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My Personal 12 for 2012 – Quilty Goals

Jen Ofenstein's 12 for 2012 large graphic

Jen Ofenstein

over at

and lots of other places too ūüôā ¬†came up with this great idea…try to get motivated to get our UFOs (Un Finished Objects) finished in 2012, here’s her blogpost describing the details Jennifer’s 12 for 2012 blogpost. ¬†I loved the idea and I have A LOT of quilty UFO’s in my closet. ¬†Jen even said that we could use her awesome graphics on our blogs, thanks Jen…I am still new to this bloggy thing, so any help I can get is so great ūüôā


Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

January 2012 Project 1/12

Bagladies Quilt Club Quilt Blocks- (2010)

  • 2011 Status – Through 2010 and into 2011, I got to make a block for each lady every month using a new technique that we learned throughout the year. At the end in March 2011, I got to be surprised with the quilt blocks made just for me. It was wonderful to be so loved and thought of; each block was made with love thinking about my own interests and family. I learned a lot that year, it was my first time learning a lot of the techniques and I enjoyed it.
  • 2012 Goal – The year 2011 has been the hardest year of my life and I really fell off the sewing train, even though I enjoy it so much. It was emotional reasons that kept me from sewing and having fun, plus it was difficult to accept the love that this quilt represents. But, I have decided this quilt needs to be my first to finish in Jan 2012, just because I need to accept the love that it is to me and that I do deserve to experience and feel that.
  • Update: Progress on this quilt top can be seen here.

    Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    February 2012 Project 2/12

    Small “Hamster” Batik Quilt (2009)

  • 2011 Status – I didn’t even touch these blocks in 2010 and 2011. These were a block of the month 2009 at a quilt store that I try to go to when I am in town visiting the doctor, but I felt bad that I didn’t get the last two block instructions for the last months. They used Thangles, which I don’t like anymore (they work fine, but after learning a quicker way to make half square triangles, I gave up on Thangles and got bummed about the little quilt, that my husband lovingly refers to as a “hamster” quilt.
  • 2012 Goal – I would like to make my own blocks (I’m not sure how many more I need to make to make a small quilt (for a babydoll or a wallhanging). I would like to give it to my daughter, Gladiolus, who has a pillow that I made out the same color fabric last winter 2011. I need to make a border and backing for it as well. I have enough batting from other quilt scraps to use and will probably piece the backing. I will make a hanger on the back if my daughter wants it as a wallhanging.
  • Here is the finished February 12 for 2012 project! Woohoo! I even wrote on the back with permanent marker which I never usually remember to do when I am finally finished.

    Mini Batik Quilt is finished and Gladiolus is happy!

    Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    March 2012 Project 3/12

    Starlight Block of the Month 2011

  • 2011 Status – I made only a few of these, I thought they would look neat using my daughter’s favorite colors of purple and blues…but the instructions were poorly written and the one on the left side of the picture was so baggy, I got fed up. I still went and got the fabric every month and I even bought most of the finishing kit…I still need to get the binding for my kit though I just remembered. I think I just need to rework that one on the left, quilting it will only make it more wrinkly :/
  • 2012 Goal – I want to finish the blocks and put it together and quilted in March and it would be great to give to my daughter for her birthday in April.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    April 2012 Project 4/12

    KidsPlay T-shirt quilt (2011)

  • 2011 Status – My oldest daughter graduated from the KidsPlay, Inc community theater in Spring 2011 and we started making her t-shirt quilt then hoping to have it finished shortly after graduation. We got the last t-shirt that we were missing and we have already put interfacing on most of the t-shirts
  • 2012 Goal – I would like to finish this T-shirt quilt for my oldest daughter and make sure that I am saving my youngest children’s t-shirts for this express purpose too (it’s hard to come by old show shirts, I have found). Getting these shirts all faced, buying the sashing, backing and quilting it is my goal for April 2012.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    May 2012 Project 5/12

    Philodendron’s Surprise Flowery Quilt (2011)

  • 2011 Status – I really liked this recipe from Moda’s website by Amanda Herring. I don’t even remember when I first saw it, I think I heard Amanda Herring on Pat Sloan’s radio show the year before? and checked her recipe out on the website, there are lots of cool freebie patterns on Moda Bakeshop.
  • 2012 Goal – My second daughter wanted a flowery quilt and I would love to put this one together, quilted and bound (I already have the top finished and have a green minky fabric backing and the cotton batting) for my daughter’s birthday in May 2012.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    June 2012 Project 6/12

    Summer Quilt Block of the Week (2010)

