Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Called in Account of Rain

We had a plan for this week's major clean up chore. Number one on the list was clean the rabbit hutches and cages. Also was a redesign of one hutch. This chore wasd called on account of rain. Not only did it rain. but our lovely Springtime temperatures dripped as well. The other task planned for this week was gardening and that went out the window also.

My usual quip meaning "go away" is "go play in the rain." I wasn't about to tell Mel that because she probably would and get sick, and then I'd have to deal with the icky Mel. I'm  all about preservation and the top of my list is SELF preservation. We have enough issues on this homestead without adding to them.   

So what did we do with our free time or inside restriction? Well, I'm still working on the issue of Mel's fear of pressure canners. For decades, she has heard all the horror stories. So I've been teaching her the right way to do it. Little by little her fear is being unhinged and she is relaxing. Knowledge and experience has a way of doing that. I expect by harvest time, she'll be more comfortable with the canner hissing and pinging without jumping.

I went to Walmart before I moved here to pick up two cases each of half pint and pint jars ( a majority of my jars were quarts) that I had shipped to the store. The woman who retrieved my order had looked at me strange and asked me what there was to can in February. I explained that for a homesteader canning never stops. I normally can dried beans during the winter. It adds humidity to a fire or otherwise heated house and there is nothing else, like a harvest, compering with canner time and space, but it saves time when cooking

But I digress. We have a pretty good stock pile of readily spun yarn and cotton. Mel's, mine, and her mother's stash were all combined. I have a new granddaughter due in October and we have worn out (think holey) dish clothes. We've set to work. Me, knitting a layette set for Kihara Grace and Mel, crocheting  for the kitchen. Meanwhile, we are talking about short and long term plans for the homestead. We also vegged out in front of the idiot box and binged Netflix series like "Grey's Anatomy," "Call the Midwife," and "Crossing Lines." Sometimes all three at the same time. We are multifocal all the time. Unlike our male counterparts.

When the rain was forecasted, it was called scattered showers. There has been nothing scattered about this. Just a steady falling rain, not heavy, but enough to keep you inside unless you have to go outside. It's mid May and I'm not used to such cooler temperatures. I made a big pot (only three meals worth) of Beef and Vegetable Soup. Mel is very cold natured while I am not. When she wakes  and sees me in my sweater or long sleeves, she knows automatically that it's too chilly for her.

So we've accomplished a lot just nothing outside this week. As always Be Blessed.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

We've Been Busy on the Homestead

This week has been a hectic one at the Cockeyed Homestead. We got most of the Spring planting done. Yeah!!!There are still items we need to plant and replant.

Mel refenced around the raised beds to keep the chickens out. ( YouTube video ) But, while three sides were fenced with four foot fencing one side closest to the house only was fenced with three foot wire. The chickens can fly over it. I discovered them one afternoon IN my fairly new planted raised beds. To say I was angry with them was an understatement. Visualize my face red with steam coming out of my ears. Not so pretty words came out of my mouth too as I chased them from the garden area. While the three foot fence kept the soon to be dinner out of the garden last year, the chickens are fully grown this year. While they are big, heavy birds, they can jump and fly pretty high for short distances.

Two days of planting is ruined I think. It's hard to tell with so many tiny seeds and the way the chickens scratched up the ground. I'll have to wait to see what germinates and where. With everything in the beds rearranged a la chickens I have no idea what will or won't come up. Talk about frustration. I believe Mel will fix this problem this coming week. By the way, thank you to all the viewers who sent seeds to Mel. Besides the specialty seeds I brought, we only had to buy Cayenne pepper seeds this year. Y'all were very generous.

We redesigned our logo to include us. We like this one a whole lot better. For one, the rabbit although bigger is not huge like the previous version of the design. Mel is feeding her beloved chickens. GRRR! Still upset no matter how many delicious eggs they produce. I'm holding a bottle of homemade soap and grooming the rabbit. The dog is being silly like both are and the cat is spazzing out like they all are. Even the word "cockeyed" is at a cockeyed angle. Mel beat me to the redesign. This is the only place we have a conflict. We both prefer editing videos and graphics. Both of us have extensive experience in both. I let her do it with input from me. No, I'm not a nag, but I'm a side seat driver.

The rabbits have all been shaved and groomed. They are now on a twice week grooming schedule. Shaved rather than plucked because of all the mats in their fur. With the Jersey Woolies, their fur had actually felted to their bodies.

Kinley in full bloom
We came to a decision about the rabbits. We will be only keeping the three pure bred English angoras (Kinley, Dustin, and Tempest) as the beginnings of our pure bred angora line. They will be our breeding trio. English angoras over my beloved French angoras. Compromises are essential to a happy homestead. I'm going to keep my beloved bunny, Buddy, as a house pet. She is litter trained and such a character. We will be keeping my American Chinchillas (Kieran and Colleen) as meat rabbits. Even if we only breed them three times a year, it will supply us 190-240 pounds of meat each year. The Jersey Woolies will be sold as pets. Their wool, although thick, is too short to spin comfortably. Mel is bowing to my wisdom in this. Everything has got to have a purpose on the homestead otherwise it is wasting money. The English angoras will produce enough fur (if sold as straight wool or hand spun yarn), or selling their offspring to keep them all in hay and food for a year.

