Feeding Chickens a Natural Diet

Feeding Chickens a Natural Diet

“Vegetarian Fed” is a phrase I see on chicken in the grocery store all the time and you know what? It makes me angry.  Chickens by nature, aren’t vegetarians.  When left to themselves (though at this point wild chickens aren’t really a thing) they will eat plants and insects, worms, etc.

I love keeping our little flock of laying hens but I want them to live as close to a natural life as they possibly can.  So that means that my chickens are not vegetarians.

Because of predators and living close to a very busy road, we are unable to fully free range our flock. They have a large fenced in yard to scratch and peck in as well as coop to keep them warm and dry. We are able to move the coop and yard from time to time so they can have fresh ground. Scratching and pecking at the ground gives them access to beetles and worms both of which they love to munch on.

Feeding Chickens

While grain is their main food source, I supplement it with sunflower seeds and crushed shells (for calcium) as well as just about every vegetable and fruit scrap that comes out of my kitchen.  My chickens are my compost pile and they love to eat cooking scraps.  I even freeze some in the summer so they have something nice and cold to peck at on hot days.

We also rake our grass clippings from when we mow the lawn and lay them down in their yard.  Tilly loves to feed them weeds from the garden and they’ve gotten so comfortable around her that they’ll eat them right from her hand.  They have also come in handy when we find grubs and beetles in the garden.  I pick any hornworms, potato beetles and other pests and put them in a cup.  Once I’m done in the garden for the night I dump the cup into the chicken yard and they go nuts!

chickens aren't vegetarians

As always, please do your research and make sure you know what you are buying, especially when it comes to meat and eggs.

Meal Plan 7.20.15

It’s been awhile since I posted a meal plan.  We’ve been busy trying to get as much of the outside work and projects done as we can while the weather is good.  I’ve also been putting more time into my Cloth by Kailyn business  you can always follow our facebook page for updates and sale announcements.  I’ll try and link up recipes when I have them and you can check out my Pinterest boards for more ideas and inspiration.

Breakfasts: We have a variety of breakfast items kicking around the house and pick and choose as we go.  This week we have homemade yogurt, cereal, and pancakes (I made a double batch last week).  

Lunches: I typically pack our lunches the night before.  Most of the time it is leftovers from dinners but some of our other favorites include, english muffin pizzas, quesadillas, crackers and hummus, and sandwiches. For toddler lunch ideas, check this out.

Dinners: I plan these out one for each night.  Typically we’ll have a “breakfast for dinner” night once a week and at least one “meatless meal”.  I try to stick to traditional real food (no food dyes, artificial coloring, flavoring, or sweeteners)  I also try to make as much from scratch as possible, it is cheaper that way and I can control the type and source of my ingredients.

Note: Tilly eats the same things we do because 1. I don’t want to make extra work for myself and 2. I want her to be exposed to lots of different flavors and textures.  I just make sure things are cut into pieces she can handle.
 
Week of 07/20/15
 
Monday: Crock Pot chicken and veggies
Tuesday: Pasta with sauce and salad
Wednesday:  Chicken fajitas (with the left over chicken from monday)
Thursday: Hamburgers and corn on the grill
Friday: Puppy party with friends! *we’ll grab sandwiches and picnic while the dogs play
Saturday: Oatmeal with walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds with applesauce
Sunday:  Crock pot chili and cornbread (I love my crock pot in hot weather, it keeps the kitchen cool!)

What are you serving up this week?

Citrus Glazed Tofu

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You’re thinking this is a good blog post to skip aren’t you? I know…Tofu. But, trust me on this one.  My awesome cousin-in-law (as in she is married to my cousin) has vegetarian / vegan cooking down to an art form.  This is her tofu recipe and I’m sharing it because its so good you’ll be converted to a tofu eater after just a bite.

Citrus Glazed Tofu

You’ll need:

1 package of extra firm tofu

cooking oil (i prefer coconut)

Seasonings: Salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, red pepper, and paprika

What you do:

1. Drain the tofu (its got a lot of water in it so do your best) and cut into little cubes.

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2. start off on high heat with a little oil in a non-stick pan. Tofu is very sticky and a non-stick pan with oil is the best way to cook it and have it keep its shape and not turn to sticky yuck.

3. Once it starts to brown, season it with a little of each of the seasonings listed.  This is totally a preference thing so add as little or as much as you like but taste it to make sure you are happy with your mix.

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4. After it is browned off, pour about a 1/3rd of a cup of your favorite citrus fruit juice (lime, pineapple, orange, etc) and remove the pan from the heat.  Give it a few minutes to sit and let the juice reduce.  The end result is a glaze that coats the tofu and gives it this yummy sweet / spicey flavor.

