Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Using Chickens to Clear Land

Now that we have moved into a new home I  wanted to plant a garden.  I knew in our last house was only temporary until we found something more suited for our family so even though I was itching to plant I didn't do more than some tomato plants.   I never really knew how much I loved gardening and canning until I was suddenly unable to do so.  Last year I was so ill all summer that I was happy just to be breathing and couldn't even think of gardening.  But this year I so wanted to get my hands into some dirt again!

The problem was that although we could garden as much as we wanted the entire yard is in grass which is such a pain to clear.  Both husband and I revolted at the thought of the back breaking labor of breaking sod after all the work we have been doing for a solid two months so we took the lazy mans approach that is slower but just as effective.  We used our chickens as land clearing machines!

I'm sure you all know that if you leave chickens in a run long enough they will turn it to bare dirt.  The smaller the run the faster it goes to dirt.  They eradicate every blade of grass, every weed and weed seed, and every bug in the area.  Chickens are quite wonderful in this way.  So husband and I set their run over the area we wanted cleared and BAM! Two weeks later weed and grass free land well fertilized and ready for planting.  Husband turned over the dirt a few times and I watered it a every day for several days to mellow it out and now I just planted some seed perfect for a fall crop.

I planted

broccoli rab

Here are some picks.  We have 10 chickens in the run




Oh chickens how I love thee!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Considerations When Buying Your First Chickens/Chicks

Black Austerlops
I always recommend to people wanting to get chickens that they first and foremost read a good book on home chicken raising first! These are living breathing feeling animals and have a right to be raised in such a way that make their little chicken lives enjoyable. Almost every library in our nation has at least one book on chicken raising so you don't even need to spend money to learn if you really want to embark on a chicken adventure. One of the most complete books on chickens that I have read is Story's Guide to Raising Chickens 

with a close second being The Encyclopedia of Country Living

 Both are full in information on the realities of chicken rearing.  And here are some good kindle editions  as well

That being said you don't have to do much to make chickens happy. Food water and a clean shelter is what they most desire with occasional scraps thrown in to make life interesting. Because we live in town our chickens are not let out to roam (chickens don't understand property lines and like to explore) but have an enclosed run. When we lived in Wyoming our chickens free ranged at will and we only lost one chicken to unknown causes. Chickens are the easiest farm animal to raise in our opinion.

Barred Rock Hen
OK so here is what we have learned from keeping chickens in town.  Part one is going to be about what you should consider before you even get your chicks.

The most important consideration is if you can have chickens legally in your town.  Surprisingly many cities and towns are now making it legal to have chickens .  Many times up to 10 hens although roosters are often banned due to their joy in crowing.  Or you might live in a town that doesn't have a law either way. That is true in our case.  Our town only stipulates that you get the city councils permission to have chickens.  My daughter (who does chickens in 4-H)  wrote a presentation on her chickens, got written approval letters from all our neighbors, took pictures of what we were going to use as a chicken coop, and also outlined how many chickens/what breed/fly control/waste disposal that would occur.  The city council loved her presentation and approved us on the spot.

So after you figure that you can have chickens what else should you consider?

First off what do you want out of your chickens?

Do you want exotic beautiful birds just to look at and enjoy?  Lots of eggs? Occasional meat? A little of everything?

These are important thoughts because many of the best egg layers are rather ugly and have skinny frames for eating when they are past egg laying prime.  And the more exotic chickens don't lay as well as a commercial egg laying breeds.

Buff Orphington Hens
For us we want both egg laying, pretty birds, and a decent rack for when the hen gets old.  Plus I wanted to get heirloom breeds to help keep them from going extinct.  The breeds we enjoy most are Buff Orphingtons, Rhode Island Reds, Black Austerlops, and Barred Rocks.  All of these birds are very attractive and lay eggs like crazy.  They are also gentle and non aggressive for the most part.

From our 9 laying hens we get about 7 eggs a day in summer, a few less in winter.  We do not keep a rooster because they are very noisy.  Hens do make noise when they lay an egg.  They let out a cluck cluck squawk call for a few minutes, but that is much quieter than a rooster.  Our neighbors don't mind our chickens at all, especially since I give them periodic gifts of eggs.  Bribery works!

There are hundreds of chicken breeds so you are bound to find a breed that suits your taste in color, size, feathering, laying capacity, egg color, and temperament.  If you are looking at getting banties then also consider that they lay small eggs and not as well as the larger breeds, but as an upside they are very broody and make excellent mothers.  We once had a little black banty hen that was the best setter and mother we have seen.  So if you want to raise chicks (you need a rooster here to get fertile eggs) then having a banty or two will be a good choice.

Also I have to say that there is nothing like really fresh eggs for cooking and it is so exciting when you go out and gather your first eggs!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Uses for Wild Violets In Your Yard

I love wild violets.  They are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring and have a sweet floral fragrance. Something about them minds me of my girlhood and the innocent happiness I felt back then, even though where we lived I never saw them growing.  My children love to pick them and give me little bouquets. Little did I know till a few years ago that violets have many medicinal uses as well.

Violets bloom in spring in your yard and if you have shady places they can bloom all summer.  Both the leaves and the blossoms are edible and useful medicinally.  So the other morning we went out and picked wild violets growing in our yard.  NOTE!  Only pick from areas you know were not sprayed or treated with chemicals!

