Beauty in Bloom

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I want to tell you about a brand new shop that I am super duper excited about!  My friend Amy makes some AMAZING products and she sent me a few to sample.  This is what she has to say about her products.

“I started making my own beauty products a little over a year ago. The more I made my own products the more I started to notice that most beauty products have TONS of ingredients! Honestly, most of those ingredients are probably safe, but it seems like every year or so a major discovery is made that an ingredient we thought was harmless is actually poisonous or that a company actually has carcinogens in their product but the ingredient was labeled as “fragrances.” I find it much more comforting to use the most simple, basic, natural ingredients possible and KNOW what I’m using is safe. This passion has driven me to want to share my products with other people, to help them bring a truly natural experience into their lives. I decided to launch Beauty in Bloom to realize that desire. I am working on increasing my inventory and finding interested customers.”

Here is what I was able to try out.

The first one I want to tell you about is the body spray.  Not only does it smell absolutely FANTASTIC but it keeps you all soft and smooth all day long.  I like how light it is and how a little bit goes a long way.  I swim several times a week and I use this after I get out of the pool.  It has kept my skin healthy and happy even after spending hours and hours in the harsh pool.  Love, love LOVE this one.

The next product she sent me to sample is the Ageless Beauty Cream.  It is wonderful moisturizer that I have been using as a hand cream.  My hands have been super dry from the longest winter ever and lots of hand washing from playing outside all the time.  This one lasts all day, has a light pleasant smell and a little really does go a long, long way.

I was lucky enough to get a jar of the Gentle Face Exfoliant as well.  This one smells like heaven…..my husband said he wanted to eat it.  Seriously-that’s how amaze-balls it smells.  This one can be used weekly to scrub away all the nasties you get on your face and we all know how many funky things and messes we end up with after playing in the barn with our animals every day.  I love this one-it’s gentle and works very well.

Last product I got to try out is the Vanilla Lavender Body Scrub.  It’s another one that smells just divine.  I am not always a fan of lavender, but this one is a fresh, sweet smelling scrub and I am a big fan.  It comes in a great big 8 oz jar that will last a long time.  It’s packed with moisturizers that other scrubs lack so I did not find myself dry and scratchy after using it.

Amy takes great care in making her products and each one has ingredients that have been specifically selected to give your skin and body the very best benefits.  A lot of her products are organic and she uses quality essential oils.

BONUS! She is running a promo right now!  She is including a free 2 oz. sample of Smooth Lotion with the next 20 purchases From her Etsy shop!

So go show Amy some love!  Order some super quality beauty products, like her Facebook page and tell her we sent ya.

Happy Homesteading!

Have Faith

Lets  talk about faith for a second.  Don’t confuse faith for religion, I want to talk about FAITH.  Faith is the trust you have that something will happen.  I have faith that God will take care of us and provide for us….He always has.  But this is not a post to tell you all about my religious views-it’s to remind you that faith is so important!

www.pinterest.comWhen times are hard, when we are troubled, we tend to lean on our faith.  I know I do.  Think about every big decision you’ve had to make.  Should I move, should I invest, should I buy that?  You probably put some thought or prayer to it and then you took that “leap of faith” and went for it.  These adventures don’t always pan out like we hoped but the point is you had FAITH!  You believed that God would protect you….you had trust in your spouse or you just plain hoped and prayed that it would work and it did.  Call it luck (I don’t) but you had to have that initial faith.

The use of the word faith is in the decline.  Is it that we are losing our faith?  You would have to be living in a bubble to not see that times are changing all around us.  Preppers are starting to be considered more main stream and normal.  Homesteaders and the amount of people who are growing their own food are on the rise.  The chicken supply section of your local farm store is probably bigger than ever.  Whatever your political views are, people are taking more time to care for their families in a more sustainable way.  Blogs like mine are popping up all over and growing bigger everyday!  People have more faith in themselves!  I think it’s WONDERFUL!

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Finally, I have faith that there will be a more wonderful future for my children.  I have faith that they will be equipped with the tools they need to deal with life.  I am giving them these invaluable skills now so when they are adults, they can help create a more beautiful world.  I teach them to have faith.  I teach them to dream, to imagine and to create.  I hope they use these skills to help others.  I hope they see the value in hard work and in compassion.  But I hope they are strong and confident.  And faithful.

This faith….it’s the foundation.  Without it, you are hopeless and scared.

Happy Homesteading!

Meet our friend Bobby

Last week we ran a contest over at Farm Chit Chat and wanted to feature one of our fans in a post.  Our friend Bobby from Nebraska won that contest and I think you will enjoy reading her story.  It is short, but shows a fighter’s spirit.  I could relate to some of that story…..starting over, selling animals and moving in with mom.   But Bobby says she believes in paying it forward and helping others who are facing difficult times.  I love that!  Thank you for sharing your story with us Bobby, I think our readers will enjoy it!

Happy Homesteading!

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I use to have 30 acres with farrow to feeder pigs and a few other animals years ago but 4 1/2 years ago I started renting some land and getting horse’s for the kids and yes my little GiGi chiwa that I trained to kiss and other tricks but sadly in 2012 I had to put her to sleep due to those nasty dog treats that turned famous killing dogs across the US.   I got my Mandy rough coat collie and have trained her the same but didn’t have any pics.   At this time I am separated and so are my boys and with out a home (I’m staying at my mom’s) so the only animal I have is my Mandy.

