AN ALTERNATIVE TO TOMATO CAGES:

12821343_816346098491797_3035324761450344653_nLast year we grew quite a bit of various tomatoes plants. Instead of spending a lot of money on a countless number of metal cages, we cut up some scrap lumber we were hanging on to for a project just like this. By driving the the stakes ( 33 – 36″) into the ground around the tomatoes and running a string line around each of the stakes several times we had a great set up for the tomato plants to climb. Last fall we were able to reclaim the stakes as well as the string to do it again another year. It turned out great while saving us money, and we always love that.

DIY AFTERNOON PROJECT: BAREFOOT SANDALS

1934743_822338377892569_4936716767857921334_nI saw this picture of some barefoot sandals and I promptly showed them to my beautiful wife and said, “These are cute, you should buy some.” My wife’s response in true homesteading fashion was, “Why buy them when I can make them?” Immediately these barefoot sandals went from cute to SEXY!!!

With the “EARTHING” movement growing in its popularity, these barefoot sandals are a great way to keep the earths electrons flowing, while making your feet looking cute as hell.

MATERIAL LIST and TOOLS:

1. Sparkle elastic cord (57m)
2. Crochet hook size 6
3. A collection of your favorite beads.
4. Scissors
5. Lobster clasps

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FOR A SIZE 5 FOOT:

1. Cut elastic 44″ (for each size larger add 2″), fold in half and make a 1/4″ loop, making a double knot.
2. Put one bead on both strands to begin your beading. Separate the two strands and bead both of the strands as seen in picture.
3. Then crochet 32 chains (you may want to add more chains for a larger foot). End with a pulled knot.
4. Go to the 1/4″ loop and single crochet in loop. This will begin your toe loop. Chain 25 for a size 5 foot (chain more for a larger sized foot). Slip in first single crochet in loop. Knot.
5. Pull the toe loop through the large bead to fit on the knot, at toe.
6. To wear, put the toe loop on your second toe first, then either tie the two strands in the back of your foot just above the heal, or a clasp can be added for easy on and off.

 

RABBIT HUTCH WITH AUTOMATIC POOP COLLECTOR:

IMG_2503IMG_2501So many of you have asked for plans to our RABBIT HUTCH w/ AUTOMATIC POOP COLLECTOR. Finally, we have had the time to answer your requests. With some minor repairs needed and a timely “vacancy,” we decided to take the left half of our hutches apart and REPAIR, UPGRADE, and DOCUMENT a HOW-TO with lots of pictures and step by step directions. Hopefully, this will answer any questions you might have, but if not please don’t hesitate to ask and we can walk you through the process. This project is 2 identical hutches placed side-by-side with a common roof. The hutches house a total of 4 rabbits (2 per hutch).

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First, we started with building the base or sub-floor out of 2×4’s. As you can see in the pictures we have written the dimensions of each piece in order to make the building process much easier and understandable. The rabbit “DEN” was given cross members in the sub-floor that only measured 3″ tall. This was to allow the 1/2″ plywood floor to sit flush. Over time the rabbits urine and poop in the den will rot away the floor so we included these easily removable floors to make our life a little bit easier down the road. After the sub-floor framing was done, it was time to cut out the 1/2″ x 1/2″ wire mesh that came in a roll 24″ wide. Originally, we built the hutch with 1″ x 1″ wire mesh because it was all we had at the time. However, this 1″ x 1″ mesh can be hard on the rabbits feet. It also has large enough openings for a baby to squeeze through. Using a simple construction stapler and a pair of wire cutters, the wire mesh floors were complete.

 

 

Next, we flipped the sub-floor upside down to install the legs. We cut the 4×4 wooden legs to 36″ in length. The legs were screwed in place with 3″ screws. With 2 members of the family being under 5′ tall it was important to keep the hutch at a height that was manageable for everyone in the family. (It’s important to know that the taller the hutch, the easier the poop will roll into your bucket.) Once the legs were firmly secure we flipped the hutch back on its feet to begin construction of the “SKELETON” or walls.

