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OK- So in the last month I have fielded no less than one a day (and often more times) emails, phone calls and text messages from people who think I know where to find “stuff” and how to substitute ABC for XYZ….
On that note, here is a handy dandy, short version guide on alternative sources for meats, dairy and produce.
*** Keep in mind that YOU will have to do the legwork of Googling or Yellowpage-ing or Networking all by yourself. I WILL NOT DO IT FOR YOU. This is merely a ‘guide’ or a ’roundup’ of some places you could find what you are looking for. *** It also takes TIME. But the lifelong rewards you can reap by developing relationships with your Ag community are priceless.
IN NO WAY DO I GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL FIND WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ASAP.
~BEEF~ Beef comes from Cows. Not from the grocery store or a tube. Cows are raised outside in the sunshine. Some places to source your next steak or hamburger from; –Lockers or Processors- These are listed under Meat locker/Meat processor. Sometimes even under Butcher. This is the place where you take a live critter. (beef/deer/buffalo/yak and quite possibly sheep/goat) **NOTE** MOST lockers SELL cut beef by the pound to the public. They also can help line you up with a rancher to buy your live Butcher Steer from.
So where do you even find a live steer??? From Ranchers. You can ask the folks at the locker. Ask the folks at farmers markets. Call the livestock commission in your state and ask for a referral, go to the livestock sales ring and buy one yourself. **Bonus points if you buy from a 4-H kid!! These kidd-o’s will not be showing at all this year, and will not have an outlet to sell their live critters. CALL your county and ask for the 4-H program. They will put you in touch with a youngster with a critter for sale. *Double bonus* is the good feeling you will get knowing you helped send that kid to college or trade school!
~Keep in mind, that even in the best of times, a locker/processor is often booked out 6 months or more. (That means you can book a butcher date now, and buy your steer later) The wait is worth it. Did you know you can often pre-order 1/4 to a full critter from the locker???? What the heck! Go crazy! Throw in with a couple friends and get a whole one.
~CHICKEN and/or Eggs~ Ducks, geese and turkeys too. Chicken is all around you. Know that crazy egg lady in your neighborhood? She probably knows other people with butcher chickens. You can look in FB groups, Craigslist, Marketplace etc to find eggs and chicken. My personal favorite for already butchered birdies is the Mennonites. Many states have an active Mennonite or Amish community. Look them up. Make the call. It may a local church you are calling- but ASK if they are taking orders for birds. They too will point you to someone who has some. **Farmers Markets** are a great place to find eggs and an even better place for networking to find what you need from Chix to Beef and anything inbetween.
~DAIRY~ Milk, cheese, butter, sour-cream, cottage cheese and more… All this can also be found at farmers markets. Google Herd Share . Many states have ‘herdshare’- this is where you buy a share of a cow or goat and in turn you will X amount of milk and other products a month.
ASK! ASK! ASK! If you are not asking who has what, you will not know. Only you know what exactly you are looking for, how far you are willing to drive to get it and what you are willing to pay for it.
Tip- DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE PRICE. You are NOT buying from WalMart or Tyson etc… You are buying from someone who loves their animals (probably more than thier kids) and the land. Your critters will NOT be pumped full of crap, fake colors, enhancements and fake flavors. You will actually taste the meat. Be assured the price will be FAIR. Your local homesteaders and ranchers are NOT out to gouge you in anyway.
Tip- Do not be snarky. If someone doesn’t have “IT”, they don’t have it. Period. But you can ASK to be put on their list. The “Ag” (agriculture) community is very close knit. They will remember you. And odds are good they will spread the word that you were rude.
**Other places to find it** www.localharvest.org lets you put in your location and will give you a list of nearby Farms, farmers Markets, CSA’s, Food Co-Ops and more. www.USABeef.org will connect you with local ranchers/producers to find your next butcher steer.
Also check out the Carniceria/Mexican Markets, Asian Markets or other ethnic markets in your area. They often have the freshest produce, not mention the hard to find items and are also butchers.