  • 2011 Status – I didn’t touch this quilt-top in 2011 either, my sister and I had worked on it together in the Summer 2010 following Brady Sparrow’s awesome tutorial and instructions on her free quilt block of the week. IT was free then, I had to buy the last pattern on etsy, it doesn’t show up on Etsy right now, but you can probably contact her if you are interested in the pattern. I finished the quilt top in Dec 2010. I did piece the backing (using leftover fabric) in the early months of 2011…I found all of these fabrics in the remnant section of the quilt store, SCORE…and I was making it for myself.
  • 2012 Goal – I would like to have my Summer quilt put together and quilted and bound in the month of June 2012.
  • ¬†

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    July 2012 Project 7/12

    Panel that I liked and thought I would make for someone (2010)

  • 2011 Status – I saw this panel and thought it would make a cute present. In fall of 2011, I tried to quilt it using the John Flynn Quilt Frame, but I think the panel was too narrow for the frame and the tension was weird. Plus, I was using my sewing machine that isn’t adjustable with the pressure foot pressure, so I got totally discouraged and stopped. I really want to get better at free motion quilting and like Leah’s website The Free Motion Quilting Project
  • 2012 Goal – Just quilt the thing without the frame and decide who I want to give it to, or what to do with it. I have the backing and batting already, it would be a wallhanging.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    August 2012 Project 8/12

    Placemats that I bought for a Friend in 2009…I can’t find the panels to take a picture, but her birthday is in August and I want to find those things, put borders on them, quilt them and give them to her for her birthday at the end of August.

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    September 2012 Project 9/12

    Project of Doom (2011)

  • 2011 Status – I began this free paper piecing block of the week following Jennifer Ofenstein’s great tutorials and group Project of Doom Free Paper Pieced Patterns. When I began in Jan 2011, I thought it would be finished at the beginning of the summer and I wanted to give it to a friend, but it was like a 30 week time frame. I really wanted to get it finished to possibly display at our local Arts and Crafts fair this fall, but never got it finished. Again, I only have about 6 blocks left to put together, but I have just fallen off the sewing band wagon. I still want to give this away to my friend, but I may ask her if we can display it at the local library and the arts and craft fair still.
  • 2012 Goal – I want to finish the last 6 blocks, put the top together and figure out the border…I thought this red would look neat, but now I have doubts. I will probably piece the back using the extras from the blocks that I can put together. I would love to have all this done in September 2012 (it’s kind of a fall-ish quilt) and have time to enter it in the local quilt fair.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    October 2012 Project 10/12

    Philodendron’s Lap Quilt (2010)

  • 2011 Status – I don’t think I helped Philodendron on this at all this last year, we were almost finished and got off track…all she needs is the binding finished.
  • 2012 Goal – Up until this point, my daughter has sewn the binding herself (the whole quilt has been her first quilt and she has done most of the work, but I may help her, so she can be finished and feel her accomplishment…after putting this list of 12 in 2012 in order, I really don’t think this has to wait until this point; in fact I want to go do it now! I feel bad that it has been put off. Mom guilt is tough :/ I sometimes get a bad case of it.
  • *Update 1/3/12 – Finished Philodendron’s quilt, she is happy ūüôā

    Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    November 2012 Project 11/12

    My first Block of the Month – Batiks (2009)

  • 2011 Status – I didn’t touch these once in 2011. These were my first sewing project since I tried to sew a bit in high school and made stuffed rabbits for my sisters with a lot of my mother-in-law’s help (well, before my husband and I got married, thanks Nancy again for your patience and help!) My sister, who had been wanting to quilt with me and I am so glad that we did start this journey, and I did these at the same time at a local quilt shop (they gave us some of the colors and we could pick one other color) and I got the pattern to place them on point and I cannot find it anywhere.
  • 2012 Goal – I have lost the pattern and am hoping that by November 2012, I will have found it and can put this quilt together (or just figure out how to put it together on point). I have the backing and sashing material. I think I will use the extra blocks to make pillows or something. These were my first ever pieced blocks and some of them are rough, but I still like them and want to remember them.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    December 2012 Project 12/12

    Wool Applique Quilt 2010

  • 2011 Status – I didn’t touch these once in 2011. I went to one class about an hour away in the summer 2010 and thought I would continue to go and finish this quilt, but I never got back there. I loved the bright colors and soft wool and felt feel. I have collected wool sweaters from goodwill and garage sales and can’t wait to get this together
  • 2012 Goal – I have the pattern for this and all of my foundation pieces sewn together. Now I just need to cut out all of the snowmen (it’s a calendar quilt with 12 blocks) and begin piecing them. It would be fun to do one every month this year, but I think I have my work cut out for me…I will try to work on this in December and see how far I get. I guess it’s good to shoot for the moon, cause if I miss, I’ll at least reach the stars, ha!



