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...

Nov 25, 2017

Winding Down/No Christmas Yet, Now on Facebook! Chicken Sun Room In Action

Anya winding down

Winding Down, No Christmas Yet-
I was thrilled to get off work at noon Wednesday, since I had the afternoon to prep for turkey day. I LOVE 4 day weekends! After a whirlwind Thanksgiving day here, it was nice to have yesterday to myself. Sadly Dave had to work. I worked on various projects, including my blog. I'll be putting away the Autumn and Thanksgiving decor this weekend. Next weekend I'll put out some Winter decor. It's my birthday weekend too! I REALLY don't like the American emphasis on binging on shopping, putting up Christmas decor after Halloween, and radio stations are the worst. A week before Thanksgiving I was hearing Christmas music. Sad and aggravating. Christmas, when I was a kid, was a tree, simple gifts, going to church and time with family. No black Friday, no knocking people out of the way for gifts. One possible GOOD side affect of Internet shopping is maybe the stores will do away with that. Maybe. I really appreciate the simplicity of the way Europeans celebrate holidays, bringing nature inside and less materialism. So I'm not putting up anything Christmas-y for at least another week or two. With lows forecast in the 20's at night this week, we put on our flannel sheets and plugged in the heated birdbath (thrifted). The coop is done, Dave raked more leaves today, cleaned the mower for the season and stores. I put away the garden bench tools and covered it with plastic sheeting for the winter. It sits on our deck year round, next Spring I'll repaint it to freshen it up.

Now on Facebook! 
I decided recently to take the plunge and start a Little Homestead Facebook page. I'll be adding extra content on a regular basis. Please hit the sidebar to follow to see what we're up to! Thanks!!!

Chicken Sun Room In Action-
After a heavy rain Thursday night, the girls really enjoyed the drier sun room yesterday and today! Dave added pine shavings later today for odor control. It's made from recycled materials, Dave built the frame, and we just dis-assemble each spring and store. Nice and dry, with a great view. There's a door inside the coop that goes into it. Sturdy and a great extra space for the girls!

Neighbor kitty Posey stopped by for a pet

Better shot

  I found my photo of Thanksgiving in 2014, snowy!

Sun room covered in snow, but dry and warm inside for the hens

Girls came out for some rolled oats, a fave treat, from the left- Rosie, Gwynne, Ellie

Heated birdbath ready for winter! Herbs still hanging in there :) 

Nov 24, 2017

Record High Thanksgiving, Anniversary Road Trip, Planting Fruit Trees

Record High Thanksgiving-
We had a really fun, busy Thanksgiving at my house yesterday. It was 65 degrees! Four years ago we had 2 feet of snow on the ground. Usually it's nice and cool, instead I had all the kitchen windows open, and the ceiling fan on in the living room. Looks like the East coast had the cold. My 2 grand babies had a great time playing together, and our kids brought lots of yummy sides dishes. Babies were falling asleep heading home from all the food and activities. A fun time was had by all! Sorry no pics, I was busy! I'm really thankful that we could all be together this year. You never know what the future will bring.

Anniversary Road Trip-
Dave and I went to McCall, Idaho for our 24th anniversary last weekend. It was gorgeous, cold and clear! Due to a variety of things we've haven't had a real vacation in over 2 years. We went up Saturday morning and stayed the night. We came home Sunday afternoon. We stayed at the historic McCall Lodge right near Payette Lake-

We had a really nice room, and my favorite features was the very deep jetted tub. My aging bones appreciated a very hot soak! It was really quiet, with a king sized bed. We had time to drive around the area, had a great dinner out and fun breakfast. It was really nice to have a rest break. Since they had cable I found a really cool show- Homestead Rescue The 3 person team, Dad, son and daughter help off-grid folks. Pretty interesting "rescues".

Here's some nice shots near the lake-

Brundage ski runs at the top

So calm!

