Garden Tour, End of April

We have had far more rainy, cloudy days this month than sun, and it shows. The garden is getting off to a slow start, but it is growing. I didn’t count the number of sunny days compared to the cloudy ones, but this year, it would have been an interesting statistic. There are still many folks around that are just now trying to get things planted, and it is still very, very wet. The weeds are starting to get a foothold, just like the vegetables, and with the sunny weather we are having this week, everything should take off. Our garden is no longer all dirt, God’s masterpiece has begun again. Here is the tour.

Broccoli

Store bought cabbage

Green cabbage

Michilli cabbage


Cabbage leaf with green lacewing eggs mixed in bran sprinkled on it

And I have to tell you. I think the green lacewings eggs that I sprinkled on all of the garden plants are really making a difference. They are too small to see, but the directions said the evidence would be a decrease in insect damage to the plants, and I think that is the case. We just might have our first ever cabbage crop this year. I am very hopeful. I will do a more in depth article on my beneficial insect experiment later on.

The new Comfrey bed is doing great. I harvest here almost daily.
Cowpeas are trying to make an appearance

Okra does not like cool wet weather and is not very happy….yet

Cushaw squash with nasturtiums

Yellow squash with nasturtiums

The tomatoes got off to a hard start with lots of flea beetle holes. I think the green lacewings have made a difference there, too. But the tomatoes don’t like the cool, wet weather any more than the okra. It’s been in the 40’s the last few nights with highs in the 70’s. Today was the first day of sunshine in about a week.

One of the apple trees has a surprise this year for the first time

We each had a strawberry for breakfast this morning. The first of the year.

More on the way

The new strawberry bed is growing despite all of the slugs I pick here every morning.


We have beets planted in several places that are just starting to grow well.

The carrots are happy.

We’re trying collard greens for the first time.

Cucumbers are just getting started.

Onions are finally putting on some growth.

In just a few days, these turnips have just about doubled in size.

And the Clematis is just beautiful.

It won’t be long before the garden will be in full swing and need much more tending than it does right now. That means we need to get a few more projects completed while we still have a little more time. You know the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” Well, with all of the April showers we’ve had, the wild and tame blackberries are blooming in profusion.

And the honeysuckle won’t be far behind. I pick it almost daily for the goats. It’s good for expelling worms.

We watch the garden grow with great anticipation for that first fresh squash, that first pan of turnip greens, that first red, ripe tomato and much, much more. So, tell me, how is your garden doing this year?

Today we drove about 100 miles to the east to visit one of Frank’s family, which took us through rural eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. We noticed along that way that there weren’t many gardens planted. This is sad. Why aren’t people raising their own food? Sad.

Until next time – Fern
 

The Ease of Training First Fresheners to Milk

I know the title of this article made some folks laugh. Especially those that have had the pleasure of training goats to milk. Sometimes it can be difficult at best, if not downright unbearable. I have a good friend that

milked a goat for several years and had to hobble her goat every time, even after a couple of years. That, I would find unbearable. We have always had Nubian milk goats, so I am not familiar with the personalities and idiosyncrasies of any other breed. We did raise a Boer goat once, and her baby, but they were a much more aggressive breed and did not fit in with our preferences in livestock. So we ate them. That is typically what happens to chickens and goats that don’t settle in and find their place in the scheme of things. Now we usually sell the does that just don’t work out, but we do it with full disclosure of why we are selling them to all potential buyers. The friend that had to hobble her goat bought Ivory, our screamer, back in the fall, knowing full well how loud her vocal cords could be. We had a laugh about it on the phone the other day. I guess she still hollers every time my friend goes outside, but is supposedly settling down some.

Back to training first fresheners. I commented to Frank the other day about how incredibly easy my three young does have been to milk this year. It has really surprised me. He told me it probably

Faith and one of Penny’s newborn babies

had something to do with my experience, and that after you do something for a long time you figure out how to work out the kinks. That was interesting, and got me to thinking. Why has it been so easy this year, and what can I pass along to others who are just getting started, or are having a hard time? I have also been giving our friend, Faith, milking lessons. You know, you’ve heard of piano lessons, painting lessons, driving lessons, and even cooking lessons, but it’s kind of weird to think of milking lessons. That has also made me stop and think about all of the little steps that have become an automatic part of my daily routine. I’ve been giving milking lessons because Penny, her two boys, and Copper’s girl, Buttons, who is Penny’s sister, will soon be going to Faith’s house.

