Showing posts with label Homesteading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homesteading. Show all posts

Jan 2, 2019

Most Popular Posts from 2018

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

Another year come and gone. To me, it seems time speeds up each year! But now that Chritmas and New Year's are over, I need to hunker down and get to work. I'm currently finishing up a historical fashion book for Dover Publications. (Years ago, historical fashion books were my mainstay and I've enjoying getting back into that subject.) And as usual, this year I want to try to make this blog better than ever...meaning, I want to hear from you! What do you wish I'd blog more about? Let me know in the comments or through a social media message.

This is also the time of year I look at this blog's stats to see if I can understand my wonderful readers even better. It's always fasncinating to see which posts you like best.

1.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2018/12/deciding-what-to-plant-in-your.html

2.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2018/12/23-fun-practcal-ways-to-upcycle-feed.html
3.

https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2018/03/how-to-dehydrate-zoodles-other.html
4.

https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2018/01/why-and-how-to-prune-blueberries.html
5.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-biggest-lie-about-growing-tomatoes.html

6.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2018/05/can-you-grow-fruit-trees-from-seed.html

7.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2018/04/the-best-salsbury-steak-recipe-keto-low.html

8.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2018/11/the-ultimate-dandelion-medicine-book-is.html
 9.
10.

https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2018/11/his-grace-is-revealed-through-parenting.html


I also look at which posts are all-time favorites:



https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2014/09/how-to-easily-clean-ceilings-walls-even.html
4.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2014/09/how-to-easily-clean-ceilings-walls-even.html
5.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2011/05/the-best-free-apron-patterns-on-net.html
6.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2013/03/best-ideas-for-upcycling-jeans.html
7.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2017/09/50-low-carb-and-keto-thanksgiving.html
8.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2012/04/how-to-clean-really-dirty-stove-top.html
9.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2014/05/how-to-make-dandelion-wine-recipe-for.html
10.
https://proverbsthirtyonewoman.blogspot.com/2013/08/canning-pickled-green-beans-dilly-beans.html
Happy new year!

Dec 5, 2018

23 Fun & Practcal Ways to Upcycle Feed Bags

How to Reuse Feed Sacks
UPDATE: It's just been pointed out how similar this post is to Murana Chicken Farm's. Check it out! They offer a number of ideas I did not.

If you have any pets or farm animals, you've probably thrown away a ton of feed bags. Each time you've done this, maybe you've wondered: Is there something better I could do with this?

Well in fact, there is! Feed sacks are made from wonderfully durable material and with just a little imagination, you can turn them into all kinds of useful and fun things. Here are some ideas:

1. Nail feed bags to the walls of your chicken coop (or garden shed, or stall, etc.) to help give added warmth during the winter.

2. Use a sack as a container for muddy/sandy clothes or shoes.

3. Cut open a bag or two and lay them flat in a car trunk, to help keep the floor clean.

4. Sew a bag or two into a tote bag perfect for groceries. Or a messenger bag.

5. Sew a feed bag into an apron.

6. Use feed sacks as a grow bag. This might work for potatoes and tomatoes, as I often see online, but I think they'd be even better for herbs, greens, radishes, carrots, and similar crops.

7. Use empty bags in place of landscape fabric, between garden rows. Pull them up every year, however, or you'll end up with bits and pieces of plastic all over your yard.






Outdoor cushions, via ThriftyFun.
8. Use bags as garden totes for hauling weeds, cuttings, compost, etc.

9. Use empty sacks to store manure you'll later use in the garden.


10. Use feed bags as trash bags.

11. Place donated clothes and household items inside empty bags (instead of wasting garbage bags).

12. Cut bags open and use as shelf liners in the garden shed or garage.

13. Cut sacks open and let your kids use them as sleds.

14. Turn old feed sacks into farmhouse decor Christmas stockings.

15. Sew feed bags into outdoor cushions. Talk about low maintenance!

16. Turn empty bags into a tarp.
Feed bag apron, via Scoop from the Coop.

17. Sew sacks into a tablecloth. This would be perfect for garden stands, the farmer's market, a picnic, or even just as a table covering for kids to do messy crafts upon.

