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How To Make Simple Homemade Citrus Cleaner

Who here is tired of prices at the store for the things we use every day? Go ahead, raise your hand. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the products we buy…especially household cleaners, we would NEVER let our children handle. How does that help?? Like, we want to teach our children to be helpful members of our community and household…and that includes cleaning up. Lets face it, if I had to turn my kids loose with a store bought household cleaner I’d probably just live in a dirty house *ugh, who wants that *. There’s good news. I have a safe, simple, and cheap alternative that you can make right at home. I got you 🙂

I’ve been experimenting with simple all purpose cleaners for almost a year now, but honestly there’s always something that doesn’t work for me. While I refuse to waste anything…lets just say it just takes a long time for me to use them up. I’m not saying that they don’t work, I think maybe I’m just frugally picky *lol is that a thing?!?!* I’ve finally found something I’m willing to share, and better yet…I let my kids use it by themselves *whoop whoop*.

Now before I give you the simple and easy recipe I need to tell you two things:

  1. This recipe makes a CONCENTRATE. You will need to dilute this when used for cleaning…but don’t worry, I’ll show you how.
  2. There are things that you CANNOT clean with this orange peel cleaner. While many posts out there will say you can clean everything, I am here to tell you that you shouldn’t. Citrus is acidic and can damage certain things it comes in contact with. Here is a short list of the things I know of that you should avoid cleaning with this cleaner.
    1. Granite or Marble
    2. Stone flooring
    3. Hardwood floors (even if its sealed)
    4. Stainless steel
    5. Painted surfaces

So yes, Homemade Citrus Cleaner is a cheap and effective alternative to cleaning with commercially made household cleaners, BUT you can’t use it on everything , so just be mindful. K?

Homemade Citrus Cleaner:

Before you get started, gather up:

  • your choice of mason jar
  • Orange, grapefruit, lemon, or lime peels (any combination of these will work, too) (and don’t feel like you need them all at once..start with a few and work up from there)
  • White vinegarYou’ll need these last 2 things after your concentrate is done soaking
  • A spray bottle (feel free to repurpose one)
  • 3-4 drops of essential oil (totally optional)

Ready…lets get to makin’…

Fill your jar about half to ¾ full with citrus peels.

Fill the jars the rest of the way up with white vinegar. Cover tightly with a lid and give it a good shake. Write the date on the top so you don’t forget *I stink at this part lol*

Allow the peels and vinegar to steep for at least 2 weeks. The longer it steeps, the more potent it will be.

Once the appropriate time has elapsed, remove the peels from the mixture and strain your concentrate through a fine strainer or flour sack towel to remove any bits of citrus that might be floating in your vinegar.

Dilute your concentrate 1:1 with water (one part concentrate to one part water) and pour in your spray bottle.

At this time, if you have decided to include a few drops of essential oils go ahead and add them to your spray bottle.

How To Make Simple Homemade Citrus Cleaner

That’s it, you’re ready to clean…I know what you’re thinking …* SHUT YOUR MOUTH* I know, I get it. But I promise cleaning is more enjoyable when you know it’s safe for your family and easy on your checkbook.

What other cleaners would you like to find a safe and cost effective alternative for? Leave me a note below and I’ll make finding an alternative for you my next project.

Love, Grace, and Blessings to your place.

Val

In Like A Lion Out Like A Dragon

You know how they say march comes in like a lion and out like a lamb…..yeah well, mother nature forgot to take her pills and gave northern Wyoming a double dose of lion :/ I’ve been dying to get some green growing somewhere but with such a late last frost date I patiently (read jealously) watch as others get to planting and I’m over here planning, planning, planning.

March was a funny month. It was filled with baby bunnies, prepping for calves and their expectant mommas, and brief moments of sunshine. While the cold had us inside for the most part I always feel like March is the calm before the storm. In March we’re planning, hoping, and dreaming. By the time April shows up, whether the weather is nice or not, its time to kick everything into high gear and get some serious work done. We have a limited amount of time to be productive and grow what we can. We are in hardiness zone 4b and only have about 100 days of growing season. That means putting all our time and effort in those 100 days to growing and preserving as much food as possible.

april 1

This year I took a hard look at our pantry and really tried to plan to plant things I knew we would eat fresh from the garden or that would be on my “learning to can” beginners list lol. It’s a very non-frivolous garden plan but I’m very excited about it. In years past I’ve planted items that looked fun but weren’t very practical, I’m hoping this year will be a bigger success and that our shelves are stocked for the long winter.

