A Post About Goats

Ya know how I talked about having that “moment” when a new addition to the family finally kinda clicks in and everything assumes a new normal? Well, I was of course referring to babies, but it kinda applies to our hoofed additions as well. The Ladies.

Polka
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And Polly
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We haven’t had that moment yet where things fall together, and may not for awhile. Goat keeping…. goat herding? (High on a hill was a lonely goat herd…) anyway, we don’t really know what we’re doing. This is our first experience with these animals, and I just hope that we don’t do something drastically wrong!

I’ve been reading up on Nigerian Dwarf goats for months now, but the thing about information online is there’s a lot of it… and the thing about goat keeping is everyone does it a little differently. So, rather than find something that says THIS is exactly what when and how to feed your goats, there’s a zillion and 2 variations on what when and how much to give them. Grrrr! So basically, we’re winging it and just trying to make sure they don’t starve and don’t get too fat. I know they aren’t starved, but I’m more concerned about the fat part because (hopefully) they are both pregnant. And when it comes time for those little goaties to arrive, I don’t want complications because the kids or the moms are too fat! Ya know? 🙂 What? You don’t know? Hmmmm… me neither actually.

Here’s a few things that I’m learning.

Despite what I have read, goats WILL eat hay off the ground. Apparently they are notorious hay wasters, and we’ve had plenty of wasted hay. But I have seen them eat it off the ground too. No worries, once Stu gets the amazing hay rack built there will be less waste. 🙂 And less eating off the ground too!

Goats don’t drink as much water as you’d think… and they like it warm. Spoiled beasts! 😉

Goats love carrots! See?

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Yummmm!
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They eat leaves, sticks grass and other plants too. Oh and bark off of trees. Uh-huh!

Our kids like the goats!
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Despite the fact that Ella was in tears over the thought that “The doats are dunna bite Daddy!” when we first brought them home, she’s warmed up to their presence and doesn’t view them as something scary. 😉
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I like to let them roam around in the fenced yard to get a little more exercise and some “browse” time. Yes, this does defeat the “poop free zone” purpose of the fence, but it’s not like it’s working with the chickens anyway. 😉 They will have more space of their own once the barn is complete and we can also fix them a yard. Right now they don’t mind hanging out in our yard for awhile.

Polka would like a carrot… or apple, not too picky.
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Polly concurs! Man, everything around here is constantly begging me for food! What do I look like?!
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Also I had a conversation all about poop with Myles who was hanging out with me while I cleaned the pen. I was explaining to him how we can use manure (which he of course needed a definition for that word) on gardens to help plants grow….. Pretty sure he may never eat another vegetable again. 😉 Oops!

Butter Wrapper

Don’t toss that butter wrapper!!

You ARE using butter and not that completely fake, really bad for you, disgusting imposter stuff known as margarine, right? 😉 If not… do so. Please! Thank you!

Anyway, this was a tip that I picked up a loooong time ago when I was reading up on the Great Depression. I couldn’t tell you where I saw this tip, but it did stick with me. Back then when people didn’t have enough but still had that stalwart “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” attitude, they came up with some amazing ideas for making things stretch farther than you’d think possible.

Take butter wrappers for example. I “useta” just unwrap the butter, try not to get my hand schmeered and toss those suckers in the trash. What a waste!! There’s plenty of butter stuck on those wrappers, so why not put it to good use.

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Grease down your baking dishes with it! Voila! That couldn’t be easier! It’s frugal and useful and just an all around good idea especially since we all want to stop using those cans full of not-real “grease” that we spray on everything to keep it “non stick” right? 😉

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So next time you bake, make sure 1) to use real butter and 2) to use the wrapper to grease your bakeware. It’ll make you feel good! 🙂 And if you’re careful, you won’t even end up getting your hands schmeered in the process!

