Around the Homestead, Green Living, Homemaking

Homemade Disinfectant…

With a little lamb (or two) in the house some disinfecting was in order.  My homemade disinfectant was getting low, so I whipped up another batch while I was home on Friday.

On the left is a 1:1 mix of white vinegar (the cheap stuff) and distilled water in a spray bottle.  I added sweet orange, grapefruit, and tea tree oil for scent and extra germ fighting power.  You can’t see it, but on the hydrogen peroxide bottle I put a spray nozzle. 

I spray either the vinegar mix and then the peroxide or the peroxide and then the vinegar mix.  Let set a few minutes and wipe clean.  I use this on the dog crate (or laundry basket) after we’ve had lambs, cats, chickens, or on rare occasions one of our dogs in them.  I also use this to clean our kitchen and bathroom.  The vinegar smell dissipates once dry.

Green Living, Self-Sufficiency

Solar Oven Cooking…

It has warmed up outside and since we haven’t turned on the a/c yet it’s really important for me to choose my cooking styles wisely.  We have a propane stove so have the cooktop can put out a lot of heat and turn a cool home into a uncomfortably warm home in just a few minutes. 

I did a little experimenting over the weekend cooking with my solar oven.  I love the thing!  I did have to buy the refector separately.  If I had it to do all over again I would probably buy something more heavy duty, now that I know I will use it regularly. 

I baked a banana bread.

It turned out fabulous.

I also tried cooking up my rice for tacos in the solar oven.  The book had two different instructions for cooking rice, but since I soak my rice before cooking I winged it and made up my own instructions.


Here is my brown rice in one of the black pans that came with my solar oven.

Next I added homemade kefir and a small amount of water and allowed it to soak about 6 hours.

After the rice soaked I added tomato juice for the remaining water needed.  The label says “sauce,” but it really is homegrown, home-canned tomato juice.  Trust me!

I stuck it in the oven for 3-4 hours and it turned out great.  So great I forgot to take a picture of the finished product so you will just have to take my word for it.  We ate the rice along with our tacos made from local beef.  It was delish!!

I have yet to cook meat in it, but feel fairly confident now to give it a try.  I would like to try a roast or a whole chicken at some point before summer’s end.

Enjoy the heat!

Around the Homestead, Green Living

Efficiently Inspired….

I just read a post here about how to become more energy efficient.  This family is amazing!

A couple things I would like to try soon:

Charging our cell phones in our cars rather than at home

Figuring out how to unplug all those LCD lights/clocks (microwave, stove, etc.)

Unplugging even more electrical appliances (we already to this to some extent, time to get radical)

Buy a blanket for our hot water heater (even though it is inside, our heat is off so our house can get cool at times)

Buy these oil lamps

Maybe some wall oil lamps if I can find some reasonably priced

Solar lights for our driveway

In the future:

I would love to have a wood cook stove

A basement to utilize during the hot summer months and for food storage (i.e. cellar, cold storage)

A sunroom/green house attached to the house for heat in the winter

Convert our pool power supply to solar…..maybe even our well house and pump

Solar lights for our sheep buildings (exterior)

An outdoor solar shower (summer time by our pool)

The post on Generation Cedar really got me thinking of ways Randy and I can cut back.  Especially with just the two of us.  Randy is really good to about listening to my crazy ideas and implementing them as best he can or as long as he can stand it.  I can’t do without my hot shower, but maybe we could make up some ground in the summer by using an outdoor solar shower.

This site is great for seeing how much energy you are using even when you think things are “off.”



Green Living

Hybrid Bicycle…

I have been looking at bicycles online for my mom and came across a hybrid bicycle.  These are pretty neat and what a great idea.  We have talked about how great it would be if our moped/scooter could also be pedaled.  For the bargain price of $2,100.00 it could be all your’s.

Instead I think we will lean more toward a Townie for mom.  Randy and I so want her to get an adult tricycle, but she doesn’t really agree with us.

Just thought I would share incase there is anyone out there commuting.

Around the Homestead, Gardening, Green Living, In The Kitchen

Fresh produce…

I ran to the Farmer’s Market the other day and picked up these.

I love new potatoes, and my potatoes have apparently all gone to the plant and not the seed.  We had a feeling our ground was too rich.  This is our third failed attempt at potatoes.  Good thing there is a Farmer’s Market across the street from where I work.  I try to by local or grow food myself as much as I can.  Good for them, good for us, good for the earth!

