Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

Remember why we have this holiday. Not the gifts, the parties or the time off work
It is the birthday of Jesus Christ and a time of great goodness and hope.

Merry Christmas from our farm

God Bless you all

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Modern medicine and Harsh Reality

I have to write this post.
In 1989 my Father died in a city hospital [a very good one] far from his home. He did not want to go there, preferring the care from our own small town Hospital. He was 85 and had lived a marvelous full life. The Dr's wanted him to go to the big Hospital for tests. He had had a dime sized spot on one lung since had not changed in size but they wanted to do tests.
He did not want to go. We talked long about it and I told him it was his life and his choice, he said to me 'If I go up there I will not come home'....he had these hunches that had been 100% right at that point. We faced the Dr's and told them he preferred to stay in the local hospital. They were angry with me but Dad was as sharp as could be and knew what he wanted.
I was calving out our cow herd at the time and went home to look after them. That afternoon I went back to town to spend time with Dad. He was not there, the Dr's had pressured my brother into pressuring Dad. They had sent him to The city. I was so angry. Now he was alone, in a huge hospital he did not want to be in, surrounded by people who didn't know him.
He died there after complications from ulcer surgery, the Dr's had totally missed the ulcer in their pursuit of a benign mass the size of a dime.
I learned one thing from this....we are so obsessed with saving lives we have completely forgotten quality of death and the reality that we all die.
What brings on this post....Ralph's mother died on Wednesday the 14th. She would have been 86 on Christmas Eve. She had married the love of her life, raised 7 wonderful children, had her own business and truly had a grand life. She had moved in to a nursing home. We were amazed at the drugs she was on. The side effects and interactions of these drugs were insidious. Ralph would call her and she would be sick from this or that, he would ask her what they were doing for her and it was always another pill.
On Sunday the11th Ralph got a call she was not well, pneumonia and sepsis. We really had a feeling then that this was her time. The Dr's flew her to a big city hospital where Ralph met the rest of his family. There was no hope. The sepsis was everywhere. She died there in the ICU, under heavy pain medication, with her family.

Now I will sound hard, but the costs of this will be high. She was nearly 86, had lived a good life, where was the honest reality? The Dr's at the nursing home [which is in the local hospital] must have know, are they poor Dr's? Making her comfortable in a facility she had called home for 3 years would not have been uncaring. We have to deal with death. It comes to us all. Dying is natural, not a medical brawl to keep an old and sick heart beating, to squeeze the last penny out of a Medicare patient.
We truly need to start looking at quality of death, the way we leave this world is as important as how we come into it.
The drugs that Ralph's mother was on......have side effects.....Sepsis, respiratory problems, vomiting, diarrhea, all of which she had more and more frequently as she stayed at the nursing home.
Interactions between these drugs increase the severity of the reactions. It is disturbing to see the answer to everything medical is so predominantly drug based.

Think on it. Ralph and I have talked of what we want. If it is possible we plan to be at home when we die. I know we do not want to live a medicated and semi sedated life in a nursing or rest home.

God Bless you all and keep you safe

Friday, December 9, 2016

Year End and The Start of Winter

It is hard to believe it is the 9th of December. The weather is colder but the sun still feels good and as I type this the poultry is sunning by the tobacco barn.

I do apologize for the erratic posting this fall. We just seemed to be going in circles there for a while. Now it seems things are sorted out a bit better. Our last broody hen should hatch this coming Wednesday. The Australorp hens ended up being quite broody, 6 of the 12 hatched chicks. The Buff hens did very well also 7  of 11. Sadly we had only one Buckeye hen go broody but she did raise "Henry" one of our young replacement roosters.

The year has taught us a lot about our chickens.

1: We probably do not raise them the most efficient way.

2: They run totally everywhere and it has shown us just how much space free chickens use. 

3: They do well with non traditional rations and lots of bits and pieces. They do not bother the gardens with the space and natural lifestyle they live.

4: The Australorps go to bed earlier by about an hour than the Buckeye or Buff's do.

5: Hen raised chicks are  incredibly healthy, we lost some chicks to aerial predators but none to disease.

6: A hen can raise a lot of chicks and will co-mother quite happily. Three Australorp hens teamed up to raise 22  chicks and a Buff and an Australorp are working on 19.

7: A hand raised chick does  not necessarily become a pet. The little chick we found in the driveway is now a sweet and happy hen, an independent and feisty hen at that. She does come in to lay her eggs...clucking at the door to let us know she wants in. Then marching to the door to be let out. 

8: If a chick is injured by a hawk, do not try to save them even if they are bright and determined to live. This was and still is something I have trouble with. We have "Oscar", he was lifted in the air by a hawk, the Momma hen [ A Buff] flew in the air and attacked the hawk, she saved the chick but he was hurt. He had puncture wounds on his back and couldn't stand up. He was bright though and tried to. The hen was frantic and had made such an effort I had to do my part. I took the chick, washed the wounds and treated them. I worked his legs as much as I could and had a box with soft blankets for him. When he was first hurt he could not stand up at all, he got his name from acting like an ostrich and stretching his neck as far as he could to see around him. Oscar it became. He was finally able to use his legs and is quite a "rooster". He does not know he has a handicap. He has a tremendous crow and despite a galloping way of getting around is doing very well out in the yard. Hens are learning to watch out for him. He is our boy though and the minute we call him he comes over to be picked up and carried around. However what do you do with a gimpy pet rooster?

9: Planting cover crop near the barn is a great thing for all concerned. Good for the land and fabulous for the poultry. The entire flock of chickens, turkey's and ducks are taking advantage of greens in winter. Daikon Radish are awesome, the tops withstand heavy grazing by the birds and the roots bore into the ground.

10: A lot of blogs and Chicken sites frown on buying Hatchery chicks. We found the hatcheries offered us the breeds and arrival dates we needed for our farm. The hatchery chicks were not perfect but have grown into a wonderful flock. The chicks they have raised are bigger and more structurally correct than their parents. They are laying younger. Overall for us the initial purchase through a Hatchery was just right.

