Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, Permaculture, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, Chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting and more...

Apr 29, 2012

Garden, Independence Days Challenge

In The Garden- Whew, my legs are tired! I mowed, planted, hosed, weeded, tilled, dug, moved, seeded, swept, mopped (in the house), did laundry, made dessert. Thank god we went to eat dinner out! I was SO tired. Our new fenced area by the new raised bed (next week I swear!) looks better already with a new evergreen and perennials. I had to plant it before the raised bed went in, due to the small space. It has been a bit neglected planting-wise. I took care of that! 


I finally got the cold frame planted with Seeds Of Change "Tom Thumb", a nice small butter lettuce type green. I have grown it before and it's wonderful! I got a few little garden signs at Target for a buck, this one says "grow already!"

Independence Days Challenge-

1. Plant Something- Finally planted "Tom Thumb" lettuce in cold frame, perennials and evergreens 
2. Harvest Something- Eggs, grass clippings going into the compost.
3. Preserve Something- Same, freezing more food. Will be fixing up my bike next week :)
4. Store Something- I keep stocking up on more basics every week, added extra pine shavings for chicks. 
5. Manage Reserves- Get A Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Bought more thrift store shorts for summer.
6. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipes- Made an apple butter spice cake to use up some homemade apple butter. 
7. Build Community Food Systems- Still need to get to the spring farmers market.
8. Recycle/Re-Use- A lot more composting, feeding chickens food scraps. Will be building a new raised bed from recycled, free lumber NEXT WEEK  I swear! Dave bought a new used bike for himself, since he can't ride with drop handlebars anymore. He loves riding to work, so after his shoulder surgery recovery he should be back in the swing of things by July.
9. Skill Up- Reading Little House In The Suburbs by Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskin, good book! Helped Dave sharpen the blades on our push mower. Getting back on my bike soon!
10. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- I cut back our very lopsided lavender plant in the back yard, moved it, and it should grow back, I hope. 

Apr 28, 2012

Hail and Rain! BioLite Stove, Chick Update, Thrifting

Hail and Rain- I heard a huge noise with what I thought was wind Thursday about 10:30 p.m. I woke up to this in the morning-

Little piles of hail and junk from the trees all over the yard. We went from the almost 80's to the 50's within 3 days, and had record rain for a 24 hour period, over an inch! There are flood advisories in the surrounding areas. I'm glad I don't live near water ! I went from wearing a lite cardigan outside in the morning at school to a medium winter coat and gloves. This time of year I put most of my really heavy winter clothes away, but leave out some. I was back to a flannel blouse that day, brr. And then threw the heavy comforter back on the bed, got out the winter jammies :)  I'm so glad I hadn't planted my cold frame yet! My babies would have been pulverized! I'll be planting tomorrow and hopefully setting up our new raised bed, weather cooperating. Dave had shoulder surgery, so he has to be careful and I'll pick up the slack. I bought some new shrubs and perennials to fill in the bare area by where the raised bed will be, and will post photos of the "before" and "after"!

Chick Update-  The girls are getting so BIG! And they can fly, oh my! We added a 2nd long box, so now they have a double wide for a home. About 6 feet long. I switched to pine shavings today too. I also moved the outdoor "playpen" to the kitchen for some variety on the weekends. With the highs in the low 60's it's too cold for them to got outside. They had a blast!

Thrifting- I hit another goodwill store today and found a really cute sunflower, made of solid pine, for $1.99!

Also bought some more shorts (which I live in during the summer), and some cute denim overalls (I love those). I haven't had overalls for years, but like them in the cooler weather.

The BioLite Stove- I thought this is such a great idea! Great for emergency use, since it's small and easy to store. It generates electricity too, from the heat, to charge up small devices. No fuel to buy either, just use what you have. A bit spendy, but would pay for themselves with regular use, like camping, etc....

Apr 27, 2012

When Did I Start Homesteading?

I was looking around my home the other day, at all the little things that speak to me. That got me thinking- when, and how, did I start homesteading? Bearing in mind I do urban homesteading, I still long for a rural life, old rusty stuff, and animals. A big garden, fruit trees and a barn. Where did all this come from? I started thinking back to all the little, subtle hints that pointed me to the eventual life I'm in- being around my absentee Father, who fixed cars and was a self trained mechanic, taught me how to use tools. Being around a Grandfather, who loved to garden, taught me about growing things. Being around a Grandmother who sewed, canned and cooked from scratch, taught me how to feel friendly in a kitchen. All those little things add up. You never know thru your life what your destination may be until you see the road map getting clearer. Always planning ahead is part of that homesteading thinking- where can I grow more food? Where can I store more food? How much stuff do I need to buy versus making it? How many animals can I support? How should I take care of them? What's my "bottom line" on what I will and will not do? Being married sometimes blurs this :)  I could sell this house in a heart beat and move east towards the border of Wyoming where it's much greener, more rural, but with small cities nearby, and have a small acreage. But being married, well I'm still working on that! For now I do what I can where I am and sigh, "if only...."

