If you’ve ever watched chickens, it’s clear to see that they are both curious and active. Chickens will come to check out almost anything new that doesn’t scare them and they do play. In fact, if you want a peaceful and pleasant time in the ranging pens, it’s best to give them plenty to do. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to keep a few homestead chickens entertained. All you need are a few household items, some tasty produce trimmings, and consideration for what chickens like to do all day.
Set Up a Daily Care Routine
The most interesting thing that happens in the days of most chickens is a visit from a human. Simply going about your regular business cleaning the pens, filling food and water supplies, and gathering eggs is a reasonable amount of activity for your average hen. While new activity is always entertaining, chickens do best when they mostly know what to expect, where to be to get fed, and how to behave when you’re in the pen. By making your chicken chores a daily schedule, you can keep your chickens interested and ensure that you never forget a round of feeding, cleaning, and gathering.
Build a Few Dust Baths
Chickens love to play in the dust and it’s not just recreational. This is their way to stay clean, dry, and bug-free. The good news is that like most things that chickens need, dust baths are incredibly easy to make. In fact, the best reason to make intentional dust baths is to ensure that your chickens don’t try to claw up the yard to make their own. Dust baths can be made from boxes, lined pits, clean kitty litter pans, old tires, or anything else that can hold a mix of dry dirt and fine sand. Set a few around the pens so more than one chicken can dust bathe at once.
Make Food-Based Toys
Chickens are not complex but they are excellent at cleaning up kitchen scraps. Fruit and vegetable trimmings are especially enjoyable and can be quickly turned to chicken entertainment. Produce skewered and tied to the fence or the ceiling of the coop can be happily pecked at for hours while a toy with holes can dispense tiny chicken treats after a bit of lively pecking and chasing. Chickens enjoy any opportunity to peck, run, and eat at the same time so get creative with your food-based chicken toys.
Create a Compost Pile
Chickens love to peck and search for little bits of food and nothing is more fun for a homestead chicken than a compost pile. Building a compost pile serves multiple purposes for chickens. Searching entertains them, they get food variety from insects and scraps. Keeping your chickens happy can be as easy as building your compost pile in their pen.
Perches and Hiding Spots
Chickens are both playful and adventurous, to a reasonable extent. They like to overlook each other on perches and hide and take naps in little tunnels. These can be made out of almost anything from packing crates to punched-out oatmeal containers. Just give your chickens a dynamic landscape to explore and they will play on it every day.
Build a Swing
Give your chickens a way to exercise and get their feet up off the ground with a swing. This will build their muscles for sitting with more stability on roosts and laying nests. Cheap tire swings can be very popular with homestead chickens.
Whether you have five hens or thirty, it’s important to keep all of your chickens reasonably entertained. This promotes health, activity, and good behavior among the flock. With even a few of these ideas, your birds will be distracted, delighted, or comfortably asleep most of the day. For more great homesteading tips and fun, contact us today!
A tiny homestead can be just as successful as larger ones with a little ingenuity. The following tips can be utilized to help make the most of the limited space available on smaller homesteads.
Tips For Tiny Homesteads
1. Choose goats over cows for milk. Goats require significantly less space but they produce an adequate amount of milk for small families. Milk can also be used to create butter, cheese, and ice cream.
2. Utilize window boxes on every available sill to increase growing space. Lots of small producers and herbs will grow in window planter boxes. A few examples include radishes, strawberries, and green onions.
3. Use platforms or double-story animal houses where appropriate to maximize land space. Chickens and goats can both safely walk up ramps.
4. Choose crops with high outputs. This will vary based upon where you live but might include anything that grows on vines or bushes like berries and tomatoes. Corn is a great option, too.
5. Allow chickens to be free-range and do away with the need for a big run. However, you should create a chicken coop and put poultry up at night to protect them from predators.
6. Rabbits are a great choice of meat animal for really tiny homesteads. A large cage can happily house two rabbits, and cages can be stacked to make even more room.
