Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Salted Christmas Crack

While I typically try to focus my blog posts mostly on natural/diy/self-sufficiency subjects, or sharing recipes that are for. .. you know, fish soup or beef liver, the holidays are always a fun excuse to throw caution to the wind -- eat some sugar, and maybe even some gluten-grains if it doesn't make your stomach blow-up or your skin break out. Ha!

Since gluten-grains don't have any obvious negative side-effects on me or my husband, we do allow ourselves treats during the holidays, though we still try to keep them minimal throughout most of the season, really up until the actual week of Christmas when we generally allow ourselves to eat whatever whenever.

This week though I desperately wanted some Christmas goodies! Half for the taste (DUH), and half for the experience of getting to do a little bit of holiday baking. So I thought about the few "bad" ingredients I have picked up over the last couple weeks in anticipation of this very moment, trying to think of what treat sounded best. Ah! Saltine Cracker Toffee, I tell myself. But of course, I have no saltine crackers in the house (What my brain thought it was doing including ingredients I didn't have, I'll never know when I told it to consider what I did have -- my mind has a mind of it's own. Uh, creepy.). Never one to shy away from a recipe due to missing even a main ingredient, I looked through my cupboard to see what I could substitute. Oatmeal! Yesssss. This will work just fine. So I set to work. I'll show you the end product now, because being the lazy blogger that I am (and anxious to just EAT IT) I forgot to take pictures until practically the end:

Now you REALLY want it, don't you? Alright. So I won't be one of the recipe bloggers that writes a whole book before getting to the actual recipe. I hate that. It usually makes me look elsewhere for a recipe (laziness again? Oh brother!). The only thing I will add at this point is that you could substitute SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS for the oats I used. Saltine crackers. Gluten-free crackers. Crushed pretzels. Cornflakes. Chopped nuts. Coconut. Toasted coconut. You could probably even leave the toffee portion plain and it would still taste amazing. Just a little less amazing. I am partial to the Saltines though because they give it such a great texture and flavor. 

Christmas Crack

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
 Oats/crackers/whatever filling (I used two big handfuls of oats; don't you like my measuring method? It's all about laziness and quick clean up -- easier to brush my hands on a kitchen towel than to wash a measuring cup)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet would be best but all I had was milk chocolate)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Margarita salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Set aside an 8X8 glass pan, or any other similarly sized bakeware. In a small saucepan combine butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Allow to come to a slow/med boil and continue to boil, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and a very small sprinkle cayenne. Very small. You don't want the end product actually tasting spicy. But trust me, a teensy bit of heat just kind of enhances the flavors (I can't make chocolate anything without a sprinkle of cayenne or chili powder -- please don't start calling me Jesse, please!). Add the mix-in of your choice, stir until well coated and spread on the bottom of an 8X8 pan. Place in 400° oven for approximately 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly all over. Remove from oven and allow to sit approximately 3 minutes to cool slightly. Sprinkle with chocolate chips while still warm, allowing it to sit for another 3-5 minutes or until chocolate chips are nice and gooey. Gently spread melted chips over top of the toffee. Sprinkle generously with margarita salt (unless you used a salty filling like Saltines or pretzels). 

Similar recipes call for a lot more chocolate (like an entire cup), but it's already so very sweet due to all the brown sugar that I like it with less chocolate like this. Which is saying something because I'm a choco-holic. Feel free of course to add more if you so desire! Allow the candy cool completely before cutting or it will fall apart. 

Now is the hardest part of all. Try not to eat the entire pan in one day. Good luck! You're going to need it. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013