This story starts back in 2010 when I first began milking here on this homestead. We had two does that I milked for a year or two back in the late 1990’s before we moved to Alaska, but I really don’t remember much about any techniques I used back then. When I started milking in 2010, we had 11 does. I know I didn’t train them all, because we sold some of them that spring after the babies were born. Some we sold with babies by their side and others individually. I think I trained five of them then, but I can’t be sure. I remember being so nervous, trying to make the goats happy and

The girls of 2010

stand still without putting their foot in the bucket and ruining the milk. I remember being frustrated and impatient with their noncompliant behavior. I remember trying to coax, then coerce, then force the behavior I was wanting and expecting. I remember some rather nervous does, because they weren’t real sure how I would be acting at a given time. I remember thinking I would never get a handle on how to get milk out of a teat without squirting it all over me, the doe, the milk stand, the ground, anywhere but inside the bucket. I remember fighting with Katy because she hated, really hated, having teat dip applied after I finished milking….for years. I finally started lifting her right hind leg way up by her hip so she couldn’t jump around while I applied the teat dip. It was much easier on me and quicker, too. I remember being on the last goat, almost finished, when she kicked the bucket over and spilled the milk from three goats, or stuck her foot in it and ruined the whole bucket full. I remember how good that first, fresh, raw milk tasted, too. It was wonderful!

I think the things I remember will bring a smile to your face if you’ve ever tried to train a goat to milk. If you are planning to train a milk goat, don’t be discouraged. It does get better. If you never have goats, I hope this is an interesting story.

The first challenge I had was how to get the goat on the milk stand. We have collars on all of the goats. If you take a goat by the collar and it tightens, even gently, under their chin on the neck, they will choke, very easily. At first, I worried about that, until I realized it doesn’t hurt them. I tried many, many things to get goats to

Copper, 2013

cooperate and willingly get on the milk stand….like they do now. I now start out bringing the young does in on the milk stand when they are young. I start around six months of age, usually not long after they have bred. It doesn’t happen everyday, but with gradual, occasional experience, the does begin to realize that coming into the barn and climbing on the milk stand will provide the rewards of a meal and a back scratch. Initially, I try coaxing the doe onto the stand voluntarily using a bowl of feed. I explained this technique when Copper was young, here. She has now had her second set of kids and gets on the stand with ease. She launches herself up from the side foregoing the steps everyone else uses. There have been a few times she slid when she landed on the stand, which caused her to fall. She was skittish for a few days, but then once again started launching herself on the stand.

With my first does, I didn’t start bringing them in to the milk stand until right after they had their first babies. This added one more thing to the list of new things these young mothers had to adjust to. They had just had

babies, they were sore, some of them were afraid of their babies and still didn’t have the nursing thing down, and now I’m taking them by the collar and bringing them to an unfamiliar place, trying to get them to step up on this platform thing while slightly choking from having their collar pulled on. Sound like fun? It didn’t work very well at all. This was the time of frustration for me and the goat. Now that I have started training the does to the stand well before they give birth, they are more than happy to come in and get on the stand for a meal. They already know what to expect, and I barely need to lead them at all. That takes care of the first hurdle. 

Next is the process of milking. Since I handled the does more and more as they come in on the stand, they didn’t even flinch when I started milking them the day after they gave birth. That was great! I could go into another one of those I remember stories, but I won’t. Lots of handling of the udder,

the belly area, scratching and patting, makes the goat more trusting of your care and handling. Use a firm, not timid hand, to maneuver a goat into the position you want them to be in. Penny tends to stand right on the outside edge of the stand. If she took one step to the right, she would fall right off. When you go to push her back towards the left side of the stand, which has a railing to keep her from falling off that side, she leans into your hand, making her even more off balance. At first I tried to slowly gently, get her to take a step to the left, only to have her really lean into me. That didn’t work, so now, I firmly and quickly push her, making her take a step or two to the left, and quickly remove my hands, causing her to regain her balance right where I want her. And since Penny is going to Faith’s house, she has practiced this as well.

