Raw milk ice cream

Summer is winding down, finally! And in typical mountain weather fashion we’ve gone from awful heat to thunderstorms and cool nights. There’s a sense of relief around here over the last couple days…we made it. I could absolutely be calling this start of the fall cool down too soon and sadly wildfires will continue to rage across the west for a long time.
Anyhow, despite the start of cooler nights and even some rain in this dry and dusty part of the country, we’ve managed to squeeze in a fun summer activity. I scream, you scream…you know the rest. This is when the kids shriek and dance around.
Continue reading “Raw milk ice cream”

Bookcase Arts and Crafts Storage

I know I’m not alone in my quest to organize and declutter. I know this because I’ve probably spent hours on pintrest browsing through ideas others, presumably overwhelmed by clutter just like me, have pinned.
I’m pretty happy with the way my craft storage project turned out and wanted to share it in hopes it might inspire new organizing solutions for someone else swimming in art supplies.

 

The problem: bins of unsightly arts and crafts supplies. I swear they’re reproducing but they’re the most loved supplies in the house so I need to find a way to deal with them. The kids seriously get giddy when it’s project time. Continue reading “Bookcase Arts and Crafts Storage”

Blackberry harvesting with the kids

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…just kidding. But blackberry harvest ranks pretty high up there. I needed to pluck those yummy morsels from the thorny canes before they passed their prime and turned to chicken food.
Gardening has been one of the easiest outdoor tasks to get the kids immersed in. They either participate in the task at hand whether it be sowing, weeding, or harvesting, or they dig in the dirt and occupy themselves while I get work done. It’s a win-win because the kids are busy and you can get your work done too. What is it about flinging some earth around that fills their little hearts with such joy and contentment?

Summer is flying by, there’s only a week left in August, we’re a couple weeks into the blackberry harvest and the kids are insatiable. I attempted to incentivize them to stay focused on picking more and eating less by offering a special reward to whomever filled their bowl first. I can’t say I was surprised when 20 minutes later their bowl was empty. They truly were diligently harvesting (I checked often). They just couldn’t resist the temptation of the perfectly sweet blackberries. I don’t blame them a bit! Clint was his usual awesome self and helped pick plenty for his little sister. Continue reading “Blackberry harvesting with the kids”

Voles in the Garden

As a gardener I’ve not experienced anything more defeating than having something out of my control ruin my crops. We’ve had disappointments over the years when deer hopped the fence and chomped on the fruit trees, or a late frost killed off some crops. This year we were over run by voles and they slowly and systematically devoured the gardens.

The tell-tale signs started popping up slowing in late spring/early summer. Vole holes are small, about an inch in diameter. They don’t create mounds when they tunnel, and they leave evidence of their above ground trails, which is something moles don’t do. Continue reading “Voles in the Garden”

Meal Planning for Surgery Prep

Being the cook  is one of my contributions to our family of 4 with 2 small children. I plan and cook every meal, mostly from scratch, so our family can eat what we feel is best for them. During any given day I spend a couple hours cooking and cleaning up in the kitchen.

Shortly before the recent holiday I went through some medical stuff that ultimately would require a future surgery to treat fully. Thankfully I was told to expect a short recovery of 1-2 weeks and I had the upside of ample time to plan and prepare.

Though my recovery would hopefully be short, I was fully expecting to have about 7 days of discomfort and low to no energy based on what I’ve been told from friends who had similar surgeries. During that time I wanted to make it as easy as possible for my husband to fill in and take over the things that I normally take care of in our home. We knew he’d be picking up everything I couldn’t during this time because of where we live. Family and friends aren’t near by, nor do we have take-out options.

