5 Places to Make a Halloween to Remember

Halloween is a time for scary things but not a time many take vacations. Halloween festivals, haunted towns and Halloween trips make it an ideal time to go somewhere for a getaway to remember. Here are five places to go to.

1.Midwest’s flyover country. Many places in the Midwest have historical and haunted value plus there’s more. For all of those who have seen movies like “Children of the Corn” welcome to not only corn mazes but corn mazes Halloween style! They stretch across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. An example is Boondocks Farm which has a 12 acre maze and a haunted trail maze for $8 per person. Other activities include disc golf and hay rides. There’s also pumpkin patches for another side of Halloween fun. The Jonamac Orchard has haunted corn maze beginning at dark – no flashlights just glow sticks or pen lights allowed. Check out the rural traditions and more scared than you thought you’d ever get without technology…visit the Midwest on the ground for Halloween! There’s much to see and do all across the area.

2.Winchester Mystery House in the bay area of California is a popular destination. Located in San Jose the home is of a magnitude you have to see to believe. Sarah L. Winchester was a widow who believed that the ghosts of those killed by the Winchester rifle were coming to her home and in 1884 she employed carpenters and craftsmen to keep construction going. Incredibly modern for it’s time frame, there are stairways that go nowhere, 2 basements, 52 skylights, 40 staircases and prior to the 1906 earthquake it had seven stories. The haunted aspect and history of 38 years constant construction is only part of the story. On Friday the 13th and at Halloween there are flashlight tours of the House. Highly recommended.

3. Jerome Arizona is a spectacular sight to see. From the rugged hillside it seems it is sprouted from the earth itself and looks over miles of flat open desert. Once a mining camp far from anywhere today Jerome exists as a destination for artists, musicians, writers, gift shops and – yes – ghosts. Sitting between Flagstaff and Prescott it is “in the middle of nowhere. Restaurants and lodging are available.

A compact town it’s not recommended to take large vehicles through, but definitely a place to visit, for history, old stories and ghostly tales.

4. Vicksburg Mississippi has been said to have ghosts make believers of unbelievers. The Anchuca mansion is now a bed and breakfast, available as a historical place of note to stay. Joseph E. Davis, brother to President Jefferson Davis, owned the plantation and made his home here. The home survived the Civil War but in 1863 served as shelter for those who served and were inured. Vicksburg is also home to the Cedar Grove Mansion Inn & Restaurant, which did come under fire and a cannon ball remains in a wall. It’s said it survived due to serving as a Union hospital. Having two historical places of such significance available to stay at is a treat.

Vicksburg itself is a small town survivor of both Union and Confederate dwelling from 1862 to 1863. Grant’s army attacked, but many died not only during the campaign but from disease and starvation. Like many in the south some had no choice. The Vicksburg National Military Park has a museum part way through. There’s also the Soldiers Rest Confederate Cemetery Old Courthouse Museum, Southern Cultural Complex (where “Mississippi Burning” was filmed, Windsor Ruins and McRaven home. The latter is said to be particularly haunted and was home to a confederate campsite.

5. Adams Tennessee is the place to go for the Bell Witch which was made into a movie “An American Haunting“. This is possibly the most documented of haunting in the US. Located a couple easy hours from Nashville it is the legend that far outgrew the area, and in the wooded hills of Tennessee it’s wise to get reservations in early for Halloween tours of sites like the Bell Witch Cave.

These are places to embrace the spirit of Halloween on many fronts. Make it a Halloween to remember!

10 Top Halloween Songs for Your Party

No matter what type of party music can set the mood – here’s some ideas for songs for Halloween parties.

Thriller is the song of a generation for Halloween. It redefined music videos. It had enough of a “what if” out of control that creates fear even when you “know better.” The full length official video starts with what it turns out is a movie, but the movie becomes reality for the characters. With input from Vincent Price the evil is given a face as ghouls come to life. It’s an ideal dance tune and is featured at Halloween parties even in country music territory.

Hazard – not typically thought of as a Halloween song but consider it. It’s a classic story song but creates more questions than it answers. An unsolved murder – or was it suicide? Was he framed and set up because people expected him to be ‘trouble’ and would believe it?

Tubular Bells Pt 1 – Is there anything creepier any time of year but especially on Halloween than the theme from the Exorcist? It doesn’t need a lyric or voice to give chills.

Monster Mash – Bobby Pickett portrayed a lab experiment gone wrong with the Monster Mash. When “spooky” or “monster” songs come out this one leads the charge!

Stampede – Chris LeDoux painted a picture of the desperate attempt to control a terrorized herd of cattle in a lightning storm as his horse fell and he stood up to find the cattle about to run him over. He woke to find a peaceful camp site and about the time he thought it was a dream the real terror of being out of control hit as the ground shook with a real stampede. Being out of control is the core of being scared – or thinking we’re out of control!

