Friday, April 29, 2016

Spring storm

Well, the storm that was originally predicted to arrive this afternoon got in a hurry and came about 7:30 a.m. It's dark enough for the security light next to the house to be on! It's thundering, lightning, and raining hard.

As I type this, it's about 8:15 a.m. and I haven't been out to milk the mama goat yet. Because we took down so much fencing, I can't just run her out into the other area we have, where we had the milk stanchion previously under a small shelter, to go milk somewhat protected from the elements. I'm hoping this blows over in the time frame they are now saying it will. I know that goat is ready but I'm really not wanting to be struck by lightning! And the stanchion is now in the center of the nursery/isolation pen!

We will definitely be building a better milking shelter when we get to the new homestead. Some of the long pallets we have will work for that and I may have a source for others that are about 3 ft. by 12 feet to build animal shelters with.

It looks like it's supposed to rain pretty much all weekend. I can put on rain gear to go milk, but I don't have lightning gear if it storms!

Posting this before the power goes out since the lights just flickered!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Springtime means new life! Baby Goat!

Our bigger mama goat gave birth on April 26, 2016! She had a buckling, and I was hoping for a doeling, but you take what you get.

It happened around midnight, or close to it. I heard a high pitched noise coming from that direction and really thought it sounded like a rabbit getting caught by a fox or something. A rabbit will squeal loudly when caught by a predator, and that's what it sounded like. It was pretty loud and even made Molly Dog bark. We went out with a light to see if we could figure out what was going on, followed the sound to the goat yard where the does are right now till we get them moved to the new homestead, and found a pure white baby goat, already cleaned up by mama.

The doe was up and doing fine but not interested in the baby. She did the same thing last year and we didn't act soon enough to save the baby. We assume last year, it didn't get the colostrum it needed. This year, we were ready. We had a kid nipple and a water bottle for bottle feeding. We did put mama in the stanchion and feed her while holding the buckling up on the stanchion so he could drink some colostrum. When we knew he had gotten a few ounces, we milked the doe out and brought the milk and the baby inside with us.

That first night I was up about every 2 hours to feed the baby. He took only a couple of ounces at a time, and by morning I was exhausted. Still, since he was doing so well I upped what he was taking but stretched the time in between feedings for about the next 12 hours into 4 hours each. That gave me time in between to nap and try to make up for my sleepless night.

I've been milking the doe twice a day and her milk has just about gone to straight milk instead of colostrum now. I wound up needing to get a half gallon of goat milk out of the freezer to supplement his feedings with (it was also the same mama's milk from about 8 months ago) so I'll mix that with the newly milked portions until the previously frozen milk is used up. Then we'll use surplus milk for ourselves.

I follow the advice of a website called FiasCo Farm. They seem to have the best, most common sense goat rearing advice around.

Anyway, here's a picture of the little guy when we took him outside to play and we fed him out there.

Isn't he cute??

And, here's some video I took when we had him outside.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sometimes you have to insist

It's been over a month since I ordered my cabin. It was supposed to be ready in 10 to 15 business days. Well, it wasn't so I waited a few days then called about it. The dealership said then that the place where they source their sheet metal in Kentucky had been blown away by a tornado and it took them about a week to get a new source.


I called back again a week later when the cabin still didn't show up. That time, the dealer said the plant had fallen behind due to the other issue but it should only be a couple more days.


I called back again and he said for sure it would be ready on a certain Friday and they'd deliver it on Monday. Monday came and went. Tuesday came and went. Wednesday morning (that's Wednesday, April 27) I got a call from the delivery driver. He said he had one building ahead of mine to set up, and that it would take about 4 hours or so, then he'd load my building and deliver it.


So,we head over to the land about 30 minutes before we expected the building. Put fence wire and fence posts in a location for the first goat paddock. Put some roofing tin on the well house since it looked like that roof had leaked in the recent rain. (We'll do a proper job of fixing that in the next few days.) My cell phone rang. The delivery guy said it took him way longer at the other location and he wouldn't be able to deliver it today after all.

