Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sweet little escapees...

Another beautiful summer day of chasing sheep!  Our baby lambs are growing quickly and becoming adventurous in their own right.  I've already told you about their roof-climbing-antics and that was bad enough.

They have apparently gotten to the age where they do not need to be Velcro-ed to their mothers side at all hours of the day - I'm sure the mom's are grateful!  Harriet and Nellie have spread their tiny hoofs and taken to finding every possible way to escape the paddock.  They've been climbing between the fence rails closest to the barn for a few weeks and up-till-now it's been really cute.  They would come out and eat some of the chicken scratch and scamper right back in to their freaked-out mothers who stood baaaaaaing on the other side of the fence.  Their older brother and favorite playmate Freddy is too big to fit through the fence so he has been left out of the fun.

Save me - my lambs won't give me a moments peace!

I think they got up yesterday just to test our patience!  The girls popped through the fence, hung out with chickens for awhile and then wandered much farther than they ever did before so we knew we had to put an end to it.  We broke out some leftover pallets and bungee corded them to the wooden fence - not very pretty but it worked.  All was well so back to the house I went.  Twenty minutes later - Moooooom.  They were out again - this time by climbing UNDER the welded wire fence to reach the grass beyond because we all know - the grass is ALWAYS greener...  One more pallet and an old cage to fill that hole and another that had potential and finally they stayed put...or maybe they are just waiting for today when I'm home alone to try again.

The mommas are looking a little less like they got run over by the lawn mower so I am just a tiny bit less embarrassed by their spectacular haircuts!  Mr. Sheepie is still sporting his winter coat - I feel so bad but I have not been able to get a hold of the sheep shearer and I am quite sure we would get injured trying to shear him ourselves. He hasn't been nearly as friendly since shearing the momma's - I think he knows eventually his turn will come.

A friend and little Miss Rosie came for a visit awhile back - she almost got a kiss!

We are still working out details of a possible trade with a sheep-farmer-friend.  We are really wanting to increase the size of our flock so we want to trade Freddy, Harriet and Nellie for some unrelated females.  It will be hard to say goodbye to the lambs but this farmer is growing up and starting to wear her big girl overalls!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sumac Iced Tea for hot summer days!

It's been blazing hot here in Ontario as it has been in many areas of North America over the past few months.  We've been reasonable comfortable except for last weekend - even with every trick I could think of it was too hot to do much of anything that required exertion!

We forgo air conditioning at the farm because there is almost always a breeze.  Some of the ways we keep the house cool are pretty obvious to most frugal folks.  We open every window as soon as the sun is off the windows at night.  In the morning we close the windows and any blinds on the east side of the house, continuing to close windows as the sun come around to the south and west.  Most days that keeps it pretty comfy.  We invested in some extra fans this year and make good use of ceiling fans as well.  Basically if we can't keep it cool enough to work during the day we get up early to do chores and relax during the day until evening when we finish the necessities outside. 

In the same vein of keeping cool - I've been learning about Sumac Iced Tea.  We have plenty of sumac trees around and they are in many of the ditches on the nearby side roads.  Last week after a particularly brutally hot day my daughter and I went for a walk after sundown.  I feel cooped up when I can't get outside!  We picked some sumac berries to take home and started our tea.

Staghorn Sumac

I'm not sure it could be simpler!  I lightly rinsed off the berries and covered them with cold water in a glass pitcher with a lid.  I used three heads of berries but you can use more or less.

I left it on the counter to infuse overnight and woke up to a beautiful dark red juice.  I fished out the heads and ran the remaining juice through a coffee filter to strain out the tiny little hairs and bits. You could also use a coffee press or a clean cloth.

Then I added some stevia drops - but you could use the sweetener of your choice.  Some people think it tastes very lemony - like lemonade but personally I found it much milder.

Sumac tea is very high in vitamin C and for most people it's free for the taking right outside the door! Some sources say it has twice the vitamin C of oranges.  It makes a great refreshing hot weather drink!

You can learn more about Sumac Tea by reading here.

I borrowed the following from a Facebook friend.

IT'S SO HOT in Ontario or just about anywhere else in North America right now!

.....the birds have to use potholders to pull the worms out of the ground.
.....the trees are whistling for the dogs.
.....the best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance water comes from both taps. can make sun tea instantly. learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
.....the temperature drops below 90 F and you feel a little chilly. break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 5:30 A.M.
.....your biggest motorcycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death"?
......the potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and add butter.
.....the cows are giving evaporated milk. are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying boiled eggs.