11: We had no idea how much entertainment and delight having the poultry would bring us. They say laughter is the best medicine and they prove it. Yes there is sadness but the antics and companionship they provide far outweigh the tears.

Watching how our flock develops  in 2017 is going to further their entertainment value. The wonderful home raised and drug free chicken we have eaten and have stored for future meals makes us look forward to our meals with a sense of satisfaction. So as winter weather looms in our forecast and the  new year lurks just around the corner Ralph and I are laughing at our chickens and enjoying the afternoon sun. I mean really who else can get an egg just laid, for breakfast with out going out of the house!

God Bless you all and take delights in all around you.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The trouble with Turkey's

It's official.....Spike is a father. Auntie Turkey, the Royal Palm hen who had helped
 the Buckeye hen raise her chicks earlier this summer, has hatched 2 poults so far. This crazy determined turkey hen went broody at the start of November.

We tried a new approach,  we let her set and get broody in one of the beautiful turkey nest boxes Ralph made. Then when she was well set we moved the entire box into the utility building at night. That way her nest had 'not' been disturbed. (Sort of) It worked. To deal with the obsessive nature of the turkeys...not eating or drinking I boiled and mashed eggs with a bit of milk, then took that to her in a small bowl. It seemed to keep her eating and yes coming out of her nest to poop and drink.
Today was 29 days. I have to admit I was not hopefull.  Tonight we checked,  she hissed at Ralph and she has not done that before.

Our Christmas presents are here. A Chocolate colored poult peeked out from a very concerned mother, then a second poult peeked out, a black one with the cream colored, head mark that the chocolates have.

It might seem rather ordinary news to some but it is a blessed miracle to us, we are still concerned, there are still eggs under her.
It's pretty wonderful though and yes the Trouble with Turkey's is looking hopefull.

God Bless you all and with luck Photos very soon.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Linux Update...A Ralph Post

Fiona has asked me to do an update on my use of Linux. I have taken a triple dose of blood pressure medicine so I can start with an anti-Microsoft rant. I hate Windows! It so so buggy. Everyone and his brother hacks the vulnerabilities of the windows operating system. Microsoft does updates when you don’t want it. Their updates break the system! The system costs you now and later. You have to buy new software when you already have that software – it just won’t work with the upgrade. And now, they lie in their advertising (I suspect). Their ad for the Surface Pro shows Golf course help for Gil or someone. They don’t mention buying the software to do that work. It sounds like Windows will do the work out of the box. The couple that met at a young age and married and are now doing animated movies. It sounds like you or I could use Windows to make animated movies just like they are doing – without buying anything. Or Beowolf doing Stage designs. Windows will do none of these things (my guess). But you can BUY software to do these things on Windows. I seriously doubt Windows can do any of these things. It didn’t years ago when I had Windows. You had to buy additional software to do just about anything. Email and web browsing and watching videos or listening to music is about it. Nothing major. And the prices are high for Windows and the software.

I bought a laptop. End of story. End of expenses. My operating system was free. My software was free. I can use Blender, Gimp, Inkscape, etc. free of charge.

inkscape - A vector-based drawing program using SVG​                             
Notice: This is an official update which is supported by ROSA.

Inkscape is a generic SVG-based vector-drawing program.

Inkscape uses the W3C SVG (= "Scalable Vector Graphics") standard as its native file format. Therefore, it is a very useful tool for web designers and can be used as an interchange format for desktop publishing.

blender - A fully functional 3D modeling/rendering/animation package.                                                                                                                       
Notice: This is an official update which is supported by ROSA.

Blender is the in-house software of a high quality animation studio. It has proven to be an extremely fast and versatile design instrument. The software has a personal touch, offering a unique approach to the world of three dimensions. Blender can be used to create TV commercials, to make technical visualizations or business graphics, to do some morphing, or to design user interfaces. Developers can easily build and manage complex environments. The renderer is versatile and extremely fast. All basic animation principles (curves and keys) are implemented.

gimp - The GNU Image Manipulation Program​
The GIMP is an image manipulation program suitable for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.  Many people find it extremely useful in creating logos and other graphics for web pages.  The GIMP has many of the tools and filters you would expect to find in similar commercial offerings, and some interesting extras as well.

The GIMP provides a large image manipulation toolbox, including channel operations and layers, effects, sub-pixel imaging and anti-aliasing, and conversions, all with multi-level undo.

This version of The GIMP includes a scripting facility, but many of the included scripts rely on fonts that we cannot distribute.  The GIMP ftp site has a package of fonts that you can install by yourself, which includes all the fonts needed to run the included scripts.  Some of the fonts have unusual licensing requirements; all the licenses are documented in the package.  Get them in if you are so inclined.  Alternatively, choose fonts which exist on your system before running the scripts.

(I went into the software management program to get the above information on blender, inkscape, and gimp. While there, I looked at the bottom of the home screen. There was an “update available” icon there. I have updates available. It did not update without my permission! I looked at the 6 updates available. I can see what the updates are. There is a box in front. If I check it and hit apply, it will update only the updates I have checked. I have no problem with any of the updates. I am going to update all 6 updates. I just saved this document. I am going to hit apply now. I am back. It took 2 minutes and 42 seconds for me to go to the software manager, click the 6 boxes, hit apply, it tells me I have to download 23 MB and it will use 37 KB additional disk space, it asks if it is ok to continue, I click yes, it downloads and installs all 6 program updates, checks for additional updates, there are none, I click ok and it closes the info box, I click on “all software”, it brings up all software categories, and I come back to OpenOffice to continue typing. 2 minutes and 42 seconds for all that. There was not any problems. Even with Linux, I save before updating. I could have continued working here while it was updating. I chose not to. By the way, that “Notice: This is an official update which is supported by ROSA” above , just says that my operating system (ROSA Linux) supports that software. They have thousands of programs they support, and thousands more they do not support, but offer. There are many thousands of programs I can download and install (if I want to). There are at least hundreds of variants of Linux. ROSA is just my current favorite. If I move from ROSA to Mint, Ubuntu, SUSE, PCLinuxOS, Debian, or whatever, I will have to download and reinstall any software I want. Most distro’s come with a standard load of programs. You can delete and add as you choose.)