There are sooo many things I want to get done in April. Our calves will be hitting the ground soon, there’s a garden to plan and plant, new animals that I want to make preparations for, and inside projects I want to tackle before its so warm and amazing outside that we never want to be in the house.

Here’s a quick list of all the things we potentially have going on this month:

-Calves coming and making plans for who stay and who goes

-Find new ways to use rabbit meat because we had a baby explosion from my Easter efforts

-Work soil in garden beds, plant seedlings, and dream about overflowing garden beds

-Laundry room makeover/facelift

-Pick location for new chicken coop and possible duck pen

-Clean up hay yard and start hauling all the unusable junk to the landfill

-possibly build a new colony for grow out rabbits

-Rebuild portable hay bunk for cows maternity pen

-Help spread manure, till gardens, and trim back old brush at hubby’s Aunt’s homestead

april 2

March was full of cold, snow and blowing winds, so here’s to hoping that mother nature is a little kinder to us in April because there’s lots to get done and soon summer will be here and I’d like to feel like we’re getting most things accomplished.

What about you? Leave me a comment below and let me know what plans you have for April?

Love. Grace. Blessings to your place.

Val

6 Easy Things for a Stress Free Start with Meat Rabbits

I took a count on my rabbits this morning and I’m a bit baffled. What started as a single pair (buck and doe) has turned into 16 of breeding age! At one point I had over 30! Rabbits really do breed like….well, rabbits. Being successful with this easy and inexpensive meat source is only a few steps away.

When we started down the rabbit hole of meat rabbits my hubby wasn’t convinced, he hates putting money into something that he doesn’t see a return on. I did a little research and was convinced that if I could keep a horse and goats alive, rabbits would be a piece of cake.

I may have been a little sneaky….ok, a lot sneaky, about how I got rabbits onto the property. I convinced my hubby that the girls would love a rabbit for Easter and he finally gave in. If I made sure that we just happened to pick out a buck and a doe it was purely by chance *wink, wink*.

If you’re considering meat rabbits, here are 6 things to double check:

  1. How many?

    • This will depend on your family size. An average doe can and will reproduce every 30 days for about 8-9 months out of the year. At an average litter size of 5-9 and an average grow out weight of 3-5 pounds you could expect to have 28 pounds of processed rabbits per litter.

  1. Where will they live?

    • There is no wrong or right answer but there are 3 most common. Hutches, cages, or colony style. All of this will depend on your goals, space, and personal preference. Please keep in mind that rabbits are prey animals and need secured from everything.

  1. What will you feed them?

    • Whether you will feed fresh vegetation, hay and grain, or commercialized feed is up to you. Keep in mind what your end goals are from your rabbit project are and do your research about their nutritional needs.

  2. How will you butcher them?

    • An inevitable end for one of our meat sources, but know that you have options. Two of the most common being a pellet gun and cervical dislocation. Both are effective and relatively easy on the rabbit and the human.

  3. What kind of rabbits?

    • This will depend on your goals. Are you wanting meat only? Will you also want to use the pelts? Will you sell some to other homesteaders or as pets? There are breeds to suit every need.

  4. Do you know common signs of illness?

    • While I wouldn’t say that rabbits get sick often, knowing common signs will help you stay ahead of trouble. Rabbits often don’t show signs of being sick until much too far into an illness. Knowing what to look for ahead of time will be a lifesaver, literally.

6 Easy Things

Whether you’re a planner or a jump in with both feet type person getting started with rabbits can be easy and relatively inexpensive. When we started with our first pair we had less than $50 into the entire venture. Considering all the tastey meals that have come from that first step I would say that it was money well invested.

What are your questions when it comes to raising rabbits? How can I help?

Love. Grace. Blessings to your place.

Val

It’s Not About Being Amazingly Perfect

The other day a friend asked me why I wasn’t sharing our journey anymore. I told her I was, I post once a day on my Instagram account, plus I share the behind the scenes on my IG stories. She just went quiet…. “that’s not what I mean and you know it”. Ok*sigh*, truth be told I knew what she meant. Why wasn’t I blogging anymore? Why wasn’t I blogging about the snippets I share on IG? The reality hit me like a flippin’ sack of potatoes.

