Friday, December 28, 2012

Nebraska Prairie Girls Hunts for Coyotes

Well, not really!   Actually, I have a love-hate relationship with coyotes.   I love that we have wild dogs around us and I respect their right to live among us.  After all, coyotes were here on the Nebraska Prairie way before we were.   Now for the hate.   I hate that they kill my chickens and are a threat to other livestock.  I hate that they are opportunists and would rather kill a cooped chicken then go out and hunt wild game for their meals.   I do what I can to live in harmony with coyotes.  However, sometimes no matter what measures have been taken to deter them from killing your livestock, they still succeed. 

On this day I was looking outside, for no particular reason.   Living here on the prairie, it is customary to look out the window often to survey the farm yard and all its critters.    This time I notice one of the cats running towards the house, not unusual by any means.   However, the cat seemed to be under duress.   I looked in the direction that the cat was coming from to see what was going on.    Good thing I took that second gander because I saw a coyote heading towards the chicken house in broad day light.  I went busting out the door, (I should probably paint a better picture of this)  I went busting out the door in my farm girl dress and flip flops in 20 degree temperatures.  As soon as I got outside I was yelling at that coyote to "GET OUT OF HERE!"   I chased after that coyote yelling and flapping my arms.   At first that there coyote commenced to run,  then he commenced to run and then sit and watch me.   So the game began.  We ran, then he sat and waited and when I got just close enough he ran, then sat and waited for me to catch up.  I was well into the horse pasture chasing my wild beast when I stopped.   Once stopped, I  then took a look at myself and said, "What the heck am I doing out here in the middle of winter in flip flops and a sundress?  I AM FREEZING!"   I bid farewell to my four legged  foe and headed back to the house.   As I was walking back, I was  wishing I had  stopped long enough to dress appropriately to chase coyotes in the middle of winter.  Would I have wasted precious time dressing correctly for this job of protecting my flock.?   NO!   I giggled and thought to myself,  one must know to never mess with my children or my chickens or the mamma bear in me comes out, even in a sundress and flip flops in the middle of winter. 

Now, I have not seen that coyote again.    Not that he is not around, I am sure.  Maybe just the sight of me in a sundress, flip flops,  running , yelling and flapping my arms was enough to deter that there coyote from my hen house.  

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Day the Goats got in

"What?"  you say. "The goats got in?"  "Don't they always get out?"   Well, not my goats.   Not all the time anyway.

I was walking to the barn with milk bucket in hand to do my daily milking.    As with every morning I opened the barn doors and said, "Good Morning Girls!"  This morning was different.  The goats were all inside the barn running around.    I guess I should explain the lay out of our barn to you.   It is an old granary that has stalls (what use to be grain bins)  on each side.   The center of the barn is wide open.   The goats all are in the stalls  that are on the right and left of the barn.  The stalls all  have a gates that leads them to the outside.    The stalls also have half doors that lead to the main part of the barn.   The main area of the barn is not for the goats to stay in.     Anyway,  they had gotten the door to the main part of the barn open and were running amok.   So this morning I said, "Good Morning Girls, WHAT the HECK."  (that was putting it nicely)    So I commenced to chase the goats around trying to get them back to their stall.  When I say around I mean around and around and around.  It was kind of like musical chairs without the chairs.   There is me in my farm girl dress and flip flops chasing a wild herd of goats.   To add to the excitement a couple chickens joined is cackling and flapping around wildly.    One of the hens, being a smart chick, jumped up on the gate for a better view of the goings on.    However, she just so happened to be sitting on the gate I needed to open.
 I figured when I opened the gate she would jump down and get out of the way.    So I flung it open to let all the goats run in and instead of jumping down she jumped on my head.   Now I am standing there with a chicken that has no intention of moving.   Not willing to stop and deal with the chicken I commenced running the goats into the stall.   If you have ever been privileged enough to herd goats you will understand exactly how imperative it was to keep the goats moving in the right direction.     You would think that the chicken would eventually decide the my head as a perch was not optimal.  By the time I was done rounding up goats, the chicken had her feet so wound up in my hair I though that she was a permanent hair accessory.    I finally got the chicken removed from my head and went into the milk parlor and started milking.    My daughter Arielle (the daughter who is deathly afraid of chickens)  came in the barn to chat  (something she does every morning in the summer) looked at me and said, "Mom, What happened to your hair?"  My reply was I had a chicken stuck in it.   "WHAT??????????????"  She turned around and left the barn.   I guess she figured all her fears of chickens was coming true.................................

