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Monday, 24 April 2017

Hen Elixir - Herbs for Hens


I have recently stumbled across the many benefits of feeding herbs to chickens. Whilst being a firm believer in the positive effect of herbs and natural remedies on the human body I don't know why I didn't investigate the prospect of using them on the livestock sooner.

Having researched the subject to see what was appropriate we started to add herbs to the chickens water and if you keep hens I would strongly urge you to try it too! 48 hours after starting to use Hen Elixir we saw a somewhat dramatic change, the egg on the left is from the same hen as the one on the right just two days apart.

The Power of Plants
Two days after starting to give our flock Hen Elixir the size of the eggs they were laying almost doubled and we got TWO double yolkers in one day!

For our Hen Elixir we add 3 crushed garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of ACV and add it to their daily drinking water with a handful of fresh herbs (find what works for you/grows locally and use that, we use Rosemary and Thyme at the moment because they are abundant locally).

Just be sure to let the garlic stand for 10 minutes after it is sliced/chopped/crushed because it is exposure to the air that creates Allicin, which is what we need for the health benefits of garlic to work.

Some of the many benefits of feeding your chickens Garlic are:
  • Repels ticks, fleas, mites and lice
  • Can act as a natural wormer
  • Immune system booster
  • Aids in respiratory health
  • Controls the odor of manure

Whilst the Apple Cider Vinegar can:
  • Balance ph levels in the body
  • Creates environment inhospitable to bad bacteria
  • Aids in digestive health
  • Aids in absorption of calcium and other nutrients
  • Antiseptic
  • Results in healthy mucus flow
  • Combats coccidiosis


I've now also gotten on to the idea of keeping fresh herbs in the coop for the girls. In nature some birds have been observed to gather herbs for their nests and it is thought that aswell as the various health benefits they provide they also help to repel rodents and mask the scent of any newborns from predators. I've started to add fresh wild herbs to the coop and nesting boxes to help calm and comfort our girls whilst they're laying.

Thyme, Curry Plant and Rosemary picked fresh from the mountains
I have just been experimenting with what is available wild locally but I'm now designing what herbs I will grow around the chickens area when we move to our land. 

For a great list of the benefits of different herbs for chickens check out Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele. Lisa recommends the following herbs as her Top Ten for Hens:

Basil – antibacterial, mucous membrane health
Garlic – laying stimulant, anti-fungal, benefits circulation system
Lavender – stress reliever, increases blood circulation, highly aromatic, insecticide
Marigolds – stress reliever, increases blood circulation, highly aromatic, insecticide
Marjoram –  laying stimulant, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, improves blood circulation, detoxifier
Mint –  insecticide and rodent repellent, antioxidant, aids in respiratory health, digestive aid, lowers body temperature naturally.
Nasturtium –  laying stimulant, antiseptic, antibiotic, insecticide, wormer
Oregano – combats coccidia, salmonella, infectious bronchitis, avian flu, blackhead and e-Coli, strengthens immune system
Parsley – high in vitamins, aids in blood vessel development, laying stimulant
Sage – antioxidant, antiparasitic, general health promoter, thought to combat Salmonella


Herb Lined Nesting Boxes
Rosemary Thyme and Curry Plant in Nesting Boxes
Now even if you are from the school of thought that herbal remedies and alternative medicines are a load of mumbo jumbo I am sure you would agree that happy hens lay better, and having herbs in the nest boxes and coop not only repels insects and rodents but also makes the best aroma in the coop too, so I've started stuffing herbs in to the sides of the coop aswell!

Rosemary in the coop.
Now as if that wasn't enough Carly is starting to realise suspect that I treat the chickens better than her after she saw this:

Rose Petals in the Nesting Boxes

Now hear me out! Apart from smelling divine and looking like the chickens are in for a night of romance, the petals are high in vitamin C so I'm thinking of drying some out and adding them crushed to the Hen Elixir too.

Like people, all flocks are different so see what works for you, have fun coming up with concoctions and if nothing else you'll have the best looking and smelling coop in town :)



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Friday, 21 April 2017

Five on Friday

Easter week has flown by and I almost can't believe that it is time for Five on Friday already!

