Category Archives: Homesteading Adventures

Urban Farms!

For a while now, I’ve been fascinated by urban farms, and what people can do with just a small suburban or city plot of land. My hope is to one day have an acre or two…or three to do with what I please and for my kids to run around on. But, since I don’t have that right now (Its a saving season. Thanks Dave Ramsey…) I have been researching what you can actually do with a smaller plot and its AMAZING! Its kind of what kick started my want for chickens; seeing other people with them in their little suburban yards!

http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2010/11/madison_heights_reconsidering.html

http://www.chicagobooth.edu/magazine/33/3/backstory.aspx.

This guy lives in a suburban Chicago neighborhood and raises chickens, heats their home with wood collected from the area, and has planted fruit and walnut trees on his property.

Some people go above and beyond…

http://www.examiner.com/biology-in-san-francisco/urban-farming-changes-run-down-lots-to-blooming-gardens.

https://sunhomedesign.wordpress.com/tag/suburban-farm/.

See all that greenery? Yep, that’s edible food right there. Granted, living in an HOA may have more restrictions, but still! Isn’t it awesome what you can do right where you are?

So, as I was drooling over these sites and things, I stumbled upon a new magazine called Urban Farm. After checking it out,  I signed up and got my first magazine yesterday. In love. Yep. I love it! Here’s their site in case you’re interested in reading some articles or subscribing for the mag ;o)

http://www.hobbyfarms.com/urban-farm/urban-farm.aspx

Some of the highlights ~

  • Conservation Districts. Yeah, I’d seen that title before in those little city newspapers that come in the mail and never paid any attention. But did you know that in some cities, they will help finance some urban projects? The article, called “Modern-Day Deserts” told about a NC woman who wanted to install a rain garden and not only did she get consultation on how to do it from her city Conservation district, but she was also reimbursed for over half her costs! Definitely worth looking into.
  • Books! They have a whole page dedicated to what books having to do with gardening and urban farms they recommend, with highlights.
  • Vertical Apple Trees. Never in my life have I seen it, but you can grow thin, vertical apple trees in a planter on your patio! Since we live in a rental, I’ve put off the desire for planting fruit trees and the like because I know we won’t be here forever, but I can definitely start in a planter! Check out http://www.gardendebut.com/fruit-trees.php for more info on it.
  • a whole 8 page article on Seed Starting!
  • Edible Flowers. I had no idea you could eat roses. I still don’t know if I will, but I’m glad I know now! There’s even a recipe: 3 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 10 rose petals. Lightly coat the rose petals with egg yolk. Dip petals into the sugar and lightly coat both sides. Dry in room temp overnight. Serve as a beautiful garnish on a dessert.
  • How to start grapes in a planter. …!!!…
  • Different breeds of chickens
  • And an awesome story about a company in Chicago called Growing Home (www.growinghomeinc.org) that is taking in homeless people, teaching them how to garden and harvest, and also giving them classes on finances, resumes, etc. They are also allotted a share of the crops, and its right in the heart of Chicago!

I hear the urban farm movement is picking up and I’m so glad to hear it. Its about time Americans realize that we can produce our own food, and live sustainably on our own, no matter where we are! I’m a novice, for sure, but so glad I have resources to help me learn.

In other news, tomorrow we are going to get our hens! I will be posting pics for sure!

 

 

 

Stuff ‘n More Stuff

Weeeeell, its been so long since I posted that I think I’ll just share a little bit of everything! Okay, maybe just the top runners that are swimming in my head. 🙂

Chickens!! I’m pretty sure that building the chicken coop has been the longest project ever. I and definitely not handy, and while my husband is, it just kept having to take a back seat. BUT, its almost finished! We just need to secure some hardware cloth around the run and the gate to keep dogs and such out, and then I am making the appointment to go pick up 2 hens from a chicken farm in Terrell! Did someone say homeschool field trip? Yup. You better believe it. I plan to ask this wonderful woman lots of questions and have her show the boys some things, also. Here are the updated pics of the coop!

I’m currently toying with names for the hens that we’ll get. They’re not going to be for meat, so naming should be safe. Maybe Lucy and Ethel? Henny and Penny? ….