 Here are a few links to pages on the uses of violets and different ways to process them.  I dried the leaves for tea and then used the flowers for making violet soap. You can also eat the flowers in salads and use them on cakes if you Candy them.

I also love the scent of Violet Perfume.  It is perfect as a first perfume for a young girl who is old enough for a perfume but still young.  Here is a Violet Perfume from Amazon that has great review.

Disclaimer: This post contains links to my amazon affiliate.  I may receive a small commission if you buy something.  The money helps to run this blog :)!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Enter to win Three Sterling Silver Easter Charms From Rose Blossom Cottage!

If you read my last post about the beautiful jewelry over at Rose Blossom Cottage you will be excited to hear that they are having a giveaway over at their blog for not one, but three, sterling silver Easter Chick Charms!  Just click HERE to be taken to the giveaway post!  Be sure to tell them in your comment that The Thrifty Housewife sent you. Good Luck :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Beautiful and Unique Mother's Day Gifts from Rose Blossom Cottage

Rose Blossom Cottage

Mother's Day is coming up soon and I know you are wondering what you can get that special mom in your life that will be beautiful and meaningful to her faith.  I love the jewelry and home decor over at Rose Blossom Cottage and have seen nothing like it so far.  

Mother Virgin Mary and Child Porcelain Sterling Necklace
The Virgin Mary Porcelain Pendants are my favorite, especially the ones that feature the infant Jesus!  What a beautiful necklace to present to a mother!

Violets Triangle Broken China Jewelry Sterling Necklace Pendant

There is also several sweet necklaces with violets on them.  The violet is rich in symbolism associated with our Blessed Virgin Mary, the Latin name Viola Odorata, meaning Our Ladies Modesty. It was said to have blossomed when Mary said to the Angel Gabriel, who had come to tell her she was to bear the Son of God, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord."  In the Language of Flowers to give someone violets means love and faithfulness.  Wonderfully appropriate for a mother, don't you think? 

Porcelain Cross with Gold and Silver Accents PansyThis exquisite cross features delicate pansies, which mean "loving thoughts" and "thoughts of you".

Honestly I could list so many things I adore in Rose Blossom Cottage!  Vintage looking linens, tea time accessories, jewelry and home decor! There is something for every mother you know!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Easy Icebox Desserts for Easter

1940s Vintage mother and child cooking illustration from a Dick and Jane Reader, 1947
Easter is almost here and I am starting to plan the menu for that days special dinner.  I try to make festive meals as special as possible without over-stressing myself.  I want to be able to enjoy the day with my family and not be in the kitchen the whole time!  My solution is to make things ahead of time and choose recipes that can be adapted with that in mind.  Ice box cakes fit the bill perfectly!  They are delicious, impressive, and crowd pleasers.  And best of all they can be made the day ahead, and in fact should be!  make one or two of these for your Easter gathering and be ready for compliments.  These are recipes I have found to be excellent.  Click on the links to be taken to the recipes.

Lemon Icebox Delight

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Healthy Homemade Kool Aid

During the heat of summer I try to get my children to drink water or liquids as much as possible to ward off dehydration.  The problem is that they want flavor in their drinks and as I don't buy pop and juice is so expensive!  I have used Kool-Aid but always feel very concerned about what exactly is used to make it?  Plus Kool-Aid needs allot of sugar to make it palatable.  So I have found a way to make my own homemade Kool-Aid from herbal teas!  You can find many of these herbal teas at the grocery store, but ours didn't have a good selection so I ended up ordering from amazon which I find has the best prices and the best selection.  I chose teas that I thought would be good cold.

I ordered

Country Peach Passion

Wild Berry Zinger

Cranberry Apple Zinger

Black Cherry Berry

For a half gallon of drink I used six tea bags and poured half a jug full of boiling water over it.  Then I let it steep for 15 minutes.  These are caffeine free and made from herbs and fruit.

After steeping I filled the rest of the way with cold water and added about 3 tablespoon of sweetener, I used honey.  Compare that with a full cup of sugar for standard koolaid!

Then I just pop the jug into the fridge until cold and serve over ice.  So far the favorite for our family is the Country Passion Peach which is amazing!  If you like peaches you will love this one.  It has an intense peachy flavor.


6 standard bags Celestial Seasoning Fruit Tea of your choice

4 Cups Boiling Water
Sweetener To Taste (honey, sugar, stevia)
Additional fruits such as lemon/lime slices, crushed berries
4 cups cold water

Instructions:  Pour boiling water over teabags in a large pitcher, let steep 15 min. at least.  Remove tea bags and add fruits, sweeteners, and cold water.  Chill in refrigerator and serve over ice.  Keep refrigerated.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Great Idea For An Above Ground Root Cellar

Our property has a ridiculously high water table and poor drainage.  With all these considerations a root cellar or basement is out of the question.  Here however is a cheap and effective way to build an above board building that will hold a cool temperature and could be divided into two rooms for storage of root vegetables and canned food.  This building style is very inexpensive also as a bonus.  Click HERE or on the picture to be taken to the site describing the excellent insulation aspects and building method.  An even better site for the buildings breakdown can be found HERE. I'm doing this!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Get Healthy By Eating REAL Food 8 free Amazon Books! Bone Broth, Kombucha, Kefir, and Fermented Foods

Free or under .99 cents so check the price before you order.  This stuff really works so I would give it a try! Disclaimer:  If you click on a link I may receive a small commision, but I don't think so for the free books!  I just like sharing!  Enjoy!