About Me

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My tremendously supportive husband & I have 3 wonderful children, 1 dog, 12 laying hens, 2 dairy goats, 3 bee hives, and a 2000 sq foot vegetable garden on a small 1/4 acre lot in the city. In the center of it all is our small 1,000 sq foot house purchased in 2008 as a foreclosure that we fully renovated to host our growing family, home school adventures, and small home business (CozyLeaf.com). We have a desire to learn a path to self sufficiency finding ways to be good stewards of the resources God has given us. We want to learn to live with less as we laydown roots to our little homestead.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

45 Bottles of Marechel Foch

Last August we started our first batch of wine from grapes... Marechel Foch! We have bottled quite a bit of wine from concentrate, but this is our first experiment with grapes and it is finally bottled. We started with 3 - 5 gallon carboys of wine that we let set for a couple months and then racked the wine off the sediment and into 2 - 5 gallon carboys. We were quite nervous this past 6 months and wondered how it would turn out, but so far we are very pleased with the quality. Last weekend we racked the wine again to help get all the sediment out of the carboys and let it set. Then the next day we bottled 45 bottles! We followed the same bottling steps that we did for our Phase 2 of Pinot Noir. We will let this wine set for at least a month or two before cracking into them...which is perfect timing because I'm 33 weeks along in my pregnancy and have only 7 more weeks to go! This will be a fun celebratory wine for the arrival of our 3rd child! 

Cute as Buttons!! 2 weeks old

This is our first time raising hens from chicks and I am so glad we chose to go this route! It is absolutely the most peaceful and adorable thing to sit and watch these little chicks run around their box. They will be running and flapping their wings one moment and then just seconds later they will be wiped out asleep in a big pile of baby chicks...adorable! They are also extremely curious. Any new noises that they hear will instantly have them all with their necks extended peering around trying to learn what brought on this sound.

One afternoon Henry and Addie came running to me screaming with pride for themselves saying "They loved the worm! They loved the worm!" I had no idea what they were talking about until they explained that they found a worm and threw it in with the baby chicks. Henry and Addie drug me in to see them and they were all 16 frantically fighting over 1 worm...it was quite interesting! It took them all about 5 minutes to "disassemble" the worm and finally calm down. They were 16 of the most frantic little fluffy things I have ever seen! I told Henry and Addie that we better not do this too regularly, but I'm sure the chicks sure appreciated the treat :)

I think these little critters are absolutely hilarious!!  
Addie loves to sing to them and they are finally getting used to Addie's songs as well as loud outbursts of laughter. I keep trying to explain to her that she is scaring them...but she doesn't get it yet. 

So far we still have all 16 chicks and there haven't been any casualties. I walked into the room one day and one of the chicks was perched up on top of the lid...she/he looked traumatized and couldn't figure out how to get back in with the other babies. I scooped her up and placed her back into the sleeping pile of fluff to get all warm and safe. That is the closest we got to loosing a chick...but thankfully she/he "stayed close to the coop" and everyone was fine!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Chicks

Here are the newest members to the backyard homestead! We have been wanting to get more laying hens, but they can be awfully expensive especially since we want to stick with the heritage rare breeds. We found a lady on craigslist that was selling the breeds we wanted for $1 per bird. They are straight-run (which means we might get hens or roosters) but we figure they are still a lot cheaper at $1 per bird even if we have quite a few roosters...which we won't be able to keep anyway. We got 16 assuming half might be roosters and ... well lets be honest...a few might not survive:(

No one is as excited as Addie! She talked to them the whole way home in the box saying "We are going to take such good care of you!"

We got them all set up with water, feed and a warm light in their new little home and Addie sang them a little night night song before we left. She is in love! I sure hope she doesn't "love them to death"!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

83 Bottles of Wine on the Counter

We have a lot of empty bottles that we have been collecting for bottling and it was about time we cleaned them and removed the labels!!! Besides it is something I can do while sitting down ;)
Removing labels can be extremely easy or so frustrating that you just want to break the bottle so you don't have to deal with it anymore! Most labels will peel right off with just hot water and a good scrapper (I've found that Pampered Chef stoneware cleaners work fabulously). However, there are other labels that have a nasty residue that make them nearly impossible to remove. That is when you want some good "super grunge remover"! It's a powder that you add to your hot water and it penetrates just about any label. Of 87 bottles, we only had 4 that we gave up on cleaning the labels...those 4 went to the recycling bucket never to be seen here again ;)
Now we have clean labeless bottles and a lot of wine to fill!
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Strawberry Jelly

Last year I bought 80 lbs of strawberries and have been meaning to make jelly with some of them and now I finally got around to it! I followed the recipe that came with the pectin box for berries and honey. I've been wanting to try a honey jelly for a long time so this was exciting. I made a large batch and came out with 8 pint jars. We go through a lot of jams and jellys around here, so we will see how long this batch lasts.
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Compost Sifter Turny Thingy

We have a whole lot more compost to sift than we did last year and seeing as I'm pregnant, I knew I needed a easier sifting method! I thought about it for a few says and figured it would be easy to build a sifter that rotated. I had no idea what it would be called but it sure made sense in my mind. I kept calling it "a compost sifter turny thingy"...yes, I know that isn't the best technical term.
So my research began and I got together a few supplies that I had in the back yard and just started building the thing that I had in my mind. It took me 2 afternoons to build, but I was really happy with how it turned out! I was really nervous to see is it would work! Once Bryan got home and could help me lift it onto the stand, we bolted it into place and filled it up...it sifted beautifully! I sifted a whole wheelbarrow full in just a few minutes...and being 7 months pregnant I'm sure other people could move even faster than that. I have quite a bit more loads to do, but it is definitely going to be mich easier with my "compost Sifter turny thingy"!
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Monday, March 7, 2011

Starting Seeds in Egg Cartons

I have read a lot about egg cartons being an excellent way to start seeds so I thought this year I might as well give it a try!! The small slots seem like they are going to be a little small to hold the roots of some of the seedlings, but I can always transplant them into larger pots if necessary. Last year we use large round pots for all of our seedlings and it took up quite a bit of space as well as needing 2 grow lights to accommodate all the pots. This year we are doing more seeds in less space and only requiring 1 grow light! I filled up all my egg cartons with dirt outside and carried them all inside to a warm, well lit room to start adding the seeds. Some of the seeds I did choose to put 2 seeds per slot just to make sure we have something growing in each compartment...in case there is a low germination rate!

Within a few days the arugula and lettuce were starting to sneak through the soil and make their appearance! This is one of my favorite things to see! Every time I come in to see the plants, there is so much new life that has grown! Henry and Addie loved waking up each morning and running in to count how many new plants were coming up.

It is so rewarding to start your own seeds. It is definitely more work than just buying them the day you want to plant them, but there is so much enjoyment from watching them grow!
(these pictures were all from last week, Ill post an updated picture of the growth!)