So for a long, long, looooong time I had been seriously contemplating cutting my hair. Not a trim. Not a few inches, even. But like, seriously whacking most of it off. I had been growing it out, and was close to my favorite length, which is just below the bra strap. But for a variety of reasons, I felt it was time to let go of the hair. The security blanket. If I only feel pretty or feminine with long hair maybe I need to get rid of it in order to gain more self-confidence. Which, yes, I need.  Not sure how obvious that is or isn't to those who spend face-to-face time with me but it's something I've struggled with my whole life. I've improved some in the last few years but it's still something I'm working on. And really what adult woman wants to feel like it's only her hair that makes her attractive? That's not right. Not biblical. Our beauty and worth comes from so much more than hair! I know the whole hair-is-your-glory thing, but I don't think that means you have to have waist long hair.  So I cut mine. Especially considering my hair is not super-anything. It was just average-ish. My hair isn't thin, but it is fine, which makes it look thinner than it actually is at times because it doesn't have a lot of body (except if I let it air dry but that takes FOREVER so I rarely do) due to the silkiness, and I just never felt confident that I had "good enough" hair to keep it long, even though I almost always did have it long (even as a child I never wanted to cut my hair short, except for that one time when I decided I wanted to look like Marty Stouffer from "Wild America" and how else could I get a beard and mustache if I didn't cut off my hair? He is 65 now, btw. Whaaaa?!).

There were Other Things that factored strongly into my decision to make the cut. But I won't get into that stuff because I don't wanna.

So here is the old look (yes, looking at this picture DOES make me miss my longer hair, but I have to remind myself that that was a particularly good hair day; who does profile pictures on bad hair days?):

And here is the new look (although this is not the best photo, lighting-wise): 

So there you go. I whacked off my hair and so far I don't regret it. Oh yeah, see the "diy" label? Yup, did it myself, and I somehow (miraculously) got it even!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fish Soup

Fish soup. It's something I have meant to make for a long time. I am not a huge fan of soup unless I can have it with a giant hunk of warm, crusty sourdough bread (waaah! Sometimes I miss the days when I thought wheat was a health food!), but I loooooove, love, love me some fish! Plus I am always on the lookout for ways to up the ante on nutrient density since our grocery budget is small. Anything that packs a big nutritional punch is worth trying at least once in my mind as long as it's also pretty inexpensive! Enter fish soup! I  used a pre-packaged fish stock, but if you can get your hands on some fish bones and skins and make your own then all the better! The one I found (50% off at Walmart) was high quality though with no unnecessary additives or colors or anything like that. Just fish and veggies went into making that stock! It was very mildly fishy, too, which I appreciated. I'm a huge seafood freak but I  still don't like for fish to taste super fishy.

Sorry I have turned into a phone-photographer. It's a horribly hard habit to break!
Fish has been getting a bad rap lately due to the continuing problem with radiation leaking from Fukushima. But it's really being overblown by the media and scaring people away from something that is still safe and healthy to eat. Here is a good article explaining why it's nothing to be afraid of Fukushima Radiation: Is It Still Safe To Eat Fish?

Like most of the food I make, I didn't use a recipe. I looked at a few to get some ideas but mostly just went with what "felt" right to me. 'Cuz that's how I roll. 

Also you can thicken more "traditionally" with flour if you like, but I wanted this soup to be only moderately creamy, hence the small amount of sour cream and potato starch (plus the whole no-grain thing, you know).

Fish Soup
Makes 4 servings

1 quart fish stock (vegetable or chicken stock would probably be a fine substitute)
1 cup milk*
2 tablespoons sour cream
Lemon juice

Approximately 1 lb mild, white fish (I used 4 whiting fillets) 
2 small-med potatoes, peeled and diced
1 stalk of celery, chopped (I chopped mine into large pieces but it would have been better with small ones)
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, diced
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
2-4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp potato starch
garlic salt
sea salt
cayenne pepper

Combine stock, milk, sour cream, and a splash of lemon juice in a small soup pot. Heat to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, add butter to a skillet with potatoes and cook until lightly golden. Add carrots and continue to cook until they are also lightly golden. Add celery and onion and cook until onion is clear. Add cooked veggies to your soup pot then return the skillet to the burner and toss in the garlic, sauteeing just a moment or two. Add to soup. Add garlic salt, salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste (I like to taste the spiciness of the cayenne without it being really obvious). In a small bowl or cup add potato starch and a little water. Add to the soup and bring to a slow boil. Dice fish into 1-2 inch pieces, add to soup pot and boil approximately 10 minutes. Remove from burner and enjoy! 

P.S. I think a little Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top would be the bees knees! 

