Check out my WET future food forest!

We had a good 2 inches of rain here a little less than a week ago and when I went out to let the dogs out after the rain had stopped I decided to tour my future food forest and see where all it was holding water. Boy did I learn a lot! You can check out the video on YouTube here!!!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

If you like what you see here make sure you subscribe to the blog and the YouTube channel to stay up to date on our #startuphomestead adventures!!!

Share Button

Fleur de Lawn – flowering lawn!

So since I am currently mesmerized with the idea of using my entire front yard as a zone 1 food forest, edible landscaping I am thinking of using THIS idea for my backyard! It is a wonderful option for people in the desert like me but it is also cold hardy while still drought tolerant. It is a “flowering lawn” or a “mow-able meadow”! Who wouldn’t love that! I found this idea when I came across this guy’s video on YouTube and you can find it here in the YouTube link! His channel is worth following if you’re interesting in Permaculture or edible landscape!

 

Low_maintenance_Fleur_de_Lawn_at_a_cabin_large

How gorgeous is that! It doesn’t get super tall and it is a mix of drought tolerant grass, wild flowers and clovers!

 

Here is where you can get the product:

PT 755 Fleur de Lawn®

 

 

3261583553_43ce097580_o_large

 

Ciocc272DSCN5527_large

Doesn’t that look so soft to walk in!?!

 

IMGP1601_large

And if you love the flowers and blooms (like I’m sure I will) you don’t even have to mow it. It doesn’t get really tall like other grasses or weeds would but rather stays fairly low to the ground. So if you were walking around in it it isn’t over your shins or anything, lol! For my backyard for the kids and my dogs to play in I think it’d look just gorgeous and provide some green to my desert but also start to help rebuild my soil back there and add some flowers, color and life where it is much needed! I think I will shoot to try to do this this upcoming spring in 2016!

 

 

.

sw-water_large

 

If you or anyone you know has done something like this before or you have a review of this particular product by chance please do comment below and let me know! I’d love to know your thoughts and feedback on this idea!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

Share Button

Seeds ordered to start “greening the desert”!!!

So I’m beginning my research on Permaculture by reading the book “Gaia’s Garden (home scale guide to permaculture)” and previous to that I was searching the interwebs for information and I did that for a few weeks in the place of the time I’d normally spend watching TV daily. So you could say I have become obsessed with this idea of Permaculture and now I am officially wrapping my mind around so I can figure out exactly where to begin with it on my homestead.

 

So I still have to finish the book BUT after Christmas (the day after actually) I got really motivated and decided to spoil myself and order a few seeds from Amazon. I’ve been researching different places to get seeds, what types, all that jazz. A YouTuber that I follow did a video last year on how to track and organize all the information about your seeds and plants so I’m going to do that. And once I get my spreadsheet done I’ll share some screen shots of that with you guys just to show you how it is working out.

 

But today I want to share with you in my juvenile excitement, what seeds I ordered!!!

 

Trees or bushes!

 

dragon fruit seeds

Dragon fruit seeds!

 

Japanese Flowering Apricot Plum

Japanese flowering apricot plum! Gorgeous!

 

Organic Northern Highbush Blueberry

Organic northern highbush blueberry!

 

Purple Bamboo plants

Purple bamboo! (this is gorgeous AND it will serve as a wind break on the eastern side of the property/food forest)

 

Non-edible plants & vines!

The purpose of these is to add color, life, nitrogen to the soil and also encourage bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and all other insect life to happily move into our area to encourage and promote our new “ecosystem” we’ll be developing here!

 

Butterfly Garden Flower Seeds

A butterfly garden flower seed mix

 

Electric Blue & White HALF MOON LOBELIA Erinus Flower Seeds

Electric blue and white half moon Lobelia

 

Japanese Wisteria Vine

Japanese wisteria vine (this will go on my pergola by the front porch to add much needed shade)

 

 

Low Growing Wildflower Mixture

Low growing wild flower mixture (these will go in the front yard area and also by the well)

 

STAR JASMINE VINE

Star Jasmine Vine (this will go between where I park my car and the front gate to the porch since it puts out such a wonderful smell)

 

TRUE ENGLISH LAVENDER

True English lavender

 

Wildflower Butterfly Hummingbird Mix

Wildflower butterfly hummingbird mix

 

So, I am very excited about all of these! They will be coming in the mail almost at all different times between now and the 2nd week of February. So I’m going to focus on finishing 1-2 books on Permaculture before they all come in so that I can make sure I’m well prepared on how to handle these seeds, germinate them in doors and exactly when to plant them outdoors. Everywhere you read it says “after the last frost” but here in zone 9b in the lower Sonoran Desert we rarely ever get a frost. I think it got down to the low 20s two days last week and that even is rare. So I need to figure out how soon I can plant these things outside so that they can establish before summer heat in July!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

Share Button

Our first Christmas on the farm!