Toodles

I miss my quilt

There was this incredibly ugly quilt that I just loved! It’s one of those old fashioned kind that are made out of a menagerie of fabrics with no rhyme or reason to the pattern, and one piece of ugly red fabric with scary looking clowns with balloons for the back. 🙂 It had little tufts of yarn that kept it all together and was about the size of a twin bed. Oh and weighs about a million pounds.

Why, you ask would I love a quilt like that?

Well, I’ll tell you, it was WARM!

Oh yes! I would put it on my bed, under the actual comforter so it’s not like the ugly quilt was in view, when the nights start getting cold. We have a king bed and it worked out perfectly because Stuart doesn’t like extra blankets on the bed even when it’s zero degrees out. I on the other hand LOVE to burrow down under those heavy types of quilts. I had one similar on my bed as a kid in Colorado and I have fond memories of curling up tight as can be waiting for the bed to warm up under those heavy quilts. Ahhhhh….

Anyway, I can find neither ugly patch or tuft of yarn from that particular quilt. I think that it was one of Stu’s grandma’s quilts. It’s very old-fashioned, and you know it was made for function not style. It was in my room when I left one dark and early morning in June. But when I got back 7 weeks later, with two little people in tow, it was no where to be found! It seems to have vanished into thin air too because I’ve looked in all the spots I’d think that a quilt like that could possibly hide and nothin. 🙁

I really miss it….

I have a wool Pendleton blanket on “my side” of the bed right now, but it just really doesn’t cut it. *sigh*

So if you run across a good, heavy, old fashioned blanket looking for a home. I hope you’ll give it one. There really is nothing warmer on a cold cold night!

The more ya know…

Ignorance is bliss.

People say that all the time but have you ever stopped to think about what it really means? I used to wonder about the phrase as a kid. Why in the world would being ignorant be blissful? I kind of reveled in knowledge, as long as it had nothing to do with math, and so the idea of being ignorant and somehow connecting it to bliss or happiness was weird to me.

However, as I’ve begun to delve into this world of “real” food and to just start scratching the surface of the truth about what we eat, I totally understand the statement.

See, grocery shopping is now a horror to me. Really! Not that shopping and I have ever been bosom buddies or anything, but now after trolling the grocery store aisles for food that I won’t feel bad about feeding my family is not only a taxing chore but extreeeeeeeemly mentally draining as well. As I pick up packages and start to read the ingredients lists my heart drops. Who knew that breakfast sausage, ya know like Jimmy Dean, has corn syrup and MSG? What… why?

Before when I was “ignorant” I could throw the breakfast sausage in the buggy and think that I was providing a good source of protein for my family. Now I know, and the bliss…. is gone!

I’m trying to stay balanced as I attempt to tread the waters of figuring out whole and real foods. I don’t want to turn into a freak about it, y’all know the kind I’m talking about. 😉 But I do want to do the best I can with the knowledge I keep unearthing. And honestly once you get started you really can’t stop. It might seem like you can just cut out most “processed” foods and be good till you start to dig a leeeeettle bit deeper and *BAM* you suddenly realized that even feeding your family fresh produce and meat is not really “good” food. 🙁

Anyway, we’re making this transition slowly even though it probably seems like things have turned rather quickly for us. We’re still working through some of our “supplies” of various ingredients that we’ve built up in our cellar, but change is happening. And some is happening faster than others. Some I can’t wait for and just have to chuck the stuff. 🙂

So this Holiday season if I happen to pass out a lot of baked goodies, know that it is in part to get rid of the white flour that we have. 😉 I’m not giving away the “bad stuff” cause I don’t love you, of course, but if you should choose to toss it rather than eat it…. I won’t judge. 😉

And I’m going to start writing some “tips” posts on how to make changes for the better in your own shopping/eating if you should choose. I’m by no means an expert, but I’m learning things, and want to share with others who might be interested in it as well. I will try to keep things as absolutely basic as possible because not everyone can go the seemingly extreme route we have embarked on to grow/raise most of our own food. And the thing is, you don’t have to in order to still have guilt free eating experiences. And I’m not talking about fat and calories! 😉

Till next time then…

I think we can!!

