Sunday, January 31, 2010

Homesteading group created

For those of you who want to read about homesteading more often than I post,

or who have questions completely unrelated to what I'm posting about on a given day,

or who want to share a story about something that happened on your homestead,

or who are thinking about moving to the country to embark upon your own amazing adventure,

I've started a homesteading group on Ning. There is a discussion forum where you can post questions, respond to other people's queries, post photos, create a blog, post a video, and get to know other people who share the same dreams. There are individual discussion forums for a variety of livestock, plus a forum for the farmhouse kitchen and another forum for the garden.

You will have your own page, where you can create a blog or link to your existing blog. You can post photos and videos and visit one one-on-one with other members. You can advertise animals for sale. You can make your page as public or as private as you want, as Ning gives you several levels of privacy from which to choose.

So, if you'd like to learn a little more or share a little more, head on over to Modern Homesteading and check it out!

Visit Modern Homesteading

Friday, January 29, 2010

Apple cinnamon muffins

I rediscovered this recipe recently and have been enjoying these warm muffins for breakfast. When my children were younger, I made these a lot! Cinnamon just seems to beg for whole wheat flour. As you know, I'm not a purist when it comes to using whole wheat (I do love my French bread), but when cinnamon is involved, it just doesn't taste right to me unless you use whole wheat flour.

Mix together:
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. salt

1 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. honey
3 T. melted butter
1 egg

Once everything is mixed together, add:
one apple (peeled and chopped)

Fill muffin cups about half full and bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until top of muffin springs back when touched lightly. In other words, if you poke it gently, and the muffin now has a dent in it, it's not done yet. This recipe makes a dozen muffins.

For more posts on food check out Fight Back Friday.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hay and horses and goats and sheep

It's amazing how every now and then something knocks me down, and after spending a few hours in bed, things look a lot clearer. Today it was a migraine. I got only three hours of sleep last night, and then I woke up with a migraine, which just got worse and worse until I finally surrendered around noon and went to bed. I couldn't sleep for a couple hours, so I just laid there thinking. One of the many things going through my head lately is how fast the animals are burning through the hay. The front of our barn was filled with 500 bales of hay in November, and we only have about 150 left, which is not enough to get us into April when the grass starts growing. I've left two phone messages for one hay man, and he hasn't called me back, which I'm thinking is bad news. I emailed another person, and she responded right away, saying that they didn't have any extra to sell.

When I look at how many animals we have and whether or not we need to sell or butcher any, I always think that it's not a problem to take care of one more and one more and one more and . . . And I seriously underestimated how much more hay would be eaten by the new additions to the farm this year: two cows, six sheep, and another llama. Then I remembered something that a speaker said at the conference earlier this month: to be sustainable, you need to be producing your livestock feed on your farm. Yeah, that was a goal initially, and I forgot about it somewhere along the line. Now I understand why people and businesses put their mission statement front and center, where they're looking at it every day.

So, here are some obvious observations and solutions. First, I need to say good bye to the two horses that are here. When we moved out here in 2002, we had more than enough to feed our livestock, so it seemed like the nice thing to do to take in a horse that needed a home. My daughter had a horse, and he would be happier with a pasture mate. So Merlot (pictured above) came to live with us. He has EPM and severe arthritis in his hock. He can't be ridden. His owner said she was only looking for free pasture board. She would take care of all the vet bills, farrier bills, and other upkeep above and beyond feeding. That lasted until she got divorced a few years ago, and she stopped paying his bills. And then when my daughter's horse died three years ago at the ripe old age of 30, Merlot was very upset. I emailed the owner to let her know that Buddy had died, and I asked if she'd like to move Merlot to another farm where he'd have an equine friend. Her response ranked right up there as one of the meanest emails I've ever received. She suggested that I have him put down if I was going to "abandon" him, and that was the last time I ever heard from her.

So, I really need to find a new home for Merlot. I'm hoping there is someone out there, who is at a place similar to where we were eight years ago -- plenty of pasture just sitting there waiting for someone to eat it. I also need to contact the other horse's owner. What other horse, you ask? Well, after Buddy died, and Merlot was unhappy, I allowed another person to bring his horse here for free pasture board. I guess I'm just hopelessly optimistic. I haven't heard from the guy in almost two years, so I hope he responds better than Merlot's owner. It will be sad to say good-bye to the horses, but I can't deny the fact that they're eating pasture and hay that my goats, sheep, cows, and llamas could be eating.

