Pumpkin Chili, Three Ways: Beans, Beef, or Venison

I owe my pumpkin chili to my friend Alexis. She introduced me to this glory about three years ago at her daughter’s birthday party. I was there early and was helping to throw ingredients into a crock pot for her when she asked me to add a can of pumpkin to the onions and peppers cooking up in the bottom.

Pumpkin?!? In chili?

The idea seemed novel to me then. However, in the three years since I tried it, I’ve never gone back to making pumpkin-less chili.

A quick, healthy, and flexible staple meal to sustain you through the cold months. Try this delicious pumpkin chili with beans, beef, or venison.

I began making my own rendition of pumpkin chili, and it’s one meal that my whole family generally gobbles up. (I can’t make promises for the toddler.)  We have some variation of this chili almost every week through the winter!

If you’re hesitant about the pumpkin, fear not. It gets an extra vegetable in and rounds out the flavor nicely, but it doesn’t scream “YOU’RE EATING SQUASH!!!” from the pot. I took this chili to  a chili taste-off once, and I had a few comments something to the effect of, “I really hate pumpkin and if I had known it was in this I wouldn’t have tried it but I didn’t know and I tried it and I really like it and good job sneaking in the pumpkin.” Except maybe they didn’t speak in run-on sentences. 😉

You can decide how you like your chili: meatless or meaty. I started out making this as a vegetarian chili, and it stands alone as a very hearty meatless meal. Over the years, however, we’ve discovered that the recipe is very flexible. Beef is another obvious choice for this chili, but we’ve recently been enjoying it with chopped venison. Absolutely delicious.

Some of the veggies for a delicious pumpkin chili.

(Some of the veggies for the chili. I added some random kale this last time.)

Please feel free to add or subtract ingredients according to your personal preferences. Here it goes…

  • Your choice: 2- 3 cans of beans (I like to use a mix of black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and/or great northern beans), 1 pound of ground beef, OR 1 lb of chopped or ground venison.
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 bell peppers, any color
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1-32 oz. can tomatoes, diced or stewed, with juices.
  • 1-15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1- 15. oz can corn

If you’re using beans: drain and rinse beans and set aside.

If you’re using beef: cook beef over medium high heat until brown. Season with salt and pepper. Drain fat and set aside.

If you’re using venison: cook over medium high heat with salt, pepper, and butter or olive oil. You won’t need to drain venison. Set aside to add later.

Venison going into our pumpkin chili.

(Browned venison, ready to go in the pot!)

Now, for the rest of the chili:

  1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large pot. Saute onions, peppers, and garlic for about 5-10 minutes or until tender. Add spices and cook for just a minute til fragrant.
  2. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, and corn. (You can throw in other veggies too if you like them.)
  3. Add beans or meat of your choice and let simmer for 20 minutes or longer.

Give it a taste after a while. You may find that you want to add another teaspoon of one spice or another.

If this chili is too thick for you, you are welcome to add vegetable or beef stock if desired. However, I love a good, thick, chunky chili, so I leave mine as is. Here’s a bad cell phone picture of the bean version:

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As you can see, it’s delightfully chunky even without the meat!

There you have it, folks. A simple, healthy, and delicious dinner for a fall or winter warm-up. Make it one of your staples!

10 Reasons to Get Meat Rabbits

Meat rabbits! If you’re new to home-butchering, the idea of raising a rabbit just to eat it probably sounds off-putting. However, there are many reasons why meat rabbits are a perfect choice for the hobby farmer looking to get into home meat production.

Before I begin typing this, I must tell you a secret: I don’t personally care for owning meat rabbits. I keep trying to convince my husband to sell them all off and use the money for getting another goat or perhaps a sheep. I promise I’ll share why in another post- but for now, let’s look at the positives. 🙂