7. Pigs are another great livestock option if you can stand the smell. A single pig needs only about ten feet of space to be happy and everyone loves pork. That same pig can make a lot of meat when compared to the space needed to house it. Even better, pigs can live almost entirely off table scraps.
The tips for tiny homesteads above can help you make the most of limited available space on tiny homesteads. Remember to get creative and think outside the box to make your tiny homestead even more self-sustaining and efficient than a larger one. Happy homesteading! 🙂
Winter is the perfect time to learn new homesteading skills. Cold temperatures and limited daylight keep most people inside for much of the day. So learning new homesteading skills is a great way to benefit from those extra indoor hours. Read on to learn four basic skills that can help improve your homesteading life.
If you haven’t already learned to cook from scratch, it’s an essential skill to master. You need to know the basics of scratch cooking to turn next season’s garden harvest into delicious meals. More experienced cooks could learn additional skills like how to bake or how to turn leftovers into new meals.
The best way to learn is to take a cooking class, but you can also get some basic cookbooks and just jump right in, as well. Choose a couple of recipes you would like to make, gather your ingredients and read through the entire recipe before starting.
2. Fiber Arts
Do your homestead dreams include making your own clothes, creating beautiful gifts, or raising fiber animals? Learning to sew, knit, or crochet is the first step toward turning those dreams into reality. Taking a local class gives you a chance to learn a new skill and make new friends. If there isn’t a convenient class, it’s not hard to find online tutorials for these skills.
Unless you’re indoor gardening, you’ll have to wait until spring to put into practice what you learn about gardening during winter. New gardeners may want to learn how to:
- Plant a raised bed
- Choose plants for their growing zone
- Decide where to plant garden beds
- Deter pests
- Create a compost pile
For those of you who are familiar with the gardening basics, you may be interested in learning to build something that will enhance your gardens, like a tomato trellis or simple greenhouse.
For those who didn’t take shop class in high school, even basic woodworking skills may seem intimidating. But you needn’t be afraid. Woodworking isn’t difficult once you learn the basics, like working with the grain and how humidity affects wood. Learning to cut properly and safely comes next. With a little information, you’ll be cutting perfect miter joints before spring arrives.
These four basic homesteading skills will take you a long way in your journey towards self-sufficiency. Whether you learn one skill or all of them, each is a great way to spend those cold winter months indoors.
My husband has a wildly full beard (hallelujah) and he needs to condition it quite often. Here’s the problem though, most beard creams are thick and almost feel waxy.
He wanted something that would condition without making his face itch!!! So… I came up with a beard oil that smells like a mountain man living in pine tree surrounded shack that cares about personal hygiene.
Here ya go: JOJOBA OIL + PINE ESSENTIAL OIL + CLARY SAGE ESSENTIAL OIL.
As for how much of each, I did half a bottle of jojoba and the rest EO’s. It is the perfect consistency and works and smells good.
Homesteading is all about creating a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It starts with something as simple as a garden to feed your family, chickens to provide eggs, and it can go as far as growing herbs for medicine, raising cows & other animals and finding ways to do things for yourself and your family without the need for much else. Homesteading can also involve creating and making things based on what you have to provide a source of income for your family. All in all, creating a more self-sufficient lifestyle is rewarding and provides many benefits, including helping the planet! How? Well, I’m happy to explain.
Here are 10 ways homesteading can help save the planet:
1. By promoting biodiversity
Ponds, plants, animals, fish, it’s all part of the homesteading lifestyle.
2. By providing pollinator habitat
Bees and butterflies, as small as they are, do a very big job of pollinating our crops so that people all over the world can eat. By us homesteaders providing them with flowers to feast on, we’re helping keep them alive so they can keep us alive.
3. By cleaning your air
Many plants are air filtering. Did you know that? Clean air = less asthma hospitalizations for you and me.
4. By regenerating the soil
Natural fertilizer from backyard farm animals enriches the soil and won’t contaminate local drinking water like chemical fertilizers. Using the land productively helps prevent soil erosion so the land can continue to be used.
