Thursday, January 31, 2013

Making 2013's Seed Starting & Planting Schedule (w/downloadable template)

Would you like your own seed starting and planting schedule, customized to your location and what you want to grow?  Well, if you've got access to Excel, you can easily make your own starting with this template - learn how here.

Lesa/Better Hens and Gardens (Farm Website) (Farm Blog) (Facebook)

Creating a Household Binder Free Printables! {Monthly Calendars}

So my friends, would you like to hear the good news first or the even better news?  I'll start with the good news.  The good news is that I have finished designing and creating most of the printables for the Our Little Coop Household Binder.  The even better news? After much thought and consideration, I have decided that instead of selling the Our Little Coop Household Binder printables  like I had originally planned, I am going to give them away....for free.  Yes, I am going to give them away for free.  I have spent many, MANY hours creating this binder for my family and while I truly believe that buying these printables would have been worth every single penny, I am fully aware that there are so many families out there right now that might not be able to work them into their budgets.  So I would like to offer them to you.  To love and to cherish, to have and to hole punch.  I hope that they are helpful, I hope that they make organizing life a little less stressful, and I hope that someone out there is jumping up and down for joy because you just hit the printable jackpot! Each week I will be offering a free set of printables so make sure you sign up for our blog so you don't miss any! CLICK HERE FOR YOU FREE MONTHLY CALENDAR PRINTABLES 

Duplex Nesting Box


When I go to flea markets, I am often on the lookout for finds that I can use in the chicken coop or somewhere in our farm setup.  Last fall, I found this vintage crate that was originally used to ship fruits to market.  It was perfect!  I had just the right place for this crate and it solved a problem we were having with egg laying.  Read about this coop addition here>>>>>

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

They're pupating!!!!

Okay, you know your a little off when you just want to yell "Our meal worms are starting to pupate!!!" But it is true, they are and I am so excited!!! Our meal worm farm is actually working! Read an update here!



Flirting with Flowers.

Instead of the same tired red roses from the grocery store, why not treat your Valentine--or better yet, yourself--to a cutting garden this year? Your home can be filled with gorgeous bouquets all year. Find out what to plant at Growing Days.

XO ~


Heart Healthy Valentine's Day Smoothie

I'm a woman and a survivor of heart disease and fatal arrythmias.  I am blessed with each day I wake up alive to spend another day with my family.  Friday is Go Red Day where across the nation, we wear red in honor and memory of women with heart disease.  The American Heart Association reports cardiovascular disease to be the number 1 killer of women in America.  Those numbers can change.  I'm a living testament to that. 

Hear my story and get this scrupmtious heart healthy Strawberry Dark Chocolate Smoothie treat for Valentine's Day here at The Egg Basket!


Using Tattler Lids

Are you new to canning like we are?  Have you wondered about using Tattler lids?  Head over to the Black Fox Homestead blog to read all about our first experience with them here

Follow our blog and Facebook page for more recipes, gardening, and simple country living!

The Odd Squat: A Gathering of Bad Eggs

This isn’t the first time this investigation has been conducted.  It certainly won’t be the last.  I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here; I’m just looking for answers.  You might be asking yourself why.  Well, you see, I have recently ran into this bad egg.  I should correct myself right about here: I’m sure it’s not a truly bad egg.  It’s just a little odd, a little different than the rest.  Let me paint you a picture of the day we met.  It was a dark and stormy summer night It was a cold and windy Saturday afternoon. This past Saturday, to be exact.  This little chick I know was on lock down for bad behavior.  The little vixen (No, really.  Her name is Vixey, our Partridge Plymouth Rock) got mixed up in some feather picking and needed solitary confinement to think about what had gone down.

Read more about egg oddities at:

The Anderson Family "Farm" Project

visit our Facebook page

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Learning to Walk: The Story of an Ex-Racehorse (1)

     Luzia Minera is a 9 year old, 16.2 HH, retired race horse with names like Aljabr and Secretariat on her pedigree. Luzia moved to Abundance Farms on November 1st, 2012. She’s a gorgeous mare. With an attitude. A big attitude.
      Luzia Minera is an amazing horse. An amazing horse that I find myself too scared to ride. Here's the story of her first training session (yesterday) and how I'm finally seeing some hope in my relationship with an amazing mare. Read More --->
Abundance Farms on FACEBOOK

Chicken Stalking

It has come down to this. After months and months we finally had our first egg! However, I wanted to know who laid it. How do you do that you ask? You Chicken Stalk!