Apr 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!!!

Let's protect her, she's all we have... what can you do today???

John Anderson: Seminole Wind

Summer's Comin'!

I love this old video, it gets me in the mood for summer! From 1995, it's a Clint Black music video with- Jay Leno, Charlie Chase, Gerald McRaney, George Kennedy and Dick Clark dressed in drag! There's also David Hasselhoff and a few other cameos thrown in there. Enjoy!

Apr 21, 2012

85 Degrees! Girls Gone Wild, Garden Stuff, Independence Days Challenge, Great Books

85 Degrees This Week- It has been a wacko spring,  yo-yoing between winter/spring. Now we're yo-yoing between spring/summer. The forecast is for the mid 80's til Thursday! Oh joy, not really. This is just too warm, too fast. I had to unpack my summer shorts, most of which don't fit! Yay! I'm down to about 40 lbs. smaller. So off to the thrift store a couple of days ago, and I scored! Lots of great shorts and a few summer tops. I must say- it's so much easier to find a LOT of clothes my size, now that I'm moving out of the "plus sizes". I always hated the lack of choice. I'm big on that :)  I will be taking in some of my favorite summer clothes, to get more mileage out of them. Ironically, I had bought 2 like-new L.L. Bean linen camp shirts during the winter. They're way too big now! Break out the sewing machine!!!

Girls Gone Wild! I loved the title, sorry I had to! The little chicks are getter bigger fast. Molly and Rose have been taking field trips out to the living room this week-

Rose in the back, Molly in the front

Tail feathers coming up!

I brought out our $2.00 junk outdoor playpen. It's perfect for the chicks to get a feel for the outdoors during the warm days, and to keep them separate from the two big girls. They had fun today, but cried for me a lot after a while :) They calmed right down when I picked them up, went inside and .... nap time!

Garden- I mowed with our push mower, and I think I hit every piece of bark dust in the universe in the front yard, erg! Nothing like it jamming every 2 feet. I finally broke out the rake, and got most of the rest. Looks much better! With all the rain, things are really greening up fast. I washed the outside windows- I love my windex scrubber thingy for windows, it actually works! I cleaned up the clutter in the house, did laundry, whew, busy! My seedlings inside are doing well, tons of basil-
leggy nasturtiums, and Swiss chard didn't do so well

BUT, the good news- Dave, my hubby, got a free like-new display case, black wire metal with shelves- about 2' wide, 5' tall, 1' deep. It will be perfect to add a grow light system to next spring and have an "official seed starting rack". And it was FREE! I love rescuing stuff that would go in the dumpster otherwise. I just don't have a good set up for windows facing the light in the spring... and since we can get lighting at wholesale... :)

Independence Days Challenge-

1. Plant Something- We'll be setting up the lumber for the new raised bed tomorrow, for veggie planting.
2. Harvest Something- Eggs, chives, grass clippings going into the compost!
3. Preserve Something- Same, freezing more food. 
4. Store Something- I keep stocking up on more basics every week, a little at a time. After garden is set up will add another rain barrel for the garden.
5. Manage Reserves- Get A Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- The 2 new chicks are growing fast! I found a nice, natural wormer, so we won't need to lose any eggs any more! Woo hoo!
6. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipes- I'm taking more home food to work for lunch. Working on the last of the homemade canned foods.
7. Build Community Food Systems- Going to let co-workers know I will have eggs for sale soon, once wormer is out of their system. I will start going to the farmers market now that they have opened today.
8. Recycle/Re-Use- A lot more composting, feeding chickens food scraps. I'm taking in more clothing for summer, again. Bought several items at Goodwill for the hot weather. Will be building a new raised bed from recycled, free lumber Dave got from work.
9. Skill Up- Reading Storey's Guide for Chickens and Urban Homesteading by Rachel Kaplan w/K. Ruby Blume, excellent! 
10. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Keeping bigger clothes to take in. Got the new seed rack components. Re-purposing some pillows soon with leftover fabrics...
Great Books- Reading Storey's Guide for Chickens, excellent reference book. I wish I had bought it sooner!!! 
Also excellent- Urban Homesteading by Rachel Kaplan with K. Ruby Blume! I find some homesteading books too general, this one has lots of very specific ideas
I'm also reading Still Life With Chickens- Starting Over In A House By The Sea, a bio by Catherine Goldhammer. I love her style and wit. I can see why it got such great reviews! Only $2.00 on Amazon...
Happy Summer, I mean, Spring!

