Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Gardens and frost

Ok....so far so good.

Tomatoes have some leaf damage but can easily recover (or we'll have 20+lbs of green tomatoes to deal with) if it doesn't hard freeze tonight. I'd rather just take my chances because again I am betting that, although they might look a little worse, they'll do fine. Oddly enough they all have leaf damage and blooms. heh.

The butternut squash and the beans are toast. The zucchini has some severe damage but could recover. The rest of it looks amazing.

This zucchini is the one remaining plant from the spring garden that has consistently given us dinner every 2-3 days since last April. Amazing producer. I picked one zuch, left 2 smaller ones and will check on them this week.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life on the Farm - Some changes are a'coming!

Not to long ago I mentioned we were working on something at my 9-5 that is tied into this blog. I am sure that left many of you scratching your head.....

Today I got the thumbs up and it's a go. While we have a few hurdles and formalities to get past - they are minor.

If you have been a fan of Rural Living for a while it's no secret that we love our little hobby farm! Like most of you coming h

ome to a house on acreage whether it is a few like ours or many hundreds, there is something magical about it. Endless wildlife and the things that you discover, uncover or stumble upon can be frightful but often just become humorous memories. For us it's a never ending discovery of amazing things with the ability to just walk out back to sit and listen to nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Living rural....has it's advantages and disadvantages of course as we've discussed many times....but none can be worse than if you want to purchase a home in rural America and can only use a mortgage lender remotely. In our case the closest is 30+ miles away and most of the time people never meet their mortgage consultant doing everything over the phone and fax machine. If there is a problem and if you are lucky you'll find a good one who is willing to fight through all the hurdles to get you to the end, where you walk out of a title company with keys in your hands to your own place.

Until now....in our little community. On December 10th I was given the go-ahead to "open" a mortgage office in our branch in our small town, a transition (from banker to mortgage) that is exciting and quite scary! So now....I can help others....purchase their little Rural Living hobby farm....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Good evening everyone!

Came home to a great lean pork loin that John cooked in the pressure cooker with fresh potatoes, fresh carrots and some chickpeas. It has been very nice to come home after a very long day and he has it cooked and waiting!

We are playing tag team on creating heart healthy and hearty meals. I set the main ingredients out before I head to my 9-5 and he assembles it and make

s sure it's done by the time I get home.

There is something about guy food that rocks. Healthy guy food is even better... : )

Yes, my 9-5 days are very long but I still have time to take care of some tasks on the farm after I get home and I always have the weekend. It's nice to have him home as a retiree/house-husband who is willing to do just about anything I ask him to do. I tend to forget to simply ask him to do things a lot of the time. I think that is a big problem with a lot of folks...we forget to ask and assume others can read our mind.

Hope your day went well!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another week has started...we're off to the races..or so it feels...

WOW! What a day! Sure glad THAT is past me.... We I am trying to transition into another area within the corporation and do something new not only to me but the local area...more as it develops but at this point it looks VERY GOOD....AND...it ties into the Rural living blog ..sorta. I'll keep you guessing for now until it's all in place!

I ran off and left my wrap and soup at home today....a txt
msg to John...who drove it into town to me..He didn't have to do that as we keep extra cans of soups at the branch....

He had to go by the local store anyway and while he was there he picked up a couple of dozen of fresh tamales. Yes, not the best heart healthy food but in moderation you can have them. Already had some heart healthy chili on-hand but wanted something else with them and asked him if he knew how to make Spanish rice in the steamer. Well, he's figured it out. I came home to an incredible smell and the rice steamer going with a recipe on the counter. Gotta love him for trying and if it tastes as divine as it smells I'll be bulking up on a whole grain as well! It's nice to have dinner done or almost done when I get home after dark....OMG it smells wonderful!

There have been a LOT of wrecks in the local area along Hwy 59. A LOT. Several between us and Victoria, some others just north of here, others along St. Hwy 111 that runs through town....I attribute it to the heavy traffic we are experiencing from the recent oil/gas boom. God bless each of them...they are more frequent and often have fatalities. The ambulances ran several times today and the news announced other accidents. It's becoming a daily news item now.

OH and I almost forgot the best part!

Yesterday I went to the food plot and thinned out the kale by clipping 80% of the mature leaves....bagged them up and took them to work with about 8-9 jalapenos and a bunch of vine ripened tomatoes..... the girls hadn't had kale but have heard me preaching the nutritional value over and over....

They fought over this HUGE bag I had brought.....and said they'd cook it up tonight. I bet we create more fans tonight...

Ahh.....the nicest things about being a grower is sharing....

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Farmers Market totes

I wanted to share with everyone a new tote we have made from donated bird seed bags. This one is smaller than the others and really cute!

Visit our Etsy site to see all of them!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Life on the farm - Our Thanksgiving 2012

Everything for our small Thanksgiving dinner here is ready to pop in the oven. We don't plan guests - not even the kids... just the 2 of us and that's just fine with us.

We are having a small roasted turkey about 10 lbs which should last us several days and it's seasoned in the roaster pan in the refrigerator... Roasted, not Cajun fried like John usually does. We couldn't justify $50 of oil alone

for just us this year and just one small turkey.

And we are having homemade dressing. I learned how to make dressing just a couple of years ago... seriously! Before, either I bought it from a restaurant, talked someone else into making it or relied on ... stove top.

Before Johns mother died she walked me through it over the phone the night before Thanksgiving 2 years ago... and it turned out quite well even the first time. Now I am comfortable with it and have my own twists..(olive oil when you saute the veggies instead of butter, whole grain bread and cornbread for the stuffing)..as she encouraged me to play with it. My, how I miss that woman! And as I was putting it together this evening I could hear her say.. "Yes I think you've got the hang of it!" Well Mom...we'll see when I finish cooking it tomorrow....

Then we're just having baked sweet potatoes instead of the sweet potato casserole. More nutritious and less sugar!
And I'll make some giblet gravy....

That's it! Simple dinner for simple people.... that should sustain us for several days.....

If we are not on much tomorrow we'd like to wish each and every one of you a wonderful Thanksgiving. Please stay safe if you are traveling.

We'll delay Thursday Trivia night until next week so everyone can enjoy their Thanksgiving!

And for those who live outside of the US.... take care where ever you are!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Farm Sunday - Fully Loaded

Good morning! I got up early not by choice but because Chuckie Papillion INSISTED. Was nice to walk out to the food plot while the dew was still set as Chuckie did his morning duties.

Was probably a good thing to get up this early. I got a
jump start on tasks and plan to spend a good part of the morning updating inventory on the Etsy site with the Farmers Market Totes getting ready for the holiday season.

We'll be headed out to the pasture later to shred and mow again and move more mulch up to the food plot.