A bit of snow

Sweet little moss

Boats docks covered with snow

Ski runs still thin

Planting Fruit Trees-
I was looking at my lovely frozen organic peaches and canned apples that we grew this year. It's great having bumper crops and knowing how to preserve them! I knew I wanted to plant fruit trees once we moved into our small house, with our standard city lot. We had a few fruit trees at our last house, which was a 1/3 acre lot. Here at this house we started with an apple tree and a nectarine tree. Oddly enough I couldn't find one stinking peach tree in this entire town that spring! Go figure. A few years later we later planted a pear tree. After we lost our nectarine tree we decided to plant a peach tree, finally. It's such a small investment of money for the eventual long term harvest you will have. What a great investment. It's take some planning- where will it go, how high will it reach, how will you harvest, what exposure do you have, what variety do you want, etc. There's a ton of material online, but I found two great little books with lots of ideas from planting to pruning, if you want to plant some fruit trees!

Nov 21, 2017

Some Practical, Healthy & Fun Homesteading Gifts!

Homemade Cheese!

Some Practical, Healthy & Fun Homesteading Gifts!
When you're homesteading, whether in the city or country, we can look at gifts from a different lens. "Oh look at that great shovel! Wow, what great seeds! Hey that compost is great" So, if you need some fun ideas for holiday/birthday/house warming gifts, etc. here's a few great ideas that any homesteader can use!

First- I can’t tell you how convenient a hands-free headlamp is! I borrowed Dave's biking headlamp during a camping trip, then it dawned on me to use it in the coop! You might need to work in a barn or other outbuilding with no light. Going running, walking, or skiing? Maybe with gloves or mittens on? Do you need to work in your garage, or do first aid in a way that requires both hands? You do NOT want to be holding a flashlight in your mouth at that time. In a power outage this could be really helpful in an emergency! Here's a great deal and it's rechargeable. Gotta love that. Or you can just sneak up on your kids and scare the heck out of them!

Now- Even more Ball Book ways to preserve your own foods! New and updated with tons of fresh ideas, including Lacto Fermentation. The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes I will be adding this to my canning book shelf!

Speaking of food preservation! I wish they sold these a few years back! For those of you who want to use your own canning jars for fermenting, this is for you! All those great probiotics are so good for your gut! With an airlock to prevent mold and contamination, you just add produce to any wide mouth Mason jar, add brine, attach top and set it on your counter! Easy to disassemble and clean- FARMcurious Mold Free Fermenting Kit Set of 2

And last, but not least, CHEESE! With high prices and easy cheese-making kits for beginners, why not make your OWN? This kit contains all the ingredients (except milk & cream) that you need to make 100's of cheeses using both cow, goat and sheep milk. Use farm fresh raw or store bought pasteurized! Includes recipes for Mozzarella, Burrata, Ricotta, Monterey Jack, Feta, Chèvre/Goat Cheese, Cheese Curds, Cream Cheese, Butter, Cultured Butter, Quesa Blanco, Quesa Fresca and Marscapone!! Includes spices to flavor your homemade cheese and butter! Or get creative and add your own! So get started in an easy straightforward way- Standing Stone Farms Ultimate Cheese Making Kit                                                     

Nov 19, 2017

How I Got Started With The Independence Days Challenge, Little Winter Preps

How I Got Started With The Independence Days Challenge-
I was wondering recently when I first started doing my IDC posts? After digging a bit I found it was back in 2012! I was looking at my Sharon Astyk books Adapting Our Homes and Our Lives to Settle in Place (Mother Earth News Books for Wiser Living) and Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation , have read these books several times, and they still inspire me! There are so MANY great ideas on doing what you can, where you are! Links are on my side bar for more info. Since life is a process I find the ideas can be adapted over time really well. With variations in space, money you can invest, time you have they're great resources. My original post is here 2012 Independence Days Challenge Ideas and to think it was 5 years ago, how time flies!  I still love looking at this list and thinking about what we've done, and what we still need to work on. I did modify it a bit after reading how some other websites re-worded it just a bit, but you get the idea-

1. Plant Something-

2. Harvest Something-

3. Preserve/Store Something-

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-

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

6. Build Community Food Systems-

7. Recycle/Re-Use-

8. Skill Up-

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-

I really loved following Sharon's blog, but then she went on to other things. So if you need some inspiration to start with where you are already living, or want to try some other things, buy her books!

