I have IPS

What is IPS? It’s a whole new syndrome, but it’s not recognized by the medical industrial complex or the psycho-babble psychology industrial complex. There are no medications from the pharmeceutical industrial complex for it, thank goodness. The only treatment or cure is dirt and green things.

How do I know? Because I just made it up!

IPS stands for Impatient Planter Syndrome

The only known treatment at this time is to live in a warm climate where you can start planting things, anything. If not, find a container – of any kind – and some dirt to go in it. Then find a few seeds, put them in the dirt and wait impatiently until a tiny little green thing appears. Fuss over it constantly until it gets bigger and bigger. Don’t water it too much or do anything else that may cause it’s untimely demise or you just might go into

Impatient Planter Depression Syndrome

OR

Impatient Planter Compulsive Syndrome

in which you plant seeds over and over, or in so many different containers you lose track of what it is until the plants are big enough to identify, root bound and stunted. Even so, you plant them anyway and hope they produce. But just in case, you plant more seeds. You know, just in case.

Yep, I am impatient to plant the garden. Can you tell? I have my bucket of seeds awaiting mid-April [if I can wait that long] to direct seed into the garden. So far I have talked myself into only planting things that can take a light frost. We have brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, turnips, collards, kohlrabi, onions and strawberries planted, along with some flowers here and there.

The empty trellises call out for bean seeds, tomato and sweet potato seedlings, and all that empty space keeps calling for okra, cowpeas, squash and corn. Can you hear it? Probably not since you are not suffering from IPS.

I have found the Farmer’s Almanac site to be an interesting morning read each day. I signed up for their daily/weekly emails, but there were too many ads for ‘buy this’ in them for my taste, so now I just go to the site each morning. Here are a couple of links from them.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

How to Plant a Victory Garden

Companion Planting Guide for Vegetables

We continue to feel the need to produce all we can in the way of food. We can’t help but wonder how the food supply, along with our supply of freedoms, what there is left, will survive the coming months, let alone the coming year. There appear to be plenty of seeds and seedlings at Wal-Mart locally and many more people surrounding those shelves than I remember seeing in the past. But that may just be my projection of what I see coming onto normal everyday activities of folks, not an actual increase in people wanting to grow food. I can only hope it is.

If you are suffering from IPS or any of the other new maladies that are plaguing our country and the world, please find methods of treatment that don’t involve recirculation of carbon dioxide by wearing of diapers on the wrong part of your body, or shooting up unproven chemicals that may impact your very genetic structures in unknown, irreversible ways. Yes, I have some strong opinions about what has been forced upon us in the last year. In some places there is still the option to choose what we do with our bodies and I respect the choices others have made.

I can only hope and pray we are not forced to choose between the ability to actively, freely participate in society. We have had passports in the past that allowed us to travel between Alaska, Canada and the lower 48. I cannot see where we will ever be carrying around the new passport that is being discussed, that some companies have already begun to require. There is already talk about a booming black market for the new passport if it becomes mandatory. Don’t forget 1A & 2A are under attack and 2A protects 1A.

I never dreamed in a million years that our country would be in the current condition it is in. We read things everyday that are just totally unbelievable. It takes more and more effort everyday to keep a positive outlook on our future and the future of our country. So if you are suffering from IPS, enjoy it. It is a wholesome, productive disease as opposed to a physically debilitating condition.

Until next time – Fern

Daily Sustenance

Daily sustenance. The way we live takes planning, sometimes planning way ahead, like years in advance. An example. If I want to have fresh milk, there has to be an animal that provides milk. If I want an animal that provides milk, I need the capacity to buy, house, raise, breed and milk it. That in itself, unless I am able to purchase a place that has all of the facilities and an animal in milk that is trained to be milked, takes time, sometimes years.

