Saturday, March 30, 2013

Garage Sale Treasures

Alrighty!  Here is the lineup from yesterday's treasure hunting.  A am so pleased with what I found!!  We visited nine garage sales to find the following items.  The price total is at the bottom. (Also, I found all the garage sales on Craigslist so I didn't even have to spend money on a paper!)

I am always looking for cheap flower pots because they are outrageously expensive in stores.  Here is what I found!

3 beautiful blue pots!

4 adorable owl pots!  So cute.
Another thing I often look for are cute home decor items.  I was needing a lamp for my computer desk and this little guy fit the bill perfectly!  AND it came with a working light bulb:
Lamp for my desk.
So this wheelbarrow was quite a find!  I have needed one for a looong time but in stores wheelbarrows usually range from 75-100$ or more.  I got this little baby complete with unfinished bags of rose food, mulch, white gravel, top soil, lime, fertilizer, and grass seed for TEN BUCKS!!!  Woo hoo!!  It also came with an extension for my water hose which I was really needing.  This is why garage sale shopping is so fun!  You never know what you are gonna come up with. 

I got this cute outfit:
A couple of nice glasses.

Mortar and pestle for grinding herbs and such!
 Quite a productive day if I do say so myself!  I was so happy with my finds.  I also got a sparkly picture frame, doggy nail clippers, and a how-to-cook-chicken cookbook which are not pictured.  

The total for all of these items was $31.20!!!!  Can you say AWESOME?!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Treasure Hunting a.k.a. Garage Sales!!

One of last year's Morning Glory blooms.
I am pretty excited because tomorrow we are planning on doing some garage sale shopping.  It has been a while since I have gotten to go, but it is so much fun!  I am hoping to find some cheap deals that I can bring home to either refurbish or just enjoy.  I am excited to share my treasure trove with all of you tomorrow!!  Stay tuned.  :)

Dog Skin Allergies

Did you know that approximately 10% of dogs suffer from different allergies? (As shown in this report.)  Read on to find out how we learned to control our dog's excessive food allergy.

For the first few years of her life, Arwen struggled with moderate to severe skin rashes and irritation.  At first, we could not understand what was causing it because it never seemed to go away.  Arwen was always so uncomfortable and scratching all the time even though we always medicated her for fleas and ticks. 
Our pretty girl, Arwen.
Then one day, we changed dog foods!  We had been using just typical, run-of-the-mill dog food that you buy from your local grocery store or Wal-Mart.  But as we started to look into the ingredients of the dog food we were using, we noticed some of the first ingredients included corn or wheat!  Those are things my little doggy does not need.  We switched over to a no-wheat, no-corn, dog food and we FINALLY began to notice an improvement in Arwen's terrible sores!!  However, it did take a while for the old food to get out of her system... at least a year!  We had also been using straw (wheat) for her dog house bedding, and the vet told us to quit using that as well.  Now we only use things that are wheat-free, like pine shavings.  

Here is the kind of dog food we use.  You don't have to get this exact kind, there are many out there that are corn and gluten free if you suspect your dog has an allergy!  Plus, it is much healthier to feed your dog a dogfood without all those fillers.   
4health is good stuff!
4health, the dog food we use above, is scored 3.5 stars on How does your dog food measure up?

We had to learn the hard way, but maybe you can learn from our mistake!  Arwen is now MUCH healthier and happier, and never so much as lifts a paw to scratch anymore.  We are so glad our sweet girl is comfortable and happy now!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Meet Jake!

It is Wednesday again, and that means you get to meet another one of the animals!  Today you get to meet Jake!

Age:  Jake was given to us by my parents at Christmas in 2009.  He is currently about three and a half years old.

 Nicknames:  Jakey Bo-Bo

About:  Jake loves to run and be very active!  He gets scared of thunderstorms and rain showers.  He also is great with the cats!  However, we have had to do a lot of training with Jake when it comes to the chickens because he has killed one before.  :(  But he is learning well and has had chickens come into his yard since then and has not touched them.  He is learning that we don't eat chickens... ever!  Jake loves people and is very enthusiastic about life.  Sometimes he can be a little hyper!

Favorite Thing to Do:  Jake loves to howl at passing ambulances, play with his rope toy, and be loved on. 

Doggy Drama:  Jake and Arwen (our female collie) get along really well together.  They love to play and chase each other in the yard.  They get along well with all of our other animals like the pony and the cats but have a harder time with the chickens and they absolutely HATE Mr. Squirrel.   

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Barnyard Blessings

There is nothing quite like living in the country and being surrounded by nothing but the hum of bumble bees and a chorus of songbirds.  No cars whizzing by, no horns honking, and no sky scrapers in sight! So today, I though I would put together a list of countrified blessings.  See if you can add to my list!

(All pictures are my own.) 
One of my rose bushes last summer.

Morning dew.
I love fresh strawberries, wet puppy dog noses, and the sound of a cat purring.  I adore the smell of hay, the sound of cows chomping grass, of new chicks peeping and pecking their way into life.  I love a warm summer’s morning, but also a crisp winter’s eve.  Can’t you just hear it - the hoot of an owl, the howl of a coyote, or the mourning of a rain crow?  Can you see the mixture of colors from the cardinal, the goldfinch, and the blue bird all hanging around the birdfeeder?  Behold, the sight of rainbows, thunderstorms, and a swift running creek…. a bald eagle soaring over head, a chickadee gathering seeds, or a robin searching for worms!  Don’t you love waking up to the crow of a rooster and farm fresh eggs? I love sticking my hands in the cool dirt to garden and bringing from the ground my very own fruits and vegetables.  I love the welcome whinny from my pony in the mornings and the feel of a new day.  There is so much more I could list!  I LOVE the country life!!

