Thursday, November 25, 2010


I hope everyone has a great Turkey Day!!! GO GET STUFFED!

We will be celebrating our Thanksgiving on Saturday as well as Miss Ciannons 2nd birthday.
So have a good one, I know we will!

See ya next time......down on the farm!Sage

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bread Day

Knowing what the electric technician told me, today will be bread baking day!

I've got my starter going (made bread last week from it..was delish) and over the weekend the hubby and I purchased 2 more loaf pans, so I'll be baking 3 loafs at once this afternoon.
I may even add some muffins in there and bag them for the rest of the week to munch on. (cinnamon ones and blueberry ones!)
Wonder if I could make my biscuits all at the same time too and freeze those, pulling out however many we needed? That's something I may have to try too!

I guess I better get busy with the first mix and rise, doc appt at 11am, so after I get home, I can do the final rise and mix up the other things and begin baking away! I'm off!

I'll let you know how my experiment goes!

See ya next time......down on the farm!Sage

Monday, November 22, 2010

What a revelation

Well, if you read my previous post, then you know I'm on the warpath with my electric vampires.

I'm putting on my 'Electric Detective Badge' and taking charge!

I spent a little over an hour on the phone today with one of our electric companies energy conservationist discussing my bill. He explained a few things to me and we talked together about how to reduce my electrical usage and to possibly find out which or where my electrical vampires are hiding.

So here goes, the plan of attack:
For the next 30 days:
At 5pm I need to write down the reading on the meter (this will occur everyday from this day on)
Keep a 24 hour diary noting what I am doing each hour, and the electrical appliances being used.
At 5pm the next day, again write down the reading on the meter.
When I see a spike in the reading, call him up. He will check each hour of that previous day and tell me which hour my usage was at it's highest.
I can then compare it with my 24 hr. diary and we should be able to pinpoint within a week or so what may be our electric vampire.

Good enough for me, so begins this adventure:
BUT here are some things you might not know.

Did you know you're supposed to service your water heater yearly, just like you do your air/heat unit? Yep, you are supposed to drain your water heater yearly, check the element, clean it or replace it if needed, clean the bottom of your tank, then reassemble and refill with water.

(not I)

He also informed me (because I asked) that even though companies spew 'energy efficient' it does not necessarily make it so.
Specifically talking dishwashers here. Yes..that specific dishwasher you are using or getting ready to purchase may 'use less water'..may use less electricity and very well may be energy efficient for what it is or compared to 'model xxx', but it causes other items in your house to use energy which they DON'T calculate into their 'energy efficient ratings'.
Most people don't realize it, but dishwashers pull water from your hot water tank, which causes your hot water tank to empty and need to refill and heat up all that water. That is electrical usage.
Then (depending on your model) the dishwasher itself may heat that already heated water again to a specific temperature (another heating element to contend with and according to the electric man, anything that has a 'heating element' is an energy drain), then the dishwasher will run for appx 60-80 mins on regular or short cycle and fill up one more time to 'rinse' your dishes again, using your hot water from the water tank. (causing the viscous cycle to start again with your water heater having to start over again!)
Not only that, many people choose to use the 'heated drying cycle' on their dishwashers which again we deal with a heating element.
All told, he informed me that running a dishwasher pulls 7x's more electricity to use then doing dishes by hand when you consider all the other things it uses to complete it's cycle.

soooo what does this mean?? It's off with the dishwasher's head!!
Will I get rid of it? No, it's a great drainer for my hand washed dishes.
There are some keys to keeping the bills lower when washing dishes by hand.
1. Scrape food off dishes instead of rinsing off
2. Fill one sink with hot water and soap and rinse with cold water.
3. DO NOT let the water simply run as you wash.