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nebraska Prairie Fast Food

Fast Food?

Now, really did you think the Nebraska Prairie Girl would do a blog post on fast food?   Seriously,  the only fast food we have around here is when a chicken or goat is being chased by a predator;  now that is really fast food.    We do have chicken nuggets but they come in a box in the mail and look something like this.
And our milk shakes are when our freshened goats(in milk)  take off running. 

The closest fast food restaurant to us is about 40 minutes away.   The closet grocery store is 45 minutes away.   Here on the Nebraska Prairie, if you run out of something you cannot just run to the grocery store.    You learn to stock up, and make do with what you have on hand.   You learn to make many of your food items from scratch.    I am very careful about what I feed my family.  No artificial colors or flavors, preservatives, sweeteners,  etc.    (This is very easy when you make everything from scratch.)

Below are a few examples of healthy alternatives made from scratch.

Ranch Dressing

1 cup mayo
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. parsley or dill
1/2 tsp. sea salt , pepper, garlic powder, and paprika

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with wire whisk.

 If you want to make a true batch of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, here is your ingredient list.
Vegetable oil, egg yolk, sugar, salt, buttermilk, spices, garlic, onion, vinegar, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum, modified food starch, MSG, artificial flavors, disodium phosphate, sorbic acid, calcium disodium EDTA, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate.

I do not know about you, but I sure do not have any of the highlighted ingredients in my pantry .

Homemade Pancake and Waffle Syrup

1 cup brown sugar or sucanat
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla or natural maple flavoring
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
Mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan, heat until the syrup begins to slowly boil and sugar dissolves.

Here are the ingredients for Maple Syrup off of the store shelf.   Yum!
High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, cellulose gum, molasses, potassium sorbate (preservative), sodium hexametaphosphate, citric acid, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors.
The only things on this list that I have in my pantry are molasses, salt and water.  I think I will stick to my recipe.

Guess what the ingredients listed below are from?

Gelatin, Adipic Acid  (for Tartness), Disodium Phosphate  (Control Acidity), Maltodextrin  (from Corn), Cranberry Juice Solids, Fumaric Acid  (for Tartness), Contains Less than 2% of Natural Flavor, Aspartame  (Phenylketonurics Contains Phenylalanine), and Acesulfame Potassium  (Sweeteners), Salt, Blue 1, Red 40


Here is my Jello recipe:

Knox gelatin

That is it, nothing more. Well, unless I add fruit.   Making Jello from scratch does not take any more time than making Jello brand Jello from the box.   And it tastes even better, says my family.

So, when planning your menus for the holidays look at ingredient labels. Choose wisely and give your family the gift of a  healthy preservative free diet.

Happy Holidays

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Life's Vignette

I am a collector of great things!(Antiques)   One of my favorite hobbies is hunting thrift stores for hidden treasures.   Now the challenge for me is what to do with the treasures once I bring them home.   One, so Tractor Dave (my husband) doesn't ask, "What junk did you buy now?"  Two, to incorporate the item in my house with out making it look like a junk store.  

So my solution with many of the items is  using them in a vignette.

The table above is part of a larger vignette.  This vignette actually tells a story about my father.   He was born and raised in Bristal, England until the age of nine, then they sailed to America. (So that makes me, Nebraska Prairie Girl, the first generation in our family to be born and raised in America!)  On the table I have his passport, an vintage globe to represent his journey,  some Air Force patches, (he was in the Air Force when I was little), a pipe, a military sewing kit and a little book titled Strength For The  Battle.

The remainder of the vignette has a large picture that was my father's. It is of a ship called the SS Great Britain. Information on the SS Great Britain.  It was brought from England with them when they moved to America.   Around the large picture are three smaller pictures of ships that I found at a thrift shop.  The rocking chair is one of my oldest sons  garage sale finds for twenty-five dollars.   

