Monday, March 26, 2012

Chicken and Greenhouse Update, Plus Seed Troubles

I haven't updated on the general progress of things around here in quite a while, and boy do I have a lot to talk about...

We built this outside yard for the chickens from various chain-link fence parts from fence Darran took out for someone, plus some chicken wire we found in a junk pile. 
In the video I said 32 chickens, um, duh it's 41. I figured it out by adding how many we ordered with how many we had before. Seriously, they're too hard to count...There'll be a couple in the henhouse, a couple in the scratching shed and the rest outside, just when you get the ones inside counted a few slip outside... 
The greenhouse is coming along nicely. It still looks pretty rough, but it should be functional soon. We've managed to make it entirely out of reclaimed materials, or materials we had already. Score.

Dancer says Hi.

The seeds are passing 2 weeks since I planted them...and...NOTHING. Beginning to get worried!
We're working on building several chicken tractors (aka mobile chicken pens) so that the chickens will be pastured for the summer. Again with reclaimed materials and things we already had. Every time I hear "chicken tractor" I imagine a chicken wildly driving off in a tractor. Don't you?
What I'm reading right now. (No matter what I do I can't get this pic right side up!)
Last week was our homeschool spring break. It was a good week. This is my 6 year old, 8 year old, and Koneko. 
Darran didn't do any outside work last week for spring break. He did however build a 10 x 14 deck on the back of the house. He used more of the reclaimed boards from the building he tore down for someone in Denver and some decking material he traded for.

Overall, life is good!

Monday, March 19, 2012

How To Make Homemade Laundry Soap

If you would have told me ten years ago that I'd now be making my own laundry detergent on a Saturday afternoon for a good time...well, I'd have thought you were full on crazy. Funny how we change. But that's exactly what Darran and I were doing a couple of Saturdays ago...making homemade laundry soap. Happily.
What I used:
1 bar Fels-Naptha
2 cups washing soda
1 cup Borax
4 cups warm water
3 1/12 gallons warm water to add at the end
1 turkey brining bucket. It's a clean Home Depot bucket with a lid that I had. It's what I use to brine my turkey in at Thanksgiving...come on, everyone has a turkey brining bucket, right? Although, I'm not sure what I will do at Thanksgiving next year...OK, use any container with a lid, but be aware that this will be very thick and needs scooped out, not poured out.
1 scoop. I used an old Oh Yeah! Protein powder scoop I had saved, it's exactly half a cup. An old measuring cup, old laundry soap scoop, anything will work.
Add the 4 cups water to a large pot on medium heat.
Grate the Fels-Naptha into the water. Stir until liquefied. 
Add the washing soda. Stir.
Add the Borax. Stir.
Dump mixture and the 3 1/12 gallons of water into bucket or other container and stir.
Let sit, it will turn to a cool gel consistency.
I use 1/2 to 1 cup (which is 1 to 2 scoops) per load depending on what I'm washing. So far I'm extremely pleased with it, it works great! Comparing the cost of this to normal laundry soap, this is what I'll be sticking with.

Have you ever made your own laundry soap? Do you have a favorite recipe for it? Am I really the only one with a turkey brining bucket?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


We have 11 original chickens that are 3 years old. Their egg production went down to basically nothing this winter. Lately it's picked back up to 3 to 7 eggs per day. 

We also ordered about 30 new baby chicks last October, and..

Yesterday we got our first egg from the new chicks we got last fall. I'm ridiculously excited. We should be swimming in eggs by Easter. We plan to pasture all of our chickens as soon as the grass greens up around here. Yay for swimming in super nutritious eggs ;)

Such a cute little egg!

Oh yes, and we also discovered that we have 3 roosters...we ordered 1. Yay?!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spring Planning

Most years around here we don't have much of a spring to speak of. It's more like: winter, the sequel. A muddied version of the original. Maybe a little greener, some rain, but it's not uncommon for us to have a little snow clear through until the first week of June.

Nonetheless, our preparations for spring and summer have begun. We have big plans for this year. It's going to be quite the adventure for our little family! An adventure in seeing just how sustainable we can live on 4 acres of ground at 7,000 ft above sea level in Colorado. An adventure in becoming connected with where exactly our food comes from (of course our hope is it will mostly come from our little farm) and how exactly it is produced. And most of all, an adventure in living our priorities.

Now, I grew up on a small farm and have experience with a lot of the things we have planned, but I'm still a planner and I'm still all about the research. My current reading list:

How about you, read any good books lately? Any suggestions on good gardening or homesteading books I should read?