Sunday, December 31, 2017

Organic Educational Seminars Offered for Farmers and Gardeners

3:58 PM

Want to learn more about growing your own organic food?  Don't miss these three in-depth educational sessions on Saturday, January 6, 2018 at Michigan State University about growing organic food.  These seminars are being offered by the Michigan Organic Food and Farming Alliance (MOFFA). 

For more information, check out the Michigan State University Extension and download the brochures.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Do You Know if Your Food is Organic?

6:07 PM
Is your food organic?  How would you know?  That's a good question if you're looking to eat healthy.  The problem is that just like anything, food fraud abounds, according to this one article.So how do you really determine whether your food is grown with no dangerous pesticides and without hormones and antibiotics?  Here are ways to ensure that you have organic food.

What is Organic, anyway?

The term "organic" is a USDA trademark that requires a lot of money and a lot of paperwork to prove
that your produce is truly organic and produced without GMOs, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. There are plenty of loopholes in the USDA law that companies have skirted around.  What's more, there are countries that ship "organic" foods that are simply not organic.

To add to the confusion, there is Certified Naturally Grown, which is food grown to USDA organic standards without the USDA cost and paperwork.  Technically farmers can't call their food "organic" without the USDA seal, so the Certified Naturally Grown is a nice alternative.

Other foods that are labeled "natural" and "non-GMO" aren't organic, and could be grown with pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and other no-nos. "Natural" is a throwaway word and marketing gimmick that even I will fall for, but it has no regulation.  Non-GMO means that there aren't genetically modified organisms in the product, but again, the product can be produced by conventional means.

So, how do you determine what's organic other than looking at the label -- which may or may not be correct?

Buy Local--and Know Your Farmer

No matter where you live, you have a chance to buy local and know who is producing your food. Even in New York City, a friend of mine joined a CSA and was able to get fresh produce from a farmer she knew used sustainable methods to grow her food.  Do you have a farmer's market?  You can learn a lot about the farms in your area even if you live in a major city when you talk with the farmers there.

You'll get the freshest food from them as well as food that isn't grown with pesticides and other nasty chemicals.  Not sure if the farmer uses sustainable methods?  Ask. Most are quite honest how they produce their food.  By establishing trust, the farmers learn what you and other patrons want and may change their farming methods to compete in a very difficult market.

Buy Food Produced in a Reputable Country--and One Source

It's generally a good idea to purchase food produced in your own country.  I suspect that most of my readers are in the United States or Western developed countries.  So, if you're buying meat, make sure it was raised and slaughtered in your country. If you buy fruits, ask where the origin is.

Now, obvious there isn't many fresh fruits and vegetables in the wintertime.  In this case, you're going to have to do one of three things: preserve your own food (i.e., freeze, can, or dehydrate), buy frozen and canned food at the store when it is out of season, or buy imported food.  It's not that you can't find a reputable source of food outside your country, but it's much harder to follow trail back to see if it is organic or not.

If you're buying food that is constantly imported, you need to be certain that the country of origin has strict laws governing organic certification.  While this isn't a surefire guarantee that what you're getting isn't fake, you're more likely to have organic food than buying from a country that has a corrupt government. At the same time, be sure that you buy foods from a single source.  That means that you shouldn't trust foods that are mixed up from different countries, especially if the countries have lax standards.

Do Your Research

The Cornucopia Institute is a watchdog organization for organic and sustainable foods. They investigate where your foods come from and rank them according to their ingredients.  They even provide a handy guide for determining if the food is organic even if there are no ratings.  They offer pocket guides and full guides for you to print out and read.

Hunt, Raise, and Grow Your Own Food

This is probably the most time-intensive way to get food for you and your family. That being said, you know what went into the animals and crops you raised, you know how the meat was handled when slaughtered and butchered, and you know where it came from.

All that being said, not even I get all my food from hunting, gathering, raising, and growing my own.  It's difficult, which is why I do rely on store-bought foods.  You can confidently reduce the amount of food which were raised in chemicals instead plan on healthier meals with this guide.

Recommended Articles

You Need to Start Saving Seeds -- Easy and Sustainable!

Do You Know the Difference Between Organic and Non-GMO?

Becoming Locavore 


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Free Holiday Wallpaper From Eating Wild Montana!

