Spray Painting the Range Hood

It only took me fifteen years but I finally got our old beige colored stove hood re-painted. I wanted it to be refreshed and black like the rest of my appliances for a number of years now. My goal was improve the look of the vent so it coordinated better with the other appliances and give it a nice refresh.

island-and-stove-vent-use

The shiny black appliance paint looks almost like I bought it new. 

When we had our roof re-shingled last year I made sure that my stove vent was working properly and that the cooking odors were successful venting from the kitchen out through the roof. It is functioning just fine in every way but definitely needed a little bit more pep in its step.

ithe-guys-working-ont-he-project

The guys work together to get this hung and reattached. 

Now that I am healthy scratch cooking for two special diet protocols I spend a LOT of time in my kitchen prepping and cooking so I like it to feel good to be working in as well as to work correctly.

kitchen-long-short-full-view

This is full view of my country kitchen.

When we moved into the Small House this property was what is called “an estate.” This means that the people who lived here had passed away and left the property to their children. This also meant we were buying this house and outbuildings in an “as is” condition.

This house came with a 1980’s beige colored stove, fridge, dishwasher and a washer and dryer. I AM grateful that this home came with working appliances because that allowed us to save for new ones.

While Gene was still working fulltime at his City of Kalamazoo job, we saved up enough cash in a few years to replace the stove, fridge and dishwasher. After we had achieved that goal that we sold the old ones locally.

I had wanted though about purchasing a new black stove hood but they were quite a bit over my budget and we had so many other repairs that we needed first, like the entire septic system within the first three months of moving here. I’ve even considered stainless steel appliances until I saw their high price tag and that quickly nixed that idea.

So plan B was to get the range hood painted black by taking it to a car paint shop. But I had to disconnect the electrical, take it off, deliver it and then pick it up and that simply never happened. I considered have a wooden cover built or painting the vent hood using chalk paint but with both options I was concerned about keeping them clean. Stoves can be a greasy place for sure.

Then one day I was reading a magazine and discovered a Rust-Oleum Appliance Epoxy spray paint. This paint can be purchased in white and black and is designed originally for those who want to change out an appliance panel.

The light bulb in my head went off. Why not use this paint to refresh my old-style stove vent hood? This paint was only $3.99 a can. On a recent trip to Lowes, I bought three cans just to be sure I had enough.

Since it was winter and cold in Gene’s workshop this was a project I asked our handyman Frank to tackle this project for me. Frank has a heated workshop and was happy to do this for us. He came, dismantled the hood and took it home with him to clean, sand, paint and reassemble.

In a couple of weeks we had it back and reattached. In addition to painting the outside Frank thoroughly cleaned off the metal grills and degreased the entire unit. What a guy!

I’m happy to have my stove vent back so now I can reconnect the smoke alarm. With the vent out of commission I kept sending the smoke alarm into the noisy”danger”zone.

Doesn’t this look nice? The entire project cost me less than $50.00 and was worth every penny. This defintely quilifies as debt-free living!

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

 

 

On Sabbatical This Month – Busy Studying and Learning

Did you know that January is Thyroid Awareness Month?

EVENT ONE:

I wanted to let my followers know that I’ll be busy with two self-study programs this month and I will not be posting on a regular basis until around mid-February. I am devoting myself to listening to two free on-line Healing Summits between now and the February 7th.

The first summit comes from Health Talks Online a terrific Facebook page that promotes health and many important on-line health related programs. For more details and to sign up go to: http://healthtalksonline.com/

featured-image

The first summit I am focusing on is called The Thyroid Secret.Com And check out the thyroid secret.com/trailer /new.

And tune into the thyroid secret.com/trailer /new and the thyroid secret.com/hidden-epidemic.

This is a 9 day, FREE on-line learning opportunity showing 9 episodes of this newly released documentary (sharing one episode per day) which will help to educate anyone interested in knowing more about  autoimmune thyroid disease.

root-cause-book

This program is being hosted by pharmacist Dr. Izabella Wentz, author of the New York Times bestselling book, Finding Your Root Cause. Dr. Wentz is known as The Thyroid Pharmacist and is one of the leading voices about the condition I have that is called Autoimmune Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. You can read more about her and her work here: http://www.thyroidpharmacist.com/

A DVD of this program will also be available for purchase through this website as well.