30 Day Shred. Yep. Jillian Michaels’ workout, and it kicks butt. I finally have some accountability to follow through with it, and I’m on day 11 out of 30!! Its a 20 minute circuit training routine, and after 10 days you bump it up to the next level. I just started level 2 today and I was all over the place! I haven’t noticed weight loss, but I have noticed some toning going on. I’d love to see a little weight loss, though, as I’ve kept about 10 pounds after each of the 3 kiddos. So that’s 30 pounds that I’d love to see gone. I’m trying to watch my caloric intake, as well, but since I’m nursing I need to be careful not to affect the milk supply. The Lord knows this almost 6 monther loves to nurse! I love that the workout is only 20 minutes because its just enough time for me to do it without the boys hurting each other. Or burning the house down.

Which brings me to food! Since I’m watching calories, I’m trying to be more diligent with my meals being wholesome. I was doing that slowly before, but the workout gives me even more incentive. One of my new faves…

Quinoa and Black Beans! http://allrecipes.com/recipe/quinoa-and-black-beans/detail.aspx

Its a very quick meal with lots of flavor and nutrients, and makes great leftovers! You should make it! Costco sells the big bags of quinoa.

On the menu for this week is chicken tacos (I wonder if this will get hard to eat once I get my hens…), Veggie black bean gumbo (minus the okra as hubby is a Yankee and thinks its “mushy”), carrot BBQ chicken sammies, and  breakfast burritos (eggs and lunchmeat in a tortilla) which are super easy and the kids love!

I’ve also started my veggie seeds this week. Hoping to tackle some square gardening this spring and have enough to practice canning later on!

Lastly, school. Ethan just finished the 1st grade Handwriting Without Tears workbook so it was finally time for me to ‘Charlotte Mason-ize’ his copywork. We are starting with Psalm 23 and he’s doing great. He does a page or so of copying (depending on the sloppiness) and then we read it together from the beginning. It such a great way to help him with scripture memory!

Math has been an ongoing adventure. We were using Miquon math, but it got way advanced to Ethan very quickly, so I moseyed over to Mardel’s and looked through their books until I decided on a BJU (Bob Jones) workbook that I liked. This is our third time switching it up but we gotta do whatever works! Its fairly easy for him right now, but I want to still keep it fun for him, so I’m cool with that.

Now that spring is approaching (and Jovie is not a newborn), I plan to hit the nature notebook a little more often. This covers our science stuff for now except for the occasional experiment that he wants to do.

That’s pretty much it for the academics. As for other things we’re doing, we are doing Bible study in the mornings, reading through “On the Banks of Plum Creek”, some Arnold Lobel library books, some poems from “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, and when time permits, some poems and short stories from “Everyday Graces” which is great for learning manners.

Life is good here in the Reindl household. 🙂

 

 

Gardening Time Already!

So, after Christmas I decided to check out my gardening chart (best thing ever!) and apparently its time to start getting the garden ready for veggies! Ah! So, we headed outside today to do some tillin’. Nothing better than hands on learning to count for science! We saw earthworms and these funny looking beige millipede worms with pinchers on their butts. Not sure if they were millipedes or not…

It’s nice to have boys who don’t mind getting in the dirt! Ethan said, “I can till it Mom! I like working in the garden. I wanna be a gardener one day.” Caleb was just happy I let him get dirty.

And we had a supervisor~

Until she found the prickly stuff nearby.

The plan is to add a few more bags of organic soil from the nearby feed store, and then I want to put some twine out to mark some squares so I can try my hand at square gardening. I hear you can produce a lot more!

Since I want to also to focus on canning this year, I only plan to plant:

carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, and maybe one fruit for my large planter on the patio

Update on the coop: It still looks the same as last time. I still want to get the chickens in the spring, but there are some decisions up in the air about timing on looking for a new house and such, and since this is a rental property, I’d hate to get the chickens and make a mess of part of the yard, only to start looking for a new place at the end of the year. BUT, we aren’t sure about anything yet, so I’ll keep you posted!

And for the grandparents that read this, Jovie’s new favorite thing is to grab her right foot. lol

Also, I have found it easier not to plan all my kitchen time on Tuesdays, so I’ll keep posting what I do in the kitchen, but it won’t just be on Tuesdays.  Ha! I may just change that link to Kitchen Happenings.

Tis the Season…

for colds. Yuck. I haven’t posted in a while since we’ve had the sickies here, a nasty cold bug that my oldest brought home and shared. But we’ve almost kicked it out!

I did take some pics of our happenings on Kitchen Tuesday. Since we were sick, I made some homemade chicken soup. Yum. Homemade chicken soup is soooooo much better than the store bought kind. And I made a huge pot so we’re still eating from it!