I have also wound up with nine unproductive goats, and their feed bill is certainly adding up, especially when three of them are la manchas. It's very frustrating that I find myself with five wethers. The first two were born here seven years ago, and I kept them simply because no one ever bought them. (One is pictured at right.) Then I decided to keep the mini mancha wether because I was going to train him to be a cart wether. I have recently come to the realization that training a goat to pull a cart is not something I will have time to do in the next few years. I must admit, I can't do everything! I also have a la mancha wether, who I bought as a buck, but after he kept jumping fences and getting in with my Nigerian does, I decided it was too risky to have a full-size buck on the farm, so I castrated him, thinking that I'd train him to pull a cart too.

The final wether is a great example of what happens when you hold an animal without a deposit. A therapeutic riding stable contacted me and told me they wanted a couple goats for their petting zoo, and asked if I could donate them. Sure, I said, enthusiastically. I decided Nick and another goat would go there, and in spite of many offers to buy him, I kept refusing to sell him, because he was going to be donated to charity. They kept saying they'd be ready to accept him in another month or two. He is now two years old! In case you're wondering, the ninth unproductive goat is Star, the first goat I ever bought, who is now 11 and enjoying a well-deserved retirement! It's time for me to sell the other eight. That would cut my goat herd by 25%.

And I really need to start selling sheep. I had wanted to keep my flock at around 20, but this year it has crept up to 25, and they eat 25% more than 20 sheep. Really, I think I should reduce it down to about a dozen sheep. That was a very nice number as I knew all their names and pedigrees. Now I'm out there trying to read ear tags and figure out who's who. The rams are still a quarter mile away from the ewes, so there will be no more accidental breedings this year.

I can't believe the numbers got away from me like this. I need to continue evaluating what we're doing and what animals are here, and see if there are any other ways I can reduce hay consumption. There is one more hay man I can call. If he doesn't have anything, then I'll probably be losing a lot more sleep in the coming weeks. This is not the ideal time of year for selling or butchering, but I'll have to start making some hard decisions.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Starting seeds

This was last Thursday ...
This is today ...

What's the big deal? Remember when we attended that conference earlier this month, and I said that it's a miracle that anything ever grew here? Well, one of the first things I learned is that seeds really do need warm temperatures to germinate. We've been starting seeds either in our house, in the pump room, or in our basement. The latter is about 60 degrees, which is way too cold for most seeds to germinate, which explains why our germination rate was so low and so slow! Since the house is 64 degrees, that's not much better, so I realized that I needed to invest in one of those seed-starting mats. And from the looks of my first attempt at starting seeds, it looks like it's worth every penny.

The seeds are germinating much faster than ever before! Several popped through the surface on Sunday, which is only three days after being planted. Once they're up and growing, I can remove them from the mat, and they should keep going at our normal basement temperature. Then I'll start another flat. This is also a good idea, since you should use succession plantings -- a little today, a little more in a couple weeks, and so on, rather than planting everything at once. That way, if you have trouble with weather, insects, disease, you won't lose everything. It will also spread out the harvest.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter: The egg-free season

Yes, it's just an egg. It's not a big deal to 99.9% of Americans who buy eggs 365 days a year without a second thought. However, almost eight years ago, we made the commitment to only eat our homegrown eggs, so an egg in January is a big deal to us. Chickens don't lay when the days get too short, so we don't usually have any eggs from December until March. The only reason they have eggs in the supermarket is because those chickens live indoors under artificial lights that fool their bodies into thinking that it's spring year round. Yes, we could artificially light our chicken house, but I figure that if Mother Nature says the girls needs a holiday, who am I to argue?

I've grown to love eating seasonally, and I find a lot of wisdom in it. When we're not doing much physically, we probably shouldn't be eating a lot of eggs. We probably should be eating more dried beans, cabbage, squash and root vegetables that store well for winter consumption and are low in fat and calories.