Food-Co-ops. These are membership driven, but the general public can shop there too for just a smidge over the ‘member price’. Often overlooked, food co-ops buy a tremendous amount of locally sourced meats/dairy/produce.
Your friends…odds are pretty good you already know at least one person that has eggs, kids involved in 4-H or other livestock. ASK them.. these people know other people who have ‘stuff!’
Grow your own! Many municipalities allow for backyard flocks of birds. Do you have a 1/2 acre?? Get rabbits or a goat. Rabbit is tasty. My kidd-o’s used to like Sish-ka-bunny. Or co-op with a local modern day homesteader… your money, their place. And.. you can grow enough fruits /veggies in just a 4′ wide swath of backyard to feed your entire family???
Farmers Markets These are not just a bunch of hippies selling corn on the roadside. Far from it. Todays farmers markets are the go-to outlet for hand milled grains, organic offerings, fresh produce, eggs, flowers, breads, canned goods like jams-jellies-salsa-salmon-green beans etc, jerky, potted (a fancy word for cooked and canned) meats and so much more. This is also the perfect place to ASK people who they know that is selling what you want. Farmers Markets are a community of sellers. They all truly want each other to thrive and have no qualms about sharing information.
Facebook Groups- Bulletin boards, etc. Simply type in homesteading groups, farmers markets, craft shows (yes- often there is FOOD products) or some version of those things.
Critter Swaps and Flea Markets. It’s easy enough to find a critter swap- That’s where folks with live critters are looking to buy/sell/trade. Also flea markets sometimes have folks horse-trading (pardon the pun!) critters.
Bonus Tip!: FLOUR can be found at Flour Mills. they are commonly called Roller Mills and they sell direct to the public too. Usually in 10, 25 or 50lb increments.
So- there you have it. An abbreviated list of places to find stuff. It is on YOU to work your magic fingers and make the calls, or do the walking around. What YOU choose to do with the information is just that- “your choice”. Take it or leave it.
Through years of mass marketing “we” have been indoctrinated into believing that only Walmart, Target, HomeDepot (insert whatever big box name you like) can fullfill our every need.
Way out here in the country, we still have a tendency to bypass what is in our own backyards and drive up to a hundred miles to shop at one. Often not even stopping in our neighboring communities along the way. Even right now, during our nations crisis, folks are still driving the distance to go to the big box.
Now more than ever, our communities need us to SHOP LOCAL! I have said before that the day will come when we would be grateful to have our local stores. I for one am. I have always been happy to support them.
Why? Because I am essentially selfish. My time is worth something to me, so why would I want to waste it going 50 miles one way when I can go 20 (or less) the nearby town? I know with a little asking around I can find nearly everything I need right nearby.
Why? Because I know just how quickly life can change on a dime and what IF I can’t just hop in my car go on a day trip to get what I think I need from the big box? What if I can’t drive when I’m older? What if the main road up to the city is closed for weather? What if? What if? What if? I WANT my groceries, lumber yard, hardware store, bar, gas station and things to do (like museum, theater, parks etc) to be nearby.
Why? Because I know that without ‘stuff’ in my local communities people will move Kids won’t want to come back and visit the folks, grandbabies won’t want to spend summers at grandma’s house. (I don’t have any intention of not seeing my grandbabies.) No people to support the local business community turns into no kids in the school and higher taxes to offset all the empty buildings.
Why? Because I know that 75% of people come to our towns to BUY something, SEE something, DO something. We can not be 100% dependent on just our locals for incoming dollars to support what we have. We NEED tourists and travelers and the outlying folks to want to stop. We NEED to give them reasons to stop.
Why? Because I know that in times of need, all the local businesses will come together for our communities. Will the big box come to your communities aid when something happens? I think not.
Don’t get me wrong, no one is saying not to shop these big places, I know for some it is the best way to stretch dollars. For some it is the appearance of ‘everything’ at once. There are as many reasons to shop there as not. Truly it is your prerogative to spend your dollars where ever and however you see fit.
These are just some of the reasons that that I feel shopping almost exclusively at the almighty Walmart (again- insert your favorite big box name here) is not the solution.
