Sunday, September 23, 2012

MIA

It's been too long since I've posted a blog post, unfortunately this one won't contain anything substantial, just life stuff.

Things have been crazy these last two weeks. My Grandmother was diagnosed with stage four cancer, so we have been grieving the news of this and taking care of her.

My sister is now engaged, and they are planning a wedding in December, so there is a lot a buzz about that!

Lastly, I just started my new position at work, working more hours and day shift, so this means less time to write blog posts (which I miss dearly!) Squeeze in homework and farm chores and that's my life right now!

With fall now here, I am itching to make some pumpkin-y type foods, and so I'll hopefully have on posted on here soon! :D Have a good day!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stepping into Essential Oils: Tick Repellent

By nature, I am an extremely curious person. Combine that with my love (obsession?) for good smelly things, you would have thought that I would be exploring the world of essential oils and all their benefits already! No, this is something I had actually never really thought about. Then the flea/tick drops stopped working on the dogs and I knew I needed to look into something better (and more natural).

Please don't get me wrong. I know a lot of people completely shun any and all uses of chemicals and I understand why. But where we live, there is an increasing risk of diseases such as Lyme disease that is transmitted by ticks. Then there is West Nile Virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. When they worked, I was willing to put them on the dogs to protect them from these diseases. Lately though, I have been finding numerous ticks on the dogs only a week after putting these products on them. I am finally fed up with putting chemicals on the dogs that aren't even doing what they are claiming to do!

I have tried several different brands, and have had the same experience with all of them. My sister's dog even developed paranoia after being administered Vectra 3D (the same tick repellent that we were giving our dogs).

I decided that even if I have to apply it everyday, I am going to find a better solution. A more natural solution. In this post I am going to give you the different methods I am trying and the recipes I have found from my internet research. Because we are nearing the end of "tick season" I doubt I will be able to share my results until next spring/summer. That is one thing that has frustrated me through my internet research. I wanted to find REAL people with REAL results. I found plenty of recipes, but not many people that said, "This worked great for me!".

Here is the recipe I came up with, after researching different recipes.

Tick Repellent
10 drops geranium essential oil
6 drops lavender essential oil
approx 1 cup water

Mix together in a spray bottle and apply as needed.

Since the ticks are gone for the season (yay!) I will report back in the spring/summer with results.

Another tip I have found, is to directly apply a couple drops of the EO on the dog's collar (NOT the dog, this can cause skin irritation and other problems. Essential oils should always be diluted) for added protection. I did this with  the geranium and lavender oils when I first received them and did not find any ticks. I'm not sure if it is related to the oils, or simply the fact that ticks are less common at this time of the year.

I bought my essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, per the recommendation of friends on a forum, although you can use any therapeutic grade essential oil for the recipes.



Friday, August 24, 2012

Minestrone Bread Bowls

Soup is probably the most amazing meal there is, in my opinion. So quick and easy to throw together and you don't really have to have a recipe. Whatever you have on hand is normally enough to make a great soup and it's guaranteed to be a little different every time!

Hubby came home from work a couple days ago with the idea to make bread bowls and soup for dinner. So, I left the bread bowl making up to him while I was at work and I made the soup the next day.

Since I didn't make the bread bowls, I will give you the link to the recipe he used. Instead of using all white flour, he used half whole wheat flour. It also seemed to call for too much flour, so he ended cutting back on the flour.



The soup recipe was something I basically threw together with what I had on hand.

- 3-4 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 can tomato sauce (I used leftover homemade tomato sauce that was in the fridge)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup zucchini, chopped
- 1 cup lima beans
- 2 cups cooked kidney beans
- 1 cup fresh kale
-1 cup cooked pasta
- half a chopped onion, sauteed in garlic
-garlic and onion salt/powder to taste



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Excalibur Dehydrator Giveaway by Modern Pioneer!

Modern Pioneer is giving away an Excalibur Dehydrator! This has been on my "must get" list for quite some time. Hurry though, there are only two more days to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Nichole's Modern Homestead is not affiliated with Modern Pioneer in any way. I am simply sharing this opportunity with my readers.

Monday, July 30, 2012

How to Use Cherry Tomatoes: Sun Dried Tomatoes

I think the cherry tomato is the one plant that is guaranteed to provide you with a bountiful harvest. While everything else in my garden is refusing to produce because of the drought, the cherry tomatoes just keep on chugging! This year I planted Large Red Cherry Tomatoes. These things are ginormous! There was no way I could just use them for salads, so I had to come up with a way to use them up. Well, I made a batch of salsa with them because I had a packet of store bought salsa mix laying around. That used up about 6lbs of them, but they were still pouring in.

So, I decided to make "Sun" Dried Tomatoes. I admit, I cheated. They would never dry out in our Indiana sun (although they might have during the heat wave last month!) so I popped them in the oven!

These are super easy to make. They take very little prep time, five minutes hands on and the rest of the time they just sit in the oven.

Simply wash and slice the cherry tomatoes in half. I tossed them in a little bit of olive oil, Italian seasoning and sea salt.


