Tag Archives: homesteading

Revisiting – Raising your own meat, Oathkeepers

oathkeepers-homesteadmeat.pdf (94 downloads)
I love that my children can stand up in front of a group and share everything that has to with their homestead animals and the meat that comes along with it. Shelby and Elwyn had a GREAT presentation for the Oathkeepers.  (August 2017)
by Shelby Fullmer – August 12, 2017

Rabbits

Food – Alfalfa pellets, basic greens like kale, spinach, chard, leaf lettuce (NOT iceberg, cabbage or broccoli), alfalfa, timothy, and bermuda hays, carrots, even small quantities of raspberries, tomatoes and strawberries.  

Shelter – Rabbit hutches or colony living with buried wire with shade/cover to protect from weather.

 

Gestation period – 28 days – up to 14 babies

Male rabbits go sterile in severe heat and all rabbits need a cooling system in Arizona in the summer time. Frozen water bottles, fans, misting systems, in a cooler shelter, etc. are all good ways to keep your rabbits cool.

Uses of Rabbits – Meat, bones for broth, leather, fur, manure

A few of the meat breeds of rabbits for meat, Rex, New Zealand, Californians, American Chinchilla, Silver Foxes, Flemish Giants

Website with more information on breeds – http://theselfsufficientliving.com/best-meat-rabbit-breeds/

 

Chickens

Dual Purpose Chickens are the best egg laying hens combined with the best meat chickens. The truth of the matter is that there are plenty of chicken breeds that are good for both purposes.  Includes Rhone Island Reds, wynnedottes, barred rocks, orphingtons, Jersey Giants – all full sized chickens. For smaller meat and egg production Bantams or (mini chickens) lay smaller eggs and are about half the meat size of a regular chicken.  

Food – Layer, seed, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs, produce/greens, kitchen scraps (no meat)

Shelter – Coop to protect, layer boxes with hay, ground shavings/hay

Incubation times – Bantam 19-21 days, Full sized chickens – 20-22 days

Uses of chickens – Meat, bones for broth, feathers, fertilizer, insect control, garden prepping.

Website with more information on breedshttps://www.backyardchickencoops.com.au/dual-purpose-chicken-breeds

Waterfowl

Birds including ducks and geese

Heavy and medium weight ducks typically are raised for meat production. The main breeds are the Pekin and the Muscovy. Around 90 percent of the duck meat produced in the United States is from the Pekin. Commercial producers are able to obtain a duck weighing 7 to 8 pounds in seven weeks.

Food – Layer chow, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs, produce/greens.  

Shelter – Coop to protect, layer boxes with hay, ground shavings/hay, swimming pool/pond

Incubation times – 28 days

Uses of waterfowl – Meat, bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

More information on raising waterfowl – http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/raising-ducks-geese/ducks-and-geese-zm0z14fmzchr

Quail

Fast growing animals for meat and eggs. In 8 weeks they are full grown and laying eggs between 8-10 weeks old.

Food – game bird chow, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs like mealworms, produce/greens, excess eggs – Quail need at least a 25% protein to lay.  

Shelter – Smaller rabbit hutches work great for quail.  Or larger enclosed coops

Incubation times – 16-17 days

Uses of quail – Meat (mainly breast meat), bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

Information on Coturnix quail – https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/quail/

 

Game Birds – Chukars (Partridges) and Pheasants

Food – gamebird feed and cracked corn in the winter for all your birds. You can also give them treats like fruit, veggies, mealworms, peanuts, and wild bird seed.

Shelter – Large enclosed pens with coop.

Incubation times – Chukar – 23 days, ring necked pheasants – 24-25

Uses – Meat, bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

More information on Game Birds – https://wgfd.wyo.gov/WGFD/media/content/PDF/Habitat/Extension%20Bulletins/B33-Raising-Pheasants-or-Other-Game-Birds.pdf

Revisit – Oathkeepers – How to use medicinal herbs

Oathkeepers - Medicinal Herbs (107 downloads)

http://www.yourbodycanheal.com/medicinal-herbs.html

How to Use Medicinal Herbs

So you’ve decided you want to incorporate herbal remedies into your health regimen. Congratulations! You’re embarking on a journey that will help your body heal itself from the inside out in a way that is much more natural, safe and gentle than conventional medicine.

It’s also a journey that can be a little confusing. There are many different types of herbal remedies out there. Sometimes you will find the same herb sold in many different preparations. What do all those different terms mean? Here’s a rundown of some of the most common ways medicinal herbs are sold and used.

Tablets and Capsules: Like conventional drugs, herbs are often packaged and sold in tablet and capsule form. Tablets involve compressing an herb into a round or cylindrical shape, usually with some sort of binder, colorant, flavorings and coating that prevents them from breaking down in the body too quickly. Capsules are usually made of gelatin and the herb is placed inside the shell. Other ingredients can also be mixed in to make the herb taste better or to prevent it from being digested too quickly. Vegetarians can find capsules made of vegetable cellulose, but check the label to make sure you know you’re not getting any animal products.

Extracts: Herbal extracts may be sold as tablets, capsules orliquid herbal extracts; the herbs contained in an extract are far more concentrated than those in a standard pill. Extracts are made by soaking the herbs in alcohol or water (or a combination) and filtering and drying the herb at low heat. Much like culinary herbs become stronger when dried, herbal extracts are highly concentrated remedies, allowing you to take many fewer pills to get a large dose. Continue reading Revisit – Oathkeepers – How to use medicinal herbs

Garden & Happy – 8 Best Egg-laying Chickens

My friends over at Garden and Happy posted a GREAT article on the best laying Chicken breeds.  Here is the article (and a link to their site: https://gardenandhappy.com/best-egg-laying-chickens/)  And as most of my readers know…. I love me some chickens! I mean where else can you get fresh eggs to feed my crew??? I did take the photos mostly out…. They were having issues loading them on my server. 

