How Much Do You Feed Chickens?

I think I was starving my chickens.  I am not proud of this.  Further reason that this blog serves as a place to educate folks on exactly how-to because I can never find the answers on these things until it hits me in the face!

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So, when we first got our chickens, we had eight.  Three or so scoops two or three times a day to spoil them, lots of scraps, running around the yard, they were all set.  We lost some, got some more, now at fifteen, upped the food ration some, everything seemed good.  Lost some, gained some, now we are at twenty-four as of last August.  Upped it a little (now at nine scoops a day, probably the equivalent to a cup and a half a scoop) and that is when I noticed as the girls (and rooster) got bigger over this autumn that they seemed more desperate.  We blamed it on our move, then their molting.  We noticed that the gate kept being opened to the chicken yard.  We asked the neighbors, no one had touched it.  We put a cinder block in front of the gate, they moved it.  They meaning twenty-four hysterical birds.  They did indeed descend from dinosaurs.  Velociraptors, I think!

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I began to ask around how much should we be giving the chickens.  They stopped laying eggs all together.  They didn’t look emaciated, but they certainly weren’t happy.  Sandy and Lisa both just fill up the feeders in their coops.  Doug said the chickens will go through it in one day!

“Then they were hungry!” was Sandy’s smart reply!

So, he filled up the two foot high feeder.  And it was half gone the first day.  But since then it has leveled off and we were indeed starving our chickies and we feel terrible about that.  Sandy also mentioned that throwing out a bowl full of scratch daily is added protein and food.

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We read several articles and books.  None of them ever mentioned just filling the feeders up.  In fact, I have read that you don’t free feed because they will just eat and eat and eat.  I also read that you don’t keep a heat lamp on or they get “weak” and that if the power went out on a cold night they wouldn’t be used to it and would die.  I have read all sorts of things, but here is the conclusion that this farmer has come up with.

Henry Higgin's replacement.  Meet Christopher Robin.  Let's hope he's nicer than Henry!

Free feed.  Particularly in the winter, without being able to run around and find bugs and such.  They need more food in the winter to keep warm.  They produce eggs for me which is food to me.  They deserve fresh water, treats, and plenty of food.  They deserve a red light in the coop.  It was negative twenty-two degrees last night.  We turned on the lamp!  They may not be pets in the sense that the cats are, but they are still in my care and on my farm and should receive the exact same care and treatment as the indoor animals.  I free feed the cats and dogs, why not the chickens.

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I hate learning farming lessons the hard way but then at least I can help out a new chicken person when they ask the internet, “How much do I feed my chickens?”

 

What Is A Homestead and Why Is It So Important To Be Self Reliant?

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“What is a homestead?” my friend asked.  The question threw me off guard, cause, geez, everyone knows what a homestead is.  It’s uh….you know…a place where…I decided to consult the dictionary.

homestead

[hohm-sted, -stid] /ˈhoʊm stɛd, -stɪd/   
noun
1.

a dwelling with its land and buildings, occupied by the owner as a home and exempted by a homestead law from seizure or sale for debt.
2.

any dwelling with its land and buildings where a family makes its home.
3.

a tract of land acquired under the Homestead Act.
4.

a house in an urban area acquired under a homesteading program.
verb (used with object)
5.

to acquire or settle on (land) as a homestead:

Pioneers homesteaded the valley.
verb (used without object)
6.

to acquire or settle on a homestead:

They homesteaded many years ago.
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And that, my friends, did not help me either because, frankly, I don’t own anything.  I do not get to keep this land no matter how much I work it (unless I come into a vast amount of money!) and the second definition pretty well means any house in the suburbs is a homestead!  So, what really is a homestead?  What is homesteading?
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The best way to answer this is to look at the general consensus.  I have many friends who are what we would consider homesteaders.  A homestead is a place where one tries to become more self sufficient.  I wonder why that it is not in the dictionary.  Still rather vague.  Can an apartment with a balcony of vegetables be considered a homestead?  Can a house in the city with a few chickens and a garden be considered a homestead?  Certainly a place in the country with a large garden, goats, chickens, sheep, and cows is considered a homestead, right?  I suppose everyone would answer this question differently.  So, here is homesteading to me.
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A homestead is a respite, a home with land to be able to succeed at becoming more self-sufficient.  This place can be rented or bought.  This place provides a basis for producing what one needs to live.  So, homesteading is the verb here where one works to become less reliant on modern society and more secure in their own home as opposed to spending more time working outside the home and relying on utility providers, grocery stores, et cetera for their needs.  It is possible that this could take a lifetime.  But it is worth the effort.
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I often hear the argument that it is impossible to be self-sufficient.  I suppose that depends on your definition.  Would you consider the Ingalls from “Little House on the Prairie” self-sufficient?  I bet you would.  They did go to the general store at times to pick up flour, and cornmeal, sugar, and a bit of candy plus some fabric.  The question would be, if the store was not available, would they be alright?  The answer would be yes.  They would be alright, at least for a time.  Would you consider the Amish self-reliant?  I bet you would say yes.  The home I visited of an Amish family last year was very simple.  They had food stored in a makeshift root cellar (like mine), shelves of beautifully colored jars of produce (like mine), enough wood to get through winter (like us), and propane to light their house, run their stove, refrigerator, and sewing machine.  That is what threw me off!  We use propane to help offset the heat and to run the refrigerator.  It is very expensive and is getting quite nerve-rackingly low.  Are we self reliant?  Not yet, in my book.
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Why is it important?  I mean, really, what is the big deal?  A lot of folks are not really ready to give up their luxuries.  Our bathroom was 35 degrees this morning.  This is not for the faint of heart.  My bottom is still cold.  But, it’s important to me to become self reliant for two reasons.
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One: working for other people is too uncertain.  We make our own business, our own crafts, our own classes, and yes we have to have faith that folks will buy or sign up, but we control our destiny and our mornings.  The more we have to be away from the house working for someone else, the less we can do here, so the less self reliant we are.  We must make our living off of our homestead.  Our living is a lot different than what it was ten years ago.  To us a living was over $55,000 with a mortgage, car payments, utilities, food prices, gas prices, and all the other things we “needed”.  Now our living is around $24,000 if we want to be comfortable with wood, homegrown food, fish, necessary items for our business, gas, rent, and animal feed.  That is the first thing folks that want to homestead must realize.  Be prepared to live on less.  There is much to be done at the house.  Canning, home business, chopping wood, year round growing of plants, animal care,  But there is nothing sweeter than not worrying about where your next meal will come from and never sitting in a cubicle again.
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The second reason it is so important to me to become self reliant is because I need to be able to take care of us and our children if necessary in an emergency.  This could be a wide spread power outage or blizzard, or I often have dreams that there will be a war here.  As much as that scares the heck out of me, I would rather have a house full of necessities and not be wondering how I would get to the grocery store or if we were going to freeze to death.  I do not know if folks realize the folly in relying on large companies for your necessities.  If it all came down to the wire, they don’t give a hoot about your family and it would be quite wise to have a way to access water, heat, food, clothing, and protection.
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Each year we do a homestead checklist and see what we need to do to become more self reliant.  Realize that I do not think that solar panels and their non-decomposing batteries, or wind power with its bird and bat killing capabilities are the answer.  Living with less reliance on oil and gas is our goal.
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  • We have a wood cooktop/propane oven.  A homesteader’s dream?  Yes.  But, I do not want to rely on propane and the small wood compartment does not do much to heat this house.  44 degrees in the living room is just a bit too freaking cold for me.  Our stove can be cooked on, heat a small portion of the house, could heat water if necessary, and is great, however, this year we will secure (somehow) a real wood cook stove that will sit in the living room that I can bake and cook on plus heat the rest of the house.