18. Sew a sack into a zippered pouch. Really, you could use almost any purse, pouch, or bag pattern.

19. Turn an empty feed bag into a bib.

20. Make easy wall decor.

21. Turn a feed sack into a clothespin bag.

22. Make a pillow. This would be cute for the porch!

23. Sew some feed bags up into a dress?!
Feed sack grow bag, via Linn Acres Farm.



Aug 30, 2018

August Homestead Life in Photos

It's been an overwhelming month...but I'm not complaining. Sure, my dad visited from out of state and we held our annual party celebrating my husband's and daughter's birthdays, but most of the overwhelmingness (I made up a word!) has come from our homestead bounty.
When we were homesteading in the suburbs, we dreamed of having every kind of fruit tree, bush, bramble, and vegetable growing on our property, all carefully preserved for the rest of the year. I knew it would be work, but...it's more work than you can imagine if you've never lived it! We still don't have many veggies (because I don't have an actual vegetable garden yet and the deer have been feasting on all the veggies I've planted here and there), but we are actually considering cutting down some of our fruit trees! What??? Yes!!! Because nobody can eat and preserve the fruit from, say, 5 Italian plum trees, all the same variety, that all ripen at the same time of year! Ha!

Anyway, we are plum wore out (both literally and figuratively), but so blessed. We've never given away so very many pounds of fruit as we have this year. Plus, I've been canning, dehydrating, freezing, and freeze drying. (Not sure what the difference between dehydrating and freezing is? Click here.)

I'm too tired to write a proper article this week, so I'm doing something a little different: A photo essay of August life on our mountaintop homestead.

This hasn't been a great year for tomatoes...too weirdly cool, even for the greenhouse tomatoes. So I've been tossing fresh tomatoes into a freezer bag as they become available, and come winter I'll can them. The tomatoes growing outside the greenhouse have lots of green fruit, so I imagine I'll have to ripen them indoors (learn how here). But this is the first year we've had more than two or three pears, so that's a happy thing!


Eating keto to reverse my diabetes, I don't consume potatoes anymore and I try to limit my family's intake of them. But the former owners had a few planted in the ground that I've ignored...and they keep producing! No worries; my family will eat them up. An unusual number of them have bloomed this year, including one with amazing purple flowers. I'm thinking it's from either a red or purple potato.
Because I didn't have a decent place to can last year, I had a lot of things in the freezer, including pounds of tomatoes. I'd wanted to can them before my surgery, but I ran out of time. So this month, I finally turned them into salsa. (I use this recipe.) So much chopping! So many onion tears! And such a mess! But worth it.
Our blueberry bushes were quite productive this year. Last year, I felt fortunate to dehydrate one jelly jar of berries...all the rest we ate fresh. This year, I've been freeze drying many trays of them. I always love the really huge berries we get off one bush. They taste terrific and are the size of a quarter.
We let a second hen hatch some eggs. Call me silly, but I felt sorry for her. It seemed to me she felt sad because she wanted babies, too. So we put her in the maternity ward (a separate cage) with seven eggs. One was a dud - probably never fertilized. She lost three before while they were done hatching. But the other three seem healthy and happy and she's having a blast bossing them around in the nursery (a bigger cage that we keep in the chicken run).

We got a few pounds of early figs this year, and I've mostly been freeze drying them. They turn out amazing; they taste like fresh but are crunchy. This is by far my favorite way to preserve figs, though my family is begging for fig jam. We'll see if the fall crop of figs gets a chance to ripen before the first frost.



One of our spoiled bunnies. Still no babies from them, which is disappointing. (And the female is always making nests as if she's about to give birth.) My son now wants a pet rabbit, too, so we will probably try breeding him or her with one of the existing bunnies.

