Sheet Mulching my zone 1 Permaculture gardens *YouTube video*

So in just the first 1/4 of the book Gaia’s Garden it dives into soil fertility, reviving life in your soil and that you really have to start…for lack of a better phrase…”from the ground up”. And you do that by starting with your soil. Yes you can plant things in crappy soil and then just add fertilizer but why make yourself need to have to buy something that only gives you temporary “fertility” and then you have to redo quarterly or year? If you promote healthy soil life and then take care of it (which is actually less work than you might think) then your soil becomes living soil and it will go through the normal ecological cycles of life all on it’s own and take care of everything you have planted in it.

 

I just cannot say ENOUGH about the huge kudos I give to the author of this book! It has changed how I look at EVERYTHING in relation to gardening. And I have utmost confidence that I will be able to put certain things in place that will make my land here in the “barren desert” very fertile and fruitful! I just know it!

 

Yesterday I started working on the sheet mulching project for 2 beds in my zone 1 garden and I decided to do a video about that. I’ll be wrapping up this project in the next few days and so there will be more videos to come.

 

For now check out this video I put on YouTube of the sheet mulching process, layers and stages.

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Our chicken coop situation, project & video on YouTube!

When we moved to this property we knew we’d have animals in the future. We also knew there was an existing chicken coop attached to the shop and a detached tack shed but otherwise no other animal “structures” on the property. The coop hadn’t been used in years and the run was pretty demolished by who knows what.

 

So since I’ve spent the first 5-6 mths on this property cleaning up around the 8 acres, fixing up the house and doing minor repairs inside I decided it was time to start on animal projects. I’d love to get my chickens and pigs before we come out of winter just because I want to have them here and give them time to adapt to their new home before we go into summer, as I presume that will be the hardest time of year for them here in southern Arizona.

 

So last week I decided to go ahead and start doing something about this chicken cook situation. Below I’ll show you photos of what it looked like before and also some photos of the work we did on it last week PLUS a video tour I posted on YouTube! The link to that is near the bottom of this post!

 

HERE ARE PICTURES OF WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE WHEN WE MOVED IN AND UP UNTIL JUST RECENTLY.

 

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This is the outside storage area, like a “carport” off the coop.

 

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Inside the coop

 

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Inside the coop

 

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Inside the coop. It has a little shelf over there in the corner and there is power in here to YAY, I can add a light on an automatic timer switch if I need to give them either more light in the winter or put a heat lamp in there. In the summer I’ll have a fan on each size of the breeze way circulating air in there to try to keep them cooler.

 

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Behind the coop, the old run. With a big desert bush in the middle.

 

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I’m not sure what is up with that half way behind the storage area but it looks rough!

 

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That bush.

 

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THEN I GOT TO WORK ON CLEANING UP THE OUTSIDE STORAGE AREA AND FIXING THE COOP DOOR.

 

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Outside storage area as of about 2 weeks ago.

 

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Over the last few months as I have been removing or trimming trees I have been saving certain limbs that I thought would be useful in the coop. I read an article about having some limbs attached to the inside of the coop and that the birds like to “chill” or “play” on them, lol! So that is what some of these are for!

 

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I cleared out all the stuff I had in there and just raked out the whole area. It was just all nasty. I moved these little storage shelves I had in the shop out there as temporary storage. Then once I did that I got to thinking about how that opening faces the south and how this little area gets good sun exposure but not direct all day long. So I got to thinking this might be a good area for a temporary green house type experiment. Or maybe when I start seedlings inside I can bring them to this spot to transition to outdoors before I plant them outside. More research to be done on that though later!

 

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Then the door wouldn’t open more than 1 foot…

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So I started raking all the dirt out of the way blocking the door and quickly realized it wasn’t just that but 1 of the hinges on the door was broken.

 

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I got the hinge repaired, added some support nails and got the dirt all cleared so now she opens 75% of the way and closes perfectly since it’s all level now! Yay!

 

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I put some pots here because I’m just trying to envision really what it’s going to be like. I know there are a few herbs that are really good for chickens and since I’m also studying Permaculture at the same time I have decided there is at least 1 fruit tree that I’m going plant right beside the run so they can eat the fruit when it drops (plums) and then also I’m going to plant blueberry bushes along their fence line for them to eat as well and I can harvest the other side they can’t get to. But to start I’m going to plant some herbs in pots near the door so that those can start growing and I will use those to cut some off and give to them as treats as I walk by all the time.

 

THEN WE GOT TO WORK ON CLEANING UP THE FUTURE RUN A LITTLE BIT.

 

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What you see here is the coop in the middle, a covered storage area on the left, to the left of that is the wood fence to my backyard, on the far right is the outdoor storage area beside the coop that I showed you above and to the right of that is the gate that leads to my house and where I park. I had to tackle removing this big bush since it takes up (what I presume) is all of the OLD run. The new run will be much larger.

