Sunday, July 28, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap *EASY*

As I notice more people taking an interest in making their own homemade laundry soap I am posting my recipe. You can make your own soap for pennies on the dollar! All these items were found in the cleaning/laundry aisle of our local supermarket. The expensive ingredients will last you many batches. I am guessing but you can most likely get 6+ batches out of each box.

1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of soap( you can use normal people soap like dove but use a whole bar) **$2 for 1 bar**

1/2 cup washing soda **$5 for one large box**

1/2 cup borax powder **$4 for a box**

3-5 gallon bucket **FREE**

1/2 oz of essential oil (optional) **$2-$5**

*This equals about $4.50 a batch which gives you about 2-3 gallons or 40 cups (average) which is 80 loads (ONLY ABOUT $1.83 A BATCH IF YOU DON'T USE A SCENT)

Grate the soap into a sauce pan.
Add 6 cups water and heat until the soap melts.
Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.
Remove from heat and add 4 cups hot water and essential oil to the bucket.
Now add your soap mixture.
Stir and add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.
Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel into something along the lines of egg white.
**You use 1/2 cup per load.**

Maybe you shouldnt get chickens...

This story link above is a wonderful story of what you need to understand when entering a chicken contract (aka: buying chickens to raise)

You all know I am by far a huge supporter of people having a backyard flock but this is something that is not widely talked about and people forget this part of chicken raising until it comes about. We are approaching our first time with our oldest hen coming up on 3 years. She still is laying but we can see her slowing down... A LOT. Within the next year it will be her time to move on... *sigh* We love her!

Ready for August

August is exciting for me because even though I cant stand to be outside for more then 20 minutes I do get to start seeds for plants. Everything that can be planted in September can and should be started in early August. Giving them a great start and 4-5 weeks of growth before being planted out in September.

Ill be starting:


Easy direct seed plants dont need to be started early like:


As you see above corn is on both lists that because you don't NEED to start it early as it is easy to direct seeds and have it grow but sometimes that couple extra weeks gives the plants a good boost and quickens how fast the grow to maturity in the ground. 

Everything will be planted and set outside in partial morning sun. Ill be sending my hubby out with the weed eater to get all the weeds down as far as we can then we will get in there and start pulling by hand. The garden plan posted HERE will be put into work within the next couple weeks. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Grilled cheese

This city gal has an addiction to grilled cheese but not the kind you may remember from your childhood, while the processed cheese and over buttered sandwiches may remind you of a simpler time I prefer new and updated cheese. I found a place that goes to local farmers markets grilling up some unique grilled cheese but at $5-$6 a sandwich I cant afford such yumminess so I took it upon myself to craft my own noms at home.
My first sandwich was cheddar cheese, goat cheese, and fresh Georgia peaches on sourdough bread with just a touch of butter in the pan. It was Yum!

The one I made today was cheddar cheese, goat cheese, and wild raspberry jam that my mom from IL made. The whole thing was dipped in marinara sauce. AMAZING!

I use sharp cheddar cheese as my base cheese, and since I have a unnatural addiction to all things goat cheese I tend to add that to EVERYTHING. Fruits add a touch of sweetness and you can use fresh or canned. Next I will add things slivered almonds, veggies, and other goods to try other crazy yummy combos.

Hail to the grilled cheese!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Garden Plan

So here is my garden plan. We are named Sunny Spot Gardens due to the high level of sun we get here and NO shade; I thought it would be fun to take that to the next level ad design our garden based after the traditional child's drawing of a sun. The dark areas you see are the walkways leading off the main fire pit area.

The center sun will be the fire pit located almost in the middle of the yard, the spokes will lead to different areas as you can see... compost, chicken coop, rabbit area and garden, pond, and then 2 paths back to the porch and event area.

The event area will be left mulched and rugged with no garden beds to provide area for people to gather when we host events at our house.

The rabbit area is being renewed. Mulch will go in the pathway and next to the tarp cover for them we are going to install a rabbit run and a small garden where we will grow veggies for them.

The chicken coop is being moved slightly to be able to be accessed more easily, we will give them a new hay floor and add an extra feeder for them.

Along the back fence we will leave the current lilies in place because they are almost impossible to get rid of (I have tried 5 times over the past 3 years) and add moringa trees, and cassava to block out that back fence and their mean dogs as best we can.

