Wednesday, July 27, 2011

day 170 of 365 days of our life on our small family farm in the US

We have been very busy on the farm, with our gardens, fixing our van, selling off our gold and silver to raise money for a trip, fighting EBay, and of course canning.  There is so much to tell you all, I do not know where to begin.   So I guess I could start with the gardens.

Our gardens are hanging on; soon we will have our first corn.  I have lost all but two of the zucchini to an infestation of pests and have given up on it and will most likely trade someone for some.  Our Jerusalem artichokes are doing well.  We are harvesting our first sun flowers and have replanted for the next run.   Our cucumbers and tomatoes are still doing well and our first cantaloupe is on the vine, we still have pumpkins growing and watermelon and I am hoping for the best.  I have replanted beans and we are starting to pick our first big amounts of beans…I hope to be canning them in the near future.  Our goal on canning green beans is one hundred quarts, believe me it can be done and it is not as much as it seems.  We are still picking peppers, I have canned a few jars already and when the outside temp drops a bit I plan to dehydrate some for winter use.  Our onions are resting for the fall and everything else such as the beets and swiss chard are just starting to poke their little heads up out of the ground. 

We have canned a bunch of food already and my basement shelves are filling back up, it’s really nice, though very hard work.  The heat alone at times makes it twice as hard to can.  As I am writing this to all of you I have five jars of my blackberry-pear butter in the water bath canning and time counting down.  I have another batch ready to go in once it comes out, just plain pear butter and then after that peach butter.  So the whole family is quite busy, our home and kitchen are a mess…lol  I have a huge laundry basket full of pears in my kitchen as well as fifteen more gallons sitting on the side, a half bushel of peaches, and now many bushels of apples and two gallons of tomatoes waiting to become sauce.   I have to have it all canned or at the very least frozen by Friday morning.   By the way, always hot pack peaches, with lite syrup, just trust me.

Ok now that I have that out of the way, let’s talk about the van, my problem child.  I am starting to believe that I am cursed, I have just had the beast hot flushed which did help the getting hot problem, but now I have come to learn that I need to replace most of the seals, I guess it should not really surprise me as it is nineteen years old, it just comes as a bad time, with our day time temps reaching with the heat index well into the one hundreds.  I have purchased the above mentioned seals, so when we have a chance we can work on them.  Why in the world can I not make friends with a good mechanic who likes jam…lol   anyway, we have a goal and we are working towards it. 

Our front meadow, hundreds of bees some ours, some wild.  In a range of colors that amaze and delight, all kinds of dragonflies and other flying creatures of all types and sizes and below our feet army’s of ants marching to the beat of a drum only they can hear.  Together they create a living canvas of color.  Our pond full of water creatures, frogs, tadpoles, turtles, ducks and bugs and beetles of all kinds, water skimmers and spiders grace us with their prescience.  Flowers and grasses add a never ending, but constantly changing back drop to all these lovely creatures.  A baby deer lays in the tall grass close to where I am standing, unafraid and peaceful.  It has taken us over five years to turn this waste land into meadow, but today looking out across it all, I know that it was well worth it.

But to sadder matters, eBay is becoming a constant source of aggravation to us here on the farm, and with their call center people in India; I am frustrated to levels even I did not know I could achieve.  As many of you know most of our income comes from hatching eggs and now with the loss of so many sales it incredibly damaging to us and our livelihood.  This most recent event with eBay comes from a miss reading of a never passed regulation.  I am sick over it all.  I have called the head of the FWS, Mr. George Allen who has talked me with many times over the past year.  Here is what happened, last year in March the FWS tried to pass a law protecting as well as controlling populations of ferial Muscovy ducks, in doing so the law effected (would have effected) all of those who breed, sell and raise the birds.  But the very day I found out, I called him and so did many others, and together we worked out a reasonable  solution to the whole problem, that would do what the law was intended to do and to allow those of us with Muscovy’s to bred , sell and own them.  I personally think that Mr. Allen was amazing and a very polite, kind man who deeply cares about his job.  Once he realized there was a problem, he first asked all the breeders to submit their reasons for keeping the birds and tons of data that gave him real insight into a more positive long term solution.  No one until than had given it a second thought.  However I knew back a year ago that the road would be paved with unwilling fools that did not share his insight and understanding.  Some of these very fools reside at eBay.  Even after they were shown the revision of the law, they have chosen not to back down, what has made matters worse for them is their own words and lack of following the law they were now a year later and many sales latter try to impose upon me.  To add to matter they have now stuck their own foots in their mouths (yes I meant that), by telling me that it was not their job to regulate the sale of illegal products…hmmm sounds like they might be harassing me…any way, I have complained often to eBay and others who sell Canadian goose eggs, swan and other such birds eggs that it is not legal. They look the other way and now they are caught, tried to warn them, and by the way eBay telling me to hunt the me to hunt them down and turn them in, yeah…I may just do that, maybe I will see what sort of reward the FWS pays to people who turn them in, you do your job, I will do mine and I have started my dears with you.  eBay you speak a great game about making internet commerce a better safer place, but you do not really provide it and like many long term American companies you forgot that you business is built on the backs of hard working Americans.  I am wagging my mommy finger at you eBay….

