The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Growin' Kids

The kids are growing like weeds. They have become used to being penned up at night on occasion to provide us with more milk. The horn buds that were burned are starting to come off and leave a nice smooth patch instead of the unwanted horns. Most of the kids are now very friendly. Ivory's twin girls are still rather stand offish, but I hope that improves with time. All of the kids have taken a liking to the new feed ration we are using and are grazing well with their moms. They are a great looking herd and we are pleased. 

We look forward to getting a new buck soon and will introduce you to him after he arrives. We will also show you how we manage a new animal before they are allowed to integrate into the herd. There are always new happenings when it comes to raising livestock. Stay tuned.

Until next time - Fern

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Follow the Yellow Brick Road? Not Me

What was it the wizard told Dorothy and her friends, once they finally made it to the Emerald City to get his advice, in the movie The Wizard of Oz? Something like, "Don't look behind the curtain! Don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain!" Well, folks,the more I research and learn
for myself the composition of the things that surround us, that have been developed and marketed in the commercial arena, the more skeptical I get about the true motivation of the corporate entities in our country. I prefer my own path instead of dancing mindlessly down the yellow brick road, to the land of poison poppies that dull the senses and leave one neurologically impaired, to the point that one will take and do anything regardless of the cost to them, their families, or mankind.

I have written about GMO products before. Why have so many countries around the world banned all GMO seed production and growth from their borders? Is it because they understand and care about the dire consequences of feeding their people and livestock these products? Why are countries refusing shipments of grain exported from our country because of the GMO content of the shipment? Could it possibly be so it won't contaminate their crops and poison their people?

Sometimes Frank suffers with migraines, as do many other people. We were reading about MSG (monosodium glutamate) the other day and didn't know how many other 'names' it goes by. Here is a partial list of these other names according to Check the link to see the rest of the list, it is much longer than this one.
  • Glutamic acid, Glutamate
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Monopotassium glutamate
  • Calcium glutamate
  • Monoammonium glutamate
  • Magnesium glutamate
  • Natrium glutamate
  • Anything “hydrolyzed”
  • Any “hydrolyzed protein”
  • Calcium caseinate,  Sodium caseinate
  • Gelatin
  • Soy sauce
  • Soy sauce extract 
Some of the common side effects of MSG are: headaches, nausea, dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, flushing or excessive sweating, skin rash, numbness, intense thirst, lethargy or sleepiness, ringing ears and tingling in the mouth. Not all people suffer from the same side effects, but just reading about it makes me want to try to eliminate as much as possible from our diet.

Another item in our culture that has become very popular, to the point of ridicule if you don't use it, is hand sanitizer. Yes, hand sanitizer. Does it make you 'safe' from all of those unwanted germs, or does it lower your body's ability to protect itself by killing off the natural protection your skin provides? Here are a few excerpts from an article at The Health Site.
"In a study published in the Science Daily, carried out by the Northwestern Research Center found that a child’s immunity is seriously affected by the
use of hand sanitizers." And, "Some hand sanitizers don’t have alcohol content and use triclosan instead. Triclosan is an anti bacterial and anti fungal agent and is commonly used in a variety of soaps and cleaning agents. But, did you know that it is an active ingredient in pesticides? Another thing to consider is the fact that the compound has been widely touted as an agent that causes the formation of super bugs or antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Triclosan, as a component, is capable of quickly being absorbed into the skin and entering the blood stream, once there, it is known to cause various side effects like cancer, allergies, hormonal and neurological ill effects and muscle weakness. More importantly, it is known to cause infertility." This is just two of the possible side effects listed on this site. If you use hand sanitizer or antibacterial anything, please look into how it may affect you and yours. What you find may be very surprising.  Adequate use of soap and water will generally take care of any cleaning or disinfecting your hands may need.

Fresh air, we all love it, right? So, if the air is not fresh and sweet smelling, Madison Avenue will provide us with a way to freshen it up. From things you plug into the wall, to machines that 'freshen' the room at timed intervals, to the option of spraying away at your hearts content, we have been provided with every 'good' scent known to man right at our finger tips. According to Health Scams Exposed, "It may surprise you to know that the air fresheners you use don’t actually make the odor in your home go away. Your home smells good when you use them because they actually change the way your nose perceives odors. A chemical called p-dichlorobenzene deadens the nerve cells in your nose by coating your nostrils in a type of film." The article goes on to say, "The Centers for Disease Control classifies p-dichlorobenzene as a possible occupational carcinogen. It has also been reported to cause asthma, allergy attacks, eye irritation, liver disease, kidney malfunction, gastrointestinal problems, and skin rash." This site goes to include information about some of the chemicals included in air fresheners. Air fresheners may include the ingredients:
phthalates, a powerful endocrine disruptor; parabens, which are found in deodorant as well, are known carcinogens among other things; formaldehyde, which affects your respiratory tract and has been classified as a carcinogen for over 20 years; petrochemicals, which are also in pesticides, cause breathing problems, headaches and neurological dysfunction among other problems; and benzene, a flammable, sweet-smelling chemical that is a carcinogen, is linked to leukemia, and can affect the composition of your blood cells.

