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Random babblings of a fiber-obsessed nutcase

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Good...afternoon! Jul. 26th, 2017 @ 02:04 pm
Let's see:

1. Down to 4 goats, now. Sold 4 of the bucklings! That's good! I don't have photos....that's bad. Ah, well - they are going to (supposedly) end up at Freezer camp, so.......:shrug:

2. Making cheese. Again. Today, it's Wensleydale. Sunday it was Swiss. And Friday it was Chèvre. I have plenty of cheese...and more milk to use. :sigh: Tomorrow looks like soap. Maybe.

3. Yesterday was a quick visit to FIL. :sigh: He's just not doing well. On the way home, we ran into an old friend :waves: Love when that happens!

4. Himself finally settled on History and Science for next year. Psychology and...for the moment, we are studying the Great Tactical Minds of History. He read "The Art of War" and is fascinated by it, so - that's where we're going. Since he's technically already met all of Texas' requirements, we can do whatever this year. I don't want to graduate him a year early, so....:shrug: We are finishing up 1 Samuel now; we'll be started 2 Samuel in a few weeks, and that will carry us to the end of this next school year. Language Arts is word origins, Math is still Calculus (LOVE Khan Academy! He's 40% done - once he's done, he'll go on to whatever is next per them.) Once the History course is over, we'll be doing the History of Japan - he thinks it'll be neat to see how an isolated culture developed. I'm actually looking forward to this year!

5. There is no 5.

6. The pods are gone (have I mentioned that yet?) and we need to get a dumpster out.

7. The solar panels are working, but - the pool pump draws most of the power they produce. So, we've cut down it's use to 4 hours/day, to see if that'll make a difference. (I TOLD SG to not pull it off the Studio, but he didn't listen. Ah, well.....)

Think that's it for now....

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Well...it's been a wild, bad week.... Jul. 18th, 2017 @ 03:03 pm
since I last posted. We lost 2 baby goats and almost lost 3 more - and it's my fault. :sigh: and :sob:

There's a parasite that affects goats, cows, and chickens (maybe more, but those are the ones I am aware of). You treat the babies beginning at 15 days old (if using Corid), for 5 days, then do it again 1x/month until they are well grown. Adults are immune to the effects.

Anyway. I have a notebook that I ALWAYS pull out and read before kidding/right after. This year, my notebook had gotten packed up and I figured, no big deal - I've done this before! How wrong I was..

I was able to save the 3, thankfully. I also realized WHY I didn't have any Corid on hand.....a few years ago there was an experiment with a new class of drug - it's a 1 and Done dosage. I tried it, it worked brilliantly, and we switched. Only, again - I keep that drug in the kitchen, on the counter (along with the Wazine we use to worm the chickens). On the counter, I see it All The Time, and it helps me remember what it is, and why I have it. The Baytril bottle was almost empty - I planned to reorder it, but the leak happened, and the bottle was packed up and forgotten. :sigh:

I will use Corid on this batch of kids - I have both the powder and the pre-mixed bottle, now - and I will order more Baytril next month. Just to have it on hand. I am also going to draft up a checklist for the milk room - actually, 3. 1 for the breeding pen, 1 for kid-to-breeding, and 1 for dry goats. Maybe this way I won't forget stuff.

We've also lost a LOT of the chicks this year to...something. I think it's a feral cat - it's coming in the pen under the fence, and it's getting into the coop and attacking the young birds that haven't quite figured out how to roost. Herself and I are tired of cleaning up the remains, so we are going to war tonight. Cages, with death administered when we catch the culprit. It's cost us 25 of the 30 chicks we had earlier this year.......and injured 3. 2 of which are hanging in there, in her Studio. :big sigh:

Such is life on a farm - it's not for sissies!

Oh! In other news, I'm getting into making salves and creams. I've ordered a few herbal books; why is it that some people need to go all woo-woo when discussing herbs? I mean.......really. I just want to know what herb does what, not "the great goddess embodied this herb with mystical powers...." Really? I mean.....Really? Just tell me that comfrey helps bones to knit, and leave it at that - or tell me that comfrey has such-and-such enzymes in it that aids bones. That's all I want! :sigh: (At least I'm getting some laughs out of this.......I mean, "lunar tea"? Lunar rays are similar to solar rays????? REALLY??????? The Moon just reflects the Sun's light.......so.....um........yeah. :giggle:)(And I don't mean this to be insulting. If YOU believe this, then....good! I just find it a bit over-the-top silly, myself, but if it works, it works.)

