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12 Week Old Buff Orpingtons

We haven't taken pictures of our up-and-coming laying flock lately simply because it didn't seem like they were getting any bigger. Well here they are at 12 weeks and yes, they are growing up. We are down to 24 - 5 were lost to a predator before we revamped the chicken coop (again!). They almost ate 3 full bags of crumbles before switching to their first bag of pellets.



Easy Homemade Spreadable Butter

My favorite breakfast is toasted homemade bread with butter. I don't like jelly or jam, just some good salty butter. The only problem is that real butter can be very hard to spread. We buy a spreadable butter product with canola oil that tastes great but I'm just not sure what's in it.

We started making pumpkin bread this fall and the recipe had us making maple butter to go with it out of maple syrup and butter. You just mix 1/2 cup of maple syrup (the real stuff) with 1/2 cup of softened butter and it tastes wonderful (there's another easy and addictive recipe!). So that got me to thinking - can I just blend butter with oil and make my own spreadable butter? Yes, it's also that simple!


Proverbs 28:19

"He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough."- Proverbs 28:19

It seems that in modern day America that this verse has been proven false. Millions of people "follow" vain persons on facebook, twitter, TV, and other forms of entertainment; and yet we live in an age of amazing abundance.

 This verse is literally true even if we can't see it today, but there is also a spiritual aspect that is true even now. I remember my grandmother saying, "We were very poor but everybody else was too, so we didn't know it." It seems to me that when we look at the things everyone else has (especially these "vain persons") then we dwell a lot more on what we don't have. Hence, we feel impoverished even in the land of plenty. Let's keep our eyes on Jesus and our fingers in the dirt - then our focus will be on the blessings that He provides.


Moving the Egg Flock to the Garden

Since the raccoon incident, we are down to 5 hens and two of them are molting.  I recently limed and turned the garden patch so we decided to put the hens on the garden so we could at least capture their manure even if we are down to 1 egg a day!

Build Your Own Temperature Controller for Yogurt in the Crock Pot

A temperature controller is a very handy device on the homestead. We use them to control our heating system, hot water heater, crock pot (for yogurt), greenhouse fan, and maybe other things that I have forgotten. They are easy to make and can be programmed for heating or cooling. I have used Honeywell brand thermostats for these, but my favorite is the Ranco ETC. You can buy these on ebay for around $50 - search for Ranco ETC.

NOTE: If you attempt this project, you assume all risks and rewards of both the electrical hazard and and control hazards that may occur. In other words - don't come running to us if you fry yourself or your aquarium fish building or using this controller! On the other hand if you solve one of the world's great problems with one of these - we aren't going to ask you for anything either!

Devotional Thought - Thanksgiving

"In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." - I Thessalonians 5:18

This is the time of year that we as Christians set aside a day of thanksgiving to our Lord. I think this is great and Thanksgiving, as a holiday, is one of my favorites. At our church, our teacher has encouraged us to write down a list of things we are thankful for. Again, this is well and good, and I proceeded to write down many things in a little notebook that I have been keeping.

And then I thought, "Lord, am I really thankful for these things?" I wondered if maybe, just maybe, I was writing down a bunch of things that I SHOULD be thankful for but not necessarily things I was truly grateful for.

Buff Orpingtons at 7 Weeks

At 7 weeks, these Buffs seem to have leveled off. Even with 29 of them, they have eaten less than 3 bags of feed to this point. I hope they stay feed-efficient at least until Spring!


Chickens at 6 Weeks

The latest photos of our Buff Orpingtons:


Buff Orpingtons at 5 Weeks

We finally put our Buffs in the coop! They have been in the brooder 5 weeks and I think they are quite startled to see the world for the first time. We have upgraded the boards at ground level in the run and also added extra screws and staples to the wire. Finally, we are leaving a brood lamp on inside the coop - this is for the comfort of the chickens as well as predator repellent. We will see what happens......


