Friday, December 4, 2015


I don't really like nor enjoy Christmas. I do all the stuff I'm supposed to do, but it's a ridiculous waste of money and emotion. The children's expectations are somewhat unrealistic sometimes even when they know the budget. They end up getting whatever they want most of the time so getting present ideas out of them is annoying. I get random shit ideas that end up forgotten or trashed. 

I just read through the Xmas_list.xml file where I keep an itemized list of the gifts I get everyone for Christmas. Accompanying that list is a corresponding pivot table so I can see how much I've spent per kid. I was looking at presents I've gotten for them since 2005 when I started this spreadsheet. Most of what I got for people in 2013 is a vague memory. Last years? Same. 

I need to do better. 

I only buy presents for my children. If I see something I know someone might like, I'll get it but for the most part, Christmas for me is just about my kids. I only track that spending. 

That being said, I've spent, according to the spreadsheet, a little too much for the youngest. I bought a digital microscope for the youngest boy, however it's really a homeschool supply.  And a ninetendo 3DS for his twin (girl) so she'll quit stealing his.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Grey Storm Clouds

I have one over my head right now. At this moment, that little evil puff ball is making me feel like shit. 

I'm really fucking sick of crutches. I have a very old house. The floors change from room to room. The door thresholds are big enough, but to get to my room, I have to hop over a threshold,  go up almost 6 inches from the foyer to the family room. Down into the back hall over another high threshold, and over one more threshold into my room. Most places aren't wide enough so there's a lot of sideways sidling. 

I'm tired all the time. 

My ankle still hurts to touch and when I accidentally put weight on it, it's painful. The other night I got my feet tangled in the blankets and woke up yelping because of the pain. 

The husband was gone all last week. He'll be gone three days this week and three days next week. I'm sick of eating easy-to-prepare, frozen, and instant food. There are no places that deliver and none of my friends live nearby so asking someone to make a food run isn't really an option. 

I'm getting depressed. Can't walk. Can't do chores. Can't stand up very long. Can't take a bath because I have a clawfoot tub and I can't get in and out of it so it's been "whore's bath" at the sink.

I'm really sick of this. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Broken Ankle

My husband and I took a walk on our property through the woods. We went up and down hills, over rocks and fallen trees, and over a creek. We found eight different types of mushrooms and walked back to drop them off at the house before proceeding down to the creek to forage for persimmons. I walked towards the picnic table to put down the mushrooms and stepped directly in a hole. I fell over completely loosing all the mushrooms I was carrying in both hands. My husband behind me saw the whole thing and told me I almost hit my head on the picnic table. When I finally could sit up, I was in so much pain. I couldn't put any weight on it. I asked my husband to get me ibuprofen and we headed straight to the emergency room.  Broken fibula. 

Update: although the ER attending thought it was broken, it was not. I was up and walking around within 3 weeks. Still swollen in the area, but I don't even have much of a limp now. Thanksgiving and the day before led to some pain given I'd been on my feet 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lessons Learned

First one was I am way too busy with a full-time job and homeschooling one of my kids to try and also participate in a farmer's market. I had high hopes of getting in a market with some various cherry, grape, and saladette tomatoes, but nature and every thing else got in the way.

All of the tomato plants got blight this year. They did keep producing tomatoes, and there are still a bunch coming in now, but because of the blight over such a large area of the garden, I have to not use that garden next  year. That's fine. The raised beds were a great idea in theory, but maintaining them is hard. If it was one flat surface, weeding would be easier.

Next year, that entire area is going to get rototilled and I'm just planting some rows of corn. Maybe try the three sisters thing with corn, beans, and squash. We're going to set  up an area near the orchard (front of the house) to use as the garden. Less tomatoes, more food we actually eat. I did great with the beets and carrots, onions and potatoes, but next year I need to plant beans and peas and stuff for salads.