Wow, it is hard to believe how much better I feel, now that I am off my high horse and Windows. Linux (for me) is just so much better. Let me do a check. I have:

5 – word processor/office type programs

29+ - audio programs (some also do video, some record, some manage gain, some convert formats, some do all, some will edit audio tracks, some do other things, and some are in the “I don’t know” category because I have never used them)

24+ - video and photo programs (some do panoramas, editing, recording, converting, transcode DVDs, Blu-Rays, etc.)

5+ - Web browsers

2 - astronomy programs

4+ - e-book readers

3 – You Tube downloaders

3 - disk backup programs

4 or 5 file managers

10+ - games (hundreds plus or more downloadable, I just don’t have time for them. But the Majhongg and palapali are my favorites. Palapali is a jigsaw puzzle game. You can select a photo from the internet or a photo file from your computer or one of the 8 or 10 that comes with the program. It will cut it up and make a jigsaw. You put it back together.

Plus another 1 or 2 hundred programs of one kind or another(terminals, editors of one kind or another, DVD recorders, downloaders, webcam programs, Tor or bittorrent programs, messengers, screenshot programs, etc).

Check out a couple of linux videos made using blender.  Big Buck Bunny   Elephants Dream 3D CGI ANIMATION SHORT FILM HD

Fiona uses gimp to resize, to crop, etc. photos for the blog. Gimp is comparable to Photoshop, just free.

As you can see, lots of programs are available. And they work. I have core programs I use “all the time”. The others were downloaded with ROSA or I downloaded them to see if they were better than my main standby. I just never deleted it. Or, I use it once in a while for a special feature.

I have several programs that are my go-to programs. I use Bibletime or Xiphos for Bible study. I usually use K3B or brasero to burn cd’s/DVD’s. I use shotwell or digikam to download photos/videos from the cameras. I use gmusicbrowser or rhythmbox or amarok or miro or guayadeque for music. I use VLC or smplayer for video. I use clipgrab to download you tube videos. I use calibre or FBReader for e-books. I use openoffice writer or textmaker for multiple page writing. I use abiword or calligra for short compositions. I use liferea for news feeds and podcasts and blog reading (it collects and displays all of my blogs/news feeds/podcasts on one screen, downloads/updates them all, and I select which one to view – all on one screen). I use firefox most of the time for my web browsing. Thunderbird for e-mail/calendar. I have skype – never used it. I use openoffice for spreadsheet and presentations. I use all of these at least once a week. Most, I will use daily, if not several times a day. I am sure Windows has similar programs, but I like my price tag better – free. And legal!

Bibletime/Xiphos has about 55 Bible versions in English, 24 commentaries, 3 devotionals, 22 lexicons and dictionaries, and 15 books. I did not knowingly find any muslim, hindi, etc. I can view four plus books/Bibles/commentaries/etc. at a time. It is easy to use.

ClipGrab is for You Tube/Vimeo/etc. I enter a name or an address. Hit enter. It searches the internet/You Tube for what I have entered. It displays 8 to 10 thumbnails. I select and it goes to the download screen. It locates the video. It then asks: “Grab this clip”. I click that tab and it asks me where to save it to. I set that. It downloads the video to that location, on my computer. I watch it when I want to. I think there could be some improvement to the program. It isn’t perfect on searching and will only display one page of thumbnails. I would like more on some searchesand more info while downloading. It is a hit 97% to 99% of the time. Windows may have something that works better, but it won’t beat the price! I have a little more at the end of a recent post.

Calibre. I like to read e-books. Calibre will download e-books, newspapers, magazines, PDF's, etc. from all over the world. For English, there are 443 entries. Plus, there are 2 Argentina English, 9 Australia English, 1 Bulgaria English, 30 Canada English, 5 China English, 23 India English, 42 UK English, etc. There are about 29 other countries with English downloads. Not all are free. The Wall Street Journal has two entries. One is paid, the other is free (excerpts - headlines with the first paragraph or two). If you want Croatian reading, they have 9 entries. Arabic has 4 entries. Basque has 1 entry. German has 99 entries. Hebrew has 6. Japanese has 20. Irish has 1 (not English - Irish). Marathi has 1. Polish has 182. Spanish has 69. But, there are Argentina, Bolivia,and 11 other Spanish (including Cuba - 2). Tagalog has 1. Turkish has 39. Unknown has 9 (including Klipme, Korben, wallabag, Zerocalcare, etc.). Don't ask me! And many other major and minor countries. You can set up automatic downloads (if your computer will be on). It will convert e-book formats for you. EPUB, Modi, AZW3. It can download books, periodicals, etc. from numerous sources.

miro - Miro Player                                                                                                                      
Internet TV player with integrated RSS and BitTorrent functionality. This is not tested or supported by ROSA. I don’t have this installed right now. It has a native link to view TED Talks. Too busy to view TED lately.

Guayadeque is a music management program designed for all music enthusiasts. It is Full Featured Linux media player that can easily manage large collections and uses the Gstreamer media framework. It will play mp3, ogg, flac, wma, wav, mpc, mp4, ape, … I particularly like this for Venice Classic Radio out of Venice, Italy. It is the best Classical station I have found.
OpenOffice and TextMaker are like Microsoft Office Word. They are quite indepth and powerful. I do my writing in one of these. I then save it to my computer. I then copy it and paste it into thunderbird and e-mail it to Fiona. She proof reads, edits, rewrite, adds photos, etc. before posting it. She makes me look a lot better than me. You don’t get to see the real me – warts and all. And my many thanks to her for her help. (Maybe she is just trying to hide the real me?)