 

Our first Christmas on the farm is special to me because I always love this time of year but I also love to decorate for the holidays. A lot of our decorations we did have had been in storage for years so it was like getting all new stuff to start decorating here. Fun! I did decide not to buy Christmas lights because we had SOME and we didn’t need a ton and maybe next year when the farm is more established I will fee more like budgeting in to add more festive lights or something.

1

I think I might have had the most fun decorating the gate. I love that we have this at the start of our property that I can change the decorations with the seasons and holidays. It makes me smile when I come home. I’d like to think that every so often my neighbors maybe enjoy it. But hey, even if they don’t, I love it and I guess that is what counts! =D

 

2

 

3

 

6

Cute! The stuff along the top and the stars I did buy new but I got them at the dollar store! Lol! I didn’t spend more than $10 on a few new decor things to add to what we had.

 

4

This is the gate from my parking area to the front porch. I love Poinsettias!

 

8

I threw 2 strings of white isicle lights up along the front of the deck and that is really about it. I don’t enjoy hanging lights and we had so many that were broken and a tangled mess (a typical issue for most) that I didn’t want to fuss with it. The inside decor was more important to me because we see it all the time.

 

11

I put together this cute center piece for the dining room table of all fake flowers from the dollar store, a red ribbon and some other little things. I really enjoyed having this on the table for the month!

 

5

Sticker to go over the buffet with garland and poinsettias ON the buffet.

 

7

Our festive dining room setup! =D

 

10

Our tree!

 

9

When we put this tree up I thought I’d write a whole blog post about how important a tree is or how symbolic it can be. But since I didn’t at the time and now the occasion has come and gone I thought I’d just say something breifly about why it is so important and symbolic to ME! I had my 1st son when I was 19. The first 9 years of his life our lives were closely tied in with my Mother. We either lived with her or really close to her. So Christmas was always about her tree, her decorations and when both of my boys would bring home homemade decorations from school they’d proudly go up on the tree. Well a couple of years ago I had so many special ornaments from my boys that I didn’t want them lost, broken or anything so I started separating our Christmas stuff. Then my Mom moved to Louisiana and I had a “hand me down” artificial Christmas tree. Two years ago when I thought I’d get a real tree I sold my fake tree. Then that next Christmas I didn’t get a real tree, we didn’t even decorate and instead left Az and spent the holidays in Louisiana with my Mom, my younger son and the rest of our family out there. So THIS year…after getting everything out of storage for the first time years…I found all those special ornaments. But we had no tree. I didn’t think about it and didn’t budget to buy a tree. I considered getting a real tree and I didn’t feel like I could afford it. So I went to the store on a whim and said “Screw it, I’m doing this!” and I bought a decent artificial tree with pre-lit lights (praise Jesus…if you don’t have one you don’t know what ease you’re missing, lol!). And you know what….I WAS PROUD! Because this was mine and my son’s first Christmas tree that we bought, all on our own, in our own house, on our first homestead, doing and living entirely on our own away from family and most of our friends and….I WAS PROUD! I let Riley setup the tree after we combed over our favorite special decorations and we really enjoyed ourselves. Once the tree was done I couldn’t help but stare at it and just feel proud of not only where we are but how far we’ve come! So THAT to me…is why a Christmas tree can be so symbolic. If you have ever spent a Christmas without a Christmas tree…the next time you have one you might realize just how special they are!

 

GIFTS!

12

Seriously, this year everyone in my life totally outdid themselves. I’m wondering if everyone feels sorry for us out here in the boonies living on our own or if everybody was just “better off” financially this year but hey, either way, we have people in our lives that really care about us and have blessed us with an abundance of gifts!

 

I met a family recently on Facebook who is a family hoping to start homesteading soon and they started following my journey through this blog and my Facebook page and they asked if they could send me gifts for Christmas. I said there were several books I’d really been wanting to get myself so I sent them 5 examples. THEY SENT ME ALL 5!!!! I was totally shocked! Lol! Above are 4 that came in 1 day and the 5th one is below! I seriously can’t wait to get through these all, I’m so super excited about each one!!!!

