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Showing posts from January, 2020

Online Public School as an Alternative to Homeschool

A year and a half ago, our family decided to leave our local physical public school system due to safety concerns.  Our daughter was surrounded by bad behavior from defiant and disrespectful students and while none of it was directed specifically at her, it was impairing her ability to concentrate and participate. Additionally, we were hearing that the instructors were unable to effectively cope with the number of students acting out, which creates an unsafe environment for everyone in the schools.  Our daughter was feeling anxious and depressed, dreading going to school and as a result her grades were negatively impacted. To address our concerns, we inquired at the schools to learn more and we were discouraged by the enormity of the problems in the schools.  So we began the journey of exploring homeschool options.  That's when we came across online public school as an alternative to homeschool.  While there are several online public school options in our area, we chose to particip

Our Garden Seed Order Arrived Today!

We are so excited that our 2020 garden seed order arrived in the mail today!  This year we ordered our seeds online from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (their website is ).  Many of my favorite homestead families who vlog are using Baker Creek seeds ( Living Traditions Homestead , Melissa K. Norris and  Roots and Refuge Farm are the homesteaders who have inspired me the most). Based on their recommendations, I wanted to give Baker Creek a try this year.  I was pleased that their prices are actually lower for many of the seeds I was looking for in comparison to several other heirloom seed companies that I was considering. Above is the pile of seed packets that we received in our shipment.  Here's a list of what is included: Martino's Roma Tomato Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts Green Globe Artichoke Russian Red / Ragged Jack Kale Tall Telephone Peas Mary Washington Asparagus Swiss Chard Perpetual Spinach Baby Blue Hubbard Squash Golden Batam

Eggshells as a Calcium Supplement for Chickens

The other day, a visiting friend noticed a cookie sheet filled with baked eggshells cooling my counter and inquired about it.  I guess it does seem a bit odd to have eggshells sitting out on the counter.  I can certainly appreciate the novelty of it as it's not something seen in every home.  Prior to starting our own flock a few years ago, I'd never heard about chickens eating their own eggshells, either. Eggshells are a good way to supplement calcium in a chicken's diet.  Chickens need extra calcium in order to maintain their health and for hens to produce a thick protective shells on their eggs.  In fact, one of the signs that hens need more calcium in their diet is if their eggs become thin shelled.  This has happened with our own hens a time or two when I haven't put an extra form of calcium out for them.  At times we have provided them with crushed oyster shell, which is also an excellent calcium supplement.  However, purchasing oyster shell increases the costs of

Easy Sugar Scrub Recipe - Only Three Ingredients

Dry skin in winter can be a persistent concern and can lead to rough, cracked skin that takes months to heal. Whether it's your hands, knees, elbows or other areas that are super dry this winter, you can begin to heal your skin by using a good sugar scrub and moisturizer. A few years ago I bought a sugar scrub for my hands and while I loved the quality of the scrub that I'd purchased, it was an expensive product that I used up much too quickly.  Since then I have been on the lookout for a good sugar scrub recipe that I could more affordably make myself.  I came across this recipe from Melissa K. Norris , who has a very helpful and enjoyable homesteading vlog. This sugar scrub has three simple ingredients that nearly everyone has in their pantry.  Sugar, oil and vanilla.  That's it!  For this jar that I made the other day, I used: 1/3 heaping cup of sugar 1/3 cup olive oil 1 teaspoon of vanilla Simply mix the ingredients together in a jar, put a lid on it and you&

What to Grow in Your Garden and How to Use It Up

Over the past few years we have begun to collect a number of homestead books that we refer to time and again. We'd like to share information about these books with you. This is the first in a regular series of blog articles where we will highlight a book that serves us well on our little farm. One of my favorite homestead books that has inspired me with tips and techniques on how to grow, store and use more vegetables is Barbara Pleasant's Home Grown Pantry: A Gardener's Guide to Selecting the Best Varieties & Planting the Perfect Amounts for What You Want to Eat Year-Round . We came across the book at the public library this past summer and liked it so much that we had to purchase our own copy. This book makes me feel like my mom or grandma are in the garden and the kitchen with me, showing me tried and true techniques for healthy eating inspired by back-to-our-roots living.  The book serves as a guide not only for gardening, but also for food preservation and c

Get a Free Printable Home Organization Task List

Out of desperation a few months ago when I felt like I couldn't keep up with the myriad of activities coming at me every day, I created a home organization task list. The intended purpose of the list is to help me remember and stay on track with all of the various family, farm and household activities. (See the form at the bottom of the page to request your FREE copy of the list!) Now that the list has been in place for a while and over months of use has gone through many iterations to improve it, it seems a good time to share it. I know I'm not the only one out there who struggles to stay organized! This home organization task list has been working so well for me that it will very likely be worthwhile for others who struggle to stay caught up. To obtain your free copy of the list, simply fill out the form below and it will be automatically sent to you via email. The task list is formatted in Microsoft Word.  You will be able to edit it to fit your needs, save it and pri

