November 29, 2014

Sammy Gets A Drink

I keep a stainless steel bucket under the spigot of my wood cookstove hot water reservoir. That makes it handy when the stove is in use and I want hot water. It actually sits there all the time, because the other thing I used it for is to catch water from the kitchen faucet. Rather than letting all that cold water go down the drain while I'm waiting for the water to warm up, I catch it in the bucket. Then it goes to water plants or into the washing machine.

All the cats love to drink out of this bucket. Riley is a surface licker, although he likes to paw the ground as a prelude to getting his drink. In fact, all that pawing is the reason the cats' water dish resides in the bathroom. He prefers drinking out of the bucket and if the water level in the bucket is low, he stretches his neck!


Katy is a paw dipper, which works for all water levels.


But Sam - if the water is low ...


If the water is low he stands with his front feet in the water, in the bucket!

What a cat.

Sammy Gets A Drink © November 2014
by Leigh at

November 27, 2014

Old 100th

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Praise Him, all creatures here below

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Old 100th photos © November 2014

November 25, 2014

Pigs and Goats in the Garden

Polly and Waldo rooting in last summer's sweet potato bed. 

This year I decided it was time to do something different in the garden. For the past several years we've tried permanent beds in hopes they would be a work-smarter-not-harder gardening option. No-till with tons of mulch for weed control makes sense, doesn't it? Well, that was a fail.

My sad story is that I cannot keep up with wire grass control. In the beginning it goes okay and then two things happen: 1) I run out of mulch and 2) harvest and preservation commence and there's no time for anything else at that point. Except for picking (and watering as needed), the garden is pretty much neglected.

October photo: Wire grass taking over once well mulched black turtle beans.

For those who don't know, wire grass (Cynodon dactylon, also called devil grass) is an uncultivated bermuda grass. It is the plague of the southeastern United States, even worse than kudzu. If you've read my gardening posts over the years, then you know I've been battling wire grass ever since we got here. I've learned that the best I can hope for is to try to stay one step ahead of the stuff.

In comparing till versus no-till, I have to say that tilling gives me some advantage because I can rake out a lot of the rhizomes. That slows it down. This fall, however, Dan and I decided to let the pigs have at it. They did such an amazing job with the ground ivy that we wanted to see if they could make a difference in the garden.

Strawberry bed in front. Electric netting separates the pigs from the perennials

To keep them where we wanted them, we bought electric netting. The netting is a little more expensive that regular electric fencing, but I wanted to make sure we could keep not only pigs and goats out, but chickens too. It definitely works. For the charger, we went with solar.

Of course I couldn't let the goats miss out.

Gruffy, Randy, & my little Supergoat. I left the amaranth, popcorn, &
okra plants for them, also the green bean and black turtle bean plants

The Billy Boys are closest to the garden at present, so they are the ones who get to share in this treat. They will actually eat the wire grass, both fresh and dried as hay, but they can't control it. Actually, I don't know if the pigs can either, but I'm willing to let them do their thing. It isn't no-till, but it is natural till, and I'm okay with that.

The electric netting will enable us to subdivide pasture areas as needed to let them rest, for soil improvement, and growing other crops or new pasture. Seemed a better idea than more permanent fences.

November 22, 2014

Front Porch Floor

The porch has a floor!

We went with standard wood decking. Of all the options it was the most economical.

We discussed which direction to run the boards. Seems most decks run parallel to the house. By running them the way we did, we could simply buy the correct number of both ten and eight foot lengths. No extra cutting so it was a pretty quick job.

I especially like the way Dan finished the sides.

Common practice is to run a board across the front edge as a face board and that's it. Because of the unevenness of the brick foundation Dan wanted to make sure any mouse sized gaps were covered, hence the more unique look.