There are few things better than having fresh eggs at hand for creating all kinds of mouthwatering dishes. Thanks to a resurgence in self-sufficiency, people around the world are enjoying fresh eggs from their own chickens instead of running to the grocery store to get them. Take note, however, that some chickens are better than other varieties when it comes to getting quality eggs. Read this guide to find the best egg-laying chickens for your needs, before you get your coop started.

1. Rhode Island Red

Photo credit: Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/en/users/Capri23auto-1767157/

The Rhode Island Red chicken is a hardy and adaptable variety, ideal for first-time farmers. Developed in—you guessed it—Rhode Island in the mid 1800s, these chooks became so popular that they ended up as RI’s state bird!

This breed adapts well to both hot and cold climates, and isn’t sensitive to rain or snow. In fact, they maintain their happy-go-lucky demeanor regardless of weather, and are friendly, pleasant hens to have around.

Rhode Island Reds have a deep red to almost brown colour, and males have a ruby red plume and facial skin layer. This chicken breed prefers to socialize with others of their own breed, so they’re not great for mixed flocks.

These hens adapt well to either being free ranged or cooped, though they enjoy roaming time outdoors. In terms of laying capability, you’ll get an annual egg count of around 260, medium-sized brown eggs per bird.

2. White Leghorns

The White Leghorn chicken variety is one of the most prolific egg layers out there. They have an early maturity rate at about 16 weeks old, so they can start laying eggs while still quite young. This makes them a very popular breed for egg lovers.

Their annual laying count falls in the 280-300 range! This is in the highest egg-laying bracket, so if you really like omelettes, put this breed at the top of your list.

This chicken variety lays large, white eggs, which can often have double yolks. They’re beautiful birds, with tall, slender statures and white plumage, upright tail feathers, and long legs. In terms of temperament, they’re known to be skittish and will often take flight if provoked. As such, they’re better suited to more experienced farmers who have the proper equipment to suit their needs.

3. Golden Comet

Golden Comet chickens are a cross between Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns. Amazingly, they’ve inherited the best traits from both breeds. Plump and stout, these chickens have dark, golden feathers, and occasional white lacing on their necks and tails.

These gorgeous birds have more than just their looks going for them. Golden Comets are well known—and preferred—for their easygoing, calm demeanor. This breed’s nature makes them one of the best egg-laying chickens for small areas. They’re also ideal as household pets… though you might want to invest in some chicken diapers if you let them live indoors.

Golden Comets are naturally and mothering, and are as nurturing with their own chicks as they are with human children. They’re affectionate and gentle, and if you choose to breed yours, you can rest assured they’ll mother their offspring well. This breed is also friendly with different chicken breeds, so they’re ideal for mixed flocks.

Comets have an annual egg count of between 275 and 330 large, brown eggs. As such, they’re preferred by those who sell their eggs at farmers’ markets.

4. Barred Plymouth Rock

Barred Plymouth Rock chickens are on the larger side, and this helps them to be highly resistant to cold temperatures. They have a round, robust body size and are covered with white and black speckled features on top of a fluffy gray undercoat. These layers make them perfect for cold climates like the northern USA and Canada, since they can endure snowy weather well.

This breed has a high annual egg-laying rate, at approximately 280 large, peach-colored eggs at a constant, predictable rate. They’re also known to be quite calm and content in nature. Due to this pleasant demeanor, they get along well with other animals, whether livestock or household pets.

5. Golden Laced Wyandottes

Golden-Laced Wyandotte chickens are known for their curious temperament. They love to forage, which makes them a perfect breed if you’re looking for chickens that will be able to fend for themselves. Their predictable, highly energetic nature makes Wyandottes a great breed choice if you want to raise free-range birds.

By having a chicken breed that forages well, you’ll be able to lower your chicken feed expenses exponentially. Your hens can hunt for their own food outside, and are great for clearing “pest” insects like slugs and caterpillars from your vegetable garden.

Golden Laced Wyandottes have beautiful, black-tipped, dark brown feathers. Expect around 200 small, white eggs from your hens every year.

6. Buff Orpington

These golden girls are sure to be a hoot in your flock. They’re a top breed to consider if you’re planning to raise chickens in pens. Their fluffy feather layers makes them cold hardy, but they don’t handle heat well.

Buff Orpington chickens are medium-sized birds with gold-yellow feathers. They can be expected to lay around 200 small, light brown eggs every year. They’re very tame in nature when alone, and social in groups.

Their friendly attitude makes them an ideal chicken breed for suburban farmers and garden growers who have limited space, or those who choose to raise their birds in coops. These big, friendly birds are also incredibly smart. Some farmers have even trained their Buff Orpingtons to obey commands!

7. Ameraucana

These hens are also called “Easter Eggers”, or “Easter Egg chickens”. They produce a large amount of eggs annually, with shell hues in all shades of pink, blue, and green. They were bred in the United States in the 1970s, derived from Chilean Araucana hens.

Ameraucanas are known for their gorgeous appearance. These beauties are medium brown with white, yellow, and deep brown speckles, and golden beaks. Their appearance ensures that you that you’ll never tire of watching these supermodels outside your window. They have an odd body shape with a stout beak, slanted lower tail feathers, long neck, and stout head.

Their yearly egg rate is about 260, and the hens are known to quite broody. This means that they’re overly protective of their fertile eggs, especially around fellow hens. Other than their motherly attitude, they are generally well behaved.

8. Andalusian

Andalusians are known for their small stature, and are the opposite of Barred Plymouths in every way. They have a high heat tolerance, and stunning blue-black feathers. They lay approximately 170 large, white eggs annually, which is on the lower end of the laying scale. That said, they have the highest laying rate among heat-tolerant varieties.

Indigenous to southwestern Spain, Andalusian chickens thrive best in hot climates. This makes them ideal for egg lovers in the southern USA, and warmer European regions. They’re known to jump, run, and take flight, but are typically non-aggressive in nature.

This is a rare variety that may be a bit more difficult to find. It is, however, gaining in popularity thanks to chicken hobbyists.

Are You Ready to Raise Backyard Chickens?