Look who is sitting in my rocking chair.  Mark Twain.  Go figure.
Here is another vignette that has  my collection of vintage hats, and ladies apparel.   I have them displayed in the corner of one of my rooms, in an old steamer trunk.
 On the shelf over the trunk I have item that I have collected over the years.  The items are things that I thought might help add to the scene.    I have  vintage post card from all over the world,  knick knacks from different countries, a vintage pen, and old medicine bottle. 
On a table by the steamer  trunk I have a pair of spectacles, handbag, silver brush and mirror, old perfume bottle, gloves and old books. 

Pictured to the left is an antique tatted jacket and hat, that are displayed on the wall over the table.  ( jacket donated by a dear friend of mine)
To the lower right is a very old jacket with whale bone stays, (another donation from my friend) with three vintage hats hanging around it.  

What story does this vignette tell?  Maybe one of world travel.  Possibly someone who has unpacked their steamer trunk and is staying for a short visit. 

This last vignette is one of my favorites.   This primitive cradle made out of shipping crates was used for our youngest daughter to sleep in when we got her.  She is now nine months old and has out grown the cradle, so  I decided to use it as her toy box.   This vignette tells the story of a family who has been blessed!

Here's to life's vignettes!

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Newspaper Planting Pots

One of the easiest and most economical ways I have found for starting seeds is by making newspaper pots.   

The hardest part for me is coming up with the newspaper.   Not that I would mind getting the paper delivered here on the Nebraska Prairie.   But since we live so far out of town, the only way to get the paper is by having it sent to you via the USPS.   That in itself in not a problem, except that when you get the newspaper the news is already a day old. 

Other than finding newspaper the whole process of making pots is very simple.   You will need something cylindrical like a glass or some sort of tube and newspaper that has black and white print only.  That's it.  Nothing more.  Well, maybe potting soil and seeds.

First,  fold your newspaper in half length wise.   Then fold it again about one-third of the way down.  The second fold is what determines the height of your newspaper pot.   For tomatoes I like to make them tall so I can add soil as they grown.   For squash,  I make them quite a bit shorter as they do not need a tall pot.

When you have determined the height that you would like your pot to be, begin rolling the newspaper around the glass (in my case).  Before rolling, make sure to have about 1 inch or  more of the paper extend over the top of the glass.   Make sure to roll the paper around the glass snug.  Once all the paper is rolled around the glass you fold the paper that extends over the top of the glass inward.
 Now carefully take the paper off of the glass.  Once the paper is removed, you will need to take the end that you folded in and fold back toward the center, thus  making  the bottom of the pot.  Now take the glass or your hand inside of the pot to push down on the bottom to make it nice and flat.  That's it.  You did it.  Nothing more to it.  I take a permanent marker and write the name of the seeds that I am planting on the top edge of the pot.   Add your soil, seeds, water and treat as you would any other seedling pot. 

Once all my pots are made, labeled, and planted I put them in a large, lidded tote until the seedlings sprout. 

When you transplant your seedlings into your garden,  you can plant them pot and all.   However,  I usually tear the newspaper pot off of the seedling.  The newspaper takes much longer to deteriorate than you might think.   I usually put the newspaper pots in my compost pile instead of planting them with the plants. 

Happy planting!

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Monday, April 2, 2012


Nebraska Prairie Girl Makes a Shampoo Bar


I've had many requests from customers to create a shampoo bar.    I made several batches and never really liked how my hair felt.   So, I considered them failures and not worth selling.   Well, a friend I met through the local winter farmers market once again asked if I had ever considered making a shampoo bar.   Not one to let failure hold me back, I decided to give it another try.  (It helped that she even had a recipe suggestion for me.  Thanks Jennie)

So what is in a good Shampoo Bar?  The ingredients!

Ingredients that made the cut      Ingredients of other shampoo bars

coconut oil                                                                               Castor oil                      
olive oil                                                                                      jojoba oil
castor oil                                                                                   sunflower
jojoba                                                                                         palm oil
shea butter                                                                               cocoa butter
cocoa butter                                                                            coconut oil
bees wax                                                                                  essential oils
coconut milk                                                                           
goats milk
essential oils

(What kind of a goat milker would I be if I did not include goat milk?  The original recipe  that made the cut did not include goat milk, just coconut milk. )

I love the  bees wax, coconut milk and shea butter in the ingredients on the left.   I also prefer olive oil over the sunflower oil in ingredients on the right.

