Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cooking Rooster, Making Soap, and Day Dreaming about Gardening.

  • Chicken Stock/broth

Homemade Soap. 
Well it happened. We could not find a home for Big Red. My husband was going over to help a friend butcher their roosters and he took Big Red along.
This happened last Friday and my Joy Joy did her best to be strong, but there were a lot of tears. All I could do is hold her and cry with her.
Sunday she went to a friend's house and I roasted the chicken, and yesterday I tried making bone stock. Frank had kept and skinned the feet for me, and I simmered it all day. It did not got get thick like I thought it would. So maybe it is just broth? It will make soup one way or the other!
I went over to a friends house Monday and we made soap. This was my 2nd time making it. This time I contributed Red Palm oil, olive oil, and Lilac oil. I wish I could make the picture scratch and sniff! The soap has: goat milk,olive oil, red palm oil, Shea Butter, Coconut oil, lilac and some other pretty smelling stuff she had. Oh, and lye of course. I have 13 bars and they are sitting on my shelves smelling good. They need to cure for about a month before we can use them.

I watched a really good movie called Back To Eden Film. (Click on name to watch it.)
 Here is what it says about it.
"BACK TO EDEN shares the story of one man’s lifelong journey, walking with God and learning how to get back to the simple, productive methods of sustainable provision that were given to man in the garden of Eden. The organic growing system that has resulted from Paul Gautschi’s incredible experiences has garnered the interest of visitors from around the world. However, never until now have Paul’s methods been documented and shared like this!"
It was long, but well worth watching. It talks about using tree clippings, (the stuff the tree services chop up) and putting that right on your garden. No tilling! I have already called one tree service and he took my number for the next time he is working in my area and will bring me a load of chips! I can't wait.

Today, I am suffering from a head cold. I am going now to cuddle up in a blanket and drink some hot herbal tea with honey.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Up-date On Our Rooster, Oh No, Roosters!

Saying good bye to Mr Waddles
It is hard to believe it has been 2 months since my last post! Life gets very busy with the start of school.
I did not plant a fall garden as planned. I was digging out beds and adding compost, leaves and kitchen Scraps in layers. It was slower going than I planned. Our soil has so much clay, that you would have thought I was digging virgin ground!
Then I popped a tendon in my right hand (not while digging, or doing anything hard!) and have not been digging anymore. Injuries are extremely frustrating when you have a long list of things you want to get done.

Good news is, we found a nice home for Mr Waddles!

Our two late blooming roosters.

Bad news is, a couple of weeks after finding Mr Waddles a home, Anna and Big Red started growing pretty tail fathers and crowing. We were not happy at all! Anna, if you remember is my gardening buddy. More good news though, the neighbors don't mind the crowing! So Anna stays and Big Red is in the classifieds.
Anna stays.
Joy Joy also picked out 2 white hens from a friend and we added them to our little flock. I will take pictures soon.

Big Red has to go.
Frank finished the shed except for the siding he wants to put on. We got our Christmas tree up, and I have been doing some little jobs (house cleaning and photography) to earn money for gifts. All in all, life is good and we are very blessed. I will try to post again soon with pictures of the shed and new hens, but if I don't before Christmas, let me wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rainy Day Post

Little things that make me happy.
Today is the third day in a row of clouds and rain. I could use a little sunshine about now. I will have to content myself with a good cup of coffee. I would go for tea, but I was up with Nate the Great last night who was very croupy, so strong coffee this morning.

I wanted to share my new favorite preparedness blog, Purposeful Preparation for Survival, with you. This family has all sorts of great info! In fact I have been planning on making a lot of these, "paper products".  After school today with my kids, I plan on having a nice warm cup of tea and reading this blog.

We are still trying to find a home for our rooster Mr. Waddles. I am afraid, that my Honey may have to learn a new survival skill soon if we don't find him a home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Apple Picking

Bug-a-boo going after the high ones.
 It has been a crazy few weeks. I thought with the start of school life would calm down into a nice routine. HA! Not so. The good thing about homeschooling is that you can take on life as it comes at you. Like caring for grandma when she is to sick to help herself. That in itself is a life lesson you cannot find in a workbook.
He found THE perfect apple.
We took an afternoon away from the craziness to pick some yummy apples at a friends apple orchard. They also took three of our hens that needed a home. Now we just need a home for our rooster Mr. Waddles. I was going to offer him for free in our local paper, till I heard he would find a home quickly, as a  cock fighter! That is not going to happen. It would be much kinder to put him in the stew pot. Not sure if we are hungry enough to do that though.

