Some Things I’ve Been Reading

There is so much information out here on the internet that I could just about read for the rest of my life. The more I read and learn, though, the more I want to do and try for myself. Some of my reading teaches me how to do or understand new things. Some of it motivates me to learn, and grow more of our own food, or make more of our own hygiene products, to avoid what is out there on the market. Either way, what I am learning can be put to use. Knowledge. One of our most precious commodities. Here are some things I have read over the past month or so. I hope you learn something, too.


Here are some things I have learned that I don’t like. Some of them make me mad. How can the dollar be more important than healthy, productive people? I don’t get it, and I’m glad I don’t get it. That means I don’t think like that.


GM Wheat Discovered Contaminating Wheat Fields in Montana

U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato

Study Links GMOs to Over 22 Different Diseases

Gene-Altered Apples Get U.S. Approval

Fluoride in Drinking Water May Trigger Depression and Weight Gain, Warns Scientists

Monsanto’s New ‘Herbicide-Resistant’ GMO Crop Slammed by Food Experts

Scientific Team Sounds the Alarm on Sugar as a Source of Disease


And then there are those articles that give me more insight into how to improve our health with food and diet.


Scientists Prove Organic Food More Nutritionally Rich Than Conventional, GMO Crops

Olive Oil May Prevent Cancer, Study Finds

Heart Disease and Diabetes Risks Tied to Carbs Not Fat, Study Finds

Sourdough Bread and Health

Benefits of Kefir

Low Carb Fermented Foods


And then there are some articles that are just unbelievable.


Officials Declare ‘Eating Healthy’ a Mental Disorder


Thanks to M.E. Masterson over at Adventures of My Life! who put a link to this article, G.H.A. (Goat Haters Anonymous) from Krazo Acres yesterday, we had some very good laughs. I guess you might have to have personal experience like the folks from Krazo to truly enjoy the humor in this article. We thought it was hilarious.

There is not much going on here on the homestead. We have had steady snow all afternoon. The garden is white. The pastures are white. The roads are white. And I am rather bored. Reading is a good past time on days like this, so I hope you learn something from these links. I can’t say I hope you enjoy them all, because I find some of them down right disgusting. But like any good leader, it pays to know your enemies and their tactics. Learn all you can so you can equip your mind for this battle called life.

Until next time – Fern

These Dark, Somber Days

Hi Folks. There are so many things happening in our country and the world, that we are not finding anything inspiring to write about today. 

It seems that the country is holding it’s breath to see how the outcome of the Ferguson grand jury will turn out. There are many, many people that don’t feel the outcome will be good, regardless of the jury’s decision. My heart really goes out to the people that live in that area. We can’t imagine how difficult it is to wait and see if chaos will break out in their neighborhoods.

Then there is the new round of executive orders our Tyrant in Chief signed. I don’t know what kind of shape we will be in by the time he leaves office.

Next, comes the lack of reporting on Ebola and the suspicion that any real information concerning this disease is being suppressed. I really don’t feel we have any real idea about the spread, or lack thereof, of this highly contagious illness.

So, the next distraction to be splattered on the headlines while we wait to see if protests and rioting will occur, is how fragile our electrical grid is. It can be taken down anytime by hackers from anywhere in the world, which will bring on TEOTWAWKI… least here in our country. Then what? How will our not so friendly neighbors around the world react if that happens? Especially if they are the ones that cause the grid to go down.

Fear. It appears that everywhere we turn, we are supposed to be afraid. Fear is a very good control mechanism. If Group A can cause enough fear in Group B, then offer a solution or protection

from the reason for the fear, then Group B will accept whatever conditions come with the protection. Sound familiar? Can we say Patriot Act and NDAA? Don’t worry about the new, latest and greatest crisis Group B, we’ll save you! But, there is a cost, you know. You will have to pay the piper. You can’t afford it? Well, that’s okay, we’ll let you work it off by paying for all of the other schmucks that won’t, and have never worked, and didn’t have to, because they’ve always played the game right. Unlike you. But, don’t worry, be happy. We are here to save the day.