Our local co-op has been dumping mulch at the Rural-living.com farm and told us a couple of weeks ago to tell them when to stop. I replied "NEVER" ... we have the room, the place to dump it is an easy access (when it's not raining) and it saves them $ not to drive to the dump with it. I'll take 100 loads or more.... Excited to get out there to see how many more they brought us.

Then it's back in to cut and roll feed bags and add to the inventory. I've said it before but it's worth saying again... living in a rural community is awesome when it comes to recycling. Folks bring in their empties and know to put them in the back of the farm suburban that I park in front of my 9-5. By the end of the week it gets quite full and I bet we have 50-60 or more new bags to cut and roll.

So we have a full day folks. I am not sure how much time we'll have to share today....in the mean time if your interested please look at http://www.etsy.com/shop/RuralLivingShop

Life on the farm - Mulch one scoop at a time

WOW they really are dropping off a lot of mulch! This is only about 1/2 of it. I moved about 3-4 scoops before I took this picture and didn't make a dent in it! WHOA HO!

Out to spread it on top of the garden.

For those interested..... i

t's free and you get it by just asking the trucks that have the tree chippers behind them. There are utility companies and private industry...just watch as you are driving around. Sometimes they are good to do it, other times they won't but persistence pays off in the long run. Keep asking, looking...

You can use the "new" chips on top of your garden or in flowerbeds. Let it sit for a while and it turns into great compost. 3-6 months of sitting and you can incorporate it into your soil.

If you are local Jackson County and want to get some scoops when the landfill is closed..(where it has been dumped for years and is amazing...) just call us.... There is plenty to share and more to come I am sure...

We managed to get mulch on the garden....1 big shovel scoop at a time. Took a while but worked up a good calorie burn and pulled a few weeds while I was at it. Looks very nice.

Now, to cook dinner (smoked ham, fresh bok choy cabbage, fresh beans and fresh zucchini from the garden) and bag up essential oils for delivery tomorrow. Then head into bag room to cut and roll and add to inventory.

John needs to swap out the manifold on Baby Girl and possibly the coil .... so it will be later in the week before we can shred.

There is a gentleman in town who is an "expert" when it comes to vintage tractors and has many to rob parts off of. We may get him out this week to run Baby Girl... He is so good... he was chosen to help several high school kids restore old tractors who then won major scholarship money at some national vintage tractor shows.

I'll try to dig out those videos we posted last spring of the tractor show here. He is the one who put that together....

What's happening at your place tonight?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Late nights and the food plot

So...at lunch John and I were having our usual conversation via text message. I text him instead of talking on the phone for a couple of reasons.

1. So I can eat. Chances are I won't be able to make it through the entire lunch without being called back into the branch to take care of something. I'm good with that if I can help someone out.

2. He watches a specific show on CBS between 11-12 and

he can text me with tidbits of info and still watch this show.

Anyway, today I realized I had not had the chance to get out to the food plot since Monday as I had been getting home after dark each night. We discussed turning the drip irrigation on since we had not received the much needed rain that was promised several times and he went out to do that, after his show.

He knew I was worried about it and later in the afternoon when I got a chance to take a tiny break and check my phone for further messages and emails I found he had gone to the food plot and taken pictures and emailed them to me. For my peace of mind.

That was very thoughtful! Can I get an "ahhhh" from everyone? : )

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Life on the farm - A beautiful fall day

What an absolutely beautiful day outside! The sun is shining, the wind has died down and the temperature is comfortable.  I went out to check on the garden and found that the dry north wind has wrecked havoc to the topsoil. It's dry, dry, dry so today we'll be replacing the hose that feeds the drip irrigation and turning it on. It's the first time we've had to have it on in months. I also just added some fertilizer to perk everything up and to increase yields. Other than that it looks amazing even though we are still fighting grasshoppers. I need to spray some more weed killer but I am afraid the wind is a little too brisk.

Have you ever had a day where you know you could start to pick greens to blanch and freeze but decided to wait because you didn't have the energy?? That's how I feel today. If I muster up the energy later I will.

The other problem is the freezer is getting full. It would also require rearranging the stuff in the freezer to make room. That also needs to be done before we start pulling and freezing anyway. Honestly, I'd rather take a nap.

Our prayers go out to those living on the East Coast. We hope you fare well through Hurricane Sandy.

Our oldest son is in Brooklyn but works in the city. He isn't concerned and is in a good area. He's quite experienced with hurricanes. He rode out Hurricane Ike when he was in Katy and Hurricane Irene last year. I'm not concerned...he knows what to do.

Hope your weekend is progressing well....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dinner on the Farm - Heart Healthy Pizza

Pizza is the one thing that you can either have in great moderation or do without when designing heart healthy diets or in diets overall. However, if made correctly either with a lean protein or all veggie and using a whole grain crust you can have pizza as a part of a heart healthy diet.

I love pizza just like you but cannot justify the calories per slice much less the other unfriendly ingredients. And, of course you can never have just one slice.

Let's face it! Pizza can be addicting and with greasy meats and white flour crusts it can be anything but heart healthy or diet friendly.

Tonight I had a craving for marinara, cheese and something that would at least resemble a homemade pizza. I remembered I had some whole grain flat-bread in the freezer. I also had some lean sausage in the freezer that  I could make even leaner if I took care how I prepared it. Mozzarella cheese is made from low fat milk and marinara can easily be made from  fresh tomatoes and some traditional Italian seasoning in the blender or ninja.

Here is what we came up with and I must say, it was delicious.

Heart Healthy Pizza

12 Sara Lee Wholegrain Flat-bread rounds (or house brand)
1 large can or a pint of canned tomatoes
2 tlb. Italian seasoning
12 oz Mozzarella cheese grated
1 lb lean protein. We used pan sausage.

Lay each half of the flat-bread on a cookie sheet and lightly toast under the broiler. Remove from heat.

In a blender/food processor/Ninja blender puree the tomatoes without the liquid and Italian seasoning to a smooth marinara. You can also puree green pepper, onion or other veggies into this mixture for extra flavor and nutrition.

Brown the pan sausage in a shallow saute pan. Drain in a colander and rinse. The sausage will retain it's flavor but you'll remove most of the grease.

Spoon 1 tlb of the marinara on top of the toasted rounds. Add some grated cheese to cover the marinada and top with about 1 tlb of the sausage, or another protein like shredded chicken and add chopped veggies if you want.

Once all the rounds are covered, broil on low with the shelf in the middle of the oven. Remove and serve.

These are amazing!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Life on the Farm: Fall garden and a new kitten.

Tonight Gina (the other banker) and I decided not to stay later than 5:30 at my 9-5.  We were both exhausted from the day and could use the time with our family too.

When I got home I shed panty hose quicker than a prom dress and headed out to the garden to pick some mature Kale to steam with dinner. I decided to look at the green beans that I knew were full of blooms a week ago but that I have not looked at in several days. I just wondered how they were progressing, especially since we got better than an inch of rain this week.

