Update

block walls sill-seal plates   mason coop-1scarf

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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.

clearingA 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.

stumpsA field of stumps was created

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Once we had removed all the material from our clearings we brought in an excavator and the stumps were removed and piled up. stumps-gone

Now we can begin landscaping and start planting and creating gardens. Tracey is extremely excited to start cleaning up and build gardens. stumps-gone-1

While all this was going on I also enlarged our garden plot at home, more than doubling its previous size. garden

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. garden1

We’ve harvested lots of mint and radishes so far, the spinach and borage is also ready now. mint

On June 3rd twelve new members were added to our family. chickens

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. chicken-run

They love the bugs and tender clover leaves and other greens in their mobile enclosure. juveniles

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. mill

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. maple

The 2″ x 12″ planks will become stair treads for our house, the other material will be for cabinetry. 300

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. shed

This 4′ x 8′ shed is for a temporary electrical service. shed-2

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. lupins

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

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In these handmade recipes, you can use any citrus fruit peelings. Oranges, mandarins, lemons, grapefruit, etc….

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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.

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Ingredients:

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?

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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

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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.

Borax~Disinfecting

I love this mix. I have been using this for a few days now .The smell makes me happy and adds enjoyment to cleaning.

Transformation

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.

clearing

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.

clearing3

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.

cutting

Easy “Natural” laundry soap

4If 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.

3We 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.

2This 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!

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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.

homestead

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!