10 Reasons to Get Meat Rabbits

  1. Rabbits are an inexpensive investment. Meat rabbits cost relatively little. A registered goat can easily cost $200-400 a pop, and pig and cattle certainly aren’t cheap. However, rabbits can be found for about $40-60 for a breeding pair. (We got our pair for $25, but that’s unusual!) You can also purchase a breeding trio- one buck and two does- so you can alternate breeding with two different mamas.
  2. They don’t take up much space. You don’t need acres and acres to raise rabbits. All you need is a small hutch (or hutches) to house each rabbit. FYI- if you’re new to this, don’t keep your male and female live together on a regular basis. There’s a reason for the phrase “breed like rabbits.”
  3. They don’t make noise. Rabbits are usually silent. Enough said.
  4. They have one of the shortest birth to processing times. Rabbits can be processed at 8-12 weeks old. Each litter requires a relatively brief time commitment.
  5. They produce the most lean protein per dollar spent out of any meat animal. Or so they tell me. Honestly, I don’t know where this statistic is from, but I remember hearing it many times when we were researching rabbits. (Tell me if it’s true, will you?) However, with litters averaging 6-10 kits and each rabbit averaging about 4 lbs, it’s easy to see that there’s a potential for a lot of meat. We average about 24-40 lbs with each successful breeding.
  6. You don’t need expensive equipment for butchering. My husband uses a pellet gun for dispatch and a good knife for skinning and gutting. (There are other methods for dispatch, but we find the pellet gun to be simple and humane.) Also, rabbits are pretty light (3-5 lbs), so you don’t need any fancy hooks or a big space to hang them for processing like you would a larger animal.
  7. They can mow your lawn for you. You read that right. Check out this post to see what I mean. I would recommend, however, making sure that the bottom fencing on your DIY rabbit mower is strong and regularly inspected. If you didn’t know this already, rabbits are good at digging.
  8. Rabbits are a free fertilizer factory. Rabbits poop. A lot. And that poop is hailed as gold for your garden. If you raise rabbits, you can collect those golden nuggets (ahem) for compost and fertilizing. Now you know.
  9. Care is relatively easy. All you have to do occasional cleaning & daily fresh food and water. Bonus: Rabbits love vegetable ends, so they also take care of food scraps for you!
  10. They taste good. It’s true- rabbits taste somewhat like chicken. You can make roast rabbit, rabbit stew, or pretty much any chicken meal that with rabbit meat.

There you have it. 10 reasons to get meat rabbits for your own homestead. Are there any other reasons that you can think of?

One Month of Frugal Meals

Happy New Year! Now that it’s 2017, let’s all eat healthy, spend less, exercise daily, and tackle the world. 😉 I know one of my big goals is to whittle down my grocery bill a bit. Of course, that’s easier done when there’s a little inspiration to help a sister out.

An entire month of frugal meals for planning and inspiration!

To start off your new year right, I present to you, a month of frugal meals! The following round up includes:

  • 6 breakfast ideas
  • 4 meat recipes
  • 5 chicken meals
  • 11 soups & stews, with and without meat
  • 2 miscellaneous meatless mains
  • 9 extras (snacks, bread, drinks, etc.)

That means that this one post has 28 meals. There. Considering that you’ll likely eat out or eat leftovers for at least a few nights, your budget-friendly meal planning for the month of January is DONE. Am I right?

Some of the posts have more than one meal idea (easy chicken meals on the fly, homemade cereal recipes, etc.), so you can be flexible with them. If you don’t eat meat, many of these recipes can be made with a substitution.

A Month of Frugal Meals 

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Eggs & Breakfast

beanhole

Meats

cornishpasties

Poultry & Fish

HamandBeanSoup

Soups & Stews

Meatless

cheesecrisps

Snacks & Breads

kombucha

Beverages 

dillpickledressing

Condiments, Toppings, Etc. 

That’s it for now! What will you try first?

Like what you’re reading? Make sure to subscribe via email for homestead ideas, freebies, and deals! 

2016 Year in Review

2016! You are almost over! And while the year has certainly had its negatives, let me take a moment to highlight the positives from our personal life.

  • Last year, spring, we took a big risk and transitioned largely to teaching and making music for our income. We built a home music studio in our garage. I took on an extra night teaching voice lessons. We started teaching local music classes at a community center and started playing more gigs out. And somehow, we’ve still been able to make our budget every month.
  • We have completed almost half of our first real year of homeschool and we haven’t died yet.
  • The homestead was largely a disaster this year. And you know what? I. don’t. care. I spent a while feeling guilty about it, but I’ve decided that there should be no more comparison to some mysterious standard I think I have to live up to. We made a lot of mistakes and failures this year, but we will get back to it. And everything will be okay!
  • We have been so blessed this year by several huge money-saving boons… A van bought at a public auction at half price. A large portion of venison given to us by hunting friends. Gifts of meals brought over here and there by family. Free babysitting. You know who you all are. Thank you a gazillion times over.
  • We’ve been learning to say no to extraneous commitments that are hard on our family without feeling too guilty. I can’t say enough about how good this has been for us.

