Planning the barn for a homestead is a very important step, and the better you know exactly what you want to do on your homestead, the better you can design your barn to accomodate your needs before building it. Some important things to consider are how big, siting, flooring, electricity and water, livestock accommodations, feed storage, and handling manure. We could have done a better job of planning, so these are some things to think about and lessons learned.
Our barn is 28′ x 46′, and when it was built, I never imagined that we’d outgrow it. However, with 5 dairy goats and more on the way, [...]
Continue reading The Homestead Barn (Important Questions Before Building)
Every year, as the weather turns cold, my husband starts closing down the windows of the chicken coop. He means well, but every year I go through an explanation of why it’s very important to keep the chicken coop well ventilated, and why it’s even more important in cold weather. Chickens generate a lot of moisture, ammonia, and heat – so it’s absolutely critical to ventilate well to remove the excess from the coop. The more time your chickens spend indoors, the more important it is to supply good ventilation.
Why Coops Need Ventilation
Chickens generate lots of water vapor, from both [...]
Continue reading Keep Coops Ventilated – Especially in Cold Weather!
To help the honey bees survive winter, we added bee candy to their hives. The candy is made of sugar, water, and high protein pollen substitute; and it’s placed at the top of the hive in winter - ready for the bees should they exhaust their honey reserves.
We mixed 1 1/2 lbs. of water with 8 lbs. of sugar; and then heated to a slow boil while stirring. At about 220 – 230°F, candy consistency should be achieved.
After reaching candy consistency, the mixture gets taken off the heat and 1 lb. of high protein pollen substitute is added.
We chose to put the candy in the deep side of two-sided inner cover. In the [...]
Continue reading Making Bee Candy
We were fortunate that Tinker Bell kidded without having difficulties, and is a very good mother too. I’m amazed at the way she cares for her kids – as newborns, she’d wake them every few hours and get them to nurse – as they’ve grown older and the stronger kid wants to nurse all the time, she regulates how often he gets to nurse but still encourages the weaker one to nurse frequently. She also cleaned everything up after kidding – I suppose it’s to prevent predators from finding the young; but it’s still incredible that they can do it [...]
Continue reading Basic Goat Care – After Kidding
Thinking of adding honey bees to your backyard? Here are the some questions to ask before committing to beekeeping (we didn’t necessarily think of all these before adding ours):
Have you discussed this with all your family members? The bees will have an impact, so make sure everyone’s onboard – or at least somewhat willing to have them around.
Are honey bees legal where you intend to put them? Not all cities, townships, or homeowner associations allow honey bees, so be sure to check before acquiring your bees.
What does your homeowner’s insurance policy say? Some insurance companies have real issues with beekeeping [...]
Continue reading Beginning Beekeeping – Important Questions
We’re nearly out of commercial glass cleaner, and Randy keeps trying to buy more – so I had to prove that a homemade glass cleaner could be concocted that would work just as well as the commercial version. And, be so inexpensive that you’d be crazy to go pay $5.50 for it (that’s what a bottle of Windex® was going for at the store).
Homemade glass cleaner recipes generally start with vinegar and water, and then add alcohol and/or cornstarch. I know, cornstarch? But, having tried recipes of vinegar/water, vinegar/water/alcohol, and vinegar/water/alcohol/cornstarch, the last concoction is the clear winner – and it really [...]
Continue reading Easy Homemade Glass Cleaner
I love this stuff – it makes one of the best quick appetizers around and an instant gift too. It seems that sweet and jalapeno peppers are abundant in the garden every fall as the frosts start, so it’s a good time to stock up. This is a recipe that we prepare by water bath canning.
1 cup green bell pepper (seeded & diced small)
1 cup red bell pepper (seeded & diced small)
½ cup jalapeno pepper (seeded & diced small – be careful handling the hot peppers, be sure to wash hands well before touching eyes/nose or may want to wear gloves)
1 ½ [...]
