Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Where oh, where did the Nebraska Prairie Girl Go?

I am right here!!  Believe it or not I am still here. (imagine me jumping up and down waving!)  Many things have changed  since my last post in July of 2011, and changes would happen for anyone over five months time.  

As I have mentioned in prior postings,  we run a Camp here on the farm for kids with special needs during the summer.   It is called Camp Grace and runs from May - September, one day a month.   Once Camp Grace is going for the summer  a lot of my time is spent organizing and running the camp.  For more information go to Camp Grace's blog spot at campgrace.blogspot.com


Kayleigh at 2 months
At the height of the craziest part of the summer when the kids had just gone back to school and I was working on Camp Grace's final camp activity, our big Barn Dance BBQ,  I got a phone call asking if I would be interested in taking a 1 1/2 month old baby.   (yes, a human baby)  I think in my profile I have mentioned that I was the mother of six children, four of whom are adopted.    Well,  Kayleigh is the baby sister of the four children we had already adopted.   Any of you that know me personally would be surprised to know that my husband and I gave adding an addition to our family very seriously.  Usually,  I would usually jump at the opportunity to take in another child.  But I am not a spring chicken anymore nor am I a stewing hen either.   I was not worried if I could physically take care of her because that is not an issue.   I was worried about my age in, lets say, 15-20 years from now.     Well,  she has become the best part of my days and nights.  The whole family is just head over heels in love.    Kayleigh is a good baby who now, at five months, sleeps through the night and takes a long nap during the day.  If someone would have told me a year ago that I would be a mother to another infant,  I would have said," You're crazy!!!!

4 months
 For those of you wondering why I quit posting, I am here to tell you it is Kayleigh's fault.   A new baby in the house is so much fun that I just have not found the  time to blog.   Now that she is taking nice long naps everyday I hope to get back to blogging.   My mind has been so full of diaper changes, feeding times, play times, snuggle times (a lot of snuggle times) etc, etc,   I have not had time to think about blogging, Well, actually that is not true, once in a while I think to myself that would be a good subject for a blog.     

Here is to being back in the saddle and back to blogging!

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Monday, July 11, 2011

Nebraska Prairie Girls Does Zumba

Well, many of you might already know the latest fitness craze is Zumba.    My sister posts every time she goes to Zumba on her facebook page.   I think she must really like Zumba or she is just proud of herself for going.   I talked to her about it when she came to visit and it sound like a  lot of fun, and she looks great, so it must work.   

So, for those of you who are not familiar with Zumba, here is a brief definition:  A fitness program inspired by Latin dance. Spanish slang for "to move fast and have fun"

Ditch the workout, join the party.  Seems to be the slogan that you see most associated with Zumba.

So what is the Nebraska Prairie Girl to do about Zumba?   Well,  they do offer Zumba classes in the nearest town to me,  which would be a forty five minute drive.   I figured after sitting on my butt driving 45 minutes one way to work out for half an hour and then drive back home another 45 minutes would actually increase the size of my butt considerably.   I wonder what all the Zumba participants would think of my prairie girl dress and apron if I did show up to join them?  That is question better left unanswered.

So, I thought to myself, what is my day like? What is my Zumba Fitness program? What is my work out?

Well, I made a list of my most common days here on the prairie and this is my daily work out.
6:30 am. drag myself out of bed
7:00 am. cup of tea, check e-mail, facebook, make bed, start making bread for lunch.
8:00 am. feed grain to all the goats and milk 8 goats, bottle feed Tansy (baby goat)
8:45 am.- 9:00am  haul 40 gallons of  water to all the goats by hand in five gallon buckets. Haul one bale of hay to bucks and weanlings. 
9:00 am.  Carry 2.5 gallons milk to house,  about 24 pounds.  Filter milk and pour into bottles.
9:15 am. make the children breakfast, clean up dishes, sweep floor. 
9:30 am. sort laundry begin washing, ( laundry consists of going up and down three flights of stairs from dirty clothes hamper to washer to  clothes line. 
10:00 am. working in the garden pulling weeds and watering
11:00 am.  clean two goat stalls and put manure and shavings around garden edge to detour weeds. Hang out laundry

12:00 pm.   Make the children lunch, hang out laundry, clean up kitchen, go to barn and bottle feed Tansy
1:00 pm. pull more weeds in the garden and change garden water, hang out laundry again
3:00 pm.  make the kids snack and clean up, fold laundry again
3:30 pm. clean bathroom, hang out laundry again
4:00 pm.  fold laundry again, go to barn bottle feed Tansy
5:00 pm.  make dinner, sweep kitchen again.
6:30 pm. back out in the barn again, separate goats, feed goats grain, haul water again. 
7:00 pm.  Haul chicken food to the hen house, gather eggs, fill  water. 
8:00 pm.  Feed the Pigs, give them water  and an egg from the hen house, (they love fresh eggs) Go to barn bottle feed Tansy
8:30 pm.  wash eggs and place in the carton, finish up laundry
9:00 pm. get kids ready for bed
9:15 pm. take a bath, finally
10:00 pm. go to bed!!!!!!!!!!