As you might recall, all of our old hens went down south in December and became stew hens. They were three to five years old and each averaging only an egg a week in summer. We have 47 New Hampshire red pullets that were hatched in September and will reach egg-laying age right about the time that the sun comes back in March. We also have two crossbred pullets that were hatched last spring. No doubt that is where this egg came from, as well as the other one that we found the next day. The good thing about being on an egg-restricted diet right now is that in March we will be drowning in eggs. We'll be eating creme brulee pie, French toast, quiche, pound cake, scrambled eggs, omelets, egg salad, and anything else we can imagine that contains eggs. After a month of eating eggs at meal after meal, we will get tired of them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mold-ripened cheese failure

A couple weeks ago, I started a St. Maure cheese. It's a mold-ripened cheese, similar to brie or Camembert, but it didn't have the same dire warning as the latter two about being difficult to age. Also, the directions said you could mix the penicillium candidum with the milk to make St. Maure. You have to mist the finished cheese with the mold for brie and Camembert, and I don't have an atomizer. The St. Maure seemed simpler. I thought there would be less room for error. Well, maybe not ...

As you can see, the mold is sporadic. It's here and there, but definitely NOT everywhere as it should be.

The mold did, however, migrate to cover the bottom of the drying rack. Yes, I know this is not an official cheese mat, but it seemed like it would work. Wrong again! The mold wrapped around the rack, and I could turn it upside down without any cheese coming off. I wound up chipping off the cheese.

And you can see how it turned out. It is definitely not a smooth, creamy style cheese, which I think it should be. Yes, I did taste it. It was delicious -- the taste reminded me of something between Camembert and cream cheese, except it's harder and drier than cheddar.

Although there were no warnings about keeping temperature and humidity just right during aging of St. Maure, it is obvious that the cheese got too dry. I will try this again, as the flavor was heavenly. We just need to work on the texture.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Two gray days

It's been overcast and slightly frozen these past two days. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Friday, January 15, 2010

New website!

I mentioned we were working on it a couple weeks ago, and it's finally here. You've probably noticed that the blog looks different. It's been integrated into our new farm website. From here, you can visit any page on the website and learn more about us, our animals, and the products we produce on the farm. I hope you'll take a moment to check it out. Don't hesitate to let us know if a link isn't working, or if you find some other bug. We announced the new site last night on Facebook and received some feedback from a couple people on things that didn't work (and an embarrassing typo). I think it's all fixed now, but if you find something wrong, please let us know!

Thanks to Katherine, my youngest, who designed the banner and provided a lot of the photos. Thanks also to Sarah, our apprentice in November, who contributed additional photos.

Kudos to Margaret, my oldest, who has designed every Antiquity Oaks website to date. I do the writing and choose pictures; she does all the coding and design work, which is the hard part! She doesn't use any kind of program like Dreamweaver. She taught herself HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, so she builds sites the old-fashioned way from scratch. The challenge with the new site was integrating it with Blogger. I was jumping up and down and squealing like a three-year-old on Christmas morning when she got it to work. It's been fun having her home from college the last few weeks, and we're sure going to miss her when she leaves later today.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Life goes on, especially for worms

Tennessee Williams died during the night. I'm not surprised, of course. He has been very weak for the past couple days. I appreciate everyone's prayers, thoughts, and suggestions about how to help him. I don't think much would have helped him other than a blood transfusion, because he was so anemic.

As you might imagine, I've been thinking about worms a lot in the past few days. I don't know why I didn't think about this before, but on the Molly's Herbal website, she says that she still uses Ivermectin on a few goats sometimes. If you're familiar with the FAMACHA "smart drenching" protocol, then you know that you only deworm animals that are anemic -- in other words, only the animals that need it. The vet who conducted our FAMACHA training said that she'd been using it for two years and had only used a dewormer on two or three goats during that time. So, I'm wondering if Molly's goats would have had the same outcome, regardless of whether or not they were receiving the herbal dewormer. I wish there were some controlled studies on this.

I know nothing cures 100% of people or animals 100% of the time, but I am disappointed that the fecal egg count was so high after seven days of treatment. If the herbs didn't kill the worms in him, then how would they kill the worms in the other goats on my farm?

I know there are a lot of testimonials on Molly's website, but a lot of those people also talk about having only a few goats. When I had only four goats, I had zero parasites here. In fact, my husband teaches at a community college that has a vet tech program, and he donated a lot of poop for the students to practice on. The vet-professor said they couldn't find any eggs at all in the poop -- and we had never used any type of dewormer for the first year. (Since the students never got to see any eggs, they didn't want any more of our poop.) However, those four goats had a couple acres to themselves, so the environment was very different than it is today. Our third year with goats was very traumatic -- we had three bucks die. All were necropsied, and all died due to parasites.