Why is it that a relatively small group of people with loud voices and demanding, aggressive personalities can control the rest? Why is it that small groups of demanding people can force others to accept their ways of life? Why is it that regular, old folks cannot speak their minds and have everyday conversations expressing their views? Why is it that the masses allow themselves to be manipulated and controlled by such a small group? It brings to mind the Holocaust.

Are we the only ones that feels this way? Do you feel this way? Do you feel that we’re heading down the path to light, or to darkness? A good while back Frank felt that something had been loosed in our world.

It just feels like something is not right, and it appears to be getting stronger. Frank and I are both religious, spiritual people, but we don’t like to blame every negative that occurs on a lack of Christ type of scenario. But, it sure does appear that is what is happening. Everywhere we turn, there is bad or evil. Lying at the highest levels has become common, even when it’s so easy to prove that they are lying. When we were children, we were taught that lying was one of the Big 10, that you don’t break. The Ten Commandments, that is. And now days, it seems to mean nothing. Billy Graham even recently said we are educating our children in a culture of evil (paraphrased).

We feel sorry for the poor folks in and around Ferguson, Missouri. We hope this turns out relatively peaceful. But there seem to be bad folks at all levels, that are doing everything they can, to insure there is some form

of crisis. Remember, never let a good crisis go to waste. This one just doesn’t feel right. We’re sure we’ll find out soon enough. But, remember, there are a lot of good folks out there, too. We don’t think we’ll be seeing or hearing much from them in the next few days, because what we see and what we hear is not impartial any longer. It’s just a prettified version of eloquent lies coming from talking heads. We’re scared, and we don’t think we’re the only people that are. We’re going down a deep, dark path into a forest where sunlight seldom reaches the ground. Whatever has been loosed is about to devour it’s prey. Slowly at first, but it’s here.

So, Folks, we don’t have any inspiring words today. We’re frustrated and angry. We’re afraid. We know that there are many good things in this world, and it will continue to be so. It’s just that today, these dark, somber days are heavy and foreboding. Be vigilant. Please pray for the folks in Ferguson.

May God bless us all.

Frank & Fern

Alarming Ebola News

Ladies and Gentlemen, I know we are a home preparedness site, but there are some things happening in our world that I would like to share with you. This topic is not going to be about how to can squash, or who makes the best kitchen knives. This falls in the category of the sky is falling, the theater is on fire, and the wolf is at the door type scenarios. We at Frank and Fern, find it sad to feel the need to bring you this information. Please read with an open mind, do your own research, and formulate your own thoughts. Here are some links to people that we read, and for the most part, respect their research. If this information is true, then we’re all in trouble. Serious trouble. I hope these folks are wrong. Decide for yourself. Our practice is not to post on Sunday, the Lord’s day, but we felt this information needed to be made public. We think the good Lord will understand.

Frank and Fern

Ol’ Remus at the Woodpile Report    
 Mac Slavo at   


Beware of Health Risks

There appear to be many different health risks combining to pose an increased hazard to life across the globe. With the ability to travel the world in hours, viruses, bacteria, bugs and such, are free to tag along via many different carriers. I have run across many headlines in the past few weeks that I would like to bring to your attention. In no particular order:

Four Cases of Life-Threatening Plague found in Colorado

Ebola Only a Plane Ride Away from USA [or any other country]

Toxic Tap Water Causes State of Emergency in Toledo

National Border Patrol Council VP: Border Agents Need More Staffing to Help With Crisis [scabies and lice are the two main infestations ….. chicken pox, measles, H1N1 and tuberculosis are also pretty common]

Ebola Distracts From Worsening Cameroon Cholera Outbreak

Massive Emergency Drill in New York City

There are continued warnings of catastrophic water shortages that will impact our country and world in an unprecedented way. This, in turn, will have a major affect upon not only the health of many people, but the food supply, and consequently, the cost and availability of food as well.