6:30 am. start all over again

I do not know about you, but I think my work out is quite rigorous.   However, there is no latin dancing involved.  I have tried to dance while carrying 10 gallons of water but it just did not work.  I ended  up wet from the waste down.    When milking the goats they did not appreciate my trial of dance moves while they were standing in the stanchion.   I did find that it is possible to do dance moves while pulling weeds and hanging out laundry.  However, it did slow down the weeding process and made hanging laundry a bit more difficult.  The chickens thought that I might have become one of them when I tried dancing in the hen house.  I think with my arms flapping they were thinking I might  possibly lay an egg.  The pigs however were very entertained by my dancing and thought it was something to squeal about.  No wait, they were excited to get their fresh egg from me.     I am able to dance in the kitchen with out much trouble but my children think that I have lost my mind.   So much for my Nebraska Prairie Girl Zumba workout.   I guess I will just have to go with just the Prairie girl work out. 


Nebraska Prairie Girl

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A miracle on the Prairie

This is the continuation to the story "The downside of Prairie Life"  If you have not read that blog post yet, you may want to do that before reading the conclusion of that story.
Tansy and the twins

I do not know if you believe in miracles, but maybe after reading this you will.

Last night, I went out into the barn to lock goats up for the night.   When I went out to feed grain there were two baby goats that looked familiar.   I looked at them and said, "Who are you two?"  Then as fast and that came out of my mouth I realized they were the lost twins.    I was in complete shock that they were there.   I picked each one up and gave them a kiss and set them down with their mom.   They were very hungry and a bit thin, and oh so glad to eat.   Immediately I started looking for Tansy, who was not with the twins. I called and called for her but I heard no familiar  cries.   I ran to the barn to grab the golf cart and headed for the field.  My husband said, "Where are you going?"  I replied,  "I'm going to find Tansy!"   The look on his face told me that he felt like it was a waste of time.   Three of my children started running through the field calling for Tansy and looking as I was driving.   Over the sound of the diesel engine of the golf cart I thought I  heard some cries.  Not sure if it was a goat or the sound of a bird ,  I turned off the engine.    My daughter Arielle said,  "Mom, I hear a goat!"   I started calling Tansy and  the most amazing thing happened, she came running across the hay field.     It was like watching a movie, but I was in it.  As soon as she heard me she came running and crying toward me.    My son Thomas ran out to meet her as she was running out of steam and her little legs were getting tired.    Thomas brought her to the fence and handed her to me.   I tell you what, I cried like a baby,  and she  tried to suck my chin and nose off my face.   Of course, when I got back to the barn Dave was very shocked that I'd found her.   And of course he had to ask, "Why are you crying?"  Men!  I could not feed Tansy her bottle fast enough once we got back to the house.   Other than the fact that she was very thin from not eating for an entire day, she looked great. 

What happened to the baby goats?  Where were they for 28 hours?   How could they have gotten  1/4 mile from home?   How did they stay alive?    These are questions that I will never know the answers to.    The field Tansy came running through was the field my husband had just that day cut hay on.   Dave never saw hide nor hair of them the entire time he was in that field.  Had they been there while he was cutting hay,  he would have run across them.    Did someone borrow them, then decide that they were a little loud and a little hard to take care of and put them in the field away from the house?    I do know  there is no way that baby goats that are only 7 days old could have or would have wandered off that far away from their mom.     If coyotes had chased them they would have been easy prey, and at least one of them would have been a victim.

I do know this, I did pray for them the night they went missing and I told God I hoped that if they died it was quick and they never knew what happened and if they were still alive that he would take care of them.    Well,  I do believe that God answers prayers!   There is no way those goats could have made it 28 hours in a field on their own and then made it back home.

So, happily, I reset the alarms on my cell phone to remind me to feed Tansy her bottle every four hours.  You see, the day before I had cancelled all my phone alarms so as not to remind me of my missing  goats.  This Nebraska Prairie Girls is still shaking her head in disbelief over the events of the last two days,  but ever so blessed and thankful for the ways things turned out.
Safely Home

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Downside of Priarie Life

In my blog I love to share about my experiences on the Nebraska Prairie.  My stories tell the positive side of living on the prairie, but this time my story is not quite as positive and up beat.  Though, I love life out here  there are days that I hate it, not many but some.   Yesterday,  was one of those days, that you learn from and try not to ever replicate. 