Joy Joy found a new home for 3 of her girls.
I did not get a fall garden planted. You have to be home to do that! My Honey love has been busy building us a garden shed as funds come in.
We got 4 and 1/2 pumpkins from the compost pumpkin plants. A half you say? Yes. A ground hog got the other half. He could go in the stew pot too, as far as I am concerned. I wonder what groundhog tastes like?
My Honey love building me a garden shed!
I am planning (but will it really happen?) to go out and put the garden to bed and get it ready for next year. I have some clover seeds to put in, and I should get the litter (wood chips and chicken poo) out of the hen house spread it around the garden and put fresh in the coop for the winter. Then we will have more nice litter for the spring.
The chickens have much more room in their yard with the 3 hens gone. The chickens seemed unusually subdued for a couple of days after we gave away their sisters. Thankfully they are acting like themselves again.

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Readers and The Port-A-Coop Update

I was excited (giddy actually) to find out our Port-A-Coop was featured on the Community Chicken Mother Earth E-news letter! This is a great sight that I go to all the time for information.
   So first, I want to welcome our new readers and thank those who have e-mailed asking about the port-a-coop. It has brought to my attention, some things that need to be addressed.
We have been using the prototype port-a-coop since mid May and so far it is holding up wonderfully.
 I should mention, that we picture the girls moving the coop, and they do. When it is going across the yard they pick it up and swivel it to the side, or they can move it down hill. It is heavy enough that when we are moving it up the hill, it takes Dad, or myself and my teenage son to help me move it. It would be nicer if it was lighter and easier to move, BUT that would have a down side too. After it was built in May, we had a large storm that was taking down trees and sending horizontal rain, but the Port-a-coop stood strong. You can't really tell from the pictures, but our backyard is quite a hill. Our garden is at the bottom where it it almost flat. I really believe a lighter one would have gone down the hill into the gully behind our yard and been broken or at the least tipped over. So I can't complain about the weight, as it helps it stay put when you don't want it moving.
The cost to build was roughly 300.00$ to build.
It has 4, nesting boxes, the house is 4'by 4' and the yard is 4' by 8'. It can hold 4 large hens comfortably or more of a smaller breed.  We will be keeping 5 mixed breed in ours. 4 are going to another home, as soon as he has his place for them ready... I hope it is soon.
I have added some wood chips to the inside (we use the deep litter method) but have not had to change it out yet. I will probably change it out before it gets cold so it will make it through the winter before it needs changed again, and so I can use it on my garden to help winterize it.
If you have anymore questions about it, please ask in the comment section below. I will try to answer to the best of my knowledge.
Thank you for reading!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gardening, Chickens and Food Freedom.

The Homestead.

 Life gets crazy sometimes. I have been busy getting ready for the start of school. Summer seems to be very short these days. So... as you all know...I am way over due for a post!
The garden is about done. It has been so hot, the peppers have been drying up on the plant! We keep pulling them off and tossing them into the compost. Our peppers are normally the one thing that do really well! We have had almost no rain the last two months. We are watering twice a day but it is not the same as a good rain.
I was going to do a big fall garden but have changed my mind. I am going to plant some beets, spinach, and lettuce, and plant clover as a ground cover.
Big Red

The chickens are almost old enough to start giving us eggs. I can't wait! I can almost taste those fresh homegrown eggs.
Speaking of fresh and homegrown... Warning: Alisha is climbing up on her soap box!  Have you seen the attacks on raw milk? (I was raised on raw, fresh from the udder milk!) I don't know what to say except it is organized crime sanctioned by our government. They come for the milk, cheeses, supplements, juices... when do they come for our eggs? Our gardens? In the name of our safety of course. You know, those FDA, clean, safe, egg factories are much cleaner and safer than the ones in your back yard. Right? I mean, they know whats best for you and your family better than you do. You just need to trust them.
If you are not up to date on the grab for our healthy foods click on the words government and milk up above. You need to know what is going on.
Okay! Climbing off my soap box.
Back to gardening. Here is a great link for planting a fall garden, if you are so inclined.
Don't forget, you can get plans for this awe inspiring Port-a-coop!

