Friday, September 1, 2017

Hello World... we have some catching-up to do!

Welcome back! Or should you be saying that to us?? It's probably the latter. We have been MIA for a few weeks and we want you to get caught back up on what's been happening around the homestead!

First thing's first! I wanted to share the great reviews from friends about Simply Earth! Thank you to everyone who has looked into Simply Earth, received items as gifts, or have taken the steps to creating your own healthier, simpler home! I appreciate all of the love and support from all of you and hope you will continue to be interested in essential oils and possibly... probably... getting some free items with me in the near future! **hint**hint**

Back to our little zoo...er homestead! Goats are doing well. Here's a goat stall cleaning gaggle of pictures:

Mama Goat





Georgia


Mama Goat is blurry but I had to get a quick pic with her ;)


The chickens are adjusting well to their run. Speaking of chickens! We have some news! While we do have 9 out in the Big Girl Coop, and we had the 3 youngins in our garage (now out in the barn)... in trying not to sound gross and scare people away from eating eggs and such... two of our youngin's are now teenagers! :| Scary image when you think of chickens and "coming of age" but it's what happens and we have dealt with it in a fantastic way. They might have had a party in celebration. (Don't put that past me.)

Look at those little angels!

We are up to 11 chickens of laying age! My little Maxxie will get there in due time.

Getting right back into the animals...

Chief has been losing his summer coat that was super fluffy to begin with. He's getting sleepy in the hot weather but more playful as it's getting cooler.





Such a handsome boy he is! 😍

As for Sargent, he's quite taken by our kitten, Hugo. These two play all day and even wind up sleeping on the bed together. Oh, and share a blankie sometimes! Miss Katie has been at her usual games of staying out all day to catch mice.




The garden has been out of control in some areas. The tomatoes, obviously were obnoxious last time we posted but they've only grown in numbers and size since then. There are still so many green tomatoes and we have picked so many red ones that I don't see it ending this year, maybe spring. :| I'm joking... kind of.

Cherry Tomato City

Green Beans in all pockets!



Beans growing up the cattle panel
Our Peppers!

Matthew has been working hard on getting some food plots down. One for the goats near where their new fencing will reach to and another for deer to be ready for the upcoming hunting season!




 Deer Food Plot

 Goat Food Plot





 This is what we put down on both food plots. As a bonus, Matthew put some forage peas down in the goat plot. Matthew has said that this is growing really well since he planted it two weeks ago (8/17/17).


Hi Katie!



Here's what the food plots look like today...





Until next time, please share and comment with questions! We will do our best to keep this up!

❤Matthew&Melissa

Italian Chicken

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
16 Ounce Bottle of Italian Dressing (I used non fat)
1/2 Cup of Parmesan Cheese
Italian Seasoning
4-6 Potatoes scrubbed cut in half or wedges (you can peel if desired)
1/2 bag of mini carrots
Spray crock with Pam
Squirt a small amount of Italian dressing at bottom of crock-pot.
Place two chicken breasts in crock.
Pour some of the Italian dressing on the chicken.
Sprinkle half of cheese onto the chicken.
Sprinkle Italian seasoning onto the chicken.
Place next two chicken breasts into crock-pot, if possible not directly on top of the first breasts.
Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of chicken.
Pour carrots on top
Pour more of the Italian dressing on top of chicken and carrots.
Sprinkle Italian seasoning onto the chicken and carrots.
Place potatoes on top.
Pour the remaining Italian dressing on the potatoes.Sprinkle Italian seasoning on the potatoes.Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Be a world changer - End Human Trafficking

I get stuck on that title when I read it...

"Be a world changer."

Prior to November 2016, I was interested in essential oils but couldn't bring myself to pay the price for what companies charged. It may seem silly to be expecting for something all natural and pure, but to not want to pay for that. 

It took a lot of research and digging around until I stumbled upon (much like some of you have done for our blog), Simply Earth.

I'm not only passionate about the natural beauty of the essential oils or what the ingredients are, but this company is set out to change the world.

Literally, their website says: "As a business that supplies products that enhance the beauty of our customers, Simply Earth believes it to be a responsibility to help people like Harriet who have been victimized and whose beauty has been abused."

The story of Harriet is quite striking and paints an awful picture.
 "Harriet* ran away from home when she was 11 years old and moved in with a 35-year-old man who sexually and physically abused her.  He convinced her to become a prostitute, leading to drug addiction..."



