Favorite YouTube Channels

I may have become a bit addicted to YouTube.  It all started when I googled “chicken laying an egg” to show Nolan.  From there I went down a bit of a rabbit hole and have found a few channels that I watch daily (or whenever they post).  For the most part, I watch gardening or homesteading channels.  Here are my favorites and/or the most useful ones.

Homesteading

Art & Bri

Art and Bri live in the Asheville area of North Carolina (I’m definitely jealous).  They have about 25 acres with chickens, ducks, pigs, goats, a milking cow and gardens.  I love this channel because they’re just very genuine, real people. Art is a nurse and Bri stays home with their 4 (soon to be 5) homeschooled kids. I support Art & Bri’s channel through a $5.00 Patreon donation because I figure…I pay for other types of entertainment, why not help support my favorite YouTube channel?

Justin Rhodes 

Justin Rhodes and his family also live outside of Asheville and homeschool. In fact, Art & Bri used to live next door to Justin’s family before moving to their homestead. Justin’s channel is probably one of the most successful and popular homesteading channels on YouTube.  Justin aims for a permaculture approach to his homestead and offers classes and a paid membership area to his website. There he provides additional videos and more instructional type information.  I do pay for this membership area ($8.00/mo) because 1) I want to support them as they work hard on their channel and 2) it allows me to be a part of their Facebook group where I can exchange ideas with like-minded people.

Justin and his family just got back from a 10 month tour of all 50 states – the Great American Farm Tour as they called it. They visited farms and sights along the way and now that they’re back home they’re getting in the swing of things on the homestead and implementing what they’ve learned.  I’d say the vlog is still a bit in transition and right now they’re on a 2 week break for Justin to work on editing the full documentary of the tour.  I’m looking forward to mid-April (after the premiere of the documentary) as they really return their vlog focus to the homestead.

While they’re on their break I recommend checking out some of their playlists like 100 Days of Growing Food and The Great American Farm Tour.

Weed ‘Em and Reap

I enjoy Danelle’s videos because she’s doing it all on 1 acre. She’s lucky enough to live in an unusual neighborhood that is zoned in a way that allows her to have sheep, goats and chickens.

She has a couple of very nice gardens, as well, but because she is in the Phoenix, AZ area, her methods don’t necessarily translate for me. Her videos are light and fun for the most part and I appreciate her no fuss approach to the homesteading aspects of their life.

Appalachia’s Homestead

Patara from Appalachia Homestead has taken a lot of her more educational videos over to Patreon. But, she still posts worthwhile stuff occasionally and you can always refer back to her earlier videos.

Gardening

All of the channels above have gardening videos, but the ones below are pretty much exclusively gardening.

MiGardener

Luke from MiGardener has tons of how-to videos.  At times he can be a bit…passionate (and he says stunning A LOT), but if you’re looking for some help getting started with gardening or a new crop, he’s probably got a video for you.  He also runs a seed store by the same name (migardener).  All his seeds are .99 and they’re non-GMO heirloom varieties.  I’ve ordered from him before and he also carries a custom fertilizer of his own design called Trifecta that I’ve used and it gets rave reviews.

CaliKim

Kim also has a lot of instructional videos and she even has a series she does in partnership with MiGardener. In the series she shows from seed to harvest, how she grows 10 plants in MiGardeners’ $10 garden kit (10 popular, beginner vegetables and herbs).

She lives in California so her climate is very different than mine (as is MiGardener’s, he’s in Michigan), but she still has many valuable videos.

Hollis & Nancy’s Homestead

I was super excited when I found this channel because they originally started vlogging while living only about 30 minutes from me. Unfortunately for me they recently moved to Florida. Nevertheless, they still have a lot of super helpful videos that match my climate.

Hollis also does a really great job of explaining how and why he’s doing things.  I look forward to seeing what they do with their new homestead in Florida as they had previously been doing urban gardening on a small lot with no animals.

