Category: Natural Living
Update …. since April
This has been one of the busiest Springs we’ve ever had. There’s been no time to update our blog so here is a quick photo compilation of some of the happenings that have transpired over the past couple months.
In early spring I began cleaning up and clearing a bit more space for our garden area and septic field.
A large amount of hardwood for firewood came from this clearing. I was also able to get several nice softwood timbers for lumber towards the construction of our house.
Once we had removed all the material from our clearings we brought in an excavator and the stumps were removed and piled up.
Now we can begin landscaping and start planting and creating gardens. Tracey is extremely excited to start cleaning up and build gardens.
While all this was going on I also enlarged our garden plot at home, more than doubling its previous size.
The garden is doing well, we have all the usual vegetables and I decided to put in a big bed of Sugar Beets this year. It was a staple crop on our farm when I was young, sugar beet syrup was made with them and used as a sweetener much like honey.
We’ve harvested lots of mint and radishes so far, the spinach and borage is also ready now.
On June 3rd twelve new members were added to our family.
At that time they were a bunch of tiny fuzzy peepers, they are now feathery active little runners and flyers in their small mobile run.
They love the bugs and tender clover leaves and other greens in their mobile enclosure.
The mill has been very busy since April. I’ve cut up all the logs that were accessible from our property, creating 2 big piles of timber.
During the winter many large trees were blown down. I was fortunate to be able to salvage a huge maple tree from our neighbors property, which I cut up into large planks and dimensional stock.
The 2″ x 12″ planks will become stair treads for our house, the other material will be for cabinetry.
Since building the saw and drying sheds many people have asked if I build these to sell. I’ve always turned down requests up until about a month ago when Tracey’s uncle inquired about one followed by a neighbor requesting one. I caved and committed myself to building these two.
This 4′ x 8′ shed is for a temporary electrical service.
These are just a few of the things that we’ve done. We still regularly make batches of soap, pick wild herbs and tend to the numerous other daily chores and commitments. I’m now allotting specific portions of each day to work on building our house.
Spring has passed into Summer. There never seems to be enough time in a day to get everything done. The school year is over, Where has the time gone?
Natural cleaners using Mandarin peels
In these handmade recipes, you can use any citrus fruit peelings. Oranges, mandarins, lemons, grapefruit, etc….
I wanted to stop using one of my favorite and not so natural cleaners. COMET
I researched many different ways this could be replaced and came to one of my favorite blogs, “The Nerdy Farm wife”. Here is her link to the recipe.
I love how she uses dried herbs as a scrub. I really wanted to use up our Mandarin peels and give it a try. Plus, how nice is it to have the clean, fresh smell of any citrus while you clean?
I decided to dry only half the peels we saved and use the other half for another homemade citrus cleaner.
Once the peels were fully dried, I ground them up into a fine powder with the food grinder.
1 cup of Baking Soda
2 Tablespoons of dried finely Ground up Mandarin peels
10-15 drops of essential oil “Sweet Orange”
Mix everything well and place it into a glass jar that can be tightly sealed to retain the scent.
This natural scouring scrub is used for sinks, tubs, toilets, showers.
Feel free to use other dried peels and essential oils.
HOW EASY IS THAT?
How to Make a Citrus and Vinegar Household Cleaner
With the undried half of Mandarin peels I made this cleaner to remove grime and residue.
Once you have enough peelings, fill any glass jar, then add white vinegar to cover all the peelings. Leave enough space to screw on the jar lid. Place your jar in a dry, cool area for 7 to 10 days. This will allow the mixture to macerate (blend). This will make your cleaner smell wonderful at the same time creating the cleaner. This is a true cleaning agent and can be used throughout your home. Be careful on wood and other porous surfaces as it can discolor it. Once your mix is ready, remove the peels and compost them. I have not yet tried this mix, it’s not quite ready yet. I can’t wait to add this to my spray bottle and get SPRING cleaning.
I can’t believe I haven’t made these sooner. I’m hooked and now I want to send my husband out to get me lemons.
Natural “All purpose” cleaning spray
I have never thought of adding my natural cleaner into a spray bottle before. I always used my natural laundry soap mix, ( 2 Tablespoons) with hot water and mixed this into my cleaning bucket with a rag. I love this method but wanted something I could grab and spray.
