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Category Archives: Farm Life

Details on the Critter House Project

We finished our hay..COMPLETELY! Hip Hip Hooray!

We also painted our Critter House

I have had some readers ask for a good, non-toxic paint choice. From my research Ecos Organic Paints is one of the better choices.

I have also bee asked how we built the Critter House from the pallets. As usual, we make it u as we go along lol. 

We figured out (roughly) what size we wanted. In this case, I am using it for ducks..so it didn’t need to be huge. 

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Hubby cut the pallet wood, and used recycled nails he pulled from the pallet wood to construct this critter house.  See pic above, and below.

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This is the bottom of the critter house. Below the pic shows a close up of measurements.

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The next pics show and inside view.

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We spared no expense for Donald, Daisy, and Howard to have a duck house ;-)That’s how we roll!

This project went smooth, these pics were taken before we painted it. 

We are planning a new chicken coop that we are going to make about the same way. I will make sure I take the pics as we put it together (hubby was in charge of the “as we go” pics…major fail..lol) So… we got them AFTER it was built. Not that I am a photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but his were SAD. (Love ya hun!)

So, there it is. Easy. Free. What’s not to like?

 

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in DIY, Farm Life

 

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We Work Hard, and We Play Hard

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That is Lil Cade’s feet, after he passed out on our couch after a long day of baling hay.

We have been SO busy this week, and are in for a BUSY weekend

The good news is the hay is finished…on that field.

The bad news is there is another field…and 3 acres of tobacco that needs to be hoed.

Yay!

Not that Cade is much “help” he is 4, and is mainly just there for moral support, and to keep max the Great Pyrenees entertained.

He is, however, learning a valuable lesson.

We work hard. We play hard. Most of the time the first one is the most time consuming, but that is life.

Hay is necessary hereon the farm.

And, the tobacco we have contacted to an organic farmer to use as a natural pesticide. We also will be keeping some to use as a natural pesticide for our own crops.

We try to aim to do things the natural way.

What does that mean?

Far MORE work, and far less return for a while on some crops…like tobacco. However, more on others. And, in time as the soil return to the way it should be, and as you learn how to plant things that naturally help the soil..you end up way ahead.

For, example our hay has not been fertilized. My husband’s family (who re conventional farmers) GASP at that fact.

However, they refuse to look at the fact that our return was FAR more!

Their return this year on their hay field was an average of 56 bales per acre. LOOSELY baled to make it easier to lift. We baled ours tight, and we got an average of 79 bales per acre! Without the cost of fertilizer. HMMMM..

That being said, we work harder at it. But, I feel good that we are not poisoning our soil, our animals, and in turn we are not poisoning our family.

So…we will just continue to work harder, I see it as a blessing that we are able to.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Farm Life, Natural Living

 

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The Chicken Hospital

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Things around here are never dull.

Some days are good.’Some days are bad.

But, they are never dull.

This week has been no different.

The good news is we were given some extra chickens a while back…for free 🙂 YAY!

The bad news is I never even considered checking them for mites….duh.

I know better.  It just never even entered my brain.

So…when I just noticed a few of my girls picking at themselves, I picked one up and yep…mites. UGH

So, needless to say we had to check the whole flock.

The ones we were given, along with two of our girls had them. QUARANTINED.

We have an extra pen that has been dubbed..The Chicken Hospital.

Before these dirty birds got the privilege of going into the Chicken hospital they had to be washed…yep…chicken bath.

To help control the mites I bathe them in warm water with some lavender essential oil, and citronella essential oil in it.  It really seems to help. (I use do Terra oils…actually I started selling them just for the discount. I do not “actively sell”..just offer if someone needs them.)

I have always bathed any “newbies” in this solution before introducing them to my flock…except for this time…I don’t know what happened.

I do, however, have a theory.

I think children kill brain cells. They are cute. They can be sweet. But, under it all they are ruthless.

I swear ….I used to be smarter. But, child after child the I.Q. has plummeted some. Hmmm…suspicious. 

So…the girls are in quarantine for now.

They will get another bath in a few days .

We are also spritzing the others with a mixture of my Natural Fly Spray For Livestock , and we are checking them for outbreaks.

If they end up getting them…I get to give more chickens baths…exciting.

We also cleaned the coop well, and sprinkled a whole bunch (the is a technical measurement, by the way) of DE.

