Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Dan and I are in the midst of tons of life changes right now--job hunting and house searching being the two largest. We have been pretty set on moving to Kentucky for a while now; however, the doors just haven't seemed to be open there. I've been looking for PA jobs for a while with little response, none positive as of yet. We decided to start looking in Ohio near where I grew up as a second option...thus far, it's been an equal rollercoaster ride.
A friend of mine and I were talking about how God works in our lives--open doors vs. closed doors. The past few days have seemed like God's giving us a revolving door. First the bank says no problem on a mortgage, but the house wasn't seeming to be what we wanted. Then the house all works out and seems ideal and the bank backs out and changes their mind. Kentucky seems like all closed doors and Ohio is falling all over me to have me here. Then Ohio's being really slow to call me back and Kentucky seems a bit more promising....reminds me of a certain Katy Perry song at times.
Prayers would be appreciated....At the moment, we have a great house option, but aren't sure if Ohio is the place we want to be long term. Jobs are being annoying, and banks are being wishy-washy.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
1. Making the most of your cow. With graduation looming and our jump to the country not too far off, I've been thinking more about our home dairy cow plans. Even the small Dexters make up to 3 or 4 gallons of milk a day--over the course of a week, that's nearly 20 gallons! I KNOW that even a larger family wouldn't be able to drink all that, let alone just Dan and I. Therefore, I need ways to make the most of our dairying production. An article from Mother Earth News has some guidance for being frugal with your use and making sure that all the extra isn't just fed to the pigs and chickens! This book (below) is one that I keep drooling over every time I wander by the book aisle of Tractor Supply.
2. Dairy Recipes. Although I will likely settle on my favorite dairy-ing book and it will become my dairy Bible, Mother Earth News offers several free recipes in this article for 30-minute mozarrella, cream cheese, yogurt, and ricotta--the four of the most commonly consumed dairy cheese in our home! Bon appetit!
3. An ingenius cheese press. I saw a picture of this cheese press and was immediately tickled. It will always be easy to determine how many pounds of press you have with this design. :)
4. Raising Chickens. Again, a lovely article on Mother Earth News by Havey Ussery. He goes through both regular brooder raising chicks and using broody hens (my personal favorite). He has a wonderful website at themodernhomestead.us that has a great deal on raising chickens, earthworms, and gardening. A wonderful resource!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
1. Fireplaces. Well, as with most things, I'm first interested in something by an article by Mother Earth News about improving the efficiency of wood-burning stoves. Dan and I are planning on having a very nice, large masonry fireplace in our home one day, but we both know that they're not very efficient. The ceramic, stand alone fireplaces are VERY efficient, and although they're pretty, there is a certain degree of heft and pomp that you lose with them. To be honest, since we're placing it as a focal piece of our living room, let alone our entire downstairs, we need something with some presence.
2. Fireplace inserts. Enter the inserts. They have the functionality of the stand-alone wood-burning stoves and can be slid into the impressive masonry hearth. Unfortunately, few of these have the efficiency of the Hearthstone stoves--they're usually behind by around 10% or more, which adds up to 2-3 winters of FREE heating over the lifetime of the stove.
3. The Compromise. Do a large masonry facade with a Hearthstone freestanding stove slid in. Dan and I want to do brick, so something like above would work. It's not a Hearthstone stove, but there are some that are similar. Additionally, I'd want something like the elaborate side of this design, so one side would be the stove that faces out living room and the other would be a very convenient wood storage area. We're looking at the Homestead design of the Hearthstone stove (not that color, grey and matte black would be our choice). 1800 square feet of heating, over 80% efficient, and slimmer to slide into a brick surround a little more flush.
4. Septic Systems. Ok, not as exciting or picturesque, but you gotta deal with it! Dan and I have already discussed separate grey water treatment systems for the showers, sinks, and washers. The water at the end of the treatment system would not be potable, but could be cleanly diverted as irrigation water, pool water, and flushing water for toilets. All the "black water" would have a standard septic system, however--messing around with that one! However, if you subtract the dishwasher, clothes washer, and showers, that's a TON of a house's water uses--all recycled! Here's a great website for grey water management--tons of data and information!
5. Solar Water Heating. Build-it-solar has an AWESOME website on an amazing build-it-yourself solar hot water system--all for $1000! To be honest, their system is relatively small, but could be easily doubled or tripled for between an extra $500-$1000, for a total cost of about $2k--that's easily ten THOUSAND dollars less than a comparable pre-fab unit. And for those of you who are a little skeptical, the unit is set up in the mountains of Montana (I believe) and is made out of commonly available materials. Dan and I have spent hours (his patience is nearly inexhaustable) discussing these units, and this one seems the most feasible.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
So, I've finally gotten around to writing CVs and cover letters and have been sending them out all over the Lexington area. 24 hours later, no one has responded just yet, but I've had some really positive phone calls with a few people. (Patience is not a virtue of mine.) One place that I'd REALLY like to work for is an ER/Hospitalist service. Both are areas that I would like to do, as they're both very broad-spectrum in the things I would see--which is what I'd be wanting to do!
