OMG! Story of Animal Cruelty (and chickens update)

This really makes me sick. I'm sure it's supposed to be humane - but this story is proof that it isn't always...and no one in/at this industry leader apparently cares to ensure it always is. (Where is the watchdog we pay for inspections of such things?) 

Watch this, but be prepared for some harsh 'culling' methods in this video:
Commercial Egg Producer Grinds up LIVE Baby Chicks. On a daily basis!

I have seen SO much cruelty of livestock animals in the commercialized mass-production industries, especially of hogs. Are there any humane, or even conscientious super-size companies anymore? 

Consider sharing the link, and please be a careful consumer, if you shop for eggs... If you can raise your own, it's a highly rewarding practice and you'll KNOW how well-treated the animals are! 


Update on the egg-laying situation here... I noticed last week that the hens had finally quit dropping their feathers. Their molting process lasted about 10 weeks! 
Yesterday I went out 3x as usual, to check their water, etc. I left their door open at noon for an hour just for fresh air, but only ONE hen ventured outside. They just don't want to walk in the snow. 
I went out at 1:30 to close the door (to retain heat for overnight). There was a baby deer in their yard scraping corn (chicken scratch) off the frozen ground. 

I just kept walking, and eventually she jumped the fence.
Once inside the coop, I could see her out back thru the window.

 Whooo-boy it was DUSTY in there! Just look at all the 'stuff' actively floating around: 

(I'll be wearing a mask/bandana from NOW ON!)

Off topic, I really wonder the best way to reduce this dust... the floor is insulated with several layers of newpaper then straw, then wood shavings, about 4-6" thick. (It depends on whether I've just 'fluffed' it up or not. I do 'fluff' it every other day to cause all their droppings to drop into a lower level. There is a very slight smell in there, but only in comparison to the fresh outdoors. I have heard of others keeping the litter all winter, just continually adding more on top. The poo dries up that way and doesn't smell, but it's still there. 

I considered this, but I really want a CLEAN coop, and using the spent litter over the snow will encourage them to get out once in a while. 
(Blue Cochins are 'good' at being contained in a closed space generally, but I think any animal would get bored looking at the same 4 walls for 4-5 months straight!) 

Boredom is cruel, unless absolutely necessary, so any day temps are above freezing and the sun is out without a breeze, I'll let them have an hour to get out.
Meanwhile back at the ranch...
I found 2 hens with their heads together facing a nest.

 Upon investigation, there were 3 eggs in the nest, and one still warm, that was being pecked by at least one of those hens!
 It had a hole in it that your thumb would fit into. 

So I gathered them up and did a little research on why they eat eggs, and what to do about it. 

I hate some of the 'duh' things people advised (keep them fed w/ high protein, high calcium foods and supplement w/ oystershell, fresh water, don't let them get BORED, or be crowded, etc. Some things are a given, and some things you have little power over).
Apparently an egg-eater will begin the practice simply out of curiosity - then discover they LIKE the taste of eggs. Then it becomes a hard habit to break them of! (Or the shells are too soft, so they digest it as calcium in order to help the NEXT egg coming, hence the 'duh' lists).
The problem is that other hens will observe this practice and learn to do it- monkey see-monkey do style.
The problem is, when you've got look-alike hens so you can't tell which is doing it... unless you can separate them out, one by one, to discover the culprit. 

Then what?

*Some people simply cull the hen. 

*Some gather the eggs multiple times a day.

*Some people suggested wooden eggs or golf balls would discourage this, since the hen would learn that not all eggs are edible, and not worthy of their curiosity...
...but I wasn't convinced that would work since there have been golf balls and ping-pong balls in those nests for the past 6 weeks already (as bait to attract them TO the nests to lay, rather than in the corners of the coop).

*Some people advocated liberal application of cayenne pepper, but others debunked that, saying that chickens will eat chilies of all kinds because they can't detect the chemical of chilies, but mustard works to discourage them. 

So I rinsed out the pecked egg (half the yolk was missing), and filled it to the brim with MUSTARD.
We'll see today if any hens look the bait and are looking a bit 

Meantime I have had fun creating my egg-carton logo:

What kinds of challenges have you dealt with lately (chickens or not)?
Have you created your own 'logo' for your goods and goodies?