5. By shrinking the local carbon footprint
Locally grown food has the lowest carbon emissions, so whether it’s farm eggs or hydroponic basil, it’s got a lower carbon footprint compared to store-bought eggs and produce. Collecting eggs from your own back yard or from your neighbors is a heck of a lot better for the environment than a car trip to the store for eggs.
6. By saving the oceans
The more food you grow at home, the less plastic packaging. Recyclable or not, plastic can’t be recycled over and over again like metals, so eventually they’ll end up in the environment. Another win for backyard farming!
Here are a few more ways homesteading really helps:
7. By helping you stay cool
The extra foliage in our backyards help soak up the sun’s heat, preventing what scientists call heat island effect. The less green, the hotter it is. That’s why cities tend to be a few degrees hotter than suburbs and countryside. So uh, you’re welcome! Without us expect your electric bill to be a bit higher for A/C.
8. By lowering your grocery bill
Whether we’re bartering with our neighbors or eating what we grow, the overall effect is people are finding more of what they need outside of the grocery store. This keeps local grocery stores from hiking up their prices and may even lead to more discounted “manager specials” because people aren’t buying stuff fast enough.
9. By creating community
In an antisocial world, homesteads are a place where you can reconnect with nature and humanity.
10. By raising rooted children
Raising children on a homestead teaches certain lessons and instills certain values you can’t get from YouTube. Like that the outdoors has just as much to offer, if not more, than a screen. That good things take time, like the mango tree we planted in and fruited later. Raising children in to adults who understand these important lessons will make the world a better place.
I needed a new lip balm and needed it pronto. With the weather warming up, I found myself reaching for lip balms often. I don’t like most chapsticks as I feel like they can make your lips more drying but I have always loved the way coconut oil based lip balms feel.
I grabbed my CBD Oil and Coconut Oil and got to work.
I have some leftover glass jars so I decided to use them for my lip balm.
This recipe is actually very cost-effective and can be used to fill multiple jars. This recipe fills one small lip balm jar. Double, triple, etc. until your heart is content.
You Will Need:
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
5 drops of full spectrum CBD oil (or hemp oil)
2-3 drops of essential oil (some examples are lavender, orange, vanilla, peppermint or whatever you prefer.)
Melt the coconut oil first by either microwaving slowly 10 seconds at a time or setting the jar outside to melt by the sun.
Add the CBD oil and essential oils in with the coconut oil. Mix well.
Pour the mixture into a container and freeze for 20-30 minutes.
What is homesteading?
Settling on the land, living a life of self-sufficiency, and a nod to the simpler times before us all come to mind. In reality, it is a million different things to a million different people.
From those of us that have large acreage and fully functioning farms to those of us raising a handful of chickens in their suburban backyard.
From those who grow and can their fruits and vegetables to those who raise their animals for meat.
In our journey through homesteading we have learned a lot in a short time. We have learned what works as far as planting fruits and vegetables, and we have learned what doesn’t work when trying to cram a backyard with birds.
To me however, the most important thing about homesteading is that it is so much more than what you are doing, it’s how you are doing it. Each step in the right direction towards self-sufficiency and enjoying the outdoors is a step forward! The thing that has been the most rewarding though has nothing to do with growing or planting, collecting eggs or raising animals.
The most rewarding thing is how this lifestyle has allowed us to reconnect, with nature and and plants, and animals…but most importantly how it helps is reconnect with each other. To me, homesteading is all about family, good crops or bad, full egg baskets of empty, rain, shine and everything in between.
I am about to blow your mind (hopefully) when I tell you that I made my own tiki torch fuel using vegetable oil, citronella, eucalyptus, cedar and pine essential oils.
I made a huge bottle of it and filled up 4 tiki torches. I don’t have exact ratios, I just put enough essential oils in the vegetable oil until it smelled good.
It works!!!!! It’s cheaper too.
For me, I already had everything on hand that I needed so I spent ZERO dollars when I was in need for some tiki torch fuel.
Pictured: Vitamin C Serum, Apricot Jojoba Oil, Lavender Oil, Rose Hip Seed Oil plus some favorites like the Harmony Moisturizer with Rose & Neroli Blossom annnnnd the Heel Butter.
