Monday, June 29, 2015

Chicken Coop Remodel

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If any of you have daughters, then you know how girls can become kind of feisty in close quarters.  I have four daughters and I totally understand girls needing their space.  I have learned that our chickens are the same way in their tiny coop.  They were getting on each others nerves and picking on each other.  These girls sure are high maintenance...haha....we've only had our hens for about two weeks and they are already getting a home remodel.  We felt bad that they were all cooped up in the small area under their nesting boxes so a new wing was added to their coop. (pun intended)  

This is the original structure. 

We turned it 90 degrees and added on to the back side.  It will give the hens 8 more feet of play space plus a sandbox to bathe in. 

 As you can see they will have a much bigger area to roam around in.  I wish we could let them out in the yard all day, but we decided that we didn't want to deal with kids stepping in chicken poop. 

My husband added chicken wire to the sides and top of the new structure. And the girls were ready for their new home.

Don't mind the blankets on top of the house.  It was over 90 degrees today and they girls were hot.  They were all back in the smaller original coop crowded together.  The minute I covered the top and gave them shade they came back out.  

They LOVE the sandbox!  The hens have been playing, bathing, and scratching in it all day.  We used cleaned construction sand for their sandbox. 

We love learning about the chickens everyday and the hens are much happier with their new space.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Kitchen In A Box Add-Ons

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A few weeks ago I made a kitchen in a box to keep with my 72-hour kits.  Click HERE to view that post. I had most of what I needed for my kitchen on the go, but I did need a few more items that I have since added to my box. Have you made a kitchen in a box for your 72-hour kits?

These are the items that I added to my kitchen in a box:
  • pancake spatula
  • travel size bottle that I filled with dish soap
  • sponge
  • matches
  • spice container (it's a tackle container from the fishing section of Wal-Mart and it was on clearance for $1.96)
  • And one more stack-able container to hold the new goods 

Monday, June 22, 2015

First Aid Inventory

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Taking inventory of my first aid kits, yes many random kits, has been on my radar for a few months.  I have quite a few smaller first aid kits and a box of random wraps and bandaids that needed to be organized and useable for the whole family.  

This is what I had accumulated over the years.  It isn't pretty and I had no system of knowing what was in the bag or box.  At least it's labeled first aid, right? 

I ran across this fishing tackle box at Wal-Mart for around $39.00 and thought it would make a perfect first aid box. What I loved about it were all the different compartments. 
 After grouping all like items together I started organizing all my first aid items into my new box. On the right and left side of the tackle box are two white smaller boxes with compartments that fit my bandaids and antiseptic wipes perfectly.  They are easy to locate and open. When you need a bandaid, you usually need one right now!

In the top of the box I placed all the gauze pads, triangle bandages, sterile cloth bandages, eye bandages, 2" gauze pads, tape, wraps, ice packs, liquid skin, flashlights, scissors, tweezers, and our first aid books.  

Here she is all filled up with all my first aid goodies.  I have heat packs, hydrogen peroxide, a burn kit, more wraps, vapor rub, antiseptic cleanser, emergency splints, etc.  I removed the original plastic organizers that fit into the middle section to be able to fit in all my larger items. I managed to fit all the basic necessities (I'm not doing surgery here) and I now know exactly what I have on hand.  The daily cuts, scrapes, burns, and minor breaks could all be taken care of at home.  I do have a tourniquet but I would only use that in an extreme emergency. I am sure there are many items that I need to add to our kits, but I feel so much better knowing I organized all of this and that the box is in an easy to find spot.  Now, here's to praying I won't need to use it anytime soon :)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Promoting Self-Reliance

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I belong to an amazing Church that promotes self-reliance, and also helps those in need while also teaching them how to be self-sustaining. 

Click HERE to view more of the Humanitarian work done by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Backyard Chickens--A New Adventure!!

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We did it!  We've wanted chickens for a long time and we finally got it to all work out.  It's self reliance and fun all rolled into one exciting adventure. I am not what you would call an animal person and I didn't think I would really enjoy the chickens as much as I have. 