We are gunning to have the goats in their home by Saturday evening!! This weekend the nighttime temps are supposed to drop pretty low, so we are shooting for having the Ladies in their own dry, quiet, peaceful and insulated space before all that happens. It is calm and quiet up there at the barn. Sometimes I take the trip up there just to enjoy that as there is very little calm and quiet at the house. 😉 It won’t be as quiet once the goats move in, but that’s okay. Here are some photos of the recent progress.

My handsome carpenter hard at work.
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This was a tricky part, getting all these whachamacallits to measure up. Took FOREVER, so it seemed. 😉
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Ta-Da! The white roof nearly done!
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Such a pretty barn! Especially with a full moon rising!
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Working on the inside is the main thing now! We were insulating and plywooding (?) into the evening with the help of a nifty little lantern.
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Shelves got built along one side, and the boys and I worked hard to prime and paint it. 🙂
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Myles has been begging to help paint since I started painting the pieces for the barn red. You can see that his technique is not flawless, but it didn’t really matter too much for this part. 😉
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Then the actual shelves went in and the REAL painting got done. Looks so purdy!
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This is the view in the barn today.
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We unloaded the hay and surprisingly, 10 bales fit under the shelf! I couldn’t believe it! The other 2 got slightly damp so that’s why they are sitting out! I didn’t think there was any way we could fit that much hay in here, but we still have the entire other half of the barn that can be used for various storage as well! I won’t be storing hay and feed over there though, cause I’m sure those sly goaties would manage to get into it. Straw, however should do fine.

This is what the goat side looks like right now. We only really have to complete the other 1/4 of the barn to get them in.
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And look who has finally decided to stay in the barn. He was a little come and go about it earlier, but now he seems to think all this insulating and hay and comfy straw are for his own personal use! Silly cat! He’s gone from a city kitty, to a country kitty to a barn cat! Quite the career moves this fellow has made!
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From the goat door looking out.
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Views from the barn! Yes, it’s peaceful up here!
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Ta ta for now! Hopefully next time I’ll have photos of the Ladies moving in! 🙂

A Post About Chickens

Well, we’re down to a flock of 10. *sigh* We are learning about this whole process. Still no definitive answer on the puppy. My gut says that he’s going to have to go, but I still hang on to a sliver of hope that he’ll learn to leave them alone. But back to chickens…

I’ve been so humored by these cackling, little egg-laying creatures!

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We save our kitchen scraps for the hens. They LOVE them! And any time they see me walking toward the coop they all come running from different directions to see if I brought them any goodies. 🙂 And then there’s a feeding frenzy!

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Here’s Plucky Lucky! She seems to have healed fine and integrated back into the flock without any problems. I haven’t “catched” (as Qade would say) her to examine the spot, but I’m sure she’s fine.

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This is why we have these gals! We want fresh free-range (or pastured, the new “it” word for birds that have their freedom) eggs! Yum!

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Check out that itty bitty one! I haven’t cracked it yet, but the last one I got that was that little didn’t contain a yolk. Funny!

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So I finally got smart and put the girls to work on keeping their own coop “clean.” I’m attempting the “Deep Litter Method” for their coop this winter to help keep them warmer and to cut down on littler costs as well. The concept is that you let the junk kinda decompose in the coop and it provides extra heat. You’re supposed to “turn” it every so often so there’s not a build up of poo. And add extra layers of fresh litter every so often too.

Well, I was getting tired of “turning” it all the time! Those gals can create quite a mess under their perches! So instead, I’ve started to toss a little chicken scratch under the perch every day or so and the chicks go for it like candy! This makes them “scratch” at the bedding and effectively churn stuff up and keep it nice and tidy! Albeit dusty!

Here they are searching for the scratch.

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Hen bottoms always remind me of old fashioned women’s clothes with tons of petticoats. 😉

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And voila! No visible poo! 🙂 Good job ladies!