 

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Before I started this project I put out a reqeust on Facebook on local farming/homesteading pages asking for advice on how to remove this bush/tree and if anybody knew what kind it was. Since this is the desert and that thing was surviving all by itself just fine without being watered or cared for I knew it had to have deep roots. Which would make it harder to remove.

 

Luckily, within a few minutes I had some very helpful people sharing great info with me! Turns out it is a Greasewood bush also known as a Desertbroom bush. These guys not only are natives to the Sonoran Desert and DO have super deep roots BUT they are also very beneficial! They need no maintenance technically and their leaves have medicinal purposes. So upon researching the type further and confirming it is in fact a Greasewood bush I found that the leaves when crushed and used in numerous ways are anti bacterial, anti viral, relieve muscle aches, help upset stomachs, you name it! I’m all about having “useful” plants on the property so I was very glad to learn all about this guy here on the farm and how really there is no reason for me to get rid of him. The birds will like some shade and might also want to play in some of the lower limbs so I decided to keep it.

 

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Since it has a bunch of smaller limbs I didn’t think my chainsaw would work, I thought I’d have a lot of kickback. So I did first try my jig saw and a hand saw and neither went very well. So I went and got my chainsaw and Riley helped hold the smaller limbs down while I cut so that they weren’t popping back.

 

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We got the majority of the bigger ones along the bottom cut out and pulled away.

 

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Then got to work on the smaller ones around the bottom with the pruning sheers.

 

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So we got a lot cut out but the run was still a mess and the sun was setting.

 

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This is what this guy looks like close to the ground. Lots of big and lil limbs just going all over the place. I’ll have to make sure to prune this every few mths so it doesn’t get all wild again but that’s totally fine by me.

 

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Finally got the whole area raked out of debris, trash, horse poo, etc.

 

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She’s all cleaned up! The biggest thing left to do for the run is build all new fence around it, put in a gate/door, predator proof the bottom with hardware cloth, put netting over the top and add some features inside the run that I want to do like you’ll see below in my Pinterest inspiration photos. So yeah, still a lot to do but cleaning this up motivated me to keep at the project finally!

 

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MY FAVORITE BEFORE AND AFTER WITH THIS PROJECT SO FAR!

 

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I’m still amazed at how it actually looks like a tree from a distance even though it’s just a bush. It is so tall it has to be at least 3-5 years old. And something that has survived that long on it’s own I just couldn’t dare remove.

 

Here is the video on YouTube I just published today talking about this chicken coop project, doing a tour of the inside, introducing my puppies to you all (lol!) and a photo collage at the end of all these photos I just shared on here!

 

JUST SO THAT YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHERE I WANT TO GO WITH THIS COOP HERE ARE SOME IDEAS I’VE FOUND ON PINTEREST THAT I’VE SAVED AS MY INSPIRATION PHOTOS!

 

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I want a run built like this but with netting over the top!

 

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I like the idea of having a super cute door like this on the run as a “gate” just because it’s so cute! And I may have an extra door or two I could use for this it is just a matter of making it work. But I do love the pop of color as well!

 

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I’m going to plant some things in the run in boxes like this for the chickens to eat as they grow UP because I just think it’s such an awesome idea! So this will go outside in the run!

 

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I’ve also read that chickens like to “play” on stumps and I have plenty of logs big enough for this so I’ll jam a few in the ground in the run for them to play on.

 

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Not only am I in love with the “fresh eggs” sign and just have to have one but I also love that they have all these potted plants and flowers right outside the chicken coop. I probably won’t do any non edible flowers unless I’m trying to bring bees to the area (there’s an idea….) but I will definitely do herbs and cumfrey right outside the door and also along their fence line.

 

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I love this PVC automatic chicken feeder idea!

 

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I want the chicken coop to be on solar for the minimal things that will be running out there and not really because it needs to be because there is already power to the coop but just as a step to gradually move all structures on the property to solar and all NEW structures will be only on solar.

 

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This is one of the ideas I saw where they use tree limbs in the coop for the chickens. In fact, I hope my coop looks a lot like this one because I’m going to paint it white in there and I also have to do the ceiling and I have enough limbs to do a setup just like this one for my chickens.

 

Well, thank you again for stopping by and checking it out! I hope you enjoyed the post and the video! If you have any suggestions on what I’m working on or what type of dual purpose bird to raise here in the Sonoran Desert that can handle the heat, I’m open to suggestions!

 

Please subscribe to stay up to date on what we’re doing here on our start up homestead! =D

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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ALMOST all natural laundry soap liquid

In our efforts to go as homemade and natural as possible, I decided it was time to switch to homemade laundry detergent because…well…I was running out of the store bought stuff, lol! So after going over probably 30 recipes and finding a few that used products I already had (I was not going to go buy anything to make this happen!) I found the one I wanted to do. I had actually had it saved on Pinterest for about 2 years!!! Finally…the time has come!

