Saturday, January 24, 2015


Call me crazy but for a while now I have been brushing my teeth with baking soda!

Say what???

Oh yeah and I'm loving it!

I don't know about ya'll but here on the HD homestead we try to be as frugal as we can, and that usually means mama cuts out the simple consumer pleasures and goes for some DIY homemade ones! And in this case its homemade tooth paste. Not that paying $4 a tube isn't much easier and a way of instant satisfaction not to mention the vast flavors, textures, and brands available just down the road at your local store. I feel I can use that $4 more efficiently somewhere else, don't you?

But wanna know my secret?

I rarely go to the store, aside from our once monthly big shop for food, our others necessities are usually shopped in once a month. I have eliminated those "runs" to the store that turn into a $50 exchange. I know myself way too well, well enough to know once mama is in the store all bets are off and there's no telling what might end up in my cart when I only went because I needed deodorant.... 

Instead I leave with the deodorant, (if I wasn't too distracted to remember) a jalapeno cheese round, because girlfriend simply cannot resist jalapenos, some treat I knew Ireland would have to have, I'll usually stumble on some fruit to snack on throughout my shop (low blood sugar pregnancy problems), and maybe my favorite salad dressing! I go through it so fast and have yet to find a recipe that replicates it perfectly, ole Newman really knew what he was doing! 

I can use that $4 better somewhere else... Yesterday I spent $.96/ syringe on 4 syringes to vaccinate/de-worm our pigs, once each this month and then once each a month before slaughter.... See! And I always try to buy more than I need when it comes to the homestead animals giving me less to think about later. Indefinitely re-purposed money in our household goes in our homestead fund, and saved for something more important than a tube of toothpaste. 

Now that I'm done rambling!!! 

There are so so so many DIY tooth paste recipes on the web these days! Take your pick! Personally I chose to simply store a pint mason jar full on my bathroom vanity. I just wet my brush and dip the brissels in the soda and go to brushing. Once I got past the initial tasteless grit I really began to enjoy it, especially the cheapness of that whole idea! We already have baking soda in our house. 

Hint: to liven up your brushing add a drop of your favorite essential oil to the BS once you've gotten some on your brush!!! I use evergreen or peppermint :D

(this post contains affiliate links)

Aside from the small box residing in my fridge for deodorization, I keep one of these bad boys on hand! It is such a multi-use product that you cannot go wrong with, not to mention the work it did on some major stains on my carpet , with this recipe:

In your own or borrowed (in our case) carpet deep cleaner, we used this one, combine 1 Tbsp baking soda, 1/3 cup vinegar, and hot-boiling water....

I doubled up on the portions since I had some really bad set in animal stains and it worked like charm and it deodorized better than any carpet shampoo I have ever used without leaving that wet carpet yucky smell!

Boom there's my baking soda tangent ended!

Seriously try your hand at some baking soda magic.

Finding new ways to be frugal,

Sunday, January 18, 2015


In 2015 I want to learn.

I want to try things I have never tried before.

This year I want to begin slowly expanding our homestead.

So this January I will take you through our 2015 Homestead plan. This plan will show all of current projects with their tasks and any updates or additions they need. As well as new tasks or skills we want to incorporate on the farm. This month is one of brainststorming, planning, and preparing, for there is much to be done before spring!

Lets get started!

So If it isn't already obvious I love animals. Spencer, my fiance, refers to it as my animal addiction.... He might be right! I'm not sure when/if I'll ever hit that point where I feel I have too many. My poor parents painstakinly endured many many of my animal experiments and projects, praise the Lord for their patience. I look at my little managerie as a privelage that I am so grateful for. My animals rely on me for all of their basic needs, somehting any animal enthusiast, or horder ;, never takes lightly. For ifI were to see anyone mistreating my fur babies, girlfriend would be one amgry mama. For one, ok, two main reasons I feel this way. 1) my animals all serve some purpose or provide some service, from my bull dog Dixie to my horse Sweet Pea, every breathing animal serves their divine purpose in the grand scheme of our stead. And we could not be more blessed to receive the gifts they give us of all sahpes, sizes, and forms. Spencer would say he is most grateful for those animals whose purpose is so feed our family. Currently these animals consist of our laying hens, laying ducks, 2 pigs, and our meat rabbits.