Katy is a rural and small town /small business speaker, consultant, advocate & writer. She believes many small communities can grow from within using resources already at hand and creative strategies and ways leverage those to attract new families, businesses and customers. Do you want Tait & Kate to come speak to your community or group? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A week ago I had the opportunity to visit some old friends. We chose to meet half way in Yuma, Colorado.
Yuma has changed in the 25+ years since was there last!
We walked downtown and popped into The Orphanage – “An automotive themed exhibition space” The space gets its name from the generally accepted definition of an orphan car – specifically one whose maker is no longer in business.
Along with the classic rides, there is some amazing mid- century architecture (which I also dig) and furniture (yes- we tried to buy some), along with a full kitchen for catered events. The Orphanage hosts events all year round.
We visited with co-owner Ronald Wenger about some of the history of the building and the things they uncovered during construction. (We think the old sign uncovered on the bricks is pretty nifty.)
Ron and co-owner Richard Birnie bought the building because they needed more storage for their personal classic cars. Boy! What a problem to have, eh?
Do you love Art? Quilts? Car shows? The Orphanage has something going on nearly every month. We just happened to be here the week before Christmas and before the new events start up for the year.
Collections of antique toys and other automobilia are sure to catch your eye as you wander around the room. There are colorful gas pumps, toys, holiday displays and even gifts!
Studebaker, Ford, Rambler, Plymouth, Nash, Harley Davidson, Crosley ~ where do I stop??
Way up top in the first picture is a baby pink Rambler (aka:Rambo) I wish I had taken a full shot of that one. I used to have a baby blue Rambo wagon!
If you’re headed East of Denver, take a ride out Hwy 34. Yuma is about 140+/- miles. Don’t let the prairie fool you- there is much more than meets the eye in these communities.
Where in USA is Katy today??
For more information check out The Orphanage on FB 300 S Main Street, Yuma Colorado 970-630-3360
Many of you have followed Missy the Wonderdog‘s adventures on FB for over a decade.
Cow dog, business dog, chicken herder extraordinaire, teacher, companion, playmate,
garden guard, doorstop, protector.
(she is also the reason Big Papa’s favorite truck sounds like being in a wind tunnel)
Missy was our rescue pup. She was actually being born as her mama was being rescued from a puppy mill that had gotten out of hand.
Big Papa said NO DOGS IN THE HOUSE.
And then she turned those great big brown eyes on him and it became “Only in the mud room.” Pretty soon she had commandeered a spot by the wood burner and Big Papa would play dolly with her. When spring came, she was given a deluxe dog house outside complete with mobile fur coats (cats) to keep her warm on cool days.
Missy was supposed to be a cattle dog. And she was… She would drink from bottles just like the calves, she would eat hay and grain just like the big Girlz, slept in the roundy-rounds with calves, she played with all the cows and followed them everywhere. She even swam from time to time in the watering trough. Missy could help herd the cows. Right up until a gate or barn door was open. And then she would go sit in the opening, barring them from entrance!
So- technically she was a cattle-dog. Just not the way Big Papa wanted.
Eventually Missy learned to ride the 4-wheeler to better chase her Girlz and bring them treats. She loved the wind in her hair!
Missy also became the unofficial spokes-dog for ShopSmallSaturday championing small
Now- back to the Not-in-the-house thing….. Missy was a smart girl. She knew exactly when Big Papa left the yard. And as soon as his truck cleared the tree row, she would be at the door. I am a sucker for a cute face, so I would let her in.
And on the days she was in the house I would sweep and mop to hide the evidence. Bless the day my mother-in-law called and told me to get a Swiffer!! So much faster and easier!! Thankfully I was also starting get grey hairs about this time, so sometimes Big Papa would spy some fur I overlooked and I would say “Ohhhh! Must have been mine!”
Mostly I liked having her IN the house on the nights Big Papa worked away from the farm. She always made me feel safe.
One time, Big Papa came back home shortly after leaving… as he was parking I was literally dragging Missy the Wonderdog out the other door! Almost busted!!