 Spread across a baking sheet and let them sit in the oven at about 150-200 degrees F for several hours until they are dried out. If your oven can't go that low, just put it on as low as it will go. You will need to keep a close eye on it though. The second batch I made was a little crispier than I would have liked, but they are still delicious!


This post is linked to:

The Country Garden Showcase

Barn Hop #73

The Country Homemaker Hop #31

Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #38

Little House in the Suburbs DIY Linky #10

Freaky Friday Linky

Growing Home

OffTheGridAt-30



Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gardening in a Drought

This year's garden has been disappointing. I have been diligent in watering the garden every few days or so as the soil begins to show signs of drying out. I mulched the garden with straw to cut down on weeds and to help retain moisture. Unfortunately, all of this isn't enough when you combine heat in the 100's and weeks without water. We ended up getting some rain a couple weeks ago, and have gotten a couple sprinkles here and there. All of this really puts a lot of stress on the garden.

My green beans are simply producing flowers and dropping the off without growing any beans. This is from the dryness and the heat. My tomatoes have been doing excellent, in particular the Large Cherry Tomatoes. The Amish Paste (Roma type) have been doing fairly well also. The ones that I do get are absolutely HUGE! Even with 6 plants of each though, I am having to freeze and can these at a later date because I am simply not getting enough at a time to do anything with them. My Brandywine tomatoes have been really disappointing though. They aren't getting any larger than maybe 4", if I'm lucky.

I have lost all of my zucchini and squash, so I am planning on putting a fall garden where these were. This will be my first time planting a fall garden. I have no idea why I have never tried it!

In the meantime, we are headed for another 100+ degree heatwave again!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Battling Squash Bugs

UPDATE: It seems that I have two issues at hand. Although I do have squash bugs, they have not been causing the damage I believed them to be. A reader was very helpful in pointing out that the problems I am having are more likely to come from Vine Borers! Although I do have the Squash Bugs, I haven't seen any damage that is associated with them. (Not that I'm gonna let them continue eating my plants! lol) Please see the comment below by "elle mental" for a wonderful explanation and solution if your vines are being eaten from the inside out by Vine Borers.

I cannot believe it has taken me this long to figure it out. For the last few years, I have been so frustrated with my squash crops.

This year I have finally figured out what is wrong! Squash Bugs are my nemesis. I was checking out some favorite Facebook page and saw someone reference the little "stink bug look alikes" and decided to check mine for them. What did I find? Armies of little bugs eating up my squash plants!

Since then I have lost one of my plants, and I don't think my others will survive the season. I am so grateful to finally know what was causing the sudden die off of my plants though. Since I discovered them, I have been picking off the visible bugs, toss them in a cup of water and feed them to the chickens. Boy did they enjoy that! Some other ideas I have found for ridding your garden of Squash Bugs without insecticide are:

  • Use duct tape to peel the eggs off before they hatch
  • After watering, walk through the plants and pick off the bugs. They will climb to the top when the plant is soaked from the water.
  • Use a mixture of Dawn/water in a spray bottle and spray the base of the plant where the bugs live. It supposedly kills them in seconds. I have not tried this method.
The main thing to remember is to start preventing them early! If I had realized what was attacking them earlier, I could have saved my plants. Now I know what to do next year. This is what I love about gardening, everything is a constant learning process!

Linked to:




Frugally Sustainable

Friday, June 22, 2012

Grilled Pizza

Yes, you read that right. Looking for a summer meal that won't heat up the house? Look no further! DH and I tried out personal pan grilled pizza during our "stay-cation" this week and boy were they a hit! Not only were they delicious, but they didn't heat up the house with the hot oven and they were easy!

Simply take your favorite crust recipe and separate into personal sized pizzas. You can do this with large pizzas also, but we felt the personal pizzas were easier to handle and flip on the grill. Another benefit is the ability to personalize your own pizza. This would be great for kids, although it's great fun for adults too!

Once you have your pizzas flattened out, lay them on a heated, well greased grill to cook. Once one side is cooked, flip it over and cook the other side.



After you have the pizza crust cooked, take it off the grill and add your toppings. We covered ours in grilled sausages and veggies! Add your cheese.



To prevent the bottoms from over cooking, we placed the pizzas on the warming rack so the cheese and toppings could heat up and melt. Serve.

I have to say, they were AMAZING! Go ahead and try it ;)

Linked to:
The Country Homemaker Hop #25

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Addition to the Family

Ever since we lost our beloved Great Pyrenees, Whinny, to bone cancer, the farm just hasn't been the same.  Pyrenees are excellent guardian dogs, for both the family and livestock. Our Pyrenees have always been family guardians, because our horses do not need a guardian in the field (nor would they tolerate one) and by simply having a guardian dog near the house, it will protect our poultry since they are so close. My Dad has talked about getting another Great Pyrenees for several years now, even more so since we have been having problems with raccoons getting into the trash and eating the chickens.

So, can you guess what Dad got for an early Father's Day present this year?

