Skills

{I am republishing this post for today’s date so it can be found more easily to fit with the next posts I plan on doing}

I’ve been sitting here thinking about all the different skills I would like to have that will further help us with our love of sustainability. I have crochet down, working on my knitting along with sewing. Drying herbs is easy, food preserving is my next goal and growing herbs. I’d actually like to forage for medicinal plants and such that see local to the area… Anyway let’s move on…

Here is a list of ideas for those of you who want to incorporate homestead skills in the urban setting:

Crochet or knitting- nothing beats making your own hats, scarves, gloves, and whatever else you think you can whip up using this skill. While you can just go out and buy hats it’s better to make yourself using sustainable yarn- think organic- I also prefer wool- it’s warm-it lasts. It’s a skill you can barter with if something happens where you would need to. 

Sewing- you don’t need to make haute couture. But it’s nice to be able to sew on  button or fix clothes you always have. You can upcycle old clothing into a variety of things ( yarn included). I used a few old shirts to make some dresses for the munchkin. Old jeans can be turned into a skirt, etc. I suggest having hand and machine sewing skills. 

Canning, cooking, baking, persevering, gardening, livestock-honestly don’t these all fit together? Having a garden can offset your grocery bill. If you can have backyard chickens go for it- fresh eggs. And if you’re not a vegan/ vegetarian raising rabbits for meat is a cheap way to supplement your meat bill. Quail are also an option.  There’s so much a person can do. We bake our own bread, have a garden, chickens, and looking to get meat rabbits going. We also wouldn’t mind hunting and fishing. 

I suggest also learning how to cook with different methods. Dutch ovens, solar, fire, you name it! Have some fun with it. I love campfire cooking. 

There’s also drying herbs, jerky, smoking meat, drying out veggies for food storage, canning, fermenting. 

Woodworking, handyman & vehicle repair skills- I’m blessed with the most amazing husband. We had a deep clog in our kitchen sink. His skills enabled us to unclog it ourselves and not have to pay a plumber. He knows basic electrical, plumbing, can build just about anything and takes care of maintenance on our vehicles. It saves a lot of money. He also is the type of husband to pull me into the whole process and has me do half the work. Which I thoroughly enjoy! 

Again I’m so blessed, my hubs rocks! Sorry gotta gush there just a bit again. That’s one of the major keys to making an urban “homestead” work. I can’t say we are fully that but we try to come close because we dream of owning farm land someday. Okay back to that key business. Working as a team, sharing the work, doing the work together, and so on. 

We are gathering up such skills in order to have our farm/ homestead one day. That’s our ultimate goal really. We may be in a urban setting but there’s plenty we can do for the future. 

-Alexis 

P.S There are many more skills I could have mentioned for me these seemed to be the first few to consider as most important in the urban setting. 

UPDATED :Garden Spray Using Castile Soap 

So I wanted a natural garden spray to repel bugs, etc so as per usual I decided a quick rundown of Pinterest was needed ( I have an addiction I’ll admit it) I found one that I suggest NOT using it says to use pepper flakes and it clogged my spray bottle I couldn’t get it unclogged WORST IDEA EVER. 

I decided on the next best thing cayenne pepper, a bit of garlic powder, and most say dish soap but I decided to try Castile soap instead I used Bronner’s Lavender Castile soap.

I did a half a teaspoon of the C pepper and Garlic then some Castile soap admittedly I really didn’t measure I did a few drops in the spray bottle then filled with water. ( of course later I looked and found a similar recipe on Pinterest hehe). 

I used a smaller spray bottle but a bigger one would yield more and you’d need probably a tablespoon of the garlic and CPepper long with the soap probably about a tablespoon as well. ( ugh I would have made more BUT those dang pepper flakes clogged the bigger one oh I’m still steaming!)  

Anyway I’m excited to use this spray on the garden. Very inexpensive and it will do what I need it to do.

UPDATE: I’ve had some clogging occur in the spray bottle with this mixture. I’m not totally sure what needs to be done or changed to keep this from happening. I thought about heating up the water in my tea maker then pouring into a bowl and mixing the garlic and cayenne pepper since it will be pretty hot. Then adding soap later it works so well on the plants I hate to even think about buying an organic pesticide at the store… I’ll figure this clog thing out 

-Alexis 

 

Getting the Garden Going 

Finally! Weather permitting, I planted my seeds today, some would say oh it’s so late but Colorado weather has been super wonky ( I even had to keep our chicks in the house longer than I would have liked, but then again I’m the type to worry…. A lot lol) 

Some of the seeds I planted in empty egg cartons, cardboard boxes, just in case I needed to bring them inside at night or set up a quick greenhouse of sorts using my folding table ( tomatoes, cucumbers, etc) while the early spring veggies are in one garden box ( gotta prep the other two).  I also just couldn’t wait anymore we want to build more boxes. Thinking this time we need to go shorter in the height of the box. 

Anyway!!!!first  I’m a visual person and  second I could type your eyes out if I let myself continue.. So let’s go with visuals:

Got my table set up with seedlings planted and marked.  
Just randomness here, grounded up some eggshells to be used in garden   

  

Marked off areas where I planted different seedlings… I swear there’s a. Ethos to my madness here… Hehe   

And of course the day wouldn’t be complete without spending time with my ladies. Blondie was very interesting in my shoes  

Best part is kiddos enjoyed themselves, I got to teach them ( however simple it was since the kiddos I watch are 8 & 5 while munchkin is 2) about gardening and they also enjoyed helping me prep the first gardening box and wanted to pull weeds yes you read that right. They actually wanted to pull weeds! 

