Black Gold Discovered!

Not oil, even though I live in the oil rich State of Oklahoma, but almost as good. Recently, I wrote that I wanted to go to a mushroom farm that sells mushroom compost to use in our garden this year. Garden Dreaming I still think it would be a great soil additive, but it would involve a long drive for us. Why do this when in my own backyard, one of the richest sources of fertilizer is free for the taking?

Compared to other manure sources, rabbit manure is rich in Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.

Manure TypeN Nitrogen % P Phosphorus %K Potassium %
Rabbit2.41.4.6
Cow.6.4.5
Horse.7.3.6
Pig.8.7.5
Chicken1.1.8.5
Sheep.7.3.9
Comparison of Average NPK for Animal Manures1

Some Like it Hot, Some Like it Cold

Many sources online report that rabbit manure can be applied fresh without composting. They call it a “cold manure” because it will not burn your plants. The other animal manures are considered “hot” and must be composted before use in the garden.2Still other sources state that because urine and hay are usually mixed with the rabbit manure, it’s best to go ahead and compost to prevent diseases such as E Coli and Salmonella. You decide. It seems many are using it fresh with good results.

Tea Anyone?

I’ve never made a compost or manure tea but seems like all the bloggers are singing it’s virtues. Supposedly it’s a rich organic fertilizer that helps prevent bad pathogens. I’m a simple kind of gardener (lazy) and the easier the better. Making Compost manure is a more complicated procedure than spreading and tilling in fresh rabbit manure. I won’t go into the steps here as they’re all over the internet. I try to get my information from College Agricultural Departments that actually do studies on these kind of things and it looks like not only can the results be questionable, but even harmful.3

I’ll go the simpler route. If you’ve used rabbit manure or tea, I’d love to hear about your results.

1“Bunny honey: Using rabbit manure as a fertilizer.” Dixie Sandborn. Michigan State
University Extension, September 1, 2016.
https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/bunny_honey_using_rabbit_manure_as_a_fertilizer

2 “Animal Manure” Kathy Wolfe, November 13, 2020. https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/2073/2020/11/Animal-Manure-in-the-Garden.pdf

3https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/good-growing/2019-08-14-compost-tea-miracle-product-or-snake-oil

Spring Has Arrived!

Spring has arrived swimming up the creek behind our property. Sand Bass meet once a year for a week long mating party, hundreds of them. We make sure we crash the party and invite them to our house for a big fish fry.

Southern gal that I am, they have to be fried with homemade tartar sauce, fried potatoes, corn bread and a dollop of pickled green tomatoes on the side. The pickled green tomatoes were canned from the end of last year’s abundant tomato harvest.

I have to get busy cutting up fish filets but thought I would include a couple of recipes:

Southern Fried Fish

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup white flour

1 cup corn meal

Lowrys Seasoning Salt to taste

Fish filets

Vegetable Oil – enough to fill about 1 inch in a frying pan

Cast Iron Skillet

  1. Heat oil in cast iron skillet.
  2. Mix white flour and corn meal together in flat bottom dish or gallon size bag.
  3. Rinse fish in water and dredge in flour mixture
  4. Add fish to pan after testing oil with a drop of oil. It should sizzle.
  5. When fish starts to float in oil and is slightly brown, turn with tongs to cook other side.
  6. Remove fish to paper towel lined platter and lightly dust with Lowry’s.

Tartar Sauce

2 cups Miracle Whip

1/4 cup diced onions

1/4 cup chopped dill pickles

Lowry’s to taste – about 1/8th teaspoon

Mix together. Slather on as desired.

Yum!

Buy USA Plan Update – How’s it working for me?

I recently made a commitment to buy products made in the USA I’ve Accepted The Challenge – Will you? Having the internet has made it easier to research, but more time consuming than just going to Walmart or Amazon, finding the best price and reviews, press the button and done, package on it’s way!

I haven’t been successful in every case. In a recent emergency, I just made the purchase because it was a serious health issue. The current Covid pandemic brought the seriousness of lack of USA medical personal protection devices to light. This also extends to thermometers and oxygen meters.