The addition of bees wax helps  make the hair much stronger and much thicker. Beeswax can also  build-up the volume of your hair.

Coconut milk boosts the sheen and health of hair.

The shampoo bar was made much the same way as found in my "Soap Making 101"blog post. I decided mold the soap in a 2"  pvc like I did for the  Mens Shaving Soap in my "Manly Shaving" Blog.

What are the benefits I have found in a Shampoo Bar?

  • No wasted product (no spilling, or excessive use)
  • No plastic bottles to add to land fills (all packaging is biodegradable)
  • Last much longer than liquid shampoo (50 or more washes per bar)
  • Takes up less space in bathroom (more compact size)
  • No problem getting through Airport security (not a liquid)
  • No chemicals or preservatives ( you can read all the ingredients on the label without a science degree)
  •  Does not contain silicone, which builds up in your hair and make it limp.
  • Adds body to your hair 

What are the down side of a Shampoo bar?

  •  It takes getting used to.
  • If you like the feel of silicone on your hair you might not like how your hair feels naturally.
  • You may still have to use an all natural conditioner or rinse.  I make an apple cider vinegar rinse (I personally did not find this a down side but some might)
How to use Shampoo Bar:    Wet hair as you would anytime you wash your hair.   You can either lather up the soap bar in you hands and apply to head or just rub shampoo bar on you head to lather.    Rinse and condition if necessary.

Condition with an all natural conditioner or with Apple Cider Rinse.   The rinse contains  1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar to 1 cup warm water.    Acetic acid, the main ingredient in ACV, will remove buildup from styling products and conditioners and strengthen the hair shaft.  Apple cider vinegar hair rinse will also balance hair's pH level, kill bacteria and is a great cure for dandruff.  The vinegar smell will dissipate once your hair has dried.

These shampoo bars are available in a refillable tin or as a refill only.

You will want to try a Shampoo Bar.  They are available at Double L Country Store.

Happy Shampooing!
Nebraska Prairie Girl

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cat and Bug

When a cat is not a cat and a bug is not a bug.

Here on the Nebraska Prairie things may not always be what they seem.

Let me introduce you to cat.  Cat came into our house in the fall and decided to take up residence.   I told my family if he was smart enough to come in before winter he deserved to stay in the house.  The kids even took to feeding him once a week.
Yes, you are right a spider, a cat faced spider in fact.   Hence the name cat!

Now for Bug.   Bug was born here on the farm about eight month ago,  he was born an only child.   Because he did not have any sibling to harass,  he decided to harass his human family.   Well he was always bugging us to play,  hence the name Bug.     
Meet Bug the cat!

As you see, looks can be deceiving here on the Nebraska Prairie.

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Lifes Little Emergencies

Do you have  First Aide supplies for your critters?    Whether you have small animals or large animals it is always a good idea to have emergency supplies available.     Over the years my animal first aid kit has become fairly extensive.   I used to think if I had vet wrap on hand I was doing good.   Now I have a cabinet dedicated to animal first aide in my barn.   Unfortunately,  we live an hour away from the veterinary hospital.     In some emergencies minutes can mean life or death for your animal.   It is nice to  know you did what you could for your critter until veterinary help is available  Or, in many of my little emergencies, take care of the problem myself with veterinary consult.  

Medical Cabinet
drawer with syringes, gloves, etc.
Syringe needle drawer

Here is a list of  some of the items that I have in my First Aid supply cabinet.   Some of these, if not most, are kept on hand  for goats.  However,  a lot of the supplies can be used on many different animal species. (In this photo my cabinet is empty,  I take everything out that is effected by cold temperature in the winter)