 

When we first started on this journey of growing, raising, and making more of what we use and relying less on spending all of our money on stuff from the store I wanted to just share our journey. If I inspired someone else to start their own journey right where they were in life then so be it. The reality is that I got caught up in trying to compare myself to the “Jonses” of the homesteading community. Shocker I know. When your IG feed is filled with amazing pictures from some amazing women you want to be just like them, the trick is not to lose yourself in all the beauty. And I did.

We don’t have 40 acres, we don’t have “all the animals”, our house isn’t beautifully decorated with amazing farm décor(I’m working on this part 😉 ). But do you know what we do have? A passion for agriculture, the want and willingness to get our hands dirty, fall on our faces, and get back up and keep trying. And you know what….if I was going to try to be “just like” someone, I’m who I would want to be like. While I admire all the wonderful women that I follow on Instagram, we are all on different paths and at different points in our journeys.

4 simple things to do when your ready to start YOUR OWN journey

  1. Find a homesteader who is where you’d like to be
    • Now the trick here is not to try and catch up with them but realize that they almost always started right where you are right now.
  1. Use their journey as an example, not a road map
    • After all their journey isn’t yours. Where did they start? What can you start with?
  1. Pick 2-3 things as big year end goals
    • Anymore than this and you will find yourself overwhelmed and wanting to just throw in the towel. Who needs that??
  1. Break down your year end goals into seasonal goals
    • While most goal setting strategies break down into quarterly goals, homesteads are run by the seasons. What mini goals can you get done every season? What mini goals need to wait for warmer seasons and what can be done while its cold out?

not perfect

Where are you in your journey? What do you feel like you need some direction with? Leave a comment below and lets start a discussion about where we are, where we’re headed, and what we need to do to get there.

Love. Grace. Blessings to your place.

Val

3 Simple Steps to Make More Time for Yourself

Lately I’ve been spinning my wheels….and its driving me crA-zy. Fall came in like a dang mare in heat and she was just plum pissed off. We were left scrambling to get all our last minute fall chores done and buttoned up before Old Man Winter made his appearance, and from the sounds of it he’s going to be extra cranky this year *eye roll*.

There is so much to do when you homestead, no matter the size, and we desperately wanted to have it all done so we’re not out doing these tasks in single digit weather. Here’s just an idea of what we had going on…. hauling and stacking 22 tons of alfalfa hay (660 small square bales), weaning calves and then opening up the storage side of our barn to make room for our ever expanding miniature cow herd, trying to solve the question of how we can provide enough water for 7 cows and 1 horse when they are in two separate pens and I really, REALLY don’t want to have to pay to run two tank heaters this year, remodel and fill “beds” for my expanded raised bed garden, seal up doors and windows, clean rabbit colonies…..are you getting the picture?? yeah me too.

Want to know what makes that even more stressful??, having a house so cluttered and trashed with “stuff” that I spend 85% of my day just trying to knock some of it back, organize, and clean up after two little tornadoes…lol. As I’ve begun homeschooling this fall with our oldest I’m finding I have even less time as I spend 20-30 minutes a day planing and prepping for the following day (I seriously need a better plan for prepping) and then 25 to 45 minutes sitting down and guiding my daughter through her lessons and exploring her world. While I love the time that I get to spend with our oldest learning, and then both kiddos as we do our arts and crafts, I’m finding I have less time for myself and all of the other billion (okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but seriously) things I have to get done in a day right now. While most will tell you that this is just part of homesteading, motherhood for that fact, I refuse to believe this.

3 Simple Steps to Make More Time for Yourself

Lately I’ve started just purging anything and everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary for our daily life or that didn’t bring us joy. It’s a slow process and I’ve stopped and started A LOT, but I will tell you that I’m finding it very rewarding. The key is to start with small things that will give you immediate victories so that you are encouraged to keep the momentum going. For me the most important areas that needed addressing were: clothes/laundry, dishes, and kids toys…..OK maybe this isn’t that small of one, but seriously there is way too much to pick up, so some of it had to go.