I never follow recipes exactly but here’s an approx. of what I did:

I put 5 chicken legs ,                                                                                                                            1 box or around 4 cups of organic chicken broth,                                                          about 2 cups of chopped carrots,                                                                                                 a teaspoon of basil,                                                                                                                               a teaspoon of oregano,                                                                                                                        and a sprinkling of celery salt                                                                                                        into my crock pot and let it cook on low for at least 5-6 hours.                                  Then I removed the bones and skin from the pot.                                                                 I cooked a whole box (16oz) of penne pasta separately in vegetable broth and then added all of it to the soup. I added salt and pepper to taste and then added fresh lemon juice. We LOVE lemon in this house and it gives the soup a nice kick.

Any kind of meat works but we prefer dark meat in the soup. And I sometimes add about a cup of chopped celery but my son doesn’t like it so I alternate when I add it. Also, for leftover I add a little more broth because the pasta really soaks it up. Oh! and garlic is always a nice addition. (See. I don’t follow recipes well.)

Since this wasn’t ready until dinner, I heated up some frozen black bean soup for lunch. SO glad I’m starting to freeze batches of foods for days like this!

I also made homemade laundry soap for the first time! (I know, its not kitchen-y but I was really excited to do it!)

I followed what this gal did on her blog….http://beingcreativetokeepmysanity.blogspot.com/2010/11/homemade-laundry-soap.html

1 4 lb 12 oz box Borax, found in the detergent isle

1 4 lb box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, found in the cooking isle

1  box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 55 oz, found in the detergent isle

3 bars of Fels-naptha soap, found in the detergent isle

2 small containers of oxyclean or store brand oxyclean (try to get about 3.5 lbs total) found in the detergent isle. (this is optional)

You basically shred the soap and add it all together. It makes A TON of soap, but my only concern is that the Fels-Naptha soap seems to have quite a bit of perfume in it. I think after this batch I’ll try to find a different kind of soap to add. The worst part was shredding the bars of soap but I finally got a new shredder (woohoo!) which made my job easier. This one has a nice container

that attaches at the bottom with measurement markings!

And I scored 3 free food grade buckets from the bakery at Tom Thumb so I was able to store it in that. These will be great for when I start storing bulk foods, like beans and such! Just hit up any bakery dept and ask if they have any unwanted sugar or icing buckets! The lady on the blog said that her soap lasted about 9 months using a TBS per load so I’m excited to see how long this lasts. The soap filled about half the bucket, I believe.

And for kicks, I’m showing off my snazzy new salt and pepper shakers that were given to my husband by a coworker who visited Mexico recently. I love them.

Hope your day is full of blessings and productivity! I should probably get out of my jammies now to try and make that happen.

Time to be Real

This has been one of those weeks! You know, those kind. The ones where you throw everything to the wind and just go forward one step at a time. We’ve hardly eaten any dinners I had planned on my menu for this week, my kids have watched too much TV, I’ve bought fast food one too many times, and I have laundry and unfinished projects scattered around me. Not exactly what I had planned. I would have rather said, “We ate from home for every meal, I stayed caught up on all my chores, we never turned the TV on, we’ve been homeschooling every day with extra Thanksgiving projects thrown in, and I rescued a stray dog!” Yeah, nope. But, that’s life and I’m ok with it.

I didn’t do anything for Kitchen Tuesday today either, but mainly because we ventured out for a playdate this morning. And the kids had fun so it was worth it 🙂 All I have done is pull out the homemade pizza dough from the freezer (yay for freezing food for later!) and mixed up a jar of iced fruit water. I cut up an apple, a pear, and some lemon and threw it together in hopes that my kids will be excited about a ‘new’ kind of water. They drink water really well already, but there are times when they start asking for juice so I’m hoping this will help! I found the idea on pinterest, of course.

Check this blog out for cool flavored iced water ideas, http://nancycreative.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/feast-your-eyes-on-flavored-water/.

And to stay updated, here is the progress on the chicken coop!

Hubby has been working so hard for me!! Hopefully it will only take another day of work before its finished, minus the painting. That will be MY part.

And here is the new project I acquired in the last week.

Its a TRUNK! And I scored it at my thrift shop for $10! I’m hoping to get it sanded before the end of the weekend and then get some paint and new hardware for the front.

So, even with things not going as planned, they’re still going. And I have faces like this to look at everyday. *sigh*

And now I’m off to tackle the laundry that’s staring me down.

 

Building the Coop, Day One!

