Why It’s Actually Humane To Dis-Bud Kids

Why It’s Actually Humane To Dis-Bud Kids
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We love our goats. If you’ve been following on facebook, you know that two of our does have kidded, and now we have four spritely little goatlings running around our place.

They’re so much fun to watching bounding around, just looking so happy. 

That’s why I hate the thought of disbudding so much. Nobody wants to hurt their animals. Especially not their baby animals. 

In many ways, caring for animals, is a lot like having small children. You do things for their own good, but there’s no way for them to know that. 

That’s why bleeding hearts who want to come out to your farm and tell you how you should or shouldn’t take care of your animals are such a problem.

They don’t know what’s good for the animals. They only see what looks on the surface to be inhumane. I commend the tender heartedness, but I also think folks should know we don’t do things to our animals just to be mean. 

In the past, we have let some of our goatlings grow horns, but we’ve realized what a mistake that is, and do our best to get them disbudded at an early age now.

Explaining to someone that the hot iron kills the nerve very quickly so that they don’t feel pain after it’s done, may come accross as heartless, but would you think it was cruel of me if I told you that I had to wrestle a sick animal down to give it a shot of medicine? That hurts too.

Why do goats need to be disbudded? 

  1. They hurt eachother. goats play and fight pretty roughly, and horns can cause a lot of Vet bills. we’ve realized that it’s better to cause a few seconds of pain now, than risk a lot of agony later on.
  2. They get tangled up. Goats love to get in any available briar patches, stick their heads through fences… they’re very creative in finding ways to get stuck! Horns multiply that problem manyfold. 

As Pat Coleby says in her book Natural Goat Care, the only time a goat should be allowed to have horns is if you know it will be kept out “on the range” somewhere where it has no hope of protection from a human or stock dog - and one could argue that that’s not a very humane aproach to goatkeeping. Horns don’t belong on a small operation.

So, earlier this week, we got the disbudding iron out, and heated it up. I held my ears while the kids gave a little yelp, then, the kids was released, and she bounded back to her mamma as if nothing had ever happened. 

Her herd mates will never have to worry about being gored by her, and I can let my children play with her without fear. 

Homemade Yogurt Troubleshooting Guide

Homemade Yogurt Troubleshooting Guide
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I love yogurt! Our goats were dry for a few months during the winter, but guess what?! All but one of them has freshened! 

The kids are still taking most of the milk - though that’s beginning to change - but we are getting some, and you know that that means - we’re making homemade yogurt

Throughout the years, I’ve had pretty much every result you can think of (or at least that I can think of) while making yogurt. Too runny, too sour, not sour at all, spoiled, massive separation of the curd and whey - you name it.

So here’s a little bit of why some of these things might happen, and what you can do to correct it.

Problem #1:Too thin

  • Diet -I’ve come to believe that this is largely influenced by the goat or cow’s diet. Our yogurt is noticeably thicker when the goats are eating a lot of more concentrated feed. Their diet influences the composition of the milk, including the prevalence of solids, so it makes sense. 
  • Incubation temperature - Too hot and you may kill the culture, too cold and it won’t grow adequately.
  • Incubation time - Perhaps the yogurt simply hasn’t had enough time to grow the cultures.

Remedies:

  • Unless you own the animal, there’s not a whole lot you can do about her diet, but there are some things you can do to overcome the consequences.
  1. Gelatin - Add some plain gelatin - or flavored if you want to make flavored yogurt - to the milk at the same time you add your yogurt culture. Try starting with 1/2 a teaspoon per quart and go from there.

  2. Rennet - As with the gelatin, you would add this at the same time you add the yogurt culture. 1 drop of liquid rennet per gallon of milk should do it. If you’re making yogurt by the quart as I often do, mix 1 drop of rennet with 4 tablespoons of water. Then add 1 tablespoon of the mixture to your milk.

  • Use a candy thermometer to test your incubation temperature. Ideally, it will be 110 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Lengthen incubation time. If your temperature is too low, and there’s nothing you can do about it, try incubating longer.