Thanks to recent bylaw changes, many people in suburban areas have permission to raise chickens in their backyards. These permissions are limited so specific areas, and have to adhere to certain requirements. If you’ve been toying with the idea of raising your own hens, find out whether you’re permitted to do so.

The most important thing to mention in this article, however, is to be make sure that you are 100% ready to raise hens before even looking at buying or building a chicken coop.

First, make sure that you have adequate space on your property. Chickens need enough room to spread their wings and get their recommended amount of exercise. You need to meet your area’s laws and safety standards for a chicken coop and pen. These ensure that your chickens will be safe from predators and inclement weather.

Be careful if you live in an area where wildlife runs rampant. It might not be the best thing to add chickens to the mix, as you may put their lives at risk. In addition, chickens require food and water that might not be readily available at a local store.

A Final Note:

The most important thing to remember is that chickens are living beings that need proper care. They need love, attention, and affection just like any other animal, and can’t just be tossed in a pen and neglected. You have to ensure that you have the time and energy to interact with them and check them regularly for any health issues.

Chickens are a lot of fun to raise, but they’re also a big responsibility. If you’re dedicated and willing to put in the time and effort, then go right ahead. Set up a coop, get yourself a couple of hens, and experience the joy of farm-fresh eggs every day

2017 Kunekunes – favorite pigs

Have you gotten a chance to see our baby “War Pigs”? If you were at the Heights church for the Christmas Eve services, you got a chance to see these little cuties.  Shelby and I (Kris) decided to bring these little guys to share although because they were only 3 days old, no one could pet them. 

Kunekunes are an AMAZING breed of pigs that we have had on our homestead for over 4 years now. (We actually just sold off all of our yorkshire meat pigs last month and only have our kunes again. ) We use them often when people request us to come and share our animals as part of a “petting zoo program.” Mama Pumpkin is one of our most requested animals to share. 

Our family jokes that they are called “War Pigs” because they were (extra buffed out via CGI) in the war scene for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. See the clip below that we found on youtube.

 

Kunes are a very docile and gentle pig, making them a great addition to a homestead. They are more like having big hairy dogs than having pigs.

Originally from New Zealand, the pigs have made a comeback here in the US as well as the UK. Their name means “fat and round” in the Maori language. They come in a variety of colors including black and white, brown and white, solid ginger, solid cream/fawn, solid brown, solid black, and ginger and black. 

These hairy pigs can reach 300 pounds or more however, making them the largest of the miniature breeds or the smallest of the meat breeds. They are a pasture pig that eats primarily grasses and fresh fruits and veggies. We do not feed our kunes any commercial pig feeds and we have rescued a few of our kunes who were being fed dog food. Not a great choice for these gentle giants.  Being that they are pasture pigs, ours like to graze in the same field as our horses. And they love tomatoes, strawberries and other fresh goodies. 

We have 3 sows and 2 boars plus our little squishies that were born on  12/20/2017. Kunes are pregnant for 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days just like other pigs. (So Mama Pumpkin got pregnant approximately August 27th of this year.) 

Our kids raise them as part of a heritage pig breeding program and the sales of these piglets help fund some of their other 4-H and FFA projects. 

We have 6 males that will be for sale in February this year for $200 each. Please let us know if you are interested.  We can either keep them intact or castrate them depending on your needs. 

 

 

 

Raising your own meat – Oathkeepers Preparedness Class,

[sdm_download id=”4910″ fancy=”0″ new_window=”1″ color=”green”]
I love that my children can stand up in front of a group and share everything that has to with their homestead animals and the meat that comes along with it. Shelby and Elwyn had a GREAT presentation for the Oathkeepers. 
by Shelby Fullmer – August 12, 2017

Rabbits

Food – Alfalfa pellets, basic greens like kale, spinach, chard, leaf lettuce (NOT iceberg, cabbage or broccoli), alfalfa, timothy, and bermuda hays, carrots, even small quantities of raspberries, tomatoes and strawberries.  

Shelter – Rabbit hutches or colony living with buried wire with shade/cover to protect from weather.

 

Gestation period – 28 days – up to 14 babies

Male rabbits go sterile in severe heat and all rabbits need a cooling system in Arizona in the summer time. Frozen water bottles, fans, misting systems, in a cooler shelter, etc. are all good ways to keep your rabbits cool.

Uses of Rabbits – Meat, bones for broth, leather, fur, manure

A few of the meat breeds of rabbits for meat, Rex, New Zealand, Californians, American Chinchilla, Silver Foxes, Flemish Giants

Website with more information on breeds – http://theselfsufficientliving.com/best-meat-rabbit-breeds/

 

Chickens

Dual Purpose Chickens are the best egg laying hens combined with the best meat chickens. The truth of the matter is that there are plenty of chicken breeds that are good for both purposes.  Includes Rhone Island Reds, wynnedottes, barred rocks, orphingtons, Jersey Giants – all full sized chickens. For smaller meat and egg production Bantams or (mini chickens) lay smaller eggs and are about half the meat size of a regular chicken.  

Food – Layer, seed, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs, produce/greens, kitchen scraps (no meat)

Shelter – Coop to protect, layer boxes with hay, ground shavings/hay

Incubation times – Bantam 19-21 days, Full sized chickens – 20-22 days

Uses of chickens – Meat, bones for broth, feathers, fertilizer, insect control, garden prepping.

Website with more information on breedshttps://www.backyardchickencoops.com.au/dual-purpose-chicken-breeds

Waterfowl

Birds including ducks and geese

Heavy and medium weight ducks typically are raised for meat production. The main breeds are the Pekin and the Muscovy. Around 90 percent of the duck meat produced in the United States is from the Pekin. Commercial producers are able to obtain a duck weighing 7 to 8 pounds in seven weeks.

Food – Layer chow, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs, produce/greens.  