We moved to our homestead in the summer of 2008. We had the pasture property line dozed of the old barbed wire fence, step 1. Hired a man to install new fencing, with cross fences for rotational pastures, step 2. Had a barn built, then the fencing crew finished the fencing and corral, step 3. Had a water well drilled by the barn, step 4. Located young goats to start the herd January 2009, step 5. Located a buck, then waited until the goats were old enough to breed in the fall of 2009, step 6. While waiting the five months for the first kids to be born, built birthing pens, a weaning pen and a milk stand, step 7. All twelve does had their kids in the spring of 2010 and we were overwhelmed with too many animals, so began quickly selling off the wilder ones of the herd and many of the kids , step 8. Began the process of teaching myself how to train a milk goat to get on the milk stand, not kick me or the bucket, or put their hoof in the bucket [they were very skilled at this, I was not], step 9. Enjoyed our first drink of milk almost two years after we began this process, step 10. All for one drink of milk.

Garden map for this year – the 4th or 5th edition. Probably more changes to come, but this is it for now.

Planning sustenance for a family, no matter how large or small, takes time. Doing for oneself and decreasing dependence on others, be it the supply chain, local establishments or online markets, takes time, planning and effort. All of the effort and activities of the milk example happened after we moved from Alaska to Oklahoma, started new jobs, were having the exterior of the house renovated with new porches added, we were painting the inside of the house, adding blinds to the windows [so we could take down the butcher paper covering them], having a portable building delivered for the chicken house, raising young chicks in the garage, and general setting up of a homestead. We tried to start gardening in the spring of 2009 as well. If I remember right, we didn’t produce much that year and didn’t start caning and preserving a harvest for another year or more. All of it takes time, planning and most of all the motivation and determination that results in success.

The garden, mid March 2021. Trellises ready for April planting. Dog fence installed to prevent garden loss from a one year old active lab.

Experience, failure, discovery, new information, research and more experience all bring new knowledge and insight to a process that may help achieve a goal with a higher success rate. Example. I have tried to learn about companion planting in the garden, how to achieve more production from a smaller area. I tend to plant too thick, too close and have had more than one person say how do you pick anything? There is no where to walk. It’s true, sometimes I just go through a patch of cowpeas, for example, and just pay attention to where I step. They start out in rows but will fill all the spaces in between and it’s kind of like tip toeing through the tulips and trying not to crush anything, but it’s what works for me.

Back to companion planting. One year, like this year, I planted carrots along the tomato trellis after reading they were good companions. Then I planted the beets along the pole bean trellis thinking that would utilize more space productively. The beets barely grew. The beans were fine as usual. Turns out beets and beans don’t like each other and the beans win. No beet crop that year. This year more than ever, I have gone to my books to compare and study what plants compliment each other to try to maximize our harvest and minimize the space it takes to do so.

Brussels sprouts with pots of mint [dug up from the back yard] planted in between to see if cabbage worms will be deterred.

Speaking of harvest. No one we know of in this area of southeastern Oklahoma had a good, productive garden last year. Not one. Crops had to be replanted several times to even get them to grow at all. I ran out of cowpea seeds [purple hull peas] after replanting for the fourth time and couldn’t find anymore. All the normal seed companies I used were sold out. Still are. There are a number of online companies I use that continue to be sold out of some seeds, almost all strawberry plants, many basic staple items. Some still have some designer seeds, but not the basics.

I am really hoping and praying our garden is productive this summer. If you’re not familiar with the solar minimum, educate yourself about the affects of the lower sun cycle and it’s affect on plants. It can be devastating if it continues as it is now. I wrote about it previously and many other folks have also, even NASA and NOAA. There are professional opinions that differ on the affects of the cycle, how deep and long it will last, but it is occurring, nonetheless. Along with the lower sun cycle comes an increase in some aspects of the sun’s rays that reaches the earth due to the difference in the interaction with the layers of our atmosphere. This also affects plants ability to grow and produce in a manner we are accustomed to, especially if we are trying to produce crops in the normal fashion. The crops haven’t changed, but the conditions under which they are trying to grow has. Do a search on the blog to find my previous articles on the solar minimum. It has some links that can help you get started on your own research.