In the spirit of prepping and my anxious excite about animals I jumped the gun when a little extra money came in and invested in our rabbit program, this is where our intro to 2015 begins..... rabbits. Following the reccommendtaion of a fellow blogger, Shaye, at The Elliot Homestead, we decided to begin our breeding program with 5 rabbits. So, mid December 4 does and 1 buck came home to the farm. Though I may jump head first into my projects and sometimes a bit hap hazardly, I always do my research.

(A side note to anyone looking to trade urban for rural: Be ready for a lot of reading, the wealth of information available to the modern homesteader via book or internet is limitless, and is the easiest and quickest way to learn a new skill or research one you want to learn, which at the end of the day is the whole point of our endeavor... To learn to cultivate and preserve a humble healthy lifestyle to pass onto our children in the the spirit of getting back to basics and living a wholesome life.)

So, I spent weeks and weeks fawning over homestead magazines with nest box blueprints and webiste after website of how to's and facts for the meat rabbit raiser....have I said this is my first time over seeing an animal husbandry project? Holy cow I've only dreamed of baby animals my whole life and what better to start with than fuzzy kits! Gah! This mama is so ready for babies!

Firstly, I had no idea where to begin... So when in doubt sister simply typed meat rabbit into Pinterest... watch out! You'll be enthralled for hourss just like I was... Eventually I found so much great information that I setttled on 5 breeds that seemed to be the best for meat breeding. New Zealand, Californian, Silver Fox, Satins, and Standard Rex are the most commonly bred meat rabbits. Alas I knew what to look for as my plans began to come together, so I set a budget according to what I thought I needed for housing them and how much it would be per rabbit. When looking for my rabbits I did not bother to care about pedigree and registered status as these rabbits will never be shown, they're simply our little farm bunnes.... Although wouldnt it be fun to start a rabbitry for farm baby when she is a little older? I'm entertaining the idea, this would be a great way to incorporate her into the farm as she grows and teach her some valuable lessons along the way.

Secondly, we at The High Desert Homestead are working on a conrnerstone of homesteading and micro farming, frugality.... Not that I ever spend money unneccessarily on myself or material things, I just tend to over anticiape additions to the homestead and at times may jump the gun when money might be better spent somewhere else. Granted it usually works out in our favor. Becoming more frugal and saving more is a serious goal for this farm mama this year! So... when it comes to purchasing animals, equipment, or farm materials I rarely have to look past another of my daily addictions.... Craigslist. I dont care who you are or where you are, there are always a plethora of animals and equipment floading this oh so wonderful black market network.

Back to the drawing board....

Where will the rabbits be housed..... Next to the chickens underneath the eve of our barn....

And in what.... A homemade rabbit hutch that cost... wait for it.... Nothing! We were able to build it completly costless from recycled materials and some gifted supplies from my unlce... Who by the way gave me the courage to start this rabbit endeavor after he told me about all of his rabbit experiences, and he even said he would help show Spencer and I the whole butchering process! Another homestead lesson in the bag... in about 11 weeks...more on that later!

How much will each rabbit cost..... In central Oregon rabbits prices vary but here's a breakdown of our rabbits cost:

Chester - New Zealand buck (6 mos): $20
Ariel - New Zealand doe (9 wks): $10
Fiona - New Zealand doe (9 wks): $10
Snow - California cross doe (2 yrs): $15
Belle - New Zealand cross doe (1.5 yrs): $15 (with these two does I also recieved 1 rabbit transport cage, 2 water bottle, 2 feeders absolutely free from the breeder who was liquidating his commerical breeding program, homestead win!!!)

As you can see rabbits aren't initially very expensive as far as start up goes and its free to breed them to your hearts content as long as you are prepared for a lot of babies and are sensitive to the mamas' needs throughout gestation, nursing, and weaning. Aside from the cost of the rabbits ($70... Which I might add I won in a game at Spencer's company christmas party!), one large water bottle ($10), and one large feeder ($12) our start up was virtually free. The costs associated with feed are recuring at $11.75/ bag/ month from our local feed company, HayStack Naturals, (20 miles from our house!!! Making Local Habit!) which is sold throughout the county.

