They Are Finally Finished!!

F4931A19-D444-492F-A0EC-C85C14D3061A63E3CD13-EC6B-4A19-913C-129EBE60F82C906F9C4F-F0C2-468C-80C4-25181E992DDD2A8529D1-63BB-4B4E-9DD5-89334C93D8635434F7F0-5689-491F-B948-E2FBA1A358D714 yards long, 15 napkins, a week’s worth of hemming and the napkins are done!  Reminder to me…. Don’t expect to get a lot of weaving done when its gardening season!  I’ve been working on these since April.  Dumb idea.  I am so happy with the results, but my oh my was it tough to get down to the loom when trying to garden and put up food for the next season.

I’m getting better at my hemming.  They look less like a snake and more like a hand done project.

After looking up from my dreamland and discovering that Labor Day weekend is just a week away, I kind of freaked.  For fun, I want to set up a booth at our local holiday fair this year.  It will be to have a weaving presence.  If I don’t get my butt in gear I’ll not have anything to display!!  I want to sell some Christmas table runners, placemats and kitchen towels. But before I can loom them up I have a couple other orders to fill.  Deep breathing.  Whodah thunk that post retirement would be busier than pre?  If you think a couple can homestead and get everything done….. you are delusional.  I woke up this morning, thinking that I’d get in the garden and was met with a sick turkey.  Now that they have been de-wormed, its now 7:30 pm and I’m hemming napkins.  We are on goat baby watch, we have been canning and dehydrating, the wife is working a full time job, and I’m losing my mind.  All in a week’s schedule.  Of course….in the end, who owns this problem?



What Happened To Summer?

It dawned on me today that we are only a week or two away from Labor Day weekend.  It’s that kind of transition time into fall I guess.  The Cottonwoods are already beginning to yellow and the Maples, planted as landscaping trees in the city, are also beginning to turn.  This has been a summer of many types of weather.  As I write, a town to our west was just hit with tennis ball sized hail.  Usually that happens in the spring, but this year the moisture in both rain and ice form has happened throughout.  While we only had a couple of days over 100 degrees, we have had weeks on end of the very dry, mid-90’s.  We’ve been pretty good at getting out in the cool mornings to get chores and gardening done. Otherwise it just gets too hot to function.  As the storm blew through tonight on its way to Kansas, one of our basement window screens blew out and landed in our garden about 200 feet away.  Part two of this storm is on its way.  The lightning is flashing through the bedroom window blinds.

In this the early advent of fall, our gardens have not disappointed.  Harvest is getting into full swing.  The peppers have done so well that we are already dehydrating them and also giving them away.  We have Eggplant, Kale, Herbs, Cucumbers, Onions on the way, Green Beans, Garlic, Black Beans, 7 foot tall Sunflowers, and the Tomatoes have begun to turn despite some irregular watering that caused some blossom end rot, and over 60 tomato worms.  Our cabbage patch is insane.  We have been picking volleyball sized cabbages.  We stir fry a lot of it as well as mixing some into “to die for” coleslaw.  The onions will come out next.  The Zucchini have grown legs and are walking on their own. As usual, our celery is going great.  Our carrots and beets look great despite not thinning them as much as I should have   The squash plants seem to like their new home and we are starting to pick them as well.  The only thing that isn’t doing well this year are the Tomatillos.  Not entirely sure why, but they have always been a bit persnickety.  Tomorrow, weather permitting, I am going to start getting the fall succession planting in.  This will include more onions, more cabbage, Broccoli and Cauliflower.  In the next week or so I will sprout and plant spinach and seed in a bed of leaf lettuce that will give us salad until the first freeze. It appears that we have been successful in drought proofing the gardens, which is a big relief.

We are also on baby goat alert.  One of our does, Ginger, is due in under 2 weeks.  We are very excited for the new arrivals and have been working to get the kidding pen all in order. As she looks like a waddling quadruped, I’m sure she will be relieved when it’s all over too.

Today was canning and dehydrating day.  I canned tomato sauce from our first good sized harvest.  We ended up with 10 pints.  More are on the way so we will be canning tomatoes up until the first freeze, or until we are sick of it.  All told we have out about 20 lbs of peppers in the dehydrator, not to mention how many we have given away.

So other than the wetter weather this year energizing the weeds and promoting east of the Mississippi kinds of bugs, this year has gone very well.  Bring on the fall.  The sooner the cold weather kills off the flies and grasshoppers the happier I’ll be.  I’m tired of this high plains oven!  I have a fence to build.  I need it cooler!