I called this article daily sustenance. That is what my days revolve around. Planning our meals, for that is what sustains us. Planning when to worm the goats so one will give us milk while the others feed their babies until the appropriate waiting period for the medication to clear their milk. In a pinch we would continue drinking it, but now we have the option of letting the kids, chickens or dog have it for a five day period before we keep it for ourselves again. If the supply chain or purchasing power of our local economy is impacted to the point that we can no longer buy feed for the animals, our supply of milk and eggs will be greatly impacted. What then? Is there anything I can do to provide extra for the animals that will increase their production and thus our consumption? Maybe. As we age, I no longer think of being able to grow food for animals, my concentration is on producing enough for two people. I study which foods are nutritionally dense, that will provide what our bodies need to be healthy and productive. There are some foods we grow well, like beets, that have some good nutrition, but there are others that have much more and are easier to store, like sweet potatoes.

I plan a couple of days in advance when we need to bake bread. We get the sourdough starter out of the frig, feed it for a couple of days, bring in a bucket of wheat if needed, Frank grinds the wheat and flax, and the routine goes on. We plan ‘bread days’ when we don’t need to be out and about doing other things that morning because we make the dough in the morning, let it set through the day for the fermentation process, then bake it in the evening.

Cheese making uses four gallons of milk and takes all day. I found the other day that the buttermilk culture I had prepared and stored in the frig had gone bad since I made it too far ahead of time to start making cheddar cheese. I fed it to the chickens and cultured another quart of milk. It is now in the frig awaiting the first batch of cheddar for this season. But then it was time to worm the does so we’re only getting milk from one animal. Right before that took place, we waited until we had four gallons, made mozzarella, then wormed the other two does. We are just finishing the waiting period for the medication to clear the milk. Time. Planning.

Frank wrote a couple of articles back in 2013 and 2014 about some of the realities of trying to set up a homestead, or preparing for a collapse, that outline some of the realities of having to plan ahead to survive what may be coming. I think you will enjoy them. Here are the links.

Homestead Delusions

I’m Going To???

We can’t remember the last time we ate out, or ate any food we didn’t prepare ourselves. Most folks find this to be very odd, but it is our choice. If we go somewhere we pack some bread, boiled eggs or cheese, and an apple. It’s our preferred sustenance when we are away from home. Meal planning at home revolves more and more around what we have on the shelf, much of which we have produced ourselves. My hope is by doing so, if the food supply chain experiences a severe disruption, we can continue to be sustained with what we have without a major impact upon our bodies. If a time of significant disruption in the food supply comes to our country, and I do believe it will, my goal is to sustain us, to have the experience and knowledge to keep us as nutritionally sound as I can.

Sustenance, no matter where you get it, from the store, the pasture, or the garden, takes time and effort. That effort may be the daily work that brings home the bacon so to speak. It may be the planning and serving of meals. We’re not all in the same boat with a view of the same horizon, but we all have to eat, and to eat we have to plan ahead. The horizon is dim and uncertain making the ability to sustain ourselves shrouded and unfocused. Regulations and new restrictions on food production, transportation and the ability to procure the needed supplies is being impacted more and more everyday. I encourage you in the strongest possible way to see to the sustenance of you and yours. Whatever you eat, by whatever means you usually obtain it, please do so, in an overabundance that seems way beyond what you may ever need. Strikingly so. Find somewhere to put it. Under the bed, behind the couch, fill up your spaces with sustenance. Plan. Think it through in detail. What is it you need for your daily sustenance if that is all you could ever get? Ever?

Without food, without sustenance, we are dead.

Until next time – Fern

Goats, Milk & Cheese

We have written many articles about our goat adventures. You will find them in the archives under The Goats That Feed Us & The Things You Can Do With Milk. Just a reminder – most of our archives go to the old blog over in Blogger. If you want to leave a comment, make sure you do it here, they have been turned off at the old site since we don’t check things over there anymore.

We have continued to downsize our herd. We currently have four adult does, three of which are in milk. Kids were born to them in January and are being weaned and sold now. The cycle continues. One of the does I am milking is a first freshener, what I call a first timer. She has been very easy to train to the milk stand and to hand milk, which is great. Some in the past have not been near this easy. I’m not sure if it’s the temperament of the animal or the years of experience training a goat to be milked. Maybe both.