We are still overwhelmed with Italian plums. These are our least favorite fruit on the homestead. (It's probably just the variety we have; it's not particularly flavorful.) Still, I freeze some in light syrup and use them for baking muffins and such. And this year, I've freeze-dried quite a few, which definitely improves them.


And now it's the beginning of apple season. The first tree to ripen is the oldest fruit tree on the homestead, and we use those apples mostly for applesauce (my recipe and method are here) because they are more tart than my husband cares for. I kicked off applesauce-making with plum applesauce, which combines my favorite red plums (sweet tart) with these apples. The result is divine! Now I'm on to regular applesauce, and soon I'll be canning apple quarters in light syrup (SO good!). I'll also freeze dry and dehydrate apple rings, and put some apple pie filling in the freezer. I might also make some apple juice or apple cider.
Ending with a smile! Our homestead dog has grown up a lot this year. He spent the summer mostly hanging out with us. He's also been herding the new pullets (young chickens) back into their run when they naughtily escape, digging up and killing voles, playing with garter snakes (they fascinate him), playing in the water, and getting stung by wasps. (He now knows the difference between "sky raisins" (flies) and "jalapeno sky raisins" (wasps and bees).

Jul 6, 2018

Why Apples are the Best Homestead Fruit Crop

Why Apples are the Best Homestead Crop
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

I've already written about the perfect homestead vegetable crop; it's high time I write about what I believe is the perfect fruit crop, too. There are lots of easy to grow fruits out there, and all of them have their importance for urban and rural homesteaders, but as far as I'm concerned, there's a hands-down winner every homestead should have: Apples.

I can't take credit for being the first to  think apples are a must-have. If you've ever explored old homesteads, you know you can almost always find apple trees on them. This is, in part, because apple trees are hardier than most other fruit trees, tending to live longer, even with neglect. But it's also because apple trees were considered the fruit tree every family should have. Why is this? Let me count the ways:

* Apple trees are reliable and prolific. Many farmers and homesteaders will tell you fruit trees have a tendency to produce bi-annually, meaning one year you may get little to no crop, and the following year the harvest is abundant. Yet in my experience (both as a suburban homesteader foraging for apples in public areas and as a rural homesteader with an orchard) apples rarely have a bad year. And did you know that a
a single apple tree can provide 130 lbs. or more of food each year? Holy smokes! I'm so thankful for their heartiness and abundance.

* Apples are filling. In my opinion, apples are more filling than any other fruit (probably because of their water and fiber content). When times are hard, you can count on apples to fill bellies. It's the reason Johnny Appleseed gifted pioneers with apple seeds!

These beauties from our orchard are a meal unto themselves!
* Apples are nutritious and medicinal. According to the USDA, one apple contains 148 mg of potassium, 3.3 g fiber, and even a wee bit of protein. Apples are also high in antioxidants, polyphenols, iron, and vitamin C, while also containing vitamin K, copper, manganese, and magnesium. Some studies link apples to reduced risk of heart disease, Altzheimer's and dementia, and asthma. They also are a prebiotic, meaning they feed the good bacteria in your gut...plus, dentists say apples help clean your teeth. Herbalists use apples (especially wild or crab apples) to treat constipation, indigestion, stomach cramps, diarrhea, high cholesterol, and minor wounds. They also use apple leaves to treat minor wounds and act as an antibiotic - and the apple tree's bark as a treatment for fevers. Additionally, apple pectin is used to treat diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, and radiation exposure. (Click here for instruction on how to make and use apple pectin.)





Immature apples on our homestead.
* Apples can be preserved a myriad of ways. Many varieties store well in cold storage (in a cellar, garage, or refrigerator). Apples are easy to dehydrate; they freeze (and freeze dry) beautifully. You may also can apples to make halves in light or heavy syrup, jelly, jam, "butter," applesauce, cider and juice, apple pie filling, and more. You can easily use apples to make vinegar, too. (Click here for more tips on preserving apples.)

