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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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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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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 Fly Spray For Livestock

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I love my cows. 

Agnus, the Holstein closest to the camera, is my girl.

She is the sweetest cow ever, a little bossy..but sweet.

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Matilda is the one beside her. She was a bottle baby we got at two weeks of age in early March, 2012. Agnus was in milk at the time, and adopted her.

Matilda is supposed to be a full blood Holstein (per the guy we got her from), however she looks like she has something else in her…maybe Angus?? Not sure. 

Agnus is due to calf in September (Yay!)…and Matilda is not quite ready to be bred. I will be glad to get my raw milk again! We have the goat in milk, but with a large family…it doesn’t go that far. Agnus, on the other hand gives us a lot of milk…plus feeds her calf!

I try to baby my girls. They give to us, so I try to give in return by giving them a good life.

But, the flies are crazy. Not wanting to put poison on them, I use this:

NATURAL FLY SPRAY

You will need:

  • Spray bottle
  • apple cider vinegar
  • about 20 drops of citronella essential oil 

Fill spray bottle with apple cider vinegar, and add the essential oil. Shake, and it is ready to spray.

You can also add about 5-10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil as well if you like.  I have done it both ways.

I use this on the goats, dog, and chickens as well.

Not sure if it work on fleas, but seems to. We don’t use flea meds and they have had no fleas even though they are outside dogs. ?? It’s natural, so I say what the hay…and squirt them. 

This stuff is natural enough that I do not mind spraying the animals and then picking up the baby. I even let the kids help spray them as well.  Image

 

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Farm Life, Natural Living

 

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A New Addition to the Farm, “The Tick Terminators”….Guinea Keets

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We have new babies here on the farm 🙂 They were not hatched here, but we adopted them yesterday. Six little Guinea keets.

These cute little guys (or gals) are my new secret weapon against ticks. Okay,,it’s not THAT secret, but it sounds way more awesome…so bare with me. 

The ticks are rampant around here. I find them everywhere! I do not like them, or the potential problems that they can bring. So..I am preparing. It makes me feel in control. I have a problem with control…however in this case..it is okay. 🙂

So… TICKS PREPARE TO MEET YOUR DOOM! 

My grandparents have had Guinea forever. I just never quite took an interest until lately. Unless you count the four adult Guineas we were given about four years ago who took one look around and flew away. Not kidding. It was a total…”These people are crazy, and we are outta here!”. It was a smack in the face. I loved them the whole twenty minutes  that they were here. I never recovered. 

I believe they are about five miles down the road at another farm, they glare at me when I drive by. And, I shout “Fickle Fowl!”  Okay, I don’t shout it…but I do think it. Strongly. 

Guineas, or “Guinea Fowl” if you wanna be proper, are originally from Africa. They are a awesome addition to a farm, or homestead. In addition to their tick terminating skills, they also ward off SNAKES!! They hate snakes! I love it.

They are my new best friends. Maria -N- Guineas = B.F.F.

They (obviously) are babies right now, but I will prepare them for battle. It is my duty to my  family, my animals, my farm, and my country…okay maybe not “technically” the country..but someone somewhere else may care too….so it sounds good. 

Guineas like to roost high in trees at night, and eat weeds, bugs, and of course TICKS! Yay me! 

I am told that if I raise them from keets and hand feed them treats that they will be tame and stay. Please love me little keets. Eat my ticks. I heart you. 

So…we will see how it goes. If they fly away down the road one day…it’s on. 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Farm Life

 

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