February 28, 2016

Trailersteading Giveaway Winner

The winner is

Lisa Cox

Congratulations, Lisa!

A lot of folks were interested in this so if you didn't win, please click on over to Amazon to get a copy. Trailersteading is reasonably priced in both Kindle and print and well worth it. Or, if your budget is too tight to do even that, request that your local public library buy a copy! That way, you can read it and others in your community can too.

Also, be sure to swing by my blog on March 1st for another giveaway. :)

February 27, 2016

Baby Goat Cuteness

Tomorrow I announce the winner of the Trailersteading giveaway, but I wanted to sneak in a few of the latest baby goat photos. I can't wait too long to share because they grow so fast!

Daphne and her baby boys at one day old.

Now that they're dry, you can see their coloring a little better. Buckling #1 is mostly black, but like his mom, has a few white spots here and there.

Couldn't get him to face the camera!

Buckling #2 looks a dark silvery gray, which is actually a mix of black and white hairs (called "grizzled").

Now here they are in their little goat coats. The wind has been terribly cold so I'm happy that they fit. This is their very first outing at two days old.

Meeting the other goats. This is B1 and Violet.

I didn't realize B2 had such interesting leg markings until I saw this photo

I lament that my camera isn't good enough to get action shots. They look calm and still in these photos, but they are really very bouncy.

The coats fit fairly well except that for newborn Kinder kids they don't need to be so long. Mamas identify their babies by smell, particularly their hind ends. When kids come to nurse she'll check to make sure it's her kids and not somebody else's trying to sneak a little milk. Also she keeps them clean back there, but so far so good. I actually made a knitting mistake and didn't add stitches to accommodate chest girth, but it this case it gave a better fit. Kinders are a midsize goat; smaller than standards but larger than miniature breeds.

And of course, a piggy shot.

They've been exploring their little barn but always come back to the sleeping pile. In the late afternoon the sun comes in through the door, so they're taking advantage of that.

Next baby goat due date - April 6.

February 25, 2016

Eliminating Plastic: Part 3 - Shopping

I'm guessing that eliminating plastic for shopping (i.e. those ubiquitous plastic grocery bags) is one area where quite a few of us have made progress. One of the cleverest ideas (for those of us who buy large bags of animal feed), are those homemade feedbag totes (instructions here). One of these days I'm going to make me some. In the meantime, I've kept cardboard boxes and fabric totes in the car for years. Recently I made some upgrades when I started solving my laundry plastic problems, but it started when my daughter-in-law gave me this roomy thermal tote as a gift.

I've used it for transporting hot or cold foods. Pocket is handy too.

I love it. So much lighter weight than the cooler I used to lug around for refrigerated or frozen items. In my part of the country, that is a must for summer shopping.

Next she gave me one of these

(The tote, not the cat :) Roomy & sturdy, with double reinforced
straps. Katy snoopervises the putting away of groceries.

It is similar to the laundry tote showed you in my post on eliminating plastic in the laundry. It's just not as wide, so it's perfect as a grocery tote: sturdy and holds a lot. I also ordered two of these

The gallon of vinegar is to give you an idea of how roomy
& sturdy it is. The grommets really strengthen the straps.

I'm very happy with them. They make all my old canvas totes seem dinky and flimsy. These are roomy and strong! The heavy webbing handles are reinforced with both stitching and grommets.

What's really great is that once all the groceries are unpacked, they all squish up and fit inside the large tote.

For me, that means it's easier to remember to put back into the car! For some reason my little cloth totes were forever getting pushed aside so that often they weren't where I needed them.

I got two personal totes as customer specials, well, one tote and one purse.

Shoulder strap purse and library tote. I really
like that it holds pen and notebook so handily.