Pearl's blue eyes.
Let us all give thanks for our many wonderful blessings today!

Psalms 79:13 – “But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.”

Ben and I just after we bought our home in NWA!

Now I also have a list of things that are sometimes less-than-great about the country, but I will save that one for another post.  It might be a bit more humorous haha!    

Monday, March 25, 2013

Top Knot Update and Freeze Proofing

Howdy fellow farmers, gardeners, and chicken lovers!

Today I wanted to update you on the progress of the topknots on my favorite chickens, the Appenzellar Spitzhaubens:

At three weeks.
Today, at four weeks! 

It is crazy how fast these pretty babies grow!  That topknot is comin' along just beautifully, don't you think?  Can't wait to see it when it is a full crown.  Gorgeous birds, just gorgeous.  It is amazing to me how that these birds look so pretty even during the "adolescent" stage where most chickens look... well... less than glamorous haha!


On a side note, it got REALLY cold last night!!  I am not sure exactly how low it got, but I want to say somewhere in the low 20s.  I had to bring in my flowers inside and we covered our radishes and onions with straw and cardboard (had to put some straw on top of the cardboard because of the awful wind):

Covering the onions!
My pretty Petunias.


Then I thought I'd take some pictures of my budding bushes.  I hope they make it through this bad freeze spell:

Honey suckle budding.

Rose bush budding.
That's all for today, folks!  Chicky Bean wants to say "KEEP WARM!"


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cheap and Easy Raised Bed Gardening

Year 2013 marks only our second year of gardening! We currently use three raised beds to grow all of our vegetables.
Our 2012 garden.

They are each about 4x8 feet, and about 12 inches high. The taller you make your raised bed, the less trouble you should have with weeds. At 12 inches there are still a few weeds I have trouble with. I tried to put newspaper underneath, hearing that it would help deter weeds. I am not entirely impressed with this, however, because when you go to mix the soil it will move the newspaper and then it no longer serves its purpose. You might be able to get some sturdy landscape material to put under your beds if you are really worried about weeds. The less weeds you have, the less work your garden will be, but every garden has at least a few weeds.

Some of our 2012 year (not counting the egg - ha!)

Here is what we used for our raised beds to fill them, and so far things seem to be growing great!
  • We use the 1/3 rule. We used 1/3 of compost manure, 1/3 fill dirt, and 1/3 of rice hulls/straw/etc.
  • I think we got enough fill dirt for all three beds for about 25-35$, I can't remember exactly because we split it with the rest of our family. Also, we did our own delivery so we weren't out any money there.
  • We purchased composted hummus/manure the first year we gardened. We bought this at the Wal-Mart garden area. However, now we save money by using composted horse manure from our own pony! See my blog post: Manure Monopoly
  • We also bought a bag of rice hulls the first year and used that one bag across the three beds. Rice hulls help to loosen up the soil a little to allow the roots to breathe, since the top soil and manure mix is really dense. This bag costs around 15-17$. This year, to save money, we just bought a bale of straw for about 5$ and use that to loosen up to soil. 
I really like the above mix because we found that it was the cheapest for us, and to me that is the purpose of having your own garden: to save some $! 

So in one of our 4x8 beds, we put 1/3 topsoil, 1/3 rice hulls (or straw), and 1/3 compost manure. Then we planted our seeds and seedlings. Pick what seeds you like, and just follow the directions on the back of the packet for planting. Once you have your bed all planted, lightly spray/mist your seeds. Do this every evening. It is important not to put too strong a stream of water on them at first or you might move the seeds below the surface. Also, once weeds start coming up, be sure to pull a few weeds each day if you can. This will make your job a lot easier than if your garden begins to be overtaken with weeds. Then you will have to work long and hard to get rid of them.

In winter, overgrown with weeds.

As far as what to make your actual beds out of, you can use different things. We used non-treated lumber, just because my brother-in-law had some laying around and so he built our beds for us. (CHEAP and FREE!) I don't expect these beds to last too long since they aren't treated, but they work for now. You can also use cinder blocks, these make a more permanent garden. 

Cost Break Down:
(Not counting seeds)
  • First year garden costs: $85 (included fill dirt, compost manure, and rice hulls)
  • Second year garden costs: $5 (straw)

The beginnings of our 2013 gardens.

(Buying straw instead of the rice hulls really lowered our cost this year and of course using compost pony manure instead of paying for it from Wal-Mart saved us lots, too. Also, we have not bought any fill dirt this year so far, but we may have to at some point. If we end up getting some, this will cost us somewhere around $15 because we only need it for one bed.)

Happy Gardening!! Leave any tips or experiences in the comments below.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bird Sightings

Just a quick update on the birds I have seen today out and about!
Male Cardinal
Female Cardinal

Gold Finches at the feeder.

This is some sort of hawk - scared the all the birds away!

Sweet little Blue Bird

What kinds of birds do you see where you live?

Woodpecker Rescue and Snow!

I took the above woodpecker picture this morning... I suspect it is the same my cat nearly got yesterday.  I was too busy trying to help Mr. Woodpecker escape yesterday to get a good shot of him!

Later in the day, it snowed!  It melted too quickly to get any pictures, but I took some just a few weeks back that are just how it looked, so I though I would share those with  ya. 

The view from our front porch.

Bill iced in snow!  Cute little guy.

This is Jake!

Snowflakes comin' down in the woods.
Spring grass iced with snow.

Snow on leaves.

Hope y'all a great day!!  Tell me about yourself:  Is it cold outside where you live today?