The next step will be to stain and seal it, but that will have to wait until the weather warms up, because winter finally caught up with us. Also Dan is anxious to get posts up to support the porch roof. Then we can install the new front door, which has been keeping in a spare room for the past several years. We are both looking forward to that because the old door is terribly drafty. That will require a little warmer weather too, so in the meantime we've been chopping wood, raking leaves, and working on phase two of the goat shed, Always something to do.

Next up, porch roof support posts.

November 20, 2014

Pyrography Clearance Sale

Dan cleaned out his studio the other day and ended up with over two dozen woodburnings that he wants to sell. I thought he priced it a little low for most of it, but he just wants it to go. Since we no longer have our Etsy site, I'm just going to pass it on to you in case anyone is interested. The link for what he has for sale is here. If you're interested, you can contact him with his contact form.

November 18, 2014


November is our autumn month.

Early November view from the goat shed - sun peeking through the trees

 The calendar says autumn starts in September, but that's not so.

Japanese Maple on right, Pecan tree on left.

Autumn is when the trees say so. It's when they sprinkle their leaves on the ground in the wind.


It's when a sweater or light jacket would feel good as I head out to do those chores.

Japanese Maple Leaves

Autumn is when wood smoke smells warm and welcoming on the cool, crisp air. It is here when I get up at 4:30 and have two full hours for writing before I have to head out to do chores at first light.

Even poison ivy looks pretty in autumn

The colors of autumn are red, yellow, orange, and gold.

Japanese Magnolia (yellow), Crepe Myrtle (orange), Dogwood (red)

And so it is with all the seasons. It's not the length of day or the turning of the sun in it's course across the sky. Summer was when everything was green and growing; winter is when it's not. The colors of winter are brown and grey. Spring will be here again when the wind blows warm after a rain instead of cold. It's when things start to grow and the world is filled with fresh green, yellow, and pink.

The blueberry bush has been the last to turn.

Some things just don't fit a human time table. Some things have a time table of their own.

Autumn © November 2014 by Leigh

November 16, 2014

Make-Do Pig Digs

Polly & Waldo, always hopeful for something to eat

The time had come for the pigs to have their own place. They'd been sleeping in the buck barn, but with the newly planted buck pasture coming up, I didn't want them rooting it up when I let the bucks back in. Plus I'd seen Gruffy and Waldo squabble over entry to the little log barn, and that had to be dealt with too. When Waldo was just a little guy, he would stand at the gate and squeal for his meal. Gruffy made great sport over picking on him. The more Waldo would squeal, the more Gruffy would push him around. It's always the smallest, youngest, and newest animals that get picked on the most and I suppose Gruffy, being the shortest goat, always got the brunt end of it. Waldo was the first four legged critter that was smaller than himself. But Waldo got bigger (and heavier) and apparently didn't forget. Gruffy was now getting payback.

The more important reason was to put the pigs where we need them. They are excellent natural tillers of the soil. My pasture maintenance scheme calls for putting the pigs in the forage area that needed the most work. For that they need shelter.

We'd toyed with the idea of a wood structure. Many are portable: either on skids or easy to knock down are reassemble elsewhere. Our setup isn't conducive to hauling a small structure around, neither do we have the tractor to do it. Instead, we decided to make a more temporary structure, a straw bale pig house.


We started with a cattle panel, bending it into a curve and tying it to the welded wire fence. Top and back (the side which will get the most winter wind) were covered down with tarps.


Dan also staked the sided to further make sure it doesn't go anywhere.


We lined it with bales of straw, tying these to the cattle panel too. There was enough tarp overhang in front to tie down for a pig height entrance.

No Gruffy! It's pig digs, not pyg(my) digs!

I wish the tarp had been long enough to cover the sides completely, but this is a make do situation. I may add more later if funds allow.


One thing I can tell you is that it is certainly warm inside! I'll add loose straw for them to burrow into as needed. We can even make "repairs" if needed because bales of straw are certainly cheap enough.

