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O’Meals! Not your Pappy’s MRE

I’ve been a fan of O’Meals for quite some time. They are an amazing resource of food for all kinds of situations… snowed in, power is out, stranded with a flat for hours, hunting and fishing trips, camping I can go on and on.

There is something for everyone… vegetarians, picky kids, meat eaters, O’Meals come in a variety of flavors and meals for every meal!

Breakfast… say you’re cafeteria at work has a water main break and are closed for the day. O’Meals will save the day with maple oatmeal, or hash browns with peppers!

Lunch… in the dog house and you have to pack for yourself? Oh, the choices!!! Spaghetti, tortellini, southwest chicken, creole, PIZZA, chili you won’t mind the dog house at all when you’ve got O’Meals to save the day!

Dinner / Supper… power out? Snowed in? Don’t want to cook? Trapped at work with a super late meeting? O’Meals to the rescue!!!

Got a sweet tooth? Need a midnight snack with short turnaround time? Trapped at home with the kids and need to hideaway and have a little treat? O’Meals have brownies! Lemon cookies! S’more cookies! Be careful they’re delicious!!!

The amazing thing about O’Meals is how they work. O’Meals only require a small amount of water to cook and GET THIS… it can be toilet water, muddy water, swamp water ANY KIND of water yes, even urine, to cook! How is this possible? The water and heating element is kept COMPLETELY separate from the food! In any situation you can use ANY water source to cook up an amazing O’Meal!

Preparing for the what if O’Meals are there for you! O’Meals store for a long time, are small and compact, and taste waaaay better than your Pappy’s MREs from World War 1, 2, Korea or even Vietnam!

If you have a daughter headed to college, or even just starting to drive O’Meals are a great way to give yourself a little comfort. She gets a flat after dark, is cold and hungry… gets stuck in a snow drift… O’Meals tucked in her go bag in the trunk save the day!!

Out on a camping trip with the boys and sick of jerky and bread sammiches? O’Meals! Your buddies will be green with envy as you chow down on Beef Stew, Chili, Spaghetti, Creole Chicken… whatever you choose you’re going to be the star of the day with O’Meals in your pack!

O’Meals are so amazing I could ramble for days on them! Stock the pantry, the go bag, the backpack even the Fanny pack with O’Meals!! A Simple Farm stands by O’Meals and we use them for not only emergencies but for hunting trips as well.

Place your order today! Available on our website!!! Become a part of the O’Meals fan club!!!

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The craziness we call life

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything of matter… it’s been the craziness we call life. Rooster and Oldest have been hunting and got a doe Sunday night. Currently they are skinning her in the garage.

I’ve been trying to take time to get out into the woods as well, and be a factor of sourcing venison for the family as well. Along with working overtime Rooster and I are just, well busy.

The last couple of days I’m baffled that the year is already almost gone. Wasn’t it just Spring, and I was happily planning the garden? The garden is done, and days are now filled with feeding rabbits, chickens, ducks and the family. All while trying to manage sanity in the brink of the holiday season.

I saw a post the other day that said something along the lines of “as an adult I now realize that the magic of Christmas as a child was actually a mother who cared so damn much”. How true is that!?

Rather than getting the kids the biggest and hottest toy of the year we favor getting them something that encourages spending time together. I will admit one year we did get them a Nintendo switch and I can say it was money well spent. We played Mario cart as a family and the boys all laughed at how bad I am at these games. In the end it created memories and laughter so it was not only a gift for them, but a gift to us.

Every year I get the boys and Rooster a special Christmas ornament that reflects something special from their year. Whether it’s sports, a new interest, or an adventure I somehow find the perfect one. They don’t really go crazy over them, but when they are older and hanging that ornament on their tree it’ll spark a memory. That is the purpose, and the reason for the season.

Since we are a split family we don’t always get to enjoy waking up together on Christmas morning. It sucks, but we work around it. On the last day that we are all together before Christmas we give the boys silly pajamas, a silly board game, and snacks. We get in our Christmas Jammies and play the silly games and eat snacks which is usually followed by a Christmas movie. These are the nights I treasure. Our little family laughing together, and in those moments the arguments over toothpaste in the sink, milk left out to sour, and other piddly thinks are forgotten. In those moments we are together, happy, healthy, and enjoying each others company.

As a child I was blessed with an uncle who held the key to the magic of Christmas. Sadly after his passing everyone felt the magic die along with him. “Unc” is an inspiration to me and how I want our boys to enjoy Christmas. As the boys get older it saddens me that more and more they loose the magic. Although the magic may fade they do enjoy spreading holiday cheer.