Of course, there have also been many struggles. Over the past year we’ve dealt with a lot of uncertainty and worry– not to mention I always feel like I’m on the verge of survival mode. Pop over my house sometime and find me knee deep in chicken poop and toddler toys and dishes piled up high.

But that’s life, isn’t it? The new year makes me want to move on and forward.

Now, in the spirit of annual tradition, I shall proceed to give you the blog’s top ten most popular posts for 2016. Without further ado:

10. How to Make Catnip Tea– An herbal cold/flu remedy that’s easy to grow and prepare:

How to Make Catnip Tea

9. Distinguishing Elderberry from Dogwood– A guide to telling the difference between common look-alikes.

Elderberry-or-Dogwood

8. Easy Overnight Soaked Grain Bread – This really is an easy recipe that I’ve made over and over again for our house. Perfect for the night you realize you’re out of bread and you know your kids will be missing it in the morning.

Easy Overnight Soaked Grain Bread

7. How Can I Tell if My Rabbit is Pregnant? – Spoiler alert: It’s actually pretty difficult to tell. However, there are a few signs to watch for.

How to tell whether your doe has been bred successfully

6. How to Ferment Rhubarb (+ Probiotic Rhubab Lemonade Recipe)– Delicious, nutritious, and intriguing.

Fermented rhubarb is easy, healthy, and tasty too. Not convinced? Try this easy fermented rhubarb lemonade recipe!

5. Tick Bite Prevention (Naturally!) – How to prevent tick bites without using dangerous chemicals.

Tick Bite Prevention (Naturally!)

4. Getting Started with Meat Rabbits– What do you need to start your own meat rabbit production? You’ll be pleased to know it’s fairly easy to begin!

Getting Started with Meat Rabbits

3.Meat Eaters Against Treating Poor Animals Like Meat– A silly post done in response to meat-eaters who are appalled by the perceived cruelty in processing an animal.

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2. Apple-Honey Jelly (Made with Peels and Cores)– The first year this hasn’t been number one! How to make apple jelly using only peels, cores, water and, optionally, honey– no pectin required!

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  1. How I Afford Being a Stay-at-Home Mom– My number one post this year was how I afford being a stay at home parent. Since writing it, my husband and I now split the load about 60/40, respectively– we both work part time to make up our (low) full time income. This is also a good arrangement for us. Our kids don’t need daycare and we are still able to homeschool. Hopefully the principles in this post will apply to a variety of family situations.

How to Afford Being a Stay at Home Parent

That’s it for today. 2017 is coming! Here’s to a fresh new year and a fresh start. Happy New Year!

The Secret of Saying “No”

I’m very much a “yes” girl at heart. Yes, I’ll volunteer for this and that fundraiser. Yes, I’ll be at the extra service this week. Yes, I’ll teach that extra class. Yes, I’ll sign up for extracurriculars. Yes, I’ll meet up at the coffee shop.

But this year, I’m learning to say “no” more than I ever have.

The Secret of Saying No

Image Credit

No, I’ve got to stay home this week to catch up. No, I’m sorry, teaching that class is actually going to take me away from other priorities. No, I can’t do this fundraiser this time, but I’d love to help next month.

It sometimes means saying no to a lot of good things. Sometimes it means missing out on something that I’d really like to be part of. Sometimes it means giving something up for a time so that I can refocus on other goals.

This year, we’ve said no to a couple of job possibilities that weren’t going to be a good fit for our family. We cut way back on our extracurricular school activities as we settled into our first real year of homeschool. I said no to attending births, no to multiple playdates, no to several homesteading projects, no to the commitment of regular blog posts, and no to teaching some lessons that weren’t fitting in my schedule.