This yogurt is thick enough!

Problem #2: too sour

  • Incubation time too long.

Remedy:

  • Shorten incubation time.

Problem #3: Too little taste/not sour

  • Incubation time too short
  • Dead culture

Remedies:

  • Lengthen incubation time
  • Acquire new yogurt starter . This could be in the form of powdered culture, which you can purchase from online retailers including amazon.com, or new yogurt from a seperate batch of homemade yogurt, or the grocery store - Dannon natural is perfect.

Problem #4: “off” or putrid taste/smell

  • Contamination of starter. Bad bacteria is everywhere, especially if you’re making bread, and working with yeast in the same kitchen that you’re culturing dairy products.
  • Contamination of milk. same cause, different component.

Remedies:

  • New starter. See above. If your starter has gone bad, you’ll need to get a new one.
  • New milk. If your starter is fine, then it’s very possible that your milk was contaminated at some point.
  • Clean kitchen/house. I’m not implying that you’re a poor housekeeper. The fact is, we all have bacteria floating around our houses. Smell a stinky diaper? That’s contaminating your air. Spraying air freshener to cover it up? That’s contaminating the area too. Making sourdough bread? That’s very possibly your problem. Those yeasts will contaminate your dairy products in no time flat. Making arrangements such as baking and culturing dairy on separate days will go a long way toward preventing this.

In light of all the above, yogurt making may sound like a big, scary task, but it’s really not! In every instance except the last one, the yogurt is still perfectly edible. This troubleshooting guide is simply meant to help you perfect your yogurt making endeavors, so whatever you do, have fun with it!

Now it’s your turn: what did I miss? Do you have anything to add to this troubleshooting guide?

Quick And Easy Gluten-Free Pie Crust Recipe

Quick And Easy Gluten-Free Pie Crust Recipe
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Rolling out pie crust sure makes a pretty pie, and while I hartily believe that food presentation is important, sometimes, I just need to hurry up and get things on the table. Covering half of that table with rolling pins, flour, partchement paper, pastry dough, and everything else, isn’t really conducive to hurrying though. Rolling out pie crust is so much more of a mess than rolling out things like, say homemade gluten-free egg noodles, because you can’t just roll them out on a cookie sheet, cut them up, and dump them in the pot. (But I digress)

So I decided to make a variation of my rolled pie crust recipe that could be pressed into the pie plate. Is it pretty? Not really. Does it taste great? Oh yeah

Thanks to this recipe, I was able to make an apple pie for breakfast this morning (Shh, don’t tell!), and get the mess cleaned up before we sat down to eat.

Quick And Easy Gluten-Free Pie Crust

Note: I like to use a food processor with this recipe for everything up to pressing the dough into the plate.

Mix first three ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  

Mix in egg.

Add enough milk to make a sticky dough. 

Using floured fingers, press dough into pie plate.

Fill and bake as you would any pie, or…

Place on bottom rack of broiler and cook until lightly browned.

Watch carefully! Once your pie crust begins to cook, it will brown fast

Enjoy!

Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Feeding Big, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Show And Tell, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday

Why I Bake With Guar Gum

I get a lot of comments, emails, and messages from people asking if they can use xanthan gum in my recipes, so I wanted to take a moment and address that really quickly.

The short answer is yes. You can do an even swap, and will most likely never see any difference.

So why do all my ingredient lists specify guar gum?

Firstly, because that’s what I used, and secondly, because guar gum is sooo much cheaper. Although xanthan gum has come down in price over time, it’s still much, much more expensive than guar gum. (Here’s the cheapest place I’ve found to get either).

One of the biggest problems with adhering to a gluten-free diet is the price tag. Yikes! Gf products are expensive. Using guar gum, along with adding it on a per recipe basis rather than putting it directly into your gluten-free flour mix,  is just one of many ways to make a gluten-free diet more budget friendly. 

That said, there are other pros and cons to both gums.