Computers are computers. They are nothing but hardware. The operating system tells it how to work. The computer will not work without an operating system. It is just a high priced paperweight without an OS. It is like a gun with no ammo. Windows is an OS. So is Linux, Apple’s iOS and/or Mac OS, BSD, UNIX, etc. This site has a more complete list of OS’s:  Old timers can go back to Unisys, Wang, Univac, Tandy, Texas Instruments, Nintendo, NCR, IBM, Intel Honeywell, Google, General Electric, Fujitsu, Amiga, and a whole bunch of other OS’s. Linux is my ammo of choice!

Linux and Windows are like cars. Windows is like an automatic. It is what most people have and are comfortable with. Linux is a five speed manual. Most people don’t have it and don’t want it and don’t know how to use it. Their choice. Automatics cost more. Windows costs more. Linux (and manual’s) are more versatile and powerful. You have more control. But they are harder to learn. And most people avoid them. But, like a manual transmission, you will never learn until you take your time and learn to use it. And then, you look back and say: “that wasn’t so bad”. It can be real frustrating, like a manual transmission, when you are learning. And, like a manual transmission, it is not for everyone. Some will stick with their higher priced automatics. (I am old and out of touch – I assume automatics are still more expensive!)

Anyway, most of you are locked into Windows and its system and expenses. You won’t or can’t switch. I just wanted to let you know what is out there and that some people are switching. This is what I moved to years ago. And I am extremely happy with what I have. And so are most of you. By the way, android phones, set top boxes, appliances, gadgets, etc. are linux “appliances”. They are run on a variant of linux. Linux permits this, Windows doesn’t.

Whether you are in a Windows world, Apple world, a linux world, or somewhere else, we hope God is still smiling on you and at what you are doing.

Ralph and Fiona

PS: I guess I need to apologize to you for the test question at the end of the “input needed” post. Did you get it right? Did you not see the question? Do you need to go back and review? It was in the mosquito note. Oh, alright. I’ll go ahead and give you the correct answer. This really is an old one. Moses never took anything aboard the Ark. Noah did. Gotcha!!! You weren’t paying attention! We love you anyway.

The Frost is on The....

It is a beautiful morning. God has provided. The sun has just come up. It is the beginning of a new day - it is the first day of the rest of our lives. If you need to change your life, today is the day. You won’t get a better day. No excuses will be accepted. The temperature is 27 degrees F. The fog is sitting on the river and the park to our south. We are up above the fog. There are no clouds - just a clear, beautiful sky. God does provide. We just need to accept, believe, or just open our eyes.

I just finished giving the poultry feed and water. They are healthy and alive with energy. They are friendly, even more so this morning. Or am I just seeing, observing, more so? Oscar, the hop along rooster, came hopping up to me for me to pick up and talk with. We enjoy our morning conversations! He seems to not realize he is handicapped. He accepts his lot in life and makes the most of it. And just goes on with his life the best he can. No complaining. He just seems to always be happy (if that is possible for a rooster).

Spike came up. I reached over to give that turkey his morning rub. He is a chocolate tom. His back was white. He roosts on the back deck railing. Outside. And the frost had settled onto his back. His back was frost covered. He is just over a year old. Other than me, he is top turkey around here. Maybe he thought I had some more potato wedges for him.

We went out the other day. I picked up some potato wedges for the poultry. They expect a treat when we get back home. I sit in the car seat, facing out, and fed them little pieces of potato wedges. Spike came up to make sure he got his share. They eat from our fingers. The two momma hens brought the swarm up for treats. Even they are being trained to come up for goodies. And the barn cats thought they deserved some, too. Everyone has their place and, for the most part, observes their position and lot in life, and get along.

On spike and his white back, when God designed birds, He sure did a good job. When frost settles on a bird with a 101 degree F. temperature and it doesn’t melt, that is good insulation. Back in the spring, we had a freezing rain. The turkeys were covered in icicles. They tinkled when they walked. Lilac was so bad, we had to take her inside to melt the icicles. Everyone was fine. Even freezing rain wasn’t as much of a problem as it had first appeared.

I am getting old and senile. I need retraining. I forgot to check the nightly low. At 27 degrees F., it is going to be below freezing for a while. That means the waterers will freeze up. Duh! Guess what, the waterers are froze up. I should have brought them in so they didn’t freeze. I didn’t. But, it isn’t that big of a deal this morning. I sit them in the sun. The sun is strong this morning, In a half hour, they will be ready to use. I could have used running water, but no need. The sun will do the job.

Sometimes, I think I am a flower, a blooming idiot! It was going down to 22 last week. So, I emptied the waterers and washed them and laid them over on the ground to drain and dry. The next morning (at 22 degrees F.), they were frozen to the ground. I had to peel them off the ground. And, of course, they had a big bunch of grass and dirt frozen solid to the side of the waterers! Not good. I had to work in water at 22 degrees F. to clean the waterers, fill them and put them where they were suppose to be. An hour later, it was above freezing and everything was back to normal. But, if I had filled them and sit them inside, I would have not had all that trouble. What is that about those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it? I think I did the same thing last year. Being senile can be a joy. When you continually make a mistake, it is like the first time. Every time is the first time. History does repeat itself!

Don’t take life so seriously! You are just like me. We just aren’t that important in the overall scheme of things. We can only live our own lives. Make the most of it! Enjoy it. Life goes on. Oscar is a good example. And, “Take time to smell the roses”! Otherwise, all you will smell is flatulence.

Our prayer for today: That God will help you enjoy the little things in life that He provides, as well as the bigger things. He really is everywhere!

Ralph and Fiona

PS: It just got to 40 degrees F., I am going out to finish my chores. The temperature rose fast this morning. It is suppose to go to 58 today and down to 44 tonight (rain coming in). The waterers won't freeze up tonight!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

We need your input- A Ralph Post

As most of you know, our poultry is free roaming and far ranging! We basically have no restrictions for them (with the exception of the nightly lockup - after they put themselves into the chicken house and onto the roost). We have lights in the chicken house that we turn on about half an hour before dusk. This pulls the chickens in to the chicken house. The chicken house was built inside of the barn, so it is quite dark inside. After we close the door (as we say goodnight to the hens), we turn the lights out. They have full access to the yard, gardens, fields, and the buildings (when the doors are open) all day long. 