I’m learning to say no to a multitude of self-inflicted pressures. No, my house doesn’t have to be clean today. No, I actually don’t have to make everything from scratch this month. No, I will not feel guilt over the lack of crunchy stuff going on in my life right now.

Happily, all of this gives me room to say yes to the things that matter most right now.  Yes to homeschool. Yes to a few dedicated music students. Yes to gigs that work well for our family. Yes to practicing voice. Yes to time at home together. Yes to reading, yes to drawing, yes to laying together and talking about our day.

Nothing is permanent, and I can always re-prioritize what commitments I choose to take on down the road. However, I can’t get back the time that I lose hustling and bustling and trying to do everything at once.

Here’s to saying yes to the things that matter most.

Kitchen Therapy & The Best Scrambled Eggs

I haven’t really enjoyed myself in the kitchen for a very long time.

Dinner has become a horrific, daunting monster that I try to beat back with a spatula every afternoon around 4 p.m. All of those tasks that usually motivate me– making sourdough, cooking everything from scratch– have become massive, ugly beasts that leer at me from my brown and yellow, disgusting 70s mess of a kitchen.

Burn-out. It makes me cranky and ungrateful. I don’t want to live like that.

Of course, the problem isn’t the cooking itself. It’s that I’m trying to do too much and I don’t have the time and love to put into the kitchen that I used to have. So I decided that I needed to treat the kitchen like therapy instead of an enemy. That sounded much nicer.

Learn to love the kitchen again while making breakfast.

I tried to think back. What made me love the kitchen in the first place?

My childhood- baking with my mother. Sitting on the counter, carefully measuring scoops of flour, baking soda, and sugar, watching mountains of drifted snow build in the bowl and delightfully sticking my finger in it to draw lines and faces. Grilling hundreds of Welsh cookies together for a fundraiser. Singing a silly song about looking for a loaf pan that I still remember 25 years later.

My first jobs- discovering how dinner really becomes a reality. Exploring new tastes and flavors and shedding my pickiness. Tandoori chicken, portabella mushroom paninis, formal tea parties with tiny sandwich triangles. My experience as a sous chef and short-order cook, learning to move like lightning in the kitchen and come out smiling and calm to my waiting customers. Even waitressing– I loved it all. The clinking of dishes, the steam off the griddle, the delicious smells and morning coffee and noise and hustling of the workplace. I’d honestly still be very happy working in a restaurant.

My early married years- learning how to cook my mother’s secret recipes. Calling my mom-in-law to find out how she made her famous chicken cutlets. Figuring out how to “cook by the look” and not the book. Kitchen mishaps along the journey– exploding a Pyrex dish in the oven, trying to cook a chicken and not finishing it until 10:30 at night, lumpy loaves of bread and burnt pasta. For some reason I kept coming back to try to do more of it.

The kitchen holds a fond place in my heart. But I’ve succumbed to frustration and tiredness in recent years, and I don’t wanna cook no more.

My grandmother bought me a tiny trivet when we first got married that reads, “Kissin’ don’t last. Cookin’ do.” I’ve kept it all eight years because it makes me smile.

A trivet from my grandmother. 😉

A photo posted by Abigail Zieger (@theyrenotourgoats) on

Thankfully, I have a really awesome husband that will still kiss me, and even cook for me too. He makes the most delicious eggs of anyone I know. This has earned him the title of official breakfast cook.

You want to know the secret to the best scrambled eggs?

First, turn on the radio and make sure the kitchen is pleasant. Get the radiator nice and warm in the winter, or fling the door wide open in the summer. Start some coffee brewing and heat a cast iron pan with bacon grease. Chop a clove or two of garlic and throw it in the pan.

Meanwhile, set your children to playing something purposeful. Wash some dishes, clear the counter, get some steam and dish-clinking going on. Trust me, it makes the kitchen happier. Add onion and whatever chopped vegetable you have to the pan. Let them soften over medium-high heat. If the pan gets dry, add a splash of water, cover it, and turn the heat down a little. Allow the onions and vegetables to caramelize.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and milk in a bowl. Stop to hug your husband and ignore the bickering children in the other room. Make sure you can hear your rooster crowing if you have one. Once the stuff in the pan is properly soft and browned at the edges, pour in your eggs and give it a stir. Quickly add chopped or grated cheese of your choice.

