Archive for April, 2008

29
Apr
08

Homesteading…

Randy and I have talked more and more about the idea that in the future homesteading, as in growing your own food, raising your own animals, making things yourself as opposed to buying them, may be the only way to survive as our economy spirals out of control.  The world is getting harder and harder to live in and there is a growing security in the path we have chosen, to provide for ourselves as much as possible.  Teaching children how to provide for themselves is more important than ever as our food chain becomes more and more unstable and oil prices continue to climb.

Where to Start:

BAKE YOUR OWN BREAD:

You don’t even have to grind your own wheat yet, just start by baking the bread your family eats.  Lots of people have bread machines stored away they had to have and never really used.  I use mine just to mix and let the bread rise once in.  Then, I put the dough in a loaf pan, let it rise one more time, and bake.  EASY!

PLANT A GARDEN:

It can be a small one or in pots on your patio, plant herbs, tomatoes, whatever you love.  With the rising prices of everything around us every little bit you can provide for yourself helps.  Not to mention the fact you will know your produce is free of chemicals and is grown locally.

CHANGE YOUR MENU:

Stop buying pre-packaged, processed food and start buying food in its original form, FRESH.  Shop your local Farmer’s Markets, add beans and rice to your diet, and eliminate soda and pasteurized milk and juice.  These are not only healthy changes, but budget friendly changes.

COOK FROM SCRATCH:

This is kind of the same as some of the ones above; however, it is so important.  This will save you money and improve you health.  Think you are too busy?  Use a crockpot!  Check out The Family Homestead for some great recipes.

HANG YOUR CLOTHES OUT TO DRY:

Use a clothes line.  There is nothing more relaxing than hanging your clothes out on the line on a quiet morning.  Use the time to reflect and relax, plan for the day, or pray.  You can save money and sanity by this simple task.

CONSERVE:

Conserve energy!

Conserve money!

Conserve time!

Conserve tradition!

Conserve family!

EXTREMES:

If you want to get really serious in your quest for the homestead-life and self-sufficiency you could:

*Get a dairy cow or a couple dairy goats.

*Covert to an off-grid system (solar, wind, gray water, rain barrels, etc.).

*Get rid of all NEEDless expenses (cable, landline/cell phone, magazines subscriptions, etc.)

*Pay off debt!  This is important.  Start with smaller bills and pay them off one at a time.

*Instead of spending all your time mowing, fertilizing, and controlling weeds in your lawn, start converting that space to usable space to plant produce.

*Plant fruit trees and bushes.

Lastly, use the library.  You don’t have to own every book.  The library is a great place to learn about making more with less. 

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live it is a great book to motivate you. 

Storey’s Basic Country Skills another great book for motivation and ideas.

Path to Freedom is a great site to see how a family (in California) grows most of their own food on less than one acre (much less).

Good luck and have fun!  It takes work to be a homesteader, but the rewards far outweigh the costs.

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24
Apr
08

Make your own shampoo…

This was a really easy recipe for making your own shampoo.  I have a recipe that actually makes it from lye, but for a good starter shampoo this one is great. 

Sorry I didn’t actually do a tutorial.  This made more than enough for Randy and I, so I didn’t go ahead and make another batch. 

Herbal Shampoo:

2 cups Distilled water

4 oz of Castile Soap (lavender, peppermint, etc.)

½ oz. (2 T.) Rosemary

½ oz (2 T.) Sage

½ oz. (2 T.) Nettles

½ oz. (2 T.) Lavender

2000 mg MSM

Mix the herbs in a mason jar, which has a lid.  Boil 2 cups distilled water.  Add 3 heaping tablespoons of the mixed herbs into the boiling water.  Pull the boiling water and herbs off the stove.  Let the herb mixture sit for 30-40 minutes.  Put the 2000 mg MSM into the herb mixture after 30 minutes of cooling.  After 40 minutes and the MSM is melted, strain the herbal mixture into a bowl.

Pour 2-2 ½ oz of strained herbal tea into an 8 oz bottle.  Now, pour the 4 oz of castile soap into the bottle.  Cap the bottle and shake to mix the ingredients.

The shampoo is now finished and ready for use.  Use this as a bas for all the shampoos you make.  You can add different herbs as you learn what these herbs do and how they help your hair.  You can vary the ingredients according to your taste. 

**I added 4 drops of Rosemary essential oil for good measure since I struggle with thinning hair.

*MSM-an organic sulphur compound in gel, liquid, powder, cream or capsule form.  Consult your doctor before using MSM, especially if you are using medication.

*Rosemary-stimulates the hair follicles and helps to prevent premature baldness

*Sage-has antioxidants and keeps things from spoiling and is antibacterial

*Nettles-acts as a blood purifier, blood stimulator, contains a large source of nutrients for hair growth

*Lavender-controls the production of sebaceous gland oil and reduces itchy and flaky scalp conditions

The herbs came from More Than Alive.  They have a great selection of herbs I couldn’t find at other places and great prices.

