September 2011


We have had non-stop crowing since these new roos arrived.  At this rate, it will be very easy to harvest them, just so I can have some peace and quiet around here.  A handful of them are around 8 months old, and they are the worst culprits when it comes to crowing.  Especially this one, who happens to be a Turken–which, in my opinion is the absolute ugliest chicken to ever walk the face of the earth:

The kids have nick-named it “Ugly Chicken,” after the original naming of “Elmo.”  He’s big, though.  I would estimate around 6-7 pounds, so he will hopefully provide a couple of yummy meals for the family and/or pets.

This guy is just the opposite, and is quite pretty.  He is a cross, I suspect between an Americauna (the lady had a bunch of those) and who knows what else.  He does closely resemble my Light Brahma roo, though, which makes me wonder if he has those genes in there somewhere.  He also happens to be quite noisy, so his days are numbered. 

Then there is this guy, who I THINK is a Rhode Island Red roo (please correct me if I’m wrong).  He is quite pretty, and, I must admit I am considering allowing him to move in to the layer coop to be spare roo, since my other spare got nabbed by the fox.  Seeing as how my smaller RIR hens are not willingly allowing much breeding by the massive Lt. Brahma roo, I might even stand a chance of getting some purebred RIR if they take to this guy more willingly. 

Most of the other roos are not really noteworthy, and all are destined for the freezer…with the exception of 1, which may have a postponement of harvest since I’m not convinced it’s a rooster.   We’ll see. 

I just cannot express to you how much I am LOVING this life!  The adventure, the mystery, the anticipation….it’s better than a great novel!  And certainly better at controlling the waste-line than sitting and reading a novel–especially with all the home-cookin around here!  I feel so blessed that God has granted us this opportunity.

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Ok, in case you weren’t positive we had lost our minds, we got more animals. 

Oh, but don’t worry, this is totally different!  It’s all in the name of SAVING money, being frugal, and going natural.  See?  Totally different. 

In all seriousness, when we decided to go for the BARF diet for the animals, we started with what was in our freezers.  However, we only had a very limited supply available in regards to meats I wouldn’t use (mostly offal, rabbit ribs, etc.)  When feeding an 80 pound dog and a growing pup, that won’t last long, and that fact rapidly became apparent.  So, I found a few stores I could buy waste meat from, but still, that involved spending money.  (OK fine, call me cheap!  I just have issues paying a retail price for what would otherwise be thrown in the trash bin!)  Therefore, I went to my trusty Craigslist.  I placed an honest ad, which explained how we house, feed, and treat our animals.  I essentially offered to accept unwanted chickens, goats, and rabbits.  I said I wouldn’t pay, but promised that if we chose to use them for meat, the animal would be treated humanely and there would be absolutely no suffering. 

I didn’t think anything would actually come of it, but hey, why not try, right?  S was totally game to slaughter free meat and get the practice.  I figured I have a perfect quarantine pen in the form of my multi-purp brooder pen, so the new animals are never exposed to our normal animals.  That pen is easy to clean out.  It is a perfect place to “detox” any incoming arrivals, get them going on organic, and go from there.  Of course, I wouldn’t take any obviously sick or downer animals anyway if the reason isn’t perfectly clear.  And, who knows, I could wind up with some type of really cool keeper-critter (like easter egg layers or alpine goats!) 

Well, as it turned out, by the end of the day, I had two responses!  One lady had 9 roosters she had no use for and was sick of feeding them.  I told her we use roosters for meat around here, and she said that was fine.  She just apparently couldn’t kill them herself and would rather someone else do it.  So, I agreed to pick them up. 

Then, another lady who raises Boer meat goats for 4-H and show, had a 6-month old doeling she needed to cull.  This doeling, although perfectly healthy, just didn’t make the cut for her ideal breeder.  She had some personal attachment to the goat, and said we could do whatever we wanted with her, but she just couldn’t slaughter the goat herself.  Works for me. 

So, it looks like we will soon have about 70 lbs. of free meat, offal, and bones in the freezer–the better cuts of which we may well eat, and the rest will go to the carnivores around this place.

…to have a 7 year old?!

