Sunday, July 31, 2011

Century Link- Coyote Stupid

Congratulations Century Link, you get awarded my prized Coyote Stupid Award.
I read a blog about how in Vermont they are getting fiber optic high speed Internet in very rural areas. They are using horses to pull the cable along the power poles. Here in Missouri we have horses, hills and power poles, but we also have Century Link. They have one man to install DSL for the town of Summersville, MO. Right, one guy! And that is his second job!
We called Century Link to ask if we will ever get DSL, they have no ideas. We offered to pay Century Link to install DSL at our farm, they laughed at us and said they don't do that.
I called the head of sales and he said there are not enough people on my street to make the Internet worth any money to them, nice huh? Am I living in a cave?
Basically Century Link is doing a great big nothing for the Ozarks of rural Missouri. They are keeping Missouri residents in the stone ages keeping us from having what the rest of the USA has, high speed Internet. All our Federal Government will do is just give Century Link more money. And Century Link will just buy up other phone/Internet companies and keep being the big fat MONOPOLY it is.
They did it to Show Me Power, a company that tried to get fiber optic to the small rural towns. Century Link lowered their price for Internet until Show Me Power could not make any more sales. Then after Show Me Power went belly up, Century Link stopped adding any more fiber and sat on the money.
So thank you Century Link for keep us in the dark ages. Thanks for giving the rest of our state that wholesome hillbilly backwoods backwards profile we love. Thanks Century Link for holding back sales, deliveries, movies, realty, e-mail and all other forms of Internet commerce the rest of the US uses. I am so damn proud of how you are keeping Missouri behind, I could just scream.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Spiky Wish List

Here is a close up of the best front end 3 spike bale loader we have seen yet. It is a fully adjustable addition on our medium sized tractor. The problem is this device is quite out of our budget new. So we are going to put it on our wish list and look for one used or at auction. It made our round bale moving a breeze. We are so grateful to have friends lend it to us. I hope Santa can haul one like it on his sleigh for us this Christmas.

All My Hay Men in a Row

How many men does it take to unload 28 round bales of hay? How many tractors? For us it took 3 men and 3 tractors, 1 house trailer and 1 F-350. We picked up our bales from the hay farmer in the morning. He loaded up the bales with his green John Deere. We hauled the hay to our farm 4 bales at a time on the borrowed house trailer. Then we needed to remove the bales from the trailer bed using a friends tractor with the best 3 spike loader. My husband finished the job with the 3 spike borrowed tractor. We drove back and forth 7 times to collect all the bales about 1.5 miles away from our farm. Today we used our tractor to organize the 28 bales on wood pallets. Our tractor is not fitted up to lift bales off a trailer, yet. We drank about 5 gallons of iced tea doing all this on a hot July day. With the lack of rain we might not be able to get this much hay again before winter comes. And we have to feed 4 horses over winter. Being an observer/photographer to all these machines, men and hay can make a farm girl feel like a queen for a day.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rolla Tank

We stopped over at the Rolla VFW hall to see their tank. It was not going anywhere as the rear wheels were welded. But it was fun to see one up close. They are very proud of their tank.

Hot and Scrappy

What to do on a hot humid July morning? How about move a 400lb washer, dryer, and an electric organ out of a basement? And what fun that was. Three adults were able to get these vintage machines up and out of a basement and onto a flatbed. We helped our neighbor get glass, paper and scrap metal out of his property and to the recycling center. It was worth the effort since scrap metal is worth some money. Beats rusting away in a basement. Since there is no trash service out here in the Ozarks we have to figure out what to do with it. It can get creative. At least were were able to get it all loaded and hauled off under the shade of the trees.
Our neighbor was kind enough to make us steaks for dinner to celebrate working so hard today. It was nice to relax after such a hot day outside.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Peach Me

This week I bought a bushel of peaches to can. The peaches are close to overripe and very sweet tasting. I canned only 5 jars this go round. I will make fruit leather and jam out of the remainder peaches. All the skins, buggy pulp and seeds went to our flock. It was a tasty treat for our hens on a hot dry day.