Let the eggs sit just a couple minutes on medium-low heat- don’t stir the life out of them. Drink some coffee. Scratch a back. Gently go around the pan and turn the eggs over. Give them a couple more minutes. Stretch and set the table. Turn the eggs one more time if necessary, ensuring that the eggs are cooked but not dried out.

Call everyone to the table. Light a candle. Eat your eggs with bread or biscuits or bagels or nothing at all. Try sauerkraut on your eggs. Sit around in your pajamas for a little longer if you can. Talk about your day and get a plan. Read the paper. Ask your kids questions and take interest in each other. Clean up together when you’re done.

We have our favorite way to make scrambled eggs- but the best way to do it is with time and music and togetherness.

Clearly, love is the key to reclaiming the kitchen AND the secret ingredient in great scrambled eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BushelBox Review

Imagine what healthy, sustainable food looks like to you.

Delicious breakfast granola with nutritious ingredients. Healthy snacks on the go when you’re running from place to place.  A delectable cup of organic afternoon tea.  Food that you know is helping community members across the world instead of farming them out for profit. Food that you feel good about.

Expensive food. Am I right?

BushelBox Review

But what if you could get your favorite healthy products at a discount?  Let me introduce you to Kimmy from BushelBox.

BushelBox is a new site that allows friends to go in together to order high quality products at bulk pricing. Shipping costs are divided between the friends’ orders, and the box is shipped to one central location for distribution. Here are some questions I asked Kimmy about her company.

Abi: How did BushelBox get started?

Kimmy: Three years ago a group of mamas and I wanted to keep feeding our families healthy organic foods but for less money so we started a buying club. We bought food in bulk form local producers at a discount and distributed amongst ourselves. I have passion now to help other families be able to do the same thing. That is why we built BushelBox. Anyone can buy delicious products at awesome discounts by sharing the savings with their neighbors.

A: How does BushelBox work?

K: The way it will work is simple- anyone can start a buy for whatever product they want. They can place their order and invite their friends. Payment will take place on the site and even deal with complicated stuff like dividing up shipping costs! The goods will get shipped to one house and distributed from there.

A: What kind of products can you buy from BushelBox?

K: Currently, Bushel Box offers a variety of foods, including various snacks, teas, nut butters, beef jerky, granola, dried fruits, nuts, and more.

BushelBox values supporting small companies with quality organic, non-GMO products. Currently, you can place orders from one company at a time. The folks at BushelBox are always working towards finding other quality foods to make available on their site.

Bushel Box goodies

Kimmy generously provided me with a sample box of delightful goodies to review for you. Here’s what came in my box. (You can click the links to find out more about each individual company.)

  • Labrang tea. Fair Trade and organic Black Jasmine tea. This tea was a delicate blend of traditional black tea and floral notes from the Jasmine. It made a perfect cup for afternoon quiet time. (This is available 20% off retail price from BushelBox.).
  • Young Mountain Tea– Fabulous, fair trade teas made in the Himalayan mountains. I love my teas, and these loose-leaf delights were a true treat. (20% off retail.)
  • Bliss Nut Butter– Peanut butter with chia seeds from a woman-owned nut butter company. The only problem with this peanut butter is that I am no longer satisfied with my regular stuff. I want to eat it ALL THE TIME. It’s seriously addicting, and will most likely be what I place my first bulk order of from Bushel Box! (30% off retail.)
  • Masala Pop– Amazingly complex, non-GMO, Indian-inspired flavored popcorn made by a woman-owned company. This was also one of my favorite snacks. Our bag of Masala Pop was the perfect combination of spicy and sweet. My kids (surprisingly!) gobbled it too. Needless to say, I had to hide it.  (20% off retail.)
  • Nick Sticks– Grass fed spicy beef sticks with no fillers. These little sticks packed a quick protein-punch, perfect for any on-the-go parent. They are also available as turkey sticks. (35% off retail.)
  • Cafe Mam– Shade grown, fair trade, organic coffee. This was delicious! I’m no coffee snob, but you could tell this was great stuff. Also, more importantly, they are committed to ethical work practices and creating a quality product. (15% off retail)

Advantages to Bushel Box

  • Some areas have wholesale buying co-ops readily available, but they are often dependent on a specific location and pick-up date. If it’s not convenient for you, then you’re less likely to take advantage of the savings.
  • You have the opportunity to purchase unique foods at wholesale pricing.
  • You can order from anywhere.
  • Shipping costs are split with friends who order with you.
  • There’s no membership fee to join BushelBox.
  • Kimmy is personally supportive, and answers any questions you might have promptly.