***THE BASIC SKELETON IS WHAT MAKES UP THE RABBIT HUTCH. YOU CAN ACHIEVE ANY LOOK YOU WANT BY HOW YOUR DECIDE TO COVER THE SKELETON. THIS WAY YOU CAN MAKE YOUR RABBIT HUTCH TRULY YOUR OWN AND A ONE OF A KIND***
The SKELETON is made up of 2×4’s that we cut apart to make 8′ 2×2’s. Each wall was nailed together with a framing nailer, however each wall was “SCREWED” to the sub-floor and each adjoining wall for easy removal or repair if needed. Once again, check the photos carefully as each 2×2 piece has its length written on it. We started with constructing and installing the back wall first and then built and installed the side and interior walls. Finally, we finished with the front walls and roof supports. This completes the structural interior skeleton of the hutch.
Next it was time to add some plywood walls to separate the den from the eating area and a center wall was added to create the 2 different living areas.
The plywood roof was added next, and covered with tar paper which was stapled down. We gave the hutches a tin roof. However, you can only see it on the final product because the 2 hutches share the same roof. The roof can only be installed once the hutches are in their final location to insure the roof is straight and square. To avoid any cuts from the roof edge a 2×4 was notched out and laid over the edge of the roof, thus covering any sharp edges.
After the roof was installed as much as it could be, we started the siding. We used 1″ decking material to give the hutches a “CABIN” look and feel. Being new to Missouri when we originally built the hutches, we had no idea how “truly cold” it got here so we wanted thick walls to keep the cold out, warmth in, and also to protect the rabbits from predators. Because the weather “normally” approaches from the SW, we placed the hutches on the EAST SIDE of our shop in order to protect them from the wind and rain. Also, we wanted the rabbits to get the direct morning sun during the winter and shade after noon during the HOT, HOT, SUMMER.
Finally it was time to build the doors for each den and install them. We used the same 1″ decking wood and connected them with 2 strips of wood on the inside of the door that opens downward by use of a typical interior door hinge you would find in your home. These were re-used from our house as we switched them out with nickel hinges. Two thin decorative strips ( the by-product of ripping a 2×4 apart to make 2 qty 2″x2″s) of wood were nailed into place using a finishing nailer and is purely decorative.
Now that the hutch is finished, it will be moved into its final resting place. There are several ways to install the hutch. We buried the legs of ours into the ground to keep them from blowing over in the wind or a predator pulling it over. Another way, would be to put “SKIS” on the bottom of the 4×4 legs. This will give the hutch a wider base and a lower center of gravity. This newly remodeled hutch will get some SKIS. We will then move our 2 rabbits into the new hutch while we remodel the right side. At that point, they will both be installed into a permanent location.
AND FINALLY FOR THE BEST PART….. THE POOP SHOOT!!!
Only when the hutch, or hutches are in there final resting place would I install the AUTOMATIC POOP COLLECTOR. You want to be able to make sure that the poop ramps are both at the same angle should you choose to make 2 hutches. And there are just too many variables to take into consideration when installing it. This is why is just best to wait and install it last. The last thing that you want to do is to take apart your hutch to because something doesn’t fit. By waiting you save yourself time and effort.
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The poop ramps were originally made from plywood which we painted with a rubber based paint. However, after a year the paint began to break down and prohibited the poop from rolling completely into the bucket. Once the paint broke down, then the plywood began to rot. Ideally, I would like to use a sheet of aluminum to avoid rust and corrosion. Sheet metal would work, but I would recommend painting it well, as rabbit urine has a very high acidic value to it. One option we have for the ramps is to staple “SCREEN DOOR” mesh to the 2×4 ramp frame. This will allow the poop to roll into the bucket while allowing the acidic urine to fall straight through. Of course plastic sheets or acrylic sheets will also work great with our humidity. Whatever we decide to use, I’m sure we will make it work.
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We hope this helps you in your quest to build your own rabbit hutch. Don’t forget to ask us if you have any questions about this project or any other. We are here to help anyway we can. Thanks again and HAPPY HOMESTEADING.