8:08 PM
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from Eating Wild Montana!  Thanks for being a fan!  As a present to you, I've made a wallpaper to use as your desktop background.  Enjoy!

Download this wallpaper behind the divider.  For Windows 10: Just right-click on the image and select it to download.  Then, when it is downloaded, right click the image again and select Set as desktop background.  It's that easy.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Should Organic Mean Outdoors?

10:00 AM

The Trump administration is set to remove a regulation that the Obama administration enacted requiring organic chickens to have more outdoor time.  This regulation is one that the organic industry wanted in order to level the playing field when it came to factory farms versus organic farms.  Currently, factory organic farms have porches that allow chickens to go outside, but it wouldn't be enough once the regulation took effect.  Now, it is endangered by the possible repeal.

Is Outdoors Simply Good Enough?
Everyone thinks organic chickens get this

When reading this, I had to shrug and say, "so what?"  The picture above shows what a typical "free-range" and "cage-free" farm looks like. Birds are crowded inside and outside the barn.  Their "free range" is on concrete or gravel packed beak-to-comb (as opposed to cheek-to-jowl) with each other.  Now, if you're looking for happy hens, this isn't it.

Of course, the newer regulations may have made this more humane, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the factory farms would get around it. Sorry, that's just how it is.
Instead, most organic chickens get this

Why I don't put a lot of Stock into these Laws

I'm at best skeptical over these laws.  Why?  Because factory farms will find loopholes or will have administrations change or nullify the laws.  Look at what happened to the point of origin laws.  Sure enough, the Obama administration repealed an excellent law that enabled people to know where their food is coming from. So, no matter what administration we have, we'll have politicians in the pockets of factory farms and someone somehow will find a loophole.

If my farm were to become a fully viable chicken venture, I could never claim organic because my
A nice indoor set up
chickens are in a barn.  But unlike the factory farms, they're 17 chickens in a 30 ft by 50 ft barn and have the whole run of it.  They get grain and food scraps, along with the occasional hay, alfalfa, and bugs, but they don't get to go outside, even though the barn is open to fresh air.  Why?  Because we have hawks, eagles, foxes, lynx, weasels, skunks, coyotes, bobcats, and an assortment of other (much bigger) predators.  One rooster I had decided that the barn was not the place to hang out in.  He thought living outside was a great idea and tried to perch outside the barn.  I took him back when I could. When he finally got away from me, he hung outside  the barn where I could do nothing to catch him.  That lasted two days.  I woke at night to a chicken scream -- and then, nothing.  The next day, I found the feathers where the resident fox had his meal.  So, no outdoor poultry -- and no "Organic" label, even though the eggs my chickens lay would most likely qualify.

Even if I did want my chickens' eggs to have the "Organic" label, it would cost lots of money and tons of paperwork to accomplish.  I'll stay small, thank you.

Outdoors or Indoors?

I think it's not a matter of whether your chickens are indoors or outdoors, but rather what quality of life they have.  Are they crammed together with little space to move around in, or do they have plenty of space to do chicken things like dust themselves, make nests, look for bugs, and scratch in the dirt?  Are they safe from predators?  Do they have a reasonable life for chickens?

The best thing is to know where you're getting your eggs from, even if they're not organic or certified organic.  Preferably from your own chickens in their own coop.  But if you can't own chickens, consider purchasing eggs from small farms that sell at local farmer's markets and ask how the chickens are kept.  That way, you support your local economy, have great tasting eggs, and have birds that are raised humanely.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Raw Vegan Holiday Cooking (Funny) [VIDEO]

3:58 AM
When you're talking turkey, I think there's nothing better than roast turkey on Thanksgiving. That being said, if you're into raw and vegan (and even if you're not), you just might be impressed with JP's hysterical raw vegan "turkey" recipe.  He even does a hunt for his turkey.   Have a great Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 13, 2017

Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe -- Cider and Orange Turkey Brine [Recipe]

9:44 PM
It's close to Thanksgiving,  which means you're probably thinking about cooking your turkey.  If you raise your own turkey, hunted and gotten a wild turkey, or have ordered an organic or fresh turkey, this brine is for you.  It'll probably work with conventional turkeys which are brined at the factory, but may make your turkey salty. For the best taste, have a turkey which is fresh or not been brined.