NOT ok!

I promise, I didn't call him names or refer him to the Devil's abode. But I did make it plain I was very unhappy all the way around. I told him how many times I'd been put off after being told the building would be there soon. I told him I'll be making a payment on a building that isn't even sitting on the property yet. I told him his company should make it right by leaving off the upcoming payment or in some way compensating me for my very long wait and for being where I was supposed to be this afternoon, even though he wasn't. He told me that Thursday he has to be in Oklahoma, Friday it's supposed to be raining, and could I take delivery next Monday or Tuesday?

Yeah. I'll take delivery then, but somebody should actually compensate me for all this hassle. He said he couldn't really do anything (which is what I figured) except deliver it next week. I asked him how do I know for sure you'll even do that? But, since I have no choice, I'll have to wait.

Then tonight around 8:30 pm I get a call. It's the company dispatcher trying to smooth things over. He asks can I take delivery tomorrow afternoon (Thursday), though it could be late in the afternoon. I agreed to that and told him I'd be available to accept the delivery.

I am not a person who relishes confrontation, but this is one time I had to step outside of my normal tendencies to "roll over" and be adamant about their service so far being less than stellar.

They better show up!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Taking down the fence and cabin update

It was hard work, but we got 90% of the field fencing down. There are sections here and there that need to stay in place till we get the animals moved, which could be in the next few days. It seems like everything needs to be done at one time. Well still retreat to this house for sleeping and showering a bit longer till everything is in place over at the new homestead.

We'll get what fencing we have put back up at the new homestead. I think we figured a field about 46 by 46 feet would be what we will have to make to start with, then as we go along, we'll add on to it, creating more paddocks so we can move the goats around.

We'll use the livestock panels to create an area for the pigs that we can move around. I plan to use them to till up garden areas and get rid of grass, grass roots, and tree roots, plus turn over and fertilize the soil. Their area will be 16 by 16 feet but with that being moved to new locations as we go, it should be just fine.

We'll also have the welded wire to build chicken runs from, instead of chicken wire. It's taller and it's sturdier than chicken wire. We'll put bird netting or something like that over the top of the chicken run, and they'll have opportunities to free range, as well, so they won't need a huge run.

Pallets will suffice to make shelters for the goats and pigs as well as for the chickens. When colder weather is coming, we'll find other things, even feed sacks, we can staple to the inside walls to help against the cold wind. We'll make sure all shelters are south facing, which was hard to do in our current location.

We talked to the cabin dealership and it looks like we could be getting the cabin on this coming Monday, April 25, 2016. I'm pretty excited but there's still a lot to be done! My son suggested using pallet boards for paneling inside the cabin, which means we need a sander to smooth them out a bit while retaining a rustic look.

I went out a bit ago to take pictures and videos of the progress and the animals, so I'll share a picture here and link to my video on YouTube.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Homestead Cheapskate - Popcorn off-grid style

It's been years since I made popcorn on the stove in a skillet. I remember it being so good! Well, I have a harder time shaking a cast iron skillet and lid over the stove these days, so I looked up Alton Brown's method in a steel mixing bowl.

Did a half batch in a steel bowl and burnt it to a crisp! LOL So, I got out my smallest stock pot and lid and did a regular size batch in that. I still scorched it a little (practice makes perfect) but it was mostly very good. We've been craving some popcorn and this seemed like the perfect time to try it.

Instead of melted butter, I mixed coconut oil and butter powder together. Then, when the popcorn was done, I heated the "butter" just till it started to melt and poured it over the popcorn. Sprinkled in some Parmesan cheese, too. My son added Louisiana hot sauce to his portion. I just wanted the buttered-parm cheese alone without hot sauce. We ate all but the scorched pieces of the popcorn, which will go to the chickens tomorrow. (They have less discerning taste than we do.)

