Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Parental Kidnapping? #MissionKady


This is a totally different entry from what I usually do but it's one I feel compelled to do. On facebook today I stumbled across a picture of a man holding a sign telling his daughter how much he loves her. I read on.
His side of the story is that he is ex military, who married a German national while stationed in Germany, they had a daughter and later divorced. After their divorce the mother refused to let him see his daughter, despite a German court order giving him visitation. She apparently remarried another US soldier and now lives in North Carolina, her husband being stationed at Fort Bragg there. He has fought for custody of his daughter here, making trips from Illinois to NC just to have her push back the court dates after he gets there.

This is only one side of the story... I don't personally know either parent but I do know that Steve Wilco was asked to run the story and from what Jason posted he reached out to Jason to feature him and his ex wife in an episode.

I don't watch Steve Wilco regularly but I've seen the show and I really hope that both he and his ex wife are on it.

From this side of the story it 100% sounds like parental kidnapping. It's sad that in the world today we see a lot of people growing up without mothers and fathers, growing up with men who believe they are their fathers and turn out to not really be, and then we have parents keeping their child away from the other parent in an attempt to hurt the other person.

I guess I'm really posting this because things aren't right in the world today. If your a parent than you are LUCKY. This man seems to know that, go to his facebook page and you will see how much he loves her. If you, like me, believe his story than PLEASE share!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Our Newest Additions


Two days ago we got two new additions to our family, puppies. We have two black male part chocolate lab week old puppies, their mom died sometime after childbirth so the owner called our rescue. Amazingly of the seven puppies all of them were males!

Taking care of bottle baby puppies is a LOT of work... especially when one of them has an issue. These babies have to be fed many times a day, as well as helped to go potty and sometimes burped. While I sometimes hate not working at the moment I am happy that I'm home so I can take care of them!

If anyone reading this is interested in adoption these guys will be available around April and the rescue they are at is RockCityRescue!

If ya'll are interested in fostering than there is a HUGE need pretty much everywhere! Just contact your local animal shelter and they can point you in the right direction! Fostering is just taking care of an animal until a permanent home can be found, and some rescues also use temp fosters, where you can just take in animals for a couple days til another foster can be found!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snap Challenge Week 3 Groceries


As you may know, this past weekend we were out of town for my husband's work... which meant eating out. When we got back we went grocery shopping, a few days after I normally would have. Since we went shopping on a Sunday we didn't get many good deals, which turned into me not picking up much food.

What I DID get:
Red Potatoes
Lunch Meat x3
Cream Cheese
Gal of Milk
Diced Ham ($1.50)
Cereal x2
Whole Grain Bread
Hamburger Buns
4 Salsa's ($1 each!!)

I spent $42 total and to be honest I may have forgotten a thing or two I got since we were shopping on the way back from our trip, and I was with my husband. I have $58 left for the month, and it is only the 17th. I did just get groceries, but its only about 1/2 way through the month.

SNAP is meant to be supplemental, in my opinion it would take work to be able to buy all groceries just off of snap, mostly good cooking skills!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How to save $ on Chicken Food


As some of you know, I have dreamed of having a farm since I was a child. In the next two years or less my husband and I are really hoping to make that dream come true! I'm planning it all out now, despite the fact that its a plan contingent on 3 big factors: 1. A job somewhere else 2. Selling our current house 3. Financing!

In planning I am considering feed costs for every animal I have or want to have and how to lower them. Here is what I have come up with for chickens.

1. Grow your own- This is of course the most economical option and there are many people who mix their own to give you an idea of what to grow and how to mix it.

2. Mix your own- Especially if you want to follow specific diets this is your best option (organic, no corn, no gmo, etc)

3. Grow your own mealworms- these are EXPENSIVE to buy at the store, however they are very low maintenance and virtually no upkeep costs after you start your own colony. Read HERE on a BYC'ers experience with it. The picture to the right shows their setup. Mealworms are prolific layers so they populate quickly, they are also cannabals though which is why the 3 bin/drawer is helpful to get the most live mealworms for your effort!

4. Worm Farm- I started a worm farm just to compost faster. I personally use red wrigglers. These are not super fast reproducers so mealworms are a better option if you are just wanting them for chicken food. I bought these for composting though so the fact they make great chicken treats and bait is just an added benefit. To make them a central part of your chickens diet you would need a LARGE setup with LOTS of worms.

5. Fermented Foods- some say birds eat 50% less of fermented feed that dry. One BYC user said with their flock it is closer to 30% less. I have only had 2 small successful batches to date so I can't speak on how much less my flock consumes.

5. Fodder- I have experimented with this option. It is explained fully here. All it is is sprouting seeds in under a week to create lbs of fresh food for just 1 lb of seed. Very cost efficient. I did have some molding issues though, and grew this for my rabbits (chickens are in tractors so they always have access to fresh vegetation and are moved to make sure of that). This is a great option for people who don't free range or use tractors!

6. Local Feed Mills- many BYC'ers pay about 1/2 of my costs because they buy direct from a feed mill... I bet the food is a heck of a lot better too. I don't have one in my area but if you do than check it out!

Since I mentioned mixing your own feed here are a couple chicken keepers blog posts with their recipes:

Fermenting Feed


I know I failed to do a blog about my chickens... but I have chickens! I have 6 at the moment, but if your on BYC than you know that only 1 of those count, so I need more! I have 5 silkies and 1 hamburg. Of those silkies 3 are still chicks, one is a rooster, and the other is my only laying hen. The hamburg is a hen who has yet to lay =) (the only one that counts according to BYC'ers is the laying one)

BYC was my tool in all information chicken related, and it is there that I stumbled on fermenting feeds. I also consult other sites like Natural Chicken Keeping and The Chicken Chick. Here is a quick explanation of fermented feeds and the benefits from Natural Chicken Keeping.

The fermentation process uses naturally occurring bacteria to partially break down the food, improving its enzyme content and increasing its levels of vitamins B, C and K. It also makes food more digestible, and boosts the "usable" protein level by about 12 percent.

The other benefits to using fermented feed:
  • Feed consumption and waste will drop by 1/2 to 3/4 (this will save you money)
  • Poultry on a diet of fermented feed are generally healthier and less likely to contract disease
  • There is almost zero waste as chickens don't scratch through it, kicking it out of the feeder
  • Stools become more solid and many people report less smell in the coop and run!
  • Egg yolks of eggs laid by hens on fermented feed will become noticeably larger, and shells will be more solid.  
Additional studies note that:
  • Wet feeding increases the feed intake and growth rate of Chickens.
  • Pre-soaking of broiler feeds for 12 and 24 hours significantly increased dry matter digestibility and body weight gain in male broilers (25-40 days of age) compared with dry feed.
  • Bacterial fermentation of barley and wheat whole meal flours with b-glucan-degrading LAB (Lactic Acid Bacteria) has improved growth and early feed-to-gain ratio in broiler chickens.
Regarding Chicks:
  • Early access to semi-moist diets for day-old chicks stimulates gastrointestinal (GI) development and prevents dehydration during transport from the hatchery.
  • Rapid GI tract development after hatch is essential for optimization of digestive function and underpins efficient growth and development as well as a full expression of the genetic potential for production traits. 
  • The moisten capacity of the crop of chicks during the first weeks of life is also believed to be a limiting factor for the optimal functioning of the gut when standard solid diets are fed.
  • Benefits of wet feeding have been attributed to decreased viscosity of gut contents, greater development of the layer of villi in the digestive segments and reduced crypt cell proliferation. 

So I didn't read ANY negatives but a long list of positives. What originally made me interested in it was that BYC users were saying that it created less food waste and their chickens devoured it! It wasn't until I researched it that I found MANY benefits. 

The first time I tried to ferment feed I got one good batch and a couple moldy, so I stopped for months. I began wetting my chickens feed prior to feeding to stop as much food waste and because the chickens prefer it; now if I feed dry they will peck at it a little than leave it and just look at me, sometimes even bhach at me like whats this nonsense! 

Since I know all the benefits I decided to try fermenting again. I talked to some BYC'ers who had success and they told me it was really simply but it needed to STAY covered in water to prevent mold growth. I had read somewhere else equal parts water and feed. I made a batch a few days ago and it turned out PERFECT. The chickens love it!

Here is an image of what it looks like fermenting feed:

Today I started 3 new batches of fermented feed =)

I may need to scoop off the top of all three and start a fourth. My fermented feed is actually a mix of 4 different feeds. I have all flock crumbles, layer pellets, wild bird seed, and a few rabbit pellets that were left over from when my Isabella died =/, I also have a powder vitamin formula you see on the window I sometimes add in!

If you have children, and especially if you have multiple feeds like me than they will LOVE making this stuff!

A Horse of a day


While we had a heck of a day the other day. My husband is back on night shift, and since I'm home I usually try to adjust to his sleep schedule. We got up late the other day then got ready to go get some Peat Humus for our garden beds.

As soon as we reached the street we saw two horses leads on in the middle of the road, traffic backed up on both sides. Me being me I jump out to get them, and hope they are friendly enough that I can catch them. I do, call our county and they ask us to keep them in our backyard til they can reach the horse ranch who we all assume is where they came from... they also specify even if they are the horse ranches I can't turn them over to anyone without their permission!

That night we reach the ranch, they aren't theirs. 2 ladies from the ranch do come to look them over and bring hay for them though, sweet ladies! They can't stay at the horse ranch due to coggins, a deadly disease in horses that these horses COULD have. Later after they leave and when its dark outside we get someone knocking on our backdoor; for reference we have a 6 foot privacy fence all the way around our backyard and a padlock on our gate! It is this man that looks wild saying these are his horses. I ask if he has paperwork or coggins on them and he says no, then I tell him that the county will have to give me permission to hand them over, and I have my husband drive him home since he walked here (and so we know where he lives). I gave him the number for the county and told him when they open.

The next day at 8 I call the county. Due to his lack of proof of ownership they tell me they will send out an officer to talk to him and decide if they want to turn them over. I drive to his house to let him know what they said and when they said they would be here. They are late so I call them again and they come about an hour late, talk to us, see the horses than leave to talk to him... telling us we would more than likely have to keep them another night because the horse guy isn't working that day and he has no proof of ownership.

The guy shows up right after animal control leaves for his horses. I tell him they are on their way to talk to him and he calls me a liar than says I'm a horse thief, goes to leave and threatens us... this is a guy that just broke into my backyard the night before and is known around the neighborhood to shoot off guns!

Animal control arrives as he is walking away and he goes up to them and says we are stealing his horses etc. They try to talk some sense in to him, doesn't work! They get on the phone and whoever they talk to tells them to let him take the horses...despite him having NO proof of ownership! These horses also had no vet care in years and were both under weight and had no coggins tests!

I've called the county police twice, the first officer we got was just a jerk. He said the guy did nothing wrong when he jumped my back fence and that if I didn't want people doing that I should have no trespassing signs! He also refused to press charges against the guy from the horse farm who DOES have no trespassing signs, and the guy was in their barn and never knocked on their front door!

The second cop was nicer, and he felt bad since I started crying because I'm really upset that I can't take my dogs outside at night in my fenced in backyard and feel safe with that lunatic around now! He couldn't do anything but was mad about the first cops behavior and told me if the guy is near my house just call him!

Anyway, one heck of a 24 hours! For that day we couldn't let our dogs in our backyard for fear of the horses.. and I had one of them try to run me down =/! The last part of this saga happened yesterday and we just cleaned up the MANY piles of poop an hour ago! Makes good compost!

I can't believe anyone in their right mind would say I'm trying to steal horses when I called animal control, the sheriff, the horse ranch, and I have LESS THAN 1/3 of an acre fenced in! One of my plants is like 1/2 the size it was because of their grazing and my yard had enough poop to fill a wheelbarrow after just 24 hours!

At least my compost pile and red wriggler worms will enjoy the by product:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

My Cheap Chicken Tractor


So, this is not going to be a how to post to explain how I did this because I didn't. I intended too, but hubby took over. If I did it it would be prettier but he made it and its 100% functional so that is good enough! In the future I think we should work as a team more on these projects though....

Anyway here it is:

Now this is NOT predator proof, but where we live there are NO predators other than my dog, and he recognizes that its a Shadow Free Zone! This is also NOT perfect... You can see gaps in it, but we will just say that is for added ventilization ;) If it proves to be an issue I can always put a board in back to seal it up around the top!!

How did we build this for under $25? Easy
Cull lumber (for frame) 4 for $2
Clearance Chicken Wire 2 rolls for $8
Wood for coop leftover from other projects (and we deconstructed the rabbit house for wood since my beloved bella passed away in December)
Hinge $2
Tires $10

The coop is probably less than 20 lbs, which if you have predators in your area could be a problem, but if your like me and don't than its awesome because even a child could move them around!

This tractor is SMALL! I wouldn't keep more than 2 birds in it, 3 bantams would be possible but I wouldn't do it because I like mine to have more room. 

This tractor is ideal for:
1. Chicks
2. Broody Hen
3. Mama Hen with Chicks
4. Sick Birds
5. A couple bantams
The black and white chicken shown is a hamburg, she is of laying age which means she shouldn't get bigger, this run is okay for a couple birds around her size full grown as a permanent housing option!

Since the run part is fairly small I expect to move this every day or every other day. 

Snap Grocery Haul Week 2


So this grocery haul was small! Last time I got extra's, this time I just got some real basic items.

Above is part of my haul (the baked beans and apples aren't part of this weeks though). My whole haul was only 14 items and consists of 4 1/2 gallons of milk currently 3/$5 making them cheaper than buying a whole gallon. A few organic bananas, 2 heads of lettuce (romaine and leafy green), 2 things of raspberries, a thing of blueberries, salad shrimp, a $1 small pack of baby ruths, and some cupcake wine for Valentine's Day. Without tax my total is 33.20, without the wine (which we reserve for special occasions) it would have been just $24.20!

In one of my past blog posts I discussed the price of bagged lettuce versus loose. Let me just say, loose wins hands down! I almost picked up some bagged lettuce this trip on clearance for $1.59. My lettuce costs just $1.01 and $1.27, and when I shred it produces MUCH more than that bag full! Another bonus to it being whole is that it can be used easier on sandwiches or even as "bread".

I know many of you are thinking, but you didn't get enough food to last you a week! When I pair the milk with the cereal I bought last week (and still have), use the lettuce for salads (along with the shrimp, some boiled eggs, and grape tomatoes from last week), then I have breakfast and dinner for the week without even considering any other foods I still have from last week or just sitting in my cupboards. Given I only should consume 1200 calories per day doing breakfast, snack, than dinner will probably reach my caloric intake goal... and since my snacks are fruit its also healthy!

Starting tomorrow I'm going to try to remember to track my food intake!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Dream


I have a confession to make: I have been pretty depressed lately. The picture above pretty much explains my outlook the last few weeks, maybe even months.

I graduated with my associates two months ago. While that is great news, the not so great news is I don't know what I want to do with my life. I'm 21, and I don't know if I want to continue with my major, or switch. I'm not sure what career I want... I know I want to be a mother, and I want to have a farm, these are two things I've always known.

While the picture above may look really bleak and depressing, every cloud has a silver lining. I don't think it necessarily makes me weak to say I struggle sometimes, it makes me human!

Since I graduated I've been thinking about what I want to do, and where I want to be. To be honest, I haven't figured much out career wise. I figured out quiet a bit life wise though. I'm a simple girl, not a simpleton, but most the things I want are very 1940 isk.

My dream is simple. I want to sell our current house, and buy a place in the country on around 10 acres. I want 2 horses so my husband and I can go riding together. I want pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits, etc so we can "grow" our own food and know where it comes from and that it has a good life! I want to grow our own fruits and vegetables so we know where they come from and that they are organic. I want to connect with the earth, and the animals, to live outside of the city, where all you see is nature! In addition, I want a place that is CHEAPER!

A big part of my dream is self sufficiency. I don't know what I want to do for work, and I'd prefer to not HAVE to work, whether I chose to or not. The other day it came to me that we are all a few jobless months away from losing EVERYTHING! I want to lower our monthly expenses and have a house we can pay for by time we turn 30.

I've been spending a lot of time looking up properties. The ones in our budget are usually in the middle of nowhere which means no jobs which means no way will that work for us! I have found a couple that could work, but we have to find work before we can move not to mention listing and selling our house (or getting owner financing on the next house, and making sure we could carry both notes until our house sold).

I'm really hoping that soon we will be somewhere else though. I would prefer it not be in our current state but as long as I'm in the country I won't mind. I love the open space, the calm, it's almost indescribable but its heaven to me!

Cleaning out my fridge!


I decided to clean out my fridge today because it was LONG overdue...It was pretty gross to be perfectly honest, hence the lack of images. Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't full of rotten foods and questionable moldy leftovers! My fridge just had some spots where something dripped (berry juice) and liquified AND crumbs, EWW!

Although I cleaned my fridge so it would be, well, clean; that wasn't my only motivation! Since I'm doing the SNAP challenge my grocery budget is only $200 this month. We do have quiet a bit of food waste, and I really can't afford that this month... especially since some of my grocery choices turned out to be not so tasty!

I have a bunch of groceries bought 2 weeks ago that need eaten asap. It is almost all fruits and veggies, so you know what I'm going to do? JUICE!
I have a cantelope, carrots, celery, peppers, spinach, and pomegranate that are about to turn, so juicing is perfect. It will give me a nutrient rich drink and save all the food from going to either the chickens or the compost pile!

HERE is a not great image of my cleaned out fridge. I'm trying to figure out the best way to organize my fresh foods so I see them and make sure to eat them before they turn! This time I put most on the top shelf, then all salads are lined up on the 2nd, and the drawers at the bottom are full!

Snap challenge: Where I'm at so far


It is 4 days in to the SNAP challenge and I SUCK! I didn't really consider the month when I decided to do the challenge THIS month. I already cheated on super bowl, and I haven't been writing down what foods I have been eating.

I know there will be a two day exception coming up on Valentine's day weekend, because my husband's job is requiring him to go on a business trip that I'm also "invited" to attend.

I have to say this is harder than I thought. I can do grocery shopping under $200 a month, but that isn't taking in to account when we go out to eat, nor would I normally track WHAT I eat. I'm going to continue and I'll try to start tracking my food so I can give ya'll a week 2,3, and 4 food diary, nutrition, along with my grocery hauls!