Buff Orpingtons at 4 Weeks

Wow! has it been another week already?  The chicks are fully feathered now and we will be moving them to a "tractor" pen tomorrow. I have little bands to put around the roosters' legs so we can keep them identified - some of them may become meals before they mature. They have consumed a total of 1 bag of feed in 4 weeks - I think the Cornish x Rocks had consumed more than 2 bags at 4 weeks - and of course they were much bigger.


Buff Orpingtons at 3 weeks

Sorry for not posting much this week. We are trying to get the chicken lot reconfigured after the raccoon attacks, clear some brush in preparation of fencing, clean up the garden area, and attend a revival meeting at our church. And on top of that it is getting dark earlier every day! Anyway, here are pics of the chicks at 3 weeks. They are so much smaller than the Cornish Rock's we raised that it is unbelievable!



Help! We are being invaded! Any ideas?

Vermin! That's what I call them.  Whether it be deer, bears or raccoons, they all cause problems for the homesteader.  This past summer we had the prettiest patch of sweet corn that we had raised in years and in three days it was mowed down by, you guessed it, VERMIN!  Now that made me mad!  The kids and I sweated many days over that corn and we only got to eat two meals out of it.  Discouraging? You bet.  But the other night these little pests crossed the line.

Outdoor Wood Furnace

It's that time of year again! Every year about mid-October we fire up the wood furnace and it stays lit until April or so, depending on the weather. This will be our 5th winter with this stove, so we have plenty of experience with an outdoor wood furnace in case anyone is interested. I know what the advertising says and I know what the reality is. So let's get started!

Moving the '54 Chevy

We have a really nice '54 Chevy Bel-Air. The only place we have to keep it is in the wood shed. Tonight I moved it out into the yard so we can stack wood tomorrow. The only thing wrong with the car is that it has a very thick layer of saw dust and dirt on it. Also, I sometimes wish it was a truck so we could use it to haul wood instead of just gather dust........



Chicks Update Week 2

This is the third post about the chicks. They are now 2 weeks old. You can see their wings are getting feathered pretty well. Also starting to get feathers on their back. They are outgrowing the 1 quart waterer. We have lost 1, so we are down to 29. These buff orpingtons are much smaller at this age than the Cornish X Rocks we raised off this summer. 


Pastured Poultry Processing (no bloody pics)

We raised our first crop of meat chickens this summer. 21 Cornish X Rocks from Welp Hatchery made it to 8 weeks of age out of the 25 shipped. These birds grow fast - I mean really fast! We kept them on pasture for the last 4 weeks of their lives, but they still managed to wolf down 7 bags of feed in 8 weeks time overall. I hope to raise a little corn to offset some of the feed next year, and  we plan on raising 3 sets for a total of 75 meat chickens.

Anyway, I (Dad) want to share with you our slaughter set up so you can see how simple it can be. No actual slaughter will be shown so you can comfortably show this post to anyone.

First, you see our Chicken Tractor. It is made from split 1x6, PVC, and lots of chicken wire and gorilla glue.


Chicks Update

Our buff orpingtons are now 1 week old. We will try to get a picture every week as they grow.


DIY Fire starters

As summer has turned into fall I am reminded that winter is just around the corner.  I think about the winters past and I remember one word, COLD.  Do you ever remember a time when it was about 20 degrees outside and the power went out?  I do.  Cold, that is the only thing I can say.  When you get cold to the bones and all you can do is shiver, nothing seems to warm you except a nice hot fire.
     Blessed we are that we have a nice fire place in the middle of our living room.  The only way it could be better is if a fire would start itself.  Now that would be something!  Since that's not going to happen, it is often up to me to start a fire since the power usually goes out when hubby is at work.  They did not teach fire starting at the school I attended and probably not the one you went to either.  Fortunately for me, my mom and dad heated with wood so I have had a little experience.

