Garlic Oil Supplement for Chickens

DIY Garlic Oil Supplement for Healthy Backyard Chickens :: Five Little Homesteaders

photo courtesy of SoraZG on flickr

Healthy backyard chickens – that’s the constant goal around here.  It is also important to me that we keep our chickens healthy in the most natural way possible – no chemicals, no antibiotics (unless completely necessary), organic/non-GMO feed, etc.

If you’ve read my post on natural chicken care, then you know there are several supplements and treatments that we use to keep our flock looking and feeling good.  One of the most powerful supplements is garlic.  Check out the post below to learn more about how I make and use a DIY garlic oil supplement for healthy backyard chickens here on our little homestead.

Read more ›

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Homemade Soy Candles

Today I am excited to bring you another post in my Homemade Christmas series.  (If you missed my first post, you can find it here.)

I love this post because it can work as a gift for just about anyone and it is incredibly easy to make.  You can also customize it to your heart’s delight.  Check out the instructions below.


First, you might wonder, why soy candles?

Well, to begin, soy is a renewable resource, unlike petroleum which is what is used to make paraffin.  Additionally, Soy candles burn more slowly than paraffin wax candles and they burn clean.  And finally, soy wax is cheap, much cheaper than beeswax, which is another natural option.

Here’s how you do it:

Supplies
Soy Wax Flakes - http://amzn.to/17KwrY9
Wicks - http://amzn.to/1bgTyfS (I got a type specially made for soy wax)
Jars - http://amzn.to/17KwKC4 (There are a ton of options here: mason jars, votives, shot glasses, tin cans, etc.)
Bamboo Skewers  - http://amzn.to/IeT0eu
Essential Oils (optional)

Directions
1.  Set up a double boiler - http://amzn.to/18eByAZ .  (I used a large tin can and bent it in one place so that I would have a pour spout.)

2.  Pour or scoop your wax flakes into the can or the top part of your double boiler.  Let the water come to a boil and the wax to melt.  The wax flakes melt pretty quickly.

3.  While the wax is melting, prepare your jars.  Using bamboo skewers to position your wicks, place one wick in each jar.  (Wrap a short length of wick around the skewer and let the bottom of the wick barely touch the bottom of the jar.)

4.  Once the wax is melted, add your essential oil (if you want a scent).  You’ll need more than you think.  I put about 20 drops per candle and the scent is either very faint or non-existent.

5 . Pour wax into votives and allow to cool completely.

These candles are great as gifts or work well as candles to keep in preparation of winter emergencies or other times when the power may go out.

Have you ever made candles?  Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

     
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Chicken Care Round-Up

 
Remember last week when I did a post on how we care for our chickens here on our little urban homestead?

Well, little did you know, there were six other ladies out there in the United States working on a post on the very same topic!  Check out that awesome map above!  We all live all over the United States and I think, when you read the posts below, you’ll see that some things are very, very similar, while others are very, very different.

Ashley (in Montana) from The Browning Homestead at Red Fox Farm:
http://thebrowninghomestead.blogspot.com/2013/11/homestead-chickens-101.html - http://thebrowninghomestead.blogspot.com/2013/11/homestead-chickens-101.html

Melissa (in New Mexico) from Ever Growing Farm:
http://evergrowingfarm.com/2013/11/the-keeping-care-of-backyard-chickens.html - http://evergrowingfarm.com/2013/11/the-keeping-care-of-backyard-chickens.html

Ashley (in Tennessee) from Whistle Pig Hollow:
http://www.whistlepighollow.com/2013/11/11/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-chickens-at-whistle-pig-hollow/ - http://www.whistlepighollow.com/2013/11/11/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-chickens-at-whistle-pig-hollow/

Melissa (in Washington) from Faulk Farmstead:
http://faulkfarmstead.com/2013/11/11/raising-chickens-on-the-faulk-farmstead/ - http://faulkfarmstead.com/2013/11/11/raising-chickens-on-the-faulk-farmstead/

Jennah (in New York) from House Barn Farm:
http://www.housebarnfarm.com/keeping-chickens/ - http://www.housebarnfarm.com/keeping-chickens/

Erin (in Virginia) from Blue Yurt Farms:
The Truth About the Chickens at Blue Yurt Farms - http://blueyurtfarms.com/the-truth-about-the-chickens-at-blue-yurt-farms


Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Homesteading in the Winter Series: Post 3 – Cold Weather Animal Care


I am taking part in a posting series related to the topic of “Homesteading in the Winter.”