 

13

 

 

14

Then one of the gifts from my sister came in the mail unwrapped and it was these GORGEOUS blue vintage mason jars! OMG!!!!

 

TIME FOR FESTIVITIES!!!! Southern style!

 

15

For Christmas Eve I made some hot chocolate to take to my Aunt’s house before we headed over.

 

16

I put said hot chocolate in the mason jars my sister got me! How cute!

 

17

At my Aunt’s Riley helped my Mom make fudge. Her and my Aunt Suzan came in from Louisiana for the holidays and it was wonderful to get to see them, all of them! This was one of the best holidays with a big part of my family in a long time!

 

CHRISTMAS MORNING CAME! And so did Santa….

18

Almost all of these gifts under the tree are from my Mom and my sister Jennifer to Riley and myself! A lot of them came in the mail already wrapped and some for Riley I had to wrap but for a Christmas tree for just 2 people you can tell me we were very spoiled this year!

 

19

Santa left a laptop under there for Riley! 😀 😀 😀 He noticed it right away…

 

21

The dogs started out helping and then they ran outside. This is Riley digging in to find his laptop! He’s been asking for one hardcore for about 3-4 mths and since it will be useful in our homeschooling I told my Mom he could go ahead and have one now so she got it for him.

 

22

 

23

A few of Riley’s presents that I’m most proud of really just because I always call him my “city boy in transition” because he still doesn’t totally understand the country life and such and so getting him into outdoor/country hobbies is my goal to help him realize how amazing this lifestyle of ours is! So he got new arrows for his bow for Christmas!

 

24

He got another light saber so him and I can play together! Lol!

 

25

He got a wood sword and a case and belt for it because he has this new obsession with swords so I figured I should start him out with a wood one!

 

26

So Riley has had a pocket knife now for about 2 years that he earned in Cub Scouts but now that he’s getting older I figured he should graduate to a swiss army knife and then maybe next year when he’s 12 start carrying an actual hunting or survival knife! Progress. My boy is growing up on me!

 

27

I got a ton of kitchen stuff for Christmas which is A-mazing! From my sister I got this glass mixing bowl set which I desperately needed….like…you don’t even know! Lol!

 

28

My sister also got me this huge 128 piece home and auto tool kit! SO needed that! Love it!

 

29

So we headed out super early, like 7am to go to my Aunt’s house to do Christmas morning presents with them after we did ours at home. We got to see the rare Christmas Full Moon sinking just before the sun rose on our drive over.

 

30

Then to the east as the moon went down the sun came up behind the clouds and gave us this gorgeous view!

 

31

My aunt’s Christmas tree! It is Minnie Mouse theme for the 3 year old grandbaby in the family, lol! I won’t share a ton of photos of my family as that is their life/privacy but I thought I’d share a few highlights.

 

32

This is me and my cousin’s baby girl Amelia who is just a couple of mths ago. She’s my baby love and when I’m there I try to always have her, lol!

 

So while at my Aunt’s I got the rest of my presents from my Mom and all my family and they were totally over the top. I find it amazing that everybody totally listened to what I had said or hinted at as wanting. They all know that I’m trying to be this Pioneer Woman and that developing my cooking skills is really important to me. My Mom has seen the food pics I share on Facebook and I do that strictly because just a year or two ago I would never have dubbed myself a chef of any sort. But I’ve been working hard to go all natural, all organic, no processed food and in doing that you just have to learn how to cook. And when you’re learning how to cook you quickly realize what all cools and utensils and appliances you desperately need and which ones really aren’t that useful. So I told my Mom a few things I’d been wanting and the rest they ran with and I totally hit the jackpot!

 

33

Mixing bowl set!

 

34

Pasta Machine! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes!

 

35

Canning mason jars!!!

 

36

A peeler! This thing is awesome, we used it Christmas day for dinner to peel potatoes, lol! It’s great!

 

37

A food dehydrator! Hello self sufficiency here I come!!!!

 

38

A fry maker!!!! We will totally use this!!!

 

39

My first cast iron set!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay! Pre-seasoned and even comes with a dutch oven! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve wanted this forever and my Mama did so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

40

The awesome, huge tool set from my Mom!

 

41

A canning setup! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another step down the road of self sufficiency!

 

42

Christmas Day sunset out in the desert! My cousin Amanda’s husband is an Arizona native and he likes to go out to the desert for a lot of reasons and he wanted us to all go out to do a bon fire and just hang out so we did! Them and their kids and me and Riley!

