Around the Homestead, Gardening, Homemaking

Homestead and Blogging Update…

I know some of you have posted comments, and they haven’t been showing up in a timely fashion.  I’m sorry about that.  We are no longer allowed to access social networking sites at work and that includes my blog unfortunately.  I have to approve comments before they can be posted to my blog, so I can only do that from Mom’s store, a hot spot, or the local library and I just don’t make it there with our laptop very often.  I am reading your comments and promise to post them as soon as I can.  I love the comments and don’t want anyone discouraged and not commenting.

We finally got some much needed rain.  Our pasture was in serious need of rain after being burned off and not a drop had fallen since.  Now with upper 70s in our forecast there is hope our pasture will grow.  The sheep usually get to go out on pasture the first of May, but that will not be the case this year due to lack of rain.  Our hay supply is dwindling with only two weeks’ worth left.  Hay will be in short supply due to a dry spring.  I sure prices will reflect this also.  It may be a long hard year as fuel, hay, and everything else continue to rise. 

Brick patio we built in our backyard.


A planter built from grain elevator buckets and filled with flowers from mom’s store.

I just wanted to give everyone a quick update and let you know the situation with your comments and my infrequent postings.  I will try to post as often as I can, but with no internet service at home it is difficult at times.


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.


Furniture Polish…

I have tried other recipes for homemade furniture polish and this is by far my favorite.  I use olive oil from Sam’s….nothing fancy.

Furniture Polish:

 1 cup olive oil

1 t lemon essential oil

     **I didn’t have lemon, so I used 25 drops grapefruit e.o. and 25 drops lavender e.o.

Shake well before use.

I store mine in a pint-sized wide-mouth canning jar.

Around the Homestead, Gardening, Homemaking, In The Kitchen

Lots to do and company coming…

We have been really busy around our homestead the past couple of weeks/months. 


We are putting the garden in and some of the things are getting off to a late start due to a lack of fencing.  We needed to fence our free-range chickens out of the garden, but instead they are on a short break from their free-range status until we can get fencing around the garden.

So far we have potatoes, onion, peas, greens, beets, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower planted in the garden.

Randy borrowed a roto-tiller from our neighbors and was tilling the garden (and before you say anything I don’t like deep tilling the garden and suggested not turning the soil anymore than necessary).  Eh hem, so he was roto-tilling the garden and the engine locked up, piston broke, etc.  $150-$200 and a few hours of labor later the roto-tiller should be purring like a kitten again.

Yard work:

I managed to get the fruit trees sprayed with an organic dormant oil spray from Gardens Alive.  It has to stay above 45 degrees for 24 hours in order for the spray to work.  Sadly, yesterday was about the first calm day with a predicted low above 45.


Dad came down with the tractor and disk and worked up a bottom area of our pasture that seemed to only grow poke, devil’s claws, stickers, and cheat.  Yesterday evening, I headed down there with a big bucket of turnip seeds and my little lawn fertilizer spreader to throw some turnip seed around.  The plan is to have turnips for the sheep to eat soon and follow up by planting grass.  We’re a little late, but that’s kind of our theme this season.  I have no idea how many seeds got thrown, where they got thrown for sure, if they will come up, and what it will look like if they do, but it is done and we got a tiny bit of moisture last night and today to help the little guys grow.

Tonight we will be docking tails and doctoring sheep.  Luckily a friend of Randy’s and my Dad will be there to help.  They will also start an hour before I get home, so hopefully they have it covered by the time I get home from work.  Randy’s mom and fiancé are visiting this weekend, so I have plenty of tidying up to do before they get here.

I know we eat differently than a lot of people, so I always panic when we have company and meals will have to be prepared.  I don’t want to freak anyone out with the meals we eat, but I also don’t want to completely change who we are for someone.  So, I will make some slight compromises which some are more of a convenience for me anyway (i.e. store bought tortillas). 

We will probably go out to eat once or twice.  His mom can’t sit still for long and insists on going “shopping” a lot.

Otherwise, on the menu:


*Fajitas (venison, shhh!) with homemade salsa, homemade yogurt, store bought ww tortillas (compromise/convenience), and homemade Spanish rice

*Roasted Chicken (raised on our farm) with baked potatoes, veggie, and homemade bread


*I hope to make ww pancakes one morning while they are here and maybe kefir smoothies another morning if anyone is feeling daring.


*Organic raw veggies (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery) and homemade Ranch dressing

*Organic apples with organic peanut butter

*Organic bananas

*And possibly no-bake cookies if I’m feeling froggy!  I know they aren’t healthy, but man are they tasty.