Ghostbusters – few found Ghostbusters frightening but it did hum the infectious theme song and it’s remained as a Halloween favorite for many.

Don’t Fear The Reaper is not only a classic rock song but Blue Oyster Cult made it theirs. Recognizable and can fit in a party easily.

Somebody’s Watching Me Rockwell brings paranoia to a new level with lyric, glimpses from scary movies and the imagination. Large dogs to colored water in the shower to invasion of privacy but is it real or imagined? Sometimes the things we imagine are so much different!

Ghost Riders In the Sky painted another runaway cattle herd but this one much more symbolic. Johnny Cash made us feel the hot breath of the Devil’s cattle as the ghost riders chased the herd endlessly across the sky.

Werewolf Bar Mitzvah gives a light hearted look at what happens when – well things go not according to plan!

Look for the unusual – look through soundtracks and scary movies as well as popular music. Scary music isn’t just for Halloween!

5 Errors That Lose Meat from Your Deer

The hunting season comes and many are after the big buck. While these may keep the taxidermist busy there is another reason to hunt – a nutritious meat for the freezer. There are several mistakes deer hunters make that compromises the quality of the meat before it gets to the processor.

The effort and expense of deer hunting means it just makes sense to make the most of the deer. There are many non-hunters who also enjoy venison and would happily take clean cuts of meat!

In Kentucky John’s Custom Meats is one facility that, like many, is very busy during deer season. Making the most of your deer means also avoiding errors. Here are the five big ones that can be made when bringing a deer in to be processed.

A big one is not calling in the deer. Amy with John’s Custom Meats says “It is illegal to transport a deer without properly checking the deer in first. As a processor, we cannot legally accept any deer that does not have a check in confirmation number.” Making sure your deer is legally tagged and identified is important to having the deer at all.

A second one may surprise many – visiting the taxidermist first. “Many a meat is wasted when checking in with the taxidermist before visiting the processor first. The taxidermist does not have your meat safety or yield in mind when removing the cape.” This comes solely on the view of the deer – the taxidermist is looking at a head mount, not the meat underneath. “Visit the processor first and then go see the taxidermist.”

Because it’s the busy season be sure to call the processor before you hunt. “Check with your processor on what they prefer to receive. In our case, we want a fully intact deer just field dressed. We’ll handle everything from there. The hide keeps the meats sanitary.” Again – this is from the view of making the most of the deer – the meat and the hide as well as the trophy mount makes the maximum use of the deer for the effort of hunting.

Another thing many don’t consider when taking a deer to a processor is field dressing. “Do not cut the back leg tendons. A processor needs those for hanging on the rail system.” This makes a better end product for you in how you want your deer cut as a full sized deer is much easier to process with the modern tools available for professionals.

Finally “Do not make the processor your last stop. The quicker the meat is in a chill cooler the better your meats will taste and the better your meat yield will be.” The point of field dressing is to get the meat cooled as fast as possible. This helps not only the quantity of meat that you get but the quality too. Along with this don’t dump the deer off at the door when they aren’t there. Not only are you at risk of losing your deer or having dogs get in it, but it allows it to set without being chilled.

Make the most of your hunting time this year and get more meat in the freezer.

How to Stain a Deck

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALearning how to stain a deck is not difficult with a little research and a willingness to perhaps get a little dirty. If your deck is looking a little dingy it might be time for a facelift and a good deck stain can make a world of difference.

Look at your deck after a rain or with a little water on it – are there “puddles” or does it sink into the deck? If there’s drops on top your deck won’t need sealed, even if you stain it. If it seeps in, however, a good deck sealer is needed in order to maintain the structure of the deck as well as the appearance.

A good clear water repellant preserves the wood from fading, helps with sun and water protection. There also is a semi-transparent and the dark deck stains, which offer the most protection. If you don’t have a new deck, you’ll need to prepare the deck itself. Sand rough spots down, repair boards that are showing excessive wear. You’ll need at least two days between 50-90 degrees to properly get the deck stain applied. Do not apply in hot sun – if the deck stain dries too quickly it doesn’t soak in, and it needs to soak in to give the maximum protection.

Once the deck is prepared gently stir the stain to mix thoroughly – don’t shake it and keep the bubbles to a minimum for the best look when staining a deck. Have all dust, debris, sawdust and so forth swept off the deck and it should be completely dry. Working 2-3 boards at a time apply the stain, covering thoroughly but without allowing it to puddle. Working quickly to cover the deck it may help to have someone with a roller going behind you to insure it is spread thoroughly and evenly. Use a brush to get into the corners and joints, railings and steps to cover the deck evenly.