 

43

Here is Riley helping my cousin’s husband start the fire.

 

44

Me and Riley enjoying the fire!

 

45

Riley and his cousins playing in the fire, lol!

 

46

An Arizona desert bon fire on Christmas Day at sunset! It was cold and a lil windy but the kids loved it and so I had fun!

 

THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS!

My cousin’s 2 older daughters wanted to come to our house for a sleepover so we had them over and other than selfies and being piled up on the couch we watched movies and stayed up late, lol! They ended up staying over all weekend!

47

 

48

 

49

 

50

Fun times with the kids!

 

51

Sunday running my monthly errands to go grocery shopping I decided to spoil myself a little more (I totally didn’t need the additional spoiling but I did need the jacket) and bought myself a new hoodie! I’ve had a black CenturyLink zip up hoodie for over 5 years from when I worked there and it’s…on the outs! So I bought a gray pull over hoodie that is Browning and has PINK CAMO!!! =D I love it!

 

I hope you guys all had a fabulous Christmas and I really just had to put this post together because I don’t want to ever forget just how amazing of a time we had and how lucky we are to have such good family! We have had a rough last year or two but all the great things that have happened this year on top of the quality time and conversations with my family this holiday season has really been not only a firm reminder of how lucky we are but also a much needed emotional reprieve for myself personally!

 

I hope everybody had a chance to recharge their batteries and spend the holiday season feeling loved!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

P.S. You KNOW in the very near future I’m going to be sharing a post about using each one of those amazing Christmas gifts for the first time because I’m so damn excited to cook with my cast iron, use that food dehydrator, make homemade pasta (Gahhhhh!) and everything! I’m just so excited about them all so when I do get to use them I’ll totally share how fun it was!

Share Button

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.

 

12391116_10205300718984864_7591326737436181361_n

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

 

12366434_10205300722864961_8621807843641209666_n

Inside the coop

 

75564_10205300719304872_8806753169280183956_n

Inside the coop

 

12369073_10205300719744883_9203464944107137440_n

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.

 

10398407_10205300721424925_4924722029328847576_n

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

 

12410516_10205300722464951_2310999823616591104_n

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

 

12391212_10205298812297198_7900659076791490693_n

That bush.

 

12366456_10205300721184919_3509075957735995760_n

 

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

 

122115-1

Outside storage area as of about 2 weeks ago.

 

122115-2

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!

 

122115-3

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!

 

122115-4

 

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

122115-5

 

122115-6

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.

 

122115-7

 

122115-8

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!

 

122115-9

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.

 

122115-11

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.

 

122115-12

 

122115-10

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.

 

122115-13

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.

 

122115-14

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

 

122115-15

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

 

122115-16

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

 

122115-17

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.

 

122115-18

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

 

122115-19

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!

 

122115-20

 

 

MY FAVORITE BEFORE AND AFTER WITH THIS PROJECT SO FAR!

 

122115-13

122115-20

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!

 

1e759ef1f4b235307172ded2d43df11a

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

 

3b4f17992e672a828cb5cc9df3c222f7

 

f82a231bcb105075788e3d2f681fd331

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!

 

5ee0b2fa1a13a4e44c0339fe7d050ac8

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!

 

cd67a366fc14799b9fea4b31a32b8f57

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.

 

c471815f8ea07bafe7c4c03b072d80ac

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.

 

4cbb3d10c6d257d97a298c7de84e704f

I love this PVC automatic chicken feeder idea!

 

11914b6b74afd6ab5cf1a99f1690a3c8

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.

 

abbb4010eefa3345a68270adf867f441

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

Share Button

Homestead Video Tour at Little Farm Big Dreams 6 mths in!

Hey everybody! I put together a quick post strictly to share with you my first video tour of our start up homestead in southern Arizona! I wanted to show everybody what it is now as I’ve become utterly fascinated with homesteaders on YouTube sharing not only their farms and many helpful tips but their LIVES with the world. And maybe one day I’ll have so much going on here that I can do a video or two a week but for now I thought I’d start by sharing with you what I’m working with.

 

We have lived here about 6 mths now and in that time it was a huge transition period; getting used to living in the country, doing some repairs to the house that had sat empty for awhile, working on cleaning up and clearing 2 of the 8 acres (which is what the house and all out buildings set on, the rest are raw, as you’ll see in the video) and getting started home schooling.

 

I shared a post here about our big 5 mth update with a ton of before and after photos of what it was like when we moved in and things we’ve done!