Today is the day! We actually started building the coop and I’m really excited folks! Chickens are coming SOOOOOOON!

I am taking pics as we go along in case others are looking for some help with chicken coops, and so we can go back later and see how we built it. I know I personally spent days looking at others’ coops online so one more can only help, right? This was our very first one and hubby said to mention that he is not an experienced carpenter (but I LOVE what he’s done and don’t really think it needs mentioning, lol).

We can only have 2 hens here in Garland so we are building the coop to be about 48″ x 36″ and fencing off a large run area since we probably won’t let them roam around the whole backyard too much. (I thought about it but the poop factor all over our patio and such scares me.) We plan to put the 2 nesting areas in the back with a divider in between since I read that they like to lay their eggs in privacy, and then have some space in front of the boxes with a roosting perch above. You don’t want the perch above the nesting boxes or you’ll be cleaning a whole lotta poop of of your eggs. Then we’ll attach a door of sorts to the backside so that I can reach in and get the eggs. The flooring is mesh wire and we’ll pile some pine shavings on top of it. This will let the air circulate through, but also keep them warm.

Without further ado, here are the progress pics!

First off, you don’t need a big yard to accommodate chickens. Here is a view of our yard from the back door. (Don’t mind the toys, we live here.)

And here is the other side where the chicken coop and run will be!

Side note: We acquired some pallets to help supply some wood, and while that is the case and its working, pallets can be extremely hard to take apart and the wood splits really easily.

The fencing is 48″ x 50′. I’m hoping its tall enough but I’m considering having the hens’ wings trimmed just in case they try flying over.

Cutest little ‘helpers’ ever.

This is about as far as my hard working hubby got today but stay tuned! I’ll keep posting the progress. 🙂

Thinking Early About Gardening

I start planning things WAY in advance, you guys. So even though I won’t start planting my garden for a while, I’ve already been thinking about how I want to do it. I was hoping to start composting before we plant, but since we haven’t made much progress on the chickens or compost area yet (don’t worry, we will!), it probably won’t be ready to use for a while.

But check this out!!!!

Every year I start asking “When do I need to plant those seeds? How long does it take for those to grow?”, but no more! A genius woman over at http://www.yougrowgirl.com/ posted an Excel spreadsheet for the lazy gardener! All you have to do is click the picture, insert your last frost date and it calculates it all for you! I should send the creator some chocolate for this.

I already have mine saved and ready!This next year I plan to plant tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, and maybe garlic. I don’t want to plant too much because I want to work on how to store them once they’re harvested and not let them go to waste, as in the past.

Here’s what the garden looks like now…empty except for one little bell pepper plant in the front that I’m not sure why its still there, lol.

And now for some garden eye candy! Does anyone know if I’m supposed to site these if I find them on pinterest? Not sure of all of the ‘blog rules’ yet. lol

Isn't this awesome?! I may try this...

So pretty!

So, how does your garden grow? Or if you don’t have one yet, how do you want it to grow?

“Don’t Stay Safe” and Other Musings

I try to get my coffee and read some of the scriptures before the little people wake up. It definitely does not always happen, but I’m thankful for God’s grace in this season of life.

Today I sat down opened the Bible up to where I had left off, and read the passage about Jesus healing the demon-possessed men in Gergesenes in Matthew chapter 8. What stood out to me was the very last scripture:

“And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they  saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.”

This really made me think. These people SAW the miracle that Jesus did and even after that they didn’t want Jesus to come anywhere near them. They were too safe. Too comfortable with the way they were living for Jesus to come in and change things even if they knew it would be for the better. Wow.

Complacency and passiveness tugs at all of us sometimes, but we must be careful to stay flexible with what the Lord wants to do in us. We should be like the water that flows around the rocks and takes its form. We can’t stay ‘safe’ or we will miss out on the depths of who Christ is. Lord, help me today. May we not push You away but stay ready for whatever You have for us.

Other Musings in the Reindl Home:

I’ve been slightly obsessed with reading other people’s blogs about suburban farms and homesteading. It fascinates me! We have a small home and a small yard (thankfully the kids don’t notice, lol) and since we’ll be here for at least another year, I’ve taken it on as a challenge to make the best out of what I have. I’ve already posted about getting a couple of hens and we are still planning to do so. Right now we’re in the process of gathering together some wood and wire to build a coop and run. We found a large pallet on the side of the road yesterday and I’m constantly scouring craigslist for deals. I’m a serious thrift/clearance junkie folks. I can’t stand paying full price for things knowing that there might be a deal out there somewhere. I just have to find it! After we get those built, we’ll go get our chickens!