We are supplementing a bottle lamb right now, so it will be fun for his mom to get to feed the little cutie.  Our blue heeler, Ash, can always squeeze in a game of fetch.  And our cat, Spooky, can always stand to be held and loved on.

I’ll try to take some pictures over the weekend, so I have some more interesting posts next week.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Animals, Around the Homestead, Homemaking

Pet Litter Freshener & Humidifier addition…

I was the only being who could walk upright (not including the chickens) on the farm Friday.  Breakfast consisted of old-fashioned organic oatmeal topped with raisins, walnuts, and one teaspoon sucanat. 

It was a whopping 15 degrees when I went out to do morning chores.  My morning chores consist of:

Breaking ice on the stock tanks

Turning off the barn lights

Looking over all the sheep for signs of sickness or labor

Breaking ice on the chickens water

Opening the chickens doors

Feeding and watering the cats

Letting the cats out to roam

Changing the litter box and sprinkling with Pet Litter Freshener

*I used to use Mrs. Meyer’s Pet Litter Freshener, now I just make my own.

Pet Litter Freshener:

1 cup Baking Soda

5 drops Orange Essential Oil (be careful with citrus EO as they can cause skin irritations

10 drops Lavender Essential Oil

We use the inexpensive litter or floor absorbent from the auto parts store, so this freshener helps keep down odor so the cats routinely use the litter box and don’t decide to go elsewhere.

Once inside I make our bed, continue doing laundry, and refill the humidifier.


3 gallons of Water

20 drops Tea Tree Oil

20 drops Eucalyptus Oil

I’m also on a mission to consume more Red Raspberry Leaf Tea to help with cramping.  So at 5:30am, 8:30am, and 10:00am I treated myself to tea.

I managed to get our files organized and all our manuals (kitchen appliances, shop tools, etc.) filed away in a nice orderly fashion. 

Lunch consisted of leftover Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken and brown rice.  Oh, don’t forget breaking ice on the stock tanks.  I also check on the sheep every two hours since it’s lambing season.

In the afternoon I headed up to Grandma’s to get four five-gallon buckets of barley/corn for the sheep this week.  I also filled all four of our bird feeders with sunflower seeds.

By then it was time for evening chores which consist of:

Breaking ice on the stock tanks

Turning on the barn lights

Looking over all the sheep for signs of sickness or labor

Breaking ice on the chickens water

Feeding the chickens

Collecting eggs (or egg this time of year)

Feeding the cats

Cat Fight…..

Later in the evening just before dark we lock up the cats, chickens and the sheep for the night.

I also try to play fetch with our blue heeler, Ash, at least twice a day so she doesn’t drive Randy crazy the minute he walks through the door.

Like she tends to annoy Koal all day everyday.

Or how she annoys me by barking all day.  If you have ever heard a cattledog bark you will never for get it.  It’s a high-pitched yip that makes your temples ache.

So we aim for this…..

She’s a lot cuter when she’s shut down.

Homemaking, In The Kitchen

Lavender Linen Spray

I LOVE this recipe and use it every night before bed.  Just one spray on your pillow at night is perfect.

Lavender Linen Spray:

3 cups Distilled Water

3 oz. Vodka

15-30 drops Lavender Essential Oil

1 Amber Glass Spray Bottle

Sterilize the glass container by placing it in boiling water for 3 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Pour distilled water and vodka into the glass bottle, using a funnel if needed.  Add the lavender essential oil and stir or shake until mixed.

Oh, I about forgot to mention.  Look for the mini bottles of Vodka near the checkout at your local liquor store.  They are either 1.7 oz or 2.7 oz, I can’t remember, but buying one or two of these would save you from buying a pint.

Around the Homestead, Homemaking, In The Kitchen

Monday at Home…

Monday I was home by myself.  It was extremely cold, so I tried to get chores over with early in the morning so I wouldn’t have to dread them any longer.  I drug a hose out of the building and everyone got fresh water, fresh salt and mineral, and I Everyone was doing well.  The sheep and llama don’t seem to mind the cold very much.

I got a slow start on housework when I returned indoors.  It was just one of those days I was really dragging.  I baked bread, walked on the treadmill, worked on our taxes, and did some reading and note taking.

In the afternoon I made another loaf of bread called:

Quick Sourdough Bread

I used all olive oil (4 T.) instead of butter just because it was easier, whole wheat bread flour, and sucanat instead of sugar. 