Some hints and tips to hand washing the dishes:
Start with a clean sink.
Fill one side with hot water and soap
Wash cleanest to dirtiest in that order (ex; glasses first, silverware, plates, serving bowls then pots and pans)
Wash all the dishes you can filling the rinse sink then rinse all the dishes at the same time. (this keeps you from turning on your water on 50x's!)
If you feel that your dishes are not 'sanitized' properly think of two things:
Your mother probably did not have a dishwasher, and I can bet your grandmother did not have one, and you're still here! Secondly, adding bleach to your wash water (1/2 cup or less) will help you feel better about your sanitation efforts. (and make the sink white if you have an enamel one!)
*Hint: If you don't fill your wash sink up all the way then 1/2 way through your washing when the water begins to cool, you can add more hot water. :)

I stack the dishes on one side, in the order I'm going to wash them in. Rinse after the silverware and glasses, the rinse again after the plates and serving bowls, then finally all the pots and pans (I do this because I have SMALL sinks darnit! (not too much will fit all at once!)

**NEVER EVER put a SHARP knife in your dishwater! If you have good bubbles, you cannot see the bottom of the sink and the possibility of cutting yourself is VERY REAL! Keep knifes on the counter and wash one at a time!

Besides, look at the "GOOD" thing washing dishes by hand will do...get your nails good and clean!! (I guess that means, after garden time is dish washing time huh?)
See ya at the sink come washin' up time!!

See ya next time......down on the farm!Sage

The Electric Experiment

Some of our fall color. Sad to say, this shot does not show it up in the vibrant color that it was...ahh well.

We have a problem. Yep, a big problem.

The electricity. Either the actual cost here has gone sky high or we have something that is pulling way more then it's fair share around here.
I've checked with some of our local residents and their bill is not near as high and they are in bigger homes then we are!! So something is running amuck with electrical frenzy around here and we are determined to find out what it is!

Over the summer, while both the hubby and I worked we made sure that nothing extra was on in the house and that the air conditioner was turned up between 80 & 82 while we were gone.

When I would arrive home in the evening about 7pm. I would turn the thermostat back down to 75 where it would stay till the following morning. (appx a 12 hr. period). Our electric bill reached the $300 mark! OMG! Mind you, both of us working, a lot of laundry being done of course, showers for each of us every day, dryer use, dishwasher use. What I call average use for most people. We struggled with it, turning more and more things off (via putting things on a strip and clicking the strip before going to bed) etc, and NOTHING seemed to work.
Since our weather has cooled, and since I am no longer working we have started taking major steps in finding out what the problem is here.

For one month solid, we did not use the air conditioner, the heater or the dryer. Our electric bill still came in at the $160 mark. Which is MUCH lower, yes, BUT still way to high for 2 people, using 'nothing' extra in a 1400sq ft home, all one floor. Especially knowing that the bill here just 3 years ago only went to $150 in the SUMMER MONTHS and around $90 in the winter.

We became electric detectives yesterday. We checked how fast the meter was running with various things on. The air conditioner, the heater, the tv's, etc. You get my drift.

I do believe we have discovered our culprit. The water heater. What with two showers a day, and running the dishwasher (which pulls hot water and then heats it again!) then endless laundry we were doing, etc., the water heater seems to be almost on a constant run to keep the water at a constant temp. (this all while I was working mind you)
We don't have it set very high in temp, BUT since we are on well water, mineral deposits could possibly have coated the element and may be making it very difficult for the element to get the water to the temp we have set.
With well water, you get minerals and mineral deposits. I'm scrubbing shower heads every month to keep the deposits down in there and wow, I've never cleaned inside the water heater! (not that you can, but you get my drift)

So first things first. We are going to call the electric company this week and make arrangements for them to come check on a few things. Secondly, not only are we still hanging out all the clothes and still avoiding the heater at this point, we will be doing dishes by hand around here. All clothes but whites will be washed in cold/cold (I used to do hubby's work clothes in either hot or warm, it was the only way to get them clean!) AND I'm going to pull a trick my parents used to do. Every night before we go to bed, we are going to turn the hot water heater off at the electric panel.