They were doing very good. I spent an extra half hour picking beans and they are cooking on the stove now with some fresh new potatoes along with kale in the steamer and a smoked sausage lasagne in the oven. For the smoke sausage lasagne I replaced the lasagne noodles with 2 very large zucchini's that were hidden and grew past their saute prime, cutting them very thin and layering them like you do lasagne noodles then adding a meat mixture made with smoked sausage, browned then drained and rinsed and adding in fresh onion, green pepper and tomatoes. We used a Mexican Queso cheese and some low-fat mozzarella for the cheese. Most Mexican Queso's are made with a low fat or skim milk cheese and are quite healthy. Mozzerella is made with low fat milk as well.

While I was headed to the garden there was a half grown kitten who greated me on the patio. This little fellow was quite vocal, almost saying HELLO may name is (whatever) and I am lost! We've never seen him before but he is very pretty, all black with tiny white paws. He followed me into the garden and as I talked to him, he answered in a language of course that I couldn't understand but I am betting that he was telling me about his former home and that he was dropped off sometime in the night.

When I came in I asked John if he was perhaps a kitten of one of our barn cat mothers and he went out to find him. When he did he picked him up and brought him in telling me he had never seen this particular cat before. We think that someone knew we take in unwanted roo's and other things and that he would be perfectly content here. So far he seems to be.

I also picked some more zucchini from the one plant that we have left. It's a zucchini from Johnny's seeds called Cash Crop and at anytime I have 4-6 zucchini's on there ready to pick. This spring they should do quite well for us.

That's it from the farm, we'd love to hear from you. And join us on Facebook. We play games, hold kitchen table discussions and through out quiz nigh from time to time. We'd love to have you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Heart Healthy Banana Bread

The first cool weather brings lots of good things to the Rural Living farm like creating homemade soups filled with garden fresh vegetables and the opportunity to bake some wonderful things that the summer heat prevents. The aroma of fruit breads and spices are just the right combination to announce that the fall season has arrived.

Tonight I spied some bananas that were past their aesthetic prime and I decided to try my hand at creating a heart healthier version of banana bread. I am not the best when it comes to quick breads. The chickens have eaten more of my experiments than I can count. None the less I tried, and I was glad I did. This version is wonderfully moist and full of flavor! 

Banana Bread

1 c self rising flour
2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/3 c sugar
1 tsp soda
1 tlb cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients together in a big glass bowl
2 eggs
1 Yoplait Greek yogurt - honey vanilla flavor
5-6 brown bananas
1/3 c olive oil

In a blender/Ninja or simply with your mixer blend the "wet" ingredients.
Fold the wet into the dry and mix well. Pour into 2 -3 loaf pans and bake 375 for 20 min or so. This recipe also makes 6 mini loaves. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

On the farm - One rainy weekend

Fall is definitely in the air in South Texas. The temperature has dropped to below 90 during the day and the cold fronts are spurring major thunderstorms that can easily drop 2-3" of rain in a day. Fall gardens are starting to look great and the hummingbirds fall migration is in full swing.

Today I came home from my 1/2 day at the 9-5 and found John working on the dishwasher. The dishwasher and the central air are the two things I would truly miss if we went to a full homestead lifestyle, off the grid and totally providing for ourselves. These last few months that I have been without it have been a challenge but I really didn't mind. There is something about washing dishes the old fashioned way that is meditative. Having the dishwasher again will save me some time in the evenings.  

It is suppose to be a bit cooler in the evenings later this week although I don't expect a good fall northern to blow through. I can hardly wait though before that first cool snap, the one that is so fresh you can smell it, blows through. I am more than ready for stews and soups made with fresh ingredients or our heart healthy chili again.

In a couple of weeks our Annual County Fair will kick off. We expect rain only because it seems to be an annual event that coincides with the fair. Years ago it was hosted on county property and parking was in a field. It was also an annual event to get quite stuck during heavy rain years. Now the fair is held at a new arena and events center that is privately owned and while the parking and facilities are much better including toilets that don't fill up and over flow it just doesn't seem the same.

Now to get up and finish some tasks and start some new ones, inside of course, so that we are ready to get back out on the Rural Living farm next weekend.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Homespun - Farmers Market Totes

We've recently added a wonderful up-cycle item to the Rural Living store. Our Farmers Market Totes are made from used feed bags we find around the county and sometimes beyond!

Find these at our Etsy store! We will be adding them to the Rural Living store soon.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dinner on the farm - Brunch Baked egg cups

After being without admin permissions for over a month we finally got that issue resolved. We're back!

To start the fall season I borrowed a concept that has become quite popular on Pinterest. Pinterest is a great place to find ideas and recipes. The muffin tin is slowly becoming a popular kitchen item but to use for things other than muffins. I hope to give mine new use this fall and winter.

To start we decided to make use of an entire dozen eggs and made these baked egg cups. The recipes vary from using ham or Canadian bacon with a twist on cheese or seasonings. I just wanted something simple that would taste wonderful. So we created the Rural Living version of an egg cup and I must say it is amazing.

Baked Egg Cups

1 dozen eggs
1 tin of biscuits (It doesn't matter which kind)
12 tlbs cream cheese (we used a salsa flavor)
3 slices of cheese (cut each slice into 4 pieces)
Your choice of seasoning.

To start we oiled each muffin cup with olive oil. You could spray it with non stick instead.

Next, we flattened the biscuits and cut them in half. Then we lined the egg cup with a half of biscuit. You'll have some left over unless you decide to use a 2nd muffin tin! The thinner the better especially if you are using the big biscuits. If you are using the smaller ones you may can use the entire thing. Just make sure they are rolled or pressed thin.

Biscuit, cream cheese, egg
Then we added 1 tlb of cream cheese. Our local grocer sells a house brand spreadable cream cheese that is salsa flavor. Yummy! Over this we cracked an egg in each muffin cup. Then we seasoned them with sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, some dehydrated onion and a special seasoning, Tomato Basil Pesto that I get from my Tastefully Simple rep.

We popped them into the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 min until the whites were set and the yolks were starting to set. We could also see the biscuits starting to peek up and brown. To finish we used 1/4 piece of a low fat swiss cheese slice on top of each and let them bake another 5-7  minutes or until the cheese started to melt.

That's it! You might want to let them sit for a couple of minutes before removing because it makes them a little easier to remove.

This would be good if you added a deli slice of ham on the biscuit before you add the cream cheese.

Best of all, these freeze! One or two in a ziplock for breakfast on the run during the week! Let me know if you make these and share your versions.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rural Living - Taking time off isn't always for leisure...

I took today off from work. The last several weeks I had been really antsy... because our personal schedule has been crazy and I usually get 1.5 days off from my 9-5, sometimes 2 days....outside of regular household tasks.... I couldn't seem to get ahead. Not that this extra day will really help me catch up, but I am able to tackle some jobs here I haven't been able to get to....