With a variety of deck stains available to consumers you can treat your deck with a light stain to let the wood grain show through or the darker, longer lasting stain that protects with a longer wear life. A good exterior stain greatly extends the life of your deck and allows you to enjoy it rather than replacing it.

There are others who don’t like stains at all and prefer to coordinate the deck with the house with the use of deck paint. These are often white, grey or other light colors but based on individual tastes.

Whether you paint or use deck stain, cover thoroughly and evenly and allow the deck to dry completely for at least 24 hours before stepping onto it or using it. Your reward is a beautiful deck that takes little other maintenance.

An Introduction to Meat Goat Breeds

boerkidwikiPDMeat goat breeds are often seen as being Boer and Boer cross. While it is true that any goat can be used for meat, just as beef cattle are heavier muscled than dairy so it is with goats. This puts more pounds in the freezer for the space and resources used.

Often misspelled as boar or bore, the Boer is a South African breed that is a powerful, stocky, meaty goat. They typically have large horns on the bucks with smaller horns on the does. The Boer was introduced and initially brought incredibly high prices with $30,000 or more not uncommon. They were crossed with Spanish and Nubian goats largely due to availability and the high cost of Boers made it impractical to sell them for meat. When the market crashed many found themselves with expensive Boers that no longer held the value.

The initial Boers were white with red heads although sometimes black or tan were seen in crossbreds. So dominant has the Boer been that anything carrying Boer markings was priced higher. They have a high growth rate but some became disappointed in the Boer as to finish well it was said they had to be feedlot fed’. The most disappointed were the people who believed goats “eat anything”, bought expensive animals and turned them into barbed wire areas with scrub brush that offered little to no nutritional value.

The Myotonic goat is smaller and has several names including Tennessee fainting goat, wooden leg and stiff legged goats. This breed has a high meat to bone dressing percentage and can make a good outcross for other breeds. The unique trait of these goats is their “faint” which despite appearances is not fainting or seizures nor is it painful. The muscles will stiffen and the goat often falls down, particularly when startled or scared. These goats absolutely MUST have tight fences as they are helpless in a predator attack. They are aware of what is going on but cannot run. Owners must make sure especially with this breed there is proper protection.

The Kiko has also gained favor among many as a more efficient grazer than the Boer. The Kiko is a New Zealand meat breed developed from native feral goats using Anglo-Nubian, Toggenburg and Saanen bucks then selective breeding to produce a meaty, solid and deep bodied goat with plenty of muscling. The horns of the Kiko are different from a typical Boer and the Kiko excels under natural conditions. Like the Boer the Kiko has a breed registry to maintain purebred meat goat lines.

The Kiko Boer cross has found favor with some meat goat producers. Still others have selected heavier muscled dairy animals such as some producers in California in the mid 1990s with working towards establishing a Santa Teresa goat. Using largely Alpine and LaMancha these goats were slated as a dual purpose, milking a good amount but also producing weathers that finished out at heavy weights. Indeed at one carcass show the Santa Teresa easily won the class over all the Boer crosses with simply more meat over shoulders, hindquarters, ribs and top.

The best breed of meat goat depends on your situation. Like most animals the goat can benefit from crossbreeding commercially to increase the frame and function. Buck kids slated for finishing for meat should be castrated for reasons of meat quality, although some ethnic customers require only buck kids be consumed so your methods depend on your market.

No matter what breed or combination of breeds that you use good genetics, good feed, good fences and good management will product the best meat goats.

Cow Productivity Depends on Cow Comfort

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACow productivity and cow comfort is something that often is pointed at dairy cattle. Beef cattle, too, are more productive when comfortable. The comfort of cattle is of primary concern among producers who not only want to maximize the care of the cattle.

Modern dairy cows are often a focus due to confinement situations that are needed from a labor standpoint. Many modern confinement systems provide shade, fans and even misters for cows in hot weather. Feed that is easily available is important as well as clean water – both make for more milk. While concrete pens are usually used for reasons of ease of cleaning, it can be hard on a cow’s feet and legs. For this reason a comfortable, dry, clean place to lie down is important.

Free stalls are designed so that cows walk in and lie down, helping to insure that the manure deposited when she stands up is in the gutter or at least at the back of the stall where it is easily scraped into the gutter to be scraped out. Sand, shavings, rubber and cow mattresses are all options that are used in dairies around the US.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile the basics of feed, water, shelter are a great deal towards cow comfort that certainly isn’t all. Dairies that dry cattle off for a rest grass based dairies and beef facilities also make use of pasture. Ground is easier on feet and legs, but more difficult to keep dry and sanitary.

Dry areas to lie down reduce the chances of mastitis and other problems. Cows will lay down in many areas and some cows are just messy and don’t seem to mind laying in manure, but most given a choice will choose a dry stall over a wet one.