 

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Let me clarify why I call this ALMOST all natural! Reason being is the recipe calls for any bar of soap you want to use…which isn’t natural unless you make your own. In the future after I’ve learned how to make homemade soap then my laundry soap will be made with THAT and at that time I’ll feel more comfortable calling it “all natural homemade laundry soap”. =)

 

I really dislike those recipe blog posts that are like 15 paragraphs long and you have to skim through all that and all their photos before you get to the actual ingredients and directions SO I won’t do that to you. In case someone comes across this post simply to check the ingredients list and see if it includes what they want to use or have on hand, then here ya go!

 

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Ingredients:

1 bar of soap (any kind you want)
2 cups of Borax
a big pot ( that holds more than 2 gallons or if you don’t have one you can improvise like I did)
a grater
a funnel
a long spoon
2 empty gallon jugs/containers

*optional essential oil for scent

 

How ya do it simply:

1-Grate your soap into your big pot off of the stove.

2-Pour 1 gallon of hot tap water to your pot, put pot on stove and bring to a boil.

3-After a rolling boil, add your borax to the pot. It will bubble up, that’s normal.

4-Let this mixture boil long enough that it thickens up slightly. It won’t become a gel but it will feel slightly different in consistency.

5-After that you add your 1 gallon of cold tap water to the mixture. Your pot will be full or close to. The mixture will take on the color of whatever soap you used, FYI. Simmer that for maybe 5 minutes.

6-Remove from heat, turn off stove, let it sit for about 20 mins.

7-Add your drops of essential oil to the mixture for whatever scent you want.

8-Use your funnel in your clean, dry jug (I used milk jugs) to pour your mixture into.

9-Put it in your laundry room and use. Each time you use it give it a shake first and then measure out 1 cup per load of laundry. All done!

 

Now for the detailed picture filled description of what to do and what everything looks like during the process in case you like those kinds of posts! =) 

 

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Grating the Dove white bar of soap (the bar soap I use myself and have in bulk). This was fun, not like cheese but still fun!

 

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Just the middle left now…

 

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This is what it looks like in the pot with a whole bar of soap grated into it. It actually makes a lot!

 

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Pour your 1 gallon of hot tap water into the pot and turn on the heat!

 

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Bringing it to a boil…

 

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Then add your 1 cup of borax…(see disclosure below, you really need 2 cups of borax)

 

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After adding borax it foams up like this.

 

Disclosure: I first did everything up to this point, added 1 cup of borax, brought to a boil and rather quickly the bubbles rose to the top (like 5 seconds) and I had to move the pot off the burner. So I thought “Okay, I brought it to a boil.” And proceeded with the following steps. After adding cold water I didn’t feel like it was thick enough so worried I hadn’t boiled it enough. I scooped out some water, added a second cup of borax since the recipe I was following called for 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda and so I decided I’d substitute all borax totaling 2 cups of borax. So then I brought it to a slow, gentle boil to let it roll for a bit to see how if it’d begin to thicken up.

 

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After it boils and thickens only slightly (it won’t be like a gel) add  your 1 gallon of cold tap water. Let me say my big pot I have here is my double boiler I use for my pasta and it only holds about 1 and 3/4 gallons, which I measured out and knew before starting the recipe. So for MY recipe I just did 3/4 a gallon of the cold water to bring the mixture up to the rim knowing that when I’m done it will not completely fill 2 milk jugs and that’s fine.

 

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Fillin’ her up to the top…

 

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Letting that mixture sit off the heat to bring the temp down before adding essential oils.

 

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I added lemon because it is a great cleaning agent and I love the way it smells!

 

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This fun process here…adding the mixture to the milk jugs.

 

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As I mentioned above, because the 1 pot I have to boil in only holds about 1 and 3/4 gallons, I knew these jugs wouldn’t be full when I finished. So I just put enough into each to be even…I am OCD after all.

 

NOW…Some added input on my opinion here. I noticed upon researching this that there is a lot of hype and stigma out there that these homemade laundry soap detergents will not get your clothes clean, leaves dirt and residue in your clothing and whether that be because your soap is weak, the washer doesn’t agitate it enough or whatever…I have formed an opinion on this myself.

Let me give you a brief back story; I don’t buy Tide. I’ve never been able to bring myself to buy products like Tide and Charmin because they’re “the best” and the most expensive. I think that is marketing BS and there are cheaper products that get the job done…or at least almost do. And I have never been one to enjoy wasting money, no matter what that is on. Being as I’ve been a single Mom for a long time and yes I have a boy and they seem to get the dirtiest clothes around and add to that now with me working on this homestead and trying to repair the grounds and stuff, we both frequently have nasty clothes. And we haven’t even started adding farm animals yet!!!! But so what I want to say is that, I have been using generic CHEAP liquid laundry soap (like dollar store cheap) for YEARS. And after moving in here we have this super old, I wouldn’t even dare show ya (lol!) washing machine and no dryer. We hang everything on the line. It was a necessity when we first moved in and I quickly, QUICKLY grew to love it as it reminded me of summers in Arkansas helping my Mamaw with the laundry on her clothes line.