Before I tell you where I got them, I have a confession to make. You probably noticed I don't do ads on my blog and don't even push my own books terribly often. But I did figure that if I was going to show these anyway, then I might as well set up the link to host a blog "party." If anyone orders, then I get credit for more products (and I have my eye on several things to help eliminate plastic storage containers). To check out the catalog, click here. You will land at a page entitled "Leigh's Online Thirty-One Party," and if you click "shop now," you can see what they've got. Better yet would be to host your own blog or facebook party so you could get free and discounted products. Just click on "Host a Party" at the top of the page, or email me and I'll put you in touch with my daughter-in-law.

Another option: if you really like the products and are interested in a flexible home business that doesn't call for huge start-up capital, you could become a consultant. For more information click "Become a Consultant" at the top of this page or email me and I'll put you in touch with my daughter-in-law.

One last consideration for eliminating plastic in shopping, is where you shop. One of the reasons I like Aldi is because they don't bag my groceries. I bring my own boxes or bags and eliminate those stupid plastic grocery bags.  I mention that because some places I shop, I feel like I'm inconveniencing the checker because she has to take the time to use my bags instead of just pop my items into plastic.

Your turn. Is shopping an area you've made plastic elimination progress?

February 24, 2016

Nine Piglets!

Polly farrowed early this morning, sometime right before chores. She had nine piglets!

Dan discovered them when he went out to feed the pigs. I hurried to finish my goat chores and got there as Polly delivered the placenta.

A typical American Guinea Hog litter is six to ten. Last time she had six, so we're increasing production!

I fed her treats, praised her, and gave her a good back rub, but didn't check sexes of the new babies. There will be time for that later. Just happy that all went well and is well.

And, because I can't resist, here are a couple of non-piglets.

Daphne's little guys are now one day old and getting the jumping bean feet. Their baby goat sweaters fit well, except I think for Kinders they don't need to be so long. I'll have a full blown fashion show soon.

Nine Piglets! © February 2016 by Leigh 

February 23, 2016


Twins, can you believe it? Dan went out around 2:30 a.m. but nothing was happening. When I went to check at 4:30 there was discharge and Daphne was restless. About half an hour later she started pushing. The result was two healthy little bucklings born this morning at 5:13 and 5:17. It was an easy delivery and Daphne couldn't be prouder.Nothing was required from me except helping dry them off.

Afterwards I went to check on Polly. She came running to greet me, ready for morning pets and scratches. No piglets yet, however, but I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: Noon. A few more photos.

Being born is exhausting work. 1st Born (left) is a velvety
black with one white spot in addition to the patch of
white on his withers. 2nd born dried to a lovely silver.

Daphne! © February 2016 by Leigh 

February 19, 2016

Trailersteading: Book Review & Giveaway!

I'm a huge Anna Hess fan. Not only of her blog (The Walden Effect) but her books too. They are good additions to my homesteading library shelves. I like her writing style, information, and voice of experience. Her books are invaluable to both beginning and experienced homesteaders, and with every one I read, I learn a lot. Her newest book is a winner on all counts.

Trailersteading: How to Find, Buy, Retrofit, and Live Large in a Mobile Home. This book is exciting to me because it falls into the much needed category that I call "homesteading for the rest of us." I say that because I've read a number of how-to books on homesteading that left me more discouraged than encouraged. I would put the book down and think, "There's no way we can ever afford to do all that." This book is for those who yearn to homestead but don't think they have the savings or income to make it happen.

The book is divided into sections and chapters:

  • Introduction: Why live in a trailer?, What is a mobile home?
  • Mobile homes as tiny houses: The tiny house movement, How small is too small?, Realities of life in a tiny house, etc.
  • Disadvantages of trailer homesteading: Why we don't all live in trailers, No basement, Depreciation and permanence, Aesthetics, Zoning, etc. 
  • Finding and moving to the land: The ugly-duckling property, Moving and installing a trailer, etc.
  • Remodeling a trailer: Trailer overhauls, DIY insulated skirting, Adding a pitched roof to a mobile home, etc.
  • Heating and cooling a mobile home: Is energy use a trailer's Achilles heel?, Low- and no-cost heating and cooling options, Scarlet runner beans and permaculture tacos, etc.
  • Around the trailerstead: Rain barrels, Greywater wetland, Experiments with humanure, etc.
  • Lessons learned on the trailerstead

Case studies throughout the book share real-life experiences of those who are fulfilling their dreams to homestead comfortably and affordably by living in trailers and mobile homes.

