Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ducklings day out

Yesterday I let White Rose and her ducklings outside for the first time since they hatched. Boy did they have a great time! It is so cute to watch them. They stick right close to mama and waddle along behind her where ever she goes.

I took some photos of them in the duck pool for the first time. Some of them weren't brave enough to get in the pool and just waded in the muddy water outside the pool, but they all had fun!

Today I will let Lilac out with her tribe. White Rose has 14 ducklings and Lilac has 16. They are only 6 days younger than White Rose's ducklings but are so much smaller. They grow so fast it is unbelievable!

This is a picture of one of my little Speckled Sussex pullets. She had to come and get a drink when the ducks were swimming. We have several of these and they will be laying eggs for us around August. Isn't she pretty?

The new garden is all planted now. One down, one to go. This isn't the best photo of the new garden, I will have to take a better one next time.

I received my strawberry plants in the mail yesterday and they are now planted in the old water troughs out by the fence. This will keep them from getting washed away during the flood, and I can put some netting over them to keep the birds from eating them before I can pick them. We have 50 plants. That ought to give us enough berries for strawberry shortcake and jam. Now I just need a rhubarb plant. I will have to keep an eye out for one when I am near the garden centers.

More duckling photos to come. I am going to take pictures of Lilac and her little ones today. It will be their first day outside today.
I will also take some photos of the turkeys. They are at that gawky teenager looking stage. : )

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful that we are getting the garden planted at last! Yesterday we, (we--being myself, Ed, my Dad and of course the girls "helped")planted the potatoes, corn, and sugar pumpkins, Butternut squash, Acorn squash and Buttercup squash in the new garden.

Even after planting 10 pounds of Russet Burbank white potato seed, 6 pounds of Red Lasoda and 6 pounds of German Butterball potato seed, and 7 rows of Early Bantam corn and the squash and pumpkin I have more space available in that new garden. So I have decided to plant my summer squash over there too and sugar snap peas for Mom.

Another thing I am so thankful for is yesterday when "we" were planting the garden in the afternoon, my Mom was in the house cooking dinner for everyone. That was such a blessing to me! We had a lovely dinner on my parents deck last night. Thanks Mom!

With those squash out of the main garden I will have lots of room for more beets, carrots and onions. Last year we didn't grow enough of them to last all winter.

In addition to what we normally grow this year we are adding our girls new favorite vegetable. Ready to hear what this is? You won't believe it. Brussel Sprouts!

Another thing I am thankful for is my Dad came out to the barn yesterday morning and helped me unload the 300 pounds of feed we bought while in Roseburg the day before. Thanks Dad!

Today we will work on getting more planted in the garden. This morning I will plan out where we are planting what in the main garden. I keep a plot plan of the year before so I can rotate my crops. We never plant the same thing in the same place from one year to the next. The plants use up different nutrients in the soil and we don't want any disease or pests that might have wintered over to attack the plants. Plus I pray over my garden while I am planting. : ) Talk about natural pesticide! : )

I need to get out the Diatomaceous earth before we plant the peppers and basil starts. I sprinkle it around the plants and it keeps the bugs away. I am not sure if it works for slugs or not, but we don't have a lot of them in the garden anymore. The first two years we were here, Ed was a slug killing machine! Plus keeping things mowed helps, as they have no place to hide during the day. They really don't care to be out in the hot sun.

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Frugal Friday

Happy Friday everyone! Sorry I missed posting last Friday. Sometimes life is just too busy to write everything down. : )

One of my favorite money saving tips is to use cloths for my Swiffer mop instead of the disposable ones you are supposed to buy for it. I use a nice dish cloth that I buy in a package of 4 at Kmart with a Martha Stewart label on them. They are cotton and are just the right size. I try to keep them nice and white, but sometimes they get stained and it just won't go back to white no matter what I do. So instead of throwing them out, I then delegate them to the mop.

If I am just mopping a fairly clean floor, I will put a little dish soap in a bucket with some hot water and wet the cloth first and wring it out and put it on the mop to use.

Here is my recipe for multiple use. You can use it for an air freshener or a cleaner.

