Mostly happy snaps today, plus one wee tale of woe. Life is flourishing around here, but for two middle-aged folk, it’s getting harder to keep up!
We’ve got kittens and lambs and chicks and some rain and decent temps for a change, that’s keeping the critters and crops and me very happy.
I think the old cliche about when life is giving you lemons should be updated for the modern era. Lemons are already a luxury, after all.
I think it should reflect the shitshow the modern era has become and read: When life gives you shit, make more compost.
And we have LOADS of it at the moment, the good kind that makes fantastic strawberries, not the useless kind, that populates DC.
Do you care to know how much shit it takes to make carrots and strawberries so good? 😆
Guess what else loves loads of shit?!
And while some homesteading results are obvious— like more shit equals better produce— others remain a mystery.
After three perfect sets of twins, we have a reject. It’s one of those very odd occurrences we have yet to experience and it’s confusing because it’s halfway between cute and sad.
One bad mama has rejected one of its offspring. He’s a sweet, spunky little survivor we’ve come to call ‘Scrappy’ because he’s fighting so hard and it’s wonderful to witness. And also sad, like I said.
Hubby found Scrappy at the fenceline in the morning not long after birth, already abandoned. But, the sibling lamb and mama were fine and healthy and not too far away.
It’s a mystery because one, he was not just alive, but cleaned off, and very vigorous. And two, because had she cleaned him off, she’d surely recognize him as her other offspring. So, who cleaned him off?
Because she pushes him off immediately at any attempt to nurse. Even still, after 4 days and every attempt we’ve tried. We’ve resorted to holding her down 3 times a day, he at the front end, me at the back end, while poor Scrappy voraciously sucks down whatever he can manage before she out-maneuvers the 3 of us!
Then Hubby goes back to bottle-feed him 3 more times a day.
Of course, he’s not the first critter here to obediently follow Hubby everywhere!
Scrappy’s getting fed with a combination of powdered milk specially formulated and goat’s milk, thanks to Summer, who I’m still milking from her last freshening, last spring.
Skittles (below left), looking tough as always, but her kittens are already getting accustomed to an easier life, from the barn to under the porch.
Careful kitties, domestication has its costs, which is probably why Skittles keeps hissing at the hands who feed her. 😆
I understand it’s different for everyone. Not only that, but it’s different for any one individual in different times and at different stages in life.
What’s considered a high quality of life at age 19, differs greatly from one of 49. Or at least, we can hold out hope.
As one example, in the past I said I wouldn’t ever want livestock beyond chickens, for a couple reasons that seemed very significant to me at the time—I was scared of the responsibility of life and death for these precious creatures, and I didn’t want to feel ‘a prisoner’ here.
Now I am fully on board with the responsibility, and I can rarely whip up a desire to leave our wee compound. My notion of who is the actual prisoner has shifted significantly.
When I hear criticisms—and there are plenty—aimed at the growing number of homesteaders, survivalists, preppers, back-to-the-landers, I’m not bothered. They can slur us with their derogatory terms like Luddites, subsistence farmers, backwards, selfish, hoarder, bitter clinger, extremist, even, violent extremist.
They don’t know. How could they? I can forgive them their ignorance. For as long as I believe it to be genuine ignorance. Those who are genuinely ignorant are thankful when presented with an opportunity to learn.
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States [that] has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” – ~Isaac Asimov
My definition of a high quality of life changed significantly over time, and I can hold out hope for them as well.
That is, until their powerless slurs become serious impediments. My choice of a quality lifestyle does not harm them in any way. However, their definition of one severely hampers mine which, over time, makes mine quite impossible.
And that really pisses me off.
Their quenchless thirst for cheap thrills and consumable crap and loot, plunder and pillage of all that’s precious to me is intolerable. More specifically, the tolerance of the majority for abuse of themselves, their environment, the future generations, is outrageous and inexcusable.