1-2-3 Crock Pot Cauliflower Soup

Here is a fast and nourishing winter soup . It takes 10 minutes prep time and a day in the crock. Sized for two, the recipe can be doubled or tripled for a crew. The best recommendation I can give is that my meat-is-all-I-need husband gives this meal the thumbs-up. Click here to read more.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Eggs of a Different Color

People sometimes make the common mistake of thinking that white chickens lay white eggs and brown chickens lay brown eggs. In actuality, most egg shells are formed white with a layer of color pigment  added in the late stage of egg production.  Read more about egg colors at Maple Grove.

Visiting a rabbit show

Have you ever been to a rabbit show? Do you really know what goes one at one? We visited one this weekend and while it wasn't what my oldest THOUGHT it would be he was still hooked. To read about and see all the fun click HERE.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

January Reflections

I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but at the end of each year I do try to review the past year and try to figure out what I could do to improve.  I'll confess, every December 31st, I realize that I have spent a lot of time planning ahead, preparing for things, list making... This year I decided I would make an effort to pay attention, to live a little more in the moment...CLICK HERE to see what I observed in January.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Garden Planning........Nerd Style!

Come learn the basics of planning your garden with me my fellow Garden Nerds and Non-Nerds alike! You can also enter to win an exclusive Fresh From Home garden planner spreadsheet that is loaded with information and ways to help you make 2013's garden the easiest (and nerdiest) yet!
Image from

Happy National Seed Swap Day! (Plus a Giveaway!)

Have you been gazing at seed catalogs, dreaming of spring? Wait! Before you place your order, let's have a seed swap!

Did you know that Saturday, January 26, 2013 is National Seed Swap Day? Nope, neither did I until I happened to read an article today. So, while it's too late for me to organize a local, community seed swap, I thought it might be fun to host a virtual seed swap. Want to join me?
Come on over to Growing Days for more details!
XO ~

Duct tape!?!?!?

From calamity comes humor! That's right, when life throws you a curve ball you might just end up with some useful and fun information! Check out how my "Duct tape debate" ended with creativity!


Planning a Garden for the Bees

It's the perfect time of year for garden planning.

This year consider creating a garden for the bees.  You can help encourage bee populations and pollination by becoming a beekeeper, buying local honey, reducing pesticide use, or simply creating a habitat that encourages and strengthens bee populations.  For tips on creating a bee friends space, visit the Backyard Farming Connection.

The Jacob Family

At Abundance Farms, we are working to expand our Jacob sheep herd…flock…herd? Recently, we were able to bring home a new ewe. So, please, come on over to Abundance Farms and say hello to the Jacob family!
Follow Abundance Farms on Facebook

The Birds and the Bees... Chicken Style

You have a flock of hens and you collect eggs from them. Maybe, you have a rooster, too. You know that if the rooster is doing his job properly (and mine always seem to!) you can allow a hen to go broody or set the eggs yourself in an incubator and about 21 days later, a clutch of fluffy chicks hatch. Perhaps, you candle your eggs to watch the growing embryo form. But, how does the egg form inside your hen? How does fertilization happen?

The design of this fascinating process is fantastic. Come on over and we'll have "The Talk".

Sonja ♥
Lally Broch Farm
Frankfort, Maine

Ginger Tea


During these Winter months, give yourself a boost. Make a mug of delicious Ginger Tea. Read here for the recipe.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to Safely Sanitize Your Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

So it seems that we can all agree that walking outside into your back yard, reaching up grabbing an apple, and without hesitation taking a huge bite out of the side of it without a wash or a rinse is safe. Plucking a few raspberries off of the bush on the side of your house and eating them as you run out to grab the mail is alright as well.  And of course the basil in your herb garden just so happens to be the perfect garnish for tonights salad and no, it doesn't really need to be washed.   I am the first to admit that when something comes from my own backyard, something I have grown or raised with my own two hands, I am rarely thinking about contamination, dirt or germs. But when buying fresh produce from the grocery store I immediately begin to wonder if the item I am about to buy and eventually ingest is  going to be a part of the next major "recall." While some may get a good laugh for me thinking this way and say that the chances are slim,  food contamination is real and the effects can be devastating. LEARN MORE HERE!

Winter Feeding and Egg Production

I have been asked by a couple of readers in the last month about increasing egg production. I am not a veterinary doctor. I possess no degrees in this field, nor do I pretend to be an expert in this subject. But, I am willing to share what we do here at our homestead with you. This is only based on our experiences. Your mileage may vary. ♥

Most recently, Danetta Cates from Dexter wrote: "please share the secret of getting your hens to lay. We have been crippling along on about 1-2 eggs every other day with 25 plus hens."

