Two weeks ago, I heard a squabbling from the direction of the chicken coop as I took the garbage cans up the hill. The roosters must be having a fight, I thought. But the noise increased and a chicken scream carried out across the yard.
Into the house I ran, slippers off, muckboots on, and back out I scurried. Then I saw him.
A red fox was standing down behind the mud oven in the backyard. A hen’s neck and head were dangling from his mouth. We stared at one another for a moment.
“HEY!” I shouted. He dropped the head in the snow. “GET OUTTA HERE! THESE AREN’T YOUR CHICKENS!!!”
Have you ever wanted to make maple syrup but don’t know where to begin? We were in that same position several years ago. We knew syrup was pricey but we had maple trees on the property. While it seemed daunting at first, the process of making syrup is actually quite simple. It just takes time and a few supplies.
Today, I am hoping to give you a brief overview of how to make maple syrup, or, as it’s often called, “sugaring.” It takes a bit to fall into a rhythm that fits with the rest of your life schedule, but the sticky, sweet, delicious results are well worth the effort.
Anti-Overwhelm Strategy #1: Quit Raising Meat Rabbits.
There are SO many great reasons to raise meat rabbits. They are one of the least expensive sources of lean protein because they grow out to processing weight so quickly. They are prolific, producing litters of 6-10 or more kits with each breeding. They’re tasty, healthy, and don’t require a lot of space or pricey equipment.
However, we found that meat rabbits are just not a good fit for our family. Some of the very same things that are such great benefits to raising rabbits are also a detriment for families like ours. Let me explain what I mean.
Jewelweed and plantain are common weeds, both easily located, identified, and prized for their soothing, healing properties. They are a perfectly intuitive combination for calming homemade bath products. Today, I am so excited to share a jewelweed plantain soap recipe from Jan Berry of The Nerdy Farm Wife!
Homestead overwhelm: it’s a real thing. In fact, being overwhelmed is such a common theme in my life that it hardly seems necessary to mention it anymore. I am a lady with too much going on.
Apparently, I like to revisit this problem repeatedly. I think I can take on the world, then I realize can’t keep up. So, I melt down and give up certain things. Then I am happy for a while– until I decide to try it all over again.
Meal-planning is hailed as the number one tip for saving money in the kitchen and avoiding food waste. And it really does do both of those things! But I find that when everything is coming in the garden, it becomes rather difficult to plan far ahead.
Why? Well, it’s hard to know sometimes whether the zucchini will be ripe by Tuesday or Thursday. You can’t predict whether or not an insect will come along and wipe out those kale leaves you had in mind for tomorrow’s meal. And beyond that, food preservation calls regularly during garden season. More time on preservation means less time on meal planning or cooking. You just can’t do it all in one day.
The following is a “guest” post from my hubby- the guy who really knows his plants around here. We recently thought we spotted elderberries at a friend’s house- but Tim’s discerning eye second guessed our initial identification. Read on to find out how to distinguish these two look-alike plants from each other.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #roofeditmyself #CollectiveBias
Spring always puts a literal spring in my step. After all, the season is filled with so much life and vibrancy. Spring means new flowers, garden planting, baby chicks, and extended hours outdoors. For our family, it also means planning for summer projects.
If you’ve been following along with us, you know that our first major project has been building the chickens an upgraded home. The new digs is a spacious open-air coop that just might be nicer than my bedroom. Our chicken villa will accommodate many more birds than our previous one, provide access to the neighboring field for free-ranging, and give us space to keep the feed in-house.
The kids have been our quality control supervisors, carefully monitoring each step of the way through the spring rains and summer heat.
In the early spring, we sent off several of our eggs to a homeschooling family for use in a science project. The kids wanted to compare and record the hatch rate between different chicken breeds. So, they purchased an inexpensive incubator and mothered the eggs diligently for several weeks.
Since chicken keeping is not allowed in their municipality, it wasn’t long before thirteen chicks were sent back to us. Seven of the chicks were our own hens’ progeny; six were purchases from tractor supply after the first batch of eggs failed.
When we bought our house, I had dreamy visions of gardening, egg-collecting, and happily tending to our chores as a family. It will be perfect, I said. We will homeschool and homestead and my children will learn how to live a nature-filled life that carries the perfect balance of freedom and self-discipline.
As you may imagine, it isn’t always as dreamy as I had originally hoped.
Reality: My sink runneth over and so does the poop. I change diapers and clean coops. The rabbits escape and we have to choose whether we should chase the bunnies or the babies. Decisions, decisions.
I was lamenting the truths of our less-than-ideal scenario to my sister-in-law, and wished aloud, “I just hope the kids get something out of all this.”
“Isn’t that how all parenting is?” she replied.
The revelation struck me. I really want to see character development in my kids, especially in relation to all of our homestead efforts. But I must remember that most character development doesn’t happen overnight, or even over months or years. It’s the nitty gritty, day-to-day stuff that forms a person.
How important it is that I don’t give up too quickly.