Homestead Sex

It is fall and breeding has commenced. In order to have a dairy, small or large, babies have to be made. In order to raise pork without having to buy babies from somewhere else, breeding has to happen. In order to maintain a healthy flock of chickens for meat and eggs, babies have to be made. This past week we put our lady goats in with the gentlemen. I must say, while bucks are the horniest things on 4 legs, they have been remarkably chivalrous with their girls. Sometimes it is difficult to determine when a doe is in heat. Nigerians come into their cycle monthly, but sometimes it is hard to determine when. Sooooooo, to solve that problem, the girls and boys get put together for 2 months. This pretty much ensures that at some point they will get it right.

On the other hand, it is pretty wise to put the bucks with the does well a part from each other. A couple of years back we put a doe and one of the bucks together and left the other buck out of the fun. Had we not had a chain link fence between them somebody would have gotten hurt. The outrage was impressive

Tank and Paprika
Dozer and Ginger

Last year we acquired a threesome of American Guinea hogs. They are smaller than the pigs you see going to the factory farms. They can also survive virtually on nothing but vegetable scraps and grass. They are now of age, but we have yet to see any signs of romantic flirtation. It isn’t that it might not have happened because we can’t watch every hour either. We will likely wake up later this year to a bunch of piglets hopping around.

Here is Petuia (on the right) and Pablo Pigcasso on the left, lounging in the mud looking cute. These are as friendly as dogs. They can’t get enough of tummy rubs.

And lastly, of course we are always hatching chickens and turkeys. In a month or so the 2020 turkey flock will go to freezer camp. These below are Jersey Giants (chickens). We use these for stew and crock pot meat. In 2 days we are expecting 40 Cornish Crosses. They are the larger meat chickens and will be raised up and processed sometime around November 1st. They grow incredibly fast and are a great and economical way to keep the freezer well stocked.

So there you have it. Farm procreation at it’s finest. No folks, your food does not all come wrapped in cellophane at your huge grocer. You gain a much greater appreciation for your food when you get down and dirty and raise it yourself. The next evolution may include meat goats or even raising a couple of steers. Shhhhhhhh don’t tell Zina.

Finally! A Day Off!!

We are coming up on the 8th anniversary of the JAZ Farm experiment. Since then, most everything else has been put on hold. Don’t get me wrong, this has been a labor of passion, but as anyone knows, when you have nothing but a certain task, it can get very old if you don’t have a diversion.

I was a bowhunter and hiker and lived in ranch country for many many years. I was raised in the Detroit area but most of my adult life has been spent in rural towns and the Rocky Mountain back country. Since my spine surgery, my ability to go off into the nether regions has been severely curtailed. Not to mention the fact that we built a farm from nothing up to the point that it supports vegetables, chickens, eggs, turkeys, dairy and pork.

After the last fence build, I was pretty burned out. I had told Zina that I needed to simply spend a day up in the hills in my old hunting, snow shoeing and stomping grounds. As I would never trust my old carcass to be up there un-aided, I went up with the new ATV. I cannot tell you how freeing that was. It was almost as though I had never left, but this time it was just to go see my mountains (I did try to flip the buggy once, but all is well). My next trip up will be during Aspen color season. I may never hunt again, but just being up there in the beauty amongst the mountain wizards with a camera was enough. Find your peace and be there. There is nothing else that matters. This was in the WAY back over 10,500 ft.. I still gots it.

Harvesting During The Zombiepocalypse

Pandemic, Economic Collapse, Riots, Drought, Fires, Depression and Food Insecurity.

Unemployment, Massive demands on Food Banks, Climate Chaos and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. So here we are in the midst of the most chaotic time of our lives. Here we are on your actual brink. The news is something to be avoided if you are to maintain any semblance of sanity. We have an election that is going to be anything but uncontentious. We have no national plan to combat the bat bug and it appears that this little anomaly had the power to bring down the planet (Especially the U.S.). What does one do when, after years of warning clients, friends and family that this was coming? Answer: Grow a garden just like one has done for years. 95% of Colorado is in a moderate to severe drought. We just went through the hottest August on record and I can attest to how miserable that is. Yo easterners, low humidity doesn’t solve the problem, you can simply dry up and blow away out here and much of our landscape has. A mountain pass that I spent many years around is ablaze as well as places on the Western Slope where I spent a lot of my Jeremiah Johnson years.