The spray bottle is a great tool to have around the home for quick clean-ups
I decided to try a recipe I found on the web.
Here is what I have tried.
1/2 cup of white vinegar
2 tablespoons of borax
1/4 cup of Castile soap Dr Bronner’s Tea Tree Liquid Soap
“They have many different scents, so pick your favorite”.
2 teaspoons of Lemongrass essential oil.
I mixed all these together, then added 3 cups of water.
I filled a spray bottle with my mix and stored the rest in a glass jar.
Benefits for cleaning your home with these ingredients:
CASTILE Soap~Acts as a surfactant and helps lift away dirt and cut through grease. An all-natural soap that’s surprisingly strong. A few drops go a long way.
Tea Tree oil~A natural oil that cleanses and disinfects.
Lemongrass Oil~ Has some antiseptic and deodorizing properties, which are helpful in homemade cleaners.
Vinegar~Effective for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs, due to its level of acidity.
I love this mix. I have been using this for a few days now .The smell makes me happy and adds enjoyment to cleaning.
It’s been far to cold to mill lumber over the past couple weeks, however it’s perfect weather for working in the woods. I’ve taken this opportunity to clear an area of forest which will become the Disposal Field for our on-sight Sewage System.
After several days of slogging through 3 to 4 feet of snow just over half an acre has been transformed into an open space producing several cords of firewood and over 60 good sized logs which I will be mill into timbers for the house. Once the Disposal Field is in place we will develop an orchard within the remaining portions of this site.
The next project is to clean out some of the fallen and dead debris in the forest surrounding the building site and expanding the garden area on the east side of the house. With a forecast for warm weather on the weekend skidding logs out will also be a priority, to get them to the mill.
Easy “Natural” laundry soap
If you are planing to change a few things around your home to remove and reduce chemicals and toxins, this is the easiest way to start. Clean your cloths without synthetic dyes or perfumes that can be extremely harmful to people with sensitive skin or allergies. You will never go back to those pricey store bought laundry soaps again.
I started making this laundry soap over 6 years ago and still make it using just a few “back to basic” ingredients.
We buy Eco-Pioneer products that we use for almost everything to clean our home. You will need:
Pure Soap Flakes (made from vegetable oils)- Forces out dirt
Pure Washing Soda- Cuts grease and softens water
Pure Baking Soda- A Natural deodorizer
Borax- Kills germs and whitens
We buy these products through Well.ca but you can find most of these ingredients at your local grocery store.
Here is the easiest DIY natural laundry soap.
In a large bowl I mix:
- 1 cup of Soap flakes
- half cup of Borax
- half cup of Baking soda
- half cup of washing soda
Add a teaspoon of your favorite essential oil and mix up very well. Best scents for laundry are Sweet orange, Lemon, Lime, Peppermint, Grapefruit, Tea tree, etc.
Once you have mixed up your laundry soap, store it in an air tight jar to keep the essential oils locked in.
This will last you many, many washings. I add 2 to 4 tablespoons in about 2 cups of hot water to dissolve it before adding into the wash, this helps dissolve it since I wash with cold water. I add vinegar to the final rinse to soften the cloths and to help remove any soap residue. Please note that you will not get a lot of bubbles, but it’s not needed since your cloths will come out nice and clean. This is a great laundry soap for cloth diapers, babies clothing, people with sensitive skin, and will work with HE washing machines as well.
HAPPY LAUNDRY DAY!
Homestead Apprentice Wanted
A homestead or farm presents many skill requirements and numerous young people are willing to learn these important skills. Acquiring apprentices is an important means to assure the continuation of small farms and farming, as well as teaching youth the essential skills of basic survival. I have had the opportunity to share the many facets of my woodworking skills with several apprentices over the years but have never considered passing on the extent of my other learning in natural subsistence and sustainable survival skills. I have decided to seek out prospective applicants for a program formatted towards essential farming/homesteading skills. The mission of this endeavor is to enhance our relationship with the rural Cape Breton landscape by applying and teaching the essential skills of sustainable living and small-scale farming, thus invigorating a more functional collaborative community. Over the next few weeks I will draft an application including a detailed outline for this program.
Focus for this program will include Organic Gardening, Sustainable Forestry, Traditional Arts and Cottage Crafts, Renewable Energy, Alternative building, Herbology just to mention a few. Stay Tuned for further details!
