October Sustainability Checklist

October Sustainability Checklist

One of the most important aspects of sustainability is planning and preparedness. It doesn’t matter that we aren’t off the grid yet, we’re getting comfortable with looking ahead and thinking about what we will need and what could cause us a potential problem in the coming months.

Now that October is upon us, we are thinking more seriously about the winter months. Here’s what we’ll be working on next month:

  • Workshop Construction– Our garage has a connected workshop, which houses the pressure tank for our well. The workshop needs to be insulated and heated to maintain this equipment through winter.
  • Planting Indoor Crops– I love fresh lettuce. The flavor is fantastic and I want to keep that year round. With 5 large South facing windows, there’s no reason to make this a summer delicacy.
  • Food Preservation– I’m now harvesting pumpkin, peppers, corn, and beans. Everything is being preserved to best suit the way we use each item.
  • Green House– The green house (totally inspired by this book) will be going up around these beds. Watch for a tutorial in the coming months.
  • Weeds!- Weeds took over our yard this year. We are working on eliminating them from our most commonly used spaces this Fall to prevent issues next Spring.
  • Preparing Spring Growing Spaces– Now that days have cooled slightly, I’m working on preparations for our new spaces. This includes spaces for our new squash, sunflower, and lavender patch.
  • Christmas– Everyone on our Christmas list can expect homemade goodies this year. It’s time to start planning to ensure everything is finished with enough time to ship!
  • Food Tracking– I’m beginning to track our food consumption. It’s hard to know how much to grow and raise when I’m not certain how much we use. October will be the beginning of this tracking process.

One thing that doesn’t get mentioned each month is budgeting. Finances are a major part of sustainability. You can’t be off the grid when you are living in debt. Becoming debt free and growing a large savings is an important part of what we do. Each month, we reassess our budget and look for ways to trim away unnecessary spending. Keep this in mind as you make your own monthly to-do lists.

What’s on your project list for next month?

Posted in Monthly Checklist | 1 Comment

5 Resources for Healthy Chickens

The Lost Twin

Yesterday was the saddest day on The Ranch.

I came home to find one of the hens had passed away. She was one of “the twins”.

I understand illness happens. I will have to get comfortable with these types of death, but I’m upset because I have allowed for the conditions that made her ill.

Sunday, I noticed she had been behaving strangely. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. In hindsight, I should have.

Last night, I was on a mission to find resources that would help me keep the rest of the flock healthy. I found quite a few good ones, but ran into a problem. The problem being all chicken diseases appear to have the same symptoms online.

Needless to say, I am none-the-wiser this morning. I’m worried about the rest of the flock. This morning, I am on to some sunrise coop cleaning along with some desperate hoping that whatever harmed one of the twins won’t harm the rest of the ladies.

These are just a few of my favorite resources from last night’s research:

Common Illnesses

10 Tips for Healthy Chickens

5 Tips for a Cleaner Coop

What’s the Scoop on Poop?

Chicken Diseases and Treatment

Do you raise chickens? How do you know you are keeping them safe, happy, and healthy?

Posted in Chickens, Self-sustaining | 2 Comments

Pickled Red Onion Recipe

Pickled Red Onion

Fall is cooking season.

It’s my favorite.

I open all the windows and flood the room with fall air. I sing to the radio much too loud, keep the stove running all day, and I fill the air with some of my favorite smells- pumpkin, chili, bread, pasta, pie, jam, pickles, everything!

Unfortunately, you can feel fall in the air but daytime temperatures haven’t dropped. It’s too hot to spend countless weekend hours over my stove.

These refreshing pickled onions are the perfect solution for fall days that aren’t ready to let me stay in a hot kitchen all day. They give you a chance to enjoy the beauty of fall cooking without melting in the kitchen.

These pickles have the potential to brighten up just about any meal, my favorite of which are spicy venison tacos. Add to salads, hot dishes, and if you’re feeling really dangerous- try them plain!

Red Onion

Pickled Red Onions
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. raw sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  1. Boil a pot of water.
  2. Slice the onion into rings and place the onions into a colander.
  3. Once the water begins to boil, pour over the sliced onion.
  4. Transfer the onion into a jar. Add the thyme, salt, and pepper.
  5. Pour the vinegar over the onion. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour.
  6. Refrigerate and enjoy over the next month.

I’m guessing fall has crept into your kitchen too, what are some of your favorite recipes?

Posted in Clean Eating, Recipes, Vegetarian | Comments Off on Pickled Red Onion Recipe

DIY Raised Garden Bed Design: Part 3 [The Watering System]

A while back, I started a series about setting up our garden beds (you can read the first part here and the second part here). The third post in the series never made it out.

Today, I am sharing the third and final post to our raised bed series. It details our methods with watering as well as my recommendations [and plans] for the 2014 garden.

General Lessons in Watering:

  1. Timers are worth the investment. We picked one up for under $20. Three of our beds were timed; one was not. The timed beds were always watered consistently. The untimed bed was not and production was low. A timer will save you hassle after busy work days and make summer vacations much easier.
  2. Water at night. Because we’re in the desert, we planned for evening watering. Water begins to run a few hours after sunset and gives the plants plenty of time to absorb before sunrise.
  3. Watch closely. Just because you have an automated system doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep an eye on how your plants are being watered. Stay up a few times to see the set-up in action. We had to make several adjustments in the first few weeks.

Our Water Source in the Beds:

We used soaker hoses, rather than a drip system, for our water source in the beds because we thought they would save us time. We have two types of soakers, flat and round. Generally, the flat worked significantly better than the round. But neither were great.

Flat Hose
The Flat Hose


The Round Hose
The Round Hose

Problems with the hose set-up:

  1. The Flat Hose. We have a flat hose in bed one. It was initially placed between the soil and mulch. We ended up finding spray spots where water would squirt out rather than gently soak out. We also found that this hose needs to be buried more. The hose permeates the water above and below relatively well and needs to get the best moisture distribution.
  2. The Round Hose. This one is awful! We used one it in bed two and three. It distributes water very unevenly and leaves our beds with dry spots. I ended up planting along the hose to guarantee the plants would receive the water they need.
  3. Laying the Hose. These hoses are difficult to maneuver to fit your bed. They require stakes and sometimes even additional reinforcement to keep them in place.

Lesson Learned:

We wasted money on soaker hoses, rather than taking the time to set-up a drip system. Next year, we will be taking the time to set up a better system.

Now to figure out a winter watering system…

What to know how to build these beds? Check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Posted in DIY, Garden | 1 Comment

12 Ways with Eggs

Dozen Ways with Eggs

Six hens, laying an egg a day, and I am drowning-in-eggs!

These beautiful gems are the most versatile products coming out of our backyard. They accommodate everything from a breakfast to dessert plate and are always looking to make what you have into a meal.

Here are just a dozen of my favorite ways to enjoy what we have:

Caprese Skillet Eggs

Poached Eggs

Angel Food Cake

Fried Egg Sandwich

[my favorite] Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

Carnita Eggs Benedict

Baked Custard

Zucchini Enchilada Quiche

Sriracha and Wasabi Deviled Eggs

[my favorite breakfast] Eggs in a Hole

Egg Drop Soup

Posted in Self-sustaining | 2 Comments