 Emergency Supplies
Old Towels- great for drying off new born animals, cleaning up messes, using for a compress.
Paper towels
Rubber gloves
Syringes - a variety of sizes
needles- a variety of gauges
vet wrap- never be with out (never wrap anything without cotton underneath it)
rolled or sheet cotton
4x4 surgical sponges- great for wound care, (cleaning wounds and dressing wounds)  
Small tarp-great to put on the ground when a clean surface is needed
plastic grocery bags-for clean up
first at tape-dressing wounds
long exam gloves-great for picking up gooey things like placenta.  I just pick it up turn the bag inside out and tie it shut.  
bandage scissors
band aides- for you
Tincture Iodine- dipping umbilical cords
Iodine scrub-to clean wounds
antibiotics- I have several kind on hand, ask your vet what you should have in stock
Banamine--for pain control
CMPK-to treat milk fever in goats and cattle
antibiotic ointment- wound care
triple antibiotic eye ointment
probiotic paste- to treat a tummy ache
peroxide- wound cleaning (only use once to clean a wound otherwise it causes damage to cell regrowth)
corn syrup-I give it to weak baby critters to give them energy

Thank you to Amanda Milton at Countryside Large Animal Hospital for editing my list.

I am fortunate enough to have a Large Animal Anesthesiologist in my family,  who I can contact with animal questions and emergencies.  Remember, every state is different with rules and regulations on drugs and their use.   What one state will allow you to purchase many not hold true in another state.   Having a good rapport  with your local vet can make dealing with  life's little emergencies a little easier.  (Always ask your vet how and when it is appropriate  to use certain drugs.)

Please use caution when storing drugs and medical supplies if children and animals are present.   My medical cabinet has locks on it, which is important since I have young children. 

Buck kid with broken leg
Here is an example of the use of some of the items in my emergency cabinet.   I went out into the barn a couple of weeks ago and noticed one of my three day old kid goats had a compound fracture.    I used 4x4 surgical sponges for padding (after I applied triple antibiotic ointment),  tongue depressors on each side of the fracture (from my kids craft supplies),  more 4x4 over the depressors for more padding,  first aide tape to hold in place, I put his leg in the thumb and used part of the hand of a glove to keep everything dry and clean,  then once again wrapped with first aide tape.    I had to administer antibiotics that were suggested by the vet.    An animal with this type of injury should be taken to the vet to have ex-rays, and have the bone set which usually requires surgery.  Most often when there is a compound fracture, the vet will suggest putting the goat down.  Compound fractures in animals often cause severe infection which may result in death.  

I am happy to report that three weeks out from his fracture my little buck kid is doing very well.  He is putting pressure on his leg, running and playing like his siblings.  I think we might have gotten lucky  this time.  

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nebraska Prairie Girls Stay at the Hospital

A couple weeks ago my youngest daughter Kayleigh was hospitalized for eight days.   Not one to leave her 7 month old in the hospital for one minute alone, I, the Nebraska Prairie Girl, became a resident of the Pediatric wing of the hospital.  Now, I have never stayed in a hospital for more than two days and that was after the delivery of my children.

When we were getting ready to take her to the doctors I had a feeling that they might end up admitting her to the hospital.   I had gathered extra clothes and baby items for her just in case.   I thought to myself, "you should really pack some things for yourself," but then I thought, "Nah, that is just silly.  Well hind sight is 20/20..................

The first couple days of Kayleigh's  hospital stay was stressful with surgery and mega IV antibiotics.  There were nurses in and out and doctor's visiting us several times a day.    I did not have much time to think about much except for her getting better.

Our oldest daughter, Jenna, came home from college as soon as we told her  that her baby sister was in the hospital.   She came to help out where needed and decided to stay at the hospital and help.    I was very thankful that she was there for support along with my husband Dave.  It  was nice to have her run some errands for me.   So this is where I began to  find humor in our little hospital stay.

I sent Jenna the first night to pick me up something to sleep in (remember the hind sight thing).  I told her just to go buy me something to sleep in cheap and appropriate to wear in the hospital.   Well, bless her heart she came back with black work out pants with white stripes down the side and a shirt to match.  Wondering what's wrong with that?   Really, nothing if you are in your twenties, fit, like to wear work out pants and have much longer legs. (I could have used the extra length to make another set of pants.)    However,   I was thankful for something to change into.

 Other things I learned while staying in the hospital.....