First…

Lets start with dishes, mostly because they’re fairly simple and straight forward. We (OK, me…cause lets face it, mom gets stuck doing dishes 90% of the day lol) cut our dishes down to just 2 sets for each person. Hubby and I each got 2 large and 2 small plates, 2 cereal and 2 salad bowls, as well as 2 tall and 2 short glasses. In turn, the girls each got 2 sets of plates/bowls/and cups. I swear this has cut my “doing dishes” time by more than half, simply because we don’t reach for a clean dish…instead we simply wash something if we’re out or if we’re really good we simply wash our dish when we’re done and set it in the drying rack….we’re still working on this part.

The extras I simply stored in an out of the way cabinet in case we have company and need more dishes, or as we’ve already experienced dishes brake and sometimes its easier to pull one out of the cabinet then try and track one down in the store. The key to this is putting them in an out of the way cabinet, you don’t want to be tempted to pull an extra dish out when you’ve dirtied all your everyday dishes. If you think you’ll be too tempted simply box them up and store them in the attic/cellar/garage, whatever works for you.

Next…

Lets talk about laundry. Are you tired of doing laundry? Tired of watching clothes pile up as fast as you can wash them? Well let me simplify things for ya. How many pants do you really need? Come on…be honest. For me, I have 2 pairs of pants that I like to wear around the house when I know we’re not going to town (these are mostly for the winter when I know we are going to be in the house most of the day), 1 pair of nice jeans that I save for “going to town” days, and 2-3 pairs for “work” days or dirty chores. That’s 5 pairs of pants. Now I did the same thing for my shirts, sweatshirts, and other clothes. There is no right number, so I’m not going to give you one. It truly is based on what your average day/week looks like, if you are a stay at home mom your wardrobe is going to look far different than someone who works in town all week and takes care of the property nights and weekends.

Create three piles as you empty your drawers and closet: keep, donate, trash/rags. I only kept items that I was wearing on a regular basis and that I knew fit me well and that made me feel good. I donated items that were too large or didn’t fit me right, since I’m in the process of loosing baby weight I’ve decided to temporarily keep items that are too small, HOWEVER as I am able to fit into my old wardrobe I will be assessing what fits and feels good and donating the rest…I also boxed the too small items and moved them to a spare closet.

This is a process, so don’t feel like you have to get it “right” all in one foul swoop. I’m doing a second round through my closet this coming week and I know I’ll find even more that needs to be donated than I did the last time.

Lastly…

Lets talk about the toys. I can almost guarantee you that the amount of toys your kids have is a direct reflection of your location and weather. Where we live in northern Wyoming we get on average about 6 months of winter. While the kids have no problem bundling up and playing while I do chores in the morning and pitching in where they are able, lets face it no one wants to spend all day outside in single digit weather. For this reason we have a larger amount of toys than some. In the summer I try and take the larger outside appropriate toys like our slide and sand table outside so the kids don’t get sucked into playing inside.

When I made our initial purge I cleared all the toys out to a separate room that the kids don’t have access to, and then gathered toys by use or theme starting with the favorites. For us this looked like their Little People farm sets, wooden train sets, building blocks, Mr Potato Head parts and pieces, drums/pianos/xylophone, Duplo blocks, dinosaurs, and a few other random toys. Those were the only toys allowed back into the playroom. I waited 30 days to see what toys if any the kids would ask for out of the spare room….there were a few but not many. After the month was up I went through the remaining toys and if it wasn’t broken and had all its pieces I put them in the pile to donate. Since Christmas has come and gone I really need to go back through and see what toys aren’t being played with and purge again.

If you find yourself with a ton of toys still you could try something like a toy rotation where you only put out say half the toys and in a week or two swap them out. It amazing how much more toys get played with when kids have fewer choices to overwhelm them and they’re easy to find.

more of this

If you’re struggling to simplify your life and your routines I hope that you take my story and jump in. There’s no right or wrong way so just take a step forward and declutter your stress and chore load.

Life on the homestead can be full and busy at times, but I hope I can show you the way we are trying to live our lives and our experiences as we make changes to be less stressful and making time for the things in life that really matter. Now get up and get started. I promise if you spend just 30 minutes today decluttering an area of your life that seems to be taking up your valuable time you will find so much time to enjoy the things in your life that matter to you. Come back here or find me on Instagram and let me know where you started and what changes you hope to see.

Love. Grace. And blessings to your place.

Val

The secret to overcoming crappy moments

Ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go right?? One of those “If I didn’t have bad luck I’d have no luck at all” kinda days??