The pond will have a mulch walkway along the length of it and a slightly larger area in the corner which we will put a bench in for relaxing on.

Off to College

Well its official this Homesteading City Gal is off to college. I start at SPC on Aug 15th where I will be attending and getting my General Associates Degree with a transfer program to USF for a bachlors in Environmental Science and Policy.

I am very excited about this, as a young woman who dropped out of school, ran away from home, and got pregnant at age 17 I had many challenges to face and those all led me to where I am today. Renting a lovely modest house with my caring husband and wonderful daughter, Supplying my family with organic and sustainable food from our backyard, and now returning to school to pursue my future in something I love vs doing something I must do to pay the bills. I am incredibly grateful to have to loving support of so many who pushed me to get my GED, get my license and start bettering myself those years ago. If you had asked me even 1 year ago if I thought I would be going to college I would have said no. I had no time my life is so busy, and it still is but after much thought I realized if I ever wanted a better job, an easier life, and my farm I needed to pursue a higher education but I wasn't going to just do something I hated for the money.. No I needed to do something I loved or I would just end up hating school again like I did way back when.

I did many hours of research looking into possible jobs, which degrees I could take in the area, where the jobs were located, how much they paid, etc. I love degrees like sustainability, horticulture, biology but its much harder to find jobs with them and they require Masters Degrees or Higher. So I decided on becoming an environmental scientist. Science classes where the only class I ever enjoyed in school and if I had ditched the whole day I would never miss that class. Now science goes hand in hand with math which I am AWFUL at but I think with where I am in my life, and my new found desire to achieve this new goal math will be less awful. Maybe I was just bored. I always tested well in it even though I failed the classes. So now to begin a new chapter of my life...

Wife, Mother, Urban Homesteader, Full Time Worker, and College Student!

Seed Sale

Every gardener gets excited about a seed sale.
Right now Baker Creek Heirloom seeds (my fav seeds) are having a 25% off sale:
Use code FALLGARDEN13 to snag some great deals

They did not tell me how long this lasts so just try it!

The Honey Bees... Whats Happening to Them??

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What to plant in July (Zone 9):

Plant seeds of:
Beans: Bush, Pole, Lima
New Zealand Spinach
Malabar Spinach
Yard Long Beans
Cow Peas
Sweet Potatoes

Things to do:
* Remember to pick cucumbers, squash, beans, okra, and peppers regularly so plants will continue producing.
* Blossom end rot on tomatoes or a similar rot on peppers is caused by a calcium deficiency or fluctuations in soil moisture. Try to keep plants evenly moist. Discard rotting fruit.
* Remove all diseased vegetable plants or infected leaves from the garden. Prevent the spread of a disease by watering plants carefully at the soil level.
* As basil plants begin to bloom, cut plants back just above a pair of leaves to encourage growth.
* Also late this month start your plants to set out next month.. this will give you a head start!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The day fast approches

Im getting nervous because its about that time, in just about 2 weeks I will be processing our first bunch of meat rabbits. I am very conflicted on this, i was raised in a time where rabbits were called bunnies and thought of as pets and snuggles buns not livestock as they have been for many a year. In my own quest from a vegetarian to someone who likes to enjoy her meat I have tried to stay away from industrial raised factory farmed meat as much as possible, raising my own meat was my next step.

I watched these rabbits grow from the first day they were born hairless and rat looking, to the cute little furry baby bunnies, and know to the stage where they are starting to look like mini sized grown rabbits. Within the last month I have distanced myself from them.. not allowing myself to become attached as I was there for a while. I knew this day would be coming and I am looking forward to it and dreading it. I am happy to be providing our family with sustenance that we were able to raise from day 1 ourselves. I know everything those bunnies ate, the kale I picked fresh for them daily and let them munch, the green hay, oats, pellets, weeds, etc, I know their parents, and mostly I know them.

As they steadily gain weight and become bigger the faster my day approaches. Not only do I have to kill these rabbit myself, then I have to process them. I am going to try and use every aspect of these animals as I can. This is including blood for the garden, meat for us, bones for the garden, and pelts tanned for us. Its a very weird feeling for me, to be looking forward to something so much and dreading it at the same time. Such is the lifestyle I chose and a step I feel I need to take.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Farmer Spotlight:.Kuntzelman Family

Re-post from visit in 2011:

If you could choose would you pick meat that has been sprayed with who knows what, driven hundreds of miles from a factory farm who knows where, made with unknown parts ground together with such a high fat content people who have heart problems are told to stay far away over local pasture raised grass fed happy cows/sheep/chickens that meats so rich in omega 3 and so low in fat heart patients are allowed to eat it and sometimes even encouraged to??? I mean really what would you choose?