Repurposing a Vintage Telephone Stand

We were charmed by this vintage telephone stand that now serves as an end table in our living room. When we bought our old farmhouse a few years ago, we knew we'd need to supplement our existing furniture with a few more pieces in order to make use of all the rooms.  Our old farmhouse used to be home to a large family that owned and operated a dairy farm back in the 1940s, as well as to a number of ranch hands who worked here part of each year.  Thus there are a few extra rooms to provide space for everyone.  The spaces where we needed extra end tables included the living room, parlor, guest bedroom and a room dubbed "The Corral", a large gathering space that has become a TV room/man cave. Rather than buying new furniture, we decided to look for what we needed from estate sales and auctions.  The telephone stand was part of an auction lot that included five items, all of which we were able to snag for only $15 total.  The other pieces of furniture in the lot incl

More Photos of Vintage Knotty Pine Walls

Our vintage knotty pine walls seem to be drawing some amount of interest from the blog's followers, and so I thought I would share a few more photos today.  If you peek into the office where I'm writing, you can see the knotty pine continues throughout the entire room. Don't you just love  rounded passageways? It's one of the quirks we enjoy in this 1940's home. Continuing through the office to the top of the stairwell is another spot worth sharing.  It's a delightfully vintage built-in linen cupboard. Even the inside walls of these cupboards is knotty pine.  I moved some blankets aside so you can see the back wall of one of the shelves:   Such solid craftsmanship can be found in older homes. My family is embraced by the warmth of knotty pine. I thought I'd share one of the other rooms that we worked on recently.  This entryway, which is from the side door into our house, needed a fresh coat of paint.  The space is brightened wi

Snow Storm Continues with Over a Foot of Snow

After moving to the northwest corner of the state looking for a more temperate climate, locals born and raised here told us it's unusual for this area to see much snow.  It sure does seem like we are all experiencing climate change as every year since we moved we've had major snow events.  We're currently in the midst of another one.  Yesterday, we took a tape measure around and noted there was 16-20 inches of snow depending on where you measured. We had to dig out of the house to get to the chicken coop and the wood pile. A path about a hundred feet long had to be dug to reach both.  Our stack of wood in the garage was depleted, and getting more wood from outside required scraping a wide path for the wheelbarrow and then digging through a foot and a half of snow to get under the tarp-covered pile.  It was an adventure. Meanwhile, the chickens stayed in the hen house all day, refusing to step out into the snow.  It was not smelling so good in there with them crowded

First Eggs Laid by Hatched Chickens

We've had somewhat of a milestone occur here.  One or both of our newest hens, Foghorn Leghorn and Beaker, have laid their first eggs.  These are the two hens that we hatched from eggs.  They are in fact the first and only chickens we've ever hatched from eggs.  It's exciting to see these hens grow to maturity and begin laying their own eggs.   Below is one of the eggs. You may be wondering how we know this particular egg is from the young new hens.  The size of the egg is distinctive when a new hen begins laying.  Their first eggs are quite small.  Below is a comparison of the eggs from the other hens with the small egg from our youngest layer hen. I'm amazed that these young hens are laying eggs during the most dreary time of year.  Most of our other chickens have stopped laying due to the shortened days and cold weather. Such freeloaders they all are! But no matter the snow and the blustery rainy days, their cycle has kicked in and the new hens are produc

Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

Homemade vanilla extract is incredibly easy to make, requiring just a couple of ingredients and only minutes to prepare. Until recently it never occurred to me how simple and enjoyable it is to infuse vanilla beans in alcohol in order to have my own pure, homemade vanilla extract.  Just before the Christmas holiday, I noticed that Costco had on its shelves organic Madagascar vanilla beans. You can also buy vanilla beans online, most likely at an even more affordable price and in greater bulk than what Costco carried. Seeing the vanilla beans readily available on the shelf at Costco finally prompted me to take the steps of making my own vanilla extract. You may be wondering why anyone would choose to infuse ingredients like vanilla beans and make their own extracts. The primary reason for me is the cost.  Real vanilla extract has gone way up in price over the past few years, and is currently about $20 an ounce for a store brand bottle.  For an organic brand the cost is even greate

Winter Wonderland

Our first snow of the winter finally arrived. Last night and all through today, snow fell lightly and blanketed the earth in white. There's something magical about waking up to discover several inches of snow on the ground. Like a little girl excited to run out and play in the snow, I threw on warm clothes. At the door I added a heavy coat, big blue scarf, mittens and gloves, and I was outside inspecting the snow.  It was still dark out, too dark for photos. First chore of the morning was to shovel a path to the truck and clear off the snow from the truck's hood and windshield.  While I had the pleasure of staying home today, my husband had to go to work...this was the least I could do out of deference to his lack of a stay-home snow day. Off my husband went to work. I went back inside to drink coffee and contemplate the day. Once it was daylight, I ventured out again to take a look around and let the chickens out of their hen house. Mojo of course came along.  In th