MhpGardener

MhpGardener is another channel that is only about an hour from me. Unfortunately he hasn’t been posting much the last couple of years, but there are plenty of videos in his archives to get your started.

I definitely have other channels I watch, but these are my favorites and/or the ones I think would be the most educational.

Let me know what your favorites are!

Fresh Start

It’s been so long since I last posted. There’s no use in trying to catch up.  We’ll just consider this post a fresh start.

Josh got me a pre-loved Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas and I’ve been trying to perfect my recipes and finally found my favorite.

Appalachia Homestead’s Ultimate Bread Recipe

Good, but nothing spectacular.

Julia Child’s Sandwich Bread Recipe

Rose up nice, but bland.

And the winner…Scratch With Sandy’s Amish White Bread Recipe

Ahhhhhmazing!

The first time I made the Amish White bread, I kept exactly true to the recipe and then brushed the tops with honey butter. ::drool emoji::

The second time I attempted it with half the sugar and it’s still REALLY good. I also took the second loaf and stuffed it with a cinnamon raisin butter sugar mixture.  It didn’t hold together well but tastes so, so, so….good!  I will perfect my methods on that one, but I definitely feel like this is a versatile base recipe.

Monty agrees.

I honestly don’t think I will buy store bought bread ever again.

In other food related news…

I started a lettuce mix in the cold frame in October and it is doing amazing! It has made it through snow and temps down into the single digits. All thanks to a little scrap wood and an old window.

It’s now double this size and we’re harvesting for salads.

I’m also already starting seeds indoors for the gardens and prepping new areas to plant.

Onions and celery, neither of which I’ve ever grown but am really excited for.

Tiny onion sprouts that make me so, so happy. In February as I dream about a bountiful garden I just go in the “grow room” and stare at my seedlings. And it’s so exciting when you see noticeable changes. Josh loves it when I make him stare at mostly inanimate objects.

We still have the chickens and are getting more than enough eggs!  At times we’ve had over 7 dozen eggs in the house.

It’s been a terrible flu season so I made my own elderberry syrup.

None of us have gotten the flu, just some congestion and sinus stuff here and there.  Nolan got a cough and I gave him an elderberry and honey cough syrup (not this one, the one by Zarbees) and he got over it way faster than the norm.

Okay, so that it’s not all about food/ingestibles…

Nolan participated in his first Pinewood Derby this past weekend!

He’s a Lion Cub, which is a new Den they added last year and it’s kinda like an intro to Scouting. Below is a little collage of videos and pictures taken of his car during the race.

He ended up winning his Den!

And also, this picture below makes my heart hurt a little. Such a big boy! Conversing and hanging out with the older kids like it’s nothing.

Well, that’s it for this update.  I’ll do my best to keep it more current. Thanks for reading. For your reward, here’s a cute picture loving on his dog.

Little Bites

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and I’ve already told 90% of my friends this story, but I want it recorded for posterity.


Nolan made me a Mother’s Day place mat at school that had his hand print on it. On each finger was a picture of his face.

He was very excited to show it to me and said “Look…in the pictures, I’m wearing glasses, no glasses, glasses, no glasses, glasses…that’s a pattern!”

I said, “Yep! That’s an alternating pattern.”

We then moved on with our conversation and I asked him about his birthday. He said, “Mom, can I have presents this year?” (Last year family got him presents but we asked friends who attended the party to bring donations for the food bank, instead.)

I told him that he would still get presents from family, but he didn’t need a bunch more presents from other people.

He thought for a moment and then said, “But, Mom…I want to do a pattern…presents, no presents, PRESENTS!”

All I could do is laugh. Touché!

Let me tell you a story

Once upon a time (this morning)…a young (lol) lady woke up and heard a squawking chicken in her yard. Not thinking much of it, assuming the hen was just proud of having laid an egg or some such silliness, the young woman looked out her window. And saw feathers all over her yard. And a huge fox by the fence getting ready to run off with a chicken.