Because of supply line disruptions and catastrophic crop failures around the world, plagues of locusts in Africa and floods in China, makes for a time where I should have been growing Popcorn. After all, as Uncle George told us, When you are born you are given a ticket to the freak show. When you are born in the U.S.A. you are given a front row seat. Have you awakened yet or are you still in denial? Not only are we going into a second Great Depression (That will make the first one look like a nice Little House On The Prairie episode) we are going into a complete reset of our way of life (Thank God). We are facing food shortages, supply line disruptions, massive evictions, the lack of metal to make canned goods, and all manner of things that will make life pretty uncomfortable in the coming years. I think, and this is simply my opinion, that our lives will reset to look more like the lives of Appalachian Homesteaders of the 1850’s – without the Civil War one can hope. If there could be a time where every possible problem could come to a head (including World War) this is it. I know that everyone is completely fatigued from 2020, but I am afraid you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

So what does one do? Learn from us. Learn from homesteaders and preppers. The faster you can get over your grieving and get on to the task at hand (survival and adjusting to whatever comes down the pike) the better off you will be. Our old paradigm died this year. There is no “waiting for things to get back to normal”. First of all, normal is what got us into this problem, and second, there is no “new normal”. We are going to have to reinvent EVERYTHING! Plans for you career? Screw that. Plans for your kid’s futures? Screw that too. They are going to be with you forever. Perhaps this is the answer to the lack of people wanting to become farmers. The average age of a farmer in the U.S.A. is 58 – that’s friggin’ ME!! Who do you think is going to grow food for the future? Business majors and computer wonks will be WORTHLESS. If you can’t feed the people, well………

Everything about your existence now needs to be about learning how to provide all of the sustenance for your family and your local community. I am so sorry for you who have been caught in the cities. If you have the ability to get out and onto some land I would highly recommend that you do it right now! My father once said (one of the few things he said that I could actually relate to) that the next depression is going to be so much worse because everyone is dependent on trucking and no one knows how to process a pig or a chicken. Absolutely. Have any of you newbie gardeners and freaked out ‘steaders tried to get ahold of canning supplies lately? How about baby chicks? Flour? Yeast? Bulk anything? You all freaked and bought everything with no idea how to use it. My good friend at our local feed store said he can’t believe how many people have come in to get baby chicks thinking that in a few short weeks they would be knee deep in eggs. It takes 6 months ya’ll. The toilet paper freak out was a joke. You should be WAY more concerned about a dollar collapse and a Venezuela style hyper-inflation poverty. If you hear nothing else, understand that our government gives not one shit about you. They do not care. Food inflation? Remember oil inflation in 2007-08? Same story. We shall see the threshold at which food prices can’t go beyond before everything collapses. Wonder why we have 50 million unemployment claims in the last 20 weeks but Wall Street continues to set new highs? Answer, because they care more about a few billionaires than the 99% of the population that makes this economic abortion run.

Whew. I just felt like I was in a client appointment prior to my retirement. I know some of you follow me and you can attest to the fact that I have been warning about this economy since at least the Dot Com bubble. You can take what I wrote for what it’s worth. To toot my own horn though, when I was still working, I called the 2002 dot com bubble and the 2008 collapse. Be F…… careful!! This will end very badly. We are NOW, CURRENTLY, in the World’s Greatest Depression and it will not end anytime soon. It is time to start hunkering down and protect yourself and those things you hold dear. NO ONE is coming to help you.

Here is our financial plan:

Tomatoes. Diced, sauced, and salsa’d. They are still coming.

Serious quantities of beans. So far we have canned 50 quarts.

The peppers got nailed by hail this year but still have given us enough to dehydrate for the winter. Next year all the peppers and tomatoes go in the greenhouse. They need TLC.

This was one plant of potatoes as a test. If this holds true, we will have about 300 lbs. No potato famine here.

We have the tomato crop nailed. Large slicers don’t do well here but saucing tomatoes and cherry tomatoes will make you say “Uncle” after awhile.

This is a sunflower called “Titan”. It seeded itself this year. We will be keeping the seeds to plant more next year. Oh ya, if you do start gardening during the collapse of civilization, I would highly recommend saving seeds. My favorite seed sources were sold OUT this past spring. We ordered next year’s seed already. We will keep them in a fridge and use them next year while the Zombies all scramble for their little packets.