I get so sad and discouraged that things like this are happening and do happen every single day. I'm passionate about what Simply Earth stands for and what they do for organizations fighting to end human trafficking. The sacrifices that these organizations make to ensure the safety of those who survive human trafficking as well as keeping up the fight to rescue those who have been taken into sex trafficking.

Now that the realness is out there, you can read up on what organizations Simply Earth helps here.

Let's get into what essential oils Simply Earth has to offer!


While looking into essential oils, I found it hard to pick which oils to try and to purchase at that time. It seemed like a lot of money (to me), to fork out and not LOVE the oil. When I found Simply Earth and their subscription box, I was floored at what I could get in the box and what I could DO with the contents. I am absolutely amazed at what I get for the cost. I received a free diffuser with my first monthly subscription. I have downloaded their e-book which is essential oils for beginners. You can grab that here. **I suggest flipping through that if you are looking to use essential oils. It has GREAT details inside for you to learn about each oil and the use!**

I have created a YouTube video capturing all of the goods that I have and the August box that was delivered to my mailbox yesterday! I was so excited to get this box as it contained my ambassador cards with my coupon codes!


I know everyone knows lavender essential oil for relaxation. But do you know 'Tranquility?'
I bet you don't!






















A great addition to your essential oil bag, box, or wherever you'd like to store your oils! (Make sure it's dark where you store them!) As you can see on the upper right, the website gives you clear description and ingredients for the oil you are purchasing.


Get in touch with me about how we can make your home natural, chemical free, and smelling amazing!

❤ Matthew & Melissa

Grab Your Subscription Box Here!

Insta: arcticfox.blueheeler

Google+ Community: Essentially Simple


How about a dessert recipe today! 


Ingredients
  • butter and flour, for greasing the pan
Cake:
  • 1 + ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Topping:
  • 2 + ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 + ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Butter and flour a 9x13-inch baking pan or line with parchment and lightly grease with non-stick baking spray.
Make the Cake:
  1. In a medium bowl sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together.
  2. In a separate large mixing bowl whisk the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla together until well combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and gently fold in with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  4. Scrape the batter into the greased pan and spread evenly from corner to corner - it will be a very thin layer.
Make the Topping:
  1. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon together. Pour the melted butter over it and toss together with a spoon until well combined.
  2. Use your hand to sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the top of the batter breaking the mixture apart into big crumbs.
  3. Bake 10 minutes and rotate the pan. Bake 10 - 12 minutes longer or until a toothpick comes out clean from center.
  4. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  5. Dust the top generously with confectioners' sugar and use a serrated knife to cut into squares or rectangles.
  6. Store tightly covered in a cool, dry place up to 4 days.

Mmmmm... 










'To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.' -Audrey Hepburn




 We are having a bit of a problem with garden pests.
Last year, our main problem was the chickens getting at the ripened crop and destroying them before we could harvest. It was frustrating, to say the least. We have managed to control the chickens, but now we are having a few other pests bothering our crop.


I first noticed the problem with my roma tomato plant. Look at the skeleton that is this branch! Ugh. So annoying to go out and see bare branches and holy fruit. There are traces of what is causing this lying on the leaves below...


These little turds, really, are from a very camouflaged caterpillar. The horn worm, tomato worm, whatever you want to call it... is eating my tomato plants all up!


Vile bugger it is. I've actually found a few LARGER than this one yesterday, if you can believe it. See the horn at the bottom of the worm? Disgusting. These guys are destructive mostly at dawn and dusk as they don't care for the heat of the day. The best way to identify if and where a worm is at, I've found following the destruction and the poo. 😒

I have also found a great way to get these pests off my plants. If I can, I snap the branch off and give it to my oh-so-willing chickens!


It totally sounds like free food to me and I hate squishing things since some of these, as you can see, are quite large! It's rather disgusting and I really spend most of the day searching these plants over now that I know I have a problem.


As these horn worms grow, they get a cocoon and turn into this hellion. A Five-Spotted Hawk Moth. Look familiar? I bet it does. These guys are pretty large and are numerous around North America.

One thing that has actually helped keep most bugs at bay is the Diatomacious Earth. The areas that have the dust on it seem to be less affected by the worms than others. 

Another issue we are having involves our brussel sprout plants. They look like skeletons! 


In the middle of the row, there's a whole plant that looks like this! It's absurd.


