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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

We've moved! This blog that is...

We officially have our own website!!  Wow!  What a lot to learn, but it's been pretty cool.  So from now on, all blog posts will be published there.

Please come check us out at www.pasturedeficitdisorder.com.  And we're still on facebook at www.facebook.com/KCFarms.

Hope to see you there!


Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Never Enough Time…(aka The Not Hot Weather Doesn't Last Long Enough)




Oh how I long to be away from this desk in the city and on our little homestead!  There are so many projects we could be working on.  We haven’t even made a dent in our winter “to do” list.  There’s a lot of physical labor that needs to take place over the winter here, because frankly, it’s just too damn hot in the summer.  And the summers are very long around here. 

We have made great strides in installing (we say “planting”) fence posts for our chicken/duck yard.  Yesterday, we literally turned the corner for the home stretch.  We only have about five posts to go on the fourth side of the enclosure.  We have about half of them stained, but need to stain the rest.  And then we need to start staining and installing the rails (crossbeams).  Finally, will come the wire, but we’ll also have an additional layer of hardware cloth (small mesh wire) along the bottom several feet, as the welded wire fencing by itself is not adequate enough protection from predators.  We’ll have two gates into the chicken/duck yard: they’ll be at the north and south end of the yard, but on the same west side.  Because we feel that gates could be weak points as far as predator access goes, three sides of the yard will have no openings, therefore less chance for predator access.  The west side of the chicken/duck yard is the front yard and garden.  Eventually, the front yard and garden will be completely enclosed also, but in the meantime, we have a little more control of the space, and most predators are less likely to come that close to the house.  We’re planning on trying those Night Guard lights around each side of the coop, especially those that face the pasture, to help keep predators away.
 
Once the chicken/duck yard is done, we have to get the coops built.  That’s going to need to happen sooner rather than later because we have two girls growing up very quickly in the house!

There are still many other projects on our winter “to do” list though.  We have close to a dozen dead trees that need to come down before a storm takes them down and onto the fence or our shed.  Either one of those scenarios would cause costly (in time and money) damages. 

There are also a couple of willow trees on the inside of the tank (pond) dam that need to be cut down.  Whoever planted those there did not know what they were doing.  Just for educational purposes, here are some reasons they are bad for ponds:
Absorption of Pond Water
A willow tree usually grows very well near a pond or other area where there is lots of moisture, including standing water. Willow trees also absorb more water than most trees. This causes a decline in pond water levels that is more commonly noticed during dry periods, if the pond is not kept full with an outside water source.
Dam Destabilization
The roots of willow trees are known for their aggressiveness when seeking water. They are known to grow completely through pond dams and liners. The roots also grow large very quickly. Because the average life span of a willow tree is less than 50 years, when the tree dies it leaves large rotting roots that leave channels in the dam for water to escape, thus destabilizing the dam.
Leaf Fall
All willows are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in the fall. When this happens, large amounts of leaves fall into the pond water and sink to the bottom. Over the years, as the leaves begin to rot, they give off a variety of gases. Some, such as methane gas and ammonia, are toxic to fish.
Salicylic Acid Poisoning
Willow bark contains salicylic acid, the ingredient in common aspirin. In low amounts, it does not harm fish populations in the pond. But if large areas of the woody sections of the willow trees are submerged in the water, and leaves and branches are soaking in the water, salicylic acid levels can build up to toxic levels in the pond water.
So there you go – some willow tree education.  Not good pasture trees!

We also need to get some loads of gravel delivered for our driveway.  Thankfully, our wonderful neighbors will let us use their tractor for spreading it out.  If we can even get the bottom half done, and up over the little rise we’ll be in much better shape than we are now.  Someday, it will rain again, right?? We’ve lucked out so far, but the driveway really is quite a mess when it does rain.

The garden needs to be tilled and prepped for spring planting. 

There’s fence that needs to be fixed.  We have a few places in the very back where trees have taken parts of it down.  It’s a total forest/jungle behind us.  Which is great…but why is it that when those trees come down, they always fall towards our property and fence and not away from it?  It’s such a far, far corner of a huge piece of land that it will never be maintained from the “other side” of the fence.

We have a bunch more mesquite and lotebush that need to be chopped out of the pasture.  We made pretty good progress last year, but if we have any hopes of having hay cut this year, we have one portion that still needs to be cleaned up.

And because of the severe lack of rains, we have been under a burn ban for a while.  We have several piles of last year’s mesquite and lotebush that need to be burned.  We also have a big pile of brush created by the previous owners that needs to be burned…it looks like a snake and rodent pit now.  Eeeeeww! 