Next year we should be up to our ears in Asparagus

As usual, our Garlic was epic. We save the largest heads for seeding in for the next season. They will get planted and mulched in October.

We have discovered that we really like Sauerkraut. We have many more heads to deal with, but 15 pounds of cabbage went in to the crock in the past week. We also started making fermented pickles in a crock. They are amazing.

We planted boatloads of Celery this year. It dehydrates well and can go into soups and stews. This is a half gallon jar of it and that was close to 2 bushels before it got dried.

The crops that do the best outside of the greenhouse are the root crops. We have hundreds of row feet of carrots and beets. Looks like we will be canning, storing and dehydrating carrots soon.

Get busy people. This ain’t going to fix itself. I pity those that have no initiative. Find a plot to garden. Find a local farmer’s market. Get out, buy some land and grow your own. Shoot, Detroit is the epicenter of urban farming and roof top gardens are popping up all over places like NYC. If you care and you have the initiative, get after it. Otherwise, look to canned goods, freeze dried food sources, or any way possible to become more self-sufficient. It is coming. Be prepared. Get off of Social Media and deal with reality. Your lives may very well depend on it.

Gardening, Critters and More Fence Building in the Zombipocalypse

So how is everyone doing during the quagmire that is 2020? It has been a while since I got an update written down and posted. Mainly, because we have been pretty busy gettin’ it all done. Other than the fact that Aaron is home from CSU and Zina has been working from home part time, not much in my life has changed. However, I didn’t realize that these people actually think they need to eat every single day! That, plus the fact that I have been hot and heavy getting the outdoor spring projects done, has at times, made meal prep a little tough. I am the family cook and while I have a pretty good repertoire, coming up with new things, especially when going to the grocery store had felt like venturing into a biohazard zone, has been a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, we live pretty rural so much of the no contact and distancing hasn’t really been too bad. I’m afraid, though, given how infantile our fellow citizens are being about this, not distancing, not wearing masks, demanding to be able to go to the bar and restaurants, thinking it is all over, is going to prolong this nuisance for a very long time. I have little hope for rationality in a world of Karens and infants parading as adults. If one has half a brain, it isn’t too much of a stretch to understand that if quarantine and social distancing reduces the number of infections, doing the opposite will do the opposite. Shazam, that is just what we are seeing.

We are pretty self-sufficient out here. We raise our own eggs, meat and dairy, so having to worry about shortages hasn’t been a thing. Shoot! We had months of toilet paper even before this was a problem! As they say, “Two is one and one is none.” We didn’t really bulk up on food items. What groceries I did get were just the usual things you can’t really produce yourself: Orange Juice, Coffee, fresh produce on the off season, etc. I ventured out for these things just to be able to not have to feel like we were having to make major changes and, so far, we have really not noticed much change in our day to day.

While the world burns, crumbles, gets mis-managed and in all other fashions, ripped off during all of this (Never let a good crisis go to waste) I have been outside getting the garden in place and finishing up some last fencing that, for me, will make the place feel balanced. As I have mentioned, we don’t have the equipment to put up our own hay. So I got us out the better part of a year in hay storage for our goats and donkeys. One of the fences is to provide for more grazing area. Instead of having to hay the fields and spend upwards of $100,000.00 for the gear to do it, I am spending far less and fencing in our north field. It will be another 4 acres where we can move the animals to. The donkeys eat the grass, the goats eat the weeds and instead of bringing it to them, we will bring THEM to IT. Being one of those folks that like symmetry and balance, having it fenced off will feel balanced as well. Also, if you will recall from previous posts, we had issues with the new neighbor’s goats. They got loose and did a bunch of damage to our trees and fence netting. The new fence around the gardens is to prevent this from happening again. Lastly, we have put up entrance gates to the farm. Given the current climate, having a deterrent that doesn’t allow for someone to just drive up to the house seems to make sense. It also creates a bit of a sense of security.

I’m getting pretty good at this!

I am happy to report – and also received – that all of the hail and shade cloth additions to the garden have worked great. In addition, in order to make the move to the new gardens complete, I built, filled and planted 3 new 50 foot raised beds. This year they contain potatoes (which have sprung up with a vengeance) Asparagus – a permanent planting as they can live 15 years, and an attempt to grow a passel of sweet potatoes.