The second and third buck died in spite of being treated monthly with a dewormer for three months after the first buck died. That's when a vet professor at U of I told me that we would never achieve parasite control with chemicals. We created enough buck pens to rotate them every three weeks (when parasites hatch), and we created new pastures for them. We now have temporary fencing and move them to completely clean ground (our lawn!) in the spring and summer. Obviously, we need to do more.

I certainly don't have the answers when it comes to parasite control, but maybe I have been doing something right, even without realizing it. Unlike a lot of goat breeders who will sell any male as a buck, I decide whether or not a buck gets to keep his testicles based on his dam's conformation and milking ability. Once I decide he will be a buck, he will be a buck forever, even if no one buys him. Some people say they won't sell a buck as a buck unless they'd use him in their own herd, but I wonder how much they really mean that when they're saying that about the majority of their bucks and then quickly castrating any that don't sell by two months of age. This is why I currently have eight bucks -- well, seven now. Most of them were born here. I start using bucks minimally when they're a year or two old, and the more I like what I see in offspring, the more I use them.

Tennessee Williams had only been bred to two does last year and one this year so far (unless he bred someone when he escaped on Christmas Day). His offspring were beautiful, and I had been excited about using him more in the future. Who knows if he was just genetically predisposed to being sensitive to parasites or . . . who knows? But he has been removed from the gene pool at this point. I don't know anyone who is breeding Nigerian dwarves (or another breed of goats) for parasite resistance. Most just accept the use of chemical dewormers as standard operational procedure. But as we're learning to do everything else organically, it is bothering me more and more to have this part of the farm dependent upon chemicals.

Even though the does are essentially clean of parasites right now, I know the parasites will be having a party right after kidding. After the first couple years, I adopted the common practice of using a dewormer as part of the after-kidding ritual. Through my initial "wait-n-see" approach, I learned that 100% of does need deworming after kidding, so waiting seemed pointless. (0% of my ewes need deworming after lambing. Why the difference?) In September when Giselle kidded, I decided to give her no dewormer other than DE in her feed every day, and that worked for about six weeks, then her poop got clumpy. That's when I bought the Molly's and after four days of the Formula #1, the poop was berries again. When I mentioned this to my vet, she said I should have done fecals to verify my observations and see how the egg counts were affected by the treatments. Now I have an idea.

Although I don't have enough goats to do a study that is statistically significant, I am going to split up my does into different treatment groups to see how they respond to different natural deworming treatments after kidding this year. I'm thinking one group will get an herbal treatment and one will get DE. I'll do fecals at kidding and weekly for a month and then another fecal at two months post kidding. Should I have a third group where I do DE and herbal? Forget a control group. I can tell you after eight years that if you do nothing, the does will start pooping clumps and losing weight until they're dewormed. I might finally be able to use all that stuff I learned about research and statistics in grad school.

If you have any suggestions, please chime in!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Organic goats?

I'm afraid one of my bucks is going to die. Almost every winter, a buck dies. I was very excited last winter when everyone came through with flying colors. I thought I had finally figured out the secret to keeping bucks alive over the winter. Temperatures have been falling below zero or hovering in the single digits for the past couple weeks, so I'm sure that was part of the problem. It's just amazing how fast a buck can do downhill though.

On Christmas Day, Tennessee Williams jumped the fence so he could be with the girls. That certainly doesn't sound like a buck who is anything but healthy, right? A week ago, another buck bumped into him very slightly, and he fell down. That is definitely not a good sign, so I brought him inside and treated him with Molly's Herbal Dewormer for a week, even though she only recommends three days. He was not improving, which was why we continued to give it to him. Today, I did a fecal, and the slide was covered with worm eggs, so I gave him Cydectin. I'm afraid it's too late, but we'll see.

Seeing how many worms he had, I was tempted to just give Cydectin to everyone, but I decided to run a few fecals first -- one from a buck and two from does. When those slides only had two or three eggs each, I repeated the test, thinking it couldn't be that different. Maybe I made a mistake somehow? No, repeating the test had the same results. Just in one spot on William's slide, there were more than 40 eggs, meaning that I didn't even have to move the slide to count more than 40 eggs.

