Greenest week ever!

This week I’ve been busy trying to green up my school!! My students read about an ecofriendly school and we did everything from discussing carbon footprints to writing letters to the mayor about more recycling opportunities in our town!

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Remelted crayon and some student work 

I also created a recycling center in the teacher’s lunchroom for their soda/water bottles and k cup pods! I bought a cutter that makes cleaning out the cups way easier and then I just save up the cups to send in and compost the coffee grounds.

I have also been sharing my produce with my friends at work!

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Yummy produce in upcycled containers!

And the Mr was able to upcycle the boy’s recalled crib into an easel that we are going to use at produce stands and craft shows!

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I love it!

And, the sweet potatoes are blooming away! I think that their blooms are beautiful!

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Sweet potato blooms

Does anyone else have to green up their workplace? I guess if I can’t get them to go zero waste, I can curb some waste! Have a great weekend!!

August Goals Update 2017

August was a month of birthdays, our 14th Anniversary and buying our new-to-us camper!  So, pretty great if you ask me! And, here’s how the ol’ 2017 goals are going!

1. Zero waste our home! We already do a good bit to avoid creating trash, but there is always room for improvement! We are still rarely eating  out, making our own cleaner and buying second hand when possible!

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My thrift store haul! (Back to school clothes for me!) 

2. Declutter 20 items per month. Last year I decluttered 2016 items from this house. A major high five goes to the Mr!! He sold our roof top tent, camping trailer, and 2 sets of tires and rims! Go him!!

3. Create only 12 bags of garbage per year. Americans are super wasteful. We are going to try to only produce one 13 gallon kitchen trash bag per month. We also cancelled our garbage pickup because for $15, we can take our whole year’s worth of garbage to the landfill and still have extra money to spare!

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Still only 4 bags for the year! 

4. Merge crafting and homestead business. I have not been getting too crafty lately. The beginning of the school year does that to me! But I am still getting some things made!

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I’m working on more garden aprons! 

5. Create a summer kitchen. We will be turning a spot in the garage into a nice canning area. #comeonmrllewellyn!! Well, he isn’t an electrician so we shall see about this! But not to worry! We are still preserving all of our harvest!

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6. Expand the garden. I widened the area along the fence and planted plants all throughout my yard. The fence garden is starting to fizzle out. The sunflowers are huge and the green bean trellis is growing pretty well too!

7. Grow some different plants. Luffa gourds were so fun to grow last year, and we are growing more this year! We are also growing popcorn, okra and my favorite: cucumelons! All are growing great!


8. Make a chicken viewing area. Yeah, um, I don’t think we are going to do this now! I love watching the chickens, but life has kept us busy!

9.Green up my school. Schools create an absurd amount of trash! My class recycled around 150 pounds of plastic film this year, and we are going to be doing the same recycling program this year! Plus, I’m going to green up the faculty lounge!

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Our beautiful little pollinator garden! 

10. Track our solar panels. This month we reached 1.7 mwh! And our electric bill was less than $6 again!

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We are loving our panels still! 

11. Continue beekeeping. We are still providing lodging for our flying insect friends! They will be getting a mite treatment and I’ll be checking in on their food supply! Right now they are really busy collecting nectar and pollen

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All the pollinators are loving our sunflowers! 

12. Travel more with the family! We managed to visit so many places last year and only a few this year. But, next year has us excited! We got a great deal on a truck camper! With a little work, this baby is going to help us travel out west in 2018!

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Our new to us camper! 

Hopefully you made August a productive month too! Tell me how your goals are going!!

Composting!

Rotting food doesn’t make too many people excited, but I never claimed to be normal! Composting is an important part of our whole journey to creating less garbage, and a major win for the garden!  People most frequently ask how we create such a small amount of trash, or how a bag of trash that is in the garbage for over a month doesn’t stink! Well, keep reading to learn how easy it is!

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4 bags of garbage so far in 2017!

So let’s get into the basics of composting! There are some rules to it because you don’t want a sloppy, stinking mess that attracts rodents! (By the way, I haven’t had that happen!) There are greens and browns, which are listed below:

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The md extension website has a ton of great reliable info!

So, basically you collect these things instead of throwing them away. I keep mine in this ceramic crock that I empty out every few days. (If you empty it regularly, you don’t get fruit flies!)

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Ceramic crock for scraps! 

You should try to keep your pile about 3 parts brown to 1 part green for optimal decomposition. I don’t focus on it being a perfect ratio. If it seems really wet, I add more brown (like leaves or shredded newspapers). If it seems dry, I add water and try to put in more greens. It is microorganisms at work, but perfection isn’t necessary! The biggest thing is to keep it moist and turn it about weekly.

Now, I’m not afraid to admit that I willingly take compost donations! Even my mom saves things for me! She knows my decomposition hierarchy:

1. Any edibles that are still good, go to the chickens. (If no people want it!)

2. Any moldy, slimy or just peelings go into the compost pile! 

Examples below:

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Headed to the compost! 

Below is a picture of my first, and still slightly used compost pile. Your pile should be around 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft.

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My grassy compost bin

As you can tell by the picture, this wasn’t working amazing. So, when we found a second hand composting tumbler for sale, we jumped at getting it.

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Composting tumbler

Since it’s close to the house, it’s easy to use. I never smell it and it has 2 sides, which means one side is composting, while I’m adding scraps to the other side.

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Almost ready! 

This compost is put right around my plants and it provides an enormous amount of nutrients for them. Healthy plants can fight off pests and disease better and grow better produce!

I have done my best at providing the basics to composting! If you have any questions, please ask!

 

 

We got some new additions to the homestead!

