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...

May 29, 2014

Growing Chicks, How Did The Cat Do That?

Growing Chicks-
It's amazing how fast chicks grow! Feathering out, getting taller, running faster. With the warm days, I take them outside after work for a bit. Years ago we bought a beat up outdoor playpen for a couple of bucks. We turn it upside down, and I put bird netting over it. Mostly so they won't fly out. I always watch them. They love it! They run around and try to fly :) Then they get tired and take a nap. It's pretty funny watching them trying to take a dust bath, on turf! Later I bring them in for the night, and happy chicks. I'm off for the summer after Wed. I like getting chicks this late, since we don't have them in the house as long. It has been an incredibly tough school year, and I won't bore you with the details. I'm just glad it's about to be O-V-E-R. Summer's coming!

Clint Black Summer's Comin'

 How Did The Cat Do That?
With as long and flubalicious as Anya is, I have no idea how she managed this! She's taken to climbing in the basket in the evening for a few minutes. She has a cat blankie, and several chairs to choose from. Go figure...

May 25, 2014

Independence Days Challenge

New Compost Bin

Independence Days:
It has gotten pretty warm here, have a cold and a sore knee, but here's the run down ...

1. Plant Something- Got about 1/2 done yesterday, the rest tomorrow. We planted 5 kinds of tomatoes, 2 Marion berries, moved 1 raspberry, lemon cukes.

I love the new expanded area! More room!

 2. Harvest Something- No eggs lately, seems that 1 is eating hers. She may be retired to Craigslist after the 4 chicks go outside. Thyme, basil, and oregano. Rhubarb soon.

3. Preserve/Store Something- Water! We had a good rain last week and filled our new rain barrel up about 1/3 the way.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Got good sale deals on the berry plants, 30% off. 

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- Nope

6. Build Community Food Systems- Not yet.

7. Recycle/Re-Use- Dave got 3 free pallets from work to build a new compost bin. Old one was duct taped together- 

It lasted about 7 years, not bad

I'm selling our 2 old rain barrels on Craigslist, to recycle them to someone else...

8. Skill Up- Dave did research on how to build compost bins with pallets. I have learned WAY TOO MUCH ABUT POSSIBLE WORMS IN CHICKS. I had to worm m new babies after seeing round worms. I won't gross you out with the details. Very gross. I discovered 2 names for my Amber White chicks- Gywn for "white" in Welsh, and Fiona for "white" in Gaelic, cute! Gywn and Fiona :)  I like it!

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- Enlarged the veggie bed, build a new compost bin in the old area. Still surprised my herbs wintered over! My Oregano and Thyme survived, a first. I think the new herb box Dave built, and the 4" of leaves really insulated a lot more...

May 24, 2014

Planting The Veggie Garden Day! The Romper Room

Planting The Veggie Garden Day!
We're went out and bought our veggie starts, and 2 more cane berries. Our one Marionberry finally died, but I found some locally! They can be hard to find. We're moving a raspberry that's not getting enough sun, then will add the 2 Marionberries to the area. I've been looking much more critically at what grows well here for us. I'm sticking with small to medium size tomatoes. I gave up on the little, tiny cherry ones and the really big ones. I bought- paste, Mr. Stripey, Lemonboy, cherry, and some heritage ones. I also found some heritage N.M. peppers, banana yellow peppers, lemon cukes (my fave!), yellow squash, Japanese eggplants, jalapenos, garden salsa peppers for salsas. I will see if I have room for some bush beans. Since we enlarged the garden there's a lot more room. I wish I had a greenhouse, but maybe in the future. We could actually put one in the new bed, but it's pretty narrow...

Oh it's all so green!

My fave- sweeter, plumper and juicier than blackberries

Starbuck's cups worked well, no cutleaf damage on chard and kale! Collard greens seeds have sprouted...

A little something for my new wooden flower pot

The Romper Room-
It was busy, busy today in the romper room. The girls were running, trying to fly, having a blast. They've really grown in the last 2 weeks!