Anyway, here is the recipe.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Homestead Corner: Filling the Freezer

2:40 AM
It's hunting season which is a prime time for us to fill the freezer for our year's supply of meat.  My husband and I have become fairly proficient in hunting deer, but until recently, we hadn't quite scienced out my shooting.  Most of it had to do with not being able to put my cheek against the stock and see in the scope (fixed), a really bad case of buck fever (somewhat fixed), and a clean bore when I shot it (I need to have a dirty barrel on my rifle).  So, this year, we filled our deer tags within the first two weeks.

Two Bucks in a Row

What's weird is that we had two bucks appear in almost the same place in two consecutive days.  My husband got a whitetail spiker (yearling buck with straight horns) the first day.  The second day, I found a mule deer that was barely a fork (splits into two points at the end).  So, not only did we have venison, but we had two deer we had to dress, quarter, and butcher.  So, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning cutting up and packaging the meat for this year.  Three deer last about 6 months for two people if we don't eat venison every day.  We do have a goat wether that needs to go into the freezer, but that may be an early 2018 project, if we don't find elk or try for deer in other game units.

Snow

There's not much to forage right now with snow on the ground.  I'm hoping to convince my husband to go back to the rosehip bushes after general season ends and see if I can gather some more.

Goats, Chickens, and Turkeys

Right now, we've gone from warm to cold temperatures. We've had snow and rain, making the pens an unholy mess.  The critters are feeling stressed.  Not sure, but our llama may be having a relapse of Epi -- a very dangerous blood-borne parasite. I've started her on treatments for it.  I have one goat with mastitis -- an infection of the milk bag.  I've been trying to get Today or even Tomorrow -- a well-known mastitis treatment for cows.  There is none to be had in the entire town; everyone has sold out.  So, I have some mastitis treatment on order and need to treat her. 

Chickens seem to be okay.  I discovered the oldest turkey hen I have is blind in one eye, possibly due to a fight.  My blue slate hen and bourbon jake turkeys are doing great right now. Since I have a tom turkey in the freezer from last year, the other turkeys are safe for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

First Day of Whitetail Deer Season

8:44 PM
The first day of rifle season for deer and elk is always fraught with worry.  This year, we knew I'd have to harvest my deer first because I had drawn an antlerless whitetail tag and my husband didn't.  We went to a place we've been successful in the past.  So, we decided to try out the new blind and hopefully get our first deer for the season harvested.

Deer Blinds Are Not All Sunshine and Roses

We've hunted from one farmer's blind during game damage season last year, so we figured we understood the principles.  We did, but only marginally.  We set up our mobile blind in the spot that afforded us the best view of the areas where we knew the deer would come out.  On the plus side, it kept us out of the wind. On the negative side, you have severe blind spots because if you had all the windows open on the blind, it would be no better than standing in the middle of the field and waving your arms.  We thought the deer would just ignore the blind.  Wrong.  The deer, despite being habituated to human stuff being left in the area all the time, were very suspicious and preferred to keep a fence line between the blind and themselves.  Add to this the uncomfortable sitting position that you must stay in for hours.  It's less than optimal.

Ambush Hunting Versus Pack Hunting

There are two types of hunting in my book: like a wolf pack or like a cat.  Both are effective, but my husband and I prefer the wolf pack version for various reasons.  With the wolf pack method, you do what a wolf does.  You cover a lot of territory where the animals are.  When you use the cat-like ambush, you go where you believe the animals will come along and just wait.  Both are very effective ways to hunt, as any wolf or mountain lion would attest to, if they could.  So, what we were out of our element.  We had to sit and let our prey come to us.

Finally, Deer!

As usual, when you're waiting for deer, they just materialize out of nowhere, as though Scotty beamed them in.  This time it was a small herd: a doe and her two yearling does.  We waited for them to cross the barbed wire fence that separated the field we sat in from the back forty, but they were having none of it.  Eventually, we decided I should just shoot whichever deer provided the best target.  This time, I did everything right.  I had a firm cheek weld to my rifle, thanks to my husband's modifications to the stock.  I held steady.  I pressed the shot.  The gun went boom.  And...

Nothing.

Nothing?