All of this makes me question people. I just read an article (in a popular farm magazine) that chickens for house pets are becoming all the rage….. blank stare….

I mean…I love chickens, I just would not want them as room mates.

Apparently they even make….chicken diapers…not kidding.

Oh well, maybe it’s just me that thinks it is silly.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2013 in Farm Life, Natural Living

 

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Why do We Need More Berries?? Because.. That Can Be the Beginning of Wisdom

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Berries, berries, berries.

We have berries coming out of our ears.

That (in my opinion) is a good thing and a blessing.

We have been able to share some, and put away quite a bit.  And, they are still coming on strong.

We are still picking. I was raised never to waste food.

The kids grumbling at this point, but we are picking.

I believe that God knows far better than I do (obviously), and if he feels like we need the surplus of berries…we will pick a surplus of berries.

“Why do we need MORE berries”, the kids whine. I just say “because we do not waste food”. However, I secretly hope that somehow I am instilling the bigger lesson of wisdom.

In today’s culture everything is “easy come, easy go”. My 93-year old grandfather can attest the the fact that was not always the case.

Furthermore, he keeps shouting the warning that it is sure to happen again. I believe he is right.

The worst part is the depression this time will hit people far worse.

As a culture we are being “dumbed down” by convenience, as well as the feeling to never be satisfied.

I am not pointing fingers..I too fell into that trap FAR too long.

I raised not to waste anything, a product of my mother’s depression tainted upbringing. However, when I got out on my own I followed in the “normal” game to seek better, and better.

My “better” self.

A “better” home.

A “better” car.

Better clothes.

More, more.

Newer, newer.

I look back, and it makes me sick.

Not that I don’t still enjoy nice things, I do. But, my perspective has changed.

Call it “wisdom with age”.

Call it “divine intervention”.

I think maybe it is both.

My past, like many others pasts, is full of “what-ifs”, and regrets. But, the past cannot be changed.

The good news is that I have “seen the light”. It has been a slow process to get me to my current mindset, but I believe that is where God wants me. Maybe where he wants everyone??

My older kids think I am off my rocker.

Some of my friends tease me jokingly.

Even some of my family “think I am taking it too far”.

But, I don’t care being “weird”.

That is funny to hear me say that.

I was always consumed with being in the “popular” crowd growing up.

I was raised in church. I believed. I thought that was “good enough”.

I was to want “normal” things.

I began my life as a wife and mother much the same way. For years.

Oh, to go back.

To know the relationship side of Christianity then. I just didn’t “get it”. I was to consumed by the bright and shiny things the world had to offer. And, I did the same to my kids for far too long. It wasn’t until 5 years ago that I begun to see.

I didn’t consider us “worldly”.

We went to church.

We tithed.

We did the “normal” things Christians did.

But, somewhere I was longing for something.

Once I realized what it was it flipped my whole life, and my family’s life upside down.

It has truly been a journey.

The most recent change was pulling my kids from the public school system last spring, after rationalizing with myself for years that our schools were “okay” because we live in a very rural area. Because I know all the teachers. And, to be honest, because I didn’t want to home-school. I told myself that I could not add ONE more thing  to my already crazy life.

Not to mention…I went to school for ATHLETIC TRAINING and NUTRITION….I NEVER wanted to teach. It just is not my “thing”.

I blatantly ignored the feelings that God was pressing this on my heart. I justified it to myself. But, God made it clear to me. And, I finally did.

It was scary.

The kids were mad.

Teachers were hurt.

Family was un-supportive.

But, I did it.

To be honest the kids are still mad.

They don’t “get it”.

My prayer is God will help me to teach the kids…not only so they do not end up illiterate (which I do fear lol)..but that they can understand why.

The younger kids are okay with it…it is my teenagers. They were in the “norm” for too long. They crave it.

They miss it.

They are not going into all this with a smile, to say the least. I just have to tell myself that they will be better because of it.

The kids want to say that the “fun has been sucked out of me”.

I have always been a silly person..I still am. I was raised that way too 🙂 lol

I still am that person…only slightly altered. I do have many “serious” moments now, which is probably what they see….mainly because of my fears, my regrets, my hopes, my pleadings.

As the “old norm” fades in their memories, my hope is that they will embrace the way of life I am trying to show them. My prayer is that I didn’t reach the older girls too late in the game.