Here you are!

Lally Broch Farm: Winter Feeding and Egg Production

Sonja ♥

Farm Kid Sleigh Riding in Virginia

Yay! We finally have some snow! It's not a lot of snow, but it's snow none the less. It's a fluffy, powdery snow perfect for making snowballs and sleigh riding. That is, IF you have a sleigh!   To find out how my farm kids overcome that little problem, come on over and see our Snow Day at The Egg Basket!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Garden RIGHT NOW! Get edibles in only a few days...

(Part 1)
Micro Greens are simple to grow indoors or out.  Read more about micro green gardening HERE.

Spread some good seeds, add a little water and forget about the wait. Micro Greens

Hen Saddles

I get a lot of questions about what hen saddles are and more often than not, I get grief about it being 'chicken clothing'. There is so much to a hen saddle than just looking pretty on a hen! These were created for a purpose. Have you ever had a hen that had feathers missing near her tail where the rooster often stands on her? That's usually due to too much mating. A lot of people are under the misinformation that they need to separate their rooster until the hen heals but when you're trying to get fertile eggs, that's impossible! Instead, you're able to buy these saddles to put on your hen and have it cover her back so that she's able to grow those feathers back.

Sometimes, the cause is feather picking. This is one of the worst since it's often hard to see who's the feather picker. If the picking is happening on the back where the saddle will cover, it gives the back time to heal and can even help eliminate some of the pecking. Pecking can lead to open sores and so can other types of attacks. A saddle covers these so that you can still have her with the flock instead of separating her and stressing her even more.

There's also molting. We all know that there's always that one girl who molts too late in the season and it's getting cold out. We offer fleece on our saddles to keep her a little more warm. The worst one; a molt and a rooster.

Read more about hen saddles HERE and follow Louise's Country Closet on Facebook!

Grow Your Own Transplants

In our zone, it is about time to start thinking about starting those cool season crops such as lettuce, peas, beets, and carrots.  For the past few years we've enjoyed growing our own transplants from seed.  It is not as difficult as you  might think!   Read more here about what you need to get started as well as a few tips and pointers.

Follow the Black Fox Homestead Blog for more gardening tips, recipes, and simple country living.  Give us a shout on Facebook too!

The Care and Feeding of Barn Cats

Barn cats work hard to keep the rodent population at bay.  It doesn't matter whether you bring home a cat from the shelter, take a kitten from a friend, or provide a home for a stray or feral cat that finds it's way to your barn.  All barn residing kitties need proper care and shelter.   In our barn they are very important members of the farm family.  Read my six top ways to keep your barn kitty healthy and happy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Frozen eggs? Don't throw them away!

Cold weather is gripping the country and sooner or later you are bound to end up with a frozen egg or two. Don't throw them away! Find out how I "save" our frozen eggs!


Enjoy Your Homestead This Winter

It may be cold and snowy outside, and you may be sitting by your fire dreaming of summer days in the garden, but don't get caught up and miss the joys of your winter homestead.  The winter months are a wonderful time to reflect, plan, learn, and appreciate all your homestead has to offer.  For more thoughts on making the most of the cold months, join me at the Backyard Farming Connection.

Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)

When planning your garden for the coming growing season, why not include some Calendula. This plant is easy to grow and can be used in many ways. Click here to learn more.


Feeding with the Hubby

When the Husband offers to take his wife along to feed it may not be the quiet trip he had planned, but the pictures will be great! To go along on this feeding trip From a Montana Front Porch click here,

We are also on facebook .

Monday, January 21, 2013

Repurposed plastic water bottle - Drip Irrigation

Tools needed to repurpose water bottle. Click here for instructions!

"Prepper" country style

One of the things I love about homesteading is homesteaders were "preppers" long before prepper was a word! In fact my spell check on my computer still doesn't think prepper is a word! LOL But I do enjoy looking at Prepper sites for ideas I can use around the house. With a little old fashion fun and household items I made my version of a fire starter. And yes, there are vegetables in it (well sort of...) Read more here!