Never send your 22 year old daughter to the store to buy unmentionables (underwear).   Even if you are specific about size, brand and cut.  She will bring you underwear that are big enough for two people to wear.   I told her they would work really well for me to parachute off  the hospital roof.  Does anyone has some suspenders I can borrow?

Never ask your farmer husband to bring you clothes and unmentionables.  Being he is a farmer not a fashion designer, you never know what he will bring for you.  He will bring them to you in a small cardboard box.  When you ask him why not a bag he will  say, " I don't know that is just what I found."

Farm girl dresses and aprons are not practical attire in the hospital.    Though I did not wear aprons  my husband did pack me farm girl dresses (not the best of them) so I wore them. My other children came to the hospital and visit and told me I looked poor.  I said, "well this is what I wear at home."  Their reply was, "Well you do not look poor at home."  (Good to know)

Never rely on you husband to bring you clean clothes everyday as things like chores are on his mind.   He may show up at the hospital empty handed and you will have to send to 22 year old daughter to the store for you once again.  And we all know how that will turn out.

Not shaving your legs in the winter might work well for living on the farm.  But when you are staying at the hospital it is important to have a razor.

The nicest thing about being in the hospital is room service and house keeping.   After several days in the hospital the worst thing is room service.

Nebraska town water is terrible.  It is nice to have Nebraska Prairie water brought to you so you can make a good cup of tea.

No matter what you do to you hair the night before to keep from looking ridiculous  in the morning when doctors  do their rounds, it will not work.  Every morning they will wake you  up and every morning you will look in the mirror and have to laugh at yourself.  Of course I never have this problem at home. 

I learned the nursing staff, doctors, and surgeons become part of your family after eight days in the hospital.  You are very thankful they do what they do and do it well.

It is nice to look back and be thankful to God that everything turned out well.   And thankful for being able to find humor in even the worst of times.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Critter Warmer

Tall critter warmer

Three years ago we kidded goats out in January and February.   Since that is the coldest part of the year here on the Nebraska Prairie,  we were struggling to keep baby goats warm.   Extreme cold is very hard on new born goats.   If they get too chilled they become unresponsive and eventually will die if not warmed up quickly.    In a effort to keep all the kids warm my husband and I came up with a little safer solution than just hanging a heat lamp.  

I have used heat lamps for years to provide warmth for a large variety of baby critters.   However,  hanging a heat lamp in a wooden barn,  with straw or wood shavings as bedding is an extreme fire hazard.   We got our idea from a lamb warmer we had purchased that was a triangular welded metal hut with a heat lamp in the top.    Without time to weld a bunch of critter warmers we came up with our own solution.

Here is what you will need:

55 gallon metal drum
heat lamp
heat bulb
a laser cutter or another way to cut the metal drum

With the opened end of the drum on the ground we cut out little door ways.   Some are nice architectural curved door ways and some are just plain old rectangular door ways.    Really, the shape of the door way does not matter as much as size.   We have figured out that if the door way is too big you will  end up with momma goats putting their heads inside.  We even had a smaller momma get into the heater with the babies.   Not a good situation for the babies.  

On the top of the drum you will need to cut a circular opening to put the heat lamp through.  We have discovered smaller holes are better.   If the hole is to big it is easy to place the heat lamp through but it is also easy for the heat lamp to be knocked out.     Essentially, a hole big enough for the screw end of the heat light to fit through is enough.  The will keep the heat lamp and bulb in place. 

Once you are done cutting the door way and the hole in the top you are ready to put the heat bulb through the hole in the top and screw it into the heat lamp.   Voila, you are done.   

Shorter heater
The amount of heat in the drum is determined by the height of the drum.   We have cut drums shorter, to allow more heat to reach the critter.   We have taller drums when not as much heat is needed.     

We have used these critter heaters for baby goats, pigs,  and chicks.   With each and every use we are so thankful to have them.

Things we have learned using the critter heaters.  
  1. Make doorway only big enough for baby goats to get in and out.
  2. Allow no more than 4 baby goats access to the heater (otherwise you risk suffocation)
  3. Shorter drums for really cold temps
  4. Taller drums for milder weather
  5. Wean your critters from the heaters (do not make them go cold turkey, literally)
  6. Secure all electrical wire (we staple ours up and out of the way from critters)
Here is my warning statement.   As with any heat lamp there is always a risk of fire.    The use of  critter heaters seems to be a safer alternative to free hanging heat lamps.   However,  there is always a possibility of fire with the use of a heat lamp, no matter the fashion in which it is used.   Always use extreme caution!

