Spring on the Small House Homestead – Photo Diary

Good morning! Spring is truly busting out all over on the Small House Homestead this month.

HOR quince and bench studio USE

A favorite flowering quince bush bursts into bloom at my studio building. 

Forsythia and studio USE

All of my forsythia shrubs were transplanted or propagated from tiny shrub starts.

Phlox and stones USE

Creeping phlox offers a splash of pale lavender and spreads.

Spring and its intense flowering beauty is what we in Michigan live for!

Burning bush and daffodils barn

Daffodils and a burning bush in front of the pole barn.

Violets and logs in garden USE

Wild spreading violets in the vegetable garden. They will be transplanted when it rains. 

Our homesteads many flowers, shrubs, fruit trees and bushes are really starting to come alive!

Pink pear blossoms

Planted in 2015 , this peach tree replaced a tree that died from our high ground water flooding.

Phlox and chartreause shribe behind porch USE

The low growing flowers and shrubs behind the three-season porch.

Our 5-acre homestead garden is a bloom with the fruits of fifteen years of my labor.

Silver Lace Vine , trelllis, fence

The newly planted (2015) silver lace vine on the trellis is putting out leaves.

Violets under digwood in bird bed

Masses of wild purple violets bloom in the bird feeding bed under the dogwood tree.

Freckles with persnality and Snowball USE

Freckles and Snowball out and about enjoying the sunshine.

Playhouse with climber

The playhouse in the spring; day lilies are growing again and the climbers are too.

Sidewalk and chalk fun

Chalk drawings on the sidewalk speaks the language of spring.

I hope you enjoy a view of this week on the homestead and that you bloom where you are planted!

Small House homesteader, Donna

Small House Weekly Homestead Photo Diary


Not that I am complaining….but summer weather came upon us suddenly this week on our homestead in SW Michigan. One night it is freezing and the next day it is sunny and hot. In fact, it was sunny and hot all week-long and no rain. The daffodils are bursting out everywhere and their bright yellow color everywhere makes me happy. Even the daffodils that I had thought were drowned in the 2009-2012 high ground water flooding have returned with many new blooms and are spreading.

Firepit in meadow ith Rhodies very close GOOD

The Rhodies love to scratch and peck in the wood ash from the recently burned down fire pit.

While this is a mood boosting strategy we do need rain here and a lot of it. Not only do the plants and trees need life-giving water to get a really good start, we need to fill our water containment totes for the long, dry summer ahead. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting hotter than usual and less rain that usual in our part of the state. In a 1950’s style home without a/c and a not-currently-working swimming pool, this is not good news. Sigh.

April daffodils to circle USE

The daffodils are bursting out in the crab apple tree circle garden right now. 

We hope to get the swimming pool up and running again soon but a large chunk of cash is needed to do that and not in the budget right now. The pool needs to be drained, scraped, acid washed, re-painted and the mechanical’s up and running again. It’s going to a big and expensive project.

Daffodils in triangle under fruit tree USE

Circles of daffodils in the fruit tree triangle. 

Gene worked on removing the deer netting from around the hydrangea shrubs and turned the pool pump turned on and got out the hoses. He also worked on repairing the ruts in the meadow this week. The rusts came as a result of the roadside trimmer driving their large, heavy truck to dump the mulch. The ruts were filled with a mix of sandy soil from the woods, well-composed horse manure from a friend’s farm and topped with good composted soil from the compost pile. In the fall, I’ll plant grass seeds. Grass seeds do not germinate well here in the spring time unless we have a very wet year to keep them going. Grass seed simply does better here if I spread it in the fall and let the snow melt germinate it the following spring.

Cart, Rhodies Gene digging w shovel USE

Gene digging composted soil with his Rhodie helpers fishing for worms.

Daffodils in bloom in bird bed USE

Our bird feeding bed is edged in daffodils and a bloom.

I spent most of my week dispersing straw and then bark chips. I made some good progress but have a l-o-n-g way to go yet.

Rhodies close puzzld cute

This Rhode Island Red chicken is certainly strutting her stuff in the leaves.Gen holing Crystal who is lfying downCrystal wants to get away after wiping down her messy butt from a bit too many kitchen scraps.