It is Auroras 2nd birthday tomorrow so we will be getting everything prepared for the little tea party that we've planned to throw for her, so this week I really do have a Fast Five to share with you



Roses in Bloom
1. Roses
We have a red rose bush at the front of our terrace and over the space of the last week it has burst in to life with dozens of huge red roses, it seems silly to say it but no rose scent comes close to the perfume of a real rose, especially when they are still on the bush.

Traditional Dish
2.When in Spain
Our Spanish neighbours are without a doubt the best neighbours we've ever had, they are fantastic friends with our children and have welcome us with open arms in to the area and their lives. On Easter Sunday they invited us to join them and their family in the Easter celebrations, there was music, good food, cold beer and dancing. Despite only having a basic grasp of the language and them being unable to speak a word of English we are treated as part of the family and for that I will be forever grateful to them. Juan showed us how they cook a traditional dish that is typical of the province, it is like a garlic dough that is cooked over an open fire and flipped like a pancake! It tasted delicious and Juan has said that he will cook it again for Rori's birthday to mark the occasion :)

Monas De Pascua
3. Easter Cake
Rather than chocolate eggs (which are almost impossible to find over here) in Spain they celebrate with Monas De Pascua which is a sweet bread with a hard boiled egg in the middle, often stained/painted bright colours. Not wanting our little ones to miss out on this time honoured tradition our neighbours Juan and Lola bought the kids one each as a gift for Easter. I imagine it's probably healthier than the chocolate and at least it doesn't melt in the heat here!

Paella Time!

4. Paella
We seem to have a very Spanish theme going today don't we? Over the Easter weekend we tried one of our all time favourites, but this is the first time we've made it since we turned veggie. Instead of the meat we used artichoke hearts and it came out just as delicious as it always used to. above you can see the Father-in-law Terry being head chef over the paella pan

Dragons Fire!
5. Embroidery
This week we completed one of our favourite custom embroidery orders. The patch above was for a charter of the UKSN (UK Survival Network) and for those like myself that cannot decipher Gaelic it reads: "North Wales, UKSN, Dragons Fire". I think it looks fantastic and fierce, it almost makes me wish I was Welsh!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, thanks for stopping by and for those joining in be sure to visit other participants and spread the love, TTFN!


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Five on Friday Weekly Linkup



Welcome to Five on Friday, a weekly opportunity for the community to link up and share 5 things with us or take 5 minutes to talk about one topic. We’d love for you to join us and add a link to your own Five on Friday blog post! It’s a great way to make new friends from around the world and gain some motivation to keep your blog updated. Every Friday we'll be sharing a Fast Five and look forward to seeing yours.

How To Join In

Your 5 things can be all on a related topic or 5 totally separate things of your choosing, it's totally flexible and up to you. You might choose 5 photos, 5 quotes or use it to recap 5 things you've done this week, you have the freedom to exercise your creativity!

All that we ask is that you link back to Five on Friday using the button below (just copy and paste the HTML code in to your blog) and try to share the love by visiting & commenting on the other participants blogs. Each week the post will go live at 5.00am GMT on Friday and will close for new link entries at 10.00PM on Sunday



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Friday, 14 April 2017

Five on Friday

Happy Good Friday Everyone!
I am sure the internet will be awash with people talking about all things Easter so I will be the odd one out and talk about entirely different subjects, here are five things we've been up to recently

1. Furry Friends
Our Spanish neighbours own what I can only assume is half the worlds population of cats. On a good night when you look outside there will be around 20 cats milling around at any given time. They say that not all of the cats are actually theirs and claim that most of them just show up for food but either way there are a lot of cats. As animal lovers it doesn't bother us either way, we get all the benefits of having furry friends de facto :) This beautiful girl is called Patchola and has pretty much taken up residence with us recently, here she is sitting in our egg collecting basket:

Patchola
Another result of there being so many cats is the inevitability of kittens. At the moment there are two cats that are carrying kittens that we know of, another two have just given birth. Here you can see Aurora falling in love with one of the newborns so no doubt we will end up adopting one of these kittens at some point.

Aurora and the kitten
2. Foraging
It's the time of year when the hills are alive (no bursting in to song please!) so we've been keeping our eyes peeled along the trails we hike and harvesting a few herbs here and there.
Freshly Picked Wild Thyme
The mountains are the biggest herb cupboard you could ever hope for and the harsh growing conditions up here produce some of the most amazing flavours and fragrances in the herbs.
We've been using some ourselves and others we have been using as part of my new holistic approach to the chicken keeping, which I'll do a blog post about soon. Here are some of the most common herbs we've been stumbling across in abundance:

Thyme, Curry Plant and Rosemary fresh as they come!