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I think.... Jul. 6th, 2017 @ 02:55 pm
that we have single-handedly reversed N. Texas' drought. :lol: It has rained So Much since we went solar.....:rofl:

A few things I've been asked about:

1. No, we can't tell any difference between solar and grid power. It switches seamlessly.

2. So far, we've been producing more than we're using - which is what you want (well, actually, the power company says we want to "break even".......I'm more than happy to produce more than we need.) You want to NOT pay for your electric, right? Right.

3. SG went a little overboard - he requested MORE panels than the installer recommended (see #2, above). I'm kinda glad - it was overcast yesterday (when the meter finally got changed), and we were STILL pulling in 20 watts......the co-op employee was impressed. So was I!

Quick lesson:

When you decide you want to go solar, there's a LOT to do. First, find a company. There's a LOT out there - get quotes. LOTS of quotes. Ours ranged from $20K - $65K, with most being in the top tier. Don't go for Names - the highest quote was from Treehouse, who uses Tesla inverters. We have Solar Edge - they work the same, as do the panels.

Expect this to take TIME. Our co-op is shocked at how fast we went from "how do we...." calls from our installer to done; he said it normally takes at least a month. We? Took 1.5 WEEKS. :blink:

Make sure you have South-facing roof. We have panels on 2 sides - the South and East. South is the ideal - any face will work, but it's better on the South.

The panels are on the roof, or you can have a....stand made for them. Or put them on a carport. If I have roof issues, the panels will have to come down.......that's gonna cost. Fortunately we have a new roof....still. Something to think about.

You will have a largish box on your house, near the master panel. MOST people have the panel in the garage, so it's not a major issue. Our panel is on the OUTside, off of Herself's bedroom. :sigh: SG didn't want an ugly box hanging off the brick (the inverter HAS to be protected from the weather), so he had them put it in the linen closet in the hall off of Herself's room. Upshot - it's "pretty", but I lost 3 shelves of storage. I'll live...but it's something to think about.

Anyway, it's raining again. You're welcome! :snicker:

In other news....

SIL has gone back home. FIL is OK, but.....well, he's really showing his age. He ended up at the ER last Sunday, but came straight home. We went over for Brexit 1776 Day.....he was on O2 the whole time. And looked and acted weak. We're concerned, but there's not a lot we can do. :sigh:

SIL and Herself and I ran to an Antique Mall after we stuffed ourselves. Herself got a vest for a Bonnie cosplay; SIL got a few things. On our way back to the house, SIL got.......not lost, no........disoriented. Yeah. That. :snicker: Anyway, we discovered a yarn store - that was OPEN. :whee!: I came home with 2 new skeins.....and a new place to shop. :lol:

Yesterday we vegged. Sunday, SG wanted the PODS emptied......then went to bed. The kids and I got our stuff out, but didn't know what to do with his stuff. He didn't either. :snicker: Yesterday, the 3 of us started getting Herself's Studio squared away - we are each dealing with 2 boxes/day. Slow, yes, but it's getting done. I spent a few hours yesterday getting my Studio in shape....have a way to go, but it has to get done.....there's a lot of stuff in Herself's Studio that is actually mine. :sigh: I've gone thru a LOT of trash bags in the past 2 days........

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By the power of the Sun.... Jul. 3rd, 2017 @ 08:10 am
:lol: let's see - they were supposed to come out Friday AM (at 6:30!) to begin, but didn't. Seems that their supplier wasn't going to ship our panels until Friday, to arrive MONDAY. Today. :gulp: The owner said, NO - we install Saturday! Get the stuff HERE. And they did. :rofl:

So. Saturday AM (6:55) they began. And were stopped by rain. They started again...and again, were stopped by rain. They stayed until almost 9 PM, then showed up at 7 AM yesterday.