Xanthan gum

Pros: 

  • Widely available


Cons:

  • Made from corn products
  • Possibly GMO based
  • Expensive


Guar gum

Pros:

  • Cheaper 
  • Not made from GMO products


Cons:

  • More limited availability 
  • Derived from beans (which some folks have found problematic)


We haven’t had any problem with the bean aspect of guar gum, and we have had some issues after using xanthan gum that have made us think that Gabriel may be allergic to it. 

Factor in the price difference and… You get recipes full of guar gum. If you prefer xanthan gum though, feel free to make the swap. It’s all good here. grin  

Homemade Baby Lotion Recipe

Homemade Baby Lotion Recipe
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I’m really picky about what I put on my baby’s skin and you can bet that commerical, chemical and preservative filled lotions don’t make the cut. 

You wouldn’t feed those things to your baby, so why would you put it on their skin? Skin - any skin, but especially baby skin - is very absorbent. If you rub it in, it’s going to make it’s way into the body. 

And so, I make my own lotion. Incidentally, this is the same lotion I often use on myself. It’s an excellent facial moisturizer because it absorbs quickly, and you can adjust the ratios for your specific skin type. Oily skin? Use more aloe vera gel. Dry skin? Add more coconut oil. Acne problems? Add some tea tree oil tree oil.

As you can see, this homemade baby lotion recipe is very simple, and very easily customizable. It’s a great blend because coconut oil, as oils go, absorbs into the skin quickly, and the aloe vera gel helps it absorb much more quickly so that it doesn’t feel greasy at all.

There is some controversy about whether homemade lotions should be kept at room temperature for more than just a few weeks, so I’ll just say that I’ve kept mine out on the counter top for a couple months at a time with no issues at all. I do however usually add some sort of antibacterial essential oil to it, even if it’s just a few drops. If you do store it in the refrigerator, the texutre will be closer to a lotion bar than a creamy lotion.

Lavender essential oil is an excellent addition to baby lotion - especially if your baby has a difficult time sleeping. Lavender is so relaxing - and it just happens to be one of those aforementioned antibactierial oils! 

 

Homemade Baby Lotion

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup aloe vera gel
  • Essential oil - several drops (optional)

Gently heat coconut oil until just melted - but not hot. Pout into a blender or food processer (or use a cup and stick blender for easy clean up!) with aloe vera gel and essential oil, and blend until creamy and well emulsified. 

Scrape into a container with a tight fitting lid, and store either at room temperature, or in the refrigerator - whichever you prefer. 

That’s all there is to it! 

Have you ever made your own lotion? 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click through and happen to make a purchase from that website within a certain timeframe, I may recieve a small advertising fee. This doesn’t affect your purchase price at all, and helps me keep this site running. Thanks for your support!

Chocolate Mint Tea

Chocolate Mint Tea
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When I first heard about chocolate-mint tea, I thought whoah, that sounds amazing. But what in the world is chocolate tea? 

Answer: it’s tea with cocoa powder in it, plain and simple. 

Peppermint iced tea is my all time favorite summer drink, with a tie between hot peppermint tea , and hot chocolate for favorite winter drink. Which makes Chocolate-mint tea pretty much perfect, right? I sure think so!

After trying many different variations, this is my favorite, although you might catch me drinking an all water version now and then, I love the extra body the milk gives this drink.

Chocolate-Mint Tea

  • 1 tsp peppermint tea leaves (or one tea bag)
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2-3 tsp honey
  • 6 oz hot water
  • 6 oz hot milk

Stir peppermint leaves into hot water and let steep for five minutes. Strain into mug

Add cocoa powder and honey. I’ve never had any trouble getting cocoa powder to dissolve into hot water, but if you have any doubts, go ahead and combine it with the honey first.

Stir in milk. For the lactos intolerant, you can sub more water for the milk, or a dairy-free milk such as almond milk

Enjoy! 

February Date Check In

It’s the end of February, and if you hang around here much, you know what that means!



