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, 2018

Installing Bird Netting On A Cold Frame, Growing Billy Bob Flowers For Decor

Installing Bird Netting On A Cold Frame-
A few weeks ago we planted our cold frame with some bush peas and Italian kale. We temporarily covered it with row cover since the weather has been cold off and on, and to keep the birds out. With the weather being a little bit more normally cool, we bought some bird netting today to cover the cold Frame. We had one old netting section that was all torn and wadded up. For storage I will wrap around a piece of cardboard next time. Birds in the past have really attacked any kind of greens that we've grown there even though we put out lots of bird food. Bird netting is only about $10 for a 14' by 14' foot area locally. One of the things I learned thru observation was if you just cover something with bird netting they can sometimes go under it, or perch on it, then peck through the holes to the greens down below. Several years ago, when I was growing some Swiss chard in a pot, I used some scrap bamboo to hold the bird netting away from the greens and it worked great!! Dave pulled some old grading stakes out of the garage, always handy to have for gardening projects. They're really cheap, thick and Dave pounded in the stakes on the corners and one of the center to elevate the bird netting. He added some river rocks to hold down the netting as well. Now the birds can't get to the greens but rain and sunshine will still go through. Perfect solution!

Growing Billy Ball Flowers For Decor- 
I was browsing thru a Pinterest board of mine when I saw this sweet  kitchen redo and the yellow flowers- 

Just too cute!

I've seen these flowers on numerous occasions but never took the time to look into what they actually were. They're called Billy Ball flowers and are sold dried all over the internet. The official name is Craspedia, a member of the mum family. I ordered some on eBay since they have the best price, about $14 for 30 plus stems-

More gold in real life

They're really a nice gold, with long stems. I used some in a clear Ikea vase I had on the kitchen window- 

I trimmed the rest to fit for my living room vase. I also have a white pitcher they will look great in-



I did some research about actually growing them since they're relatively expensive. You always have to pay for shipping, unless you can find them locally. I called a local nursery and they have some on order to come in next week. They do well in a warm climate like our summer, as an annual flower. I'm going to try to purchase some and grow them and see how they do! They're really cute, last for years and would be fun for around the house or for gifts. I will post more later after I am able to purchase them. With our crazy spring weather it made more sense to me to try to buy some starts then to try to start from seed since we don't have full-blown Greenhouse. Info here on growing-  Growing Billy Balls

Apr 28, 2018

Mexican Chicken Salad With On The Border Copy Cat Dressing

Mexican Chicken Salad With On The Border Copy Cat Dressing-
I bought some big chicken breasts and planned on roasting for a salad. I wasn't sure what to do then I found the On The Border Jalapeno Vinaigrette Copycat Recipe!!! Since our two local restaurants both closed I have missed it! I always LOVED their dressing! I made the dressing, smoky and spicy. Very close to the original. I doubled the recipe for extra. I used torn up romaine as a base, added black beans, corn, cukes, red onion, and jicama sticks. I loved it, again! Inexpensive and stores well in the fridge. Very tasty and have some leftover!

Recipe here- Ingredients

Put everything, EXCEPT oil, in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool, whisk in oil. Refrigerate, will keep several weeks.

4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add last- 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Apr 27, 2018

90 Degrees In April? Happy Arbor Day!!!

90 Degrees In April?
Yes, 90 today ! Bizarre but temporary luckily. Watered a bit last night, made sure the hens would be cool. Storm rolling in, will drop 20 degrees overnight, hoping for rain! 

Happy Arbor Day!!!

Apr 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day! Update on Injured Hen, Backyard Garden Work Time

Happy Earth Day!
Happy Earth Day to everyone! I hope you all are doing what you can to keep us all spinning!
Here's our little bit of Earth-

Update on Injured Hen-
I wanted to update on how Gwynne my injured chicken was doing. For a few days I saw zero effect with using the Arnica. After that things went downhill fast since she stopped eating and wasn't moving around much. After talking to a friend, whose husband used to work in the poultry business, I switched to baby aspirin. I also moved her down to a lower part of the coop at night. I thought she might not be coming down since she was afraid she might fall again. I put her in the large double nesting box at night with food and water. I started her on ground up baby aspirin and water using a oral syringe. I noticed within 24 hours she came out of the coop on her own and I've been bringing her in twice a day to feed her.

Friday night I bought a bag of fresh spinach, one of her faves and some dried meal worms for protein-

I brought her in after work and I put a bowl of water with ripped up spinach in it and she attacked it! She wasn't sure about the meal worms, but she did start eating some. The next morning I brought her in again, now she's eating more normally, seems to have her appetite back which is good. She still limping, but not as much, I'm going to stop bringing her in for food Monday, back to work, unless she needs it. I will just take food out there and try to get her back onto her feed. This morning when I gave her the liquid with the aspirin her comb and wattle started turning purple and I thought she might have aspirated on the liquid. I had taken her out, but brought her right back in. She recovered after 15 minutes, no more liquid like that. Chickens have a very narrow windpipe for sure, not worth the risk. So all in all it's been very frustrating and scary, but she seems to be on the mend. Lesson learned try different things and be creative!