At 216 pages, Trailersteading is book 2 in Anna's Modern Simplicity series. It is available in both paperback (list price $14.99) or Kindle edition ($5.99), BUT! I have a paperback copy that I'm going to give away for free! All you have to do is leave a comment and you're entered! Simple as that.

Honestly? This is an option that Dan and I seriously considered. If we hadn't gotten such a great deal on our current home and property, we would likely be one of the testimonials to trailersteading. And sometimes we wish we'd gone that route, because we often think that the time, energy, and money it takes to DIY an old fixer-upper like ours could be better spent on other areas of the homestead and fulfilling our dream of self-sufficiency.

I'll announce the giveaway winner on Sunday, February 28th.

February 17, 2016

Winter Salad

Spinach, broccoli, grated goat cheese, and dried
cranberries. Olive oil & balsamic vinegar dressing.

Served with scalloped potatoes and ham. A wonderful winter meal.

Winter Salad © February 2016 by Leigh

February 14, 2016

Eliminating Plastic: Part 2 - Laundry

I am sick and tired of plastic laundry baskets. It never seems to take long before they end up looking like this

The first handle broke within the first month I had it. The others followed.

All handles are broken, which makes it extremely difficult to carry to the clothesline. It's a piece of junk. Sure it could be recycled, but I'm also sick and tired of having to spend money on another limited-life plastic product every six months. I retired this one to simply holding dirty laundry in the laundry room.

Solutions? The biggest drawback to non-plastic ones is that they are going to cost more, although they'll surely last longer. While looking around on the internet I found a number of options, although a lot of them seem to be intended as laundry hampers:
  • Wicker - prices seem to range from $80 to $250 for a good-size one. The only disadvantage to wicker is that it can mildew. Better for hampers and laundry storage. (Some nice ones here). 
  • Wood (woven) - some really nice ones here, and they say they're okay for carrying wet laundry out to the line. Prices for a good laundry-size basket are $65 up. 
  • Straw - the ones I found here are absolutely gorgeous but way out of my budget.
  • Seagrass - don't know if these would mildew or not. $79 at PotteryBarn.
  • Wire - is a possibility as long as it won't rust.  Here's a vintage-style with wheels at Target for $173. Amazon has the laundromat roll type for just under $159,

While I was pondering all that, I received a Christmas gift from my daughter-in-law that was just perfect. 

"Deluxe Utility Tote," AKA my new laundry "basket,"

It's a water-resistant canvas tote made by Thirty-One. I was thrilled that it's large enough to hold a load of laundry from my washing machine. It has reinforced webbing shoulder straps plus hand-carrying straps on the ends (also reinforced). A wire frame is sewn into the top, so it stays open and keeps it shape. And it has pockets! What a relief to get rid of that plastic laundry basket.

This got me thinking. My other problem was my clothespin holder. I used to have one of those fabric clothespin holders that can be hung on the clothesline. That one worked better when I had a long, classic clothesline rather than a space-saver umbrella style clothesline (because I kept having to relocate the pin bag). When the fabric wore thin and tore, I switched to a small repurposed, plastic tub. This worked for awhile.

Eventually it went the way of all plastic.

When DIL alerted me to a clearance sale, I took a look and I found a small tote I thought would work well for clothespins. I'm really happy with this one too.

Meowy is frequently my laundry snoopervisor.

"I'm bored with hanging laundry, yawn, wanna play?"

This was one of several options that
would make a good clothespin holder.