*almond milk, half & half, or whatever your preferred "milk" is (heavy cream would be delicious, too, I'm just too tight with my budget to use an entire cup for anything outside of special occasions!)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Soap Recipes Reviewed

So this week was the week for soap. I ran out of both laundry soap and dish soap at almost the same time. I'm always interested in trying new, cheaper options for such things, and I thought it high time I actually attempt the laundry and dish soap deal, since everybody seems to rave about it so much!

Sadly, I have no pictures of either soap being made. You'll just have to use your little imaginations this time!

Dish Soap
Pros and Cons?

Yes, the soap gets sudsy.

Yes, it smells fabulous (lemon & eucalyptus, people!).

No, it doesn't leave any streaky, sticky, or smelly residue like I've read so many people complain about with homemade dish soap.

No, it doesn't dry out my hands, which is important when you hand wash all of your dishes!

Sounds great, right? Well, so far so good but I do have a few issues with it.

First off I used most of a bar of castile soap, and the whole batch didn't even fill my little built in soap dispenser bottle. In fact, I think it was just below the halfway mark. So that was a little lame, considering I can get 25oz of natural dish soap by EarthFriendly for about $3. And I'm pretty sure I fill that little bottle twice with the 25oz? The worst part was how firmly it set up though. I knew it would gel, but this was ridiculous. It clogged my dispenser so badly I thought it was broken. Incidentally, the same amount of castile soap can be used to make 5 full gallons of laundry soap. So... wasteful? Big yes. I don't think dish soap needs to be that concentrated.

However, if you're in a pinch like I was and are out of dish soap, and would have to wait for days to have the kind you like shipped to you (because you live in a small town and nobody carries a good, natural dish soap), this is a life-saver. So here is the recipe I used, in case you need your life saved like I did. Maybe try adding more water than the original recipe called for and you'll partially ameliorate the problems I had with it (too thick, and didn't make enough for the quantity of soap used).

Homemade Dish Soap

1/2 cup lightly packed grated castile soap
1 1/4 cups water (I would try adding another 1/2-1 cup)
1 tbsp glycerine
1 tbsp washing soda
10-30 drops essential oils of choice, optional

Grate castile soap while you bring the water to a boil on the stove. Add soap to water and continue to lightly boil, stirring, until soap disolves. Remove from stove. Add washing soda, stir well. Add desired essential oils. Pour into repurposed containers and allow it to cool completely. Check consistency; if too thick add hot water and shake vigorously. If too thin, try reheating and adding some more washing soda.

Laundry Soap
My intent with the laundry soap was to make the 5 gallons of liquid soap I kept reading about. A friend from church even gave me the borax and washing soda I would need, so I wouldn't have to buy two full boxes for a measly little cupful! Sweetness! But when I went to make said soap, I discovered that I did not, in fact, have a 5 gallon bucket with a lid to store it in. PROBLEMATIC! Where else could I store 5 gallons of soap? Um...? Nowhere, really. So I decided to try powdered laundry soap this time round! It requires most of the same ingredients, and instead of using a cup per load like with the liquid, you use a tablespoon per load. So far I have to say I'm very pleased with the results. Our clothes are coming out fresh and clean and soft. I used Dr. Bronner's Lavender Castile soap bar, and I love the very mild scent it leaves on our clothes. It's so mild in fact, you really have to stick your face in the warm laundry to smell it.

As the laundry cools down, the scent fades -- this is a good thing as I doubt David would be excited to go around smelling very strongly of lavender all the time! So yes, mildly scented. So much better than a lot of store brands that smell so strong you're sure your brain is being deprived of oxygen just wearing the clothes washed in the junk! The recipe I used makes enough for 32-64 loads depending on how much you use each load, which for us will last us anywhere from 3-6 months. The liquid version would yield around 80 loads, so it is more cost effective and I will be trying it next time. But since I don't have the container/space to store 5 gallons of detergent right now, this seemed like a good alternative! I only wonder, if it contains the same quantity of all the same ingredients except for water, couldn't I probably use less than a tablespoon of the powder, and get the same results I would see with the liquid, without having to store 5 gallons? What do you think? 