But they have such fun personalities and are so entertaining to watch. We have 6 hens that are about 1 years old and lay eggs, and 2 younger ladies that are only about 4 months old and will hopefully start laying in September.  

My husband said we shouldn't name them but I couldn't help it, they are too cute.  My children each picked a hen and named her and my husband even got in on the naming.  From the top left going clockwise the white chicken is Felicia, Tilly, Hawk Eye, and the bottom left is Dory Escape.  That is pronounced Es-cop-pay, like Dory says it in finding Nemo.  She was the first chicken to escape so her name is fitting.  We also have a Coco Moco, LaVone, Francis, and Honey who aren't pictured.  They have been laying eggs and getting to know our family.  They are fun and kind of therapeutic to be around.  Right now they are enclosed under their nesting boxes, but we hope to have a larger run for them soon.  We have quite a few predators in the area and are nervous about letting them roam the yard just yet.  But the best part is......

 Aren't they beautiful!  My kids get so excited to check for eggs all day long.  It has been a fun summer adventure so far. We are learning as we go along so I'm sure I'll be posting about "the girls" more often.  But this has been a great lesson for our family in becoming a little more self-reliant.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Regrow Your Produce

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This is a quick tip I learned several years ago.  There are several kinds of produce that can be regrown in your kitchen and garden.  They include green onions, celery, lettuces, and those funny roots that grow on your potatoes.  I have regrown green onions many times.  Click HERE to see how I have grown green onions in my kitchen.  It is beyond simple to regrow other foods as well and this week I decided to try celery and romaine lettuce.  

Simply cut off the bottoms of your celery and romaine and place them in a shallow bowl of water.  Literally in a day the romaine will start to regrow.  The celery is on the left in the picture and it takes a little while longer to sprout again.  I can now plant them in the garden and hopefully they will grow into a full size plant!  I can't wait!! Simple, fresh food storage!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kitchen In A Box-- An Emergency Essential!

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Before we get to the kitchen in a box, let me give you a little background on why I made one.  If you have read the blog for awhile you know what a big fan I am of the Saratoga Jacks Thermal Cooker. The thermal cooker is great for emergency preparedness BUT it is also one of my favorite kitchen appliances to use daily.  Click HERE to view a post on the thermal cooker. I have had fun experimenting with the thermal cooker but it is always helpful to have a cookbook to guide me along.  Cindy Miller has recently published a brand new thermal cookbook called "Let's Make Sense of Thermal Cooking".  (click here to see her website

It is a gorgeous cookbook with color photos, spiral bound binding, and so many helpful tips and tricks to use with the thermal cooker.  There are also recipes that will help you gather and use your food storage.  She has recipes for grains, beans, pastas, meat, and veggies.  It is the most complete book on thermal cooking to date!! I highly recommend you own this book if you own a thermal cooker or wonderbox/oven.

I have attended several classes taught by the owners of Saratoga Jack's thermal cookers, Amy & Jack, and they are always so organized with everything they need to cook, and demonstrate the thermal cookers. Amy calls it her kitchen in a box.  I always thought it was a great idea for them because they travel and teach so often, but I never really considered making one for myself. While reading Cindy's book she writes about using a kitchen in a box as well when she teaches, but it also is part of her 72-hour kit.  When I read that I felt prompted that I really needed to have one of these kitchens in a box for my emergency kits.  

It really just makes sense to have all the basic cooking utensils in a grab-n-go type container.  What was I planning on using in an evacuation type situation to cook our food in our 72-hour kits?  I really hadn't thought this through very well.  The kitchen in a box is very easy, and inexpensive to put together. 

If you have a Wal-Mart or Dollar Store near your home you can find everything you need for your own kitchen in a box.  Wal-Mart had most items for around .88 each.  I bought a stack-able plastic container (in the office supply area of Wal-Mart) and it was the perfect size to fit the longer spoons.  I really want a stack-able container that has separate layers that snap together, but this will work until I can save up for that.  This is what I included in my kitchen in a box.  It isn't finished quite yet, but I found the basics. 