Meat production is going great! We had two (of the seven) hogs processed this year and ended up with 330 pounds of mixed cuts for the freezer. I made over 50 pounds of various sausages - Italian, bratwurst, kielbasa, and breakfast. I've started one ham (I want it for my birthday party at the end of this month), and brined 18 slabs of belly for bacon. I smoked 8 of those last week to take up to my family this past Saturday. Cooked some bacon for breakfast at dad's and it was really tasty. I hope they all like it. If not, more for me in the long run.

I have over 15 quarts of hot and sweet (mostly hot) peppers fermenting in the kitchen. Going to turn that into fermented pepper sauce. I had good luck last year making some. I'm following the same method so I have high hopes for this batch. I'll need to get one of my husband's friends to be my official taste tester; he loved last year's!

Traded my rooster Bob, the Buff Orpington, for four Barred Rock hens. They had too many hens, and I had three roosters and five hens so it worked out great. He was with me from the beginning; I had him since he was a 3-day old chick but he wasn't appreciated here because he was the beta rooster. Chip is still around; he's the alpha and he's happier now that he's the only male. The one chick who managed to not get eaten turned out to be another rooster (Half Amerucuana and half Buff Orpington). I gave him to my friend who also needed a rooster - especially after watching and waiting for this one chicken who she thought was a male to step up and start acting roosterfish. Turns out, he's a she; she laid an egg instead of starting to crow. In her defense, she thought with the big comb and wattle that it was male. It's really hard to tell them apart until they start sprouting spurs, crowing, or laying an egg. I thought my rooster was a hen; I could have sworn the saddle feathers had rounded tips not points (another way to tell). But I was wrong.

The weather has been beautiful this week. We had a period at the beginning of the month where we had nothing but rain and clouds. Was not a happy camper. Doing much better now. Hate how sometimes my moods are affected by the weather.

The trip north was fun. It was great seeing my sister and her four children. Met the newest member of the family, my first great niece. They were celebrating her 1st birthday. I wasn't planning on going because my husband was supposed to be out of town but it was postponed. Last minute road trip! My children all behaved. The drive (five hours) wasn't too bad on the way north, but NoVA traffic on I-495 sucks. Just all the time. Every day. 365/24/7. It's just a fact.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I'm planning my 50th birthday party. I've always wanted to do a vodka and caviar party for the big 5-0, but am going even better with a Russian-themed cocktail party. 

My dad's dad (paternal grandfather) was actually Ukranian, but I'll be substituting some of the Russian items with foods I grew up with; for example, I think that my great-aunt Pearl's cydik, which I usually only make for Easter, would be a really tasty base for caviar and go well with vodka. She married my paternal grandfather's younger brother. She lived with my grandfather's parents after she married my uncle and learned how to cook Ukrainian food. She taught me how to make Ukrainian cydik and paska, and Polish pierogies. 

Here's the menu:

Here's the cookbook that inspired my party food. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


We had Hambone and Spotted Dick aka Dickie butchered two weeks ago about. Ended up with 330 total pounds of various pork products: bellies, jowls, ribs, chops, tenderloins, Boston butts, picnic shoulders, and hams.

So far, I've started one belly in brine for bacon along with the jowl. Made fresh Italian sausage, bratwurst, and breakfast sausage. Made smoked kielbasa this past weekend. 
Pork: it's what's for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner at our place.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Today I'll be smoking bacon and ham. These are from the hogs I helped to butcher at the workshop last month. These have been in either dry rub brine (bacon) or liquid brine (hams). At the moment, they are all laid out on the counter on cooling racks drying under a fan. 

I'll be using a combination of pecan, hickory, and cherry woods to smoke today. First time using this combination but it sounds great as far as qualities of the smoke. 

Also today, I'm making sweet pickle relish, bread and butter pickles, and canning carrots. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday's Garden Update

Pulled the rest of the onions out (all the red and the remainder of the white) and set them on shelves in the greenhouse to dry. The yellow ones were brought up to the house last night, dusted free of dirt, stems removed. Now I have to have a marathon chopping/dicing session. Plan is to cut up recipe-sized portions and freeze them in vacuum seal bags. I'm also going to make some onion soup and either freeze it or can it. I'll have to see if I can can it. That would be ideal.