Shelter – Coop to protect, layer boxes with hay, ground shavings/hay, swimming pool/pond

Incubation times – 28 days

Uses of waterfowl – Meat, bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

More information on raising waterfowl – http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/raising-ducks-geese/ducks-and-geese-zm0z14fmzchr

Quail

Fast growing animals for meat and eggs. In 8 weeks they are full grown and laying eggs between 8-10 weeks old.

Food – game bird chow, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs like mealworms, produce/greens, excess eggs – Quail need at least a 25% protein to lay.  

Shelter – Smaller rabbit hutches work great for quail.  Or larger enclosed coops

Incubation times – 16-17 days

Uses of quail – Meat (mainly breast meat), bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

Information on Coturnix quail – https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/quail/

 

Game Birds – Chukars (Partridges) and Pheasants

Food – gamebird feed and cracked corn in the winter for all your birds. You can also give them treats like fruit, veggies, mealworms, peanuts, and wild bird seed.

Shelter – Large enclosed pens with coop.

Incubation times – Chukar – 23 days, ring necked pheasants – 24-25

Uses – Meat, bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

More information on Game Birds – https://wgfd.wyo.gov/WGFD/media/content/PDF/Habitat/Extension%20Bulletins/B33-Raising-Pheasants-or-Other-Game-Birds.pdf

For Sale – Declan, a Nubian Purebred Registered Buck

img_20160919_112535439 img_20160919_112546301We are rearranging our herd again and adding new bloodlines so our beloved Declan gets to find a new herd of gorgeous girls to breed with.

He is a 1-1/2 year old, proven and registered purebred moonspotted Nubian Buck. He is from a closed clean herd and has given us many, many beautiful babies last season and will again this season. (several of our girls have been bred with him this season already).

He does throw spotted babies and we are keeping both a male and a female off of him for our own herd.

We raise Nubian goats, kunekune pigs, yorkshire meat pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, heritage breed turkeys, coturnix quail and rabbits. Visit our homepage at www.krisandlarry.com.

Preparedness Soap Making Class

[sdm_download id=”4395″ fancy=”0″ new_window=”1″]

There are many different ways to create soap. There are three basic soap making methods; the hot process, the cold process, and melt and pour. 

This Basic Milk Soap is a simple “Cold Process” method of milk soap.  If you are using your own recipe and want to test the lye content to make sure that the rations are correct, run it through this online lye calculator: https://www.thesage.com/calcs/LyeCalc.html

Basic Milk Soap Recipe

We use the recipe that is on this site: https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/how-to-make-soap-with-milk/

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces milk (try 9 oz if you want your soap to set up faster, or if using silicone molds)
  • 3 ounces lye (sodium hydroxide)
  • 22 ounces olive oil
  • 8 ounces coconut oil
  • 1 ounce castor oil
  • For scented, use essential oils and dried plants from my own garden.

You will also need bowls and other tools that you only use for soap making. (Do NOT use your good cooking tools!) We picked up items from both the dollar stores and yard sales)

Directions:

  1. Weigh out all of your ingredients in separate containers. (Make sure that you wear gloves and safety goggles when measuring out your lye.)
  2. Pour the lye into your milk, just a sprinkle at a time. Add a splash of water to the milk if completely solid to start the reaction of lye and the milk. Add the lye slowly, stirring constantly. It will take several minutes to do this – don’t rush this part. Lye gets very hot during the reaction, so do not be alarmed.  Keep stirring until all of the lye is dissolved. The milk might turn a bright yellow and smell a little weird. If it gets orange, it is scorched and will make the soap smell scorched at the end result. Colors cream, gold and yellow are all perfectly OK. We use a stainless steel cooking pot that we place in a plastic wash base with ice to keep the temperature down (and that keeps the color of the soap more of a cream color instead of gold)
  3. In a stainless steel, heavy duty plastic, or enamel lined container/pot, combine the olive, coconut, and castor oil. (Remember, all measurements are by weight.) If it’s too solid to combine, briefly melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan until softened or liquefied.
  4. Add your oils into your lye mixture. Begin stirring the oil and lye solution together. You can do this by hand or use a stick blender. Alternate stirring with the motor on and then off. Don’t run the stick blender the entire time or you risk lots of air bubbles and possibly a false trace. It should take maybe four or five minutes until your soap reaches trace. (“Trace” means that soap batter is thick enough to hold an outline, or “tracing” when drizzled across the surface of itself.)
  5. Once trace is reached, you can stir in your extras such as your essential oils, colors, botanicals, etc.
  6. Working quickly, pour the fresh soap batter into your mold.
  7. Place your filled molds in the freezer overnight. (this is optional – however know that if you don’t the color of your soap will be darker and closer to brown. It will be lighter and closer to cream if you do. With milk soap, remember: mold at room temperature = browner soap; mold in freezer = whiter soap It does not affect the actual soap usage.
  8. Unmold your soap and slice into bars. Allow the bars to cure in the open air, on a sheet of wax or parchment paper, for at least four weeks, rotating occasionally. Because of the higher amount of olive oil in this soap recipe, the longer you let it cure, the harder the final bar will be.

 

Why do you have to use Lye in soap? Yes –

No lye . . . No soap!   All REAL soap is made with lye (sodium hydroxide mixed with liquid). Any skin or hair cleansing product made without sodium hydroxide is not soap, it is detergent. 
Once the process of saponification is complete, the lye and oil molecules have combined and chemically changed into soap and glycerin. There is no lye present in the finished bars of soap or shampoo. While all real soap must be made with lye, no lye remains in our finished product after saponification (described below).

 Commercial “soap” bars and handmade soap bars are also made with lye even though the words “sodium hydroxide” or “lye” do not appear on the labels. Does your bar of “soap” contain ingredients such as…

  • saponified oils: oils and butters are mixed with sodium hydroxide and a liquid (usually water).
  • sodium cocoate: the generic name for the mixture of coconut oil with sodium hydroxide (lye).
  • sodium palmate: the generic name for the mixture of palm oil with sodium hydroxide (lye). 
  • sodium palm kernelate: the generic name for the mixture of palm kernel oil with sodium hydroxide (lye). 
  • sodium tallowate: the generic name for the mixture of beef fat (tallow) with sodium hydroxide (lye).
  • sodium olivate: the generic name for the mixture of olive oil with sodium hydroxide (lye). 