Missy wasn’t supposed to ride in the car either. There may or may not have been an incident with Lilly the Lab and his favorite pickup years before that made him forever bar me from doggie rides in the car.
Eventually though, Missy won and commandeered a spot in the old farm truck and would help me drive from field to field.
Missy the Wonderdog became part of the family. A constant companion, always happy to just sit nearby and offer us wags and smiles.
Over the years the kidd-o’s accused me of treating her better than I treated them. (SHE never talked back or held her hand out and was always happy)
This year Missy slowed down. We’d go for walks and she’d stop and rest. I thought it was
because she was a little on the fluffy side after retiring from full time cow and chicken herding. As it turned out, she had the cancer.
For love of us, Missy the Wonderdog concealed her pain and discomfort for a long time.
The decision to let her cross the rainbow bridge was a heart wrenching one. It was decided that we would let her be until she was no longer able to be a dog but before she couldn’t do her job anymore. Missy kept her Doggie Dignity. As long as she was still walking out to the coop for a daily chicken head count (we no longer had cattle at this point) all was good. One day, she looked at me and let me know in her own way that it was time.
We had made arrangements with our vet to come to the house to help Missy cross the Rainbow Bridge painlessly and in comfort, surrounded by her friends (cats and chickens) and family (Big Papa and I ). Holding on to her Dolly and snuggled on her favorite blankie with us petting and crooning to her, she slipped away to a better place.
We know without a shadow of doubt that D’art, Mosely, Lilly-puttin, Bambii the Amazing Albino Elk and her favorite Girlz -Barbie and Rusty were waiting to walk her across.
I was working in the garden the next afternoon (-one of her favorite places to hang out in the summer) feeling incredibly sorry myself, when I heard a very faint, muffled barking. I knew in that instance Missy the Wonderdog was letting me know she arrived safely on the other side and is still watching over me from afar.
“And when my time on earth is done,
And at heaven’s gate I’m near,
I don’t want any harps or horns,
Just … happy barks to hear.”
What do you do when someone you know is suicidal and the response you get from local healthcare is “It’s a small town-we don’t want to get involved if we don’t have to”?
Ok- I KNOW this is controversial. I also know that many will say “It can’t happen here“. Or worse “Why did you interfere?” I am also aware that by sharing my thoughts on this, I may be blackballing myself for life from Hubbs hometown.
No- I will not name places or proper names.
But you know what? If nobody talks about it, nothing changes!
When we moved to the country, I became friends with ‘Joanie’ (henceforth my friend will be “Joanie”) and later business partners for a while. I always knew she was diabetic and had anxiety, but a person who didn’t know her would never have guessed.
A number of years ago Joanie had some of her medications changed. In a matter of weeks she had lost a ton of weight and couldn’t focus on tasks for very long. Even more concerning was her hallucinations- She had begun believing she had just delivered twins and was some very crazy thoughts about her hubby. She even offered to let me babysit!
I figured she would go for a follow up and her Doctor would notice something was off.
Another week goes by and Joanie is giving away things and saying “It won’t matter at the end of the week” and “I don’t need it where I’m going”.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Warning Bells are going off.
I tried talking to her about it, but she quite obviously thought nothing was amiss. Her husband was indifferent to it all- (Theirs wasn’t exactly a stellar relationship)
So I did the next best thing, or so I thought. I called the local clinic. That’s where most of us who live out in the country go for routine bloodwork and stuff. I spoke to the head nurse, who also knew Joanie personally. I told her what I suspected and the response was
“We really don’t want to get involved if we don’t have too. We still have to live here.”
WHAT?????? Was she joking??
Nope- she really meant it. She was uncomfortable getting involved because of it turned out to be a false alarm, she would be very uncomfortable around town. This nurse also asked me if I had tried talking to her husband. Yep.
I explained that she had recently had some medications changed.. I even offered a solution- Couldn’t she call up Joanie and say something like “Gee, we dropped your last vile of blood, can you pop by real quick and let us take some more?” My thoughts were if they could get her in there, they could evaluate her kinda on the sly.