Anyway that was pretty much my day outside work, some chores here and there, made a cake for hubs whose birthday is tomorrow.  Had a good family home evening which I will post about later. 

All in all I’d said it was a fantastic day

VPs over and out 

Things I Have Learned About Raising Chickens ( So Far)

So when I started the backyard chicken adventure I jumped on in, head first. Not that this is a bad thing. In Missouri we had chickens but granny took care of them most of the time. But then again I consider her a chicken expert I did however watch her and play close attention ( just on a tangent my grandmother-in-law rocks). And this is why I decided on getting chickens. She made it look easy *wink*.

Now chickens in the general sense are pretty easy to care for. Chicks though, I feel require a lot more attention and care. And well they deserve that attention and care so you can cultivate  a healthy flock, of course this is a newbie opinion. I am a daily spot cleaner of the brooder, I make sure water is constantly clean. I do use medicated feed, but I was also introducing chicks at different ages into the brooder. My first four chicks are about 8 weeks ( the Rhode Island Reds), the second set of chicks are 4-5 weeks ( Light Brahma’s & Partridge Rock), the third set is 3-4 weeks ( Speckled Sussex (2), Sicilian Buttercup, and A cook coo Maran ( I am assuming her feet are not staying yellow, Barred Rock have yellow feet, Coo Coo Maran’s grey). Some people are against it -the medicated feed, but with varying ages in chicks, I wanted to be better safe than sorry. I weaned them off the medicated and now it’s just the starter/grower feed.

I also give them treats. Oatmeal and hard boiled eggs are perfect treats and safe for chicks to eat. Anything else- don’t do it.

We started out with the watering trough as I call it and I HATE those things! Let me repeat HATE! They constantly get dirty, you will be changing water way too frequently! NOT WORTH IT- also clean water is very important to the health of the chicks. I even tried putting them on some containers I filled with rocks to hold in place, still pretty dirty, I even put those little glass pebbles in the water. NOW this does cut down on the need to clean out the water. BUT it still gets dirty, I used a strainer to dump the glass pebbles in and then rinsed those and the waterer. Then you have to put them back in. The golden winner of giving chicks water is the chicken nipple waterer. You can take PVC piping or a bucket, drill the hole as directed and insert the chicken watering nipple and they are curious little creatures and figure it out on their own pretty easily ( at least for my chicks).

I did leave a container in there underneath that needs to cleaned off. But my Buttercup is a small breed chicken so I wanted to make sure she could get to the water with ease ( she is also my favorite, if she had a choice she’d just hang out on my shoulder all day).

Chick brooder Quarters. We chose to use our old cabinets that they pulled out after we had the house fire it has worked perfectly with a few adjustments. It’s a bit “red neck” but it works. I lay down pine shavings. Chicks need sturdy ground to walk on so never do just newspaper. I have heard lot’s of people say paper towel is pretty awesome too. I like the pine shavings because once I clean out the brooder I simply take it out to the garden boxes and dump in it as a filler/ fertilizer for the dirt since we are in the process of getting them filled and ready for planting.

I am trying to think of what else. GET A CHICKEN FIRST AID KIT going. I had a few chicks with pasty butt, this can kill chicks it will clog their vents and they cannot poop. ( That and if you meander over to The Chicken Chick blog she is an amazing plethora of information on treating your chickens if you can’t get to a vet or don’t have a vet whose very familiar with working on chickens).

Here are some of my favorite resources on chickens:

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/

http://www.backyardchickens.com/

http://fresheggsdaily.com/

I could write a ton more and most likely will. My best suggestions for setting up the chick brooder is something that is not plastic. You can find old base cabinets at restores or on craigslist. Skip the long trough feeder. I actually want to improve on the feeder by using PVC  and attaching to the side of the brooder-here is a good example in link below just get smaller pvc for the chick brooder:

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^ Now as you can see I started off with that trough feeder- its horrible- I just continuously check the smaller one less mess ( one with round container).

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^ the glass  pebble method- this is  just a pic of cleaning the pebbles, shavings get into the water so I find it works best to rinse and then you can dump the shavings into trash or outside into garden/ compost. I cleaned the waterers twice a day with this method.

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much better in the way of delivering water to the chicks is the chicken watering nipples, its hanging closed up I use one of the waterers we bought originally turned it upside-down screwed in a eye and then we loop a bungee cord into hardware cloth on top to hold in place.

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The chick brooder- you can see that I used a 2×4 to block the shavings from coming out of brooder- I still get a little mess but not as bad I use a scotch pad to scrub poop off the wood when I clean the brooder.The green totes have the shavings in one and their food in the other. With them getting bigger I removed one door and stapled hardware cloth to secure them for safety since we have cats but it lets in sunlight and more air to breath since they are getting more feathers by the day!

So last but not least, if your’e wanting chickens, check your local laws for such. Some HOA’s won’t allow chickens,etc we purposely bought a house within the county because it doesn’t designate how many chickens just a reasonable amount, and our backyard i pretty big. Most urban settings don’t allow roosters. So if you get roo’s you need a plan either give away or sell ( I have two chicken groups I am part of on facebook- another great resource- get to know your fellow chicken people). Or the other option is eating the roosters. I made sure for the most part to get dual-purpose birds eggs/meat.

I am not against eating meat,it may make some people cringe to think about eating their chickens. I often make sure I give thanks through prayer and of course the animal is raised and treated humanely and same goes with the method of death.

Anyway I hope this helps some others out there get their brooder set up just right.

~the vps~