They finished right around 2:30-ish. We were running strictly on the panels until the sun went down - we opted to NOT do batteries, so we're still tied to the grid. :shrug: We're on the panels right now........:whee!:

The pool is also finally - FINALLY! - open. Good thing, too - we worked on emptying the 2nd pod. SG got a little pissy - he wanted to start early. I said, fine - tell me when! - so he went and took a nap. :bangs head: The kids and I went on out and started; got all of *our* stuff out, but had to stop when we reached the stuff he had put in there from his plant.

He claimed that NONE of the stuff in there was his.....until I pointed at the boxes and boxes and BOXES of stuff branded Plant Name. :snicker: He quit, and decided we needed to have a portable building built....I have nixed that. I do NOT want to spend the $$$$ for a building to store junk in - I'd rather deal with the junk NOW. :sigh:

Herself's Studio is full to the brim. MY plan is for the kids and I to empty 2 boxes each per day until it's done. We either find a home for the stuff, or it gets tossed. The only problem is my stuff - my Studio is FULL. So.....I'll do my 2 boxes, then go work on my Studio to get space made. Or I'll just toss a bunch of stuff. I haven't needed it since November, so......:shrug:

SG's stuff will be tossed in his shop for now - HE can deal with it. Or not. :Shrug:

Anyway. The power co-op is supposed to come out today or Wednesday to put in a new meter - we are supposed to be able to see what we're "giving" the co-op. I just want to either break even or run up a bunch of credits. I'd like to get rid of the power bill, thanks. :lol:

Today is grocery day, so I gotta get hopping! Tomorrow we'll be at the FIL's.......then we're home for the rest of the week. :whew: I prefer to be a home-body.....

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We are solar, baby! Jun. 25th, 2017 @ 08:32 am
Um, yeah - so this happened.

We've been looking into solar power for, well, years - I had checked into it in 2003 when the house was being built, but it was priced way out of my league. We've looked over the years- the latest was last month; Treehouse quoted $60K. :gulp!:

On my trip to pick up Herself's birthday cake, we saw a billboard for a "local" solar company. SG called, they came out Tuesday....and we got the quote Thursday. $20K. They came out yesterday and we signed the contract......they'll do the install Friday and Saturday.

37 panels, 1700KwH. Own, not leased. Tied into the grid (WAY too much to go completely off-grid!); our co-op doesn't pay for power, but they credit us for the overage (so....they DO pay, but not cash. Whatever....if I never have to pay another electric bill I'll be happy as a clam!)

They also do wind.....we're discussing it for my Studio, SG's shop, and the soon-to-be-NEW goat barn. Might just do solar there, too - we're still in the discussion stage. We will go solar, at least, on those down the road.

I'm pretty stoked. Since our electric bills top $400/month in Summer....and the payments on the solar system is $350/month for 37 months........AND SG will be paying it off sooner......we're coming out ahead. If I did the math right, the system will pay for itself in less than 5 years. :happy:

Making Manchego today. Fun stuff!

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» Huh. I thought retail therapy was a girl thing....
apparently not. There's a store here, called Beall's (Ball's. Whatever.) I had seen the ad, but figured we wouldn't do anything; this weekend (for Father's Day) they had a HUGE sale. Mens and Boys were buy 1, get 2 free, and everything else was 50% off - including Clearance. Normally, we don't do sales...but our next door neighbor mentioned it to SG, so off we went.

And we spent.

Both he and Himself made out like bandits - Polo and Ralph Lauren and Izod shirts, at 3 for $50. Swim trunks - Polo! - for $25....only somehow we got Himself's free. Herself and I got a ton of blouses and shorts. We basically got new wardrobes - for a lot less than I anticipated. (We basically saved over 70%, if my math is right. The sales clerk couldn't believe the size of the receipt, or the number of coupons we got on Sunday!)

And we hit another one the next day....and he bought MORE. And.....they have a thing that when you have a Beall's card, you get so much cash back, AND $10 off purchases of $10/more coupons...and I currently have over $100 in coupons to use. :blink: (He opened an account, charged the stuff, then turned around and paid it off. It's still open, but *I* am not on it (didn't want to be!), and he won't use it. So....we get the perks but don't have to pay the interest.)

Herself and I hit yet another one yesterday and used some of the coupons...we got about $200 worth of stuff for - wait for it! - $40. I ended up with 1 shirt; she walked out with a hat, 4 blouses, a jacket, and some more shorts. It's.....insane. I don't know how they stay in business!