3. Playing Around
We work so hard around here so I think it's important to ensure that we have an equal amount of play time, specifically doing things that don't involve modern "entertainment" and electronics. We had great fun the other day playing with clay and making little thumb pots and sausage pots which we will hopefully be painting at some point over Easter.

Play with Clay
I've also been encouraging Logan to climb trees. I did it almost constantly as a child and despite falling a fair few times (usually when I climbed too high and the branch snapped) I lived to tell the tale. I don't think it is particularly dangerous, I am very much a believer that young children should have dirty hands, grazed knees and be climbing trees. I think the evidence below speaks for itself.

Exibit A: One happy child in its natural habitat

4. Food and Drink
Carly is an excellent cook and we always have such good food that it is usually a disappointment when we eat out because they rarely match the standard of what we have at home! I see so many people convinced that you cant eat well as a vegetarian it really makes me giggle, this is an Indian feast we had as a family the other day, completely vegetarian and with a couple of tweaks could even be vegan
Vegetarian Indian Feast
We never go hungry in this house! When I posted this photo on facebook one of our friends was so surprised at how good it looked he has told me he is going to try to do one veggie day a week now, which is how we started on this slippery slope to going fully veggie. To stop me rambling on about the food side of things, here's a photo of some naughty but nice Mojito's that we've been making at home recently:

Home Made Mojitos
5. Feathered Friends and Foes
My fifth and final topic is a cracker! You probably already know we keep chickens and also recently added two new Bantam Hens to our flock. They've settled in without any problems and the kids absolutely love spending time with their feathered friends.

3 of our original flock
I had to pop in to the feed store to stock up on layers mix, and the place we use also sells chickens, birds and various parrots etc. Now despite me telling the children on numerous occasions that DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGERS IN THE CAGE PARROTS BITE, so of course this time I put my finger in the cage, this handsome chap must have been laughing for the rest of the day as he bit me hard, lets just say it drew blood and the kids thought it was hilarious that Daddy was stupid enough to put his finger in with the parrot!

The cheeky chap that got me good and proper
Fair play to him, if I was cooped up in a cage I'd bit people to amuse myself too, I have no hard feelings and even considered buying the cheeky chappy because I think he's a character!

Thank you all so much for joining in with Five on Friday, I apologies for being late this week with getting round to commenting on everyones blogs, We hope you all have a fantastic Easter

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Five on Friday Weekly Linkup


Welcome to Five on Friday, a weekly opportunity for the community to link up and share 5 things with us or take 5 minutes to talk about one topic. We’d love for you to join us and add a link to your own Five on Friday blog post! It’s a great way to make new friends from around the world and gain some motivation to keep your blog updated. Every Friday we'll be sharing a Fast Five and look forward to seeing yours.

How To Join In

Your 5 things can be all on a related topic or 5 totally separate things of your choosing, it's totally flexible and up to you. You might choose 5 photos, 5 quotes or use it to recap 5 things you've done this week, you have the freedom to exercise your creativity!

All that we ask is that you link back to Five on Friday using the button below (just copy and paste the HTML code in to your blog) and try to share the love by visiting & commenting on the other participants blogs. Each week the post will go live at 5.00am GMT on Friday and will close for new link entries at 10.00PM on Sunday



Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML











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Monday, 10 April 2017

Bantam Girls

Last week we added some new girls to our flock, two bantam pullets.

Due to their colouring, meet Sansa and Khaleesi! Unfortunately there are no prizes for guessing the inspiration behind the names 

Khaleesi and Sansa

Ordinarily it is not advised to add bantam chickens to an existing flock of regular sized hens, but our flock was (unfortunately) debeaked as chicks so cannot really harm the newcomers, and these bantams are feisty for their size!

After an initial bit of bravado from the bigger girls, which was to be expected, the new pair have settled in well

Bantams beside regular sized chickens

The thing that has been really great is that the bantams lay almost pure white eggs so have bought diversity not only to the flock but to the egg basket as well and have already settled in well enough to start laying for us, as you can see their eggs are barely any smaller than our regular girls lay! (although they are still young so will get bigger with time)

The Daily Egg Yield
Nothing beats having the freshest free range eggs possible, except maybe getting to spend time with the chickens and watching their antics!