The animals continue to entertain. I am in the process of building a couple of breeding pens for the goats. In order to provide the yogurt and cheese we like and need on a more regular basis, we need more than one goat in milk at a time. Folks have asked why we don’t get a cow. It’s a fair question and the answer is that a Jersey cow will give you upwards of 2 -3 gallons of milk a DAY! We don’t drink milk much so that would be a Tsunami of moo juice. We could turn it into cheese, but 2 gallons a day would be a pound or more of cheddar a day. Way too much! So with a couple of our Nigerians in milk we would get around half a gallon. Between yogurt, milk for my coffee and various cheeses, that would be plenty.

Neo just hangin’ out in a water bucket

We raise turkeys for meat. Again, why not a cow? There are two and sometimes three of us. A half a beef is a few hundred pounds of meat. Way too much for us considering we raise our own chickens and pigs for meat as well. Turkeys, while perhaps the dumbest farm animal ever bred, provide a good deal of meat for burger, soup, stews and whatever else comes to mind. This year, we had a few hens go broody so we let them sit their eggs. So far we have had a momma hatch one chick and we have two others sitting on about 20 eggs. We shall see how that turns out. Usually we put the eggs in incubators, it will be fun to see how the mommas fair.

So I hope everyone is dealing with this strange year without too much turmoil. We are doing well and the farm is performing admirably. Here is hoping that we actually all pull together and help one another. Given our current climate, that would be a refreshing change. Farm your yard, help each other and fight the powers that be. Peace ya’ll.

And, Of Course, This Happened

I have been pretty pre-occupied with getting the power restored to the house.  I am happy to say that when you network locally, people will respond.  I can’t thank Bob, Lane and Zeb enough for coming to our rescue.  They pretty much dropped what they were doing and got this thing done.  The skid steer came yesterday and we got the line dug up. The electrician came out today in snow and temperatures in the mid-teens and spliced the line (He’ll even be sending a guy out to do some general electrical repair I’ve wanted to have done).  I am so happy to have the house warmed up.  Have you ever had that feeling when you have been cold for quite awhile and when you are in the warmth again your face feels flushed and warm?  That is where I am now.  Because of the winter cloudy weather I had the furnace cranked way down so it wouldn’t completely drain the batteries.  I also hadn’t had a shower in 3 days for the same reason.  The well pump is a huge draw on the solar system and with the sun in absentia I couldn’t bring up the charge enough to keep everything going.

But all is well now.  The batteries are back to full (This system is remarkable). The furnace is running, I took a long hot shower, got the outdoor electric needs for the animals fired back up and we are back in business for a night that is going down to zero.

Of course, because this is how we roll around here, I went out this morning to the barn to feed (probably 10 degrees).  I brushed the snow off of the solar panels and then proceeded into the barn where we have everyone sequestered from the cold, and as predicted I came in to some new, very tiny, goat voices.  Yep, momma Cumin had her twins last night in the midst of all of this hooplah.  They are doing very well, although a bit chilly.  Now with the heat lamp back up and running, they will be just fine.  Animals are remarkable creatures when it comes to tolerating weather.  After all, these are Nigerian Dwarf Goats, as in African, as in don’t come from winter climates.  Momma is being very attentive.

Now here is the farm stuff.  We cannot have anymore bucks on the farm.  Two is plenty.  They are sweet as the dickens but they smell and carry on and are like they are a different species from the females.  Some ranchers simply drown the bucklings at birth.  I would never be able to do that.  My remedy is a little more “ballistic” in a .22 LR sort of sense.  It appears, although we will need to check again now that the other distractions have been resolved, that Cumin gave birth to two doelings.  That is great news this time because they will be available as an addition to the dairy flock, and I don’t have to be farmer and executioner.

So as usual, if something goes wrong on the farm, you can bet there will be other issues because they always seem to come in clusters.  Thanks again to my contractors that rescued us and thank the genetic random chance that we had two girls this time.  Nothing cuter than baby goats.  They gots baby humans beat hands down.

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Happy 7th Anniversary JAZ Farm!