So, last week I asked my boss if it would be OK to take off today, Monday .... she agreed. She rocks, and understands what we are up against on this little hobby farm... but more important...she knows ME. And she knows I will be 200% more productive if I can get some much needed tasks behind me.

I still have some vacation time coming but the biggest is Thanksgiving day week and I will not loose that if I can help it.

What does this have to do with Rural Living and having a hobby farm?? EVERYTHING. At least for those who only dream of having a career and a hobby farm or living rural.

As I have said before, it takes planning, patience and good time management skills to live rural and have a partially self-sustaining farm.....all of which I have very little. If you live urban, you live in a box so to speak. Turf grass lawns that can be maintained in an hour or so, domestic animals who get dinner probably when you do or sometime close to that and general household tasks that are confined to your 2000sf (give or take) home.

Rural? Your turf grass yards are much bigger if you can keep turf grass, and the rest of the property is high maintenance tasks that keep you going from sun up to sundown, not to mention not so domestic animals that usually take 10x the maintenance that your common urban pet does. ......

So yes, I take time off from my 9-5 to play catch up around the same schedules you urban folks probably have. Outside of the hobby farm we also have church, civic obligations and household tasks. The other time is dedicated to all the other things that this life can bring here.

Now, where's that spreadsheet I need to work on?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I just posted this picture on Facebook but deleted it because sometimes it isn't big enough on Facebook to read all the text. This is a very good example of what your plate should look like courtesy of OneMedical.com. I found it on Pinterest of course. 

Whew what a day! We got a little more rain, perfect timing and well needed. Then we spent the day on the road to Schulenburg, Tx where John played this afternoon with the gospel group he is in "The Washington Street Boy's".

That is such a sweet drive. Plenty of good ol' Texas rural country with miles and miles of nothing but pasture land and history. I enjoy watching out the window and spotting things that are unique. We spotted several old tractors either in use or for sale and just had a great time. 

The church folks from the tiny little church they played in sent us away with homemade chicken salad sandwiches, a great pasta salad and a piece of cake. We found the nearest road side park to stop and eat our food and found where someone had just unloaded some feed sacks! Yes, I piled many of them in the truck.

Tomorrow I plan to repot some grapevine starts that have been rooting for 6 weeks in covered lick tubs. Then I plan to spend the day making feed bag totes.

If you have not seen these already please like us on Facebook to see them. We have orders coming in that need to be filled.

That is about it on the Rural Living hobby farm. We'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A day on the hobby farm - Some time for us

Oh what a week it has been ....I am glad it's over and we can take the next 30 hours or so just for us....It was crazy at my 9-5 and I was exhausted each evening so we didn't get much accomplished here. Now we can catch up a little bit.

It's hot, hot, hot here but we will be venturing outside to work in the food plot this evening as well as try to accomplish a few other tasks. We just got back from Victoria as we made a run to the nearest Lowes 35 miles away and picked up a Troy Bilt 12" cultivator. We will be playing with it when it cools down a little bit. The reviews on it were better than the larger Mantis and it cost less.

We also want to get the big tiller out for a once over. It's time for a fall tune up and fix what may have broken since we last used it. You can bet at the Rural Living farms that something has broken on it since it was last started and that something else will break after we use it one time. It's just what happens.

We also talked to Farmer Gene today. John had watched him use a huge disker when he was disking his acreage behind the house yesterday and wanted me to see it. We found Gene on his acreage just down the road. Oddly enough he was trying to fix something on his smaller disker. While admiring this massive implement I asked him if he had something to break up virgin ground. He knew what I was really asking and said he'd consider dragging it out later in the season to help us. I promised to keep him in organics and we agreed to get back together when it cools down a bit.

That is about it from the Rural Living farm. What's happening at your place?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Eat Fresh - What is a superfood?

We’ve all read the headlines about the health benefits of eating superfoods.  Foods including Quinoa and other grains, kale, salmon, broccoli, tomatoes and many others.  Like myself I bet you have wondered “What exactly is a superfood ?” What makes a food a superfood?  

According to some it’s simply a marketing tool and I was quite surprised to find that there isn’t a legal or standard definition of a superfood. In some countries labeling a food as a superfood has been banned unless significant, reliable scientific data can accompany their claim. Interesting? I thought so too.

What I did find out was intriguing. It seems that the foods that are sometimes referred to as superfoods do have a greater nutritional value and also may contain beneficial phytochemicals or omega 3 fatty acids than others in their particular food group.  Simply said they are a somewhat better for you.

However it boils down to this. Superfoods are simply fresh foods. Whole foods. Those foods we know as healthy nutritious alternatives. Fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains and fiber rich foods. Fish, especially Salmon and Talapia. The things we should be eating and that we promote on the Rural-living blog.

Now I am not slamming superfoods. Not at all. I believe that some foods such as Kale, Salmon and others could have additional benefits for our health and well-being. However,  I am cautious with the wide range of claims that certain foods could be superfoods. Eating superfoods, to me anyway is simply eating clean. Eating fresh foods and adding fiber rich foods to our diets in their simplest form.

Perhaps just adopting a healthier plate and eating cleaner is more important than focusing on adding more superfoods to our diet.  Perhaps we should just call it eating superfood.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rural Living - Where to get the sign

Many of you have asked where you can get "The Sign" that we have posted on the Facebook piece of Rural-living.com. Well, as far as we can tell, and we have looked for weeks, it isn't available anywhere. We are thinking that those that have been sighted on farms from coast to coast were created by the owners themselves.

We have formed a partnership with one company BuildASign Custom Signs to help you create your own "Notice this property is a farm" sign. Most custom created signs are under $30.00 with this company.

Yes, we are compensated for driving business to them but it isn't much. However, we'll donate all of the proceeds to our local food bank Helping Hands to help them purchase fresh food for our local area.

We'll post from time to time how many signs were generated and how much was donated to Helping Hands.

Please let us know if you ordered a sign so we'll know the link is working.

Again the website to create your own sign is BuildASign Custom Signs .

Let's raise some money!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Life on the farm - Recovery after the rain

July 7, 2012 just after we shredded.

Our recent rain event was wonderful. With just under 15 inches of rain over a couple of weeks our water tables certainly have been recharged. The moisture level in the soil has to be excellent and hopefully enough to sustain us for a while. That is, if we can continue to get a little rain through out the summer.

In South Texas, August and September can play havoc on your pastures and food plots. Extreme heat and the sun bearing down on your plants can literally burn them up. Glass chards can catch the sunlight just right and start fires and while that doesn't happen very often, it can happen. The July rains should help to buffer the effects of a late South Texas Summer.