I am going to start keeping a list of topics to blog on. I will have a great idea, then when I am ready to blog, I can't remember what I wanted to blog about. So I am going to keep a list next to my computer. What would you like to see on here? I am open to suggestions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tomato Eaters and Vine Killers

Tomato Horn Worm
We finally had a wonderful rain yesterday that cooled everything off and filled 2 of our rain barrels. Joy Joy and I went for a walk around the garden last night to see the happy well watered garden and found that something had eaten over half, and a half of our 2 biggest, still green tomatoes! We could not find the culprit, who I said probably hid from the rain, but it will be back in the morning. Sure enough! The girls went out this morning and found it. They hoped it would cocoon so
we looked it up here and found out that they drop off the plants and borrow into the ground to pupate.
So here is our new pet. We shall see if he does his thing and turns into a moth. His smaller siblings met their fate in the chicken pen. We will be checking for more of them in the days to come.
Zucchini plant with Vine Borer in it.
The bug was fed to the chickens.
Sadly all our Zucchini, pumpkin and Acorn plants had to come up because of Squash Vine Borer. We planted some watermelon in the kids 4-H plots in place of their pumpkins and hopefully they will do well.
I am going to have plenty of space for a fall garden.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Purslane and Other Good Weeds in the Garden.

I bought a weed for my garden. Yes. You heard that right. I bought Purslane. A friend asked me if I had any of this because it is so healthy. I couldn't find any in my yard for her. After reading about it, I kept looking for it. Never finding it, till I stopped in a nice landscaping store with my Joy Joy we had never been in before....and there it was! Potted up for 4.00$ I got it! It is small, but it won't stay that way. I am looking forward to learning to cook this lovely herb. I still want to find a wild plant to go with my cultivated one.
I also love Plantain and am trying to learn all the uses for it. This weed, I do not have to buy! It is in many spots around my yard and since finding out about it I am not pulling it up (till I have a better spot for it).                  
Other edible weeds, that I know are edible are:
Dandelions. This is a great article about what you can do with this weed. You will no longer hate this weed but be happy to see it in your lawn. (Maybe?)

Clover. Here is a great link with some videos. (Chickens love clover.)

Wild Strawberry, Link. Tastes yummy. (Chickens love these!)

Indian Strawberry, Link. Not tasty, but still useful. (Chicken's think these are plenty tasty!)

Lambs Quarters,  Link! ( I don't know if the chickens like these.)

I am still learning about the weeds growing in my yard. Some I have seen along the road, and I want to go get and bring them home to my garden is, Evening Primrose and Mullen.

Some books that can help you are... (these are the ones we have.)
The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide and the cards are a must have too!
Common Herbs for Natural Health (Herbals of Our Foremothers) 
Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
And of course the Internet is a wonderful source of information. 
As food prices get higher, or there in no food in the stores. For many different reasons, I think it is a wise thing to know where you can get your food from when you need it.

Quick update on the garden...many challenges! Bugs, weeds, bugs, more bugs. I spent 2 hrs pulling weeds tonight. Will spend at least that much time tomorrow doing the same.
I will post more about the garden later and maybe some updated pictures.
The chickens are happy and healthy. It is time to talk to my Joy Joy and have her find a home for 4 of them soon. Soon as in this week or the next. 
They are still having fun moving them from place to place and feeding them scraps of bread or, today they got corn cobs after lunch. Never have I seen cleaner cobs!

If you have an edible weed you use, share in the comments and let us know what it is and how you fix/use it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Knobs, Weeds, and Zucchini

I Have had some writers block. I could not think of anything interesting to write about! I did finish painting the last board on the port-a-coop. Found these knobs for the coop. These little Roosters will not bother the neighbors. 
The chickens are doing great and are friendly. I have to watch my left hand though. They like my wedding ring and peck at it. Ow!
The girls go out and move the Port-a-coop around the yard everyday, until it's time for it to come uphill (our back yard is pretty steep). Then Frank,or Thomas and I go help. I have been very pleased, with all the big rain storms we have had, the inside of the coop has stayed nice and dry.
Cute knobs I found on Amazon for the doors on the Port-a-coop.
They are not really needed but they will add a nice touch I think. 
 We have spent a LOT of time in the gardens. We found this beautiful weed in Frank's amaranth field. I tried to find it in our edible weeds book. Not there. Finally found it online. It is a BAD weed. It is so pretty though! I thought about putting it in a pot just for looks, but decided against it when I read what it is. We pulled them all out and got rid of them before they went to seed.
Jimson weed

Pretty but deadly.
I am also still fighting Squash bugs. I hate those things. We have been letting the chickens into the garden where they love to eat them up. 
I was hoping to share a yummy gluten free zucchini bread recipe with you but it did not turn out. It was edible but not enjoyable.  This is the first year I have been able to get zucchini to grow, and zucchini bread is one of those comfort foods from my childhood I really want to make! Back to the drawing board I go.

