Friday, December 15, 2017

Season's Greetings

The winter solstice is a week away, December 21st at 10:28 am Central Time, and while our earliest ancestors lit bonfires, told stories and drank sweet ale, celebrated Yuletide or watched the rebirth of the sun, it seems fitting that even in this modern age we share our news and our triumphs, discuss our failures and look to the coming year with renewed energy. There is something deep within us that stirs and responds to the lengthening days.

Our own life is closely linked to the passing of the seasons and to life and death, and this past year was no different. Anyone who has pets will understand the grief that comes with losing a pet and our house was filled with tears and heartache when Titan was no longer able to live a healthy and comfortable life. We knew that Giant breeds live shorter lives but that knowledge in no way made it any easier for us to carry out our last responsibilities and ease his way across the Rainbow Bridge. While no one could ever describe him as a working dog, he worked hard at loving us and making us laugh and smile, he loved winter and he loved water and he shared that love with us in many ways. He will be remembered by all who met him and many who only read about him.

This year has been very kind to us, we have great friends who have encouraged, supported and cheered along the sidelines as we continued with our small business and with Thursday Nite Live Farmers' Market. We loved meeting people in the flesh, some of whom travelled to Watertown from quite a distance and from other States, and took the time to come and say hi to us at the Market. We enjoyed catching up with those we have come to know as our 'regulars' and it has been a privilege to call many of those regulars friends as our relationships have grown. The Farmers Market has also widened our activities and we were honoured to join Joy Ranch at Halloween and hand out candy to the kids that came that day. I apologise to the parents of the small kids that were scared and burst into tears at my costume, and we really hope that the Team at Joy Ranch will not let that stop them from inviting us again next year!

We are firm believers in paying forward and the Thursday Nite Live Farmers' Market has allowed us to do just that. The work of "Two Sides of the Same Coin" has captured our hearts and we had a great deal of fun sharing this charity's work with you when we sold raffle tickets to help raise money and awareness. The local radio station helped us get the word out in the community further than we could imagine and the fundraiser was a huge success thanks to all of our customers and friends. It was also thanks to the vendors at the Famers' Market who all contributed in one way or another and whose generosity helped make the prizes so much more exciting. Clark folks had a second opportunity when we went trick or treating for small change that was also given to Two Sides of the Same Coin. It was the first time I had ever gone Trick or Treating and we had so much fun that this might well become a Two Old Broads annual event.

Anyone gardening in this part of South Dakota knows how challenging it can be and this year was no different. It was hot, dry, and windy making it tough for some crops. Those in town sometimes had better results in their protected areas than out here where the elements made it hard for some plants to thrive or even survive. We have learned new lessons and decided that while crop rotation is a very good thing, some crops just don't do well in certain areas and as we never know what summer will bring as we plant, we will work within the guidelines of lessons learned. We may not have all we had hoped for but the harvest brought us all we needed and our freezers and shelves are full enough to take us to next year's harvest and that is plenty. We can feed ourselves and we can feed friends and family, life is good! We were also grateful to those who were prepared to barter with us so we got the extra veggies and fruits we had hoped for and they got to enjoy our bread and soaps. We really do live in a great community!

This week our Baker Creek seed catalogue arrived. We love their catalogue and all that it brings into our lives. It reminds us to be grateful for all that we have. all that we have learned and as we put our money into seeds it brings home our hopes for the future. Winter for us is a time of planning and dreaming, a time to learn new skills or enhance those we already have. We took our first vacation in quite a while this year, should we plan one for next year at the same time, if so, what should we do? We need to learn new skills to fully utilise the wonderful gift we received, will it open new doors for us? We had hoped to publish a Two Old Broads Cookbook this year but time got away from us and now, possibly,  we will be able to finish it this winter. Will photography skills develop quickly enough to enhance the Cookbook, or should we aim at a 2019 calendar? Some winters we dream bigger than we are able to achieve in a year but that is not a bad thing. Our dream is always to be better, kinder and more generous than before and to leave our small corner of influence a better place than it was. 

We are happy to have you in our lives and hope that all your needs will be met that bring you happiness and health. We look forward to sharing 2018 with you. 

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Looking back!

Thirteen years ago the discussion about keeping pigs started, and over the years it inevitably became a standing joke. We still discuss raising pigs but it remains hypothetical. Little did we know how that first discussion and internet search would change our lives. Early in our search of the interwebs we became distracted by an article called Easter Chicks Gone Bad: The Unexpected Menace By Sheri Dixon. We so liked the style and humour that we continued to read articles and joined the forum then hosting her articles. We became friends with the lady in question as well as a few others on the forum which certainly enriched our lives, but more importantly, it helped us focus on defining our own goals. How did we envision self-sufficiency, how did we want to define it and make it relevant to us? We knew that at our age we needed to be realistic about the return on any investment as well as the amount of energy required to sustain our dream into old age. Time passed, we found ourselves reaching some goals, tossing some aside but our friendship with Sheri's family never wavered, nor did our desire to grow as much of what we eat as possible. My desire to have pigs turned into owning sheep, which later became our passion for goats. One garden became four. We committed to planting a new tree every year as well as fruit bushes. The dream has become a  journey, a reality that has grown, diverted, but has continually enriched our lives.