Burning bush and daffodils barn

Bloom where you are planted my friends!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Auto Immune Protocal Breakfast is Nutrient Dense

I have been on my new path to wellness for 5 1/2 months now. A part of this path is following the Auto Immune Protocol.

Pork bacon and greens in pan USE

This weekend Gene and I drove into South Haven to the Winter Market yesterday. This is a small market during the cold winter months but a few vendors grow greens in greenhouses all winter long.

I bought fresh grown rainbow kale, two bags of spinach, two bunches of carrots and kale. My plan I to eat all of that between now and Thursday.

VERT rainbow chard

Another part of my plan is to cook and eat greens at all three meals each day. This is what the protocol recommends. This is nutrient dense real foods at their best!

This morning I sautéed onions, carrots, the Swiss chard and added coconut oil and two thick slabs of the local bacon we bought a few weeks back.  It’s a new mind-set for me to eat vegetables and meat for breakfast but this is what the protocol recommends. Ample healthy fats and protein keeps us full and feeling satisfied longer. Healthy fat is also necessary for our brains to work at their optimal levels.

Thick bacon close

It was delicious and I feel fully satisfied after eating this. And a lovely side effect is that I’ve lost a whole pants size too. Yahoo!

This functional medicine process is SO impressive. They have a way to get questions answered and to take care of serious health issues. After a lifetime of screwing  around with conventional medicine and not getting any answers, this is like a welcome breath of fresh air.

 

Small House homesteader, Donna

Keeping our Chickens IN the Chicken Run

Keeping chickens where you want them can sometimes be a challenge. Chickens like to be out and about free ranging and they like to fly. And they REALLY love worms.

Metal stake in cement block

A close up of the cement block filled with dirt that hold the hoop in.

In spite of the four feet high fence, our chickens have a habit of flying out of the chicken run. Yes, we could clip their wings so they could not fly but if they ever seriously needed to escape a predator (or our labrador Retriever Sassy) they would be minced meat. So I don’t clip their wings.

Gene tieing crisscorss use

Gene working on the connection point of the two hoops.

Chickens are smarter than you might think too. Ours have learned that if they fly up on top of the bale of straw they can fly up, out and over the tall fencing designed to keep them in their run. They have also learned that the worms are in the vegetable garden under the bark chips. Destination worms!

New hoops to keep chickens out

The overview of our chicken condo complex.

That leaves them flying out of the run and into the vegetable garden where they scratch up the back chips of the low raised beds. This is not a good thing for me because it meant a lot more work rebuilding and spreading more bark chips and leaves!

New hoops close

Greenhouse hoops new held in place in cement blocks.

Our assignment was to find a way to keep them from flying out and to do it without spending any significant money. This was going to be quite a challenge.

New hoops close  The chickens also like to fly up to the tarp top and fly over from there.

It’s not fancy or perfect, but we came up with the idea of using the last two leftover stainless steel greenhouse hoops and poles along with the left over bird netting and tie wraps. The only out-of-pocket costs to us were $4.00 for four cement clocks to hold the hoops.

Problem solved. Now to determine if it works…

Small House homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna

Small House Homesteads Week in Photo’s-Photo Diary

Balmy warm weather, sunshine and spending time outdoors was the best thing about our week on the homestead.Curious chicken USE                     Look at the shiny hackles on this Heritage Rhode Island Red.

The temperature got up to the 60’s for a few days and we spotted the first Phoebe, Rufus Sided Towee and Robin of the season.

HORZ shrub and cart USE

The weather warmed up enough I could remove the protective burlap from the yewsSister Rhdoes in leaves cute USE  Sisters, sisters / There were never such devoted sisters /

VERT close target and chicks

A Rhodie is drawf-ed by the oak logs target for hatcket practice.

Totes barn chickensThe chickens are interested in our water totes containment center.

Sister Rhdoes in leaves cute USE

Hey baby…what’s happening?
Burlap frying on fenceDrying the burlap on the vegetable garden fencing.

Chickens in front of the run USE

Our chickens enjoying the sunshine in the open run near the enclosed Rhodies run.