Hunting Goes Surreal...

"Miss."  My husband whispered, adding to my profound disbelief.

The deer just stood there.  I reloaded.  Same drill.  I held steady.  I pressed the shot.

Nothing.

I said a few choice words under my breath, and I started shaking. The deer I was shooting at moved to a less than optimal presentation, so I reset my aim on her sister who presented a good broadside target.  My husband whispered to shoot again.  Now, I had absolutely no faith in what I was doing.  I shot.  This time, a definite hit and she fell where she stood.

I was still shaking when we got out of the blind.  The other deer hadn't moved much since their relative went down, but on seeing us, they barked and ran off.  I went to the doe and saw that my shaking had moved the rifle to her neck, rather than the shoulder I had aimed at, and had dropped her with a spine shot.  It was a quick death, even if it wasn't quite where I had intended.

Thanking Your Prey

I thanked her for giving herself to me and apologized for taking her so young, but I had to eat.  We field dressed her after I tagged her, and brought her home.  I feel it is important to thank the animals that we hunt.  This is an animal that gave its life so that we could eat.

It made for a successful, if strange hunt.  My husband was quick to point out that the stainless barrel was clean when I shot it.  Every time I've been shooting successfully, it has been dirty, which may suggest that this rifle prefers having a dirty barrel over a clean one.   Mass-produced stainless barrels can have burs and other imperfections which affect accuracy.  A few rounds through them smooths those imperfections over with a copper coating from the bullet jackets, and the gun groups tighter.  I'm pretty sure that I did everything right on the first two shots, so I'll accept that suggestion for the time being.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Do You Know the Difference Between Organic and Non-GMO?

1:10 AM
It may seem like an unusual question to ask anyone who reads this Ezine, but do you know the difference between the words "organic" and "non-GMO?"  Apparently that's what the advertisers are counting on, because recent studies suggest that consumers don't distinguish between the two.

What the Study Was All About

The study, conducted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, was aimed at labeling non-GMO foods and the best way to convey the product to consumers. The study surveyed 1132 consumers over the terms "Non-GMO Project Verified"and "USDA Organic." Respondents were asked questions about granola bars and apples labeled either non-GMO or Organic.  The results proved interesting.

The Difference Between Non-GMO and Organic

There are obvious differences when it comes to non-GMO versus Organic foods.  Those foods labeled as USDA Organic cannot have any GMOs in them and must be grown according to strict organic practices.  Those labeled as Non-GMO may have up to 0.9 percent GMO within the product.  Granted, that is less than 1 percent, but it is a difference.  Also just because a product is non-GMO, it doesn't mean it was grown without pesticides and other chemicals. So, one should never mistake "Non-GMO Project Verified" for "USDA Organic."

Study Results

The study results showed that consumers were willing to spend up to 35 cents more on granola bars that were labeled non-GMO versus those labeled GMO. However, consumers were only willing to spend 9 cents more on those labeled organic versus those labeled GMO. When it came to apples, respondents were willing to pay 35 cents more for non-GMO and 40 cents more for organic.  This suggests an overall confusion when it comes to organic versus non-GMO foods.

Does Organic Matter?

A good question to ask is does organic matter to the consumer? It may, but there may just be confusion what USDA Organic means. It may mean that seeing something labeled as Non-GMO conveys an idea that consumers recognize and prefer.  It may mean that those who produce our foods may have to add a non-GMO label after the USDA Organic label.  Or, it may mean that companies will drop their organic designation in favor of a less costly non-GMO certification.

Something to think about.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Foraging for Early Fall Edibles [Video]

1:35 PM
If you're like me, you're curious as to what kind of foods would be readily available in the fall.  This video shows some very interesting edibles that are in Maine and probably along the East Coast.  As usual, always be 100 percent sure of what you're gathering.  When in doubt, consult someone who knows.


5 Chicken Breeds You May Not Have Heard of

1:00 PM
It's chick season again, and you're maybe looking at getting some Rhode Island Reds or maybe a Buff Orpington or two, but rare and unusual breeds abound in the chicken world, including many that haven't yet made the American Poultry Association's breed list. Many you won't find in a poultry catalog. Check out some of the rarest and most interesting birds...