The recipe I used follows:

Powdered Laundry Soap

1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar fels-naptha or castile soap, grated

Grate soap. Combine borax and washing soda. Mix all three ingredients together and store in a quart jar or other container.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tip of the Day

It's that time of year again! When select parts of my body are about 10 shades darker than the rest of me, and my foundation no longer matches my face. Sure, I may look less than picture perfect with my tan lines but this is the best time of year! The BEST! It is currently 90­ degrees outside and I've thrown my front door open (complete with a baby gate to keep the dogs inside) to let all that glorious warmth permeate every nook and cranny of my normally cold basement apartment. Ah yes. The time of year when it gets so hot that I can only manage to weed about one row in the garden at a time before I need to come in for a few minutes.

The garden is now almost complete, though I've been extremely lazy about my last two rows. I mean to plant squash/zucchini and cucumber there, but I keep procrastinating. Because I'm made of awesome like that.

With the front door open I can hear one of my chickens singing the egg song. Maybe I need to go get that egg soon. It has been about 15 minutes, after all, since I've been outside! We wouldn't want to spend too much time indoors now, would we?

I'm actually here to share a Tip of the Day (is this the first in a new series? No. But it sounds stupid to simply say I'm here to share A Tip, whereas Tip of the Day somehow sounds...less stupid).

If you've read much of my blog at all you know that I am an active person. I have a vegetable garden to tend, various other flowerbeds around the yard (often full of herbs and vegetables; I find it hard to plant things with the sole purpose of looking nice; I want it to look nice and provide food for my family, or my animals, or something), 12 chickens, 10 rabbits, 2 dogs, plus housework. I hand wash our dishes probably 95% of the time. So between the animal and yard care, I wash my hands at least a dozen times each day. Add in washing dishes for two throughout the day and...well, you get the picture. I'm not a paint-my-nails type girl, when I know that doing so means my hands will look pretty for a couple hours, and then bit by bit, before the first full day is out, I'll look like a lazy teenager with flaky, chipping nail polish that looks like I applied it a week ago! But regardless of whether or not you garden gloveless like I do, we all know that one of the biggest frustrations with painting our fingernails is how quickly the nail polish begins to peel off! Enter Tip of the Day!

I painted my fingernails on Saturday night. This photo was taken yesterday, but the polish looks just the same now as it did then! At this rate my nails will grow out before the polish chips. So what did I do, you ask? I ran across the idea on Pinterest. I've been fairly disappointed with Pinterest ideas in the past, but this one really worked. All you do is wipe your nails with vinegar prior to painting! And tada! I am rather pleased with this. :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

More Bunny-talk

It's turning out to be a nice afternoon! I am glad for this, as one of our neighbors is having a Memorial Day block party we're going to at 5PM. A few hours ago I thought we'd all be washed away there was so much rain and darkness, and now the rain has gone and the sun is making an appearance. This pleases me very much and reminds me that no matter how dark and hopeless things may feel in a moment, you never know what God intends to surprise you with the next.

Remember my last post where I told you all that we'd be getting meat rabbits soon? We ought to be getting them next week, and even have one of them picked out already! Yesterday we managed to get our hands on some free cages (praise the Lord for His awesome timing yet again!), that we'll be able to use as temporary tractors, and hope to eventually convert into full-time residences for the little bun-buns.

But you know what I'm really excited about? The fact that I have 10 little Lionhead rabbits sitting in my apartment as I type away! Oh yes, once again the Lord proves how He cares about even our seemingly insignificant hopes and dreams, and provided us with 10 Lionheads (+ $85 cage, feeder bin, and water bottle) for $75. Granted, 8 of them are babies, but that will just make them all the easier to sell in 3 weeks when they're weaned! I am quite excited about this development, even if that does mean having rabbits in the house for now (the adults are only inside for the day, due to the weather and not having a proper set-up for them outside quite yet).

As a child I raised rabbits with my sisters and parents. I forgot how fast these adorable little critters grow, however. One week ago when we purchased the bunnies the babies had been born that very morning. They were extremely small and hairless and really pretty ugly except for the fact of being a baby animal (seriously, I can't help but love babies, whether human or animal). Now, one week later they are covered in soft, shiny fur, and oh-so-adorable and getting more so by the day! We're starting to snuggle and love on them as much as we reasonably can, so that they'll make wonderful, loving little pets, too.