I am off for the weekend with some of my girl friends, so I will post again next week. I am going to try to get Frank to post some too. He is full of all kinds of interesting info about our journey to self sufficient living.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pictures From our Tiny but Happy Homestead

I can't paint, so I Photoshop.
The big squash plant in the back, is in the middle compost pile.
Henna and Alpha. See how much smaller Alpha is?
I still need to paint that board!
She is a sweet little thing. She could see if she got her hair cut!
Last night I went out and took a bunch of pictures to share with you.
Today I went and found 6 plants for $2.10. 2 tomato plants, 3 Oregano, 1 pretty yellow Marigold, and a healthy looking Impatien.
I thought the Oregano was almost worth the dime I paid for each of them but after a good watering they don't look half bad.

There were beetles eating our peaches!

Who says chickens aren't cute? Look at that face!
Purple Iris seed pods? What do I do with this?

Purple sage


The start of a Amaranth flower

Gerber Daisy

Coxcomb: Was my Mother's Day gift from my Nate.

Something that grew in this mix.

A baby zucchini!

My Happy, volunteer Marigolds 
First tomatoes

Joy Joy's carrots and pepper plant.

Bad baby squash bug. :-(  I squashed him.

The damage done by the squash bugs. :-(

Compost pile surprise! What do you think it is?
Why add Gerber daisies to my garden? Because they make me happy!
Flowers also attract pollinators,
 but I plant them because they are pretty.
Joy Joy's 4-H garden

Bug-a-boo's 4-H garden

Nate's 4-H garden
Can you feel the love? I didn't even have to tell them to pose and be cute.
It just happened!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Chickens in my Backyard and What They Eat

I love watching the Chickens run down the ramp first thing in the morning! It's like watching a bunch of kids running down the stars on Christmas morning as they tear into the fresh batch of weeds and grass and bugs. We will move them sometimes during the day too, and they love the fresh violet greens, dandelions, the grass that's gone to seed. I will pick them garden greens and all but Alpha will eat them.
Alpha looking for some bugs.
Alpha worries me. She was first out of the shell but she is at the very bottom of the pecking order. She is so tiny and docile. We have to pull her out at feeding time (We are feeding them chick starter still) or she gets ran right over. She gets lots of babying by our 10 yr old. The sooner we get rid of 4 of the chickens the better it will be for Alpha.
We are 90% sure 2 are boys and I am hoping my husband will try his had at butchering them, because I would really like the meat. We will get rid of the one red that bites! That leaves one more we will have to find a home for.
Moving it in the morning before letting the chickens out.
One of my past posts I talked about Amaranth and wondered if we could feed it to the chickens.
My wonderful husband found this blog post about it, Can Chickens eat Amaranth?  This Arizona Victory Garden looks like a good one to follow, there is a lot of info on it.
Frank also found this one Chicken Garden on growing a garden just for your chickens! I learned a lot from both of these articles and I hope you do too.

Be sure to feed your potato bugs (if you don't use any bug sprays on them or the plants!) to the chickens. They love those crunchy little protein packed snacks.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bugs and Beets

BUGS! I am bugged by bugs! We found squash bug eggs on the squash plants today, so spent a good amount of time getting those off the leaves, squashing the Squash bugs and spraying with Neem. I am hoping we caught it early enough. Frank's potatoes are being eaten by potato bugs. :-( Nasty things! We have been picking them off and putting them in a cup of soapy water.
I am praying for some good bugs!
We had a Praying Mantis one year that the kids found with a broken wing. We put it out in the garden and he lived all summer in there going from tomato plant to tomato plant. Praying Mantis is my favorite insect!
Co Potato Beetle
Squash bugs. 
Squash bug eggs.
Find the under the leave most of the time.

Some good news is, I brought in the best beet crop I have ever had tonight. Usually I grow them just for the greens (or these should be called purples.) but the beets themselves were small and fibrous. This year they are small but lovely. We have pretty hard soil, so I can be content with sweet little beets. I will blanch the greens and freeze them, and cook up the cute little beets. Yummy!
I have to tell you about the blue basket! I found it at a yard sale this past weekend for 2.00. I almost didn't get it, but I am SO glad I did. It is very handy for bringing in the produce, then it fits perfectly in the sink! My guests were laughing at me at my daughter's birthday party because I was so excited about my basket. (Yup, I am pretty easy to please!)

Well the server is not letting me upload any more pictures, so I will try to post the rest tomorrow.

It is not too late to join in the Blog Hop that I posted about in my last post. So join up.

Happy Gardening!