5. Serve in a million different ways.  Its great in tacos or as a topping on a big salad but really you could do just about anything with it.

So what do you think? Will you give it a try?

Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes

Its been a long time since I’ve shared a recipe.  I guess I was just waiting for the right one to come along.  I made these pancakes for dinner last night and when Matilda polished off her second one I knew that I had a recipe worth sharing.

carrotpancakes

I love carrot cake and breakfast so combining them in a healthy way was just perfect for me.  Somehow (I think its magic) these pancakes manage to taste just like carrot cake but without a ton of sugar or white flour.  Go ahead and double the recipe so you’ll have leftovers for the freezer.  They make great quick breakfasts or lunches and will re-heat in the toaster oven in no time (or microwave, but we don’t have one)

Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 1/2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons of maple syrup (REAL maple syrup none of that fake stuff)

2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil

1 cup of very finely shredded carrot (I grated mine and then pulsed in the food processor)

1 cup of milk

1 egg

raisins & chopped walnuts for adding when cooking *Optional but worth it

1.  Mix flour and spices and top with milk and oil, stir just until flour is wet.  Cover and let soak until dinner time (or overnight until breakfast time) *Yes I did just tell you to leave your pancake mix on the counter all night.  Soaking flour makes it easier to digest and it helps your body extract all those important nutrients that are hiding inside.

2. When you are ready to make pancakes, add the rest of the ingredients (except for the walnuts and raisins) and mix really well.

3.  Cook on an electric griddle set at 350 degrees (or pan on the stove) adding a few raisins and walnuts to each pancake before you flip them.

4. Top with butter and syrup and enjoy!

*This recipe made 10 medium pancakes.  Be prepared for them to disappear quickly.

carrotpancakes2What’s your favorite breakfast for dinner dish? Join in the conversation on our facebook page.

Taking Care of Yourself

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As a homesteading family we are busy.  There are gardens to weed, animals to feed, and children to raise.  We can get so busy taking care of everyone (and everything) else that it’s easy to forget that we need care too.

I was reminded of that this past week when, on top of the usual summer chores and tasks, we also had two sets of family visiting from out of town…and then we got sick.  The best laid plans went up in the air and by Friday the house looked like (and we felt like) a bomb had gone off.  We realized, quite obviously, that we needed to take better care of ourselves.   Not that taking good care of ourselves is going to make it so we never get sick but it will help keep it to a minimum and help speed up recovery time.  Plus, we’ll feel better and have more energy and that is always a good thing.

Get Some Sleep:

Friday night we may have changed into our PJs, read some stories, and had the whole family in bed by 8:45.  The dishes weren’t done and the laundry wasn’t folded but we made the decision that our health and well-being was more important.  Our bodies needed sleep and that’s what we gave them.  Does this mean, we’ll abandon chores and go to be early every night? No, but it does mean that we’ll listen to our bodies and on nights when we are feeling run down we’ll head to bed earlier.

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Eat Healthy: 

We generally eat pretty healthy, which for us means, as many local, organic, and non-GMO ingredients as possible.  We avoid processed foods and opt to make as much as we can from scratch, right here on the homestead.  That being said, we’ve been slacking and we know it.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to add to your (already too long) to-do list.  Simple changes like drinking more water and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake can go a long way.  We need to make sure we’re getting our meals planned out each week because that makes it much easier for us to eat healthy.

Reduce Stress: 

Easier said than done, I know.  Something as simple as stretching or a little yoga before bed can make a big difference.  It helps relax your muscles, release tension, and get you focused on relaxing.   I’ve found that I sleep much better if I take a few minutes to stretch while getting ready for bed.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a good look at your to-do list.  Sometimes we get so busy with things we think “need” to get done that we lose sight of what is actually important.  If you can cut back on some of those unnecessary to-dos you’ll also cut back on stress.

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A wise person once told me that “You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else” and I agree.  In order for us to be the best parents, homesteaders, and people we need to be healthy…how are you taking care of yourself today? Stop on by the Facebook Page and join in the conversation.

Meal Plan 6.15.15

We set up a table at our first farmers market selling pickles, hot sauce, and jam.  It was pretty successful for our first time and we are looking forward to going again in two weeks. We’ve been working on teaching Tilly to try new things and branch out a bit more so, you can see how that’s going on our facebook page.  I’ll try and link up recipes when I have them and you can check out my Pinterest boards for more ideas and inspiration.

