BROODING BABY CHICKS IN THE TUB

Ok ya’ll it’s that time a year again! If any of you readers know me, then you well know that I have zero self control in the baby farm animal department. Be it bunnies, or any form of poultry or water fowl, don’t even get me started on kittens.

So three weeks ago roughly we came home with these little buggers. 2 Anconas and 4 Cuckoo Marans later the bathroom is all a chirp.

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(DIY Tisse box nest ^^^ adds extra warmth as the hatchlings huddle)

For anyone who has never started chicks and wants to:

DO IT!

Chickens are low cost, low maintenance, and such hard workers. They will till your garden, disinfect your orchard, fertilize your vegetable plants, and even eliminate whole food scraps that you would otherwise throw away. Even better? They will love doing all these on a daily basis. For free!

Win, win right? Definitely.

But how do I? Where do I?

You know I’ll never leave you guessing!

Here’s a few basic tips for the chicken beginners out there.

  1. Make a brooder – this can be as simple as a storage tote like mine. Then just brood them in the bathroom, yeah you gotta move em in and out of the shower… but hey, around here that’s bonding time!
  2. Shavings or Shredded Newspaper – bricks of shavings are cheap, especially since chicks don’t take much — especially if you elevate the food and water 😉
  3. Heat Lamp — we’re keeping the littles in the bathroom in our house since it stays not just warm but very comfortable (once they are outside full time, next week, I will have a lamp for them)
  4. Feeder/Waterer (find something to raise both up off the shavings an inch or two, you will save time and money not wasting shavings or food from spills – chickens will stand in their water and dirty it fast! Get it off the ground.. We used a couple red brick pavers that were broken into small pieces.)
  5. Find a breeder! You’ll be better off in the long rn finding a local breeder, not only to know where your eggs or meat are coming from, but in case you ever encounter questions. Your breeder will be the best choice for any questions on the birds they hatched.

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You’re all set to get some chickens!

Happy farming!

The Lady Gardner

PURGING THE HOME

Ever feel like you just want to get rid of everything and start over?

Me to.

So this week that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Purging the homestead. With new items and furniture coming from moms, the hubs and I are finally ditching the shabby furnishings we’ve had since before we started dating.

When we began this homseteading journey we wanted nothing more than a return to simplicity. To go back to basics. Cut out the stuff we really just don’t need.

It feels great.

Anybody need a couch, an entertainment center, dishes, DVD players…? They’re yours.

I even have an old N64 that wants to find a new forever home.

Microwave anyone???

And y’all know how much I love to barter, you got something I want for something I got? Head on over. Let’s barter baby.

We just don’t use these things or we just have too many. Or I’m just plum over it.

I used to be the one who held onto things for just in case scenarios…

But that’s not the homestead way, that’s not even the way of simplicity. And once I had children that became ever more apparent.

We do not need any more clutter.

The chitlins are clutter-full enough for all of us.  And I purge their room on the regular as it is.

I feel rejuvenated, maybe it just feels great to throw/ donate things away.

If you’re interested in purging your home or even the whole homestead here’s a few things to keep in mind. Before you haul a load to the good will or straight to the dump. Think first.

1. When was the last time you used the item?

Chances are if you can’t even remember the last time you used it, then you won’t miss it. Let it go…

2. Can you repurpose something instead of throwing it away or donating it?

We reused cardboard to cover future garden beds to smother grass. Free.

3. If you can use it, do you know someone else who could?

We’ve received countless useful homestead tools and items from friends purging for a move. We’ve also rehomed useful tools and farm animals if either we don’t need them, or we see a friend who really does

4. Can you sell items to reinvest capital back into the homestead?

We’ve sold scrap metal and steel we’ve found on our property and reinvested it back into our meat animal feed budget. We also sell eggs for our small property savings fund.

5. Can you barter with any of these items?

Trade! Hey I need some manual labor help, will you take a chainsaw or a power drill? And yes sometimes we have multiple that we use to barter with.

6. Could I turn this problem (clutter) item into a solution?

We have a tiny kitchen space. By downsizing our kitchen and dining wares, we have significantly more space in the kitchen. Who needs 2 or 3 of everything anyway?

7. Does it bring you joy?

This one is easy… If it doesn’t bring you joy on the daily, then you probably don’t need it.

Spring cleaning. And I can breath again!

What can you purge in your life?

