Wednesday Whisperings

2015/01/img_8864.jpg

{sometimes a picture is worth more than a whole blog post}

Advertisements

We got Chicks!

IMG_8991
Hubby was home from training for the weekend so it seemed that we were running around together. We picked up 6 Ameraucana chicks from a lady on craigslist. We also picked up a rooster (but that’s another post). We had everything needed to set up a brooder box for them. Chicks need to be kept warm, but they also need space to get away from the heat if they get too hot. We set up a heat lamp in the corner of a plastic bin. When they get too big for this they will graduate to a cage with the heat lamp.
IMG_9016
The very first night that we brought them home, Hubby and I were almost asleep when we heard a loud pop before the light went out. We were thinking all the electric was blown so we bolted out of bed. Imagine our surprise to find that the heat lamp exploded. all over the chicks box! We were lucky the glass shards didn’t hurt the chicks. We carefully picked up the glass, emptied the box and put fresh bedding in. For the night we turned a space heater on them.
IMG_8989
The next day we ran to Tractor Supply and bought new heat lamps. The lamp box claims they are explosion proof. Who knew that was a thing? Shouldnt all heat lamps be explosion proof? Since then we haven’t had any issues but I will be glad when its warm enough for the chicks not to need a heat lamp. Our night lows have been in the 20s so they definitely need heat still!
We will name them once they are older and we know which is which (and to make sure they all survive)

IMG_9027

IMG_8984

Ways We Saved Money…Soup

2015/01/img_8866.jpg

Hubby’s favorite thing to order if we go out to eat is broccoli cheddar soup. Just because we are on a super tight budget doesn’t mean we can’t have our favorite treats. We just have to do it ourselves. I found a super yummy recipe on Pinterest for crockpot broccoli cheddar soup and gave it a whirl. We loved it! I enjoy being able to recreate things we love at a fraction of the price we would have paid if we went out to eat.

Building a Compost Pile

2015/01/img_8740.jpg
Last week I built a new compost pile that is my personal dedicated pile. Aka I can compost my toilet gems and no one needs to worry about it. I bought some t posts and chicken wire at Tractor Supply. I guestimated a circle (it didn’t need to be exact or anything) and put the t posts in the ground. Thankfully the ground here was still pretty wet from the recent rains so the posts went in super easy. The hardest part was unrolling the chicken wire by myself. I used zip ties to secure the chicken wire to the posts. This whole set up is easy (for the most part) to put up and move if need be.

2015/01/img_8742.jpg
(finally got the chicken wire up- you can see the camper in the back)
2015/01/img_8743.jpg
I have this small kitchen compost bin that sits in the camper. I put anything and everything that will compost in it. If we use qtips in the bathroom, they go in. junk mail gets shredded and thrown in. obviously I put in kitchen scraps and coffee beans too.
I look forward to adding to our compost system as we get settled in. There are plenty of leaves on the ground that I plan on using for cover material.

Frugal Breakfast Sandwiches

We live on a super tight budget and I am always looking for ways to save money. Earlier at Walmart I bought up some bread on the clearance rack. It was getting close to the expiration date which doesn’t bother me at all. I bought some sliced cheese to add to the eggs we had at home to make breakfast sandwiches. Each pack of bread had 6 ciabata rolls. I bought two packs so I could make a total of 12 sandwiches.
2015/01/img_8801.jpg
I cooked the eggs (which were free because we bartered for them since our chickens are not laying yet) individually and let them cool. Then I assembled the bread and cheese. Each sandwich gets a roll, one slice of cheese and one cooked egg. I wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer.
2015/01/img_8802.jpg

I was sure to get the plastic wrap that is microwaveable. I hate microwaving in plastic, but we don’t have paper towels in the house so I am not sure of a better way to microwave these babies. I am completely open to non plastic suggestions. We will try nuking them out of the plastic but I am afraid it wont work as well…
2015/01/img_8800.jpg

Price wise, these sandwiches are super cheap. I got two bags of rolls for $1.79 each, which comes to 30 cents a roll. Cheese came out to 12 cents a slice. Considering how the eggs were free, the sandwiches only cost $.42 each. So if hubby eats two for breakfast its like our own personal dollar menu!
2015/01/img_8803.jpg

Laundry by hand

Another way I am “practicing” some off grid living skills is by handwashing my laundry. I ordered a plunger washer from Amazon and love it! First I fill up a pot (I have been using my canning pots for now on my small loads) with water. I add a teaspoon of detergent and the clothes for that day. Using the “plunger” I agitate the clothes for 10-20 minutes.
2015/01/img_8768.jpg
Secondly I wring them out by hand (to get most of the soapy water out) and place them in a second pot. I fill this pot with fresh clean water and have a go for another 5-10 minutes. At this point the clothes should be pretty clean. I wring them out and hang them to dry. We have some collapsible folding racks from ikea as well as a hanging octopus with clothespins, also from ikea. I will use the octopus for socks and small items and the racks for shirts and larger items. One day soon I hope to put up a real clothes line, but for now this works perfectly. Since my pots are on the small side, I have been doing smaller loads more often. I have some larger galvanized bins that currently hold dirt that I might clean out and use instead.