One imagines the initial meeting went something like …

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and then quickly escalated to this…

Image result for fox and chicken cartoon

The young lady hurried downstairs as quickly as possible, calling for her trusty k-9 companion. She slid open the sliding glass door and said, “Get ‘im, Monty!”

Alarmed by his normally demure (ha) mistress’ loud tone he made this face…

Image result for funny chocolate lab

and ran in his crate to hide.

The fox turned, looked at the young lady and ran off over the fence.

Gathering her pride (and pants) the young lady went to check the damage.

Buff Orpington feathers were strewn across the yard, but as luck would have it she could account for all of them. No sign of Chicoletta or Little Red, though.

Poor Hurt Chicken. This being the third time she was the victim of an attack, she was now missing most of her tail feathers.

Assuming that Chicoletta and Little Red had flown off to safety and hoping they would be in the yard when she got home from work, the young lady continued to get ready for work. Again, blessed by good luck, both hens were waiting at the fence before she left for work and the flock was reunited, if a bit worse for wear.

Aaand, as a final F U to the fox, Chicoletta, laid her first, itty bitty, adorable (white) egg.

So, that’s the story of how two tough birds bested a mean ‘ole fox.

PSA – Skin Cancer

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program for this PSA…


Wear your sunscreen, don’t use tanning beds and get your skin checked yearly.

I had a Moh’s procedure done Last Wednesday to remove a basil cell carcinoma on my shoulder.

I try to wear sunscreen pretty regularly when I’m purposely out in the sun, but I’m also of a generation who are kind’ve on the cusp of the awareness or our parent’s awareness of the long term effects of the sun so there was lots of damage done in my early years, and I’m embarrassed to say a couple of short stints of tanning bed use.

The scar isn’t a big deal to me. I have so many at this point, what’s one more?

What is a big deal is the possibility of something worse: melanoma. Melanoma is scary stuff, ya’ll.  I don’t know if you know it, but in it’s later stages, melanoma is a death sentence.

I’m not interested in losing out on any of this…

…so I’m going to be more diligent about sunscreen on a daily basis and during colder months.

Additionally, this summer I’ll be investing in rash guards, hats, the whole 9 yards.  Fashion be damned.

Better safe than dead.

Chicken Low and Chicken High

The low came Sunday evening as we were getting ready to leave for church and we were trying to round up the chickens, hoping to convince them to go to bed early since we knew we’d be home after dark.  I didn’t see Fancy but eventually found her under a parked car. I instantly knew something was up.  After I retrieved her from under the car with no protest from her, my fears were confirmed.  She had very labored breathing and kept closing her eyes.  Her comb had turned very pale and she looked near death.

Josh tried getting her to drink and then tried giving her a vitamin supplement that sent her into convulsions.  He ended up putting her out of her misery.

She seemed just fine at every point up until then, and apparently Sudden Chicken Death Syndrome is a thing, usually heart related.

Fancy got her name because she had pretty gold feathers, a large comb, and no matter how many times we clipped her wings she would still fly over the fence just to show us she could.  We joked …”oh, she thinks she fancy!” and that’s how she got her name.

She will be missed. She was the last remaining hen from the original chicks and the only one who laid white eggs. Poor Nolan cried when I told him she wasn’t going to make it and exclaimed “Now, I’ll never see a white egg, again!”

We don’t know what caused her death, but we’ll keep an eye on the rest of the flock and start giving them some various preventative things and hopefully all will be well.

RIP Fancy: 2016-2017

The high came last night. I came home and looked around the yard and saw a missing Buff Orpington.  A few minutes later I saw her sneak out from the shed. I glanced under and didn’t see any eggs. After dinner I went out to close the coop and that dang chicken was gone again.  There she was, under the shed. She’d gone broody. Meaning she was sitting on eggs expecting them to hatch. Um, no, honey, that’s not how nature works when there’s no rooster.