We have feeders for the poultry. One feeder hangs in the breeze way. One is in bay two, near the outside door. We have a trough out in the yard.

 There is a trough in the sheep pen. 

And there is a third trough in the middle of the barn where they are always passing. They pass in and out and through the barn all day long. They have access to feed somewhere all day long. We have observed that they do not camp out at the feed. It is rare to see more than one or two at a time at any feeder. Same with water. We have seven watering points for the poultry. Unless it rains, then we have many more! 

We just slaughtered eight roosters. They were healthy and fat. They had a good bit of abdominal fat. It was not overly excessive, but was more than “normal”. Winter is coming on and animals store fat during summers’ bounty for the bleak winter in order to survive. That is what we think we were seeing. It was not excessive and was a bright yellow. Healthy looking. As are the hen’s yolks. When Fiona processed the gizzards, they were healthy looking, with nice fat cover, nice meat, and cleaned easily. Our impression was that these roosters were in quite good shape and very healthy. We roasted one the next day. It was juicy, sweet, nice drippings for gravy, and not greasy. The skin, fat, everything was a nice, vibrant color. The fat was so bright and fresh looking. These roosters had grass and weeds and bugs all summer long. They are still having greens and bugs from the cover crops. Feed was not their only source of nutrition. I am sure this added to the health and color.

Our question: Are we over feeding? We don’t think so. Many people insist on only a half pound or quarter pound or whatever per bird per day. We go by feeder height. If it is low, we put some in it, or fill it up. One feeder might get hit heavy today and another tomorrow. This is governed by their roaming patterns. Most non-human animals stop eating when they are full (have had enough to eat). The ones we butchered back in the spring, did not have as much fat. But that was the end, not the beginning, of winter. And those roosters were younger.

The wind was out of the south about 15+ MPH today. The trough north of the barn was filled this morning and again this afternoon. It normally only gets filled once a day. I think they were over here to get out of the wind.

My instinct is to keep going as is. Our birds seem to be healthy and happy. We are not made of money, whatever that rare commodity is. But, we aren’t worrying about the cost. If it gets too expensive, we will be eating more chicken, duck, and turkey. We are using about three to three and a half bags of feed a week. That is 150 to 175 pounds of feed a week for 40 adult chickens, 35-40 juvenile chickens of various ages, about 16 adult or near adult turkeys, about 22 ducks, and 1 guinea. All of this at the beginning of winter.

So, back to our question: Are we over feeding? Any suggestions?

Thanks for your input and wisdom. May God bless you as you deserve. 

Ralph and Fiona

PS: Mosquitoes! Was this a bad year for them? Were the poultry to blame? Because we are up on top of a hill? We have a pond. But no mosquitoes. Fiona and I were talking yesterday. She says she only had two all summer. I had six or seven. Mine were later in the summer and late in the evening. We had a wet spring and early summer. Where were the mosquitoes? We’ll pay for those comments next year. Whoever has those little creatures, please keep them. Moses should have left them off of the Ark!!!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Video Friday....

We get up early and totter off to bed each night wondering if we are going to get everything done around here but I decided to make sure I take more photos and videos for the recording of it all. Here are some of the activities!
 The young turkeys have been so different than the original poults we brought with us from Virginia. We think it has to do with the fact they arrived in summer and spent very little time in a brooder or under a heat lamp. They got out to run around outside quite young and never looked back. We lost two to predators before they got smart and big enough to stay in safer areas. They have always loved to climb the trees around the yard and often venture way up into the big oak. Their favorite to play in though is the Eastern Bean tree. Each morning there is tree time!

 I wrote about the house chick way back in May. She has turned into a lovely little hen, golden and plump with a real chicken attitude! She has started to lay and we have started transitioning her to the chicken house. I thought she might have difficulty....nope she loves it and has been charming her way around the rooster's. Red is her favorite but she also likes Henry. The two of them spent quality time in the trailer load of leaves and chicken house cleanings we had mixed to put on the south garden. We left the load on the trailer for several days so the poultry could rummage through it.

 The kittens and the Momma cat are still here and now are part of our entourage when we go to the fall garden to get greens. They all troop out, tails in the air and happy to be sniffing the air for mice. They will let us pet them for about 5 seconds now before they decide its an infringement on their feline rights! They hunt in the barn and sleep in the sun with the chickens, ducks and turkeys.

Henry is the young Buckeye X Australorpe. He was hatched at the first of June, now he is starting to get his crow in pretty fine form. He is also getting better about wooing the hens and not chasing them for miles. Butchering the 8 has helped things settle down again. We like this young boy.

Now its back to work, I am baking bread today and puree'ing pumpkins.

It is sunny out and just a lovely fall day. God Bless you all and be safe.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chickens, Moulting and Motherhood [ A Ralph Post]

Heads everywhere! As you can see from the chicks, she had eggs from a little bit of everyone. When a hen goes broody, we just grab eggs and stick them under her. They may even be duck or turkey eggs. But we can't mix them. Chickens are 21 days. Turkeys are 28 days. We have a turkey nesting now, with turkey eggs. She seems to be doing good. Even with cold weather coming on. In six to eight weeks, it is gobbler season for the turkeys. We haven't told them yet.
There are heads all over. The left side has a white one with a spec of a black beyond it. Gold on the right hand side. And lots of legs under the back end. There was a fair breeze making everything feel colder. It is not real easy to see, but they had eaten so much that they had a large "lump" on their breast. They were full. Well fed. The way of life. as you can see the hens are moulting. It was a surprise the two went broody so late in the year.