Who's that?

Little Pru (barred rock) thought she'd hog the mirror

All snuggled up

Pru finally joined the group, then nap time, they all fell fast asleep...

May 20, 2014

What Do You Give Bored Chicks?

I see you, can you see me???

A mirror!

Who is that?

I can see you with the corner of my eye!

A branch is good too!!!

May 18, 2014

Lincoln and Self Sufficiency

“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.” 
― Abraham Lincoln

May 17, 2014

New Chicks on The Block, The Garden's Expansion! Starbuck's Bug Protectors

New Chicks on The Block-
We went out to the local hatchery and got 4 new pullet chicks! I bought 1 Barred Rock, 1 Rhode Island Red, and 2 Amber Whites. SO cute! The Amber Whites are a new breed to me, but I liked the description, and have had good luck with RIR's-

The Amber White is a cross between a Rhode Island Red and Rhode Island White. They are a calm, easily adaptable bird with excellent livability. The Amber's beautiful brown egg color and good feathering throughout the lay makes her a preferred product.

And they were 1/2 price!!! I think their sale are winding down. Since I can sell as many extra eggs at work as I want, have 1 in retirement, and 1 that I may get rid of, I got 4. Here are the new chicks on the block-

Barred Rock is Pru, RIR is Rosie, 2 Ambers I haven't named yet

The Garden Expansion!
Dave and I talked about enlarging the veggie garden. There's so much more sun there now that we had a major thinning done 2 years ago on our hug maple tree. I thought we'd move the fence, but Dave suggested we have a chicken-free area. Less labor involved! Good idea, so we covered most of the turf with cardboard about 6 weeks ago. Today Dave started removing it with a sharp shovel. It will be composted-

Hose marks the curve to cut out

Dave moved the border of river rocks, and added pavers to the gate area. We took them from an un-needed area in the front yard. We bought some herbs, flowers, and an ornamental grass to camouflage the wire fence. We add some veggies soon...

Starbuck's Bug Protectors-
Every time I have planted young Swiss chard they get cut off at the ground by bugs. So... I thought this year I'd do a barrier. Here's what I came up with-, leftover Starbuck's cups from a friend! They were leftover at her job and destined for the recycle bin. So, I took them off her hands. I cut the bottom off with an small exacto knife, dropped the plants thru them, planted them and mounded soil up. Gave them a good water. and all done! I did this with my heritage Italian kale too. I hope it works...

May 13, 2014

Farm Animal Finger Puppets & Weather Station, 400th Post Giveaway!

Farm Animal Finger Puppets & Weather Station-
I recently discovered the website above, and this guy is brilliant!!! He's a combination of a graphic artist/engineer. He makes the most amazing stuff! If you have a color printer and paper you can really go to town! A couple of weeks ago I made this for my library-

400th Post Giveaway!-
I didn't realize until after the fact that I had done my 400th blog post! So.... if you want to enter a drawing for some fun, environmentally-friendlyish gift pack stuff  (ship only to continental U.S.), leave a comment below answering this question-

What's your favorite theme or topic that I post about? Please leave your name and/or email, so I can contact you if you win!

I'll choose the winner next week, after I go shopping!!! :)

May 10, 2014

Climate Has Already Changed- New Study, Independence Days Challenge, Great Book- "You Can Buy Happiness, It's Cheap"

Pensacola, Florida recently

Climate Has Already Changed: New Study-
When the government finally released it's new Climate Study this week- it was a bit more candid that I expected. While most people ignore this kind of thing, and most won't actually read it, it was pretty grim. I've read parts of it, since there's a lot there. I will read the rest soon. These are the N.W. highlights-

Water-related Challenges -Changes in the timing of streamflow related to changing snowmelt have been observed and will continue, reducing the supply of water for many competing demands and causing far-reaching ecological and socioeconomic consequences. 

