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Week 1 of 52 Weeks To Preparedness

In the new year, I have set myself a goal of following Ready Nutrition’s 52 Weeks of Preparedness. I have successfully finished the first week which focuses on setting aside about 72 hours of food for emergencies. I selected foods that have a long shelf-life, are (decently) healthy and is stuff that we already eat. As items approach their use by dates, I can rotate them into our daily pantry, use them up, and simply replace them in the emergency supply.

In brief, Ready Nutrition suggests water, peanut butter, juice, meat, soup, other non-perishable items, and beans.

To meet those suggestions, I purchased five gallons of Deer Creek water, Horizon Organic Milk, two boxes of Capri Sun (I couldn’t get the 100% juice locally), packets of tuna in water, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, and other non-perishable items such as oatmeal, applesauce, fruit leather, honey and hot chocolate mix. I also threw in some salt and pepper and hard candy.

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I found an extra Coleman cooler in our basement that was the perfect size for storing all the items pictured above (because the water takes up so much space, I am storing it separately). The cooler will also be handy if for some reason we need to grab-and-go with our food supply.

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I forwent the beans because those would be really hard to cook (especially if it was a situation where we didn’t have power) and I store beans in my regular pantry. I also discovered I only had one can opener in the house, so I decided to go ahead a purchase an extra one that I will leave in this kit. Even though nothing I currently have in my emergency supply requires a can opener, something I add in the future might and it never hurts to have a spare.

It felt good to accomplish week one. Looking ahead to week two, the focus will shift from creating a short-term food supply to investing in tools for the homestead.

 

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Black Copper Marans Egg! The New Chickens are Finally Laying… or at Least One of Them Is

The temperature here on the hillside has dropped dramatically the past few days and the forecast predicts that extreme cold is here to stay through the weekend. The skiff of snow that we received on Monday has been packed into a sheet of ice and the ground is hard and slick. Fortunately, the biting wind has abated slightly.

While plowing through my evening chores (in an effort to get back into a warm house as quickly as possible), I threw open the hatch on the chicken coop and to my delight was a small, speckled, dark brown egg from one of my Black Copper Marans!

 

Christmas Bark Box Unboxing {And What Happened When Asterisk Got Ahold of the Goodies Inside}

I actually bought my first Bark Box on a whim after watching an unboxing video by Ally on YouTube. I purchased a single box as a gift for my sister’s puppy, Gus, when she first got him and she (and Gus) loved it so much she bought a subscription. I have been receiving emails from Bark Box about subscribing and have been successfully ignoring them until right before Christmas when they offered a $5 box just in time for the holidays. I succumbed and signed-up. While I think that it is ridiculous that my dog will be receiving gifts for the next several months, I am justifying it to myself that if I were to buy the toys/treats individually it would cost a great deal more.

Each month is themed which makes the boxes a lot of fun to open. Today, Asterisk and I unboxed his Christmas Bark Box and here is what was inside.

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The box had two toys in it. A string of Christmas lights…

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and a squeaky snowman head.

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The box included two full-sized bags of dog treats…

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and a dog chew (which Asterisk demolished).

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Asterisk seemed to enjoy all the treats and loved the chewy. I gave him the snowman squeaky toy which he also seemed to really enjoy; however, it didn’t last long. Within about ten minutes, Asterisk had torn the outer “snowman layer” to shreds leaving behind a squeaky plastic ball which he seemed to have just as much fun with. Maybe tomorrow I will see how long the string of Christmas lights last.

Merry Christmas!

Most Important Piece of Homestead Equipment I Own (And Why I Stuck with Bogs)

If someone would ask me what the most important piece of equipment I own is, I would have to say my muck boots. Nothing else that I have, do I use every. single. day.

After probably around six years of hard use, my Bogs are ready to move on to a better place. It is time to do some research and get another pair of trusty boots. And since it’s Black Friday, I might even snag a deal.

What am I looking for in boots?

#1 is Water Protection. Half of the year, I am up to my knees in manure or mud; the other half, it is snow (or some variant of frozen precipitation). I want my feet warm and dry.

#2 is Safety. Now, granted I do not do work that requires features like safety toes; however, I do want a boot that has some grip. When working in the muck, I like to stay on my feet.

#3 is Comfort. I am in my boots every day, so I want something that fits well and is easy to get around in.

#4. Longevity. If I’m going to pay that much for a pair of shoes, I want them to last. I don’t stay in a pair of boots all day, but I can be rough on clothing so they have to hold up.

After much research and shopping, I decided to stick with Bogs and picked out a pair of dark gray Classic Talls. Bogs just seemed to fit my needs the best. Classics are water-proof, are insulated, fairly lightweight, and my last pair fit my feet well.

It’s time to say farewell to my beloved, old Bogs. A pair of shiny new boots is on their way. I hope this new pair knows that they have some big shoes to fill (tehe).