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December 4th, 2012…… a date that will live in infamy!  After years of searching for land and over a year of negotiating, losing one bid on another place and the stress and strain of dealing with a bank trying to buy a foreclosure, we got the keys to a dilapidated house and garage and set work to putting it all together.  This blog has been a journaling of all that has transpired in it’s transition.  This was a broken down house in the middle of a massive, 40 acre grass field.  7 years later, it is a comfortable home and a fully functional farm with barns and coops, pastures, vegetable gardens, dairy goats, chickens, pigs, donkeys and turkeys.  This was a huge, all encompassing, project that has consumed us since before we were even given the keys.  You can see all of it here and scroll over the years to see just what went into building a life of Thoreauian self-reliance.  This is, and was then, the most all consuming project of our lives.  Between the sacrifices, the enormous amount of physical work and the vision of what it could be, we are so proud of ourselves and are unapologetic for saying so.  Not many have embarked on such a mission.  Even less so at our age.  JAZ Farm, we hope, is a beacon for others to follow.  It was a life changer for us.  We have loved it and hated it….. many times during the course of just one day!  We went to the plains to live deliberately.  We live the old fashioned ways on purpose – and that has made all the difference.

So instead of going over what we did to build the place (which has been more than compiled on this blog) I thought it more important, now that the build out is completed (except for projects that will help embellish and aren’t necessarily needed for core operations) to go over more of the mental challenges that one goes through when deciding to make a pretty decisive break from modern society.  Many come to the homesteading gig through a desire to get out of the rat race, or grow one’s own food, or have a place for animals.  All are valid reasons; unfortunately, many bite off this quest with inadequate financing and pie in the sky fantasies of it being a virtually utopian existence.  As a result,  plans are made, jobs are quit, animals are acquired and fences built.  After which, the funds run out, the animals escape and the makeshift infrastructure fails.  Also, even when it all does hold up, it is discovered that everything that has been built and all the animals are acquired, require feeding and maintenance.  You are awakened before the sun to the donkeys honking, the chickens crowing, the goats baying and and and…. eyes staring at you…. everywhere, hungry eyes.  Many folks leave.  Many go broke.  Many deal with the depression of feeling like failures when the ideal of making a living from their own land, fall flat.  This is a very rewarding way of life… but it ain’t for the faint of heart, and that is where I’d like to go with this anniversary celebration.  After all, it is a Phoenix and we are still standing, when at several points that was definitely in question.

There are many philosophical and psychological  issues that cause people to seek out a homesteading life.  Ours was trying to find some sense of security and mental health in a world that is decidedly losing it’s mind.  We discovered issues like Peak Oil (peak everything for that matter), Financial fraud after having worked in the industry through the crash of 87,  the dot com crash, the 2008 financial collapse, climate change issues, the perverted food system poisoning the population, not to mention, just the idea of being enslaved to the abusive world of corporate capitalism and the never ending treadmill of running east looking for a sunset.  We made the conscious decision to use our resources to attempt to escape to the maximum degree possible.  We honestly think that the future looks bleak.  Some may call us preppers, we call it being pre-emptive.  After all, just a few generations ago, this was just how one lived.  So many issues seem to be stacking up in front of us that could cause serious survivability issues that it made sense to remove ourselves to a safe distance.  Now we can work in the city (where most live), but use those resources to create and maintain a lifestyle that is more recession, depression and collapse resilient.  Not to mention the fact that the food is sooooooo much better tasting than the grocery store or restaurants.  We didn’t think it made sense, once the realities of our supply systems were exposed for the tissue paper strength that they are, to sit around when we knew we could do something about it.  So we dropped out of the rat race.  We built a farm, we grow virtually all of our own food, we are mostly off grid, and have an extremely quiet existence out on the high eastern Colorado plains.