Now that we have the goat on the milk stand happily eating, it’s time to wash the udder, squirt that first stream of milk into the strip cup and begin to milk. I’ve explained here the process we use along with our equipment, so I won’t go over that again. If you’ve never milked an animal, it can be difficult to ‘capture’ the milk in the teat so you can squirt it into the bucket instead of allowing it to escape back into the udder. There is a simple, yet

specific technique for this process that I cannot describe in words. You can get a standard, disposable medical glove, poke a tiny pin hole in the end of one finger, tie off the other fingers in a knot, fill it with water and practice ‘milking’. When I first started milking I was working so hard at it that I didn’t realize that the milk was squirting back into the udder instead of coming out into my bucket. Then I began to feel the milk going back up through my hand as I squeezed, kind of bubbly like. That’s when I realized that I had to have a good closure with my thumb and index finger to trap the milk in the teat before I squeezed with the rest of my hand. Even with a slow motion movie, this technique is hard to understand without trying it.

I remember trying to milk fast enough that I was finished before the doe finished her meal. That never happened in the beginning. Some of the

more docile does would turn around and look at me, and kind of nudge me on the arm with their head. Others would start kicking and dancing, even jumping both rear legs into the air as I continued to try to get that closure, squeeze and squirt technique perfected. Inevitably, some of those dancing feet ended up in the bucket, ruining the milk. Even now, when I have a definite rhythm to my milking, and am much faster, I don’t always finish before my first fresheners. We are now at one week since I started penning their babies up at night, so they have very full udders in the morning. 

I have found there is a honeymoon period when training all goats, with some it may last a few seconds and with others it may last a few weeks. But then, really, there are others that never give you a break from the first time you try to do anything with them. At first everything is kind of new and the goat seems a little oblivious to the whole milking process. Then after a few days, or even a few

They learn quickly where they are in the line up and when it is their turn.

weeks, they seem to wake up and think, “Hey, what are you doing?” and they begin to dance around or even kick a little. If the season has warmed enough for the flies to be out, that is a whole different issue. Goats hate flies on their legs anytime and will have to learn to raise their leg, stomp and knock off the flies, without hitting the bucket. Sound realistic? It does happen, but it takes a while. In time you will be able to read the body language of your goat. If they start to shift their weight on their back legs, it usually means they are getting ready to lift a leg or foot. I always milk with one hand and keep the other hand on the bucket just in case I need to move it quickly out of the way.

During Faith’s last milking lesson, I was talking a lot and not quite keeping up with my normal routine, so Cricket finished eating before I was finished milking. She decided since she was finished, I should be too. This is very typical. If you are a new milker, this is an area where you will have to establish who is boss. It doesn’t need to be in a mean way, but it does have to be in a very firm way. Most people use a head stanchion to hold their goats in place while they milk, so the goat can’t turn around or try to get off of the stand like mine do. If a goat gives me too much trouble, I will clip them to the fence with a leash. It works fine for me, but it’s different than most folks set up. I said this above, but I’ll say it again because I think it’s important to know. Most young does will go through an initial honeymoon period, but then almost always go through an onery or rebellious stage when they decide that it’s time for you to stop milking or else! They will kick at the bucket, try to bring all of their feet in close together to crowd you and the bucket out of the way, or even jump both back feet in the air at the same time, many times landing in the bucket if you’re not quick enough to pull it out of the way. Anytime they decide it is time to stop, even if I’m just about finished, I always continue to milking just a little bit longer to make them realize that I will stop when I am finished, not when they want me to. When I first started milking and this would happen, I would stop. I was unsure of myself and lacked the confidence I have now. These does would get worse and worse in their behavior, wanting me to quit earlier and earlier, or not milk all together. It’s kind of like a kid throwing a fit and getting their way. If it works once, it should work again. So I did myself a big favor, and learned to keep milking, even if all of the milk got spilled or kicked or both feet landed in it. I milked until I was finished. Period. Once I had retaught my does the correct behavior, instead of the behavior I had allowed to develop, things went much smoother. But it never went as smoothly with those goats that had to relearn correct behavior, as it has with those that never learned the wrong behavior to begin with.

And speaking of feet landing in the bucket. After ruining several almost full buckets of milk, I started bringing an extra bucket with me to the barn. I would milk one goat, pour her milk into the extra bucket, then milk the next goat. That way if a foot landed in the milk, it only ruined that one batch and not all of the milk. That saved a lot of milk as I was in the learning process. Any milk that was ruined by an errant foot was always set aside for the dog, cats and chickens.