Baby it's Cold Outside! (and window frame project update)

As I've been recuperating from the most terrible cold ever, winter has made a slow progression - not much snow, but it's cold!
It's also 'rut' season.... and hunting season.
The bucks totally follow the does around like that for hours! They also make weird noises. Sometimes the does RUN from them. During rut, the bucks are dangerous.
There was a story in our newspaper of a buck that jumped a fence to gore a lab. (Labs don't bark - even the young ones wouldn't provoke anyone). The dog unfortunately couldn't be saved. 
We have a 5 mo old lab puppy right now. He is still afraid of the deer, and will generally just get up to the fence wire and silently watch them- if the does 'face off' with him (which they do), staring him down with their ears at an odd down angle, he'll run away and do circles... 

(click to enlarge if you really want to see him!) 

Some things do make up for the cold! Hot toddies, hot cocoa, hot lemon tea with honey...chai, or a perfect cuppa joe first thing while watching the colored light change on the mountain as the sun comes up, the eagle taking off for his daily hunt, and the deer wandering through. Yeah, it's nice.

And, the eagle came back! Of course you can see, he's now resting overnight in a branch that hides him from view a little better than before:
I almost didn't see him, because his head and tail just look like the clumps of snow on the trees now, but I always actively LOOK for him, and I honed in by his lumpy body (compared to the limbs).

I think you'd agree, if you could look out your window and see this every day for 6 months of the year, it would probably be worth dealing with snow and cold. 

Most of the time anyway.

So we're all dealing with some kind of weather all the time it seems these days, and snow just doesn't seem that harsh anymore... aside from having another 'dry' winter compared to normal, I simply can't find it in me to complain. (If you haven't been reading from the beginning, you probably don't know that I cried every time a snowstorm closed in, for the first 2 years I lived here! Being a girl from southern California- snow used to scare me!) 
Ok I admit I do still get anxious... !

Of course, I had to kind of trick the chickens out into it too...
a bit of straw from the coop, to look a little less intimidating, a little corn scratch... by the next day coming out was no problemo! 
But most of the time, I prefer being inside too!!
(I did scrape away the 3" of snow before tossing straw out on it).

Some weird frost effects:
(what's weird is how it's all sticking out like someone threw ninja stars!)

(view of the mountain in the morning)

 I always say: I love snow best when it's in a picture on the wall.


Here is the progression and finish of the trashed window project from my last post HERE- I have only to hang it on the wall now. (It was supposed to hang in my 'Farmgirl' office, but my husband said we needed something on the walls upstairs, so it's going in the dining area instead.):

(egg shapes in straw)

(eggs SHADED)

(all the eggs before straw added in front)

(straw in the front)

(placed behind the window frame)

(Finished! Forgive the odd color and fading- the flash overdid it)

Another photo IN DAYLIGHT, when I got it on the wall.) 
Unfortunately, the walls & ceiling are so big they dwarf the thing. 

I've added a rustic wreath (painted) and maybe later will add some hanging dried herbs....not sure whether to go 3D (real) like attached to the sides and across the top with raffia, or paint them on. I'm going to be gluing on a few MORE small feathers to the nest eggs here and there too. For now, I'm calling it FINISHED.
(where the heck is that shadow coming from??)

Now, only 2 more window frames to go... they both still have all their glass panes, so I may even add some real straw in front of the painted part ... and maybe make the eggs bigger, but that means getting their shapes PERFECT! It's not like there are abundant egg shapes to trace around!
And the chickens are still in molt, and not laying... so I can't even use a lifesize egg... oh yeah, the store-bought eggs, lol.
Shoot, I was looking for an excuse!

My ideal would be a huge white red-spotted  (to match the wall) longhorn cow–laying in a field of lavender flowers... and with very long horns tipped in black! 
Or white horses doing something that makes their hair fly... 
Something Dramatic! 
Silly me...

This is on the other wall- at least thy're cohesive in theme and they'll work well together! (Salt and flour clay 'branches' as wall vases):
I always have an eye out for trashed windows... not that I get away from here that often to see much. Maybe something from Habitat?? 
There's no reason I couldn't paint the old windows onto canvas though. It's a thought I might try.

I have to admit that even though I was sick for the past 3 weeks working on this - I finished it just because I was motivated by the Farmgirl Fridays blog hop featured at Deborah Jeans Dandelion House - HERE!