I was thrilled with my box of samples from BushelBox catalogs. While my budget wouldn’t allow me to purchase these foods at retail price, I could occasionally indulge in some of my favorites by taking advantage of the savings that BushelBox offers. The foods were delicious and I knew that they were being made with sustainable practices. Even better, by purchasing from BushelBox, I know I’m supporting various small business owners.

Ready to try some quality sustainable products at a discount? Check out BushelBox today!

 

 

Dear Homeschool, I’m Trusting My Gut This Year.

Last August, I called almost every school within a 30 minute radius of our house. How much is tuition? What do you teach? How do you handle x-y-z? What’s your philosophy of education? Etc., etc.  The schools either seemed too conventional, too far, or too expensive to me. (Maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist!)

I was worried how my homeschooled kid would adjust to life in the classroom– not for social reasons so much as the fact that his entire routine would shift dramatically. I also didn’t want to turn his childhood into primarily a classroom experience. Not yet, anyway. I still have an idyllic vision of a beautiful childhood filled with natural play and learning seamlessly woven together. (Don’t laugh too hard.)

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I scoured homeschool curricula, unsatisfied with much of it. Montessouri, public cyber school, My Father’s World, Christopherus… there’s a lot of good in so many of the options out there. I just hadn’t felt like I found a good fit for us.

In reality, I think I was having homeschool panic–though since I’m so new at it I can’t say for sure. I was indecisive and worried about almost any choice I might make.

Finally, I stumbled across Oak Meadow, and as I perused their curriculum samples, I looked up at my husband and told him I think I found our answer for this year. Their curricula was Waldorf-inspired, nature-filled, literature-based, inclusive of music and art, and well-rounded.  It was a perfect fit for my little bookworm who loves to play in the dirt. (We are also adding in a home Bible time.)

It’s funny, because a while back we felt we discovered that J does so much better with “real life” learning than he does workbooks and conventional curricula. But for some reason, I forgot that last year and tried to build a Kindergarten year on workbooks. Some of it went well, but most of it was contrived, boring, and frustrating enough to spark a figurative headbutting contest.

I still worry some– is our choice too distanced from traditional teaching methods? Are we spending too much money on it? Do we really need a full curriculum for first grade? (Sometimes I wish I had never gotten an education degree. I think I’d worry less without it.) However, we’ve spent a lot of time praying and hashing out the answers to these questions. For now, our school decisions feel right to us, and we think we’ve found a good fit.

So this year, despite my regular doubts and indecision, I’m choosing to dig in wholeheartedly with the curriculum we chose. So far, it’s been little short of a miracle in the way it’s helping my son to come out of himself and try new things. I’ve been consistently surprised by the connections he’s making and how much he’s been able to do. Besides that, I really feel like we are exploring material together, and that’s been really lovely.

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Will I always use this curriculum? I have no idea. Will I always homeschool? Maybe, maybe not. But this year, I’m not going to worry so much about every little thing. We are going to just keep moving ahead, and be okay with changing the way we do school as our family needs change.

 

Things I Love About the Healthy Living Bundle

Do you ever feel like you’re lost in a jungle instead of growing a garden?

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Do you feel frustrated that you have to keep trying to feed your kids good choices?

IMG_0200Tired of deciding which essential oil you should use?

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Feel like all your chickens are plotting against you?

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Puzzled by wild foods?

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Okay, okay, so I’m being a little silly. But if you’ve ever tried to live a healthy lifestyle and felt frustration along the way, I get it. I’m right there with you.This is one of the only times I am super, over the moon excited about an online product. One of the only times I will go on and on about why I’m buying something (and why you should too). One of the only times I will unapologetically spend $30 on something “just for me”– even though it’s quite clearly for my family too. It’s Healthy Living Bundle Time! (This post contains affiliate links.) 

What is the Healthy Living Bundle?