This is certainly by no means an exhaustive list.  And I don't begrudge a long list of projects in any way - we LOVE this life. I just wish we had more time during the week to work on these and many more projects.   But we'll muddle along as weekend warriors for now.  Those city jobs pay for our beloved pasture and house (and projects). 

At least this year we're not in a mad race to get the beehives finished before the bees show up at the same time our lease is up and we're prepping for the new house and a move!  We are home, sweet, home, with bee houses ready to go.  

Until next time, worms rock and bees rule.

Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KCFarms

P.S.  Sorry for the lack of pictures lately.  The programs I have available during the day are outdated and I'm really having trouble getting any to load correctly.  Argh.
 
 
Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reflections On 2012

2012 turned out to be a big year for us, full of many little victories.  After all the horrible setbacks of 2011 we are might grateful!  Words can’t even express how blessed and grateful!


Last year at this time and through February, we were clearing dead trees to create our little home site.  We put planted the garden in March and installed about 300 feet of water lines.  The house was delivered in April and we moved in towards the end of that month. 

In May, we celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary and we also added to our furry pack – a pup from the shelter that we named Cisco.  Gracie the cat still doesn’t like him, even though she has always lived with dogs.  Go figure.  (Cisco weighed 10 pounds when we brought him home, and now, at 9 months, he’s up to 70+ pounds!) About a week later, a lost kitty found her way to our little farm.  We named her Two Socks; she’s the best dog we have.

In June we started fencing a backyard.  We came up with our own design, and now that “phase one” is done, we have to brag just a little – it’s a pretty darn nice looking fence! 

In June we also canned 30 pints of homegrown diced tomatoes and I started making homemade yogurt every week.  We ate tons of zucchini and yellow squash from the garden and put 15 pounds of homegrown tomatillos in the freezer for making green enchilada sauce later.  The backyard fencing project continued all summer. 

In August, our wonderful, sweet, oldest dog Maggie passed away unexpectedly.   Oh how she is missed by all of us!  But her spirit is ever-present in the pasture.  Furry sister Ellie has never quite been the same.  You’ll never convince us that animals don’t grieve! 

In September we celebrated our one year pasture anniversary!  Looking back at pictures, the pasture looked like a moon scape the year before.  But with some tender loving care and some blessed winter rains, it came roaring back to life!  We’re in desperate need of rain still, but hope to start cutting hay this next year.  I also started making all of our own bread in September – we don’t buy it from the store anymore. 

In October, an itty, bitty kitten showed up at the farm.  He couldn’t have been more than 6-8 weeks old, if that.  He started out as Kicking Bird (KB), but he’s so fast, we now call him Dash.  Then a few days later, another kitten, about 3 or 4 months old, showed up.  We named her Nala because we had just seen the Lion King on tv and she kind of looks like Nala.  So now we have barn kitties, but no barn…yet.   In the meantime, Dash has recently decided he likes being a man of leisure and has moved inside and made himself right at home.  It frightens us to think of what they went through to make it to us – especially Dash.  How dangerous it was for them to be on their own out there.  Whatever happened, we’re glad they showed up to be a part of our family. 

We had broccoli and green and purple cabbage in the winter garden.  The wild extremes in our temps killed it all off.  We weren’t prepared this year with a cold frame.  And after days of high 70s and low 80s, who could have predicted it would drop to 18 degrees in 24 hours!   And it’s done that a couple of times.  Unseasonably warm to unusually cold.   But the beauty of mild winters is that there is time to try some cabbage again (I’ll be growing heirloom varieties from seed).  I’m getting the seeds started in the house and will transplant in January.  It should be done producing by the time the spring air starts to warm and spring garden seedlings and are ready to be transplanted. 

On that note, we are already making plans for the spring garden.  We will stick with strictly heirloom varieties like we did last year.  Only this year, we will endeavor to save seeds.  Learned that lesson just this week…one of the tomatoes we liked the most was the Sioux variety.  But the seed company we bought from last year doesn’t have them this year.  I’m sure there are other great varieties, but we will hopefully still have good germination from the seeds we bought last year and will definitely save our own seeds for the future. 

We have also started phase two of our fencing plan, which will include a chicken/duck run and coops.  We were planning to have it all done in time for spring chicks/ducklings.  And we’re making good progress now that it’s not so hot outside!  But everything has been kicking into high gear after receiving a surprise Christmas present of a pair of two-week old chicks!  They are living in the laundry room in a large box for now, but will need outdoor quarters in the very near future!













Oh!  I almost forgot...we have some bees ordered for this spring too!  We're excited to try once again and hope to have better luck this time around.  The hives are already built, so we're ready to go. 