Citiots and The Saga Of The High Plains Goat Wars




Above is my buddy Dozer.  The trespasser could have been his brother.

One of the things about having the farm pretty well completed and operational, has been this desire to have things calm down.  After all, as John Prine sang:  “Blow up your TV, Throw away your papers, Move to the country, build you a home.  Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, learn to find Jesus…. on your own.”   That’s the goal.  All was heading in that direction UNTIL!!!!  –  New idiot neighbors.

The house to our north sold a few months back.  The house is nice but the property was a typical rural mess; completely strewn with several generations of farm equipment and general junk.  So, as to not be a nuisance, we stayed way.  One day, some horses showed up, we could occasionally hear some ducks, and whomever was clearing the property of junk had an affinity for some VERY loud Mariachi music.

Last Sunday, we finally met the neighbors.  She is a very nice lady and is there now with her two sons.  The way we met her was kind of humorous and head shaking at the same time.  We came home from an errand and there were 6 goats in our north west pasture (All bucks for krisake).  Well,  that was surely going to happen considering that the only fencing between us is an old, sagging, dilapidated, barbed wire fence.  I’m surprised her horses haven’t come over for a visit.  They’ve certainly been curious about the donkeys.

Zina stopped the car and I hopped out to go round them up and send them back home.  Zina took the car and went and knocked on their door.  We found out it was her birthday that day as well.  I got the goats back through their fence – wasn’t hard, they didn’t really seem to know it was even there (the saying is that if your fence can’t hold water, it won’t hold a goat).

These little devils went back through the fence and then headed west toward the road, came back through the fence toward us then and headed down the road.  It reminded me of the scenario when I had a baby pig escape.

OK, so that was funny.  The neighbor was very apologetic.  She was repeating over and over that she is still learning and that it won’t happen again.  However, like typical Citiots, you can’t tell them anything.  “Oh, I promise it won’t happen again!”  I laughed and tried to be a nice neighbor, having just met her and all, but I responded “Yes it will.”  Their fences couldn’t hold a retarded Coyote.  I told the husband, as we were again herding them back to the fence, that there is no way they are going to be able to keep those beasties contained until they learn how to build fencing – I offered, I’m pretty good at it and I’ve never had an animal escape unless a gate was left open.  Crickets.  Can’t tell these fools anything.

So a day or so goes by.  We were told that the bucks were being held in their barn so they couldn’t get out.  Wrong.  They were in a pen that looks like a chicken coop.  I haven’t seen a few of them since, but the lead demon spawn and I were about to tangle.  Keep in mind that we have about $2000.00 of PURE BRED REGISTERED Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  We cannot have strays coming on to the property because goats can carry any crazy number of diseases and we have already dealt this year with Tank getting Pink Eye; not to mention Ginger is due in 2 weeks.

This week was hay purchasing and stacking day (not to mention Sage being sick too – vet bills….. erg.). Usually, when I go outside, the boy goats (Tank and Dozer) call out to me.  They did so again but I thought I heard an echo.  It came from over by the greenhouse.  I turned and it looked like Dozer had gotten out of the pen.  Nope, the neighbor goat was in my garden (They also defoliated two of our apple trees and they are now dead.  Out here fruit trees take upwards of 5 years to produce fruit.  These were three years in…. pretty pissed).  Kind of a big sacrifice to be neighborly – because after all – “Still learning”.  So this demon was in our garden.



Make hay while the sun shines!

Now anyone who knows me in person, is familiar with my bark.  I can scare shit out of a Marine drill sergeant.  I let fly on that goat somethin’ to wake up the neighbors.  This buck looks just like Dozer, except he has horns (Ours are all dis-budded to avoid injury).  He understood pretty well that he was an unwanted visitor.  He got into the garden because I had left the fence netting open as I’d been working in there.  He high tailed it out of there and back home.  Catastrophe number one averted.  Goats like foliage, so he was probably sampling the plethora of greens in our acre garden.  That alone is enough for war.

I head out, bought hay and came back.  It’s a little bit of an effort to get the truck and the  tractor through the gate, keep the dogs out of the pasture, keep the goats IN the pasture, and get set up to unload and stack the bales.  While I was doing that, Basil was barking, I heard a goat bleating, looked up and that little shit was back again!!  This time he wanted in with the does.  My dogs were awesome.  I sent em off after him.  Sage is bloody fast.  She was on his heels all the way back to the fence.  She rolled him and when he got across the fence she didn’t follow him through it,  turned and ran all the way back to me.  So much for being sick.