 

Something about looking out your kitchen window and seeing clothes flapping in the breeze on the line makes me feel like the world is right. Maybe that is a bit dramatic but every time I see my clothes on the line I think to myself “Yep, I’m drying my clothes…TOTALLY…FOR FREE!” It doesn’t require me to buy a dryer, I’m not wasting electricity and therefore I also have cheaper electric bills every month. To me that is a win, win, win all around.

 

So when I hear people talking about homemade laundry soap just not good enough and maybe even bad for your clothes here are my thoughts I’d like to point out:

1- My homemade laundry soap has now been used on 4 loads of my laundry and my clothes come out of the washer clean.

2-I use a homemade epsom salt scent booster in my wash as well and my clothes home out smelling fantastic.

3-I’m about to make a homemade vinegar fabric softener which will also help with the “health” and longevity of the actual fabric as well.

4-We hang dry our clothes so not only does the sun add another level of disinfectant but the good ol’ fashioned wind makes the clothes smell even more heavenly when I bring them in.

5-I use a homemade stain remover recipe for stains that are real hard to get out and that goes on clothes BEFORE going into the wash, only when needed.

6-We aren’t picky! We are country folk, doing our best to live on the land, get to being one with nature and if 5% of the dirt particles do not come out of my clothes and I put those clothes back on my body do you think I’ll notice? No! Because if it is a day that I’m not leaving home to work with my real estate clients my old jeans, boots and worn out t shirts go right back on me for me to right back outside to work again and get dirty all over again,

7-The conspiracy theorist living inside of me says that all this hype to NOT use homemade laundry soap is media or government driven to STOP people from being or TRYING to be self sufficient. And since I won’t go into politics here, let me just say, I wouldn’t believe any experiment, video or website I saw about how homemade laundry soap doesn’t work because I just don’t want to and I don’t trust most “people’s” opinions. Now if you’re living the same lifestyle I am or am trying to live, and YOU tell me it doesn’t work then THAT is something I’d ponder.

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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DIY twin bed frame FREE!

So a couple of weeks ago I decided Riley needed a new bed frame. Let me clarify, he has one…but it is at my ex’s house still and so when we moved here we just put his two mattresses on the floor and he didn’t care because…he’s a boy…and…he was glad he could go plop down or throw himself on his bed, lol, without having to worry about breaking anything! Ha! Boys! Well it got to bothering me and one day in the backyard taking clothes off the line the pile of old wood 1x4s caught my attention and I GOT AN IDEA!!!!

 

The idea to TRY to make a twin size bed frame totally out of just our mind’s creation was born! I could have looked it up online to get some guidance but I was just pumped to go at it, do it with Riley and us figure it out together along the way through good ol’ fashioned trial and error!

 

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Here we go!

 

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This is a pile of 1x4s we had laying around from a trellis we tore down.

 

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This is a 2×2 post from what used to be part of a porch or something on the back of the house. Now it just hangs out there all alone so I cut that off with the chainsaw to use as the 6 feet or supports.

 

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We did measure the mattresses and stuff to figure out what our final width and length would need to be once assembled, I let Riley do the math while explaining a few things to him and then we cut some pieces down to the size we needed.

 

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I let him do A LOT. Because once we started the project he really got intrigued and had a genuine interest in building something tangible which is probably the first time he’s ever done that. Typically if I need something demolished, he’s my guy. But now, I’m fostering this love of building in him as we both have much to learn and it’s a very good thing!

 

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I must say that he approached this project with this idea that (based on HIS experience in his video games and especially Minecraft) that he can just build and do anything. Even though in real life he lacked a lot of the actual skill and really had zero experience. And I quickly noticed his “Get it done attitude” quickly changed to “What in the world am I doing here” because he realized his ideals of what he thought he knew how to do were not really in line with reality. This was a beautiful thing for me to see as a Mother!!!! I took it as an opportunity not to criticize him on the false security his video games give him but rather to sit and show him how to properly hammer in a nail, ways to hold it, how to hit it in straight, how to fix it if it isn’t straight, etc. Once he realized he didn’t know a thing about it, lol, he was willing to listen to Mama Bear.

 

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A frame is taking shape! AND we lost daylight. This idea was born at like 4 or 5pm and it got dark quick so we put the tools up and headed in and Riley himself (I totally was too) was super excited to work on this again the next day. Anything I can do to encourage him to be self motivated to get outside and especially work on a project (being as he’s home schooled, basically an only child with his younger brother living in Arkansas, we have no neighbor kids nearby and he’s an introvert anyway) then I’m all for it!

 

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So Day 2 we set out and since he had gotten a handle on a lot of the basics on day 1 with just using a hammer and nails and putting stuff together, I did a lot of over-seeing. Proudly, might I add.