Also check out the Homestead Barn Hop EVERY MONDAY for so many others doing Farmy Homestead Farmgirl things! (See rightside bar).

I HOPE this re-purposed junk window with farmgirl "egg love" hit a sweet spot with you!

Now tell me, what do you like to do when it's cold outside and you're cocooning indoors?! 

Beauty & Security (and window frame project)

How often do you think of those two words, concepts, together?
I was thrilled to have discovered this artist, who understands my point of view on what eggs symbolize. I have no idea what she would think of keeping chickens but she landed on the ONE exact word I personally associate with eggs: SECURITY.

To me, having a reliable source of eggs, thru keeping chickens, is a source of security.
I was pleased to discover that I’m not the only one!!

The word associations Monique attributes to her paintings of eggs in nests in this way:
‘Nest Egg – Economics – Security’
...and ‘Protection’, ‘Home’, ‘Balance’, ‘Warmth’... as well as: 
‘Nest -Nest Egg - Empty Nest’. I guess she’s spot-on there too, for everything has a balance of good and bad, ying-yang.

I love the color of this nest (she painted)!
Monique is a multi-disciplinary artist and art educator, who has had exhibitions of her artwork in Australia, United Kingdom, France, USA and many galleries in Canada.
On hr website, she offers a snapshot of a work in progress called "Slow Emergencies", (which is so far a swirl of color).

                  Monique: “I love the term slow emergencies. It describes so many things in life; career, relationships, financial situations, it is a catch all phrase. The colored pieces are tiny seed beads.”

I LOVE this idea – I think it would be oh so appropriate to use actual seeds (vs beads), as in:
Seeds – Security  (perhaps also: Slow growth – Survival).  

A true and actual wealth could be all wrapped up in seeds, and hidden in plain sight, hanging as a picture on the wall. I LOVE that concept.
(Of course we know that seeds stay vital longer, better, in cool darkness, as in the earth, waiting... but I speak of the idea more than creating a real basis of security this way.) 

Taking some time to discover her nest/egg art opened my eyes to new things, but most especially, a wonderful accordion book with nest & egg pictures that you can view as a hanging on the wall, or bound up tightly inside itself as a covered book tied with ribbon- beautiful!! (The nests seem ‘stamped’ on, but with a different colored egg in each).
What an inspirational piece of work.

Cari Humphrey shares her whimsical work (2-egg and 3-egg nests) online as well as other gallery showings, via her fine art blog: “I love to paint nests and I have painted probably 20+ nests over the last 6 months.”

This is, as I’ve stated before, one of MY goals.
I wish she had a gallery of those 20+ egg & nest paintings, but I only found two (HERE). 
Many of them were for different customers who were giving them as Christmas gifts. (I think they would sell at a Farmer’s Market -as well as a more ‘practical’ item- like an apron would). 

And I just know this will appeal to some of you...
This was done by Lara Harris, who does a  true vintage look for a custom’ ’family nest painting with personalized names on the eggs. How cute and rustic! Available on Etsy.
Taking some time to discover her nest/egg art opened my eyes to new things, but most especially, a wonderful accordion book with nest & egg pictures that you can view as a hanging on the wall, or bound up tightly inside itself as a covered book tied with ribbon- beautiful!! (The nests seem ‘stamped’ on, but with a different colored egg in each). What an inspirational piece of work.

Google image search of ‘egg in nest paintings’ opened my eyes to so much art... not only of plain or colored eggs IN a nest, but of Easter Eggs and oriental caligraphy painted ON eggs... some really inspiring stuff out there to whet your appetite for your own creations.

I found another beauty- so rustic that I fell in love instantly
The original Egg and Nest painting, “A Full Nest is Best”, is one in a series, all painted on a blue background over reclaimed rustic solid wood boards. It’s for sale HERE, $230. 

Along these same lines, (using rustic pieces of wood), in this case, for art and home decor- among other things I’ve found:
-a mantel decoration shared by Jaimie on her blog which I found thru the Feathered Nest Fridays blog hop.
Sure, it’s just a painted  2”x4”- but quite in fitting with the art I’m sharing today.
I am imagining a wall shelf trimmed / bordered, just like this! (Of course a 2”x4” would be much too heavy to border a shelf, right?) It’s a Shabby Chic look, which I think mixes so well with the French Country, or the Folk style decor.
Whatever you call it, this is what I envision as the ‘style’ for my Farmgirl Office. 