Mandy

GiGi

I did have a great garden with lots of fruit trees and bushes but plan to rent my nephews house and plant again.   My favorite animals (can’t have just one lol) is my Mandy of course and my GiGi ;) but also my horse Kinzy which I had to sell in November. 

Kinzy

Kinzy, who now works as a cattle horse in Western Nebraska

Skittles, a rescue who is now a therapy horse

I have gardened for over 35 years including home canning and butchering myself any deer the hunters bring to us. I am a survivor and yes would be ready for the zombies if they came lol.. I found and like you by looking in the  search on FB, you have interesting articles and pictures. love animals and gardening anything that comes with it except the snow or cold. I do not have a business any longer but did have a knight crawler one for 7 years otherwise gave garden stuff away to help others out with difficult times. I believe in paying it forward. I wish I could find a farmstead again but prices are so high and starting over will be difficult.  I thank you again for choosing me I really didn’t expect to win and don’t really feel I deserve it  but wanted to show my GiGi ;). 

Beauty all around

I live right on the Mississippi and it can be really pretty.  Earlier today I was cruising around Facebook and saw some just absolutely stunning pictures.  I reached out to the photographer, Merlyn Malone Law, and asked if I could share some of her work with you and she said yes :)  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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This is the view from Clinton, Iowa looking over into Fulton, Illinois.

Fulton has a strong Dutch community and a fully functional working windmill.  The windmill has even ground barley grown by local farmers to be used in a Windmill Rye Whiskey.

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The last picture is one I took last summer just a bit up river from Merlyn’s photo’s.  It is the widest spot of the Mississippi.

For such a small town, we have 2 bridges that connect Fulton and Clinton.  This is a view of what we all call the North bridge.  It is actually the Mark N. Morris Bridge and was opened in 1975.

Thanks to all the Polar Vortexes.….vortexi….vortesies…..whatever….Thanks to all the cold weather the Mississippi is frozen and has more ice than many people have seen in a number of years.

Life on the Mississippi is beautiful.  Thank you to Merlyn for sharing her pictures with us.

Happy Homesteading!

Are you a Dreamer?

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Are you a dreamer?  My husband is.  He left the military a little over 2 years ago and decided to take a chance.  Lets go back a bit…..

After we decided to separate from the Air Force we moved in with my parents to help us get back on our feet.  We stayed with them for a little over a year with our 2 babies and tried to decide what we were going to be when we grew up.  All I wanted to do was be a homesteader and grow food, animals and the babies.  That’s my dream.  His was a little different.  He wants to create the very best life possible for us.  He is a crazy entrepreneur and he is a dreamer.  He see’s life in the way an artist does.  And I think it’s amazingly beautiful.

Dreamers are special but fragile.  I recently posted this on the FB page:

“Steps up on soap box….

I have a friend who sells Mary Kay. She started a little over a year ago and has really done well trying to grow her business. She is at a MK conference right now and must be feeling inspired and super motivated because she posted that her next car will be a BMW (the award for being a top seller). So tell me why are all the comments from her “friends” under the post about how expensive parts are and not words of encouragement? Why is it so much easier to DIScourage people or point out the flaws in their plan? Why can’t we use our words to empower or motivate? Is it really too much work to just keep the negativity to yourself? Perhaps they are not viewing it as negativity but advice. Trust me…..this chick is no dummy and I am sure she is aware that a BMW part is more costly than a Ford part. I challenge all of you to find a post from a friend and give them encouragement and use uplifting words. If we all take this small step, imagine the power we are giving those who are chasing a dream and putting themselves out there…..I promise, it won’t hurt.

Steps off soap box.”

Lisa, the friend I was talking about in the post is also a dreamer.  She started her Mary Kay business with an almost indifferent approach.  She told me she did not really think she would like it and was going to give it a shot…see what happened.  Here we are a short time later and she has done amazing things with her business.  She believed in herself and had a dream of success.  She followed it.  But had she been met with nay-sayers or those of us who refuse to encourage what would have happened to that dream?  It would have died….vanished.

I wish people would take the time to see the good in life.  The good in people.  I’m not delusional.  I know there are bad people, ruined people, and nasty mean lost people who will bring you down.  But what if you assumed that most of us are good.  What if you took the approach that not every one wants to do me harm?  It would change your whole perspective.  I know this because I’ve done it.  Like a little child, I’ve started to look at people and assume only the very best.  I never focus on the things I don’t like, only the things I do.

When we meet people we are quick to judge.  We see a mom in Wal Mart with sweats and messy hair with 2 babies and an iPhone.  She pays with food stamps and we assume she is lazy.  But what you might not know is she is embarrassed and ashamed.  Her parents pay her phone bill and the car she drives off is also a loaner from family.  She dreams of a better life and is working on making it happen.  Her hair is messy because she just finished cleaning houses for a friend and stayed up all night reading…studying.  But for now, she needs assistance and love.  Not judgments and harsh reactions.