We're going back Thursday - I have some "50% off all clearance" coupons I need to use, plus some more $10 off $10+. Both she and Himself can use a few more clothes.......:lol: These are a LOT nicer than what Wally-world carries, and with the coupons the prices are pretty comparable. Especially if we hit the clearance racks again!

The 3 batches of Whey Cool soaps look good. I made a test batch of GM soap (new scent - Cherry Blossom!) today - so far it's looking good. I think this one will be called "Sakura Goat", unless Herself objects. She's my Japan "expert"; I don't want to offend anyone with my silly names. I also made her a jar of body butter in Cherry Blossom - she LOVES it. :heh: I think I have a new hobby. Maybe. :snicker:

My SIL made it in from KY. We'll be going over to FIL's a lot, I think, to help her get him straightened out. I hope she can get him to go back up with her to visit - he NEEDS it.

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» Life sucks sometimes...
Got up yesterday AM, went out to milk, and SG came out all torn up. Kenzie died sometime Friday evening/early Sat. morning. :sigh: No sign of distress; she was normal when we went to bed. :sigh:

Needless to say, it's pretty grim here right now.

I busied myself with soaping - 3 batches of Whey Cool. Sea Dog, Hippie Dippy, and an as-yet-unnamed batch scented with Plumeria. I prefer to experiment with Whey Cool instead of the Goat's Milk, because whey is a "waste" product and it doesn't bother me if the experiment doesn't work. :grin: This one did, but the scent accelerates - I had soap on a stick! We'll see what it looks like when I cut it later today.....

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!

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» Let's see...
1. The cold cream I made is actually a slightly expensive, very luscious wood wax. :lol: When I was looking for beeswax substitutes, every site I found said that candelilla wax was the best. Only.....they didn't think to mention that it wasn't a 1:1 sub. Candelilla wax is 2x as stiff as beeswax, so it should be used at 0.5:1. The 2nd batch I made is WONDERFUL. It's pulling out all sorts of blemishes, without breaking me out. And my countertops LOVE the 1st batch, so....win/win!

2. Herself is now *20*. Not sure HOW that happened.......her party was Sunday, and it was good.

3. The milking machine is da bomb! I got the husband to order a 2nd set of inflations, so I can milk 2 goats at a time (:sigh: He wanted to "save money". I want to save my wrists and time. HE doesn't milk - he "helps", 3x/week - so it's not important to him. I told him Sunday evening that if he could spend $$$$ on things we DO NOT NEED (drones/home security/video games/etc) then, by golly, he could spend $$ for ME to be in less pain. We should have ordered a 2 goat set-up to begin with, but...oh, well. We have one Now - the stuff came in today; I placed the order early Monday morning.)

3a. Yes, we have another machine - a reconditioned Surge belly milker (cow) that had been retro-fitted for goats. We needed to replace the clusters and hoses anyway (you do that every year), and the vacuum pump was DOA. I have HATED the Surge bucket from day 1; I requested we just replace the whole shebang this year, since we had the funds to do so. The new lid actually fits on my large tote; I've been milking directly into it and using the "real" pail for clean-up.

Anyway, the Surge bucket is heavy (25+ pounds), and it's awkward for people with.....busts. It's hard to move it around, it's hard to pour the milk out of.......and that lid doesn't fit anything else. The new bucket is......well. It's only 10 pounds, and it holds 7.8 gallons. I don't NEED 7.8 gallons, but this bucket is a lot easier to move around.

I am very grateful to have this new setup. I went from hand milking 7 goats, at 1.25 hours/2x day, to machine milking 7 goats, 1 at a time, at 20 minutes/2x day. I'm thinking the 2nd set-up will get me done in 10 or so minutes.......this is good. My wrists thank me already. :lol:

3b. I spent some time in the Studio sewing up some covers for the inflations and lid and bucket. I need to make 1 for the pump, but that will wait a few days. We're waiting on the surveyors to come out so we can (finally!) purchase our neighbor's back 8 acres; we'll be buying a new doe barn and dropping it over there. I can't wait - no more leaks! And more room! The baby goats are looking forward to that! :lol: (And...I need to get photos of them. :sigh:)

4. The house is almost put back together! Himself emptied out the Music/Game room on Monday; there are 7 boxes left (not counting the boxes the husband has to go thru.) The first pod has only furniture in it; the 2nd pod is mostly......well, junk. I will try to go thru those next week, so we can get rid of them. :happy:

5. Husband's job seems to be going well. I'm glad - he's out of the house! :lol:

Think that brings us up to date.....