We woke up Saturday morning very early to the roar of wind (75 mph), pounding rain, and hail.  Gotta love the Midwest!  The storm lasted about an hour and the rain lasted until noon.  We layed around inside all morning.  Something we NEVER get to do.  I read and got a little nap in, Randy napped, and the dogs snuggled with us and napped on and off. 

Once everything had cleared (especially the lightning) we went out to assess the damage, tree limbs, a filthy pool, and my garden had some serious damage. 

We repaired fence that afternoon and still have a little left to do before the sheep can be moved over to new pasture, but we are closer.

Grandma was back in the hospital, so I was on boysenberry duty.  I picked five more quarts for her freezer and two quarts for fresh eating at our house.

We have vowed to take it easy on Sunday afternoons.  We just need to start forcing ourselves to set things aside and relax a bit.  Our pool was too chilly to swim since the storms had blown the solar cover off on a 60 degree night, plus all the rain water.  So, we just hung out and did some mowing and gardening.

Monday I had to take my parent’s dog to the vet for them so I didn’t get home until noon.  However, I got busy and got the house dusted, cleaned the skylights, kitchen, and vacuumed.  Then I tackled my herbs and some cooking.

Chives, dehydrated in dehydrator overnight.

Cucumber Salad:

2-3 Cucumbers

1/4 c Real Mayo (no Miracle Whip)

1/4 c White Vinegar

2 T. Sugar

1/4 t. Dill (used fresh and just eyeballed it, is there such a thing as too much dill?)

Mix all together and chill before serving. 

We love this!  Is it summer without cucumber salad?  It might be for us since our chickens destroyed most of my cucumber plants yesterday.  The Banties (my good children) have never messed up anything while free-ranging in the garden.  The Rhode Island Reds, however, demolished the plants and ate all the cucumbers.  Did I mention they haven’t started laying eggs yet, so they aren’t technically a productive aspect to our farm and better tread lightly :  )

I also got two cabbages out of the garden over the weekend and made sauerkraut (Nourishing Traditions).

And Pickles.

Fortunately, my echinacea survived the storm and still looks nice.  It was really windy, so the pictures are a bit blurry but you get the idea. 

Hope everyone has a wonderful Tuesday!

Green Living, Nutrition

Nutrition, Supplements, and our Environment…

I have been studying ways to change our diet and improve out health for a couple of years now.  It started with Crystal Miller’s website and the purchase of Nourishing Traditions and progressed from there.  I was convinced it would take a lot of money to eat a “healthy” lifestyle.  However, I have changed my tune and believe what you spend eating the right food and supplements you save in doctor’s office visits, prescriptions, and over-the-counter medication.  Also, by eating more “whole” foods you tend to not suffer from hunger pangs in between meals.  Two of the best resources for me are Mercola and Weston A. Price

Here are a few things I changed at the beginning of my journey to leading a healthier lifestyle (somewhat in order).  *May I note my husband has been SO supportive and accommodating through it all.

First things first:

No Soda

Drink Raw Milk (no homogenized, pasteurized, soy, or otherwise milk)

Bake My Own Bread

Whole Grains (whole wheat flours, organic oatmeal, steel-cut oats, whole wheat or gluten-free pasta, etc.)

No More Processed Foods (boxed cereal, spaghetti sauce, etc.)


Organic Raw Sugar, Raw Honey, and Stevia

Apple Cider Vinegar

As we adjusted to these changes I gradually began adding to it little-by-little.

Organic, Local, or Homegrown produce only:

This helps not only your health, but the environment by buying locally.  Good Reading: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (my aunt gave me a copy knowing I would be intrigued)

Path To Freedom is also a wonderful sight.

Homegrown and/or Grass-Fed Meat:

Chicken and Eggs-homegrown

Pork-locally raised

Beef-grass-fed, no hormones or antibiotics



Cooking from Scratch:

Crystal Miller has a wonderful site with recipes for baking and cooking from scratch.  She discusses the importance of soaking your grains, rice, and beans along with homemade beauty product recipes.

At our home I am the sole chef (unless the grill is used).  Grilling can alter food and should be used sparingly.

I bake my own bread products (sourdough, whole wheat, pizza dough, tortillas, etc.).  I also do a lot of canning, drying, and freezing produce from the garden to eat throughout the winter months.  We use stainless steel and cast iron cookware and glass storage containers as much as possible to prevent metals and toxins from the plastic from leaching into our food.  I would also like to discontinue the use of our microwave.  I use it as sparingly as possible now.