 

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Max had to come out and meander around, wondering what we were up to. Once he laid down right in the middle here, lol, until he was in our way. Riley liked having his best buddy around to watch or “help”! 😉

 

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Well now that is kinda lookin’ like a bed frame! =D

 

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We measured our support pieces, nothing here is perfect, let me say that. I made sure that the frame was level, were the right final dimensions and all the feet were level. Beyond that, we left the wood that old peeling blue paint that was on that aged trellis for at least 10 years. We cleaned off each piece and actually came across a few pieces that had termites on it so those got pitched to maybe use later for something else. So these were all cleaned up, dust free (mostly) and bug free but definitely is not perfection, which we’re totally fine with.

 

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He has a navy blue bed skirt somewhere but for life of me I couldn’t find it so temporarily so we could revel in the accomplishment of the completed project, I put this green one I had on there.

 

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Tada!!!! <– As Riley would say! =D It is done! He has this Angry Birds blanket my Mom got him years ago and now that we have our sewing machine I plan to quickly learn how to quilt to make both of my boys awesome bed quilts in their favorites themes. Riley’s will be a Minecraft quilt and I’ve already picked out the inspiration and pattern so hopefully I’ll get that done this winter!

 

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Here is an over view of the final few steps!

 

Riley, is SO happy with the project! Not only did he do probably 80% of the work but we did this in 2 days, just an hour or two each time, he learned a lot, I learned a lot, I immensely enjoyed watching my child’s knowledge and experience grow in a subject I’ve never been afforded the opportunity to teach him until NOW and he has a bed up off the floor.

 

Even though when I first mentioned this idea he wasn’t even sold on having a bed frame because he liked his mattresses on the floor NOW he is convinced. He loves it, our dog Max who sleeps with him loves it, everybody is happy!

 

I kid you not for days when I’d walk into Riley’s room and he’d be laying on his bed watching a video on his phone I’d just look at him and say “Omg, you’re on your bed! How awesome is that thing!” and we both would just beam with pride!!! That is a feeling INSIDE that you can’t replace and you sure can’t buy!!!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

If YOU know of any other super, super easy wood working projects my son and I could try together please comment below here on the blog so that we can look into them! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a post! <3

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Many uses for old tires!

How many of you have either come across tires, have a pile at your place or  just see them thrown out on the road side or in empty fields in the boonies next to your home? *raises hand* I do!!! I see them all over the desert out here and the reason why is because here we can’t take them to the dump or when there is a place to take them, they CHARGE you to drop them off. But thankfully, due to Pinterest, I came across an abundant re-uses for old tires!!!!! How awesome is that!

 

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Check this out! This first collage is a big gathering of 13-15 of my top favorite tire uses I’ve found on Pinterest. Every single one of these I personally want to do. And when I do, you can bet that I will share each project when they happen!

 

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This is just a few samples of all the different ideas to REUSE old worn out tires in a garden! Whether that be a vegetable garden, a potato tower or just flowers!

 

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This is beautiful! I can see this in many cute areas around my farm! They take the inside of the tire and cut it so they can then fold it out and it create this flowering look! Of course, you then paint the outside of the tire any color you want. I love how they layered short flowers around the edges with tall ones in the center!

 

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Here is another idea to make a w hole flower bed look like an actual flower itself!

 

 

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This is cute! This might be a little girly for my taste but I think any little girl would love to help make this for our special little spot in the flower garden!

 

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This arrangement of tires that almost looks just randomly thrown in something that really speaks to me. It almost looks like tires were painted red, thrown on the ground and nature took over and grew within it. I love the  mix of green plants in the red tires. This may be something I do near my front porch area to add some green and color! Maybe an herb garden off the front porch?

 

 

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There are so many uses for tires OTHER than in the garden. These ideas above are my favorites!

 

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How cute are these tire swings! I want to do at least one of these for sure!

 

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This is a cute remake on a tire swing but they planted some flowers in it instead and I think it’s just plum adorable!

 

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I love the “seats” in the background where they stack two on top of each other, secure them together, make a top out of (I’m assuming) plywood cut into a circle covered in foam and cloth to create an outdoor seat! So this project wouldn’t be totally free but it’s super adorable nonetheless. A good way to throw some random seats around the porch, shop or garden when you or visitors want to just take a minute to sit down.

 

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This is cute as well and if you have an extra piece of glass of find one at a flea market or garage sale or something then you could put together this table in a snap!

 

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This is a personal favorite of mine because it is super cute! In the picture though you’ll see a little sign on the seat portion that says “Do not sit”. I would have to make these secure enough people could sit on them because how do you make seating so adorable and not allow people to sit on it. Maybe I could do 2 tires from the floor up and 1 as the back that way there are 2 forms of support and there ya go!?! This would be cute in a she shed, a tiny house, a gardening shed or in the shop!

 

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Reuse old tires to make a waterer or feeder for animals! I love this!!! I will definitely be doing this for those future pigs of mine!

 

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A dog bed! How adorable! You literally just clean it up, paint it however you want it and stuff a big enough pillow in the bottom of it! Simple!

