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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Free Class: Become a Healer in Your Own Home

Free Class via internet
Registration Link: http://Marisa.enterthemeeting.com/m/WH43TEUH

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Homesteading and self-reliance is one of the hottest trends out there, even reaching to the urban farm movement. While the average homeowner may not be able to swing a fully self-sufficient homestead in their suburban backyard, you can make the effort to grow and raise your own food. If you've been on the fence about building a coop and investing in a few chickens, here are ten of the reasons why you should seriously consider taking that leap.
  1. Fresh Eggs– Many new chicken owners took the plunge solely to reap the benefits of having a steady supply of fresh eggs. What often comes as a surprise is just how many eggs you can actually collect. If you want a reliable stream of fresh, additive-free eggs, keeping chickens is a wise move, indeed.
  2. Reducing Waste– A single chicken can recycle roughly four pounds of kitchen waste in a single week. If you're not a composter and have several chickens, you'll find that your kitchen waste is reduced dramatically with the addition of these feathered garbage disposals.
  3. Fertilizing Vegetable Crops– Chicken manure is a nutrient-rich source of fertilizer for all manner of crop plants, and is an absolutely organic growth-boosting solution. Cut the chemical fertilizers out of your gardening routine and opt for the plentiful resources right in your own backyard, provided that you have chickens on hand to supply your needs.
  4. All-Natural Pest Control– Insects are a special treat to chickens, who will forage for them endlessly. That means that the Japanese beetles decimating your tomato plants will be gone in short order when there are a few chickens flitting around the backyard.
  5. Additive-Free Meat– While some families may not relish the idea of eating their pets, those who do raise chickens for meat are able to enjoy fresh protein that has not been contaminated by antibiotics, steroids or hormonal therapy. You'll know exactly where your meat came from and what it contains, and most cities do have slaughterhouses where you can get someone else to do the dirty work for a relatively small fee.
  6. Teaching Kids Responsibility– Children who care for animals gain a sense of responsibility and compassion. Keeping backyard chickens and getting kids in on the effort of caring for them not only helps to lighten the workload for you, but also teaches kids the benefits of animal husbandry.
  7. Instilling Good Stewardship Skills– In order for kids to learn the importance of caring for the environment and the world around them, they need to have a practical application of stewardship. Knowing the cycle of life, where eggs come from and how important it is to take care of the animals that supply their food is a strong lesson in stewardship that will instill those values.
  8. To Do Your Part for the Environment– The eggs at your local supermarket have been shipped by truck, releasing fumes into the air and gobbling finite fuel sources the whole way. Kitchen waste that isn't composted goes into a landfill. Fertilizers contain chemicals that can contaminate groundwater. There are a host of environment evils that can be reduced significantly on the personal level by keeping chickens.
  9. Sourcing Cruelty-Free Food– When you grab a carton of eggs and a bag of frozen chicken breasts from the grocery store, you have no way of knowing whether or not the animals who supplied them were treated humanely and ethically. Knowing where your food comes from and raising your own chickens allows you to source it from cruelty-free methods. Keeping chickens is good for your family, good for the environment and good for your conscience.
  10. For Fun!– The surfeit of eggs and high-quality fertilizer that comes with keeping chickens aside, they're also fun and entertaining pets. Their social hierarchy is firmly established, which can also be a learning experience for kids and adults alike.
There are scads of benefits to keeping your own chickens, but you should first make sure that there are no local ordinances preventing you from doing so in your area. Some metropolitan areas will allow residents to keep small backyard coops that house hens, but prohibit roosters due to noise issues. Make sure that you're well apprised of the legal implications of keeping chickens in your area before you build a coop and start stocking it with feathery egg making machines.

Article submitted by  http://savings.whitefence.com/

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Post Pumpkin Purposes

     As Halloween is soon coming to a close, make sure you save your carved pumpkins for your compost pile! These will serve a much better purpose in the compost pile than in your garbage can. Before you compost them remember to:

   1. Remove any non organic materials: Candles, aluminum foil, etc. These will not decompose.
   2. Remove ALL pumpkin seeds: The seeds will not decompose. When you spread your compost over your gardens in the spring, you will have unwanted pumpkins growing in between your flower beds! You can't turn those into carriages, Fairy Godmother!
   3. Break up the pumpkin, if desired: Most children would love to help break them up by smashing them. Just make sure they will help pick up all the pieces and put them in the compost pile.
   4. Cover the pumpkins in the compost pile: Like all green material, if you want to keep away bugs, then make sure to cover them with carbon-rich materials such as sawdust, paper, or all of those dried leaves you just raked up.