 

 

Homemade Laundry Soap

From our family site (www.krisandlarry.com) We have been making our own laundry soap for over 5 years now.

December 28, 2010 – Our first batch is just about used up – 11 weeks later for a family of 7 – not too bad – I will NEVER go back to store bought. I love how my clothes feel and smell and the amount money that we saved!!!

Here are the ingredients and step by step.

Ingredients:

  • 5 gallon bucket (reusable for additional batches) I picked mine up at the Chino Valley Ace Hardware
  • Long handled spoon
  • “cheese” grater that you use for only soap.
  • 1 whole bar of soap (used Ivory- it was really soft and easy to grate) but you can use goats milk soap (plain), dove, felts naptha, etc.
  • 1 cup Washing Soda – NOT BAKING SODA I found this at Chino Valley Ace Hardware (not at Walgreens or Safeway)
  • 1/2 cup Borax – Found this at both Safeway and at Ace Hardware
  • 3 Gallons (48 cups of water) plus 4 additional cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon Essential Oil (OPTIONAL)

Directions:

  1. Boil 4 cups of water
  2. Grate bar of soap and add to boiling water
  3. Stir until dissolved (took about 4 minutes.)
  4. Add 3 Gallons of warm / hot water to your 5 gallon bucket. (3 gallons = 48 Cups)
  5. Add the dissolved soap to the bucket and stir
  6. Add 1 cup of washing soap and stir for 2+ minutes with a long handled spoon until dissolved
  7. Add 1/2  cup borax and stir until dissolved (about 3 minutes)
  8. OPTIONAL: add 1T of essential oil and stir. (I used lavender for our first batch)
  9. Place lid on tight and let it sit overnight. It will be lumpy… Just keep stirring every day!

NOTE: Stir twice a day for the first week after making it and it won’t be lumpy and will look like store bought laundry soap!! 

 

How to Make Lye for Natural Soap Making from Wood Ash

Article from

http://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/make-lye.htm

We show you how to make lye which is perfect for making natural soap including some old, pioneer soap recipes. It isn’t difficult, although if you have access to commercial lye, you may prefer to use that instead. This is because commercial lye will give you consistency in your lye soap recipes. However, if you live in an area where it is difficult to source, and you have the right wood available to you, then you can follow these steps to making your own lye.

You can also make your own lye using slaked or unslaked lime. See recipes for these below.

The problem with making lye from wood ash, although it is a simple process, the end result can be that your lye water is either too strong, or too weak. Either way, it could spoil your batch of homemade soap.

Having said that, none of our ancestors had access to commercial lye and they made soap just fine. We will also give you a couple of tests to do that will take a lot of the guess work out of the process, making sure that your lye is of the right strength.

What is Lye?

Lye is a strong alkali that is used in soap making, among other things. It is also known as caustic soda or sodium hydroxide.

Lye Ingredients

The ingredients for making lye are wood ash and water. Preferably rain water, as it is soft, although tap water will work just as well. The ash should come from hardwoods as soft woods are too resinous to mix with fat. 

 

Wood for Making Lye

Only certain woods are good for homemade lye. You will need to any hardwoods, not softwoods such as Fir or Pine. The following common hardwoods can be used, along with all other hardwoods, Hickory, Sugar Maple, Ash, Beech and Buckeye wood give some of the better results.

  • Applewood
  • Ash
  • Aspen
  • Australian Red Cedar
  • Beech
  • Birch
  • Buckeye
  • Cherry
  • Chestnut
  • Elm
  • Hickory
  • Oak
  • Olive
  • Sugar Maple
  • Walnut

Traditional Method of Making Lye using a Wooden Barrel

Take an old wine barrel and make sure that it is clean. Steaming it will give good results. Elevate it so that you can then place a bucket or similar underneath the leaching hole at the bottom of your barrel to collect the lye water when it is ready to emerge.

Place a bung in any existing opening in the wine barrel, and drill a smaller hole into the barrel that is only 1/8th inch wide. What you are aiming for is a hole wide enough for the water to drip through but small enough for the ashes not to fall out.  Keep this hole closed up with a small bung until later.

Now pack the bottom of the barrel with clean river stones. Make sure that you get a good mix of both large and small stones as this will work as a filtration system. If you don’t have stones, you can also use a thick layer of charcoal instead.

After a good layer of stones you will need to place a generous layer of straw on the top of the stones.  Your straw should take up at least half way up the barrel.

Shovel in your ashes until the barrel is as full as you want it. After that, pour over some hot rain water in small amounts so that the whole contents are wet and soaking but not flooding.  Using hot water is important as the

hot water will draw out more potash from the wood ash than cold water, making your lye stronger.

Traditionally, a little lime was mixed with the ashes to 2 – 5% which then guaranteed that you would have good lye for soap making.

On day 2 you can add more ash and water after allowing the ash from the previous day to settle. 

On day 3, make sure your receptacle is ready under the opening on the barrel, remove the bung and wait for the lye water to slowly trickle out. 

Countryfarm Lifestyles Tips:
If your ashes start floating to the top then you know that you have added too much water.·         Also, adding hot water to your ashes makes your lye stronger than adding just cold water.·         To make your lye potash more like caustic soda you can sprinkle a little quick lime onto your ashes before pouring on the hot water. (Not easy to get in small quantities these days, and treat with caution as it needs to be handled with extreme caution.)

Don’t expect to have a bucketful. You will only be getting a small amount as this should give you the right strength needed to make good natural soap.

At this stage you need to get it to an even strength to use for your soap making. Boil this liquid again until you are able to do the “float test” and get it to work.  See instructions below.