Impacts on Forests: The combined impacts of increasing wildfire, insect outbreaks, and tree diseases are already causing widespread tree die-off and are virtually certain to cause additional forest mortality by the 2040s and long-term transformation of forest landscapes. Under higher emissions scenarios, extensive conversion of subalpine forests to other forest types is projected by the 2080s.

Adapting Agriculture: While the agriculture sector’s technical ability to adapt to changing conditions can offset some adverse impacts of a changing climate, there remain critical concerns for agriculture with respect to costs of adaptation, development of more climate resilient technologies and management, and availability and timing of water.

We're already seeing this, despite our wet spring. Farmers may need to really get on board and start thinking outside the box if they can. I know that's a complicated issue, but it's sink or swim. I live in HIGH DESERT, and people still plant LAWNS. Ok, we get 10" of rain a year, so where is the water going to come from, to water turf??? I'm worried about DRINKING WATER! Anyway, it's the old- DO WHAT YOU CAN WHERE YOU CAN...

British WWII poster, courtesy of British War Archives

Independence Days Challenge-

1. Plant Something- Waiting for rain to stop, have Swiss Chard, Italian Kale (heritage) and seeds for Collard Greens to plant. I'll do the summer veggies soon, after I get the new chicks. It poured twice in the last 3 days! New snow in the hills today, and pea sized hail this afternoon-

2. Harvest Something- Apparently the hens are eating their eggs :(  Good thing I'm getting 4 pullets soon!

3. Preserve/Store Something- Starting to stock up on meats for the freezer, with the drought in California more in the back of my mind. I bought more chicken, now .99 cents a pound, and bacon. I may start buying more frozen/canned veggies to stockpile as well. I keep eyeing my 2 five gallon freeze dried buckets of mixed fruit/veggies. That was for real dire times :(  I don't know if those times will be sooner than I thought...

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- Stockpiling more good deals on foods from the Grocery Outlet. Today we bought 3 used nickel finish knobs at the Habitat store, to replace our old, ugly brass ones from the 70's. They were great, $4.00 each instead of $11.00 new, and nice quality. All installed and purty-

We bought a new 50 gallon rain barrel for $35.00 today, and Dave got it installed-

The other 2 are leaking, so they may to to the free Craigslist. Got a few things on eBay. 

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- Bought a new Chili/Lime dry rub in the bulk spices section. Will try that on a pork roast.

6. Build Community Food Systems- Will get some of my own rhubarb soon, but will ask my neighbor for some. She throws her away!

7. Recycle/Re-Use- We recycled some screen that needs to be replaced on our side garage door. I asked Dave to cover the rain barrel opening (no hole) to keep our the leaves and debris. Worked great. I'll screen that door next. Will give the old knobs to Habitat for someone else. Donated our old stuff that was good to them from the bathroom. I have a donation pile ready for the local Mountain Rescue EMT group in Idaho City for the yearly fund raiser- clothes, shoes, a mower, etc.  I took the 4 knobs that came with the IKEA cabinet and recycled those onto our other bedroom closet doors. Old bathroom cabinet knobs I bought from HD several years ago, will be put on our bedroom closet bi-fold doors. I need to buy one-

8. Skill Up- Learned about bathroom re-dos and gutter (which work great!!!) installation. I'm figuring how to "upcycle" some of my extra clothes in the Lagenlook I like. It will be free and give me more variety.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- I wanted to re-do the fencing on the shade area for the girls. It was green plastic fencing, had ripped, was just ugly and very visible form our living room-

For $15.00 we bought chicken wire and Dave got it up in 15 minutes. Ugly all gone. Will recycle the green fencing in the veggie garden. It's much more invisible now!

Great Book- You Can Buy Happiness, It's Cheap-
If you think you don't have too much stuff, read this book, and you'll probably change your mind! I realized after I checked out the book from the library, that I already knew who she was-

Anya enjoying some fresh spring air-

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