Now let’s talk about WHY.
There is reasoning behind why I use what I use and it would be silly for me to not explain why so… let’s get to it.
Rosehip oil – Roses are amazing and provide many benefits in beauty but it doesn’t stop there. Rosehip oil is harvested from the seeds of rose bushes and is full of vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that are known to correct dark spots and hydrate dry, itchy skin, all while reducing scars and fine lines.
Vitamin C Serum – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that stimulates collagen production and helps to reduce signs of aging by repairing the damage done by free radicals and the sun.
Jojoba Oil – Jojoba oil regulates sebum production because it’s so similar to the sebum that your body produces naturally. When you put jojoba oil on your skin, your skin is soothed and moisturized. This keeps skin from looking oily and helps prevent acne caused by clogged pores. It’s also non-comedogenic which means it won’t clog your pores. Beauty products cut with jojoba can be used all over the body without worrying about breakouts.
Lavender Oil – Lavender oil not only boosts potent anti-inflammatory properties, but is also ultra soothing for skin not to mention it is anti-bacterial.
If you’re anything like us, you always have some sort of citrus around you at all times. I always use it to clean with and I love the way it smells in the kitchen when you clean with citrus, especially lemons. We had a grapefruit pomelo tree in our front yard for a long time and we used it a lot for cleaning with.
I decided to see what could be done with citrus. DIY All Purpose Cleaners are a great option! Here are some other tips for using citrus:
Tip 1: Add citrus peels to any garden.
Insects dislike the smell, so the peels serve as a natural bug repellent. In addition, as the peels break down they release nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium into your soil. Fertilizer, anyone? For improved efficacy, cut the peels into strips and partially cover with soil at the base of each plant.
Tip 2: Use citrus to clean cooking pans.
A simple combination of citrus juice and salt can be used to naturally clean pots and pans. Simply use half a citrus fruit rubbed over salt to scour the pot, pan, or other metal surface. This method is all natural and non-toxic, and will leave your metal surfaces and utensils shining.
Tip 3: Keep lemon halves after juicing.
Instead of using environmentally harmful bleach, simply add the lemon halves to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Then add dingy whites and soak overnight, then wash as usual for bright whites – naturally!
Photo: House & Homestead using Limoneira Lemons.
Subscribe to Limoneira’s Youtube channel for more information on the many ways this endlessly versatile fruit can improve life inside the home and beyond. They provide weekly videos full of recipes, DIY tips and other ways to use Limoneira citrus.
1. Duck eggs are healthier. The number one reason you should be eating duck eggs are that they are healthier. Now we all know the value of the “incredible, edible” chicken egg, but did you know that duck eggs are higher in essential vitamins and minerals? The free range ducks seem to have the highest quality of eggs, duck eggs in general have more vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, B6, B12, Niacin, firemen, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate, and retinol. Not to mention they have a higher protein content! Whew!
2. Duck eggs have more Vitamin D. Especially if your ducks free range, duck eggs have more vitamin D than a chicken egg. Vitamin D has a long list of benefits including skin and bone health as well as some evidence that it improves your mood.
3. Duck eggs are the special ingredient in many Baker’s products. Did you know that duck eggs make for a fluffier cake, a lighter cookie, and a moist and delicate addition to most bakery items? The higher protein content in the egg whites of a duck egg make them a fantastic choice for baking.
4. More omega-3’s! By now most people know how important omega threes are, but still many people don’t know how to add them to their diet without supplements. Omega-3’s help keep your heart healthy and may reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is generally understood by scientists to be a potential cause for many diseases. Also there is a link to omega three consumption and it’s positive affect on mood.
5. Lastly, I truly believe duck eggs are the food of the future. Ducks are a very easy animal to care for. Their feed is simple, their needs are basic, and they are consistent layers as chickens generally have months where production slows down. The thicker shell of a duck egg makes them last longer than chicken eggs, and their unique make up generally allows them to be a suitable substitution for those with chicken egg allergies.
