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.

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.

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…

 

“Farm” Update (Long)

Nolan’s teachers and classmates like to talk about our “farm” since for most of them it’s almost the same thing.

Last time I posted we were winding up the summer garden and I had created a very nice looking fall/winter garden.

Man, I worked hard on that thing and it looked so good! Unfortunately, pretty soon (6 days) after I planted that garden, a hurricane came through and all the seeds washed out.

I still had a few things that sprung up, but the fall/winter here means very limited sun. Since it was already not the sunniest place, nothing did well.  I do still have a few carrots that are starting to grow again now that the days are getting longer.

So…on to plan C.  I’m going to plant a garden in the front yard.  Yep, the front yard.  It’s the only place in our entire yard that gets the right sun.

That tree you see there casts shade over that whole area of the yard that has nothing in it, otherwise I’d plant against the fence.  I do think I’m going to plant some blackberry bushes against the fence.  We already have two blueberry bushes in front of the house.  So…this weekend I’m going to start building the beds in my lasagna garden.  No, I don’t mean I’m growing things to put in lasagna (though I suppose I am).

There are a hundred different ways to do it, but it’s really about using what you have to create your own soil.  Our soil is very dry and sandy, especially in the front yard where that large tree has really stolen a lot of nutrients and moisture.

I plan to go with 1) newspaper, 2) chicken compost, 3) dried leaves, 4) not sure…maybe more chicken compost, purchase some mushroom compost or ask the neighbor or lawn company for grass clippings 5) topsoil (necessary because we’re starting in Spring instead of fall which would have given it months to break down) 6) newspaper, 7) hay as mulch.  Everything gets wet down between layers.

I don’t have kitchen scraps to put on/in it because well, 1) no time for it to break down and 2) I bought this countertop compost bin for our kitchen scraps and we give them to the chickens.  I actually just bought a second one for things that can be composted but aren’t food for the chickens, like paper towels, coffee filters, coffee grounds, etc.

The plan is to get the front garden built this weekend (thankfully it’s supposed to be in the 60’s and 70’s) and let it do it’s thing until after the last frost (March 15th around here).

In the meantime I’ve started my seeds.  I went a little overboard and bought a LOT of seeds.  I bought most of them from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.

I also bought some other organic ones from Seeds of Change.  I kept remembering other things I wanted to plant so I also bought some bunching onions and cucumbers off Amazon and then some Heirloom green pole beans at Home Depot.I haven’t started most of the larger things like corn, watermelon, cucumbers or any of the things that can’t be transplanted such as carrots or the bunching onions.  They’ll have to wait until mid-March.

So far I’ve started peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, basil, kale.  I plan to put the basil and cilantro on the deck in some planters (away from dogs and chickens), strawberries, too. The corn, watermelon, cucumbers, oh, and sunflowers I plan to try in a garden down on the hill where I have more room. That will be more of an experiment, but I plan to use the same method.

I started the seeds outside in cold frames as a different experiment.  The ones in plastic went out first and after 9 days they hadn’t germinated so last night I moved them inside only to realize after two warms days they HAD started to germinate, so I left the ones in the 3 tiered container (in soil blocks) outside and put a second cover over them.  Some of the seeds on the bottom had started to germinate and those I just planted on Sunday so I’m stoked.  I’m sure I’ll provide pictures in the next week or so.

 

Obviously I was a little into gardening already, but what has really gotten me going is stumbling onto this Vlog.  I would go so far as to say I’m slightly obsessed. lol

They’re actually only days away from leaving the farm for 10 months and touring North America on a school bus they had converted to an RV.  I do miss the garden videos, but they’re touring farms (it’s called the Great American Farm tour) so I’m sure there’ll be plenty to see and learn from.

That vlog is where I learned about soil blocking, which is planting seeds in little blocks of soil with no containers.  They’re not cheap, so I bought a small one to start and so far so good.  The idea is the roots get more airflow and also you’re not spending money on plastic containers or throwing those in the landfill when they break.  I did just like Justin Rhodes did and didn’t cover the seeds.  Just laid them in the little indentations created by the soil blocks.

Clicking around on different related vlogs led me to the Baker Creek Seeds and lasagna gardening.  I’ve got this Lasagna Gardening book on the way and I am just so stoked for spring.  Having all this prep work to do has really made winter go by faster.

Okay, so that’s my really, really long garden update and hopefully there will be more to come soon on the chickens and other life updates.

 

 

Spring Fever

I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since I blogged.  Crazy how quickly time can get away from us.

We’ve had some really great times this winter, partially due to the crazy back and forth weather patterns.

One day we’re at the zoo in January…

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The next, it’s sleeting and snowing…

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Snow…

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…then warm enough to go wander around Colonial Williamsburg.

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We’ve even had days like this:

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Well, Josh and Nolan did. I was at work. 🙁

Right now I’m completely over the back and forth, though. We have passes to Busch Gardens and Water Country, we’ve got camping equipment, we’ve got a little johnboat…I’m READY FOR SUMMER!!!

I’ve been working hard to get my garden going.  Trying to do it right this year, by planting seeds and getting things ready early.  I’ve got garlic, onions, green beans, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, watermelon, and lots of peppers.  As usual I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m going to keep trying.  I just wish the weather would cooperate so I could get stuff out of the ground and into the beds.

Zone 8 Virginia Garden Schedule

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We also got chickens!!! Can you believe we finally did it!?

We got 6 hens, the max we can have in our city (no roosters).  Two of them are Buff Orringtons, two are Barred Plymouth Rock and the other two…I honestly can’t remember.  They’re living in the guest room under a heat lamp.  They have to stay there until they get their feathers (about a month) and Josh is working on the chicken coop for when they’re ready to go outside.

Oooooh! And we got a chocolate lab puppy, named Monty.

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He was about 10 weeks in the picture above and the one below is from Easter weekend. He’s a little over 4 months now and it’s about time for him to go to puppy school.

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I even got all crafty and made him (them) a dog bed.

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Sure, it may have cost as much as buying one, but…at least I have a sense of satisfaction. 😉

The only other development is my obsession with Lularoe (and apparently selfies).

If you’re in the Hampton Roads area, I’m having a pop-up on April 28th.  Use the Contact Me form to shoot me an email and I’ll let you know where.

Hopefully this post will get me back in the blogging groove.  It’s gonna be a great summer and I can’t wait to share it with you!