    Low-Waste Wooden Goat Hay Feeder

    Unlike the myth, goats will not “eat anything”…which may go against your recollection as a child when visiting the petting zoo and the goat not only ate your grain but your cup too ūüôā That goat was just a stinker and bored; they are pretty smart and precocious creatures that need some entertainment at times and seeing a child’s shocked face was probably a highlight.

    Goats are a ruminant, which means (in a nutshell, because the system is very complex and amazing) that they eat herbaceous material like hay, browse of shrubs and trees, along with broad leaves and grasses which all go into the rumen (a special part of the stomach that is a type of vat where the plant compounds are converted into sugars and other cool stuff by the symbiotic microbes that live within a healthy ruminants’ rumen). The goats use that finished “vat” material for energy and growth, plus dairy does even make extra protein and fat for their milk output…I think that’s amazing.

    A bit too full, but an idea of the Low Waste Wooden Goat Hay Feeder.
    The goats move fast, thus the blurry “action” shot.

    To remain at the optimum health, a goats’ rumen should never be empty, so they need to have browse available to them at all times. We give fresh hay in the morning and evening feedings and our goats are able to browse outside when the weather allows. We like to give our goats hay in the morning before they go outside to graze, hoping to keep them off of the wet, dewy grass for as long as possible (hopefully, until the sun burns off the dew) since wet grass can cause them to bloat. The hay also acts as a sponge for the wet grass if the goats do decide to gorge on the wet “salad bar” in the pasture. Bloat is a serious condition that occurs to goats when their rumen gets “off kilter” and the microbes aren’t able to process the materials properly. I won’t go into the details of hay (hay is not hay, is not hay, everyone has an opinion and there are probably textbooks on hay…funny huh?), but we use a grass based, weedy hay that our goats love. Our hay also has dried red clover in it as well and we have found that our goats love dried clover a lot more than they like fresh clover. We like the weeds in our hay, because weeds can have deep tap roots that pull minerals from the subsoil beneath the top soil. Goats are very mineral dependent and we like to have a variety of weeds to try to meet that mineral requirement they have.

    So, our hay is weedy and full of different plants and our goats have favorite parts. They like to pick their favorites out of the hay and leave the not so yummy (and I am guessing the less than optimum nutritional parts too). They are persnickety creatures that do not “finish their plates” and will not eat everything in their hay feeder to the bottom. That’s why we give them fresh hay every morning and night…not too much to keep them from going out to “work” for their food by browsing and grazing though, so it’s a balancing game of observation and learning.

    Now we come to not wasting hay. Hay is valuable and nutrient rich when it is clean and fresh; I don’t want to waste it as bedding, when a less nutrient dense material would suffice for animal bedding, like carbon-rich straw and wood shavings. Plus, if you have ever tried cleaning out a stall, I think most people would agree that matted down hay is the hardest thing to clean out, but straw is much easier (I’m not sure why, but it’s just what I’ve learned…my family and I have some theories that I won’t bore you with right now). I want to squeeze as much nutrition from our hay and get as much of it into our goats (it’s time consuming and costly to harvest hay, so I don’t want to waste those commodities either), but goats will naturally “fight” that process with that persnickety behavior of theirs. Remember when I said that a goat has favorites in the hay? Well, a goat with a normal feeder will pull their favorite hay from the feeder, dropping at least half of it while chewing it and enjoying their surroundings. That’s a lot of wasted hay!!! How do I make a goat feeder with little waste?!

    A book that I read a long time ago and probably need to read again now that I might understand more of what he’s saying from my own failures and experiences in goat keeping is Dairy Goats for Pleasure and Profit by Harvey Considine.  In it, he talks about his years of experience keeping dairy goats, feeding them and creating a low waste hay feeder (can you tell Harvey is my hero?)  He shares, among all the other information, in his book a hay feeder design that deters the goats from pulling their heads out after every bite that they take of hay by designing the feeder with slanted slats that bump the goat’s ear if they try to pull their head out quickly.  It encourages the goat to keep their head in the feeder and drop any excess back into the feeder.  It’s amazing.

    Dairy Goats for Pleasure and Profit-
    a great resource for all things goat related

    When we first implemented the feeder, there was a transition time.  At first, it was scary to watch the goats try to figure the feeder out, because some goats were bullies and would butt the others and when one goats head was in the feeder, I was afraid that they would get hurt.  Fortunately, the goats can see if the other goats are coming up and can watch for the bullies.  I haven’t noticed bullying anymore, because we make sure there is enough feeder space for all the goats, even the shyer ones.  When we first implemented the feeders, we had some goats that couldn’t fit into the spacing.  Harvey Considine suggests a spacing, but I think some of our goat breeds that weren’t Saanens had bigger heads, so we adjusted the spacing.  Harvey suggested 5.5 ” on square for mature does and 6.5″ for bucks with a 63-degree angle slant.  Our spacing is a bit wider, but not too wide to make it easy for them to pull their head out after every bite.  On the first day we built our feeder, we never left our goats until we were sure that every goat understood the feeder and was able to use it successfully.