Another problem is–Coffee. I have a serious coffee addiction. To support my habit I buy large 30 ounce cans of whatever is on sale and stock up. Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia and Indonesia are the top 4 coffee producers. There is no “Made in the USA” when it comes to coffee. Fair Trade Coffee is an option that I’m currently researching. Fair Trade Coffee helps support farmers from wildly fluctuating coffee prices to provide a stable price to provide a living wage for the farmer and his family. https://www.fairtradecertified.org/ gives a good explanation of the details. Even my local Walmart has a good collection of Fair Trade Coffees including Newman’s Own, Ethical Bean and Seattle’s Best. Yes, the price is higher than my discount brands but I can drink less and also waste less.

Success

I am thrilled that Dollar Tree has Gossner’s Boxed Milk back in stock. I’m not a fan of powdered milk so this has been my go to prepper’s milk for the last few years. It has a real milk taste and has a year shelf life. Gossner Foods is a family owned business with locations in Utah and Idaho. The boxes come in quart sizes. I can order a case of 12 for $12 online thru Dollar Tree and have it shipped to their store location for free. My order came just in time before our recent snow storm hit. Prepping for Polar Express 2021 What a relief to have on hand when the roads are bad!

These Keen soft toe work shoes are made in the U.S.A. They are more expensive but are very sturdy and well made. John is very hard on shoes working on the ranch, welding, and chopping cedar trees.

Can a Buy USA plan be done? Yes and No. Some purchases, such as parts for John’s Mahindra tractor (bought used) requires foreign parts. Should we give up? No. If I can achieve a 90% buy USA, and buy used when options are not available or out of our price limit or buy from a country that does not use slavery for the remaining 10%, then I have come a long ways to stop my family’s support of slave labor.

I would like to hear about your successes and failures to Buy Made in the USA.

Prepping for Polar Express 2021

Frigid temperatures (for Oklahoma) have been with us for a week. We’re looking at 10 to 12 inches of snow this weekend with below zero temps. Extended cold weather for weeks is new for us. It was our native Will Rogers who said, “If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute and it’ll change.”

However, dramatic and severe weather events are expected; deadly tornadoes, daily earthquakes, extended droughts, devastating fires, and the dreaded ice storms. We’ve learned to be prepared for anything. Yes, there is still those who make last minute runs to the grocery store to stock up, even if it’s going to be just a little snow event, which is gone the next day. Because we live in a rural area with a large household, we can’t wait until the last minute.

Heat

Frigid weather with ice, always a possibility, means losing electric is always a concern. In 2011 we lost electric for 14 days. Because we have a gas welder/generator, we kept power without any loss of food. Having a supply of gasoline to run the generator is important if we’re unable to get out on the roads to get more . We have propane heat and a stove that does not require an electric start. We know we’ll stay warm and can eat hot food.

Water

We’re on well water that depends on an electric pump. An automatic heater is kept in our well house to prevent frozen and busted pipes. I would love to have a hand pump but we have a very deep well and it’s not practical. I keep a supply of water stored in our storm cellar for short term outages. We also fill up our large bathtub if it looks like the electric going out is a real possibility. This will get us by for a day but with 9 people, rabbits and chickens, we’ll have to hookup the generator.

Animals

This is the first year I’ve put egg laying chickens in a movable pen that includes a small chicken house. I’ve raised broilers on the pasture but they were only out for less than 5 weeks during early summer. I don’t have a source of heat available to the pen. Their house has a door that we can shut at night and this does help but it means we’re going out to the pasture every morning and night to open and shut the door. Right now it also means several trips to break ice and provide drinkable water. Next year a traditional pen needs to be built before Winter. Laying pellets and scratch is bought in bulk and stored in 50 gallon rubber barrels.

Food

Because we’re a hunting family with land nearby, we’ve been blessed to put venison in the freezer each Fall. I try to stock up on other sources of meat during the year when I find a sale. We’ll also raise a steer or pig occasionally to add to our freezer. This Fall we killed the roosters from our baby chicks we purchased in the Spring. Tougher than hens, the roosters make great chicken and dumplings! We have a good supply of canned fruits and vegetables.

I don’t care for the taste of powdered milk but Gossner Foods Foods produces boxed milk that is shelf stable for at least 6 months. I really like the taste and it prevents last minute runs to the grocery store when we’re out of milk. Dollar Tree sells this in their stores for $1.00 a quart or $12 a case online. I order online and have it delivered to their store for free shipping. During most of the pandemic I was unable to order online. Recently I noticed it was back in stock and purchased 2 cases that I picked up just in time.