Homemade Egg Noodles

I love noodles!  And I love using my stand mixer to make them.  How much easier we have it today!  You can make fresh egg noodles by hand; it's just so much easier this way.  The pasta roller attachment rolls out the dough as thick or thin as you want it.  Then the noodle cutter attachment cuts them quickly.  Learn how to make egg noodles (by mixer or by hand) and get my recipe at Maple Grove.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Big Hairy Audacious God Driven Garden

Big Hairy Audacious God Driven Garden

Last night I went to church on my way home from work.  Normally we go to church on Sunday morning, however we were lazy over the weekend and did not wake up in time.  So, I went last night to a video taped service, convinced I would probably get nothing out of it because I was sure that the videotaped service would not be as personal.  Regardless, I went.  There were only 5 of us there, and that included the 2 pastors!  I was put off a bit at first because I didn't know anyone, and with only 5 of us there I felt like I was singing on stage at a karaoke bar sober when we were singing hymns.  I was nervous.

Vertical Garden Goodies Giveaway

Hey Guys,

My new book was released on New Year's Eve, so I got a couple of  friends together and we're giving away some vertical garden goodies! Come toss your hat in over to A Suburban Farmer for a chance to win some delicious currents (grow them UP) from Peaceful Valley/, Vertical Vegetable Gardening book and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Small-Space Gardening book, a pair of comfortable Corona clippers, and some of the famous Authentic Haven Brand soil conditioning tea bags! Vertical Garden Goodies Giveaway

Creating a Household Binder/Family Organizer {Part 2}

family binder organizer printables

Okay! Now that we have the basic supplies to begin creating our personalized household binder (three ring binder, sheet protectors, tabbed dividers, hole punch), we can finally start printing and assembling! CLICK HERE TO READ MORE! 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What Does Goat Milk Taste Like Anyway?

It seems that many folks are considering getting some dairy goat kids this spring, but are wondering what the milk will be like and whether the taste varies by breed.  Continue reading here to find out what goat milk tastes like and what you can typically expect from each breed. 

Lesa (Farm Website) (Farm Blog) (Facebook)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Perching Places

Do you have a place for your critters to get up off the ground?  Mine do and here I share a few quick ideas that you can easily do today!

Cleaning Your Incubator - DO IT

"Today we’re going to have a gool ol’ talk entitled “Cleaning Your Incubator – DO IT”!" Cleaning your incubator will highly benefit your hatch rates and even the health of hatched chicks. It's something easy to neglect, but is a MUST! To find out more about cleaning your incubator, be sure to read continuing reading

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Garden dreams

Has spring gardening fever hit you yet? The seed catalogs are arriving daily and I am dreaming big garden dreams already- and it's only January! What plans do you have for this year's vegetable garden? Read about my plans to get a handle on the garden and turn around last year's total failure here:Keep Your Memories in Your Shoes.

Rain, Rain Go Away!

Muddy, Muddy, Muddy Chicken Coop.

Poor little chicken feet! Especially those with feathered feet!

Three solid days of rain, now, we are having a snowstorm, complete with thunder & lightning.

We covered all the water in the coop with pine shavings, put all the vinyl panels back in, and we are holding our breath. We need sunshine, and lots of it!

Mites! Preventing & Treating these nasty parasites!

We've been blessed to maintain a pest free farm using all natural preventatives, good husbandry, and healthy nutrition in the past. Diatomaceous Earth, Garlic, and proper feather care have been our best friends in preventing external parasites. The best way to deal with mites and louse is to never need to deal with them at all. Unfortunately, even the most careful of us will fight this battle! Since keeping your flock free from mites and louse is important in maintaining the overall health of your chickens, if you do suffer an infestation, you'll need to deal with it immediately.   Come over to The Egg Basket to see how we erradicated these disgusting parasites!

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

Looking for an easy yet impressive bread for dinner tonight? With this Rosemary Olive Oil Bread, you still have time! See the full recipe here at Montanas Front Porch.

We are also on facebook

Enjoying Your Homestead in the Winter

When we envision a garden, homestead or farm, we immediately think of green fields, colorful vegetables and vibrant flowers.  Here in upstate NY, the reality is that for most of the year our backyard is covered in snow, mud, or is simply a dull brown.  As we move through the cold months, there are so many ways we can enjoy our homesteads and prepare for the coming growing season.  Stop by the Backyard Farming Connection and hear a few of the ways we try to get the most out of our homestead in the winter.

Oven Scrambled Eggs

As a person who now has the joy of having freshly laid eggs waiting for me each day, I have found myself looking for more ways to use them.  Our young pullets have only been laying since November, so their eggs are still weighing on the small to medium size.  One gal is almost tipping the scales into the large, so I'm thinking that as spring approaches we will find ourselves with more and more large egg layers.  This makes it tricky using them in recipes that would typically call for large eggs, so for now we are eating a lot of tried and true omelettes and scrambled eggs.

What people are reading