Frank has never been able to walk down the soap aisle at the store, through the tire store or by someone that has on way too much cheap perfume without getting an instant headache. It seems to him that the type
of people that wear cheap perfume think that the more they wear, the better it works. They wear so much you can taste it. Yuck! Obviously it has some kind of deadening agent in it as well, because it deadens the senses of the men around them, according to Frank. So what chemical scents are included in soaps, shampoos, laundry detergent or a wide variety of cleaners? Obviously there are many other chemicals that are released into the air and absorbed into our bodies. What affect they have on us is individualized depending upon our sensitivities, but the fact that they affect us all is undeniable.

And what about the clothes we buy? When you buy clothes at the store or order them online, have you ever noticed that chemical smell when you open the package or pick them up? According to Fibre2Fashion "Formaldehyde is commonly used in garments as an embalming fluid
to give a 'permanent press' look. Excessive content of this chemical in our clothes can cause irritation in eyes, skin, nose, and result in respiratory problems, and diseases like cancer. It can also result in headaches, skin rashes, nausea, and chronic fatigue. Just by simply touching those products, or breathing the formaldehyde they release into the air, can cause intense symptoms." So when it comes to formaldehyde, we eat it, breathe it, dress in it, all of which can and does cause serious health issues. Then after it kills us, they preserve us with it until they can get us in the ground. Amazing, huh? We always make sure to wash any new item of clothing, or anything made of cloth, before we use it just to try to eliminate as many of these added chemicals as possible.

How many other chemical agents are out there that include a deadening agent to get us to ingest it, breathe it, drink it or absorb it? I had no idea that the mechanism of delivery for scents was to numb the olfactory nerves so that the 'foul' odors are no longer detectable. That's amazing. Why have so many things been allowed to be 'innocently' sold to the public when there are documented ill affects to health? What is the planned outcome for putting all of the poisonous chemicals in food, water, air, clothes, houses, etc., etc.? Each one of these chemicals are individually tested and deemed 'safe' at so many part per million. But what about the combination of all of them together? Our government seems to think they are safe. Right? Would they lie to us? No, not our government, not Big Brother. 
Frank and I have talked about this many times. I truly believe at the onset, the ability to produce some chemical agents was for the benefit of mankind. Men, yes, men, are designed as problem solvers. As the industrial age came into full force, men wanted to design and create things that would make life easier for their families. The first wives to receive a washing machine from their husbands were very happy women indeed. So the creation of some chemicals provided a way to preserve food a little longer, made a plastic wrap that would keep the flies off of food and kept the moisture in, and just made life a little easier. When did things change from benefiting mankind to anything for a buck? When did profits and pleasing the stockholders take precedence over caring for the workers and customers? When did cold, calculating greed win? 

Some people think there are just too many people on our planet and these things have to happen just to provide for the ever growing demand for basic necessities and comforts. Some people think that if these harmful substances had not been implemented to begin with, the balance in
population vs. production would have taken care of itself. You know, supply and demand. When there are not enough rabbits to feed the coyotes the population density of the coyotes decline. But if artificial means are utilized to create an over abundance of rabbits, the coyote population will increase as well. What happens when the artificial means start impacting the health of the rabbits to the point where it produces an inferior specimen or causes lethal heath issues? In turn, how does
that impact the population of the coyote? Is this a sustainable system? No. Are we caught right in the middle of all of it? Yes, very sadly we are. So, now what? Frank and I both agree there is absolutely no way we can avoid all chemicals. Everything we eat, wear, breathe, drink, read and look at has been impacted by chemicals one way or another. What can we do? Research, learn and modify the way we do things as much as possible. Has much damage already been done to our bodies? Yes. Is it reversible? I don't know. Maybe some of it is. But I do know that God has given me this task to perform. Why, I do not know. I only know that I am supposed to learn as much as I can. Now. Not later. The choice is mine and I choose to live the best way I know how. What about you?

Until next time - Fern

Friday, April 11, 2014

Baby Chick Five Week Update

Hello, Frank here.

As of today, Friday, the baby chicks will be five weeks old. The last time we posted the birds were just a few days old. A little bit of food for thought. Sometimes things just don't work out the way you plan. After getting
the baby birds out of the house and into their temporary quarters, I developed an upper respiratory infection, or that's what the doctor called it anyway. But a side affect of that was, I could not tolerate any form of dust, which includes chicken dust. So, we had a problem and we needed a solution. I needed an industrial grade dust mask. I looked up a farm supply, a company called Gempler's, and ordered a couple of masks that are made for ammonia, but also come with a dust mask attachment. The chickens are scared to death of me. I'm not sure my cats will ever come back home, but my dog still loves me.