Here is to warm critters!

Nebraska Prairie Girl

PS.  As I write this the temp. outside is 68 degrees and there is not much use for a warmer.   However,  I know that we will get cold temps. and snow for a couple months yet. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Good Bye Christine

She came home after school with my oldest children Chance and Jenna one day after a bike ride 15 years ago.      Though she had a home she was just not happy living there.     So she moved in and became part of the family.

She was a very quiet individual who did not require nor want much attention.   She was happy just to be part of a family.    Her favorite time of the day was doing chores and spending time outside.   She loved spending much of the summer swimming in the irrigation ditch.

Christine had epilepsy and had seizures a couple times a month.   The doctors said that eventually the seizures would probably shorten her life.   Well as she aged the seizures became less and less, and never really caused her much problem.

 But with all things that age she began to have some problems with her health arthritis set in, she lost her hearing and sight,  and was haunted by dementia on and off.   It was hard to watch her go down hill more and more until her body and mind could no longer keep up with her heart.   With many things it is the heart that goes first,  for Christine this just was not the case.   Her heart was big enough and strong enough to go on forever,  her body just could not keep pace.

So with a saddened heart we had to say good bye to Christine.   Forever thankful that she left our lives as peacefully as she came.

In loving memory
Nebraska Prairie Girl

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We should have taken the TIPI!

This last summer the Nebraska Prairie Girl and her family, including their Danish daughter Signe pronounce see-na (ex-foreign exchange student) planned a little vacation to Custer State Park in our newly purchased old motor home.

Planning the vacation on its own is a feat for the Nebraska Prairie Girl.   If you have ever planned and taken a family vacation you can probably relate to some of this.   First, there was the planning and then the packing involved for a family of seven and our two dogs.    Which brings me to the reason we bought the motor home in the first place.  Well, we own a TIPI that we camped in for many years.  (another blog  for another day)  But with the addition of all the children and the fact that we (Dave and I) are not spring chickens anymore, but not stewing birds either, we thought owning a motor home might be a lot easier.    Well sure, you have all the amenities your house has to offer on wheels, why wouldn't be easier?

Well, this might explain why!   After staying at Chadron State Park for the night we headed into Chadron to our favorite little coffee shop, the Bean Broker.   That day was fixing to become very warm, hot actually, so we wanted to treat the kids to a nice cool drink and head on our way.   With everyone loaded back up in the motor home we were ready to roll.   We were heading to Hot Springs South Dakota to take the kids to Evans Plunge for a fun day of swimming.   We just started heading north out of Chadron and there was an awful loud noise that came from the rear of the motor home.  Then came a noise that sounded like someone was tearing the back of the motor home up.  Well, Farmer Dave slammed on the brakes and we came to a very quick stop.    The first loud noise was one of the rear tires blowing and the second noise was the blown tire tearing up the back of the motor home.  YIKES!   In order to  limp back to Chadron on the only remaining dual tire on that side, Farmer Dave had to cut out the blown tire.   It had decided to wrap itself around every thing and anything.   Being a farmer and never one to go with out his pocket multi-tool, Dave proceeded to crawl under the motor home and cut out the tire.   Once he got under the motor home he realized that the tire had destroyed all the propane lines and propane was leaking.  Once the propane tank was turned off (to avoid blowing up !!)  Dave got the shredded tire cut out of its tangled mess.    Our only option was to turn around and head back to Chadron at a turtles pace and find a tire store.   To make a long story short there were no tires in Chadron for our motor home. They had to be ordered and would take a couple days.    So, driving on our only spare tire, we headed home feeling a bit nervous,.  And to top it off we had no propane for cooking or heating water! 
Dave lacing up the Tipi

This were I thought WE SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THE TIPI !!!!!!!  The Tipi does not require propane or tires for that matter.    It something breaks on the Tipi you can usually find a replacement part out in nature without spending a dime.  So as we drove home I thought to myself  all the reasons we wanted a motor home are now the reason we had to cancel our trip.  