2015/01/img_8769.jpg

Meet the Cast- The Meat Rabbits

We also brought with us a breeding trio of meet rabbits when we moved to Arkansas. A breeding trio consists of 2 females and a male, all unrelated. The male is an American Blue, along with one of the females. The other female is an American White. The American rabbits were on the critical list but have now been downgraded to “threatened”. They are a heritage breed an used for meat and fur. I am hoping to learn how to tan hides to be able to use everything from the rabbits.
The American Blue female was already named Mindy (and her name is tattooed in her ear so we won’t be changing it). The other two did not come with names. Hubby named them Deeks and Kenzi after two of our favorite characters in NCIS:LA. Mindy will be old enough to breed this month as Kensi still has a few months of growing left.IMG_8685 IMG_8691 IMG_8690

Using a Composting Toilet

It is our goal someday to live off grid. While right now we have the luxury of being hooked up to power and on a not too cold day, water, we are trying to “practice” some off grid living requirements. That said, we have also had trouble with our camper’s toilet from the day we bought it. We didn’t notice the issue at the rv sales lot because the black tank (the tank that holds the sewage) was empty and clean. Once we started using the toilet, there was a very obvious smell. I am talking overwhelming as soon as you walk in the door smell! We tried everything we could think of to get rid of the smell but it just wouldn’t go away.
Now that we are living on family land, we have a little more wiggle room. We decided to completely remove the rv toilet and instead go to a composting toilet. Now you can buy fancy composting toilets that look similar to a standard toilet. In my research I found that its very common for off grid rv’ers to put in composting toilets. Wanting to keep things inexpensive, we bought two 5 gallon buckets at Lowes. We found the toilet seat at Bass Pro in their camping section. The toilet seat snaps on a standard bucket and the lid closes flush with the seat.

2015/01/img_8736.jpg
(the almighty throne)

Obviously the bucket with the seat is the toilet. The second bucket is for cover material. We bought a huge bag of sphagnum peat moss and I filled the bucket full. I keep a mason jar (man those jars are useful for just about everything!) to scoop the dry peat moss and dump on the toilet. The key to having a composting toilet it cover material. Cover material. COVER MATERIAL. I can’t stress it enough. You can use sphagnum peat moss, coconut fiber, sawdust, etc as your cover material. I read that you shouldn’t use wood ash because it neutralizes the compost and thus makes the compost take longer to do its thing.
The way the toilet works is pretty simple. do your business. cover. do your business. cover. repeat until bucket is full. as long as your business is completely covered (like a half inch to an inch of cover material each time) there will be no smell. whatsoever. You can get your nose right up in the toilet seat if you want and you wont smell a thing! its pretty awesome if i do say so myself.

2015/01/img_8737.jpg.
(Family cloths aka toilet paper hang on a shelf near the door. The small black trash can is for dirty cloths. We do have toilet paper available which can be added right into the bucket)

If an average toilet uses 7 gallons per flush, and the average person flushes 5 times a day, that means each person is wasting an average of 30 gallons of water each day! Our toilet uses no water. So between the two of us, we are conserving an average of 60 gallons of water each day. Hey, I do what I can to help the environment, especially if it helps my pocketbook too!

2015/01/img_8735.jpg
(view into the outhouse)

We were going to just use the toilet in the camper, but having to have the two 5 gallon buckets took up too much room in the little bathroom. I was at Walmart and I saw this camping shower tent. It works perfectly as an outhouse! It has a window, a rain cover and “shelves” for our tp and reading material. It cost under $50 so it was super affordable. It might sound strange, but I really love the whole outhouse thing. Maybe not when its pitch black and 9 degrees outside, but a girl can hold it if she really has to…

2015/01/img_8739.jpg
(The outhouse all zipped up)

My favorite thing about this toilet set up is that it is completely off grid. I don’t need running water or electricity to sustain it. Once set up, I only need to pay for the peat moss and a bag lasts practically forever! Technically I dont need to pay for toilet paper either. This would be ideal for going camping, using at a deer lease, the beach or anywhere where there is not usable plumbing. I will explain the composting side of it in a later post.

Meet the Cast- the Chickens

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/d7c/64190179/files/2015/01/img_8647.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/d7c/64190179/files/2015/01/img_8645.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/d7c/64190179/files/2015/01/img_8646.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/d7c/64190179/files/2015/01/img_8648.jpg
We brought some chickens with us from Texas to Arkansas. We bought a small coop for starters and hubby built it along with help from my cousin. The coop is large enough to hold up to 4 chickens. Right now we have 2 ameraucanas. They should start laying as soon as there’s enough light. Chickens require 14 hours of sunlight. This coop is too small to hang a light so we will just have to wait out the winter.
The coop is light enough to move around the yard. Ideally down te road we will build a bigger coop and this one will be used for chicks or the sick. For now it works just fine!