While I was writing this article I called the friend that bought our screamer goat. I’m going to call her Hope. I told her I was writing about her and

the screamer, and we had a good laugh. Hope has milked both cows and goats for a number of years, so I asked her what she thought was the most important thing in training a first freshener. She has two of them that just had babies. Hope said that bringing the does in on the milk stand and handling them for several months before they kid is the most beneficial thing that you can do. She brings hers in and handles them all over, mimicking the act of milking each time. She has started milking her first young doe just a few days ago, and things are going very well. 

If you have any other techniques you use, or advice for the novice or veteran milker, please share them in the comment section. If you are new to milking or will be, and have questions, please share them as well. There are as many ways to milk as there are people, of that I am sure. I only milk with one hand at a time, due to my arthritis. I trade off hands and teats as each hand gets tired, so it probably takes me longer to milk than some. While I was in the barn this morning, milking our five does, I was trying

to estimate how many squeezes it took to milk them all. My first guess was about 300 to 500. Boy was I wrong! On the last doe I began to count how many times I squeezed each teat before I traded hands. That came to 50. Then I counted how many times I traded hands. The total came to just under 500 squeezes for the entire milking. 500! That really surprised me. And the last goat was a first freshener that isn’t up to full production, so I figure there are about 2500 to 3000 squeezes for a morning milking session for me. That doesn’t include milking the does again in the evening whose babies are being weaned. So, if you’re getting ready to start milking, you will be surprised at how much stronger your hands and forearms will get after a time.

Now that the screamer has gone to live with Hope, things are quieter, usually. Five goats are a few too many to milk each day, so before long Penny will be going to Faith’s house, and we will probably let One Stripe

dry up. She is seven years old now and still has strong healthy babies, but she isn’t producing as much milk this year as she has in the past. I plan to breed One Stripe and Cricket in July for December babies. This will give us a good milk supply through the winter. Then Copper, Lady Bug, Patch and Easter will be bred in November for April babies. Even with Penny gone and One Stripe not in milk, Copper, Lady Bug and Cricket will give us plenty of milk for drinking, making cheese, butter and feeding our kefir, dog, cats, chickens and pigs. We feed the whey from cheese making to the animals, and if there is too much of that, we use it to water the plants in the garden.

I really love my goats. I enjoy spending time milking them, training them and have really bonded with them, especially One Stripe, my old lady goat. Copper is her daughter, and she has a special place in my heart as well. We are also keeping One Stripe’s daughter Patch, who is already a very sweet, tame little doe. Not only do I simply get great pleasure from working with the goats, they perform their function very nicely by providing us with meat, milk, butter, whey and cheese. I hope this story has been entertaining, educational and useful. I will leave you with a rerun of a short video from The Sounds of a Peaceful Morning Milking.

Until next time – Fern

Effects of A1 vs. A2 Milk

This past winter we drank regular store bought, whole milk for about four or five months, because all of the goats were pregnant and not producing milk. After a few months, Frank and both started having more and more head congestion, drainage and ick in our throats. Frank also developed a mild, daily cough of sorts, especially in the mornings. I was constantly having to clear the mucous from my throat, worse in the mornings, but it lasted all day long.

After a few months I really began to wonder if we were developing some kind of allergy, but I couldn’t figure out what it would be. Then one day I remembered that there are many people that react to milk with allergic type symptoms, and I began doing more research on A1 vs. A2 milk. I wrote an article explaining the A1 vs. A2 milk controversy a year ago. If you’re not familiar with this information, I encourage you to stop here and read the old article to provide a knowledge base. This will help the rest of this article make more sense.

As I began researching more and more about A1, or most regular, store bought milk, I came to the conclusion that our consumption of this milk was probably the cause of our symptoms. This made me even more anxious for the goats to have their babies and start producing enough milk for us to drink. I want to stop here and share some of the information I read as part of my research. Each quote contains a link to the source I found. 

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 I used to think I digested A1 milk as well as the A2 milk, but I have been rethinking this recently. In just the past couple of weeks we switched from milking our A1/A2 Blossom (who is my favorite cow) to our A2/A2 Emma Lou. I have noticed two things:

  1. My lower back has not been as stiff in the mornings.
  2. I used to avoid drinking milk in the evenings because it would make my legs jerky. I have consumed A2/A2 milk in the evening several times and that has not happened. The other night I had symptoms again and thought that maybe it is not the A1 after all. Then I remembered that I had feta cheese on my salad that was made from A1 milk.