Apr 15, 2012

Gardening, Berries, Weather, Thrifting & Video

Gardening, Weather- Yesterday I spent about 3 hours working on the backyard- mowing with our trusty hand pusher, raking, cleaning the beds. It was so nice, about 65 and breezy! I did one full hour just pruning back my berries. We have 1 raspberry row, 2 Marionberry, and 1 big blackberry row. I dread this job the most in the spring due to the bleeding involved :)  Not too bad yesterday! There's always a lot of dead wood from the winter. This is the "after" picture, much better! I'll fertilize soon and hope I have another bumper crop like last year. There are tons of blossoms on my nectarine tree, so I may have enough to can this year!

Thrifting- I went to a flea market that come to our state fair grounds every few months. I found these-  $2.00 for the large doily and $3.00 for the vintage screen. I love the green, vintage paint, and steel screen! I'm going to use the screen frame as a display, or put a mirror behind it. The doily is amazing with all the details, and much bigger than the other one I have! It was funny- two women had a booth selling pickled eggs, which I had made for the first time last month! I tried a chunk of a jalapeno one, wow! HOT! Good though, another version to try....

I love this version of Independence Day by Little Big Town, amazing harmonies!!!

Apr 14, 2012

More Light, More Garden Space, 2 "Titanic" Chicks & Independence Days

More Light- We finally had our huge maple tree in our backyard trimmed. There were damaged areas, and we wanted to open up the food garden with more light. There originally have been a 2nd tree planted too close to it, we had it taken down 4 years ago, but it was lopsided on the south. We had it thinned and it looks much better, is safer and more light! We had 3 bids for it, and the person we used did a great job- asked questions, checked back, awesome clean up. It was expensive, but worth it, as we didn't want to lose the tree or have part of it fall on the house. Luckily we had an easement next to our fence for their bucket truck. Photos here:

Big tree huh!

Before the trim on the south side-


Had the old tree stump cut down too, the guy used 3 chainsaws and took a 1/2 hour!


This will be the new area for the raised-bed veggie spot. More light now!

New Titanic Chicks!- We got 2 new chicks last night! One's a light brown brahma and the other is a gold sexlink. Here's the story of trying to come up with names for them- we went out to breakfast this morning, went to the grocery store, came back to.... 2 chicks up on the feeder, with the entire 1 qt. waterer knocked over and about 1/4" of water all over the floor. They had cold feet and I have no idea how long they were like that! Poor babies! Dave wiped out the crate, and put in clean paper towels, while I held them and warmed their feet. I put them back in and they warmed up, drank some water, and fell asleep. I had been thinking about 2 strong female names for them. Then I got the names- Titanic's 2 strong women: "Rose" (from the movie) and the unsinkable "Molly" Brown since they survived the icy water! Ha! Rose and Molly it is. Molly will be the louder one- the Brahma, Rose the sexlink. They survivied their icy bath!!!

Rose in the front, Molly in the back

Independence Days-
I was getting shocked today at the grocery store with some of the rising prices- like peanut butter: up about $2.50 since Jan. and soda (which we don't drink) is the same price, but now a 1 1/2 liter bottle! It makes sense on the soda since it's tied to corn prices. It's all about fuel. I bought peanut butter to store, and glad I had a spare in the pantry closet. REALLY glad I took my food preservation/storage class!!!

1. Plant Something- I planted seeds 2 weeks ago for- basil, calendulas, swiss chard and Nasturtiums. Green and healthy! Prepping new garden bed for food, had stump removed. I decided to plant more raspberries too. Put herb pots outside from the garage. Deeped cleaned the backyard today, prepping for veggie planting.
2. Harvest Something- More eggs
3. Preserve Something- Freezing more food. 
4. Store Something- I stocked up on more more basics- peanut butter, butter, flour, etc. Getting ready to add another rain barrel for the garden, go from 2 to 3...
5. Manage Reserves- Get A Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Got 2 new chicks! Bought a reptile ceramic heat disc instead of a red heat lamp for the chicks, as they last much longer and won't shatter. Good deal!
6. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipes- I'm getting better at mixing up leftovers into new dishes. I'm taking less frozen Amy's meals to work and using more home food. Although I still LOVE Amy's! All organic and delish!
7. Build Community Food Systems- Thinking about some neighbors that let their huge rhubarb harvest go to rot. I'm going to ask to buy some :) Going to let co-workers know I will have eggs for sale soon, once wormer is out of their system. A co-worker also offered to buy some of my organic berries this summer!
8. Recycle/Re-Use- More composting, feeding chickens scraps.  Re-used a leftover attic fan roof cover/ sleeve as a rhubard sheild from the chickens (they keep scratching the shoots coming up)! Perfect! I'm taking in more clothing for summer. Bought several items on eBay for nice, well made, cheaper clothing. Will be moving river rocks out from garden edge back 2 feet, to create larger veggie area.
9. Skill Up- Bought Storey's Guide for Chickens. Reading more homesteading books from the Library.
10. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Had huge maple tree thinned, to protect and save it. Trimmed back berry vines for new growth.