25 Shocking Facts About The Earth’s Dwindling Water Resources

The Race to Stop Las Vegas From Running Dry

Parched West is using up underground water: Study points to grave implications for Western U.S. water supply – See more at:

The Parched West is Using Up Underground Water: Study Points to Grave Implications for Western U.S. Water Supply

U.S. Meat, Seafood Prices Rising on Drought and Disease: USDA

The Drought Goes From Bad to Catastrophic

I bring all of this to your attention for one reason. I hope that knowledge and information will help you make wise decisions for the future of your home and hearth, where ever it may be. Sometimes knowing isn’t pleasant, it causes us to confront rather than deny the realities around us, even when we dearly wish ‘it wasn’t so’. Hold your family close. Really evaluate what is important and necessary. Find options that still provide what is needed without risk to health and home. Avoid circumstances that may bring something to your door that may end in catastrophe. 

Ol’ Remus had good advice this week, “Prepared is prepared, you are or you aren’t. Do what you can. And as always, stay away from crowds.” 

Until next time – Fern

Why Did My Baby Goats Die?

It’s always difficult to figure out unexpected events, especially when they deal with living things. Since I have had time to read through my books and do some research on the internet, I only have a few theories about the death of our baby goats. Nothing conclusive or even probable emerged from my reading, just a few possibilities that we can consider and keep in mind for the future. Sometimes it is easier to handle difficult situations if there is a known ‘why’ to hang the reasoning on, but that ‘why’ is not always available. Here are the circumstances leading up to One Stripe going into labor.

She began to fill her udder and get quite a bit larger in mid November.

November 29, 2013

November 29, 2013

By the beginning of December she was starting to exhibit her characteristic waddle that comes along a few weeks before birth. Her udder was filling nicely and I figured she would have triplets on Sunday, December 15th. Her 150 day average gestation was calculated at Monday, December 16th. But since she has had triplets in the past at 149 days, I based my estimate on that date. She had no problem birthing, nursing and raising her last triplets to weaning age. We have our does raise their kids. We do not bottle feed. One Stripe is a very attentive, productive doe. That is one reason this was such a surprise. If I didn’t know her history I would have doubts about her ability to produce and raise kids, especially triplets. But since I have had her for five years with excellent results, I know this is some type of anomaly that has an unknown cause. We did take her age into consideration. She will be six years old in May 2014. This is her fifth set of kids. But after she had her last kid in January 2013, and the rest of the kids were born in March, she was running around up and down dirt piles playing with the kids like she was a yearling. She hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down because of her age.


Morning of December 9, 2013

On Monday evening, December 9th as we were feeding the animals, I noticed that One Stripes vulva was sharply drawn into her body instead of in it’s normal position. I knew that was a sign of impending birth so we prepared her birthing pen. As we were working on it, she lay down and began having strong contractions. I knew it was early according to my calculations and just hoped I had miss counted or missed seeing a breed date back in the summer. That was not the case. Interestingly enough, shortly after we had the pen set up she got up and walked into it with little coaxing. She knows the routine and was ready to be comfortably settled into a birthing pen.

Morning of December 9, 2013

Soon after she entered the pen she quickly gave birth to the first kid. My first thought was that it was too small. She generally has good sized, strong healthy kids. But she quickly began to clean it and it started to fuss which was a good sign. Since we weren’t expecting kids this soon, our tote with our birthing supplies was at the house. While Frank went to get the tote another kid was born. By that time the first one was laying limply and kind of panting with it’s mouth open showing it was having difficulty breathing. It did not have a sucking instinct or the strength to produce one, I’m not sure which. I knew from trying to help it nurse that it was very weak and I did not expect it to live. It died about 10 minutes after birth.

When Frank returned with the tote he noticed that the second kid did not have any hair on it’s ears. It was just as small and exhibited the same symptoms as the first kid and also died after about 10 minutes. It took a while longer for the third kid to be born and it was in the same condition. The only difference was it didn’t have much hair on it’s belly and none on it’s ears. One Stripe cleaned them all and even tried to gently paw at them to get them up. She passed her after birth with no problems.