 We just did 8 roosters. They looked good. They were fat from bugs and grass/weeds. The fat was plentiful, but not overly done. Just good shape and storage for winter and hard times. Just as God intended. It was like the yolks from their eggs - a bright yellow - not like store bought eggs and chickens and their pale colors.

The chickens came around for scraps. The hens go crazy for testicles. We save the heart, livers, and gizzards. I give them the lungs, testicles, guts, heads, and trimmings. Chickens are cannibalistic and will eat another chicken alive. So this was great from their point of view.

Fiona saw one hen with a heart. The hen was enjoying this treat. Fiona checked. Somehow that hen had snuck in and stole a heart out of the bowl. We never saw her do it.

Both Mothers (along with their chicks) were present for their share of the bounty. They were teaching them young. They would cluck cluck and the chicks would come running for an especially good morsel. The chicks did a lot of hunting/gathering on their own. They lost several tidbits to adult hens, but the Mothers would run the other hens off most of the time.

The roosters did some eating, but they just mostly called the hens over for something good. Roosters don't seem to do much eating, but they seem to be efficient at processing what they do eat.

Roosters don't have much to do with chicks. The exception is the Buckeye roosters. We have seen them be protective of the chicks and we have seen them do a hen type cluck to call chicks to food.

The roosters have a pecking order, but so do the hens. Social order is enforced. A broody or Mother hen is an exception. Don't mess with her, regardless of social position. Everyone runs from that Guinea, except the Mother hen. Now, it is the Guinea that runs. We had a hawk killing chicks a couple of months ago. That hawk learned to avoid the Mother. She went after the hawk and ran it off. She went several feet into the air to get to the hawk.

It was amazing to watch those chicks being chicks. And blood lust is a chicken trait!!! They went after the blood from the roosters. If you have a scratch or scab, they will peck at it while you are holding them. I know - experience!

It was a difficult deed, but it needed to be done. We had too many roosters and they were terrifying the hens. It is more manageable now, for the hens. Later on, we will have to do some more roosters. Some of the chicks will be roosters. But for now, they are enjoying being chicks and we are enjoying their antics. 
We try to give them as good of a life as we can. They have full roam of the farm. They live pretty much as their ancestors did. They will be in the barn. They will be in the yard. They will be in the fields. They will be on the fences. They get in the trailer and the pickup. And when we come home from being out, they and the turkeys will come up and greet us.

We made a big mistake. We had some leftover french fries when we were out one time. We called them over and fed them the fries. They would eat from our fingers/hands. They would jump high into the air to grab a morsel from our fingers. Well, the mistake was made. Now, they always come over expecting a treat. And we go out of our way to save them something when we are out. Well, these pictures show you our future nuggets/chicken pot pies. Enjoy!
Part of the last hatch. 22 chicks between two hens.  The oddity is the two white ones. What genetics gave us white when all our chickens are Black, Gold or Brown?
Meet Henry, he replaces "Attack" one of our original Rooster's. He is an Australorpe X Buckeye and when we evaluated him he feels good. He is heavy for his age and has a wide, flat back with a deep heart girth. Fiona noted that we have no crooked toes on any of the farm chicks. We wonder if the crooked toes is to do with hatchery chicks?

 Here is "The Donald", he is a cross of Australorpe and Buff Orpington. He replaces "Gentleman Jim" who had become "Jerk" and who was attacking Fiona on a way to regular basis. This young rooster is the biggest Rooster we have had but "Shoeless Joe" keeps him in line.

 Mixed poultry grazing the cover crop.
 Ducks in the green's.

Fiona says that I should mention that with the onset of winter, the grass and weeds are dying back. We planted cover crops on all four gardens. These will last most of the winter before they winter kill. The ducks, guinea, turkeys, and chickens go out into the cover crops to feed. They are still getting their greens, and fertilizing the gardens for us at the same time. They are trimming the cover crop back, but there is plenty for them to eat. We are willing to share.

Outside my office window is the East garden/house garden. It is green with cover crop. Almost any time of day, there will be one or two or more chickens/ducks/turkeys/guinea in the garden. They don't stay long. But you can see they are eating. They will rotate out and later some others will come in. Out the other side of the house is the kitchen/dining room windows and the herb garden and west garden. From that window, we can see the herb garden and beyond that, the west garden and their cover crops and their transient flocks. To the south is the barn. It blocks the house view of the south garden. The poultry rotate all over the place. They visit all the gardens during the course of a day. Their travels and diet are varied. And determined by them, themselves. We have "Peaches and Cream", "Flopsy", "Loopy-loo", "Henny-penny", etc. that are distinctive. As we move around the farm, we will see a particular hen or rooster here, there, and yonder. And in all the gardens and fields and buildings. "Flopsy" has a special thing for my workshop. She wants to go bug hunting any time I open the door. Spiders, crickets, etc. beware. Like I said, they go everywhere. Especially if we are there. They do like to be around us.

As an aside: (A change of subject) I have found two Linux programs to be nice/helpful. Both are free. I like the price.

First - ClipGrab. It is a You Tube search/downloader. I use it to download You Tube clips to my computer for future viewing/archiving. Oft times I have found something I want to see, but don't have time right now. When I come back later, it is gone. Removed. Now, if I am smart enough to download it, they can go ahead and remove it. I have my copy and can watch it as many times as I want.

Another example: I am watching a clip, but there are several clips to the right I am interested in. As soon as you select one, you lose all the others. Not me! I pause the video I am watching. I then right clip on a video I am interested in, select "copy link location", go to clipgrab, paste the link location into download, and save it to my "You Tube Videos" directory on my computer. I now have my copy on my computer. I don't have remorse on lost videos (if I remember to download it). I can watch it later. Same for the video I am watching.