I'm curious as to how long this will last. That information will help us improve upon it next year. The beauty of such a house is that it can be disassembled when the pigs are moved. The cattle panel and tarps can be moved to the new location, and the straw can be used for mulch and compost right where it is. A win-win all the way around.

November 14, 2014

Slow Cooker Ribs With Barbecue Gravy

We've been so busy with outdoor projects lately that by the time evening chores are done, I've been too tired to cook. Sandwiches are okay, but with the weather getting chillier, a nice hot dinner can be a real comfort. With a little planning ahead and my slow cooker, that hot meal really hits the spot when we're tired to the bone. This rib recipe was super easy and used mostly homegrown ingredients. The only thing I didn't grow or make myself was the sorghum syrup.

Sometimes called sorghum molasses, it isn't actually molasses, which is a byproduct of the sugar extraction process. Sorghum syrup is made from juice pressed from the sorghum plant and then cooked down much like maple syrup. It's a traditional Southern food item: sorghum syrup and biscuits, or sorghum syrup and cornbread, yum! Strangely, I can rarely find it on the grocery store shelves! Mine came from Golden Barrel.

I was introduced to Golden Barrel products when we went up to Lancaster County, PA five and a half years ago for my son's wedding. Their retail outlet carries things I like to keep in my pantry: molasses, syrups, cooking oils, also light and dark sugars (including organic). I occasionally see some of their products locally, but their online prices are excellent too. (It's also nice that my son's in-laws live in that area so that I can send a shopping list when they go visit!).

Anyway, enough about sorghum and shopping lists. On to the recipe.

Slow Cooker Ribs With Barbecue Gravy

  • Ribs, mine were home butchered chevon ribs so I don't know the weight! Everything was divided and frozen to make servings for two, which fit nicely in my crock pot.
  • 1.5 cups "V-8" style tomato juice
  • 1/4 cup sorghum syrup
  • handful of chopped onion
  • 3 or 4 chopped garlic cloves, (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 rounded tablespoons flour

Place ribs into the crock pot. Mix remaining ingredients with a whisk and pour over the ribs. Set crock pot temperature according to manufacturer's directions for the time you wish to eat. Cover. Turn the ribs occasionally. By the time they're done they'll be falling off the bone tender.

We ate our ribs with baked sweet potatoes (home grown) and cole slaw (not home grown.) The sweet potato topped with butter and drizzled with ...

You guessed it, drizzled with sorghum syrup!

November 12, 2014

Happy Kingdom Kinders California

May I present the newest addition to my Kinder mini-herd, my new buckling,

Happy Kingdom Kinders California

He is a 16 week old, 7th generation Kinder; one of a pair of twin bucklings. He came all the way from California, from Kinder breeder Debby Riddle (Riddle Family Farm - you can read her side of the story here). Like Helen and Daphne, and Randy, his being here is a providential miracle. And what a feat it has been!

There are lots of tasty leaves to eat here.

For a cross-country journey we figured flying would be the best route, being quickest, but finding an airline to do it and getting all the checklist boxes checked off (proper airline approved crate, veterinary health certificates, etc.) was a job of work, for which Debby gets all the credit.

Meeting Randy, his fellow Kinder buck, for the first time

He came in Monday evening, on United Airlines as "petsafe" live animal cargo. He took it like a trooper and never made a peep! It was a long day, however, so I was relieved to get him home and settled in.

Pygmy buck Gruffy was curious too

To make his adjustments I've given him Bunny as a temporary companion. Being my littlest buck, I wanted him to meet the Big Billy Boys from the opposite side of the fence. Plus, travel is stressful, as is being separated from familiar goats, people, and surroundings, so I want to keep a careful eye on our boy. Once they get to know one another, the Boys will all be together. I have to add that he is considerably more interested in the Big Boys than in bellyaching little Bunny.

He's taken everything in stride, even pigs.

He in interested in everything and has a very calm personality. He will go to work next year. He is a most welcome addition to the homestead.