 

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This one is a little more artsy but super adorable still! They put feet on the bottom and I’m assuming plywood support in the bottom as well as on the top above the padded seat portion. Just another take on the same idea above but with feet, very cute!

 

SO….

 

After I came across all these ADORABLE and amazing ideas and ways to reuse tires I got to thinking and I remembered my dear neighbor telling me that she accumulated some great building materials and items a few years back because she just asked family and friends to bring her anything that they were going to be taking to the dump, that she might be able to use! It would save them money and she would get some useful items for free!

 

THANK YOU, ROSE!

 

The idea was born! I have plenty of room to pile and sort items and a blog I follow recently made a bartering poster that they posted up on a bulletin board at a local small gas station to let others know they were looking for certain materials and eager and willing to barter. Then my idea was born!!!

 

I decided to make a poster (made in PowerPoint turned into a jpeg file so I could share it online easily) and instead of printing and taking it around to places I just got to sharing on a bunch of local Facebook pages and groups I’m on. I put it in every one I could that was no more than an hour away from me, as I assumed most people wouldn’t want to travel or haul anything more than an hour to dump it for free.

 

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Here’s the ad I made! I made sure to be clear on it that not all items would be accepted, did not provide my exact location so people don’t come and randomly dump things on my property (although it’s entirely fenced and locked so they’d have a hard time actually getting in, lol, thank God!) and I just invited people to reach out to me and let me know what they had they’d like to get rid of!

 

AND IT WORKED! Within 30 mins I had people commenting on the numerous posts and one Facebook friend of mine asked me right away if he could bring me an old washer and I said yes! Because I had heard that you can reuse the motor parts out of a washer and you can also use the guts to make fire pits! He was at my house within a couple of hours dropping off my first free items ready to be reused, yay!!!!

 

Then I had a guy ask me if I’d take tires and I said ABSOLUTELY (thinking of all these wonderful ideas) and he said he had 50!!!!!!! I said, “Bring ’em on!” It was the weekend before he had time to get them to me but I’m sure glad he did!

 

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Look at all those tires! We stacked them up nicely, 3-4 tall on each row and, man….50 tires is a lot when you get them all in one place, lol! I’m not overwhelmed by this at all. I have no rush or timeline to do these projects but I’m sure glad I have ample tires to work on all the above mentioned projects! And aside from that, I’ve had other people reach out to me to bring me other items and we’re working on getting a time right for everybody. If I score anything huge and wonderful from this poster in the future I’ll make sure to write about it.

 

This is something you can implement where ever you are as well! You can do the paper flyer in a shop method or you can go viral online and post on craigslist (I did that, too!), share on Facebook groups, tweet about it, share wherever online you can. Just make sure not to put any real personal info on the flyer so that people have to contact you to make it work. And then that way you can quiz them on what they have.

 

Another tip: Don’t say yes to everything. Just because someone has 2 items to get rid of and 1 you could use but the other you can’t, don’t take an item you can’t find a use for. If you don’t KNOW if you can reuse it just research it online. A woman messaged me yesterday and asked me if I’d take OLD asphalt roof tiles and I thought “What in the world would I use that for?” assuming that they were damaged and that’s why they were re-roofing the house. And then I realized I could totally use that on the roof of future animal shelters, even if I had to do 2 layers and maybe do some patch work, that is at least free roofing materials for any future out building! So I told her “Hell yes!” and we’re going to sort that out this week!

 

Side note: Another woman asked me if I’d come take a car from her. It peaked my curiosity so I asked a bunch of questions about the car. Turns out her ex had it, did some work on it, then he left her and left the car and she doesn’t need it and she’s just pissed it is taking up space in her garage. It doesn’t run so she can’t take it anywhere to sell it. I have 3 good local friends who are great mechanics. So after talking to my friends they said they’d take their trailer and go pick it up for me if I ended up getting it and they’d help get it running order while also teaching ME how to do said work (which I’d love!) so I’m working with her to research the VIN and make those arrangements on the car. If I do end up getting a free car out of this flyer….believe you me…I’ll be ecstatic and will definitely do a while post devoted to that!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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What we have done so far to move towards self-sufficiency…

As I write posts and find myself sharing on Facebook homesteading and self sufficiency groups I have people asking me how I wish to be 100% self sufficient and how that isn’t really possible these days. I guess I should explain what I mean by being 100% self sufficient and we can start from there.