Tansy



I  have never bred my goats so late in the winter, but last year I did to give my yearlings some time to grow.    Actually,  I have never bred my yearlings,  I always waited until they were at least a year and a half to two years old.   My yearling started to kid in June and the last two just kidded 7 days ago.    The first mother was as wild as a goat can get and she was very hard to handle.   But, with her crazy  attitude aside she was turning out to be a good mom to her twins.    The second yearling to kid, had a single baby in the field.  Not a problem in and of itself, but she was more interested in eating the green grass then she was caring for her baby.  

The first mother did not have much milk and the second mother refused to feed her baby at all,  unless I penned her in a corner.     So, logic would tell you to supplement the twins and bottle feed the single baby.   So bottles in hand I would feed the twins both morning and night.   The single baby I fed every for hours and I became her mom. 



The twins would follow there mother out into the field everyday and the single  baby would stay at the barn and wait for her next bottle.    knew full well that the single baby would eventually follow the herd out into the field to learn how to graze and be a goat.   All the books you read and all the information I have found on the internet tell you their best option is to remain with the herd.  They need to learn goat behavior,  become a member of the herd,  and be around goats of their own age.   Makes sense right?   Well it did until yesterday.          

Angelica
Yesterday,  I fed Tansy (the single baby) her bottle at noon and all was well.   Sometime after that she must have decided to join the twins in the field.    When it was time for her four 0 o'clock bottle she was not in her pen.  The kids as in children, searched the field high and low and every nook and cranny of the barn.   I was in town at the time and got the call that they could not find Tansy.  I said, "I bet she joined the herd."  "No, we checked she is not there," the kids said.    Dave and I, got home as soon as we could and we searched and search the field and every inch of the barn.   You see,  Tansy was a loud goat, she cried often looking for her next bottle.   I knew that if she was any where within a mile we could here her cry. 

We ran all the goats back to the barn and I did a head count to see if anyone else was missing.   The twins, where are the twins?  No twins to be found.   So not only were we looking for Tansy we were looking for the twins as well. 

We never found the babies, no matter how long and hard we searched.  Heart broken and in tears, I came to the conclusion that they would not be coming back. 

I called the neighbors across the road and asked if they had seen anything unusual, they had not.   The neighbors husband use to work for the Division of Wildlife and this is the conclusion that he came to.  Coyotes!   He said that, Tansy probably cried quite a bit while out in the field and called attention to not only herself but the twins.   Horrible, I know, this was not what I wanted to hear.  He continued on to tell me that the grass in the pasture around the goat field is so long  this year, that it was a perfect area for them to stalk prey.  

My goats are only allowed at in the field before nine am. and are locked back in the barn area at eight pm.  because of the possibility of predators.   Coyotes, are nocturnal and you usually do not see them during the daytime, hence the hours my goats are allowed in the field.    I have never in the eleven years that we have lived here had any problems with this plan.

What I have learned from this experience:
  • do not allow a bottle baby  in the field with the rest of the herd
  • plan kidding season earlier in the spring.  
    • allowing the kids time to grown before they are turned out
  •  mow the grass around the field fencing to cut down on camouflage for predators
I am sure there was much more that I learned but these are the main points I wanted to mention.  I hope that my loss might be someone else s  knowledge. 

 I wanted my readers not only to hear the rosy side of life on the prairie but the real life.   When you live on a farm/ranch, (franch) and have livestock, with LIVE being the first part of the word, you have life and death.    Here on our farm every life counts and when you loose one it matters. 

My goats are locked up near the barn today, and I fed them a bale of hay.  They looked at me like you have got to be kidding.   I said, this is for my peace of mind and your safety.   I will let them out again soon, but until I feel comfortable letting them out they will have to be dry lotted.

When raising animals you have to take the ups with the downs.   The downs are the losses and the ups are the births that take place.  We live for the ups and deal with the downs. 

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Milk in My Soap?

What are the Benefits of Goat Milk in Soap?

Did you know that goat milk is the only milk that contains carpic-caprylic tryglycerides, which helps moisturize your skin and contributes to the softness of the soap?  And, did you know that goat milk contains over 50 nutrients, minerals, acids and enzymes that serve to nourish and revitalize dehydrated skin?