The chickens are another story. Mel is in love with her chickens and they are between a year to two and a half years old. Of the three roosters, we will keep Whitie because we have to have a rooster. Roosters serve an important function in the flock. They corral the hens. They protect their girls. They call their hens to food sources. They fertilize the eggs for further production value. Whitie fills these function while the other two just have their way with the hens. So much so the hens are loosing their feathers. Being that they are over a year old, they will be tough and difficult to process. But that being said, into the pressure canner they will go. They are prime for long term storage or long cooked meals.

Colleen escaped her cage again! We are presently trying to catch her again. I think when we wash the cages. They were neglected too. Yucky! I'll put Colleen in one of the upper cages. She doesn't jump from high places. I'll also be breeding her to Kieran. Maybe with a litter to care for it will break her of her wayward ways. She doesn't venture far a field and can be found visiting with her other housemates, but actually grabbing her is another story.

Well, that's our update from the Cockeyed Homestead. Be blessed.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

You Are What You Eat~Reading Labels

Yes there are tons of additives you can add to poor soil. Most have chemicals in them or processed with chemicals. To my knowledge they are just not tasty except for salt (NaCl, a naturally occurring chemical compound). We, as a society, have gotten away from the natural, good taste of pure food. We are so used to chemicals in our food that we no longer read the labels because we know beyond a doubt that they are in there.

White Bread label-Calcium Peroxide, the word partially cut off is ammonia???

One bread I used to buy had formaldehyde as a preservative in it. I am very allergic to formaldehyde. It causes severe respiratory problems. Of course being an overachiever, I'm allergic to a lot of things food and nonfood related. My incidence of various levels of allergic reactions almost disappeared with my antihistamines and switching to an organic lifestyle. What's in my bread? Whole wheat flour  (I grind it myself), yeast, honey, spring water, sea salt, and butter. That's it. As far as shelf life, my bread will keep for a week without molding if it lasts that long. I usually make bread twice a week.

Have you ever thought about the numbers on the stickers placed on produce in the grocery stores? Did you think these PLU codes were just to make it easier for the cashiers because each product has a different one? Yes and no.  It does make it easier for reorders and cashiers but you should know that there is a more important reason for you to look at this code.

If it only has four digits, the produce was grown in "traditional" methods...dirt and pesticides. Depending on the country of origin, the pesticides could contain elements harmful to humans and animals possibly even deadly. It will have to be washed really well before eaten and all the while praying the pesticides have not entered beyond the skin of the produce.

Okay, you immediately put down all the four digit PLU coded produce, and go for the five or six digit coded produce and think it's safer. Wrong!  There are two numbers you need to be aware of. They are easy to spot being the first number on the left.

The first one I'm covering is "8." If you read"8" you should know immediately that this is a genetically modified organism (GMO). It is grown unnaturally. The seed used to grow it is tampered with in a laboratory. It's gene splicing. This is different than a hybrid which is changed by natural ways over time, or by grafting, or cross pollination. There have been no long term studies that determine the effects to the human or animal body. GMO seeds are also patented as unique products protected by law. In my mind, if you are trying to eat healthier, why fool with Mother Nature? I've heard some horror stories about GMO products so do the intelligent thing and research it on your own. Eddie at Food for Thought said in one video, "Think eight as the one we hate." It sort of stuck in my mind.

Since there are no long term studies yet (it's too new), it's like playing Russian Roulette with your body and health. I'm reminded of Thaldomide given to pregnant women to combat morning sickness in the 1950s. It had some very long term effects on their babies before it was deemed dangerous and not given to pregnant women anymore. GMOs may produce the same or worse effects. I'm protecting me and mine by avoiding them.

This is the code you want. Notice it usually says "certified organic" on the label. The produce is grown naturally without chemicals. There are stringent inspections, documentation, and history to back up up what is grown (including seed used), and how it's grown and handled. I went through this process with my old homestead and plan to do it with this one too. It is job one to produce the healthiest and most  nutritious foods to feed ourselves with.

That brings up a point that you all may have noticed in the markets for organic products. It's expensive. As stated above the length one goes through to get the "certified organic" label. It's a long, involved process. It takes time (a minimum of 3 years documentation). If you used animal waste in your compost, what the animals are fed must be organic also. If you are adding kitchen scraps to your compost, it must be organic. The inspections aren't free and there are many of them. Plus the added cost of reinspection and recertification. This is why a larger number of farmers label their produce as "chemical free," but you won't find this distinction in the grocery stores. It's the medium standing between certified organic label but hasn't been official labeled or recognized. The best they can do is label "No GMO,""No pesticides," or "no antibiotics,"or "no artificial additives." But there is no oversight to prove it.

So keep in mind next time you are shopping for groceries, you are what you eat and read the labels.

Be blessed and have a wonderful day.