Tag Archives: simple lives thursday

Homestead Review

June 28, 2013

It’s amazing to see what a difference a month can make!

The raspberries we planted from root stock back in March are starting to give us little raspberries already! Our BTE garden is giving us lettuce, carrots, and green beans (snaps) daily and hopefully we’ll be adding many more veggies to that list (like peppers for the first time!). And in just a month, our corn has gone from sprouting to growing silks 🙂

Desktop2Here is our bell pepper:

pepperThere have been changes regarding the chunnel as well. We have covered it with smaller fencing and my husband is working towards making the chunnel movable. He is about halfway done. The chickens enjoy it all day save the heat of the day when they would rather be in their run (tucked in the shaded woods) and we are enjoying saving on chicken feed!

Desktop1(L(then) and R (now): chunnel, now movable, now fenced tunnel (with 11mo), chickens a month ago & today)

chunnel(view from upstairs window: coop on R, garden on L)

The blueberries have changed a lot in a month as well! We are harvesting a large bowlful (think LARGE mixing bowl) every other day now!

Katy Blog3(blueberries 1 month ago)

blue(grapes blueberries today)

Our goal is to be able to feed ourselves almost exclusively from our garden (not buy any veggies and only a few fruit from the grocery store) in the coming years. It is already exciting to not have to buy lettuce, kale, carrots, or potatoes from the store. These were regular purchases. It has affected our budget in a positive way, for sure!

Even with such a lofty goal, however, we did not want to do too much all at once for fear of being unable to keep up with it all. So, this year, we added the raspberries and the potato patch.

Next year, I would like to grow strawberries and sweet potatoes. We needed to clean out the coop (hasn’t been cleaned out since April) anyway, so I decided to go ahead and prep the areas so the coop bedding could go to work already 🙂

I decided to put the sweet potato patch somewhere that is high and dry in the garden and that gets full sun. I raked back the mulch, ripped up the tarps and weed cloth, put down bedding from the chicken coop, and then covered it back up with mulch. By next spring, the soil should be wonderful to plant in. Unless the chickens didn’t take care of all of the weed seed and in that case, this patch will be full of weeds…only time will tell!

sweet potato patch(all of the dark area is the sweet potato patch but I know as it dries, it will be hard to tell where it actually is so I decided to put some type of marker for the time being)

tarps(here are all of the tarps I ripped up for the sweet potato patch only. amazing what must be done to keep the weeds away!)

I found a slightly sloped area of the garden for the strawberry patch. Eventually, I would like a larger area but I like to start small so as to not get overwhelmed with the task at hand. I also was running out of coop bedding so…again, ripped back tarps, etc., covered with remaining bedding and poop, raked mulch back on, and hopefully it will be a great spot for strawberries come spring!

straw(again, the darker mulch is the strawberry patch)

No wonder I am having such trouble keeping up with homeschooling these days (we homeschool year-round)! Any year round homeschoolers who garden (specific enough?) have good tips for me regarding summer scheduling? We’ve been doing school in the afternoon (typically we start school at 8am) but my children are not fans. Anyone eating exclusively from your garden? I wonder how many years it will take for us to do so…

I am linking up to Simple Lives Thursday.


Two More Money Saving Ideas – Cloth Diapers and Soap Nuts

April 12, 2013

I was listening to some of the speakers from the Healthy Life Summit. It ran for free a coulpe of weeks ago. Now if you want to listen, you have to pay. SORRY! I didn’t know it was going to be so good or I would have told you! I’ll keep you in the loop from now on!

Anyway, I listened mostly to the sustainable farming people (Joel Salatin and the like) but for some reason, I decided to listen to a podcast about “Cloth Diapers Made Easy”. She went in depth about all the different types, the pros and cons of each type, how many you need, how frequently you will need to wash them, etc. It was very informative. She definitely made it sound a lot less intimidating!