    We also built “benches” that the goats step up on with their front feet and then are able to bend their heads down into the feeders to eat the hay.  Harvey suggested this in his book and we never doubted his experience, so we added it to our feeder design.  The feeder works best when the hay flake is laid into the feeder flat and the goat must put his head into the feeder to reach it.  In our video, you’ll see what happens when our feeders are over-filled and how the goats react (and waste).  We also pull out the extra hay and show how the goats act when the hay is lower in the feeder.

    Harvey Considine cleans out his feeders before every feeding.  We don’t clean it out that often, but we do clean it out regularly and use the uneaten hay for mulch in our flower beds (a method I learned from Ruth Stout in her book, The No-Work Gardening Book).  Harvey Considine says that some of the chaff of the extra hay can also be a great hay for baby goats, but we have never kept it and reused it in that way.  Hopefully, this post has been useful to others out there who have also noticed the wastefulness that goats’ natural behaviors can cause…and hopefully, this will help you love your goats more and be less frustrated with them :).

    Some of our Goats using the Hay Feeder based on Harvey Considine’s Low Waste Hay Feeder Design

    Hedgeapple Hypothesis

    Hypothesis: Hedgeapples can be a food source adjunct for our chickens in early spring/late winter.

    Observation: For the past couple of years, I have noticed that the chickens go up the hill a little ways and eat the softened hedgeapples. The hedgeapples must be softened which is accomplished by the rain and snow over time. Cutting the hedgeapples seems to speed up the softening process.

    Further Observation needed: We have collected much of the hedgeapples from our hill and brought them closer to the house and chickens for closer observation and inspection.

    Hedeapples gathered November 2011 from the Sledding hill

    A hedgeapple is a bright green bumpy fruit from the Osage Orange female tree, there is also a male tree that is needed for pollination. I’m not sure how the Osage Orange pollinates, but I am speculating that pollinators like honeybees must play a part. This year, we had a great apiary of bees and we have also had a huge harvest of hedgeapples (could be coincidental, I guess). Most places I have gone to to do research on the Hedgeapple states that they are non-edible, but that has not been my observation. It was just recently that I came across Green Deane’s opinion on the Hedgeapple. He says they are edible, you just may need to get pretty hungry to make the fermentation process to get to the ripened seeds worth the trouble to eat the seeds.

    In my opinion, there is no way pioneers would have paid the amount of money they did to plant Osage Orange tree hedgerows on the property if the fruit weren’t useful in some way. I believe that our goats have even eaten softened hedgeapples (but, I don’t want to recommend that, because it sounds like animals such as horses and cows can be suffocated by choking on hedgeapples which is why the hedgeapples have been called inedible.)

    So, the experiment will go on and I will document my chickens eating Hedgeapples as they soften. I would like to find more ways to feed my chickens with our local resources, so I am on the lookout and if anyone has any anecdotes, I would love to hear them. Thanks!

    Here is a playlist of a couple of videos of the hedgeapples around our yard and some of the chickens:

    My husband found some proof that at least one chicken finds the softened hedgeapples tasty!

    Marriage Ramblings – One Lady’s Perspective

    Ladies, your marriage connection is as much your responsibility as it is your husband’s. Whoa, I said it. I have had some notes that I wrote out almost a year ago that I wanted to hash out and I feel like today might be that day.

    Being married 17 years to my husband hasn’t been all roses and chocolate. In fact, if I wanted to I could dish and make it seem like my husband is far from perfect, but I won’t. You know why? Well, besides being rude to him (and humiliating to me; I chose him in the first place, mind you ūüôā ), I would never want him to dish about me. I am so far from perfect (who isn’t);I am so glad that he chooses to respect me and our marriage and love me even with my glaring imperfections. But, you see, if I dwelt on my husband’s failings to me, if I talked about it with everyone I came in contact with, even as a “joking” manner, that seed of discontent would grow up inside me to become a noxious weed that could take many forms.

    I am close to 40 years old now and I have had the pleasure of seeing many of my friends married at their lovely ceremonies back in our twenties and now, I have had the sadness and grief of seeing more than a few of my friends go through divorce. Do I bring this up to make anyone who has gone through a divorce feel any guilt and shame, no way!! I bring this up, because I am talking to myself about my marriage and any others who are married, too (including if it’s your second or more marriage). Heck, I’m even talking to you single people out there, just in case you do choose to get married some day.