So there's my exciting news for the week! And next week we should be able to get our other rabbits.

Oh yeah, and I haven't mentioned our new chickens, either. We have 12 (had 7 before) after I found 2 1/2 mo old Buff Orpingtons for $4 each. They're probably 3 1/2 mo old  now and doing great, though I'm anxious for them to be big enough to go in (safely) with my "mean" chickens.

So there is my little mini-hobby farm update. Now check out my cuties!
There are 8 babies altogether, and 5 of them are double maned, which just means they'll be fuzzier than the single maned (makes sense, yeah?). 

Daddy, Mr. Wicket (he was already named "Wicket" presumably after the Ewok, but I thought the "Mr" made it cuter): 

Mama, Fiona (also "prenamed"), who is single-maned, but also missing a lot of her mane because she pulled out what she had for her two back-to-back litters: 

Friday, May 3, 2013


So our next big move in our effort to become more self-sustaining is rabbits. No, I don't really plan to kill and butcher cute little fuzzy bunnies. I get sad when my fish die, for crying out loud, and they're just little goldfish!

Our intent is to breed and sell Californian/New Zealand cross rabbits, and sell most of the babies to people looking for pets, or to start their own colony of meat rabbits. When they don't sell, we'll considering butchering them. Yikes. O_o

Like everything related to becoming more self-sustaining, it can take time to get used to the idea. Instead of having our meat arrive in our grocery cart, killed, cleaned, and cut into convenient sizes, going from a doe with a passel of kits, watching them grow and change, and then doing the killing and all the prep work yourself? Well. For someone who looooooves animals, it isn't easy to think about, as much as I love meat. Even my husband who spent his younger years (and a few of his older, married years) hunting, killing, and butchering deer and such, isn't especially keen on the idea if it can be avoided at this point. We would both rather sell the babies and use the proceeds to buy good quality meat from the store. ;) And because of where we live, we will be able to grow them up in the most natural, humane way, which does make it easier (and cheaper! They'll get at least 75% of their diet from our yard which = free!). They'll have normal happy lives, up until the point when they become sustenance for me and my husband or we sell them (hopefully mostly the latter rather than the former).

A friend of mine who raises rabbits just had three does kindle the other day. So now that there are babies to choose from, it's just a matter of waiting for them to be weaned, which should be around 4-5 weeks from now I think. I am incredibly anxious to get them! The really fun part is that the breeding pair get to be pets. I pretty much always had pets growing up and it was so strange getting married and having none! Over the last year and a half-ish we've been working to rectify that situation and I am LOVING it. In the summer of 2011 we still had no pets at all, and are now the happy owners of 2 dogs and 7 chickens. The rabbits are going to be a really fun addition to that group!

After we get going with the meat rabbits, I want to get lionhead rabbits to breed and sell for pets. They're precious and I feel that I must have some. Ha! I mean, seriously, how adorable is that face? I'm not sure I'll really go through with it though, once all is said and done. I have so many other plans for this year (including breeding at least one of our dogs if we can find a suitable sire), and feel that the lionheads, while you can sell them for more per bunny, are just not as practical, being pet-only material. If you have some you can't sell for whatever reason, are you really going to eat that? Two or three pounds (NOT dressed out!) of fur and cuteness? Probably not, short of an unexpected zombie apocalypse that leaves us all in hiding and unable to purchase food at the grocery store anymore. Right? Yeah. My thoughts exactly. However, a girl can dream, and in my dreams, I'll get lionheads someday just because they're so squishibly cute! Maybe whenever we have some land of our own, and I have the freedom/ability to do whatever I want with animals. My in-laws are incredibly relaxed about letting us have animals here, but I'll just feel better when it's my own space, especially when it gets to where I have so many that aesthetics are an issue. You know? Yeah.

Well. I guess that's all I have for now. I am just so excited that I had to babble a bit about bunnies before I burst.

Friday, March 29, 2013


Well I haven't been away for as long as I thought I had! I managed to write a brief post back in February. Go me!