Anyway…more canning to do and good people to help…get your food put up dear ones, it is going to be a long cold winter….brrrrrr I feel a chill already. 

One more note: Hey if any of you out their deal in solar and need a place to test in Arkansas, drop us a note, the same for wind turbines, we are willing to work with you and help show how your technology works in real world applications, let our farm and home be your showcase to the world.

Be Blessed

Shekhinah, Michael and all the kids and critters on Mahanaim Farm

Day 170 of 365 days of out lives on our small family farm in the USA

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 160 of 365 days of our life on our small family farm

Welcome everyone, it has been a long problematic few days. We had a friend/neighbor pass away, the second one this month.  Not only will we miss them, but if I do not act fast I will miss the opportunity of acquiring the land that either held.  Land is very hard to come by here, though not expensive.  But when you are already cash strapped 6 dollars can seem like a lot of money.  So we will have to be very cleaver and wise and do our best to make it happen as the only way I can see our farm making it in the future is to increase our land.

For instance the cow really needs one acre all to her self, the three horses, really should have five to seven acres, that way we would to not need us to hay them. The goat and sheep should have around five to acres to themselves.  One must keep in mind we are doing everything we do on a very tiny 6.32 acres of land, and although it is possible, it is very hard.  Our feed bills alone nearly break us each month and for us it is a race against the clock to have enough feed and hay to get us thought the winter months that are fast approaching.  To aid us in our ability to feed all of these animals we have liquidated some of the animals, but still need to liquefy more, this mean eating allot of birds, and maybe another ram. I am unsure at this point what the future holds for our farm and others like it, with corn and other grains reaching all time highs, and the weather in this country destroying most of the corn and other feed crops, it may be very hard for us very soon.  Aside from that much of our corn in America is made into ethanol, or shipped over seas.  this year we were able to get corn to grow for the first time, however it will not be anywhere close to enough to feed everyone.  I have spent hours, days and weeks, trying to learn new ways of making it work, searching out edible weeds on our property to feed our selves and the animals.  We will be gathering seed heads to supplement the birds feeds as well as edible greens that we are drying in huge numbers as winter fodder for them and us.  We have one "weed" called plantago that spouts up a seed stock, with tiny high protein seeds that has been a favorite by the natives of this country as a survival food and flour replacement, I am unsure how much we can harvest of it maybe by seasons end 50lbs, not a huge amount but added or blended with other things may help us to make this work.  I have other plants I am looking at for this new feed mix, such as lambs quarters (also known as goose foot), it's seed heads will be saved as animals feed as well as the plants, we shall put a way at least five pounds of this dried for ourselves as it is super nutritious and tastes very much like Spinach.  I am thinking about curly dock and some of the other wilds that just seem to produce nice seeds heads.  We have also talked about raising more worms and even fly lava to add to the feed , along with dried greens, kelp and dio earth. 

I took a break a while ago and gave the quail some yummy greens, they seemed very happy.  If you are every looking for a super easy to care for bird, cortunix quail are the answer, they are small, easy to keep in a limited amount of space, eat very little, lays lots of eggs all year round and from the time they hatch it only takes 5 weeks from them to be ready as a table bird.  If one could gather and supplement the feed with free weeds, then they are almost free to raise at least half of the year.  You can start with as few as 4 birds and have plenty to eat.  If you plan to raise these, you need to know a few things, you need three hens for every rooster.  A cheap 10 full spectrum florescent light will keep them laying all year long and they can tolerate extreme heat and cold very well.

Everyday is a challenge to get the most basic of tasks done in the time the extensive heat allows us. We gather what is ripe, process it or eat it, water everything, replant where needed and than of course the feeding and care of all the animals and birds as well as things that need done at the house, it really does take a family to run a farm and I am grateful for mine...
Be blessed , Shekhinah, Michael and all the kids and critters on Mahanaim Farm

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 158 of 365 days of our life on our small family farm in the USA

Our Moo cow, home after her long romp with the

This is summer our sweet little ewe lamb....

She is very cute...

Just mintes old and already has mom on the run, her aunts as well.

Elijah age five with our Lady dog.

They really love each other...

Moo always watches every thing that is going

This is the new girl we just brought home, I forgot her elfish name that she said, I call her angel.

She has such preety ears...

They said she just had quards, so I am guessing it will take a while to put some weight back on her.

Miracle things she is niffty...