This weekend we were able to get a lot accomplished! (Which is why I had to post before my end of month update!)

I’ll start off with some gardening excitement! The fence line garden is really starting to fill up!

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Even one sunflower bloomed! 

I have been picking lots of produce and was excited to finally get a green pepper! I’m not a very good pepper grower!

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Green pepper! 

And we had a ton of cucumbers this year so far! Last year I couldn’t get any to grow! Funny how that works out sometimes! Anyway, we turned them into delicious bread and butter pickles! We pickled some cucumelons too!

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They taste just like Granny’s did. ❤️

And the chickens loved the leftovers!

And now for the most beautiful bloom that has ever been in my garden:

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An okra bloom!!

Gorgeous, right?! First year grower here, so this made my day! And we are still dreaming of some fried okra! My husband loves fried okra!

Weare proud to announce some new friends that came to live here with us this weekend:

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A barrel of honey bees! 

Yep, a barrel of bees! They were not being enjoyed living on a friend’s back porch. So, she got ahold of me and I gladly took them off her hands! They were already doing orientation flights and flying off to look for pollen and nectar this morning!

And on to another perk of being an in-town homestead, is free food! Our neighbor loves gardening and he often has some leftovers! Here’s a whole bucket of pieces for the chickens:

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Our hens eat like queens! 

And last, but not least is we scored a used chipper off of the yardsale site! We have been wanting one to use to add chipped material to our compost. It’s not new, but I know it was well taken care of!

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Our new to us chipper! 

So after all that work this weekend, I’ll leave off with this picture:

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Sherman in a hammock! 

Obviously, the weekend was rough on him too! I hope that you had quite the productive weekend too!

It feels like summer!

This week has really heated up! We have been able to go swimming and be outside all of the time. The plants are really taking their first growth spurt and I am up to 2 okra plants! All the birds are very happy too!

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Quail eggs

We have also been able to harvest a few things:

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My first garlic this year 
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Strawberries and eggs 

And as for the first week of our zero waste summer challenge, altogether we only made a little over 3 ounces of trash between the 3 of us! The chocolate chips have been put into cookies enjoyed by all of us. (That’s why it’s circled!)

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Week 1 of zero waste challenge 

I have also spotted a few beautiful flowers blooming away in the garden and the bees and butterflies seem to like them!

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Beautiful echinacea 

I will get a picture of all the yummy things growing in the garden this week!

It’s planting season!

This weekend was the perfect planting weather, cooler with rain showers in sight! I planted tons of tomato plants, a few luffa gourds, cucumelons, popcorn and relocated a few tomatoes and pumpkin plants.

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Newer garden area

I also relocated the two pumpkin plants that didn’t succumb to a hard frost to a better area. They are going to grow around the popcorn plants! (Hopefully!)

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Volunteer pumpkin plant 

The birdhouse gourds are coming up nicely! Once they get a good bit larger, they are going out to grow some more birdhouses. We sold almost all of the ones that we grew last year!

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Birdhouse gourds

I’m shocked to see that the potatoes are blooming already. They still have at least another month before harvesting them, but they are liking the weather so far this growing season.

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Potato blooms

I also took some time during this dreary day to get around to sewing! I made my itty bitty niece a sun bonnet. The first is 6-12 months and the next one is 12-18 months. Oh, and yes I had to use a stuffed pup as a model!

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6-12 month size 
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12-18 month size 

I might just have to add some bonnets to the Etsy store! They would fit in well with the homestead theme.

Today we also ran up to a native plant sale for a school project. Lots of work ahead in the next week!

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Native plants

And we also had to finally throw out our 3rd bag of trash of the year this weekend.

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#3 for the year! 

So, still a slow season here! But, we have lots of great ideas and work ahead for us! And yes, garden work makes me excited for the week! I hope that you all have a lot of fun ahead of you!

Urban homestead kinda weekend

It’s hard not living on a big ol’ farm, but living the way we do. We constantly get people saying “but you live in town” or ” well you can’t have (filling the blank with whatever animal) at your house!” Which is totally true! But here’s the kicker, we are doing so much with what we have! Here are a few examples of things we did around here just this weekend!

I gave Izzy dog a nice solar powered fur cut! It was so sunny, so her clippers were being powered by the sun!

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Beautiful girl! 

While gathering eggs I found our first Easter egger egg in the coop! She takes most of the winter off from egg laying!

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Welcome back so egg laying! 

Next I threw some banana peels into the worm bin in the basement and realized I need to clean out the worm castings. Their 💩 is great plant food!

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Garden gold! 

It has rained a lot here this winter, instead of snowing. So, the area around the coop was super muddy and gross. I got to haul more and more buckets of wood chips to their area. It looks so much better!

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All cleaned up! 

At work Friday, these apples were being given away because they had some bad spots.

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Beat up apples

At first, I was going to just chuck them in to the chickens. Instead, the chickens just got the bad spots and I made some yummy apple muffins! Zero waste breakfast tomorrow!

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Apple muffins! 

Last night I realized I needed to make up some yogurt for lunches this week. I used 2% milk and it came out a little more runny, so I had to strain off the whey to thicken it up. It’s delicious!

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More homemade yogurt

And between all that I was able to craft up a ton of items! I got an order for 60 white beaded bracelets! I’m half way there already!

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Loads of craftiness! 

And of course I played some uno with the boy, visited family and even got to see my beautiful little niece smiling so big. Made my ❤️ so happy! And of course this makes me smile as well:

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Sherman! Our crazy boy! 

Seriously, whose dog sits like that? Our crazy pup!

This month has flown bye and I can’t wait to update you all on our progress around the homestead! Have a great week!