Of course, the other goats are looking healthy, especially the does, so logically I should not be surprised to see only two or three eggs on the entire slide. I stared at the bucks a good, long time and came to the conclusion that the only thing that looks bad is that three of them are shedding from their face, which usually means they need more copper, so I gave copper boluses to those three.

A number of people have asked why I don't just let the weaker animals die -- natural selection, right? I never had a good answer for that, other than my own compassion. However, if there is such a thing as the "right" genetics for an organic farm, I'm starting to wonder if it's possible to achieve it. William's mother is Caboose, who is always the best conditioned goat out there, and she is one of the does whose fecal I tested. His sire's dam is Carmen, another goat who is always in good condition. His sire's sire, however, died during the winter when he was three. So, is 1/4 weaker genetics enough to doom a goat?

The other problem I have with natural selection is that our goats do not live in a natural world. In a natural world, they would range across thousands of acres. They might never eat grass that has been touched by another goat's poop. They certainly would not drink water from 100 feet below the ground, water that is full of minerals that can throw off the balance of nutrients. The high sulfur in our water is what causes our problems with copper deficiency. And who knows what other problems might be caused by our well water? In a natural world, goats would probably never eat alfalfa, and they'd eat a lot more browse than grass or grass hay.

Is it possible to raise goats organically? I'm starting to have my doubts.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The dysfunctional garden

This post is coming at you from the Panera in beautiful Springfield, IL. I've just spent my first day at the Illinois Specialty Growers and Agritourism Conference. Considering how much I've already learned, I am hanging my head in shame. Saying that the garden has been at the bottom of my educational priority list of the farm is an understatement. I'm just glad they don't arrest you or fine you for things like broccocide and cauliflower neglect. Apparently failure to mulch doesn't just result in more weeding, it also results in 50% lower yield. Speaking of weeding, did you know there are three different ways to weed, and if you do the wrong one for a particular weed, you can actually make your problem worse? I think I can safely say that everything produced so far in our garden has been in spite of us, rather than because we were actually doing anything right. It was quite the eye-opening day as I found myself thinking repeatedly, "Oh, that's why that happened!"

There were a lot of concepts that I recognized from raising livestock. For example, you can be giving your plants all the nitrogen in the world, but if they need phosphorus, they're limited by that deficiency, and more nitrogen won't help them at all. I recently found myself telling someone on a goat group that giving a goat Pepto wouldn't help a goat's diarrhea if it had coccidia, which needs to be treated with a sulfa drug. So, whether you're talking about goats or tomatoes, their capacity to grow and thrive is limited by the weakest link, whether it's a deficiency or a disease.

One of the highlights of my day was meeting a woman who has an herb farm with 1,000+ varieties of herbs -- more than 30 varieties of mint, alone! And of course, I had to pick her brain about how to keep my rosemary alive, which it still is. She said keeping it alive until now isn't that much of an accomplishment. They usually die around January or February if they're not getting enough moisture. In addition to weekly watering, I also need to mist it. And she said that even if it looks dead when spring arrives, put it outside and see if it comes back.

Equally exciting is the vendor hall. There are a couple of organic and heirloom seed sellers, which is great, because they have catalogs. I'd much rather flip through a paper catalog than go through a website. In fact, my brain is kind of fried after seven hours of lectures, so I'm going to sign off now and look over my notes, then start flipping through those seed catalogs.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gardening news from Elsewhere

Between the email newsletters I receive and serendipity, I've found some very helpful websites lately:

But first, a friend told me about this inspiring place -- The Green Earth Institute in Naperville, IL. Sounds like they're doing a lot of the same stuff I want to do in the area of education. Check out the aerial photos of their farm. They are really in the middle of suburbia! (Thanks for sharing this, Tim!)

SARE has a great book available for FREE on the Internet -- Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual, which is 154-pages. You can download it as a PDF, or if you want, you can buy a hard copy for $24.

Have you heard that it's more expensive to eat a locavore diet? Well, this study from Iowa says otherwise.