Each Thursday there will be a new post on a different issue associated with the needs and unique challenges of living on a homestead (big or small, urban or rural) during the winter.  I am a teaming up with several other bloggers to bring you this series.

Today’s topic is “Cold Weather Animal Care.”  The participating blogs for this week include:


The Not-So-Modern Housewife - http://www.notsomodern.com/
Fresh Eggs Daily - http://fresh-eggs-daily.com/
Schneider Peeps - http://www.schneiderpeeps.com/

After reading my post, please take a few minutes to visit these other blogs and learn about what taking care of animals in the cold is like where they live. 

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So yesterday I told you that you’d get two posts from me about chickens this week and that was true.  Today you get your second post on chickens.  Sadly, it won’t be as exciting as some of my other posts. If you recall, I live in Phoenix….. so, cold weather animal care?  Well…. just not that exciting.  

So I’ll start off with a story instead. 

Yesterday a pigeon got into one of my chicken coops.  It was wild.  My gold retriever was REALLY upset by this situation and was barking and running around the coop.  I went out to check on all the commotion and I saw the pigeon.  I wasn’t really sure what to do.  So, like any bewildered person, I stood there and stared.  At first the pigeon just sorta flew around and landed in different places in the coop.  And then….. all of a sudden… one of my dear, sweet barred rocks (affectionately named “Grandma”) attacked!  A full on attack!  She jumped on the pigeon and began pecking at its back and pulling feathers out like crazy!  It was insane.  I had to break up the bird fight because my kids were watching and I didn’t feel like my 4, 3 and 1 year old needed to see it.  After that, I thought about bringing my chickens into my house as guard chickens…..train them to attack intruders! 

Anyhow, that had nothing to do with cold weather animal care, but I wanted to give you at least SOMETHING for taking the time to click over to my blog and see what we are up to.  

That said, winters are mild here in Phoenix.  For goodness sake, that is the ONLY reason anyone lives here.  Last year I saw the lowest temperature I’d ever seen in Phoenix.  It got down to about 20 degrees.  Granted, that IS cold but it was only that cold for a very short time and there, of course, was no snow or anything.  Winters are VERY dry.  

Overall, from what I’ve read, chickens tend to do pretty well in colder weather.  I’ve never had to heat or insulate my coops.  When I first put my chicks out in the coop full time, I do put a heat lamp in there for a couple of weeks at night just to be sure that they are ok.  

And just for kicks here are a couple of pictures of my family playing with chickens in coats…. that’s about all I can offer on this topic.  But honestly, visit the blogs listed above.  They all have WONDERFUL information to share about taking care of your animals in the winter. And if you have any great information to share on the topic, please leave your thoughts in the comments. 


        
Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Chicken Keeping on our Little Urban Homestead

 

I’ve got a surprise for you!

I’m going to post about my chickens TWO days in a row!

You almost can’t contain yourself, right??  Yeah, I know.  Try to contain yourself.

Ok, so, maybe it isn’t THAT exciting for you but what it WILL do is give you some insight into our little world of chicken raising here in Phoenix, Arizona on less than an acre of land.  This might be similar to how some of you out there are raising chickens and it might also be VERY different.  Read on to hear more about our adventures.

Read more ›

Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Homesteading in the Winter Series: Post 2 – Growing Cool Weather Fruits and Vegetables

I am taking part in a posting series related to the topic of “Homesteading in the Winter.” 

Each Thursday there will be a new post on a different issue associated with the needs and unique challenges of living on a homestead (big or small, urban or rural) during the winter.  I am a teaming up with several other bloggers to bring you this series.


Today’s topic is “Growing Cool Weather Fruits and Vegetables.”  The participating blogs for this week include:



After reading my post, please take a few minutes to visit these other blogs and learn about what growing cool weather food crops looks like where they live.  

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So.  Last week I posted about protecting your plants in the winter but THIS week I’m writing about which fruits and vegetables are good to grow in cool/cooler weather.  (Maybe these topics should have been switched, eh?) 

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably figured out that I live in Phoenix and that our “winters” aren’t typical of most winters around the country.  During winter, we can still grow a lot of things.  

 Brassicas 

I LOVE brassicas.  I love eating them, I love growing them.  The brassicas that I love to grow include:
  • cabbage - http://amzn.to/17G2s6a
  • broccoli - http://amzn.to/17G2tH7
  • cauliflower
  • kale - http://amzn.to/17dmUe6
  • brussels sprouts.

I have trouble with brussels sprouts, but I’m able to grow the others beautifully.  Brassicas are known for being cold tolerant and do not like high temperatures.  They do well in the shade.  They are a great fall/winter crop.  Both broccoli and brussels sprouts are known to have improved flavor for having been exposed to a mild frost.  




Root Vegetables  

There are many root vegetables that do well in the cold and that may actually “overwinter.”  Some of the cold weather root vegetables that I like to grow include:
  • carrots - http://amzn.to/17OeRCE (though I often fail)
  • radishes - http://amzn.to/17OeVlY (though I’m not terribly fond of the taste)
  • beets - http://amzn.to/17G2zyq (and chard)
Radishes actually grow best when the day length is short and I’ve read a couple of articles about people who thickly mulch over their carrots to get them through the winter.  I love roasted beets but can’t get my husband on board. 


You might be wondering why I have chard in this group….. well chard and beets are actually the same species of vegetable.  So I could have thrown it in with lettuce but it is actually more accurate to throw it in with beets.  As an aside, I really like chard (though not as much as kale) and it is considered one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat.  It is also a beautiful plant! 

Peas and Beans

I love growing peas - http://amzn.to/16HXfYy .  They are a beautiful and you can’t beat the flavor of a fresh pea off the vine.  While the blossoms are frost tender, you can usually get a pea plant and the peas through a light frost without much or any damage. 

Beans are all over the map. Some like it hot and some like it cold.  I’m going to try my hand at fava beans - http://amzn.to/19HnVKW this year and see how I do.  They will grow throughout the entire winter here, so I’m looking forward to it.  

Tomatoes

Ok.  NOW I’ve got your attention!  What are tomatoes doing on this list, you ask?  Well, here in Phoenix, the rule of thumb is that you have to get your tomato transplants in before Valentine’s Day to get the best production.  BUT, the trick is, you have to keep them protected because as we all know, tomatoes don’t like the cold.  So, since tomatoes are SORTA a cool weather plant here, we have to protect them.  I love these little contraptions - http://amzn.to/12XEQ9p that you see in the picture.  They work AMAZINGLY well.  

Finally, I want to give a quick plug to my post on starting seeds with grow lights.  A great way to grow plants in the cold is to start them by seed indoors so that you will have strong, healthy transplants to put in the ground once the weather improves.  Just make sure you are ready with row cover - http://amzn.to/1ffx6AH or a cold frame - http://amzn.to/1afeOMu if you put something in the ground that is particularly sensitive.  

What about you?   What cold weather plants are your favorite to grow?

        
Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Homesteading in the Winter Series: Post 1 – Cold Weather Plant Protection

Over the next four weeks, I will be taking part in a posting series related to the topic of “Homesteading in the Winter.”

Each Thursday there will be a new post on a different issue associated with the needs and unique challenges of living on a homestead (big or small, urban or rural) during the winter.  I am a teaming up with several other bloggers to bring you this series and couldn’t be more excited.


Today’s topic is “Cold Weather Plant Protection.”  The participating blogs for this week include:

The Not-So-Modern Housewife - http://www.notsomodern.com/
Little Mountain Haven - http://littlemountainhaven.blogspot.com/
Homegrown on the Hill - http://homegrownonthehill.blogspot.com/
Schneider Peeps - http://www.schneiderpeeps.com/
Survival at Home - http://survivalathome.com/
Northern Homestead - http://northernhomestead.com/
Blue Yurt Farms - http://blueyurtfarms.com/
The Browning Homestead at Red Fox Farm - http://thebrowninghomestead.blogspot.com/
After reading my post, please take a few minutes to visit these other blogs and learn about their perspectives on how to protect your plants in the winter.