One new addition to our household is a juicer.  I ended up with an ulcer a few years ago, treated it with expensive prescription only to have it return.  So, the juicer is first and foremost for cabbage juice to treat my ulcer.  From there I hope to get more creative and make it a part of our routine.

For the Future:

The Purchase of a Grain Mill

The Construction of a Cheese Press

The Construction or Purchase of a Solar Oven

And hopefully someday the construction of an Off-Grid home with as many organic, reclaimed, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly additions as we can afford and find.

Supplements Added to our Daily Routine:

MonaVie-twice a day (morning and evening)


Kelp-morning (I’m the only one who takes this)

Brewer’s Yeast (I’m the only one who takes this)

Cod Liver Oil (in the winter)-morning

Krill or Fish Oil (in the summer)-morning

*We take one ounce of MonaVie and one teaspoon of Cod Liver Oil/Fish Oil in the morning.  The both taste wonderful, so it’s a nice little sweet jolt to get you going.

We start feeling a bug some on we add:

Vitamin C

Echinacea/Goldenseal or Oil of Oregano

We also use tinctures sold at our local herb shop for:

PMS (cramps)

Sore Throat/Laryngitis


Supplements for Pets:

We struggle with one of our dogs having skin allergies especially in the winter.  Our vet has used steroids, anti-inflammatory pills, and antibiotics.  They all worked in the past, but this year nothing did the trick.  So, I read up on some alternatives to prescription medication.  We now use one teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar on our dog’s food morning and night.  Guess what, no more rash.  I may add Cod Liver Oil for good measure, but haven’t yet.  I have also been looking for an alternative to Frontline for repelling fleas and ticks.  We haven’t tried anything yet, but I am researching the use of brewer’s yeast and garlic.  I will let you know what I come up with and how it works this summer.  We also feed our dogs a certain brand of dog food which has nearly eliminated joint problems our Blue Heeler was suffering from in her hips.  We switch from Science Diet (Joint Formula for the Cattledog and Sensitive Skin for the mutt) because they just weren’t working.  We gradually switched them over to Purina Mills Exclusive Lamb & Rice, sold at Purina feed stores, was approved by our very picky (when it comes to dog food) vet.  Make sure you have some of their old food on hand whenever you switch to new food.  Do it gradually by cutting it a little at a time so their systems can adjust to the diet change.

I know this is not everything.  We will continue to make changes and improvements to our diet.  These are just a few things to get you started.

A really great blog to read concerning nutrition is Living, Loving, & Learning.  Kristy is a mama concerned with the health of her family and knows it starts with the food they eat (or don’t eat).

Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Green Living

Earth-Friendly Products

I have been searching the internet for recipes, sources, and ideas for making my own beauty products.  I have come across a couple interesting sites I thought I would pass along: 

More than Alive     This site offers bulk herbs, recipes, and some wonderful books.

Kitchen Cosmetics     Recipes

Abundant Earth      Anything organic or recycled (mattresses, blankets, candles, etc.)

Mrs. Meyer’s     We had some problems getting our kitten, Spooky, to use the litter box.  We use the cheap litter with no fragrance and thought this may be the problem.  So, I bought some of Mrs. Meyer’s Pet Litter Freshener.  It made all the difference in the world.  Now Spooky uses the litter box like he is supposed to.  After reading the label I discovered it is baking soda with clary sage, chamomile, lavender, grapefruit, cypress, and orange essential oils added.  Hmmm, you think I could make this for less than $4.99 a bottle?  Me too.

We are hoping to finish up our passport process with pictures on Friday and going to the post office Saturday to turn in our paperwork and pay.  Then, if we decide we want to go to Canada while we are visiting family in Michigan, we can.  If we decide we want to go to Norway with my in-laws, we can.  Or if by some unbelievable chance we plan a trip to Ireland, we are all set.

Around the Homestead, Gardening, Green Living, In The Kitchen

Cold Weather and a “Green” Air Purifier

It snowed here yesterday, so I got to leave work 1 and 1/2 early.  Yea!  I got dinner made and over with early so we could relax a bit.  I cut out the pattern for a shirt I hope to make.  I took a sewing class awhile back, but I’m still not completely comfortable yet.  I figure the best way to learn is by going for it, trial and error.