I know, I know, most of you with teenagers are not feeling sorry for me in the least.  Fact is, I never felt sorry for you either, as your children aged and you wondered the same thing.  But I do now.  It finally hit me. 

A few days ago, my firstborn child hit the mandatory-school age.  He is Mr. independent.  And he is a true joy to have around.  Alas, this post isn’t about me, it’s about him, so…

… HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JR!

As is becoming our tradition, it started off with breakfast in bead.  Nothing fancy, but he enjoyed the attention, and I suspect silently reveled in the jealousy of his siblings. 

We had a busy day planned, so we gave him the choice of presents right away, or with cake after dinner.  Even the best 7 year old can’t resist presents, so of course it was right away!

My little cowboy has been wanting real boots and a hat for a couple years now.  Now that we have the donkey, it seemed justified.  In some twisted kind of way.

We told him he had to try it all on.  Prepare yourself.  This is not going to be pretty….

Yes, he is in his underwear.  I have no clue why his shirt is tucked into his underwear, and he seemed to think his new boot socks were knee-highs.  I do believe this is THE photo I will preserve to embarrass him with in the future. 

Then, it was off to our busy day.  He did, of course, get to wear his boots and hat (and more appropriate clothing), which totally thrilled him.  Once dinner rolled around, we were back to his birthday celebration.  

It has become our tradition that the birthday person chooses what kind of dinner we have, and what type of cake I make.  In terms of dinner, all our normal rules go out the window.  If they want a restaurant, we go.  If they want me to cook something, I cook.  We do our best to serve.  JR wanted to order pizza from a little mom-and-pop shop we treat ourselves to on rare occasion.  So, we ordered pizza with JR’s specified toppings.  

JR’s favorite cake for several years now is carrot cake, so I set to work making it.  Unfortunately, due to our schedule that day, I was running a little behind.  His only request was that I make a carrot to go on top of it.  I knew this was far beyond any practiced skill I had, and wasn’t sure how I was going to pull it off.  I was also too tired to do the clean up that would be involved in mixing food color into the frosting, putting the frosting in those squeeze baggies, and so on.  So, I totally cheated. 

You see, the best deal from this little mom and pop operation is one of their continued “specials”, which involves pizza, breadsticks, soda, and desert.  I know, it’s totally against our normal diet.  They don’t substitute, so we have been collecting the sodas for several months.  I figure we’ll have a party eventually where we can offer the sodas to others.  The food we manage to eat over several days.  It isn’t too bad since they make it all from scratch and use far less grease and oil than most pizza joints.  Still, it’s a rare treat. 

Anyway, I had requested their sampler desert, which includes a little slice of carrot cake, among others.  Well, wouldn’t you know that their little slice just happens to have a perfect little cream cheese carrot on top!  So, I stole it and put it on JR’s cake.

 

It was a perfect solution!  Then it was time to sing, “Happy Birthday!”

I’d say it was a great day, all in all.  He only takes his boots and hat off when we make him, but they seem to be a staple part of his outfit now.  JR also got a gift from his Nana, but she made him open it several days early (she can’t keep secrets very well!)  It was the game “Operation”, with which the kids have found no end to the fun of creating buzzing bodily noises. 

Happy 7th Birthday, Little Buddy!

With our increasingly natural, self-sufficient/God-dependent lifestyle, I guess it only makes sense that we would begin seeking a more natural lifestyle for our animals as well.  The goats and chickens have been quite an education this summer, as we watched Sara, in particular, heal in so many ways using simple, natural remedies. 

OK, I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Since Will was bred by and born at Guide Dogs for the Blind, they chose his original diet of Science Diet dog food.  It only seemed natural all those years ago to keep him on that.  A couple months ago, however, I noticed he had some seemingly benign cysts/growths popping up in different areas of his body.  Granted, he is almost 9 years old, but still, it got me thinking.  So, we switched him to a natural dog kibble I get through my co-op.  Callie, on the other hand, is almost 11.  Over the years, I have experimented with all sorts of foods, but all but one resulted in her vomiting.  So, much to my dismay, she has been on Purina cat chow for most of her life. 