For those of you who have never bucked hay, its a ferociously physical job.  After yesterday’s load was up, I hobbled back to the house, took a shower and collapsed.  That evening I got up out of my chair to let the dogs out before bed and Sage bolted out the door.  I noticed a dark silhouette out by the donkey gate, and once again, thought Dozer had gotten out.  Nope.  Visitation number three by Satan’s cousin.  This time, he had tried to get into the garden but got his horns all tangled up in the fence netting.  So here,   instead of going into all the details,  I’ll just share the text I sent Zina after all of this ended.  This is a classic example of people moving out to the country, thinking they know everything, and then screwing everyone’s lives up who have been here for years.  Citiots think they know everything.  She’s about to get a lesson in life.  The mildest lesson is don’t buy livestock until you can contain them (Especially goats.  They are smart and can figure out any weakness).  The next is “why the hell did you buy six bucks?  Did no one tell you they stink to high heaven and unless you are breeding you don’t need them?”  And number three:  Don’t fuck with the guy to your south.  Don’t make him angry…. you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.  He turns green and his body tears his clothes off and he smashes things.  Lastly…….  Your goat is going to get shot.

“3 times today that Dozer looking buck came over.  Once this morning and it was in the garden, second while I was unloading hay and the dogs chased it home.  They have earned their keep.  Sage was ridiculously cool.  Then I let the dogs out before going to bed.  Sage bolted and I saw a brown silhouette down by the donkey gate.  It was that same fucking goat.  It was tangled every which way in the garden netting.  I got my climbing rope out of the garage.  I had to be kind of mean to it.  Kneeled on it to get the rope around it’s neck, and I had to go back to the garage to get a cutter to cut the netting off of him because he had the netting in a birds-nest around it’s horns.  By this time I smelled like goat.  Kicking and screaming like a bitch (because I didn’t shoot it then and there) I took said lassoed goat across our north west pasture.  With the long rope he had enough lead that he jumped through the barbed wire fence and I couldn’t get him back through it.  I ended up going between the wire strands and ripped the shit out of my shirt….. twice – once in, once out.  Banged on the door…. no one home.  Went around the side of the house and fell on the concrete because I didn’t know there was a one step down on their walk way.  When I fell I lost the rope and the goat ran off.  At that time  Maria’s daughter and husband/boyfriend were coming up from a walk, I guess along the property line.  I totally let fly as bad as you’ve ever seen.  They are duly notified that if their bucks come on our property again I will shoot them dead.  3 times!!! Just today!!!  Pretty sure I scared her to death.”

Let the games begin.

Our Veggie Gardens Won’t Feed us in a Real Crisis


Once again, friend Ellen sent me an article that put me in the food pulpit.   The article is posted below.  This was my rant:

Oh! That is cool that I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness.  I have lambasted vegetarians and vegans for years about the slim landscape that can grow non-grain vegetables at scale.  There are about three areas on this side of the world (there are others, but three major areas) where vegetables can grow at volume.  Should we try what all the IPCC wonks say -that vegetarianism is the only way to save the planet – we will all starve because it CANNOT support a 350 million person population at a 2000 calorie diet with sufficient protein and fiber (not to mention micronutrients and vitamins). It might, if everyone did what I do….. Bwahahahaha!  Oh god, I crack myself up.   Florida, the San Joaquin Valley, and Mexico are about it.  The top soil is so depleted in the Midwest that it could never be readily converted to tomatoes, peppers and onions. Besides that, most of us have this thing we call winter.  I have given up on my species, because when they open their mouths about food, they haven’t got one flippin’ clue.  I DEFY anyone to come out here, in the vast grassland Prairie, and grow Broccoli at a significant scale.  1.  The soil is heavily alkaline.  2.  It’s 80% clay.  3.  The water is basically liquid rock (full of lime and iron).  4.  We get 13 inches of rain per year.  5.  We have that whole winter thing 6. The sun will send it into bolt the second it sprouts.  Animal protein wasn’t produced as a luxury.  It was designed to keep one’s food on its feet and mobile so it can feed itself, and be self moving (herded) to get it where it needs to be processed when needed.  Oh ya, they are also ruminants that can turn grass into protein.