Another example, you see a frail, thin, starved horse in a pasture.  You see weeds in his tail and cuts on his leg.  You decide you will call animal control to rescue the animal and teach this negligent owner a lesson.  What you don’t know is this horse is old and was rescued by the owner of this field.  By calling animal control you have now forced this person, who already invested money in a rescue to now defend themselves and spend more money on a vet check.  Assume the best, not the worst.

Again, I am not an idiot.  I know there is bad out there but there is just so much good.  When you start to look for it, you see it EVERYWHERE!  It’s all around you.  People who take time to care for the sick or elderly.  People who give gifts to children.  People who stop to help a stranger change a tire.  Angels are all around us.  Once you take this small step, things will start to change in your own life.  It will seem safer, happier and more manageable.

Life is tough and for some people it is downright awful.  There are deaths, illness, financial worries and stresses but through all of that, if you have the dreamer’s spirit….the worldview of a child….it gets better.

I close this post with a quote by Dave Grohl that I put up all over my house.

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You can never do wrong by being kind.

Happy Homesteading.

Worry…and why it’s totally pointless

worryWorry, stress, doubt-we all deal with it.  Life on a farm or homestead brings plenty of stress and worry.  No matter how prepped you are, something goes wrong.  A hose freezes, pumps break, horses get out, roosters go rouge and get nasty-if you can think it, it happens.  And when you are a grown up and you have grown up problems like bills, raising kids, health concerns your worries can tend to overtake you.  I know this first hand.

I’m a woman and so I worry a lot…..admit it, you do too.  I worry about my kids-did I yell at them all day?  Am I raising polite and kind people?  I worry about money-did all the bills get paid?  Will we have enough if something happens?  I worry about the health of the family, I worry about my parents and Andy’s parents.  I worry about this blog and my future.  I worried about writing this post!  Will it offend anyone, will I get mean emails…. What does all this worry do?  Not a damn thing.  It doesn’t solve any problems, it doesn’t fix them or make them disappear.  In fact it often makes things worse.  It makes me angry, stressed and not so much fun to be around….then I am sad AND worried.

When I worry about money, it does a few things.  It sends a message to my husband that I don’t trust him to provide for us, which puts stress on the marriage and that eventually affects the kids.  I need to trust him to take care of us because he always has.  It’s also a sin.  When I worry about money, I am not trusting God to provide…..and he always has.  Even when we were down to what felt like nothing, we still had food, working vehicles and jobs.  We have never gone without nourishment, shelter or love.

I can’t add days to my life…..I can’t make money appear and I can’t worry my doubts and fears away. I can’t make people accept my views nor do I really need them too.  In such uncertain times for so many people it is only natural to worry about tomorrow’s problems.  But you just can’t.  There is no point to it.  It just makes things worse.

I firmly believe that this is a struggle I will have forever.  I also believe that some of us have to learn the hard way that it will be OK and I am lucky to have been given experiences and skills that I can pass on to my children.  I can prepare them for hard times while showering them with love.  I will be able to give them the tools they need to get through life.  We all know those people who were pampered or otherwise ill prepared for life…..I pray my children will not be them.

On the flip side, when I can honestly take all those fears and worries and just stop, I am SO HAPPY!  I feel like I can conquer the world!  It bleeds over into other parts of my life too.  Andy feels confident that he is taking care of us and I am confident in him.  The kids are happy because I can enjoy them and have fun.  And it’s one more way I am strengthening my relationship with God.  It’s kinda a win-win for all of us.

 So don’t worry!  It won’t change anything (except your health…and not in a good way).  Life is too short to spend the days filled with doubt.  You heart only has so many beats, you only get so many days-don’t waste them!

Happy Homesteading!

 

Holiday giveaway!!

Some of the gals over at Farm Chit Chat have gotten together to give you a few of our favorite things!

Up for grabs are egg basket, canning jars and egg sign from Timber Creek Farm, fresh honey from Better Hens and Gardens, A pendant from yours truly, a custom painting of your critter from The Back Yard Farming Connection, notecards from the Self Sufficient Homeacre, and an inspiration jar from Pasture Deficit Disorder.

 

open to US and Canada only, winner chosen at random and notified on December 17, 2013. Winner must email back within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen. 

 Good luck and Happy Homesteading! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chicken Stock

Homemade chicken stock is delicious and super easy!  I like to roast our whole chickens and when all the meat is gone, the carcass and whatever aromatics you used (onions, garlic, lemon) can be used to make a healthy, delicious stock that can be used in a number of different recipes.  To make the stock, simply place the carcass and any aromatics you like in a large stock pot and cover with cold water.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Let this simmer for at least 6 hours.  You can scrape off any fat that collects at the top or stir into the stock.  I like my stock to be a little heartier so I generally leave it in.  The longer you simmer, the thicker it will be.  This can be kept in the fridge for a week or the freezer for years.

Now, want to turn your stock into a cream base for pot pies or creamier soups? You’ll need 4 tbsp of butter , 1 cup of milk or cream, 1 cup of stock and 4 tbsp of flour.  Melt the butter in a pot over med heat.  Whisk in flour until you have a paste that is about as thick as toothpaste (you can add more if you need to).  Whisk in cream and stock.  It will thicken as you leave it on the heat.