But she did offer to send their secretary down to Joanies work to observe her. To which I (probably snarkily) replied along the lines that plenty of people finish the days work just fine before jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
I called back that afternoon, and was told that they didn’t have time for this and that she looked fine. In no uncertain terms I let it be known that if something happened to my friend, that I would be shouting it from the roof tops and naming names.
Obviously things were not fine.
The next day Joanie said it would ‘all be done by Friday’ and she was ‘only sorry to be leaving her (make-believe) babies behind’. Only a couple days away.
So I took drastic and probably unethical measures- I telephoned my personal Doctor and asked if I gave a name could she please look up that persons physician and pass the information along. I also shared my futile attempts in a small town to get her help.
Now- I knew full well at the time that there’s is DR/Patient confidentiality… But I was hoping my doctor would try anyway.
And my Doctor did.
Joanie’s doctor made some excuse to get her in… just in a nick of time it seems. It was indeed the change in medications was causing her to lose weight and think irrationally. Joanie ended up in therapy for a bit, but eventually found her way back.
Me? Well- I was immediately taken to task by locals for ‘Sticking my nose where it didn’t belong’ and “Didn’t I know how much TROUBLE the clinic was in now???”
Like I gave a shit. Suicide is rising in rural areas. There is always talk about speaking up if you think someone is suicidal.
Given what happened in this small town, I think there are many that won’t speak up because they have to live here. This has bothered me for years. We need to change that part of Small Town Mentality. “Because we live here” is the perfect reason WHY we should speak up.
Personally I didn’t give a rip what anyone thought. Joanie’s life was more important than me being black listed.
Which I was. For YEARS.
This week I was invited to the French Foreign Legion Medal Ceremony for six US Veterans in Windsor, Colorado.
Let me tell you, it was one of the most profoundly moving moments I have ever been a part of.
LT Leila Morrison, LT Armand Sedgeley, 2LT William (Bill) Powell, SSG Philip Daily, SSG Harry Moroncelli and (posthumously) CPT Joseph Grahm were awarded the Knight -or Chevalier- medal for their outstanding service and dedication during WW2.
After the bagpipes and the colors were presented, both National Anthems were played. No words to the music, but it was quickly apparent which veterans in the audience had served in France as they all saluted the flag and sung the anthem in French. When the Star Spangled Banner began playing, it started as a few bars hummed and them everyone sang with passion. There were tears rolling down cheeks- it was that emotional.
While I was observing the people around me, the line from that Abba song flashed through my head “I can see it in your eyes- how proud you were to fight for freedom in this land”.
Each and everyone of the medal recipients was extremely humble and truly don’t think they did anything that anyone else wouldn’t have done.
Solely by chance I had met Leila a few weeks prior to this. What a story! Leila graduated nursing school at 22 and immediately joined the Army as a nurse and was sent to field hospitals on the front lines. She was at both Normandy and Battle of the Bulge caring for our wounded warriors. After that she was on hand at the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp. After that she was returned stateside and married her sweetheart when the war was over.
OH! The questions I wanted to ask! Don’t get me wrong, I loved that she shared parts of her story with me, but there was so much more I wanted to know! It simply wasn’t the place to go asking a zillion questions.
The room was packed with friends and family and many, many local servicemen from all branches. LTC Huffman gave background on the recipients and really brought the stories to life with photos and antidotes. The Hon Christophe Lemoine from the French Consulate gave a very moving speech that also had people wiping tears away.
God bless these men and women who have given us so much.
Sweet potatoes or Yams…? You may think they are the same, but they are not. Sweet potatoes have a smooth skin, are sweeter and come in a variety of colors- yellow, orange- even purple! You can read about it here.
I personally never cared for sweet potatoes unless they came swimming in butter and brown sugar… until the first time I made a version of this dish… Wouldn’t touch that holiday tradition of SP’s and marshmallows, or SP pie…
But now- ….. Yum!! (*note*- these recipes are written for my sons who may or may not have basic knowledge or do-dads to work with and *notes are at the bottom)
While we call this dish Yam-it! it’s really glorified Paprika Roasted Veggies and Chicken.