 

To me this is what being 100% self sufficient looks like:

All your meat comes from your own animals

All your produce, fruit, berries, herbs and medicinal herbs come from your own gardens

Using solar panels, wind turbines and a well to be “off the grid” of society and also remove those bills

Using rain water, swales, trenches and gray water to be useful on your property for watering to cut down on use from the well

All your food intake comes from somewhere on your farm or possibly bartering with nearby locals doing the same with resources you don’t have yet

Being 100% debt free, maybe aside from a mortgage

Making your own clothes and bedding

Having the skills to hunt for meat, not for sport

Having the skills to survive in the wilderness for a week with just a backpack if you had to

Having the skills and equipment to protect your home and land

Having a way to make your own ammo

Having a general understanding of how electricity, plumbing and building structures all work

Having a GOOD understanding of how to care for your livestock animals for their health and your safety

Using medicinal herbs or homemade essential oils for all medical treatments

Having enough general knowledge AND equipment for most first aid or medical safety skills to not need a hospital other than a life threatening emergency

Making all your cleaning agents and personal hygiene items yourself so that you know there aren’t toxins or heavy metals in them

Using all glass dishware to avoid the hysteria of possible toxins

Knowing how to do laundry the pioneer way for when it is necessary

Knowing how to play at least 1 instrument…(hey, we all need amusement, right?)

Having all the basic tools you need to do any task for the home or on the farm, even if it’s harder work or more physical labor, as long as it gets the job done

Knowing how to take care of any issue in your home yourself without having to call someone for help or hiring something out

 

Now THAT is a long list but I think I about covered it. Now in the ways that we cannot be TOTALLY self sufficient unless I didn’t have to work and we rarely ever left the house…I’d still need to buy gas for the car to go places and general maintenance and upkeep on the car. But I have to say, to be frank, if I never left the house again and we survived financially and healthfully I think I’d be okay with that. Of course, I’d still want to go see family and friends and we’d have to use our transportation to go barter for items. But I do hope to one day have a road side farm stand where I can sell our excess produce in season and also sell my homemade hygiene items for the health conscious people and maybe even sell some quilts. But those things I can do from home. I would still have to have our satellite internet so maybe that is what people say when they say I can’t be all self sufficient. But I will say, I want to do what I want to do for a couple of reasons.

 

The reasons I want to be AS self sufficient as possible are because:

It makes me feel good, strong and capable!

It makes me feel like I’m teaching my son invaluable lessons he can’t learn elsewhere or wouldn’t learn in society

It is very affordable to live if you’re producing all your own stuff

You have less bills when you don’t need all the “extra stuff” like cable, multiple computers, video gaming consoles, etc.

It reminds me of an old way of life that has always intrigued me.

Maybe I was born in the wrong era…

I want to not have to have a day job of any kind and still be able to have our homestead because the few “bills” we have to pay for I can supplement with the items we sell from the homestead.

 

 

So now that I’ve said that I want to share what we’ve been doing and the things I’ve been working to begin our SLOW but steady MIGRATION to one day NEAR self sufficiency homesteading!

 

What we have been working on the last 6 months:

Stopped buying ALL frozen food EXCEPT Riley’s damn chicken nuggets =/ *grunt, roan* (will explain later in another post)

Started stocking up on all “pantry essentials” that thrifty single Mom’s usually don’t keep.

Making homemade cleaning products

Homemade facial products

Not using paper towels or napkins, instead dish towels.

We hang dry all of our laundry

We recycle items

Burn trash instead of using trash service

Redirecting gray water to be useful in gardens

Homemade spider killing spray

Homemade bug repellent

Homemade anti itch spray

Homemade febreeze

Monthly preventative septic treatment instead of hiring a pro once a year

Fixing small plumbing issues ourselves

Bartering with neighbor for fresh chicken eggs

Selling unused items to have additional funds to go back into the homestead

Homeschooling instead of relying on the public system

Find a reuse for everything we possibly can. Thinking twice or 3 times before putting something in the burn pile.

Making homemade dog food

Buying all of our grocery items in bulk at Sam’s club

Prepping homemade meals and freezing them so they’re just as easy as store bought frozen meals

Doing a TON of research on how to make and cook as many homemade things as possible, with the least amount of preservative type items in it.

Stocking up on Mason jars and glass bottles to use and reuse.

Working on getting rid of most of our plastic storage containers due to the potential toxins when heating

Buying organic meat and produce until we have our own to fill our freezer and pantry with.

Finding new uses for old warn out clothes we’d otherwise just donate

Working adamantly to pay off my one car loan so that I have one less debt…and possibly something big to barter with!

Continuing to teach Riley how to shoot a gun and a bow and arrow with efficiency, part of his home schooling “life skills”.

Teaching Riley how to drive so that when we have a tractor or quad he can be my go to man if I need him, even though he’s only 11 (useful farm skill).

NETWORKING with a large variety of people nationwide but also in our backyard to help teach us about raising animals in Az, homesteading do’s and don’ts from people nationwide, joining local bartering groups, etc. All in an effort to get “in the know” with the homesteading thing and hopefully learn from others! Which has already happened tremendously!

 

 

What we are researching to do next:

Doing a TON of research on how to make and cook as many homemade things as possible, with the least amount of preservative type items in it. (This is a huge thing for me and I’ll do a whole other post to go into this and what all I’ve learned that is just plum fascinating!)

Research which seasonings we need to buy and keep in bulk for cooking until we can get the herb garden going.

Currently researching homemade soaps, shampoos and deodorant to get our hygiene products 100% homemade.