At the beginning of the year, I told y’all that one of my big resolutions was to make a monthly date night with my husband, and to keep myself accountable, I’m sharing an update every month with what we did.

I was really hoping to have a date night separate from Valentine’s day, but it didn’t happen. February has been a busy month, making it hard to want to stay up after the kids have gone to bed. 

We had a few lengthy car trips this month though. Having the kids asleep in the backseat leaves you with some great one on one time together, so I didn’t feel too deprived of hubby time. grin

We have something of a Valentine’s evening tradition involving chocolate dipped strawberries. It’s nothing fancy, but for us, it’s a nice treat. It’s one of the few food related things splurges I’ve found that Gabriel really, really enjoys. 



The trick is planning a trip to the next town over within a day or so of Valentines day to get fresh strawberries. Our own little town doesn’t carry much in the way of fresh produce this time of year.

Gabriel and I don’t usually eat during the late evening, which makes this little tradition that much more out of the ordinary for us. 

I’m beginning to love at-home dates. I love special events and trying new foods at restaurants - don’t get me wrong - but it’s so much more relaxing to be in your own home. There’s no rush, no waiter asking if you need more water, no ambient noise to try to talk over… It’s nice. 

That said, we alread have a date night semi planned out for March, and it’s not at home. grin

What did you do for Valentine’s Day? 
 

Ab Rehab

Diastasis Recti. Those of us who’ve born children are all too familiar with the term - and what it means. It seems to be inevitable, and incurable except, perhaps, by surgery.

I was paranoid too, especially after hearing someone say that their abdominal separation caused them pain.

But did you know that you can close a diastasis of the rectus abdominus naturally? (I like using all those Latin words because it makes me sound smart raspberry)

I had a bit of separation with both my kids, but I’m super blessed to have a midwife with more knowledge than I’ll probably ever have, and thanks to her advice, I’ve closed that separation both times. Basically, it’s been a non issue.

How to check for diastasis recti: Lie on your back and crunch up slightly, bringing your head up off the floor.

Poke with your fingers along the midline of your stomach. It’s easiest to feel between your naval and rib cage.

The gap between muscles should be closer than a centimeter (one finger width).

Though I’m no expert, and my own diastasis recti was fairly small, I want to pass on the method I’ve learned to correct it, because it can do nothing but help.

These exercises can help even if you don’t have diastasis recti. And by “help” I mean that they activate and strengthen the transverse abdominus.

So if you have a tummy pooch, and don’t know why, if you have “mommy tummy”, this may be the answer to your problem.

Here it is: lie on the floor and breathe.

Okay, so it’s slightly more involved than that, but not by much.


Here ya go: (I apologize in advance for the crummy selfie photos. Just keepin’ it real).

Lie on your back, knees up, feet flat on the floor. As you breathe deeply, notice how your low back hollows out as your abdomen expands.

Take a deep breath…

Now, expel the breath, pulling your navel into your backbone.

It may take some practice to figure out which muscles to activate to effectively “suck in” your belly button, but keep practicing, you’ll get it! Hold for a few seconds.

Relax, and repeat.

One good way to know your doing it correctly is to place a towel under your low back. When your activating the transverse abdominus by pulling the navel inward, you should t be able to pull the towel out.

During the first couple months post partum, according to my midwife, you should do 10-15 repetitions of this exercise, 2-3 times a day. These days, I try to incorporate them into my post-workout stretching.

The science behind this exercise is that you are strengthening (often referred to as “toning”) the transverse abdominal muscles, which are basically the girdle that holds everything together.

You can do crunches and sit-ups all day long, but that primarily hits the abdominus rectus, and if anything, makes the problem worse. In order to close the gap in your ab muscles, and pull things back together as it were, you need to work the transverse abdominus, and that’s what this does.

There are many variations of this exercise, but this is the method I use the most.

It may seem, at first blush, that there’s no way a breathing exercise could have much affect, but believe me, when you’re doing this properly, you’ll feel the abdominal muscles working - and it’s more work than you think!