READ MORE

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Making Ginger Tea [Recipe]

1:21 AM

I discovered a very tasty tea that is simple to make and oh so delicious, you'll just have to try it.  It's ginger tea with brown sugar.  Ah ha!  Got you there with the brown sugar part, didn't I?  Anyway it's so simple that you can make it anytime you need something without caffeine.  As a bonus, ginger helps with an upset stomach and acid reflux, so I'm thinking in the evening it is going to be my go-to beverage.

The photo above is ginger tea without brown sugar.  The brown sugar adds not only a wonderful sweetness reminicent of gingerbread (how can you go wrong with this?) but it also give it a lovely caramel color that mimics black tea.  I don't know about you, but I am put off by tisanes that look watery, which ginger tea unfortunately does.

Where I Got the Recipe

I stumbled upon the recipe on Hubpages after my rosehips tea got bumped up to their professional sites.  The writer mentioned that this is a popular Asian drink, so I filed it in the back of my head to try making some sometime.  Then, the other night the book I was reading mentioned ginger tea again.  I knew I had to try it.

Now, the writer on Hubpages uses a lot more water and a lot less sugar. My thoughts are you can vary it according to taste.  You can even add other things, like cinnamon or lemon, but I'm thinking that this tea is excellent by itself.

You'll need fresh ginger root for this.  You can find fresh ginger root in the grocery story in the produce section.  You won't need a lot for tea -- maybe a root section about the size of your palm will give you enough ginger for several cups. 

Ginger Tea with Brown Sugar Recipe

What You'll Need:

1/8 cup of ginger root sliced into sections.  Remove skin, if desired.
24 ounces of water, plus extra if some boils off.
1 to 3 tsps of brown sugar per serving (to taste).

Optional:

Lemon slices
Cinnamon sticks

Instructions:

  1. Boil water on stove and add ginger root.  
  2. Add cinnamon stick (optional).
  3. Continue to boil for about 3 to 5 minutes until the water has turned yellow.
  4. Pour ginger tea into 12 ounce mugs.
  5. Add brown sugar and stir.  
  6. Add lemon slices, (optional), if desired.  Makes two 12 ounce servings.
That's it!  I'm enjoying a cup while I type this.   Let me know if you've had ginger tea before.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How to Gather Rosehips and Make Them into Tea

1:00 PM
I wrote a piece for Hubpages about rosehips.  Check it out.  I also included a new Cinnamon Rosehip Tea Recipe!
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If you drink a lot of herbal tea or tisanes, you've probably heard of rosehips. But did you know that you can make rosehip tea absolutely free? Rosehips are a very nutritious berry that is high in Vitamin C and has other vitamins such as A and E. What's more, it is caffeine free, which makes it an awesome addition to anyone's tea cabinet. ...READ MORE

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Gathering Rosehips and Making Tea [Recipe]

1:25 AM

Did you know you may have a tasty tea that is free for the taking and incredibly nutritious?  Back when I lived in Colorado, it wasn't uncommon to drink herbal teas because we had Celestial Seasons up in Boulder.  Little did I know that I'd be sort of following in their footsteps when I got to Montana and started foraging berries.  One exceptional berry that should be on everyone's list (whether they live in Montana or not) is the rosehip. Rosehips are high in Vitamin C and contain Vitamin A and Vitamin E.

Where the Wild Roses Grow

The rosehip is the seed pod of the species rose or wild rose.  It is oval or round in shape with a red or orange case and an interior that has some fruit pulp and seeds. Species roses grow everywhere, but there are subspecies of roses throughout the United States and Canada. Like the domestic rose, they have thorns and bright flowers (usually pink).  Species roses usually have five petals.

Wild roses grow near water sources, but I've also seen them in fields.  The fruit tastes anywhere from bland to very sweet, fruity with a hint of flowers.  But the floral taste isn't overpowering.  It's a popular food for bears and birds, so when you're picking, be sure to have someone watching out while you pick because you might run into a bear who might not want you gathering his berries.

How to Recognize Rosehips

Rosehips are easy to recognize because of their color and shape. They have wispy "hairs" at the bottom where the flower dried up.  You'll find them on rose bushes, which have thorns.  Domesticated roses have rosehips, but never use those that have been sprayed with pesticides and other toxic chemicals.  If you aren't sure if you found a rosehip or a rose bush, have someone who knows what rosehips look like help you identify them.  Don't take chances, but rosehips are one of the few fruits that are very obvious.