People have been using goat milk for centuries to improve skin and enhance beauty.  The ancient Egyptians considered a goat milk bath the ultimate in luxurious living and Cleopatra regularly bathed in pure milk.  Modern science has discovered that goat milk soap has a pH similar to that of human skin and regular use of goat milk soap will maintain a moisture balance that results in smoother, soft skin.
  • pH level-similar to human skin
  • Moisturizing-surpasses that of commercial soap because of the natural cream in goat's milk
  • Sensitive Skin-benefits because it doesn't contain additives like alcohol, petroleum, and preservatives
  • Acne-the proteins in goats milk kills acne-causing bacterial.
  • Exfoliation-Goat milk slough off dead skin because of the alpha-hydroxy acids found int he milk.
  • Eczema-benefits from goat milk soap since the milk  moisturizes skin and reduces the itchiness in the skin. 
What started out as a way to use an  over abundance of our milk, has now become the only personal care products my family uses.   Why?  One- because of all the benefits listed above and two-it contains nothing artificial.  The ingredients used in our soaps are, goat milk, water, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, all natural color and essential oils. 





After we made the first batch of soap and used it in our household, we could not believe how it made our skin feel.   After that there was no turning back.  With the use of the Goat milk soap we have found that we rarely have to use any sort of moisturizer.  

My husband and I took a trip to New York last summer and I did not pack any of our handmade soap.  (Yes, the Nebraska Prairie Girl went to NYC, that is another blog in itself)  Wanting to pack lightly I figured the hotel will have soap we will just use that.   Never again, will I make that mistake.  We came home with such dry itchy skin,  that was only after four days of using commercial soap.  It was amazing how quickly soap containing alcohol, artificial color and fragrance could strip your skin of its moisture. 

Take a look at your soap labels what is on it?  What are you putting on your skin?  Do you have eczema, acne, dry skin, sensitive skin?    You might want to give all Natural Goat milk Soap a try, your skin might thank you.   

Free shipping offer from Double L Country Store  With any soap purchase use this coupon code, soap, and you will receive free shipping on your order, a savings of at least five dollars. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Buzz about Bees.

Way back in early March the Nebraska Prairie Girl ordered herself two packages of Buck Fast Bees. 

Finally, the bees arrived on June 11th from Texas.  I was getting very impatient because the bees were suppose to be delivered in the middle of May.   Because of the drought in Texas the apiary was not able to harvest bees as often as usual.  So, the bees were back ordered.  I never knew that bees could be back ordered.    My impatience was because there is a very short  time frame in the spring when the honey flow is at its best.   I was afraid that my bees would not get here in time to take advantage of all blooming plants.  

Queen box
Bees are shipped in a screened in box.  The box contains a can of syrup for them to feed on during shipment.   I also ordered a queen for each of my two packages of bees.   The queen is suspended in her own little screened in box the has a sugar plug in it.   The worker bees will eventually eat through the sugar plug and release the queen.  

The photo above is of the queen in her introduction cage.  This allows the worker bees the opportunity to except the new queen before they release her. 

The queen can be marked as shown here in this photo.  The mark makes it easier to find her in the hive amongst all of her workers.  

In the photo to the right you can see what the box looks like that the bees are shipped in.   


My friend and neighbor Cassie is learning to work the bees  for me.   I have learned that I do not have time to do everything that I would like to do and do it well.   Cassie was very interested in learning to keep bees, so  I told her I would order bees for my hives if she wanted to be the bee keeper.  

In the photo Cassie is feeding the bees.  We used a sugar water mixture that we paint onto the shipment box.  The bees readily eat the syrup off of the screen as it is painted on with a brush.   The idea is that the bees will fill up on the syrup and be full which will make them happy and content.  

As you can see Cassie  and my husband Dave are now is suited up in the bee gear.   I am not suited up as we work the bees.   Of course, I am in my farm girl dress making Dave nervous.   He does not realize that most of the time I do not suite up to work bees unless I am really going to dig in the hive.  (do not try this at home and do not tell Dave.)

Cassie is in the back of the photo taking the top off of the shipment box.  Once the lid is off you have to remove the feeding can and the queen box.    The queen box is now put into the hive body suspended between the hive frames.  Now here comes the fun part, putting the thousands of bees into the hive.


To the right you can see Dave shaking the bees into the hive body.  











Now you can see Cassie holding the shipment box and Dave is pounding the top of the box, to encourage the bees out of the shipment box and into the hive body.   