Where have I been that I have been so out of touch with you, my dear readers? Around. But away from the computer (is that a sufficiently vague answer?). No, the fact of the matter is that my husbands laptop went kaput, and as his work is more vital to our survival than my blogging, he got to have my laptop until we were able to get his fixed. So for months I had access to the internet via my phone almost exclusively. It was actually sort of nice in some ways. But I am glad to have my trusty little friend back, and my husbands computer is now repaired and he is happy as a clam, too.

Somehow, though, in spite of the fact that I have posted a few times over the last few months, I seem to have neglected to mention that we now have chickens, aside from the very casual mention in my last post? This has been a huge deal in our lives, as the care of these chickens has not gone nearly as smoothly as it ought. I grew up with chickens. I thought, before we got ours, that I knew just how to care for them; all of their needs for survival and thriving. Let me tell you, if you had chickens as a child and remember it as easy and carefree? Your parents were probably shielding you from the harsh reality of chicken raising.

Admittedly, we have had a harder time with our chickens than is normal, by all accounts (and most of my friends have had chickens for years and do indeed assure me that we have had an unusually difficult go of it thus far). But it is work. Not just dressing the chickens up in your clothes and watching them try to walk while their feet are caught in your stretchy, hot-pink leopard print pants.Yes, I was that child. And no, my parents didn't know. Just like they didn't know that I tried to poke their butts with sticks. If they had known, I'm pretty sure I would have been disciplined in one way or another, and deservedly so. Overall I was good to the chickens. But I had my not-so-nice-foolish-child moments. Raising chickens as an adult is different. But I have really enjoyed it overall, in spite of the difficulties we've had. I love animals. I love having them. I love caring for them. I love to sit on the patio and just watch them be. I find it extremely relaxing.

But what are those difficulties I mentioned, you may ask? Well we've purchased (or been given) a total of 13 chickens since last summer. We are now down to 7. Tell you anything? We're not eating them.

They're eating each other.

It's gross, but true. With the exception of the first that died, and the last that died, they killed each other (oh, and there was the one rooster my friend gave us - that we all thought was a hen at first - that we suspect was the main killer, so we gave him away and then he was killed a few days later by a dog). Chickens are horrid little creatures, really. We had been given 5 beautiful chickens from a sweet, sweet friend who bought them as chicks, raised them with her own chicks to a few months old, and gave them to us for free. And even threw in a little food and scratch. We are so blessed by so many people! We really wanted a few more than 5 though, especially after we found out 1 was a rooster (built our chicken tractor large enough for 12 and loved the idea of being able to provide eggs for my in-laws as well as ourselves), so during the next chick day at our local feed and supply store, picked up 4 more chicks (one being a bantam "for fun"). And kept them in our hallway in a box because it was getting cold outside and even with a light I didn't want to risk their little lives. Then a few weeks later I found a local source less than a mile away and we bought 4 more. At that point we had already lost one of our chicks (she was just small and weak from the start and died for no "apparent" reason a few days after we got her). The other chicks were thriving, as were the older chickens we were given. Weeks went by and as the chicks got close to being fully feathered, I began to try to integrate them into the existing group. Bad, bad plan. It seemed to go alright at first. I would put them in the tractor with the others and stay with them, to make sure nobody was too mean to anybody else. After a few days of that, I left them alone. That night we had our first, unexpected freeze, and my little bantam chicken froze to death. I had a ton of guilt (and more tears!), and a few days later we had some friends over for lunch and the husband went out to look at the tractor and came back saying, "Did you know know you have a bald chicken in here?" Um. No? The older chickens had attacked (possibly after she injured herself; the sight of blood to a chicken is apparently on par with the sight of blood to a vampire). We took the poor little chicken up to the house and nearly put her down, she was in such bad shape. But we decided to try nursing her back to health! We unintentionally dubbed her "baldy", and she began to heal. A day or two later, the next chicken was attacked. We tried the same care methods with her, but very shortly after she was injured, we realized she was going to die. She was more badly hurt than "baldy" -- all the muscle had been torn from the back of her neck, along with the skin and feathers, where baldy had just been the feathers and skin. We realized that the younger chickens were in danger if we left them all together, but we hoped that that would be the last of it. It wasn't. They killed my pet chicken, Alice, who was one of the friendliest chickens I've ever known. She liked to sit on my lap or my shoulder and just hang out with me rather than the other chickens. We realized (finally?) that this simply wasn't working, so we removed the remaining younger chickens from the tractor and back to the unfortunately small cage they had been raised in. Our most recent death was baldy. She had recovered beautifully from her injuries. We sprayed her head often with ACS 200 Silver, and not only did all of her skin grow back, but so did her feathers! But a few days ago David went out one evening to check on them and found her dead in their food trough. We don't know what happened. I had been out less than an hour prior and she was fine. Hadn't been acting strange or anything.