Now you have chicken stock and cream stock without any gross additives, MSG or sodium levels out the a**.

Need a pie crust recipe for your pot pie?  Try this one from Crazyforcrust.com It uses butter, not shortening and it’s super fantastic.

Happy Homesteading!

Butternut Squash and Sausage Bowties

DISCLAIMER!  I am not a chef and I never (seriously never ever) measure anything when I cook.  I just make my food taste yummy to me and hopefully the people I’m feeding!  So chances are really good that the recipe you are about to read is one I made up on the fly and tried really hard to recreate just for you!  And if terms like “half a stick of butter” and “about a cup of chicken broth” make you shudder, this may not be the recipe for you.

 

1 box of bowtie pasta

1 butternut squash cubed and peeled

about a cup chicken broth

1 pound sausage (I use breakfast sausage but you can use whatever you like)

half a stick of butter

Parmesan cheese

Peel and cube squash.  Put in a microwave safe dish with a few tablespoons of water.  Cover and microwave until tender, about 8 minutes.  While that is getting all tender and fantastic, saute sausage cooking until it’s almost done in a large skillet.  Add pasta to boiling water and cook to al dente.  When squash is done and fork tender add to sausage.  Stir in chicken broth and let simmer for a few minutes.  Smoosh some of the squash to make a sort of sauce and add butter.  Let simmer until broth has reduced a bit.  When pasta is done throw that in the skillet with your squash awesomeness.  Stir to coat pasta and top with some Parmesan cheese-Enjoy!

Happy Homesteading!

Busy, Busy, Busy!!

In my last post I spoke about my blog identity crisis.  Since then we have hit the ground running.  Full speed.  With scissors.

The Handsome Homesteader’s business, Bent Business Marketing is approaching it’s first birthday!  In addition to growing a business he is running for city council!  I simply could not be more proud of this man.

The kids turned 2 and 4 this week and both of Andy’s parents made the trip from PA to visit!  My sister planned the MOST AMAZING birthday party for them and I pinky swear I will show you all just how amazeballs it really was. Pictures coming soon!!

We sent the ducks over to my mom’s and they seem to be pretty happy in their new-old home.

Andy, Adelyn and I went to the Livingston County Farm Crawl last month and it was SUPER inspiring.  I LOVED meeting all the gals and have yet to do a post on that (BAD MARLANA!!)  More to come on that one too…..

Through all of this I have found myself feeling various emotions.  Guilt, excitement, anxiety, hopefulness, and so many others.  Andy I have spent nights wondering just why we do this to ourselves.  “One project at a time” we keep saying…..yet it never sticks.  Are we gluttons for punishment or are we just super passionate and trying to make this life the best one EVER!?  It’s the latter.  We get up every day thinking “This is the day magic will happen!” and I really believe it.  I have this little plaque he bought me a while ago that says “we may not have it all together, but together we have it all” and dude…..we live that.  Andy and I have developed a partnership that I just don’t think is possible early in marriage or without trials.  I used to love him and think I needed him but now I respect him and have partnered with him.  We are a united front and we know just how to comfort each other during tough times.  We also know when to say “Stop acting like a baby and get your shit together!” in a loving way of course ;)  It’s critical in a marriage to support, honor and respect your spouse.  Do not let outsiders see you crumble and keep private moments private.  This is what works for us.  But I digress….this is not a marriage post!

 Each morning I get up and I mentally go over what I need to accomplish that day.  I almost never get it all done.  At the end of the day I sit down with a glass of wine and go over the next day….who I need to email, who I forgot to call, does the truck need an oil change?  But I make sure I take time to just unwind.

I’ve read several books the last year that say in order to be successful you need to work harder than everyone else 100% of the time.  And while I think that holds some truth I have to disagree.  Your mind and your body need to rest.  Even God rested on the 7th day and asks that we do the same.

So as wear gear up to go into the busy Holiday season make sure you take time to rest.  Stop trying to think of a crafty mason jar project or how to make the perfect costume for your kids.  Don’t cruise Pinterest feeling like crap because you can’t make glitter pumpkins and organic apple cider from apples you grew yourself.  If you eat frosting straight out of a can because you had a crap day and yelled at your kids-ask for forgiveness, move on and don’t beat yourself up.  Most of us are not crafty divas with all this homesteady genius in us.  At least I’m not!

Cheers to us, the normal ones!

Happy Homesteading!

 

 

My Blog is suffering from an identity crisis

Hey there homesteaders…….ever have one of those days where you just can’t seem to figure out which way is up?  That seems to be the issue here on the blog.  I started this page to teach people things my mom was teaching me on the farm.  I had friends ask me to start one and off I went, blogging about the chicks, weeds and how to pick hay.  Over the next year I found myself blogging with a group of WAY craftier than me bloggers and gals who can turn a mason jar and a piece of wood into a work of art I could never have imagined.  I am not the craftiest but I do have one thing going for me that I feel sets me apart.  My experiences.  In the last 3 years I have lost it all (like literally-we had an empty bank account), lived with my parents, moved across the country, had a baby, started a new business with my husband, swallowed my pride, been the recipient of unimaginable kindness, spent a week in the hospital with a sick baby, made incredible friends and changed my outlook on almost everything.  I’m just like a million other people out there who are struggling to get by and wondering what’s next.  Through it all, I kept on blogging about things I thought people would find interesting, but that I wasn’t super passionate about myself.  I guess it’s because I changed…..