I have spent COUNTLESS hours researching the most effective way to garden productively and “with nature” in the low desert with our hot summers, year round cross winds, small predators and late summer monsoon rains. Researching this BEFORE setting it all up to make the first trial run as effective as possible, assuming there will still be some stumbling involved.

Researching how to dig a root cellar since I’m going to need somewhere to store all that canned goodness.

Researching how to grow wheat and what plants and trees I need to grow to one day produce all of our own oils and flowers used in cooking, baking and skin care.

Also researching what types of solar power and wind turbines will be useful and efficient on our specific property and how to set those up.

Researched how to get the house on our private well so that we can be off city water 100% and that project is in the works, easier than I thought. So then we’ll have 1 less utility bill.

 

 

If you have any insight, advice, suggestions or anything at all to share PLEASE DO! Consider me an eager baby bird ready to be fed knowledge from any source I can find it in because that is just about how I live my life 24/7…always learning! Thanks for reading!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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Making bed rails out of reclaimed wood!

So here on our little farm we’re all about reusing, up-cycling, no waste, etc. I have this gorgeous wrought iron headboard and foot board I snagged from a local friend about 2 years ago now. At some point in the process of a move the side rails were lost and then this sat in storage for a long time because we had a king sized bed. Upon moving to the farm the only bed I had was an old set of full size mattresses and then this head board and foot board. When we moved in I was able to buy side rails somewhere (I don’t even remember) and so I eagerly put the bed together. To my dismay, (and it was great dismay) the full size mattresses just BARELY fit into the rails and so basically every other time I got in bed the mattress would fall through onto the floor and I’d get super, SUPER irritated.

 

After re-fixing that probably 5 times I gave up and took the bed apart and had the mattresses on the floor for a few months. I mean, I’m not fancy and I have no shame. My mattresses are comfortable and the whole house was really “in transition” AND we rarely have company over so who cares anyway.

 

Then one day a couple of weeks ago I was walking around in the backyard while taking a break from digging in the future garden and came across this pile of 1x4s that we set aside when Riley demo’d part of the backyard pergola and I thought of my bed! It just hit me!!!! How I could cut them down to the size I need and make supports across the bottom part of my bed. My Mom had told me months ago that’s what I needed to do to fix the bed issue but I just kept thinking I needed to go buy 1x4s and since I just have a car and didn’t want to spend the money on it I just put it off.

 

Alas, a new project was born!

 

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With Riley home schooling now I like to take every opportunity I can to teach him anything hands on, useful, homesteading skills, building skills, etc. And honestly about half the time we’re learning something new TOGETHER as I’ve never done it either. It all makes for fun times! Here is Riley using a jig saw for the first time, right after I used it for only the second time ever!

 

We cleaned off the old boards, took nails out and then cut them down to the size needed for my bed frame.

 

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Then we brought them in and laid them across my bed frame put together again and they all fit perfect. I mean, it took us maybe 15 mins total and that includes gathering the jig saw (got from a yard sale for $5 back in the summer) and the saw horses (got for free as a salvage find on an abandoned property) and getting everything ready to measure, cut and go! Super easy project! And totally free, which is my favorite part.

 

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Well…no…maybe my favorite part is having my beautiful little bed all set up again for the first time in a long time! I love how old it looks and it just fits in well with my room decor and my old quilt! Love, love, love!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

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07-11-15 Summer fun & shop organizing!

I started the morning out working in the shop! Through all of the unpacking in the house and moving stuff to the shop for storage for about a month I finally had to get out there and do some organizing. It was a lot of clean up too because the shop isn’t enclosed (yet!) and so with each wind or storm there is dirt inside, dust over everything and spider webs everywhere!


Just stuff…everywhere, ugh!





Got a lot of sorting done, trash to burn pile,camping and sports stuff all up on shelving, etc.


A bit better!



Then we had some fun!







The night was capped off by a gorgeous sunset from our backyard!





Inside I was able to get these cute curtains up over the kitchen window, which allows in a ton of sun so this was a thankful addition to the kitchen!


Living in the country, you do a few things! One: when you have a septic tank you don’t put grease down your drains or else you can ruin your plumbing and/or cause issues with your septic tank. I want to help my septic tank have a long, happy life and so I don’t put grease down the drain and also found a monthly treatment to do! FYI, you drop 1 active yeast tab down the toilet at the end of the night once a month and flush. Then once a month on a different day from the yeast you put a half a gallon of white vinegar and half a gallon of hot water down the toilet which will help you keep your plumbing lines clean and cleared out!

The other thing you do in the country (I discovered) is save your egg shells for your neighbor! My  neighbor (who is AWESOME! Yay!) has a bunch of chickens and goats! So she asked me if I’d save my egg shells for her because she will crush them and use them in her chicken food as an additional/natural source of calcium for the chickens! So now these two jars stay on my kitchen counter! #newcountrylife #countryways #reuse

XoXo,
Elizabeth
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