Do you have any tricks that help you stay cool?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Latest LDS Preparedness Manual -free download

In my prepping journey I have had some strange looks when I mention I am aiming for food storage for a year (I have a long way to go!)  Some people have asked if I've switched faiths and become Mormon - ah no.  I believe however they DO have the right idea when it comes to food storage and being prepared for emergencies - something that the Lord made very plain that I was supposed to do.  

Photo credit
Sometimes I feel like Noah - building my ark because I just know I must be obedient.  This is my favorite prepping verse: 

Proverbs 22:3 New Living Translation 
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

It makes perfect sense to me that being prepared is a wise way to live.  From the simple glitches in finances due to unforeseen circumstances to weather related storms and the further out-there scenarios that some call TEOTWAWKI - The End Of The World As We Know It.  Anything that turns our worlds up-side-down is bound to be easier to handle if we have some preparations in place.

Since the Mormons were pioneers in the Food Storage & Preparedness idea I take their research on how to store foods seriously.  They have researched HOW to store foods most effectively and have laboratory data to back it up.  The other articles fall naturally in place when you look at WHY you should have food storage.

The author/compiler writes: This book is NOT an original work.  Rather, it is a compilation of many different author’s works that have been gathered from the public domain of the Internet over the course of many years. These articles have been bound together and are presented here to simplify your access to them.

This is a FREE 509 page download - LDS Preparedness Manual

I've read many of these articles over the years on their respective websites and blogs and have a good sense that these are people who know what they are talking about.  This is a very worthwhile download!  As the author/compiler writes in the forward:  this is NOT something to tuck away until something bad happens - this is how to get ready BEFORE something bad happens.

The contents are directed towards people who are LDS so there is some information about wards and leadership that don't apply to me so I just skip over it and carry on.

Here's a quick look at some of what this book contains:

Section 1: Emergency Preparedness. Why?
  • Normalcy Bias, It’s All in your Head, by Survivalmom
  • Understanding the Normalcy Bias Could Save Your Life, by Confab

  • The Five Principles of Preparedness, Phil Burns
  • Mental & Spiritual Preparations for Survival, by jc
  • How Long until You Starve?, by Mr. Yankee
  • General Preparedness Survey, by Christopher Parrett
  • Five Levels of Preparedness, by Suburbanprep

Section 2: Getting Started
  • LDS Church FAMILY HOME STORAGE KITS, by Christopher Parrett  
  • Food Storage, by Christopher Parrett  
  • BARE-MINIMUM Food Storage Requirements, by Christopher Parrett
  • Our Food Supply is Fragile, by Christopher Parrett
  • Do you Really have a Year’s Supply??, By Christopher Parrett

  • Food Storage Tools & References
  • Basic Food List, by Lynette B. Crockett
  • Long Term Master Food List, by Christopher Parrett
  • One Year Supply Guide, by Dealsonmeals
  • Monthly Food Storage Purchasing Calendar, by Andrea Chapman
  • 30 Day Emergency Food Supply, by by Robert Wayne Atkins
  • Real-World One-Year Emergency Food Supply , by by Robert Wayne Atkins
  • The Seven Major Mistakes in Food Storage, By Vickie Tate
  • Common Storage Foods, By Alan T. Hagan

  • Grains & Legumes
  • Grains and Flours, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Legume Varieties, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Availability of Grains & Legumes, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Moisture Content in Grains & Legumes, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Grains Cooking Chart
  • Basic Cooking Instructions for Grains & Legumes, by Zel Allen

  • Sugar, Milk Fats & Oils
  • Sugar, Honey and Sweeteners, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Dairy Products, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Canned Fluid Milks and Cremes, Butter, Cheese, Eggs, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Infant Formula, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Fats and Oils, By Alan T. Hagan

  • Cooking Essentials
  • Cooking Adjuncts, By Alan T. Hagan

  • Processing & Preservation
  • Storage Life of Dehydrated Food, By Al Durtschi
  • Shelf Life Studies, by by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
  • Pros & Cons of Freeze-Dried, Dehydrated, MRE, etc, by Skipper Clark
  • MREs, Meal Ready to Eat, By Alan T. Hagan