Despite the hardships along the way (which are enumerable but we’ve decided to keep a lot of those to ourselves so as not to hurt others) lessons about living in a pretty inhospitable part of the world, and trying to keep one foot in the urban rat race while decompressing out here, I’m not so sure we would ever trade this.  I can’t imagine sitting in a suburban home anymore.  What do they do other than work and shop?  This place gives us purpose.  It gives us security.  It makes us feel somewhat unique and that we are living deliberately without depending on the fragility of the momma birds importing resources to the city.  7 years in the making…. what a long strange trip it has been.  I hope that passers by to the blog here may gain some inspiration and move toward their goals.  It takes a spine.  It takes a sacrificed spine….. BUT, there is nothing more satisfying than looking out your window and seeing all of these structures and functionalities and that they all work….. and you built all of them.  7 more years?  What a trip that might be.  JAZ Farm… it’s our own act of rebellion and freedom.  Whoda thunk?  I was supposed to be nothing but the family scapegoat.  This world doesn’t belong to the masters of business and AI and corporate fascism.  It belongs to the like minded who go back to the old ways while the former collapses around them.  Mark my words, it isn’t far away.  Happy 7th anniversary JAZ Farm.  Thank you for your existence.

 

 

 

Revisiting My Old Crash Pad

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The TFL tear has put me out of commission for awhile.  I did my first look in the mirror since Monday when I felt it give and was met with this lovely softball sized bruise.  I dug out the old crutches and ice packs and began what felt like an old familiar routine.  I spent many a month on the floor on Basil’s Orthopedic dog bed prior to my back surgery.  Today it put me in the best position to apply pressure and ice.  I have to admit that I’m pretty sick of being injured.  The past three years have been a few for the books.  Even the dogs seemed to remember the old routine:  Icing, staring at my pad and puppy piles.  Gotta let this one heal up good and then strengthen it.  Time to change farm directions.

A Hard Couple Of Weeks Here

According to the flight tracker, Zina is in the air on her way back to me.  While the whole trip was hard, I’m sure today was doubly so.  I imagine having to deal with ill parents at their stage of life is pretty tough.  Leaving, all the more so.  We love you my wife. Me, Aaron and all the silly critters.  It is no consolation, but this too shall pass.  It was a rocky couple of weeks but I’m glad you went.  Really.

As with everything we have dealt with this quarter plus century, nothing happens in a vacuum and it certainly doesn’t happen one at a time.  It’s time to rest and let the world fade away for awhile.  Its a rough time on the homestead.

I’m Never Going To See My Wife Again.

Zina took the day off today to be with the new baby goats.  As long as I’m out in the barn with her, she’ll give me the time of day.  I’m thinking about getting a cot out there for her to spend the next few nights on!  Of course, she is smitten with the little duo.  They are ridiculously cute, which furthers my assertions about how babies grow up to be adults…. cuz they are cute!

Everyone is fine.  Momma Ginger seems to be taking it all in stride.  The interaction is kind of fascinating. She talks to them.  She tells them to eat.  She is always cleaning them to bond.  She will nudge them back to her udder.  They are totally interacting with each other.  Momma will come and rub on us as if to get reassurance that she’s doing everything right.

The little doe-ling gave us a little start today.  They both got their first vitamin dose.  Tomorrow is a pro-biotic to jump start their little rumens (how they digest).  Afterward, the doe-ling looked kind of lethargic and was having “wet” coughs.  All seems well now, but with goats this is the time where EVERYTHING can go wrong.  So this gave us some pause.  By the time we left them alone this morning she was up and even chewing on some alfalfa strands.  Zina just came in and said they were jumping all over her…. a very good sign.  Pictures below.

So the coughing activated Zina’s Italian mothering instincts.  I had to hold her back from trying to feed her red sauce and pasta (Food is love after all! LOL!). But I was not innocent of concern either.

The birthing process attracted every fly within a mile radius.  If you’ve never endured fly season on a ranch or a farm, just think annoying like mosquitoes.  So I set to cleaning the barn and turkey coops again with gusto, as well as getting the wood chip bedding freshened.  I also sprayed the barn with fly repellent last night like we have been doing all summer and then realized that these little guys are smaller than a Chihuahua.  So, of course, I worried all night that the fly repellent might do something awful to them.  Nothing like parental or care-giver worry.  I can’t blame mine on my heritage.  Dutch people don’t really give a hoot.  Must be all that ice in Northern Europe.  Must be something else.  Guilt.  We’ll go with guilt along with a little shame if we actually fail at something.  A dead baby goat… its all your fault you .. fill in the blank.

So all appears well, but I miss Zina.  I could go out  there again, but I worked hard again today and breathed in a lot of turkey poop dust while cleaning the coop and am kind of wheezing.  Yes dear,  I wore a bandana as a mask.

Here is more serious cuteness:  Breast feeding in public?  Who friggin cares!

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