“The fecundity and flourishing diversity of the North American continent led the earliest European explorers to speak of this terrain as a primeval and unsettled wilderness—yet this continent had been continuously inhabited by human cultures for at least ten thousand years. That indigenous peoples can have gathered, hunted, fished, and settled these lands for such a tremendous span of time without severely degrading the continent’s wild integrity readily confounds the notion that humans are innately bound to ravage their earthly surroundings. In a few centuries of European settlement, however, much of the native abundance of this continet has been lost—its broad animal population decimated, its many-voiced forests over cut and its prairies overgrazed, its rich soils depleted, its tumbling clear waters now undrinkable.” (The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram, p. 94)
While our personal definitions concerning quality of life is unique to the individual and may shift, even quite considerably, over a lifetime, there remain constants.
For example, I doubt there’s a significant number of folks whose idea of a high quality of life includes having their health, wealth or well-being routinely stolen from them.
Yet, we are living in a society where that is exactly what happens and few will lift even a pinkie finger to change it. Few can be bothered even to wag their tongue for one-half minute at the proper authorities for leading them to exactly that wretched level of life: A life fully resigned to blindly accepting the experts and authorities who routinely betray them.
Invariably at some point these folks become so numerous and so delusional and so negatively impactful, that one simply must turn their back on them, for one’s own sanity and the well-being of an entire culture.
I hear far too often how ‘good’ people are just trying to get by and they are powerless against the system and they mean well and on and on and on. Here’s what I sincerely think when I hear these constant excuses: “You don’t know what ‘good’ means!”
If the majority of folks were good, we would not be in this mess!
To not be evil, to not be actively committing evil acts, does not make someone good. It makes one not evil, that is all. There’s a big, long, wide gap between not evil, and good.
Contrary to popular opinion, harmless does not equal good!
This becomes even more apparent in a society where a tiny class of untouchable elites consider themselves to be beyond good and evil.
To be good in such a system requires something of you. It’s not your automatic birthright.
You cannot be serving such a system— one that maintains itself by destroying the health, wealth, well-being and environment of the vast majority in order to serve your own self-interest or that of your corrupted masters—- and still call yourself good.
As the interpretation of reality by the power structure, ideology is always subordinated ultimately to the interests of the structure. Therefore, it has a natural tendency to disengage itself from reality, to create a world of appearances, to become ritual.
Vaclav Havel — The Power of the Powerless
And you can’t call your friends, family, government, society ‘good’ if serving the corrupt system is still what they are doing.
A respite from the heat, but still no rain. We surveyed our fenced land for grazing and have come to the sad conclusion that our intention last year to grow the herd will not be achieved in the near future.
Seemed like the right thing to do, growing the herd, considering food inflation and especially high meat prices, and the fact that Hubby is here full-time now, and that more bartering/trading could be in the foreseeable future. But, the parched land screams otherwise.
Between the steeply rising cost of feed and the meager forage available, and no guarantees the stranglehold of the weather terrorists will let up any time soon, we come to some difficult decisions.
We will wait another year to freshen the goats, drastically reduce the number of sheep, and breed back only one sow. We will maintain the poultry flock as-is for the most part, but had hoped to add ducks once again to the mix. No rain means fewer bugs means more supplemental feed. So that plan is not looking too good now either.
Planned building projects are also getting postponed. A ‘milking parlor’ was on the list, some much-needed repairs to the deck, rebuilding the greenhouse, a field shelter for the herd, and on and on, plans are easy, implementation, not so much!
We are blessed with an already achieved minimalism: Living seasonally, frugally, well-acquainted with the boom-bust cycles of our overlords and still small enough to be flexible, and with enough local support to know we’ve got each other.
Our most crucial long-term goal remains: Growing our own feed—perennials as well as annuals.
We hear the word ‘sustainable’ repeated multiple times a day these days, but there’s rarely anything truly sustainable being suggested.
It’s 99% hype and green washing. But actual sustainability does exist, and the more self-reliant we can be, the closer we are to achieving it.
And it’s not like there’s not plenty for us still to do and learn here, even with squeezing the belt tighter.
I’m still very interested in herbalism, especially as it pertains to our local environment. The best things in life are free, or nearly so, no?!
And while I do appreciate the allure of the consumer life, I’m far more fascinated by the natural world all around me. It’s always a matter of slowing down, observing ever more closely, teasing out the potential of all that is all around me, and some of that certainly means our local community, but that doesn’t just mean the people.
I’d love to learn more wild crafts, as well as more fine art tuning; more science, and more speculation; and much, much more about where and how these endeavors mesh.