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The inflammation from A1 casein causes lymphatic congestion, metabolic suppression, and weight gain. A1 milk can worsen acne, eczema, upper respiratory infections, asthma and allergies.
It causes digestive problems, and not because of the lactose. Because of the massive histamine release from casomorphin.

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My family and I all took cautious sips and waited. [of A2 milk] Amazingly, no symptoms! No mucous or congestion for my husband. No lactose intolerance for my daughter, who couldn’t have even one tablespoon of regular milk. My son, whom we used to tease if he ate dairy today he went to work with his dad tomorrow (as he would become very much like a bear, and not a fuzzy sweet one), did not react to the raw milk at all.
Not only did we not react adversely, but we felt so much better and more satisfied once we started consuming raw milk on a regular basis. My daughter, who in spite of almost no sugar and frequent brushing could not get her cavities under control, has not had one new cavity in the eight years she’s been drinking raw milk.

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When my in-laws moved from India to the United States some 35 years ago, they couldn’t believe the low cost and abundance of our milk—until they developed digestive problems. They’ll now tell you the same thing I’ve heard a lot of immigrants say: American milk will make you sick.

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Milks containing mostly A2 proteins are often said to be better for ‘allergies’ (such as gut, skin rashes, hayfever, cough). There is also research to suggest that A1 beta casein may be associated with serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes type 1 and autism.  

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Although it may be inconclusive as to the exact dangers of A1 milk and the resulting BCM7, we feel the precautionary principle should be invoked. Humans have been consuming cow milk for 10,000 years, but A1 milk and the BMC7 that comes with it are a relatively recent development. Only in very modern times with the supremacy of the Holstein breed in US Dairy (accounting for more than 90% of all dairy cows today) has so much A1 milk been consumed. Realistically fluid milk is a minor concern compared to A1 cheese where the lactose carbohydrate and whey protein components have been removed and the casein proteins are further concentrated. Imagine how this has become even worse in our ‘fat is bad’ culture where even the fat is also removed in low and no-fat cheeses leaving only the casein. For example 2 slices of fat-free American singles made from A1 dominant Holstein milk would likely have nearly 3g of A1 beta casein or more than 2.5 times the amount found in a cup of our raw milk.

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I have been dairy free for several months, but decided to give the raw A2 milk a try.  I have been drinking it daily for two weeks now and have actually noticed some improvements in my autoimmune symptoms.  This gives me a lot of hope.  I still consider myself dairy free when we are out and about and I’m not eating cheese or anything pasteurized, but so far the raw A2 milk has done me a body of good (literally!). 

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Interesting, huh? Now that Frank and I have been drinking our raw, fresh, A2 goat milk for around two months, our symptoms are gone. Frank no longer coughs at all. I still get a little drainage sometimes, but it comes when there is a change in the weather. We have also had a tremendous amount of rain this year with constant standing puddles everywhere. 


Can I say conclusively that our symptoms were caused by consuming A1 milk? No. Can I say conclusively that no longer consuming A1 milk alleviated our symptoms? No. I do not have any specific testing or scientific proof, so keep that in mind. But what I can tell you, is that we feel much better and our symptoms are gone. I find this to be unscientifically conclusive based on personal experience. That doesn’t mean everyone will react the same, or react at all. The articles and experiences of the people I quoted above are very good examples of that. If you find this interesting, I would encourage you to read the original article, it has more links that help explain what A1 and A2 milks are, and the differences.


There are so many things that we consume or are exposed to everyday that man has altered or created for ease and profit, that we have no idea of the impact upon our bodies. If you have read here for very long, you know we are trying to eliminate as many chemicals from our bodies as possible, whether ingested or topical. I have no doubt that everything we need to be healthy human beings was created and place here for our use, we just need to figure out how to use them wisely. 

I find this information to be just fascinating. Now, I wonder what we will discover next? There are times we discover new information that makes us wonder why we didn’t see/learn/discover it sooner. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or years of my life to learn everything I would like to learn. I truly hope I am able to continue to learn everyday that I am given. Now, on to the next great adventure.

Until next time – Fern

The Nutrition of Spinach & Garden Gossip

Spinach is something we have been eating a lot of lately, and I wanted to add it to our list of nutritional content articles.
 

1 cup of raw spinach contains the following nutritional content.