I would like to introduce, Duke, our newest family member!

Duke

Pretty ferocious, eh?
Although I normally try to go the rescue route when we adopt a new dog, since a Pyrenees will need to be trustworthy around livestock we went to a breeder. Right now he is a big ball of fuzz, but he will soon grow into a 100lb ball of fuzz!

Have a good week everyone :)

***Edited to add that "Duke's" name has been changed to Max. lol

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Farm Tour

I haven't been posting lately, so I though I would show you why :)

I finally got the garden mulched with straw!

We spent the weekend before last hauling hay. We have enough to last us the winter now. So relieving to have that done!

These guys don't take a lot of work, I just wanted to show you how big they have gotten! I'm expecting their first eggs towards the end of this month!

And of course just some pretty lilies :)

Blackberries are just starting to turn pink.

I've been attempting to start some lavender (back) from cuttings off of my old plant. In front is some Thyme I started from seed.

And last but definitely not least, my first tomato of the season! I absolutely cannot wait to sink my teeth into some of these.

This Saturday we are taking a little road trip a couple hours north to look at a couple of Great Pyrenees pups. Since we lost our beloved Pyr, Whinny, the farm just hasn't been the same. Hopefully we will come home with a Father's Day present for dad ;)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Guinea Update

Well, I got the phone call yesterday letting me know that there were guinea keets available to order. Unfortunately, I had to tell her I was no longer interested.

You see, we are having increasing problems with raccoons and other predators such as hawks. A few weeks ago, my adorable little Aracaunas were accidentally left in their chicken tractor over night. I had to leave for work, and when DH went to lock up the chickens for the night, he forgot they were in the tractor. I ended up coming home to two torn apart Aracaunas, strewn through the yard. :( Two Buff Orpingtons have also been the victims of predators. We think they decided to be adventurous and "flew the coop" and got picked up by hawks. Their bodies were never found.

So, my conclusion was that, although I could keep the guineas locked up in the coop at night, it was not going to prevent the many hawks that circle the house from picking up some fast food! I am disappointed, but I realize this is just how farm life is. We did have our chickens free ranging on the property until they began dwindling in numbers.

I was also beginning to think that my parents (mostly my dad), although they would appreciate the reduced tick numbers, would not appreciate the loud noises guinea love to make!

How does everyone control the predator population around their homesteads? We did have an amazing Great Pyrenees/Anatolian Shepherd named Whinny that did an amazing job keeping critters away from the poultry. Unfortunately we lost him to bone cancer several years ago and have not replaced him. Well, my parents tried to, but he ended up being the biggest scaredy cat there is, and is now and indoor dog... We may end up looking for another livestock guardian dog (LGD), although keeping one simply for guarding poultry is hardly cost effective.

I am very interested in hearing your methods and ideas!

Friday, May 11, 2012

May Goals

Well once again, I am late with my goals for the month. I always seem to do well with making the goals, not so much with actually completing them...lol.

Some of April's goals that I completed include, till and plant the garden, plant herbs (some have finally sprouted!) and letting the chicks in the tractor.

And once again, those goals that didn't make it consist of the household chores. Can you tell where my priorities are? I also didn't plant more trees, I decided that I will wait until this fall to plant more. We actually planted 40-50 small White Pine trees around the property, and I didn't want anything to become neglected.

Although it wasn't on my list, fixing the chicken coop fencing and run door was very high on my mental list! DH and I fixed that a few weeks ago. Although it doesn't quite work if while you are sick, you forget to close the door... because of this we are now down to 6 Buff Orpingtons. Two were snatched in the night. I also lost an Aracauna for no apparent reason a couple of days ago. My guess is she was squished beneath the others?

Soo, some goals for May are:

Gardening

  • Mulch the garden

  • Finish planting green beans

  • Try an Epsom Salt weed killer recipe inside the greenhouse. I decided against the rock in the greenhouse for now. The weed killer is more frugal.


Livestock

  • I have actually changed my mind (that never happens...) about the vertical fence extension project, also. In the end, it would have ended up much more expensive than it is to simply clip the chickens wings to keep them in the chicken run. 
  •  Build better roosts in the chicken coop and REMEMBER to close the door!
Home

  • Hmmm... Is it even worth repeating myself on the household goals that I haven't met for the last two months?? 
I have to say, keeping up with the two puppies and the incontinent German Shepherd has kept me pretty busy indoors.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

All Natural Homemade Dog Treats

It's been awhile since I've posted. I have been keeping busy with finishing up this semester's finals and preparing for this weekends canoeing and camping trip! I wanted to share this with you before I leave though. I have been making these for the last couple of weeks for the dogs, and they LOVE them! They are a much better alternative to the store bought treats that have been associated with so many recalls lately. I feel so much better giving them something that I made myself, than having that thought in the back of my head questioning the safety of the treats.

I have been trying to find alternatives to store bought items. This weeks experiment involved replacing the dogs treats with an all natural, wholesome alternative. They already LOVE fresh fruits and veggies (carrots, apples, asparagus), but I wanted something crunchy and that would last a little longer than fresh fruit does. Both in storage, and the length of time it takes for them to eat it.