The finished product!

I have been using it for about a week.  It gives my hair a lot more volume, however, it also gives it a different feel than my commercial shampoo.  I am still getting used to it.  It’s not thick like commercial shampoo, but it doesn’t take a lot and lathers really well.

23
Apr
08

Moving our chicks to safety…

Well the chicks were safe and sound this morning.  Last night we loaded all of them up and moved them back into our garage/shop, and Randy put cinder blocks all the way around the perimeter of the coop.  This morning he could see where the skunk had tried to dig under the blocks and wall to get in and didn’t make it.  This will only be a temporary solution for a couple of reasons.  It doesn’t look all that attractive, and I don’t think it will deter the critters forever. 

We are planning on digging a trench around the outside wall of the coop and burying tin at least 2 feet down.  Basically we will be extending the wall into the ground two feet.  Hopefully this will keep everyone out of our coop. 

The numbers were a little better than Randy first thought.  We ended up losing nine chicks and are still debating on whether or not we will replace them or not.  If we do it will be in the fall when we get our Cornish Rocks to raise for meat.

The sheep are doing well and see to be enjoying the pasture as opposed to hay.  We are getting closer to weaning which is never fun for anyone. 

We are late getting our sheep recorded to the Texel Sheep Breeders Society, so we will probably have to pay a penalty on a couple of them.  Oops, that is kind of my responsibility, and I pretty much dropped the ball.

My plants from Abundant Acres are supposed to be here tomorrow.  They were pushed back a week due to a late freeze. 

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Wednesday.

22
Apr
08

Homestead update…

Monday started out as a great day and kind of ended on a bad note.  Every spring we borrow our neighbors tiller to work our garden.  The agreement is Randy changes the oil and gets it all ready so when I neighbor goes to use it it is all ready to go.  It works out great for both parties.  We don’t have a tiller and our neighbor is not a mechanic.  So, Randy tilled our garden and when he was nearly finished it broke.  $150, and two weeks later it is up and running again.  Randy got a phone call at 6:30 last night from our neighbors because the tiller had started smoking.  We got down there, Randy tinkered with it, and it threw a rod just like it did the first time it broke.  Our neighbor is being really great about it.  He knows there is a good possibility there is something else wrong causing this to happen over and over.  However, Randy is going to do a couple of things to it to see what’s going on.  The tiller is old and it may be a situation where he should just buy a new one.  When we went to bed last night we were pretty upset about it.  We hate borrowing and just needed a reminder that it is not a good thing to do.  We woke up this morning with better attitudes and decided we would just roll with the punches, fix it, and move on.

On my drive to work Randy called me to let me know a skunk had dug into our chicken coop and killed 11 or our 25 month-old chicks.  The skunk didn’t even eat them, just killed them for sport. 

Fourteen of them had gotten over or through the panel separating the chicks from the Banties and survived.  Isn’t that sad?  It just about made me sick this morning when he told me.  So, all our chickens are locked inside right now until we can figure out what to do to try to save the few we have left. 

Every morning starts with feeding our bottle lamb/lambs.  This particular morning it was really cold outside and the gate to the backyard was open, so our cute little bottle lamb made her way not only to the backdoor, but stepped right inside to have breakfast.

In other news, Friday and Saturday were spent putting up electric fencing in our pasture so we can 1) make paddocks to rotational graze our sheep and 2) block off a portion of the pasture so we can start replacing fencing.

This is Randy out in our pasture.  Our house is in the background.

We borrowed Mom and Dad’s four-wheeler and trailer and it made things so much easier.

Sunday, we sheared 36 sheep at our house and over 200 at Dad’s house.  We started at our house at 6:30 setting up and didn’t get home, showered, and settled until 7:00 that evening.  We were tired.

Monday, Randy took the day off and worked on my brother’s four-wheeler and worked on his pickup.  Hopefully we will have a pickup up and running again soon. 

Tonight we will be moving the chicks back inside their pen in the garage where they will be safe and sound.  Any suggestions for reinforcing our dirt floor coop are welcome.  I have read to bury 1 ½ to 2 feet of fencing around the perimeter, so we are debating on something like that.  We really feel dirt floors are the healthiest in a coop and would prefer not to do wood or concrete flooring. 

Our house is so cozy right now with the weather being in the 70s.  Windows open and cool fresh air blowing through the house.  What could be better?

What would a post be without a few dog pictures, right?

Here is Ash who doesn’t have the ability to take a picture with her eyes open.  She is playing with her favorite toy, Lamb Chop.

Here is Koal playing with the ONLY toy he has ever really played with, Animal.  Just incase you can’t read it, the front says, “Cats are not my friend.”

Have a wonderful day!

15
Apr
08

391

That’s how many baby lambs we worked (vaccinated, docked tails, and de-wormed) at Mom and Dad’s Sunday.  I got lucky and got to de-worm them, Dad vaccinated and docked tails, and Mom and Randy were the catchers.  By the end of the day we were all pretty tired.

