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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

I Ran For My Life Today {Healing My Health}

Ok, so it wasn’t that dramatic and technically nothing was chasing me. But I’m at a tipping point when it comes to my health. No longer can I mindless consumer sugar in quantities that are about five times the daily recommended value. Not only are my current habits stupid, I’m being selfish. My kids deserve a mother who can take care of herself, so hopefully one day they don’t have to take care of me.

So I ran. I ran for my life. I ran for better health. I ran to heal my body.

It was only twenties minutes. But I did it. I laced up my sneakers and forced myself out the door and onto the gravel road.

My body rejected every step. Once upon a time, I logged several miles a day on the old kicks, but try as they might my muscles could not recall the motion of running. My heart tottered on the brink of tachycardia. I snorted as my lungs rapidly breathed in the clean, crisp fall air. No in-through-the-nose-out-through-the-mouth for this girl. Nope, I gasped for air with my mouth wide open. The fifty extra pounds I have packed on since having two children made it difficult to pick up my feet. Everything jiggled and wiggled as my pants fell down and my shirt rode up. It wasn’t pretty.

But, I did it. And I’m going to do it again tomorrow. And the next day.

So, here’s to feeling better.

Ultimately My Responsibility {Loss on the Homestead}

The feeling today on the homestead was melancholy. A dense mist hung low in the valley. Dampness saturated everything both intensifying the breathtaking orange and red hues of fall and creating an eerie stillness. Even our normally talkative animals seemed silent. The entire scene was quite fitting after the happenings the night before.

Yesterday morning, my husband went out to feed and water our four Nubian goats. Sassafrass was down and it was immediately obvious that something was wrong. I called my sister and we began some detective work. We separated her from the rest of the group and got her confortable and warm. We began going through the list of symptoms and the possible culprits. We consulted our vet. We treated her aggressively. As the sun went down, she was still not well but seemed to be holding steady.

Around 10pm, the night turned cold and rainy. Amy and I booted up and went out to tend to Sassafrass again. It was bad. Her head was down, her body was stiffening and her eyes were hollow. Within twenty minutes she was gone.

It is hard to lose an animal that you have raised from it’s beginning; especially one that has so much personality and one that we considered a pet more than livestock. We aren’t even sure why she got so sick. We believe that we did what we could for her, but in the end she got too sick, too quickly. I can only blame myself because what happens to the animals in my care is ultimately my responsibility. I guess the only thing to do at this point is try to learn and prevent it from happening again.

RIP Sassafrass.

Goat Shed & Chicken Coop Finishing Touches {Farm Update}

I’m taking advantage of the beautiful late summer weather and some vacation time to do work on some of the projects around the homestead. The goat shed is just a few screws shy of being done with our goal being to finish it this weekend. I’m so excited to head into winter with a finished barn. We’ve decided to hold off until spring with our large fence project and instead, we are going to add some temporary fence around the shed to connect that area with our goat pin. Since many of our building projects come to a halt during winter, we thought we would take advantage of the season to properly finish clearing the lot.

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While we were at it, we decided to give the chicken coop we bought used last summer a sprucing up. We painted it to match the goat shed and we are going to use some left over metal from the goat shed on the roof. It looks like a brand new coop.

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Sweet End of Summer {Farm Update}

The air was fresh, sweet and a bit nippy this morning as summer begins to wind down here in the mountains. The nights have been cool, queuing the leaves to turn from deep green to golden amber and burnt orange in the higher elevations.

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While this summer has seemed to fly by, it has been very enjoyable and relaxed. I have been resisting the urge to embark on any new projects and instead have been focusing on buttoning up what’s already been started. Read more

Summering Away {Farm Update}

In just two weeks school starts again. It’s hard to believe. It feels like summer just got started, especially with the rainy start the season got. May and June brought nothing but rain, with around 47 out of 50 days straight having rain. But the weather finally broke, and July has been sunny and hot. Here’s a quick round-up of what we have been up-to lately.

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Peeping With Excitement {Unboxing Baby Chicks}

Ten day-old baby chicks arrived in the mail from My Pet Chicken on Tuesday. The pepping box contained a variety of breeds, all considered to be the best egg layers: two Speckled Sussexes, two Rhode Island Reds, two Easter Eggers, two Golden Buffs, an Australorp and a White Leghorn. Once these chickens mature they will join our current flock. The chicks are now about five days old and going well.

Moving Up! {New Brooder Set-up}

Our little ducklings are a week old and over the weekend we upgraded their brooder. We have ten day-old chicks shipping Monday, so we needed to get their brooder in order as well, so we took the time this weekend to get all the supplies we needed to make two very nice brooders.

We purchased two galvanized water troughs about 2-feet wide by 4-feet long in size. They measure about a foot tall which will be perfect for the ducklings and chicks when they are very young, but will likely required some netting over the top as they get a little bigger to keep them from hoping out. In the old brooder we were using towels for bedding, which proved to hold moisture and odor, so for the new brooders we are using pine wood shavings for bedding.

We placed a heat lamp to one side of the trough, which keeps the area about 90-degrees. I also purchased a Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder, which we placed in the opposite side of the trough for extra warm. The ducklings have plenty of options and can move around the space to find the warmth they need. A thermometer placed in the trough helps us keep an eye on the brooder conditions.

A chick feeder and waterer completed the setup. The ducklings even get to try out the ceramic waterer made by Rock Bottom Pottery that I purchased for my sister for Christmas. I have to say it looks great and has actual proved pretty practical since it holds a lot of water and the shape keeps the ducklings from splashing around in it and dirtying the water.

The ducklings seem to be very satisfied with their new residence and next week they will have ten pepping neighbors to keep them company.