Completely cleaned out the weeds in that bed since I was out there.

Got three more huge albino beets and that bed is just about finished; I think there's maybe five more so I'll give them some time to get a little larger.

Going to start some fall crops in those spots - for me, it's late lettuce, spinach, bok choy, and some other Asian salad green called Salt Wort that's supposed to be like sea weed. I love seaweed salad!

I need to clear out the area where the pigs were; mow and then rototill it this weekend so I can plant pumpkins and turnips there (to use for hog feed). It'll be nice rich soil too. My current garden was home to hogs first. I don't add anything but compost to the tops of the beds each season, give it a good mix up, and plant. I've had the soil tested by the local agriculture extension office and we don't need to add anything. We're getting good results by giving beds a rest and rotating crops.

Seeing a LOT of baby tomatoes and hot peppers. Very exciting! I'm already harvesting some Bloody Butcher tomatoes. These are from plants we picked up at the Scottsville Farmer's Market. We lost a few when we transplanted. I suck at the whole conditioning thing. I'll be better next year with the greenhouse to use. Others are tiny and green, but you can tell all the different shapes already: small grape, long pear, tiny cherry!

The zinnias I started in peat pots need to be transplanted; they are about to bloom! OOPS! I also have to put the nasturtiums out in the garden too. The idea of peppery edible flowers sounds interesting. I love fresh salads composed of all kinds of lettuces, so I thought the edible flowers would be a fun thing to try this year. Both the zinneas and the nasturtium are edible.

Friday, June 19, 2015


I have three four foot by eight foot raised beds full of beets. I'll be harvesting more this weekend, but today I'm trying out a new recipe for quick-pickled beets from Alton Brown. 
Have some red, white, and gold beets just roasted and peeled. 

Three quarts!

Patriotic and Funky!

I decided to add a streak of blue to my otherwise very red hair. I have a naturally occurring grey patch there so it worked out well.

First tomatoes!

Fresh goat's milk mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, black pepper, kosher salt, and a little olive oil made for a really good lunch. 

Unfortunately, the remaining tomatoes are still very green.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Patriotic brain fart

I read a news story online reporting about a baseball game. The fans were told that due to time constraints, they were going to skip doing the national anthem. 

This was the third game that day; I get it. 

The fans took it upon themselves and sang it anyway. 

Which led to my brain fart. Did I know the words? I can't remember the last time I went anywhere where this was sung. 

I don't do sports. 

Anyway, I didn't realize the original song was so long! The games would be well into the second inning had the long version been used. 

In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem,Defense of Fort McHenry. The poem was later put to the tune of (John Stafford Smith's song)The Anacreontic Song, modified somewhat, and retitled The Star Spangled Banner. Congress proclaimed The Star Spangled Banner the U.S. National Anthem in 1931.

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Garden talk

The garden is an on-going work in progress. Let's just say that. 

I've still got beds to clear of weeds. I do have a lot of beds planted: two onion, one garlic, four carrot, three beet, one horseradish, one sweet potatoe, two potato varieties, and a lot of tomatoes!

These little chicks were hatched recently. They are a week or two old. I think they are all pullets. I was surprised too by the fact that two of these appear to have been fathered by the beta rooster, Bob the Buff Orpington. 

The one with the racing stripes on her wings is definitely Chip's kid. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hand Milking Goats

Oh my hands!

I'm milking three goats twice a day - trying for between 7/8 am and then 6/7 pm. I only started on Sunday morning doing two-a-days; I started getting them on the stand at night the week before.

Fiona, the oldest mixed Saanen/Nigerian Dwarf is getting a little persnickety. This is her third year of being milked. She comes to the gate when she's called, but wants to take her own sweet time about walking to the stand. She has been producing a good half-gallon of milk for the past three mornings but she loses patience being on the stand for as long as it's taking me to get her completely milked out. I think she's turning into a diva.

It's Franny's second year of being milked, and she's actually the most well-behaved. She's at the gate when I come back with Fiona, and walks fine to the stand. She hops right up and starts munching. She's producing about a quart a day total but milking her tiny teats takes some time.