  • kitchen scissors
  • can opener
  • jar opener
  • vegetable/fruit peeler
  • complete set of measuring spoons/cups
  • small knife with a cover
  • large stirring spoon
  • smaller wooden spoons
  • cutting board (found in the camping section)
  • whisk
  • two dish towels
  • plastic gloves
  • sanitizer 
I wanted the absolute basics that would allow me to make a meal on the spot without having to make-do with a utensil that wasn't proper for the job.  I still need to add:
  • spices
  • spatulas
  • pancake turner
  • camping pots
  • hot pads
  • cleaning scrubbies and soap
  • grater
As you cook your next meal, think of what you use the most to get the meal prepared.  Make a list of these items and keep a look out for them at the store.  We are all different and cook differently, but I think we all use the basic measuring cups and knives. 

My kitchen in a box now sits along side my butane stove and fuel.  They are ready to go with our 72-hour kits.  These along with my thermal cooker will allow me to prepare and serve meals to my family in any situation.  The days following a disaster will be filled with chaos and making meals will be a huge stress for everyone.  But preparing beforehand and knowing that you have a 72-hour kit, food, and a way to prepare the food will give you peace of mind.  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Don't Forget The Flavor In Your Food Storage!

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Summer is here and that means BBQ's, picnics, and outdoor fun!  This is also the perfect time to stock up on all the foods that go along with those cook-outs.  Watch the grocery ads for ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, bbq sauce, relish, mayo, and spices.  These types of foods add flavor to your cooking.  Basic food storage will only be tolerated for so long by a hungry family.  Don't forget to stock up on the condiments and spices that add flavor to your food storage!  Paper products like plates, bowls, napkins, cups, plastic utensils, and paper towels are also on sale.  Who wants to do dishes in an emergency?!  Your challenge is to stock up now while the prices are LOW!

 And don't forget about all the camping deals out there. Take advantage of the great prices on tents, camp stoves, sleeping bags, and all the gear that goes along with camping.  Restock your 72-hour kits and car kits with camping tools, gloves, collapsible shovels, tarps, etc.  Father's Day and Fourth of July sales are the best time to purchase larger items for a great price.  Sometimes you can find great deals at the end of the summer season, but if you really need a tent and find a great price, buy it!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sun Oven Cooking-- Corn on the Cob

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This a re-post from May 2012.  I saw this post on the blog the other day I thought I would share again with those readers who may have missed it. I can't wait to cook summer corn in my Sun Oven.  

Cooking for a crowd can get tricky when you want everything to be cooked and ready at the same time.  Mother's Day dinner was at my house with 17 people.  I didn't want the stove and oven going while everyone was in the kitchen so we decided to grill hamburgers.  That got the main dish outside but we still had all the side dishes to cook.  I used the oven for the sweet potato fries but I didn't want to lug my big pot upstairs from the storage room and use the stove to cook the corn on the cob.  Then I remembered a post I saw on the Global Sun Oven site about cooking corn on the cob in the Global Sun Oven.  I tossed 8 rather large ears of corn, still in their husks, into the sun oven and closed the door.  That was literally the easiest thing I have "cooked" in a long time.  

They cooked for about 1 1/2 hours, and they could have gone for about another 1/2 hour or so to be really done, but I forgot about cooking the corn until right before dinner.  (seriously if my head wasn't attached...) We were ready to eat but I knew the corn was close to being done because the glass had condensation on the inside of it.  That usually means your dish is close to being finished, if not all the way done.  The temperature hovered just above 250 degrees the whole time.  The corn was crisp tender and so sweet when we ate it!  I am really surprised every time I cook something in the Sun Oven and it comes out tasting so good.  I should know by now that it will work but it just makes me happy every time it does!
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