So far, 5 e-mailed applications
and about 7 more to go to physician recruiters.
In a worst-case scenario, I could nearly definitely get a job near my parents. I've had several job offers there--the only problem would be that Dan would likely have difficulties finding a job in the struggling economy in the area.
Graduation is still about 5 months away, so I have time!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
~ Psalm 1:1-3 ~
Thursday, December 3, 2009
So, Dan and I have decided that we're going to live in a travel trailer upon moving to Kentucky. We're both just not comfortable with buying a home from so far away without having a chance to get to know the area. Also, the LAST thing we want to do is get stuck into a renting game again. And finally, a travel trailer would greatly cut our living expenses and allow us to pay off all these school loans much faster.
Although I am 100% committed to it and would emphatically profess my support of the idea, I think I was somewhat in denial about the fact that I was having some reservations. Honestly, I had never BEEN in a travel trailer of the size we were planning on getting and I wasn't sure that I would be able to LIVE/CAMP for months in one. We had one camping experience as kids that lasted a month and that got really old when it rained--and it was in the middle of the summer with no particularly cold days.
This weekend, visiting family in Buffalo, Dan and I stopped in at the mall to get my rings re-plated with rhodium (btw, I was ENTIRELY satisfied with the store--again--for getting my jewelry repaired. It was comparable to a standard jewelry store in price and was done in 45 minutes. Additionally, they quoted me about $75 less than a chain jeweler's for another repair. Obviously, I was estatic. Fast Fix is THE best--yes, shameless plug, haha. ) Anyway, while we were there, they had a large display of travel trailers and RVs so I was able to actually SEE how big the trailer would be. Purposefully, I wanted to avoid trailers that had a pop/slide out section as these often leak as they age.
Verdict: Totally doable.
Also, Dan's single concern was our water lines in the winter--Dad mentioned that using straw bales around the bottom keeps them from freezing and you can use them to mulch your garden in the spring. :) So, all in all I am convinced that this is a viable option and, though it will take some getting used to.
Here's a good website I found for "full-timing it" which is basically what we'll be doing for a few months. FullTimeRVer.com
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I've compiled a master-list of books I love, or would love to get!
Just type these in Google to search for them.
Cooking and Food Preservation
- The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley
- Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses by Ricki Carroll
- Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it by Karen Solomon
- Outstanding in the Field: A Farm to Table Cookbook by Jim Denevan
- Ball Blue Book
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judy Kingry
- Root Celaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables by Mark Bubel
- Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
- Small Cattle for Small Farms by Margo Hayes
- Small Scale Livestock Farming: A Grass-Based Approach for Health, Sustainability and Profit by Carol Ekarius
- Barnyard in Your Backyard by Gail Damerow
- Raising Poultry on Pasture: Ten Years of Success by Jody L Padgham (ed.)
- Salad Bar Beef by Joel Salatin
- Barnyard in your Backyard by Gail Damerow
- Small-Scale Livestock Farming: A Grass-Based Approach... by Carol Ekarius
- The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery
- Back to Basics -- The book that started it all. (I think this is the new edition. I had the older one.)
- Micro Eco-Farming by Barbara Berst Adams and Kipp Davis
- The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman
- Grass Productivity (Conservation Classics) by Andre Voisin
- Crockett's Victory Garden by James Crockett
As promised, here is the long-awaited entry on raw milk articles. To be honest, I have about a thousand things to get done between now and Christmas between rotations, job hunting, logging, papers, end-of-rotation exams, and studying for boards....so, this isn't nearly as elaborate as I was originally envisioning.
A few weeks ago, I was reading on TheModenHomestead's blog about cow share programs. They were born out of a desire to have access to raw, non-pasteurized, homogenized milk. The problems is that the FDA has some very stringent food-production laws regarding for-sale farm products. There are no restrictions, however, for personal rearing and utilization. The idea of the cow share program is to actually make your customers the "owners" of the cow. The farmer then becomes a paid service of "boarder and caretaker" rather than dairy farmer. Since you own the cow you receive milk from, you are able to by-pass the rules that guide large-scale, dirtier productions.
The concept has also been expanded to meat production. Of course, this doesn't deny the importance of knowing the housing conditions and production practices of the farmer you're buying from--which is naturally a huge point for people interested in locally-grown/raised foods and having transparency with their producers regarding what they're eating. Also, a difficulty is that you have to have committed persons to the cows and investing in their foodsource--similar to a CSA program.
Here are the articles that Harvey Ussery guided me to and his blog, TheModernHomestead.
A Campaign for Real Milk
Cow Share and Herd Share programs
The Modern Homestead
Now, I just have to research how this works in my individual state! :)