I found a recipe for dried sweet potato chews. You can buy these at pet stores, but you will pay dearly for them. Instead, I got a bag of sweet potatoes and started slicing! While I was working on these, I noticed the pile of apples on the counter that were getting a little old. They love fresh apples, so why not dried? I sliced those, picking out the seeds, and added them to the cookie sheet as well. I put the oven as low as it would go and left them there for about 12 hours.

Here's what came out of the oven! (Please disregard the horrible photo quality...my camera is MIA so instagram photos were substituted.)

Dried sweet potato and apple dog treats.

And what did the dogs think of them?

Chewie and Boomer approved!


This post is linked to:

Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #26

Barn Hop  #62

Simple Living Wednesdays

The Country Homemaker Hop

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ginger Tea, A Natural Cold Remedy

This week has brought on one of the worst colds I have had in a long time. It has involved a excruciating raw throat, coughing, congestion, and just starting today sneezing and an uncontrollable runny nose. Yuck. I have also began to lose my voice, although I think some people have been thankful for that...

As with most things, something good has come out of it. I have learned that ginger tea happens to be a great natural remedy for the icky-ness in my throat. DH brought home a few pounds of fresh ginger from the Asian food market near his work for a ginger ale recipe we are going to try.

(Note: At grocery stores around here, fresh ginger runs around $5lb, compared to about $1 at the Asian food store. Until now, I have never used fresh ginger because of the price. Check out stores around you and you may find a great deal!)

Well, when I ended up getting sick the next day, he said that a co-worker suggested ginger and honey tea. Not only does it help rid your throat of the mucus, it gives you ENERGY! Exactly what I have been lacking these last few days. Now, I'm not quite sure if it actually gave me energy, but I do know my throat felt a whole lot better afterwards.

Image: hinnamsaisuy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Since I had so much ginger, I simply peeled it with a spoon (way less waste!), rinsed, and put it in the food processor. Everything I had read online said to grate it, but I don't have a grater. Even if I did, I don't really feel up to grating 3lbs of ginger. So, I tossed it in there and it seems to have worked just as well. After it was grated, I put it in a freezer baggie and spread it flat. It freezes fairly well this way. Other methods I have read about involve measuring it out into teaspoons or tablespoons, wrapping in plastic wrap and freezing for individual servings for use in cooking, etc. I think I will do this next time, but once again, I didn't do it this time because I simply don't have the energy.

You can also just put the ginger root in a bag and place it in the freezer. I prefer to have all the work done beforehand though.

When it is frozen in the bag, I took it out and broke it up as much as I could. This way leaves some chunks bigger than others, but I don't really mind. I will use those in cooking.

Okay, back to the tea. Here is a modified version of the ginger tea recipe. I omitted the lemon juice so it wouldn't irritate my throat, and I used grated ginger instead of slices. I believe the grated ginger makes the tea stronger, so you may want to use slices instead. Personally, I like the tea strong. You will have to experiment with the amount of water you use. The first cup I made was really strong and I had to dilute it with more water.

Ginger and Honey Tea
1 tsp grated ginger
2-3 Tbsp honey
8 oz hot water
tea infuser

Place the grated ginger inside of the tea infuser, and let steep in the hot water. Add honey to taste.


Linked To:

FarmGirl Friday



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Camping Snacks

My family is planning a canoeing and camping trip scheduled for the beginning of May, so I have been on high gear searching for anything and everything camping related! I absolutely love anything outdoors, especially canoeing/kayaking, hiking and camping. We would be kayaking, but we are taking the "boys" (Chewie and Boomer) with us, so a canoe it is! It will be a first for us. I have never even thought of taking dogs canoeing, but this is the only way we can take them camping and hiking without having to drive back home the two hours after the canoe trip. Let's just say, it's gonna be interesting! ; )

Now, normally for me, a camping trip involves a huge grocery shopping list which translates into a lot of money spent on what is supposed to be a cheap(er) vacation. Even at that, the meal plan always seems to revolve around hot dogs and sandwiches.

This time though, I have resolved to make all of our meals using food we already have at home. I LOVE to cook over an open fire! In my opinion, cooking is almost the best part of the entire trip, second only to long hikes in the woods.

I will share the recipes that I use on the trip when we get back, but I have one to share right now. I was searching the internet for easy, healthy snacks, when I stumbled upon this gem! I had a bag of quinoa in the pantry, but I hadn't ventured so far as to try it yet. I figured this would be a good first step. Quinoa is a great source of protein and fiber along with many other nutrients.

This recipes varies from the original. After I made it, I decided that I didn't want it as sweet, since we will be eating it on the trail. I reduced the amount of honey in the recipe and I will be doing the same when I make the second batch. I also doubled it, and used what I had on hand.

In addition as a trail food, this would make an excellent cereal or topping for yogurt.