Our holiday cheer began on Christmas Eve when we moved out to the sticks. We made a ridiculous amount of cookies, put them in pretty tins, and delivered them to neighbors unseen. The first year it was Rooster and myself as the boys weren’t home. I remember I was wearing those silly reindeer antlers that make your head hurt and a truly hideous Christmas sweater… Rooster would pull up the drive, and I dashed out rang the bell and ran back to the car. Met all the neighborhood dogs that night.

I believe it was last year that both of the boys were home on Christmas Eve and they were the ones running to the door wearing elf hats, and giggling the whole time. Another memory for when they’re old, hey remember that time mom made us run to the door with cookies and those stupid elf hats? Remember that HUGE German Shepherd??!!

That is what we all remember about the holidays. The laughter we shared. In some cases the tears shed; so I can explain that last part. One year, I was probably 12, my mother told my family that I love cats. Truth be known I loathe cats, and I’m allergic to them. So Christmas Eve rolls around and we are at the family Christmas gathering. Everyone is exchanging gifts and it comes time to open mine from Grandpa…

It was the most god awful ugly Christmas sweater covered in cats. Keep in mind this is circa 1990-something and Christmas sweaters hadn’t really become a thing yet. I of course said thank you, but at home my dad draped the sweater over me and took my picture. We all laughed but I eventually cried.

Our Christmases aren’t exactly the tales that The Christmas Story we’re made of, but they are out stories and they are treasured just the same.

So remember when life hands you an ugly sweater covered in cats… live a simple life and laugh until you cry.

Happy Holiday Season from everyone here at A Simple Farm and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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Killer Rabbits

With the hutch being finished on Friday we were ready to be in the bunny business Saturday morning. Youngest and I woke up, had breakfast and hit the road. Oldest and Rooster had already been in a tree stand for a few hours at that point.

We drove an hour and a half to the rabbitry excited for bunnies. We got to the location that the maps had suggested, and didn’t know which barn to go into. James had messaged and said it’s the barn by the camper… well, all the barns were by the camper. We hung out in the car for a minute since the atmosphere definitely looked like something out of a horror movie. I text James and let him know that we had arrived, and waited.

Eventually a man was hollering at us from the “other barn” with a “Over here!”. We made introductions and chatted for a few minutes. James was a very nice man, and not the serial killer my brain had coaxed me into. He took the time to show Youngest how to handle the rabbits, and explain what to look for in a good show rabbit. It was all very informative and such welcome information.

We toured the 200+ rabbitry and then got to selecting our stock. James was nice enough to line up the three males we had narrowed it down to. One with the perfect coat, one with perfect posture, and the third a large block head that was darn near perfect. Youngest chose the block head, and named him Bugs Bunny.

The females were a little easier to chose. Youngest chose a large female he named Rosie. The second was the smaller of two sisters, he named Gina. We got to experience tattooing the rabbits ear, and learning about bloodlines. These three were of no relation to each other, as was the initial plan.

During our tour James showed us all of the Champagne d’Argent that he had, we saw some Dutch, and Californians. (Here comes the best part)….

The Californians are white rabbits with red eyes. Youngest, serious as all get out, and terrified to boot exclaims “Are those KILLER RABBITS?”.

James was taken aback, “What?”

Youngest went on to explain… “You know, killer rabbits, like on Monty Python!”

James laughed and shocked asked Youngest what he knew about Monty Python.

Youngest, my young Sheldon, went on to explain the brilliant theatrical attributes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail right down to the detail of the coconut horse. If you’ve never seen this cult classic I’ll leave that as fodder. For those of you that HAVE seen it you can understand how proud I was. It was one of those parenting done right moments for me.

So when life puts you in a rabbitry with a nine year old Sheldon… take a second and ask if those are KILLER RABBITS. Laugh, life is meant to be simple.

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Adventures in Rabbit Hutch Making…

So we are getting into the business of rabbits. Beautiful Champagne d’Argents! I’m super excited! The first cold night of the season I had made rabbit stew and I was hooked. I had to have fresh, home grown rabbit rather than the store bought variety that probably came from China.

Yesterday, on a cold, windy Sunday we set to building the hutch. My original plan was to house them outside, facing east, protected by the shed, but after much discussion the rabbits will now be housed in the coop. As Rooster pointed out, there they will be away from the threat of predators and the harsh weather.

The reasons I chose the Champagne d’Argent based on inter web research are they tend to be more docile, they are a heritage breed, and they are pretty. The Champagne d’Argent can be traced to 1635 in France and possibly further back. I figured that along with the meat, the sale of fur might be a little change in the pocket; we shall see. If anything maybe I could add tanning furs to my reputation.