The bundle is a collection of e-books, e-courses, printables, and product bonuses from some of the best bloggers and companies across the web. Each resource focuses on a different aspect of healthy living to help address a wide variety of reader concerns, questions, and goals. The bundle is a super deal (less than $30) offered for a very short amount of time (cough, cough- the deal ends Monday at 11:59).

Here’s some of what I love about the Healthy Living Bundle.

1) It’s got a gazillion resources that you’ll actually use. 

A gazillion actually means 80+, but hey, that’s something like a gazillion when you’re only one person. The bundle covers topics from healthy eating to fitness to alternative health and essential oils. It’s got sections on gardening, homesteading, and healthy kids. For the ladies, the bundle includes a section on pregnancy and women’s health. No matter what your natural health interests, it’s got something for you.

2) It’s cheap. 

If you bought all the e-books, courses, and bonus products that come free with the healthy living bundle, do you know what it would cost you? $2,669.53. Do you know what the cost of the bundle is? $29.97. I don’t know about your math skills, but to me, that seems like some pretty serious subtraction. If you were eyeing up only one or two of these resources, chances are the bundle will pay for itself VERY quickly.

3) It’s inspiring. 

I’ve always wanted to be skeptical of gimmicks, courses, challenges, and life-fix-it courses. While I’ve kept a healthy dose of realism (no product is going to change my life in 3 easy steps), I have come to accept that resources like the Healthy Living Bundle truly help inspire me to reach my goals. I can’t help it- When I have a list to check off, I tend to be more productive. When I have a great new cookbook, I’m going to try a new healthy recipe. When I have a garden planner, I want to make next year’s growing season the best it can be. The bundle gives me the kick in the pants I need to get back on track. Whatever works, man.

4) The bonuses! 

The bundle comes with over $250 in free products– just pay the shipping to get it to your house. Examples of some of the bonuses included in your bundle cost are:

  • Free Meyer’s detergent & fabric softener ($32.66)
  • Free Trilight herbal formula ($15.00)
  • Free organic maca powder ($15.44)
  • Free “Dirty Mouth” tooth powder from Primal Life Organics ($15.97)
  • Gift certificate to Perfect Supplements ($15.00)
  • Free eyeshadow trio from Orglamix ($18.00)
  • Free 6 month membership to Meal Garden, a meal planning service ($35.70)
  • And several MORE, including a kombucha tea blend, liquid probiotics, skin care products, and a health magazine.

5) It’s risk free. 

If for some reason you buy the Healthy Living Bundle and you really don’t think it’s for you, you’ve got a whole YEAR to return it and get your money back. That is a serious guarantee, and one you will rarely find in any online product.

6.) It’s supporting small business owners everywhere. 

Bloggers everywhere are supporting the Healthy Living Bundle, first and foremost because it’s a great product. But you should also know that when you buy the bundle through my site, or any other blogger’s site, we receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

I try to keep my sales posts rare and worth your time, and only promote products I really believe in. The products I promote are ones that I think my readers will find useful and affordable. The Healthy Living Bundle meets this criteria spot on.

When you buy through my site, you are helping to put dinner on our table and keep our lights on. Literally. Thank you in advance for supporting us in this way!

In short, this bundle rocks. 

Even before I blogged, I would drool a little over these bundles and wonder if they were really worth it. Once I finally bought one, I never looked back. The Healthy Living Bundle is worth every penny.

By the way,in my usual procrastinator style, I have waited until the last possible day to write a post about this. The Bundle is only available until 11:59 EST on Monday, September 26th. Check it out before it’s gone for another year!

Before Adding an Animal to the Homestead

I have a a daydream that goes like this: I own a sprawling property that covers acres of rolling hills and lightly wooded areas. Sheep and goats mill about through the pastures and chickens dot the landscape. There’s a family of ducks quacking about on our quiet pond, and we have several sources of peacefully raised and processed meat. Of course, the loyal family dog is also there, and he greets you noisily but merrily.

Reality: I got chickens, rabbits, and a goat. I love them dearly, but they’re also a big responsibility.