 

  • Since we stopped eating meat I was able to clear out an entire freezer.  The remaining refrigerator/freezer holds milk, fish, cheese, condiments, and vegetables.  Can one can fish?  Can I can all the vegetables/fruits next year?  How would we keep the milk cold?  Particularly when milking starts again.  I need an ice house.  The back bedroom would seriously serve as a fridge right now though!  We really need that other wood stove.

 

  • We have several wells on the property.  We have a tiny bit of water saved in canning jars, but is there a way to access the wells without electricity?  We are also incorporating a water harvest system this year.

 

  • I have a hand washing unit for laundry and a great clothes line plus a huge drying rack for inside if the electricity went out.  (We haven’t used in a dryer in seven years.) We could live without the television and internet if he had too.

 

  • I grew about a third of the items we preserved this year.  I would like to grow sixty percent this year and plant several fruit and nut trees and berry bushes.  I would also like to try my hand at growing mushrooms.  I will incorporate container gardening, cold frames, and our garden plot to grow everything we love to eat.  I would like to get a green house as well.  That would really boost our production.

 

  • I am kicking myself, y’all, for selling my spinning wheel!  I would like to get sheep and work on spinning again.  I would like to learn to knit this year and make us some fabulous sweaters and socks.  There is so much discarded fabric out there. I have tons myself.  I would like to increase my sewing skills so that I can make more of our clothes.

 

  • We would like to make the fences more secure this year so that we can let the animals graze on the ten acres.  That would cut down on how much hay they need.

 

  • I need to find a way to advertise and promote my classes so that we can pay for things like gas and car insurance, grains, animal feed, things like that.

 

  • We will start cutting our own wood and collecting wood this year instead of paying so much to have cords delivered.

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Well, I am sure there is more, but that is a good start and each year we get closer and closer to being self reliant.  Maybe that is the answer.  Maybe self-sufficient and self-reliant are two different things.  Either way, there is a great feeling of accomplishment and inner peace while performing simple tasks and caring for those you love on your own homestead.

Wishing you a prosperous and peaceful homestead this coming year!

A Birthday Wish

Shyanne

Tomorrow the dawn will shine brightly at morn

T’will be nineteen years since my daughter was born.

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Her blue eyes so shine

her looks are quite fair

her smile ever bright

love her wavy hair!

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Her heart is passionate

a love of all so strong

A nature girl indeed

a love of the wild’s song.

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One of the sweetest souls I have ever met here

My beautiful child, Happy Birthday, my dear!

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Happy Birthday Shyanne Mae Elizabeth Little Deer Sanders!  My sweet, darling child has become a tremendous, amazing young woman.  Wishing you all you wish for this year and beyond.

December 28, 1995 5:25 pm

 

 

Homeschooling 101 (laws and unschooling)

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I was pretty certain I was going to screw up my kids if I did it.  I wanted to be a teacher for a while.  I majored in English.  I love all things academic…except math.  But, what if I didn’t do it right?  The kids had been asking for a few years, off and on, to be homeschooled.  I had read in one of my favorite books, Radical Simplicity by Jim Merkel, the recollections of the grandmothers in a village in India where they talked about how once the children went to school they became more immersed in television, consumerism, and a culture that did not reflect that of the previous generations.  The children were losing the knowledge of plants and skills and it felt like a great loss to the elders.

I, too, wanted to teach my children how to garden and about herbs.  I wanted them to read great books and explore the woods on a weekday and breathe in life.  I remembered so clearly being a child sitting in a classroom gazing longingly for the mountains and wishing I were at a nearby park writing poetry and feeding ducks than being cooped up learning who knows what that I would eventually forget.

Meanwhile, Andrew was in his first year of high school.  Near the end of the school year Andrew had a poor grade in one of his classes and I had emailed the teacher a few times with no response.  At the teacher/parent conference I asked her how he was doing.

“Great!” she replied.

“Really?” I retorted.  “Then why is he failing?”