Here's the directions I followed -- mostly. I don't have peanut oil so I used corn oil instead, but I did do the method in the recipe. Next time, I'll use lower heat.

Alton Brown Perfect Popcorn

We are never disappointed with recipes and tips from his channel and website. And, best of all, so many things he does are just fine for off-grid cooking! You can't really get much cheaper than a batch of popcorn for a nighttime snack or for eating while watching a movie. I hope I can get one of the actual stove top poppers to make it a bit easier!

By the way, I get nothing for linking to the popcorn recipe. I just thought y'all might enjoy it!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Homestead update and cabin news

I called the people yesterday about the cabin. As it turns out, the plant where they get the sheet metal from in Kentucky was hit and destroyed by a tornado not long after I ordered the cabin. It took the folks about a week to locate a new sheet metal source, so they have started back on projects again. The sales person will call them Monday, April 18, to find out the progress on the cabin.

We did go to town to the big box hardware store to pick up pex pipe and fittings to hook up the 12 volt water pump and the propane tankless water heater. We still need blue food safe barrels to pump water into, which we can source fairly locally. However, after getting the water hookup stuff today, I'm nearly out of funds for anything else. That means no insulation or paneling, no lumber to build inside walls with, no lumber for counters or grout for tiles, and no further wiring, batteries, or solar panels until I get a little more money. That will not happen till after the first of May.

It also means I can't buy the fence wire I need to fence in the livestock over there so we'll have to hustle around and get the fence all taken down at our current location, get it put up at the new location, and also fix up animal shelters. Looks like we'll be carrying water in buckets for awhile until I can get another 12 volt pump to take the water where they are.

I plan to add gutters that will feed into an IBC tank for animal water and flushing the toilet, but again, they aren't free so it may be June or July before that happens. I have a small amount set aside each month for improvements.

So, today I did go over there to do a couple of things and I videoed my "escapades". Here is Part 1. Check back to my YouTube channel for the other parts - 3 in all.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Still waiting for the cabin

I think I'll need to call the folks I bought the cabin from, though the contract does say 15 business days, which translates into 3 calendar weeks. I'm curious how much longer, though, till it's delivered.

In the meantime, a few other things I ordered have been shipped to me. They are things that we'll need in the cabin for running water from the well into the cabin. I still need to get pex pipe and fittings.

My hope is that my funds hold out to get things like insulation, fencing, and wiring to connect the solar to the cabin. I also need some kind of paneling to cover the insulation, and I've been shopping around but building materials are so expensive. I'm hoping I can find a discount deal on something before the end of summer, but the insulation will be the most important thing to acquire and install.

Several days of rain have hampered outside work, but the weekend is supposed to be dry so we'll really have to get busy with moving whatever we can - things that can safely be stored outside - over to the new place. Thinks like fence posts, tin, what fence materials we have can go and be neatly stacked so they are easy to use.

We were able to get some pallets, though, which will do for animal shelters or even to take them apart and make into paneling. I videod the few pallets we got a few days ago, and we'll head back to that place and ask for more when we see they have some in their burn pile.

Monday, April 11, 2016

About to get real busy here!

I haven't so much as taken pictures or videos of anything for several days, but I have been continuing with plans and some purchases for the new homestead.

We are still waiting for the cabin to be delivered, which should be any day now. Once that happens, there will be a LOT of work to do making it into a proper, livable cabin. It almost seems like we need to do 100 things at once!

  • Insulation
  • Plumbing
  • Off grid wiring
  • Floor plans
  • Floor covering
  • Water catchment
  • Fencing
  • Chicken coop
  • Goat barn
  • Pig barn
There's still more purging to be done in this house, and more things to reconsider when it comes to moving them to the cabin. For instance, I have a sofa, sofa table, and two wing back chairs. I've decided to not take them at all. I'll take the cushions from the sofa, clean them up, use them as seating/sleeping for a built in bed for me. Sort of like one you'd see in a RV. It will have storage under it. 