EVENT TWO:

Also mark your calendars for another pertinent on-line summit that begins on January 30th.

dr-osborne-photo1

Dr. Peter Osborne has created The Autoimmune Revolution, on-line and free from January 30 – February 6, to help you prevent and reverse pain from autoimmune diseases. For more details to to: https://autoimmunerevolution.org/checkout/

You can help support the cause by doing the following;

1. Register for free: hto.care/air
2. Invite your friends and family!
3. Own all 30+ expert talks: hto.care/airown
4. “Like” our hosts: Dr. Peter Osborne, Health Talks Online

Functional Medicine Physicians are telling us that autoimmune is the new cancer and that medicine is facing an epidemic of autoimmune diseases that the current system will not be able to handle.

These experts have banned together to help spread the word and to educate the public, conventional doctors and health officials about this issue.

If it’s time for you to achieve greater health and improved happiness you can break the cycle of pain and start living again. You can access this event here -> http://bit.ly/AutoimmuneRevolution

And sadly, the average lifespan of someone with an autoimmune disease is 10 years shorter than a healthy person. That fact alone freaked me out when I learned it and it’s what keeps me motivated to stay healthy and vibrant. I want to be here a long time and to have fun, be a mom, wife and business woman with energy and vitality.

10-years-less-lifespan

So now, it’s time to achieve greater health and improved happiness so you can break the cycle of pain and start living again! Join me and watch The Autoimmune Revolution, online and free from January 30 – February 6, 2017!

Don’t forget, if you wish to receive notice of future heath summits visit this Facebook page; Health Talks Online.

Will you join me in this healing journey?

Small House Big Sky Homesteader (and avid healer) Donna

My New Article in The New Pioneer

Another one of my short “How to”articles was published this month in The New Pioneer, Spring 2017, Country Almanac #218. You can tell that as soon as the fall rush is over and we have moved inside for the long Michigan winter I get busy contacting my editors! I spend the summer months thinking up sellable ideas too.

new Pioneer front cover Spring 2017.jpg

The New Pioneer magazine runs a column in each issue called, “It Worked for Me!” This is an opportunity for freelancers like me to come up with a unique and targeted idea for their readership.

This is my second submission to this magazine (Psst, please don’t tell anyone but I am building my reputation with my editor and plan to make inroads to eventually pitch and submit a cover story for this publication. I know JUST the story too.)

This quarterly publication is geared to folks who wish to homestead, live off-grid and to become more self-sufficient. Readers are always looking for simple, healthy ways to live debt-free.

eggs-in-blue-bowl-use

This is the photograph they choose to illustrate my written piece.  I took this photograph of our Cochin eggs last year.

As a long-time homesteader myself, I know the right hot button for many of these publications. One area of interest for nearly every homesteader is solid ideas of ways to earn some extra cash while on the homestead.

Many homesteaders, while rich in land and homegrown food, are all too often cash strapped in the short-term. So a good idea about how to market and earn some out-of-pocket cash is always welcome.

My piece is about how I found, marketed and sold our organic eggs to the five-star Yelton Manor B&B in South Haven, MI. See their website here:www.yeltonmanor.com/

I shared several of my tips and trade secrets to finding, pitching and selling my eggs and blackberries to this unique bed and breakfast establishment with readers and my editor gave me the place of honor, top billing on the inside back page, page 128.

Writing these articles is one more way I earn some out-of-pocket cash for our homestead needs!

The link to the publication can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/NewPioneerMagazine/

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

The Art of Aging Gracefully on the Homestead-Mother Earth News

We are in the current issue of Mother Earth News!

My latest contribution to the current issue of Mother Earth News has hit the news stand. This magazine for those of you who might not know it; is a guide to living wisely while being self-sufficient on the homestead or farm.

The article is titled Aging Gracefully on the Homestead. This is a piece about the challenges of senior homesteading; a topic we know a little something about.

men_dj17_cover-jpg

Although I pitched an ongoing column geared to senior homesteading they opted for a one time “how-to” article. Perhaps they know more about the age of their readership than I do! My contribution was four photographs (out of the eight published) and a part of the text.

Double click on this PDF and I believe that the article will open up. aging-gracefully-1

Homesteading is hard work, and Gene and I are not getting any younger. I doubt anyone will argue with that. There are definitely multiple challenges to continuing to do the physical work required by homesteading as one gets older.

We moved to the Small House Big Sky Homestead fifteen years ago. We started out getting as much done as we could and added additional outdoor projects like the chicken complex and the water containment system each summer. And worked on the house during the winter months. This was a good thing we got a lot done in those early years since even then we weren’t spring chickens. (We were 50 and 55 years old.)

