Garden View

Garden View
Hello and Welcome! I decided to start this blog for everyone out there who has an interest, or WANTS to be interested, in living a life that is a little more sustainable. I am still learning, and invite you to follow this blog to learn along with me. I will share what I have learned as we go, and hopefully you will pitch in and share what YOU are doing to live a little more off of what you can grow and DO from home. PLEASE BELIEVE ME when I say, if I can learn how to do this on a very small backyard plot in a city, then ANYONE can do this!!

Search This Blog


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Lazy Layers-Is it OK to butcher older hens?

Some of our laying hens will be 3 years old this spring.  And they have gotten VERY lazy!  What I am referring to is their natural slow-down in egg production.  Actually, this is one of the major things that prospective chicken owners MUST (and usually don't) consider when making decisions about purchasing chickens. 

Hens will produce a great supply of eggs for you for the first 2 years or so, then they have a significant decline each year thereafter.  Each breed will have different productivity levels, so do your homework before choosing a breed.  I chose the type of chickens that we have for very specific purposes;  most of the breeds that I have were chosen because they are considered "dual purpose."  This means that they can be used as layers and/or as meat birds.  I wanted a bird that would give us good egg production and then provide food for our table when they slowed down.

Pin It!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Freshy Fresh Winter Skincare Routine

Just remember.  I'm NOT crunchy.  I'm sticking to that.  I have, however, experienced enough of a difference in making my own skin-body-hair care products that I can't go back to the synthetic/chemical-laden-plastic-bottled stuff in the store.


Ummm, chemicals.  That's why.  And you're putting them on your face!  Anywhere you have pores (i.e. anywhere you have skin), you will absorb what you put on it.  If the average person uses 10 different products on their skin daily, you're absorbing well over 100 different chemicals through your spongy body (yes, I just called you spongy.  I'm not saying you wear square pants and live in a pineapple under the sea.  Our skin is more like a sponge than a barrier with this stuff).  Take a gander at these digits (which are all EW!):
  • 4 Pounds: The average amount of lipstick a woman ingests over her lifetime
  • 11: The percentage of the 10,500 ingredients used in the personal-care products that the US      
  • 1,110+: The number of ingredients banned in cosmetics in Europe
  • 10: The number of ingredients banned in cosmetics in the US
  • 20: The percentage of personal care products that contain at least one chemical linked to cancer.
  • 22: The percentage of cosmetics contaminated with possible cancer causing impurity 1, 4-dioxane
Source:  The Environmental Working Group

Ready to ditch those pretty looking plastic store bought bottles yet?

I live in Colorado, where we enjoy beautiful weather year round.  But we also live in a cold dessert atmosphere.  That=DRYNESS.  We have a whole-house humidifier as well as individual room humidifiers to combat the dry air that causes dry skin, hair and static.  As soon as winter rolls around, the hair that begins to cling to my face and invite itself to explode as though I've recently befriended a light socket with my tongue, that's my cue to add a bit more moisture to my products and routine.  SO, since you already know I'm NOT crunchy but do enjoy natural alternatives and making my own, how's about I share my winter skincare routine with ya?

Pin It!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Farm Dreams

Tell me HONESTLY; You ever had a dream that occupies most of your thoughts, most of the time?  Have you ever wanted something so badly that you feel like devouring every single bit of information available in order to prepare for making it happen?  Then you have probably also experienced the push and pull moments where you start to feel a little scared when considering all of the details.  You start to wonder if you could really do it.  My Farm Dreams are just that: a concoction of endless details, excitement, fear and wonderment.  It is driven by a God-given love for animals and caring for them; as well as a newly acquired passion for raising food and food animals without detriment to the earth OR our bodies.

I can't be alone in this, right?  I know I'm not the only wanna-be farmer girl living in the city trying to learn and do what she can in the urban setting, but ever longing for wide open spaces.  And cows.  There's a lot of details involved with big dreams.  But what if it fails?  It's a scary thought when you are at the edge of the precipice looking at what it might take to make that leap across to the other side.  Sometimes you start to look over your shoulder at what you will be leaving behind, forgetting about the passion that drove you to the precipice to begin with.  If you truly want to make your Farm Dreams happen, I would like to share with you what our family is doing to work towards accomplishing those very things.  It's important to remember that there is no one prescription to making your farm life dreams happen.  First and foremost,you have to have a vision and goals to make this happen!