On the Rural Living farm we had been fortunate to catch up on most of the shredding and had a pretty good stand on second planting tomatoes and our peppers were just starting to produce well, had removed about 50 trees and trimmed up several more. It was starting to look like a park and was very pretty. Then came the rains. Lot's of it although we were fortunate to get it over a couple of weeks. At some point we had standing water but never over an inch or two. The garden never had standing water but the soil became like a wet sponge for days on end. As such we have lost 90% of the food we were growing and will be starting over.

Yesterday was the first day we could get onto the property to begin to clean up. Recovery day. And as a general rule of thumb on the Rural Living farm, things do not go smoothly. It is never as easy as starting the farm tractor or lawn tractor and away your go. The farm tractor wouldn't start. The mosquitoes were thick in clouds and the grass is too thick to mow with the lawn tractor. Additionally, we still need to install the new drive shaft for the shredder.

We spend most of the evening just spraying for the mosquitoes. We were able to get about an acre sprayed and hope that the grass dries up enough to just eliminate the mosquitoes that are hanging out in it. Today we'll work on getting the drive shaft installed and dumping water from lick tubs and such that didn't have drainage holes. Eliminating sources of breeding mosquitoes is top priority. And we hope that we can figure out why the tractor wouldn't start.

I will say when I took Chuckie out for his morning romp that I didn't have one mosquito buzz me. That's a good sign.

That's life on a hobby farm. While the upside is that you live in a rural community free from many of the things that living in an urban setting can bring and living a dream of owning wide open spaces and producing some if not all of your food, the hazards are there. Including a monsoon like rain that can destroy your food plots and force you to start over on your property maintenance. All that work destroyed but it's all a part of life here. You just pick up and start again.

As a side note, we took the first picture on the day that Farmer Gene had just harvested his corn. Other farmers in the area were not so lucky. Some were fortunate to get it done. Others have either a partial crop or all of their crop destroyed. And while we produce for our own needs, they produce for a living.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Farm life - Recovering from the rain....

G-morning! Had a great evening at a little church in the old part of Victoria last night. The boys have another session this afternoon at a 100 year old church way in the woods. Hoping for a dinner on the grounds....because someone will certainly make buttermilk pie AND will save us some...not sure if they are feeding us or not, I am crossing my fingers.....

Managed to wade out to the garden this morning. It was like wading through a Louisiana swamp and with each step clouds of mosquitoes swarmed my ankles. It is seriously wet. I am not sure if that is residual rain or from the thunderstorm we had this morning.

Peeked at the garden. All the heirloom Hillbilly Potato Leaf tomatoes are dead. This was from a second planting of tomatoes to continue production. The 30-40 peppers (Bell and Anaheim) look very wilted. The rest of it looks pretty good. If it stops raining I think the peppers have a chance. They were full of blooms and starting to produce well.....

And I am guessing all the sugar snap peas I planted a couple of weekends ago are not going to come up and the seed has rotted in the ground.. If they do then they are tough boogers. 

The herb gardens we just started in lick tubs are just dirt now. The grapevines in the planters look ok but I didn't uncover the bins that hold the slips we started. I didn't want to wade anymore swamp for fear of snakes....yikes!

Didn't get a chance to look at the recently planted fruit trees....

The only thing we can do is just wait. And enjoy early morning Thunderstorms that make it very conducive to spend time with all the boys...(John, Chuckie, Marvin the Cat...)

it's a life, someone has to live it..... : )

Monday, July 2, 2012

Farm Sunday - All weekend!

Last weekend was highly productive and it ended just as well as it started. this weekend should be just as good as the last one. Or so I hope.

Earlier in the week, after looking at finances and deciding to take a leap of faith we finally had a small farm loan approved, a small farm line of credit in place and had another small amount drawn from a safe keeping account. All total was several thousand, enough to pay off some minor debt and get us into a tractor and possibly a disker with a small operating capitol account.

It took a lot of work, a lot of bugging lenders, a lot of last minute faxing over paperwork and some near sleepless nights but we now have a fully restored 1947 Ford 2n and she is proving to be a workhorse.

We also re-decked the trailer with new treated boards, a chore I don't want to assist with for a very long time. That was very hard work.

The shredder has been repaired too although a bit country engineered....it works just fine.

Now we are looking for implements with 3 pt hitches. First on the list is a small disker or plow, not that we could plow now as the ground is very hard and cracked but the rains will surely return and soften it back up.

We will be posting through out the weekend too...until then, keep smiling!

Rural Living - Why community is so important

We live in a county that during a good year might have 14,000 residents. The town that John and I live in or just south of have about 5000 residents. And while that may sound like a lot it isn't. We are typical of Rural America.

What makes our county and thousands of others like ours is the sense of community. We know our neighbors and their families and we care about one another. It's not unusual for a trip to the local grocer or Wal-Mart to take longer than expected because we ran into someone we knew, again, and had to discuss local news or to receive a health update. We have well attended churches and a little league that seems to have less politics than the inner-city leagues.

And we give back. We give back with fund raisers for the kids or to raise money to help defray medical expenses for a family. We rally when a home burns and a family needs shelter. We give time, belongings and donations of our money to a local food bank and clothing bank. We share our harvests with our neighbors. And grieve as a community when there is a loss.

Why is it so important and, what makes our community special? We are no more special than any other place in Rural America yet our community makes your feel like we are. You can bet on Friday night that most of the town will be at the local football game cheering on the team whether they have a child in high school or not. That's community support.

It's knowing that if you need a helping hand or a shoulder someone will be there. It's those extra eyes to tell you if someone unexpected during the day was at your home or if your teen was driving a little too fast. It's a community united to right a wrong. It's something we never got when we lived in the city and the reason we are glad we are .. home.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Life on the Farm - We grow as organic as we can

I am a big advocate of organically grown food. I am a bigger advocate of locally grown food either grown using organic methods or pest controlled using basic IPM rules.

As much as we try in South Texas, bugs are a part of our lives all year long. Our first approach to insect control will always be to use a natural method or organic formulation to control or eliminate those nasty pests. We do not try to stick to the standards of a certified organic farm but we do try to keep our gardens as chemical free as we possibly can.

Having said that, our mindset when developing and utilizing food plots is that we are trying to provide ourselves with as much food as we can produce on our own that is physically possible. Sometimes that means, after all organic or natural remedies have been exhausted, we will use chemicals to control insects.

Now, before you stop reading and cancel your subscription give me a chance to explain.

Our number one reason for having ever growing (size) food plots is to have locally grown food at my disposal 365 days out of the year. In abundance. Or else I am forced to buy not so locally grown food at the local grocer at outrageous prices  not knowing what kinds of pesticides or other foreign materials it may have come in contact with. If I grow it myself, I know where it came from and how it was produced. 

If I am forced to use chemicals on my gardens, and I must be at the end of my last nerve to do so, we follow safe IPM practices. IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management. Essentially it's purpose is to encourage an environment that encourages plant growth and discourages pests and if all else fails, then to use a safe application of chemical pesticides. That is, follow the instructions to the letter. And yes, I know we can debate the "safe" piece all day long. Keep reading.