First things first we dug out varying sizes of screws, all the wood scrap along with the last of youngest’s bunk bed, drills, saws, speed square, and a pencil. Not all at once of course because if you know us we realize a little into the project we need something that we forgot. Like the battery for the drill.

I was trying to do the project by myself with Vincent, but thank goodness Rooster can see when I’m lost. I was standing there thinking well, what should I do first? I tried starting, and quickly discovered my original plan was flawed and very rickety. Enter Rooster and we started over.

An hour or two past the time I could no longer feel my toes or fingers, and after youngest emerged from the house for the thousandth trip for another hoodie, coat, gloves, hat, warmer socks and bathroom breaks we called it quits for the night. We did get quite a bit moving along, and the hutch is roughly framed for the most part. Tomorrow will be a trip to the hardware store for some really long screws and staples to tack down the hardware cloth.

I may have to take Friday off from work to finalize the hutch; as a trio will be picked up early Saturday morning. Either way remember that if your plan fails, changes are made, or cold weather numbs you to the bones… live a simple life. The family that works together, cusses together. (That’s an old family adage I thought I’d share)

Well, guitar lessons are over and it’s time to head back to the farm for supper.

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Honey’s Trip to the Market

I guess market is a nicer way of saying the butcher… we’d been wondering when Honey should go into the bacon factory because we are quite honestly clueless and new to the whole hog raising business. Google and/or Bing suggested by his shoulder width he’d be about 300 pounds.

By the way he pushed Rooster about the pen I would’ve assumed the same. My Rooster is no small man by any means and Honey was able to nudge him a bit. So we were flying blind.

We had gone into our local butcher and talked to Randy, our favorite guy at Integrity Meats, and he knew we weren’t going to be able to wait until the end of October either. So we were moved up the waiting list and we’re told a week maybe two and they’d have an opening.

Last Monday on the drive home we got the call… we were on our way to pick up oldest after school, still had to get youngest from school and I’d be off to guitar lessons. So Rooster and oldest were left to their devices.

We lined up a trailer on the drive and everything was set and ready. Just had to load Honey and head to town.

So picture it’s been raining all day, it’s chilly, and windy and the pick pen is a soupy mess. Insert Rooster and oldest with a very pissed off pig. Times like these I wish we had one of those doorbell recording devices…

After much cussing and escaping nearly into the beans reinforcements were called in. Yes, another tale of neighbor Josh and a wild critter ensued.

It finally came down to neighbor Josh and Rooster picking Honey up and physically putting him into the trailer.

Of course stories like these are better told by the original parties, but Rooster isn’t much for writing.

Youngest and I came home to find miscellaneous boards scattered about the yard. No doubt attempts at corralling Honey into the trailer.

Rooster and oldest retuned home at almost eight o’clock. Upon arriving at the butcher there was another debacle, of course. Honey now didn’t want to get out of the trailer, and had to be pushed into the indoor pens.

The sight that was Rooster and oldest when they came home was a little worse than I expected. Covered in “mud”, soaked to the bone, and smelling like they had rolled in the pig pen. Poor guys had quite the adventure and looked it.

Stories were told with great fervor over supper from Honey’s escape attempts, to neighbor Josh’s arrival, and unloading. These poor guys were exhausted.

That night Rooster said he was reconsidering having two pigs next year, and told me he no longer viewed rods as animal cruelty. I was honestly shocked, but had been awaiting this day to change his mind.

Since a week and a few days have passed since the great adventure we’re back to planning on two pigs. Hopefully we will be able to have found the farm of our dreams by spring, and will be able to have two pigs.

So just remember when life covers you in “mud”, soaks and chills you to the bone remember to laugh and live a simple life.

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Youngest and I’s adventure day

It’s been a beautiful fall day the sun is out, there is a breeze and it’s low sixties. We started the day with pancakes and a quick trip to town.

We picked up our allergy medicine, milk and a few odds and ends then headed to Papaw’s. Memaw was off garage sale peddling but my nephew was there with Papaw.

After a little family reunion we went into the woods to scope out places for youngest and I to hunt. We found a few lush places that will be ideal come next weekend.

Tromping through the back 40 on a beautiful day has a great start to the weekend.

Once back home youngest helped me move the ducks to the garden side of the runs, and I’d say they’re tickled pink…

It’s off to the showers for me as I’m now covered in everything but mud…. Yes, it’s poop.

Then time to make a nice batch of chili for supper. Tomorrow’s agenda in simplicity is raviolis, bread and noodles.