For one month we'll see just how much that lowers the bill. We've got to do something. It's a shame for the electric company to take home that much of our salary!

(I can see it now, post it notes all over the house, big bold letters..."TURN OFF WATER HEATER" and "TURN ON WATER HEATER") Let's see..the turn on the water heater post it will have to be on the coffee pot, and the turn off water heater post it will have to be.........hmm on my pillow!!)

See ya next time......down on the farm!Sage

Monday, November 15, 2010


Or otherwise titled "EGGHEADS".
Yep, it's another rant. (I seem to be doing that a lot these days..wonder why?)

Anyway, let's discuss eggs.
Just this past weekend we decided to have our yard sale. I had been doing much cleaning and clearing out in the last month or 5 (ahem) and the time for the yard sale was nigh.
Many of you know we have what I call a 'small farm'. Meaning..we raise our own chickens, dogs, hell and vegetables. We USED to have pigs, goats, ducks, geese, rabbits and chickens but have downsized in a huge way over the last 6 years or so. Anyway, back to our weekend.
During our yard sale I also put out eggs for sell as well (I keep a sign out front to sell our eggs).

Two times someone bought eggs, and BOTH times I was asked "Are they fresh?"

I began to fume.
I Soooooo wanted to ask.."Do you ask your local grocer if the eggs are fresh?? Do you bother to check the dates on the cartons when you buy eggs at the store? DO you even KNOW what those dates on the cartons mean? (GRRRRRRR!)

The eggs that a farmer (well, I can only speak for myself here..but) The eggs you would usually buy with a local farmer or chicken rancher (as I like to call them) is MORE THAN LIKELY going to be fresher then the eggs you buy in the grocery store:
So let's talk turkey I mean..eggs.
Here is some basic information that ALL CONSUMERS and egg buyers need to know.

Chickens that produce eggs for mass market are
1) confined to a 12x12 space their entire lives. (and that's a big house, most times it's 8x8)
2) Never touch the ground
3) Are stacked 4 high in those 12x12 cages (heaven help the poop if your on the bottom floor!)
4) Never see daylight
5) Are fed antibiotics and multitudes of 'other' things I don't even want to discuss (but trust me, it is transferred to the egg you eat.
6) Are treated, live and must produce in such poor conditions and with such malice that I NEVER ever will buy another market egg again. Did you hear me?..EVER. I won't participate in that animal cruelty. You can do your own research, I've already done it and it was not pretty nor something I want to see again.

Eggs that are produced for mass market via the big companies are:
1) Usually collected every two days
2) Shipped to a prep area where they are 'readied' for market.
3) Packed into cartons and then
4) Shipped to you from via gawd knows where
5) Place on your grocers shelf time, UP TO 4 weeks after lay ..DID you read that??..UP TO FOUR WEEKS after lay.

What happens to the egg when it is taken from the deplorable egg manufacturing plant:
Getting the egg ready for market:
First it is cooled, then it is washed .. WASHING an egg is BAD BAD BAD. Then they are 'checked' or candled as they used to call it for broken shells, blood spots and 'bad egg' syndrome. Then graded (only on weight people..not whether it's a substandard or excellent egg, it's graded ONLY ON SIZE) and finally packaged. The package tells you to SELL the egg within 30 days. USE. (so we're talking 4+ weeks by the time you use it) ARE THEY FRESH?????

So, let's talk about egg washing.
When a chicken lays an egg she deposits a natural covering for her egg. A protective thin protein coating that seals off the egg know as the ' bloom'. This coating covers the WAY over 7,000 pores a shell has. It keeps stuff from getting INTO the egg that's not supposed to be there. When the big companies wash the egg they wash off the 'bloom'..they KNOW about 'bloom' and they KNOW it's purpose, so they try to 're-coat' the egg and usually do so with ..mineral oil or vegetable oil. THIS DOES NOT WORK like the natural coating on an egg. Mineral oil is a petroleum PUHLEASE! (reminder, not ALL companies do this)

Want a list of what they may use to wash your egg with:
Chlorine, lye and hydrogen peroxide. Some use baking soda water, some use a mixture of vinegar and peroxide. EITHER WAY, what goes on that shell can get IN that shell now that the bloom is gone. Think about it.