My favorite milker before she had her triplets in January.

We have one more first timer to birth in May. I don’t really like this goat, and have thought about selling her pregnant, but want to see if she will hold us in milk through the winter until the others have babies again next January. We haven’t been successful in having year round milk because most goats won’t breed in the off season. This doe didn’t breed at all until we got a shot from the vet to force her into heat. We were told if she was pregnant and very far along, the shot would make her abort, but we had never seen any signs of heat or breeding and she had been with the buck for months. The shot worked and now we await her first kids.

This year we are keeping two adult does in milk, the third will be sold after we have our cheese supply stocked for the year. We will keep two young does for replacements, just in case. In years past we have tried to keep does from separate blood lines within our closed herd, but not this year. There has been one ‘family’ of does that consistently out performs the others with temperament, udder size and production, and ease of milking. That’s who we are keeping.

The buck we had, on the other hand, after breeding all of the does including the late one, started losing hair until he was practically bald. It happened over a number of months. We treated him a number of times according to the vet’s directions to no avail. He still ran around when he wasn’t freezing in the cold weather, ate well, hollered like the rest, but looked horrible. He is no longer with us. This was the goat with the strange story of purchase we wrote about on the other blog in this article – Goat Tales & the Stench.

Young buck

This leaves us without a buck, or billy goat, except for the three that were born here in January. We’re on the look out for a new unrelated buck, but if necessity mandates, we will use one of these young ones for future breeding. We will ban two of them for wethers for meat, but keep one for a buck.

We have started making cheese for the season, two batches of mozzarella so far. We ran out of our cheddar a while back and bought some in several different stores. It all tastes the same, kind of like what we remember Velveeta would have tasted like. It’s the first cheese we have bought in years, we don’t remember the last time we bought any. The plan is to make a dozen wheels of cheddar and set them to age while eating fresh mozzarella for now and freezing a whole bunch. We are spoiled to our own cheese, to me, it is so much better.

Mozzarella

You can find the beginning and progression of our cheese making experiences in many of the archive articles. I still make & drink kefir everyday. Frank has always been a milk drinker and prefers goat milk to any other he has had. We did appreciate Braum’s (a regional ice cream store that also has burgers and now some fresh market foods) going to A2 milk. When our does were dry, we bought milk there, usually six to eight gallons at a time since the store is 25 miles away and we don’t like to go to town very often. If you’re not familiar with A1 & A2 milk, look back in the archives. We were very glad we discovered the difference years ago and have tried to share the information far and wide. Our vet can’t drink cows milk without ending up on the floor with cramps. He can drink the A2 milk from Braum’s with no issues. If you don’t know the difference, check it out, it’s interesting information.

Now is the milking, cheese making season along with putting in the garden. As Bear Claw, from the movie Jeremiah Johnson would say, March is a green, muddy month down below, fit for farmers and such (or something like that – we have watched that movie many times, just not in the last decade or so). He’s right. It’s a busy time of year. A good busy. We planted blueberries and strawberries yesterday. Today we made bread and planted a few more things before a rainy spell comes upon us. We do the normal chores, milking the goats, feeding the chickens and gathering eggs, preparing for the rainy weather, planting more seedlings in the greenhouse. The things that make up our daily life.

It’s a busy time and that’s great. I’m glad we have this time to continue our chosen way of life. The choices appear to become more narrow with each passing day, with each new executive order, and attempted legislation. I have no way of predicting how the next few months or years will turn out, but the folks out there saying local, local, local are correct. Frank has made more contact with neighbors in the last few months than we have in years. It’s a good thing. We’ll give you an update on the garden soon with thoughts about planting every square inch with way more than we need.

Always do what you can for yourself, your family and any you deem worthy of your efforts. Work is not a dirty, four letter word. It is what feeds the body and soul. Literally.

We would love to hear what you think. Ideas that will help us all. How to raise animals, grow food, where to buy supplies. God knows we all need help at this point in time.

Until next time – Fern