2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
6-9 drops of essential oil of your choice. I use lavender or orange

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a spray bottle.
Give it a shake before spraying to mix the essential oils.

This works great as an air freshener especially after cooking fish or cabbage in the kitchen.

I also use it to spritz on especially dirty spots on the floor when I am mopping.

So there are the tips for this Friday. Anyone want to leave a comment with your frugal tips?

Have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thankful Thursday

As the pictures above show, I am thankful we have our gardens tilled up! We have been waiting and waiting for the weather to clear so the ground would dry enough to till. Praise the Lord that has finally happened. If the weather is good, we will be planting the garden on Memorial Day weekend.

You can't see it in the foggy pictures very well, but Ed has started putting up a chicken wire fence around the garden. That is to keep big footed Duke our dog out. Well, and cats who think that might be the worlds largest cat box! Funny thing when we didn't have a dog and the deer would come and eat the garden up we never put up a fence, but now that we have a dog that keeps the deer away (just by his scent and presence on the place, not because he chases them) we have to put up a fence to keep him out. What ever works I guess.

Our ducklings are all hatched out now and we had a total of 36. Six of them we gave to my friend and her daughter. So we are down to 30. I think that will be plenty anyway.

Our new laying chickens have moved into the hen house now. We have been letting them outside with the big chickens and they have learned in just a few nights to come back into the barn at night. That is so nice when we don't have to have chicken round up each evening in the dark.

After we get the gardens planted and fenced, we will work on the new fencing for the Dark Cornish chickens a pen and the turkeys, which will be the duck nursery for a while. I hope the two mama ducks get along once they are sharing housing.

Turkeys sure grow a lot slower than the chickens or ducks.
We also are working on our greenhouse and soon the pig house/fencing. It truly is amazing what one can do with a couple of acres! We are thankful that our land is all flat and cleared.

Our fruit trees are loaded with fruit this year. The cherries are getting big already and there are tons of them. So are the pear trees, plums and the apples. I will be very busy this fall and summer putting up fruit. I will make good use of my juicer too.

Have a wonderful thankful day today!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am so thankful that our weather is going to take a turn for warm and sunny! We have a 5 day forecast of dry and warm weather.

I hope to be transplanting my tomatoes and pepper starts. I also have been given some wonderful Lily of the Valley pips, a couple of peach trees, a pic cherry tree and a blue berry plant and some raspberry plants from my dear friend Sheila. ( Hi Sheila!!!!! See me waving?) She is the the gardener with the green thumb, or maybe her whole hand is green! I have always said she can shove a stick in the ground and grow a tree and it will bear fruit the next year! So I have plenty of things to be planting during our good weather.

I have traded Sheila a couple of turkey poults and a couple of ducklings. We will have no shortage of ducklings once Lilac or Lavender (which every it is the girls named her) hatches out her eggs. She is the one sitting on 24 eggs.

Okay, I am off here to do my barn chores now. Have a wonderful day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Frugal Friday

Good morning everyone! Ready for today's tips? Good! As you can see by the photo above, my tip is to start your own plants from seed instead of buying nursery stock. Believe it or not there are 72 tomatoes in this picture, There is no way I could afford to buy that many plants for my garden. Even if I bought the plants on sale it would cost close to $144 for this many plants. Yes, I know you are thinking "who in the world plants 72 tomatoes in their garden anyway?" Well, I do! I can and make my own tomato sauce, salsa, canned tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato soup, even ketchup, so I need a bunch of tomatoes. I always plant with it in mind to have plenty to share with others too. I also start my peppers, onions, eggplant, herbs and give a head start to my broccoli, cabbage and lots more plants. So if you are putting in a garden, a good thing to do is start your own.

I don't use fancy lights or anything special. Although that would be ideal as it helps to keep the plants from getting leggy and having to turn the flat so the plants don't grow crooked towards the light. I have the seed starting flats you see in the picture and have set them on an old metal rack in a South facing window in my kitchen. I will transplant these into the 4" pots and then into the garden from there. A pointer I learned about planting tomatoes years ago is to plant a good amount of the stem in the ground. All along the stem it will send out more roots, making a healthier and stronger plant.

