Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bleating Beauties

This afternoon I spent quite a bit of time with my goatie girls, snapping tons of photos since it has become increasingly obvious that they are going to start kidding any day, and I wanted to document their rotundity for posterity. All of the pictures of my goats are cute, of course, but this is my hands-down favorite -

Teeny, Blue & Chardonnay. Aren't my babies sweet?

The countdown is on for Chardonnay. She looks ready to go, so I'm on high alert for the sound of goat-in-pain wailing and teeny-tiny baby bleats. :)))

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My New Gig

And that would be as a freelance amateur goat gynecologist. Which is, of course, every bit as glamorous as it sounds. ;)

As I'd mentioned in a previous post, I was called to the home of my friend, B, to check on Fritzen's potential pregnancy, and to bring Miss Oreo back to the ol' ranch for a romantic rendezvous with our yearling buck, Barley.

In addition to checking on the fertility of B's does, I did a little look-see at my own goatie girls today.

Chardonnay is the one who is most obviously pregnant. Beyond being uncharacteristically girthy, she has recently started to bag up a bit. She's also got the floppy tail and the bulging bum-bum that tell me that she's probably within two weeks of kidding, give or take. Last year she kidded on February 10th and had beautiful twins, a boy & a girl.

Blue. Miss Blue has me wonderin'. Bill is 100% convinced that she's quite preggo, but I'm still not there yet. I'm... maybe 80% sure. She's as big as a house, but she tends toward the chunky end of the spectrum anyway. I think that I might have seen some fetal movement on her left flank today, but I just don't know. Her lady business is all poker face. No bulging, not in heat, no clues at all to what's going on in her generous little low-riding belly. Blue last kidded in November 2010, delivering a single sassy little buckling, Blackjack.

Hop (Chardy's yearling doe) is definitely not pregnant. She has somehow successfully managed to avoid her frisky brothers' many attempts to deflower her. Good girl.

Valentina ("Teeny", Fritzen's yearling doe) is also definitely not pregnant, but is very much in heat. I find it fascinating that she and her twin, Oreo, who have been separated by a few miles for going on two months now are still so synced-up, cycle-wise. We are debating on whether or not to breed her to Barley, her half-brother. We would only do so if we intended to harvest her kids, as we wouldn't want a line of inbreeding and re-inbreeding goats. We're not sure that we're up to harvesting a kid. That, in addition to the fact that we will, with my cousin's Alpine does joining our flock, have at least 3 mommies in milk has us leaning towards letting Teeny girl grow for another year before breeding her.

And so that's the scoop. We should be seeing the sproing! of little hooves shortly, but exactly when, no one knows. You know I'll keep you apprised. ;)

Chardonnay in her signature "head shot". Apparently my camera strap is delicious every time!

The unsinkable Auntie Blue with young Miss Hop

Fritzen and her daughters, Teeny & Oreo

Has your food been "slimed"?

Photos and videos of a substance ominously named "pink slime" have been making the rounds on social networks and in headlines for a few months now. Most of these videos depict a bright pink colored paste that is comprised of mechanically separated meat. Sometimes it's chicken, sometimes beef, pork or turkey, but it is all destined for processed food products, some of which might end up in you or, more likely, your kids' bellies.

Don't believe it? I don't want to either, but here it is, the grisly truth:

If you or your family are eating processed foods that contain this gunk, you are not only eating "cuts" of meat that aren't fit for most dog foods, but you're also consuming a product that has been "cleaned" (aka - soaked in) ammonium hydroxide.

This aspect of the meat processing protocol is obviously not something that fast food restaurants or the USDA think that you need to know about, because they consider it a process, not an ingredient. Are they asking us to believe that no trace of the ammonia remains in the meat after it has been marinated in the stuff? Seriously?

Apparently so, because the USDA has not required any special labeling for processed meat products that have been treated thusly, and it is estimated that up to 70% of the ground beef on the market has been processed this way. The beef and chicken products in your child's school lunch have almost certainly been through this process and the people who choose to purchase this chemical drenched food on behalf of you and your kids have the nerve to refer to it as "safe" and "wholesome". !!!

Why would they put caustic chemicals in your food? Because the folks in charge of food safety at the USDA have decided that the minuscule chance that there could be E. coli or Salmonella contamination in your meat products necessitates carpet-bombing it with caustic sterilizers. If meat is raised, slaughtered and handled with care and common sense cleanliness practices instead of living it's life knee deep in sewage in a CAFO and then cranked through a rendering plant, the odds of it ever needing such extreme treatments are virtually none. Fear has brought us here, but isn't this "food" what we should be afraid of?

My very favorite food crusader, Jamie Oliver, breaks it down in the video below. Please watch, and better yet - show it to your kids. I'm very conscious of the food my kids eat, but watching this has made me want to redouble my efforts to keep these "foods" out of my kids' mouths and bellies.

I became a farmer in part to ensure that I knew exactly what was going into my family's mouths. Obviously, not everyone can take that route. The steps that anyone can take to avoid and reject this notion of food are these-

Stay informed! Read labels, ask hard questions. You have every right to know the story behind your food.

Advocate! Let the people who are making these food choices on behalf of us all know that these are unacceptable practices. Make your preference for truly wholesome, recognizable food known!

Reject! Refuse to eat or serve foods made with these highly processed ingredients. For me, this will mean packing my kids' lunches everyday. A great pass/fail test for food - if your Grandma wouldn't recognize the ingredients, don't eat it!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Upcycled Crafting: T-shirt Headband

I have been having a mad love affair with Pinterest for the past few months. Have you too been sucked into it's shiny orbit?

In the event that you have not, Pinterest is "virtual pin board" loaded with brightly colored images of DIY projects, striking photographs, fashions finds and more. It goes beyond eye candy; for an easily dazzled thrifty crafter like me, it's more like eye crack.

And so, I've been self-medicating with gorgeous photographs of other folks' art and craft projects, and have pinned a whole mess of DIY goodies and crafts that I want to try my hand at. Today's venture was the "T-shirt Headband", using a few of my favorite elderly t-shirts.

The process is explained completely here, though I still had to find a YouTube video to get the hang of a 5-strand braid.

My first attempt was a herringbone-type braid, using 5 strands of 1" wide fabric (the salmon colored braid), followed by two goes with the 5-strand braid as shown in the video. They came ok for a newbie, I think -

The t-shirts that I used were probably not the best suited for this project. They had lost some of their elasticity in their old age, and the strands didn't really curl into themselves (as did the strands in the tutorial), leaving me with flatter pieces and the occasional visible raw edge.

I also had a spot of trouble keeping my tension consistent, but now that I feel like I have these braiding techniques figured out, I think my next few tries will come out better.

Lastly, here is my Lil' Peanut modelling my favorite of the lot-