Thursday, January 12, 2012

Awaiting Spring

Even as I watch the snow gently falling outside my window, I am contemplating spring.  In fact, the last couple of years, I've started to wonder whether I'm seriously afflicted with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  I say this in jest (mostly), but I did add a Vitamin D supplement to my vitamin regimen just in case.  I, like Girl 1 who was huddled up next to me whimpering this morning as we waited for the school bus in the blustery wind, just don't like to be cold.  I would always choose to be hot and sweaty rather than chilled to the bone.  So, temperatures alone would be enough to have me looking forward to spring, but this year, there's so much else going on here, too.

For example, this is Lydia.  She doesn't live here yet, but if all goes well, she will become a member of our household sometime in April.   She is a Nubian dairy goat.  She will kid in April, and both she and her kid will call our blossoming homestead home.  I am super excited about all the milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, soap, etc. that I will be able to make with the milk she and Smoochie will provide.

This is Smoochie.  This cutie and her adorable, silver ears will come along with Lydia.  Though she is not a registered Nubian, she will provide us additional milk and serve to keep Lydia and her kid company in their new surroundings.  Our girls are currently on a great Nubian farm in Missouri.  We plan to go meet them and see their farm sometime in February.  John has the goat pen and milking shed complete now in the backyard. Sorry, I don't have any pics of this yet, and now that it's snowing I don't think I'll trudge out to take any (due to my aforementioned distaste for the extreme cold).

Also in the works, we will be attempting a new strategy for our backyard garden this year.  Square Foot Gardening is a new method I read about this fall and am excited to try.  Also, after reading an article about the importance of using seeds generated close to home, I placed my seed order with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds based in Missouri and enjoyed their catalog more than is probably natural.  The photos of the exotic varieties were breathtaking (over the top?).
Oh, and this is Cocoa Puff.  She is our newest addition.  She was a rescue from the local pet store where she was being housed in the "buffet cart" and intended as dinner for a giant snake.  Yikes!  While I really like the name the kids picked out, John had proposed that we name her Fertilizer Factory.  She is, after all, intended to do more for us than just provide super-soft snuggles.  Based on my reading, rabbit poo is just about the best thing ever for a garden.  Because it is so mild, it can be added directly to soil as fertilizer, whereas our chicken droppings have to compost for awhile before being garden-ready.  So, while she is a great pet, she is also working hard for us.  Anytime now, the cats are probably going to begin to question their place in our family.  After all, since they're not feeding us, they're not really pulling their weight in quite the way the chickens and rabbit are. :) 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Uses for Old Things

"If you have ever wondered how to grow vegetables in an apartment, build a chicken coop, homebrew beer, or make you own soap from scratch -- this book is for you.  The essential guide to becoming a producer instead of a consumer, Making It is full of simple, ingenius projects for your home, your garden, and even your fire escape."  -- from the back cover of this amazing book by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen who operate a "1/12 acre farm in the heart of Los Angeles."

I am loving this book!  It's full of natural alternatives to store-bought items.  Obviously, I'm still handicapped following my surgery, so I can't do any hard-core experimentation right now, but we've already tried out 3 alternatives with great results. 

1.  Dry shampoo -- If you haven't already discovered dry shampoo, you're really missing out, and I'm so glad to be the one to clue you in.  The idea behind dry shampoo is that it absorbs hair oils allowing you to go longer between washing.  If you know much about caring for hair, you know that washing (and drying) and heat styling your hair are some of the worst things you can do for it, so a dry shampoo allows you to do those things less often.  I usually buy my dry shampoo from Sally's for about $6 a can.  When my hair was blonde, I could get away with baby powder as an alternative, but now that I'm wearing my hair darker, baby powder leaves a grayish residue -- not a look I'm going for.  This book presents brunettes with a great option:  unsweetened cocoa powder!  Find it on the baking aisle.  I've tried it and am a believer.  I'm thinking I'll get a pepper shaker to put it in for easy application.
2. Zit cream.  I've become increasingly weirded out about putting creams on open sores on my body when the cream's packaging has a big warning label complete with the poison control hotline number to be dialed in case of ingestion.  Natural alternatives are preferable . . . as long as they really do work.  So, since I still have the problem skin of a teenager, I quickly had opportunity to try out honey as a zit cream.  True to the book's claim, when applied directly to the pimple before bedtime, I awoke to find the redness gone and the swelling reduced.  If you have long hair, you should probably tie your hair back before bed; otherwise you may find it matted with honey when you wake.  One cool advantage to using honey as a zit cream:  once you've applied, just lick your finger ;)  While that does sound kinda gross, it's nice to know that I could do that if I wanted to (it's probably best not to try it with my OXY 10). 

3.  Try olive oil as a shaving cream.  John tried this out last night and said it worked great.  Because the oil is natural, it doesn't clog pores and should be fine to use even on acne-prone skin.  Also, the lower-grade olive oil works just as well as extra virgin as long as it's 100% olive oil, so you can save a buck there.  The book suggested adding some scented essential oil to mask the smell of the olive oil if it bothers you.  I have an orange oil that I will probably try because it seems more masculine than the rose or lavender oil I usually use to scent my homemade cleaning supplies.  I haven't yet had opportunity to use this shaving cream because of my surgery.  I'm not supposed to bend at the waist at an angle less than 90 degreees, which means I'm not supposed to do things like put on my own shoes or shave my legs.  It means that I feel like the epitome of lazy when, like the other day, I dropped a hairbrush on the floor, looked at it lying there, shrugged my shoulders, and crutched away, leaving it just lying there (just like I would fuss at the girls for doing). 

Is your interest piqued?  Pick up a copy of the book.  These are just a few of the great ideas contained there!