The reality is that we all have them, albeit some last longer than others *eye roll*…..but its what we do with them, how we react to them, that makes the difference. And I’m here to confess that my reaction to the last few months has been less than stellar *coughs*…ok, it sucked, but the good news is there are some valuable things to learn from my recent bout with “the sky is falling”.

3 steps to getting back on track..

  • Slow down and breatheOk, so this one may seem overused and a little obvious but hear me out. Often times when things start going any other way than what we want or expect we get a little panicked. Sometimes we forget *raises hand* that simply taking a breath, reflecting on what is going on, and just shifting our game plan (whether its just a different step to get to the same goal, or shifting our goal to be more in line with whats attainable and reasonable) can make things less hectic and easier to manage.

For instance, when not only did my garden NOT get set up in time but I also DIDN’T get my seeds started this spring and all of a sudden planting season was upon me with no plants to put in the ground I panicked. My dreams of a flourishing garden with plenty of fresh veggies and fruits available for our family were dead…literally. My first set of store bought plants withered away in our cooler than usual temps.

  • Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a homesteadYou can’t possibly expect to whip a homestead together in just a year or two and not have setbacks, road bumps, and re-directions. When starting a homestead, especially on a budget, you have to expect things to move slowly…as long as they are continuing to move in a forward direction BE HAPPY. You’re not going to master all the skills you need in a years time, nor are you going to be able to produce everything you want. You may even find that some things that you thought were going to be an asset end up being useless and you end up scratching that idea and moving in a new direction.

I swear I need this title hanging in my house somewhere….and when I figure out where I promise I’ll share how I make my sign and where I end up putting it. I seriously have project ADD and feel like I’m constantly jumping from one idea or project to another before I’ve really invested the time needed to research/plan/execute our next step. I started out with so many plans, dreams, and I want to get “this” done right now that I feel like I never really see a project to the end. This year that stops. The stress relief from not having to try and think of squishing all this “new” stuff into next year has been amazing *insert happy dance*. We’re going to focus on finishing and growing current projects this fall and next year with the addition of possibly one new aspect to our homestead. Seriously friends, if you’re feeling overwhelmed resist the urge to keep plowing forward with more and new ideas, take some time to expand and or finish current project and just relish the fact that YOU DID IT. You’re one step closer to being even more self reliant.

  • Remember your why, and set up your long term goals to reflect it

Sometimes we lose sight of the big picture. We get so preoccupied with comparing ourselves to what other homesteaders are doing on IG, FB, or on their own personal blogs, *raises hand*, that we forget what our own goals are. Just because “Susie” has chickens and rocks her egg sales and has amazing fluffy butt pics all over her social media doesn’t mean that you have to have chickens at your homestead. Sure they’re great, but if they don’t line up with your goals….why go through all the hassle of predator proofing, building housing, and then trying to patiently waiting for those precious eggs if it doesn’t help you achieve your long term goal.

I love to surf IG as much as the next person looking for cool pictures and inspiration, but the reality is that I often find myself comparing myself with established homesteaders wishing we had all that they do. But you know what? I doubt that those beautiful ladies have the same goals as us. I finally just had to unplug from social media and really set down and reestablish what our goals are, what steps I think we should take to get there, and decide if continuing to share what we are doing here will be beneficial for us or more of a distraction for my ADD self lol.

secret

In the end I feel like taking this time to really reflect on what we’re doing, and my want to share that process with all of you, has been the best things for us. I’ve found holes in our master plan that are currently being addressed and plans are already being drafted for next year to make it even more successful than previous years.

So I’m happy to say I’M BACK! And ready to share our life in northern Wyoming with all of you.

Do you ever feel like you’re just rushing through your tasks? Leave me a comment below with one thing you’d like to spend more time on, I’d love to hear from you.

Val

Success…and what it means to homesteaders

Here we are again…another Monday morning and I’m thinking of all I need to accomplish this week. Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m not doing as much as I can and that success in many areas of our homestead is still so far off. In need of a positive out look I decided I need to revisit what the true meaning of success is.

My well worn Webster’s dictionary says that success is the gaining of something desired, planned, or attempted. While I think that anyone who is asked to give their own definition of success would come very close to this definition I think that in this day and age we have put so much emphasis on the end goal that we have forgotten what I believe is the most important part…attempted.