In the end, the bees were very reluctant to leave the shipment box.   Usually they are happy to move into the new hives, but not  these bees.  So we had to do a little creative bee keeping.  We turned the shipment box upside down on top of the inner lid opening.  This allowed the bees to move into the hive at their own pace.   It was windy that day so we put some concrete blocks on top of the shipment box so they would not blow off.   The openings of the hive are stuffed with grass,  this keeps the bees in the hive so they can get acclimated to their new home.  The grass will dry out and the bees will push it out of the opening and begin their quest for pollen and nectar.

Within a couple hours, Cassie reported that the bees had all moved into the hive body and she was able to place the lid on the hives.   The hive that I use is called an 8 frame garden hive.  I really like the look of the cooper pitched roof,  and 8 frames make it much lighter and easier for me to handle.   I purchased my hives from Brushy Mountain Bee farm  if you are interested in more information. The bees were purchased through R Weaver Apiaries if you are interested in learning more about Buck Fast Bees.

The honey that is produced from our hives is enough for our family and use in some of the goat dairy products we sell at Double L Country Store.

Here's to Happy Bees and big honey flows. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nebraska Prairie Girl Builds a Cattle Panel Greenhouse

My blog on my redneck swimming pool was a hit, so I thought I would share my redneck greenhouse.  I have had several people come out the our farm and take a closer look at the construction of my greenhouse to copy for their own garden.   Hopefully, this will help you get and idea how easy it is to construct your own  redneck  greenhouse.

I learned early on that growing tomatoes on the prairie of Nebraska was not very successful unless the tomatoes were protected.  The wind here can be brutal and then there are the occasional hail storms that can ruin a garden in just a few minutes.   I decided about 4 years ago that if I was going to continue to grow tomatoes I needed something better to protect them.  So, I did some research on the internet about building a greenhouse or some might call it a high tunnel.    I took ideas from a few internet sites and made  some changes and came up with the Nebraska Prairie Girl Greenhouse. 


I was able to construct this greenhouse for under a hundred dollars.   Of course, many of the supplies I had here on the farm otherwise it would have been a bit more expensive.    I used 4 cattle panels, making my greenhouse 12 feet long, plastic sheeting,  PVC pipe, PVC coupling,  2X4's, 1X2's, re-bar, galvanized hanger tape, railroad ties, zip ties, screws, and black plastic tubing.  The photo's below are the green house without all the plastic.  Last year we had a terrible hailstorm that did a lot of damage to the entire farm.  Though the plastic on the greenhouse was destroyed, the tomato plants were spared. 
green house without plastic

The PVC is the frame of the green house.  We used 3/4  inch PVC. It took two lengths glued together with a coupling and then cut to to 16 feet, the same length as the cattle panel. There are PVC supports between every section to connect the cattle panels. The re-bar is pounded into the ground  as a stake  for the PVC.   The PVC will slip right over the re-bar.   As you can see the cattle panels and PVC are bent to create the frame.   We used zip ties to attach the cattle panels together to the PVC.  

Hanger tape used to attach wood to PVC
The front and the back of the green house is where you use the 2X4's and the galvanized hanger tape.   To attach the 2X4's to the PVC you loop the hanger tape around the PVC and screw it onto the wood.

Back of Green house
It is really up to you how you design the front and back of your greenhouse.    In the center with the yellow duct tape is my door. The door of my green house is facing east.  During the hottest part of the summer I leave it open for more ventilation. 

The 2X4 framing of the front and back really helped stabilize the green house against the wind.   As you can tell from the shape of the back corner of the green house, the wind hits this side the most.

putting the plastic on


Now for the plastic.  The first couple of years I used plastic that can be purchased at any of the farm and ranch stores.   This plastic was okay.  I found that two layers lasted better than one.   But after two years of being on the green house the plastic got brittle and started to split.   I would then have to replace the plastic every two years.  This year I actually purchased green house plastic to try out.    I am hoping that it will be more durable and not need replaced as often. 

Railroad ties along inside bottom
In years past I only made the plastic as long as the green house.  This year, I actually  got the plastic long enough that I could wrap the front and back  in on big piece.  In years past, I did the front and back in separate sections. 

Next, the railroad ties come in.   I have them on the inside of the greenhouse all along the bottom.  You could use any wood for this, even 2X4's.   Once, I have the plastic placed over the green house I use a staple gun to staple the bottom of the plastic to the railroad ties.   I usually leave an extra 6-12 inches at the bottom of the sides Then go to the next side and pull the plastic taut, then staple on the other side.  On the outside of the greenhouse I also place railroad ties along the wall, being sure that I cover the extra plastic to help hold it in place.  (once again even 2X4's would work for this.  We just had a lot of railroad ties around the farm.)
  