Like the laundry tote, it's made of water-resistant canvas, has reinforced webbing handles, and a wire ring to help it keep it's shape. The drawstring is handy to sling over my shoulder when going to or from the laundry room.

Along with that, I got a small matching tote for miscellaneous laundry items. 

Unfortunately these are discontinued items! I'm so glad I snapped
them up when I did, although they have dozens of other possibilities.

I was on a roll now. The next thing to replace was that broken laundry basket which was still in use to hold dirty laundry. For that, I got the "Stand Tall Bin."

It comes with reinforcing rods to make it stand
tall. For me, this holds one load of dirty laundry.

How much? Not as expensive as the options I listed at the beginning of the post, but they are still pricey. If ordered alone, the Deluxe Tote or Stand Tall Bin are each priced at $50. But! Thirty-One offers several ways to get discounts, and when I ordered it, I took advantage of one of those.

Every month the company runs different customer specials. For every $35 (up to $105), I could qualify for one of those specials. (I know I'm going to sound like a commercial here - sorry! I'm really happy with these and want to pass on what I learned). When I bought the tall bin plus a tote for grocery shopping, I got two of these storage cubes for 60% off each.

It comes with a choice of window or chalk panel, on which I could have
written "sock yarns." Organization & storage are 2 huge areas I need to
tackle if I'm going to continue eliminating plastic from my life. I'm eyeing
a variety of mix & match storage boxes for my sewing and knitting stuff. 

Averaging my total purchase with the number of items I bought made all of these items quite reasonable.

Another way to get discounts plus free items is to host your own blog, website, or facebook sale. For example, if you click here, you will land at a page entitled "Leigh's Online Thirty-One Party." If you click "shop now," you can browse the catalog, get the specials, and I would earn credits toward free or discounted items. If you host your own party, you would be getting the credits. (Like the customer specials, the hostess specials change regularly too.) Just click on "Host a Party" at the top of the page, or email me and I'll put you in touch with my daughter-in-law.

Another option: if you really like the products and are interested in a flexible home business that doesn't call for huge start-up capital, you could become a consultant. For more information click "Become a Consultant" at the top of this page or email me and I'll put you in touch with my daughter-in-law.

All I can say is, I'm very relieved to have replaced my laundry room plastic. Next week I'll show you some totes that I love when I go shopping.

Okay, the floor is yours. Do you have plastic problems in the laundry room? What solutions have you come up with?

February 12, 2016

A Homestead Goal Deterred

One of our goals for this year is to work on fencing our back woods. We already bought part of the fencing for it.

Woven wire goat fencing, something I've not been able
to find locally before. The rolls are 330 feet and heavy!

The other day I went down to see about getting a start on clearing the property line. It's very overgrown with bushes, brambles, kudzu, and fallen trees. Winter is the best time for clearing because the vegetation is dormant so I can find the surveyor's boundary pins and clear a path for the fence. When I got down to the bottom of the doe browse, however, I found a newly downed pine tree, just on the other side of where the gate will go.

It's a miracle it didn't fall on the fence corner!

The corner post sticking up in the center of the above photo is on the property line and from where the new fencing will extend. That is more than my nippers and little bow saw can manage, so I headed back to the house.

For our homestead ecosystem, this is ecological succession in action: mature, fast-growing pines giving way to the undergrowth of slow-growing hardwoods which need sunlight to mature. For us, it means a little extra work on this project.

February 9, 2016

"Just Add Noodles" Canned Chicken Soup

One of my favorite wintertime lunches is soup. Mostly I make a big pot of whatever leftovers I've got, but the other day I was thinking about chicken noodle soup. That's one thing that sounds good when a body is sick: easy on the stomach and easy on the soul. I thought it would be a good idea to have some in the pantry in case either Dan or I come down with a winter cold. However, noodles don't can well, so the full convenience of canned chicken noodle soup is lost for the home canner. So I made the next best thing, "Just Add Noodles" Chicken Soup.