Cow comfort of course goes much further. Keeping feet properly trimmed and maintained makes it easier for cows to walk without pain. If they are hesitant to stand or walk they won’t be up eating and, pasture or confinement, can lose production and condition.

Pest control is another important part of cow comfort. Cows that spend their time fighting flies aren’t eating or resting – both essential activities of a cow’s productive day. There are also diseases such as pinkeye that can be transmitted with flies. Pest control also includes controlling mice and rats around the feed supplies.

When designing barns, shelters or even feeding areas in pastures keeping the focus on cow comfort pays off whether it’s 2 cows or 2,000. Observe cattle daily for signs of soreness or injury.

Keeping up on cow care basics is important but it also is important to think from a cow’s preference, not a human one. Don’t let dominant cows keep more submissive ones from the feed – make sure there is plenty of bunk space for all to eat without harassment or fear.

Plan well for cow care and productivity. Your cows depend on you as much as you depend on them, and a good cow is too expensive to replace in rotation before her time. Take care of your cows and they’ll take care of you.

How to Make Goat Milk Soaps

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen you have an abundance of goat’s milk and you use it for drinking, cheese, ice cream and every recipe you can find that has milk it’s natural to want to find other ways to use it. With heavy milking Toggenburgs, Alpines, Saanens and recorded grades there was plenty of milk and soaps were a natural extension to make and sell.

Goat’s milk soaps have been credited with clearing skin conditions and milk soaps as a rule are gentler than those with harsh chemicals. Making goats milk soaps is not difficult but it is exacting.

You will need to gather supplies. These include a large stainless steel kettle for mixing the soap. Make sure this is stainless steel rather than aluminum or other materials as it not only has to stand the heat but the caustic nature of the lye reacting to make soap. A stainless steel spoon helps as well as a stick blender used just for your soap making. A wide variety of molds can be used including plastic containers providing they can handle heat. A couple of candy or meat thermometers are needed also as you’ll need to watch temperatures.

Highly recommended are plastic safety goggles and long sleeves with gloves. Keep pets and small children out of the room or confined when mixing soap for their safety and yours.

You can follow an existing recipe or as you gain experience create your own. An excellent source for soapmakers is http://www.thesage.com/calcs/l as you can plug in your type of lye, liquid, what kind of fats and it calculates how much lye to use for you.

For example to use 12 ounces of corn oil and 36 ounces soybean oil (vegetable oil) it calls for 12-18 ounces of milk and, for the medium range, 6.18 to 5.98 ounces of lye, with the lower range making a softer soap.

Measure the oils into a pan and place on low on the stove, with a thermometer attached to the pan to watch the temperature. While that is heating work on the other half of the equation.

Measure the milk into the pot and add the lye to it. Always add it this way and with milk soaps watch carefully your thermometer. I found better success by placing the pan I’m working in in a sink of cold water. As you add the lye you will find the milk heats up considerablythe cold water outside the pan helps disperse this heat somewhat. By watching the temperature try to keep it less than 140 degreesas it starts to heat up slow down pouring and keep gently stirring.

The reason for this caution is to keep the milk from curdling, a problem some soapmakers have found. By watching the heat and doing it this way I never had a problem with this issue. Once all the lye is added you’ll need to carefully balance things to bring the lye mixture and the oils to the same temperature. I used 100 degrees as my temperature. The important thing is that both are the same temperature.

Once the same temperature is reached add the oils to the lye mixture, stirring constantly. Some soapmakers use a stick blender once the oils are added while others prefer to stir by hand. Be careful not to splash it or allow pets or children to stir it. As you are stirring you are looking for “tracing” which can take more than 15 minutes but with a blender can take less. Look carefully for this which will leave a drop for several seconds or leave a pattern where you have stirred for several seconds. Once this is seen quickly pour into your prepared molds as the soap is soft but can set quickly.

Once in the molds lightly cover and cover with a blanket to regulate temperature. If the soap cools too quickly it can spoil a batch. Carefully check the soap daily to see when it is set soft but firm. If you are using a mold that requires cutting you’ll want to turn it out and cut while it’s firm but not hardened. Once your soap is cut place on a rack out of reach of pets and children to cure or harden.

As you gain experience you can add oatmeal and other things to your soaps after the oils but before tracing begins. Some even add shredded rose petals! The 48 ounce weight can make a dozen cut bars but if you pretty up’ the edges don’t throw away the peelings and pieces. You can make laundry soap and even soft soap also.

Don’t underestimate the danger of lye but don’t be afraid of it either. Treat it with respect and use it carefully. Always add the lye to liquid, not the other way around.

Soap making is a way to use some milk, although not large amounts, but is also one more thing you can produce at home. Milk soaps are not difficult to make.