Ed has been making compost for a couple of years now. He put last years compost in my troughs we will plant with permanent things like garlic and strawberries etc. But there was one wheel barrow load left over and it since rained in it. I am going to dip out the liquid from that and water my transplants with it. They are due for some fertilizer. As we don't use chemicals or pesticides on our plants this is a wonderful fertilizer for transplants/seedlings.
This is the entire rack that I can use for three flats of seedlings. I really should give the thing a coat of paint shouldn't I? Okay that is what I will do before starting more. This weekend I will get the starts re potted and then start more seeds. My kitchen turns into a green house before time to plant in the garden. That is why my dear hubby is building me a green house this year. Besides we will need a good place to put our citrus trees and we will grow some veggies through the winter, saving on that grocery bill.

I have another tip for you today also. Remember our laundry soap we made last Friday? I did some experimenting and found it works great on dishes too. Since it doesn't suds up you can use it for automatic dishwasher soap. I also add white vinegar to the rinse agent compartment. That wasn't enough I had to try it on hand washing the dishes. It does do a good job of cutting grease and leaving the dishes sparkling. My problem is I like to see the suds. So I mixed it half and half with my regular hand washing dish soap. So this will make my purchased soap go twice as far. : )

Okay, I have one more thing to share and it isn't much of a frugal tip unless you are raising your own meat. Remember the photos of the Buff Orpington chicken setting on some duck eggs? She hatched out 6 ducklings yesterday! We are so proud of her and she is the very protective mama. I took the first picture yesterday when they were still wet. As soon as I charge up the batteries in my camera, I will take more of the little darlings!

This was the first four she hatched. Then last night she hatched out 2 more. She has one egg left. If it doesn't hatch by tonight it probably won't.

This is one of Buff's babies. I snatched it out from under her and took it's picture. See the little egg tooth still on the end of its bill?
Here is another shot of the little cutie.

Even more news in the duck world. White Rose the the duck has little peep holes in the eggs she is setting on too! You can hear the ducklings peeping inside the eggs. That is so neat! Today will be more ducklings on Bountiful Acres Homestead. We are so pleased!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It is Thankful Thursday again!

Time has gone by so quickly this past week. I have several things I am thankful for this week. One is my new stove was delivered on May 1st. It is such a joy to be able to bake again! This stove I chose has a power burner, a simmer burner, two regular burners and a center oval shaped burner. The big oval one in the center can have a griddle put over it to cook on. I just need to find one that will fit it now. I also think it will be great for canning on. The power burner will get water boiling in such a short time. I feel like a chef! Here are a couple of pictures of it.

The other thing I am so thankful for is the sun is going to shine and be nice on Saturday. Why is that important to me? Because that is the day we are celebrating my oldest daughters 9th birthday and she wanted a picnic. Her birthday is actually on Sunday, but since it is also Mother's Day this year we decided to have her party the day before. That way her guests won't have to chose between her party and other family obligations. So praise the Lord a picnic it will be on Saturday. We will go to the park by the river here.

In other news, our little turkeys have moved to their new home out in the brand new barn. So did the Dark Cornish. They are getting so pretty those Cornish chickens!

Here is Ed and the girls opening the bag of pine shavings for the floor in the Dark Cornish side of the new barn. He still has the inside walls to put up and paint, but we are using it as is for now.

Sally waiting to help Daddy smooth the shavings out.
This is my sweetie putting the shavings down on the turkey side of the barn.

Here is Audrey after sweeping the shavings around to spread them on the floor.

The turkey poults in their new home. Well almost, they were too small to let loose in the entire space, so until they are little bigger we have them in the box.

This is a photo of our Dark Cornish chickens in their new home. We have 15 of them. These are the ones that we will keep two roosters and about 4 or 5 hens from for our breeding stock. You guessed it----the rest will be dinner.
They are much prettier in real life. The color is like a golden bronze.
So what are you thankful for today? Leave a comment and let me know what it is you have to be thankful for today.
Have a wonderful day! Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for Frugal Friday tips.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's Frugal Friday!