  • calories 6.9
  • carbohydrates 1.1 g
  • protein 0.9 g
  • Vitamin A   2813 IU 

  • Vitamin C   8.4 mg
  • Vitamin K  145 mcg
  • Folate   58.2 mcg
  • Choline   5.4 mcg
  • Betaine   165 mcg
  • Calcium   29.7 mg
  • Magnesium   23.7 mg
  • Phosphorus   14.7 mg
  • Potassium    167 mg
  • Sodium    23.7 mg
  • Omega-3 fatty acids    41.4 mg
  • Omega-6 fatty acids    7.8 mg

 
As you can see, spinach packs a good amount of nutrition into one cup. When we start getting more sunshine and less rain, I expect our little seedlings will finally grow into the normal, large plants I have been hoping to see for about a month now.

I have planted some more seeds in the last week. Some of them will go in the herb bed, but some will hopefully go in our salads. The new tubs of seeds include spinach, lettuce, baby greens, celeriac, parsley (which we have been eating in salads and the goats have been eating once a week to help expel worms), boneset, feverfew, moonflowers, psyllium, sweet woodruff, cayenne peppers, arnica, borage and fennel. We are also going to have to replant our pinto beans, which we will use for green beans and pintos, because there has only been one come up. And some day, if it ever quits raining four or five days a week, I can do some serious weeding and finish planting the last few rows of the new part of the garden.

This patch of turnips is sharing way too much space with the grass and weeds.


It is interesting how our tastes and interests change over time. We have always grown corn and potatoes in the past, now we are turning toward plants with more concentrated nutrients, like beans, cowpeas and greens. We do have about a dozen volunteer potatoes coming up from last year, which we are letting grow. It will be interesting to see how they produce. Learn all you can about producing your own food, then put it into practice. We have been gardening in this spot for six years now and no two years have been the same. The weather has been different, the insect pests have been different, and the harvest has been different. There is always much to learn. 

For example, the past two years the slug population has really taken off. Yesterday, I placed some scrap 2 x 4’s around in the garden to encourage the slugs to gather under them so I could ‘harvest’ them in the mornings. There were a few under the boards, but you could see dozens of them just sliming around on the ground. Once the plants are grown, they will still be there, I just won’t be able to see them. So, I have decided to treat them like the pest they are and try to ‘harvest’ as many as I can each morning and put them in the chicken bucket. This will hopefully help deter their population in the garden, and feed the chickens at the same time. I probably picked close to 100 slugs this morning alone. Yuck! There were several fat, happy ones that were making quick work of the new squash plants that are just poking their heads out of the ground. I didn’t take their picture.

Taking pictures of the garden from the porch while it rains.

Like everyone else, I can’t wait for the harvest to begin in earnest. We put very little food up last year due to surgeries and illness, and we hope to more than make up for that this summer. In the meantime, we are also working on a few major projects involving the house. Wait, a news flash. Frank just told me that after Tuesday, there is no rain forecast for Wednesday, Thursday or Friday! Yahoo! Everyone around here is more than ready for the puddles and mud to dry up at least a bit, and be blessed with the touch of the sun. 

Until next time – Fern

Heavenly Food For Thought

Hi Everybody, Frank here.

Earlier today I was reading Michael Snyder’s The Economic Collapse blog. Just below his header there is a tab that says, “Did You Know?”, so I clicked on it, and it was a very interesting article. We all know we live in troubled times and there seems to be a lot of confusion and worry. I am one that needs to be reminded on a regular basis where my strength comes from. I hope you enjoy the article, and I would like to thank Michael Snyder for writing it.

We’ll talk more later, Frank 

Homestead News, Volume 1

We decided to start a new feature and call it Homestead News. Every so often we have given you an update of things that are happening around here, and we’re running out of names for those articles. So, now they will just be called Homestead News and be numbered by volume. It may not be very original, but it simplified things for us. We have also added a new page to the list of Things To Read, at the top of the right hand column, titled Homestead News where you will find links to these articles. Now that we have explained our new feature, on with the news.

Pearl wants some attention while I wait for a goat to finish eating on the milk stand.

We are now milking five does twice a day. That sounds like a lot of milk, but really it’s not…..yet. Copper and One Stripe have been providing us with the bulk of the milk so far since their babies are being weaned. Our three young does have only been giving us a little, morning and evening, until this morning. Last night was the first night I penned up the young babies away from their moms since the youngest, Easter, is now two weeks old. The young does are developing their udder capacity, which will continue to increase over the next few months. This morning from a full milking with all five does we got a gallon and a half of milk. Tomorrow will be less because this morning I wormed Copper and One Stripe. I will still milk them, and keep their milk for the animals for five days before we keep it for human consumption again. In the meantime, we will be getting the milk from the young does.