Vegetables first. I add the veggies raw, so they aren't overly mushified
during the canning process. Here I'm dividing them amongst the jars.

The chicken has been heating in the broth and it's added next. By adding
the veggies and meat first, I know that the jars have equal amounts.

Then the jars are filled with the simmering seasoned chicken broth.

Processing is 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure for quart jars.

Broth taste testing by Snoopervisor Riley

At lunchtime I add the noodles and cook them in the simmering soup. This actually works better for us, because one quart is just a little shy of filling two meal-size soup bowls.

Half a dozen jars was a good start.

What's a favorite wintertime meal for you?

February 7, 2016

How Honeysuckle Hive Is Doing

As a novice beekeeper I'm always wondering what's going on inside my hive this winter. Are they still alive? Are they warm enough? Do they have enough to eat? The last time I saw any activity was early in November, when we had some beautifully mild days. The bees were gathering dandelion pollen. Then came days and weeks of very cold weather, along with either rain or snow. Since then we've had a few days close to 60°F (15°C), and I've watched closely to see if there is any activity at the hive. Seeing none, I began to worry that the colony hadn't made it. Then the other day I saw this

Mud spattered but still a happy home

Lots of bees were out and about, stretching their wings and enjoying the warm sunny weather. I was so happy! We have daffodils, dandelions, strawberries, and Japanese magnolias blooming, but I didn't see any foraging going on. The week promises to be very cold, so the bees will stay snug in their hive.

I have two more packages of bees scheduled to arrive next month. Guess we'd better get to work on those hives.

February 4, 2016

Baby Goat Coats Take 3

I'm usually not too keen on winter kidding, so I tend to wait a few heat cycles in the fall before letting the girls visit the boys. This year, however, it was later than usual before the girls showed any interest. This wasn't particular to me, as evidenced by a discussion on the Holistic Goats group, making quite a few goat owners wonder what was going on. When Daphne finally went into heat, I didn't want to miss the opportunity. The result is a kidding date at the end of this month. To prepare for potential cold weather, I'm busy knitting baby goat coats.

The pattern is called "Hand Knit Kiddie Sweater" and is free at Fias Co Farm website. I've made some modifications to suit my stripy color pattern, and so far I'm pretty happy with it.

As the post title says, these mark my third set of baby goat coats. My first baby goat coat was for a March-born kid. I was worried about dipping night temperatures, so I made a kid coat out of an old sweatshirt sleeve.

Alphie in his sweatshirt sleeve baby goat coat

This added warmth for sure, but the problem was that baby boy goat anatomy is such that it got wet every time he peed. Good thing a sweat shirt has two sleeves.

Last year I found a pattern for a dog coat and made several of those.

Helen and Woody in his doggie pattern baby goat coat

Again, it added a layer of warmth, but as you can see, it didn't fit well. Plus, I had the same problem with the bucklings that I'd had before, so that the coats were always getting wet and needing to be changed. This year I hope for a better coat!

I'm planning to do four or five little goat sweaters, just to be prepared. It isn't uncommon for Kinders to have quads and occasionally quints. They knit up fairly quickly (the sweaters, not the goats), and the only problem I had was when I couldn't find my collection of double-pointed needles. I have almost every size imaginable, but with my studio being used for storage while we work on the house, I could not remember where they were. I ended buying a new set.

Working a short sleeve.

The new ones are acrylic. I like the swirl pattern in them, but I don't like how they knit. I'm using acrylic yarn, and it catches on these needles so that the stitches don't slip smoothly from one needle to the other. Also I don't like the sound they make! They don't make the customary "tink tink" of steel needles; they creak. I don't like that. Creaking is not a comforting sound.

Looks like there are quite a few kids in there.

With Daphne due in about three weeks I'm working diligently on these. It's a nice indoor project on a cold or rainy day.

Baby Goat Coats Take 3 © February 2016 by