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» Well - that was FUN!
So today I tried my hand at making cold cream and whipped Shea body butter. It was surprisingly FUN and easy!

I'm going to share a not-very-good photo. :lol: Sorry -but I didn't feel like dragging them out of the bathroom cabinet just for a quick photo-shoot. :snicker:

2017 cream and body butter

The yellow is the cold cream. Due to my allergy to all things bee, I swapped candlelilla wax for the beeswax. (I've not reacted to beeswax - yet - and I'd like to keep it that way!) The candlelilla wax is a vegetable wax, and it's shockingly Yellow. Ah, well - it shouldn't stain my skin; it didn't stain my arm when I tested it. I haven't actually USED it yet - that'll happen tonight - but I think this may be a keeper. We'll see.

The whipped shea butter....oh, man! It's WONDERFUL! I took a quick shower after milking this afternoon, and slathered on about 2 Tablespoons of the butter. Wow - my skin is SUPER soft! I think I put in a wee bit too much scent - I prefer a very LIGHT scent, and this is heavy, to me - but that's OK. We'll see how it holds up.

I don't think this will be added to the "shop".....I'm not sure how it'll ship. However....it's going in the gift box. I know a LOT of people that'll LOVE this! And gifts don't have the worry for me that purchased items do....so....well. We'll see.

My milking machine arrived yesterday, but we need to do a few modifications before I can use it. Like running an extension cord to the barn, and getting a pressure meter for the pump - things like that. We did try it out last night on 2 buckets of water (what? I needed to *clean* it, right? Right!) and it worked a treat, so I am looking forward to this. The bucket is HUGE, though.......but that's OK. If I need to add more does to the milk line in the future, the bucket will handle them. (You never know what the future holds; I am the only dairy-er in my area. :shrug: I would prefer to NOT add more goats, but hey - I can if I need to.) (I can't keep from rubbing my soft, soft skin right now. :snicker: I think this could become a new hobby......oh, dear.)

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» Busy, busy, busy
FIL went into the hospital Friday, and came home late yesterday. Good thing - Herself was chomping at the bit to go baby-sit him. :sigh: She'll be home Saturday, and her B-day party is Sunday. (She'll be *20*! How on Earth did That Happen??????)

Today was cheese-making day. I currently have Manchego in the press - it's the first homemade goat-milk cheese I ever tried, so it's usually the one I make first. Friday will be a batch of Queso Fresco - it's Herself's favorite. Then I have to knock out a batch of Swiss for Himself.....good thing my new milking machine arrived today! It's.....well. I have an old Surge belly-milker. It's big, it's bulky, and hard for me to pour out of. This? Is....um. 5.8 gallon bucket, but it's shaped like a, well, milk jar. Only HUGE. Weighs 10 pounds empty. :gulp: I was able to get it all assembled, but have to wait to use it - I don't know where the husband put the vacuum pump. :sigh: AND he didn't buy a pressure valve or hose to go from the pump to the balance tank. :sigh:

Still - new milking machine! My wrist will be able to heal soon!

Oh - and I NEED a machine. We're currently getting a little over *3* gallons/day. I used most of yesterday's haul for today's cheese...and I still had enough milk for 15 bottles AND a half-gallon for our use. :blink: Yeah...we have plenty of milk at the moment....:lol:

Today is a lazy day. Tomorrow I need to get at least one of the pods empty, and I want to make some shea or cocoa body butter (moisturizer). I am also going to try my hand at making some old-fashioned cold cream.....yeah, I fell on that wagon pretty hard. I've been using Albolene, but it's...kinda nasty-feeling to me. All petroleum-based and....icky. I have a recipe for the "original" Pond's, so that's what I'm going to try. Why not? :lol:

OH! The husband has a job! It's contract-labor, as an electrician's assistant. We'll see how long he lasts......hopefully a good long time.

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