Continue reading Hot Pepper Jelly
The recipe we use for everyday 100% whole wheat bread is pretty basic; and comes from The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, by Laurel Robertson. Part 1 of bread baking covered getting good wheat flour (see 100% Whole Wheat Bread Baking (Part 1)); this post continues with the basic recipe and the other ingredients needed for great bread. Future posts (Parts 3 and on), will give the details on mixing, kneading, rising, shaping, and baking.
Basic 100% Whole Wheat Bread
2 teaspoons dry active yeast (1/4 oz.)
½ cup warm water (≈ 110°F)
6 cups whole wheat bread flour
2 ½ teaspoons salt
2 ¼ cups lukewarm [...]
Continue reading 100% Whole Wheat Bread Baking (Part 2) – Basic Recipe & Ingredients
The Buckeye chicks that our broody hen hatched are now 10 days old, and three of the chicks have survived. It’s fascinating to watch mother hen raise the chicks – I thought raising day-old chicks was great (see Raising Day-Old Chicks), but watching how she handles it is even better.
The chicks hatched in the broody box in the coop (see Building a Broody Box), but we then moved them into the Eglu coop set-up within the chicken pasture. We weren’t sure how much protection the little peeps would need from the larger chickens; so we separated them into their own coop and small run [...]
Continue reading Broodies Buckeye Chicks – 10 Days Old
I’m so excited – one of the Buckeyes has gone broody!!! Raising the Buckeyes was a great experience (see Raising Day-Old Chicks), but I was hoping the Buckeyes would retain their instinct to go broody, and raise their own young – I’d rather they perpetuate the flock (why should I do the work if they’ll do it naturally?). So, when one hen showed definite signs of broodiness; Randy quickly constructed her a broody box inside the coop.
How To Tell If She’s Broody
In many chicken breeds today, the instinct for raising young has been bred out; because “broodiness” was considered undesirable in factory laying hens. However, some of the [...]
Continue reading Building A Broody Box
In the US today, we’re being offered more and more choices in food quality; and it’s because many of us are demanding locally grown foods that are antibiotic, hormone, and pesticide free. In terms of eggs quality, it’s not clear sometimes what the choices mean – here’s a rundown on the different types of eggs:
Commercial or “Factory Farmed” Eggs
These are the standard grocery store eggs; and unfortunately, the “farms” that produce these eggs are typically poultry houses where the hens are housed indoors in tiny metal cages. They’re routinely debeaked (part of their beaks are cut [...]
Continue reading Choices in Egg Quality
This year as we’re scrambling to find new and unusual gifts for those that have it all, I hit on the brilliant idea (well I thought it was good) of gifting a few of the green items we’ve found over the past year to encourage eco-friendliness. Each of these gifts can help replace plastic throwaways, reduce oil consumption, and save landfill space – how cool is that?
The first is the nice reusable shopping bags at Envrirosax. They describe them as follows:
Envirosax® designer reusable bags are spreading the eco-friendly message with style! Chic, inexpensive and compact, Envirosax® eco-friendly shopping bags carry the [...]
Continue reading Green Gifts
Over the past few months, I’ve written several posts on growing healthy garden transplants, and I’ve combined them here (for convenience) into one “how-to” on growing seedlings indoors.
I’m always anxious to get a jump on the garden growing season, so I start most vegetable plants indoors instead of direct seeding in the garden; that way, I’ve got stocky transplants ready as soon as the last frost date has passed. Growing them indoors allows me to control temperature, light, and water while eliminating exposure to wind, diseases, insects, and pests. So each year, I consult my seed starting schedule (see Making a Seed Starting & Planting Schedule), and start [...]
Continue reading Growing Stocky Garden Seedlings
We kept our chickens in a 10’ x 10’ stall in the barn; but, since we’ve ordered 25 day-old chicks and are planning to give the stall to some Dwarf Nigerian goats, new chicken housing is in order. There are so many options it’s hard to choose what to buy or build, but there are a few things I think should be considered (books told me I needed roosts, nesting boxes, ventilation, etc. but didn’t necessarily mention these things):
Chickens are dusty! And our entire barn is now incredibly dusty due to the chickens. I never noticed that every [...]
Continue reading Chicken Housing Basics