Breakfasts: We have a variety of breakfast items kicking around the house and pick and choose as we go.  This week we have homemade yogurt, cereal, and banana – zucchini bread.  We’ve been on a big oatmeal kick lately so I’ll have plenty of that ready to go too. 

Lunches: I typically pack our lunches the night before.  Most of the time it is leftovers from dinners but some of our other favorites include, english muffin pizzas, quesadillas, crackers and hummus, and sandwiches. For toddler lunch ideas, check this out.

Dinners: I plan these out one for each night.  Typically we’ll have a “breakfast for dinner” night once a week and at least one “meatless meal”.  I try to stick to traditional real food (no food dyes, artificial coloring, flavoring, or sweeteners)  I also try to make as much from scratch as possible, it is cheaper that way and I can control the type and source of my ingredients.

Note: Tilly eats the same things we do because 1. I don’t want to make extra work for myself and 2. I want her to be exposed to lots of different flavors and textures.  I just make sure things are cut into pieces she can handle.
 
Week of 06/15/15
 
Monday: Salmon patties, cous cous, and veggies
Tuesday: Waffles, bacon, and fruit salad
Wednesday:  Baked Italian chicken and rice
Thursday: Bean and cheese quesadillas with salad 
Friday: Puppy party with friends! *we’ll grab sandwiches and picnic it while the dogs play
Saturday: Grilled cheese, veggie sticks and hummus
Sunday:  Oatmeal with walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds, and applesauce 

What are you serving up this week?

Growing Potatoes in Buckets

growingpotatoes

We like potatoes and we go through quite a bit of them so, naturally, they were high on my “grow it yourself” list.  I did a lot of research last year as to the easiest way to grow them and settled on Potato Buckets.  I figured I’d give it a try, take lots of pictures, and then share it with you if it turned out to be a success….and seeing as you are reading this post you can go ahead and assume it was successful.

For starters, you need seed potatoes. Take a few organic potatoes and let them hang out in a brown paper bag the counter until the “eyes” (seriously, why do we call them that? its creepy) start to grow little sprouts.  Then, cut them into pieces, making sure that 2 or 3 sprouts are on each chunk.

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Once your potatoes are all sprouty, go ahead and get some 5 gallon buckets.  Take a few minutes to drill a couple holes in the bottom for drainage. Potatoes will rot if they get too wet so drainage is the key to success.  The other key to success is compost, because compost makes plants happy.  Go ahead and throw a couple scoops of compost in the bottom of each bucket.  Scatter a few seed potatoes in each bucket, make sure to give them some space and point those eyes to the sky.  Cover them up with an inch or two of dirt, find a sunny spot, water them when the soil looks dry and soon enough you’ll have little potato plants popping up.

Let the plants grow until they are 3-4 inches tall.  Once they have reached that height its time to hill them.  This encourages the plant to send out more roots, making more potatoes.  Toss some soil in to cover up all but the top inch or so of the plant.  Keep doing this every time they grow to 4 inches.

growingpotatoes3

After somewhere around 70 days go ahead and stop watering for a week or so to dry out the soil (this will make it much easier to harvest).  Tip your buckets upside down and start potato hunting…that’s all there is to it! Tilly loved helping me harvest the potatoes so if you happen to have a 2 year old hanging around let them dig in the dirt for a bit, it’s good for them.

*Have you grown potatoes? I’d love to hear your tips

Meal Plan 5.25.15

Still more busy weeks ahead for us.  That’s always the case come spring when we have a garden to tend to and lots of outdoor projects.  We’ve got an over abundance of eggs so the road side sign is going out and 3$ will get you a dozen farm fresh eggs. We’ve been working on teaching Tilly to try new things and branch out a bit more  You can see how that’s going on our facebook page I’ll try and link up recipes when I have them and you can check out my Pinterest boards for more ideas and inspiration.
Breakfasts: We have a variety of breakfast items kicking around the house and pick and choose as we go.  This week we have homemade yogurt, cereal, and english muffins.  We’ve been on a big oatmeal kick lately so I’ll have plenty of that ready to go too. 

Lunches: I typically pack our lunches the night before.  Most of the time it is leftovers from dinners but some of our other favorites include, english muffin pizzas, quesadillas, crackers and hummus, and sandwiches. For toddler lunch ideas, check this out.

Dinners: I plan these out one for each night.  Typically we’ll have a “breakfast for dinner” night once a week and at least one “meatless meal”.  I try to stick to traditional real food (no food dyes, artificial coloring, flavoring, or sweeteners)  I also try to make as much from scratch as possible, it is cheaper that way and I can control the type and source of my ingredients.

Note: Tilly eats the same things we do because 1. I don’t want to make extra work for myself and 2. I want her to be exposed to lots of different flavors and textures.  I just make sure things are cut into pieces she can handle.
 