Pecking at my pants

Newest bluebird house inmeadow USE

We put up two more bluebird boxes this week.

Small House homesteader, Donna

The Story of Sweet Little Snowball Laying Again at Last

Snowball puzzled look

Snowball the white Cochin Bantam today.

Snowball the snow-white Cochin Bantam came to us in the fall of 2014 as a two- week-old rescued chick. She came from a farm where she and her fours siblings and their mother were only being fed cracked corn.

Clover and Snowball

Snowball flying out of the coop, not able to navigate the chicken ladder.

As a result Snowball had some obvious neurological problems. Snowball had a wry neck and when under stress or upset she turned in circles around and around. All of her toes were crooked so she waddles as she walks. I was pretty sure she was suffering from nutritional deficiencies, poor thing.

Clover and four babies

Snowball first fall out in the chicken run. Clover stands close by guarding.

I immediately put the flock on a high quality growers feed and supplemented that with herbs, greens and chicken vitamin drops to try to improve upon their obvious nutritional deficiency. Snowballs body grew but she was never all ‘quite there.’ In fact, I thought she was bit handicapped.

Three on stump heads up jpeg

Snowball and two of her Cochin/Phoenix mix sisters posing on a stump.

Snowball was extremely connected to her mother, Clover, often removing specks of dirt from her Clover’s feathers, grooming her and even when she was almost full sized she wanted to sleep under her Clover’s wings at night. She was very reluctant to grow up.

Snowball looking u coop door Good

Growing, growing, growing….

In fact, Snowball was the last chicken to leave her mother’s side and only because after 5 ½ month her mother turned on her and pecked her in the neck (until blood appeared) to say, “I’m done raising babies and I really mean it this time!”

Funny snowball on stump USE  Quirky Snowball on the stump. The mealworms are how I got her up there!

Snowball has continuously been a quirky little thing, a bit odd and unusually funny. But above all those character traits she has always been sweet like most Cochin Bantams are. It took several months but she began to circle less and less and her wry neck eventually went away. She developed her own personality which is a bit “top chicken” where she pecks away the much larger Rhodies from the food and perches even though she is the lowest chicken in the Cochin flock, she just doesn’t know it! She alerts everyone when crows come around and is kind of the block queen. All the other chickens just kind of melt away and let her have her way. It’s almost like they know she is not all there and have compassion for her and do not raise a fuss. She began to lay, a bit later than her sisters and never laid every day. When she did lay her egg she laid the most petite, creamy white eggEating and posing USETHIS ONE                                                       Not quite full grown.

Last fall when the Cochin’s went through their molt it was almost winter time. Snowball molted with the others but never came back in quite the same way. It took her longer to grow her feathers and she never started laying eggs again. I soon accepted that she was going to be a free loader instead of a layer and because she is such a sweetheart, I never really minded.

Snowball cute on stump USE

Playtime on the stump in the chicken run.

Unlike her serial brooding sisters, Snowball has never gone broody either.

2016bfbcalendarad biosecurity calendar 2015 USDA

Snowball is the bird who photograph was chosen for the USDA 2016 Biosecurity Calendar.

One day out of the blue we found a fairy egg. I was pretty sure this meant that someone was beginning to lay again after a long absence, but who could it be? I was puzzled.

Snowball stretchingneck

That funny girl at play..Look at that neck in proportion to her body!

Last week we began to see a new and slightly different egg in the nest box. With two Cochin broodies we couldn’t figure out who was laying this new oblong egg. It was definitely a Cochin egg but whose could it be? After the fourth egg it dawned on me that Snowball was finally laying again She was actually laying after almost a year’s off! Oh happy day!

Brennas hands with eggs 2015

A light-colored petite Cochin Bantam egg.

It is funny to me how very one of these chickens develop their own personalities and how we get so attached to them. I’ve had readers write and comment on how sweet she is. I know we are not supposed to have favorites, but Snowball seems to be every reader’s favorite too.

Two misfires and a Cochin egg USE

Snowball’s two misfires and her normal egg.

