Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Finding local food in Arizona.

I wussed out on our Idaho winter and came down to Arizona for a week. I've been staying with my sister in a town near Phoenix. She recently watched Food, Inc. and decided that she wanted to change where she bought her meat. Fantastic! I was so thrilled because she is the demographic that the local food movement should be targeting. She's an educated, suburban woman. She had the same issues with making the changes that everyone of our generation does. Where do you find the kind of food you're wanting to buy? (Here, here, and here are good places to start.) How do I know what to ask them? How do I know I can trust them? And once you find the source, you then have to learn how to plan meals differently, maybe even learn different recipes. It can be an overwhelming jump to make.

We went to a mini-market the other day. It was small, but fun.

We found a good option for eggs - I'm trying to convince her that chicken meat and eggs should be on her list of foods to change - and information about a weekly market in her area that has a vendor who sells locally produced beef that she can buy single cuts of meat from. That way she doesn't have to jump right into buying a whole or half steer.

I also found out something about Arizona jams. They all have peppers in them.

Habanero Mango. Jalapeno Pepper Jam. Habanero Pineapple Jam.

Raspberry Jalapeno Jam. Chipotle Plum Jam.

Chipotle Raspberry Jam. Chipotle Tomato Jam.

I spent all my money on some homemade barbecue spices for my husband to try or I would have grabbed a jar of that Chipotle Raspberry Jam. Looked intriguing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

That is NOT a chicken.

Look who I found running around and howling in my chicken coop this morning.

Poor thing had gotten himself in but couldn't figure out how to get out.

I was sure when I went in there, I'd find chicken bodies everywhere, but they were all alive and well. I called the owner listed on his tag and let the girls play with him until the owner got here to pick him up. He was a young Irish Setter - only four or five months old - and very friendly, but kind of skittish. When his owner got here, he yelled at him to come and then hit him. The girls were horrified (of course) and we got to have a talk about training dogs and cruelty. Fun stuff.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Garden planning season is upon us.

Here we go...

Oh, yeah.

Spring fever is hitting now. After over two months with only a few days of bright sun, we have had three days of sun in the last week and a half.

Even Ainsley decided to spend a few minutes outside.

(In case you're wondering how big of a deal that was, I'll share this with you - upon stepping outside she said in a shocked voice "There SNOW out here!" My little girl who wouldn't go inside in the summer, won't go outside in the winter.)

Even the animals are unabashedly enjoying it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It ain't the east coast.

But it's something.

To be honest, that's one *season* of snowfall, not one evening.

Also, a lot of that is from the field beside us. 'Tis the benefit of living in windy country - the snow drifts something fierce.

This drift in the chicken yard is almost four feet tall, while the field behind it is almost bare. I think it looks kind of like a curling wave ...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

She's doing fine. (Thank you)

I can't tell you all how much your comments and emails meant to me. This one hit me hard and I debated about posting it. I'm glad I did, because having the support and suggestions and ideas was just what I needed.

Tamari's my favorite goat. I had big plans for these babies and that's put off for another year. I've also had to run the gamut of 'What now' questions. If you've had something go wrong with animals, I know you've done it. I watched Matron go through this when things didn't quite go right with Della, but I wasn't prepared for the constant back and forth in your mind when it happens to you. It was like watching the volleys on a tennis court.

"So they didn't make it, now I have a doe with no babies and lots of milk. Do I milk her? If I milk her, it has to be regimented two times a day, no excuses, for her own health. But I don't want to be tied down like that. I know, I know, then I shouldn't have a milking animal. But if I milk her, then I'll have a lot of milk to start experimenting with soap making this year - and she gives a lot of milk. But if I milk her, it will take more time for her to breed back, and I really want some babies out of her. But do I want her to breed back soon? If she does, that will put her babies in .... September, October .... Do I want to raise babies in the fall? Do I want to milk through the winter? I really don't. But do I want to have a doe who is not being milked and isn't pregnant all the way through the spring, summer, and fall? I really don't, but that's probably due to being married to a man who is always thinking in terms of production."

And on and on it goes.

I've decided to dry her off. I'm not in a place health-wise to be tied down to milking at set times. I have not decided whether to allow the buck to breed her again soon. Still thinking on that.

On another note, no more weird mice outbreaks. The best theory we could come up with is that the night before it happens, it rains and then freezes which forces the mice out of their holes. I also think - even considering the mice in the chicken coop - that they aren't coming up to the porch on their own, but are being brought there by Aradia (the calico).

I tried to get testing done, but it was over $100 at the local vets or has to be overnighted to a college that will test them - and I have to pay for that too. Since they weren't hurting my cats and dog when they ate them, I didn't think it was necessary to have that done - and neither did the vets I talked to - although I am very curious (and so were the vets).

Kid news - Yesterday I disbudded the two females that Tiffany had. That's never a pleasant job, but in our operation, it is necessary for those I'm going to keep. I'm getting better - less hesitant - so it's much faster and less painful for them now. The male isn't being kept by us, so he wasn't disbudded, and he's not likely to be castrated either. There are a lot of Hispanic families around here that eat goat, and they eat them young enough that the testosterone hasn't affected the meat yet, so I see no reason to put him through that.

Word heavy, today - no pictures!

Again, thank you for your advice and support with the Tamari situation. I appreciated it more than I thought I could.