I managed to use a stick to convince her to leave. I didn’t want something getting her in the night.  She was not very happy with me and I could hear her squawking from the coop for a good 5 minutes.  Meantime, I knew there were eggs under there because that’s what broody hens do. Sit on eggs. I used a rake to pull them out.

Ya’ll.

YA’LL!

There were 23 eggs under there.  I did the egg freshness test…

and they all passed!

There were no white eggs and we’ve been getting about one white and 1-2 brown ones/day in the nesting box for a week or two as things warmed up, so my best guess is that two of the older Buff Orpingtons and Fancy were laying in the nesting box.  That means that our younger hens, Chicoletta and Little Red, must have started laying in addition to the broody Buff. I mean, how else do you have 23 still fresh eggs out there!?

Craziness!

I’m was feeling pretty disheartened about the chicken situation after Fancy and the egg find helped a little. I’m hoping to build them a new coop and run in a couple of months as it warms up and we hopefully will be putting a little less $ and energy into the rental house we’re getting ready to list.

I’m thinking something like this, with a little supervised free ranging most days.

So, that’s the latest on our ongoing chicken saga!

Spring is sprouting

Well, the garden is in!


I used the same gate and fencing from the backyard in last year’s garden. I had to buy one more roll to complete it.

I picked up a few more t-posts and two cattle panels for the tomatoes, cucumbers and pole beans.


I’ve got the broccoli, kale, lettuce, carrots, bunching onions and some spinach planted. I need to start some more Kale and spinach. I’m trying to use the spinach as a border.

I still need to get the chard in and I’m waiting for it to warm up before I put in the tomatoes and peppers.

I bought a heat mat to get the peppers to germinate and it’s working great.


I learned how to make this grow box on YouTube.


Once the seeds germinate and sprout I move them into the windowsill or cold box.


I moved a few things out of the box today and moved cucumbers in. Re-potting them from the soil blocks where they started to sprout into the Styrofoam cups.

I’m also growing herbs and flowers and ended up sprouting some spaghetti squash seeds because I couldn’t resist when they were already sprouting inside the organic squash I bought at the store.


Now they’re growing quite well in the pots. I guess they’ll go down on the hill with the other larger plants like the watermelon.

I’m thinking of growing the eggplant and zucchini in containers to save room in the garden.


The cold box is working very well, too! Everything is staying protected and thriving.

So that’s the current update and hopefully everything will start taking off soon.

Daddy’s Girl

I’ve had a bit of a revelation recently. I’m a little like my Dad. I doubt many of you reading this have any idea what this means or why that’s surprising.

He died 9 years ago and I maybe saw him once every year or two in the 5 years after I left college, which was when I lived closer to him than I had since I was 8 when my parents divorced. Some years before the divorce, maybe 5 or 6, we had moved out to a house on 18 acres and a pond in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi. As it turned out, my introverted mother didn’t like being 30+ minutes from “town” (whoda thunk?). It wasn’t the sole cause of their marital demise, of course, but didn’t help.

I have terrible long-term memory but I recall him growing vegetables and such. We had cows, but they weren’t ours as we leased our land to someone else for them to graze.

After the divorce he tried gardening again at a different property (6 acres) and he had blueberry bushes, as well.

Remind you of anyone?

He was a very intelligent man and would get really into various things only to lose interest at some point.  After gardening came fish (tanks everywhere!) and then “collecting” (he even opened up an antiques shop after retiring from teaching).

I may have some tendencies that way (knitting, anyone?),  though I don’t think gardening is going to be one of those things. I just get so much satisfaction from growing a little food and raising our own egg chickens.

But yeah, it’s funny how as you get older you start to see your parents in yourself (I’ve got my mom’s hands and her preference for quiet and solitude). As a parent, we want to see that we’ve made an impact, but I think we always want our kids to do just a little better than we did.

I imagine my dad is rooting on my gardening ventures and my mom is proud that I’ve been able to cultivate a village of friends, something that was always a challenge for her.

I hope and pray that wherever life takes, Nolan, he’ll do even better.