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Friday, 7 April 2017

5 Magazines Worth Reading - Fast Five on Friday

It's April! I can't believe a quarter of the year has slipped by already!

Thanks so much to everyone that has continued to support us as the new hosts of Five on Friday, we're so grateful and love reading through everyone's blogs that joins in :)

I'm very conscious that a lot of the participants are not homesteaders and probably grow bored of seeing what's happening around our here so this week I thought I'd mix it up a little and show you five of the magazines we love;

Permaculture Magazine

First and my personal favourite is Permaculture Magazine. I was given a few back issues of PM by a good friend a few years ago to give me some new inspiration on our allotment, that was before I really knew anything about permaculture. I noticed one of the articles was about a project that was within walking distance to me and the author, Graham Burnett, obviously lived in my hometown. I later went on to do my full Permaculture Design Course with Graham and am currently working on my Permaculture Diploma with him as my mentor. The editor of PM, Maddy Harland, is also somewhat of a personal idol for me as one of the people at the forefront of UK permaculture, an avid forest gardener and successful permaculture businesswoman.

Kitchen Garden Magazine 

Kitchen Garden Magazine is another firm favourite of mine. I used to read Grow Your Own but it seemed to constantly be the same old thing and tended to advocate unsustainable practices. I bought Kitchen Garden on a whim one month to make a change and never looked back. There is consistently great information, far more articles on sustainable systems and the free seeds are always welcome to add to my seed addict collection.


Om Yoga Magazine

For those that have been following our blog you'll know that after the 30 Days of Yoga Challenge we hosted last November me and Carly have become quite hooked, especially Carly who has gone on to do a few other 30 day yoga camps. Om Yoga Magazine has plenty of tips and advice for yogis of all skill levels and helps to mix things up with new poses and techniques.

Green Parent Magazine

Green Parent Magazine is a great lesser known mag about raising kids consciously. It is packed with articles on Natural Parenting, things like baby wearing, breast feeding, cloth diapers etc. It has great information on home education, alternative parenting methods and their ethos really fits in with our beliefs, it's certainly well worth reading!



Mediterranean Gardening & Outdoor Living Magazine
The problem with what you don't know is that you don't know that you don't know it! I picked up Mediterranean Gardening to try and fill in some of the gaps in my experience with gardening in this part of the world. It has already given me a few ideas that I want to try out on our land and put some plants/trees on my radar that I hadn't previously considered growing out here. This one is a bit location specific but it is always worth seeing if there is a local publication that deals with your climate, especially if you are new to an area like we are.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Five on Friday Weekly Linkup


Welcome to Five on Friday, a weekly opportunity for the community to link up and share 5 things with us or take 5 minutes to talk about one topic. We’d love for you to join us and add a link to your own Five on Friday blog post! It’s a great way to make new friends from around the world and gain some motivation to keep your blog updated. Every Friday we'll be sharing a Fast Five and look forward to seeing yours.



How To Join In

Your 5 things can be all on a related topic or 5 totally separate things of your choosing, it's totally flexible and up to you. You might choose 5 photos, 5 quotes or use it to recap 5 things you've done this week, you have the freedom to exercise your creativity!

All that we ask is that you link back to Five on Friday using the button below (just copy and paste the HTML code in to your blog) and try to share the love by visiting & commenting on the other participants blogs. Each week the post will go live at 5.00am GMT on Friday and will close for new link entries at 10.00PM on Sunday



Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML




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Monday, 3 April 2017

Make Do and Mend

These days we are often told that we can't fix things ourselves, that we will break things or void our warranty etc if we open them up. I guess I am a manufacturers worst nightmare, for I am a serial tinkerer. I have taken apart pistols, Xbox 360's, rifles and last year you may remember that I dismantled our Dyson. I can't help myself, I subscribe to the idea that if something is broken already then there can't be any harm in trying to fix it, after all you can't break it if it's already broken!

USB memory stick
One of the USB sticks that we use for embroidery designs stopped working, and I reckoned it would take me at least an hour to trawl through the laptop and load all of the designs I needed back on to one of the other sticks, so I thought it might be quicker to see if I could fix it myself.