“What is his name again?” she asked as she shuffled through her papers.

I could do this better myself, I decided.

I had always done what my son called, Mommy School.  Workbooks, library trips, writing club, museums, additional things to help them learn more without seeing it as “education”.  So, with that I began researching homeschooling.  I found a lot of information that I had to glean through.  So, here it is in a comprehensive format.  It is specifically for Colorado but most places do not have too many variations.

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What?   Homeschooling is the realization that often times parents are the best teachers and that the wide world around children is often kept from them in favor of a classroom where someone else determines what your child will (or won’t) learn.  Homeschooling is an important aspect of homesteading as it teaches children self-sufficiency skills, teaches them values, and lessons, as well as providing plenty of time for reading books they wish to read in trees.

Why? Homeschooling is recognizing that information is retained far better when used and learned on their own accord.  It is unfortunate that the standards in schools have gotten out of hand.  All children are different, yet the standards are ridiculously rigid.  For instance, all children must be able to read by the age of five or they have something wrong with them.  The truth is, children can learn to read anytime from the ages of four to eight, and making them feel as if something is wrong with them starts the cycle of self-esteem issues early.  Children will learn what they need to learn and retain it, much more so if it is on their own terms.

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When?  Anytime you want.  If you work then it is after work or on weekends.  Think about how much time is wasted in schools with passing periods, settling in time, time getting to and from school.  You can have the equivalent class time in about two hours at home.  This also allows homeschoolers to take vacations when others are in school.  We used to take the kids to New Mexico or Wyoming or Kansas to see hot air balloons (science), art museums (arts), history and science museums, and horse back riding adventures. We would study geography by using workbooks and for each country we would research the clothing, art projects, and foods.  We went to a fantastic African restaurant in a rough part of town that we would never have tried on our own had we not been looking for it for school.  We put cardamom in our coffee and grew seedlings in windows.  We read books and participated in events at the library.  And a lot of the time was spent playing and building forts in the large open space near our home.

Where?  Anywhere you wish.  Learning is everywhere and the sooner we figure out that we don’t stop learning at eighteen years old or twenty-two from college, the better.  We ought to learn our entire lives.  Perpetual homeschool!  

How?  So, you have decided that you would like to give it a go.  Really, worst case scenario, you can always sent the kids back to school.  First alert the school system that you are intending to homeschool.  A NOI is required first.  A Notice of Intent is simple.  Just drop it off at the closest school.

To Whom It May Concern;

This Notice of Intent is to notify you that I will begin home educating my child, Emily Lynn Sanders, 5 days from today, beginning on October 1, 2012. My child is 15 years old and resides at 203 Ute Street, Kiowa, CO 80117. Mailing address is P.O. Box 2012, Elizabeth, CO 80107. The number of attendance hours this school year will be at least 688 hours.

Sincerely, ___________________________________ Date ________

From here, your requirements are to get them evaluated on the odd year, 5th, 7th, 9th grades, etc.  There are two ways to do this.  You can either subject your children to the battery test they offer at the school (which is not intended to help your child succeed.  The schools get pretty testy when they lose your tax dollars for that child) or get someone to write you an evaluation.  It has to be a teacher or a psychiatrist.

The first year we found a lovely lady on a homeschooling Yahoo site.  I sent her the children’s resume and she wrote out a statement that the children were at or above grade level.  This was submitted with a copy of her teacher’s license and we were free and clear for another two years.  She became ill and wasn’t able to help us the next time.  Our lovely waitress at the bar that we shot pool at happened to be a high school teacher and was happy to evaluate the kids.  I sent her their extensive resumes (you would be surprised how much your kids learn) and fifty dollars a kid and she sent in the evaluation and copy of teacher’s license to the school district that we resided in.

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Different Ways to Homeschool

You could choose online schooling where the children take online classes and the online school takes care of everything from NOI’s to evaluations.  This to me seemed not unlike the school programs I was taking them out of so I didn’t opt for this course.