And some people asked 'how did salmonella get into the eggs'. Well gees. If you were stored with 4 cages high, being pooped on all the time, then washed in a big vat where that poop may be, dried off and stuffed into a carton, you'd be full of germs too! finish off this little rant.
Are my eggs fresh? You bet. All the eggs I sold were collected over the last week. They were NOT washed.
Now, think about this. A chicken sits an egg for 21 days out in the barnyard before hatch. Does she hatch a rotten baby chick? NO..she does not.
In Europe, they don't even refrigerate their eggs. A farm fresh, unwashed egg left un-refrigerated will last on your counter for appx. ONE MONTH (or better). A farm fresh, unwashed egg in your fridge can last 7 months or better.

Oh and by the by, the egg yolk in an egg has lots of ways of telling on the egg producer:
If it's pale yellow (as MOST store purchased eggs are) it tells you the chicken is 'caged' for the most part. Farm raised chickens who are allowed to free roam eat green foods, their yolks will be much closer to 'orange' then yellow. Does the egg spread out thin, and sits low, (look at it from the sides) Let your eggs tell their tale. If you listen and look, you'll learn a lot.

Some hints and tips on how to tell if your eggs are boiled, regular or rotten.
Spin them. A non boiled egg cannot spin.
Float them, a rotten egg will float, if it's boiled it'll sink, if it's fresh it'll sink.
Nuff said on eggs.

Do your research and DON'T be an "EGGHEAD".
Don't EVER ask me again if my eggs are fresh if you're a normal 'grocery egg buyer'! EVER!

Some fun for you:
Decode the code on the egg carton

Signing off: Our regularly scheduled program will return in a few days!

PS: The yard sale went well, we cleared out a bunch of stuff and took the rest to goodwill this morning.

See ya next time......down on the farm!Sage

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The changing year

Normally I love the 'fall and winter' of a year. The time change has always been my best friend. I much prefer the 'winter hours' over the summer hours. Notice the first word was 'normally'. This year, I'm having a hard time adjusting to the hour change. It could be simply that we've only been into the hour change for a few days and I haven't adjusted, it could be because I'm getting old or hell, it could be because my underwear are too tight. (wait......I don't wear underwear..scratch that), who knows, but for some reason, the past 3 nights have felt like they were an eternity long!

First off, let me explain why I always preferred the 'winter' hours to the summer hours.
Here in the south (as I am) during the early summer (before the time changes back) when it gets daylight earlier in the morning, it's cooler outside to do my 'outside work'.
Here in SC, it gets hotter then the door handles of hell by 10am. (what with the humidity factor and all)
I want my outside work done by then, or noon at the least! I want to be inside in the coolness of the house enjoying a glass of the house wine of the south (otherwise known as iced tea) I don't want to be outside in the heat and humidity of a late southern morning, sweat rolling between my eyes and under everything else making me smell like a cowboy harlot on a three day rodeo!

And let me tell you, if you're a fat women and you live in the south, POWDER is your friend. Your BEST friend. I need to buy stock!

SO, whenever the clocks ticked back to 'daylight savings time' or whatever ridiculous name they are calling it now, I've always relished in it. The sun rose faster in the mornings and come spring and early summer I KNEW I could be outside getting MOST of my gardening and yard work done by noon before the hellishness of the south set in. Being a morning person, this is a good thing. My average 'awake' time is 5am. Naturally. No clock needed, no alarm set. 5 am (and that's sleeping in, most mornings it can be anywhere from 3:30 to 4:30). I REALLY must be getting old!