Berry Picker
When you gather your rosehips, wear heavy gloves.  Even if you use a berry picker like I do, you'll want to wear gloves or get your hands and wrists scraped up by the thorns.

Making Tea

Once you have your rosehips, you can dehydrate them for later use. Whether you have fresh or dried, you can make rosehip tea or tisane. ("Tisane" is the term for herbal teas.) Rosehip tea is easy to make. I always drink from a mug, so my recipes are for 12 ounces or more for tea.  Of course, if you use a normal 8-ounce cup, you'll have a stronger tea if you use the same amount of rosehips, but because rosehips have no caffeine, you're more likely to just get a strong fruity flavor without bitterness.

The tea gurus claim that herbal teas or tisanes need a much lower temperature than black or green tea.  This is because you'll "cook" the herbs instead of brewing them.  So the temperature you should brew at is somewhere around 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit.  You can use an electric water kettle like the one I have and adjust the temperature perfectly.


Rosehip Tea Recipe

1 TBSP fresh rosehips mashed or 1 1/2 tsp dried rosehips crumbled, or about 10 whole rosehips before crumbling or mashing

1 1/2 cups water (12 ounces)

1 tsp sugar (optional)

Heat water to 190 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place rosehips in the tea infuser in your teapot.  Add water.  Steep 3 to 5 minutes. Strain into your mug and add sugar, if desired.



Please Note: There are links within this article that are affiliate links and links to an article of mine on Hubpages.  I would encourage you to read the Hubpage article as I do make some money from views.  I recommend the products from the affilate links even though I may make a small amount of money from them. If you choose to purchase from Amazon, please use my links as it will help support this site.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017

Build a Chicken Coop in 6 Easy Steps -- Funny [Video]

9:00 AM
Someday I'm going to build a chicken coop.  I really am.  But for now, the chickens have the run of the barn which makes finding eggs...uh...interesting.  So, when I saw the video on how to build a chicken coop in 6 easy steps, I was inspired.  You'll get inspired too with this hilarious video.  Of course, I have some recommendations for buying coops, after you watch this.

(Disclosure: Affiliate links.  Please consider purchasing to support this site)



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Problems with Selling Farm Fresh Eggs -- Funny [Video]

9:00 AM
We've all been there.  You have a flock of chickens and figure you'll make money selling your farm fresh eggs.  Only the public may not be ready for farm fresh eggs and where they actually come from.  So, unless you live in an agricultural area (in which case, most people have chickens), you may have a tough time explaining why your eggs are brown or green, or what that odd white stuff is in the egg...


Monday, October 2, 2017

Sunday, October 1, 2017

10 Reasons to Get Goats [Video]

11:32 PM
Of all the farmyard animals you could get, probably the best (after the chicken) is the goat.  Goats make great pets because they're funny and intelligent, but they're also very useful.  A small goat herd will provide meat, milk, and will help clean up your lawn.  So, check out these reasons to get goats and see if you're ready to include this amazing critter to your homestead.



Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hunting and Gathering: Opportunity Knocks

9:20 PM
This article is from our sister site, the LocaCarnivore.  Check it out for information about locavore hunting.

--

Being a LocaCarnivore hunter means taking advantage of changing opportunities.

Larry and I had gone to a place we've hunted many times before.  This day, we were looking for bear but would take grouse if any presented themselves.  I also brought along my berry picker and some bags because I knew we'd see elderberries and rosehips along the way.  Larry wanted to walk a trail we had seen many times but never explored to determine if it had bear potential.

The Trail and the Berries

On our way up to the trail, I noticed to my dismay how drought stricken everything looked, even now that we had had rain.  It looked like the wild roses and chokecherries gave up even trying to make fruits, but the elders were full and ripe wherever there was surface water or an underground spring.  We walked up the trail from the main road and noticed deer and elk tracks alongside cow tracks, but saw no bear sign.  The "stream" the trail ran beside was apparently intermittent, probably only flowing during spring runoff.

We noted the rosehips and elderberries as we went.  You could count the bushes on one hand.  Not a great place for bear in the fall.