If you also like such things, you’ll want to check out Feathered Nest Fridays blog hop, and share or just peruse: decorating, flea finds, designs, transformations, crafts, table settings, etc. “ANYTHING related to feathering your nest!”  

For those with more refined art or feminine taste for flowers... HERE are 6 pages of nests, eggs, and flowers combined.

Of course, there are other ways to artfully look at eggs, lol. In my google search (not images), I found 40 Creative and Funny egg-paintings. 
Using paint/markers to draw faces on the eggs creating story lines immediately by transferring an emotional face onto them.
(Some pretty disturbing faces/story lines among the funny ones too). But in general, a pretty terrific IDEA in decorating eggs – which may appeal especially to boys. Of all ages.
Or shock someone this way- which could be pretty funny. Especially if you catch it on video, right?

Ok now that I've exposed you to some of the egg things that captivate and fire up inspiration for me, here is what I've been up to:

First, I became enthralled with old windows after I found some by a trash can 5 years ago (at least). After deciding a cold frame wasn't going to happen, I looked online for some other ideas for them. Something easy, simple yet elegant... and found so much! But here is the original inspiration piece:

 What I've been doing is revamping 3 old windows to decorate my Farmgirl Office. I'll share now what I've gotten done so far, but as I'm only 1/2 way done with ONE of them, I do ask for you not to judge too harshly!

Here are my windows (hardware removed to the best of my ability... some hinges are painted on permanently!)They are all the same color maroon on one side and white on the other:
(one pane is missing from the one on the right- it fell during a windstorm)
SO....I had to take out all those panes, right?

OK,  I finished that...and started painting a canvas to hang behind it:
(Without going 'gray', this is supposed to look like really old barn siding.)

(here's a closer-up of the 'wood grain')

(Then I added a bit of straw, like a row of nesting material.)

(and some eggs in process...)

I'll finish up some more eggs- maybe get rid of the pastel colored ones... not sure yet, and add more straw in front of them.
Then the canvas will be attached to the maroon side of the window frame and I'll hang it up and come back to show you. 
Give me a week, I've been draggy due to a cold...

I hope you've been inspired ~ I would sure love to see the projects you've done/working on for your own 'space'... or your pantry or office!! 

A Confession re: Dreams Fueled by Fear of Nightmare Scenarios

I really like the sound of “Master of Dreams”! I am certainly a dream weaver, but what would it really take to master them? Does it mean having actually accomplished some part, or does it count to get them down on paper?
I believe paper counts for something! I can imagine a binder FULL of wonderfully laid out dreams... 
Dreams are really goals in disguise. Part of a planning process anyway. (Authors need to explore a storyline before drafting the outline OR tossing it as a non-viable idea or something they don’t want to work with after all.)
How do you feel about mastering your dreams? Are they all in your head still? How do you plan around them so they are more likely to become a tangible goal? Do you dismiss them as unattainable because of the obstacles - or for some other reason?Do you dream in terms of short-term, and long-term “goals”? Does it make a difference what you call them? Either way, you’ll examine a thing from all sides before you can determine how to think about it.

“Dreaming” doesn’t seem to be a practical endeavor --some people might resist the idea of indulging themselves in the practice of ‘dreaming’ – rather it’s all “goal-related” activity to them.

I don’t think it matters what you call it, it’s all a process of discovering priorities and self-direction, needs vs wants, exploring the obstacles to the next phase or chapter in your life. But planning, per se, is harder to pull off sometimes, because of the obstacles, and leaves you with no option other than to call it a ‘dream’ ideal... something you really want in life. And it stays stuck there, a whimsical wishful thought, until you’ve mused and infused yourself with enough information about it that you can finally really see it’s viability and call it a goal.   

That’s the difference, and the challenge.
Day in and day out we think about building a better future based on a continuation of the present.
This is good for morale but does a poor job of preparing us for reality.

Especially these days with everything about our lives so up in the air ready to tilt toward the edge economically. (Discounting anything the mainstream media says about it, you’ll soon discover we’re NOT out of the woods by a long shot).