  • Sprouting
  • Growing and Using Sprouts, by Al Durtschi
  • Survival Seeds, by suburbanprep
  • Seed List

  • Storage
  • Storage Containers, By Alan T. Hagan
  • LDS Church Plastic Buckets for Longer-Term Food
  • LDS Church Pouch Sealer Instructions
  • Oxygen Absorbers, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Moisture Control in Packing and Food Storage, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Spoilage, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Recommended Food Storage Times, By Alan T. Hagan
  • Space Cramp, Where do I Put it all?? by Kim Hicken

Section 3: Every Needful Thing
  • Get a Kit, Make a Plan, by Christopher Parrett
  • Building the right Bug Out Kit for you, by Westfalia
  • OK, But what do I prepare for?, by Capt. Dave
  • Survival Priorities” The Rule of Three, by Thesurvivalmom

  • 72 Hour Emergency Kit (Get Out Of Dodge / Bug Out Bag)
  • A High Mobility 72 Hour Kit, by Ward Dorrity
  • Tools for your Vehicle, by Ward Dorrity
  • Get Out Of Dodge / Bug Out Bag checklist, by Chris Parrett
  • The Supply Table: The Master Preparedness List, by Chris Parrett

  • Evacuation
  • The 3rd Wave, Evacuation From A Disaster Location, by ST
  • Bug Out Trigger Criteria, by Mr. Jones
  • Understanding Everyone In the City Will Be a Refugee Post SHTF, by Suburban

  • Communication
  • Communications Family Ready, by Amy Loveless
  • Radio Spectrum, by Brian S
  • LDS Emergency Communications, by Dennis Bartholomew
  • General Radio Primer, by Bidah
  • Basics of Radio Communication, by Brian S
  • Sample Stake Communications Plan, by Brian S.
  • Survival Communications Primer, by Vector Joe
  • Sample Family Emergency Communications Plan, by Brian S.

  • Financial
  • Money, Edited by Christopher Parrett
  • Setting up and Emergency Cash Stash, by RusherJim
  • Debt and Preparedness, by iprepared
  • Get out of debt while you can, by preppingtosurvive

  • Medical
  • Medical Kits for Self-Reliant Families, by Jackie Clay
  • TEOTWAWKI Medical Kits, by Survival and Austere Medicine
  • Seven Antibiotics to Stockpile and Why, by Cynthia J. Koelker, MD
  • Using Expired Medications, by Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

  • Defense
  •  Defense, Edited by Christopher Parrett
  • Selecting a Preparedness Battery of Firearms, by Sergeant

  • Heating, Cooking, Lighting
  • Survival Fire Safety, by Mr. F
  • Emergency Heating & Cooking, by Greg Pope
  • Emergency Lighting, by Robert Roskind & Brandon Mansfield
  • Emergency Electrical Lighting, by Robert Roskind & Brandon Mansfield
  • A Short Course on Batteries, by Brandon Mansfield
  • Off Grid Power, by Brian S
  • Electric Generators, By Steve Dunlop

  • Clothing
  • Clothing, Edited by Chris Parrett
  • Warm, Protected and Modest: What to Wear in Difficult Times, by Marilyn
  • Winter Clothes For Preparedness Survival, preparedness1
  • Clothing Checklist By Jessica
  • Washing clothing after TEOTWAWKI, by Kylene

  • Shelter
  • Emergency Shelter, by Larry Bethers

  • Sanitation
  • Emergency Sanitation, by Greg Pope.
  • Emergency Toilets & Garbage Disposal, by Alan T. Hagan
  • Emergency Sanitation – The Scoop on Poop, by Kylene
  • Controlling Odors, by Kylene
  • TEOTWAWKI smells bad, get used to it !!, by Suburban Prep

  • Testing your Preparedness
  • 3 Minutes without Breathing, by Mayo Foundation
  • 3 Hours without Shelter, by Jon Doran
  • 3 Days without Water, Bill Straka
  • Water, by Paxton Turner
  • 3 Weeks without Food By Ron Shirtz
  • Surviving in the City, Edited by Christopher Parrett

  • Babies and Small Children
  • Baby Gear for TEOTWAWKI, by
  • Getting Children Involved in Preparing, by
  • What Do You Tell the Children?, by
  • Avoiding Fear, by

