Archive for the ‘Homesteading’ Category

This last week a very kind reader of my simple little blog contacted me with a recipe she uses to make her own homemade laundry detergent.  I am thrilled to be able to post it for her to share with the rest of you.

Gayle’s Laundry Soap Recipe

1/3 cup 20 mule team Borax

1/3 cup Arm & Hammer Wash Soda

1/3 bar Fel’s Naptha soap grated.  (Or you can use 1 full bar of Kirk’s Castile Soap)

Place all three ingredients in a REALLY large non reactive pan on stove.  Heat and stir to dissolve with 3 pints of water.  Once dissolved pour contents into a large 3 gallon or larger bucket.  To this add hot, near boiling, water to bring contents to 2 gallons.   Stir and let sit for 24 hours.  You can either keep in bucket at this point, transfer to clean milk jugs (this is what Gayle does), or to old empty detergent jugs.  Be sure to stir or shake well before using as the contents do congeal and settle.

To use:  Use 1/3 cup per laundry load.

My own little addition to this wonderful recipe is if you prefer fragrance soaps add 10 drops of your favorite fragrance essential oils to the mixture.  Lavender, Rose, Lemongrass, Sandalwood make for nice fragrances for laundry soaps.

Thank you Gayle for the recipe and the opportunity to share it with others.

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What do you do when you have a whole gallon pickle jar of beads and some clear stretchy line? Why what any sane person with insomnia would do at 3 am in the morning, you make identification leg bracelets for your chick flock.  Oh, I imagine I could purchase the more fancy leg bands from a poultry site but what for? Chicks grow so rapidly you replace the bands at least three times before they even reach six months of age.  For the growing stage I simply opt to make some nice little bracelets of assorted colors to tell them apart and which I don’t mind cutting apart later.

Another benefit to this method is that you can color code the bands as you see it.  For example, you might opt to stick to a primary color of lime green for identification, and then choose a offset color of royal blue to add as you replace larger bands to mark the months of age the chick is for tracking when egg production is expected.  For older chickens you might choose to use a second band with white and red beads to show when you have done health checks and red mite dusting.

Stretch bands as with any other type of band should be checked bi-weekly, weekly preferred, for tightness to the leg.  I prefer mine to be a little “sloppy” and replace as they lose the ability to slide up the leg with some ease, but with enough tightness to not slide off the foot.  Now, I will stress this with ANY type of band you choose to use, check them frequently to assure the band is not to tight or you risk doing serious damage and causing unnecessary pain to your flock. Some years back I had a rooster come to me that nearly had his leg amputated from a band placed on him as a chick and not removed as he grew so neglect of such nature is a pet peeve with me.  Please, check the bands. 🙂

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Yep, I love worms..lots and lots of worms.  These beautiful and yet simple creatures are exceptionally skilled at turning my kitchen scraps into the most beautiful and rich gardening soil imaginable.  They ask for very little as well.  A box or pail to call home, little dirt , some newspaper to read and scraps to snack on.

There is a special name for those of us who “raise” worms, we’re called worm farmers. I like the sound of that.

Worm beds can be stored almost everywhere, inside in your kitchen, in basement, garage or outside.  They can be in a 5 gallon bucket, a storage bin, garbage can or something more elaborate more for your benefit then theirs.  They really are not very fussy creatures.

As my worms had already outgrown their first home, a large storage bin, today I pulled out a old plastic diaper pail from storage and started a second farm.  A five gallon bucket would work the same.  This is the method I used in creating my new starter worm home.

Take your bucket and drill holes around bottom for drainage holes.  Drill additional holes around the top of the bucket to allow air flow circulation. Inside the bucket you need to layer moistened shredded newspaper, yard waste and some soil in bucket.  Add your worms (red worms known as Trout worms, or earthworms work best for job.), and a handful of scraps. Mist with water once more and cover with lid.  Place on top of cinder blocks or wood scraps to allow the “liquid fertilizer” to drain and place a form of catch basin under to gather it.

Feed your worms weekly to start a handful of scraps which can include fruit, vegetables, tea bags (minus the staple), and coffee grounds.  Do NOT feed them onions, garlic or egg shells which all can be harmful to your worms. Be aware worms reproduce quickly so be prepared to offer food more frequently as they consume it.  Alter ends and sides you place food at to move your worms through their bed.

Water when it begins to dry out, I find this is usually twice two three times weekly.  Do not let temperatures get below 40 degrees in location worms kept, or above a hundred degrees in their tub.

One of the most rewarding things for myself is to share these lessons with my children.  To be able to show them, teach them, that humans and nature can work together to sustain each other.  That things do not need to come from stores, manufacturing plants, or labs and that some of the finest things can be created right at home with a little time and effort.  I hope, when my time here is up, they will carry on the knowledge for themselves and future generations.

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