But, but, but! Hydroponics and aquaponics indoors that’s the ticket!!  LED lights instead of the sun and all done in climate controlled grow facilities. Brilliant…… all dependent on coal and natural gas.  But what about solar panels to power them??  I’m not even going there.  The best all that can do is grow greens.  Ever try to survive on just Romaine?  Might work if you have some weight to lose, but that has a shelf life over time.  We are bloody fools.

Does anyone know what it really means to eat “in season?”  It means making nail soup, killing a hog, hoping you canned enough to get from October to June, not eat each other, and pray to your almighty Jebuzz that there isn’t some fucking plague of locusts when you try to restock for the next seasonal cold snap (winter).  May Day and Solstice were celebrations for a reason.  The emergence from dark dank hovels to bask in sunlight, screw, reproduce, plant and thank the ever lovin’ powers that you didn’t succumb to whatever awfulness made parts fall off of your neighbors.  But of course, it’s all May Poles and Easter Eggs, morphed into the re-animating of some dude with a hammer and chisel.

The actual article:

Our Veggie Gardens Won’t Feed us in a Real Crisis


Homesteading Is Like The Movie Groundhog’s Day


On a Farm, basically the same thing happens every year.  The cool part though is that it has variations as you go, and the end result is always satisfying.  We discovered, in this year’s garden, that the spacing recommendations on the packets don’t always hold true.  With our green beans, this was absolutely the case.  We harvested 2, 4×12 beds of green beans and came away with just as many beans as we had in our old garden spaces with a measured seeder.  These beds were hand sown and way too close together.  BUT!  If you add a huge amount of chicken poop, no amount of crowding seems to matter because there is enough nutrient for all involved.  We harvested several bushels of beans that translated to the 41 quarts plus give aways.  This easily matched the old garden yields. We have enough canned green beans to provide beans as a vegetable once a week for over a year.

If you are striving for self-sufficiency, keep in mind that if you have a large organic garden (ours is a half acre of 40 raised beds), when you harvest your produce, you need to know how to store it.  It is an immense job.  I’ve found that no matter what the vegetable, the canning of it takes a whole day.  My last 14 quarts are in the canner as I write this and it is 6 pm.  I started at 9 this morning…. actually it took 3 days. I’ve been cutting off the ends and chopping them into bite sized pieces for the past two days.  Of course, there are all the other chores that don’t disappear.  My friend Eddie, who owned our local feed store, said that no one seems to understand that everything you add to a farm in order to expand, just compounds all of the care taking involved.  Absolutely true.  You need to take care so as to not grow beyond your ability to handle.  Animals are just like children.  Just because you are canning, doesn’t mean the donkeys don’t need feeding or eggs need collecting.  Know your limits.

Tomorrow, pepper harvesting and cleaning the barn.  We have a prego goat that needs a clean nest.  She’s due in the next few weeks.  Stay tuned.  We are guessing (Hoping for) twins.  She is really turning into Mother Waddles.


Farming and Hobbies Take Up A Lot Of Time


So the lesson learned here (tongue in cheek) is that starting a huge weaving project at the same time as seedling starts in the early spring, does not yield quick results.

Tonight I finally got these napkins off the loom!!  I started them right around the time we bred one of our Nigerian Dwarf goats (1st part of April).  It was a warp of 14 yards (friggin huge).  Since that time we built new raised beds, all the hail covers, drip irrigation to the new beds, planted the entire garden, built two new grow out coops, hatched a flock of turkeys, raised and processed meat birds, got two more pigs, built an outdoor worm composting bin, got barrels to create biochar, fixed up a car to take to my kid, have a pregnant goat, hired a very part time farm hand, took care of the critters and the gardens, built new composting bins, built a dog house, dealt with a goat that contracted pinkeye, Zina spent a week in Detroit helping her family out and we still tried to have a little down time. It is now the end of July and the napkins finally came off the loom.  There are 15 of them.  They are about 22×22 inches which makes them the size of a napkin that you would get at a 4 or 5 star restaurant.  They still have to be pre-washed and hemmed but I’m very pleased with the end result.  I have been trying to make extras of patterns I weave so as to build some inventory.  I have half a mind to set up a little booth for the holidays at our local rec center.  No weavers there, so maybe I’d get lucky.  If we keep six for ourselves that means I have two, 4 napkin sets to sell that will go with the table runners and placemats of the same color.  Whadya think?  Will I get Jeff Bezos rich?  How about I just be happy to cover my yarn costs so my hobby pays for itself.  Ya we’ll go with that.  Homesteading ain’t for wimps.