Coconut Quinoa Granola



Coconut Quinoa Granola

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups chopped almonds
1 cup dried quinoa (I used white)
1 cup sweetened coconut
1 cup dried cranberries and apricots (or other dried fruit)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla

Mix together all ingredients and spread on a baking sheet. Cook in the oven at 250 degrees for an hour, turning it occasionally to brown evenly. This makes enough to almost fill a gallon freezer bag.

Linked to:
Barn Hop #59 

FarmGirl Fridays 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Homemade Spinach Breakfast Burritos

It never fails. I get in the car after a long night at work and turn on the radio to keep from falling asleep. McDonald's or Subway, is always there to try to sway me to part with the money I just worked so hard to make. I try to tell myself that it's unhealthy, I don't need to spend the money, or that it won't taste that good. MOST of the time I win. But, I admit, sometimes in a moment of weakness I find the car making its way through the driveway. Almost as if it has a mind of its own. I honestly don't know how it gets there. But it does, and by the time I'm halfway home I'm already regretting the $7 down the drain and the extra 1,000 calories that I DID NOT NEED!

It would be so much easier to resist it if I knew I had something quick and easy to eat when I get home. Yeah, I could buy a bag of frozen breakfast burritos or egg sandwiches, but this is way cheaper. And tastes better. And I know what is in it!

Now, I did cheat a little with this. I'm a little ashamed that I didn't put the time and effort into chopping fresh peppers, onions, and potatoes, but since peppers are out of season right now it was cheaper to buy the bag of frozen peppers. I thought it was worth the time saved for the potatoes too. I did get the spinach out of my garden though!






Homemade Spinach Breakfast Burritos
Ingredients:

16 Burrito sized tortilla shells
2 lbs browned sausage
2 dozen eggs
4 cups of diced peppers and onions, sauteed
2 lbs of diced potatoes or hash browns
12 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Fresh Baby Spinach

Combine cooked sausage, potatoes, peppers and onions in a large bowl. Scramble eggs, then add to sausage mixture. Add the spinach and cheese, mix thoroughly. Spoon into tortilla shells and fold like a burrito. Place flat in gallon sized ziplock bags and freeze. Makes 16-17 burritos. 

Note: Don't forget to season the potatoes (salt, pepper, etc.) as you cook them. I forgot to, and it was difficult seasoning the entire mixture!


Not very pretty, but really tasty!


Fresh spinach adds a nutritious touch!


Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #23

FarmGirl Fridays

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Frugal Reading




I absolutely love to read books. Especially the classics. My problem is, I never seem to have the time to read them, until lately. DH and I recently started listening to audiobooks. They're great! They are a great way to pass the time on long commutes to work (like DH), or during work if you're like me. In the last few months I have listened to more books on "tape" than I have read in the last year! (not counting textbooks of course!) Currently, I am listening to the Hunger Games Trilogy for the second time and Robinson Crusoe.

Everybody knows you can rent books from the library. Most of us have done that since we were kids. But I just learned that not only can you rent physical books (my favorite kind), but you can also download audiobooks and books to electronic reading devices! Now I may be the last one to know all of this, but I'm hoping that this may be news to someone out there!

Since we live out of town, I am going to have to shell out around $50 for a card. I am thinking that it will be well worth it though, considering it costs $15 for one book a month with my Audible account. I could easily go through two books a week! Even if I only rent one audio book a month, they will only cost a little over $4 each.

I also discovered that not only can you rent audiobook downloads, but you can also rent mp3s!!! Since I stock shelves on 3rd shift, I have to have something to keep my mind occupied and make the time go faster. I only wish I had discovered this three years ago!

This post is linked to:

The Homestead Barn Hop #58




Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #23

FarmGirl Fridays 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Natural Insect Control

Lavender Guinea freedigitalphotos.net


Around these parts, it's an inevitable part of spring and summer. Ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, buffalo gnats, just to name a few. For me, the ticks are the worst.  Especially the Lyme disease carrying Deer Ticks. It's impossible to walk out the door without finding one crawling on your skin. And if you go in the woods? You're guaranteed to come back in, crawling with ticks. DH and I have come out of the woods, with literally hundreds of ticks, the size of a pinhead crawling on our legs! Not a pretty sight!

Since our homestead is situated on a hill, surrounded in woods we have a lot of trouble with ticks. For this very reason, for the last couple of years I have been considering getting Guinea fowl. Guinea fowl are native to Africa but are commonly raised here in the U.S. for insect control on farms. Typically they are allowed to roam free during the day, then put in the coop at night. Since they like to roost in trees, this helps keep them from being preyed on my night predators, such as owls and racoons. (I had no idea owls would attack guineas!)

Guinea fowl will also alert you to any intruders onto the property, with their loud screeching. Because they can be so noisy, it's probably a good idea to listen to them to know if you (and your neighbors) can handle the noise!

In addition to their tick eating abilities, they also will supply you with tasty little eggs, and you can also eat the guinea fowl meat. I have read it is comparable to chicken and turkey, although personally I have not tried it.

I have been getting really excited about my newest poultry adventure! Because of their noise, and the close proximity of our chicken coop to the house, I am planning on building a small guinea coop to house them further away from our homes.