Happy New Year to you all!  May your year be filled will health, joy and creativity!

Until next time...worms rock and bees rule.

Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Catching up

It’s been forever since I’ve posted.  Where does the time go?  We’ve been busy of course, but I didn’t think we’ve been busier than usual.

September 19th was our first Pasture Anniversary!  It was a year ago that day that we bought our beloved piece of land.  We didn’t have a great big celebration, but we took time to look at some pictures and reflect on what a wonderful dream come true it has been to buy or little slice of heaven on earth and to see how far we’ve come in one short year.  The pasture looked like a moonscape last year.  We were going through an exceptionally severe drought, but the land had been abused and not respected.  Now, the entire pasture is covered in thick green grass.  Next spring, as long as we get some rain, we should be able to start cutting hay.  Long-time residents of the area have often stopped and told us that before this property was divided into 10 acre parcels, our little piece was one of the most beautiful hay fields in all the area.

I’ve started a new job, which contributes to some of my writing neglect.  And hubby will be starting a new one next week!  October has been a huge month for new jobs in our household.  And we are so very grateful!!  What a change from the last couple of years where we each endured being laid off and the worries of trying to find a job.

I might have mentioned before that I make my own coffee creamer.  I started reading the ingredients on the bottles of the popular store-bought ones, and holy cow, some of those words were kind of scary.  So I started making my own.  I still use products from a can, but the list of ingredients is very simple:  one can of evaporated milk (contents = milk) and half a can of sweetened condensed milk (contents = milk and sugar).  To that I add 3 teaspoons of vanilla (real vanilla, not imitation extract).  It does taste different than that chemical-laden store stuff, but I’ll tell you what, I can’t stand that stuff from the store now.   It just tastes like plastic compared to my homemade.

Six weeks ago, I also endeavored to start making our bread instead of buying it.  We’ve talked about doing that for a very long time and just hadn’t made it happen yet.  The first week I tried a recipe that made two loaves.  It was pretty good.  We couldn’t eat the second loaf fast enough and it got moldy…unlike the store-bought bread that sat in our cabinet for FOUR WEEKS and never had a spot of mold on it.  That’s way more gross that bread that has mold on it!!  The next week, I tried a new recipe for oatmeal sandwich bread that I found at King Arthur’s flours.  I made a few modifications and we have had a winner!  I’ll tell you what, even our dogs know the difference between the homemade and store-bought stuff!  Now if that doesn’t tell you something… I use our kitchenaid mixer to make the dough and then let it rise, punch it down and put it in the loaf pan, let it rise again and bake it.  It’s getting easier every week as I get it down to a routine.  And once the dough is made, you can get other stuff done in between the risings and baking.  I tell you, it is wonderful stuff.

This week I made a second batch of bread dough and made Apple Surprise Rolls – little circles of dough filled with chopped apples, walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon.   What a yummy treat - great for breakfast, snack, any time really. 

In the garden, I have three cucumbers growing, but I don’t know how productive they’ll be this late in the season.  I have a zucchini squash with at least one zucchini on it.  The pepper plants never really died even though I quit watering them when they quit producing.  So I started watering them again and they are full of blossoms.  Go figure.  We’ll see what they do.  I noticed I have two tomato plants that came up volunteer by the cucumber plants.  And dead basil plants have come back to life!  Plus there are a gazillion little baby basils that are coming up from seeds that fell.

We also picked up some cabbage and broccoli plants from our local general store this weekend.  I had every intention of growing my own cabbage from seed, but it never happened.  Argh.  I’ve never grown cabbage or broccoli before, but they are cold weather plants, so we’ll see how they do in our mild winter climate.  I also have some southern variety garlic to plant.  Obviously I need to get busy in the garden again! Oh happy days !

We have two new “barn kitties” that showed up in the last two weeks…just days apart.  Guess word is out in the kitty kingdom that we are a safe haven for wayward kitties. One little black kitten that we’ve since figured out is a boy, is so tiny – honestly he can’t be more than 8-10 weeks old.  It just frightens me to think of what he went through to make it to us.  Even if someone dumped him, to be out in the world all alone and that little is just awful.  Pretty quickly, he has let us pet him and now lets us hold him.  He’s starting to come running every time we get home from work or come outside.  He’s the sweetest little thing!  Hubby started calling him Kicking Bird (another Dances With Wolves reference), KB to his friends and family.  A couple of days after he showed up another little kitten showed up.  This one is a little older, but not much.  She’s orange with leopard spots and probably about 4 months old, maybe.  She’s much more shy.  She used to run the second we walked out the door, but now she hangs around a little closer every day.  When she sees KC getting attention and he’s purring, you can tell she wants to come be loved on too.  I’m sure she’ll be cozying up very soon.  We’ve made a box of paper shreds for them to “nest” in and also and box with some straw.