     Here is a recipe you can use for all of the pumpkin seeds you took out of your jack-o-lanterns.

Soaked and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
4 c Water
1 T Salt
1-3 Tbs olive oil or melted coconut oil
Spices of your choice (see spice options below for ideas)
Soak: Take your clean pumpkin seeds and place in a bowl. Cover the seeds with warm water and a bit of salt. (Use as much water and salt ratios as needed to cover the seeds.) Let seeds sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
Drain: Drain the water from the pumpkin seeds and allow the seeds to dry on a baking sheet for a few hours. Alternatively you can just cook your seeds for 5-10 minutes in a 300 degree oven before moving on to the roasting part.
Roast: Toss seeds in oil and spices of your choice. Lay seeds on a baking sheet in a thin layer. Roast seeds at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Stir every 10 min.

Spice Options:
Cayenne and salt
Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
Chili powder, lime zest and salt
Paprika, sage, thyme and salt
Try whatever you like!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Say Goodnight to Your Garden!

 Say goodnight to your garden, not put your child to bed in the garden.

Your garden has been working hard all year, and so have you! With the chilly weather closing in, you should begin to put your garden to bed for the winter. Your plants will naturally pause their growth - because of the cold temperatures and less light - but we need to make sure that they do not stop growing forever! If you cannot start putting your garden to bed right away, use old sheets or bedspreads to cover your plants. This will help protect unharvested food from nighttime frosts until you can start taking care of the following:

Vegetable Gardens
Your root/bulb vegetables - such as carrots, garlic, horseradish, leeks, parsnips, radishes, and turnips - can be left in your garden for harvesting in the early winter. Mark where each plant is located so that you can find them easily in the snow. Plus, if you cover the ground with a layer of mulch, it will keep the ground thawed so you aren't breaking out the pick axes to harvest your food.
Pull up your tomato, pea, bean, and squash plants. If your plant is not diseased, compost it. If the plant is diseased, then burn them or dispose of them separately.

Cover your strawberries with a layer of straw (or hay.) Maybe this is how they got their name?
Prune your raspberry and blackberry plants. Leave approximately six of the strongest brown canes for every square foot of your rows.

If they are perennials, cut them back. Most herbs can stay in the ground through the winter. If you would still like to enjoy your annuals, dig them up, put them in a pot, and bring them inside!

Trees and Shrubs
Prune your trees, if needed, making sure to remove broken limbs with a clean cut near the trunk of the tree. Protect the small plants by surrounding them with snow fencing.
Don't Forget Your Tools!
Empty out your containers to prevent them from cracking. Store upside down.
Drain your hoses and move them inside your garage; you don't want to be getting mad at kids for cracking one because they stepped on the hose when you left it out! Store the hose attachments and sprinkler parts in a bucket in your garage.
Empty the fuel tanks to your lawn mowers and other power equipments. Read the manuals provided to you for more instructions.
Scrub your tools and put them away. Rub some vegetable oil on your tools to keep them from rusting.

Prepare Yourself For Next Spring
Continue mowing your lawn for as long as it grows! If the grass gets too long, and then snow comes, you may get brown patches next spring.
Rake your leaves up. If you put them into small piles, and then mow over them, you can create mulch to use on your gardens.
Cover your compost pile with plastic, or a thick layer of straw, before the snow comes.
Till the soil to expose insects who are trying to make their winter homes in your garden. This will reduce pest problems next spring.
Remove all of the weeds. If you have an area conquered by weeds, cover it with black plastic so that any baby weeds that will try to grow will die before the spring.
Add layers of compost, leaves, or manure on your gardens. If your garden needs it, gently till in some lime as well.

I hope that you are all able to preserve the gardens you have been working hard to upkeep through the warm seasons. Take a break for the holidays and say, "goodnight," to your garden!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cool as a Lemon Cucumber

Cucumbers seem to be one of those vegetables that always do well for us. In the past we have grown  many varieties with success. This year we might have found a new front runner for coolest cucumber in the garden.
Lemon cucumbers with crookneck squash
For the first time we are growing lemon cucumbers and we are big fans. The name comes from their round shape and yellowish color. We can't tell a big difference in flavor from our other favorite variety the double yield. You might wonder why you would want a cucumber that is smaller than others and doesn't taste different. Here are a few reasons we like them.