Any tricks on how to measure out flour without having to sifted would be wonderful.  I think I would make this again if I didn’t have to sift three cups of flour.  It’s not bad.  Mine didn’t need 40 minutes to bake, however.

I also whipped up a pot of Broccoli Soup that was really good.  I used “fresh” cream I had frozen and it worked great.  We had Sloppy Joes and Broccoli Soup for dinner.  It was a perfect day for soup since it was so cold and yucky outside. 

Sloppy Joes:

½ lb hamburger

1 cup beans, cooked (I use leftover pinto, black, whatever I have)

Ketchup, Mustard, and Sucanat to taste

Served on homemade bread with canned sweet green tomatoes, Yum!

As promised, here is the ketchup recipe I used this summer to can homemade ketchup from tomatoes out of our garden.


2 gal. tomato pulp

*This consists of the juice, ran through a food mill, and boiled hard for one hour, you should have 2 gallons remaining once it’s boiled.

1 cup cane juice crystals

1 cup sucanat

3 cups white vinegar (could possibly be decreased so it’s thicker)

1 t. ginger

1 t. allspice

1 t. ground mustard

1 t. cinnamon

3 T. sea salt

Tomato Paste

Once you have boiled the tomato juice hard for one hour, add one add sugars, spices, and salt.  Boil for another 30 minutes.  Bottle and seal.

I canned mine in pint jars although it was still pretty thin in consistency.  When I was ready to use it I took two pints of the ketchup, put it in a pan, added one 6 oz can of tomato paste, cooked on low until the tomato paste was dissolved, and then placed in a quart jar in the refrigerator.

Hope everyone is staying warm and had a nice weekend.

Animals, Around the Homestead, Homemaking

Baby Lambs, Homemaking, Stray Dog, and a VW or two…

I am off work on Mondays and Fridays and work 10 hour days with 2 hours total on the road Tuesday-Thursday.  I get some grief from my family because I’m a “part-timer,” however; it works out for them from time to time also.

Friday, I was up bright and early to send Randy off to work.  He had been sick with an upset stomach the day before and still not feeling 100%.  I spent the morning cleaning, baking bread, and doing the outside chores before heading to my Grandma’s to vacuum her house for her.  She was in the hospital the week before Christmas and given strict orders vacuuming is not to be a part of her activities anymore.  So, she has asked me to tend to the vacuuming and any other housekeeping chores she cannot do herself. 

I got home in time to start making dinner, to vacuum our house, and finish up the laundry.  Finally, at 2:30 I sat down on the sofa to snuggle with the pups and do some reading.  Five minutes later my Dad pulls in the driveway and tells me he needs help with a ewe.  She has been laboring for some time now and not having any luck delivering.  As a recap, my Dad broke his ankle last spring and can’t maneuver very well these days.

So, I grabbed a few birthing necessities, changed clothes (thankfully), and headed to their house to assist.  The ewe is a first timer and smaller/younger than Dad likes them when entering motherhood.  He had a ram clear two fences and made his way into the pen of ewe lambs.  Dad thinks about 6-8 of them were bred by the ram.  This ewe was the second one to go into labor.  Anyway, as I began checking her I could tell she hadn’t dilated, I only found one foot at first, then two but couldn’t tell if they were the front or back legs.  (Keep in mind I am still new to the world of sheep birth.)  I began pull the lamb and finally felt the head.  Whew!  She slowly dilated a little, but still not enough to pull the lamb.  To make a long story short, I ended up lying on the ground with a sweatshirt wrapped around the lamb’s legs, Dad was holding the ewe so she wouldn’t lay down, and we pulled, and pulled, and pulled until finally a bouncing baby girl arrived.  Mama and baby are fine, but it was a scary little event.

