Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Reel Deal

I have always wanted a reel mower. My husband has always said no. Then one day, he took a day trip with his brother to New Jersey and I happened upon a tag sale (next door to my parent's house) selling a reel mower. Yep, I bought it. One of the best $5 investments ever!

As soon as I got it home, I buzzed off the kids section of the lawn, maybe about .10 acres. Not a whole lot but enough to see how it works. Yep, I still love it.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Ample Harvest

How is your garden growing? Ours is looking good, especially with all the rain we have been getting. Every season I have the best intentions, I plan to can and save every last bit. Then life rolls on and we become overrun with tomatoes and cabbage and basil. I don't ever plant zucchini because so many people I know have a lot of extra. So what do you do with your extra?

Even should you have the best intentions, should you find yourself with extra do  you know what you would do with it? In the past, I would try to give it away. This year, I plan to give it to my local food bank. Through One Hundred Dollars a Month I read about Ample Harvest, a site that shows gardeners their local food banks. I called my local food bank and they do accept extra produce. So now, when I don't feel like eating or canning, I can help others in need. I am excited about having a little extra already. Next year we are going to implement a small space for feeding the needy and plant a little extra of everything to pass on.

 This article was shared on The Chicken Chick, The Prairie Homestead,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2014 Homesteading Update Three

June is here and we have been super busy. I am so excited about all the amazing progress.

Expand my weedless garden beds.
We did this Memorial Day Weekend and used four of the new beds to plant tomatoes and the fifth to add a second bed of cabbage. Sauerkraut here we come!

Grow corn for our chickens this winter.

Learn to forage and use forage items.

Get honey bees.

As previously stated, we purchased Mason bees. As soon as it was warm enough, we placed the cocoons into the house. I have not yet seen any activity so I have no idea whether they survived or not. I will continue to check on them.

Consider cold frames to extend our season.

Get at least two turkeys for holiday dinners.

A dozen Narragansett are currently in the incubator with a hatching date of June 23rd. The poults we were going to get ended up being a bust. It seems that everyone in my area is having trouble with turkey eggs hatching. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Get piglets.The piglets arrived! Well, we had to drive two hours to get pasture raised pigs with no hormones, no antibiotics, GMO-free feed and a Tamworth cross but don't they look yummy?

Add the following: rhubarb, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.
All three blueberry plants have survived, despite dropping all their leaves and turning brown. The Sweetheart Blueberry even had two white flowers on it today. The raspberries are growing nicely. The strawberries have blossomed and have little green strawberries. The only unfortunate part is that the plants have grown so well that they are above the chicken wire and the chickens have been spending a lot of time picking at them. Time to pull up the wire and use some stakes and netting to keep them out.

As for Rhubarb, I am excited to announce that the plant from last spring has apparently survived! When my wonderful sister-in-laws came down and weeded the currant and aronia bushes, we found that last years rhubarb and horseradish were growing.

Plant another row of maple trees.

Plant pines along the thruway border.

Thirty Norway Spruce pines have been planed between us and the thruway. In a few years it will be an amazing border.

As always, we are doing more than our goals. We decided to add a small flock of meat birds this summer. We have eight Red Rangers and some Cornish crosses. I have read and heard a lot of mixed reviews about the ranger type bird. I really wanted a meat bird that could free range so we decided to try out a few of each.

Last weekend my supportive husband built a coop for them out of materials we had on hand: an old drop crib, some left over siding, left over hardware cloth and some metal roofing.

 How are your goals coming along?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Brown Mama's Got Babies

For those of you who remember, my anticipation of a broody Brown Mama was borderline silly. It was also fantastic when she did finally go broody. Twenty-one days of waiting and I was greeted by this sight:

Hooray! Mama's got babies!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Naturally Hip Cloth Pads

After using cloth diapers for the two kids, I began to think about cloth pads for me. I perused the Internet and green sites trying to find some recommendations. Most of the recommendations seems very nice but very few used organic fabrics. I finally stumbled across Naturally Hip's Etsy shop.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Mother-in-law's Polish Chicken Soup

After many unsuccessful attempts to replicate my mother-in-law's chicken soup, I pulled out one of our recently butchered roosters when I knew she was coming over hoping to learn her secrets. Apparently if I don't use the same ingredients, I won't achieve the same flavor. Who knew? Do you know what her secret ingredients are? Leeks and celeriac. I never would have guessed. Thankfully my mother-in-law was more than happy to show me how to make her soup.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blueberry Honey Quick Bread

Have you ever found a new recipe and then messed up the recipe? Yeah, me too. Today I was looking for a quick bread with blueberries to make for the kid's goĆ»ter and stumbled upon this Quick Blueberry Bread recipe. Not wanting to make two loaves (let's be honest, in case it wasn't any good, two loaves would be a waste.), I cut the recipe in half. Oh and I forgot to write down one of the ingredients. Whoops.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Chicken Happenings

One of the things I love about our homestead are the personalities. Everything that lives here has a personality. The stray cat is skittish but also a little defiant. Our cat, Kitten, is the biggest (almost 15 lbs!) snuggle bug, allowing the kids and baby to grab a hold of her without ever swiping at them. She is also by far the best hunter, people included. When she decides it is time to be loved, you cannot escape her.

The chickens on the other hand, work very hard to avoid you, while trying to get close enough to check for (and steal) any food you might have. Their personalities provide endless entrainment and enjoyment.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Easy to Peel Hard Boiled Fresh Eggs & Corn and Bacon

I am certainly not the first to write about an easy way to peel hard boiled eggs and I am sure that I will not be the last. So how to make the perfect hard boiled egg? Steam them. Really. I had read this and read this and yet we had never really done it. Why? Probably because it is hard to change our habits. Steaming eggs doesn't seem like the way to make hard boiled eggs - it's the word boiled. Gets me every time.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

One Hour Beef Roast

Many of you know that we purchased and had butchered a cow last December. One of the great and sometimes not so great things about purchasing or raising your own animals for meat is that you have a variety of cuts. One cut that many people are used are roasts. The othr day I pulled a chuck roast out of the freezer and did a quick search for recipes. I had been craving roast beef so I really wanted something simple. I had read before about searing the meat and cooking it slow so that I could have a medium roast beef, however I had never tried it. Then I clicked on Tommy J's Kitchen's Perfect Roast Beef and I knew I needn't look further.