Peace and Love

Quincy 

HOME GROWN GARDEN TILLER CHICKENS

Putting our birds to work in the garden is our first step into permaculture; making a solution out of the problem. I am about to tell you what steps I took to prepare my garden and my birds for their living transition.

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It all started last week when I finally decided something’s gotta give. We have hens who are no longer laying, have gone broody, or are causing detriment to the flock. I happened to have one of each and then some. All of which are my oldest hens and to my knowledge had stopped laying, well it didn’t end there. An Australorp gal decided she liked the taste of her fellow layers’ eggs and one of my Orpintons went broody and made the other girls miserable.

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So, these girls had to go. I originally planned on culling, or butchering, the ole gals, but permaculture kept blinking in my mind. Is there something these ole girls can do around the homestead?

Yes there is.. and way more than just one option!

I decided the girls would be best suited to find a new home in our vegetable garden. Its hardened over form winter and needed a face lift. Luckily I deep cleaned the main coop about 6 weeks ago. So all the pine shaving, deep bedding goodness has had a little time to air out. This will make a great mulch for the garden.

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So, I caught all my older gals and transferred them from the coop, outside to my fenced garden. In my terms, I ghetto rigged the fence to make it a bit taller (I have no deer problems so I have no use of high fences) And with the help of a friend, clipped all the birds’ wings in order to possibility prevent fly outs.

Whew… got my cardio in for the day!

All the girls have since been busy busy at work tilling, spreading, and shallow aerated. Even Big Papa (our main rooster) has found a home with the girls (he spent the winter on his own outside the coop), so its safe to say he is in good company now, with 5 hens and 3 ducks all to himself.

To my surprise all 5 of the girls started laying again just two days later, I haven’t seen broody behavior, nor any evidence of egg eating.

Maybe they disliked the younger hens, maybe two roos on 12 girls was just WAY too much for my ladies, or maybe they just miss their free-er range days…

It’s ok girl friends I understand, if the mama hens aren’t happy, aint no chicken happy!

They are now free to wander as they please within the confines of the garden fence. If any of ya’ll didn’t tune in for my chicken hating neighbor stories, you haven’t missed much, but maybe now you get why my dinos lost their free-range privileges…

Let’s just say chickens are terrible landscapers…. te he he… ahem.

I am just so happy that my girls are happy again, whatever it was. And my garden is happy to.

Dreaming of a luscious garden,

QG

(BTW..Anyone who is interested in having chickens or already does and may have questions, seek out none other than Justin Rhodes, his vlog on YouTube has transformed my view of chicken farming and I hope he can do the same for you. Thank You Justin at Abundant Permaculture for your wealth of knowledge!)

LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

Homesteading isn’t easy, the decision to live this way, however, it was the easiest choice we have ever made.

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I get asked all the time if it wouldn’t just be easier to scrap the whole idea and move back into town. And yeah, I bet it would be easier. There are days we want to quit, and there are always going to be days when we’re even asking ourselves why the hell we are doing this?!?

But isn’t that the point? To constantly reassess your life and how your dreams and aspirations fit into that life. To reach your goals and then set higher ones. To never stop asking the hard questions.

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Do I really want to do this?

Do I really want to keep doing this?

I am really happy with this?

How can I do this better?

Taking time to reflect on oneself and reconnecting with ones earthly desires is suddenly so paramount in my life. (FYI yoga is a great time for personal reflection!) Allotting time of reflection is something I have lacked  in recent years. But as my family stands at a crossroad of decisions, let us just say I am reflecting all over. And sometimes not so gracefully…

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Maybe its the changes in my life over the last year, or maybe its this deep burning inside me to pack up my family and rough it. To really go off-grid for real. Modern advancements make this much easier and accessible, but in all honesty I was totally born in the wrong generation.

I feel that, sometimes on a daily basis. Maybe I am an old soul or maybe its something bigger. I wish for simplicity and wide open space. I don’t dream of an augmenting bank account or a fancy car, and though vacationing all over the world sounds great, where do I sign… I don’t need travel to be happy. I dream of a piece of land to call my own… now that I am a wife, OUR OWN. I want to leave something tangible and meaningful for my children. Not just money and of course never debt.

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But of something more real than that. Something hard work gave us and they watched their parents build. I want them to be proud of our growth as humans and as homesteaders.

