Sunday, April 13, 2014

Horses and Homesteading

I have been horse crazy since I can remember! Just the smell of them has always been intoxicating to me. When I was a kid, I could spot a horse far in the distance and would dream of riding it and galloping across the pasture as one with the horse. When I was 14 I finally had saved up enough money by very hard work, to buy my first horse. I knew nothing except what I had read in every single horse book I could get my hands on. I practically memorized every book and whenever I could get a new one I would read it cover to cover. I read all the books in our small library that had anything to do with horses. Everyone I'm sure thought I was quite nuts. Buts for some reason I couldn't help it. That's all I could think about every waking second of the day.

My first horse was the best first horse an inexperienced kid could have. He was an old, worn out ex-cart horse with saddle sores on his back and a tumor on his shoulder. But he had the heart of a saint and he endured my very large learning curve and the ups and downs of teenage-hood. We went for a ride every day and explored the jungles and trails and found places that no-one else knew of, beautiful places. We saw a black panther twice, rode to the airstrip multiple times, got lost, found the way, went swimming and sometimes just would hang out together with a good horse book. He was my steady rock and my shoulder to cry on. I learned dedication, hard work, appreciation and so much more good things from that horse. He was the best thing that could have come into my life when I was that gangly, insecure teenager.

One of my best memories of him was the day I decided to turn him back into a cart horse. I thought that sounded like a lot of fun to have him drag me around. The only problem was that I didn't have a cart. But I thought, no problem, he's so gentle I can have him drag a piece of plywood around and I would sit on the plywood. So I rigged up a sort of harness around his neck, attached some ropes to the plywood. I did decide to walk beside the board first before actually sitting on it, just to make sure everything would go smoothly.

The horse, Nathaniel (that was his name) took one look at that rather large sheet of plywood that seemed to be following him rather closely and he was out of there. He took off running faster than I had ever seen him go, across the gravel driveway, across the yard, down the road and out of sight. The plywood was flapping like a kite in the wind behind him. The only problem was that I didn't let go of the lead rope! He dragged me and the plywood for a long way before I finally let go of the rope. All the other kids who had gathered around to see how my experiment would go were rolling on the ground laughing so hard at me. Blood was pouring out of my knees and elbows as I sprinted down the road in the direction of the poor horse.

Along the way I found bits of plywood, pieces of rope, more wood, hoofprints. Finally I found him a good distance down the gravel road. He was shaking and had lost all the wood but still had a piece or two of rope hanging on. I told him how terribly sorry I was for that huge mistake and never again would I make him drag a scary plywood! He got over it and I healed up and we all laugh about the plywood flying in the air like a kite and me getting dragged across the gravel driveway. I might still have bits of gravel in my knees from that one! Who knows.

That great horse endured many other crazy things like that, but I learned and he taught me. He was the best horse I could ever have picked to learn on and make all my crazy mistakes. I still am crazy about horses and have a bunch and will always have them. They are part of my life. They don't exactly make very good homesteading animals, but they sure bring a lot of enjoyment to my life!

Hope you enjoyed my little story of my life!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why I became a Therapeutic Riding Instructor! :-)

Natural Grasshopper control.

Many people ask us what we use to help keep the grasshoppers in check with our huge garden. It is difficult because we don't want to put the chickens there for fear of them eating the garden. We discovered something called Nolo Bait a few years ago and although it doesn't completely get rid of the grasshoppers it sure puts a huge dent in their population and we totally recommend it and use it every year. Here is a link to it if you are interested in purchasing it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lambing Season on the Farm

Spring has officially started in this year!. Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. The trees are all budding and becoming green again. The flowers are beginning to bloom. And my favorite of all, the animals are being born. Here on my little farm I raise Shetland Sheep. I love that breed because they are small, gentle natured, good looking, and provide wool for spinning and adorable lambs to watch! I only have 5 ewes and one ram so far but as of right now 2 of my Shetlands and one random Katahdin ewe that I have, have given birth to a total of 4 babies. They are now at the age where they share mothers, jumping up on whoever might be laying down. They butt heads, play tag, play race, chase and king of the mountain. It is so much fun to sit out in the pasture with them and watch them frolic and play. We have 2 more ewes that should be lambing soon and I'm excited to see their babies!


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Flying Turkeys!

At my small farm I recently purchased two half grown female turkeys to be mates to my tom turkey that I already had. They are somewhat nervous birds, compared to the tom who loves attention and will come up to you and let you pet him. They are beautiful, but nervous. They live in the shed with about 8 geese and 3 ducks.

The geese are bullies and always picking on someone. They think they rule the whole farm and have even attacked the pony while it was being ridden. That's another story though.

Frequently I let the geese and ducks and turkeys loose in the great outdoors so they can graze, swim in the larger sized tub and run around and eat bugs. They love it and get so sad when I don't let them out. A few days ago, when I let them out, the two female turkeys decided to jump (or fly) to the roof of my rabbit shed and then to the tallest branches of the tree that shades the rabbit hutch! I was so surprised. I had no idea that turkeys loved to be up so high. The first day they did that, they came down in the late afternoon and went to bed in the rafters of their shed.

A few days later, they again flew up to the top of the tree, which is an oak tree. This time however, they refused to come down. The tom turkey went to bed in the shed as usual but his girls played hooky on him and slept in the tree. Unfortunately this caused me problems because the dogs that get let out at night and morning would have been able to attack the turkeys. I had to stand watch in the morning, with sleepy eyes.