To counter-balance all the “what if’s” that could occur in our future, I’m determined to stick to plan A and move ahead on every idea for better self-sustaining practices. In case plan B happens, plan A “act as if everything will work out as it should, but ready with backup plans” – means I have backup plans to implement (and I may sustain losses but will still be ahead from where I would be if I did not have plan B planned for).

Although I call the plans ‘dreams’ , there is a serious nature to them. They are toward absolute life-changing GOALS. Practical survival goals. Because I’ve no belief in a white-knight-to-the-rescue if TSHTF, and there is all likely possibility that some kind of event or downfall will affect us.

Consider this: Today a third European country raided the pension funds of its people to pay debt and keep their banks running...  Without those funds promised to the people who paid into it all their working lives, it will go back to the times where the parents shack up with the kids. The kids work and the parents help tend the home, contribute a few hundred toward the food and energy bill and watch the Grandkids. Those unfortunates without family will be in awful poorly run State facilities if they’re ‘lucky’. The aged don't live long with medical rationing, poor nutrition and being cold due to minimal heating.

This is only one of 100 stories going on the shenanigans, fraud, and otherwise unethical stealth being done to use these days. They stole the taxpayers money through bailouts.    They got the Federal Pensions, that will not be enough.  Soon (without warning or mainstream media stories), everyone's money in their IRAs - and other accounts will be taken..... but that will not be enough...... they will outlaw physical gold... and what will be after that?
A big difference between Europe and the US is that US citizens have several hundred million firearms.  I expect "blood in the streets" and martial law before it's all over. Or something even worse from an event over the horizon.
I can only hope I'm wrong. I know I’ve spoken those words before... but it’s imperative to keep busy and distracted, and wishing for things to be different will not only NOT alter the outcome of hard times, whatever their source or cause, it will leave nothing to fall back on!

There’s NOTHING ‘dreamy’ about that!
(my old work gloves)

There is a LOT to consider when thinking about the future, and what plans are relevant depending on your picture of it. I don’t want to join the fringe elements, those who expect the worst, nor do I wish to stick my head in the sand. I’ve found goals that I think are a middle ground which will do no harm to anyone. But, I choose to call these plans and goals “a dream”, in effect this is a way to assuage deep anxieties, a way to disguise negative connotations and fears about our future in a shroud of whimsy.

“Farmgirl” suits me far better than “Survivalist”. It's as simple as that.
The connotations are worlds apart, but they do overlap enough for my purposes. I would never equate the two if things were the same as before 2008, when the world was a safer place (or seemed to be).

I choose not to be motivated by fear, but rather by a vision of a healthful, wholesome, self-sustaining lifestyle- to live a Farmgirl life.

Not everyone is ready to engage with this mindset, as "prepping" means things not in control, and changes can feel pretty intense, after all. From the point of making that decision it was easy to focus on the goals without adding stress to already stressful life! 

The end result is the same, the course is the same, the urgency is the same, but the frame of mind in which I can make the plans, goals and actions is on a lighter note. 

I know that I do not have all the skills and cannot learn all the skills or provide myself all the tools to fully sustain myself and family. I am only speaking of those things for which I have some ability. People need others to fill in the gaps- we need community with a variance of trades and supplies to share and barter between all, and expand those things so it extends the survivability of all. I won’t go into all that here, it’s just to explain that I don’t intend to provide everything needed to live, and maybe not even achieve all the basics – just what I can. Like in the days of the Old West, not the days of Caves.
----- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ -----

I’ll reiterate the Basic Plan:
First on the list was getting chickens, one source of security that’s easy to manage (in comparison to most other things). It was the first of many goals... not sure I’d call it a ‘dream’ but it does add to the overall ideal I’m looking at. The dream of food security at the very least. (It will remain a dream until I can see the reality of the security it provides.)

Second on the list is securing sources of basic-needs seed and practicing and experimenting with different growing systems.  Lots of different things to try, but deciding what are the best seeds and plants to invest in, and what systems to use, is a different story- so many things to choose from, what are the best choices to make?
There are several ways to approach the answer, and not sure which yet I will settle on.

