Tag Archives: self sufficiency

Another Chick Watch

Last night when I went out to lock up the chooks, I found two Buffy hens sitting on the day’s eggs in two nesting boxes.  I decided to leave them alone and see if they would still be there this morning.  Buffy Momma #2 is the one who tried to go broody last November and she is feisty and protective of her nest.  She left long enough this morning to grab a bite of food and came right back, puffing up if I approach and pecking at my hand if I try to check under her.  Buffy Momma #3 is less dedicated and can easily be chased off her nest.  Late this afternoon, I ran them both off the nests to see how many eggs were there and put 10 under Momma 2, labelled with today’s date to begin the chick watch.  Momma 3 only has one under her at the present, but will get any laid today and enough of tomorrow’s to put 10 under her as well and they will be labelled with tomorrow’s date.  If these two Buffy Momma’s can each produce 6-8 chicks, and with the fall cull scheduled to reduce the hen flock to 8 plus Romeo, we should be able to put about 25 birds in freezer camp without having to purchase any chicks this year and without having to set up the brooder, heat lamp and related mess.  We will refresh the flock with a couple of new pullets, keep a couple of the better Mommas and cull out all cockrells and older hens.  This year is an experimental year to try letting our heritage girls raise all of our eggs and our meat.  These birds will take at least 16 weeks to reach a size to be usable and 22 weeks to lay eggs and we will have to improve our second coop situation to make it doable, but it is another step toward producing and growing our own food.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Momma 1 brings her littles out of the chicken tractor each morning and the littles wander back and forth through the fence into the big girl’s run, out into the yard and anywhere they want, but quickly return to Momma when she calls them back.  They are about a week and a half old now and very active and still curious.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the midst of chicken and garden chores this week, two more batches of soap were made for the August festival to give them time to cure.  A batch of Plantain and Comfrey infused oil was made and 8 tins of Comfrey salve prepared for our use against scrapes and insect bites and a few to sell at the festival.  During the week, I also used the “Each one, Teach one” method to teach a friend soap making and lotion bar making and she went home with a mold of soap and a lotion bar of the summer recipe, one that I hope will not melt in the summer heat.  Ten more tins of lotion bars are added to the festival supply as well.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dinner tonight, even though we didn’t make it to our usual Saturday Farmers’ Market run, included fresh kale from the garden.

Suds and Sweets

Nope, not beer, though I have been known to make it too.  I realized that my homecrafted soap was nearly gone and as it takes 3 to 4 weeks to cure, I knew that I was going to have to get brave and make a batch or two on my own without my mentor’s help.  I have made two batches in her kitchen and only one here alone.  I have been procrastinating but realized that if I didn’t get over my reluctance and accept that I am still a novice and it might not be perfect, we were going to run out.  Summer is not a good time to run out of soap.  Sure, I could go to the grocery or the Farmers’ Market and buy some, but that goes against my nature.

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Yesterday, the soap making box was hauled out.  I quickly realized that I didn’t have the exact oils that the recipe I selected called for, but know that you can substitute some.  I quickly forgot rule #1, that in soap making, everything is weighed and I measured out the water for the lye mix in liquid ounces.  I measured the oils by weight though.  The recipe that I selected only filled my good mold about halfway, but I covered it, wrapped it in old towels and put it aside to saponify.  Today, when I pulled it out, it was a bit softer than the soap I made with my mentor, but the 6 bars are curing for use in a month.  Since the recipe only made 6 bars, I resupplied on the oils that I was missing yesterday so that I wouldn’t substitute and followed a new recipe to the letter.  When I added the essential oils to scent it, the soap seized and it is crammed and packed in the molds, covered to saponify.  It won’t be pretty, but it will be soap.

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Batch one curing.

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Batch two about to go under cover to saponify.

Today’s raspberry harvest brought me up to the 4 cups I needed to make jam.  Mind you, I don’t need any more jam, still having blueberry and blackberry left from last year, peach that I made a week ago, but I grew these raspberries and I want to savor them all winter.  So down came the pots and jars, the berries mashed, the sugar added and jam making round two for the season begun.