Okay, back to the chickens. The birds stayed in their temporary quarters a little longer than we had planned. They were well fed and watered, but when we moved them to their permanent quarters, the first hour or so they didn't walk like normal chickens. The reason being their height was constricted in their temporary quarters after they got so tall. But after a couple of hours they stretched their legs were fine.

Their diet. We started off with medicated chick starter, it's a crumble type product. After two weeks on the chick starter we went to regular laying crumbles. It's the same size feed, it's just made for bigger birds. This is what some people feed their birds on a daily basis. Now we switched to an all-purpose feed that we also give our goats. This is what we are feeding our adult chickens now, too. The change from chick starter, to laying crumbles, to the all-purpose blend we did very gradually. There is one difference between what we feed the goats and the chickens, we don't add alfalfa to the chicken blend. And here is that blend:
  • 6 parts rolled oats
  • 4 parts sweet feed
  • 1 part sunflower seed
  • 1 part wheat bran
  • And for the goats, 1 part alfalfa pellet
This is a well rounded blend with a solid protein level. Okay, that's the feed.

Water. For about the first week we also added a vitamin electrolyte solution to their drinking water. This just helps the birds get a good start in life. Now they are drinking regular water.

With time we've also changed what they eat and drink out of. Now I know the baby chicks feel really special because they are eating and drinking off the same dishes that the big birds eat and drink out of.
In the growing process, we lost a couple of baby birds. We had one die from a crusted vent. We had a couple die for unknown reasons. We had one bird that had a deformed beak, and he was put down. You ever notice when you have to put something down it's a he? Funny how that works, isn't it?

Housing. Before we could get the baby birds to their permanent housing we had to do some chicken home improvement. This has only been waiting about four years to get it done, and it took us probably three hours to do it. But now the big birds and the little birds are separate. 

Don't think that a little bird can't find a hole or a weak spot in your chicken fencing. The first day we put all of the baby birds in their new home, the next morning probably half of them were someplace other than where they were put the day before. I don't understand. But they can find a weak spot in your fencing. I guess it's basic animal behavior, to always want to be someplace other than where you are. You know, the grass is always greener on the other side type concept? If we hadn't caught the escaped babies early in the morning before sunrise, then the adult birds would probably have pecked them to death. But that didn't happen and we are thankful. Once a bird develops a pecking problem, there is no way to stop that behavior. Well, there is a way to stop that behavior, but you have to stop the bird, permanently. 
Adult birds checking out the new babies

Next on the agenda, believe it or not, is separating the young roosters from the young hens. I will pick out the two roosters I like the best, and at the age of 12 weeks, we will butcher all but two males. So, for the next few weeks, it's just feed, water, look for problems, make sure everybody is healthy and happy. It's fun to watch the birds grow as they start to take on their adult colors and shapes, because pretty soon, 12 weeks will be here. 

A little review here. We have about 46 to 50 baby birds. Half of those came from Murray McMurray Hatchery, and the other half of the birds I hatched. Now for the simplicity of math, I'm going to say we have 48 baby birds. If they're half and half male and female, then I will have 24 females and 24 males. So, that means I will be butchering 22 young males. Also, if I have 48 birds and 24 came from the hatchery, that means 24 of them I hatched. Of that 24, half of them came from friends of ours. So, that means 12 of the baby birds are pure Easter Egg chicken. The 12 from my friends, the rooster was an Easter Egg, but the hens are an assortment of heavy breeds, like Barred Rock, Buff Orpington, and some other heavy breeds. The 24 from the hatchery are Black Australorps. I am new to Black Australorps, this will be my first time with them. They are a dual purpose, heavy breed.

So, we're at five weeks, at 12 weeks we butcher the males. At five to six months they start laying and at one year we hatch their babies. Unless something comes along, the next time we talk chickens, should be in six to seven weeks. If you hatched some birds this year or you ordered some, please let me know how it's going. Email or comment would be appreciated. Just to let you know ahead of time, this year instead of freezing the males we butcher, we're going to can the meat instead. We've done this on a smaller scale before. That's the plan anyway.

We'll talk more later. Frank

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Radio - Wanna Be a General, Part 5

Hello, Frank here.

Hi everybody. Last time we talked about SWR in relation to antennas. As mentioned last time, most people will agree the most important piece of equipment should be your antenna. It's kind of like buying a giant screen television with a computer type speaker for sound. There are as many types of antennas as you can count on all eleven of your toes. I'm going to cover the most popular ones, but there are still a gazillion other types out there.