Eventually we got the major items on our to-do list knocked down. Every year we try to accomplish a project or two more outside during the nice weather and a few more small indoor project in the house during the indoor winter months.

Now that we are 65 and 72, our age and our health is beginning to be a real consideration. Fortunately, I started thinking about this several years ago. I asked myself what will I do and how will we manage when it becomes more difficult to do the work we need to do?

This past season I hired hourly help in the garden and yard. We found a local young girl of fourteen who is strong and looking to make some money for school clothes. It’s not a perfect system as Olivia is only available on Sunday afternoons because she runs cross county and runs her daily miles every school night, but we have managed to make it work. And this past winter when Gene had his hernia operation we hired a local small business in the short-term to plow our driveway and another local boy to run the snow blower to clear our paths.The total cash out of pocket during Gene’s recovery was less than $100.00.

Some homesteaders find an apprentice or a farm worker and offer room and board in exchange for work. Others turn a spare bedroom or cabin into an Air B&B for extra cash income on the homestead.

Obviously, there is more than one way to make this work but this is what is woring for us.

The moral of this story is to plan ahead about how you might make your elder years’ on the homestead work for you and how you can turn your homestead into a property that will sustain you when you are older.

I hope to convince the editors at MEN that a monthly column written by me with interviews of senior homesteaders who ARE making it work will be both inspirtional and informative.

To help support this idea please send your letters/e-mails to:Rebecca Martin martin@ogdenpubs.com>

As always, thank you for following and if you are aging homesteaders and want to share tips with me about how you have made senior homesteading work for you, please contact me. I am always looking for new ideas on how you in the hometead trenches are making it work!

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

What We Love About Homesteading

One of the aspects we love about homesteading here is that this life takes us out of the consumerist life of the city to a life of production and creation. We may not have enough lifetimes to realize our fantasy of full fledge farming (with mini goats and horses) but in our own small way with our garden, our blacksmith forge, the art studio and the restoring of this home and the outbuildings, we feel that we are making, giving, repurposing, and creating more than just buying our way through life.

And when a thing is truly needed there becomes first a reason to repurpose, reuse and to shop auctions, thrift store, flea markets and more.  These items are meant to be used another generation (or two) and the end result is that our home looks like it has always been this way, even when it hasn’t.

I love sharing our life with my granddaughter who is growing up in the city. She has this opportunity to see nature close up and learn about how we care for it. She loves my chickens and egg collecting and it’s amazing to watch her learn, grow and question how things work.

coop-side-of-pole-banr-an-chickens

We also love living with the seasons. There is a natural rhythm to homesteading or farming that is so different from life in the city. For us it is natural to wake with the light and sleep with the dark. It is natural for mankind to be our most productive spring through autumn and then rest, plan, regenerate and restore during the winter months.

We love the ability to search, forage, and gather plants, fruits, berries and to turn them into a productive edible feast or a healing tincture or syrup. This brings joyfulness along with a deeply felt sense of beauty and accomplishment as well.

pool-house-and-studio-in-fog

We love having the ability to control the food we put into our bodies. We grow it ourselves or source it from trusted growers near us putting that money back into our own community.

We love the freedom this life gives us to go into the woods, marsh, fields and farmland once a day to hike, explore, walk our dog, bird watch, observe nature and be one with the natural world.

pool-house-in-the-fog

Living here and homesteading lets me practice my ethical belief of acting on behalf of the common good.

There is way of recapturing the spirit of the past found by people like us who have made the decision to slow their lives down to farm or homestead. This is a revival of the pastoral life of long ago while adapting and evolving it to our personal need and tastes.

In no sense was this house, the life the life of our dreams. But over our lifetime this has instead slowly turned into something better, the house and the life of our realities.

These images are the Grand Finale to our saying goodbye to fall on a foggy, fabulous fall morning.

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Glass Storm Door Replaced

Today we had the front storm door glass on my studio building replaced.

glass-shattered

In the meantime I learned that all storm doors are made of safety glass that will shatter if hit hard enough. Imagine how you could be hurt if you slipped on the ice and fell into a glass door and that glass broke into large shards. Glass doors are made this way to protect us from a fatal accident.

glass-coming-off-truck

We will never know for sure how this happened to our door but we think a stone was thrown from our lawn tractor and hit the glass because we found it shattered one morning late this fall.

gene-putting-wood-away

A phone call to our insurance company and seven week later we have a new glass door insert. In the meantime the pieces shattered in a zillion pieces and fell into our stone landscaping. That meant vacuuming out many tiny pieces of irregular shaped glass and then hauling over new pea gravel from the other side of our property and revamping the stone bed. That translated into five or six hours of hard physical labor.

worker-carrying-door

We worked with Glass Images out of Holland, MI. They came to measure, order and then replaced the glass insert. They did an excellent job for us.