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Jam cooking while the jars heat beside it.

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Six one cup jars ready to for canning.

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Six jars cooling on the counter, as I listen to the satisfying pop as they cool and seal.

The rest of this year’s harvest of raspberries can be eaten as I pick, put in yogurt, and frozen for treats during the winter.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

Sew Pretty

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My baby girl (well, she a big girl now with two kids of her own, but she will always be my baby girl) and I text back and forth often.  Short little conversations, just keeping up.  Oh course we talk on the phone too, but not daily.

A couple of weeks ago while shopping at one of our two natural food stores, I found the blue market bag on the left in the top picture.  It is a One Mango Tree bag, made in Northern Uganda.  One Mango Tree provides sewing training, steady jobs, a daily meal, school fees stipends for children, bicycles, etc. and the bags are eco-friendly and fair trade.  I texted a picture of it to my daughter.  She at some point had purchased one off of their website to use as a purse and decided it was too large for that purpose.  She asked me how big mine was as it was sitting on the back seat of my car full of groceries and I measured it when I got home.  It is about the same size as hers, but has a matching fabric strap where hers has a braided handle which she says hurts her shoulder when it is full of market goodies.  I asked her what she was looking for size-wise to use as a purse and she gave me the dimensions she was seeking and told her the style of bag would be so easy to make, that I would make her one.

Last Wednesday on my way to knit night, I stopped at the fabric store and selected fabrics in the colors that she likes, taking photos and texting them to her (we live 850 miles apart).  Once the outside fabric was selected via text message, we started on the lining and the questions about whether she wanted it stiffened with Pellon.  She didn’t know what Pellon was but did want it stiffened to use as a purse.  On my way to get bias tape, which I didn’t use, I found a card of buttons that matched perfectly.  The sewing supplies sat in my spinning chair for a week.  I haven’t spun or sewed all week, though I did start a knitting project and read two books, worked in the garden and yard.

Yesterday, I did make a pattern out of butcher paper and added it to the pile.  Today after lunch, Jim went out to do a bit more with the weed wacker and I set about to make the purse.  About an hours worth of cutting, ironing and sewing and my baby girl has a new purse.  A few texts back and forth for her to see it compared in size to the other bag and to decide whether she wanted the button and if so as a decoration or functional and she is happy.  I have plenty of the fabric left and think I will make her a matching market bag them mail them off to her instead of her having to wait for us to visit much later in the summer.

Make It Better

As I sold all of my interchangeable knitting needles and ordered fixed circular knitting needles, I needed storage.  Interchangeables come in clever compact cases that hold the tips and the cables, but fixed circulars come in individual packages and when they arrive, I will have 2 lengths of 10 sizes, a potential snake’s nest if put in a basket.  I have spent a couple of hours searching through Etsy looking for a solution.  I know what I want, something that resembles a CD case and I was willing to pay someone else to design and make it, but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t either a roll or much larger than I desired.

My other desire was a means to make my favorite go to bag more organized.

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This bag is a leather tote from Duluth Trading Company, it is my travel tote, my knitting bag, carries my wallet, tablet, notepad, small case with lotion bar, lip balm, comb, pens, camera, and a shawl or scarf.  The bag is 12 x 4 x 13.5 with a zipped top.  Because of its size, it swallows my tiny wallet and keys.  One of my friends used to have a business making bags and she put a liner in them that had pockets around the perimeter.  I sew, but my machine isn’t heavy enough to sew through the liner and the leather.  After approaching this friend, she agreed to help me sew the lining in if I made what I wanted.

Today turned into a craft day as I tackled these two problems after some planning last night and a trip to the fabric store today.

First, I tackled the liner.  I bought a firm drapery fabric, measured twice, cut once and formed just what I wanted.  It is temporarily basted into the bag until I can get with my friend to sew it in place.

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The other project was accomplished with quilting quarters, scraps from the bag liner, and a few inches of synthetic leather.  I still need to sew the button and leather loop on, but it is colorful and I think will fulfill my needs.  The supplies for both projects ended up costing less than a needle case on Etsy that would have been less satisfactory to me.

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