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I have to start this post off by saying that I have it easy.  I live in Phoenix, Arizona and honestly, winter is really, really mild.  In a post I did the other day on finding your first and last frost dates, I pointed out that the Old Farmer’s Almanac can’t even give dates for first and last freeze for Phoenix because it is so unpredictable and sometimes doesn’t even happen!  Crazy.  I know.
That said, winter (and DEFINITELY fall) are prime growing season for us.  We cannot grow much at all during the summer so we rely heavily on fall, winter and spring to bring in our harvest.  That is why being prepared to protect our plants from frost and/or freeze is so important.  
On our homestead we rely on: hoop houses, row cover and our cold frame.  
Hoop Houses
Hoop houses - http://amzn.to/1afeFZo are a generic term for any long tunnel like structure that protects rows of plants.

We make homemade hoop houses on our homestead.  I wrote a post about how we improvise them using masonry ladders a while back.

My friend Heather, The Homesteading Hippy, also did a post not too long ago on how she made a hoop house to extend her growing season. - http://thehomesteadinghippy.com/fall-gardening-make-a-hoop-house-to-extend-your-growing-season/    You should check it out.

Row Cover
Pretty simple idea – row cover - http://amzn.to/1ffx6AH is just any fabric you can use to cover your plants and protect them from frost.  To get the most bang for your buck, the fabric should not be touching the plants themselves, which is why it is good to use it in conjunction with some type of hoop house.

Growing up in Florida, my parents would just use a lot of old blankets and sheets to protect our plants.  Personally, I try to use Agribon - http://amzn.to/16Oms04 or other specially designed fabric to protect my plants.  The problem I have is finding the stuff!  It seems that row cover only shows up on the shelves the DAY of the expected frost.  What ever happened to planning ahead?

Cold Frame
A cold frame - http://amzn.to/1afeOMu is basically a mini greenhouse.  Generally they are seen as boxes with glass or plexiglass on top and are placed directly on the ground to protect growing plants.

The cold frame that I use is elevated.  I use it to start seeds and keep my late winter/early spring seedlings protected from low temperatures.  (I wrote about growing with a cold frame here.)

Cold frames are very simple to build and use.  DIYs abound on the internet.

Greenhouse
A greenhouse - http://amzn.to/1dQXB3w is one of the best options for protecting your plants if you have the money and space.  I dream of having one one day, but I am reluctant to do it on our current lot, as space is at a premium.

I think that about summarizes our winter plant protection on our homestead.  What am I forgetting?  What do you guys do where you live?

          

Green Thumb Thursday Linkup

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Knowing Your First and Last Frost or Freeze Dates

So, for a lot of you who read this blog, this information may be trivial.  It may seem incredibly simple, but for others, it will be helpful.

You see, not all of us are good about keeping a calendar or a garden plan or a journal reminding us of when the first frost hit last year and how our garden fared as a result.  I’ll raise my hand and admit to being one of the unorganized ones.


If you are trying to find your the frost or freeze dates for your area, here are a few great resources:

The Old Farmer’s Almanac - http://www.almanac.com/content/frost-chart-united-states – Who doesn’t love this resource?  Old-timey and traditional, you can usually trust a lot of what this annual almanac has to say.

Unfortunately for me, the Almanac doesn’t help much with frost and freeze dates.  Phoenix just gets a big ‘ol * and no dates.

Dave’s Garden - http://davesgarden.com/guides/freeze-frost-dates/ – This site is incredibly user friendly and touted as an international site aimed at helping gardener’s get information. 
Dave was a little more helpful than the almanac in getting me the info that I need.  According to Dave, we have about 319 frost-free growing days.  Anyone a little jealous yet? 
And then if you’re going to get real fancy and scientific, you can go to the National Climatic Data Cente - http://cdo.ncdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/climatenormals/climatenormals.pl?directive=prod_select2&prodtype=CLIM2001&subrnum%20to%20Freeze/Frost%20Data%20from%20the%20U.S.%20Climate%20Normals r and find more precise dates and probabilities for your area.  I was a little overwhelms with this probability chart but I’m sure people love having this level of data. 
What do you use to find your expected frost or freeze dates?  How does it inform your gardening?  
         
Standard, legally required, Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.