Dismantled USB Stick
Now I have never taken apart a USB stick before so I had no idea what might be wrong with "the insides" but thought it couldn't do any harm to take a peak. Once it was opened I could see that the connection between the circuit board and the end of the stick had broken. I used our pyrography pen as a soldering iron to hit the solder with a bit of heat and it melted the four contacts back to how they should be. As soon as I got it back together and plugged it in to the laptop it worked like a charm again. Just goes to show you that if you have no idea what you're doing and just wing it anyway you can still get positive results!

Repairing the USB stick with a makeshift soldering iron
Whilst we're on the subject of making and mending, we're experimenting with this 8L bottle as a mini greenhouse for our sunflower seeds to see how it goes, its great to teach the kids about growing and recycling where they can.

Mini greenhouse for the kids sunflower seeds
We also made some plant pots from recycled bottles...



...and of course we made our chicken feeder from drinks bottles too :)

DIY Chicken Feeder made from Drinks Bottles



One last thing I'd like to share with you is a little something I made for Carly.
 For her Birthday she wanted a new tattoo so whilst she was back in the UK the other week we paid for her to have a sternum tattoo. I didn't want her to have nothing on the day, but the tattoo cost quite a lot of money so it didn't leave much scope for additional presents.
Lack of funding always seems to bring out my creative side, so I made this windchime from bamboo that grows locally in our mountains and put it together with some thin brass wire and a handful of blue crystals that I had been hoarding for a while. Considering I've never made anything like this before I think the result didn't come out too bad!

Bamboo, Brass and Crystal Handmade Windchime
We do have a Make do and mend patch in our Etsy store so if you have a jacket or bag etc that has a hole or rip in then one of these patches could be the ideal thing to give it a new lease of life. We can do them in different colour schemes too if you would prefer something different


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Friday, 31 March 2017

Fast Five on Friday - On the Trail

Thank you so much to all of the people that took part in Five on Friday last week, we are so grateful for all of your support and loved visiting you all!


Five on Friday Weekly Linkup


Welcome to Five on Friday, a weekly opportunity for the community to link up and share 5 things with us or take 5 minutes to talk about one topic. We’d love for you to join us and add a link to your own Five on Friday blog post! It’s a great way to make new friends from around the world and gain some motivation to keep your blog updated. Every Friday we'll be sharing a Fast Five and look forward to seeing yours.

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FAST FIVE

I've been trying to get out at least a couple of times a week to hike with the children and explore a bit more of the surrounding mountains. There are so many cool old ruins that have just been forgotten and left to be reclaimed by nature.

Below is an amazing structure we found overlooking an ancient quarry site that right now is full of rainwater making an awesome natural pool. The cabin is made completely of stone inside and out and despite clearly having no maintenance done it is still standing strong and could be a quite usable space with nothing more than a new door

An old cabin built in to the rock overlooking an ancient quarry site
Beside the cabin is a set of steps that are built in to the structure so you can walk on to the roof (which is all natural earth and wild flowers)

Ancient Steps
Life out here is so different from the UK, something we were quickly reminded of when we came across this gentleman sunning himself in the middle of the trail

Sunbathing Serpent - Don't Tread On Me!

We didn't interrupt his day, he didn't interrupt ours and the kids were very happy with themselves that they had seen a snake in the wild.

We often see reptiles on our travels too, this little guy has no idea how close he was to being eaten by our chickens before we rescued and relocated him!

Gecko

My last photo this week was taken at 3007ft, near to the top of the mountains near our house. I had hoped to visit the fire lookout post but when I got up above the tree line I realised I had taken a wrong turning and ended up on the opposite peak to the lookout! The views up there were still fantastic though, and it gives me an excuse to hike up there again soon :)

Near the summit




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How To Join In

Your 5 things can be all on a related topic or 5 totally separate things of your choosing, it's totally flexible and up to you. You might choose 5 photos, 5 quotes or use it to recap 5 things you've done this week, you have the freedom to exercise your creativity!

All that we ask is that you link back to Five on Friday using the button below (just copy and paste the HTML code in to your blog) and try to share the love by visiting & commenting on the other participants blogs. Each week the post will go live at 5.00am GMT on Friday and will close for new link entries at 10.00PM on Sunday





Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

Share:

Etsy

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