This is after we took her off the trailer...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 157 of 365 days of life on our small family farm in the USA

All I can say is I wish I was middle class and I wish there still was a middle class, not just poor people and rich people, but I am just a humble surf farming...helping to produce the 40 percent of food that everyone in America eats, if I do not find a regular job, I will soon submit to paying 60% percent of what my farm earns in taxes, hmmm maybe that it where Netflix came up where there number...anyway while everyone talks about entitlements and raising the debt celling and these rep or these dems, it truly goes deeper than that. It really needs to be a complete restructuring of the entire system and it will happen on it's own, has before, or we can start by asking the people that believe they are in charge to stop, think and listen, the road they are crossing is a dangerous one and once crossed it is not any safer. Waring among ourselves it is never the answer. My males rams would will whack each other all day long till someone gets hurt or even dies and that never fix the problem as there is always another ram behind the first, yes I said it we have degraded to the state of wild beasts. How can we fix it, well first pay the ssi people and the poor, riots do not help control costs, pay the military, everyone else just needs to wait, while it is all looked at by the people, not a group or delegation or board or committee, but just regular folks who are not so far removed from the problem that six dollars is just a cup coffee. I would like it solved by those who six dollars is a meal or a day of shelter. Just to remind every one reading this that the last time a regal spouted off crap about let them eat, she and her hubby had their head whacked can not tell starving people to eat, not even peas...but funny enough one can turn it around to peas on earth...get it, a pun.  Anyway. I wish every one would get it and start thinking beyond the threat of money and too the greater picture...

Be Blessed Shekhinah  Mahanaim Farm

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Still day 155 of 365 days of our life on our small family farm

You have got to be kidding, Netflix and Obama, both think we should all eat our peas while they eat very expensive steak... Netflix thinks that 60% is fair and the Prez thinks we can live on air....gee to be so rich and out of touch with the rest of us...

Well Mr. Prez Obama, if that is your real name, I refuse to live on peas and if you try to starve the people who put you in office, you are gonna find a moving van outside your door and your chance for re-election will be over, just like that.  

Netflix get over your self, how much of my money will make you happy, your not Direct TV you know.  You do this in cycles, I have studied you and your infostucture.  I loved the part about how you are saving dvd subscribers money, yeah while screwing me...I have both dvd and streaming and you want to double what I spend...WTH...Sept 28 we will part ways, like a pair of angry lovers, I am getting the kids and the house, you are getting nothing...just thought you should know...


Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 155 of 365 days of our life on our small family farm in the USA

Welcome to everyone who is joining us.  It has come to my attention that some farm in Florida is using our name and started in the last few years.  Please note they are not a part of what we are doing and do not represent our values.  I just wanted everyone to know.  Now on to fun farm stuff.
Yesterday a sweet little lamb was born, we have named her summer.  She is the baby of my oldest ewe and I and everyone else is keeping a close watch over her.  We lost two ewes this year, one to a terrible shearer and one by cow...It saddens us to have such a great loss and our now forced to keep the very expensive ewes to recover some of our lose.  It will be over a year before they can bred, unlike goats which can be bred at 6 months, but should also not be bred until at least a year old.  Encase you are wondering cows can be bred at 18 moths, though I have seen farmers bred them purposely at 12 months.

Our gardens are producing nicely, I have had to use Diatomaceous earth this season. We had aphids, so if the edges of your plant leaves roll up, you most likely have them too.  The cure or treatment if you will is spreading out huge handfuls of Diatomaceous earth on everything. You can only use it for a few days at a time, as it will kill the bees and other good bugs as well as the bad, also earth worms, if used to often.

For all who do not know what diatomaceous earth is.  Well first off I guess I should start by telling you all that it does have other names such as Diatomite and kieselgur.  It is made up from earth that consists of fossilized remains of  Diatoms, a shelled algae that lived a really, really long time ago.  It has over the years been used as a filtration aid, a mechanical insecticide and a moisture absorbent, in products like cat litter, some people like us, even put it in our flour to keep it from getting buggy.  It can also be used to clot blood and believe it or not is used to stabilize dynamite and is even used in some paint products as a thermal insulator.  Just for fun here is the science name of Diatomaceous earth SiO2·nH2O, by definition it is a type of biogenic silica made up of tiny fossils ( note above ).  How it works as a bug killer and most other things can be contributed to it millions of tiny share edges, that as a bug killer cut the insects to shreds on a microscopic level.  The little tiny edges help it soak up moisture as well as it's ability to help clot blood.  it is all very cool and extremely safe to humans and other animals, but absolutely dreadful to bugs. So there you have it.