Meal planning to prepare for surgery is easy. Meal plan for each day, create a shopping list, prepare meals and freeze. STICK TO THE PLAN!Meal-planning Continue reading “Meal Planning for Surgery Prep”

Brooding Coop for Chicks

We wound up with 13 chicks and a very motherly broody hen who needed a safe home. We recently moved Not Blanch into our mudroom, while she was hatching her eggs to get her inside out of the storm, but it didn’t take more than a few days for them to over-stink the room. It’s almost November and is getting colder and wetter by the day. Now that the hatching is complete and everyone has had a few days in a warmer, safe home, we’re ready to get a brooding coop built for the new family to move them back outside.
We feel pretty strongly about not separating mother from her babies, but we just don’t have enough room for them to stay indoors, nor do we feel that would be ideal for them. Plus, Not Blanch, our buff orpington, has proven that she is nothing less than a very dedicated, doting mother. I have great confidence that she will keep them warm, safe, and protected outside, if we provide a coop and run. The reason we are not moving them in with the other adult birds is because I just don’t know how the others will react to the babies, and we don’t want to stress anyone out if it can be avoided. Continue reading “Brooding Coop for Chicks”

Broody hen in cold weather

The eggs have begun hatching! To my inexperienced self this is such a surprise! Our broody hen, Not Blanch, went broody in the beginning of October when temperatures started dipping down in the low 40s from time to time at night. We had a number of cold rainy days, as mentioned in the previous post about Moving a Broody Hen. Not only did it seem to me that the weather was working against our broody buff orpington, we worried that having to move her and her nest would disrupt the process enough to break her of her broodiness.

On day 21 of incubation, the typical time it takes to hatch an egg, I was away at work and expected to get a call that the eggs had begun hatching. We’ve been dodging rain and wind storms since Not Blanch went broody and this was finally expected to be a nice couple of days when the chicks were due. Day 21 came and went and no changes, the same with day 22. I was beginning to expect the worst, with the all the adversity Not Blanch and her eggs had endured, but still tried to remain hopeful that one or two would hatch. Continue reading “Broody hen in cold weather”

Moving a broody hen

At about the 10 day mark, the forecast took a turn. This weekend should bring a substantial rain storm FINALLY (we’ve been hoping for this all summer). Only now we’re faced with having to move our broody hen, Not Blanch, and her nest. As mentioned in the previous post, she chose a slightly exposed location and one that will guarantee she and her nest get flooded with the 3-8″ of rain we’re expecting this weekend. I stress about the prospect of moving her nest and having her reject her eggs, but know that all of her eggs are doomed if we do nothing.
I decided to relocate her to a large covered dog crate, positioned as close to her original nest as possible. I put a layer of dirt in the bottom of the crate, then straw, and wood chips to fluff it up a bit. I then gathered the dry leaf material she used in her original nest and tried to recreate her masterpiece. This dog crate will serve as her maternity ward or brooding cage.

broody-hen-clutch Continue reading “Moving a broody hen”

Broody Hen

What we initially thought was a casualty to whatever lurks in the forest turned out to be a broody hen. Our buff orpington, who goes by the name of Not Blanch, was missing during our routine head count at bedtime. best-broody-hen

She was no where to be found in the dark and we went to bed a bit worried but hopeful she’d reappear in the morning. No such luck. Not the next morning either. Continue reading “Broody Hen”

Backyard Chickens

We’d like to introduce our (not so new anymore) flock of chickens. They were a spur of the moment birthday gift to me; stumbled upon a for-sale ad and had chickens in the backyard the next day. I loaded up the kids and drove the hour and 20 minutes to the “chicken lady’s” ranch to investigate and potentially bring some layers and pullets home all the while the “coop” would be made ready. Check out the DIY chicken coop we put together in a couple hours.

backyard-chickens Continue reading “Backyard Chickens”

DIY Chicken Coop

Our new flock’s chicken coop is a re-purposed 7×2 galvanized steel shed, like this storage shed, that we had picked up for a real bargain 5+ years ago. We had been using it to store some things that could easily be rehomed and agreed this already built shed would make a quick solution for a chicken coop.

storage-shed-chicken-coop

After relocating it, propping it up on some railroad ties to raise it off the ground and giving it a solid floor, we were ready to finish it up for the birds.
We erected a chain link dog run that we weren’t using around the coop, covered it with extra lattice that we had, and secured it with wire.
We added several  small windows around the top of the coop for ventilation by cutting out the window in the steel and securing wire mesh tightly to keep intruders out.

chicken-coop-perches recycled-chicken-nesting-boxes

We hang the water and feeder from the ceiling to reduce the amount of sludge that gets kicked in them.