The more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder how good these diets really were.  After all, if the USDA and FDA are preaching that grain-fed, CAFO meat is “prime” while natural, grass-fed meats are overpriced jokes, then who’s to say the veterinary industry is much better?  I started researching, just to discover that most kibble foods are over 50% grains and by-products–hardly the ideal diet for carnivores like dogs and cats.  The remaining 50% was often animal by-products (which can include ground feathers and other undigestible items).  In fact, I looked at some very popular dog kibble labels, and saw that true meat was not listed AT ALL in the ingredients!  It was quite shocking.  Then, this livestock guardian dog thing came up, and it made us question if we really wanted to invest over $100 in dog kibble alone every month.  Obviously, the answer would be “NO.”  So I started researching other, more natural, less expensive options.  I discovered the RAW diet and the BARF diet for pets. 

The RAW diet is just that–feeding the animals raw, uncooked meat, organs, and bones, just as they would get in nature.  That’s it.  No supplements, no kibble, no veggies, grains, or rice.  Just carcasses, essentially, sometimes cut up in portions, sometimes not.  The BARF diet, on the other hand, is “Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods,” which includes around 60-80% raw, uncooked meat, organs, and bones, and the remaining % a mix of vegetables, carbohydrates, eggs, dairy, and supplements. 

So, after some research into where I could acquire a steady supply of raw meats, a lot of research on the COUNTLESS ways these diets are done, and some calculations regarding how much money we could save, we have decided to give it a try.  Because of the surplus of meat in our freezers, we decided to start there. 

Then we learned lesson #1…

When an animal has been on commercial kibble for 9-11 years, they (and their digestive systems) are completely clueless about how to handle raw meat!  I had offered Will small amounts of chopped up beef liver on several occasions.  Each time, he threw up.  A LOT.  The only thing worse than raw liver is puked raw liver mixed with who knows what else.  BLEGH!  So, I decided to try a “white” meat–something known to be a little easier on the tummy (less rich).   I chopped up some small chunks of bone-in goat meat.  Knowing it was Will’s dinner time, I offered it to him and put it in his food bowl.  He sniffed it and walked away.  I spent 10 minutes encouraging him before he finally decided to eat it.  I then proceeded to offer some to Callie.  She, too, took one sniff and walked away.  I went and put it in her food bowl downstairs, and she just looked at me like “Where is my food, and why is THAT in my bowl?!” (See photo above).  I finally sprinkled a bit of kibble over the meat, and left her alone.  Callie eventually ate it all. 

It’s been several days now, and so far, neither pet has vomited, so I take that as a good sign.  The new puppy took right too it, but she was used to a diet that consisted of whatever was on sale at Big R.  The plan (for now), based on my research, current meat availability, and our personal situation, is to go half-way, with a BARF diet, supplemented by kibble.  I will feed their normal kibble once a day, and gradually wean them off their evening kibble meal.  That will be replaced, over the course of a couple weeks, with raw meat, bones, and offal from our goat, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, and beef.  In addition, we will supplement with some small amounts of table scraps (vegetables, potatoes, rice, etc.), raw fish, eggs, kefir, yogurt, and milk.  The hope at this point is to increase their health, hopefully increase Will’s energy level, give our new pup a great start as a working dog, and cut our feed bill by at least 30-50%. 

I have no idea how this is going to work, but I guess time will tell.  After only a week, I can now give Will small amounts of liver and he doesn’t vomit, and I have noticed he’s had no “scooting” issues since we started this diet (heads-up:  TMI about to follow: Scooting was a common occurence for him in the past, as his anal sacks frequently get somewhat impacted and inflamed.  Apparently a natural diet creates more natural, harder, stools that allow the sacks to express the way they were created to).  The most difficult part so far is remembering to take some frozen meat out of the freezer each night, to thaw in the fridge.  I love the fact that I am finally using cuts of meat that I really had no other use for, which means they won’t be wasted….things like gizzards, kidneys, hearts, tough cuts, bone meats and bones not needed for stocks, etc.  are PERFECT for feeding as part of this diet!