Last collard greens

Backyard Garden Work Time
Dave did a lot of work yesterday on the garden. I had a really bad night sleep Friday, my back was really aching so I stayed inside and did some other things. Last weekend I harvested the last collard greens in the raised bed that had wintered over. Dave turned all the compost, put several inches on the raised bed. I mulched some baby Lavenders I planted last fall. He worked on various parts of the backyard, trimmed all the berries, did a light pruning of the apple tree. He took the lower window off the coop since the weather is much warmer, around 70, and put the big hardware cloth screen on. I'm leaving the plastic sheet on the coop door for now in case it gets cold and windy to keep the upper roosting area out of the draft. They basically created a hanging plastic adjustable curtain that works great. During the day I can open it up to let the air circulate more and that night I can close it easily keep the draft down. You want good air circulation in a coop, but during the night you want to make sure there's no breezes if it gets colder. It was 42 last night so it works really well. Today we be planted vegetables in the raised bed- bush peas, Italian Kale and some pansies for color, we covered with row cover to protect from the birds-

For vegetables in the raised bed I bought a couple different kinds of radish seeds and carrot seeds, will plant this week-

I have a lot of seeds I'm going to scatter for various types of poppies in the front and back yard.We're going to plant some potatoes soon in a garbage can to try that, probably Yukon golds. It's funny living in Idaho people always wonder why would you want to grow your own potatoes in the potato state? The reality is potatoes in the stores are probably a year old or so and are nothing like fresh potatoes. I bought some potatoes at a farmer's market a couple years ago and couldn't believe the difference! They were creamy and had a very different, unique flavor. So we will plant those in the next week or two. I made my favorite Muffuletta Sandwich for dinner last night, since I knew we'd be busy all day. I made the olive salad part ahead of time and actually wound up taking a nap because I was so tired. It made for a great dinner and I have learned to appreciate naps as I have gotten older. I realize if I'm really overly tired on a weekend and can take a nap why wouldn't I? It's amazing how much more rested you can feel after a one-hour nap! The weather was great again today, 65, and I got more done since I finally slept last night.

Apr 14, 2018

Natural Pain Remedies For Injured Chickens, 'Prepper's Survival Retreats' Book Giveaway!

Natural Pain Remedies For Injured Chickens-
Poor Gwynne, she gets picked on, gets sick, and now appears to have either a fractured pelvis or hip issue. This week I saw her in the garden run limping terribly. I picked her up and checked her. No wounds that I could see, bleeding, etc. Dave said a night or so ago he saw her fall off the coop perch, probably pushed off by another hen.  I left her outside for another day, then realized how much pain she was in. She would walk around a little, then collapse on the cold, damp ground. With 32 in the forecast I brought her in. She was hungry and thirsty. I think she hadn't been going in the coop much to eat or drink. She warmed up and rested in the kitchen chicken hospital, large laundry basket-

She can stand up pretty comfortably but starts breathing hard when she sits down. I think she may have a fractured hip or pelvis? Best guess. After doing some research I bought some Boiron Arnica pellets-


Very small-

 After doing some research it appeared I could give her a "dose", so I decided to just start with one pellet. I also put her in a larger space to observe, a tarp under our chick outdoor enclosure (thrifted) in the kitchen-

I dosed her twice with no seeming effect. She appears to be really hurting laying down, breathing hard. More comfortable standing up. So I mashed up a full dose of 5 pellets into applesauce, but she wouldn't eat it. I use the small amount of water in a cup and put in 10 pellets, a double dose. After dissolved I added a pinch of sugar and loaded that into a small pet's oral syringe. Dave had to hold her and I gave her 1 dose. Waiting to see how it goes, time will tell. I didn't see much effect, so gave  her a 2nd dose tonight. Here are some good resources to start with if interested in more chicken treatment ideas-   Arnica and Calendula For Poultry    Pain Meds for Chickens  If you have any other suggestions, please post a comment! Sadly can't do a Vet visit.

Prepper's Survival Retreats Book Giveaway-
When I was approached by Molly at Ulysses's Press to review a book I was excited! What kind of info would it have? The title certainly sounded interesting. She sent me a copy and it's really pretty fascinating! One of the things I've learned about the Depression in the last century the people survived reasonably comfortably because they were prepared and have a certain skill set. They also had a home/property that was set up to grow, preserve foods and be more self-sufficient. I don't know, however, if those people were also concerned about security issues? I gave the book a look , lots of great info, and here are the chapter titles, in order-

A brief history of collapse, What do you need to survive, The big questions, Purchasing an existing home, Can you make it here? Building or renovating your survival retreat, Survival groups and your new retreat relocation, Whittling down a short list of properties. 

There are some graphics and photos scattered throughout the book and lots of interesting questions like- timing is everything, how soon do you want to make this happen? So if you're interested in winning this book all you need to do is leave a comment below and follow me on Facebook. It's that simple! I will do the drawing at the end of this next week, post the winner and then ask you to email me your shipping info. I've already seen lots of other great reviews, what I've seen so far I really like, is very relevant and very practical.