I made shampoo over the weekend.  As soon as we have used it a couple of times and worked out any kinks I will share the recipe (maybe even do a fun tutorial on it).

This weekend we are putting up electric fencing to split our pasture in half.  Then we will start rebuilding our exterior fencing with goat fencing and eventually have it split into parcels for rotational grazing.  We have been wanting to do this ever since we got into the sheep business, but just hadn’t had the money or the time.  However, our pastures need some extra care, and we would like to at least cut back on our use of de-wormers if not eventually eliminate the use of them all together.

I planted a few more things in the garden yesterday.  It is slowly but surely coming together.  Just waiting on my heirloom plants from Abundant Acres to get here and we will be in full gardening mode.

Hope everyone has a wonderful day.

09
Apr
08

Supplement Review and baby chicks

Okay, there isn’t much to review in the way of supplements.  We got our Twin Lab CLO Lemon to try in hopes of saving some money and not use the Carlson brand.  No way!  Twin Lab tastes fishy and not good at all.  We will use the Twin Lab because we have it, but then we are switching back to Carlson CLO and fish oil.

Koal has only been on CLO (Twin Lab Unflavored) and Vitamin C powder for one day.  I will post later on what the results are with his allergies/supplements.  If we haven’t seen any improvements by Friday I will load him up and take him to a vet about 70 miles away to get a second opinion. 

Randy has the day off today, and I wish I was home with him.  I want to be home curled up in bed right now.  It’s cold here in Kansas and after this weekend’s events I could use a little extra sleep. 

Randy will be moving these cute little guys into a bigger pen today. 

Just one of the many things on his “to do” list.

Hope everyone has a wonderful day.

08
Apr
08

Grandma’s 80th Birthday…

We had an eventful weekend.  It was my Grandma’s 80th birthday party so we had lots of family in town.  Thursday, Randy and I went up to Grandma’s to see my aunt, cousin, and her daughter.  Randy and I were really close to all of them when we lived in South Carolina.  We miss them so much, but neither is willing to move closer to the other just yet.

Friday night more and more people started making their way to town and out to Grandma’s house.  We had a potluck dinner with tons of food and great conversation. 

And plenty of kids to entertain one another.

Saturday, Randy and I worked hard around the house trying to get a few things done, got cleaned up late afternoon, and headed back up to Grandma’s.  The adults were going out to dinner and all of us cousins were going to order pizza and hang out to watch the KU/UNC game.  The adults got home in time for the game, so it was a packed house for the big game.

My Grandma does a grab bag once a year with things she has collected along the way.  These hats are out of the collection.  My cousin and I ALWAYS have a fun time together.  Humor tends to bounce back and forth off of us and back to the other.  Sometimes others find it funny, sometimes I think they find us annoying, but we have so much fun either way.

Notice the red lip?  I got popped in the face by a three year old that morning. 

Sunday morning was church, family pictures, and lunch with everyone.  Then we all loaded up and headed to the Country Club for Grandma’s birthday.  There were over 100 people there for cake, punch, and conversation.  Other than a pretty strong wind the weather was beautiful for the entire weekend.

Here are my two cousins, Mindie & Ali.  Ali looks a little different without her stylin’ hat.

Sunday evening most had headed home.  A few of us rode 3-wheelers, 4-wheelers, and hiked down to a pond on Grandma’s property.  It was so peaceful and the two “city” boys from Georgia enjoyed being able to run and play and explore a whole new world.

Monday was a dreary, rainy day.  I got up early and was out putting up electric netting at 6:30 in the morning, so I would be done by the time everyone else was up and at ‘em.  I went to Grandma’s and chatted with my aunt, cousin, and grandma for the morning.  My cousin and I finally got to sneak away for a trip to town and got to visit a bit.  Her and I share secrets with each other and have a wonderful relationship.  If only we were closer.  We share many of the same ideas on how to raise children, homeschooling, and just life in general.  I will really miss her and her mom (they fly home today).

The kids got to hold our baby chicks, feed bottle lambs at mom and dad’s, and see their donkey and our llama.  Life was good for the little ones.

One of my cousins has two little boys.  They were well mannered and just and sweet as they could be.  I could sit for hours and watch her interact with her children and admire the bond they have and the wonderful job she has done as a mother.  Her efforts were very much noticeable and noted by all.

It was an incredible weekend and so much fun to have all of us together again!




Adopting one child won't change the world; but for that child, the world will change.

I am the wife to my wonderful husband and joint care giver to the many animals we have acquired on our small farm here on the prairie. This is a bit about our life on our farm. We are striving for simplicity and self-sufficiency, determined to become debt-free, trying to live in tune with the natural cycles of this earth, and challenging ourselves to transition to a diet based on traditional foods. It isn't always easy, and we don't always succeed, but it is a fun learning process. Join us as we stumble through learning how to provide for ourselves, get off the treadmill, and work toward a simpler way of life.

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