Traditional Equipment used in Making Lye

Picture courtesy of Carla Emery from the Encyclopedia of Country Living

How to Test the Strength of your Lye

To make lye and be successful at soap making your lye has to be at the right strength. Now there are 2 ways in which this can be done, both of which indirectly involve chickens. If you live on a farm and keep chickens, then this test is fine for you. If not, then you can use the second test.

Test 1

This is a simple test. Take a chicken feather and place it in the lye. If the feather dissolves, the lye is strong enough and you can use it for your soap. If not, you will have to re-boil the lye water when it emerges and repeat the process until your chicken feathers dissolve.

Test 2

This test involves using a fresh, whole egg or a potato works just as well. Take the egg or potato of similar size and place it in the cold lye water. If it sinks, your lye is not strong enough and you will have to repeat the process until it does. 

If the potato floats with just a little of the lye water above it; about an inch showing above the water, or the head of the egg sinks to just half-way down, then the strength is just right. If the potato or egg floats too high, almost on top of the lye water, then the strength is too strong. You can compensate by adding a little bit of fresh water to the lye water and try again.

With the first test, I would still back this up with the “egg floating” test, just to make sure that my lye water was not too strong.

Modern Method of Making Lye using A Plastic Bucket

Traditionally, as you have just read, people used wooden buckets or casks lined with straw and small rocks to make lye. Now, not everyone has access to these things, so I am going to show you how you can make lye just as easily in an old nappy bucket or something similar.

Take your old plastic nappy bucket and drill a neat round hole, about an inch off the bottom on one side of the bucket. It shouldn’t be very big, about the diameter of a small iron nail – about 1/8th of an inch. Make sure that the size of the hole is the same size of the nail that you will use to stop up the hole when needed.

Using cold wood ash, take a spade and carefully place the ash into the stopped-up bucket. Make sure that what you are placing in the bucket is the fine, white ash, as opposed to any charcoal bits. This you don’t need. Make sure that the ash is well compacted in the bucket.

Boil water half of the capacity of the bucket and pour gently over the ashes. As soon as the water makes contact with the ash it will start hissing and bubbling. This is perfectly normal. 

You may find at this stage that the water is just sitting on top of the ash, without it appearing to do anything. Just leave it, without disturbing it, and come back later to see when you can add the rest of the water.

Once you have used all the water elevate the bucket so that you are able to place a glass or plastic container under the hole that you previously drilled and stopped up with a nail. Place your receiving container under the hole and remove the nail. Do not expect lye water to come out of here. This could take hours, if not days.

Once you have enough lye water use the nail to stop up the hole. Take the lye water to the kitchen and boil carefully. 

Take care at this stage as the lye is caustic and if it splashes onto your skin and into your eyes it will burn. You will need ot wear gloves and safety glasses at this point. 

Once you have heated up your lye water take it back to your bucket and carefully pour it back over the ashes in the bucket. This helps strengthen the lye.

Wait for the lye to emerge once again.

Drying Lye to Form Crystals

When you buy commercial lye it is in the form of crystals. When you make lye at home you will want your lye to be in crystals too. This is very easy to do. Take your lye water and place it in the sun until the water has evaporated. What you are left with are your lye crystals that you can use quite happily in your soap making recipes.

How to Make Lye using Unslaked Lime (Calcium Oxide)

Unslaked lime is a chemical compound known as calcium oxide and also known as lime or quicklime.

Recipe 1:

Put a half pound of unslaked lime into 2 gallons of water. Add 6 pounds of washing soda and boil gently for 1 hour or so. When cold, pour off the liquid part which is your lye.

Recipe 2:

Take 10 quarts water, 6 pounds quicklime, (shell lime if possible), and 6 pounds of washing soda. Boil for 1 hour or so. When cold, pour off the liquid which again is your lye.

How to make Lye using Quick Lime (Calcium Hydroxide)

Calcium hydrixide is a chemical compound known more commonly as slaked lime.  It is formed when calcium oxide is mixed with water.
Put 3 pounds of washing soda, 3 pounds of slaked lime, and 12 quarts of water into a large pot. Boil for 20 minutes. Wait for the contents to cook, and when cold, pour off the liquid part which is your lye.

How to Use Homemade Lye in Soap Recipes

In the end your homemade lye is softer on the skin. It is potassium hydroxide as opposed to sodium hydroxide. When following soap recipes make sure that you use the right type of hydroxide, as although both are lye, they cannot usually be used in place of the other in certain recipes.

The potassium hydroxide molecules are larger than the sodium hydroxide molecules. It is this size difference that enables the potassium hydroxide to maintain a liquid state. 

Potassium hydroxide is normally used to make liquid soaps.  And when our ancestors made soap using homemade lye, most of the time they ended up with liquid soap because the lye they were using wasn’t strong enough.

However, you can make a hard soap by adding common salt at the end of the boiling process. If you want to add salt to harden your bars of soap, weigh out the water you are going to mix your lye with. 

Before you add the lye, add ½ tsp. of salt per pound of oil/rendered fat in your recipe. Stir well to make sure that all of the salt is dissolved. Add your lye to the salted water, making your lye solution, and resume your normal soap making procedure. Both types of hydroxide, however, are extremely corrosive and must be handled and stored with care.

The traditional ratio is 2 pounds fat or grease (such as bacon fat) to 1 gallon homemade lye.

Natural Soap Recipe using Homemade Lye

Here is an original pioneer soap recipe using your homemade lye water.

Ingredients:

2 pounds fat
1 gallon homemade lye water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 cup hot water

Method:

Place the fat and lye water in a large pot suitable for soap making (not aluminum) Add the vinegar mixed in with the water. Keep on a rolling boil until thick and slimy. This can take several hours.

If at this stage you want to use it was soft soap it is ready after straining through several layers of cheesecloth before placing in storage containers. 1 cup of homemade liquid soap per load is all that is needed.

If you want hard soap you will need to add 1 teapoon salt dissolved in a little water to the mixture at this stage and boil for longer. Skim the foam off the top and place the liquid into molds and allow to set.