It’s easy to become enamored with (and addicted to) homestead animals. Each new addition is enthralling and delightful. We keep thinking of excuses to get more chickens. (Just one more, honey, I promise.) We tend to say yes to friends who need homes for their animals. We wonder, what difference would one more goat make? When we hear of free guinea hens, we think, why the heck not?

Here are some points to consider before you decide to buy a homestead animal.

Maybe you’re an experienced farmstead extraordinaire. Perhaps you’re just at the stage where you think chickens are cute but you’ve never smelled inside a dirty coop. Regardless, you should know that you must consider each animal carefully before you add it to your homestead.

Here are some factors for consideration:

1) Housing 

Every animal needs a home, and many animals have particular needs. Chickens need a coop with nesting boxes and a roosting pole. Rabbits like to have a hide-away place. Goats need super-awesome fencing and a shelter for the night. Plan your animals’ housing carefully to make sure that they are warm, comfortable, and safe from potential predators.

2) Feed

I hate to say it, but animals eat too. Depending on the animal and your purposes for it, you’ll need to provide pasture, kitchen scraps, grain, hay, and/or other food and supplements. You can try to do as much of it as you can inexpensively, but all animal feed options either take time or money.

Consider animal food needs before adding them to your homestead.

3) Health Care

Do you know how to trim a goat’s hooves? Figure out whether or not your birds have parasites? Separate a sick animal from its companions? Deal with a litter of baby bunnies found dead in the early morning?

I don’t want to be intimidating– we didn’t know how to do any of this when we first started acquiring animals. However, you must be prepared to do a little research and jump in with both feet when your animal has a health need.

4) Cost

All of these animal needs cost money. We got into raising animals ultimately to save money, and sometimes that has worked out really well. However, there have been lots of times when they’ve cost us more than they’re worth, and that can be disheartening and frustrating.

We are still trying to work out how to raise animals as frugally as possible. The best advice I can give you is to research inexpensive methods, try to be resourceful whenever possible, and be prepared to adjust if you find something is costing you more than you would like. Now, to go take my own advice!

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5) Responsibility

Dairy animals need to be milked twice a day. TWICE A DAY. And finding willing victims helpers who are able to milk while you go on vacation can be difficult. Bear this in mind before you buy your goat or cow.

All animals, however, require daily chores. Food, water, cleaning, moving, and tending to as necessary are all part of keeping farm animals. It can be a big commitment at times. Not to mention it requires some level of physical strength to complete the tasks– I can do a lot of it, but I often need my husband to help with some of the heavier lifting.

6) Neighbors

We are SO blessed with awesome neighbors who either have animals themselves or who are very forgiving of our rogue chickens and the occasional escapee goat. Let’s see if they still like us when our noisy guinea fowl are full-grown.

However, not all neighbors enjoy a runaway rooster dust bathing in their flower beds, or horses perusing their backyards. (Yes, that happened to us. Multiple times.) Consider an animal’s noise level, smell, ranging limits, and safeness before adding one to your property. Be considerate of neighbors and be sure that your animal choices will bring peace to your community, not war and increased legislation. Always be sure to check your local regulations too!

I said yes to free guinea fowl. #guineafowl #homesteadingit #imustbecrazy

A photo posted by Abigail Zieger (@theyrenotourgoats) on

7) Animal Interaction 

Will your animals live with each other? Will your cat kill your chicks? Can a pig and a goat get along? Does one animal present any bio-security hazards to another? Consider how well your animals will interact with one another, and ensure that you have adequate space and housing if certain animals need to be kept away from one another.

8) Usefulness

This might seem harsh to some, but I am at a point in my life where if an animal isn’t useful to me, I won’t keep it. I love dogs, but I can’t afford to feed one just for companionship. If an animal doesn’t feed my family or take care of predators for me, I’m not going to spend my time and money on it.

You, however, may have the resources necessary to raise an animal purely for your own enjoyment. It can be a wonderful experience– even therapeutic– to care for other creatures. If it brings joy to your heart and you are ready for the responsibility, then by all means, don’t let me discourage you from having an animal simply as a pet!

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Don’t let all of these considerations scare you. Animals can be a lot of work, but they can also be a lot of fun. I admit– sometimes I’d like to ship our animals off to another house for a while– but most of the time, I’m really glad we have them and I’m grateful for their provisions.

Have any other advice? What animals do you own?