Small House homesteader, Donna

Spring Snowstorm on the Homestead

Yesterday the US experienced a strong mix of heavy rain, wet snow and tornadoes through the north-east. Time magazine said in a weather issue that came out last year that this is the ‘new normal’; meaning intense hard rain storms, tornadoes, snow storms and more.

Pararamic studio curved tree USE

The heavy snow has doubled over the river birch tree.

In SW Michigan we received about 8 -10″ inches of heavy, wet snow. It is beautiful to look at be sure however it is really physically hard to remove on an aging body like ours. On our homestead the chore of snow removal falls totally on us and this is with using a snow blower and hand shovels.

Playhouse thick snow USE

The playhouse looks adorable under the overnight snowfall.

We do get asked sometimes, why don’t you just hire someone? Once when our snow blower was broken and we received 12″-15″ of wet snow dumped overnight we paid a local guy to come and plow our two driveways. Unfortunately he knew he has us over a barrel and charged us $90.00. I almost flipped out as Gene was making a little over $7.00 an hour at Menard’s at that time and that represented a weeks worth of income for us. Our retirees budget can’t sustain that on a regular basis so we must handle the snow removal ourselves.

Coop roof and tarp under snow USE

Snow on the roof of the covered run. I am thankful for having a covered run for the long winter months.

The hard plastic roofing panels on the covered coop run hold the snow and the three side tarps keep out snow but allow for good ventilation.

Chicken complex USE

The heavy snow pulled down our netting so repairs will be needed.

I was really getting used to the unexpected patch of spring-like weather we have had here these past two weeks. I must admit I am disappointed that winter weather has returned.

109th roadway under snow

The main road in front of our home is deserted.

We hustled and took advantage of the warmer weather to get some maintenance chores done. Gene washed, vacuumed and waxed my Subaru as well as vacuumed out his truck. We drove to the car wash and washed his truck and sandy undercarriage, as well as the dirty winter boot tray and dog kennel after the sick chicken was in it.

Snoopy close USE

The snoopy yardstick says 6″ of snow on the hot tub cover.

Diaganol hottub USE                           Our snow-covered hot tub and deer fencing.

I also picked up load after load of sticks and twigs from the yard and spent hours outside with the chickens giving them a chance to free range as much as possible during the lull in the snowfall. I personally would have loved more time without snow but that was not meant to be.

Pool fence and woods USE

Thick snow has covered the chain link fencing surrounding our pool.

Snow is now a mixed blessing here. Yes, it is very beautiful to look at and we do need the water in the water table but…this thick wet snow coating every surface means a lot of hard physical work head for us.

VERT coop under big oak USE

Todays path to the chicken coop to do our morning chores.

This lifestyle IS our priority…but it is also one of the most difficult realities of homesteading and aging bodies…

VERT oak and house front USE

The giant White Oak at the front of our property is like a sentinel showing the way.

Small house homesteader Donna

62 Degrees Sunny and Windy – Photo Diary

  Wow, what a great day on the homestead.

Chickens outside comples and bkue sky USE

Blue sky and white fluffy clouds overlooking the chicken complex.

Gene Rhodies Forge 2-19-16

Gene by the blacksmith forge while the Rhodies scratch in the bark chips.

We enjoyed a lovely sunny and warm day for our mid-winter February thaw. The morning was full of chores; washing clothes, cleaning the stove, making bone broth and more.

Elsaside viewgreat USE

Elsa taking a dust bath.

In spite of the recorded 50+ mile an hour winds our afternoon was spent outside enjoying the chickens.

Elsa dust flying USE

Dirt flies when a chicken takes a dust bath.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring so gotta make hay today!

4 Rhodies in covered run USE

Doors open and the sun shines in the covered run.

HORZ chicken on path USE

Chickens follow the snow blown path around the homestead.

Small House Homesteader, Donna

 

A Week in Photos Small House Homestead

We had a bit of the January thaw this week. Our weather rose to around 40’s degrees and the sun shone brightly for a few days. We were happy to be able to get our snowbound chickens out of the chicken run for a stroll and a munch on patches of grass that popped up as the snow melted.

Hey lady where are my worms

Crystal says, ‘Hey lady where is the food?’