Gluten-free Blueberry Scones

Gluten-free Blueberry Scones
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What is about scone that are just kind of… Cool?

They make you feel all gourmet and fancy. Even though scones are one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever make. 

Gluten-free scones are no exception. Which is really great, because I’m all about easy gluten-free recipes.

I made these blueberry scones for our breakfast this morning and everybody loved them. This recipe’s a keeper for sure. 

You can serve them with icing (Gabriel’s preference), or hot with butter (my preference), or just eat them plain like Garrett did quite happily until he saw daddy drizzling something over his. wink Whichever way you serve them, you won’t be disappointed!



Gluten-Free Blueberry Scones


Preheat oven to 425°

Combine dry ingredients, and cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 

In a separate bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy (we beat them for 3-4 minutes). Add dry ingredients. Stir in just enough milk to make a biscuit-like dough. 

Carefully mix in blueberries. I really didn’t want my blueberries smashed and turning my dough purple, but it’s kind of hard to avoid when you’re using frozen bloobs. Fortunately, it still tastes the same. smile

Turns dough onto a greased cookie sheet, and shape into a 1” thick circle with floured hands.

Cut dough into 8 wedges. Optionally, you can use a spatula to slide the wedges away from each other so they don’t stick back together as that rise in the oven.

Brush with milk, dust with sugar (optional), and place in the middle of the preheated oven. 

Turn temperature down to 375°.

Bake for 20 minutes. 

Remove from oven and enjoy! 
 

Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Feeding Big, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Show And Tell, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday

Having Two Kids… It Ain’t That Bad

I thought parenting was going to be bad. I really did. Blame it on the “experienced” parents telling me I had no idea what I getting into. Or the frazzled moms who were at their wits end.

Actually it was bad for a while. Any life changing event takes some getting used to. I went from having only myself to look out for, to having a small needy person to lack around with all his accessories, and I lacked the experience to know that the saying “this too shall pass” was really true.



But it did pass, my son got a little older, and I really began to enjoy this parenting thing.

Then I got pregnant again. Again people (well, one person in particular) were saying I had no idea what I was getting into, having two kids was soooo hard, yadda yadda yadda.

I just knew that having a baby was going to be twice as hard - if not more - the second time around. 

I’m not the only person I’ve met who thought having two kids might be the end of the world, so I’ve decided to set the record straight based on my experience, as well as the experience of several friends.

In a way, having two kids is a lot harder than having just one.

With one kid, going places is easy. you can carry both him, and everything you need for him out to the car in one trip. Not so with two kiddos. You can make two or three trips out to the car, or load yourself down with baby and gear, while hearing the toddler out the car. Not only that, but you have to catch kid A, and dress him, then try to keep him clean while you catch and dress kid B. Travelling with kids is not an easy task. And my dad wonders why he never sees me any more. Pfff. 

You have two eyes, so keeping one focused on kiddo, and another focused on your work is relatively easy. When you have a second child, sadly, you don’t get awarded another eye. 

Naps are a bit more complicated with two children. About the time you get one to sleep, the other one starts hollering. Really loudly. 


On the other hand, having two kids is actually easier than having just one. 

They entertain each other. It’s amazing and fun to watch how much little people love each other. 

The older child is helpful. When baby H drops a toy, Garrett can give it back to her, or get her a new toy which means I don’t have to stop what I’m doing every two seconds. He can also bring me things (like diapers), which saves me a lot of steps.

Going places can actually be easier once you get everybody in the car because there’s another little person in the back seat for baby to occupy herself with. 

So I guess in a way, all these positives and negatives cancel each other out, and in many ways, having two kids is pretty close to the same workload as having just one

I’m busy all the time, but realistically, I would be busy with something, whether I had kids or not. 

So for those of you who are wondering if you have what it takes to bring another hold into the family, you can, and when it comes down to it, you will. 

And hey, from what I hear, if you’re going to have two, you might as well have ten. wink