Success isn’t found in reaching our end goal but more in the small accomplishments and learning opportunities that we find along our path. For instance, the very first year I planted a garden I was so eager to start growing things that I started as many seeds as possible in mid February, convinced that I would have huge healthy plants ready to plop in the ground and start producing as soon as the danger of frost had gone. What I got on the other had we long skinny (called leggy) plants that grew hardly any leaves and when transplanted outside soon wilted off and had to be replanted. While I was obviously bummed at having to replant and that I was not as far ahead as I had originally thought I did also learn some invaluable lessons.

Lessons like, when the package says plant indoors 4-6 weeks before danger of last frost they really mean 4-6 weeks….not months. That some plants, like tomatoes, will regrow and that if you’re under the impression that you just need to plant 6 more tomato plants since yours wilted off you will really have 12 plants and have tomatoes coming out your ears. And finally that it is totally ok to repot leggy plants and cover up a bunch of the stem to encourage root and leaf growth.

Success isn’t accomplishing something perfectly, but it’s in the trying, the doing, and the learning. I may not hit every mark and some of our trials may turn out to be flops….but they are never failures. If I learn even just one thing from a new project I see that as a success, after all without the attempt there is no chance for success.

So what’s on your list to attempt this year? and what have you already accomplished? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Val

wotwsuccess2

 

 

Easy Peasy Indoor Herb Garden

There’s nothing like looking outside and seeing sunshine and then looking at the thermometer and seeing it’s barely 50 degrees Farenheight to  just dash all your dreams of green growing things. It’s been like that a lot here lately in Wyoming. We’ve been getting some projects done around our place and even had the chance to go catfishing last weekend with family. No matter what other things we seem to be getting done though I’m still longing to put my garden in. I’m so ready for fresh veggies and to replenish my pantry, but alas, no matter how hard I wish it’s just not time yet. I have the mid winter blues and desperately need to see some green!

This year as I’ve made a greater push to cook more from scratch and find healthy alternatives for all our boxed food I’ve stared using more herbs, both in fresh and dried form. Here in our small town though fresh anything this time of year can be spendy and who knows how long dried herbs have been on the store shelf. So why not grow my own?!? Window sill gardens are becoming a popular trend and indoor herb gardens are among the top things to grow. So this week I’ll share how I made mine and why I chose the herbs I did.

herbgardenmaterials

For this indoor garden I chose to repurpose some tin cans from last weeks dinners and make some cute tags from left over scrapbook paper. I could certainly use slightly bigger pots, but I decided to use something small and just keep my herbs trimmed down (keep your eyes peeled for a post on what to do  with all your fresh cut herbs), and trust me you want to keep them trimmed down.

I chose to grow thyme, mint, rosemary, oregano, and dill this go round as they are all something that I cook with and I like to use rosemary in my homemade cleaners to balance the smell of vinegar. Mint is a favorite of mine during the summer when I make my sweet tea and I just love the smell of it, hoping I can find some new uses for it as well.

herbcancollage

I cleaned my tin cans and then filled them with about 1/3 of small rock, that way the soil can drain some. I chose to add some garden fabric on top of the rocks to keep the dirt from packing in the rocks, but you could use cheese cloth or even squares of old cotton rags.

Then I filled them with some potting soil to about 1/2″ from the top, my compost isn’t ready yet, and watered gently with a spray bottle. Next came the appropriate amount of seeds… check the back of your seed packet to give you a rough idea.

Finally, I topped off the rest of the way with potting soil and wet the soil again with the spray bottle.

I used some old scrapbook paper to make cute tags and glued them to the cans. Voila!!

herbcantag

Now I have something green to tend till the last frost in mid-May, happy gardening!

Do you have an herb garden? is it indoors or outdoors and what are your favorite herbs to grow?

Until next time,

Val

 

indoorherbgardent

Hearty Homemade Crockpot Chili

Here in Wyoming the winters can get down right brutal, I mean like -30•F, and that’s not even with the windchill. This year has been unusually warm, so I haven’t broke out the chili much this winter, but when the hubby suggested it I certainly didn’t say no.

I love this recipe because it super simple and really quick to throw together, plus you can change it up any way you want. I normally throw it together in the morning after breakfast and let it cook all day, but I’ve also had great luck with just throwing it together in my electric skillet n hour or two before I expect hubby to be home.