So here we are today, this little blog with no real direction.

What do I do?

So I decided to just be me.  Post about issues I find interesting and share stories of inspiration with you. Share recipes I love and stories about a family who is the same as you-wondering what tomorrow will bring and how to grow these kids in the right way.  Tell you that it’s OK to feel pissed and scared but let you in on ways I deal.  Tell you all about my hens and how I screwed up by putting a brooder full of broilers in with our other chicks.  Share stories about the times I screwed it all up-cuz I’m learning too!  I hate the blogs that make it seem like they have it all together in this Martha Stewart like way and you leave feeling like a total failure because a chick died or your  hens escaped or you fee range.

Let me close this post by re-introducing you to me.  My name is Marlana and I am the wife of the most amazing man.  Don’t believe me?  Check this out.  His name is Andy and he works his ass off every day trying to give me and our kiddos the best life possible.  He is compassionate, caring and loves what he does.  He will spend hours with people trying to help them and not think to ask for any sort of compensation.  He has found his calling, found his faith, and found his path in life.  I simply could not be more proud of him.  I have two babies, Adelyn and Drew.  They are the other half of my whole world.  Adelyn is my princess who can dance like a little flower child while telling me stories about her imaginary friend Michael.  Drew is my biggest fan, ready to give me kisses and then go chop down a tree or save the world.  We have spent the last 3 years becoming far better people than we thought possible.  With compassion and sympathy for others that only a real struggle can give you.  I know how it feels to not have money to buy food, to know you have $100 and $600 in bills.  I know what it means to have to rely on family and wonder how you will pay them back.  I know what it means to stay up at night and worry about tomorrow.  I also know how it feels when people are kind to you for no reason other than they love you.  I know what it means to only have hugs to give as payment for a kind gesture.  I know how scary it is to wonder how you will provide for your kids……and how best to keep them from knowing that their parents are scared.  I don’t judge and I think with an open mind.  I have strong values and faith but I don’t think you have to share those views with me.  I ask for respect and give it in return.

I close this post with one last thing

Happy Homesteading!

 

Photo Credit

 

 

 

Livingston county farm crawl

“There is just a pure feeling of satisfaction when you wake up in the morning to this life and realize…OH my Gosh!!  we did it…” Melinda, Cherokee Winds

Hey Homesteaders!  I’d like to introduce you to a group of super neat ladies who are passionate about self sufficiency, homesteading, and providing for their families in a more natural way. Meet  Deborah from Antiquity Oaks, Cheryl from Farmer in Odell, Melinda from Cherokee Winds, Janet from Eden’s Harvest, Kat from M2A Farm.

The ladies raise a variety of animals.  Hens, goats, American Guinea Hogs, peafowl, rabbits, ducks, sheep, turkeys, horses, llamas, donkeys, dogs, cats, alpacas and bees.  They use the animals to supply for the family but also to supplement income by making soaps, cheeses, honey, fleece and so much more.  Many of them sell at local farmer’s markets and on their websites.    Their farms vary in size and location but their stories are all inspirational.  I took some time to ask them a few questions and will be visiting them at the Farm Crawl on August 17th (get your free ticket here).  This is what they had to say.

P.S. Deborah is the author of one of my go-to books Homegrown and Handmade.  Check out my reading list here to get a copy!

Mrs HH: How did you get started?

Deborah: In 2002 we moved out here with no experience in livestock at all beyond our two cats and a poodle. I read a lot of books and found mentors over the Internet. Then we dove in and started making a lot of mistakes! But we stuck with it, learned a lot, and had a lot of fun. I expect we’ll be learning and having fun forever out here.

Deborah’s buff orphington hen

Cheryl: In 1997 my husband, Keith, got a job far enough out of the suburbs that we were able to move out to the country where we’d wanted to be since before we were married.  We actually moved in late ’98.  Our main purpose was to be as self-sufficient as possible and we started out with a large vegetable garden plus ducks and geese for meat and eggs.  We also started planting fruit trees.

Cheryl’s son Andrew

“Sometimes it;s hard to get moving, but once I’m out there, I usually get lost in what I’m doing and totally enjoy every minute.” Deborah, Antiquity Oaks

Melinda: My farm purpose is to grow,  produce or make EVERYTHING I can from scratch..all natural.  The least amount of store of factory prepared stuff.  I make my own soaps..bath,  Laundry,  cleaning supplies..ect.  We can and freeze everything we grow…we produce our own Honey,  eggs,  herbs,  veggies,  some fruits and berries that’s growing bigger every year.  I got started officially in August of 2000 when we purchased our little farm.

 

Janet: We had wanted to live in the country for years.  When we finally made the move we put our gardening experience to work and started selling our produce.  We love it and everyday are thankful to be living in the country.