Since guinea keets (babies) are not available through hatcheries until May or so, I still have about a month of waiting before I can place my order. Patience is not my strong suit!

Does anyone have experience with guineas? I'm really curious to hear everyone's adventures with them!

 This post is linked to:














Thursday, April 5, 2012

Can't Have Just One...

Well, they say you can't have just one, chick that is. Well this year, it's more like I can't have just one batch of chicks! DH and I were roaming around "the big city" last Saturday and stopped in at the farm and garden store to check out their selection of chicks. It just so happened that they had some Barred Rock and Araucana pullets on markdown for .50 and .75 each.

They were starting to get big (therefore not as cute) and they needed to move them. I am also raising a few miscellaneous bantams, Black Sex-Link, and Rhode Island Reds for some friends of mine. So I have a full brooder again!

If you didn't already know, Araucanas are nicknamed as "Easter Eggers" because they lay bluish colored eggs. They also have these adorable tufts of feathers on their faces!

Assortment of chicks. The two looking at the camera are Araucana chicks.

The tomatoes and peppers are well underway in the greenhouse! I have several varieties of tomatoes and peppers, along with a couple herbs. Once our low temperature in the greenhouse rises above 60* I am going to plant the rest of my herbs. Currently the low is in the mid 50's, which is pretty good, considering we have been having lows in the low 40's this past week.

Tomato Starts







Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April Goals

Tomato Starts!
 
Last month, I listed all of my goals for March in hopes that I would accomplish more than one of them for once! Out of my list of goals for March, I have fixed the greenhouse, started seeds, introduced the chicks to the older hens, built a chicken tractor, fixed the west pasture, and started not only a walking routine at home but also at work.

The goals that I did not complete were finding a good plot for the garden, although that will be tilled this weekend, ALL of my house goals (big surprise there!), and consistently posting weekly on the blog.

All in all, I feel like I did pretty good with the number of goals achieved!

Now for April's Goals!

Gardening


- Till and Plant Garden

- Plant Herbs in the Greenhouse

- Put Gravel in the Greenhouse

- Plant six more apple and peach trees, and mulch them

Livestock

- Build a vertical fence extension on the coop (more to come on that!)

- Start putting the new chicks in the tractor (also, more on the new chicks soon!)

Home

- De-cluttering the house.


- Try out a monthly cleaning plan.

- Make an assortment of crockpot freezer meals.

- Make another batch of homemade laundry detergent


Personal Goals

- Exercise more! Get more strength and cardio in.

You may have noticed some are left over from last month! I am determined to get this house de-cluttered! What are your goals for the month?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Farm Dogs

After hubby and I took care of Sammy for the week, we realized that we needed a doggie companion. We ended up bringing in our German Shepherd, Sugar to be an indoor dog. Since she has gotten older (12 years old this year) her energy levels have dropped considerably. She is living out her senior years in the comfort of the indoors.




 She really enjoys it, but she seemed lonely. One day I was checking out Facebook, and saw one of the local dog rescues urgently needed foster homes for 24 puppies that they had gotten in a shelter. After talking it over with DH, we decided to go ahead and give it a try. The next day, we picked up two, sixteen week old, Australian Shepherd mix puppies.

Of course it was love at first sight, but we had to keep our head on straight. When I first got Sugar, she was a stray that wandered up to our house when I was about fifteen years old. It wasn't until after I was attached to her that we found out that her prey drive was so high that she would chase and attack the horses, harming not only them, but herself. Because of my experience with Sugar, I knew we had to be sure that the pups wouldn't be the same way.

After about a week of testing their personalities around the horses, cattle, and chickens, we decided that they would fit right in with our family. They barely give a second glance to the chickens and are afraid of the horses. In time they should warm up to them, but I am sure they won't have the same drive to eat them that Sugar did! They even get along great with our two indoor cats.

So, I'd like to introduce Boomer and Chewie,, the newest members of our family!



Boomer



Boomer


Chewie - In case you are wondering, he is named after Chewbacca, from Star Wars! lol He also lives up to his name by chewing on everything.


Chewie

DH has bonded a little more with Boomer, and I with Chewie. They are both great boys though and they are extremely smart. The first week we had them, they were four months old and had no idea how to walk on a leash. After a week of working with them they not only knew how to walk, but also sit, lay down, and the beginnings of stay.

Now that Sugar has warmed up to the boys, she keeps them in line and LOVES playing with them. She is twice their size, but is always gentle with them, like they are her own puppies.

Linked to:
Barn Hop #54 
The Country Garden Showcase  
The Country Homemaker Blog Hop

Our Simple Farm

Friday, March 16, 2012

Scrap Lumber Chicken Tractor

We have been enjoying some amazing weather this past week, so it motivated me to knock out one of my goals for his month. I would like to share with you, my Scrap Lumber Chicken Tractor! I made it completely out of scrap wood found in the barn. The only thing we had to purchase to finish it was a new roll of chicken wire, because I ended up using the rest of what I had laying around. That cost about $26 for a 4'x50' roll. The rest of that will come in handy for the next one I build. It only took me about three hours from start to finish.