  • They are very prolific. I think we are getting more cucumbers from the lemon cucumber than the double yield.
  • They are unique. Not everyone has them. They might be good for those of you that want to sell unique products at farmers markets. It's fun to give them away to neighbors and have them rave about how interesting they are.
  • Our kids like to eat them like apples so they are eating more of them.

What new vegetable varieties are you growing this year that we need to try?


Monday, August 12, 2013

Veggies in the Flower Garden

Do you grow vegetables in your flower garden? We have been growing herbs in the front flower garden for a while.  The last few years we have grown cabbage as edible decoration and find it to be a very beautiful plant. Here is a picture of one of our cabbages next to it's neighbors, mint and petunia .

On a side note, does anyone else think that the word cabbage is one of the weirder sounding words. Say it ten times. Just seems so unnatural.

Read more about edible landscaping here and here.

What edible plants do you like to add to your landscape?


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Squash Bugs

I have given a name to my pain, and that name is squash bug. If you aren't familiar with squash bugs, they are angry, petty little pests that are just trying to get revenge by eating, and killing the squash plants in your garden. They are mad that they have a dumb uninspired name and they insist that in this world of political correctness we call them what they really are "Squash Insects." The term bug is just insulting to them.

Blurry image of squash bugs. It's hard to take pictures of the bugs as they curry away at the first sign of movement
You might think that I am anthropomorphizing a little too much but trust me, these bugs are out for me and trying to voice their displeasure with a vengeance. The sad part is that it is the innocents that have to suffer. My zucchini is taking the brunt of their abuse, but they also killed two of our pumpkin plants and are trying to take out my acorn squash as well.  

Plant damaged by squash bugs

I found some good information on squash bug at this link managed by the Colorado State University extension. It gives good information on the life cycle of the squash bug and it lists some  methods for getting rid of the pests.

Squash bugs are very hardy so the best way to get rid of them is to check your squash leaves early in the spring. You will see patches of eggs on the underside. I just squish the eggs and wipe them off of the leaves.

Squash bug eggs on the underside of leaf
If you don't catch them early, one of the best methods I have used to get rid of them is to lay small boards or cardboard at the base of your squash plants. Many of the bugs will hide under the boards at night. If you check under the boards early in the morning you can kill them using organic squishing methods.

According to the CSU article you can also spread Diatomaceous earth/pyrethrins applications around the base of the plan. This is an organic method, but I can't vouch for it as I haven't used it. There are also insecticides and pesticides that might work but I am not a fan of them as I want my bees to be safe.

What do you do to rid your garden of the vile squash bug?


Monday, August 5, 2013

Armenian Cucumbers

We all have our tried and true heirloom plants that we like to grow every year, but it is always fun to try new varieties to see if there any we like even more. This year we grew Armenian Cucumbers for the first time and they are amazing.

I quick check on the web will tell you that Armenian Cucumbers (also called snake melon or serpent cucumber) are not really cucumbers. They are actually a member of the muskmelon family. We were pleased to find that our crop tastes just like cucumber. In fact, I don't think you would be able to tell the difference in a blind taste test.

Armenian cucumbers grow up to 3 feet long! From our experience they taste better when picked at about 15 to 20 inches long. Many sources also claim that you won't get cucumber burps from the Armenian variety. We bought ours at our local IFA store which sells heirloom varieties that work well in our area. You can also get them online through on of the heirloom seed purveyors.

What is your favorite cucumber variety?


Friday, August 2, 2013

Veggie Tacos

One of my favorite meals of the summer is vegetarian tacos. You can grill almost any vegetable and throw it in a taco and it will taste great. For this batch I used some sweet potatoes from the store and some onions and zucchini from the garden.

We had one of our best harvests of onions this year and the best thing is that they were all volunteers from a batch of Walla Walla Onions we planted last year. They are so sweet and almost too beautiful to eat.

We also planted 3 zucchini plants. As those of you that plant zucchini know, 3 zucchini plants provide enough food to feed a family of seven for two years. They are ridiculous showoffs in the garden and make many of the other plants in the garden feel that there yield is embarrassing.  Even though they are showoffs, zucchinis do grill up nice for tacos.
To make the tacos, add onions and zucchini to a bowl with a little olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. After mixing them together I grilled them. The sweet potatoes were cubed, salted, and then sauteed in olive oil.