* Apples are versatile. Eat them by themselves, make them into a dessert, turn them into a savory dish, squish them to make something to drink, and use the scraps to make vinegar!
Homemade applesauce is healthy and delish.
* Apples are good nutrition for homestead animals. Pigs, cattle, goats, sheep, rabbits, and chickens all enjoy eating apples. Not only are they a natural, healthy food for animals, but it helps cut down on homestead feed costs, making critter-keeping more affordable.

So if I had to choose just one type of fruit to grow on our homestead, it would, without a doubt, be apples.

More Posts about Apples:

What to do with Crab Apples

Apple Peel and Core Jelly

Picking Unripe Apples for Making Apple Pectin

Apple Skillet Cake Recipe

Apple Spice Bread Recipe 

Apple Butter Oatmeal Crumb Bars Recipe

Old Fashioned Baked Apples Recipe

Canning Apple Pie Jam

Freezing Apples

Freezing Apple Pie Filling

The Best Tasting, Easiest Applesauce Ever

How to Make Apple Cider with an Electric Juicer

Making Dried Apple Rings in the Warmer Drawer

Wax Costing on (Store Bought) Apples: Is it Safe?

Mar 20, 2018

False Pregnancy in Homestead Animals

pseudopregnancy in mammals
Remember when I told you we thought my daughter's pet rabbit (practice for meat rabbits here on the homestead) was pregnant? We mated the doe, and she immediately started showing signs of pregnancy, including moodiness (which is not like her), beating up the buck she usually adores, making a nest, and pulling fur to line her nest. All normal stuff for a rabbit about to give birth. Well...her proper gestation period is far and away over and we still don't have kits. Our rabbit had a false pregnancy.

What is a False Pregnancy?

A false pregnancy is when a mammal takes on traits of being pregnant, but has not actually conceived. (The most famous case of probable false pregnancy in a human was Mary I, Queen of England.)

Scientists really don't understand why false pregnancies (also called a phantom pregnancies, hysterical pregnancies, or - more correctly - pseudocyesis in humans and pseudopregnancy in other mammals) happen, but they speculate it might be all about the mind: The mammal thinks she is pregnant, and that belief changes her hormones, making her body show signs of pregnancy.

Common symptoms of pseudopregnancy may include:

* Enlarged abdomen
* Development of the mammary glands
* Milk production
* Moodiness
* Maternal behavior (like creating a place to give birth and care for babies)

False pregnancy can occur in any mammal pet or homestead/farm animal. Actual mating is not necessary for a false pregnancy to occur. (Dogs sometimes fall into false pregnancy right after being spayed.)





Identifying a False Pregnancy

It's difficult to identify false pregnancies, since you cannot judge by outward behavior or physical appearance. Because the animal's hormones are altered, blood tests may come back positive when experiencing a pseudopregnancy. Patience, or an ultrasound, are the only sure ways to determine if a pregnancy is real.

(Adding to the confusion is the fact that rabbits can reabsorb their kits if they are undernourished or diseased. Not likely in most homesteading situations...certainly not ours!)

How to End a False Pregnancy

If you have, say, a goat that appears pregnant but is not, you could waste months waiting for kids that never appear. While this may not be a big deal on a farm of larger scale, it can really hurt the small-scale homesteader. So is there a way to end a false pregnancy once it's begun?

Unfortunately, mammals are not like broody hens that you can help "snap out of motherhood" by enforcing a "cooling off period." (Learn how to do that here.) The Merrick Veterinary Manual says sometimes tranquilizers are effective in treating a false pregnancy, or perhaps a dose of progesterone. But in almost all cases, time is considered the best medicine. Put on your patience cap! In many cases, the animal cannot be effectively bred until she is over her pseudopregnancy.

The Merrick Manual on Pseudopregnancy: 

* Overview of Pseudopregnancy in Goats 
* False Pregnancy in Small Animals
* Reproductive Disorders of Female Dogs
* Reproductive Disorders of Female Cats

Click over to MediRabbit for more information about false pregnancies in rabbits.

Cover image courtesy of Sean.