Ok, ok wanna see the fur babies???

Pretty dang cute huh?!? The top picture is my main man Chester! He is a broken red New Zealand and boy is he frisky. He always thumps his feet at me when I'm trying to catch him. The second picture shows Snow on the left with the Californian black ears/ nose and Belle on the right with black spots, she is a broken black New Zealand. Last but not least little Ariel the broken red and Fiona the chesnut. As you can see from the picture the two little girls are living in a temporary home until the finishing touches are put on their side of the hutch that the other older girls are sharing. More about out choice to colonize our rabbits instead of individually house them latet!!!

So there you have it!

This is my first step toward a more sustainable food source.

AND... my first new homesteading task to master this year! With the help of Spencer who built my amzing huthces (pics to come later) and always completes my ridiculous requests, and my unle who has experience with meat rabbit raising( and who also happend to be a custom knife maker.... oh ya he said he would make me some of my own processing knives!) we will be well on the road to baby rabbits without stress...

By the way... Snow is expecting her first litter by Chester at the end of this month! Soon we shall seperate her from Belle and give her a nest box this weekend to begin making her nest.

Follow here and the other girls progress her at The High Desert Homestead

Overly excited!

Thursday, January 8, 2015


In the spirit of this New Year and my resolution I thought it only fitting to give my family and myself credit where credit was due. Yes, we still have a few unfinished projects and others we never got to. But we still achieved a great deal in 2014. Here's a sneak peak at a couple of highlights from our year here at The High Desert Homestead. 

Let me just begin by saying how lucky we are to live where we do. In early November 2013 we stumbled upon this 5 acre slice of heaven in Tumalo, Ore.(we used to be sad that we don't own, but after a year here we are glad we don't, more on that later...) and have had great opportunities in this wide open space. Ill give you a tour!!! Shown is a view of our property from the gate. The first building you see is the barn and the house is tucked all the way in the back. 3.5 acres is all pasture space that has since been fenced. Back left corner before the tree line you'll find my attempt at a garden.

We spent a great deal of time tilling and preparing a piece of land for our garden..... Long story short the garden ended up a 1/4 that size by July as it was too much for my family and I (mostly myself as the gardening is something I mostly tend to) to maintain.Both Spencer I and worked full time jobs all summer.... I so wish I had a photo of how bad the weeds became but I was so ashamed I never would have photographed it... But it was a lesson learned and I will never be embarrassed about learning something new! Here's a view of how the garden began... 
As you can see it looked really great to begin with.... Wanna know what else looked really good in there??? My horses eating all the weeds after I put up a fence around the salvageable veggies and let them have a free for all, like I said before I couldn't keep up with the weeds at all. It was terrible......

Ever seen the movie Jumamji??? When the vines take over his house and it became unrecognizable?

Yeah that was my garden last year...

This was some of the most fertile ground on our whole property last summer, literally it was a breeze getting things to grow, getting other things not to grow was the problem. I can't wait to try a new gardening techniques.Let's just say this past season put Mama's gardening skills to the test. Don't get me wrong the season wasn't a total bust as I did bring in quite a good harvest. The garden looks much much different from this now.... updated photos to come this spring!

One vegetable that grew fantastically was ONIONS! And let me tell ya this woman loves onions. I wasn't able to let them fully mature so they were on the small side. Conveniently our irrigation mainline had to be run right through what I had proclaimed as my onion patch! Thus I harvested half the patch early in the season. My root vegetable of choice, radishes, always has large real estate in my gardens and grows so well in our desert climate. I have had a few years to play with watering to get them to that sweet spicy stage. Love love love!

One of my goals this year is to hone in on squash and cucumber gardening. I haven't figured it out for whatever reason and I always end up with puny veggies or the plants freeze before they have had time to fully mature to harvest. Which was the case in this pretty plant that I was so proud of! I believe I also had a minor rabbit problem :(

Aside from my love for eating onions, the ease and experience of radishes, one other veggie takes the cake this year. BEANS!!! Green Beans to be exact. I harvested pound after pound of green beans this summer and fall. They had the highest yield in my garden along side mt scarlet runner beans. Just wait until you see how I grew them!

I built my own bean tee pee.... well I really built if for Ireland and she loved it!