Sunset at Eden’s Harvest

Kat: By 2003, with the house paid off, on my second marriage (got it right this time), kids grown and self-sufficient, and with my mom living with us, I made up my mind to go after my lifelong dream of a rural lifestyle. Thankfully, Ron and my mom Lydia were up for the adventure.  We finally found a beautiful place just west of Dwight, IL. It had a nice ranch house (easy for Lydia), that didn’t need to be painted (big plus for Ron), a stocked pond, large shed, and mature trees (we didn’t have time to wait for seedlings to grow). I wanted more than the almost-6 acres, but when your mom says she could die happy if she could spend just one night on the place, you seal the deal. We’ve never regretted it. Lydia got 2 and a half happy years here before she died. That alone was priceless. We also got some of the best neighbors ever.

M2A Farm Alpaca

“Time flies, whether you’re having fun or not, and since odds are you don’t know what you’re expiration date is, you might as well enjoy every minute!” Kat, M2A Farm

Mrs HH: Why is the Farm Crawl important to you?

Deborah: I like to let people see our farm so that they can see how food used to be grown and how it could still be grown. Educating people about their food is really important to me. They need to know that chickens can happily co-exist without being debeaked as long as they are allowed to live outside like chickens were meant to live. And mama pigs can raise their babies outside, and those pigs can be healthy and don’t need antibiotics in their feed every day to stay healthy. Knowledge is power, and when people lose the knowledge of basic food production it is easy for Big Ag to come along and convince people that animals need antibiotics daily to survive or that they are debeaking chickens for their own protection. But the reality is that animals survived since the beginning of time without antibiotics or debeaking or any of the other inhumane and unhealthy practices that are common in modern agriculture. The simple fact is that factory farming created a lot of problems that have to be solved with high tech answers — or simply return to raising animals naturally like we do!

One of Deborah’s little lambs

Cheryl: The farm crawl has been important in a few ways.  First, we’ve been able to educate people on how you can do some homesteading on such a small piece of land.  People think you need 10 or 20 acres, but we’ve been able to do a lot with a little land.  The only downfall is that we have to buy almost all the food the animals need.  But, we’ve learned that weeds make excellent goat and pig food.  Free range chickens eat most of the bugs we get over the spring, summer and fall.  Grass can be left to dry and then raked up and saved to feed to the goats or pigs later.  The same is true for leaves in the fall.  We can also grow squash for the animals, which they love.  There are a lot of people that would like to do what we’re doing and this gives them hope.  We’ve also been able to give them ideas on how to homestead in the yards they already have in the ‘burbs or the city, or even with an apartment balcony.  Second, though we’ve been here 14 years, we’ve met very few of our true neighbors.  Being half a mile or more apart means you don’t meet them when you happen to be outside together.  Now and again we get the wrong mail or a dog shows up here and we contact its owner, but that’s rare.  We realized a few years ago  that we’ve been talked about by the neighbors and they don’t know what to think of us!  The first Crawl gave them an excuse to show up and look around and find out what is really going on here – it was great fun to meet them and show them around.  And, third, it has helped provide a little income for us.  We sold a lot of soap and other bath and body products last year.  This year we’re expanding what we are selling a little bit to test the waters and see what people want.  Some of those customers have come back a few times to buy more soap, or told friends who then came over and bought a few bars.  It’s not a lot, but business is growing a little bit.  I suppose there is one more benefit.  Our younger children were out there helping show people around, telling them stories about the animals and helping with the soap sales.  That they’ve had that experience is priceless to me.

A few of Cheryl’s goat milk products

“I get to watch the kittens play while I am milking the goats or watch the piglets nursing.  It’s so beautiful.” Cheryl, Farmer in Odell

Melinda: Farm Crawl is important to show people it CAN BE DONE,  yes it takes work and dedication but it is worth all you put into it.  It does not get any better than this…I was born and raised in Chicago and Hubby in McHenry..if 2 city transplants can do it..so can they.  There is just a pure feeling of satisfaction when you wake up in the morning to this life and realize…OH my Gosh!!  we did it…

Melinda’s Prince Harry

Janet: It’s an opportunity for exposure of our farm business.  It’s also fun to meet other people of all backgrounds that are interested in visiting a farm.

Some of Janet’s turkeys

Kat: We didn’t know how we’d use the golf-course-like grounds, at least not for the first two months. Then a man from the county assessor’s office showed up and said they were going by the “current and best use of the land” to reassess us from “agriculture” to “residential”. WHAT??!!! We were surrounded by corn and beans and had specifically searched for land with an agricultural designation. I told the man we were going to get chickens and he said, “Chickens aren’t agriculture.” Suggested a horse, but he said it had to be a breeding operation. With both of us too old and broken down to breed horses, Ron declined my suggestion of “the expensive hobby” of miniature horses. Long story less long: the assessor said, “You’re not a farm.” So we got alpacas and told him, “Am TOO a farm!” Since our last name begins with “M” and two of us were the farmers, we became M2A Farm. (I leave the “dammit” part off for propriety’s sake.) We make every effort to treat our customers and visitors with the courtesy, ethics, and respect with which we would want to be treated. Family-friendly, educational tours in a small, intimate setting allow visitors the opportunity to enjoy a little time in the fresh country air, learn something, share experiences, and make new friends.