Swimming Ducks

Here are our young ducks cooling off in their tubs. They swim, dive and chase each other into the tubs. The chickens just stand by and watch.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Into the Briny Deep

In the last couple of days I have been making pickles for the first time. I could not pass up the home grown cucumbers at the farmers market. My cucumbers did not grow this year because of bad seeds.
So armed with fresh cucumbers, spices, new/old jars and a lot of pots boiling, I got to canning.
I made dill pickle spears for my husband and bread and butter coins for me. I doctored my pickles with more cardamon seeds and Hoisin sauce for a more Asian flavor. I can hardly wait to try them out. What a fun way to use up cucumbers. The whole house smells wonderful with all the spices floating around in the air. "You just can't buy that smell in a can", to quote my husband.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Big Black Beetle

I happened to find this huge black beetle pondering across my neighbors basement floor. She almost weighed as much as a full spool of quilting thread and was the size of the palm of my hand. She is a black rain beetle and is a rare find indeed. They take 13 years to mature and both sexes emerge just before rain and fall to mate then burrow underground again. The female does not fly only the male, so that was why she was walking in the basement. She was the neatest bug I have found yet. I set her outside to find a mate in the woods.


What a busy day of jar hunting! A wonderful neighbor is restoring an old house and had some jars to find new homes for. So armed with boxes we went into the basement of this old house to salvage as many usable jars and possible. Most of the jars had foodstuffs from the 1990's and were on the verge of becoming open. The original owner had canned milk, corn, tea, chocolate, rose hips, spinach, beets, honey, herbs, jams and syrups. It was amazing the amount of time spent canning all this food. The sad part was that the lids had rusted in the damp basement and were unusable except for compost. I was able to salvage most of the unused jars large and small sizes. Next, I loaded my car with about 70 jars of various sizes and shapes. I think I am all set for jars with plenty to share with other caners, too.
Having canned for just the two of us, I realize how one can make too much food. Last year I made 2 bushels of apples into 18 quart jars of apple sauce, but we did eat all but 1 jar. And all 12 quart jars of peaches were eaten. So I think I have a grasp of not wasting canned foods. I had a great neighbor show me how to do this. So with this years harvest and new/old jars I am ready to expand my canning.
Even though that old basement pantry is now a bio hazard in that old house, it was a learning experience. To see how someone else made the most out of what they grew/raised in a their own pantry. And one day I am sure these jars will leave my hands for the next generation to pick up and try.
The next job will be to remove the filled jars and empty the contents with air masks on.
We are going to lend the owner a hand for this messy task in the basement jar-mageddon. Once the food and glass are removed the rest of the basement will be cleared out and the house ready for restoration work. We all just need a break with cooler weather out here in the Ozarks.
I am so grateful our neighbor wanted to salvage these old jars. It was worth the effort even in this summer heat.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Talk about Alzheimer's

It has come into my life all at once the disease of Alzheimer's. I have neighbors, friends, mother in law and an uncle who are the stages of Alzheimer's. And nobody wants to talk about it. It is silently dealt with in quiet conversations in other rooms or avoided all together. Family members get enraged at people wanting only to help or lend a hand. Even the ill person can be violent and combative in the later stages of this disease. Families are scared, raw and emotional. Yes, when a loved one gets ill and loses mental function it is scary and you lash out of fear or denial. But after the bullfight and the dust settles; you have to deal with an ill human being needing care.

Nobody talks about it in public and that is wrong. As humans we need to communicate about how we are solving problems of our aged. Problems like parents out of state, home health care, doctor appointments, bills, property management, putting your loved one in a home, estate planning, pet/livestock care, paying for doctors and long term care and the lists go one. When you see a doctor you are handed a pamphlet and left to your own devices, great. You will have to battle with the health insurance company not wanting to pay the bills incurred in treatment, oh joy.
That is not working for the families going through this trauma. Your life gets turned upside down and you need help righting your life.