 

With all of this milking we have been making cheese two to three days a week. Now that we have plenty of milk we use four gallons every time. That makes a double batch of cheddar and a quadruple batch of mozzarella. So far we have six wheels of cheddar waxed and aging and two more in the cheese presses on the kitchen counter that we made today. There are several batches of mozzarella in the freezer. Our plan is to make 30 wheels of cheddar for the season. Mozzarella? Well, we always eat some fresh when we make it, then freeze the rest. I separate each batch into three pieces of cheese that are probably around half a pound. The supply in the freezer is building, and that’s okay. We are eating more cheese on our low carb diet and there is nothing like homemade, just like with any food.

In our efforts to successfully grow cabbage for humans instead of insects, we are trying something new this year. Our first batch of green lacewing and praying mantid eggs arrived in the mail today. I’ve already had some friends tell me that it sounds weird to order bugs or to get bugs in the mail. That’s okay, though, because they already knew I was weird. And they’re still my friends! The bug thing will be an ongoing process and I will do an article about it as we get farther along.

I’m kitting a few dishcloths for a wedding shower gift for a young couple at church. I think it’s always nice to get something homemade.

We spent half a day trying to program a radio scanner that we can’t figure out. That was very frustrating. It is now in a box on a shelf. But we do have another one we are going to take a look at. 

Frank has been talking to a young man at church about survival radio. They are now working on setting up a class that Frank will teach for some of the folks in the area. This class will provide information about getting a ham radio license at the Technician level. But even more than that, Frank will provide information about using CB, GMRS, FRS, MURS, scanners and shortwave radio more effectively. They will be talking about how to use a small solar panel to power the battery in a car, or any battery, and allow continued use of radio communications when the power is out. Frank feels very strongly about trying to set up a network of local people that will be able to communicate via radio if there is a natural disaster, emergency or collapse situation, whether it lasts a few days or indefinitely. We really look forward to this class and the relationships it will build with people in our surrounding area.

Cowpeas
Cushaw winter squash


The garden is growing, so the masterpiece has begun. We have had so much rain that it is still hard to get into the garden and get a handle on the weeds, or plant a few more seeds. So far, the old pinto bean seeds I planted have not made an appearance. I don’t know if they are too old, or it has been too wet. There are many people around here that haven’t started their gardens yet because it is so wet. We are grateful that we have so many things planted and growing.

 

I am very excited to see the wild blackberries blooming. We now eat berries every morning with our breakfast, and I look forward to serving fresh berries we have harvested instead of having to buy them at the store. I will be picking every berry I can get my hands on this year in an effort to freeze enough, so we won’t have to buy any. I don’t know if I can do that or not. I would also like to can more peaches and pears, but I’m trying to figure out if I can do it without sugar. I know in some recipes, sugar is a sweetener, but it also provides part of the preservative properties. I’ll have to do more research on that.

We have been picking a variety of things from the garden and herb bed to include in a salad about three to four days a week. I’ll be doing an article on that before long as well. I have to tell you, the herb bed is doing wonderfully this year. I hope to actually start harvesting and using what’s out there. Instead of only growing the plants, it’s time to learn to preserve and put them to use. The new comfrey bed is doing well. I pick comfrey everyday now for the chickens and the goats. 

And Frank the funny photographer took some beautiful pictures after one of the latest rains. We had a nice double rainbow for a short time.
 


There is always a lot happening on a homestead in the spring. It’s the time of increased activity after a long winter’s rest. Now, if it would just quit raining for a day or two we might get to mow the grass before it gets knee high.

April 13th

April 18th

April 19th

Keep an eye on Yemen. It looks like things are heating up in the Middle East. We just pray it doesn’t boil over.

Until next time – Fern

Adjusting to Fermented Vegetables

We wrote about our adventure with making sauerkraut back in March. I’m happy to say that this adventure continues on a daily basis. We have since made a third batch of kraut using a little of the juice from the second batch as an inoculate. We also shredded the cabbage this time instead of chopping it. I think the texture is better shredded. But this article isn’t really about how we made sauerkraut, it’s about how we have adjusted to eating it on a daily basis.