So all of that long-windedness to say... it hasn't been easy. I am enjoying most of it though and actually want to get more chicks this spring, but I don't think David will go for that. We are still to this day working on trying to integrate our two flocks together. Anytime it's not snowing and/or freezing outside I let both groups out to free range in the yard, and they seem to do well enough with each other out there. Sometime in the next week or so I plan on sneaking the younger hens into the hen house in the middle of the night, as that is supposed to be the best way to add new chickens to your group. We are hoping it will work! I'm also going to add some "toys" to their yard that same night so they have something new and interesting to distract themselves with the morning they wake up to a group of newcomers. I'm crossing all my fingers that it will go better this time -- especially now that my australorps are full grown! They're no longer the tiny ones to pick on, but just as big as my EE's.

And now I will leave you with a few pictures:

 David, feeding the chickens with our nieces, Evlyn, Gwen, and Lily, and his dad. The chicken tractor wasn't finished at this point. It now has a proper roof, has been primed (for painting this spring), and has wheels for easy moving.

Miso, watching my bantam chick, Camilla.
By the way, we also have another dog now, which I think I neglected to mention, too. We got her last summer, around the same time we got the chickens! She is Miso's sister -- from another litter, almost exactly 1 year younger than Miso. She is full grown now and a little bigger than Miso. Pretty much the most fabulous little dog ever.
Nori, about 10 weeks old.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Egg On My Face

I have egg on my face. Well. No. I had egg on my face. Literally I did. A friend of mine started using the cracked eggs from her backyard chickens for personal beautification. Hair masks. Face masks. Maybe other things, too. I thought she was smart not to let them go to waste, but told her we "pretty much never have cracked eggs anymore, since the last chicken figured out how to use the nestbox." This of course is a good thing, in general, as I would rather have food than beauty products given the choice (who wouldn't?). But I am human, and female at that, so I do care about my appearance! So the very next day after I told my friend that we don't get cracked eggs now, I found -- you guessed it -- a cracked egg. I was excited to get to try this out! The egg had been laid outside of the box, and froze (I nearly typed "to death" but considering it wasn't alive to begin with, this would be difficult), thus creating a nice little split down nearly one entire side of the egg. On this bitterly cold, snowy day, I decided to pamper myself with a face and hair mask and a nice long shower. I admit, one egg was not enough to fully do both. My hair is long and I had to mostly just do the ends and then stick to the outer layer for the rest of my hair. My hair is still wet so I don't know what to tell you about that yet, but my face feels wonderful! I think it looks pretty good, too. I was going to share a photo with you all, but for whatever reason my phone is refusing to cooperate and I cannot send it to myself at the moment. Maybe later!

Some benefits of egg masks are:

  • Skin tightening; it reduces the appearance of fine lines and some compare it to a temporary face-lift.
  • Reduces oiliness; supposedly the egg whites in particular are good for drawing oil out of the skin so if you are prone to oiliness, this could provide some relief for you! 
  • Whitehead reduction; according to, regular egg white masks with a dash of lemon will help remove those annoying whiteheads, the result of pores getting clogged with oil residue and other debris.   
To make an egg mask you can choose one of several methods. Either separate the yolk from the white and beat the white until frothy and then apply (optionally adding some lemon juice for additional cleansing and tightening/brightening of the face). Allow to dry completely, 15-20 minutes approximately. You can follow the egg white mask with a yolk mask, or discard the yolk and just use the white. Personally, I can't waste something that's perfectly good, so I chose to mix up the entire egg at once and use both the egg white and yolk on my face, and what was left on my hair.