    Let me tell you a secret that I have found to happiness: happiness is not based on the choice of your life partner, but on your own ability to take a hold of your own contentment. My heart must be guarded (I must be careful), the Bible verse in Proverbs 4:23, Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life comes to my mind. Is it a question of the chicken and the egg…did I choose someone to respect me, because I respected myself (guarded my heart) or did I teach him the way to treat me (also by guarding my heart)? I’m not sure about that and it kind of gets into circular reasoning that scrambles my brain a bit, so I will move on.

    I guess I think about these types of marriage and relationship issues often, because I have 4 children who may get married one day and may have children. I would really like them to have a good and happy relationship and would like to help them to prepare their own minds to choose happiness themselves, not wait for someone else to “give” happiness to them (which I don’t think is even possible or fair to expect from someone).

    We ladies need to take care of ourselves; physically and mentally we push ourselves to the brink and fall (no wonder, because we are so close to the edge)…the fall at first feels freeing. We need to give ourselves margin in all areas of our life and admit where we need a rest.

    Emotionally, we need connection…and we think that our husbands will “get” what we need like those guys in the movies do. Well, those guys are reading a script ladies. Here’s my view on my husband (who is a very smart person), he’s like a little guy. Would I expect my 8 year old son to read my mind? Of course not! Then why would I expect my husband to read my mind? He can’t. I’m guessing your husband can’t read yours either…of course, they learn to try to figure it out, they just want us to be happy. Yep, that’s all they wanted when they first married us, for us to be happy. Depending on how your husband has been treated over these years (he may be like a little dog who has been kicked all his life and will have a hard time trusting again) he may respond quicker than another husband, so I am not saying this is a cure-all. But, we need to treat them with gentleness and kindness, you know…how you treat a little puppy (or how you should). Yes, I have learned that part the hard way, my husband had a hard time trusting me for awhile, because of the way I would respond to him (or not respond) when he wanted to share his heart…I need to be plugged in to recognize when that is happening; there isn’t a neon sign that goes off to realize that his “sharing of his day” is actually him sharing his feeling of stress or something like that underlying the mundane details.

    If we aren’t careful while needing that emotional connection, we may think that we might be able to find it in a new relationship, the one that will most assuredly bring that “woo” feeling at first. If we don’t take the time and talk with our husband about our hurts (and listen to their hurts as well, the street goes both ways), our feelings will bottle up, until there is such a gap between us emotionally, it’s as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon. And while looking at that expanse with a hammer in our hands to build a bridge, a nice man walks by and flirts with us. Guard your heart. Reality is hard work, escapism is everywhere…even in relationships. Even in my mind and thoughts, I could think about an escape, but I must guard my heart.

    As a biology major, I do believe the biological process courses through women’s bodies and minds in much the same way as a man’s. But, women have a different “pull” and I have never heard it discussed before (and won’t go into greatly here and now). I have heard talks and seen many books that discuss the guarding that a man must place on his heart and mind. A woman deals with the same type of stuff, but different. It seems like it may be some biological reasons that contribute to a woman’s choice to escape (even mentally), but I am not making an excuse either. I just think that at this age and seeing the divorces all around and knowing some of my own anecdotes, maybe biology could be an explanation and it’s definitely something to be careful to watch out for in our own lives. I know that I need to take care and keep margins in my life, so that I am careful not to fall off the edge.

    Making Apple Cider Vinegar, our Journey

    Folk Medicine Book

    I’ve had this little book for a long time, Folk Medicine by D.C. Jarvis. It’s a book about a home doctor out in Vermont that was called on for people and animals back in the day. ¬†He used Apple Cider Vinegar for a lot of ailments. He also talks about honey, kelp and castor oil. I want to include his table of contents (its a book with 192 pages). I found this at a garage sale and see them sometimes.

    His table of contents contains in chapter 5, “Your racial pattern and Vermont Folk Medicine” and I just wanted to point out that his “racial pattern” was speaking of where your family came from originally, like he points out Nordic people who ate lots

    Table of Contents for Folk Medicine

    of seafood have had a more difficult time adapting to land based foods, like wheat and animal meats.

    Personally, I didn’t see any evidence of racism in his words and wouldn’t want to recommend a book that promoted anything of that sort. If he were to write this book today, I hope that he wouldn’t have used such a pejorative term.

    Apparently, apple cider vinegar has some good minerals as well as an alkalizing property, which I personally have never understood since it is an acid…something to study more in the future I guess.