 Here's our culprit. Cabbage worms.
Not necessarily limited to cabbage plants themselves, these worms love brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and the like. As you can see, these guys are hanging out on the BACKSIDE of the leaves. The front of these leaves have the Diatomacious Earth on them so they are a little more covered on the back. 
(This leaf was given to the chickens as well.)

Going back to the horn worms... I wanted to say there are a species of bug that are actually helping get rid of these worms. The Braconid wasp can be a threat to tomato worms. The wasp will hunt out tomato worms and lay its eggs inside the worm. As the larvae age, they feed on the tomato worm. It is really gross and kind of brutal but if you could see what destruction the worms leave, I'm cool with it. 

Here's a picture because it's gross...



Enough of the pests. I'll leave you with a kinder image 👇




He's just so handsome 😍

Until next time friends... I bid you adieu with this recipe. Enjoy!

❤ Matthew & Melissa


Essential Oils: Simply Earth

Google+ Community: Essentially Simple


LOADED BAKED POTATO CASSEROLE
Serves 3-4
4 russet potatoes, cubed
4 chicken breasts, uncooked and cubed
1 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 and 1/2 cups cheddar
4 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons butter, sliced
Salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place potatoes in a 9x13 baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Stir to coat potatoes. Mix in bacon, raw chicken, and cheddar.
  3. Lay butter slices over casserole. Season with salt & pepper.
  4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 60 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes.
  5. Top with green onion.

Monday, July 31, 2017

I'm the crazy chicken lady you were warned about


Let's get right into what I had in planned for our homestead before we even moved here.
How can you say no to fresh eggs every day and the best bug catchers ever!?
As I said in our introduction, we started with 8 hens in spring 2016. Since then, we lost 4 of those original.  
The two Barred Rock in the front, the back and top left are my evil twin Silver Laced Wyandotte's, the hen facing away is my sweet Rosalyn that was an Easter Egger hen laying light green eggs. She was killed by a raccoon not too long ago. 
My beautiful girl, Rosalyn. ❤

We added 4 new babies, with only 3 left (the babied ones living in my garage)
 
From Left to Right: Maxxie, Blanche, and Persephonie. And Sargie, protector of our baby chicks!
Now we have added laying hens from Matthew's friend. We originally took 4 while our friend, Autumn, got the other 4. Unfortunate events happened, and we ended up taking the remaining laying hen. So, 5 white laying hens later... we have 12 chickens. 

"Could I trouble you for some sunflower seeds, Miss?"

Now that hen introductions have been made... I'll discuss some coop issues we have had and where we are now with that.

First, we start all chicks in the house with a lamp. Chicks must maintain a high temperature until they are over 10 weeks of age. 
Our first chicken coop was basically a composite shed from Home Depot that we were shown. It looked easier to put up than it actually proved to be. There were a few missing pieces and the siding was warped from the rain but we made it work the best we could! Unfortunately, early spring 2017, it blew over taking out one of our hens as it blew into pieces. With no where to put chickens until we got a new coop, they wound up in my bathroom with the babies!! (There was no complaining on my part! I got to sit on the pot and watch them babies grow!)

video

YES. I had 8 chickens in my bathroom just living life. Three babies in a plastic tote and five in a rolling crate a friend made. It was fantastic... for me. 

That didn't last too long, as Matthew doesn't particularly care for chickens... so they ended up in the garage not long after. ): 

Blanche - Isa Brown

We have all 5 spring 2017 chicks here, now 3 left.

THE MAKING OF THE NEW (and improved) CHICKEN COOP


Oh, the wonders of building things and it being in a time crunch!
This chicken coop needed to be finished as soon as possible. These hens were making a mess of our garage and were loud and obnoxious. The poor things kept going back to the wreckage like it was time for bed. It was heartbreaking!

Matthew and I went to Home Depot, purchased the lumber. Went to my dads and gathered some tar paper, shingles and metal siding. Got some random other items to make this actually work... we were doin' fine!


Look at that dog!




I thought Matthew had done a great job... until I received this ALARMING picture via text message..



That dog, wanted to be where Matthew was on the roof shingling the chicken coop. I could not believe that dog climbed the ladder to be where Matthew was. We have NEVER taught him to do that and yet he knew how to get up there to Matt.