Another Pioneer Soap Recipe using Homemade Lye

Fill a pot 2/3rds full of homemade lye. Place on the stove over a medium heat and ladle in ladlefuls of melted lard and stir until your mixture is creamy. Now add handfuls of salt to the mixture and stir until a ring of soapy mixture is left behind and very evident on the stirring spoon.

Remove from the heat and allow the soap to harden. After it has hardened you will need to drain the remaining lye water off the soap.

You can make soft soap in the same manner if you don’t add the salt at the end of the process.

Creating a fodder system

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ABM_1460661921Building a FODDER SYSTEM to feed livestock

Finding simple ways, to make your products go further is something very important to our family. We have hundreds of animals on our homestead and needed to find a better way of feeding them.

With fodder, we can quadruple our feed output for our animals just by sprouting trays of wheat seed for 8 days and quadrupling the amount of feed we get out of each bag for our animals. A 50 pound bag of seed can yield 200+ pounds of sprouted fodder.

Growing our own wheat fodder (wheatgrass) was an easy way to add additional feed to our animals while saving a bit in our budget.

We have been extremely successful growing wheat, barley and oats (although oats tend to be a bit harder to grow.) You can pick up recleaned wheat, recleaned barley and recleaned oats at your local feed store. We purchase our recleaned wheat from Warren’s in Chino Valley. I have found that their wheat seems to grow best for what I am needing.

Here are the things that you need to get started:

  1. 8 trays ($1 plastic shoeboxes work for starting. We use both those and heavy duty black planting trays)
  2. Shelf to hold trays (we have a metal shelf for one set and a PVC homemade shelf or the other set)
  3. Drill with drill bit to drill holes in bottom of trays
  4. Water collection bucket
  5. Pitcher or large jar. (or optional water pump and fixtures)
  6. Bag of wheat, barley or oats (recleaned are best) optional: additional types of seeds, black oil sunflower seeds or Austrian winter peas.

In order to make a successful system, you need to make sure that the water can flow through each tray and fall to the next tray down in a waterfall effect.  The collection tray is at the bottom to collect all of the left over water that you can then recycle into your garden or other plants.

Here is a link to one of our posts on our website: http://krisandlarry.com/2014/12/05/update-on-fodder-our-system-is-working-great-2/


 

Mother Earth News has a GREAT list of how much fodder that you need to per animal:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/sprouted-fodder.aspx

  • Horse: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; 1.5% body weight in dry hay
  • Beef Cow: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; barley straw ration
  • Dairy Cow: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; barley straw ration
  • Sheep: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration
  • Goat: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; mineral and hay rations
  • Dairy Goat: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; mineral and hay rations
  • Alpaca: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration
  • Pig: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder
  • Rabbit: 3-5 percent of their body weight in fodder; hay ration for roughage
  • Chicken: 2-3 percent of their body weight in fodder; grit and calcium supplements

 

Making Cheese

I was honored to be able to be the guest speaker at the Chino Valley Oathkeeper’s meeting today. I demonstrated several different cheeses and showed how a cheese press works as well as cheese wax.  Below is my handout with some recipes. 

Click the button below to download the PDF handout for the class.

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ABM_1459011738Making simple cheese

On our homestead, we do not like going to the grocery store if there is a way for us to create our own products from scratch, using what we have on hand. Making cheese is a prime example of that. Using raw milk straight from our goats, we are able to recreate all types of cheeses that we eat daily at home. We can recreate everything from cheddar to soft chevre, mozzarella to cream cheese.  Along that line, we also make butter, sour cream, and cottage cheese.

Every morning, we decide what we are going to use our milk for during that day. 2-3 days a week, we make cheese, one day a week, we make butter. The rest of the week, we use it for drinking. Nothing gets wasted as the pigs are happy to drink anything that is left over. We have been making cheese weekly for about a year now when last season we picked up a goat in milk. Now, we have 4 in milk and 3 more pregnant for this season.

Our history: Our family has lived in the Chino Valley Area for over 25 years. We have 7 kids (ages 8 to 17) plus occasional foster kids in our home.  

We currently have a family garden which is about ¼ acre, 2 greenhouses one of which houses an aquaponics system growing fish and lettuce year-round, herb and berry walks. We raise our own meat including a steer, pigs, goats, quail, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys.  We homeschool our children math, English, science, history and also teach them life skills that most kids have no understanding about including homesteading, cooking from scratch, solar oven cooking, carpentry, making soap and cheese, animal husbandry etc. We dehydrate and can our summer crop to use later and do all of this on less than 3 acres. We currently have 7 pigs, 9 goats and about 45 chickens, plus many rabbits and over 100 quail.  We have several cabinet incubators where we hatch our own birds. We do not go to the grocery store from May until October

We also maintain an active website and Facebook page for our homestead where we share recipes, tips and tricks for homesteading and preparedness and list animals for sale.

 

General list of items needed for cheese making.

Tools that you will need to make cheese

  • Strainer
  • Large bowl (that the strainer fits in)
  • Cheese cloth or flour sack towels
  • Large slotted spoon
  • Pot
  • Thermometer
  • measuring spoons that measure SMALL (I have ones that measure 1/64, 1/32 and 1/16 of a teaspoon that I picked up from homesteadersupply.com)

Certain cheeses need cultures. We purchase ours from www.homesteadersupply.com and from www.culturesforhealth.com

 


SIMPLE FARM CHEESE

This simple farm cheese can come together quickly. It tastes mild and sweet, and doesn’t require rennet, making an excellent cheese for beginners.

Serves: about 1 pound

  • 1 gallon milk, not “ultra-pasteurized” You may use raw or pasteurized
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt or cheese salt

 

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth or a single layer of butter muslin. We use flour sack towels at our house.
  2. Pour the milk into a large, heavy-bottomed kettle, and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Stir it frequently to keep the milk from scorching. When it comes to a boil, immediately remove from heat and stir in the vinegar.
  3. The milk should immediately begin separating into curds and whey. If it does not begin to separate, add a bit more vinegar one tablespoon at a time until you see the milk solids coagulate into curds swimming within the thin greenish blue whey.
  4. Pour the curds and whey into the lined colander. Sprinkle the curds with salt. Tie up the cheesecloth, and press it a bit with your hands to remove excess whey. Let the cheesecloth hang for 1 to 2 hours, then open it up and chop it coarsely. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or eat fresh.