 

If you’re interested in our endeavors in home schooling I shared a post about that here with a ton of information about why I chose to home school as a single Mom who is self employed!

 

So, about a week ago on a super windy day (I know, I’m sorry, lol!) I decided to do a quick video tour of the property. This is my first time working with videos and tying them together through YouTube and learning some basic editing tricks. I still have much to learn but I’m excited to one day incorporate more videos into this blog for an over-all experience for those following along for education OR entertainment!

 

Here is the link to our YouTube video, our first homestead tour!

Please give it a like and hey, maybe you’ll even feel like subscribing to keep an eye out for any future videos and/or to make me feel special! Lol! 

 

As always, thanks for stopping by our little piece of heaven here online! =D

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

#startuphomestead #singlemomhomesteading #southernarizona #sonorandesert #8acreproperty #littlefarmbigdreams

Share Button

Our First Hugelkultur bed

So upon getting this land and quickly diving into research about farming, gardening, farm animals, homesteading, etc I stumbled upon Permaculture. Shortly after that someone on a Facebook homesteading (nationwide) group mentioned a Hugelkultur bed. So then, of course, I had to research Hugelkultur and I was just blown away!!!

 

Hugelkulture is where you dig a small ditch or trench (depending on what size you want) down into your soil and then place old tree logs  down in it. They can be any size, any length, any thickness as long as they fit into the area you dug out. So you can dig an area to fit whatever logs you have and what you’re working with on your land! Which is fantastic! Then you layer on top of that dirt, twigs, more dirt, water each layer and then finally cover with dirt so you have a mound and top that with mulch! The REASON you do this is because (it is totally genius I’m not sure why everybody isn’t doing this with their extra wood laying around their property…if they don’t have or use a wood stove) as the wood begins to rot and decompose under there it is putting nutrients (GOOD nutrients) into all the soil around it. The dampness from you putting water on that layer when you first built it in combination with the dirt and leaves added to it to retain that moisture, aid in that break down process. Also, when you do water that mound in the future, those logs help the entire mound to HOLD ONTO every bit of water you put onto it, as does the mulch. So you’re keeping more water right there where you need it to do what you need it to do without irrigation. And since the bigger logs could take years to break down, you have a setup that takes you maybe an hour tops and it is a self-fertilizing gardening mound for YEARS! Brilliant!

 

10

 

So I knew I’d incorporate this on the homestead somewhere but I didn’t know where. The big site I plan to do the food forest on is going to need a lot of prep work before I can plant anything or even put in hugel beds to sit and break down for me as I’m not sure where I’ll want them yet. So one day raking up some leaves in my small front yard area (fenced in in front of the front deck) I decided I could totally do it in one of these raised beds that goes around the front deck. It is a large deck so there are 3 pretty good sized raised beds.

 

So I got to looking around for supplies because I knew I had wood logs, twigs, mulch, top soil, etc and so I just wanted to make sure I had what I needed. Then I remembered another video I had seen where they talk about using dead, dry leaves as part of the layering and I had those as a few of our trees just started (or finished) shedding the very few pitiful leaves they had, lol! So I got to work!

 

1

This is the bed I started out with. Pardon the extension cord running out to Christmas lights, haha! There were some nice little weeds that started growing in there with some recent rains we had. Also the overhang of the porch waters this area pretty abundantly when it rains (until I add a water harvesting system in the future, of course!). So I pulled a lot of these by hand and dug out some of the peskier ones with a shovel. I didn’t worry about getting them all.

 

So I had my trench area dug out.

 

2

Then I grabbed cottonwood tree logs I had cut up and set aside for outdoor bonfires but hey…this is way more important than that! =D Put those guys in there. As soon as they were in I watered the area down so those logs would be wet.

 

3

Then I covered that with a little bit of dried leaves and debris from the yard, not a ton.

 

4

Then I covered that with some of the dirt I had dug out.

 

5

Then I covered that with cottonwood twigs and kindling.

 

6

Then I covered that with some potting soil because I had some handy and I didn’t think it could hurt. Then I sprayed this down again with water.

 

7

I put more top soil on this and then spent some more time digging out additional weeds on each side. And then watered it down again.

 

8

Then once I felt the twigs were mostly covered and the ground around it was all good and I had covered it in water then I added my final layer which is mulch. This was the last bag of this stuff I had so I can’t do the other beds until I buy some more supplies, which will hopefully be here soon.

 

9

I just finished by cleaning up that concrete area to the left, which is what is just off of my deck with a pergola above. And she was done!!!