For instance take #2 below – the best most reliable ways to store means dried, or canned -  and broccoli wouldn’t make good dried product like ‘chips’, to be reconstituted, and how could you ‘can’ broccoli other than to pickle it or make a cream soup which renders it useless for many recipes like stir-fry? You’d have to freeze it, or powder it. This makes it a non-essential plant in my opinion- although it fits a #1 imperative as nutrient dense.
1) most nutrient-rich
2) easiest/fastest to grow, harvest, store
3) most water-conservant, most compact (space considerations)
4) favorites/most used and eaten already/most useful in general (how many ways you can eat or use it)
5) possible side-income / unique or popular plants
6) most prolific (bang for your buck)
7) double-use, (also as possible animal feeds -grains, sunflowers, amaranth, etc.)
8) ease/difficulty with growing indoors? (can you imagine CORN growing inside- with the amount of space it needs- with the need for pollination.
 Is it possible to hand-pollinate?)  Beehives in a greenhouse would hardly be enough to sustain bees, but it’s a thought.... There are many aspects to consider, and I don’t even know them all.

I really appreciate the Permaculture Ideas for sustaining one thing with help from another thing. Like combining plants and chickens...
What interests me most is the idea of permaculture systems working together -stable, productive systems that support each other, but the key is taking a look at the small details of the bigger picture and how they all contribute to the overall effectiveness of the whole system.

I’ve read over and over on permaculture sites, that chickens and/or ducks are a great greenhouse combination – but I’m still not sure how that works! How do you keep them from eating seedlings? Or is everything on a tabletop? How does that help the plants or the birds?

A greenhouse would be a godsend, but I see plenty of them around here, being unused. Before I go building or buying one, I want to make sure I’d use it.
Step #1: try growing some cool-weather plants INSIDE the coop –once they’ve been established indoors--  on the high wide shelves, taking advantage of the heat and natural light in the coop.

It gets SO dusty in the coop though... can't imagine all that dust on plant leaves. So it would be a definite test.

I have a fairly large shed with a 3’x3’ window on it’s south side, and some heat from the chickens that use it as a coop, as well as from whatever light or heat source I give them over winter. Some plants should therefore work out there.

*While waiting to get a heat lamp, I'm using a halogen lamp (like men use in their garages when they've got their heads stuck under a vehicle hood).
I hung it directly over the metal waterer to keep it from freezing since I only have one electrical cord out there. It gives light, but I think it's too high in AV rays for longterm use, even if they don’t look directly AT it...
**UPDATE on heating water-with 4" of snow on the ground, it's working at 0 degrees, but it's slushy...not really 'good' for chickens. Also not enough heat put out to keep the leftovers I give them from freezing (mashed potatoes became a rock of ice!)
I think I'm going to look at this idea! Wonderful piece of ingeniousness!
(I LOVE her sunshine-yellow hen!)

Step #2 in this experimental plan is to buy “black oil sunflower bird seed mix” for sale around here for wild birds and use it as a chicken snack here and there with the corn scratch. I will save a large & generous handful of the seeds for planting around the perimeter of the coop yard this summer. Sunflowers are a high-protein food useful for chickens (when they don’t need the heat that the corn provides in the chicken scratch).
I imagine I could start these sunflowers early and keep them in the coop on the 3 high shelves to test the effectiveness of this idea for warm-weather plants. Not sure how tall they need to grow, but the shelves are 2 feet wide and would hold multiple pots heavy w/ soil.

Working with what I have now - which is not much, I admit, but thinking outside the box... I may also grow the long grasses from the seed included in those wild bird mixes. Grain and greens are good for chickens... but the plan for that would be to disperse the seed along the ground, and rake it into the soil growing over the septic system leach field where I wouldn’t ever have to water it. It's the ONLY place on the property where grass grows more than 6" high- in fact the deer often lay in the patches of 2+ foot-high grasses there. It's a run about 40 feet long by 12 feet wide and is partially shaded by tall Ponderosa pines.

If this works out the way I envision- I might even test growing a tree in the coop! I’d love to have a fig tree! (Some are supposed to do OK in our ‘zone’ and some are ‘small’ trees too - but I’m not sure I’d LOVE the figs from those.)

An orchard is part of the longterm plan, but it has to be well thought out and there’s plenty of time between that and getting it all financed. It’s much easier to grow and propagate berries- and move them if necessary (if we were to move). Plus berries allow a faster return on your efforts. So berries will be the middle ground between veggies and an orchard.