    Apple trees were here before we moved here and in fall 2010, I thought I could give it a try to make a batch of apple cider vinegar. ¬†I found the “recipe” on the internet, but of course, haven’t been able to find it since. ¬†I am pretty sure that all I did was use the good peelings (not bruised or bug bitten) and the good cores (no wormy-ness) and put them into a large glass jar. ¬†I wish I had a crock that isn’t see through, but any that I have ever bought at a garage sale ended up with cracks in them. ¬†So, we used what we have.

    Here’s the jist of what I put into the two gallon jugs (I didn’t measure anything):

    • Good Apple Peels and Cores (I used the apples themselves to dry)
    • Some clean cold water to cover it all up
    • Molasses, I’m not sure of the type…I got it at the store and I think it is unsulfured (you could use sugar too, it’s just extra energy for the bacteria to work)
    • A “glug” of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (because it has the “mother” in it…it helps get the vinegar cultured and ready to go)

    Then I covered the top with cheesecloth and tied it up. ¬†You really want to keep it tight or “vinegar” flies, aka fruit flies will come and have a swimming party in your growing vinegar.

    I put my jugs in a northern unheated room in my house and waited for about 3 -4 months and I noticed the “mother” forming on the top. ¬†I can’t really explain the mother…it’s a thick “skin” that forms at the top of the vinegar and it is called a SCOBY which stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (which I think is too cool). ¬†I mean really, I always wonder who figured this stuff out, “Hey, Mildred, this layer of tough slimy-ness seems to have turned our wine into a lovely salad dressing?!” ¬†OK, it probably wasn’t like that, more of a grandma showing her grandaughter that the “sour” wine isn’t bad, but can be repurposed…sort of the ultimate recycling ūüôā

    I could go on and on on how I am amazed at the lovely microbes that help us everyday, heck we are mostly microbes in our guts. ¬†Too bad the “bad” microbes get all the publicity, maybe SCOBYs need a new PR machine? ¬†But I digress.

    Our unheated room smelled like an alcohol factory (or what I imagine one to smell like, I guess I haven’t actually been around an alcohol factory) for a while which makes since as the peelings were fermenting first and that alcohol is what the vinegar microbes likes to eat. ¬†That’s why wine needs to stay corked, so those microbes don’t start breaking it down to a lovely vinegar. ¬†Depending on the alcohol, the vinegar will be different: white wine turns to white wine vinegar, beer turns to malt vinegar…neat huh?

    Around the end of January, I noticed it was time to bottle our ACV (that’s the acronym for apple cider vinegar and I think it makes it seem so NASA-ish to use acronyms). ¬†We made youtube videos of the bottling process and took a close look at the mother. ¬†I thought I would try to freeze the mother for later; I think I read that somewhere, but that did NOT work, I killed her. ¬†It took me awhile, but later I realized that the mother was growing on the bottles ACV (we didn’t pasteurize it), so we could use that mother as a sustainable culture if we made more ACV in the future.

    ***Also, I think that my vinegar is stronger than what you would buy in the store…I dilute it with water in 1 part vinegar 2 parts water. ¬†I say this because one of the youtubers I follow said her dad made some ACV when she was growing up and she took a taste of it and it literally burned her mouth because it was so acidic. ¬†So, take care. ¬†Mine wasn’t that strong, but I also didn’t start with a strong alcohol (sugar content determines that, I believe).

    We still have the ACV in jars in our pantry and I use it for anything I need ACV for. ¬†I still haven’t used it for the animals like I want to…I read in that book that spraying ACV on their hay will increase milk production, but I haven’t tried it yet. ¬†I’ll let you know if I do. ¬†I will link the playlist of ACV bottling here:

    Video Playlist for Bottling Our Apple Cider Vinegar

    People have asked for a video of the “recipe” that we used…I wasn’t “doing” videos back then, and didn’t use my apples this year. Fortunately, they didn’t go to waste, since the chickens and ducks love them. Just didn’t get to it this fall.

    Carla Emery-My Small Tribute to Her

    My Ninth Edition of The Encyclopedia of Country Living

    I sure wish I would have had the opportunity to meet Carla Emery at one of her speaking enagagements or her writing workshops that she set up across the country. But, at least I have met her in her writing. My first major “farm” book that I bought was The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. I remember buying it while living in Texas before planting my first garden out in our backyard. I believe it was around 1998-1999 that I found it at the local Barnes and Nobles bookstore down the road; it was wrapped in plastic and I couldn’t wait to get into it and read…and boy, did I pour through that thing, flitting from one subject to another, finding her books that she recommended at the local used bookstores and garage sales sometimes. Dreaming, that’s what I was doing, dreaming of our land…the possibility of being a producer of our family’s food. It was ironic that I had that dream, as I really wasn’t a great cook, or that interested in cooking (I still am not much of one either). I don’t remember where I had first heard about Carla’s book, maybe a forum or an email group? I can’t remember, maybe it was from a thread at Whoever introduced me to her, I am forever grateful and changed.