I started this blog to keep track of some of our failures and achievements, as a place to keep friends informed, but we soon learned that Facebook was a much easier medium for daily updates and photos, keeping this blog more for posts we just didn't want to lose. The name was easy, we always commented to each other "Not bad for two old broads" as we sailed over one more hurdle, and we were quite happy to own it and be proud of our achievements. Having taken life by the horns before we had no doubt that we could build a lifestyle for ourselves that was healthy, fulfilling and rewarding. We weren't so concerned about other people finding us odd or not understanding. To our surprise, our Facebook page has grown beyond anything we ever expected. We thought perhaps that family and neighbours might be interested and that we might raise a couple of hundred likes from the curious. Last summer to our utter amazement we reached 666 likes, a milestone for obvious reasons! Yet today we are at 970 and many of you follow regularly. This side of our journey has been unexpected, humbling, and rewarding. We take the time to read each and every one of the comments and replies. Some of you, especially more local folks, we have met in person, we have made new friends, some of whom we have never met in person and our lives have been enriched because of you. As the numbers grow, we look at the names of new people to whom we have no visible connection and realise that the lessons we pass on are of interest to you and the connection is the lifestyle that we have fought so hard to build.

This summer we will probably top the 1000 likes on our Facebook page. For us, it seems like a good time to look back at all we have achieved since we read that first article by Sheri Dixon. We are aware that much of it came from knowing some of you and learning from your experiences, from having some of you fire our imagination and from the friendships that have continued to encourage us. We appreciate those of you who have become our regular customers. From the bottom of our hearts we thank all of you for your support!

When you clicked 'like' on our page, to us it really was a big deal.

Friday, January 20, 2017


You could easily pay up to $4 for a small bottle of kombucha at the health store, yet it is easy and relatively inexpensive to make it at home. When you make it at home you also get to make it just as you like it, want it a little stronger, leave it a day longer; want it berry flavoured or ginger flavoured, the choice is yours. To make it at home you need six simple things: A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast)with starter liquid, tea, sugar, clean water, a warm place and time, that's it, that is all you need....oh and a couple of one gallon containers, preferably made of glass. 

There is much myth, much mystery, many claims and all sorts of fads around the drink, I am not going to say it will heal all your woes, or that it will be the answer to all your problems. We do know that probiotics are good for you with proven health benefits, but when anyone mentions the word probiotic we immediately think of yoghurt, sauerkraut or kimchi. That is fine but unless you make your own yoghurt, commercial yoghurt contains oodles of sugar as well as other ingredients you may not want in your healthy diet (just look at the ingredient list on the packaging.) Sauerkraut that has been bought has usually been pasteurised, again bringing into question the diversity of the remaining healthy bacteria. As for kimchi, let's face it, not everyone likes it or wants to go to work the next day breathing fire and garlic! We drink a glass of kombucha every day because we like it and it ensures a healthy dose of daily probiotics. We also eat homemade yoghurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi, but not on a daily basis.

Here is how to make it:

Bring a gallon of unchlorinated, non-fluoridated water to the boil and add 4-5 tea bags (just regular black tea will do) and a cup of sugar. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature.

Place the SCOBY and starter liquid in a clean gallon glass jar and add the cooled tea. Place a coffee filter over the jar and secure with an elastic band. We write the date on the coffee filter as you will want to set the jar to one side for 10-15 days. We do the first fermentation for 10 days, but that is a question of taste, the longer the fermentation the more sour it will taste. Now some people leave it at this and strain off the kombucha into a clean jar or bottles and refrigerate. Whatever you decide, you will need to keep the SCOBY and some starter liquid in your gallon jar for the next batch.

We go on to a second fermentation. You can use berries, soft fruit or our favourite, fresh ginger (NO citrus). Put aside the jar with the SCOBY and starter, you won't use this till your next batch. Just keep it covered and don't allow it to dry out. Place the filtered kombucha in a clean gallon jar, grate your ginger or crush your fruit and add it to the kombucha with a few tablespoons of sugar. Cover with a clean coffee filter secured with an elastic band. Allow to sit for 5 more days. Filter and put the finished kombucha into bottles or large container and refrigerate, it is now ready and refrigeration will stop the fermentation process.

If you want your kombucha to be really fizzy, simply put the filtered product into airtight bottles, we use Grolsch beer bottles with the wire tops. Beware, if you use this method, the pressure can build up. We have never had a bottle explode but it is possible, so take all the precautions needed for home brewing. We keep our bottles in the refrigerator slowing down the fermentation, perhaps that is why we have never had an exploded bottle.

There are a few things that should never come near your kombucha process, anti-bacterial soap or dish washing soap, citrus of any sort, or metal objects. Keep it clean, keep it simple. 

Enjoy your kombucha and as your SCOBY grows, share it with friends so they can start their own, too. We throw the SCOBY from the second ferment and the remaining fruit out to the chickens. The dogs like it, too but we have found it may make them unpleasant to be around as it gives them some rather smelly gas.

Any questions and we will be happy to try and answer them.