I figured that title would bring you this way but it’s most definitely the case here.
I heard orchids are hard to grow but I’ve neglected this thing and by the time I remember, I just dunk it in the pond to absorb water.
That may actually be every 3 months… yet, here we are… blooms and all.
I love rooting basil. I love the way it looks, I love how easy it is and for some reason, the feeling of constantly being able to keep basil growing makes me happy.
Take a snip of your basil, preferably off the top, set the stem in water (clear glass works best) and place by a window!
Magic will happen. ?
Even though making a commitment to homesteading and a more self sufficient lifestyle can be a lot of work, I still can be a bit of a creature of convenience. Look, I am like you and would love to see less waste in packaging and less plastics used altogether for daily items, but also my lifestyle requires me to be on the go almost all of the time. I have to find the balance.
When it comes to those “must-have items” that are a little outside of the scope of sustainable packaging, I like to reuse when ever possible and recycle as much as possible.
This brings me to the argument I had with myself about justifying the use of k-cups in their single use, plastic packaging.
I racked my brain as much as I could to think about how I could reuse them, and the best I could come up with was opening them and using the small bit of coffee as fertilizer for my plants.
Then it dawned on me, though coffee itself is usually too acidic to grow plants in, once the coffee grounds have been used and hot water ran through them they actually become pretty neutral of a ph.
I looked at my #kcups and was able to solve the problem of how to reuse them by also solving my problem of finding a good place to start my seedlings before planting them in my larger garden.
The k-cups were the perfect size so I literally just used my thumb to poke a larger hole, tossed some seeds in the hole and watered daily. I wasn’t sure how well it would work until I started to see all of my planted seeds sprout.
So that brought me to the way I can finally reuse the K-cups successfully, and start my seeds. It’s a win/win, and as my inspiring sister at the eco-conscious consumer has taught me, every bit counts!
This isn’t the most loveliest of photos but we were feeding a few eggs back to the ducks and chickens (benefits them by providing protein, omegas, and calcium from the shell) and this is just ONE duck egg yolk.
It was hard to focus on but man, the duck egg yolks can be so much larger which increases the good fats and omegas that come with it. The color comes from all the free-range time they have during the day. They forage on all the plants and bugs.
The duck eggs are usually white, but we will be having some chocolate runners laying in a few months and they will lay mint colored eggs.
Here are some of our duck eggs:
Here are our chickens eggs:
Chicken eggs do taste very similar however with the higher fat content a duck egg yolk has, I’d say they are better for baking and fluffing things up.
Should I be giving my ducks a vitamin?
One of the most frequent deficiencies in the nutrition of ducks is a niacin deficiency. Mainly seen in young ducks and ducklings fed incorrect feed meant for the older chickens in the group.
Niacin is also known as vitamin b3. This vitamin is essential for the health of developing waterfowl. They also need more than your chickens do. Some chicken feeds do have enough niacin in them, but the best would be a waterfowl feed already formulated for their dietary needs.
Niacin deficiency is ugly and it’s important for the duck owner to supplement the best they can. Allowing them to free range can help as well as niacin is in bugs, fish, worms and other things they can root through and find. With symptoms including low weight, trouble walking, leg development issues, and other irreversible damages, niacin is a big deal. Crack out the peas!
With that knowledge, the biggest question is… “can I give my duck a human vitamin.” Well, yes and no.
Because of how often I see and hear this question, first off, niacin is niacin. It’s niacin if it’s in peas, salmon, sardines, brewers yeast, liver, or a supplement.
The problem with it not being waterfowl specific (human vitamins) is how hard it is to give the correct amount evenly to each bird and what binders and fillers are used in the human vitamin supplement. How much niacin do the birds need? Are they getting it from natural sources, and their feed?
Personally, I think making sure that your birds have a varied diet with natural food sources of niacin along with a your niacin added waterfowl feed is a fantastic way to make sure they get their optimal niacin and nutrition in general.
So our consensus is…. to skip the human vitamins and make sure they have a varied diet, the correct feed and if a supplement is needed, it should be waterfowl specific.