"As your vision becomes your passion, dreams will give place to reality."-Joel Salatin

1.) What do you want?  Have you thought about what scale you want to manage?

            -Hobby Farm:  A little of this and a little of that.  Are you, like me, an animal lover and want to have a little of everything?  Look into all of the details required for the amount and variety of animals you want to have.  Can you afford this?  Do you have the time to commit to caring for them every day (even when you are sick, tired and just don't wanna!?)

                   -Production Farm:  Do you want to raise animals for profit?  On what scale?  Do you have experience?  If not, plan to start on a more conservative level and see #3!

                           -Somewhere in-between:  and what does that mean to YOU?
**Regardless of which model you choose, do your homework!  Research breeds, looking at both the positives and negatives.  What are the housing requirements and costs of upkeep?  Ultimately, you want the most bang for your buck, right?  So choose animals that will give you high production for low cost.  Don't spend money on things that won't make you money-especially at the start.  For example:  I really want goats....but I want them because they are CUTE!  I actually want to devote my time and energy into chickens to start out then adding in cows as we go.  While goats can also produce many things, I don't want to overextend myself, especially during the start up stages.  We have already started developing a business model that doesn't include them at the onset.

2.)  Are you willing, and able, to WORK?

Let's face it: even though we have a deep love for animals, it is still work.  There are always things that aren't pleasant with farm life that someone (aka: YOU) still needs to take care of---every day.  If you don't want to work hard, face the fact that this may not be the best choice for you.  If you are not as physically capable, find someone to partner with that matches your goals and that can provide the physical labor.

"Really, accomplishing your dream is not so much about mechanics and opportunity as it is about character qualities: self-denial, perseverance, commitment, focus."-Joel Salatin in "You Can Farm"

3.)  Look Around and DO IT!

While you have visions of farm dreams and chicken fairies dancing in your head, what could you be doing right where you are?  Could you turn your back (and front) yard into a vegetable garden and mini orchard?  What about adding a few chickens?  There really is a lot that you can do from where you are to start learning and growing, even if it's starting with an herb garden indoors, or vegetable pots on your apartment balcony.  It's better for you to start learning BEFORE you get your land anyway.  The land itself is not a necessary element to becoming a successful homesteader.  Learn how to become more self sufficient and to 'farm' what you can from where you are right now.  Could you grow some extra produce and take your eggs to a local farmers market on a small scale business level?  Come up with a marketing plan BEFORE you plant the seeds or buy those cute peeping chicks.  If you can get started doing this right now, from where you are, you will gain invaluable experience and learn a lot along the way about how you want to manage things.  Think about how far that will take you when you finally DO acquire some land and you can do this on a larger scale!

4.) Finances

We are using Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace in order to get completely out of debt so we aren't starting out in a hole.  It's all about setting yourself up for success in every way possible.  This means that we will grow our farm business slowly, but I'm OK with that because it means that we won't be overextending ourselves before we have money coming in to support the initial operation costs (plus, we will no doubt still be working 'regular' jobs).

As mentioned in #3 above, there are a LOT of things you can do to start 'farming' that don't require much space OR much capital.  You can easily raise broiler chickens in your backyard with a portable chicken tractor, or even on some rented land (or borrowed yards) nearby.  Or raise several great laying hens in your backyard and you can sell eggs to neighbors, coworkers or at the farmers market.  It doesn't HAVE to be complicated....but we can sure make it that way without trying very hard, can't we!  If you have a Farm Dream that starts at the base of your soul and works it's way out into every other sentence you speak, God has given you something called a CLUE!  And you don't have to wait until you can buy that chunk of land, etc, etc.  You can start acting on your dream on whatever scale you can in whatever environment you are in now.  Don't listen to the naysayers or give in to the fear of success or failure; if God has given you this desire, listen to where He is guiding you and GO FOR IT!

Now, get out there and get some dirt under your nails and chicken poop on your shoes!

Here's some great books to get you started and keep you motivated:

YOU CAN FARM, by Joel Salatin
FRESH EGGS DAILY, by Lisa Steele

Pin It!