About two days after we started eating the sauerkraut, my knees were really hurting. I mean really hurting. Now, I have had arthritis for many years and am used to my joints flaring up, getting red, hurting for a while, then calming down. This has happened too many times to count over the years. And no, I don’t take any medication at all for it. I take ginger capsules, Cod Liver Oil and Glucosamine. 

But this time the pain in my knees was different, and the onset was rather sudden. I hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary or anything strenuous that would have instigated one of my typical flare ups. As I thought about it, the only thing I could think of that was different was we had begun to ingest a naturally fermented vegetable. We already eat sourdough bread about three to four days a week and drink milk kefir everyday, so it’s not like our bodies were totally unaccustomed to fermented foods.

When my deductions came down to the possibility of the pain being caused by the sauerkraut, I went to the internet for some research. Here is what I found. This is a very lengthy article and contains some very good information about the need for fermented foods for a healthy life.

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At Mercola.com in Fermented Foods Contain 100 TIMES More Probiotics than a Supplement, “There is one precaution that needs to be discussed here, and that is the potential for a so-called healing crisis, or what Dr. McBride refers to as a die-off reaction, provoked by the massive die-off of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other harmful pathogens by the reintroduction of massive quantities of probiotics. It can significantly worsen whatever health problem you’re experiencing, before you get better.

The reason for this is because when the probiotics kill off the pathogens, those pathogenic microbes release toxins. These toxins are what’s causing your problem to begin with; be it depression, panic attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or any other symptom. When a large amount of toxin is suddenly released, your symptoms will also suddenly increase.”

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From Gaps.me I found, You’ll meet people who will tell you that they “cannot tolerate” fermented foods: the reason is that they suddenly had a sizeable helping of a fermented food and got a serious “die-off reaction”. Never start from more than 1 teaspoon of any probiotic food per day. Depending on the severity of the condition, different people can introduce fermented foods quicker or slower. If on 1 teaspoon per day your patient gets a “die-off reaction”, let him or her settle for a few days or longer, then increase the amount to 2 teaspoons per day. Once 2 teaspoons are well tolerated, add another teaspoon. Continue increasing the daily amount of the fermented food gradually keeping the “die-off reaction” under control.”

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After I read this, I realized that I was probably having a reaction to the ‘die off’ in my gut caused by eating the homemade sauerkraut. Painful, but interesting. We continue to eat a small serving of our kraut everyday. I think we missed one day since March 11th, a little over a month ago. Since that time, I think we have gradually repopulated our digestive tracts with healthy bacteria.

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I found an example of this at Breaking Muscle in The Real Reasons Your Guts Need Fermented Foods.Some of the important health benefits of fermentation:

  • Fermentation is the only type of preparation of foods that cannot destroy certain nutrients, will creates more nutrients and enhances others.
  • It removes toxins and harmful bacteria found in many foods.
  • It will improve your digestion, especially when consumed before your meal and also allows for your nutrients to be absorbed properly.
  • It aids in the preservation and creation of important enzymes.
  • Fermentation is a huge supporter to your immune function. It increases your B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, lactase and lactic acid that fight off harmful bacteria.”

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We are very pleased that we have been able to add fermented vegetables to our diet. I think over time, it will continue to add to our overall health, and especially our digestive health. My arthritis appears to have gone back to ‘normal’, although my hands seem to hurt more than they usually do. I can’t say that I think it is a reaction to our continued consumption of sauerkraut, though. We have gradually increased the size of our portions to about two tablespoons per day. 

As the garden grows and we produce more fresh vegetables, we will be trying a number of different vegetable combinations. I also plan to try fermenting our pickles and jalapeno slices this year instead of canning them. I think that will be a fascinating experience. I truly hope to have a section of jars on the shelf that contain vegetables we grew in our garden with no pesticides, herbicides or commercial fertilizers, that have been fermented using whey from the cheese we made. I think that will be really neat.

As I served another portion of sauerkraut the other day, Frank took a bite and said, “This even tastes like regular sauerkraut. It’s pretty good.”  I asked Frank recently if he ever thought his wife would be making cheese, waxing cheese, growing a garden, fermenting vegetables or even milking goats. He said no, and I agreed. Sometimes our life seems like a dream. And it is. It is a dream come true. Make yours the same.

Until next time – Fern