With this photo you can see how I just wrapped the plastic around the front.   I use the 1X2's  and screws to anchor the plastic to the wood frame.  You can just use staples to hold the plastic but I have found in the Nebraska wind,  the plastic tears away from the staples.  

This is the front of the greenhouse all covered.  During the hot summer months I leave the top portion of the back and front uncovered.  This allows ventilation and does not restrict the natural pollinators access to my plants.   Come fall when I am trying to extend the tomato season I cover the top sections with plastic.

 
On the top of the green house you can see the plastic tubing I use to hold the plastic in place around the PVC tubing.  You just cut the tubing into 3inch sections and cut it down the middle length wise.  Just pull the tubing open and slip it over the plastic and PVC. 
  
Close up of plastic tubing holding the plastic to the PVC frame



This is the side view of the green house.  As you can see I have also put cattle panels on top of the plastic on the outside, this is not necessary.  However,  my greenhouse is exposed to a lot of wind,  I have found that the layer of cattle panels on top of the plastic helps keep the amount of movement down, making the plastic last longer.   

I was going to just make this a simple Blog about my greenhouse and it seems it turn out to be a bit more extensive.   I really do not think that there are any right or wrong ways to build this greenhouse.   I have made changes here and there over the years to suit our needs.   You could make one much shorter or even make it longer.   I would eventually like to add to this one to make it a bit longer.    Greenhouses are expensive to purchase,  and this one fit into our budget perfectly.  It was also nice to re-purpose some of the materials around the farm into something else.










Monday, June 6, 2011

Clothes Line

I was hanging out my laundry today on my clothes line and it occurred to me that I should write a blog about clothes lines.   Now aren't you excited?

Clothes line have come a long way from the pioneer day when Pioneer women laid their laundry out on the prairie grass to dry.   Or hung their laundry on a rope with sticks with splits in them  to hold the laundry on the line.  Clothes lines have gone from a family necessity to being forbidden.    Forbidden you say, yes,  60 million people who now live in America's 300,000  private communities are forbidden from using outdoor clothes line.    Why might you ask,   well one reason is because they think it is not ascetically pleasing to see ones laundry hanging on the line.  Two,  back when dryers were invented only the upper class families could afford them.   So having a clothes lines in use meant you were in a less affluent area.  
 

Now there are actually "right-to-dry" laws allowing the use of clothes lines in many states.  At least eight states restrict homeowners associations from forbidding the installation of clothes lines.   Now, this Nebraska Prairie Girls is very glad that she lives out in the middle of no where,  where there is not a soul who cares whether or not she hangs out her laundry.

So why the "right-to-dry" laws?   Well because everyone just realized it is a greener way of doing your laundry.  Well, duh!   

Advantages of clothes lines:  
  • Saves money
  • Zero greenhouse gas emissions per load
  • Laundry smell wonderful
  • less fabric wear and tear
  • laundry does not shrink
  • no static cling
  • less wrinkles (especially on a wind day, the wind beats out the wrinkles)
  • no airborne lint pollution 
  • clothes last longer
To line dry you clothes it cost about 2 cents per  load of laundry.  The cost is for the repair and replacement costs of  rope or wire line and clothes pins.  For mechanical dryers it cost about 20 cents per load for repairs replacement and labor costs.  This figure does not include the cost to run the dryer.   I do not know about you, but I am much better at tightening up line and replacing clothes pins, than I am at repairing a dryer.

So if you have a clothes line that has not been in use, wipe off the lines and reintroduce yourself to line drying.   If you do not have a clothes line consider putting one in, you will save money,  help the environment,  get to spend more time outdoors, and last but not least enjoy the wonderful scent of line dried laundry.  (Well of course your might have to check with you HOA to see if it is forbidden)

Well  the time has come for me to go hang out another load of laundry.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cattle in the Swimming Pool

I thought I would share my swimming pool design with some of you who might want your own Red Neck Swim'n Pool. 

This design came about because of a herd of cattle who came over and crashed our pool party.   Actually,  what happened was a herd of cattle about 3 miles west of us ran out of water and apparently smelled the water in our children's swimming pool.   Well the pool we had at the time was one of those flexible pools that come in a box, had a bunch of animal designs on the sides.  It was only about eight feet across and two and a half feet deep.   