A few days after that, the girl turkeys decided to fly up to the very top of an even higher tree that shades the house. I climbed up as high as I could get and poked at them with the longest stick I could find. I managed to scare one of them down out of the tree but the other spent the night again up as high as she could get.

I still haven't figured out why they think its so great to be up so high but they love it. I will have to see when they get full grown if they still do that!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How many people know how to cook from scratch?

My family eats dinners cooked from scratch. Growing up in another country, we didn't have the facility and ease that most Americans currently enjoy. We had to plan, prepare, and make everything we wanted to eat. There were no pop tarts, instant potatoes, frozen dinners or already chopped up frozen veggies or things like that. So, we had to make do. We cooked from scratch. We rolled our own pie crusts, even for things like quiche and chicken pot pies. We ate simple meals for the most part. We chopped, boiled, baked, fried, sauteed and made our own meals, all three of them each day.

My own journey into cooking started when I was a girl. My mother was always frustrated with me because I wanted to be creative in the kitchen and didn't want to follow a recipe. I would concoct things that were at times edible and more often than not, I was the only one brave enough to actually eat it! Thankfully I didn't traumatize or poison anyone in my learning curve of young girlhood! One of my favorite past times still is to read cookbooks and recipes and get ideas for dishes and meals that I can invent. I love to learn what spices go good together and to see what happens if you add this to that. When I was first learning to cook she would roll her eyes and get so frustrated with me but I think now she appreciates my creativity!

The other night we were eating a delicious dinner together around the table and got to talking about how many people now days in the United States actually know how to cook a healthy dinner from scratch or do it on a regular basis and what age range those people are. I think it's sad that so many people don't. The family time, the healthier food, the healthier you are overall when you eat home cooked meals from scratch. So I decided to do my own little survey to find out how many people there still are who actually cook from scratch.

So, if you'd like to participate in my little survey, please comment below if you cook from scratch on a regular basis, say at least 5 times a week, and if you are older than or younger than 40 :)

Looking forward to seeing the responses! Happy Cooking!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gluten Free

Our family has recently decided to start attempting to go gluten free. Not because of allergies or anything like that, but because of what we have recently learned about the higher content of gluten found in today's wheat compared to even ten or fifteen years ago. The gluten induces inflammation in cells and causes so many other health problems that we have decided to start limiting the amount of wheat and wheat products we consume. We already naturally eat very healthy food, mostly all homemade and mostly homegrown too, almost all organic. But we do all really love bread and enjoy making bread and things like that.
I found this Gluten Free cookbook on Amazon and thought that maybe it might help others like us who are in the pursuit to eat more healthy and care for the needs of your body. When your cells have inflammation, all sorts of problems occur. Hopefully this book will help you!


Friday, February 14, 2014

The Shoestring Gardener

Whether you're a novice or well-seasoned gardening enthusiast,
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hundreds of creative ways to save money in all aspects of caring 
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projects and techniques in "The Shoestring Gardener" are presented in
a way that allows for almost anyone to be successful.




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PLUS with all the tips and how-tos in this eBook you'll save lots of money
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"The Shoestring Gardener" is for people of all ages who love to garden but
want to learn how to do it better. 



I really enocurage you to check out "The Shoestring Gardener".
You can download it immediately after your purchase and start putting 
it to work right away.

Some free books for Kindle!

These are some Kindle books that at the moment of posting were free (can't guarantee their price forever though :) Maybe you will enjoy reading something from the list I put together!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How to Prune your Crepe Myrtle Trees



This video was done by some good friends of ours who run a tree company called New Leaf Tree and Shrub Care. Their website is:  http://www.newleaftreeandshrubcare.com/
They are a very good ethical company that work hard and stand behind their services! Check them out if you are in the north Texas area.

Shipping Container home? Check this out!

I have long been thinking about a house to build to replace my very old mobile home and have considered frequently the idea of building a container home. It sounds strange at first but when you think about it, they are solid and strong and you can make them look nice with some work. Here's an ebook I found that talks about the pros and cons of building a house out of a shipping container. Click Here! to see the book!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Homemade Laundry soap

We ran out of laundry soap and I've been making our own for quite a while now. It cleans just as good. The only downfall (if you want to consider it a downfall) that I can tell is that your clothes don't come out smelling like flowers. They do however come out clean and if you add enough essential oil to your mix then it smells nice too.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Recipe for Brazilian Collard greens

I was all excited about putting up my favorite recipe for quiche but then realized that it wasn't in my possession unfortunately, so you will have to wait till next time! So.... since we grow lots of greens and collards and other things like that I figured I would share with you my favorite way to eat them. I have never ever been a fan of boiled greens but I love them cooked the way I'm about to tell you! Take a huge handful of collards (other greens work the same way). Wash the dirt off, because hopefully you are eating them fresh from a garden. Cut the rib out of the middle of the leaf. I just slice alongside each side of it up until you get where it isn't so hard, then pull it off the leaf. Stack your collard leaves in a neat pile and roll them tightly into a roll, as tight as you can roll them works best. Take a sharp knife and start at one end of the roll and slice as thin as you can slice it so you end up with thin little strips of green collard leaf. Cut the whole roll this way. Put the thinly sliced leaves into a cast iron skillet (or other skillet) with a couple of tablespoons of oil. We like to use olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper and garlic powder (or better yet, crush some garlic up into your oil first) Saute your greens until they are tender. They wilt down incredibly so even if you have a huge pile you end up with what seems like hardly any! They taste very good this way! Enjoy!

Some interesting little Ebooks that I thought might be helpful