Just friends

I’m so frustrated, ya’ll. Josh and I were both out late last night and when Josh got home Mae Mae wasn’t in the coop.

We haven’t seen hide nor feather of her. No trace. Damn hawks or eagles. 

They might be the hardest predators to thwart. I hate to not let the chickens free range, but I’m thinking the only way to keep them safe is to keep them locked in their fenced area unless we’re home and outside or the dogs are outside. Harder to do on the weekends when we’re in and out, but I think it’s the only way we’re going to stop losing hens. We may even have to string some poultry netting across that fenced area.

#prayersForMaeMae

On a side note, I took tomorrow off work and it’s going to be a beautiful 70 degree day. We’re (#fingerscrossed) going to pick up some free wood chips and then I’ll be well on my way to having the garden ready for planting. I’m hoping by the end of the weekend to have it fenced and ready to go.

I can’t wait to get my carrot seeds planted. I swear carrots might be the most satisfying plant to harvest. The ones I planted in the doomed fall garden have sprung to life as the days have lengthened and temps warmed. I picked a few today. A couple of them were really good size!


In just a few months we’ll be getting yellow, orange and purple ones.

Mae Mae and Friends

So, how are the chickens doing?

Well, our flock currently consists of these three Buff Orpingtons.  None of which have names except the one in back that we call “hurt chicken.” She’s fine now, but got a bit messed up by Monty (our dog).  He knows better now, but thought he was playing with her and ripped some feathers (and skin) out.  After she molts in the fall we won’t be able to tell the different between these three.    None of these are from our original chicks.  We drove out to Windsor and got these after we were down to two or three.

Fancy, the one with the large comb in front, is the only original chicken left.  The two Rhode Island Reds are very new and young.  The one in front is Mae Mae and the one in back is Lil’ Red.  The White Leghorn is named Chick-O-Letta (everyone with small children will understand the reference)

We’re not getting many eggs right now.  I locked them in the fenced in area for a few days to remind them where to lay eggs because I’m sure they’re laying them somewhere, I just can’t figure out where. These ladies need to earn their keep (the three young ones aren’t of laying age, yet).

In garden news…

Here’s the update on the seeds in the house.  Appears to be only zucchini and swiss chard.  I don’t think any of the peppers or tomatoes germinated.  I’m probably going to have to find a warmer place for them.  This room used to be a garage and has a great window for sun, but doesn’t stay warm.  It’s not connected to the central heat.

Look at that beautiful zucchini seedling.  I can’t wait to chow on zucchini boats this summer.

These seeds are outside.  This container I have them in isn’t the best.  They’re angled which gives them a lot of sun, but the moisture and nutrients are draining down.

The broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach and such are sprouting.  Again, the tomatoes, peppers aren’t doing anything. And neither is the lettuce, which I’m learning is apparently better as a direct sow.

A little research has shown that I can plant most of my cooler weather crops now.  Kale, spinach, lettuce, onions, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, chard…all of that can go in now.  My main hesitation is that the almanac indicates that we’ll get a snow in mid-March.  I can, of course, cover the beds then, but I had hoped not to have to purchase low-tunnel materials until late summer, early fall.

I received my Lasagna Gardening book on Friday and zoomed through a lot of it before starting my beds on Saturday.

The wind and regular weekend happenings limited how much I was able to get done.  Also, my supply of newspaper.  I really wanted to use newspaper but I don’t have a regular supply of it, so I’ll have to use cardboard to finish up.

My layers are newspaper/cardboard, leaves, compost, hay, compost, top soil (not quite done with that.  Once I’m ready to plant I’ll mulch with either hay or wood chips.  I want to lay everything in the garden around the beds with wood chips, too, but I need a free supply to do that.  I’m also working on a supply of grass cutting from one of the landscapers that works in the neighborhood.

I plan to extend these rows longer, add one on the right and two or more in the back.  I really think this is going to be a perfect spot. Full sun, level, well drained soil…