Looking for Berries

At this point, we switched gears and went to places where we knew there were more elderberries.  We found several elder groves and I scooped the tart berries into my berry picker.  (If you aren't using a berry picker , you're doing it the hard way.)  I filled the bag with the purple fruit and then we decided to go to a place where wild rosehips grew along a creek.

Getting Grouse

We neared the patch when a blue grouse came out of hiding.  One shot from my trusty 20 gauge and I had the bird in hand.  I thanked him, put him in a bag, and we continued on to the rosehips.

 

Every Rose has its Thorn

There were bushes upon bushes of rosehips that hadn't been disturbed by bears yet.  So I started scooping them up, but they're not easy to pick, even with the berry picker.  I had to push the branches aside and the thorns scratched my arms and stuck my fingers.  Larry offered his work gloves, which made the job easier.  While he kept careful watch with his trusty .375 H&H in hand (never pick berries in bear country without a lookout), I harvested a bag of rosehips.

As we drove home, I marveled at how we went hunting but ended up both hunting and gathering.  The grouse has now joined another in the freezer, so we can now have a yummy dinner in the future.

 What to do with our Food?

At this point, you might wonder what to do with grouse, rosehips, and elderberries.  Here are some links to my articles and some written by others on what to do with these wonderful catches:
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Please Note: This article does contain affiliate links on products I personally recommend. If you enjoy reading Eating Wild Montana, please support our website and our affiliates.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

What if Fainting Goats were People? [Video]

2:30 PM
If you've been a fan of goats for a while, you've heard of myotonic or fainting goats.  This weird genetic mutation causes the goat to lock up and fall over when surprised or upset.  Personally, I don't like seeing people cause these critters that much stress, but I get the novelty of the fainting goat.  Still, I don't own myotonic goats specifically for the reason they're myotonic.  I don't need my goats falling over if a predator comes around.

So, when I saw JP's video (and by the way, you need to watch all his funny videos, if you haven't yet) on If Fainting Goats were People, I knew he had a winner here.  Check it out and see if you agree with me that it is the funniest thing you've seen today.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

Friday, September 22, 2017

Drying Herbs for Herbal Tea

12:19 AM
You've grown herbs for herbal tea or tisane, and you're now ready to harvest them and dry them. But what is the best method for drying herbs? Should you dry them in your oven? Should you buy a dehydrator? Should you simply air dry?

The good news is that drying herbs for tea is relatively simple, but you should be aware that some methods are better than others. I'll discuss each of the ways to dry your herbs and you can decide what's right for you...READ MORE

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Geese and Goslings

4:53 PM
This year, at least two of my hens went broody.  Since I didn't have any roosters for a while (long story, that), I decided that since I lost my best geese to disease and predators, I had a choice of either paying $20 per gosling or hatching my own.  I had one Emden gander and one Chinese goose left.  So, I rolled the dice and stuck eggs beneath the two chickens.
Louise and Eeequa

Christmas and Goose Whisperers

Naturally the most annoying gander survived.  Christmas (you can guess what's going to become of him) is an aggressive bird who is mostly bluster, but neither Larry or I really like him much.  Part of it had to do with the fact we didn't raise him like we raised Louise and Eeequa, our first geese. I had gotten the Emden and Chinese from a family who were giving them away.  I suspect that they didn't realize how aggressive geese can be when they're left to their own devices.  And, quite frankly, they're noisy, messy, and can be a pain in the butt.  The woman had children, and when I went and caught the gander with little problems, it caused one child to ask if I was a "goose whisperer."

The mom explained that he was fascinated with "animal whisperers" on TV.  So, there you have it, folks.  I am a "goose whisperer."
Emdens

Back to the Geese Eggs

So, I really didn't expect much when it came to hatching the geese eggs.  I candled them on a daily basis and started seeing development.  To my surprise, it appeared that three eggs had taken off out of four.  I then gathered a bunch of eggs and stuck them under another hen.  Two appeared to develop as well.