    Since moving to our small farm, I haven’t opened the book much; I think I am in mourning (oh, I’ve recommended it to many of my friends and family, loaning it out for long periods of time, but I don’t really want to look at it myself). You see, I miss Carla, she passed away in October 2005, not long after we had moved up here to Indiana. But, I also miss my youthful “dreaming” self too, I think. It sure is easier to dream than to do, you know. When “doing”, it is more obvious to see my character flaws: my impatience, my self anger at my failures and mistakes, my laziness. Wow, I didn’t know that this post was going to become so introspective, but that’s what Carla also taught me…share, let it out. Her writing, although very fact oriented also contains her heart; her journals through her time having her young children, being happily married until her divorce and her singleness (she eventually remarried). She shared it and it somehow changed me. I am a more somber person since reading the other book she wrote, Secret, Don’t Tell. It is a much more sobering book, but as she states in the introduction of the book it is to bring the Light into the darkness of a very scary subject. I guess that through reading that book, I have matured and am not as trusting as I once was; but thankfully, focusing on our land and striving toward being producers, not only consumers, is making me happier and less apt to sulk and brood.

    Just looking at The Encyclopedia of Country Living now (I took some pictures of its “well worn-ness”), I see where I could re-read more and take in more details that I didn’t recognize or understand until now. She has a whole section on lard, which is more interesting to me, since I have made my first batch of rendered lard using the crockpot method that I found from this awesome tutorial:

    Carla even has fun tests and exams to see what you learned as you read the book, maybe I could see where I measure up to those tests and see where I can improve and use more of our local resources to produce what we might need around here.

    Maybe it’s time for me to dream again, knowing that the nightmares of my personal character flaws and the bad stuff that exists in this world might be around the corner to make me jump at times, but choosing to dream despite that real possibility. I think I’m off to flip through my Encyclopedia and think about my little farm and how to improve it.

    Thank you Carla.

    Our Raw Honey is Crystallizing, You Can Still Use it

    As you purchase our honey and thank you so much for choosing our honey for your family, you will notice that our honey is crystallizing, meaning, it is difficult to see through and it is not liquid, but thick and almost solid.  The honey has not gone bad, it is crystallizing which all raw (unheated honey) will do at some point, the timing depends on the type of nectar the bees used.  You do not need to keep the honey in the refrigerator, which will actually speed up the crystallization process.  Since it has been getting colder, our honey was in a non-heated room, so it crystallized faster than it would have if kept at room temperature (we may need to change our storage of honey in the future to slow the crystallization down).

    We like to use our honey as a spread and spread it on toast and biscuits and things like that.  Anytime honey is called for in a recipe, I just use a dry measuring cup and treat the honey like I would peanut butter and scoop it into the cup.

    You can also heat the honey a bit, if you like more liquid honey. ¬†Please don’t put it in the microwave, that can cause hot spots and can really burn you if it gets on your skin. ¬†You can gently heat it up under warm running water or in a gentle warming pan on the stove.

    Our honey was never heated during our part of the processing (the bees themselves heat it with their wings to make it the proper moisture level when they are making it, before capping it off…which I think is so cool); ¬†it went straight from the comb into the extractor through a strainer, into a 5 gallon bucket and into the jars. ¬†We believe the raw qualities are worth the crystallization, so we don’t like to heat ours, but just use it like a spread.

    We want you to love your pure, raw honey.  It is so filling and much stronger in flavor than any other honey we had bought at the store before we had harvested our own.  It did take some getting used to and we wanted to share what we have learned with you.  We hope that this blog posts helps you in using your honey when it crystallizes and you can continue to enjoy it.

    This pdf is a great resource in learning about honey crystallization, what it’s made up of, when it¬†crystallizes¬†and ¬†the different nectar sources that¬†crystallize¬†at¬†different¬†rates.

    Here is a blog post from a beekeeper in Las Cruces, New Mexico (where Pat proposed to me :), so I am partial to that area of the country) talking about raw honey and crystallization:


    Cutting Costs-Haircuts at Home

    I think I feel just as happy to cut his hair as he does to have it done :)
    Pat After A Much Needed Haircut

    My husband and I got married before our last year in college. We had about 3 dollars every week that was “discretionary” for each of us…and that was after cutting expenses and being strong budgetters. We lived in married student housing and we ate lots of ramen noodles (still do, just not every day). One way that I decided that we could cut expenses is that I could learn to cut Pat’s hair. At that time, back in 1994, his haircuts were about $12-$15 and he needed one at least every 6 weeks.