Kat’s guard dogs

My favorite part of homesteading is having a morning cup of coffee on the screened in porch with family and looking out to the fields and listening to the birds singing.  My least favorite thing is when I have to leave home.” Janet, Eden’s Harvest Farm

Please consider visiting this year’s Farm Crawl with me.  You can find more information on their site here.

You can also learn more about each of these super neat ladies by visiting their sites. 
Deborah from Antiquity Oaks
Cheryl from Farmer in Odell
Melinda from Cherokee Winds
Janet from Eden’s Harvest
Kat from M2A Farm

 

Happy Homesteading!

 

 

Venison….Blech!

Venison stew I made for Mr HH. He loved it…….I didn’t :(

So I hear venison is all about the way you cook it.  So tell me how to cook it!  I want you to send me your best venison recipe so  I can finally learn to love it (or at least choke it down).

Send your BESTEST recipe handsomehomesteader@gmail.com and I will start trying your concoctions and let you know how delish they are :0

Happy homesteading!

Double Bred Donnerhall Filly out of De Niro Mare

 

Seline, Fina as we call her, is a royally bred Filly out of Deniro mare.  Seline has exceptional movement and elegant features.  Stunning head and neck, guaranteed to excel in any discipline, and will add coveted bloodlines to your breeding stock.  She has been exceptionally easy to train, and handles very well.  Sociable and sweet and will mature tall.  Her movements are fluid and uphill-she is incredibly athletic already.
This is not a filly you want to let slip by.  Perfect confirmation-she has quickly become one of our favorites.

 

To view more pictures of Fina, her Dam and full brother Sam please look here and here.

Fina is also listed on Warmbloods-for-sale.com

If you would like more information on her, please email me at handsomehomesteader@gmail.com

Princess Pins

Honestly, what smells better than sheets that have been kissed by the sun?!  And why have boring clothes pins when you can have Princess Pins!?

Tools needed:

  • Glue Gun
  • sparkles
  • Clothes Pins

I have been collecting boxes of costume jewelry and little odds and ends for a while.  I found this box for $5 at a garage sale-SCORE!

 

Glue your princess flair all over your pins-and viola!  Princess pins!

Happy Homesteading!

 

 

Gnats killed my chickens

 

Little Drew loves the chickens. This is him about to give the lil gal a kiss

 

A couple weeks ago I lost two 6 week old chicks.  Both were healthy, active and doing very well.  I take the chicks out to a little “get to know each other pen” I have set up next to the big run for a little bit each day.  This particular day was beautiful and sunny but the gnats have been really, really bad.  So I put the little guys in their pen, went to hang some laundry and when I was finished I went to check the chicks and noticed one was laying down and looked pretty stressed.  I immediately picked her up and my heart sank.  She was weak and I could tell it was not going to end well for her but I was also really confused.  How could a normal healthy chick just die?  I brought them all back inside and put them in the brooder while I put the little girl in my lap.  She was gasping and then just went still.  I help onto her for a sec thinking “she’s sleeping…..I can feel her breathing.” but she was gone.  I made a little straw bed in the milk crate and set her in it-still hoping she would wake up.  About 10 minutes later I went to check on the rest of the chicks and saw another little girl laying in the back of the brooder.  Again, my heart sank.  I reached in to grab her but she was already gone.  What had happened?!  I was so PISSED now!  I inspected both chicks.  No trauma, both had been vaccinated for Mareks, both had been healthy before the trip outside and the remaining 3 were still ok.  I went through all the possibilities…..poison?  No, the big girls share a run and they are all ok.  Chocking?  Maybe but not likely. Heat stress? It was not that hot……what did it?  So I went out to see if my big girls were all still ok-cuz now I was pissed and paranoid.  Again, I noticed just how bad the gnats were.  Could gnats do this?  So I started asking around.  Turns out a bunch of us had lost chicks and even hens this year and all of us noticed the gnats.  From what I had been hearing, the gnats were swarming and crawling in the eyes, noses and mouths of the chickens and suffocating them.  A neighbor lost 15 hens, at the farmers market a friend lost 6 hens, down the road a friend lost 5 chicks…..all blamed the gnats.

Turns out it’s more of a problem than I thought.  The gnats swam and suffocate the hens.  They also bite relentlessly and can cause an allergic reaction.  So how can you protect your hens?  Provide shelter.  The gnats seem to avoid going into the coop and they avoid dark places.  Skin so soft and Vanilla also work very well at keeping them off both people and animals (works FANTASTIC on horses in their ears and around eyes).  I spray the coop doors and the hens. with a vanilla water mix each morning when I let them out and I often reapply during the day.

Happy Homesteading!

Read more here

Urban Chicken Run

So lets say you are an urban chicken keeper……who rents.  You want to raise chickens and have a cute little coop in mind but want an easy run that can be disassembled quickly and neatly.  I have just the thing for you.

Ursala and Janice…..Ursula is the one hiding in the back…..probably because Janice is so loud.

The handsome homesteader and I moved out of my parents house a few months ago into a rental in the neighboring town.  I was lucky enough to be able to bring some of the gals AND lucky that the rental had a coop!  We wanted to build them a run outside the coop, something a little bigger than what was here.  It needed to be inexpensive, aesthetically pleasing, and easily removed causing little to no damage to the property.  The whole run cost us about $50.  We used t-posts and chicken wire to build the fence.  We ran it off the existing coop and only fenced in a portion of the yard that was dirt so we would not destroy any grass/lawn.