I have been adding some supplements to my routine over the past few months in hopes of missing out on all the winter illness that goes around.  Randy and I have both started taking MonaVie.  It seems to be working really well combating bugs.  I had a sore throat off and on, but it never progressed into an infection and no other symptoms joined in so I was pleased.  I also used to have extremely painful cramps and no longer have to deal with that monthly inconvenience as the MonaVie seems to have given my body the boost it needs to overcome some of the things I was struggling with.  I have also added liquid kelp and brewer’s yeast to my diet to help with thyroid support.  I just add the recommended 4 drops of liquid kelp to a glass of water and sprinkle 1/2 t.-1 t. brewer’s yeast on my oatmeal or mixed in my kefir shakes for breakfast.  The brewer’s yeast has a fairly strong flavor, so I only use what I can disguise in tasty food.

This week’s menu turned out nicely.  The only adjustment was spaghetti last night instead of baked spaghetti due to our homemade mozzarella going bad.  We are having the ham and beans tonight and homemade cornbread topped with homemade maple syrup.  Yum!  We also use ACV on our ham and beans to help with digestion one of its many benefits.

I’m also on a mission to increase the number of house plants we have.  House plants are a great way to purify the air inside your home.  I am lucky enough to have a neighbor with established plants who starts them for me.  Try finding someone who will let you take starts off the plants, put them in a jar of water until they have rooted, and then transplant to a pot.

This is a fun little website on houseplants.  I have two Schefflera (these will start from a cutting), a Pothos, a ton of Aloe, and a Philodendron (of course).  I also have a Bouganvilla staying indoors with us through the winter.  Not the handiest plant to move around as it has thorns and is a climber, but I “just had to have it.”  If you have pets/children be sure you are aware of what plants are poisonous so you can keep them out of reach.  I doubt this is a comprehensive list, but will at least get you started.  Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean we have to breathe the same stagnant, stuffy air day after day.  One other suggestion, be sure to watch for heat vents.  Placing a houseplant too close to a vent can be bad news for the plant.

It is almost the weekend for me.  It’s going to be a cold one.  I am hoping to make some progress on the shirt I am making, clean the house, finish the laundry, and of course baking and cooking for the week ahead.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Around the Homestead, Gardening, Green Living

A New Year and A New Plan…

It’s a new year and time to start some new things at our little homestead.  I have slowly been trying to use up or discard items in our home not organic, chemical-free, homemade, homegrown, etc.  For example, I’m using up the bar soaps, shampoo, lotions, and all bathroom items we have and will begin making our own as needed.  My first mission is to make lip balm.  I have placed an order with Mountain Rose Herbs for the items I am missing in order to do so.  I got the recipe from Crystal Miller’s website and can’t wait to try it.

After Reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I got serious about the idea of eating locally, growing as much of our own food as we can, going organic, and grass-fed meats.  So, this will be our year to make that transition also.  We are planning to increase our laying hen flock and hopefully change from raising Cornish-Rocks to a slower growing heritage breed for our meat.  We will still get our milk from a dairy, but are researching and thinking seriously about adding a Nubian dairy goat to our farm.  We will keep the size of sheep flock around 40-50 with our llama, Hank, at the head of the pack to guard them.  We are considering trying to raise 2 pigs for meat, but first things first is the dairy goat.

We have our two cats, Spooky and Cooter, and don’t intend to get anymore.  However, my husband and I have both agreed that if we are ever able to rescue an abandoned dog (“abandoned” meaning dumped along the side of the road, left to starve or freeze to death in the wild, NOT “we got a cute little, furry little, puppy and now it’s a dog and doesn’t fit into our lifestyle anymore, however if you remove the burden for us we will just go out and get another puppy in three years because we didn’t learn anything the first time around, I’ll step down now) we would take the dog into our home as long as it gets along with the two dogs we have now, Ash and Koal.

I have started doing yoga in the evenings and walking on our treadmill whenever I have a chance until it is nice enough to get outside and do some outdoor manual labor. 

We have lots of yard work to do from a recent ice storm.  There are limbs down everywhere that will need picked up, a new roof on our house in the spring, cut down the Austrian pine trees in front of our house with needle blight (we are considering replacing them with bamboo, anyone familiar with bamboo, and not the wild stuff?), repair our damaged fencing from the ice storm, and put up new electric fencing around our pasture.  Whew!  It’s going to be a busy spring as usual.  Did I mention we are expanding our garden also? 

We have a trip to Ohio and Michigan planned for the summer to visit my in-laws and attend a wedding (a friend of Randy’s).  Other than that we will be needed at home to tend to the garden, herbs, animals, and everything else that will need to be done through the summer.

We have also purchased two VW vans to restore.  One will be used for parts while the other is transformed into a lean, mean, 55-mph running machine.  It should be a fun project!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  I will spend mine baking, preparing our meals for the week ahead, cleaning, and spending time with Randy and the animals.