- Calibre. I like to read e-books. Calibre will download e-books, newspapers, magazines, PDF's, etc. from all over the world. For English, there are 443 entries. Plus, there are 2 Argentina English, 9 Australia English, 1 Bulgaria English, 30 Canada English, 5 China English, 23 India English, 42 UK English, etc. There are about 29 other countries with English downloads. Not all are free. The Wall Street Journal has two entries. One is paid, the other is free (excerpts - headlines with the first paragraph or two). If you want Croatian reading, they have 9 entries. Arabic has 4 entries. Basque has 1 entry. German has 99 entries. Hebrew has 6. Japanese has 20. Irish has 1 (not English - Irish). Marathi has 1. Polish has 182. Spanish has 69. But, there are Argentina, Bolivia,and 11 other Spanish (including Cuba - 2). Tagalog has 1. Turkish has 39. Unknown has 9 (including Klipme, Korben, wallabag, Zerocalcare, etc.). Don't ask me! And many other major and minor countries. You can set up automatic downloads (if your computer will be on). It will convert e-book formats for you. EPUB, Modi, AZW3. It can download books, periodicals, etc. from numerous sources.
Thats about it for now.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Thai Red Roselle Results

I first Posted about Thai Red Roselle on April 15th, 2016. It was one of the new things we were trying. It grew very well in this climate and thrived along the edge of the herb garden. It made a flowering hedge between the garden and the highway. The flowers are really lovely.

We watched the plants grow and in mid  August they started to bloom. Up to that point they were just pretty bushes with dark red stems and red veined leaves. They did not bloom heavily until September but I did harvest and dry calyxes for Red Zinger Tea during late August.

The nice weather we have had in September and October allowed a great number of calyx's to develop.

An average limb of our Thai Red Roselle.

Here is the row of Thai Red, I picked this side on Saturday Morning. You can see how bright the Calyx's are and the red of the stalks. It really is pretty.

Here is the first bucket I picked, I knew I was going to need more buckets at this point and took this one in to show Ralph and yes....get more buckets!

I was pleased with these results.

Now to make the jam. I had to tear the leaves away from the calyx and sort the seed pod from the leaves. Some recipes call to save the seed pods to get natural pectin and I have saved the seed pods to try  this with the next batch but I just wanted to make a simple jam with these calyx's as I have not done this before. I did nibble on one of the "Calyx Leaves", it was tart, tangy and a bit astringent. Not unpleasant or bitter  but sharp if that makes sense.

Here is what I did.
1- Peel the calyx leaves from the seed pod.
2- Simmer on low the calyx leaves until they are  reduced and cooked soft.
3- Run through a food processor to get a smooth puree. 

I got 6 cups of a very thick, deep red puree that smelled very good and looked quite interesting! [I am wondering if the drought we are having made these calyx's less 'plump' and that would affect the thickness of the puree.]

To this  puree I added 2 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar. I reduced the sugar  from 3/4 cup per 1 cup of puree to 1/2 cup of sugar for 1 cup of puree.
I added 1 pouch of liquid pectin and treated it as I would any other jam. I brought it to a boil, stirring constantly until it sheeted off the spoon. The reduction of sugar doesn't bother us as we like tangy jams.

It became more translucent as it cooked but remained thick. I poured it into hot sterilized jars and water bath canned it for 10 minutes.

6 Pint jars and 1 Half Pint jar  were soon sitting on the counter, I had cleaned the pot with the spatula and there was enough to try this lovely red jam on fresh bread. Ralph likes it although he makes a great show of my cooking being dangerous! It really is unique and marvelous. I think it would be very good with cream cheese and crackers or on Ice cream. It is a unique flavor, a hint of rhubarb, a whiff of straw berry, maybe a dash of lemon....

Thai Red Roselle Jam

All in all this experimental crop was a hit. We discussed where we can grow more of it next year. The plant was very low maintenance and we did not see any signs of disease or bug issues. 
I do know Jam is not the healthiest way to eat things but now we know we like it I think using young calyx in salads and drying more of them for tea will help get the good nutritional values of this plant into our pantry.

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
205 kJ (49 kcal)

11.31 g

0.64 g

0.96 g

Vitamin A equiv.
14 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.011 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.028 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.31 mg
Vitamin C
12 mg

215 mg
1.48 mg
51 mg
37 mg
208 mg
6 mg

So 2017 [gosh it is weird typing that] will see more Thai Red Roselle here on this farm. I hope this  information helps you look at this plant as an addition to your gardening adventures. I think it would work in a pot on a balcony if you  live in a city, or maybe on a patio if you are limited for space, I  know it would add both beauty and interest in landscaping. Now I am going to go and have some toast with Roselle jam.....God Bless you all and be safe.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Video Bits from Cub Run

This is just for fun...

We are planting the grape vines today and stacking hay, doing housework, sorting knitting supplies [thanks to EIEIOMG, Punkins Patch and Mama Pea]
The 'outside world seems to be quite out of control so home chores are a blessing.
Take care everyone.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Food For Thought...the state of family debt in this country

Ralph and I read a lot. We keep abreast of the news as best we can. I have to admit it is discouraging sometimes but we beleive we have to know as much as we can.

We found this blog and enjoy it for the facts and honest, well researched and documented articles. I felt I had to repost this article and Ralph agreed. So here is a repost from The Economic Collapse Blog.