We were lucky to have this massive tree next to the run to provide plenty of shade.  Next we ran fishing line across the top.  I did it by looping the line through the top of the chicken wire and threading the whole spool through the loop.

Um yes, homesteaders DO love pink polish.

This keeps overhead predators out and the girls have not tried to fly over (yet).  Since this is not a permanent run, and since I did not want to tear up the lawn too badly, we did not bury the fence at all.  This means we are vulnerable to predators that dig, but so far it’s not been an issue.  I have a small tub for the ducks, and the chickens have plenty of shade.

It’s a pretty neat little run and I like it!  Best part is, if we move we can take it down easily and there will be an AMAZING spot for a garden ;)

Happy Homesteading!

Staph infections, how to prevent

Staphylococcus aureus

Staph infections are caused by staphylococcus bacteria, a type of germ commonly found on the skin or in the nose of even healthy individuals. Most of the time, these bacteria cause no problems or result in relatively minor skin infections.

But staph infections can turn deadly if the bacteria invade deeper into your body, entering your bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs or heart.

-taken from the Mayo Clinic Website

Minor is a far cry from what we experienced a few weeks ago.  This is my 18 month old Drew in the hospital from a staph infection.

Talk about a scary week……what I thought would be a simple trip to our pediatrician turned into a 7 day stay in 2 hospitals, to include the University of Iowa’s Children’s Hospital.  All because of a staph infection.  After talking to the experts, this is how I now try to keep staph bugs at bay here in our home.  I am not a medical professional, just a mom who scoured the internet and spoke with the experts.

1. Bleach it.  If you can use bleach on it, do it.  Bleach kills the staph bug safely and quickly.  I bleach the tub every other day and I have a bottle of a 50/50 bleach water mix under the sink.  I spray down everything in the bathroom since this is one of the places staph will most likely hide.

2. No community towels.  We each have a towel that we only use 3 times, then it gets washed in hot water and you guessed it-bleach.  I have paper towels for cleaning hands.

3. Clean the sheets often.  I clean our bed sheets once a week and disinfect the mattresses at the same time.  I spray them down with a homemade cleaner.  You can find the recipe here.

4. Wash hands often.  Germs hate soap and water, so lather up!  My daughter sings twinkle twinkle while she washes, Drew just likes to growl.

5. Bio security.  If you have animals, keep their gunk outside.  I have shoes that are only for the coop and they do not see the inside of the house ever.  I have boots for the kids and we take them off in the garage before we come in.  We do not let “barn clothes” come inside either.  I keep coveralls and a lightweight jacket by the door to wear if I am in the barn or coop.

6. Clean up!  Not only do I use bleach in the bathroom, but I try to clean the places staph bugs can hide like door knobs, the remote, etc.  This can be done with the orange cleaner or your bleach mix.

There are a few products, some natural that I like to use.  You can try Medihoney for existing wounds.  I have some in our medicine cabinet and I love it.  Works very well and a good place to start if you are trying to stay natural.  Tea Tree oil has also been shown to help.  Change your diet to include healthier foods….foods rich in immune boosting vitamins.  Take a quality multi vitamin that include D-3.  I’m a big fan of D-3 in its natural form, sunlight, as well!  Finally, DO NOT hesitate to seek medical help if you suspect staph. It can very quickly turn into a life threatening situation.

Happy Homesteading!

 

Im in the hospital with my baby….but I am still blessed.

I’m sitting in a hospital with my 18 month old, getting ready to hand him over to a stranger who will take him off to the OR, but I am blessed.  About 2 weeks ago I noticed what I thought was a diaper rash on my baby.  It was a small pimple on his bottom that was actually a skin infection that would spread fast and give us an express ticket to the children’s hospital in Iowa City.  But I am still blessed.  As I look around I see sleepy moms and dads pulling their children in wagons while pushing IV poles and I realize that while my experience is scary, Drew will make it home and there are children up that may not.  I see tiny infants who are weeks old and have never seen the nursery that mom spent so much time on and I realize, I’m blessed.  I can miss work because I work from home and my husband is my boss.  I have family who rallied to help us by watching my daughter, driving us around, cooking us dinner, paying for our parking, and so many other little gestures that I can’t begin to mention them all.  I have an amazing little guy who through all of this is able to smile and wave bye-bye to the nurse who just started a 5th IV in his tiny little hand…..who giggled at the lab tech who just drew blood from a tiny little arm.  My husband has friends who wanted to pay for our gas back and forth to the hospital.  I have people praying for my little guy and sending us encouraging thoughts……I’m blessed.  My baby will come home, he will heal and we will all be OK.  I hate when people say “it can always get worse” but what I hate more is when you can’t try to find God’s blessings in your life despite all the crap.  I’ve been there……I’ve hit the bottom and thought “this is the ‘worse’ they all talk about” but then I decided to change my thinking and now I always look for the blessings in every obstacle.  I will try to thank everyone who helped us out but I’m sure I will forget someone or something…..but I’m blessed because they will understand and love us anyway.

I’m blessed and I hope you are too.

Happy Homesteading!