I have been putting my hands to making more bread over the last few months. And, I’m so proud of myself. It’s taken me years to make an edible bread., yup, my first few tries had been tears and stress over making bread.
When our older kids where little, I would pull out the flour, yeast and whatnot, get my hands messy and try making bread, Henry would come home to find me flustered with bread in the garbage. I had no idea why my bread never turned out.
Now, I think I go into it much differently. I prepare myself mentally before hand. I tell myself to remember to be patient. I also have a special something, my Grandmothers bread bowel, given to me when we first moved back home here. For some reason, everything just turns out perfect when I mix in it. Like magic. The photo above is an easy no knead bread. If I can make this bread, anyone can. I enjoy her sense of humor in her writing and easy to follow steps.
Above is the No Knead bread with the link of the recipe below.
This bread is the same recipe I have had for years. I have 1 cookbook in my home and have tried this recipe many many times, years ago. This is the bread I have cried over, and swore I would never try it again.
Over 7 years later,” and my magic bowel”, this bread tastes amassing. I have also replaced the milk in the recipe with our hand made Soy Milk. It saves on money and gives it a slightly different taste. Now that I feel confident in my bread, I want to try many more recipes.
Oatmeal and Honey Bread
I took my soy milk bread recipe and added leftover cooked oatmeal and honey with it. I had to add extra flour when kneading it. It’s one of my best breads yet.
Do you make your own bread? What challenges did you have? Do you have a favorite recipe?
My goals for 2014
It’s been a year and a half since we purchased our land. A lot of work has been done to get us closer to actually living there. I found the past summer was hard for me, only because I want to be living there, gardening, exploring the forest, thriving from our land together as a family. Oh, the things that I dream about each time I step foot onto our property. It’s overwhelming but exciting all in one. A workable portion is now cleared and full of stumps and root piles. So much snow now blankets it all. My one goal for 2014 is to have a portion landscaped for a place to start our garden and another space for our children to enjoy.
Here are some other of my goals:
Spend more time reading my books on herbs and gardening. I wish to also spend more time reading other books here on my book shelf. The hard part for me is finding that extra time. Goal #2…. find more time for myself.
Henry gave me these new books below for Christmas. He is already an expert in herbs and gardening but I too wish to learn so much more about them.
We will need to budget ourselves and save some extra money over the next few months so we can pull out the stumps and landscape. I’ve already started a list of the seeds and I can’t wait to order them to begin seeding them out for spring. I want to learn more about using the herbs we grow and the many different things we can make with them.
Our mantel already holds several infused herbs in preparation to add them into our handmade soaps and balms. Winter months are the perfect time to take in as much information as I can before our land is ready for the many plants we will be propagating there.
T’is the Season to Make Gifts
Oh, let me tell you that we love to make all our gifts. To me, a handmade gift comes from the heart. And anyone can do it. This year is no different than all the previous. We have been busy, Henry in his work shop making things with wood of course and me in my studio sewing up a storm. But we do combine our creativity with so much more. This year we both made soaps, bath salts, body creams, and chocolate. These gift sets are for our good friends…..
Here’s what’s inside.
Bath salts to help relax and rejuvenate after the Holidays. These bath salts are quick and easy to make.
Combine equal portions Sea salt and Epsom salt together, then added dried herbs and flowers. Be creative, there are so many things you can use here. We added some essential oils and mixed everything together.
Note that Essential oils have many different benefits, read up on them before you mix them together.
I made some Hemp/cotton muslin bags with a draw string to hold the bath salts.
Whipped body cream.
This is much easier then I thought it would be. After looking at many different recipes, we decided to go with equal parts of Coconut oil and Cocoa butter. A few drops of Vitamin E and scented this with Sweet Orange essential oil. It’s best to whip this up with an electric mixer until thick, like icing. Ours ending up smelling just like the Milk Chocolate Oranges you can buy this time of year.
We added a natural wash cloth Not made by us….. this wash cloth is made with 100% Agave fiber and is a nice exfoliant. These are made in Mexico.
The best part of this gift set is the Chocolate.
Here are the links we used to make some simple, quick and easy chocolate barks.
Dark Chocolate: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/dark-chocolate-bark-almonds-seeds-53420000023756/
White Chocolate: http://www.forkandbeans.com/2013/11/15/vegan-white-chocolate-bark/