 

NOTES

The whey from these 2 cheeses (lemon and vinegar cheeses) does not contain a live culture, so it cannot be used to create ricotta. However, you can recycle it to feed pigs or soak grains for chickens.


LEMON CHEESE

Serves: about 1-1/2 cups

  • ½ gallon goat’s milk (raw or pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • Sea salt or cheese salt to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Slowly heat the milk on the stove until it reaches 180 – 185 degrees. Gentle bubbles should be forming and the surface will look foamy. Turn off the heat.
  2. Stir in the lemon juice then let the milk sit for 10 minutes. The milk should curdle and become slightly thicker on the surface.
  3. Line a colander with two layers of cheese cloth. Gently pour the milk into the cheese cloth then gather the cheesecloth up around the curds and tie it into a bundle.
  4. Hang the bundle over a pot or jar so the liquid can drip out. (You can do this by attaching the bundle to a wooden spoon or a ladle and setting the spoon over the top of the pot or jar.)
  5. Let the cheese drain for at least 1 1/2 hours. Scrape the cheese into a bowl. Stir in salt and/or other ingredients to taste.
  6. Use your hands to pat and shape the cheese into a small wheel or log. A biscuit cutter works as well for shaping.
  7. The flavor and texture of the cheese usually improves a little bit if you refrigerate it for a few hours before serving
  8. The goat cheese should stay fresh in the refrigerator for 1 week.

 


Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese

  • 3 gallons whole milk
  • Mesophilic Culture (1/4 tsp Abiasa, 1/8 tsp Danisco, or 1/16 tsp Sacco)
  • 2 teaspoons calcium chloride (only needed for store bought milk or pasteurized milk)
  • 5 tablet rennet or 3/4 tsp liquid rennet
  • ¼ cup unchlorinated water
  • 1 Tablespoon salt

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Combine milk, (calcium chloride) in 16 qt stock pot (double boiler to prevent scorching)
  2. Slowly heat mixture to 86 degrees. Turn off heat and stir in lactic cheese culture. (Different types of culture create different flavors of cheese)  Stir gently throughout. Cover mixture and allow to rest undisturbed at 86 degrees for 45 minutes.
  3. Dissolve rennet tablet or liquid rennet in 1/4 cup water.
  4. Keep the milk at 86 degrees.  Stir the rennet mixture into milk slowly but thoroughly. Allow milk to set undisturbed for 30 – 45 minutes or until curd shows a clean break.
  5. Using long knife, cut the curds into 1/2 inch squares, then stir gently just to break the strips of curds into chunks. Let it sit to rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Slowly heat the curds and whey to 102 degrees, raising the temperature 2 degrees every 5 minutes. Stir curd gently to prevent matting and reduce their size to half peanut size. A large whisk works well by placing it to bottom of pot and putting up right so curds break as they fall through the wisk. Hold curds for additional 30 minutes at this temperature
  7. Place pre-warmed with hot water colander over a pot and pour the curds into it.
  8. Reserve 1/3 of the whey and pour back into the cheese pot. Set colander of curds onto the cheese pot. Cover top with cheese cloth and lid to keep in warmth. Allow curds to drain for 45 to 60 minutes. This is called the cheddaring process.
  9. Cut slab into pieces and press through french fry cutter or cut by hand.
  10. Add 1 tablespoon coarse salt. Using your hands, gently mix the salt into curds. You can eat these curds now, or press into a wheel.
  11. Place the curds into cheese press and follow the directions for dressing with cheese cloth for 12 hours.
  12. Remove cheese from press, unwrap the cloth, place cheese on drying mat to air dry for 12 hours, creating a nice skin over the whole cheese.  Cheese is ready to slice and eat or you can wax and age for stronger cheddar flavor.
  13. Mix 1 tablespoon of salt with 1/2 cup of water. Use a corner of the cheese cloth to lightly apply a saltwater wash to the cheese.

The farmhouse cheddar recipe above is from www.homesteadersupply.com.


Chevre

Chevre is French for goat. This is a simple cheese that is a great addition to your cuisine.

Serves: about 1 pound

  • 1 gallon goat’s milk, not “ultra-pasteurized” You may use raw or pasteurized
  • 1/8 teaspoon mesophilic culture, MA or MM
  • 1 drop rennet in ¼ cup water

 

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat milk to 86 degrees
  2. Add the culture and rennet into the milk.
  3. Cover and let set at room temperature (72 degrees) for 12 hours (overnight works GREAT for this recipe)
  4. Place colander into large bowl and line the colander with cheese cloth
  5. Ladle curds into cloth, tie ends and hang to drain.
  6. Drain for 6-12 hours or until the curds reach desired consistency.
  7. Store in a covered container for up to one week.

RICOTTA

  • Whey left over from making live culture cheese. (chevre, cheddar, mozzarella, etc.)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Over direct heat, heat the hard cheese whey to 200°
  2. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes.
  3. Place colander into large bowl and line the colander with fine cheese cloth
  4. Pour whey into colander (Slowly, it is HOT)
  5. Hang and drain curds
  6. When it has drained, place the ricotta in a bowl and add salt to taste. 
  7. Store in a covered container for up to one week.

 

What a GREAT Quail Day!

krisandlarry.com - New breeds of Quail on our homesteadBesides being in the middle of a fantastic hatch (we are filling a huge order of quail this weekend) here on our homestead, we have added some beautiful new coturnix lines to our quail for our future hatches.

We now have Golden Italian and Cinnamon Reds. Both BEAUTIFUL BIRDS!  

We will have babies from this crew about June.

Watch our facebook page for a post once we have them available. Our facebook page is www.facebook.com/krisandlarry