During The Coming Economic Crisis Two-Thirds Of The Country Will Be Out Of Cash Almost Immediately

By Michael Snyder, on October 10th, 2016

Did you know that almost 70 percent of the U.S. population is essentially living paycheck to paycheck?  As you will see below, a brand new survey has found that 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.  Of course one of the primary reasons for this is that most of us are absolutely drowning in debt.  In fact, the total amount of household debt in the United States now exceeds 12 trillion dollars.  So many Americans are so busy just trying to pay off their existing debts that they can’t even think about saving anything for the future.  If economic conditions remain relatively stable, the fact that so many of us are living on the edge probably won’t kill us.  But the moment the economy plunges into another 2008-style crisis (or worse), we could be facing a situation where two-thirds of the country is in imminent danger of running out of cash.
If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you live under the constant threat of your life being totally turned upside down if that paycheck ever goes away.  During the last crisis, millions of Americans lost their jobs very rapidly, and because so many of them were living paycheck to paycheck all of a sudden large numbers of people couldn’t pay their mortgages.  As a result, multitudes of American families went through the extremely painful process of foreclosure.
 Unfortunately, it appears that we have not learned anything from the last go around.  According to the brand new survey that I mentioned above, 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings…

""Last year, GoBankingRates surveyed more than 5,000 Americans only to uncover that 62% of them had less than $1,000 in savings. Last month GoBankingRates again posed the question to Americans of how much they had in their savings account, only this time it asked 7,052 people. The result? Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) had less than $1,000 in their savings account.
Breaking the survey data down a bit further, we find that 34% of Americans don’t have a dime in their savings account, while another 35% have less than $1,000. Of the remaining survey-takers, 11% have between $1,000 and $4,999, 4% have between $5,000 and $9,999, and 15% have more than $10,000.""

Perhaps the most alarming fact from this survey is that 62 percent of all Americans had less than $1,000 in savings last year.  So that means that this number has gotten 7 percent worse over the last 12 months.
How did that happen?  I thought the mainstream media was telling us that the economy was getting better…
Look, if you don’t have an emergency fund you are in danger of losing everything.  This is a point that I have been making over and over again for years, and in an article about this new survey USA Today made this point very strongly as well…

 ""This data is particularly worrisome since the recommendation is for Americans to have six months in expenses saved in case of an emergency, such as a large medical expense, car repair bill, or losing your job. Without this emergency fund to fall back on, millions of Americans could be risking financial disaster.""

As the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, people are constantly asking me what they should do to get prepared for what is coming.
The number one thing that I always suggest is to build up an emergency fund.
In a chaotic situation it is always hard to anticipate accurately what is going to happen, but without a doubt we are all going to need to continue to pay our bills and to buy things for our families during the next crisis.
Yes, someday the U.S. dollar will become rather worthless, but until that happens you are going to need to continue to put a roof over the heads of your family and to put food on the table.
And you are going to need money to do those things.
Some time ago, the Federal Reserve also found that a large percentage of Americans are living on the edge of financial disaster.  They discovered that 47 percent of all Americans could not even come up with $400 to pay for an unexpected emergency room visit without borrowing the money or selling something that they own.
If you can’t even come up with $400 you are really hurting, but that is the status of about half the country these days.
We are continually being told that the economy is strong, but that is simply not the truth.
In fact, it turns out that the period from 2005 to 2015 was the worst period for per capita real GDP growth in modern American history.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

  1. Growth was unusually strong in the 1960s and early 1970s. In every year from 1966 through 1973, per-capita income was up between 30 percent and 40 percent from a decade earlier. Thus, it’s not surprising that many Americans recall this as a great period for the nation’s economy.
  2. In every year from 1984 to 2007 — a period that economists call the Great Moderation, because of the way both growth and interest rates stabilized — per-person income was up between 20 percent and 30 percent from a decade earlier. That’s ample reason for Americans to view this as a good period for the economy.
  3. Cumulative per-person growth from 2005 to 2015 was lower than in any prior decade in the sample. That certainly helps explain why many Americans are unhappy with the nation’s recent economic performance.
 And as I repeat over and over, Barack Obama is on track to be the one and only president in all of American history to never have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and he has had eight years to try to accomplish that feat.
Why doesn’t Donald Trump ever bring up that amazing fact?  I would think that he could get a lot of mileage out of that number.
At this point, nobody can deny that the middle class is shrinking.  61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households in 1971, but now the middle class makes up a minority of the population for the very first time in our history.
Back in 1970, the middle class brought home approximately 62 percent of all income, but today that figure has plummeted to just 43 percent.
Those that are still doing well often dismiss those that are struggling by barking out such phrases as “get a job”, but the truth is that getting a good job is not so easy these days.
The most recent statistics show that there are 7.9 million Americans that are considered to be officially unemployed.  When you add that number to the 94.1 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”, you get a grand total of 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
And just because you do have a job does not mean that everything is okay.  As I have discussed previously, 51 percent of all U.S. workers make less than $30,000 a year according to the Social Security Administration.
Everywhere you look things seem to be getting worse and not better.  Not too long ago I documented the explosion of tent cities all over the country as poverty continues to rise, and I discussed how one study found that some young women in our impoverished inner cities are so desperate that they are actually trading sex for food.
Sadly, it isn’t just a few hard cases that we are talking about.  Even in areas of the country that are supposed to be “doing well” we are seeing record-setting poverty numbers.  For example, it was recently reported that the number of New Yorkers sleeping in homeless shelters just set a brand new all-time high, and the number of New York families permanently living in homeless shelters is up 60 percent over the past five years.
If things are this bad during an “economic recovery”, what are they going to look like once the economy really starts imploding?
 And considering the fact that almost 70 percent of the population has virtually no savings, could our nation handle an extended economic downturn that may be even worse than what we experienced in 2008 and 2009?
As a nation we truly are living on the edge, and it isn’t going to take very much at all to push us into oblivion.
 I hope you enjoyed this article. This blog is worth a look and I am sure a lot of you know about it. Saving money is difficult when people are heavily in debt and since we live beside a  highway near lakes and rec areas we see an amazing amount of debt drive by in the shape of fancy ATV's, Boats, Horse trailers, brand new Vehicles, and high end motorcycles. Then we also see Garage sale after garage sale with people selling things to get extra cash. There are also liquidation places that sell pallets of goods that people sell in flea markets to make extra money. In fact we find several neighbors have had a job loss in the family and the are trying to  make ends meet and to fill the job loss income by flea marketing or selling baking and the like.

After the Presidential debate last night Ralph and I talked long into the night. We evaluated all that we have done and are doing to be prepared. We live on a fixed income. We are in a fairly good position. We have no land payment, we have food and the ability to raise and grow more. We have a seed bank reserve. We are healthy and active and we have a plan.

God Bless you all and be safe.