 

THE PLAN is for these to sit and develop and let the wood start breaking down. I won’t plant anything in these until spring and I need to do a little more research about what I want to plant right up by the house. I know a Wisteria vine is going up on the pergola but that is a few feet further to the left here that you can’t see and doesn’t have anything to do with this one bed. I’m thinking I’ll do a mix of herbs, maybe a flower or two (something like citronella which will repel the mosquitoes come spring and summer) and then some lettuce type crops that you can frequently harvest from since these are so close to the house.

 

I will water this weekly just to give it a little soaking and help aid in the process as we do not get regular rainfall here. And I’ll probably take weekly pictures just to kind of keep a record and keep an eye on it and how it does.

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

If you have any suggestions on what I should plant here in Zone 9 in southern Arizona that would be great to have right off the front deck, also an area all visitors see and walk passed as they walk up to my front door, I’m open to suggestions. Please comment below with ideas and don’t forget to subscribe to the page so you can get a quick email any time I share a new post about our homestead setup adventures! Thanks so much for checking us out!

Share Button

Lemon Burst DIY Deodorant

In my recent post What we have done so far to move towards self-sufficiency I went over what I believe self-sufficiency is and also what methods we have already put in place. After making the majority of my cosmetic products naturally (found in this post) I then ventured into making almost all-natural liquid laundry soap! Shortly after that I decided to tackle homemade, natural deodorant because I was running out of what I had on hand! So I’m sharing the recipe I used below and will conclude with my review on this product after about a week of using it.

 

PhotoGrid_1449631196853

 

I found the recipe for this online on Pinterest and you can find it here. I chose to go with this one because it called for ingredients I had on hand, minus the cornstarch. I later learned that cornstarch is a “drying agent” and so it helps to reduce or absorb the actual moisture. The baking soda helps to neutralize any odor, coconut oil helps to moisturize the skin and also act as a carrier oil for any essential oil you use in the recipe.

 

Lemon Burst DIY Deodorant

-4 tablespoons of coconut oil

-2 tablespoons of baking soda

-5 to 10 drops of lemon essential oil

 

Quick directions:

1- Melt your coconut oil BRIEFLY in a microwave for maybe 10 seconds.

2- Add your baking soda to your coconut oil and mix well.

3- Add your essential oil to the mixture and mix well.

4- Put mixture into whatever container you want it to be in (old deodorant bottle, small bowl, etc) and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes for it to form into more of a solid.

5- Remove from the fridge and use as you would any other deodorant.

 

Here is the break down!

 

PhotoGrid_1449631124741

The 3 stars of the show…well the only stars in this show!

 

20151208_200812

Baking soda in bowl

 

20151208_200856

Coconut oil at room temp…

 

20151208_200930

Coconut oil briefly warmed…

 

20151208_200957

Add coconut oil to baking soda

 

20151208_201102

Add lemon to mixture, sir well! Then sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.

 

20151208_201320

After being in the fridge for 30 minutes this is what it looks like! I put mine in this container because it was small and I had it handy and I do not have any old deodorant bottles in the house to use because I previously used spray deodorant.

 

My review…

 

I will say at the very onset I quickly noticed how the coconut oil moisturizes my skin! I have long thought that underarms are sadly forgotten areas of skin on our bodies that we tend to overlook! If you’re a woman you shave them every day or every other day, wash up, get out of the shower and don’t moisturize it like you do the rest of your skin and then put deodorant on there. And say we pretend there aren’t toxins, metals and cancer causing ingredients in store bought deodorant…we still neglect our under arms! So the daily moisturizing I get now from the coconut oil makes my under arms feel…HAPPY!

 

The lemon scent is just very subtle, I think it’s really perfect! When I do another recipe and I go for something maybe more fruity or floral I think I might choose to make it a bit stronger smell wise, just to have that enjoyable aromatics.

 

Sweating! I have noticed very minimal sweating after a week of using this deodorant. I made sure to do some work in the yard on top of my regular stuff to test out the STRENGTH of it and I never had an issue.

 

Moisture: I did notice that from the time I’d first apply it and then for about 2-3 hours after my under arms felt moist. I’m assuming this is due to the coconut oil on my skin and the lack of the cornstarch which absorbs moisture. So the next time I make this recipe (after I run out of this since it is mostly efficient) I will make sure to have the cornstarch on hand and then also try a different essential oil just for fun!

 

Have YOU tried to make homemade, natural deodorant? Can you share a recipe with me that you have found that works wonderful? And have you tried any spray natural deodorants?

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

 

Thank you for checking out the post and our progress here at Little Farm Big Dreams and please make sure to subscribe to the blog so you can get a simple, quick email any time I share a new post! Thanks so much!

 

UPDATE: I wanted to take a minute to update this post because after a week of using this homemade deodorant I ran into an issue. I think it is because I didn’t use the cornstarch that the original recipe I had found called for (because I didn’t have it). But what would happen is when I did start to sweat, there would be no odor but there would be moisture. After awhile of that I found that I always wanted to have my arms in the air to let my arm pits air out, lol! After it moved beyond the annoying stage (and me stubbornly persisting) I began to get a rash on my skin, I’m assuming from the moisture sitting on the skin and my arms being down the majority of the time. I tried putting coconut oil on my under arms when I went to bed to moisturize the skin but that didn’t do much to help it. So after 2 days of a small rash on each, I quit using it. I will soon redo that recipe with corn starch and when I do I’ll post an update post.

Share Button

All natural skin care routine

So when I tell people I want to do everything all natural, homemade or organic in my home I get questions on beauty or skin care. So I’m going to share what I currently do for skin care and also which remaining store bought items I plan to replace next!

 

This is my little stack of homemade, all natural face products. I do not make all of these. The two that have little labels a friend of mine in New Mexico makes. She is an esthetician and knows what she’s doing and I met her a few years ago here in Arizona and after she taught me how to understand MY specific skin, I bought a few products from her to work with my skin and the results were amazing! So now she has moved to NM and I order these from her online either through her site or her Facebook page. You can find her business Facebook page here!

 

PhotoGrid_1449686097564

Okay, so please don’t judge my plastic containers as I AM on a mission to replace all plastic containers with glass but that is actually pretty hard to do and a process to find all different shapes and sizes if you don’t want to just go on Amazon and buy them all brand new. That being said…

 

My products are:

Organic coconut oil (top left container): this is the remainder of my organic coconut oil that stays in its glass jar until it gets to the bottom and I put it in this thing to make it easier to use each time in the shower.

Use: I use this to wash my face, remove make-up, remove dirt, you name it. It gets all the make-up off including water proof mascara in a breeze! You just wet your face, put some on your fingers, rub it in all over you face and eyes then use a warm wash clothe to wipe it off. You will see the dirt and make up come off on the cloth! AND…it’s so gentle that after I rub it in on my eyes I can open my eyes to find my wash cloth, which I often do, lol, and it doesn’t burn or anything!

My homemade facial/body sugar scrub (left bottom container): I make this and you can find the recipe about half way down through this blog post of mine.

Use: I use this on my body daily and my face every few days as a gentle exfoliator. Sugar is actually gentle enough that you can use daily on your face if you want but someone with more sensitive skin might want to do every few days on their face. I could handle daily but honestly I just don’t take the time to do it.

Raw Shea Butter with Tea Tree Oil (glass black container front and center): This is a homemade mixture my friend does that is specially blended for my skin. The shea butter is whipped because I prefer that texture over any other after a few different tries. The Tea Tree Oil in it is necessary for MY skin to help kill bacteria as I have skin that is prone to that cyst acne which is the kind that happens under the skin and then you get white heads. Basically due to excess toxins, dirt on pores, pores being too big or too open and the dirt getting trapped in said pores. Also, she pointed out to me that people who are Native American tend to have issues processing cheese and so sometimes they/we can have acne or white heads caused by the cheese basically trying to escape the body, lol! Sounds crazy but makes total sense to me as I LOVE cheese…..tremendously! And I won’t give it up to have a 100% clear face, that’s for sure.

Use: This is my daily moisturizer! After washing (and the side effect of moisturizing) my face with the coconut oil in the shower, I then add this moisturizer as soon as I get out. A little goes a long way and so any morning I forget to use it within a couple of hours my face feels tight and dry.

Peppermint Epsom Salt for bath (back right green glass bottle): this is a therapeutic salt bath mixture I made and you can find the recipe here!

Use: This is good to use for the therapeutic benefits of Peppermint or just to soften skin in the bath. I shower more than I take a bath but when I do this is what I use to spoil myself.

Lemon Burst DIY natural deodorant (bottom right small container): this recipe I just made yesterday and after I’ve had a few days to use it and try it out in different situations then I’ll finish my blog post about it with an honest review of what I think of it.

Use: Deodorant….dur. =)

Lemon Cream Face Mask and Scrub (middle right glass container): this is another one my friend in NM makes for me. After working out on the property here all summer I noticed I had a few dark spots above my upper lip and also above one eye brow (odd, huh?) and I freaked out. I sent her a message and asked what was happening to my skin. After many questions she determined it was likely sun damage =( due to me being outside so much and not using any SPF or wearing a hat. Another sad face moment.

Use: This mixture was created for me after her trial and errors and the lemon in it helps stimulate skin to have new growth of healthy skin. So this is a powder mixture that when I want to use it as a mask I just mix it up in a tiny bowl and I actually use one of those hair color mixing bowls and brushes and mix it up into a paste. Then I get my face wet with warm water, apply the mask generously and let sit for 30 mins. Then I wipe off with a warm wash cloth. This is something that could heal the sun damage but she said it could take 2-3 times a week for a few months to see the difference. I’m patient and all but in truth I do this maybe once a month when I remember. It isn’t high on my list of things to do. But if I want to feel like I’m pampering my face (or say I’ve spent all day outside working) then I’ll wash my face (to get it clean), do my sugar scrub (to exfoliate dead skin) and follow up with the lemon mask (to replenish and pamper my skin) and my face feels super happy after!

 

20151208_105350

Shameless selfie! Lol! I took this picture not smiling so you can just SEE my skin. I love my skin! This is post shower, after putting on my tea tree oil moisturizer and yes…I’m wearing mascara. But that’s it. I try to not wear make-up much. If I’m home (which I generally am for days at a time) I wear no make-up and not even mascara. If I have to run a quick errand or something I’ll put on mascara because I am blessed with long eye lashes and without mascara I feel like I look tired. If I am “dressing up” I wear powder, blush, eye shadow and mascara. But really all that stuff is nothing but crap for your skin. So I try to really limit it. My esthetician is working on an all natural powder for make-up now made out of something wonderful but she’s still ironing out the kinks so when that is done I will totally try it!

 

PhotoGrid_1449686134571

These are the ONLY remaining beauty/hygiene culprits, which I will be eliminating in the near future; herbal essences shampoo (15 year avid user), Vaseline lotion (6 year avid user), herbal essences spray gel for curly hair (10 year avid user), Dove bar soap (probably 15 year user), Dial liquid hand soap (I’ve always loved Dial) and then Arm and Hammer tooth paste. This tooth paste I’ve only been using about 6 mths but I really love it and the results I’ve had, which I think is thanks to the baking soda in it!

 

So since I just switched to natural deodorant I think my next change will be the toothpaste, when I run out of this because I don’t want to waste what I have on hand. I also have like 12 bars of Dove soap, lol (I shop at Sam’s Club) and I hope by the time I run out of that not only am I making my own homemade soap but that it has cured and is ready to be used. I am reaching out to my NM esthetician about ordering some of her homemade soap to replace all the dial liquid soap I have at each sink in the house. We’ll start there and not buy any more of that and then replace the Dove once I run out of it.

 

I have been researching all natural shampoos but I have some ingredients to buy before I can try a few recipes. I also have found a lot of info on LOTION BARS home made and I’m super excited to try some of those. I’m totally confident I can find a luxurious diy recipe for lotion to replace Vaseline…which I use religiously (daily) on my entire body head to toe, okay…foot to collar bone! And if I ever go a day without lotion (I forget or I’m in a rush post shower) I can tell all day long and it kills me. So I need a good solid replacement. And this bottle is running low and I really do not want to buy another…

 

So there ya go! If you have recommendations on diy all natural shampoo, conditioner AND the light spray gel for curly hair I am all ears! I am most concerned about what exactly I’ll replace my spray gel with because it took me years of trial and error to find this 1 product that works perfect for my naturally curly hair and makes my hair feel just the way I want it too, not too firm, not too loose. So, please comment here and share any recipes you have tried that work!

 

XoXo,

Elizabeth

And if you like what you see here and want to keep up with what is going down on the Little Farm with Big Dreams in Arizona as we setup our homestead and walk the rather misunderstood path of trying to become self sufficient PLEASE SUBSCRIBE so you get a quick email any time I write a new post! Thanks so much for checking us out!!! <3

Share Button

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!

 

11

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!

 

12

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! =) 

 

1

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!

 

13

Just the middle left now…

 

2

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

 

17

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

 

3

Bringing it to a boil…

 

14

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

 

4

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.

 

7

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.

 

15

Fillin’ her up to the top…

 

9

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

 

8

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

 

10

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

 

16

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

Share Button