Next step was to look on Craigslist. I found a lady who was selling pocket diapers for $5 each and inserts for $1. This is incredibly cheap! They typically run $10-24 each. I bought 13 because that is all she had and because the speaker said get enough diapers for about 3 days (we go through about 4 diapers/day and I am not going to cloth diaper at night to start off). You don’t want to go much longer between washings (because of the smell). With all of the dirty clothes seven people produce, I wash every 3-4 days anyway so this is not a problem for me.

I paid so little that if I only cloth diaper for FOUR MONTHS, I will have broken even! Now that is a no brainer! Of course, I hope it is as easy as she says and I can save about $200+ for the rest of my child’s diapering life and if I have another child, save even more! But, we’ll see. One step at a time.

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I used them today and he kept wetting through. When using disposable, I would only change him after each nap, after I fed him (every 3-4 hours). Yesterday, day 1 of cloth diapering, after the first nap, he had soaked through. So, I decided to change him before and after naps (every 1.5/2hrs). He was still soaking through. So, I decided to fold the pad in the front for double protection since he’s a boy. That may have worked…had he not pooped. That ended up on my shirt…with company over. yay. Any ideas? I can put two pads in but I thought people only did that at night. Any pros give me some pointers?

The second new thing I am going to try this week is Soap Nuts.

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I have seen many wonderful reviews about them…

  • they are sustainable
  • all natural (no chemicals)
  • CHEAP (pennies/load)
  • compostable
  • leave no smell on your clothes (even though they smell vinegary in the bag)
  • wash cloth diapers really well

I just received mine in the mail and have not used them yet but I will let you know when I do! Admittedly, the biggest draw for me was the price but all of the other things are WONDERFUL as well! 😀

What new things are you doing? Are you actively saving money?

I am linking to Simple Lives Thursday. This is where I get most of my money-saving ideas. Check it out!

Chicken Coop Update

March 21, 2013

Coop building seems to be never-ending but here, at least, is an update.

Day 1: Get Materials (ReStore for Habitat for Humanity)

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Build Floor and One Wall

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Day 2: Build The rest of the walls, level, and put up plywood

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Day 3: Roof (the coop plans we got off the internet came sans roof so this was completely flying by the seat of our pants!)

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March 13 2013 - 0112Crazy windy! and we ran out of tar paper…on to…

Day 4: Finish the roof (with shingles left over from our house and my MIL’s house) & put wire on vents (between roof and walls) to keep critters out.

March 15 2013 - 0136roofa

Day 5: Door (aka: Bane of my Existence)

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Day 6: Locks (pictured above), Chicken doors, and a Roost

March 17 2013 - 0271 chicken door chicken door seth March 17 2013 - 0106

We still need to put handles and locks on the chicken doors. The chicks were getting WAY too big for their box though so we nailed the doors shut for now and the chicks are in the coop!

chicks in coopMore pics to come later, i promise! They are growing by leaps and bounds!

I was really nervous the first night and day but they are doing really well and I am enjoying my clean kitchen without all of the fluff in our food 😛

In the next update, I’ll show pics of the area that was cleared that will be their run, more chick pics, the tractor that we are in the middle of building, and any other updates. Like I said, NEVER ENDING.

For anyone new to the chicken gig (as I am), the reason for the vinyl and table under the roost is for easy clean up. It is easier to wipe vinyl clean and it does not rot, as wood would.

Our chickens (once no longer under a heat lamp) will be outside all day. When they are little, they will be in the tractor, prepping the garden for planting, and when they are larger and laying, they will be either in the tractor or in the spacious run. The only time they will be in the coop will be at night, when they will likely be roosting most of the time.

Therefore, most of the poop will be concentrated on the table under the roost. Whenever necessary, I will take a hoe & scrape the table clean (to use as compost tea in the garden) but the rest of the coop floor (covered in hay) will not get very much poop on it so it will not need to be cleaned but once or twice a year. Talk about a time saver!

I am linking to Simple Lives Thursday, as moving the chicks to the coop makes my life easier 😉 And even though having chickens, especially building a coop when we have never build anything EVER, does not make life simple for the moment, it will make our lives more sustainable in the future!