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My Weekend Project: A Critter House From Pallets

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Oh my…what a weekend.

We did get me a critter house built from some pallets we collected.

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Look at that pile of “junk”.

Talk about trash to treasure. MORE Details on how-to HERE.

I am using my critter house for my ducks.

Donald, Daisy, and Howard will love it.

In addition to getting that built ( we still need to paint it though), we had a parade to attend.

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This is my hubby, and our 4 year old son, Cade on the Allis-Chalmers. We are privy to any, and all of the parades…being as we live in such a small town.

It makes the kids feel SUPER important. lol

We had a good time with that.

We got home, and went into our typical chores. Cleaning, weeding, and the like. Then my 8-year old daughter, Kyla, got bit by a squirrel…blank stare…

No that is not a typo. She got BIT by a SQUIRREL??!!

Only my children.

I admit after shock my first response was RABIES.

It’s a mom thing.

No matter what happens your mind goes to the WORST possibility.

My mind searched, and I ran into the house for peroxide, and I ran back into the yard and grabbed a hand full of Plantain (I told you I LOVE this stuff).

I cleaned the wound on her finger with the peroxide, and chewed the plantain and spit it on her wound. (Now before you all start yelling at me about the germs in my mouth…it would have been better for HER to chew it herself, however she is 8. She was crying, scared, and even in a good frame of mind would not had jumped at the opportunity  to chew something green from the yard)

Then I run to the laptop to see what they say about squirrel bites. In all my years as a mama…this is a first for me.

I find out apparently it is not so rare to get bit by a squirrel??!!

So…after calling the Ohio Department of Health (because apparently it is a State law to report wild animal bites, and I do not want Children’s Services up in my business) I called to report the bite.

They stated that squirrels were not on the “danger” list for rabies in our area.

After the fear had let go, I finally got the kid to tell me why she tried to pick up a squirrel. Apparently..she thought it was a bunny.

That kid.

sigh

She may be the death of me.

The amazing part of this story is just how the bite looked this morning. I SO wish I had gotten some pics, but I wasn’t even thinking about it at the time. But, take my word for it…it looked NASTY!

I went back and forth whether or not to take her to the ER for stitches. No joke.

This morning, when I took off the bandage it was a WOW moment. Plantain is magic I tell ya!!

God put these “weeds” here for a reason. Not that traditional medicine does not have it’s place, but it is not a “fix all”.

Her wound looks like scratches this morning. No swelling. No bruising. No redness.

The open wounds are sealed, and look great. I have used plantain for many things, and it still never quits amazing me!

So…that was my weekend.

Crazy even for around here.

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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in DIY, Herbs, 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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Gathering Plantain the Magical “Weed”

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Out of all of the “weeds” that I gather, plantain is probably at the top of the list. 

It is just good for so many things. 

It can be used as a food source, as well as used medicinally.

It has wound healing properties that make it a winner in my book.

It grows pretty much EVERYWHERE (in North America).

To use as a food source gather the leaves when the plant is young, and tender to eat raw in salads. You can also saute much like spinach.

VERY yummy!To use medically, you have several options:

  • Use fresh (when in season) -simply crush, or chew, and place it on a wound
  • Dry to preserve for later-simply allow to dried herb to re-hydrate in distilled water for a bit to use like fresh.
  • Alcohol preserved-this way makes a tincture that has benefits with asthma symptoms, or cold and cough.
  • Glycerin preserved- will not last as long as the alcohol preserved, but it is easier to get a child to take this version because it is sweeter. 

This remedy is ALWAYS in my “medicine” cabinet ready to get to work. 

It is NATURAL.

It is FREE.

And, it WORKS.

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The US FDA does not approve this, however the German equivalent to the FDA does. Makes ya wonder…hmmm. 

It has been shown to possess medical properties, including being:

  • anti-microbial
  • anti-viral
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-toxin
  • diuretic

This is just naming a few!!!

Do the research!!! It is amazing!!!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a DR. I am not telling you to replace any medication with any herbal treatment. I m stating what I do with MY family. I am not AGAINST medication. I just believe it should be reserved for life threatening BACTERIAL illnesses. 

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Foraging, Herbs, Natural Living

 

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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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Natural Teething Relief For Baby

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Teething can be a rough time baby baby…and mama. (Trust me I am on my sixth teething child…I know from experience!)

But…before you reach for a tube of baby Oragel think again…it is filled with a ton of “junk” ingredients. 

Rule #1..if you can’t pronounce it do not eat it..or rub on your baby’s gums...just sayin.

There are natural options that can give baby some relief.

1.) Give him a cold teething ring to chew on. 

This one is a great first option, mainly because it is non-invasive. However, my little guy refuses anything cold…soooo.

2.) Make a natural gum soother.

There are several options out there. However, I tend to use either my homemade clove salve, or give him a little chamomile tea sweetened with a splash of organic apple juice. 

To make the clove salve all you need is organic coconut oil, and clove essential oil (therapeutic grade such as do Terra). In about 1/2 cup coconut oil, put 5-6 drops of clove oil. Mix well. Place in a mason jar, seal, and refrigerate. It will become solid in the fridge, and you can pull it out to rub on baby’s gums. (NOTE: Clove oil is a HOT oil…DO NOT use it without putting it in a carrier oil, such as the coconut oil!) 

3.) If you prefer to purchase a product, Hyland’s Natural Teething Tablets are the way to go. 

Either way..a lot of cuddling usually goes a long way to help relieve a fussy baby as well. 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Parenting

 

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