There were three differences we noticed in One Stripe leading up to this event. The first was a whitish colored discharge that was on the back of her udder, going down the middle from top to bottom a few days before she gave birth. It wasn’t mucous or sticky. I noticed it, but didn’t think a lot about it. She had be passing the normal bit of mucous every few days for about a week and everything seemed normal. Another difference was that she seemed a little nervous, more so than I remember in past years. I wondered if this was because after four years she turned into the lead goat of the herd. As long as we had one other doe from our original herd that came here with One Stripe, she was more than content to let the other goat be the lead doe. One Stripe had quite an adjustment period when we sold the other older does last spring. The only other thing I noticed was that she was coughing some after she ate. But that didn’t concern me because she was getting so big. She had been eating slower because she just didn’t have as much room and that is a normal progression for her in past pregnancies.

Pearl, our Pyrenees, as we work with One Stripe; never far from the does

Since giving birth, One Stripe has shown no ill effects to her health at all. We gave her 2cc of LA200 (Oxytetracycline) just as a precaution. Her milk is in and she is producing more everyday. I began milking her the night she gave birth and have milked her twice a day since. We saved all of that milk for the dog, cats and chickens and didn’t start keeping milk for ourselves until five days after she gave birth. She is now producing a gallon a day. She is getting around fine, is alert and bright eyed. She has shown no signs of illness at all. The only real side effect she exhibited was her very sad mourning and crying for her babies for about three days. It was quite heart breaking. 


We had one other doe several years ago that had to have assistance with her first kidding. She had twins, both of which were trying to be born at the same time. Once I got them sorted out they were born one right after the other. One was smaller, fully formed, but dead. The other was quite a bit larger, but totally hairless and dead. I always thought if I had pulled them sooner maybe the smaller one would have lived. I don’t know why one would look normal and the other be hairless. But after this experience, I doubt the smaller one would have lived. 


My reading did not give me any conclusive information that led me to believe she had any infection or contagious disease. We do have cats that spend time in the barn so I read up on toxoplasmosis, but that didn’t fit. There are quite a few illnesses or diseases that can cause miscarriages in goats late in their pregnancies, but none of them fit her symptoms or lack of symptoms. 

In Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats on page 125 it says, “Abortion is more common in late pregnancy. The cause can be mechanical, such as the pregnant doe being butted by another or running into an obstruction such as a manger or narrow doorway, or it can be related to moldy feeds.”  

One Stripe had been a little more nervous than usual and I guess she could have run into something, but it is doubtful she was butted by one of the other three does. We haven’t seen any signs of that behavior from any of our four does. But there could have been a question about the feed. Some of the last sweet feed that Frank bought was a little moldy. We figured mixed in with the corn and alfalfa it wasn’t enough to affect the goats. But now we wonder if it could have been. The hay we have been using is left from last spring and is a little dusty. We started feeding some to the does when the weather started to turn bad. I wanted to make sure One Stripe had plenty of roughage and that it was something she was used to. Normally the goats graze on our standing hay in the pasture and we don’t need to supplement with hay. When the icy weather came in and everything had an inch of ice followed by an inch of sleet followed by several inches of snow, I don’t think the does did much grazing. We made sure they had plenty of hay. I don’t know if this change in roughage made any difference in her pregnancy or not. It’s just another possible variable among many.

Here is a list of the website pages I read. They all seemed to agree with my books and I didn’t find any additional information that seemed to point to a conclusive answer. But they are good resources, so I wanted to share them.

 Goat Wisdom 

Alabama Cooperative Extension System 

Abortions and causes of death in newborn sheep and goats by Debrah Mohale

Onion Creek Ranch Large Animal Veterinary

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Raising animals is definitely an adventure in learning, caring and lots of hard work. Sometimes it is very rewarding and sometimes it is heart breaking. Either way, it is an undertaking well worth the effort involved. It builds character and instills a deep abiding appreciation for what the Lord has put here for our sustenance and enjoyment. There are always things that happen that cannot be explained or understood. It is part of the mysteries of life, many of which fill us with awe and wonder. May it ever be so.