On to other things I have to buy flour today, but we have learned how to make a mill for the house from concrete , so we feel we are making progress and shall try very hard to keep you updated as we go.  Flour at a local store that supplies discounted grocery's as well as restaurant supply has 50lb bags of flour for around 18 bucks so the price has not gone up yet, thank goodness.  It is whole wheat flour and will cost around $1.80 for 5 pounds, far cheaper than the $2 super cheap scary flour from unknown sources and much cheaper than the good King Aurthur flour, or Bob's Mill which are both well over $4.00 per 5 pounds.  We go through a lot of flour and the flour you buy in the store - even the whole wheat kind - is dead. Once ground, wheat loses all of its nutrients within 12 hours. leave it out longer than a week will even become toxic.  Manufactures of even the finest wheat and whole wheat flours will add preservatives and vitamins to help preserve it longer. Some of these preservitives over time build up in the body and have been show in some studies to make people very ill.  Thus the reason grinding our own flour is so important to us.

Well I have enjoyed sharing with you, but I have to go and take my Rachael to her job as a 4-H camp councilor...
Know that we love you all and pray for you all often...Be Blessed and be kind to one another, spend lunch with a friend, visit some one who is ill and make there day...just be good to one another...Shekhinah, Michael and all the kids and critters on Mahanaim Farm.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 152 of 365 days of our live on our small family farm in the USA

Ten days have passed since I have been on sharing about our lives and I guess allot has happened.  We were offered to set up a petting zoo for a community event, we are not sure if we will be able to do it yet.  I found out that even as a farmer I must get a new licence.  There are three you can sort of chose from, one is for selling, but I do not need that one,one is for having exotic animals, and one is for exhibition of animals.  As a farmer I sell animals all the time, people see them, so it is all a bit confusing.  Now I have to apply for a class "C" license which can cost anywhere from 30 bucks to 300, the fee is based ont he number of mammals I will be showing, they said birds do not count..hmmm maybe I should just have a birds petting  I also have to get a vet to say they are all healthy and than submit to a farm visit when ever they feel like it, as often as they feel like it. All this to put on what will be a free event, plus the cost for fuel, fencing, hand sanitizer, and endless other things will will need to make this all work out. 

We have had a run of people wanting goats in milk and willing to pay, too bad I do not have any.  Today I got a call for baby goats and or sheep, the people wanted to know if they could feed them cows milk from the store...that is why what I do with our line book is so important, people really as so far removed from the process of food and raising these type of animals that they just do not know and then there are unscrupulous goat and sheep dealers who will raise the goats on cow milk, only because it is cheaper.  The long term problems to the goat or sheep have no bearing on their behavior as to them they are just a pay check.  Just for the record, sheep and goats milk are both universal milks, meaning almost any human or animals can drink them, how milk is not and that is why so many people get sick drinking cows milk. 

Some cool thinks I have done this week was to go to an old west town here in was very cool and looked nothing like the story books from the wild west that I have
I found out that grasshoppers and crickets are Kosher...and now I just want a few different ways to cook them.  Maybe tacos...I also found out goldfish are Kosher which is cool, cause I bought some big ones today for our swimming pool/pond, made from last years pool.  I also got a few sun fish.
Still trying to get all the hay up for the winter, got quite a bit and it made a huge dent in our wallets, I can tell you that, but not as bad as the grain has.  Egg layer mash is now 12 bucks a bag, that is crazy.  I am still working on new ways to feed the animals and us as well, as you could tell above.  We harvested some Kudzu or Kuzu (クズ or 葛) a couple of days ago, here in the US it is a weed, but to use it offers, free fodder and food for the taking. For any of you who do not know Kudzu is a member of the pea family and was bought to America from Asia to help prevent erosion and recondition the soil.  Again for fodder it is fantastic having a crude protein of between 15-18%.  Over 60% of the total digestible nutrient value of the plant, and I have not found one animal who did not like it.  By the acre it is said to produce 2 to 4 tons of dry "hay"; on ground that would not grow anythings else and it needs no fertilizer and no bug spay.  It is hard to bale and that can be a down fall, unless you are doing it by hand and can take a long time to dry out.  The fiber from this plant can also be used to make paper, cloth and other such things.  Aside from feeding to my animals  I make kudzu blossom jelly ( it takes 8 cups of flowers to make one batch ), Kudzu syrup (also takes about 8 cups...), Kudzu baskets, salad from the leaves ( I also dry some for use in stews and soups),I pickle it, make it into Kim chi, brine and stuff the leaves, they have so many uses, I even fry them just like any other green with lots of onions and some wild garlic.  There is even a book: The Book of Kudzu: A Culinary and Healing Guide by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi.  I think every one should have a copy. 

Our cow is coming along very nicely...and her bag seems to fill a little more every day.

Rachael has gotten her first job as a counselor for the 4-h day camp, I am very proud of her.

Garden is doing well, we have harvested a bunch of cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans and such...
over all the farm is coming along.

Well I guess I need to go and study, I have a test to take some time this week.

Be Blessed dear ones and know that we think of you often, Shekhinah, Michael and all the kids and critters on Mahanaim Farm.