  • Facts about Avian Influenza, US Government
  • Preparing for a Pandemic Outbreak (SIRQ) Plan, by Madison Hospital
  • Quarantine, Quarantine, Quarantine
  • Medical Quarantine Protecting Your Family from Infection, by Dr. Cynthia Koelker
  • Basic Pandemic Supply List
  • Isolation Room Setup

  • Terrorist Attack
  • National Security Emergencies, by National Terror Alert
  • What to do if Nuclear Disaster is Imminent, by Ki4U

  • TEOTWAWKI, by “Survivinghealthy”
  • The Precepts of My Preparedness Philosophy, by James Rawles
  • On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs, by LTC Dave Frossman
  • 100 Emergency Items: That Will Disappear First, by Tess Pennington
  • Some Ground Truth-The “Us” & the “Them” in a Societal Collapse, by RJ
  • Fears of a Prepper, by ST
  • Unprepared: Welcome to the Promissed Land, by Rod E.
  • I Am Your Worst Nightmare, by Dan at “”
  • The Thin Blue Line, by Deputy W.
  • The Overnighters: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You, by Frank C.
  • Why Prepare, when I can take it from the Mormons?, by Rambuff
  • Thoughts on Disaster Survival, post Katrina , By Anonymous
  • A Look Back At Katrina… An Expereinced Prepper Tells All, by Raptor
  • Lessons from Argentina’s economic collapse, By ferfal
  • A First-Hand Account of Long-Term “SHTF” Survival in Bosnia, by Selco
  • Society’s Five Stages of Economic Collapse, by “”
  • EMP, Electromagnetic Pulse, by Tom S
  • MZBs:Are you prepared?, by “”

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sheep Shearing Newbies and the Very Bad Haircut

Mom - remember the famous haircut you gave me in kindergarten?  Well - I can top that by a mile!  Today was sheep shearing day - way later in the season than it should have been for various reasons.  You know how there are things in life that just have to be done and because you're the one standing there - you get the job.  That's how it was.  I made several calls to nearby sheep shearers and didn't get a response...time flew by with everything else going on at the farm add to that the weather being murderously hot so yesterday we faced the fact that we were going to have to do this ourselves.  

How hard could it be? (famous last words!) We watched several youtube videos and I had already read every sheep book I had on hand (which is saying a lot because I own MANY)  We knew we would just have to do it and learn as we went.  Yesterday we stopped by our local TSC store and picked up the shearers - an Oster Shearmaster for $399.00 for those of you who want to know specifics.

I brought backup.  Without my kids - I wouldn't have gotten the job done.  The youtube videos by Kent Gwilliam show the proper way to do things but by the end we just mowed the fleece off in whatever manner we could in order to get it over with.  Our guinea pigs I mean sheep put up with a lot.  Once we managed to catch them and flip them over on their backs into the proper position we realised that this was going to take awhile!  Holding them in that position while cutting is MUCH harder than it looks.  With arms, legs and backs shaking from fatigue and sweat pouring off our faces we did manage but OH dear - this is one job you have to finish once you start so we got creative.  It took three of us but we finally figured out that if one of us - mostly me - held the sheep by the head she would actually just stand still without much struggle.  My daughter and I traded off clipping and she did a great job under the circumstances.

They look absolutely ridiculous!  More like old yellowed foam that had been left outside for a few months.  We started off thinking maybe we could shear the fleece off in one big piece like the pros - in the end it was just chunks but we didn't care.

Two sheep created this 3 X 1.5 X 3 foot cube of wool.  That must be like wearing 5 winter coats at a time.  They did look relieved afterwards but I wasn't sure if that's because the shearing experience was over or they were enjoying being cooler and lighter and much thinner.

We knicked them in a few places due to our incompetence so we rubbed on some Polysporin and we'll check them over the next few days to make sure no infection sets in. After we let them out in the field we stood back to watch for a minute and I turned to see my daughter in tears - she felt bad for cutting them by accident.  After a little cry, a hug and a few words about how we did the best we could and we're still learning and they will be fine we went off to do the rest of the barn chores. Next year will be better.

I've mentioned before that farming is not for the faint of heart.  Some days you have to do things you would rather not do or that are at the far end of your abilities.  That's life isn't it?  We can choose to sit in our safe little worlds where we never challenge ourselves to do new and different things or we can step out into new territory and grow and learn.  Life can be rough and tough and dirty and messy - I wouldn't have it any other way - it's the price of being truly alive in my world.