Homemade Hay Stack - Temporary Hay Storage

We don't have a big barn to store hay in and we want to make better use of the small shed that we do have. Looking around the internet I found a neat little hay storage solution at this site. That site (One Scythe Revolution) got me to thinking seriously about buying a scythe since we don't have a hay mower and only use a small amount of hay. Anyway, here's how to make my version of Botan Anderson's hay rack:

New Chickens

Just a line - we received our new egg-laying crew on Friday. 30 Buff Orpingtons - 25 hens and 5 roosters. Next spring we will probably sell down to a dozen or so. With all these chicks we are "running about 40 head of chicken" at the Far Better Farmstead. Not including the 21 in the freezer............

  - Daddy

Devotional - Self-Sufficiency?

In these times I hear a lot of talk about self-sufficiency. I have books with self-sufficiency in the title and  I read a lot of blogs and web sites about self-sufficiency. It is right and well to live a more frugal and perhaps old-timey lifestyle. However, as I reflect on the term, I am sure that it is most definitely NOT my goal to be self-sufficient.

DIY Window cleaner

Okay, I am going to admit that I really don't enjoy cleaning house.  I love the house when it is clean and everything smells fresh but actually doing the work is one of my least favorite things to do.  I would rather be outside with the children or with the animals.  I don't even mind weeding the flower beds and the garden and mowing the grass can be quiet meditating.  So amazingly enough I have cleaned several windows today.  What, you may ask, ever inspired me to do such a thing like that?  After all, that is housework.
     It really was a combination of things.  First, the front door had so many hand prints on it that I thought my vision was going blurry.  It had to be cleaned and I couldn't put it off another day.  Next, I made my own window cleaner!  Yep, that's right! I made it all by myself with things I had here at home.
     I guess your wondering why I would ever make my own window cleaner.  That stuff isn't very expensive at the stores and I don…

Whizbang Chicken Plucker

I have built a chicken plucker based on Herrick Kimball's plans from Whizbang Books. Herrick also writes a superb blog called The Deliberate Agrarian. Herrick is a good Christian guy and I recommend anything he writes or sells (even if he is a yankee!)  More on the plucker and meat chickens later, but for now, here's our video of Callie using the plucker:

Raw Milk

For most of the 6,000 or so years man has been populating the earth, raw milk was the only milk available. For that matter, I'd say raw milk still dominates worldwide. No one told me that raw milk was so controversial! Even mentioning it to folks of my parent's generation brings winces of pain. They were trained by public schooling to believe that industrial food was safer, cleaner, and more modern than any farm or homemade product. Milk from the cow was for poor folks and was of questionable quality.

Anyway, little did I know, but you can't buy raw milk from the store in North Carolina. It's a good thing that I live about 14 miles from South Carolina, where freedom and raw milk reign!  Gas is also about 45 cents per gallon cheaper in SC than NC so I ran "down" to Pickens on Saturday and picked up some raw milk and gasoline.
I purchased my milk from Bee Well Honey Farm Store in downtown Pickens (across from CVS). The milk was from M & M Dairy Farm in near…

Sadie's Stanchion (Milk Stand)

We have finished a stanchion for Sadie, our Nigerian Dwarf goat. Sadie is a very sweet goat but very playful, so we assumed she would not want to go in or near the stanchion. Were we surprised! It is amazing what a little sweet feed can do........



We built the stanchion from plans in a goat magazine (you know the ones that they have at Tractor Supply) for about $55 total. Not bad.

Trout Fishing at Home

We have a pond stocked with brook trout on our land. Three of our children went fishing last Saturday and caught two trout. Then they shot and edited their own video of the fish cleaning - which I thought was adorable. Augustus, our son, dug his own worms, baited his hook, caught the fish, and got it off the hook by himself. He has done all of that before, but Saturday was the first time he cleaned a fish all by himself. I was very proud of him. The first fish - the one in the video - was a little "short" after cleaning, but the second one looked like a pro had processed it.Good job Augustus!


Then of course Augustus wanted the fish for supper. I added some butter, garlic, salt, and pepper to the fish, wrapped it in aluminum foil, and threw it on the grill for 20 minutes. He loved it!


Just another day together here on the Far Better Farmstead!