Now, it's not the prettiest chicken tractor around, but it does the job!



I think they're enjoying the fresh air and sunshine as much as I am!



I am beginning to think the Buff on the left is one of my roosters. His comb is considerably larger than the rest of them.


The chicks have grown so much! Since they will eventually outgrow this one, I am making plans for another, larger chicken tractor. I have been scouring the internet for different pictures to come up with ideas for the next one. One website I stumbled upon has tons of pictures, The Chicken Tractor Gallery. If you are planning on building your own, it's a great place for ideas.

This post is linked to:






Growing Home


Our Simple Farm



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Making Goals (and keeping them!)

Ever since I was little, I have always been one to make lists and set goals. Unfortunately I have never been very good at keeping them! This morning I stumbled upon a post over at Live Renewed about making monthly goals. I really like the idea of monthly goals because although I have made goals for the year, realistically, (for me anyway) they need to be broken down into smaller increments.

So since we are fairly close the the beginning of the month, this is a perfect time for me to establish some new goals and divide up my yearly goals also.

My first goal is to post a list of monthly goals at the beginning of every month. Along with the monthly post, I will go over how I kept up with last months goals. So, here we go!

March 2012 Goals

Gardening
- Finish putting the greenhouse back together. This was completed, until we had another bad windstorm come through and tear most of the panels apart. A trip to the hardware store is in order for replacement panels now!

- Get seeds started. Unfortunately this is dependent on the former goal. My plan is to get the greenhouse put together this weekend and the seeds will follow shortly.

- Find a good plot for the vegetables once they are started.

Home
- De-cluttering the house. This is a big one for me. I can't stand clutter, yet it seems I can never get rid of it!

- Try out a monthly cleaning plan.

- Make an assortment of crockpot freezer meals.

Livestock
- Let chicks into the hen house (separated from the older ones) around 6 weeks old. I can't wait for this one!

Building Projects 
- Build the chicken tractor.

-Fix the west pasture fence. We will be working on this Saturday, we've been having a couple rotten steers getting through lately.

Personal Goals
-  Start going on walks again. During the summer my husband and I like to take walks with the dogs. This allows us to have time to talk about our day and not be distracted by things that need done in the house. We both have really missed this since it got cold out.

-Post at least once a week on the blog. Not because I make any money doing it, just simply because I enjoy writing and getting my thoughts out. It tends to help organize my thoughts.


Completed Goals
At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals for 2012. Out of these, the one goal I have completed is ordering the chicks. I'm not worried about that though, since the other goals consist of butchering and gardening. Those will come later in the year. I have been looking for another steer, but I haven't found one at the right price yet.

How about you guys? Does it help you to set goals? What goals have you set for this year?

This post is linked to:
Frugally Sustainable
Barn Hop # 53


Our Simple Farm




Growing Home

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Growing Chicks...and Projects!

4 week old Buff Orpington
They grow so fast! They are four weeks old this week and are starting to get a lot more feathers. They also outgrew their pen in the house and have now been moved into the barn.

I have a few projects I am hoping to get started on and share with you guys. One is a chicken tractor, once the weather calms down. It has been insanely windy these past few days! If I were to get out the chicken wire right now, it would probably fly away. I have the basic design in my head, now I just need to get the supplies.

Another project I want to work on is a more permanent brooder pen for the chicks, and the batch of meat birds I am planning on getting in a couple months. I moved the pullets into a large dog kennel which is working for the time being, but it tends to lose a lot of shavings. I will want something less messy for the next batch.

The project that DH and I have been pondering on lately is how we are going to fix the greenhouse. We had it mostly fixed a couple weeks ago. All of the panels were back in place, and ready to go...until this wretched wind kicked in! I think DH has a couple good ideas on how to keep them in place. Once we get that fixed I'll post some pics. Hopefully we get it done before I am ready to start seeds next month. (Which is approaching very fast!)

One project that I just briefly mentioned, is the meat birds. I have been wanting to butcher our own birds for a long time now. I have been tossing around the idea of Cornish Crosses. Their tendencies for so many health problems have been my main drawback. On one hand, I think if I get them, there's no way I can "chicken out" (no pun intended) and just keep them alive. It is very rare for them to live a quality life past butchering age.

On the other hand, my goal is sustainability, right? So why go into something that isn't sustainable? So in that instance, I have been considering just getting a batch of cockerels. Perhaps White Rocks or something similar. Either way, I really want to supply my family with fresh, homegrown, pasture-raised chicken. The stuff I get at the store turns my stomach.

What is your opinion on Cornish Crosses? Are they really some creepy mutant chicken, or simply a way to enjoy fresh homegrown chicken sooner?

This post is linked to:
Homestead Revival Barn Hop 51

Monday, February 13, 2012

Changing Things Up!