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And that’s about it on the chicken front for now. I’m researching how to “grow” our own meat chickens for next summer. I have high hopes for this! I’d love to stock our freezer with home grown organic chicken! Oh yeah!

Toodles for now!

Bed Bumper

I’m starting a “tips” category on the blog, just for fun. 🙂 Likely most of my tips are common sense stuff that I should have known about before I had the “voila!” moment, but maybe one will come in handy to someone someday. 😉

Today’s tip is about “big kid” beds! When our boys moved to toddler beds I didn’t really have to think about rails for them so that they wouldn’t fall out. Those beds have little “sides” and are so low to the ground that it’s not a problem should they fall out, ya know?

When we got Ella’s big girl bed however, it was much higher and I knew from her sleeping habits that it wasn’t likely she’d stay put! 🙂 She was a wild sleeper in her crib! But I really didn’t want to have to invest in one of those big rails you can get that slide under the mattress and have a mesh thing for the kids to roll against. They are awkward, ugly and pricy. And you only really use them for a short time.

So this idea really appealed to me! Use a pool noodle under the sheet to provide a “bumper” that will help them stay on the bed!

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I tried it just under the sheet but it would not stay in place and actually rolled to the side of her mattress when she’d move against it, and she fell out of bed one night. In my mind Gorilla Tape fixes lots of things, 😉 so I used it to keep the noodle still. It’s not so pretty really, but it works! I have the noodle taped to the mattress pad, and then we actually have another waterproof pad that zips over the whole mattress and noodle.

So far this has worked really well for keeping our gal from rolling out of her bed. And it’s not that noticeable under the sheets when it’s all made up.

There ya go cheap and easy bed bumpers for littles! 🙂

The LRB and how it grew

Here’s the latest and greatest iPhone photos of the progress of our LRB! Stu salvaged this black paper stuff from some other project “round here” and we were able to use it on the roof of the LRB! Yay for not having to buy it!! Once you start building things yourself you realize just how expensive building stuff is! Wow!

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Also in the above photo you can see the color of the roof on those 2 white strips. Yep LRB with a white roof! I can’t wait till it’s done!!

In the mean time I have learned something about that lil green ladder you see there.

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We don’t get along. I get this overwhelming sense of panic if I have to step above the first two steps. That ladder has a difficult time staying put when I put it somewhere, and even a little shift can completely freak me out! I never was one to be afraid of heights in my “younger days” but I’m not fond of them at all now! In fact I have a confession to make. I didn’t really enjoy the big Ferris Wheel ride in California Adventure when we went last year. It kinda freaked me out too…. and made me motion sick. Blah!

Anyway, Stu tells me that it’s not really that far of a fall if I were to fall, but somehow… it’s not so reassuring.

And look who’s taken to haunting the barn! Our rather opinionated long lost and found cat!

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He keeps getting “lost” because he’s taken a staunch stand against cohabiting with the puppy. He’ll be gone for a few days then turn up in a random place and we’ll haul him back to the house to spend some time in the garage till the next time he vanishes. I’m thinking of just making him a barn cat anyway since I don’t want other critters invading the space.

But the cat may win out in the end anyway because sadly today the pup murdered one of our chickens in broad daylight, while on his chain, before the very eyes of our kids. 🙁 This makes me really sad on a lot of levels. One, the deceased was none other than Henny Penny our first, and probably best, layer. *sigh* Second, because now we have to make the decision of what to do with the dog. ARGGGGGG!!! It wouldn’t be an issue if the kids didn’t like him so much. Boo! We have told them that he would have to go if he wouldn’t leave the chickens alone, so it’s not like it would be a complete surprise, but seeing the tears well up in Qade’s eyes as he reminded Myles of the fact torments a mommy’s heart. Stupid dog!

Anyway, so we’ll see what happens there. I don’t have any more brain power to give to it tonight. Tomorrow is a new day and perhaps an answer will come with it. 🙂

After all of that I’ll leave you with the sunset view from the barn! Those goats have it good, let me tell ya! I never get sick of the Southwestern sky! Lovely!