Any way back to the cattle.   It was about 10 pm. we were up watching TV and I said, "Dave do you hear cattle?"  He said," it must be on the TV." Hum, I thought well there sure weren't any cattle on the TV.  Well the sound of cattle bawling got louder and louder,  I said, " there is no way that is the TV. "  So I decided to wander outside and take a gander.    Well what to my wondering eyes should appear 60 head of cattle all fighting over the swimming pool, oh dear.  There were swimming noodles flying in the air, beach towels all over the ground,  there was even a cow with one of the swim noodles on her back..  I stood there in utter amazement as I watched  as they pushed each other in and out of the pool.   When I came to my senses I ran inside and told Dave there were cattle in the swimming pool.  He just looked at me dumbfounded.  I said, " I told you I heard cattle!"    A few minutes later the gentlemen who owned those thirsty cattle came by on a four wheeler and gathered them all up.   He apologized for the mess his cattle had made and for the ruined swimming pool.  I asked that farmer,"so how many head of cattle are here?" He said, "60"   I replied,  "I think we need a bigger pool"  He laughed an went on his way. That night Dave and I  went to bed still laughing about the cattle in the pool.   However,  we did have a lot of explaining to do when the children got up.   

Well the next morning shovels in hand we commenced to clean up from the cattle pool party.  Do you know how many cow pies 60 head leave behind?   As, I was cleaning I started thinking about replacing the swimming pool.    I thought well if those cows ever get thirsty again and come a wandering our way we should have a proper pool for them to drink out of.  So here it is a stock tank swimming pool.
As you can see we are just filling it up for the season.

So if you have a stray cattle problem in your neck of the woods this is all you need:
  • One poly stock tank whatever size suites you
  • A swimming pool pump and filter system (most big box stores have them)
See it really is a stock tank
Close up of filter system

















I had handy man Dave drill a hole on the side of the tank the size of the hose connection.   We followed the instruction on installing the pump and walla, you now have a rugged swimming pool that stray cattle can drink from.  

Now, we have had this stock tank pool for going on four years now and wouldn't you know it, not one stray cow has come to drink out of it.   Oh, well we are prepared when one comes a callin'

Happy Swimming.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Duck Named Cherry

Cherry in the fore-front and her beau
Cherry, so named by my five year old daughter at the time.  If you have lived with or know a little girl and have ever given her the opportunity to name one of your animals, you will understand the name.

Cherry has been with our family since she was a duckling five years ago.   She has hatched out her own brood every year, except for this one, she needed a little help.   

Cherry as she does every year set to brooding at the end of April on a nice little nest.    Only this time, something got hold of her during the night a broke her leg about 10 days after she had been setting.   I noticed in the morning she was off her nest and that seemed weird because she only go off her nest in the afternoon for about ten minutes.    Unfortunately,  it was a busy day for me and I did not think much more about her sudden change is schedule.  (I was running late for the children's field day at school and had to get going)

 Later that afternoon we go home from the events of the day and Cherry was not on her nest again.    I went looking for her and found her hiding under a tree  on the back lawn.   As I commenced to getting close to her she commenced to get away from me.   That is when I notice something was very wrong with Cherry.   After chasing her around the tree several times she got tuckered out and let me catch her.   It was apparent when we were going around and around the tree that there was something wrong with one of Cherry's legs.   Well when examining her we realized that her left leg was terribly broken.    Well,  as with all things Nebraska Prairie
Girl could not just let things go untreated, something had to be done.  So, one of the children held Cherry while I put vet wrap around her broken leg. 

Next, my focus turned to the eggs in the nest that had been left with out a momma.    The eggs were cold what to do.  Well, you borrow back you incubator that you just gave to the neighbors.   I tell you those were patient eggs.  We had to get the incubator out warmed up and set to the perfect temperature of 100 degrees.   Finally, a couple hours later  we got the eggs set in the incubator and crossed our fingers.   I candled the eggs the next day and saw development and movement.  Yippie. 


One ready to hatch
Hello, world here I am.



 
Well two weeks and four day later the eggs started to pip.  I was so excited that the duckling had survived being abandoned by their injured mother.  











I know that baby ducks are not the cutest thing to hatch out of an egg.  Well nothing that just hatches is the cutest,  but once they dry and fluff, oh my gosh. 





Bucket-o-ducks







After being under the heat lamp in the house for a day the ducklings are ready for their trip to the barn.   


Here they are in their new home a rabbit hutch turned duckling hutch.  All in all out  of 16 eggs 14 have hatched.   The four remaining eggs still show signs of life so we will give them another day.  

New nest

Cherry's leg has healed and she is able to walk on it some what.   Hopefully, with time her leg will be good as new.    She has moved on and built an new nest and has five eggs in it so far.  



 


This is the old nest that we took the eggs out of to put in the incubator.   I am so impress with the construction of this nest.  How a duck could build something absolutely perfect,  has got to be a creation of God.