There is a different brand of “More!”, isn’t there, than the furious Billy Idol sang about?
Or, maybe it’s all the same, in the midnight hour?
It’s hot. It’s dry. It’s miserable. Every day we enter the garden and the orchard knowing we’ll find something else dead.
First it was the tomatoes, then the salad cucumbers and cantaloupe, now it looks like even the tomatillos are giving up before ever producing well. The squashes are all struggling and the peppers and figs are mostly stalled.
I wish that meant it was time to rest on our laurels and have some long, slow and sweet indoor days of movie marathons and Kombucha cocktails.
But no such luck, because it’s time for making wine!
Our painstakingly cultivated Muscadine grapes are not doing well, we expect a minimal harvest, at best.
But, the native Mustang grapes are a lot tougher, apparently.
So, fortunately! We’re still able to make some wine and jam.
Did I mention it’s really F’ing HOT? And dry?
I’d whine a lot more, except I keep going back to the miracle of all the critters and plants who can take it so much better than we can. Though, I know they are struggling too, and are just less whiney than I am.
And just for those keeping track, the ‘chemtrails’ have not abated.
I ran out of attention span last post before I got to talking about cheese. Now that we have three mamas in milk I’ll be having a ball experimenting with new cheeses, which along with kombucha experimenting, is my favorite homesteady sort of thing to do.
Gardening and cooking being not far behind, to be sure!
Aged chèvre (goat cheese) in the French tradition is made of the highest craft and care, even when they are whimsically-named, like Crottin (Little Turd) and Sein de NouNou (Wetnurse breast).
But here in the U.S., Land of the FreeTM, Velveeta is ‘safe’ for consumers and aged goat cheeses, ideal for homestead creation, are completely illegal.
Because they care so very much, right?
“Chèvre evolved in frugal farming households of the sort that continue to make it today. It is a cheese that’s very economical, in both time and ingredients; made on the family farm, where there are many chores to take care of and livestock to feed, a cheese that didn’t need much attention or many costly ingredients fit right in.”
That is in Central France and other locations where it’s not illegal to sell. These are cheeses that require few inputs and no regular purchases—you don’t need a cheese press, or any expensive cultures, or even rennet. Fig sap (or other coagulants like nettles) can easily be substituted for rennet as only a few drops are used to set a gallon of milk.
These are also cheeses suitable to make in warm climates, similar to the more well-known goat cheeses like Feta or a fresh goat cheese. What makes the aged chèvre so unique is that it can only be made with raw milk. You may find hard raw milk cheeses in your grocery store or farmer’s market, like Gouda or Cheddar, these are pressed cheeses aged over two months, which are legal to sell with all the proper licensing. (I have NO interest in that!)
These illegal aged goat cheeses sit at room temperature for about four days.
You most certainly can’t do that with pasteurized milk. These cheeses were invented before pasteurization and before refrigeration and aged for a month or two in caves.
Mine will be aged in Tupperware bins inside a small beverage fridge I use for aging cheeses. (I would prefer not to use plastics at all, but they work just fine and I don’t have other options at the moment.).
I use natural cultures, not store-bought or freeze-dried, developed from previous cheeses, and stored in the freezer. Once the cheeses develop their fungal coat after a couple of weeks, they will be wrapped and aged for about a month.
Traditionally wrapping for these cheeses include leaves, like grape and fig, and even hornet’s nests. A few will also be coated with ash, instead of wrapping, like the traditional Sein de NouNou.
It is positively amazing how differently the cheeses will taste based on just a few variables in the process!
“Relatively unknown in North America, this class of cheeses includes some of France’s most famous fromages: ash-coated and pyramid-shaped Valencay; Sainte Maure—pierced with a blade of straw (the industrial version of Sainte Maure features plastic straws!); and small, moldy Crottin are all aged chèvre cheeses. Perhaps the only well-known North American aged chèvre is Humboldt Fog, a creamy, ash-ripened goats’ milk cheese from Humboldt County, California.”
(I’ve not looked into why or how the Humboldt Fog is legal to mass produce and sell. I plan to dig into that, but my initial guess is they’ve been able to either find a way to use pasteurized goat milk or they have a state-of-the-art affinage ‘cave’ where they can age it over two months without losing the creamy texture.)