That like a storms blows in and causes turmoil…it refreshes everything.

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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Farm Life, Parenting

 

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Homemade Wipes For Milking

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I like homemade stuff. I like homemade food. I like homemade crafty stuff. I just like it.

I like the way it makes me feel. I make about 90 % of what we use. I do not make our clothes (the kids are SO happy about that), and I go back and forth on making our shampoo. I make it…then I end up cheating on my shampoo for another…sorry shampoo. You just aren’t the same. 

The wipe solution that I make for milking is actually the same recipe as the one that I make for the baby. Except I use it on the teats of the animals before I milk, and I use it on the baby’s tush after he goes stinky.

I use most of my products from Mountain Rose Herbs because I trust their quality.

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My Homemade Wipe Solution is simple. I usually make a big batch..enough to fill the two little shoe-box totes at the house for the baby, and the one tote for the “teat” wipes at the barn. I also make a tad extra to keep in a mason jar just in case some of them need moistened as times goes by (see pic at the top). 

Homemade Wipes (for milking animals or baby)

  • 2 Tbsp. per quart –Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (I get mine from Amazon, you can get yours whereever you want)
  • 3 gels per quart- Vitamin E gel caps (I go back and forth where I get mine)
  • 1 Tbsp. per quart Aloe Vera Gel (Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 1 Tbsp. per quart Witch Hazel (Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 1 Tb. per quart Sweet Almond Oil (Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 1 quart water (per quart made)

As I have said before…I am an eyeballer..these are approximate measurements so make it how you see fit. These measurements will make about 1 quart of wipe solution. I make way more at a time.

To make the wipes:

  1. Separate a roll of paper towels single file into your container (I use a tote style shoe-box- see pic below).
  2. In a sauce pan heat water to a boil. Turn off heat.
  3. Mix in all ingredients and allow to cool.
  4. Stir a few times while cooling.
  5. Pour over paper towels in tote…flip stack over several times to coat it all.

Note: The solution does not have to be room temp to pour over paper towels just not hot. Hot + Plastic = Melt

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Like I said, I use these for the baby…and to wipe down Audrey our goat before I milk her (and Agnus our cow too when she is in milk).

 To use for milking:

  1. Wipe down the animals teats and under belly thoroughly with a wipe.
  2. Using a spray bottle with water in it rinse the teats and underbelly.
  3. Pat dry and you are ready to milk.

To use for the baby:

Use as you would use commercial baby wipes, except feel great about the fact that you are not putting toxins into your child’s system 🙂

These are easy, and economical.

You could go even further by using eco-friendly reusable material in place of the paper towels…but that is my “cheat” area. I am just not ready for reusable toilet paper and paper towels in my life….sorry.

So, there ya have it. 

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Got milk?  

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2013 in DIY, Farm Life

 

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Easy and Natural Homemade “Shampoo” For Animals

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This is Audrey. She is our cantankerous Nubian. 

She is older, grumpy, and very…um….selective about who, what, and when she wants things.

Isn’t it funny how animals each have very distinct personalities?

Well, Audrey ain’t scared to let everyone know what she thinks. 

We milk her…some of us with more luck than others.

She stands great for me.

🙂 I sometimes like to gloat about it.

I am a stay at home mama of six. I gloat when I find something to gloat about. It keeps me sane.

It’s not that she is mean with the others. She isn’t. She is just like a cantankerous old fogey. 

She only wants milked at a certain time of the day. No joke. We milk in the evening because it is easier for our schedule to divide it up that way. The light in the barn must be just right or Audrey ain’t happy.

She also HATES it outside. She refuses to go into the pasture. If you try to make her go into the pasture she will fight to get back into the barn and into her pen.

We allow the cattle free roam in and out of the barn. The goats, however get to go out throughout the day, but go into their pens in the barn at night to sleep.

Audrey prefers to stay in her pen. Always. Until time to milk. 

She is lazy I think. 

And cantankerous. Definitely cantankerous. I like that word. Cantankerous. Cantankerous. Cantankerous. It’s the bomb diggity.

Anyway, I am always voted Audrey’s bather…it’s an esteemed title…okay, it’s not esteemed. It is only because I am the Goat Whisperer. I am. Just ask Audrey.

I guess I would really be called “The Goat Singer”, although it doesn’t really have the same ring to it. When she starts getting cranky I sing to her. The family makes fun of me for it, but you know what…it works. She is particularly fond of “Footloose”. Ain’t kiddin.

