But I feel the need to learn more about growing and preserving food for the winter like never before. I feel all we can learn about growing and preserving our own food is a vital skill that will soon make more of a difference in our lives than we ever dreamed. Do your part.

Until next time – Fern

How to Knit a Dishcloth

I learned how to knit when I was in grade school. At first I just did small bracelets and simple pieces. Then I went on to afghans, sweaters, baby blankets and dishcloths. I tried to make some socks once, but I didn’t get very far. I didn’t have the patience to figure out how to manage five double pointed needles at one time. It is still in there on the shelf. Maybe one day I will pick it up again.

 Most of my hand work is done when I am in the mood for it. I have gone through stages of needlework, quilting, sewing dresses and knitting. Each in it’s own turn when I had a notion to work on that particular skill. For many years now I have made our dishcloths. I don’t remember the last time I used a store bought dishcloth in our kitchen. Once I tried these, I thought they worked so much better than the traditional cloth or sponge that I have never used anything else. Lately, I have been using up small amounts of different colored yarn I had left over. It makes for an inconsistent color pattern, but I had quite a few leftovers building up and wanted to put them to use. These dishcloths have an edging around them. I only make this pattern if I am going to give them away. For myself, I make a plain square shaped cloth. It’s quick and easy.

There are quite a few different patterns for making dishcloths, some are knitted and some are crocheted. I found out long ago that I prefer knitting to crocheting. I just like the looks of it better. For a beginning knitter, I would recommend you make a square dishcloth without any pattern or edging. It is simple to do. This YouTube shows the basics in beginning to knit. It shows how to cast on, which is how to put stitches on the needle to begin a project. It shows how to knit, which is a basic beginning stitch. It also shows how to purl, which is usually the second stitch that is learned in knitting. You don’t have to know how to purl to make a dishcloth. And finally, it shows how to cast off, or finish off the stitches so they don’t unravel. Watch the video, then I will show you how to make a very basic dishcloth.

To make a dishcloth, you need some cotton yarn and a pair of knitting needles. My mom uses a size 10, I use a size 7 or 8, whichever I find first in my knitting tote. To begin, watch the beginning of the video again and cast on 40 stitches.

One of the things the video doesn’t show is how to hold and feed the yarn. It is hard to show with still pictures, but this is how I hold mine. It gives you more control over the tension of the yarn
and how tight or loose your loops are as you work with them. Different people hold their yarn in different ways, so you will have to figure out what works best for you.

If this is your first time to knit, it may take several tries to accomplish this. Don’t worry about it. If it doesn’t come out right, take it out and start over. Since this is such a small project, it won’t take long. And besides, if it doesn’t look very pretty or come out exactly right, your dishes won’t care! It’s not like you are going to wear this.

Next, knit. That’s it. Watch the video again on how to do the ‘knit’ stitch. That’s all you have to do until the dishcloth is as big as you want it to be. I try to make them roughly square. Since you have 40 stitches on your 
needle, you may knit about 40 rows. A lot will depend on how tight or loose you knit. When I was younger, my mom used to knit very tightly so she would use bigger needles, and I would have to use smaller needles than the pattern 
called for because I knit so loosely. Now we are both closer to a ‘normal’ tension. Don’t worry about being too tight or loose with your yarn, your dishes won’t care!

I pull a bottom corner up to the opposite corner on my knitting needle to try to determine if the dishcloth is roughly square, like this.

When you are satisfied with the size, go back to the video and watch the part on casting off. 


This technique gives the knitting a nice finished edge. If it is the first time you have done this, it may be a little wiggity and crooked, but you should consider it to be a nice finished edge, nevertheless.

That is the great thing about learning something new. There is a lot of leeway for determining success.

Remember the first time you tried to drive a car? Did you scare yourself and whoever was with you to death? Did you make it? Well, think of your first knitting project the same way. 

You can wash these dishcloths just like the cloth ones. Mine usually fade after a while, but again, my dishes don’t care. Once you make a few for yourself, make some and give them away. Most women love something homemade, handmade and useful. Dust catchers (knick knacks) are nice sometimes, but something useful is even better. I usually stick a little note on it, or tell the person, “Now you have something to help you wash your cares away.” I have also been known to tell someone that prayers were knitted into every stitch, just for them. It is a nice little something that is easy to give away.

Until next time – Fern

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

I was excited when my first ever sunflowers came up this summer. And then they actually had these big, beautiful sunflowers! I have always looked at pictures of gardens that had sunflowers and thought I would like to do that someday. Well, this summer, someday arrived. It has been an interesting venture. 

I didn’t grow very many. The seeds I planted were a few years old and I didn’t know if they would still be viable.

Here are the first two that I thought were ready to pick. I wasn’t sure at what stage I should pick them.


The rest I left to ripen longer on the plants. This first batch of seeds I picked out very carefully.

When it came time to get the seeds out of these flower heads, they were much drier and the material surrounding the seeds came out of the flower head as well. It reminds me of the chaff surrounding a wheat seed.

I ended up pulling the dried stem portion from the back of the flower then breaking up the seed head into pieces. This made it easier to handle and remove the seeds. I got a few splinters in my hand and would recommend wearing gloves.

The kittens decided it would be fun to help.

They are great fun to watch. It is a toss up which one is more fun to watch, kittens or baby goats. They both love to run and play and crack me up regularly.


A few days ago Frank refurbished our old triangle dinner bell. We have had this for many years and it was a little worse for the wear. He got out the wire brush and cleaned the corrosion off of the metal and added new leather string for hanging. He also had to add another hook to the porch for it to hang from. It is a neat addition to the back porch. I got to admire it while I was working on the sunflower seeds.

I was surprised at the number of seeds I harvested from these few flowers. But as I look at my pan of seeds, I know that it wouldn’t last a few days if I was trying to feed goats and chickens. I would need many more. I thought of trying to winnow out some of the chaff or waste material that came with the seeds from the flower head, but if I were to feed these to the goats, I think they would eat it all.

I plan to keep most of these to plant next year. I want to make sure I can grow replacement seeds.  I’ll also find out if the goats like them. The chickens get some sunflower seeds in the scratch grain we feed them now, so I know they would eat these as well. 

This has been another good learning experience, one I have wanted to try out for a long time. Now it’s your turn. Enjoy.

Until next time – Fern