Anywho, going on to paint and put some nesting boxes into the coop... 
Something we had experienced with just one chick this last spring was an impacted crop. With an impacted crop, food gets stuck in the crop which is at the base of the esophagus where digestion starts. The chick had an obstruction causing the food to not properly pass into the stomach. This can be from eating poorly or from not eating enough grit. Chick grit is small stones that aid in breakdown and digestion of foods and grasses. Since chicks in my house were not free-ranging and finding rocks in my bathroom, I needed to supply that aid to them. We attempted to massage the crop to assist in digestion but were unsuccessful . 
I knew I wanted a different color that stood out... why not TEAL?!

Holding one of my evil twins last month.

The underside of the roof has yet to be finished as well as the painting of the sides that I wanted to do. I am thinking of doing some scalloping to the top where I painted the teal color. While it has not been put up yet, we have some paneling to go on the interior walls that I painted with Killz paint in white. I'm hoping it will brighten the coop up some on the inside!
To add to the front, the middle black square above the door is a motion sense solar light. The two outer boxes and cords go to two separate strands of flower solar lights. The lights change settings each time they come on so sometimes it looks like a rave in the coop.


The girls are much happier in their new coop and run!




 We have added the shade cover to the top but it looks great and the chickens love it!
**All 9 of them!!!**
Our mini door on the side for the chickens to get back into the coop. This door has a rope and pulley so that we can shut the door from outside the coop and run. It has a hinge mounted to the top of the sliding door that automatically locks (the hinge falls down 90 degrees when there is slack in the line and sticks inside the metal siding so it can't be opened by predators) and only opens when you pull the string and the hinge flips up straight.
I wanted to take a picture of our watering design here.This is PVC pipe with the small cups you can buy at TSC. Basically the chickens move the little stick inside the cup and it fills the cup with water. It's simple and I don't have to worry about them knocking over a bowl 800 times. It takes about 2 gallon jugs to fill this tube.
I purchase my chicken feed from Family, Farm and Home. It cost about $9 for a bag and lasts about 3-4 weeks. I also add chicken scratch which is a mix of cracked corn and grain to their run for them to dig around for. A big bag of scratch can cost around $15. 

The chickens have four nesting boxes, though the chickens only lay in one. I keep the straw nice and fluffy in the box so that when the chickens lay, the egg doesn't break on the drop.

If you're interested in watching a chicken lay an egg...

Currently, we are getting about 6-7 eggs per day with 9 hens of laying age. I expect the three living in my garage will start to lay in September. The chickens, in my experience, are around 8-9 months of age when they start to lay. 

Most times the eggs are normal size and shape. However, we have recently had some rather odd eggs. Aside from the unusually small eggs, often called 'fairy eggs', we have had two odd eggs in the last week.

This egg is completely soft. There is no shell around the membrane. This sort of thing can happen if the chicken is producing two eggs at roughly the same time. If there are more than one egg being produced, the calcium for the shell will go into the first egg. This egg had a perfectly normal yolk and white when we cooked it for the foxy dinner!

The egg on the bottom is a rather large egg that we get each day from one of the white chickens. The top egg is roughly the size of a duck egg. Two times the size of what we thought was a large egg. 


Less than ONE week!

You may still be with me... or I lost you at the YouTube link of the chicken laying the egg. 

Either way, thank you for stopping by and I do hope you maybe learned something, got ideas for your chickens, or heck - now you want chickens! 

I will do other posts about our chickens and their care but I felt this one was dedicated to diving into my flock. 

Until next time...


**"chickens will be fun she said..."**

Matthew & Melissa

Follow on Pinterest - I get crafty ideas there!



  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 8 strips of bacon, uncooked, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1/2 of large onion)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 chicken breasts, 2 lb total, boneless, skinless
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth
Instructions
  1. Combine Dijon mustard, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl, to make a paste. Spread the paste evenly on both sides of chicken breasts. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook chopped bacon on medium-high heat just until it starts to brown. Remove to a plate, leaving bacon fat in a skillet. To the same skillet, add chopped onion and cook in bacon fat until softened. Remove to the same plate, with bacon.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same, now empty, hot skillet. Cook chicken breast (with mustard paste on it), on medium heat, about 1.5 minutes on each side. The chicken will not be done as you will continue cooking it in the next step. Remove chicken to a plate.
  4. To the same skillet, add 1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth, bring to boil, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add back bacon and onions, mix well. Add back the chicken breast, reduce the heat to low-medium and cook for about 15-20 minutes, turning chicken once, until chicken breast is fully cooked and no longer pink in the center.