Last Winter's Snowmageddon

Little Winter Preps-
With winter settling in, I have been doing some random preparedness tasks like-
making sure ice scrapers and fleece travel blankets are in the cars, air pressure checked in the tires, new wipers as needed, antifreeze checked, chicken water heater plugged in in the coop. Dave put the sun room for the coop back together for the winter.  We didn't last year, and it snowed, several feet! It's ready now-

Flashlights in the cars with fresh batteries, new rechargeable batteries in the solar garden lights.
I just ordered one of these FLOUREON Portable Solar Battery Charger only $16.99! Can charge 2 devices at a time, great idea! Having a couple of these is a good idea. While you may not have cell service, you can still access important info stored on your phone, tablet or other device. Amazing how expensive these used to be compared to now-

Nov 16, 2017

Grandma's Quilts

Grandma's Quilts-
I was thinking recently about my materal Grandma's quilts. She made these during the Depression out of flour sacks and scrap fabric. What a beautiful job she did, all by hand. She created a work of art to keep her children warm and would probably be surprised it is hanging on my wall as a piece of art-

Nov 11, 2017

Easy Frugal Vegetarian Chili, Telepathic Chickens- No Eggs Mean New Chicks!

Easy Frugal Vegetarian Chili-
Yes, winter is here! With our coldest week so far I was ready for a big pot of chili! Over the years I stopped using meat since this is cheaper AND healthier. I made a big pot today-

I use- 
6 cans Light Red Kidney beans, 2 Lg bell peppers diced, 2 can diced tomatoes, 2 yellow onions diced, 3 cups of my own diced tomatoes, 2 cans water. I used about 4 TBL Chili powder (to taste heat-wise), 1 Tsp. Thyme, 2 Tsp. Garlic powder, about 1 TBL Cumin, and salt to taste. Basically put everything in a pot, cook for a few hours until nice and tasty. Adjust spices, or type of beans, as needed. I added more Chili powder near the end. Serve with any kind of toppings you like- sour cream, avocado, grated cheese, diced onions, cilantro, tortilla strips, you name it! We went with a little cheese. Cilantro or diced green onions would be nice too. Freezes great!

The leaves have really been falling, and Dave moved the yards today, composting the leaves-

Grand baby Oliver watching the leaves fall 
Squirrels and birds have been out eating the bird food

Telepathic Chickens- No Eggs Mean New Chicks!
I started this post earlier this week, then my telepathic chickens laid 4 eggs in the last 3 days! Go figure, they read my mind:) They haven't laid in weeks and weeks, even with extra protein. They're getting a little older, and at least one has been molting. Anyway, there WILL be more chicks in the spring/summer next year. So... 
After our three hens have laid really well for years, it seems they are done. It's been store bought eggs lately. On the bright side, that mean new chicks! I will get three again, early next summer to add to the flock. Last time it went really well integrating the new birds, so I'm confident I can do it again. It's always so much fun getting new chicks! You get to think about breeds and then a trip to the local hatchery. We go to Dunlap Hatchery in Caldwell (outside Boise) since they are really reliable with sexing the chicks (gender), the breeds are correctly labeled, and they're really healthy. Since we only buy pullets (female chicks) it's important that they're sexed correctly. We don't want any roosters. Here's our two fluffy balls from a few years back, and the Grand kids will love the new ones! We ALWAYS keep our other older hens. They eat bugs, weeds and keep an eye on things. I have integrated flocks before and can do it again.

Living room visit

How cute!

I'm leaning towards breeds we've had before Black/Gold Sex links and maybe something different. List of breeds we can choose from here Laying Breeds Then we'll make our fun run, pick up the chicks. So exciting! We set up in indoor mini brooder holding area. We use a laundry basket to start, lined with paper towels. Next we graduate to a long cardboard box with pine shavings. I've never been fan of indoor heat lamps, although we've used them. They can be a real fire hazard, but I finally found a solution that has good reviews and seems to work. I was excited to find out about a the Chick Heating Pad, 9" by 12", good indoors or out, chew proof, low energy use-

Our last flock (one was a little rooster we re-homed), SO CUTE!!!

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