What does help is the phone, the Internet, social network of visitors, trusted neighbors, churches and people helping each other. Making time in your life to deal with the changes occurring in your loved ones life and helping them. We are all in this journey and we need to help each other along the way.
Because in 20 or 30 years from this point in time we might be the ones on the receiving end of what our society/government decides and not what our families want. Lets provide a soft nest for our loved ones together to fall into protected and safe. And lets feather our nests with knowledge and strength to carry on.

To learn more about Alzheimer's go here and read this: The 36 Hour Day by Nancy Mace, M.D.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Corn a Plenty

I love summer corn and now it the best time to buy local while it is fresh and cheap. I got this corn and it had small bugs on it, a great sign. Live bugs means no pesticides were used growing this veggie. I brought 10 ears home, washed them and quickly pressure cooked them in minutes. Then I cut the kernels off the cooked corn and put them in the dehydrator for the day. The result is sweet cooked summer corn saved for this winter soups. An easy thing to do when the season gives us a bountiful harvest.

Blackberry Me

We finally had a huge harvest of blackberries all around our farm. It was so worth putting on layers of jeans and long sleeves, gloves and boots to collect these sweet berries. I got all set up and spent the day in my kitchen with my harvest. I got a rolling boil, hot jars and lids all ready. I pulped and screened out the seeds and got the berries boiling in pectin and sugar. What a pretty purple color it made. After the rolling boil I poured in all my juice and capped the jars then a hot bath for 10 minutes. The results was 8 jars of Blackberry syrup. I did not boil long enough and shorted the sugar, ending in a syrup. But friends all were all happy to take home a jar of my home grown and handmade blackberry syrup. Next year I will jam better for my berries. Now on to corn!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why I Love Machines?

I had forgotten how much I love to work on machines. But new neighbors moved next door and I felt that old familiar thrill of the old machine. He works on cars and makes them purr. As a child my grandfather put me on the engine of a 1965 Ford Galaxie and showed me how to fix her. He told me one day she would be mine. That Ford was my first love. But moving around the country and youth separated me from her and I have always been looking for her big chrome grin and teal body. So I have moved to farm tractors, wow what wonderful creations. They work, rust and fall apart but they will always be waiting for you to get them going again. They do not judge, do not have loyalties, do not gossip and won't hurt you on purpose. You can paint them any color and add what you want to them. They will perform as hard as you make them. Machines like tractors and cars are so much better than a Barbie doll for me. Give me grease, chrome, oil and gas and find me in the garage. A machine can't hug you but it can purr for you! Long live the machines.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Saving Baby Birds

Late summer and storms bring a lot of bird nests down around our farm. Recently our tabby upended a nest and scattered the chicks. So in the dark of night I gathered them and put them in a nest of shavings and hay and placed baby birds and in a plastic gourd with 2 sized openings. I hung the nest high in a spruce where I heard the parents birds chirping for their chicks. I made sure both holes were open for the parent birds to get in. Most plastic gourd openings are for slimmer martin type birds and my chicks were a larger breed. The next day I observed the parents taking turns feeding the chicks in their new gourd. Nature finds a way to take care of itself. And chicks have a better chance of making it if the parents raise them. Birds do not care about if your scent on the chicks, if they can hear a chick they will seek it out and feed it. The main concern is timing, get those chicks outside next to the parents as soon as possible. Otherwise the parents will begin a new nest/brood. Hand raising baby chicks (or wild animal babies) is a messy full time job and ends in the death of the animal most times.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ducky Day

Our young ducks are growing up fast. They still cannot fly yet, but they have doubled in size. They eat a lot of duck food along with bugs and worms they dig up. We are hopping they will fly to our pond to cool off out of the heat wave we are having. They still use the toy tubs I set up for them as ducklings.