Feb 22, 2018

Creating a Canning Kitchen

Preserving Kitchen, Summer Kitchen
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

Since we moved to our mountaintop homestead in the summer of 2016, we've planned to create a canning kitchen - a place set aside just for preserving our homegrown food. The original structure on our homestead, which appears to date from the 1950s or 60s, seemed the logical choice. Until recent years, people had lived in it, so while it doesn't have a toilet (they used the woods instead), it does have electricity and plumbing. It already housed the washer and dryer, the dog-washing tub, and a wonderful old sink. All it really needed was a cook stove...plus, a lot of clean up.

Why I Want a Canning Kitchen

So why, you may ask, do I want a separate area just for canning and preserving? My reasons are many:

1. It prevents the house from getting uncomfortably hot during canning season. (Our house has great passive-solar properties, so we definitely don't need to warm things up in summer!)

2. It prevents my tiny kitchen from becoming more crowded. I simply don't have room to store all my canning tools and supplies inside the house - but there's plenty of room for all that in the canning kitchen.
The original structure on our homestead...which is now a canning kitchen.
3. Did I mention I have a tiny kitchen? I can can in it, but it's definitely tricky.

4. If I have a canning kitchen, my house kitchen need not be a constant mess during canning season.

My hubby worked hard to make this preserving kitchen happen, and I am grateful!


How We Did It
I wish I'd taken a proper "before" photo. This is a shot after the building was already largely cleaned up.

The first step to preparing the canning kitchen was to get a new roof on the building, since the old metal roof was leaking like crazy when we bought the place. Then we had to remove copious amounts of junk left behind by the previous owners. Sadly, most of it went to the dump because it was just too far gone to do anyone good.






Next, there was the question of the stove. For canning, an electric coil stove is best. I'd tried canning on our house's gas stove (fueled by propane) and it took forever to get the water to a boil...plus it ate up a lot of propane, and our tank is small. Last summer, my husband set up a turkey fryer burner on the porch. That was nice in that it kept the house cool, but it was extremely difficult to get the burner low enough in temp that liquid didn't siphon out of the jars while canning. Plus, I still had to warm liquids and cook any foods inside, bring jars inside and fill them, and then walk them outside to put in the canner. A bit of a pain.

The area I chose for my canning stovetop.

My hubby got pretty annoyed at me once or twice because I refused to buy used coil top stoves we saw in thrift stores. I just figured we weren't ready for them yet...and as it turned out, I think we ended up with something better: One of my husband's co-workers had a drop-in stovetop, which he gave us for free. Free is good!

The neat vintage sink already in the building.
Now we needed to figure out where I wanted the stove and how best to make a counter for it. I chose to have the stovetop near the already-existing sink, but with a little workspace in-between. (Eventually, my hubby will probably put a pot filler, like this one, directly over the stovetop, so I don't have to lug a canner full of water around.) And it just so happened there was a really solid old door sitting around among the junk in the building. My husband thought it would make a great counter, and he was right!

Door turned counter.
He built sturdy legs for the door-countertop (using materials we had on hand), and we thought initially we'd buy some laminate to finish the top. But ultimately my husband decided to sand the door down and give it coats of protective linseed oil. The result is totally gorgeous! It will require new applications of linseed every season, but we're okay with that. Cheap and beautiful is good!
The door was originally an ugly 1970s dark brown. But once sanded...

it is lovely!
Look at that gorgeous grain!
I love the original hole for the knob. Upcycling is cool!





Eventually, I hope to have closed cupboards beneath the counter, for storing kitchen towels and such.

Where my hubby's tools sit in this photo is my vintage work table.
But otherwise, it's a job completed! I have an old, broken rake (we found about a gazillion of them on the property) to hold utensils, an old school house chalkboard (nifty, though I'm not sure what I'll do with it), and a vintage 1950s laminate kitchen table to use as a workstation. I also have my dehydrators in the building, as well as my juicer, scales, and similar kitchen tools. And have I mentioned that the view is fantastic? I can't wait for preserving season to come!

A rustic utensil holder.
What a  view!