Neighbors and Family

Last minute calls were made to our “city family and friends”, who don’t always live by the weather, to make sure they are ready. Many were, some weren’t. Most of our neighbors have been out here for years and are prepared. Some are living pretty thin and need a little more help. We’re a community and try to help each other. Even though my nearest neighbors are a mile or so away from me in all directions, I know them so much better than I knew my next door neighbors in town.

It’s not a totally perfect plan. We get lazy and put things off, but we have the basics in place. Then we trust the Lord for the things we did plan and the things we forgot.

Garden Dreaming

Dark gray skies, walking past last year’s now empty garden on my way to feed the chickens has me dreaming of juicy red vine ripened tomatoes. Memories of weeding tomato plants so high that I was hidden from view, hot sunshine on my back and legs, resulting in a “farmer’s tan”.

Wake up! It was a wonderful garden that produced every kind of vegetable from my daughter-in-law Sarah’s seed stash for preppers; heirloom tomatoes, beans of several varieties and pumpkins as large as my 8 year old grandson! We could’ve had a great market garden if not for Covid. Just as the garden started producing Sarah was recuperating from surgery and John and I were struggling to keep up with the garden chores. Then came canning, freezing, drying, giving it away. It was a challenge to preserve tomatoes; canned whole, diced, tomato preserves, dried, catsup, spaghetti sauce, plain sauce. Too tired to do anything else, I froze them whole. They’re still in my freezer. I really need to do something with them. This was repeated with every vegetable. A new favorite I tried was jalapeno jelly.

Garden Plan for 2021

  • This year the size of the garden will be cut in half. My son’s family of 7 who’ve lived with us for the last 1 1/2 years while remodeling a 4 bedroom mobile home they bought for cheap should be ready for move-in sometime this Spring. Even with half the size of the garden, it will produce more than enough, if all goes well.
  • The variety of vegetables was fun, but I’m only ordering what we like and will plant what we can reasonably eat with a little extra just in case. Weather, bugs and the unpredictability of what is growing well any given year makes it a challenge to predict the harvest.
  • I ordered my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, located in Mansfield, MO https://www.rareseeds.com/ Mansfield is about an hour’s drive, South and East of Branson. We took a little side trip there to visit the final home of Laura Ingles Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie series. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about Baker’s Seed or their Spring Planting Festival. They have a second location in Santa Rosa, CA where they host a National Heirloom Exposition which draws over 20,000 people who come to learn from gardening experts, listen to music, check out the vendors and enjoy food from their Asian restaurant. These activities are closed this year. Their seed prices are very reasonable with free shipping and a good supply of seed. They also supply a free seed packet. I’m excited about the White Tomesol Tomato seeds they sent. Many of the seed companies this year are low on seeds and shipping is delayed due to Covid. I was pleasantly surprised when I ordered my seeds on January 27th and received them by February 4th. I saved a good supply of Okra seeds from last year’s harvest.
  • Now to get the garden plan on paper!
  • It’s already time to start tomato seeds indoors!

Save a Tree-Repurpose a Gift Bag

I always enjoy finding a new frugal hack. No one has ever accused me of being a spendthrift. I’m painting my tired wood kitchen cabinets. They’re solid wood and worth updating. I started this project in warmer weather but have brought the painting inside.

I needed to cover my kitchen table to use as my painting table so I asked John if he had a tarp I could use. He had saved the jumbo bag that his lawn chair came in for Christmas. Perfect! It also did double duty as a kid friendly table cloth! Ok, the table cloth is just for fun, sort of. We are a hunting family. Our six year old grandson said it made the table disappear!

A Different Pioneer Trail

Last Sunday was a beautiful day here in Oklahoma and winter weather was predicted for the following week. I was feeling cooped up and needed a change of scenery.

I recently learned of the Barn Quilt Trail movement in America. A barn quilt is a quilting square painted on a wooden square and hung on a barn or placed on metal stakes and hung in front of a home or business. It’s a way of reclaiming our quilting and artistic heritage as well as promoting our often forgotten rural communities.

Blackwell, OK located in North Central Oklahoma with a population just over 7000 has a Geocache Barn Quilt Trail of over 60 barn quilts. I’m a beginning wannabe quilter so this seemed like the perfect Covid free way to spend the day. John is not into quilting but he loves the outdoors so off we went.