Our kids loved them, even our son that would only eat protein if given the choice. You can change the ingredients as different vegetables come into season. Grilled or roasted tomatoes can be added as they ripen, tomatillos can be used to make a green sauce, corn adds a nice sweetness, and even eggplant and potatoes are a great addition to veggie tacos. Make sure to add some guacamole to really put the meal over the top.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

PVC Drip System Update

This has been a a really good year in the garden so far. We have had some battles with squash bugs that I will blog about in the near future. Other than that, everything seems to be producing.

In a previous article I contemplated setting up a pvc drip system. I actually went through with it and have been very pleased. I wanted a more efficient way of watering the garden that used less water. Most of my information for setting up the system came from my go to website for garden help, the Utah State University extension. This article was my main source of inspiration, and the process is pretty easy to figure out. Here is a picture of the garden in its glory with the pvc pipe running down each row. I have shutoff valves every three rows so I can divert water to specific rows in order to improve water pressure, or to water specific plants.

The drip system seems to work very well. The pipe are hooked right into my hose and I manually turn it on when I want to water.  This system seems to be very efficient. Utah has had one of the hottest summers I remember. Even with the heat, this past month I have only watered each row once a week for 20 minutes and our plants are green and producing well. This system has also cut down on weeds as only specific areas are watered 

As I talk to gardeners in our area, it seems that it is a good year for gardening. How are your backyard farms doing. Let us know in the comments.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Unwinding the Cucumber Tendril Mystery

I am always fascinated by my cucumbers and their ability to send out tendrils that help them grab on to other objects and reach towards the sun. Watch this videos from NPR's Science Fridays. It talks about studies that have been done to figure out how cucumber tendrils work. Miraculous events occur around us every day and my vegetable garden is full of them.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Angry Chickens and an Angry Mama

Today I was about to lose my cool with the child (which I will not name) that is in charge of taking care of the chickens. It has been one too many times that we have gone to check on the girls and either there is no food, or the eggs are not being collected, the water is completely gone, or the muck bucket is over flowing under my sink. When I approach "this child" who has been doing this job since he (oops now that you know it is a "he", you can narrow it down to 2 of my kids) As I was saying, he has been doing this job for YEARS. And he somehow can "forget" that he needs to give them water?!?!?

So, instead of yelling, pleading, screaming, or pulling my hair out. I made a reminder card for him.
This way, he CAN'T forget, because it's right there on the laminated card! Brilliant, huh?!?! Well, we will see tomorrow when we use it. Also instead of checking off on his job chart that it is done with no accountability, he will have to report to me so I can give him his "chicken token". Each chicken token will be worth a certain amount of money and can be redeemed at some point, neither of which I have decided on yet. But, here are the chicken tokens as well. Feel free to copy and print your own, maybe we can all have happy chickens!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Seed Starting With a Rain Gutter

Over the years we have shown you several methods for starting seeds. Jennifer built a great seed starting rack with lights to start her seeds. 

Cousin Allen did something similar using a prebuilt rack and fluorescent lights.

We planted ours in used plastic cups, yogurt cups, and peat pots and put them in the window.

This year we tried something different. We put all of our seeds in a rain gutter in our windows. It worked great and turned out to be an easy way to bottom water all of the plants at once. Check out the video below to see what it looks like.

What are some of the methods you have used to successfully start your seeds indoors?


Monday, April 29, 2013

Chicken Madness Winner

It has been a long and grueling process for the chickens that have competed in our chicken contest the last month. Dreams have been made and broken. It is important to note that all of the chickens showed great composure and hard work. They all are winners in their own way. Unfortunately, there can be only one champion. Our followers have voted and Annie the chick is the winner. I expect great things from this chick in the future.

Thanks to Candace for submitting this photo. Email your address to backyardfarmingblog@gmail.com and we will send you the grand prize "Your Farm in the City" by Lisa Taylor.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Doctrine & Covenants 43:24

O, ye nations of the earth, how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Job is Feedin' a Nation

by Uncle Dale

As a Farm Management Specialist at the University of Maryland, I spend about 25% of my time working with dairy farmers to help them analyze and improve the profitability of their farm businesses. I love this part of my work because dairy farmers are the salt of the earth. They are some of the best, most hard working people I know. The following video says is tall.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chicken Madness: Final

It seems like our followers like the chicks as both of our finalists just barely left the safety of their eggs. It just goes to show you what a chicken can accomplish with hard work, determination, and a little luck. Vote for your favorite at the bottom of the post. The winner will receive the book "Your Farm in the City" by Lisa Taylor.