I’ve hung a clothes line out back and have started using it here and there. Not sure yet if the benefits outweigh the convenience of my dryer, but its too early to tell. And with winter coming up, it might take a backseat for a while. LOL

I’ve also been better about making things from scratch. (You really CAN make yogurt in the crock pot! Woot!) And I’m trying to switch over to homemade granola for cereal instead of the boys’ beloved Cheerios. Thankfully they enjoy my granola. Found here~ http://allrecipes.com/recipe/megans-granola/detail.aspx  I tweaked it a lot as I’m bad at following recipes 🙂 I’ll just need to switch up the ingredients to keep it interesting. This week I need to make a batch of homemade tortillas and soak some beans for some black bean vegetable soup! Found here ~ http://allrecipes.com/recipe/black-bean-vegetable-soup/detail.aspx

I made some homemade toothpaste last week, too. Found here~ http://weewaldorf.blogspot.com/2010/05/tuesday-tutorial-homemade-toothpaste.html  Honestly, it tastes extremely salty and I’m not sure I like it, but I may try adding a natural sweetener of some sort to help. I’m on the hunt for a homemade shampoo, too, but since my hair gets oily quickly its hard to find a good one. If anyone knows one lemme know. I’ve been using apple cider vinegar as a rinsing conditioner and I really like it! It makes your hair soft without leaving a smell. I promise, folks…my hair does not smell like vinegar.

Other things on my list are homemade laundry soap and CANNING! So excited about canning… I just need some equipment first. Really just an extremely large pot. I could probably do without the cool canning tools, but they’d be helpful. I’ve bookmarked some on Amazon. 🙂 Can’t wait to can some fruits and veggies and jams! I wish I would have learned more of this from my grandma before she passed away. They had a nice sized garden and she canned tons of stuff.

*Sigh* Isn’t this yard lovely? I want it. Its a little bigger than our backyard now, but its so cute!

From www.designsponge.com

Things are going good but sporadic on the homeschooling front. I’m taking advantage of the kids’ young ages to learn more about the stuff posted above, so I’ve been doing school when I get to it. I usually try and tackle it in the mornings after we do breakfast, Bible time, and our BBs (brushing teeth and making beds). Ethan’s doing really well with writing and reading but math takes a little longer. Miquon teaches different techniques for mastering an area, like addition, and it takes him a while to get them but we’re taking it slow. 🙂

This post was all over the place, but I hope it made some sort of sense! Be blessed!

Chickens!

We interrupt this homeschooling series for a post on chickens. Thank you for understanding. 🙂

We might be getting a couple of hens! I’ve been thinking about it for a while and have a friend close by that has 4 so we headed to her house this afternoon to see them up close and see the coop that she made.

When I told the boys we were going to see some chickens, Ethan’s reply was (with big eyes) “Gulp (yes he actually said that). I’m not going to touch them.”  When we left he said “I hope we get 4 hens!!” Hahaha! This boy does not like anything new so I was surprised he changed his mind so quickly.

At first, I wasn’t sure that we had room but after doing some research they really don’t require much room at all. Since we’d only have 2 (the city’s limit), they would only need a little coop for nesting and roosting and a little caged in run area. We’re thinking we might start with a couple of young hens instead of babies so we can skip the need for a brooder and such, and go straight to the ‘almost ready to lay eggs’ stage. I’ve learned a few things in my research:

Chickens are social animals so you need at least two.

They can eat almost anything, although some things are obviously better for them than others.

They can fly short distances ( Maybe I should have known this, but nope, I didn’t).

In lieu of the former, you can trim their wings to keep them from flying over fences and such.

They love blueberries.

They love to stretch out in the sun- almost looks like they’re dead, lol.

Apparently the act of laying an egg is cause for a little cackle party among the hens.

And…..they have these cool things called chicken tractors!!

I love the chairs set up by this one!

Very cute with the hanging lights!

There are a lot more on this site ~ http://home.centurytel.net/thecitychicken/tractors.html

I think this is what we would build since we have a really small backyard. You can leave the ground part open so they have the grass and such to peck in, and you can even put wheels on it to move around your yard!

My only hesitation…chickens are kind of ugly and I’ve never been around them for any length of time…but fresh eggs is worth it, right?! And it could only benefit the boys and teach them some life skills….So, I’ll keep you posted.

And if anyone has chicken advice, I’d love to hear it. 🙂