Most chemical pesticides, herbacides, and other 'cides have received criticism because they are not used properly and are over used. It's their overuse that has resulted in trace deposits found in our rivers and lakes and in some extreme cases our ground water. Several studies have shown that the trace deposits have not come from agriculture but have come from consumer overuse. That is - homeowners.

The best example is in turf grass. Every year, in the late winter and early spring thousands of homeowners weed and feed their turf grass or lawns. Most buy bags of the chemical compounds widely advertised on television, pour in their little broadcaster on wheels and get after it on a weekend without reading the label. These studies have found that the average consumer broadcasts much more than what the manufacturer suggests. After a good rain or many days of deep watering the excess then runs off into the drainage systems and then ends up in a lake, stream or river. Common sense will tell you that all those pretty lawns in all the nice subdivisions times hundreds of thousands in the United States could easily create a problem. Search for yourself online. There are plenty of case studies for you to read before you start debating.

So, the bug is out of the bag pardon the pun. I will, in an extreme case, carefully mix and deliver a chemical pesticide on my garden as a last result. I will read the directions and mix accordingly and in some cases I mix it thinner that directed. And I will only spray when needed and usually that is a light spray, one time and the task is complete.

So what is worse? Occasional using chemical pesticides on your food plots or purchasing produce that was originally produced thousands of miles away and flown into your local grocer? On the Earths carbon footprint producing your own food, even if you use chemicals is less harmful to the environment than purchasing foreign produced fresh food. I vote to reduce the carbon footprint and if I need to, again on rare occasions, use a little chemical pesticides on my garden.

That's my 2cents. What's your take ??

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dinner on the Farm - Broccoli Strawberry salad with Poppy Seed dressing

I love the sweet, lemony poppy seed dressing you can find at finer cafeterias and restaurants. It is surprisingly easy to make and if done with olive oil and fresh ingredients can also be healthy. Despite the while sugar.

Tonight I made a version of a popular salad only found in finer restaurants. Usually it is made with fresh spinach and I had intended to use the rest of the kale in the refrigerator instead but I also had 3 small heads of broccoli that I needed to use. It turned out fantastic and I will be making this version more often.

Broccoli Strawberry Salad with Poppyseed dressing

4 c fresh broccoli flowerettes.
2 c. diced fresh strawberries
8 oz Feta cheese crumbles

Clean up the broccoli to make little flowerettes, the smaller the better. Chop fresh strawberries and mix. Add in the feta cheese and mix well. This dish will be very pretty!

Lemon Poppy Seed dressing

2/3 c olive oil
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seed
2 tsp chopped onion
1 tsp dark mustard (I often use German mustard's)

In a blender/ninja mix these ingredients until well blended. Usually I blend it an entire minute. Pour over the salad mixture and stir well. Before serving, stir again to make sure everything is coated with the dressing.

This is amazing and again you can usually find it made with fresh spinach. Maybe next time we'll add fresh spinach and create a whole new dish?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dinner on the Farm - Southwest Corn and Bean Salad

I love mixed salads in the summer. Especially those with a bold taste. This recipes can be modified to fit what you have in the pantry. I am bringing you the version I did this evening.

Southwest Corn and Bean Salad

1 can sweet corn
1 can chickpeas
1 can black olives, drained
2 c. shredded cabbage
1/2 c. chopped red onion
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 large tomato chopped
1/3 c lime juice
3 tbl olive oil

Drain the corn, chickpeas and black olives in a colander and rinse. Set aside.

Combine the chopped cilantro, olive oil, garlic and lime juice in a large blow. Whisk well to blend the flavors and let it sit for 10 min.

Then, fold in the corn, chickpeas and black olives along with the cabbage, red onion and tomato. Mix well. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

You can substitute black beans for the chick peas if you like and red cabbage for green cabbage for color. Also, chopped colored bell peppers would be pretty and delicious too.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What's growing? - Chile Piquin

Chile Piquin is an old, traditional hot pepper commonly found in South Texas that has been around for hundreds of years. You can find this hot pepper growing wild in pastures and brush land, along river banks and on old homestead properties long forgotten but still flourishing.

A few weeks back I came across a plant that was growing in front of the old Jail as our master Gardener group was walking the perimeter discussing the latest club project. It was full of both red and green pepper and I took several of the red ones. Most of them I placed in a small jar and filled with herbs, fresh garlic and topped it off with red wine vinegar. I saved 3 of the peppers to dry for the seed and I will be planting those soon.

The history of this hearty chili pepper is thought to be thousands of years old. While it's not clear where this pepper was first discovered most point to Central and South America and others believe it is the mother of all pepper plants. I would imagine they are correct because of its unique taste, its variety of uses and that in many places it grows wild.

The Chile Piquin is hot, much hotter than a jalapeno and has a slightly fruity taste to it. For most people it is the favorite pepper to make a vinegar hot sauce that is especially good on fresh turnip or mustard greens. Others prefer to dry it and crush it to a powder to make a rich pepper seasoning. Its versatility and heartiness is what makes it very popular and recently you have been able to  find it commercially grown although I have found the plants are not as hearty and forgiving as the wild variety. I suspect they are a hybrid variety.

The pepper pods have a few seeds that will germinate if given just right conditions. It is though that a plant that bears a lot of fruit one year could produce many other plants by the net year as the peppers fall off the plant very easily. These plants product chiles year after year and seem to have a very long lifespan. They prefer damp conditions but I have also seen them thriving in a dry brush country. Many if not most Chile Piquins that are growing in local gardens in South Texas were started from an original plant. Older Hispanic households often have their Piquin plants in their front flowerbeds or going in several different places around the house.

The wild variety of those found in abandoned homesteads are surely an original heirloom variety and their seeds should be kept or new plants stared to insure we will always have a pure plant. I think this weekend I will do just that and I think I will stop by the old Jail again to see if t hat Piquin has anymore red peppers.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What's growing? Black Spanish and Blanc du Bois grapes

Black Spanish Grapevine rootstock
I have always been fascinated by grapevines. The endless rows of beautiful green vines perfectly manicured so that all the vines are the same height and size. Growing them certainly looked romantic or perhaps that is the way that Hollywood portrays it. In reality they looked like they were high maintenance and susceptible to a whole lot of problems. So up until now I didn't even try and depended only on the wild Mustang grapes that grow here for jams and jellies. Some people also make great wine from the Mustang grapes.

About a year ago John and I met a couple who would really change our thinking about growing grapes especially in South Texas.. Both Doug and Beth are retired educators and a few years ago they relocated to a little town just south of here and started, as a hobby, growing grapes and making a few bottles of wine. Their hobby bloomed into a wonderful little cottage business,  Lavaca Bluffs Vineyard and Winery..  This little business is growing and would grow much faster if they wanted it to. For now, the success they have had is just right.  They'll remind you, they really are retired.