Week of 05/25/15
 
Monday: Cooking out with Ians family (hamburgers / hot dogs, salad, potato salad) 
Tuesday:  Friends are visiting and we are still making plans so I’ll have to fill you in when we figure it out. 
Wednesday:  Mini veggie quiche with sausage and apple sauce
Thursday: Crock pot Philly cheese steaks and salad
Friday: Puppy party with friends! *we’ll grab sandwiches and picnic it while the dogs play
Saturday: Sweet potato patties with hummus and mixed veggies
Sunday:  Homemade pizza and salad

What are you serving up this week?

Safely Cloth Diapering on a Budget

budgetdiaper

In my last post we discussed “China Cheapies” and how unsafe and unregulated diapers are being marketed to people who don’t have a lot to spend on diapers.

Thankfully, there are other ways to cloth diaper cheaply, without having to compromise on quality and safety.

Allow me to introduce you to Flats, Prefolds, and Covers.

budgetdiaper2

These are not the prettiest of cloth options and they take some getting used to but they are inexpensive and work great! In fact, I still reached for flats even when I had other options.

Flats

Simply, flats are large squares of 100% natural fiber, they can come in cotton, hemp or bamboo.  They can be folded in a number of different ways and used on their own with a water proof cover, or as an insert in a pocket diaper.  The cheapest and easiest way to purchase flats is to buy “Flour Sack Towels” at your local store (Target and Walmart both sell them, with the dish towels and pot holders).  I have paid as little as $2.99 for a pack of 4…you can’t go wrong with that price!

Prefolds

Prefolds are basically already folded flats (hence the name).  They can come in a variety of different materials including cotton, hemp, and bamboo.  They are a  bit easier to use than flats (less folding) and the most common way to use them is to fold them in thirds and lay them inside a cover. They can be purchased at cloth diaper retailers.

Covers

Both prefolds and flats are very absorbent but they aren’t waterproof.  That’s where the covers come into play. Covers are a waterproof layer that you put over the top of the prefold or flat.  They keep everything contained and keep baby dry.

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My favorite brand to recommend when people are looking to cloth diaper on a budget is Econobum.  Their “full kit” is only $59.99 and has everything you need to diaper for 1 day.  I typically recommend 2 kits so that you have extras and can spread out washings a bit.  This kit is a great way to build your cloth stash and holds up really well.  *Econobum, like everything at Squigglybugs is CPSIA compliant.

Want to learn more about cloth diapering? Visit my facebook page for more information and to ask questions!

*I am a consultant and educator for Diaper Parties by Squigglybugs.  All opinions are my own and this post contains affiliate links.

Are China Cheapies a Safe Cloth Diaper Choice?

safediapers

Have you ever heard the phrase “China Cheapies”?  It’s commonly used in cloth diapering groups to describe very inexpensive diapers that are made in China.  Now you know that I’m all about saving money and finding good deals, but there is more to these diapers than meets the eye.

Most brands of cloth diaper are either made in the US or made internationally while following the US Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations.  Specifically, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which regulates products designed for children.  This act includes cloth diapers and requires testing for lead, phthalates, durability, and safety.

The brands that are called “China Cheapies” aren’t tested to meet these standards.  (You can see a list of companies that don’t meet these standards HERESo while you may be getting a “great deal” on them,  you are also bringing diapers that may have lead and other not safe chemicals into your home (and putting them on your baby!) LEAD ya’ll, no way am I playing with that.

There are other issues with purchasing brands like these.  There isn’t any quality control so you could quickly end up with leaks, bad elastics, and broken snaps.  I love that my cloth diaper stash will easily diaper a second child and maintain some resale value.  I would hate to spend money on them only to have them not work.  They also often don’t have any sort of warranty so getting your money back on those faulty diapers is pretty impossible.

safediapers

I love teaching people about cloth diapering, in general it is better for the baby, better for the environment, and better for your wallet…but these “China Cheapies” are giving cloth a bad name.  There are so many safe, ethical diaper brands out there who do some serious good for this world and their business is suffering because companies are taking advantage of people and selling unsafe, faulty diapers.  I won’t give them my money and I hope you won’t either.

*Want to purchase your cloth diapers from a company that does all the ‘double checking” for you? All of the diaper brands that we carry at Squigglybugs are safe, compliant, and easy to use.  The owners and consultants are all moms and these are the brands that we put on our own children!

Stay tuned for part 2 and to find out how to safely cloth diaper on a budget!

*Questions about cloth diapering? Please ask either here or on my facebook page I’d love to help!