 Assuming that the results are good, then we may consider going full BARF once we get to Red Gate Farm permanently and have a more reliable and continual meat supply.  I will keep you posted as we learn more.

Stinky Stallion got a special visitor last week! 

The owner of this beautiful Alpine doe had pre-arranged with me to use the services of Stallion for her new Alpine doe at some point in the next few weeks.  Well, she called me this morning, surprised to find her doe in raging heat, and to ask what needed to be done.  Because she is a good friend, we had previously agreed to a “driveway breeding”, where the doe and buck are both on a leash, and literally have a little “date” in the driveway.  This helps protect my herd from any unknowns (though I had already checked out the health history and disease testing of this doe, and had no concerns).  We agreed to go ahead with that plan, for the experience if nothing else. 

Well, like us, this family has 5 young children, all in car-seats.  Remember one of the main reasons we bought our buck was to avoid the hassle of hauling a doe in a minivan, along with 5 children in car seats?  Yeah, well, that’s exactly what my friend had to do today.  She is also a homeschool mom, so we agreed to aim for mid-afternoon.  She loaded up a very large and stubborn doe into the back of her minivan, loaded up all her children, and headed to our place.  Upon arrival, she took her doe out to get her used to the driveway area.  In the mean time, she and I had a quick discussion about the fact that neither of our children had any clue about how breeding worked, and how that could very well cause a few questions during this process.  We finally agreed it was now or never!  After the doe seemed calm enough, I went and leashed up Stallion for their big meeting. 

With 7 children watching (my 3 littles were napping), we introduced the 2 goats.  Stallion was more than happy to oblige.  Much to his disappointment, the doe wasn’t quite so agreeable.  There was also no sign that she was still in standing heat.   After courting her for about 15 solid minutes, we wanted to make sure it wasn’t any factor such as leashes crushing her mood, so we put them in my brooder pen just around the corner, removed the leashes, and gave them some space.  After another 15 minutes or so, we got nothing except an irritated doe and a perfect gentlemen of a buck with somewhat of a blow to his ego.  They eventually parted ways and pretended to ignore each other, while Stallion went off to the side and proceeded to thoroughly spray himself in his “Odor-de’-buck” cologne.  I am convinced that gives him an ego boost, though it certainly serves to repel ME!  So disgusting!  Finally, I returned Stallion to his pen, and helped my friend load her goat and children back into the minivan–this time, with the slight stench of buck to keep them company on the way home. 

So, my first attempt at a driveway breeding to an outside doe was a total, complete, miserable failure.  We both learned from it though (and have to assume we just missed the window of opportunity), and I gained a lot of confidence in handling a 200-pound, very excited, buck-in-rut on a leash.  I have to admit, however, that we were both somewhat relieved that the “birds-and-bees” talk with the kids gets to wait for another day.  They saw nothing other than a couple of goats sniffing and walking around, so there were no questions to answer (WHEW!).  While I totally sympathized with my friend, I have to admit, I was sooooo incredibly thankful for our decision to go ahead and acquire our buck to save me the exact trouble–and disappointment– I had just witnessed her go through.

Nonetheless, we are looking ahead to about 3 weeks from now.  Since we both know a little more about what to expect, we will just try harder to ensure we catch that “window of opportunity” to breed.  If all goes well, then she will be able to start planning for a kidding next spring!  We’ll know more in a few weeks.

I got an award!

A big Thanks! to a relatively new reader of several months, TikkTok.  You can read her blog here:  http://tikktok.wordpress.com/

There are some conditions to receiving my award, however.  First, I have to tell you 7 things about myself that you may not know, and probably couldn’t give a care about.  So here goes…

1.  I am a COMPLETE and total introvert.  Thanks to my dear hubby, who has spent the last 9 1/2 years forcing me to do things I didn’t want, I have gotten better.  Pretty much anytime you see me attending a social function, it is highly likely he has used threats and physical force to shove me out the door.  I would still much rather hang out at home, with my family and critters, than go to any social event, but, thankfully, he will not allow me to be a hermit. 