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What I did today and other randomness

THIS is what I did today!

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The thought suddenly occurred to me the other day that hay is “in” now and that I should probably get some to last our little goaties through the winter before the people who horde it jack up the prices for poor newbie people like moi who have no clue about wintering animals and have to buy the stuff out of season. 😉 Just kidding, I’m sure people aren’t really trying to be mean, but the prices on hay do seriously go up, and in my estimation they are high enough to begin with!

So I took the truck and the 3 older monkeys for a play date and a hay/straw pick up. I did not know before, but I do know now that the bed of a standard sized truck will hold 15 bales! It was quite interesting to see it loaded. We got 12 bales of hay and 3 of straw. Hay for eating, straw for sleeping! I also finally hunted down some Sweet PDZ which is a stall “freshener.” It helps dry things out and keep odor under control so that you don’t have to completely swap out all the bedding all the time. Allowing a bit of build up over the winter can keep the animals warmer. Or so I’ve read. 🙂

I also learned that if you plan on putting a tarp over the top of the load, bungee cords to hold down the tarp are advisable as well as straps over the top. We are now minus one tarp. It flew to freedom somewhere between Springerville and St. Johns, and finders keepers, I suppose. 🙂 My friend Rachael and I secured it ourselves, and you’d think between 2 grown women we could manage to tie down a tarp. *Ahem* We will be offering our load covering skillz to anyone interested for a nominal fee. 😉

Speaking of tying things down. I was reading up on laws concerning child restraints in vehicles and found out some very interesting things. First, while they keep on increasing the demand on parents about child restraints i.e. rear facing till 2 yrs, in a booster till age twelve and so on, that if a child is in any public transportation or a school bus they don’t even have to be buckled!! What?! I also read that if your vehicle is “too small” for the correct child restraints (car seats) you don’t have to use them, but at least one child has to be in one. Wait… what? Crazy! There was another one I thought was rather ridiculous, but I can’t remember it so I’ll just leave you in suspense! 🙂

On another note I took the popular Facebook grammar quiz thingy and for one thing it is completely put to shame by just about ANY ABeka grammar quiz and 2, I am a “grammar guru!” I only missed 2 questions and they were about the “i.e.” and “i.g.” which I got reversed. So I’m going to commence to use them more often so that I look amazingly brilliant and so that if I ever come across that quiz again I can be a grammar WIZARD!!! Ha ha ha ha!!

I changed Siri to the guy voice just to tease Stuart. 😉

Ella soaked her bed 2 nights ago as you may have read on facebook because she opted, without running it by me first, to wear panties to bed. I can neither confirm or deny that a towel is still on her bed and it hasn’t yet been changed. Actually I could… but I’m not gonna! 😉

Tonight for dinner I made pizza quesadillas and for dessert I made cinnamon/sugar quesadillas with cream cheese filling!!! 🙂 It was my own invention and it was nuuuuuuuumy!

I started our family on an ACV regimen yesterday. For the kids I mixed a tablespoon of the vinegar with some honey and water. At first I had it warm like a tea and they kinda were so-so about drinking it, but they did better when I added cold water. I think tomorrow I’m going to try a recipe someone shared on FB called “Good Girl Moonshine” don’t ask me why it’s called that. It’s basically ACV and water with some ground ginger and sweetener. They use the powdered stuff that I’m not going near, but I’m sure honey will work just as well. Anyway, my friend said her kids were “guzzling” it so I’m hoping that ours will too! I want them to get the benefits of the vinegar without traumatizing them with the taste. For myself I just put a little in a glass and cut it with some OJ, plug my nose and chug! But I might taste this drink and decide if it’s okay that way and just drink it. 🙂 I’m interested to see if adding this to our daily diet makes a difference in how much illness we experience through the winter.