Until next time – Fern

Chicken Housing and Needs

Hello, Frank here.

Everybody learned to cluck by now? Most of you know that chickens don’t speak English, Spanish or Russian. So that means if you want to speak with your chickens, you’re going to have to learn to cluck. No joke. You can call your chickens with certain types of clucking sounds. And you can.

No different than calling your cats or your dogs. So, has everybody got over themselves and learned how to cluck? Good. If you really want to impress your friends, the next time you’re at a social event, just start clucking. And don’t worry, you didn’t ever want to go back there again anyway. And if you really want to impress your friends, put your hands under your arms, start flapping your imaginary wings, raise your knees as high as you can and start walking around the room clucking. Now wasn’t that fun?? Your grandkids will love it. Their parents may think something has happened. And when you get to be my age, who cares?

Okay. We talked last time about chicken breeds. Hopefully you have found something that is of interest to you. A batch of straight run mixed heavies is a great way to start out. Words of advice. Don’t bring strange birds into your flock without a way to isolate them first. People go buy these Easter egg day old chicks for their kids. You know the people that raise these birds for that purpose are

a tremendously caring group of people. That is until they dip these birds in some type of dye to produce the multiple colors. My point is, these little baby birds are cute, but a lot of adults never studied Science 101. Baby birds grow up to be big birds if their infant doesn’t rip it’s head off first. And when those birds get big and they won’t fit in the parakeet cage anymore, they will try to find a place to dump them on their rural buddies. Don’t be tempted to take these birds into your flock. You don’t want to bring in some type of strange disease that will kill all of your birds. All chicken houses and all birds have their own little diseases. It’s like you and I walking into a mall. Don’t expose outside diseases to your birds. But, after you cluck a few times at a party, you won’t have anymore city friends.

Chicken houses. Chickens can live in just about any structure as long as they have some basic requirements met. They need to be out of the rain. They need a relatively draft free environment. They need a place to roost. They need a place to lay their eggs. They need food, water and a place to stretch their legs. But the last one is not required. And it needs to be predator proof.

During the daytime predators are not normally a problem. It’s kind of like humans that do crime, except for white collar crime committed in

Washington. Most crime is committed when it is dark. Examples: skunks, racoons, opossums, any of the weasel family (not the type in Washington), snakes, owls, coyotes and dogs. Most of these are nighttime. A couple of them are daytime. You’ll find some daytime snakes, your occasional hawk, and dogs. Dogs problaby kill more chickens put together than all the predators just mentioned. So, you’ve got to make your pen predator proof.

Now you can lock up your birds every night and let them out during the day. If your nighttime quarters are predator proof, then your daytime quarters only needs to be minimal. Or you can open up your predator proof chicken coop and let your birds free range. Advice about free range. Dogs love chicken. If a chicken runs, a dog will chase it. Most dogs will anyway. Big predatory birds will kill and eat parts of a bird on site, but it takes a big bird to carry off a seven pound hen.

So let’s get a picture here. We talked earlier that a chicken needs three to five square foot in a confined area. If you have 20 birds, you’ll need about 100 square feet. Okay, that’s 10′ x 10′, that’s not much, is it? So with a    10′ x 10′ square foot building, you could theoretically confine 20 birds full-time. This will work. Inside that

house you’ll need about four nest boxes. You will need a roost for the birds to roost on and socialize. You can put this in a 10′ x 10′ building. 1 x 12’s make great nest boxes. Three 4′ long pieces, that is your top, back and bottom. Five pieces cut approximately 11 1/4″. These are your two ends and three partitions. A 4′ long piece of furring strip placed across the bottom front, up about 1″, contains your nesting material (most folks use hay) and the 1″ up allows you

to clean out your nest boxes periodically. Now you’ll need a roost. 2 x 4’s work great. In your 10′ chicken house, you just used 4′ for nest boxes. Make your roost about 4-5′ long at an angle where each roost is about 1′ higher and 1′ apart. Look at the pictures, you’ll get the idea. 