Goats. Hm, thought a lot about it and I’m not sure I really want to tend goats, but I sure do want some fire mitigation work on the property, so it’s still a maybe. Also, a source of fresh untainted milk and cheese appeals... however hubby really wants a COW, and the mini cows are like $2000. That doesn’t help much without a bull...
(The mini beef animals are about $1500, but you really can’t milk them.) And, how much would you pay, how far would you have to go, to breed the animal- or could you handle a bull? So you see, much is still in the air with bigger livestock.

Our property isn't irrigated or fenced, so I think sheep are automatically out.
Before I branch out toward bigger animals, I would move to Muscovy ducks and some geese (the pretty ones) – and maybe turkey. Birds with a market.
I can’t kill rabbits, so that’s out, FOREVER. It is a really good idea - for someone else, lol. (We often had house rabbits when the kids were growing up – even big ugly rabbits are still bunnies to me!) If it comes to it, there is always hunting and trapping... and, archery is a great skill to learn too!

My biggest dream is for another horse, and a wooden utility cart would be awesome.  There are NO actual PLANS toward this end, it’s simply too big to consider for now. It’s on the “great list” though the challenge to attain that goal seem insurmountable. In the back of my mind though, I keep hope with a question-  that painting pictures will somehow end up being the road to this goal. We shall have to wait and see.
One step at a time, one little idea, one small goal reached... over time, a system in place to rely on for some amount of self-sustenance.  Challenges evaporate when you discover a workable solution to counter it.

Selling eggs = feed money.  Planting feed grains and grasses = less feed money needed. It seems logical to think then that more eggs = more money... but there will always be a limit.
There will always be limitations, but these can be offset in other ways by other means.

Whatever you do, you need some diversity and a backup plan in case one of the spokes in the wheel drops out. (Drought = less harvest, less feed. Then what do you do?) I always imagine a larder full of beautiful quart jars of a year’s worth of harvest, a years’ worth of food security... all broken and crashed upon the floor, ruined – the result of an unexpected earthquake. Or a freezer full of beef you scrimped and saved all year to buy- ruined by an extended electrical outage. Then what?

Well, maybe it would be prudent to have dried/dehydrated ½ of the harvest and beef, rather than to have frozen it (and canned lasts a year). Perhaps you planned well by having a place to store that meat beneath the winter snows, but it’s summer. Perhaps you also had a list of things you would be able to barter the meat for, before it thawed—a few contacts in mind, like a neighbor with a still-functioning hand-plow used as decoration in his yard –who might take some beef in trade for it. You can’t eat the plow, but you can use it to sow your seed the next season. Perhaps you trade a goat for a burro (to pull the plow). The possibilities are endless, if you have the forethought to plan for it ahead, or extra just in case.

These are POSSIBLE backup plans.  They might work in a desperate situation, and they might not, but I choose the positive hopeful route if it came to such a thing. “Desperate times call for desperate measures”,  they say.
I believe it’s just as important to consider that maybe there isn’t always another viable, workable, solution, and your plans will be devastated by adversity, perhaps several of them combined -- but that’s never going to be a reason not to try, not to plan.

In this way, I master the plan of my dreams, weaving the fabric of it throughout the different aspects of a daily life – that of a Farmgirl.

The threats are real, and acknowledged by NASA, the NAS, and other government agencies. Too bad they will do NOTHING to harden and protect our electric grid -becasue they can't find the money. REALLY? (Surprised?)

*A “severe geomagnetic storm scenario” gives the US 4 to 10 years without electricity (including computerized cars) for 4 to 10 years. (Solar storms do not produce the fast E1 component of Nuclear Devices that can be so damaging to electronics, but the threat of an EMP is real too. EMP=Nuclear Electomagnetic Pulse)

If you haven't run away screaming yet, you may be interested in some research to motivate yourself. For informative reading I suggest the following:

If you have Netflix, or other on-demand media, I highly suggest watching: 

The Universe: Season 5 Episode 3: Magnetic Storm” A beautiful visual but SHOCKING documentary about the sun’s potential to deliver a CME (essentially an EMP with similar but different effects).
I cannot reiterate enough: 
It is not IF it happens, but WHEN...

Countdown to Zero” 2009, 89 minutes
The apocalyptic dangers and paradoxes posed by nuclear weapons in the wrong hands. Americans have become alarmingly blasé about the potential of a nuclear weapon being detonated – but perhaps they simply don’t know how big a threat it really is.