Well, I guess if I blogged more often, it wouldn’t take so long to catch up!

Until next time, worms rock.


Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday's Fancy 8/31/12 Remembering Maggie

Today's Friday's Fancy is in honor of our beautiful fur baby Maggie, who passed away quietly at the age of 10, surrounded by her entire family on August 20, 2012.  Rest in peace baby girl!  You will always be momma's girl!!!



One the most recent pics of Maggie.

 
Maggie LOVED corn!!! Eating it, sleeping on it, whatever!

Maggie and Ellie at Haystack Rock in Oregon.  She ran so fast on the beach, you'd have thought she was a puppy again!

One of our first great pics of Maggie - she loved riding in the car!

Maggie says Hi Momma!  She was a momma's girl!!

Maggie with just a few things to play with.

Maggie says Momma, those are the funniest looking dogs I've ever seen!


 
Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday's Fancy, August 17

Good night, where is the time going?!  Although I don't mind it zipping through this brutal August heat.  ;)

Here's a few pics to celebrate Friday!!



The only time the three have been in such close proximity! And look at the toys!!  These kids are SPOILED.
Is there a better view than from the seat of a tractor?  :D



Pasture looking MUCH better after being shredded...now for some rain.



Big boy loves piles of grass!

All tuckered out and stealing sissy's bed!

Cisco, meet your neighbor, Peaches.

Until next time, worms rock.

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"The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn't matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark." ~ Barbara Hall


Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Few Favorite Recipes and One Mess of a Pup

A friend at work said I needed to post a few of our favorite recipes on my blog, so I’m obliging.  Truth be told, I’m just so darn excited someone actually read my blog and is asking me to share more.  Tee hee hee.

Since hubby and I are both all about planning ahead, we like big batch cooking.  We buy big packages of chicken breasts at Costco and marinade them for several days and then grill them all at once.  We can “feed” off those for several days (talk about a quick, easy dinner – change up your sides or put the chicken on a salad and you have a different meal each night!) or even put some cooked chicken in the freezer for future “convenience” meals.

We have two marinades that we really like, and both produce tender, flavorful grilled chicken that does not get dried out on the grill like chicken breasts have the tendency to do.

KC Farms Chicken Marinade #1

Ingredients

1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mix together in a bowl and pour over the chicken in a ziplock or container.  This is good for about three large breasts.   We always double and have even quadrupled this recipe.  Best if it marinades at least overnight, but even better if it has a couple of days.  (We think the vinegar, lime juice, garlic, and cayenne do a good job of “preserving it”.)


Another marinade we have been using that is becoming a household favorite:

KC Farms Chicken Marinade #2

Ingredients

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Sea Salt
Cracked pepper
6 rosemary sprigs (we used dried rosemary because my rosemary plants weren’t big nough yet to take this much fresh and crush it with a mortar and pestle – I don’t know how much exactly…is there such a thing as too much rosemary??)

Mix together in a bowl and pour over chicken in bag/container – just like previous recipe.  Again, this is good for about three large breasts, so we double this one every time too.

One of our favorite go-to meals in the crock pot is Mexican Steak and Beans!  I’ve posted about it before (It Helps To Be Organized When You Live In The Country, May 3, 2012), but I didn’t post the recipe, just the process.  It is really convenient to mix everything the night before and then just put the meat in the crockpot and dump the rest on top of it on your way out the door the next morning.

KC Farms Mexican Steak and Beans

Ingredients

Beef flank steak (we just use about ½ pound for the two of us, and have more beans and rice than meat)
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 small can diced green chiles
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano OR 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

Cheese and sour cream, optional

I mix the tomatoes, chiles, onion, garlic and spices in a bowl and them put them in a quart jar the night before.  In the morning, I just put the flank steak in the crockpot (I spray with Pam first) and pour the tomato mixture on top, spread it around, covering the meat and turn the crock pot on.   

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 9 hours or on high-setting for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours (depending on your slow cooker settings).

We have a rice maker with a timer, so we set the rice up to be done at the same time and voila, dinner is done when you walk in the door after work!

Remember when I mentioned before how hard it is to find good help?  Well get a load of this!




















What a mess this little boy is!!! When we’re not growling over the latest piece of furniture he has eaten, he really does make us laugh a lot. J

Until next time, worms rock.
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Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.