Our winter has been relatively mild this year with small amounts of snow interspersed with a warmish week in-between. This week the animals certainly enjoyed enjoy our old-fashioned January thaw.

Sunrise hprzontal most pink

A beautiful winter sunrise one day this week on the Small House homestead.

And, I enjoyed a rare opportunity to photographs very pretty sunrise on Saturday morning. I am usually up and at em’ early as our retriever Sassy gets up very early to go outside to the bathroom. My day often begins with the sound of her nails clicking on our linoleum floor and her head pressing down on my arm as her signal, ‘Okay mom its time!’

Sassy 11-18-14

Miss Sassy the snow dog.

Everyday the sun rises but most days I am preoccupied with animals needs or cooking breakfast to actually walk out and concentrate on taking a good a photograph. But luck was with me that day.

Sunrise tree in half interesting for textGreeting The Dawn.

Elsa the fluffy butt

Do these feathers make my butt look big?

After the animals are fed and our breakfast eaten we do our yoga stretches. On this day Sassy was determined to get into the act.

Sassy doing yoga stretches

Sassy and Gene do their yoga stretches.

Circling the fire

The Rhodies circle the wagons.

Crystal bithbat head up USE

Crystal scratching for sunflower seeds under the bird bath

Sassy run three

Sassy gets a good walk everyday.

The chicken monitor

The chicken monitor.

I hope your week was a good one too.

Small House homesteader, Donna

Coconut Yogurt – Three Ingredients – Cook Free

Full view yogust on green plate

My finished yogurt.

Now that I am eating dairy-free due to my recently diagnosed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I’m experimenting this week with making various kinds of coconut non-dairy yogurt.

Yogurt in green bowl

A close up of my newly made non-dairy yogurt.

I began my first test by using a 13.5 oz. can of classic, unsweetened coconut milk. This is a USDA organic, certified Non-GMO and gluten-free type that is also certified as kosher.

Coconut milk on try useThis is my purchased can of coconut milk.

I used the Native Forest brand that I bought at my grocery store (or health food store.)  I was advised in my research to avoid the type with guar gum but for this experiment I used the brand that had the guar gum in it. The total ingredients included; organic coconut, purified water, organic guar gum.

Gelatin on green tray

I bought this gelatin from Amaxon.com

I followed the recipe below.

(Recipe by Renee at Raising Generation Nourished at http://www.raisinggenerationnourished.com/2015/02/coconutyogurt

NOTE: If you are like most Americans and have been on a low-fat diet for years and have never eaten coconut milk before, I suggest that you start slowly with small amounts to work your way up to larger amounts of full fat in your system. Some report nausea when going directly from a low-fat diet to a cup of full fat yogurt but this can be avoided by increasing the coconut milk slowly to adjust your system.

Probiotic synergy in my hand

As well as this probiotic power supplement.

You can begin by adding 1/4 teaspoon of coconut to your smoothie or hot cereal and work your way up from there. That is what I did.

Three ingredients laying down

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk
  2. ½ tsp. quality probiotic powder
  3. 1 tsp.grassfed gelatin (If you want your yogurt more “kefir” consistency (thinner) then you can use half the amount. You could also make the consistency thicker/pudding/custard like consistency with more gelatin. Do not use the cold soluble gelatin as it will not work for this project.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Stir the probiotic power and gelatin into the coconut milk and put a lid on the container. (I used a wide mouth a quart mason jar as that is what I had on hand and clean. The original directions say to use a pint jar which fit this amount perfectly.
  2. Place the jar under the light in your oven (WITHOUT the stove light on) overnight or for 8-12 hours. You can taste for “tang” and if you want more you can leave it in the over for up to 24 hours under the light.
  3. Shake up the jar and place it in the fridge for 2 hours to finish culturing and thickening the yogurt.

This batch ended up being a thin type of yogurt a lot like kefir, but I liked how this tasted. I added a bit of sugar-free jelly to one of the batches for a sugar-free taste of sweetness but I also like it plain as well. This is so easy to make, I will definitely make this again.

Next I’ll be trying my hands at non-dairy DYI yogurt made using homemade coconut milk. Stay tuned!

Small House homesteader, Donna