Several times Doug has encouraged us to start our own rootstock. He has his own method of doing it and has told us and demonstrated enough times that we could recite it in our sleep. And so we grabbed our first rootstock from him the other day with yet another hand full of slips that came from his 34 degree cooler.  Yes, they are finicky, susceptible to a whole lot of diseases and other problems but we have guidance just down the road. Just keeping the baby rootstock alive this summer will be a big challenge.

As for the Mustang grapes, Doug uses those too as well as berry's, peaches and pears. I am hoping that next year when our fig trees are in full fruit we might try using figs. We've talked about it.

Doug and Beth have learned their wine making secrets by trial and error and as Doug would tell it, plenty of error. They are still learning, although when you listen to them you would think they have been doing this for a long time. We are just learning and our interest in growing the grapes is not to make wine, jams or jellies but to eat or barter for other things. Once established and you can be pretty sure they will not succumb to Pierce disease then you will have many years of grapes production. These grapes should be pruned every year and the grapevine you clip or prune can be started as more root stock. You could virtually reproduce these grapes forever.

John helps them prune in the late winter each year and brings home viable grapevine to root. When he does it seems like the time just isn't there to start them. However, after seeing Doug's rootstock start bed and understanding how he starts them we plan to recreate this same above ground bed very soon.

As we move through this new challenge we'll keep you posted. In the meantime if you are interested there are many websites and other blogs that have great information. Or, you can always email Doug and Beth and tell them we sent you. I am sure they would be happy to answer your questions.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Farm life - The hardest work is waiting

On a hobby farm there is always a while lot of waiting. It's the most difficult job on a small farm, or it is for me.

This week is no exception.

We are waiting on some crucial funding for additional equipment to move us forward faster and to enable us to work more efficiently. We have secured enough for the tractor we want but we are waiting on additional funds for other equipment and for some consolidation funds to help to pay off some other things and to purchase a much needed disker.

In my opinion those funds should have already been in place but there hasn't been any communication from the lender in two days. Not a word. So, we wait.

We are also waiting for the tractor funds to be electronically deposited into our account. It takes up to three days and today is day two. And, we wait some more.

We also have a new farm credit line but the final paperwork and access card has not arrived. We are hoping it is in today's mail. Again, we are waiting.

Yes, on a hobby farm you are always waiting. For a crop to start producing, for rain, for a part, for eggs to hatch it is never-ending.

I guess it's a lesson I need to learn. Next year we'll be applying for operational grant funding...and the government is slow...

Watch the Rural Living Facebook site for up to the minute info on our funding finally coming together...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Life on the Farm - Chuckie and the Roo

This evening we received a call from some Rural Living readers who live in the next little town from here. They had a couple of roo's that "Had to go!" and of course we are glad to take them. Always!

One of them they had named Jailbird. Apparently his feathers were much more pronounced when he was younger and they said he looked like he was wearing the traditional jail attire of days gone by. Friendly fellow, he didn't cotton to the other, more mature roo's trying to fight and establish the pecking order, pardon the pun. So, we simply picked him up and took him further into the pasture so he could acclimate himself to the farm before going to roost.

As the sun went down and the other roo's headed to their roost, this little fellow didn't follow. Instead, we were in and out of the swimming pool, taking and evening dip when this little roo made his way up the ladder to the pool.

Chuckie, our Papillion, has his own float. This actually is a Rubbermaid snow toboggan that we run a noodle thru so that it is stable. Chuckie floats around on this and occasionally and with much coaxing, takes a swim. Chuckie had just climbed aboard and had not been on his float when this little Roo made his way to the pool.

John moved the float to the ladder to see if he would climb on and much to our surprise, he did! Now, if you look closely at Chuckie he isn't too happy about his passenger. Eventually Chuckie just jumped into the pool and the little Roo made his roost on this float.

John had to get out of the pool, pick up the little Roo and walk him over the roost.

Yes, at the Rural Living farm it's always something!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Farm Sunday - Whew it's hot and humid already!

It's the end of long weekend, back to the 9-5 grind in the morning. Actually it's more like 8-5 and I am thankful for daylight savings time. The good news is that it is a 4 day work week. Well 4 1/2 as I pull Saturday.

We never made it to the winery for slips but hope to be able to do that this week. It's an opportunity I don't want to miss out on. John will be calling winery owner to set up an optimal evening that works for both of us. He said that if we keep them in pots in the shade and well watered during the summer we may have a chance to plant them in the fall. Keeping the babies alive in the summer is a challenge, one I will gladly take.

Also, we got 1 fruit tree in, holes dug for some of the others. It was much too hot to work on it today mid-day. I soaked them down again because I knew we would probably be delayed getting them in. We went to visit a friend in the hospital that had a close call last week who is finally in her own room and then went by Lowe's for some weed whacker supplies. That took all afternoon as it is a 60+ mile round trip. We also visited another friend about 4 miles from the Rural Living farm who gave us more workout equipment (thanks Judy!) and while we were there she gave us a lot of ornamental peppers. Some are edible and have all sorts of colored peppers on them. Beautiful! Will get those mass planted in a lick tub this week. Once we were done with those tasks the day was gone.

Whew! South Texas heat and humidity is coming on quickly. Was able to get soaker hoses run through the 2nd phase garden and secured with landscape staples. Those are a lifesaver for a lot of things! We will be hooking them up to a water source tomorrow afternoon. At least there isn't much going on this week in the evenings and we can slowly move forward. We just cannot do a lot in the hot sun and this will be the case until next October.

What's the weather like in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dinner on the farm - Stratas

My 1st Ham and Zucchini Strata
before baking
I like to make things that burst with many different flavors in each bite. That isn't an easy accomplishment. I also love dressing made with hearty whole grain breads and real chicken broths and bread pudding with raisins and cinnamon made with left over bread.

So when I ran across this type of dish I knew I had to try it. Seems like Stratas are once again gaining popularity and I am glad to bring a basic recipe to you. Of course our recipes are healthier versions and good!

I must admit I got a little excited the first time and mushed my meat and bread ingredients together like you would dressing, but the true Strata is layered bread, meat mixture then cheese and repeated hence the name Strata. My first one came out just fine and quite delicious. They are very forgiving, you almost cannot mess up, not to mention healthy cheap eats for a family!

Strata's are great to use leftover bread, those little bits of cheese you have left and whatever else you may desire to throw in. They are quick to fix but take a while to bake. They slice easily, and leftovers can be wrapped individually. They also freeze well.


1 c. meat (chopped chicken, brisket, ham, sausage, etc)
1 c or so Onion, bell pepper, celery, your choice.
8 c stale whole grain bread
8 eggs
2 c milk

Saute the meat mixture with the veggies in 1tlb olive oil. Set aside.

Spray a 13x9 casserole dish with non stick.