What you will need:
2 large Chicken Breasts (or 6 thighs) cut in half. (not butterflied), some salt, +/- a pound of Brussel sprouts- trimmed and halved or quartered, 2 Sweet potatoes- peeled and cubed, half an large onion peeled and sliced (optional), some Olive oil, a smidge of lemon juice.
For the seasoning : 2 TBS Paprika- (that’s the red stuff sprinkled on deviled eggs), 1 tsp dried Cilantro, 1 tsp All-spice, and Garlic- to taste/minced..
Sprinkle chicken with salt and set aside. In a small bowl mix the seasonings together. In a large bowl toss the veggies with some olive oil (some is subjective to us Italians!) and sprinkle with 1 TBS of the spices mix. Pour into baking dish. (aka cake pan) To remaining spice mix add a 2-ish TBS of olive oil and 1 TBS lemon juice, mix to make a paste. Brush it on the chicken- both sides, and lay the pieces on top the veggies. pour a smidge of water into the pan, cover with foil. BAKE 425 for about 45 min +/-. You’ll know.. veggies will be soft.
Drizzle with melted butter before serving.
*Notes* *Chicken- You don’t need breasts. You can use thighs or pork chops or slabs of ham. *Veggies- if you want more, use more. It’s not an exact science. * Olive Oil.. If you don’t have it, don’t sweat.. Veggie oil will be fine. Just don’t use as much! * If you want more ‘zing’ add a shake or two of something like Lawry’s or garlic salt to the mix. * All the spices can be found at the dollar store if you can’t afford the grocery store *Lemon juice is not mandatory, but sure makes it taste better… You could sub for melted butter or OJ- It will change the taste a little, but still good. Little squeeze lemons are in the produce dept, bottled lemon juice is in the juice isle (usually top shelf) *Onions- again, not mandatory- you can skip them, or use shallots or something. *Covering with foil is a choice. We do it because it keeps it all moister.
**Every one of these ingredients can be found at moms- except brussels and SP’s unless the garden is in full swing**
I have been road-tripping since I was old enough to drive, many times criss-crossing the
country in cars that literally had no business being on the road. Of course there were the family trips of the 70’s that we all remember.
I must have learned to travel on a serious budget from my mom. In 1974 my dad gave her 500$ -a princely sum in those days- to go from Sacramento, CA to Maine. 3200 miles with two kids and a grandma in our gas eating Mercury Montego. He told her if there was any money left over, she could stop in Reno on the way back and gamble. – Ohhh yeah! She gambled!
We stayed in Holiday Inns and HoJo’s every night, got waited on three meals a day and saw every tourist attraction between here and there.
Try doing that today!
I collected many a placemat or coaster on our early trips. I think that’s what kept me dreaming about what’s over the next hill or around the next bend. I wish I had kept them all! But I DID remember and file away in the back of my mind, places on them that got my attention and visited them as I got older.
I wish cafe’s still used them. Such an amazing way to promote local tourism between towns and highlight things to buy/see/do.
I do have one travel mat… We had found cases of them in an old cafe we bought in Cope Colorado (yep- I’ve written about adventures in Cope before)
I find that while I enjoyed seeing the sights in the big cities- I still prefer the small communities along the way. The feeling of stepping back in time pulls at me. The people in these towns always have time to chat or answer questions- usually throwing some local lore or introducing me to other locals. And the hidden treasures to be found in the old Rexalls (we once bought a whole box of [outdated] Mercurochrome at one in North Dakota) and variety stores can’t be matched!
This summer will be no different- a new trip through Cali, NV, UT, WY, SD, ND, ID, MT
with my step mom- Not our first road trip together- I enjoy these trips with Grace because I get to add her “I remember these” stories to my memories giving me a different perspective to places I’ve in all probability already been. I also love showcasing parts of the United States she never dreamed existed. That is half the fun!
They make a big deal of ‘multi-generational travel’ these days. It is anew buzz word. But really, most of us of a certain age grew up with it.
So- If you’ve got somewhere you think we should stop… let me know!