My Billy Boys

November 10, 2014

Front Porch: Framing for the Floor

Progress at last. Last time I showed you what we did to rebuild the foundation. This time I can show you the framing for the new floor.

We decided to run the decking boards from the house to the front, instead of lengthwise. I'll explain why in an upcoming post. That decision determined how the framing framed out.

A few homemade piers were needed. Above are brick piers, below are 4x4 piers. Basically, Dan made them from materials that were handy.

Notice too, the yellow up-arrow in the lower right hand corner of the photo. See how it points to a shallow ridge of some sort? That is actually a row of bricks, nearly buried. They seem to outline a past ... what? Small porch? Except the existing porch roof is built right into the house roof and is open to the attic. There are always interesting clues to make us wonder what out house looked like when it was built 90 years ago.

Another surprise!

Do you remember how pleased I was that the crawlspace is now supposedly critter proof? The night before I took this photo, I heard something on the porch and thought Dan was out there in the dark. Except he was in the house. The next morning we found that hole dug under and into the crawlspace. Dan set out a live animal trap but we didn't catch anything, nor was there another trace of animal activity after that.

Dan put extra support in front of the door and where the bay window will hopefully go.

Next step will be the porch floor. Click here for that.

November 8, 2014

Testing Those Dehydrated Eggs

November has brought our first frost plus a wintry mix of cold rain and snow! After morning milking I thought, "What better than fresh hot pancakes for breakfast." But we are eggless. I hadn't had a single egg in several days. Usually I have a new batch of pullets coming on, so that I've never had a truly eggless winter. But we only had roosters hatch this year, which means my youngest ladies are going into their second molt, which means eggs will be few and far between. Fortunately I'd been diligent to preserve some! I decided to try some of my dehydrated raw eggs.

Home dehydrated powdered raw eggs

I measured out a rounded tablespoon for each egg.

Then added warm water and stirred. I found that two tablespoons of water to one tablespoon dried egg gave me the best consistency.

2 tbsp warm water to 1 rounded tbsp dried egg powder = 1 whole egg

Not exactly like fresh raw eggs, but good enough. This made about a quarter cup, the equivalent of two good size eggs. I let it sit while I assembled my other ingredients and got to work. The result?

Light, fluffy, and out-of-this-world delicious!

I didn't mention the eggs to Dan until he was well into his second helping. He was impressed! And so was I. Recipe below.

Dehydrated Egg Pancakes

  • 2 rounded tbsp dehydrated raw eggs
  • 4 tbsp warm water for reconstituting the eggs
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup whey
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Mix dried egg and warm water, stir well and set aside while assembling other ingredients. Mix remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add whey, milk, butter, and eggs. Cook on a hot griddle until golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately! Makes about a dozen pancakes.

Recipe Notes:

  • Of course you can substitute any type of flour, liquid, or fat you wish. I use what's on hand and we really like the flavor using the above combination.
  • I don't use baking powder, so the soda and whey serve as my homemade substitute. The baking soda (a base) and whey (an acid) combine to create carbon dioxide bubbles, which cause baked goods to rise.  

The question is, would I dry eggs again next summer for winter use? The answer is possibly.

In the plus column I have no complaints about the dried eggs themselves. Besides passing the pancake test with flying colors, they were much easier to use in a pinch than my usual frozen eggs, which require planning ahead to defrost. Dried take up less storage space too. Because of our warm climate and their potential to go rancid, I refrigerated them (freezing would work too), so there were no caking issues from the humidity.

On the other hand, the dehydrating process was slow due to the liquid content of the beaten eggs. Not that my electric dehydrator pulls a lot of watts, but it's in constant use during the summer so drying lots of eggs means something else would have to wait. (My solar oven got too hot when I experimented drying blueberries so I wouldn't use it. It would cook the eggs!).

So for those who asked, there you have it. No denying I was thankful to have those eggs!