 Though Cherry has moved on past her last nest to build a new nest.(with much better feng shui I might add)  We had been blessed with the stewardship of her eggs and now with her ducklings.    Though, I would love to give the ducklings to her she will not now recognize them as hers.   So we will find them new homes and maybe keep a couple and wait to see what happens with her newest nest. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Notes from the Milking Parlor

After all the babies are born and are 3 weeks old,  The Nebraska Prairie Girls starts milking.

I do not bottle feed my  goat babies for mainly one reason,  I need them to do the milking when I cannot.   Most traditional dairies take the babies from momma after they have had colostrum for a couple days.   Once the babies have had colostrum they train them to a bottle or a lamb bar ( a bucket with a lot of nipple attached to the outside).    This is  done so that the dairy can control how much milk the babies consume.  

I leave my kids on the mom until I wean them in the fall.   I separate the kids from the moms at night, so I can have the morning milk.   After I milk  I put moms with the kids for the day and repeat the process in the evening.  In the event that I can not milk in the morning or we go out of town, the kids are left with their moms allowing them to nurse.  So in a way the kids do the milking for me, when I cannot.   This is the milking  arrangement that I have always used and it works out great for me.   Keep in mind the milk that is produced here on our farm is for our families consumption and for use in making bath and body products for my business.   We do not need to milk twice a day as we already produce enough milk to full fill our needs.  

Welcome to my Parlor:

Milking Parlor
I know that it is primitive looking but, it is clean, has cement floors, and is out of the weather.  I just added the stanchion to the left this year.   I bring in two goats at a time, which help to speed up the process.
Supplies I use:  The blue bucket is my wash bucket that has warm water and about a tablespoon of Dr. Bronners Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap and a few drops of Tea Tree oil.  The peppermint in the soap feels nice and refreshing and the Tea Tree oil adds anti-fungal properties.   In my wash bucket I have several wash clothes for wiping and cleaning udders.    I have my stainless steel milking bucket and my stainless milk pail with lid.   I also have a couple dry wash clothes for drying udders once I have washed them.     I used to use paper towels to do all the udder washing.  Sarah, a  friend of mine who has a grade-A goat dairy, saves money and trees by using wash cloths.   I thought if she can clean  fifty goat udders and not use paper towels than I could certainly milk my small herd with out paper products.
July and Rosie ready to be milked


Milking Rosie
Once the girls are in the stanchion I give them their grain rations in the grain holder  by their heads.   When they are happily eating I wash and dry their udder.    At this time I am hand milking though I do have a milking machine.   I do not think it would be worth  digging out the milker since I am only milking four goats at this time. I will not add the remaining goats to the milk line until the end of June.    July to the left is new to the whole milking idea as this is her first year.  Rosie on the right is an old hand at this and is very easy to milk.  July started off being great to milk but as time goes on she becomes a little more, let's say, non-compliant.    I milk one goat while the other is eating and then move to the other goat.  When both are done milking they are put in with the rest of the herd and I go get the next two milkers. 
                                                              
Look at the udder on Cinder.   Cinder is Rosie's mom and one of the goats who had triplets this year.   I tell you after milking her by hand,  my muscles are throbbing.  (Um,  maybe I should get out my milking machine after all)





Frothy goodness in the milk pail
After I milk each goat I dump the milk into the milk pail with the lid.  Then I go milk the next goat.   You learn from experience not to leave milk in the bucket  in case the bucket gets kicked over or someone sticks their foot in the pail.   

Straining the milk
Once done milking, I bring the milk in the house right away to strain through a milk filter, into a glass jar.    Today, I got 10.8 pounds of milk. Keep in mind that is not a lot of milk to get from four goats.   However,  I am still sharing their milk with their babies and I do not milk them all the way out. 

The milk is then dated and placed in the frig. 


This is not a step by step list of the procedures I use but just a snap shot.  There are many other little steps that go into milking and handling milk.   I figured most of my readers where not going to go out and milk goats,  so there was no need to list everything.   

One thing I did not mention is the time that I milk in the morning.   Can you guess?   5 am. nope, 6 am. nope, more like 9 am.   I know shocking!   I separate the babies from momma's around 8:30 the night before so I give them about 12 hours before I milk.    My friends husband always thought that I was out milking goats at the crack of dawn. (Not this Prairie Girl)   He was very shocked to find out that I did not milk until 9:00 am.

I hope that you enjoyed the tour of my milking parlor.   If you have any questions or suggestions please leave me a comment. 

If you would like to take a look at the products that are made from the milk we produce, it is available at    Double L Country Store   Here is my friend Sarah's Goat Dairy website, if you  want to see Grade A milk parlor check it out.   Victory Hill Farm