Now, Feisty is a first-freshener and she's just wild. I have to trick her with a bucket of food to catch her so I can drag... er lead her to the stand. She hops right up and starts eating her sweet feed treat, but getting her to and from the stand is a giant pain in the ass. She's fine while being milked. I couldn't catch her this morning. She's going to have one sore udder tonight. I hope I can catch her for the evening's milking session.

I've got five babies that are being fed on a caprine bucket feeder. The girls have caught on quite well, The one mixed buckling, I'm calling him Splotches, is doing much better than his half-brother, Big Nose. I have to catch him in order to get him on the feeder whereas the other babies see me, know what's coming, and run right over when I set it on the stand. Stupid boys.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Baby Goat Cuteness

Babies all over the place!
One of the newest bucklings. 

His brother...

Their sister is such a sweetie. 

They are Saanen and Nigerian Dwarf mix. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Three More Baby Goats!

Fiona had triplets last night: two boys and one girl. Long legged and ganglier than the other four. 

The boys have Black and Tan spots. The girl has tan spots. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I'm so sick right now

I can't find one of Franny's kids anywhere. I'm so afraid a coyote got her. 

FRANNY FOUND HER!! She was hiding in the corner of the cabin. Franny kept calling for her, walked closer, and I heard the baby calling back. I'm so relieved 

More kids!

Went outside around two o'clock today and discovered that Feisty had her babies! 
I thought she'd only have one since she's kind of small, but she had two little doelings. 

I brought them inside to dry them off quickly. It's overcast a and chilly out today. 

This one looks like her daddy, Freckles. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It's kidding time!

Proud mama, Franny.

Franny had two kids, a buckling and a doeling late Sunday/early Monday March 23, 2015. 

Both are really healthy, passing yellow stools so are getting milk, and are adorable and inquisitive. 

For now, we're calling the buckling Freckles the Second. That's him in all his fluffy cuteness above. 
The doeling we're calling C.C. short for Cookies N Cream. She's only slightly smaller than her brother. 

It's funny how much of a combination they are of their parents compared to their first offspring. 

Last year, Franny had two doelings - one who was a buckskin like herself (her mini-me) and the other who was black and white like the dad. These two look very different from their sisters.

Both parents were registered; one with one goat association and the other to a different one. However, they are both 100% Nigerian Dwarf so I'm selling these. 

The other does I have that are expecting are mutts. Not much income from them.

Too bad. These guys are super cute and crazy corny!!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

View from the Loo - Feb

It's been crazy cold and the 8-10 inches of snow we got last Tuesday, the 17th,  combined with the 1-1/2 inches of snow yesterday has made for some unhappy critters. 

The hogs have been staying in their run-in, snuggled down in the straw. 

The goats are roaming but like hanging out under the carport. You can tell their favorite paths; there are trails of goat pellets hither and yon. 

Frozen pipe under master bath lead to master bathroom's pipe bursting at some point today. The water pressure sucked all over the house but it wasn't until I heard water running UNDER the bathtub that I went outside. Sure enough, the huge puddle under that corner of the house was a dead giveaway. I turned off all the water switches I could find under the house and opened all the taps on the first floor. 

The plumber will be here first thing tomorrow morning. The kids don't have school again (they were off all last week) tomorrow, so no one has to be all that clean until Tuesday anyway. 

To top that off, the slow leak in my tire went to outright flat as of yesterday. It was snowing all day yesterday so I changed it today with my husband's help. I'm so grateful that my dad sent me a several ton floor jack years and years ago. It has come in handy here on the farm. I use it all the time on the lawn tractors. 

Tomorrow is going to be expensive. Fix plumbing - in more than one place. The valves to turn the water off to the master bathroom are so close together that neither can fully close! If that wasn't so wrong, the rest of the house could have water. And then four new truck tires. 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sad, sad day

It is not a good day today. 

I started almost two years ago with two Nigerian Dwarf goats, Mr. Freckles and Franny. 