I dream of a family homestead. Of raising and teaching my children to live off the land. Planting respect for the earth and mother nature’s presence inside their hearts. Growing and learning with them. Working the ground side my side with them as they emerge into their own people. Releasing them into the world with the trust and belief that they are prepared for whatever may come. And one day we hope to see our children doing the same with their babies.

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Homesteading is not a fad or a phase for us. And believe me, we have had our share of skeptics and their opinions of our life. Folks are just scared of what they don’t know, although in my mind, growing organically from home should be something everyone knows proficiently.

This is our mission, to teach our kids, and hopefully some of you folks reading.

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Continually learning and being open minded to possibilities has fueled our homestead and our desire to now teach others. It feels good to learn new things, especially skills and trades valuable to this lifestyle.

Spencer and I want to leave something for future generations. A place our loved ones can come back and visit. And see where they came from.

So, whenever I ask myself why the hell am I doing this, the argument with my conscience is short. My heart and my mind know why we live this life. Why we pour our blood sweat and tears into our animals. Why we have to leave social events early to feed said animals, just to wake up even earlier to feed them again. And why we don’t vacation often (know a farm sitter…??) And now you know why we do it to.

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Some look at this life as full of complications, we see it as a privilege we are so lucky to have. I wouldn’t trade our crazy farm for anything… All 15 chickens, 4 ducks, 3 horses, 3 dogs, and 1 cat of it!!! This is my family, my life, my passion and I’m sticking to it.

Peace and Love.

Q

NO KNEAD PEASANT BREAD

If there’s one thing I love more than butter, it is bread. And this my friends, take the cake this week in our farm house. This soft, buttery crusted bread is sure to sweep any diner party or family meal off their feet.

It may sound odd calling it peasant bread, this is simply due to its short ingrident list and prep time.

Lets jump right in.

First let me be specific about my Pyrex bowls.

Ingridients:

  • 4 cups bread flour (all-purpose works to)
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 3 teaspoons organic sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons organic butter
  • 2 oven-safe glass bowls (I love my Pyrex)

Directions:
   
 

  • In large Pyrex measuring cup; dissolve sugar in lukewarm water.
  • Sprinkle yeast over water.
  • Set aside 15 minutes or until bubbly/foamy.
  • In separate bowl wish together flour and salt.
  • Once yeast is ready slowly pour over flour mixture, folding in thoroughly.  I usually use a fork for this, I pour in a little and mix until its absorbed, then pour a little more over, and fold it in, and so on, and so forth.
  • Once flour is entirely absorbed and mixed into your gooey dough ball, cover with tea towel or kitchen towel and set in a warm safe location to rise.

  
(Depending on how warm your house or kitchen is, your rise time may vary. It could be shorter or longer. I always say the long the better. Just keep in mind that what is best my kitchen may not be in yours. I have a drafty cold house.)

  • In any case I usually let my dough rise from an hour to two hours in the warmest location possible.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once risen, punch dough down with a fork, really makes are to punch it down thoroughly, sort of turning it in on itself if you will, as it will be very stick and caked to whatever bowl it rose in.
  • From here it can either rise again for a bit, or move onto the next step.
  • with two forks, punch down and split the ball down the center, creating two equally sized new dough balls.
  • You will have already used your desired amount of butter to liberally grease the two pyrex baking bowls.
  • Place a ball into each bowl and leave 15-20 more minutes to rise or until the balls have risen within an inch of the bowls rim.
  • Bake 15 minutes.
  • Turn oven down to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Bake 15 more minutes.
  • Remove promptly, turn loaves out onto cooling rack. Serve warm or cold.

And there you have it! This bread goes great with anything from chili to meatloaf and we just love it! And we hope you do as well 

Peace and Love 

QG

DIY ORGANIC DEO

Ok peeps, if there’s one thing I cannot avoid, its sweat. I’m not going to sugar coat it, I am a heavy sweater. If you were ever in sports or gym class with me in school you know, if theres a slight heat wave…. Fuhget aboudid!

But Quincy, there are so many anti-persperants out there! Why not try one?

Been there done that. And I’m not looking for anymore products to stop my body from performing its natural processes.

When we decided on this life it was part of my mission to cut out synthetics, artificial colorings, and as many chemicals as possible. Yes, Im still working on getting the home-stud to ditch the old spice deo, though I do love the intoxicating smell… But we do a pretty good job, hence making home made hygiene products like this.

As with the farming lifestyle I have put more sweat than blood and tears into almost everything, except this diy deo! It is that easy, just because I have learned to live with sweat does not mean I have to live with pit stink.