You could set up around the dining room table with workbooks from the teacher supply store and books and a fun teacher ledger.  I tried this for four months.  I enjoyed it immensely.  I could make the kids read what books I found the most fascinating, had them learn all the important sciences that I deemed pertinent, and did math drills.  It wasn’t long before the revolt began.  “This is just like school, Mom.”  They were unhappy.  Learning is not supposed to be unhappy.

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And that is when I heard of Unschooling.  Sound like the kids are just running buck wild around the farm (or suburbs at the time, in our case)?  They are, kind of.  And learning every second of it.  Once I let them have their freedom the children took on their own studies.

Shyanne became very interested in baking and spent her time reading cookbooks, writing recipes, performing fractions, halving and doubling recipes, writing grocery lists, and figuring finances to afford items.

Andrew was obsessed with music and taught himself how to play the guitar, recorder, banjo, piano, harmonica, and composed his own music with beats and wrote poems to fit the songs.  He also wrote a children’s book, read everything he could on pirates, designed a board game, and completed a finance workbook for real world math.

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Emily followed her siblings learning along side them.  She became interested in photography and her business, Emily’s Art and Photograpy, now brings in a little extra cash.

All three kids were active at the library and in youth group.  They were in a writing club and read fervently, whatever they pleased, and often at a higher grade level.  They had more time to find themselves and really embrace their own passions.  They can all spell, read, love history, know science, can keep a budget, and love learning new things.

One of the benefits to homeschooling is that the children do not just interact with peers their own age.  My kids have always been just as likely to befriend someone fifty years their senior as the kid next door.  They have manners, we instilled what values we felt were important (of course, now as adults, they have to find their own way and ideals, but we didn’t let a secular government institution decide their morals for them), and they had a great time being kids.  Playing outside on nice days.  Reading books in trees.

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But, I warn you, children raised in this atmosphere are not followers.  They do not do well working for other people their whole lives.  They are ambitious, confident, entrepreneur types.

The kids can still participate in school events.  Shyanne went to prom and participated in a school play.  Emily participated in Cross Country Running.

Where are they now?  Andrew works for a large, growing company in Denver and is the Chief Supply Chain Officer (fourth in the company).  He is twenty-one years old.  Shyanne works at a hardware store, was baking professionally, and was just hired on at a graphic design company to create logos and art on commission.  She will be nineteen Sunday.  Emily works for a restaurant, has her own photography company, and homeschools her toddler.  She is not even eighteen years old yet.  It may sound like a mom bragging, but my point is, I didn’t screw up and you won’t either!

The gist here is that if you feel that it is time to homeschool, then by all means try it.  There is a learning and teaching style for everyone.  For us it was running buck wild in the woods and reading books in trees.

 

 

 

 

Memorizing Moments and Merry Christmas

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The night is surprisingly cold and calm. The snowstorm has passed and the late sky is crisp and stars are just twinkling through.  The prairie is beautifully dark.  Exhilaratingly so.  I am walking the path east into the swell of ebony towards the mailboxes.  The path is faintly lit with the bluish street light behind the farmhouse.  Christmas lights dance in the frosted windows.  In the distance a thick darkness lay and I can just make out the happy dog prancing in front of me, her sleek black coat blending into the void.  Wood smoke flows through the air from the stove pipe promising a warm kitchen upon my return.  Behind us, in the distance, dark mountains fold into the night as city lights glitter.  The wind chills us and makes us shiver as we quicken our walk and say goodnight to the day on this ordinarily beautiful winter eve.

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I recorded this after my walk last night.  We are caring for the neighbor’s dog, Serina, and we were walking to the mailboxes to retrieve Christmas cards and such.  An ordinary moment, walking a dog in the dark, getting the mail, inhaling the crisp night air; I want to live these photographic moments more vividly in the coming year starting with Christmas.

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This year was difficult it seems for everyone, a lot of good souls called home, and financial worries.  I want to think more on moments.  Make each day count.  I want to take a mental photograph of ordinary moments.  This Christmas, won’t you look around and memorize the sounds; the laughter, the pots clinking, the paper being opened.  The smells of fresh coffee and Grandpa’s cologne.  Memorize people’s faces.  For there are no guarantees that any one person of any age will be with us come next holiday.  Love, hug, smile, relax, memorize, and mentally photograph each moment.

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Thank you for reading my life this year and for your sweet cards, notes, emails, uplifting words in person, and for supporting me in my writing and in our homesteading adventures.

grad

From my family to yours, Merry, Merry Christmas!

dad and i

 

Shiksa in the Kitchen

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Our first Christmas together Doug bought me a Page-A-Day Yiddish calendar.  It came with a word, a meaning, and the word used in a sentence.  He laughingly turned to the page that read Shiksa; the non-Jewish girl who is dating your son.  “Just because I am a shiksa doesn’t mean I don’t know a word or two of Yiddish!”  I found that a lot of common words are actually Yiddish and enjoyed listening to Doug’s Bubbie (grandmother) use words interspersed in her sentences and have learned quite a few words in my time with his lovely family.  Another thing I have enjoyed is learning the foods that they enjoy that we never had growing up.  Matzo ball soup, eggs in salt water, egg soufflé, blintze casserole, and latkes just to name a few.  My mother-in-law’s latkes are better than mine (as they should be), crisp and smaller.  I make mine like you are trying to get through a long winter out on the prairie.  Mine are quite delicious in their own right and are versatile enough to use up extra veggies or meats or fish to make an easy, filling meal.  Even the kittens love them.

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Grammie’s Get Through the Cold Winter Out on a Homestead Latkes

This feeds six people and one kitten as a side dish; about fifteen latkes

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Shred 4 medium sized potatoes.  My mother-in-law peels her potatoes but I leave the peel on mine.  Lots of great nutrients and less clean up.  Because of this my latkes have a slight grey cast on them but I couldn’t care less.  They are still good.

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Add 2 Tablespoons of minced dried onion, a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper (or any mix of herbs and spices you desire).

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Let drain in a colander for twenty minutes.

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Transfer to bowl and add 3/4 cup of organic flour.  You could further make this healthier by instead adding 1/2 cup of whole wheat, or other whole grain flour.

Stir in 2 eggs.

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Heat up a skillet with a good drizzle of oil and use your hands to pick up mounds and place in skillet, flattening them with a spatula.  Cook for a few minutes and turn over.  Cook both sides until nice and crisp.

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Let drain on paper towels and place on cookie sheet.  Before dinner is served just reheat latkes for about ten minutes at 350 degrees.

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Most folks eat their latkes with sour cream or apple sauce.  Both delicious, but his family taught me how to eat it with sugar.  The kids around the table (all grown now) spoon on sugar generously as do the adults.

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Wishing everyone a Happy Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas.  Both seasons of miracles, family, and peace.

 

The Enchanting Prairie Visitors

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The sun was shining yesterday and though the air was cool I figured it was a good time to get some laundry done.  The sky was clear and soft, a mirror of light blue stretching far and wide and the mountains stood tall in the distance.  A purple silhouette against the prairie sky.  The grasses swayed just gently.  The cows watched me as I brought my basket out to the line.  I am beginning to get used to the complete silence. It is the most beautiful sound.

I threw a towel over the clothes line and grabbed a pin to affix it when I heard the sound.  My mind ran through various files of what it could be and I realized I didn’t know.  A little panic struck as I worried that one of the goats may have gotten their head stuck or something just took a chicken, it was a sound of desperation, whatever it was.  And so like a flash I left my damp clothing and ran behind the greenhouse to the animal pens to see what was the matter.

And there along the fence line stood the most magical sight.  Over a dozen horses, donkeys, babies, and mules stood regally against the open space and greeted me.  My heart felt fuller, my breath exhaled, my smile got bigger, and I am sure I had the magic of a child in my eyes as I took in this majestic sight.  I walked over to the large mule and scratched his neck, felt his soft winter fur across his nose.  I chattered to and patted the surrounding horses and wooed the baby donkey nearer (who was the source of the unusual sound).  Another dozen horses on rest from cattle roundups and enjoying the miles and miles of prairie grasses began walking towards me as well. I found myself wishing for a camera but knew I could never capture the beauty and just enjoyed the moment and secured it to memory.

It was like an enchanting holiday movie or a commercial, it was so surreal and magical.  And beautiful.  And even when the day comes that I have my own horses and mules and donkeys, I shall not lose that wonder of seeing them there to greet me.  It felt like an early Christmas gift.  This prairie and all its beauty and quiet is a gift indeed.

Guess Who Came Home for Christmas!

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This farm just hasn’t seemed like a farm lately.  The chickens are still running amok and always hungry, the farm dog is sleeping, the cats are mousing, but something was missing.  We sure missed our goats!  About a month and a half ago they went to see about some men.  We hadn’t a clue what we were looking for regarding heat cycles so Isabelle’s original owner agreed to let the girls stay there and she would make sure they were bred.

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Goats have a twenty day heat cycle and on the eighteenth day of being at boarding school, Isabelle and Larry hooked up like long lost lovers and a few more Elsas may be born the end of April.  Elsa was not as easy to detect when she was in heat.  She is rather shy and wasn’t entirely impressed with the strutting boys.  I agreed to let the girls stay another twenty days.  We were already in for hay and Larry fees, may as well see if we couldn’t get Elsa knocked up too.  And around the 18th day she and a real shrimpy, but very good looking, Alpine got it on.  Not the original boy I had planned.  He is one of Larry’s sons, which I guess would make them half siblings….wait a ticket, didn’t think that one out….hmm.  He is a teenager himself and neither of them had any idea what they were doing, as can be true of any species at that age, but the owner of this fine barn and brothel had high hopes that she took.  So, in five months time, at the beginning of May for Miss Elsa, a baby or three may be born.

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My favorite part of Spring is finally getting my hands back in the soil and the ever enchanting miracle of baby animals everywhere we look and go, and on our own farmstead too.  Raise your glass of eggnog for my girlies and let’s wish them a healthy pregnancy and easy births!

Starting a Homesteading School

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Several times this year I had us (meaning myself and you readers) all write down dreams, goals, things we want to change in our lives, things that we are holding onto, things that we need to start in order to get our dreams to unfold before us.  For anything you desire or wish for will come to fruition.  Once you put it out there and start planning, it is a done deal.  For us, we longed for a place with more land.  We had truly run out of space at our adorable rental house in town on two-thirds of an acre.  We even dug up the driveway last year to plant more corn and herbs!  Our goats yelling at people walking by and the veritable farm right there in the middle of town was definitely a show-stopper and amazingly fun but we were ready for the next step of our journey.  We prayed and planned though we had no idea how it would even be possible.  We had no money and no credit but we needed a bigger farm and a smaller, quaint homestead with more off grid possibility, and a place where we could use the homesteading skills we had acquired over the years on our practice farms.

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A brief, out of nowhere call from our landlords telling us they needed to sell the house (it looks to be going into foreclosure though) and a trip down Craigslist way and bam we were staring at our dream home.  A tiny hundred-plus year old homestead filled with memories and history on ten acres for rent complete with goat pens and chicken coop, fenced garden, clothes line, wood cook stove, and views for miles.  Nothing is impossible with God indeed!  All for half the price we were paying in bills at the old place.

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There is one more piece to this dream we have concocted.  A school.  I have taught Certified Herbalist Courses for about five years now.  For two years I have taught sporadic homesteading classes in our cramped kitchen.  Soap making, cheese making, fun skills like that.  I enjoy making medicines, but the retail side of it needs to stay small and intimate, helping people directly, so it’s not enough to get us through financially.  That, and teachers must teach.  We go crazy if we don’t!

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Before now I have just offered homesteading classes here and there and have not really promoted them properly but I am now in my place where I can really make this dream come true.  So, I looked at the coming year’s calendar and made a  schedule.  I had already written down sometime this year all of the classes and event we could offer.  I proceeded to take a leap of faith and make this dream come to life.  I guess you will see along with me what transpires!

There is a tab on the menu above that reads “Homesteading School”, all classes and events are posted there.  They are also posted on my website http://gardenfairyapothecary.com and there is a place to pay for and sign up for classes.  I am really excited about this!  Perhaps I will be able to meet some of my readers at a farm event or class.

What dreams are you working on this year?

A Powerful Tool (for homesteading and beyond)

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What would you say is the most powerful thing on earth?  Water?  Money?  Love?  I would say prayer.  I am deeply spiritual/religious, whatever you want to call it, but I cringe when people start talking to me about their religion, their opinions, what the Bible says by their interpretation, how many people are converting…blah, blah, blah.  I kind of tune them out.  This is about something much more important, powerful, and life changing and something we could all incorporate more into our lives in the new year.  You read about my healings and I am a firm believer in God.  I have no choice.  And I wish that everyone could experience the types of miracles I have seen.  Perhaps everyone has, they just can’t see them.  But, prayer can lift our spirits, give us a sense of community, well being, security, and can produce miracles.

My son asked why he can’t just pray that his wife would come back.  Because she has free will, I explained.  But God can help heal his heart, give him strength, and comfort.  Prayer is not about feeling more powerful or more superior to other people, it’s about life.

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My mother taught me when I was young how to pray.  Don’t start with gimme this and gimme that, she said.  Start with thanksgiving.  Be grateful and thank God for all of your blessings.  Then ask for forgiveness for the things that have inevitably been done since we are, after all, human.  This is not to avoid hell, this is to help be aware of what we may be doing that hurts others or ourselves.  Then humbly ask your intentions.

God can and will help anything come into being that you wish.  So, be careful what you ask for.  This homestead is cold but it is what I asked for!  We cannot make someone love us or make someone stay on earth if their journey here is over.  But we can receive comfort, strength, guidance, guardian angels, friends, teachers, and a companion if we trust God and not ourselves.  Notice that you have always been provided for.  I love how my friend, Lisa, put it; He’s a 11:59 God!  We get the money to pay bills and the wisdom to handle things at the last minute!  But it always comes!

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I love in the movie, “Taladega Nights”, where they keep praying to the baby Jesus.  It cracks me up.  But we all view the Creator in a different way.  I know my soul is connected to everyone else’s and everything, from trees to owls, and we are all one with the Source of Life and that we all go right back to that powerful Source when we are done here.  We have all had experiences with the supernatural so we know that spirits of the deceased are still around.

There are often misunderstandings regarding the saints in the Catholic Church and in praying to spirits in nature.  These are not gods, and no one thinks they are!  They are helpers who will pray for us and the more prayers the better!  The reason we light candles during prayer is to keep the prayer going.  Doug and I have experienced that the candle goes out when the prayer is answered.  Just look around and take note of your life and surroundings and you too will be astounded and mystified.

I don’t just pray before meals or before bed or just when I need something.  I chatter with God all day.  Try it, it will change your life.  We should pray for each other as well.  There is great power in that.  Let’s start a prayer circle.  Write in the comments what you would like to be prayed for (or email me personally at Katie@gardenfairyherbal.com) and let’s all pray for each other.  You will see amazing things happen in your life.

Will you pray for my son, Andrew, as his wife left after only five months of marriage and left him broken hearted?

Will you pray for my cousin, Linda, as she mourns her husband who just ended his journey here on earth quite suddenly?

Will you also pray for guidance and protection over my family?

What can I pray for you?

Wishing you all peace and great joy during this beautiful season and into the new year.