Well I choose the latter and went out to visit the Kuntzelman family to pick up my locally raised meat, and meet the family and the animals.

Brooke, my grandma, and I made the 30 minute trip to Dover and pulled up in front of this cute humble home with rolling fields and tall grass in the back.. a beautiful golden retriever jumped up at our arrival but soon settled back under the shade of a big tree, I walked up the driveway to find a young man and woman sitting outside enjoying their view and having some cold water, a baby monitor sat on the table. I introduced myself, my daughter and my grandma after we all shook hands we started the tour.

First close to the house was a large brooder with heat lamps and little 3 day old chicks running around.. Ahh! I remember having chicks : )
Next was a large area of the pasture fenced off where a metal chicken house sat and I saw laying hens and a couple roosters walking around and some happily hiding in the tall grasses!
Then on to the meat chickens which were in a box like structure that gets moved around the pasture everyday allowing the birds to have fresh grass and scratch the metal box had a large blue tarp over top to keep the awful FL heat from hurting them.

Next it was time to see the cattle/sheep/and goats! We walked over wild blackberries, cow patties where you could see worms have already started devouring, and through knee high grasses.. this is the life! My grandma wasn't enjoying it quite as much and is so the green acres theme song! Once we got close the goats rushed over and the cattle looked excited. The owners had brought treats for us to feed them! Brooke tried so hard to feed the cow but didn't understand to keep her hand there when the cow went to take it so my grandma fed them getting licked in the process while Brooke and I pet them. The sheep kept their distance munching grass and other weeds in the field. The goats though came right over and Brooke got to pet them as well she LOVED it and didn't want to go!
We walked back to the house passing a little garden where sweet corn and some winter squash was growing. When we got there we did some talking and he brought up a good point.. ever driven passed cows and they are in a field of neatly cut grass that maybe a inch or two tall??? Yea me 2 and that's how you know they are on grain feed.. in order to be grass fed that grass will have to be tall and thick for the cows to be able to eat and live off it!!!

At the ranch they use all natural methods but like a lot of small farmers cannot afford the "organic" license, fine by me as long as they continue to use organic/natural methods.
Life is a beautiful circle which modern agriculture has ruined and this farm is bringing it back!!!

Congrats Kuntzelman Family!

And a brief summary right from the owners themselves:

We came to farm after we decided to "opt out" of the conventional food system. We wanted to produce the healthiest and best tasting food on the planet for our family and then we decided we wanted to provide it for others too! We are still very small but the demand for our products if huge. However we are growing slowly so that we don't compromise quality just to get bigger.

Beef/Lamb - From birth to death our cattle and sheep eat nothing but grass and/or hay when the grass isn't growing. We provide them with an organic mineral supplement and move them to a fresh salad bar of grass daily.

Chicken - We raise our chickens on pasture in floorless pens that provide protection from predators and elements. In addition to grass and bugs they get a locally milled grain ration.

Eggs - Our hens rotate behind the cattle and sheep to scratch though the cow pies and eat fly larvae and parasites that can hurt the cows the next time they come into that pasture. In addition to bugs and grass they also get a locally milled grain ration.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Its just so darn hot

Ah summer in FL, its much like winter up North. You don't venture outside and when you do go outside you get back in the AC as quick as possible. This is the time when I stay inside reading and dreaming of gardens to come. This is exactly what I have been doing of late, staying inside and dreaming.

The issue with this is I am missing being in the garden, the dirt under my nails, watching the seeds pop up through the soil. So a week ago I walked outside... other then at sunset to feed the animals. I found that the weeds had consumed EVERYTHING and were about 2 ft tall. I got stressed how I could I let my gardens get so overtaken. *sigh* So my husband and I pitched together and bought a weed whacker. I normally work with my hands and that alone but this mess called for desperate measure.

Yesterday my wonderful hubby set out into the yard with one thing in mind, chop down those weeds. and that he did. We now have 2 inch weeds that can easily be managed and smothered. We will be laying boxes and new pathways ASAP before we get out of hand again. I will be drawing up a plan and posting it soon :)