Like literally. This deodorant goes above and beyond, with only 3 ingredients… this make at home deo is on point. Keeping my underarms ODOR FREE free all day long!

Let’s see here..

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp Organic Coconut Oil (which I bought this time from Costco)
  • 1/4 C Baking Soda
  • 1/4 C Arrowroot Powder

  • 10-15 drops CTPG Essential Oil of choice

I chose to make a double batch and really stock up, so I made some with lavender EO  and then some with lemongrass EO.

If you’re wondering where to find Certified Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils look here!

All you have to do is throw it all together in a mixing bowl, mashing it together with a fork is easiest, seems that is my preferred mixing tool most times.

And there you have it! I would preferably put this wonderful stuff into cute little deodorant containers like these..

but for now it will live in repurposed baby food jars.

And peace out!

Want to join the journey with us? Follow us here at our blog! www.thehomessteadgardeners.com

Find us on Instagram @thegardnerhome

Or on Tumblr @homesteadgardner

Welcome to the GARDNER HOMESTEAD!

Hi there ya’ll,

I feel like I’ve been planning this move forever. Though I can’t help but think holy cow, that was fast…. I don’t know if I’m ready for it!

IMG_5949 But I did it! I moved the blog to its own web domain?!? Did I really?

Ok folks I’m a little in awe at myself. Amongst all my confusion over hosting and domain purchasing, .com versus .org, and don’t even get me started on all that IP address… DNS bull pucky… my brain is done people! But somehow, there it was, the lightbulb came on or maybe I just saw the light at the end of tunnel.

And now we own our blog’s domain.

Here we are to stay. The Homestead Gardner’s!

Yes, the web domain states gardeners, because we are, but we’re also a very Irish family with the surname Gardner.. Get it?

OK Ok, I get a little bit of a giggle out of it every time. That’s how much I love it.

Did I tell you my bearded farm stud came up with it?

Well he did, he’s pretty cool like that. Me? I was sitting for hours contemplating…. in he walks, and boom!

I love his creativity, and his last name…

Which is maybe.. 48% of the reason why I was so anxious for this new change, I couldn’t rightfully call it the Gardner homestead until I was actually a Gardner. As of December 27th I am Mrs. Spencer Gardner. I wish there was a roof top I could scream it from.

I am simply so grateful for our wedding season to be in the books, to have an amazing family, finally the same last name as my daughters, and for this blog.

This blog which has kept most of my sanity and for my husband who holds the rest. Thanks honey for loving me and always letting me be me even when it comes to purchasing too many farm animals…

If ya’ll hang in there through my bad humor I promise to share all of our hopes and dreams, trials and tribulations, even those times when we’ve wanted to quit it and give up.

We’re just a family of four trying to cut out our own piece of the Pacific Northwest. Sharing our journey with you is our passion… well after our die hard love for the tactical homestead life, sustainable farming, organic gardening, cannabis horticulture, equine sports, mason jar hoarding, and wholesome home cooked meals.

We are so ready and excited for this new chapter in or lives, 2016 here we come.

Follow our journey and I can guarantee we will all learn something.

Peace and Love

Q.G.

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Hello world!

I began this blog over a year ago in the hopes of changing my families life for the better. To get us back to basics. To learn those homesteader skills,  those do-it-yourself hacks, and farming strategies our grandparents and great-grandparents had passed down them. That was normal for them, their everyday life. It was their usual, and now it is ours.

Over the course of the last year my family raised or own meat (pork, chicken, rabbit), grew our own vegetables (no matter the catastrophe it was), began to eat an all organic diet, we’ve decluttered our lives with much more to go, we’ve preserved food, we even bought a vehicle in cash; it may be rusty, but we own it, and it hauls my wild pack of kids and dogs fantastically, we have learned to grow fodder to supplement the animals diets, learned to grow and breed meat rabbits, and learned to raise and butcher broiler chickens. To top it all off the farm stud and I finally tied the not in 2016, it has been a year full of changes and new experiences.

This is only the beginning for us. We’re learning to be self sufficient one day at a time. One project at a time. One deep breathe in at a time. I can’t wait to see what we will learn in this year. Want to join the journey with us? Follow us here at our blog! www.thehomessteadgardeners.com

Find us on Instagram @thegardnerhome

Or on Tumblr @homesteadgardner