Claire and Gabby were learning baby’s first signs from Baby Einstein this evening while the rest of us had dinner. 🙂 They are already completely mesmerized by “shows.” Which is nice when mama needs a little distraction to get something else done. 😉

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Now it is bedtime for the monkeys and I shall rejoice as a man who has run a race! Because that’s kinda how I feel today! 🙂

Oh and the roof of the LRB is partly done. My expectations of having it “in working order” over the weekend was a little ambitious but well… it’s still coming along! Soon, little goaties, soon!

Vinegar?

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You know you’re starting to get “weird” about food when finding some Unpasteurized, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar “with the Mother” in the grocery store is the highlight of your entire shopping trip. 😉 And the reason why this is particularly thrilling is because you want to start making your own ACV and in order to do so you need something called a SCOBY or “the Mother.” Yep! 🙂

That stuff on the bottom is “The Mother” ha ha!
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Let me “esplain.” The other night I spent an hour or so looking up various methods of making your own Apple Vinegar. I had no idea…. it’s amazing! Those of you who follow me on Pinterest probably noticed the surge of vinegary pins. 😉 Some things I learned. 1) SCOBY or symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast are vital to making vinegar OR kombucha which I also want to make! The thing about both of those liquids is that they are fermented. And that’s where the good ol’ SCOBY comes in. It looks something like a jellyfish and it’s a living breathing thing that is full of good bacteria that you want in your guts!! Oh yes! In fact I read so much about SCOBY’s that I dreamed about them all night! 😉 You can purchase SCOBY’s online, of course, but I wanted to grow one myself. So finally I settled on the best course of action would be to find some of this raw vinegar with the mother (which is bits of the SCOBY) that I could use as a “starter” for my own batch. Once you have a SCOBY you can use it again and again unless it gets damaged and dies. 🙁

Another thing I learned is that you actually have to make alcohol to make vinegar! Who knew?! I had no idea that vinegar came from “hard cider.” And that if you want to rush things you can actually buy hard cider and add a SCOBY to it. But I want to start more scratchy than that. So the process goes something like this… and I’m only repeating what I’ve read. I have not made a success of this yet, but you can bet I’ll blog all about it when I do. 😉 So you get a glass container that you can put apple scraps, peels and cores, in and cover them with really filtered, or distilled water and a couple spoonfuls of the starter stuff. You don’t want to use just tap because if you get any “other” bacteria in there it’ll damage SCOBY and possibly just make it all go bad. Blah! Then you cover it with a cloth so it can “breathe” and in about a week you strain out the apple bits and supposedly it’s fermented into alcohol now. Then you cover it again and leave it in a warmish place for 4-6 weeks during which time the SCOBY forms and starts converting the sugars/alcohol to vinegar. Amazing!! After that time you should be able to distinguish a distinctly “vinegary” smell/taste and once it’s reached that point you remove the SCOBY and keep it for another batch and voila! Vinegar! 🙂 Ha!

I hope it’s as easy as that anyway. Pretty much every post I read had it down that way, and if so it seems like a pretty simple process. I plan to start making it so that I can offer it to the animals and chickens. I’m also planning on starting us all on an ACV regimen this week. I hope we can stomach it! People say, in plenty of places, that the raw vinegar has some amazing effects on the body including keeping gut flora in good balance, which in turn keeps the immune system working well!! Also it’s said to help with allergies as well, and a friend of mine actually used it for that and was able to reverse a shellfish allergy! Wow!!

I plan to use one of the vinegar SCOBY’s to eventually make Kombucha (you can read about it HERE if you’ve never heard of it) which is a fermented, good bacteria drink made from sweet tea and kinda vinegary but apparently you can add it to fruit juice and such if you need it to be sweeter. I’ve never had it, but want to try it. Not enough that I’m willing to buy a SCOBY for it, but if I have some on hand, because each batch of vinegar will grow a new SCOBY, then I’ll be able to give it a try without a $ investment on something I may or may not like. 🙂

Anyway, just another step in the process to more healthy eating and sustainability. 🙂