2.  I have a college degree I have never used.  I actually majored in pre-veterinary medicine and animal biology, but due to the military, it became increasingly difficult to finish my bachelors.  I swore nothing would get in the way, and that I WOULD finish.  I just forgot to ask God before saying that.  He obviously had other plans.  I married the best man on earth, started a new path in life, and eventually got an associates degree in Equine Management.  As soon as I got the degree, another move forced me to sell off the horses and most of my gear, and until I got my donkey recently, the skills I learned have all but been set aside (thanks only to the privilege of training for others on occasion).

3. I have been a Type 1 diabetic since I was 4 years old.  You may know that one, but the fact is, I am very blessed by the fact that God has allowed me to break every single statistic out there, as, after 27 years, I have absolutely no complications, and am perfectly healthy.  I actually HAVE gone into mild renal failure (kidney) twice in past years, but as I learned to better control my diabetes and diet, God healed me completely both times.  I still laugh about the student doc that reviewed my labs a couple years ago, and told me that, based on one of my lab results, I may be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.  I laughed and asked if he had looked at my other records.  He said “No” and I proceeded to tell him I had been a Type 1 most of my life.  He looked at my labs again, and looked at me, and said “NO WAY!”  Thank you Lord for the blessing of health!!  I don’t take it for granted!

4.  I wrote a book.  Long time readers and friends know that one already, but hey, I might as well get a little publicity after #3. It’s called “Diabetes: Overcome Your Fears,” and is very reasonably priced on Amazon.com.  It is an easy read, and chock full of all the info I have learned about controlling diabetes and health over the years.  In fact, since I know you are now jumping at the chance to own your very own copy, here is the direct link: http://www.amazon.com/Diabetes-Overcome-D-R-Londrigan/dp/0615326145/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1316884594&sr=8-12  After you read it, please be kind enough to leave a feedback comment on Amazon.com.  Very few people have so far.  If you want a signed, personalized copy, message me here.  It’s the same price plus a couple bucks shipping.

5.  I used to be a Storm Chaser affiliated with the Tallahassee National Weather Service.  That was my rebellious years, and man, oh man, did we have some adventures!  Sometimes I think it was a miracle our team survived, as we had a couple of too-close calls!

6.  I once said I would never have children, and I would certainly never homeschool!  Then God got hold of me and told me otherwise.  You know the rest of the story.

7.  I boycott Carl’s Jr.  It’s the fast-food chain cousin to Hardee’s back East, and this is basically the western version.  OK, I admit I boycott most fast-food joints, but that’s because I don’t like the food.  Carl’s Jr. is for a different reason, and if my choice was McDonalds or Carl’s Jr., then I would take McDonalds any day.  Why?  Well, I don’t know how things are nowadays, as I don’t have a TV, but back when we did have a TV, all Carl’s Jr. commercials were full of immoral, sexual, degrading, unbiblical content (remember the Paris Hilton in the leather teddy one?).  They broadcast these commercials around the clock, and it infuriated me. 

So, now you know my 7 little-known facts.  My next assignment is to nominate 15 other blogs.  OK, this one is going to be a problem, so I will just have to ask forgiveness now.  The simple fact is, I don’t even read 10 other blogs on a regular basis, and many of them hardly ever update their posts.  So, if I read your blog, feel very privileged!  If it still counts, however, then I will keep it in mind, and nominate them in the future as I gather more readers and more regularly-updated blogs to read.

Thanks again, Tikktok!  I will display it proudly!  Since it is time to update my blog’s side panel anyway, I will add it to my very first award, when my blog was over at blogspot.  I totally forgot to import it over here.

Today was baby R’s big day!  We FINALLY finalized her adoption!!

It was a great experience.  Since our previous 2 adoptions were finalized out of state, this our first time actually in the courtroom.  We had a great, down-to-earth and friendly, magistrate presiding, and all our children sat behind us and watched the proceedings.  S and I each had to go up to the stand, take an oath, answer some questions, and then sit back down.  Finally, he declared R as our legal daughter, hammered his gavel, and congratulated us.  As a special treat, his clerk then entered the courtroom and we were invited behind his desk to take photos.  Another first for us!  So, we now have the moment recorded in photographic history!  As you can imagine, we are truly praising God tonight!

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