HOT TODDY – LITTLE MISSOURI HOMESTEAD STYLE:

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FEELING A BIT UNDER THE WEATHER?:

Last night after the family went out for a wonderful dinner, my husband started to get that “I’m coming down with a cold or flu” feeling. First was the scratchy throat, followed by the stuffed up nose. We’ve all been there. However, when my guy gets sick, HE TURNS INTO THE BIGGEST WIMP EVER (my husband gave me permission to call him a wimp). So when the guy in this family gets sick, I decided to get him a warm manly drink to help him feel better. No Chamomile fluff stuff for my man.

Here is a feel better drink for the times when we don’t feel so good.

Ingredients:
2 oz. boiling water
1 1/2 oz. whiskey
1 tsp. of pure honey
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 slice of lemon
dash of nutmeg

Directions:
Combine first 6 ingredients (everything but the nutmeg).
Let stand 5 minutes to infuse flavors.
Strain into desired mug.
Dash with ground nutmeg and garnish with lemon slice.

I also added one drop of lemon essential oils into the drink as a final touch with the ground nutmeg.

CHICKEN COOP BOARDWALK:

NO MORE MUD:

As homesteaders we tend to put up with certain things, like how mud and chicken coops typically go hand in hand. Growing tired of walking and slipping in the mud every morning during the rainy season, it was time to do something. We had recently replaced our back deck. Instead of just throwing the old deck away, we decided to flip some of the boards over and give the lumber a new lease on life, as a CHICKEN COOP BOARDWALK.

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The coop sat in an old unused garden bed. By using the boards that made up the border of the old garden and several pallets, we were able to level out the deck and connect the coop to a nearby garden. We did incorporate 3 small gardening areas. One for wild flowers, a second for our beans, and a third for pickles/ tomatoes. We were also able to reuse some of the railing from our old deck and use it as a border around our “Pickle Patch.”

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Finally, the coop needed a fresh coat of paint to brighten up the space, as well as some new welded wire after an animal attack tore apart one wall. We will be the first to admit that it might not be our “dream coop,” but in the end we are truly happy with how it turned out.

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Most important though was NO MORE MUD and the project cost us NEARLY NOTHING due to the fact that almost all of the material was reclaimed!!!

 

BEEF JERKY RECIPE

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The word “JERKY” is derived from the QUECHUA word ch’arki which basically means “DRIED AND SALTED MEAT.” However, no matter how long our ancestors have been making jerky, or what recipe is used, JERKY continues to be a favorite among all of us.  Recently, we decided to use our dehydrator and make ourselves this delicious snack, and it turned out great.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds of steak

2/3 cup worcestershire sauce

2/3 cup soy sauce

1 Tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons ground pepper

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

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Slice steak into very thin strips.  Sometimes freezing it makes it easier to slice or have the butcher slice it for you.  Place a large zip lock bag into medium sized bowl.  Add all the ingredients into the zip lock bag.  Marinate your steak pieces over night in the refrigerator.  Remove the meat from the zip lock bag and pat dry with paper towel.

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Place the meat in a single layer on the dehydrator.  Dehydrate for approximately 3 hours checking and turning the jerky every hour.

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We absolutely love this recipe and we hope you do to.

SLOW COOKER STEW WITH DUMPLINGS RECIPE:

IMG_5521Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs. round steak – 1 inch pieces
2 celery stalks, sliced
4 carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 medium potatoes – 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth
3 sprigs of thyme

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup all purpose flour

IMG_5503Directions:
1. Saute beef for 3-4 minutes in a large skillet on medium high. Add red wine and cook an additional 2 minutes.

2. Combine saute beef and juices from skillet, celery, carrot, onion, mushroom, potato, tomato, black pepper, thyme and beef broth.

3. Cover and cook on Low heat 8-10 hours or on High heat 4-5 hours.

4. When beef and vegetables are tender combine flour and water. Slowly stir in flour/water mixture into stew.

NOW! Get ready to add your dumplings!!!!

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DUMPLINGS:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 Tablespoon coconut oil

 

Directions:
1. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. Whisk together milk, egg and oil in a separate small bowl. Add to dry ingredients.

3. Mix together until smooth.

4. Add to stew by the spoonful turn slow cooker on High and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

Makes approx. 8 servings