So lets compare the two:  

Tipi- Takes an hour to set up and is hard to move from place to place because you have to dismantle and put back up with every move.    Sleeps an unlimited amount of people.  (Well not really but it sleeps at least 12)  You have to use the outhouse or the port-a-pot if you are in a pinch.   Your heat and cooking fire are one and the same right in the center of the Tipi, works great!  Great for meeting people from all over the world because everyone wants to come in and see your Tipi.  You have out of town guests every night in your Tipi,  because you invite folks to come sit in the tipi around the fire after dark.  

Motor home- fully self contained, has heat, stove, microwave, bathroom, shower, running water, heated water, stereo, comfy beds, refrigerator,  oh and did I mention comfy beds!  You never meet anyone from other countries because they are all camping in campers too and they really do not want to see your camper.    Terrible gas mileage, blown tires, no propane so no hot water, no stove, no refrigerator, no camping trip.  And needs two thousand dollars worth of repairs.  WE SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THE TIPI!!!!!

Happy TIPI-ing!

Nebraska Prairie Girl.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Things I Learned from the Sale Barn

Nebraska Prairie Girl Goes to the Sale Barn.  

Surprisingly,  I have never been to a sale barn.  I have never purchased livestock from a sale barn nor have I sold any animals at the sale barn.   That is until now............................

Since the increase in the size of my goat herd has resulted in more kids born,  I had a lot of excess goats this year.  There was not much interest in goats locally, so we decided to take the goats to Centennial Live Stock Company in Ft. Collins, Colorado. (A very nice clean facility)  My friend Sarah Pinet went along with us to sell some of her milkers she was culling.   We both had high hopes for the sale of our goats not just monetarily, but also in finding great new homes.  Well, here is the good, the bad and the ugly of my Sale barn lesson.

First off,  get your livestock to the auction very early.   We got there by nine-thirty as we'd been instructed.  Well, that is a great time if you want your livestock to go last in line. They sell the animals in the order in which they are received.   ( Kind of like when you are put on hold when you call a business.  )  So get your critters to the Sale barn early. 

Second,  if your critters go through the sale later than the rest of the livestock,  you will notice that  the sale prices go down more and more.  Folks run out of money and bid less.

Third,  separating out your doeling from whethers (castrated males) really is a waste of time,  because they will just throw them all in together and sell them in one big lot.  My hope was the the doelings would go to a buyer looking for good quality dairy goats.   They would have been great to start a new milking line for next year.  But they were sold with the whethers I brought, and sold as feeders. We all know what feeders are!   I knew that the whethers  would go as feeders but I wanted better for my doelings.  

Fourth,  just because you take two really nice looking two year old bred nannies, does not mean they will go to someone for milking purposes.    I bred these two nannies in hopes that when they went to the sale barn they would go for milkers.  Well guess what?  You got it, they went most likely for meat.    

Fifth,  taking a friend to the sale barn who is equally as hopeful for a positive outlook for her critters is helpful. You can discuss your sale barn woes with each other the whole hour and a half ride home.
Sixth,  never, ever go to the sale barn with any preconceived notions about your critter going off to live a great life as a productive member of  society. 

Seventh, do not name all your critters. Only name the critters you intend to keep.   That way when they look up at you with a long sorrowful face,  you do not have a name to go with that face.  

Eighth,  and the most important lesson for me.   Send your husband to the sale barn for you with strict instructions to tell you the following:  That your  critters were purchased by a nice person who intends to put them out to pasture for the rest of their lives. And tell your husband that no matter how much you bother him for the truth about the sale, he has to stick to the original planned and scripted answer!  

Unfortunately,  with the growth of my herd there will probably be more runs to the sale barn.   I have tried to sell them locally.   Unfortunately, the Nebraska Prairie is not a bustling goat industry.  Now, if I could disguise them as Angus cattle... hmmmm.   However,  I do not plan to go  to the sale barn myself. I really am planning on sending my husband.    He has no attachment to my goats like I do.   I guess when you are there during their birth and the first part of their  life you  form something of an  attachment.   At least I know that while my goats were in my care they got the best possible treatment. 

Nebraska Prairie Girl