I do have a rough plan drawn up in Paint that I'll share. Tell me what you think about it!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Off Grid Pizza: The good, the bad, and the ugly

So, I tried my hand at making pizza and pizza dough from scratch yesterday and baking it in my cast iron dutch oven. It came out pretty good but I need to tweak it a bit. For one thing, I baked the dough in my dutch oven but I think I had the heat too high. Also, when I flipped it, before I put on the toppings, I probably could have just turned the fire off and put on the lid and gotten better results. As it was, it did burn in the center of the pizza crust.

However, even with the overly well done crust, the pizza turned out delicious. The crust was tender but chewy. The toppings, which were just some things I had on hand, actually wound up tasting very good.

The verdict? I'll be doing this again, but with improvements.

Here's a picture of the finished product.

Here is video number one of three I made during the process.

And, here are the links for part 2 and part 3! :)

Off Grid Pizza part 2

Off Grid Pizza part 3

The recipe is included in the description boxes of each video. Let me know if you try it and what you'd do differently!

Coffee: Making it and keeping it hot off grid

I really can't remember a time when I haven't had coffee every single day. I began drinking coffee when I was about 11 years old. Of course, back then, Mama would make sure it was more milk and sugar than actual coffee, but it made me feel like one of the grown-ups to have some when they did.

Over the years, my affection for coffee hasn't diminished one bit. I do drink it every day and enjoy every cup.

For a long time, I made it in a drip coffee maker. Of course, after awhile, those things mess up. Either they won't brew the coffee or the warmer plate won't keep the coffee hot. So, I switched to an electric percolator. I have to say, the flavor of percolated coffee is far superior, in my opinion, to drip coffee. The last percolator I had got to where it would start brewing the coffee all over again after about 20 minutes, as if it thought it was a new batch.

That's when I decided to go "old school" and get a stove top percolator. I was in control of how long it perked and when to turn it off. Keeping it hot meant either warming a cup in the microwave or keeping the electric stove burner on it's lowest setting. I did make it on one of my butane stoves, too, but the problem of keeping it hot was still there.

Last summer, my sister gave me an electric percolator so I started using that. So far, it's worked beautifully and it looks like it's going to continue to do so. The problem now is that we are soon going off grid, and that percolator uses a whopping 1000 watts of electricity for brewing.

So now, I'm reverting back to the stove top percolator, with one difference. I'll be keeping freshly brewed coffee in my Thermos brand pump pot so I don't have to waste time or butane (using butane stoves) reheating it for the next cup.

Here's the video I did, outlining my plans. After I made the video, I made a pot of off grid coffee and put it in the pump pot I talked about in the video!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Recent Harbor Freight bargains

Due to moving soon, we've been gathering up some things we can use on the new homestead. Since a Harbor Freight Tools opened in the next town, which is still about a 25 mile drive from us, we started cutting out coupons for the items we need that they have on sale. Also, cut out some 20% off coupons. With everything else that's going on, I figure we need to save some bucks where ever we can!

So, I posted a slide-show type video on my YouTube channel of most of the things we've accumulated so far that will help us as we switch from the grid to off-grid in the new cabin. (We expect the cabin to be delivered next week, barring any problems.)

I've also ordered a couple of things from Ebay. One is a propane tankless water heater and the other is a 12v battery suitable for charging with our solar panels and using as we need it.

Yesterday we also stopped at a house where a person was selling a small propane tank, though it's not the little ones like you see for gas grills. It's about twice that big. We need to take it to the propane place and get it filled. We'll also need to make sure we have the fittings for it and a water supply line that will go from the well to the water heater.

In a few days, we'll head to another town to pick up some food grade blue 55 gallon drums to use as our water holding tanks for the well water, and we'll need to shop around for a small, possibly submersible, 12 volt pump that will send water from the barrels to the cabin.

Last week we picked up a never-used toilet for a song, so we also need to get the supplies needed to install that and hook it to the septic tank.

So much to do and think about!!