Collapse” – 2009, 80 minutes
In an avant-garde soliloquy, investigative journalist Michael Ruppert details his unnerving theories about the inexorable link between energy depletion and the collapse of the economic system that supports the entire industrial world. 

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash” 82 minutes
In this straight-from-the-headlines documentary, award-winning filmmakers Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack examine the world's dependency on oil and the impending chaos that's sure to follow when the resource finally runs dry.
*this eye-opening documentary is the perfect vehicle to take you on a trip you wont forget any time soon. The film lays out the challenges we are facing once we run out of cheap oil and the consequences this could bring. It does a good job in debunking the myths about alternative energy and presents facts, why they wont be able to fill the large gap left by dwindling fossil fuel resources. The Swiss filmmakers present a well balanced but clearly scary picture.

Think Katrina, only 10x over.................

(VIDEO with Maryland Congressman, The Honorable Roscoe Bartlett re: CME solar storm –and that’s a WHEN, NOT IF it happens - and the threat of EMP’s. If our electric grids go As he says, Next year is another solar maximum, we can only wait to see what happens out of it. “You know, there’s a general understanding, that “If it’s too good to be true it probably isn’t true, an EMP just seems too Bad to be true- therefore its relegated to the fringes...but the threat is very real.”) 
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack has been called one of the gravest threats imaginable – and the soonest we’d get electricity grid repair done would be 2 years!!
With the capability to destroy America's electrical and technological infrastructure, an EMP strike would effectively send the U.S. back to the 19th Century. 100% of our enemies know all about how to effectively render us helpless using EMP’s.
Makes you wonder slightly more about Iran’s current nuclear ideas... I’ll stop there.

Preparing for the Worst: “Do not wait on Washington or your state government to solve this problem. You as communities and individuals should start preparing for EMP event now.
Plan should assume EMP will blackout electric grid for weeks or months, consequently: no water, no communications, no transportation, food scarcity, societal breakdown.” Includes news of new threats and popular Preparedness web sites.

Click Here for Report of the (EMP) Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Elecromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack –Critical National Infrastructures
The Commission’s view (2008) is that the Federal Government does not today have sufficiently robust capabilities for reliably assessing and managing EMP threats.

Click Here for a comprehensive recent report on the effects of geomagnetic storms and the EMP E3 component, see Severe Space Weather Events -- Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts by the National Research Council of the United States National Academies. Scroll down to read the entire text (free).

This Page For a map of the locations of the most highly at-risk power grid transformers in the United States, see  from the 2008 Report on Severe Space Weather Events.

Also Read: Getting Prepared for an Electromagnetic Pulse Attack
or Severe Solar Storm 

“ The only way to make an effective plan is to try to imagine an unpleasant future where you are suddenly thrust back into the middle ages.” - Jerry Emanuelson, B.S.E.E., Futurescience, LLC

How Energy, Economy, and Environmental issues will converge -and how the next 20 years will be nothing like the last 20 years... and what you can do about it. I recommend watching or reading all 20 chapters to gain understanding of where we are quite probably headed.
Chris Martenson material from "Crash Course" (chapter-19-future-shock)

*Other Recommended reading:
“One Second After” [Paperback STORY]- William R. Forstchen ($9.99 Amazon)
(recommended by Newt Gingrich and The Honorable Roscoe Bartlett among many)

“SURVIVAL, EVASION, RESISTANCE AND ESCAPE HANDBOOK, SERE and DSCA Handbook, Tactical Level Commander, and Staff Toolkit”, GTA 90-01-021 combined by United States Navy, Marine Corps and Delene Kvasnicka of survivalebooks (Jun 15, 2011) – as a Kindle eBook  $1.99

“Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late “[Paperback]- Scott B. William

*There are 1000’s of ‘survival blogs’ out there with credible information. Here’s just one Survivalist Blog covering several topics, w/ resources other than just survival gear...(I really enjoyed the information on creating a “Zeer Pot” (refrigeration using one clay pot inside another using sand and water for evaporative cooling – apparently it works in Africa!) Soon offering the upcoming book “31 Days To Survival”.

And from the Gov't., personal preparedness plans.

Read up, friends! 
Then come back- suggest a challenge - and we'll share this journey together.