I was lucky enough to build this tee pee for free using saplings and limbs that I have previously removed from some of our aspen trees. 

There are about 2 dozen giant aspens surrounding our house and garage...
I simply cleaned them up with a hand saw to remove any pokeys (yes that's a word in our house)

 I dug a few holes for the poles. As you'll see I didn't use anything to reinforce these poles. You never want to permanently place and structure for your beans as it needs to be moved annually to avoid the spread of disease and a ruined crop!!! So, I want to be able to pull the whole structure down this spring and reset it at an opposite corner of the garden and continue to rotate corners in that fashion.

AND ta da!!! Looks a little shabby still but it worked fantastic. I put each pole 6-8 inches into the ground and its more than sturdy enough to hold the weight of the plants that will be climbing up it. I wound string around the lower half of the structure in order to provide more surfaces for holding and grabbing by the plants. Below you'll see how it turned out! 

It was great to see such success out of this project even though it was started late in the season. After such a disastrous start to our gardening season I was relieved to finally see some fruits.... Or shall I say vegetables from our labor. Another "fruit" we have had the pleasure of beginning to enjoy this year has been our duck eggs and free range chicken eggs.

Sadly, the luxury of our duck eggs was short lived. Another learning experience I have had to learn is that things aren't always going to go as I hopped on this homestead journey. I don't claim to be an expert at anything, I'm basically novice at all things I do. I look to you readers and my loved one's for guidance, but one subject that I know all too well is loss. Life on the homestead as anywhere comes with death, they go hand in hand. We lost 3 of our laying ducks to hawks this summer. One lesson I have learned is that unlike chickens, ducks do not always come home to roost. <<<< See duck eggs!!!!!!! <<<<  Side note: (If ya'll haven't raised ducks for eggs or used them for cooking you are missing out! I love duck eggs they changed my life in regards to baked goods, and never have pancakes tasted better or been fluffier. We can just say that Q and duck eggs together forever.)
My birds are all let to free range the daylight hours 90% of days weather permitting. What I love so much about my chickens is that I know going out to the coop after dark that all the girls will already be roosted up cozied in for the night.....I should only have to close the door... And where are the ducks you may ask?? Splashing away in their kiddy pool making all sorts of racket. Now I don't know if anyone else has had this problem but if there isn't shelter 2 feet from any water they're playing.... 

My ducks are sitting if you know what I mean.......

 Maybe this is just my ducks or the fact that they are domesticated that they lack the instinct to find cover, namely the one that was erected specifically for them..... So naturally after losing my 3 girls I adapted and make sure to usher them inside endearingly every night after the chickens have logically made their ascent to the roost. Naturally I am left with my 1 duck and 2 drakes. I'll purchase a few more with our next order or laying chicks this spring. 
The biggest accomplishment was Oinkers! He came to us at a perfect time and screaming deal from friend just down the road. We couldn't have been happier for it. We slaughtered him this fall and came home with more pork than we knew what to do with. Ha! Yeah right we knew exactly what to do with it! I had BLTs for days and cooked smoked ham with eggs in the morning far more mornings than I could have dreamed of! Raising our own pork has always been something we wanted and we finally did it! 

Now we have two more little oinkers out in the barn (more about them later... 

All in all 2014 was a great year and there will be so much more to come!!! This mama will have a full plate planning a wedding and getting ready for a new baby! I can't wait.... Did I tell you the baby is a girl??? Crazy news and little Miss Ireland will have a baby sister all her own come May.....

May.... A month that will be full of baby prepping, baby chicks and ducks, seedling sprouting, Rodeo kick-off prep, butchering pigs, brainstorming about dairy goats, breeding rabbits, butchering rabbits, watching my Irish princess chase the chickens and I could go on
 yada, yada, yada....

What a busy and fun filled spring it will be!

Phew that felt good! Giving ourselves credit for our accomplished tasks is a requirement here on the homestead. And well folks I think I did a pretty good job, I left some out (not to mention the rabbits, we will dive way into that later!) but no need to give it all away at once. Being the jumper of the gun that I am I already want to start planting, I love to watch plants sprout and grow and I can never wait until spring is here!!!

Melt SNOW Melt!

Perusing seed savers as I type