For three days now, I've wondered..why the nights have been so long. I realize by 5pm it's getting dark. My 7:30pm run to the chicken coop to close the ladies up for the night and feed Baxter in the last dredges of sunlight are no longer possible. I've had to switch it over to a 5:30 run. Ok, I can do this, fine by me. But the nights are FOREVER LONG. And I USUALLY love that fact. Something is wrong here, I must be sick.

See ya next time......down on the farm!Sage

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Did you remember??

It's FALL!! My favorite time of the year, so I'll ask again..Did you remember??
See that, you got up earlier then what you think! LOL

See ya next time......down on the farm!Sage

Friday, November 5, 2010


(draggin' Suds the soap box from the corner and stepping on his back)


Let's get the requirements out of the way.
1. I hate shopping at Walmart
2. I have no other choice but to shop at Walmart because I'm like everyone else in the world..and I need need to save money AND since the super Walmart moved into our small town..many of the competitor grocery stores have closed down. We've lost Piggly Wiggly, Winn-Dixie and Food Lion (which we didn't technically loose, it just changed to a Reids but with higher prices it seems. We do however purchase most of our meats there).
3. The prices at our Walmart are consistently higher then the Walmart 50 miles from here..WHY is that?
4. I hate to shop ..period. all that said, here's the skinny. Today was a 'big' shopping day for us. We needed a good many of the basics, the bones of groceries like flour, sugar, crackers, noodles etc. so it was a 'big shopping' day. Now, mind you remembering what I've already stated, off to Walmart we went.
We comparison shop at all times, I mean who doesn't in today's 'money struggle' right? Over the past many months, we have discovered many Walmart brands (great value) to be cheaper and just as good as the name brand counter part. I'm sure most of you have discovered this right?


So different. What with the list I had to buy (grocery bones) I expected to be able to get a good portion of those items via 'Great Value' and save some money. What a surprise I got.
While shopping for ..well,'s a VERY short list.

Vegetable oil
Flour (self rising)
Grape Juice
Cheese (cheddar)

Vegetable oil: Great Value brand: 2.98
Crisco brand: 2.50 (starring starry eyed)
Flour: Great Value brand: 2.50
EVERY OTHER BRAND (except Southern Biscuit) 1.96 OR LESS (blink..blink..WTH?)
Grape Juice 100% sugar added: Great Value Brand: 3.98
Welches Brand: 3.62 AND a $1.00 off coupon when you buy 2 (blink..blink..WTH)
Cheese: Large block, sharp cheddar: Guess what? Walmart's Great Value doesn't come in a 'sharp', however for comparison here we go: Walmart's Great Value brand, 3lb block, mild cheddar 7.98 (By the by, all Walmart brand 3lb block cheese whether it was cheddar, mozz. or colby..7.98)
Cabots EXTRA SHARP white cheddar 3lb block 6.98 A DOLLAR CHEAPER! (and trust me when I tell you, Cabots is MUCH MUCH MUCH better) WTH?

NOTE: all sizes were the same, all products identical except for 'brand'.
Was I seeing this right? Since WHEN did the 'Walmart Great Value Brand" get such a calling and upper crust attitude that it was now more expensive then the name brand items? Can someone please tell me this?? Chime in anytime here. WTH?

So, I'm wondering here. WHY did this happen? WHEN did this happen?? And have YOU who Walmart shop noticed?? If not you better start standing up and taking notice. Walmart has sucked you into their brand..made it cheaper, saving you that hard earned dollar and then WHAM..once they think they've got you automatically grabbing that 'cheaper 'Great Value Brand" they raise the prices and HOPE you won't notice.
ATTENTION WALMART SHOPPERS!!!! Take notice. Price compare. Don't assume.

We found on this shopping trip that almost ALL groceries had taken a considerable price hike then by comparison of 3 months ago. Gas is on the rise again. Hard times over? I think not. Put on your rose colored glasses cuz Christmas is a homemade affair around here!

(getting off Suds and putting him back in the corner after an appreciative pat on the back and a scratch about the ears)

See ya next time......down on the farm!