What a hectic week! Samantha was too tired to put her head on the floor!

Apr 7, 2012

Article- 45 Homemade Foods You Can Make Yourself (But Never Thought You Could)

I love seeing these kinds of articles, especially in a "down" economy- Diy-homemade-foods.htm

Interesting too- copper prices are really in the upswing, due to futures, which is a good marker in the economic forecast. It means people will be building something,...

Apr 6, 2012

Happy Easter, Lacto-Fermented Sodas, Weird Weather

Happy Easter!

I've always been fascinated by history, and so, with that in mind, here's a few Easter tidbits!

The old pagan symbols- the goddess and the egg, all fancied up and ready to be hunted after and found!  Bunny- symbol of fertility, like I had to tell you that right? Even the word Easter relates to several goddess names, from what I've read...

Celebrating fertility and the goddess (in ancient times) in the spring, when you're planting your crops, all makes sense. I find it interesting how many ancient rites have later been co-opted by organized religions, but that's old news. When we moved to Idaho and asked some new co-workers (who were of a certain religious persuasion) if their kids went Easter egg hunting, they gave us an odd look. We assumed this was pretty common even for non-religious folks. In their religion it was "planting day". Later we were wondering what the heck they were talking about, since we'd never heard any Christians use that term. Even late coming to the scene religions change things. It never ends, oh well.....  

Homemade Lacto-Fermented Sodas- I'm reading Urban Homesteading by Kaplan and Bloom. What an excellent read! I'm interested in possibly making homemade sodas. I won't do the "whey" in mine since I'm allergic to dairy, but there's the ginger version. I'm still in the research phase, but it's a great idea! Gotta buy a copy! Here's a nice article with an overview and some yummy recipes! Lacto-Fermented Sodas

Weird Weather- 45 today, low 29 tonite, and it's supposed to be 80 on Monday! Yikes!

Samantha enjoying rolling on a warm spring afternoon

Apr 5, 2012

Sorry, But I Had To...


No more word verification free blog. Since MSN SUCKS, and there's nothing online that can help apparently, I had to close our email account. What fun! When I went to log in, I got a "your account is blocked" and it sends a code to an non-existent email. Oh good, that's helpful. I spent several hours trying to fix it and gave up. Since MSN thinks we're telepathic and can figure out a way around this... I changed the email address. Thanks for tolerating the word verification :)

Apr 1, 2012

Chalkboard Paint Re-Do, Thrifting Again, 75 Degrees, Free Farm Scenes Screensaver

Old 1930's government pamphlets

Chalkboard Paint Can Re-Do: I had this really old tea tin. I was going to give it to Goodwill or whoever. Then I remembered- I had some chalkboard paint! The wheels started spinning!!! Here's the "before", faded, icky green-
I sanded it lightly, all over, gave it three coats of paint. "After" photo:

I think it's cute!

Thrifting- I made a quick Goodwill stop and found some goodies again today: a car battery pump for an air mattress. We're wanting to start camping again, great for our camping mattress. A piece of art, $25.00 on the back, $4.99 for me:
Cuchina means kitchen in Italian

A nice little embroidery kit, with fabric, frame, etc. Not sure what I'll do with it yet, but maybe a gift (completed) for someone special soon :)

It was 75 Today- Weird weather, right before cold/rainy front. We did a lot of yard work today- modified a coop door, mowed, cleaned up the backyard and garage, and did some more composting. I had two 5 gallon tubs of dried beans for Y2K, (yeah I know) and so I finally asked Sharon, from my food prep class, if they might still be viable? I figured not and she concurred. I decided to compost them. Now I re-used one of the tubs for extra chicken feed, and have 2 more to re-fill with people food. Not sure what I'll refill them with? Bad news- they won't fit on my pantry shelves, except the top. That means something light weight (oats?) or somewhere else to store? Still thinking about that... Cold front is moving in, it's cooling off quickly. It got so windy we had dust storm advisories! And the high tomorrow-in the 40's! Pick a season already!

Free Farm Scenes Screen Saver- Cute easy to install:  Enjoy!
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