A 45 degree angle works well here. You need a little bit of floor space and something for your birds to eat out of. A container to drink out of. Do not put these under the nest box or the roost. You will figure out why quickly. You will need a human door for your access. And if you like make a little chicken door about one foot square.

Birds like light. Windows are nice. They provide sunlight and ventilation. Make sure you predator proof your windows. Rabbit wire works well for this purpose. The 1/2″ type. To fasten it, use screws with a big washer.

Okay, now we talked about a minimum size house for 20 birds. This will give you about 17 eggs per day during the summer months when there is lots of daylight and 10 to 12 eggs per day during the winter. If you want to have extra space to separate birds for whatever purpose, then you will need a bigger chicken house. And this is if you keep your birds confined. If you open your chicken house at the crack of dawn and let your birds out, or let’s be a little more realistic, maybe 9:00 or 10:00. And you let your birds out, you can have an enclosed pen of any size that you like, or you can let your birds free range. I have found it better over the years to have a chicken coop that I can lock the birds up at night and they are safe and sound. But it’s your call.

My first chicken house was a three sided lofting shed about 10′ x 10′ with a totally enclosed pen surrounding it. The birds did fine, but it was a whole lot more difficult to predator proof that entire pen, than it would if I had built an enclosed chicken coop. But that was my first chicken experience and I have since learned and now I do it different.

Another tidbit here. You will read neat little stories about pretty little chickens working their way through someone’s garden. At certain times of year, this may be fine, but WARNING, chickens will destroy your garden. They will eat your seeds, they will eat your seedlings, they will eat your

mature fruit, they will eat any leaf that they can reach and what they don’t eat, they will scratch and destroy. Yes, they will fertilize your garden and they will eat a handful of bugs and they will eat all of your squash and all of your tomatoes. Again, it’s your call. If you want chickens in your garden after you put your garden to sleep for the winter, wonderful. But if you introduce your chickens to your garden anytime of year then they will climb a fence, fly over a fence, squeeze under a fence and they will remember where your garden is. It is just about impossible to keep a chicken out of your garden if it wants to be there. My advice, do not introduce your chickens to your garden. Bring the garden to the chickens. So much on the garden routine.

Here is a website with a lot of different chicken houses. Some people are very, very proud of their chicken houses. So take the pictures with a grain of salt, but you might be able to get some ideas about how you want to get yours set up. I really like the one with the horse trailer idea. I think that’s very, very creative. If you have a large enough spread and you want your chickens to work other areas, there are all kinds of portable chicken houses. They don’t need to be built to travel down the interstate 85 miles per hour. So think about it, move your chicken house around, they’ll eat bugs, they will just about feed themselves, they love being outside. 

Another note. We’ve had snow and ice here in southeast Oklahoma lately. My chickens will not walk on snow. So if you live in a northern climate with lots of snow that even if you open range or have a chicken run, your birds may not come outside. That means you will have to have enough space inside to accommodate your birds. Okay, back to the portable chicken house. Whether mobile or stationary, the same requirements need to be met. They have to be dry, fairly draft free, nest boxes, roosts, feed, water and enough square footage. 

I think that about covers my idea of a chicken house. The link included here has lots of other chicken information. Look at it. We’ve talked about breeds. We’ve talked about housing. In our next post, we’re going to talk about baby chickens and their needs. Because their first few days of life are critical to their survival. The feed stores will start getting in baby chicks

in February or March and they are really, really cute. But that feed store gets their chickens from a hatchery and so should you. When the chickens come to the feed store, one of the tender loving employees helps these baby chickens get started in life and then 100 little kids will pick up and cuddle these cute little baby birds. Buy your chickens from a hatchery just like the co-op does. Get what you want, just like the feed store does. Your chickens will love you forever for it. So find you a hatchery, start thinking about what birds you want and next time we’ll talk about the preparations you’ll need to do. Remember, these are baby chicks. And just like any baby, they have special needs.

So, this is what we’ll talk about next time. This is not complicated by any means. Now go practice clucking for a while, so when your baby chicks get here in March, April or May they can see you for what you really are.

We’ll cluck more later. Frank