Rooster and oldest have been out enjoying the Youth Hunting season, and we look forward to them being home too.

In the still quiet of the woods remember to live a simple life. Even when you’re covered in poop it’s a great simple life.

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The Incredible, Edible… Nasturtium!

Nasturtium Leaves

I’ve probably been saying this wrong, and I know that I have been spelling it wrong. Nastrium that’s how I say and spell it. Nas-tree-um

I never knew about the plant until a trip to the local Organic Garden, DeKamps Gardens, and Pam had us try a flower. I was shocked it was peppery and amazingly beautiful! The boys of course politely spit theirs out, but I was hooked. Something new to spice up salads and make it extra colorful. Heck yeah!!

Every year since I have grown nasturtium in out garden. Not only does it benefit the chickens, and our salads but it beautifies the garden as well. Mounts of green with little pops of color here and there make it an appealing plant in so many ways.

This was the first year that I learned even more about this incredible, edible! Youngest and I were looking for tea recipes and wondered if nasturtium was a good tea ingredient, and it is! I’ve also just begun dabbling with making my own tinctures and extracts so I researched more throughly about nasturtium.

Nasturtium has so many uses!!! Let’s review a few!!

Hair spray!!!

Boiling nasturtium leaves and then straining gives you an all natural hair product!!

Acne treatment and astringent

That’s right! Making a tincture from flowers you can make an astringent that is said to clear up acne!! Say whaaaat?! And it’s all natural!

Dandruff

Making a nasturtium tea and applying it to your hair at the end of your shower can help clear up dandruff!!

Edible

BOTH the leaves and flowers are edible!! I add leaves to salads and the flowers make a pretty peppery topping! The chickens love a nasturtium treat! When the vines get a little crazy I just cut it back with scissors and give to the girls. They gobble it up! Even the pig appreciates a little floral snack from time to time! The neighbor girls think it’s hilarious to give Honey flowers to eat.

Tea

Yep, even nasturtium tea is a thing!

I hope you’ve come to appreciate this easy to grow plant as much as we have! Next season get some nasturtium seeds and give it a whirl!

And always remember… live a simple life!!

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There’s a chill in the air…

Remember in the movie Mary Poppins the wind changes directions and the chimney sweep starts singing “Winds in the east, mist coming in. / Like somethin’ is brewin’ and ’bout to begin. / Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, / But I feel what’s to happen all happened before.” That song is stuck in my head this morning.

Why you may ask? Because this morning it is windy and chilly here in northern Indiana. To the point that I’m wearing jeans and a hoodie to do the morning chores! It seems a little early for the first of September to be chilly, but I guess what’s to happen all happened before.

So with the change of temperature today my goals have changed a little. I’ll be planting a fall crop of lettuce, picking tomatoes and anything in the garden. This batch of tomatoes I’m going to sun dry for a nice addition to soups. Herbs need taken in as they are looking a little wild lately. So they will go in the dehydrator to be saved for later savored flavor.

A little tip if you can’t spare a canning jar to store your dried herbs in Dollar Tree stores sell airtight jars, wait for it… FOR A DOLLAR!

Today I am also going to inventory what we have stocked up and maybe make some dry soup mixes later this week. Another tip… dry soup mixes make excellent holiday gifts!

This change in the weather has me thinking about what to make for homemade gifts… I’m thinking about quick quilts or blankets, and dry soup mixes maybe a loaf of artisan bread…. Sounds very cozy doesn’t it?

Speaking of cozy check out my pen to paper pal who makes cozy items from natural, undyed, pure sheep wool! http://www.hookinsheep.ca She’s located in Canada and would love some American customers!!!

Well off to the garden, friends! Remember when the wind changes it’s all happened before… and live a simple life.

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Oh-M-G BEES!

Earlier in the warm season the neighbors discovered a honey bee hive in the walls of their summer kitchen. Hundreds of thousands of bees had made walls of honey for probably a hundred years. I’m surprised it wasn’t oozing out of the joists.

They called a northern Indiana bee association volunteer to come and remove the bees. By the name I assumed that they would move the swarm to another hive, but they did not. They killed the bees! I was astonished as bees are on the verge of extinction and we rely heavily on them for pollination which in turn produces food for us to eat.