Chicken A

 Here's a picture of our newest chickens for your contest.  They don't have names yet, the kids are still working on that. They are gold stars, and I have a whole post about them on my blog - http://deannh.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/round-3/

Chicken B

I have so many pictures i had a hard time choosing, but this one is a New Hampshire Red named Annie. :) 

My blog is: www.mercyisnew.com

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chicken Madness: Round 2

These are the last three chickens before we go to the final. Vote for your favorite at the bottom of the blog post.

Chicken A

 Here's a picture of our newest chickens for your contest.  They don't have names yet, the kids are still working on that. They are gold stars, and I have a whole post about them on my blog - http://deannh.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/round-3/

Chicken B

Without further adieu, here's Cruella.  She's wearing her pinless peepers because, true to her name, she likes to pluck other people's feathers.

You can see more chicken fun at Cranky Puppy Farm at crankypuppy.blogspot.com.

Chicken C

This chick was named Legos by my two year old son. Go to www.joyfullybecca.com to see the other awesome names he chose for the five other chicks.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chicken Madness: Round 2

We have finished the first round of our chicken madness contest. All the chickens we received in our email have had a chance to compete. Our first contest was a tie so seven chickens have qualified to move on to Round 2. We will have 2 contests in the 2nd round. The chicken with the most votes in each contest will move on to the final. Now is when the chickens will prove themselves as true champions. Vote for your favorite chicken at the bottom of the post.

Chicken A

This is for the chicken contest. her name is Mohawka, she is a buff lace polish and yes her hair/feathers is pulled back. she's a diva chick.


Chicken B

I have so many pictures i had a hard time choosing, but this one is a New Hampshire Red named Annie. :) 

My blog is: www.mercyisnew.com 

Chicken C

We call her PigPen - because she's really that messy. :)

Chicken D

We adopted a few chickens that (sadly!!) had their beaks clipped. they have started to grow back, thankfully, but this little girl still makes us smile with her crooked little mouth.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

ALMA 32:28

Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chicken Madness: Sixth Challenge

Another day, another face-off. I believe these are the last two entries we received. After these two are done competing we move on to the second round of the competition. Vote for your favorite chicken in the poll at the bottom of the post.

Chicken A

This chick was named Legos by my two year old son. Go to www.joyfullybecca.com to see the other awesome names he chose for the five other chicks.

Chicken B

Meet Ugly-Stepsister. The ugliest hen we have seen.

Michael A

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Anyone have issues with egg blockage in their chickens? We found one or our turkins tonight with its feather drooping and she doesn't want to move, just stands there. We picked her up and it feels like there is an egg ready to come out. Any ideas how we can get her out of misery??
 Please leave your answer as a comment!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Drip System Ideas

This year will be our third summer at our current home. The last two years we have used a hose and sprinklers to waterour garden. My intention has been to get a drip system hooked into our sprinkler system.As you all know, sometimes what we intend isn't what is realized. This year, I decided to just put in a drip system hooked to our hose and a timer as I don't foresee getting it hooked to our sprinker system soon. I still have about a month to get it in as it snowed today.

I found some great ideas from my local Utah State University extension on making a PVC drip system at this link. Scroll down through the first part to see lots of great pictures and ideas. Here are a few pictures of the systems that people have built. All pictures taken from the University of Utah extension site and the article that I linked to.

This one is appealing to me as you can open and close various sections depending on what you want to water. Seems to add a lot of flexibility.

This one looks like it would work well too.

Here is one that looks good for a raised bed or square foot garden.

I am sure there are many pros and cons to a system like this. I like the idea that it saves water and I can automate it. I have talked to people that don't use PVC because it leeches chemicals into the soil.What are your experiences with a system like this? Share your feedback, ideas and resources in the comments below.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Chicken Madness: 5th Challenge

We are having so much fun viewing your chicken pictures. Here are two strong contestants that could end up winning their owners a book. You know the drill. Vote for your favorite chicken at the bottom of the post.

Chicken (rooster) A

Here is a picture of our handsome, suave Rooster named Buddy.

 Thanks  JILL

Chicken B

Without further adieu, here's Cruella.  She's wearing her pinless peepers because, true to her name, she likes to pluck other people's feathers.

You can see more chicken fun at Cranky Puppy Farm at crankypuppy.blogspot.com.