Normally I try to do one large garden or two smaller ones. In the last couple years, I haven't been able to keep up with the weeds and towards the end of the season (or middle like last year) I tend to get overwhelmed. I keep telling myself that this year will be different since I don't have to deal with all the wedding stuff I did last year. Even so, I still have a feeling that it would end up the same way.

For that reason, I am trying something different this year! That's what gardening is all about right? Experimentation until we find something that works well for us? I've decided my main problem is having too much space in between the plants (which results in a lot of weeds). My plan is to create small beds for a few certain plants that I am growing. Most likely I will have two pepper and tomato beds, spaced far apart. Like hundreds of yards apart. I am hoping to save seeds for the first time from these and I have more than one variety for both of these plants.

I am also going to make one small area for my green beans to climb a trellis. I am trying out pole beans for the first time. I normally go with bush beans, but I felt like being adventurous!I am also going to make another small bed for my cucumbers and zucchini. Lastly, the spinach might just go into some pots on the porch! If you can't tell, I don't have everything completely planned out just yet, which is completely the opposite of what I normally do. Normally, by the end of January I have every plant laid out on graph paper. Oh well!

Here is the list of varieties I chose to plant this year. My original list was much longer! I had to keep reminding myself to only order what I could keep up with! I also have a few different varieties that I will be starting for my mother-in-law (not listed). I can't wait to see how they all do.

Bean, KY Wonder Pole
These are the herbs that I chose. When I was a kid my mom had a wonderful herb garden. I loved going out and getting fresh Oregano when she was cooking. I have been wanting to plant my own for while, so this is the year!  I can't wait to make some amazing homemade pesto!


And a couple flowers just because they're pretty :) The Hollyhock is going next to our "outhouse" garden shed!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Week in Pictures

In my Business Development class I am creating a business proposal for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture. So far it has been a great learning experience. A portion of it is due this Sunday, so no time for a (substantial) blog post. But, I can leave some pictures...

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sammy Went Home Today

I received a message from Sam's owners today and he has gone back to be with his owners. We will miss him, but now we be searching the animal shelters for a new companion!

Friday, February 3, 2012

How to Get Rid of Skunk Odor

To go along with my introduction to Sam, I thought I would also share a skunk odor tamer recipe! Several people recommended the traditional tomato juice, but after some internet research it seems that this recipe works better:

Skunk Musk Tamer
In a pitcher, mix:
1/4 cup baking soda
Several squirts of Dawn dishwashing liquid
and lastly, a couple cups of vinegar

Only add the vinegar when you are ready to put it on the dog. In fact, this mixture cannot be made ahead of time because of the baking soda and vinegar. It will explode!

With the dog in the tub, pour all over the dog and scrub in. We left it sit for a while and rinsed. We had to repeat this the next day.

Do be careful about how often you bathe the dog with this. After two application, Sam's skin really started to dry out. I would use it to get the oils out, then try a commercial skunk scent remover. The commercial stuff was actually easier on the skin.


I am not sure how long he had been sprayed, but I am certain it was not nearly as bad as it could have been! So I cannot attest to how well this works on a fresh, directly sprayed dog.

I call it a skunk spray tamer, because it does just that. While it doesn't remove the smell 100%, it does get rid of the oils. By getting rid of the oils, it prevents everything the dog (and you) touches from smelling like skunk.

There will still be a residual smell lingering and since I have my mother's super nose, we also bought "Skunk Kleen"and this helped immensely! I was able to find this at my local pet shop. After one application, it no longer hurt my nose to pet Sam!

Good luck!

This post is linked to:

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

Spring Chicks and A New Family Member

About a week ago I placed an order for 15 Australorp pullets, 5 Buff Orpington pullets, and 3 Buff Orpington males. I have been patiently waiting for an email stating when they will ship. Okay, so maybe I was getting a little anxious! So I went onto the website this morning and they're sold out until May! It could be a while before I get my chicks. Hopefully it won't be that long since I placed the order before they were sold out.

In other news...we have an addition to the family! Sunday night, my parents found a little hound dog cowering in the middle our driveway. Reeking of skunk. They already have two indoor dogs, so guess who ended up taking him?

It started out as just a foster. The local animal shelter is so full they can't take anymore, so I knew taking him there wasn't an option. But by the end of this week, after several baths and an investment in "Skunk Away", he had cuddled next to me every single day while I work on my homework and grown on us.

 So, his new name is Sam. We think he is a beagle/dachshund mix.


Did I mention he hates his picture taken? This is the only full body shot I have been able to get. The rest of the time he is an inch from the camera lens!
Yup, a little ironic that his favorite toy is a skunk!

He will be headed to the vet in the morning to get his leg checked out. He has a limp when he runs, but other than that it doesn't bother him. He will also be getting neutered, but don't tell him that...

Now honestly, I always said we wouldn't have an indoor dog. I'm more of a cat person. Not that I don't love dogs. I have my German Shepherd, Sugar, but she is more suited to be outside. I've always leaned towards bigger dogs. But this little guy has done great so far. I especially like the fact that he doesn't bark at all! Yet anyway!

This post is linked to:
Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!