We plan to eventually get around to sprucing it up a bit, it does look like a prison, but it serves its purpose as a DIY chicken coop and it was no money out of pocket.

Starting Winter Seeds Indoors

We are in the midst of a thriving summer garden, with 90+ degree days, and patiently awaiting the onset of fall. Among the many enjoyments of fall is the ability to work more comfortably in the garden. Because of the strict schedule the harsh sun (and the children) keeps me on, my working time in the garden is really limited to the short time between dawn and the sun rising up over the trees, which is about the time it takes to get everything watered. In the past, I’ve waited for the cooler days to direct sow our winter crops in the garden. This has worked ok for some crops, but the Brassicas family has always struggled mainly because of poor germination. This year I’m going to try to give these guys a head start by sowing them indoors.

The crops were decided, seeds were ordered, supplies were gathered. We use reusable seed starting trays with humidity domes and peat pots. Everything that I started is about 6 weeks out from transplanting into the garden.

Seed-starting-mixSeed-starting-peat-pots Continue reading “Starting Winter Seeds Indoors”

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

On my quest to provide wholesome food for my family, while trying to balance busy schedules, I realized that my freezer lacked already cooked, ready to heat and eat, good for you food. I wanted to fill that void with a chicken tender- an actual piece of quality chicken, breaded and cooked, waiting for my panicked hand to grab it with relief that I do, in fact, have something nutritious to feed my family.
I perused the freezer aisles of a few grocery stores and left empty handed. I wanted organic chicken in it’s original state, not mechanically separated and reconstituted, not plumped up with liquids or containing unnatural ingredients. Why was this so hard to find? I gave up on the prospect of finding a ready made option and got cookin’. I should add there was one brand I found that fit my criteria (Van’s, I believe), but was so costly it was not a realistic option.
I like to make a double batch of these breaded chicken tenders to cover dinner the night they’re cooked fresh (with gravy) and plenty to freeze for a few future meals.
You’ll need chicken breasts, flour, seasonings, bread crumbs, 1 egg, milk, and coconut oil.

homemade-chicken-tenders
Continue reading “Homemade Chicken Nuggets”

Building Raised Garden Beds- Expanding the Garden

I’ve been busy planning away for the next 2 seasons in the garden. It took very little time to realize that in order to grow the variety of crops we envision we will need more growing space. I’m not surprised we outgrew our small garden so quickly, which is why I allowed for room for expansion when we put the fence up this last spring. To get the most out of the remaining fenced in space the 2 new beds need to be a different shape than the first 3.

raised-bed-garden

The first bed is a two tiered raised bed that I was fortunate enough to be able to piece together with recycled and scrap wood ( I love keeping the cost of projects low). We had some weathered 16 foot douglas fur boards that were begging to be used. The final size of the beds is roughly 5′ by 7′. I cut my douglas fur boards down to size and cut my corner posts out of a scrap 4 x 4 and some tree limbs from trees that came down on the property. The height of the beds was determined by the wood we have available which is 9 inches. Continue reading “Building Raised Garden Beds- Expanding the Garden”

What’s Happening in the Garden July 18

While doing some work on the recent bean project, I snapped some pictures of our veggies growing happily in the summer heat.

 

yellow-squash
We’ve been harvesting zucchini and yellow squash for a couple weeks now. We’re just getting into the “squash coming out of our ears” phase. Interestingly, the yellow squash starter we brought home from the local nursery has almost split into 3 clusters, 2 produce yellow squash and the 3rd produces Romanesco zucchini. In addition to that we have 2 zucchini plants. Continue reading “What’s Happening in the Garden July 18”