Blueberry Pickin’

Blueberry season has been in for a while and Amy and I finally got a chance to head over to my good friend’s farm, Frostmore Farm. We only had about an hour to pick but managed to fill up a couple of gallon baskets. Everyone in our household loves blueberries so they aren’t going to last long. I think they are going to be eaten before I even get them into any muffins or pancakes. I am hoping to make it back over to Frostmore Farm next week to pick enough to freeze for this winter.

If you get a chance to visit Frostmore Farm and pick some blueberries, be sure to grab some maple syrup to top off your blueberry pancakes!

What is your favorite way to use blueberries?

Winter Finally Decided to Show Up

With just days to go until spring, winter has finally decided to show up. The snow is forecasted to start falling within the hour and I’m hoping that this storm has been hyped up and we don’t get the forecasted 12 – 24 inches. The goats and chickens have been fed and watered and are hunkered down in the barn in fresh pine shavings.

This past weekend was a doozy. Over five Nubian kids were ready to be disbudded. Disbudding has to be the absolute worst part of owning goats. I hate it. Hate it! Thank goodness my sister and her finance are willing to do most of the dirty work for me. What is disbudding? It’s taking a hot disbudding iron and burning the area around the goat’s horns to prevent them from growing. Yeah, it’s as awful as it sounds. However, we’ve decided that it is necessary as we don’t want goats with horns for various reason and in order to register them they must be disbudded.

To top the weekend off, everyone has come down with the stomach flu. It’s been fun. I’m ready to get this snowstorm and flu over with and get on with spring.

It is Always Three O’Clock in the Morning

Yesterday, it was easier to get up in the {very} early morning. The excitement of the day (Willow’s labor) was still pumping through me and I was eager to check on the new babies. This morning, not so much. But I’m up and the challenge now might be going back to sleep so I’m not completely exhausted all day. Setting in front of the bright computer screen probably doesn’t help, but there it is.

When I went out to the barn the little ones had started to stir and everyone was eager to get their bellies full. The littlest one – the little black buckling – suckles indiscriminately and wildly at any of the nanny’s teats that are offered to him. I think he’s got some catching up to do. Two of the others were just as eager, although preferred the comfort of their own mother, and two appeared to be annoyed that I awoke them from their slumber.

For me, it’s back to bed for a couple hours, then onto the hamster wheel. Good night morning.

Mushroom Farmers! {Back to Roots Musrhoom Kit Review}

One thing that I want to try next is growing mushrooms. I have attended several workshops, but just haven’t gotten around to doing it. This spring I hope to purchase a few logs or maybe try to inoculate a few logs of my own.

In the meantime, I stumbled upon the Back to the Roots oyster mushroom kit, which looked pretty neat and would provide a fun project for the kids and I to do. I ordered one of Amazon, got it started, and we are about half way to harvesting our first crop of oyster mushrooms.

I was worried at first because it didn’t seem to be growing. However, around day four, they took off and I swear they are growing so fast that I notice a difference every couple of hours. The kids really dig this too, because every time they wake up in the morning or come home from school, the mushrooms are noticeably bigger!

I predict some delicious stir-fry in the near future!

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Three Generations of Ripple Afghans {First Crochet Project}

I started “crocheting” several years ago. I learned one stitch from watching YouTube videos and have made dozens of wonky looking scarfs that no one wants to wear. Nonetheless, I find the act of crocheting to be extremely relaxing. I have always wanted to learn to crochet ripple afghans. I have two ripple afghans in our home; one made by my grandmother and one made by my mom. I’m pretty sure that both are as old as me.

Well, finally, this weekend I finished my first actual project and created a grey and purple lapped-size ripple afghan of my own. I found a YouTube tutorial that made sense to me and it just seemed to click. I’m tickled with the final piece and I think it’s neat to have three generations worth of afghans draped across the couch.

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Mr. Williams digs it too.

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Every Last Drop {Making Mother’s Milk Soap}

In a blink of an eye, my sweet baby girl grew into a bouncing, giggling toddler. Recently, when it came time to clean out the freezer, I struggled to figure out what to do with several storage bags full of breast milk since my little one doesn’t require expressed milk anymore. Throwing it out was not an option. As someone who struggled with breastfeeding starting out, every drop was like liquid gold. That’s when I stumbled across the idea of making Mother’s milk soap.

When making cold process soap you can use almost any type of milk. I selected my favorite recipe from Soaping Essentials and substituted in the breast milk to replace the water ounce for ounce. In about 90 minutes I had five pounds of rich, creamy soap gently scented with DoTerra’s Serenity calming blend of essential oils.

My experience making breast milk was extremely positive and it was great to find a way to use the excess expressed milk – especially one that can continue to benefit my little one. One recommendation I would make for those wanting to make their own batch of Mother’s milk soap is to keep this batch for your family only as it may be possible to pass along any impurities, etc., that might be in milk. Read more