After we cleaned up the glass pieces we put down a large vinyl tarp to keep the rest of the glass from falling out into the landscaping again. And on top of that we put large field stones to keep the tarp from blowing up in our high winds and sending glass pieces everywhere.

tarp-and-stones

This glass insert had to be a custom order and the main hold-up was that this door has mini blinds in between the glass. That also meant that it the insert to be rebuilt to match the back door, hence the long delay in replacing it.

glass-images-logo

With property there is always something that needs to be repaired. Today we have a new door insert and that is one more chore is ticked off my winter to-do list.

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Anna in the Laundry Room

I had a chicken in my laundry room over the holidays.

Poor Anna one of my four Rhode Island Reds who had a bad case of Bumblefoot in mid-December while she was also undergoing a very heavy molt. She was one sick chicken.

Bumblefoot is the term used to describe an infection on a chicken’s foot; it is referred to as “plantar pododermatitis” by medical professionals. Bumblefoot is characterized by swelling, sometimes redness and often a characteristic black or brown scab on the bottom of the foot.

anna-close-use-copy

I noticed her distress in two ways; one when her legs and feet turned an out of character shade of pink and two when she was hanging out under the coop for hours at a time and not interacting with the other chickens. I knew something was wrong. So I checked out her feet and they were very swollen and she had two pencil eraser sized black dots under both of her feet. I diagnosed Bumblefeet. This was the first case of Bumblefoot in our flock.

I brought her inside tthe ouse and set up the dog kennel in our laundry room. I put leaves and pine shaving as litter in thekennel for her and gave her cat food cans of water, greens and layers feed. I quickly ordered Susan Burek’s Bumblefoot tincture from her Moonlight Mile Herb Farm  You can find her website here http://www.moonlightmileherbs.com/

I’ve used Susan’s herbal products before and have found them to be very effective. In fact, I follow her Poultry Natural Living  and Herbal Care group on facebook.  I have learned almost everything I know about using herbs for chickens from that.

According to the written instructions I gave Anna the Bumblefoot tincture internally using an eye dropper as well as putting on her feet bottom with a second eye dropper. This is definitely a two-person process; one to hold and one to administer the drops.

In the meantime I fed her extra protein in the form of my “high-test” feed (blackoiled sunflower seeds, layers feed and meal worms soaked overnight in olive oil that has steeped in herbs,) and cat food for building feathers and gave her a warm place to rest and heal. I made sure she had oyster shells as grit and plenty of fresh water.

I tried soaking her foot in a warm foot bath but failed as she would screech and jump right out of the pan. She wanted no part of that water even if warm and filled with Epson salts. While some chicken keepers cut out the infected plug out of the bottoms of their chicken’s feet in a kind of home surgery, I knew I was not up for that.

anna-in-cage-close

I caught Anna’s infection early and still I was amazed at how quickly those black spots turned into a quarter size, red, puffy and an obviously painful infection. She let me knew that she was hurting. On sunny days I would take her outside in the warmer afternoon to dust, dig in the dirt and keep her acclimated to her flock.  Then it turned bitter cold around Christmas and those trips outside ended.

She was inside for about three weeks while healing. Once she began to feel better she adapted quickly to life inside and actually seemed to thrive in it. She loved to walk out of her kennel enclosure and walk around the laundry room and stand and watch her shadow in the glass of the front loading washer and dryer.

looking-into-washer

As soon as she began to feel better she wanted to walk out into the kitchen and check out the dog water bowl and was always interested in  what I was cooking. I had to watch her very carefully to keep her from flying up and into whatever food I was prepping. She loves her greens the best and I swear she has a sixth sense when I am ripping kale. She would come running toward me and toward the kale and I would have to quickly shoo her back into the laundry room.

I had never before understood about chicken keepers having “House Chickens” but having seen how quickly Anna adapted to us, our dog Sassy and lots of food I now understand how this might happen. She quickly grew very content with three square meals a day without any other chicken competition and our company. She clucked softly at me and I talked back and we bonded very quickly.

These friendly chickens and their sweet behaviors never cease to amaze me.

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna