Pests

Trying to plants peas in my (newly upgraded raised bed) garden, I was unrelentlessly attacked by black flies. They are terrible, mean, bitey things.

Black flies are particularly bad this year. I’ve been coating myself in bug spray to no avail.

Also, the mosquitoes are plentiful. In fact, I just found a mosquito *inside* my shirt. Jerk. (This Avon bug repellent does work against black flies, mosquitoes and ticks).

Wasps. A lot of wasps. Unfortunately, I am allergic to stinging insects so I can’t be the one clearing out nests.

AND… tent caterpillars. That’s right. These buggers are back.

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While these little crawlies are mostly harmless, and they do make a tasty snack for birds, they will contribute to diseases in the tree they are taking residence in. If you care about that tree (fruit trees, ornamentals that you paid big bucks for, etc.) then removing them is important.

Using gloved hands, pull the caterpillars and their webs out of the tree (if you can reach it!). Bag and then double bag for the trash, OR throw the nest on a fire to kill them. Then spray the affected tree with insecticidal soap.

Insecticidal soap.

Garden Safe organic brand is good. You can also make your own.

2% Dr. Bronner’s pure liquid castile soap

98% water

Mix around 1 tablespoon of liquid castile soap to 1 quart of water, or 4 tablespoons of soap to 1 gallon of water. DO NOT USE DISH SOAP!

Other, optional additions:

  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to help with adhesion to the plant; in hot sun, this might contribute to leaf burn, so use cautiously
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar if the plant has powdery mildew issues
  • to prevent leaf chompy bugs, finely diced garlic clove

A Dollar and a Dream – of Eggs!

Our daughter wanted to color easter eggs. The dollar store had some egg coloring kits, so I picked up a two.

We didn’t need to buy eggs. We literally have so many eggs…. we composted at least 3 dozen, sold another 7 and there are still 2 in the fridge. And another dozen probably in the coop. Girls are super laying like crazy.

(14 hens : 6 Rhode Island Red, 4 Barred Rock, 4 Golden Laced Wyandotte)

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And, we spent an evening of fun, coloring eggs!

I blow out my eggs, rather than boiling them. 1. It’s super easy, 2. You can keep the eggs for years!

To blow out eggs, take a raw egg and puncture both ends. I used a screw to do these. I do a “larger” end and a “smaller” end. Then I blow the egg out by putting the smaller end against my lips and blowing the yolk and egg white through the larger end. Then, rinse the eggs, running the water through the egg.

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The dye we used were the little dissolvable pellets. One came with cute little cups, and the other kit came with gold paint. They actually colored the brown eggs well!

 

Each egg needed some individual attention, to really get the right color. It took some time! But I think the result was a beautiful basket of colorful eggs. OK, so it cost me $2.

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Maple Sugaring

Tree tapping day!

It is currently 40° outside, despite the remaining foot + of snow on the ground. We thought today would be a good today to tap the maple trees. We are starting MICRO. We have three spiles and three buckets, and even though we id’d the maples last summer and made a map, that map is now gone, so we are *hoping* the trees we tapped are actually maples.

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Gotta admit… ZERO clue what we are doing. I’m usually confident in homesteading adventures, but maple sugaring is so very new to me, I have never done it, and I have no background knowledge whatsoever.

Wish us luck!

 

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Add Herbs Until It Looks Tasty

Another forecasted snow fall. Blizzard, they say, this time. 18″ to 2 feet? Ugh. At least it might help resolve our drought issues.

Sunday evenings are usually getting ready for the week, chores and roast chicken. Then, I use the chicken carcass to make bone broth for recipes during the week.

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Wash, pat dry, place pats of butter on top, sprinkle with poultry seasoning, bake at 350° until done. 

I also mix my own poultry seasoning. I don’t measure, I just add herbs until it looks tasty. I’m so precise. :/

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sea salt, black pepper, rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram, and nutmeg

 

New Rabbit

Another snow fall. 12″ this time.

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I spent the day in the kitchen and clearing snow. For lunch, I made Moroccan carrot lentil swiss chard soup. I also made kale chips with the dehydrator, but it was my first attempt and I need to tweak the recipe.

The big adventures this week is our new rabbit. We saw that one of our local farms was selling some rabbits (for pets only – some farms do sell rabbits for meat) and this cutie just had to be ours. So we are learning how to be bunny parents. He’s currently 9 weeks old, he’s a Satin cross (though not sure what with). He loves greens and scares our kitten.

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Speaking of cats, (now 2 years old) escaped the house and run into the snow. Then he panicked, climbed a tree and started to howl until I rescued him.

While that was happening, we were trying to convince him to come back in using some treats. Well, the elder feline ate some of those treats and they make him sick (every time – we just don’t feed them to him but he snuck them). So, of course he vomits. I heated up some bone broth for him and he’s trying to soothe his kitty tummy with it now.

The chickens are just cranky because they couldn’t leave the coop today.

How To Make Bone Broth

I’ve been making bone broth. I used to think that Paleo, Gluten Free and similar diets were just a fad. Turns out, I was way wrong! These diets are specifically targeted for people that have specific medical issues. Allergies to gluten, Celiac’s, and auto-immune diseases are all medical reasons to go Paleo.

This is all very new to me, but basically I began showing symptoms of hypothyroid disease. Many people in my circle also have reasons to do a Gluten Free diet, and over the past year, the need for this switch has started to become more apparent.

I’d like to point out that the Paleo diet is useful for weight loss, but for me personally, weight loss was not the issue. For me it is addressing the inflammation, allergic reactions, fatigue and other auto immune related problems. I’m in the middle of an allergy complication right now, so I was extra motivated to make some healing foods.

Essentially, grains are hard to digest, offer very little in nutritional value, and can contribute to inflammation. The Paleo diet limits food options, and cuts out grains completely. In fact, it’s mostly just vegetables and meat (so not suitable for vegetarians/vegans). Add a teeny tiny bit of fruit to that, and that’s basically what you get to choose.

BONE BROTH is one of the good choices. I roast a chicken nearly every week (NOT one of my flock – we purchase our eating chickens), and making the chicken bone broth from the weekly chicken has been super easy. This week, I also picked up some beef bones to make beef bone broth. The high collagen content is supposedly great stuffs.

How to make bone broth

ROAST the meat! It is critical that the meat is roasted, in an oven and fully cooked before simmering.

Adding apple cider vinegar will help leach the nutrients from the bones. (I have actually added vinegar to my stocks pretty much my whole life, though I didn’t know why.)

Other than whatever spices were added during roasting, do not add any salt to the bone broth.

Add bones to a crock pot and cover with water. Simmer for a seriously long time. The chicken I left overnight (around 12 hours). The beef simmered in the crock pot for 48 hours.

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Strain out all the bones. The chicken meat leftovers I saved for my elder cat, who really benefits from a chicken diet. The beef bits I saved for a meal; maybe a hash or tacos?

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Store the bone broth in the refrigerator. It should gel, and a layer of fat will congeal on the top.

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Also, we got another snow storm, so my blog writing was interrupted with having to replace a shear pin on our snow blower so my  husband could clear the driveway of 4″ of fresh, heavy, wet snow.

Life on our Homestead in NH.

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Heavy, Wet Snowfall

One thing that you are certain to deal with in New England is snow. Last night, we had a heavy, wet snowfall.

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So, early this morning, I’m trying to find a way to clear the driveway (neighbor friend with his tractor plow to the rescue!), clear a path to the chicken coop, and take care of the girls.

They were snowed in, out of food, out of water, out of treats and encountering scary white stuff. They were a tad cranky. So I dug them out, put straw down in their pen, filled their food, gave them fresh water, and a treat of warm oatmeal and melon. They are slightly less cranky now.

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