Each of the 50 states were represented on the trail. Many businesses and churches were part of the trail. Even the National Guard Armory had their own barn quilt.

Chances are that your state has a Barn Quilt Trail. It’s a great way to get out of the house!

For more information: http://oklahomaquilttrail.okstate.edu/maps/about-us and http://barnquiltinfo.com/map-US.html

Sudden Beauty and a Whole Lot of Fun

It’s Sunday morning, December 13th and we woke up to a very rare thing in Oklahoma, SNOW! Snow has a way of covering the ugliest things with a pristine white beauty. It has a calming tranquility that insists all work be put aside and enjoy the view.

No need to worry about using the storm cellar right now, except for extra storage!

But, for children, it means snowball fights and building snowmen.

Plotting the Battle and A Snowman in Progress

One Brave Hen Ventures out and The Summer Garden Put To Bed

You can tell from the pictures that we were not ready for winter. Cushions left on outdoor furniture, garden tool on hen house, trellises and tomato cages still in the garden. My son told his wife Sarah when clean clothes were still on their bed at night, “Could you move your good intentions?” Our “good intentions” got left out.

One Season Ends, a New One Begins

The last few weeks have been a blur of canning and freezing as the end of the garden season comes to an end. Besides the usual diced and whole tomatoes, salsa, tomato and spaghetti sauce, I’ve tried ketchup and tomato preserves. The tomato preserves are surprisingly delicious. Another new experiment this year was Jalapeno Jelly. The mixture of spicy and sweet has proved to be addictive. Okra was a big producer this year so we’ve froze it both battered and plain. Okra is a wonderful addition to soups. My mother always made okra cooked in tomatoes, bacon and onions which is quite yummy so I’ve canned okra and tomatoes. However, my brother and I are the only ones who like it this way. It has to be battered and fried for everyone else!

The night before last we were warned of a possible hard frost. It was all hands on deck to try and save as much as possible of the last of the tomatoes, both green and red, and a mountain of Banana, Hungarian, Bell and Jalapeno peppers. The harvest filled a deep wheelbarrow. We were happy to split it up and share with relatives and neighbors.

To get out of the house and the kitchen, I took a little trail ride with John to see his latest tiny cabin on stilts (hunting stand). Bow season for deer hunting has started and it soon will be muzzleloader or primitive arms season. This is a very big deal in our family as I’ve talked about before in https://osageprairie.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/man-week-has-arrived-a-k-a-thanksgiving/. This is not just sport but food for our family. John never harvests anything that is not food.

John designed his cabin to avoid climbing and hunting from a tree stand which can be quite dangerous. Now he has a comfortable place to sit with a propane heater when it’s cold, drink his coffee and even fall asleep without falling out of a tree. He invited me to climb up and inspect. He even has carpet on the floor! The pictures at the top right was my view out of the windows. Very peaceful with only the sound of birds. All summer with the hustle and bustle of family life and a big household I’ve been dreaming of a quiet place to get away where I could be alone with God and pray.

I think I found the place.

Projects on the Prairie – Part 1

The Food Pantry

We have two families under one roof with 9 people. Sarah’s older son is visiting for the summer.  Since the Covid 19 pandemic we’ve been eating together.  I was cooking separately for John and I  because we have some dietary restrictions and we eat earlier in the day. That was just too complicated and too many cooks in the kitchen!

I’m fortunate to have a lot of cabinet space and a separate laundry room/food pantry.  But over the years the cabinets and laundry room have become a place for extra storage.  I have a reputation in the family for being a “tightwad”.  I call it frugal.  The thought of renting a storage unit to store extra junk would never cross my mind .  However, I’ve resorted to buying a pantry for extra food storage when I could sort through all the cabinets to make room for the extra food that is coming into our house.  Right now with gardening, raising chickens, and canning I just didn’t have the energy.  This unit I bought can always be used for my quilting and sewing supplies if it’s no longer needed for food in the future.  Plus, I got a great buy.

I purchased this direct from Sauder online.  Years ago I purchased a Sauder office desk when I was working from home as a Mortgage Broker and it’s still holding up very well. I love the built in shelves on the side door.  Shipping was free also.  This is not a paid commercial!  The only downside is that it came in many pieces.  John is quite mechanical but he really wasn’t in the mood to be putting this together.  After he laid out the pieces it went together pretty fast. 

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