    I don’t think that I would have even thought cutting my husband’s hair was a possibility if he hadn’t gotten the WORST haircut ever one night while visiting my family over a weekend. When he came out from behind the wall, he looked like an eraserhead, bad. It was so bad, my younger sister, who is a very easy going person told the lady the haircut was unsatisfactory and we needed it fixed. I think I was so in shock I couldn’t say anything. The manager made him look better than he looked, but he still wasn’t “right”.

    When Pat’s parents asked what I wanted for a Christmas present that first Christmas we were married, I asked for a haircut set…the one from Walmart with clippers, scissors and it even had a video. It was my favorite present and one that gave back over and over. Of course, the first time I cut Pat’s hair, it took like 2 hours. And the haircut wasn’t the eraserhead look, yay! I even checked out books at the library for home haircutting back then and learned some ideas to make him look even better, nowadays there are even good YouTube videos (I found a great way to cut my daughter’s long layers on a cool and informative video, I haven’t ever checked to see if there is a video showing a man’s haircut).

    Pat Really Needed a Haircut

    I now have bought some nicer scissors at Sally’s Beauty Supply, which make a difference in the ease the hair cuts. The only down side is that I feel total guilt when I haven’t taken the time to cut my husband’s hair. I don’t even have any good excuse, he sets up and cleans up the hair cutting “station”, which is just a canvas tarp on the floor with the chair in the middle, close to the electrical outlet for the clippers.

    Some husbands wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice their hair to their wife’s learning curve and I totally understand that, this cost cutting measure isn’t for every family. It has worked for us and it may work for you.

    What to share and how much?

    I could barely sleep last night, so much is running around in my brain. ¬†Maybe that’s why writing this all down will be cathartic and I can sleep again past 2am. ¬†I haven’t actually published our blog out into the “real” world, it’s just sitting here with a link from my personal FB page. ¬†So, today I want to “share” it, and I wanted to ask my readers a question, nothing like jumping into asking for feedback already, huh? ¬†OK, here’s my question…we homeschool; ¬†would it make sense to share that aspect of our farm life too? ¬†Our life is all integrated together, so it is tough to separate it into parts anyway, but I don’t know how/if I could share more than homeschool blogs already have out there, and I don’t know how diverse a blog can be and make sense and be “readable” (is that even a word?)? ¬†Again, I am new to this blogging thing and even though it is cathartic to me to write, I really do want to have something that someone may benefit from reading; at least I flatter myself that that could be possible from my brain ūüôā

    It’s Friday and sunny outside and we plan on finishing up some winter projects this weekend. ¬†Pat is trying to extend our automatic waterers in our barn (they aren’t insulated ones, just the regular metal ones) which would already be frozen up this time last year. ¬†We are trying to see how long we can go with a new recirculating set-up he is working on.

    Pat also wants to make a few more candyboards to put into our hives that may have low honey reserves (they were some of our newer hive splits from this summer).

    I need to put my duck and chicken stock away that I pressure canned the other day and do general cleaning/organizing around this place. ¬†Plus, I am learning about blogs and SEO packs and analytics too…I have been listening to ¬† 5 minutes with Jack and I appreciate his generosity and awesome experience that he gives to start a blog and a business. ¬†I feel like I am taking a class that would have cost a lot of money to get all of the information that he willingly shares (with a few curse words, but that doesn’t bother me (it is mostly just one word), I just share that so it isn’t shocking to anyone.) ¬†What he provides is some great stuff. ¬†I’m off to try to figure out a landing page and some analytics and Woopra right now for my homework.

    Have a great weekend!

    Stepping Out on a (LocustFarms) Limb

    December 1, 2011 – I guess that this is the day I choose to start this blog. ¬†I have been resistant to the idea for many months, maybe years. ¬†It really doesn’t make logical sense (my resistance, hopefully not my blog), as I enjoy reading/learning so much from other people’s blogs and videos and¬†altruistic¬†teaching on the interwebs. ¬†But (and isn’t there always a big “but”), I am a private person who has lots of insecurities…I don’t really want to open myself up to judgment and criticism…but I am¬†beginning¬†to ¬†realize that I am looking at this from the wrong perspective. ¬†Yes, there is criticism and judgement out there in the world, but there is also neat learning¬†opportunities¬†and ¬†encouragement to do even better with the life I have been given as well (kind of like the glass is half full thingie). ¬†So, I am stepping out and doing this for myself and my children, having some posterity and what-not to look back on. ¬†I have never been a journal writer or a diary keeper, but having a farm-ette sure takes a lot of brain power to remember stuff and I think this blog will be my brain dump, a public diary into our goings on and learning curve, and oh, what a steep one it is.