 

Hearty Homemade

This is my version of the recipe, but don’t be scared substitute or add things in. When I first started my commitment to cook from scratch this was one of the first things I made. I wanted something easy and tasty enough that I’d want to make it again, and this exceeded my expectations in both departments.

Hearty Homemade Crockpot Chili

Ingredients:

1.5-2# ground meat (pork, beef, venison, whatever floats your boat)

2 (15oz) cans Dark Red Kidney Beans

2 (15oz) cans Pinto Beans

1/4 tsp Cayenne

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Ground Oregano

1 tsp Ground Cumin

1-2 Tbsp Chili Powder (depending on how much kick you like)

3 (14.5oz) cans Tomato Sauce

1/4 c Flour

Steps:

1: brown meat in skillet on med-high heat, salt and pepper to taste if desired; drain.

2: While meat is cooking open and drain beans

3: combine meat, beans, spices, and sauce in crockpot

4: Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. (P.S. I’ve done this for shorter times without any change in flavor, but you can certainly put this in before work and it will be ready when you get home)

5: Thirty minutes before ready to eat add 1/4 c flour to thicken sauce. If you want biscuits or rolls, now is the time for those.

That’s it! Now go enjoy some tasty chili and think about warmer days.

If you give this recipe a try, leave a note in the comments and let me know what you think. If you’ve got a recipe you like more, and you’re willing to share, please by all means let me know. I LOVE trying new versions.

Until next time,

Val

Want to start the most amazing homesteader addiction?

I think raising animals is one of the most rewarding things to do as a homesteader. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from knowing exactly where your food comes from and knowing that you gave that animal an honorable life. Lots of different people start in different places, but there is one thing for sure, there is definitely one animal that a lot of homesteaders see as a gateway to an amazing addiction.

More often than not I’ve found that most homesteaders start with chickens as their first animals, the lure of golden yolks and free ranging birds is often too much to say no to. I must admit that they are calling my name, but that’s not where we started….. I like to do things backwards 😉 … but more on that later.

Chickens are a great start, but in my personal opinion are one of the easiest animals to care for as far as homestead animals. They can live in confinement. Only take up about 5 sqaure feet per bird of coop space, meaning that 12 birds easily fit in an 8’x8′ coop and you can choose whether to let them free range or have an attached run to your coop. Chickens are a great start and a staple to any homestead with animals and I’m not knocking them by any means. But if you want to open the flood gates and start down the path of an animal addiction…. keep reading.

Our first BIG step into raising our own homestead animals ( I don’t count our horse since she doesn’t do much but eat hay and give pony rides these days) was a couple of dairy goats. I wanted our own source of milk and the ability to have it RAW, you wouldn’t believe all the wonderful things that you loose when you pasteurize milk. Why goats? You ask. Well because who really doesn’t love a cute little baby goat?!? I’ve always loved goat antics, like when they climb the highest thing they can find and play king of the mountain, but not my car…that’s not even remotely funny. Or when they stand on their back legs trying to look all big and tough…. unless its at me and then I’ll always win…. I have the bigger squirt bottle.

gatewaygoats

But seriously, depending on the breed of goat, they can be small, entertaining, and provide both milk (and milk products) and meat to a homestead. They require less space than a full sized dairy cow, and eat far less feed. You can make extra money for your homestead with sales of kid goats, goat milk soap, and if your local laws allow you can even sell goat milk and milk products. They are the perfect first trial run before getting bigger animals to fill your homestead with the joyous chorus of animal noises at feeding time.

The problem with goats… and not the obvious ones like they like to find holes in your fence and they like to climb things….like your car; is that they’re a gateway animal. Wait, what?!? what the heck is a gateway animal? Gateway animals are an animal that gives you the knowledge and confidence to try harder and more difficult animal husbandry. I mean really… once you master the art of keeping a noodle, I mean goat, in a fence and helping give birth to live baby animals and restrain yourself from cuddling them to death…. I’m joking…kind of, the sky is really the limit. Cows are like over sized goats, alpacas and llamas just need sheared, and pigs need to eat all your scraps.

Obviously each of these needs different animals have their own needs for housing and nutrition needed to grow and thrive, but basically they’re needs start with the same building blocks. Goats are just a small stepping stone to a full barnyard and a happy homestead.

What about you what animal(s) did you start with? And what animals would you LOVE to add to your homestead? Leave me note in the comments and maybe your favorite animal will be our next addition to our homestead.

Until next time,

Val