Today, we had to put Mr. Freckles down. What a stupid euphemism. We, not we really, because my husband is a super awesome man who drove home and did the deed while I took two kids to the dentist. 

One kid has three cavities with the possibility of two more. I had half flat tire when I got to the dentist's office but didn't realize it. Another patient in the waiting room pointed it out to me. Run across the street to the gas station and as soon as I got the tire up to pressure, I could hear the leak. One can of Fix A Flat later, I'm back on the road. 

Ideally, I'd get new tires; I've had the truck since Aug 2012. That'll have to wait til next pay period. 

So back to Mr. Freckles. The vet was out last week. He had urinary calculi (stones) in his urethra. The vet was able to get some out, along with a lot of puss. Gave two shots, antibiotic and pain reliever. Freckles was okay for a day or two, but this morning he was making sad, painful sounds and lying down. The vet said he could be okay or there could be a lot more stones. I couldn't let him stay in pain, but he's a farm animal, not a pet. The next option was expensive surgery. 

Rest in peace, Mr.Freckles. Maybe one of the three does you knocked up will give us a Freckles the Second. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Busy weekend!

Finished building the walls of the greenhouse on Saturday. 
Laid them all out in preparation for the next step. For that, we needed extra hands. The two youngest helped us Sunday morning to get the four sides attached. 
That's me looking proud. 
All the cross bracing is up, rafters installed, and vents built and installed in the roof section. 

Just have to install the panels and get the door installed. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Hired a landscaper (the same wonderful man I hired to build the raised garden beds last spring) to level a spot for the greenhouse. 
Thursday, he leveled the space and on Friday, we put the base together and got that level and squared. He then filled the area with some gravel. 

I managed to build one end wall - the door end - today. 

Was a busy day! Earlier in the day, I went out and learned how to set traps. See, I've lost three hens in the past two weeks to coyotes. One grabbed a chicken not 10 feet from me! So my husband's co-worker came over with some traps and showed me how to set them out. 

My muscles are so sore right now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Greenhouse

My new greenhouse was delivered yesterday! 

So excited. 
Got it from FarmTek. The instruction manual is 51 pages long. It doesn't look too complicated though.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Hogs are all doing very well. Abigail's skin is a little dry and her coat isn't as dense, but the younger ones are all looking great!

They got a treat the other day, cookie houses we made and decorated on 12/24. They were too stale for people.
Hambone (left) and Dickie (left)

Moving Day

Sunday was spent packing up my oldest son's stuff and moving him to Blacksburg, VA. 

He found a room in a house of four other men that's within walking distance of his new job. He's not starting for another week or so, but he's planning on looking for a second job and getting himself settled in. 

Got his stuff unloaded. 
And then we headed out for some lunch. Packing and driving and unloading had us eating our lunch around 3:30pm. 

After fortifying ourselves with burgers and fries (thank you, Red Robin), we went shopping for some basics: towels, a set of dishes, some cook wear, a trash can, some toiletries, and a nice TV (his was a handmedown of a handmedown and is pretty ancient). I kept asking him "do you need sheets?" The answer was no until I got home and realized that all the linens I washed were still in the same place they were when I folded them.  This morning I ordered him some sheet sets, extra pillowcases, and a small refrigerator. 

Next stop was the closest grocery store. We picked up some food and a $100 gift card so he won't have to worry about food for a little while. 

It's been weird not having him here and I miss him very much. I know this is going to be great for him. Plus, I'm not planning on letting him move back home because I don't think I could do all these emotions all over again. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

Have lots of plans again for this year. 

Plan on putting up a greenhouse. I think I'll call the landscaper that did the raised beds and see if they can level and clear out where I want the greenhouse. 

Plan on putting up two bee hives to start. Need to order the parts and get in touch with some of the bee keepers from the Buckingham County Beekeeping group for some advice. 

Plan on trying to get into a farmers market or two this year. Corny Goat Farm is set up as an LLC. Just need to get the tax situation set up and open a business account for banking. 

Lots of plans and ideas. Going to be a great year!