First, your beam antenna. Your beam will focus your power and signal in a specific direction. Most beam antennas have a motor to change the direction of the antenna. Picture one of the old TV type of antennas, you know, the ones you had up on the pole? Even some of them had a motor so you could point in a different direction to locate a different broadcasting tower. Same type concept, except the beam antenna will transmit and receive. Now, these antennas are directional. But if you want to contest, and you want to transmit and receive to a specific area, this is a great way to go.

Next is your vertical antenna. Some guys use them and they get good results. But, what you see above the ground is only part of the antenna. In many cases there are wires buried just below the surface of the ground. A lot of guys use these as expedition type use. I have never actually seen one.

Probably the most common is your dipole antenna. There are multiple configurations for dipole type antennas. The most common is half the wire on one side and the other half on the other side. If you're going to focus on one band, then a single wire will work great. Now, there are dipoles that are made for multiple bands. I would guess that the dipole is probably the most common general purpose antenna that there is. If your dipole is put up correctly and the height is right, then you can transmit and receive around the globe.

Most of these antennas are 50 ohm, but a few of them are not. As I mentioned earlier, there are multiple types of antennas. The only ones you need to be concerned with at this stage are the ones that are on the test. There is something on page 32 of the Romanchik manual that I want to bring to your attention. The term NVIS means near vertical incident skywave. Yes, this could and probably would be on your test, but it's also real handy for talking to people in your own neighborhood, especially on 40 and 80 meter. Most standard dipoles work well in this configuration.

Okay, I'm going to continue on page 33 with radio wave propagation. If you plan on doing HF transmission, then you need to have a basic grasp of this subject. Solar activity affects the levels of the ionosphere and that determines how well some of the bands function. Remember, this manual just teaches the questions and answers that are on the test. If you choose to understand this information, there is no in depth discussion here, but one of the paid online teaching courses provides much more information, as do the ARRL test manuals. 

Okay, continuing on, page 35. You need to understand MUF and LUF. This is what I'm talking about with the levels of the ionosphere. You will see a lot of this information on the test, MUF especially, the different layers of the ionosphere and when signals are absorbed or reflected. Go ahead and study up through page 37. Remember, all of this information will be on the test. Pay attention to NVIS, 40 and 80 meters use it a lot.

Safety. If your piece of equipment is too hot, or if the case shocks you, then you have an internal problem in your radio. This is generally caused by RF. Properly grounding your radio will often solve this problem. You've heard this before and you will hear it again, if you don't know what you're doing, DON'T DO IT! And if you are going to do it, turn your power down low. Pay attention to SWR. Get in touch with your local ARRL chapter. Get a good mentor from your local ARRL chapter.

Okay. Next time I'm going to cover up through page 46 which is going to deal with amateur radio practices. 

We'll talk more later. 73, Frank

Monday, April 7, 2014

Getting More Milk

When the baby goats are growing and taking more and more milk, it gets to the point that I only get about two cups of milk from three does. That is hardly worth the time and effort it takes to disinfect the buckets and jars. Once the kids are two weeks old we begin penning them off at night. This way when we milk in the morning, we get more than a gallon of milk. We don't let the babies out until the milking is complete. Hungry babies stimulate the does to make more milk, thus increasing their production.

We have a larger pen that we initially used to raise our Pyrenees in when she was a pup. We keep the dog house in there for the kids to use. They like having a place to go inside and sleep. The kids generally don't nurse at night, and are fairly inactive so this is a good time to separate them from their moms. It also makes it easier to feed in the evenings when we don't have to milk and there are other chores to be done.

It's good to discover ways to make life easier. This year when I started penning up the babies, instead of following them around, picking them up and carrying them to the pen one at a time, I let the does do the work for me. I'm not sure why I thought of this, but sure am glad I did. When it's time to pen up the babies, I put a fresh handful of hay in the pen, open the gate and call the girls. They walk right in to eat, the babies follow them and I shut the gate. Now why didn't I think of this years ago and save myself some work and frustration? I don't know, but it works great! The does are easy enough to lead out by the collar and that chore is done.

I don't pen the babies off every night. We have had a few thunderstorms lately and I leave the babies with their moms, just for comfort. If we have plenty of milk in the frig, I let the babies have the milk until we need some more. This will change when I wean the babies and milk everyday, then we'll give the extra to the chickens, dog and cats.

I still find milking and watching the herd to be a very relaxing 'chore'. Well, when the babies are penned up and hollering for their breakfast and the does are hollering for their babies, it can be a little annoying. But that will soon be over and the babies will be weaned. They will holler for a while then, too, but it doesn't last long either. So goes the cycle of raising our milk animals. Before long we will be swimming in milk and making cheese for the coming year.

We hear more and more everyday about the hard times coming to our country and world. Do what you can each and every day. Even if you are not where you hope to be one day, learn all you can. Knowledge will get you a whole lot farther than ignorance.

Until next time - Fern