So what are Frugal Fridays going to be about? Tips and ideas for making those hard earned dollars go farther is my goal. Who couldn't use ideas for stretching that dollar?

The first and best tip is to follow what Jesus instructed us to do.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

This is a wonderful truth. My husband and I have seen this in our own finances over and over again. If we were to write on paper our incoming and outgoing money it wouldn't be possible to do what we have done at times. But because God supplies our needs and blesses us when we give, the money is always there at the right time when we need it.

The other thing I would advise is to write down where you spend your money for a couple of weeks. You might find it going to little things that add up over the month and aren't really a good buy or necessary.

One thing that I do when deciding to buy something. What does that item cost? What does my husband get paid by the hour at his job? Lets say you see a new throw pillow that catches your eye and would look perfect on your sofa. That pillow let's say costs $25. Let's say your husband (or yourself if you work) makes $10 per hour. How many hours does it take to pay for that pillow? I am not the best at math, but I figure it would take 2.5 hours on the job to pay for it. Then you decide if that pillow is worth buying. Personally because I can sew and have plenty of fabric on hand, I would say no. I wouldn't want my husband working 2.5 hours so I could have that pillow looking pretty on my sofa. : ) I would find something to make myself or if you don't sew look at yard sales and thrift stores.

One of my favorite ways to save money is to make my own laundry soap and fabric softener. There are about a zillion recipes out there in cyber land if you do a search for homemade laundry soap. One that I like to make is easy and I made it double strength. It really works good for us and is very inexpensive to make and use. Just for fun I put it in a recycled gallon jug and printed myself a label for them.

This is my laundry soap from one batch.

And here is my fabric softener from one recipe.

Recipe for Laundry Soap

1 Bar of Fels Naptha soap

2 cups washing soda (not baking soda)

2 cups borax

Look for these things in the laundry aisle of the grocery store. Sometimes you can find just borax at one store and the washing soda at another. But they are readily available.

You will also need a bucket to mix this in. I use a clean 5 gallon bucket.

Grate the bar of soap. You can use a hand grater or put it in your food processor if you have one. After grating, put it in a large sauce pan. Add 12 cups of water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 8 cups of HOT water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir well. Next add 2 gallons plus 12 cups of tap water and stir. At this point I add some essential oils to scent it. I use about a tsp of lavender oil. You can leave this step out if you like or of course use other scents that you prefer. Let the soap sit for 12-24 hours and it will gel. Mine is usually ready overnight. This makes almost 3 gallons of soap. You can half the recipe if you like. Just make sure to half the water parts too.

The next morning I take a whisk and stir it really well and then pour into smaller containers that are easy to use. You can use old laundry soap containers or what ever you have on hand. I used gallon jugs that I buy Agave nectar in.

When you use the laundry soap a good starting place is a half cup per load. You may find you need up to a cup for heavy soil or if you have hard water. This is safe for HE washers too as it doesn't make suds. That is kind of hard to get used to, but it isn't the suds that cleans the clothes, it is the soap. This makes it easier for the rinse cycle to get the soap out of the clothes.

Give the bottle a shake before measuring it out. The water will separate from the gel a little, so always give it a good shake to mix it. Yes, you can use bleach with the soap. I find that the soap whitens my clothes very well on it's own.

Recipe for Fabric Softener

1 cup baking soda (yes BAKING soda this time)

1 cup water

6 cups white vinegar

6 more cups water

Use the large bucket again as this will do some major fizzing.

Put the cup of baking soda into the bucket, add the 1 cup of water. Give it a little stir. Next slowly add the 6 cups of vinegar. This will fizz and bubble up. Let it fizz and bubble for several minutes to dissolve the baking soda. I use a big wooden spoon to give it a bit of a stir making sure the baking soda is dissolved. Then add the 6 additional cups of water. This will stop the fizzing action. Stir and at this point add your essential oils if you like. About 12-15 drops will be enough to give a nice scent. Pour into a container. You might want to make sure the lid isn't on really tight as this will still do a little fizzing and expand. Use one cup in the rinse cycle. This will freshen and soften your clothes.

May your weekend be blessed and enjoyable.