I didn't expect to get anything, so one day when I was checking eggs, I found a pip.  A "pip," for those who aren't familiar with the terminology, is where the chick cracks the egg and may have a little hole for breathing.  After a chick "pips" it takes a while for it to absorb its egg sack so it has food for the next few days while it gains strength and figures the world out.  I left the eggs alone for a while, waiting for the "zip" -- a crack going down the egg -- and kept an eye on them.  The problem with waiting is that anything could come along and kill the chicks.  The problem with not waiting is that you can open them too soon and cause the chick to bleed to death.  Not what you want.
Brinsea Brooder

Opening the Eggs Carefully

It was somewhere around 1 am when I took the initiative and starting opening the egg.  To my delight, I hatched out a lovely gosling with yellow and gray fluff.  I put him under my Brinsea brooder, nestled hay around, and didn't expect him to live.

The next day I was greeted by a live chick and another pip.  I did the same thing again and again, and ended up with three live goslings under the brooder.  Three weeks later I had moved the three goslings who had gotten too big for the brooder and the crate they were in to a different crate, when I had the one egg pip from the second batch.  I did the same thing as the first hatches. The next day, I had a second egg pip.  When I opened up the egg, I saw I had opened it too soon.  There was a lot of blood and the chick hadn't absorbed the yolk.  But I put him under the brooder and kept the hay around him.

To my surprise, he survived, too.  He absorbed his egg and seemed fine for a little critter who had lost a lot of blood.  Which just goes to show you, sometimes you just get lucky.

Five Goslings?

I really didn't expect to have five goslings. With in time, they outgrew both the crates and then eventually figured out a way out of a cage that had been nicknamed "the bunny prison."  (It has a label saying "bunny prison" on the front. We got it from a recycled lumber store.)  So, they were loose with the chicken population.  When they were close to full size, we moved them to the geese pen that we had used to raise the baby goats. (The adult geese moved out with the adult goats.)

So, now I have five Chinese/Emden cross geese along with their obnoxious father and their calm mother.  They look at Larry and me as their parents and are very social.  And loud.  Very loud.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Grow Your Own Tea and Herbal Tea Plants!

12:02 AM

Do you love herbal tea but you're tired of paying for herbal teas or tisanes that use substandard herbs and spices? The great news is you can grow your own herbal tea plants year round that taste terrific. What's more, they are a fraction of the cost of store bought tisanes. What's more, you can mix your homegrown herbal tea with quality spices that will taste awesome...READ MORE

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Homestead Corner: Summer Colds, Wildfires, and Getting Back to Preserving

12:45 AM
Normally my preps for winter would be in full force, but a nasty summer virus hit me.  It acted suspiciously like the flu, but it could have been anything, really.

Back to the Farmer's Market

We've had a lot of wildfires in our area.  That, along with the unseasonably hot weather had made being outdoors impossible.  Naturally, it aggravated the cold I picked up. So, I missed going to the Farmer's Market for two weeks.  When I did get there, I managed to get tons of peppers and celery for drying.  I also picked up bok choy and sugar snap peas for stir fry plus salad.  Oh, and one of the vendors offered a sale on corn on the cob as a last hour sale.

Making My Own Extracts

So, I stumbled across recipes for making your own extracts.  I'm low on vanilla extract, took a look at check out what the FDA is advising.  (Tonka beans, incidentally, are illegal in the United States for this exact reason.)
Vanilla beans
the cost of a small bottle of vanilla extract and just about died.  Nearly $20 for pure vanilla extract?  Oh. My. God.  What's worse is that some versions of vanilla extract is made from tonka beans and not vanilla beans. A lot of Mexican vanilla is made from tonka beans, which contains coumarin.  Coumarin is a serious blood thinner, similar to warfarin (the stuff used in rat poison).  You don't have to believe me;

So, I walked into a liquor store (not hard to find one in Montana) which was adjacent to a restaurant I've eaten in the past.  The recipe called for vodka, which when I looked at the very costly (more than $36/bottle) that the author recommended, I chose the cheap corn Vodka at $10/liter.  I had picked up vanilla beans at the local natural foods store and managed to score a decent price on them. (Some $2 and something a bean, which is amazingly cheap.)  Anyway, so I had a liter of rotgut booze and three vanilla beans. When I got home, I also put together mint extract.  I'll be writing about my fun putting those together.

Huckleberries

I thought I was pulling chokecherries out of the freezer.  Instead, I discovered I had huckleberries.  So, I'll be canning those so they will keep.

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