Did you know the White House put up little hoop houses to extend the growing season of their garden? In addition to that, they're promoting hoop houses for farmers in the real world and even helping to pay for them. This video has some great information about the whole hoopla. (Sorry, couldn't resist that one.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Scarf for charity

Last summer I donated a custom scarf to the Brenda Novak's Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research. The winner would get to choose what color scarf she wanted, and I'd make it and send it to her along with the story behind it. She asked for a long, thin, gray scarf, so this is what I designed and made. I'll mail it, along with pictures and the life stories of Rambrandt the Shetland sheep and Sterling the llama.

In case you knitters are curious how it's made. I cast on 185 stiches using size 13 circular needles, then used only a knit stitch, except for the fifth row and the fifth from last row, where I knit two together, then yarned over, and repeated for the entire row, except for the first five and last five stitches.

So, the scarf is now done and ready to go in the mail. I hope she likes it!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New year, new goals

I meant to start writing today's post a few weeks ago, as my 2010 plans started popping into my head, but that never happened, so you're getting it off the cuff this afternoon. And you're getting it from the brain of a woman who just spent two days with some wicked form of stomach bug or food poisoning, which cut short our Chicago vacation. When I was throwing up (and other unmentionables) in that hotel room, all I could think of was how much I wanted fresh air and simple foods. As much as I love our little homestead, I never knew I could be so happy to see it as I was when we arrived home yesterday. I could write a whole post about all the little things that made me happy, but I digress. This is about the future, not my last two days in agony. So, I might forget a couple of things, but here's what's coming in 2010.

Since Margaret has been home from college, she's been working on a complete redesign of the Antiquity Oaks website, so if you've never been there, go give it a hug, because it's going to be gone in a few days. It will be replaced with an entirely new website that includes information on our cows, llamas, classes, and internships, and a few other things that I've probably forgotten about at the moment. But don't worry -- I have all that in my notes. And I need to spend the next couple days finishing up all the copy for that site. The blog will become a page on the new site, but we're going to keep the same URL, so you won't need to change your bookmarks and you won't lose us. The appearance of the blog will, however, change, and you will be able to visit any page on the website directly from the blog.

This also means that I'm finalizing plans for our internship and apprenticeship programs. I finally decided that we're not going to be another Joel Salatin in size and scope. I have no desire to grow 100 steers or 10,000 chickens a year. I do, however, have a desire to meet like-minded people and help them to get a step closer to their dream of self-sufficiency, a locavore economy, greener agriculture and energy, and all that great stuff, so our focus is continuing to shift from production to education, although production will certainly be a part of the education.

Speaking of production, it gets really depressing when I read about people living on little city lots who can grow thousands of pounds of food a year for themselves, and it finally occurred to me that we should be keeping track, so we're going to do that in 2010. We're going to keep track of all the eggs, milk, meat, fruit, herbs, and vegetables that we produce, raise, or forage on our little 32 acres for the next year, starting today, which wasn't very impressive, because it is January 1, in the middle of Illinois. We're at just over four pounds of goat milk for 2010 so far!

And speaking of depressing, the garden gets me the most depressed. I have never claimed to be a great gardener. In fact, I generally complain (in real life, if not on the blog) about what terrible gardeners we are here. But to be honest, we haven't really worked as hard at gardening as we've worked at everything else. Even though I get upset when lettuce doesn't come up or the tomatoes get blight, it's nothing compared to how upset I am when an animal dies. The animals always come first, and that's how it should be, but I also admit that I could have put more time into educating myself about gardening. So, in November, Mike and I attended a full-day organic gardening seminar, and next week, I'll be spending three days at the Illinois Specialty Crop Conference, learning even more about vegetables, fruit and herb production. When it comes to furthering my education this year, the subject is gardening.

And speaking of education, I've decided to stop teaching college. I've been hanging in there teaching speech, thinking I should keep my resume fresh so that if a journalism teaching position ever opens up within an hour of me, I'd have a better shot. But considering the number of unemployed journalists in the Chicago area, I'm thinking there will be a few dozen people applying if they require a master's degree or hundreds if they only require a bachelor's, so it's not worth it for me to keep teaching a class that most students loathe. If the majority of people fear public speaking more than death, how do you think that a required public speaking class stacks up? Although it has certainly given me some great stories. Probably my favorite "excuse" of all time for three students missing a speech was that they were arrested on their way to class. They didn't know why they were arrested and had no paperwork documenting it, and the best part was that they couldn't even get it straight who was driving the car!

So, those are my plans for 2010. What you planning to accomplish?


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