13 bee facts you didn’t know

  • Bees have five eyes and six legs
  • Honey bees live in hives (or colonies). The members of the hive are divided into three types: Queen, Workers, and Drones.
  • There are more than 20,000 species of bees.
  • Bees can see all colors except red. That and their sense of smell help them find the flowers they need to collect pollen.
  • The average beehive can house around 50,000 bees.
  • Each bee has 170 odorant receptors, which means they have one serious sense of smell.
  • Worker bees go from one flower to another, collecting nectar. In one collection trip, a bee visits 50 to 100 flowers.
  • Carpenter bees create tunnels that usually look about one or two inches deep, but they can be up to 10 feet long.
  • The queen bee lays all of the eggs in a colony. At the height of the season, she may layover 2,500 eggs per day.
  • Honey bees are great flyers. They fly at a speed of around 25km per hour and beat their wings 200 times per second.
  • It takes 21 days for an egg to develop into an adult bee.
  • Honey bees pollinate more than 100 different crops in the U.S.
  • Over the past 15 years, colonies of bees have been disappearing, and the reason remains unknown. In some regions, up to 90% of bees have disappeared.

Amazing creatures aren’t they?

The buzz about bees for this blog topic is because we have a swarm of bees inhabiting the pig pen. Not the hundreds of thousands that the neighbors murdered, but a small gathering of bees. Whom “Honey”, ironically, likes to piss off by shaking the sunflower they are residing on.

I’m not worried about the bees per say until they bother someone. “Honey” seems to give two shakes about the buzzing things and really doesn’t mind them inhabiting the roof of his house either.

Minutes after taking this picture the swarm had tripled in size.

I called the northern Indiana bee association not knowing that was who the neighbor used as a contract killer, but quickly was informed of such.

I talked with a man named Rick who informed me of the following. At this point in the season removing a swarm of this size would do no good. The bees would not have enough time to create a hive before the impending weather change. Secondly he told me that these bees “shouldn’t” be aggressive as they have no Queen to protect. He’d sure be happy to come out and destroy them for us though… for seventy to one hundred dollars.

At this point in the conversation I am just completely baffled. You would think that this association would be geared more towards saving bees and not destroying them.

I’m dumbfounded really and truly. Maybe the decrease in the bee population has everything to do with us morons inhabiting the planet. Our pesticides we use to keep the crabgrass out of the sidewalk, the nuclear warfare can of Raid we use to deter ants and spiders all are killers of the one thing that will keep us from extinction. The bee. Not to mention if people have an unwanted swarm and they feel they are doing the right thing by calling the local bee association, but in turn end up murdering more bees that weren’t really even bothering anyone. We are all buffoons. Dumb dumbs. Cotton headed ninny muggins. Seriously.

When the swarm first showed up honestly I was excited! I consulted the great and powerful OZ we know as Pinterest to diy a bee box, how to get the bees in the box and all about making honey. All this and the powerful OZ crushed my dreams of a bee hive with the same explanation that the bee murderer gave me… rats!!!! I wanted to save the bees!!

I will however let them die a natural death rather than having them murdered. So remember when life sends you bees, save the bees, and live a simple life.

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A few days off…

I got 10 days off of work in which we dealt with e~learning and finishing some remodeling projects. Between classes youngest has been a big help playing handy manny. (For those of you that know youngest had an obsession with the show Handy Manny and we some times still holler “Come on tools!” whenever we are working).

So… we worked on putting up trim in the house.

Currently have a batch of tomatoes on the stove to turn into spaghetti sauce, and we need to make a run to the grocery store and hardware store. (We ran out of stain).

It’s been raining off and on today so I keep staring out to the garden thinking I need to grab the last of the summer harvest and plan on a big canning weekend. The fall plantings are doing well, and I even spied a few green beans this morning! Hopefully the impending doom of an early frost stays away. Farmers almanac is predicting an early fall this year, and a few of my homestead buddies out west are reporting the same! Noooooooooo I’m not ready!

I’m not ready for fall ESPECIALLY because we need our propane tank filled and when I called to check on the schedule they are delayed because… wait for it… THEY DO NOT HAVE ANYONE TO DELIVER THE PROPANE!!! This possibly made me hit my all time anxiety level panic button!!!! We heat and cook on propane!!

As the summer plantings slowly fade, and wither I can’t believe that it is almost September. Having just realized that Labor Day is fast approaching, and oldest made the VARSITY football team these are all signs of colder weather…

Oddly they are also panic triggers for me. Did I can enough? Freeze enough? Dehydrate enough? I don’t know why I always think that. Probably that fall hoarding anxiety kicking in full swing.

Another odd anxiety is if the kids have enough warm clothes? Do they still fit in their winter jackets? Bets are probably not. They grow like weeds, which reminds me… the mystery itching weed of death and destruction still is unidentified and I’m STILL getting more itchy spots of grossness.

Sigh. When anxiety knocks at your door, make a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce, and remember to live a simple life.