Apr 8, 2018

Meaty Pasta Sauce, DIY Flagstone Pond Edging, Read Your Pet Food Labels, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Meaty Pasta Sauce W/ Home Grown Tomatoes-
A week or two ago I was taking the last of my frozen peaches out of the freezer I realized I had some homegrown tomatoes left! I didn't know that! When I froze our organic tomatoes I also added some chopped red and green Italian peppers-

That was great since I wanted to do another batch of a very meaty pasta sauce for multiple dinners. Yesterday I thawed them, drained them (tons of juice!) and started sauteing a couple of tubes of New York-style Italian sausage. To that I added a chopped onion, several cloves of fresh garlic, herbs and the tomatoes. I also added a couple large cans of tomato sauce since I needed something with more thick liquid with all of that meat. I cooked that down for several hours and it came out great! Since I didn't completely crush the meat there were mini meatballs mixed in! I served on top of rigatoni pasta with some fresh basil topped with some shredded fresh cheese. I haven't some french bread and salad and it was awesome! After a very rainy day it was nice to have a nice, hot , hearty meal.

I also took down my Easter decor and left up my Spring things-

Daffodils already mean Spring!

More rain this afternoon-

DIY Flagstone Pond Edging-
For several years we have thought about putting a new edging around our little recycled pond that we had built in the backyard. We got the pond liner at a yard sale really cheap, bought a new pump and a few different nozzles at a thrift store. We used to river rock that we had scavenged originally but I really like the look of the flat flagstone. One of the things about river stone is that a didn't really cover the black plastic edging of the pond, sort of defeating the purpose of having it look natural.  One of the other problems with River Rock what it was continually fall into the pond,  fall backwards into the shrubs, and was basically unstable-

 I'd seen tons of photo online with flagstone edging where it covers the plastic so all you see is a stone and the water. Dave and I went to Home Depot yesterday and surprisingly they didn't have any in stock. Luckily there was a Lowe's not too far from here so we drove there. It is been really windy all day, had rain in the morning, so I check the weather before we left. I took my rain jacket and told Dave he should probably take his, which he didn't. It started sprinkling while we were at Home Depot and turned into a torrential downpour going to Lowe's. Thunder and lighting oh my! It was an absolute monster storm the whole time we were there but we did find some Flagstone. Nice sized pieces for about $8 each- Natural Patio Stone. We bought 12 pieces, for about $100.00.  David had measured about how many square feet we would need-

And big bags of potting soil, $2.00 each!

By the time we left we were both pretty soaked, but that was okay. Dave wore a hoodie, was soaked and I was soaked from the knees down to my socks. We did have to change clothes, but the afternoon turned out to be fairly dry. I found a video on YouTube that had real simple and easy directions about how to edge the flagstone as needed-

He removed the river stone first and leveled the area little bit-

He started doing a dry lay out of the stone. The dry layout lets you see where the potential pieces should go and what you might need to adjust-

Lots of square corners

Many of the pieces were square/rectangular, and we wanted to soften those up a bit, so the video was perfect. Dave set up a little work area and went to work-

Bucket to catch the odd pieces brilliant!

He took his hammer to most of the edges to curve a little bit and fit them. All in all the whole project took about 3 hours of labor, but it looks awesome! 

Thanks Dave!

The stone will last for years and years, and are a great investment. We store leftover river stone for other projects in the yard, and had a little bit of extra flagstone that we will use somewhere else-

I think it's always better to have a little bit left over that's running out. It will look even better when we add the water lettuce plants and we bark dust!

Read Your Pet Food Labels-
For a while on your wonderful cat Anya had had some stomach problems, and had gone to the vet a few times. For a variety reasons I decided to take a look at what the ingredients of the Science Diet cat food that she had been on. It's advertised veterinarians recommend this diet most! I was kind of surprised when I started really looking at the ingredients how many fillers there were in the food-

I want around Pet Smart where we buy our food with my cell phone and took a few photos of the ingredients to compare. I was also looking at the prices and if it was a standard food that they usually carried. I was kind of surprised to see that Blue Buffalo, a food that advertises itself as very healthy, was actually a bit cheaper than what I had been buying. A lot less fillers, also included vegetables, other nutrients, and other ingredients that were pretty healthy-

Short of making your own pet food from scratch it can be challenging to find an affordable pet food that's healthy. And affordable can be a relative term. So I decided to post the two pictures of the ingredient labels just as a comparison. Whenever you see anything that says pulp that is filler, anything that basically is some kind of a ground up ingredients is usually junk. I switched to Blue Buffalo and she seemed to really like it and so far her stomach is fine, so time will tell. Just a reminder to read the labels since you may be able to get something that's healthier that's actually cheaper!

                                                               Click here for more info

Strawberry/Rhubarb Crumble-
With our rhubarb coming up in the garden it reminded me that I have some in our freezer. I bought some strawberries and decided to make a strawberry rhubarb crumble. It's one of our favorite spring desserts because it's sweet and tart and super healthy. I decided to try this recipe since I've had tried a few others. With this I did not use the vanilla pod and used walnuts. Yummy on a cool Spring day since the temperature dropped 10 degrees. Try it! Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

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