In a bowl, mix together the eggs and milk until thoroughly mixed. Add in the bread and toss or mix until the bread has soaked up all the liquid. You can season this mixture if you want with herbs and pepper. I don't use salt

Layer 1/2 of the bread mixture in the bottom of the casserole dish. Spread 1/2 of your meat and veggie mixture on top and add the cheese. I usually used 6 slices of a low fat or 2% cheese but you could also use shredded mozzarella, also a low fat cheese.

Repeat the layers with the bread mixture, meat mixture and a little more cheese if you choose. Usually I just add the cheese in the first layer.

Let this mixture sit several hours before baking. You can make it the night before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the bread to soak up the eggs and milk and also allows the flavors to blend.

Bake 375 for 40-60 minutes


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Life on the farm - In a corporate world I am one of the 99%

Until recently I didn't disclose the nature of my 9-5 job. I choose not to for fear of rotten tomatoes and a decline in readership. Today however I came out of the closet. I am a banker for a large, corporate bank that has been in existence for over 100 years.  I am also a hobby farmer and one of the 99%.

This Occupy movement hasn't ever settled well with me. I suppose that is because I subscribe to another school of thought. That is, to continue as usual but have the skills to take care of yourself, mind, body and soul if the need ever arises. This is the basis of the Rural Living farm and hobby farming. I don't like to consider myself as one of them but for the sake of this blog post, and in reality, I am. Your probably are too.

We created the Rural Living farm to become partially self sustaining, to produce fresh food in an environment that I am sure is clean from pesticides or a multitude of other undisclosed chemicals, to save money and to be prepared in case I loose my job or in the rare event we have a terrorist attack on the grid, internet or any other vital infrastructure that would at the least cripple our normal way of life. Yes, it could happen.

Which brings me to the 99% and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Last November when a loosely formed group decided in their infinite wisdom to promote a "Change your Bank" day it made my blood boil. Not because I am a corporate girl who defends what my employer does at every turn, I don't. Who in this world agrees with every decision that is made in the workplace? Very few I would guess but we go along with those changes and move forward.. I love what I do and am very appreciative to have a job that pays well and has good benefits but I also watch the clock on most days and can't wait to get home to get my dirt fix. The weekends can't come quick enough either but that has nothing to do with my job and everything to do with my passion.

What angered me was that the protests were aimed at the corporate elite without consideration for the rest of us. Those of use who are just like the 99% movement protesters.  The majority of the people who make up the corporate banks, the employees, low men and women on the corporate totem pole who just want to make a living.

Did the protesters consider that their actions could have potentially make the situation worse had a majority of Americans actually withdrawn their deposits from corporate banks and moved them to credit unions? It would have resulted in something much worse; hundreds of thousands of more people unemployed at a time when unemployment was unprecedented. I don't think they even gave that a thought. Had the event been a success, then what would the Occupy movement have accomplished?

I will agree, when we clock in at 9:00 everyday and wear the corporate logo on our badges or in some cases pressed Polo's with the corporate logo embroidered on the front we are representing the corporation. However, in realty we are no different than those who are active 99%'ers. We are paid decent wages but we are no where near the elite 1%. Protest our corporation if you must but please keep us in mind as well.

Fortune for me and the hundreds of thousands of bankers just like me, Change your Bank day failed. However, I was ready. I was ready to survive because we created this hobby farm. I knew if there was a worse case scenario I could make it. Not by finding another job but because we have created a pretty strong self sustaining farm, with the tools and knowledge to move further if the need arises.

So protest as you feel you should but I am sticking my heels in the ground too. As a banker in a corporate bank and a pretty darn good one too, I am also a hobby farmer with enough rich soil and knowledge to at least move forward. Bring it on and we'll see who survives.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rural Living - It's Monday

Today has been a long day. Glad it's over. Tomorrow my 9-5 job will be more stressful than a cow giving birth to a breached calf. I'll live!

This morning while John was gathering eggs and feeding the girls (hens) one of them escaped....He said she was immediately nailed by a rooster and I am sure it lasted all day. John tried but he couldn't get her back in the coop.

By the time I got home at 5 she was hovering close to the coop. She wanted back in. I bet she had a hard day with the roosters.

I considered putting her in the breed pen and gathering her eggs for the next week to incubate. Then I looked at the load of eggs we have and decided against it. We have enough hens and roosters and the market it getting saturated with them here that we might not can move them. Especially when the buyer asks "Who's the daddy?" and we won't know. We are occasionally given layers and roosters so this time, we'll let them it go. It is the perfect opportunity though to catch some fertilized eggs.

We are tractor shopping. We have a Ford 9N that was his dad's but it hasn't been started in quite a while and needs some maintenance. Actually lots of maintenance. Summer is just approaching and so are the rains and the pasture is already out of hand. I also want a disker so that I can create a larger garden area in half the time. Think it will work quite well if we can find one within our price range. Free would be better but I know that isn't happening.

John said if we get one it needs to be a tractor, not an "overgrown lawn tractor" like the new John Deere One series is. Those are very nice but I agree, I don't think it will do what we need it to do.

I have a 3 day weekend from the corporate world this weekend and plan to get a lot accomplished. I probably will get a lot of sunburn too. We'll see.

What plans do you have for this weekend?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Farm Sunday - Take it easy prescription.....

Hot Farm Sunday and we are inside, for the most part, in the air conditioning. I did venture out to the garden a little bit ago to check on everything and to see if there was anything that had to be picked today. It can all wait for a day or two. Either things are not quite ripe or can get a little bigger.

At least I am able to catch up on a little reading, a little research and planning. Sometimes, even with the best time management skills, you just need to set it all aside and take a breath.

I have thought before that the Rural Living farm needed a brand, not that we'd ever brand anything more than perhaps a steak but it is a tradition in Texas with a long history. Our county courthouse has volumes of recorded brands in the county. I just think it would be neat if we ever do get livestock.

So today I set out to get ideas, and looked at every brand that is or was registered in the county. You can find them online at the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Texas Brand Registration.

Some were quite fancy such as this one that was described as a "flying U 1 over a cross." I was amused at the descriptions and thought that there had to  be some well put time in the design. The Texas Brand Registration didn't list the owner but it's public record.

The other fancy one I ran across was described as "Flying US over Cross". Certainly this brand was designed for a very patriotic family, perhaps with veterans either living or dead and stories to tell or were told.

I thought this one was quite funny as it looks like a wild man. There is an urban legend in the county about The Wild Man of the Navidad who lived some years back in the woods along the Navidad River. Described as Lower Case R Lazy S Lazy C,

Then there were those that simply were initials. Others that Rocked or had a bar, plenty of those on their sides otherwise known as Lazy.

Taking all those in to account, what I envisioned, a Rocking R L that when drawn looks more like a Ralph Lauren logo than a Farm and Ranch brand, was not registered in the county. Not that I'll ever register it but one day, I just might.