“Goats are a belligerent species that have rejected the rigorous production regime thrust upon their bovine cousins. Unlike cows, who contentedly chew their cud in confinement and produce enormous quantities of milk year-round, goats refuse to be cogs in the machine of industrialized dairying.”
A most excellent resource, and the source of the above quotes:
Goats, a belligerent species? HA! The perfectly adorable non-conformists more like!
As the United Nations, Club of Rome, World Health Organization and various other international ‘public-private’ partnerships try to propagandize the world into their vision of “Global Sustainability” there are a number of crucial variables they’ve left out, which localities could capitalize on, if they were made aware of this potential.
For example, did you know there are salt mines all over place in this country? Salt was the basis of our first ‘trade markets’ — long before exotic spices of the Orient — salt was King of the World.
Salt was, well, worth its weight in gold, as the saying goes. Why do we import tea, the ‘native Americans’ might have queried of the mostly British expats settling here? There’s perfectly good tea all around you, can’t you see? And they might have made a few good jokes about that.
But salt? You’re going to import salt, too? What the bleep for?! That’s not even joke-worthy, that’s just a dumb-ass death sentence! You know it’s everywhere around here, right? And the gold y’all so covet, what’s that for, exactly? Y’all are really so very attached to your adornments, eh? Good choices there, give over your salt, so you starve, for gold, so you can pay your taxes. Brilliant system!
Here on the wee homestead we came inspired to see how long and far a road it is to self and community sustainability. We were thinking like most homesteaders, survivalists, etc., are thinking—food, water, energy. Obvious, these are crucial.
But what about the salt? That, along with the water, was the very first thing either robbed, buried, or tainted by the industrialist-minded settlers. Not the ones who came for a better life more aligned with their God and purpose, the ones who came expressly to profiteer for the pay-masters back home.
Long before our water and air were compromised, our people enslaved to the State and our ranges overrun with slave labor, our salt was “buried” by the Global Regulators. There are salt mines and primal (renewable, sub-surface geysers, essentially) water available all over this country.
That was known centuries ago! But go ahead and demonstrate your loyalty to the State, that tricked and enslaved your Great, Great Grandparents and before, by wearing that muzzle of submission and voting for your next tyrant.
Don’t care where your salt comes from? Next you don’t care where your water comes from, or your food comes from, or your energy, or anything else.
I realize it’s already a thing, considering it’s now a $600 million annual industry, but I thought I didn’t like it. I couldn’t have been more wrong, I’m happy to say. I haven’t been this excited about a new thing (for me!) since I started making cheese.
In fact, it’s not at all new, just popularized and mass marketed these days. Kombucha has an ancient and fascinating history and far more uses than just a really healthy and delicious beverage. I’m just learning about them all, but I’m keen to incorporate this little miracle into our homestead lifestyle.
Sally Fallon, my favorite cookbook author, believes as I do that, “the craving for both alcohol and soft drinks stems from an ancient collective memory of the kind of lacto-fermented beverages still found in traditional societies.”
And it’s so much more than just a wonderful beverage.
“Kombucha’s numerous applications make it a natural component of ‘closed-loop’ systems, in which its waste products can be converted into toxin-free commodities. Whether as compost or foodstuff, there is some way to turn every by-product of the kombucha brewing process into something useful.” The Big Book of Kombucha by Hannah Crum & Alex LaGory
If you’ve only tried commercial Kombucha you might be like I was and think you don’t like it either. My home-brewed version taste nothing like the store-bought brands I tried. And, the first time I tried home-brewing I was doing it all wrong. I’m so grateful to a friend who gave me another SCOBY and insisted I try it again. Following the tips and tricks from several great resources, I’m hooked.
A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) is kind of like a sourdough starter, shared among friends and self-replicating.
There’s far more information available than the first time I tried home-brewing many years ago. The key to my new love is the 2nd fermentation bottling with flavors, when the tea becomes carbonated. Even if you’re not a tea-lover you might be surprised, I think it tastes more like a mild, flavored soda. Some Kombucha lovers have claimed it helped them kick their cola habit and replace it with something far healthier in every way—for the body, the paycheck, and the environment.
Besides the excellent book mentioned above, these sites are also great resources to help you get started, learn more, or stay addicted.