I am all about using products that are cheap, natural, and work well. Goat bath products aren’t an exception. 

I do realize that you can probably find a retailer for Organic All Natural Goat Shampoo that smells like orange blossoms or some other fruity pleasure online for about $45 a pop, however…I am cheap. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap. Not to mention, I do not believe Audrey cares about smelling like fruit. Just sayin.

So, what do I use?

Olive oil, and vinegar.

Think salad.

I first just wet her down with warm water, and brush her to remove any hairs..or other “unsightly stuck-ons”. 

After that I use my spray bottle filled with a vinegar mixture (3/4 vinegar 1/4 water), and I spray her down. I brush her again to make sure it “sinks in”.

Then I use a water spray bottle to rinse her.

I pat her dry with an old barn towel, and I rub her down with a little olive oil. Not a lot. Just a little. A little goes A LONG WAY! It has really helped her coat. When we first got her she looked pretty rough. But her coat is nice and shiny now.

This “shampoo” works well on any of our livestock. Dogs, cats (she loves it..not), etc. 

If you prefer a “fruity” smell, you can also use some lemon juice, or add some lemon, orange, or grapefruit essential oil to the vinegar spray. I don’t, because they all do not mind lounging in poo…so I figure the scent is not a major concern for them. 

After they are clean..I use my Natural Fly Spray For Livestock to keep the flies at bay. 

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Me…previously singing….milking in all my finery…aka “homestead bun”, and old barn clothes. No makeup of course….thanks to my unscheduled, impromptu photo session courtesy of my son, Brent. Thanks bub.

See how she is not fighting me:-)  

Come back tomorrow, and I will share another just how we prepare to milk, including our homemade “teat wipes”. 

 

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Farm Life, Natural Living

 

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Preserving Blackberries, New Pet Bunnies, and More

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It has been a busy week on the farm. In addition to our normal duties, we have had “extra” chores popping up here and there.

Our blackberries have come on…with a fierceness….that’s a good thing. We like to eat them. However, that is one more thing for the to-do list. So we have been picking…picking. 

As I have said previously, our garden is …sad…this year. It has just been one of those years. I have high hopes for our fall garden, however.

We have managed to get a few peppers, a few tomatoes, and there are some green ones on there Praise the Lord…but everything else is at a stand still. 

I have been squirreling away everything that is offered to me from family; beets and potatoes (Thanks Granny!), and beans,  cucumbers, and more peppers (thanks Popaw Larry!).

In addition to that, the Mennonites locally have me a bushel of peaches coming, along with 40 lb. of blueberries, and 40 lb. of cherries. Yay!

I have been picking blackberries everyday this week…I have been flash freezing them and putting them into jars. But, I am going to dry some, as well as make preserves. 

To flash freeze berries (or anything else) just place it one a single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer until solid. After they are solid, place them into your jar, and label. Place back into the freezer and that’s it …..easy. 

You can put them into Ziploc bags if you like. I am just cheap. I have jars. So ..I use jars. 

One thing that the kids are Super excited about is we got two new pet bunnies. They are cute as can be…

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The white and tan bunny the kids named “Ally”, and the darker bunny the kids named “Paisley”. They are precious. 

The other rabbits we raise are meat bunnies. They are Californians (white with red eyes)…I think that they look possessed…so I am okay with eating them.

 So..bunnies, and berries. Berries and bunnies. It’s been fun. In fact we are picking more berries today.

This is our massive blackberry plants. We planted 100 Triple Crown Blackberry plants three years ago. These blackberries are THE BEST! We did a lot of research before deciding on this variety They are HUGE, sweet, and thorn-less. Their seeds are very small too. The dog is Max, our Great Pyrenees. He loves blackberries as treats 🙂

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We also did get some herb plant markers finished. There was a million to choose from…of course Kyla the 8 year old wanted some that looked like bugs..I wasn’t digging those..the boys didn’t care they said. (go figure).

After trying to decide what type of plant markers to make ….The older girls picked out the rock type. I was fine with that because they were easy (not to mention free).  We used a white paint marker and they drew on them, and wrote the name of the herb. Not anything spectacular, but it will look decent when the plants come in. 

This is an example:

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So, that’s is our week…nothing fancy. 

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Farm Life, Preserving Foods

 

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