It was kind of weird in my last entry I made reference to the fact if we happened to find another dog we would make it our own.  Well, we found a dog along the side of the road Saturday evening.  To make a very long story short, it smelled faintly of skunk and had a cut on his face, the vet said we would have to quarantine the dog 6 months with minimal contact to make sure it didn’t have rabies or have the dog put down.  We slept on it and decided to keep the dog, borrowed a 6×10 dog run, wired the bottom, and attempted to clean the cut on the side of his face.  As I was cleaning the cut I noticed small little pieces of something coming out of his cheek.  It wasn’t a skunk after all, but a porcupine.  My cousin called to let us know she had found the owner of the dog.  They came to get him and told us they were going to have the dog put down because they didn’t want to deal with it (they had the dog a grand total of one day, are in their 70s, and both disabled, eh hem).  Some friends of theirs had found the dog as a stray and asked them if they wanted it, and they agreed take the dog.  The wife came to get the dog and borrowed our collar and leash to take him to the vet.  As she was leaving said she would just have the dog doctored, pay for it, and deal with her husband when she got home (he is the one who brought the dog home and also the one who decided to have it put down).  When Randy stopped in to pick up our collar and leash the next day he asked what had happened to the dog.  Apparently he had previously had surgery on his face for a broken jaw, they had wired his chin to a metal plate they had placed in his cheek, and the wire-like stitches were protruding back out of his skin (not porcupine quills after all).  So, the vet fixed him all up and is kenneling him for one week while the current owners try to locate the previous owners.  Obviously someone has put some money into this dog and may be out there looking for him.  If the owners aren’t located he will either go into the humane society or be put to sleep because the current owners have decided they don’t want him anymore.  People absolutely amaze me, but that is beside the point.  Randy and I are tossing around the idea of whether we would like to take the dog on or not if a home is not found by the end of the week.  There are just a lot of things to consider before we can commit to another animal (will he get along with our dogs, can he clear our fence, will he hurt our sheep or chickens, can we afford another dog, etc.).

Monday I helped my mom on the computer.  She is taking over my Avon business so I can use my time to make my own soaps, shampoos, etc. as opposed to buying the chemical laden type.  My afternoon was spent working on our taxes and making meals for the week ahead of time.  I also made bierocks with homemade ketchup.  We liked this ketchup better than the NT recipe, so I will try to remember to pass it along this week.

We are going to try a new routine.  We have taken on yet another project of restoring a VW bus.  Since the days are noticeably starting to lengthen we have decided to rearrange our evening schedule so Randy will have time to work on the VW, and I will have time to do yoga before eating since you are supposed to do it on an empty stomach.  We are pushing dinner back about 45 minutes to one hour to give us time to do our own thing before eating.  I don’t like eating too late, but 6:30 or 7:00 shouldn’t be too bad.

Without further ado……

This is the parts bus (engine, etc.)

And this is the keeper.  Kind of hard to tell the difference, huh?  We are thinking green for the color, but as you can see we are a long way from paint.  First things first it needs an axle and tire to get it off Dad’s car hauler.

Hope everyone has a wonderful day.

Homemaking, Self-Sufficiency, Soap Making



I saw this on another lady’s blog, but her blog has been closed since so I cannot link it.  So, I typed up the directions and thought I would pass them along. 


This is a fun way to make soap without the worry of using lye.  You can adjust the herbs and vitamins to meet your family’s needs.


4 (4 oz.) bar IVORY Soap

1 ½ cups Water

6 Chamomile tea bags (or ½ to 1 cup favorite dry herbs)

3 oz. Olive Oil

1 oz. Vitamin E Oil

2 T. Vitamin A

Essential Oil for fragrance (optional)

In a stainless steel pan, bring water to a boil then add tea bags and steep, covered over low heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate soap.  I use a food processor.

Remove tea bags and squeeze well.  Add grated soap and stir gently.  Over stirring will cause suds.  Melt soap, covered on low to medium heat while folding melted portions in every few minutes.  This process may take awhile.  This allows you to do other things around the kitchen while your soap is melting.  You may need to add small amounts of water if bottom of pan gets too hot.

When soap is melted, fold in oils and vitamins.  Continue heating over low heat and covered while folding occasionally, until soap is smooth.

Turn soap out into an 8 inch square pan lined with plastic wrap.  Shake pan vigorously to even out mixture and bring any air bubbles to the surface.  Smooth the top with the back of spoon if necessary. 

When surface skims over, you can put the pan in the freezer to speed up the firming process or just let it set for about 4-6 hours.  I let mine set overnight.

When soap feels firm turn it out onto a board and cut it into bars with a sharp knife.  You can chop up the trimmings and squeeze them into soap balls if you like.

Set soap on end and let dry 2-6 weeks, depending on how much water was added.  Turn bars halfway through the drying process.  This soap is ready to use at any time, but the less dry it is the faster it dissolves and will crumble easily.

*not the greatest photo of the soap, but you get the idea : )

Use this soap for gifts or just for your family.  Enjoy!


Handy candle trick…

For those of you who don’t know this already; when candles have burned themselves out and all you are left with is a stuck on pile of melted wax, place the candle holder in the freezer for a few hours (I do overnight) and the wax should pop right out of your candle holder with a little tapping.  It works!

It is the time of year we like to burn candles at dinner and use our oil lamps.  The lamps put off a decent amount of heat and light and the candles provide light and create a calming atmosphere.

Have a great day!