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$6 Solar Lantern Project

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Our back yard is really dark at night, so we usually take a flashlight out with us to tuck the chickens in to bed each evening. That gets to be a pain in the you-know-what, so I’ve been searching for something a little more permanent without having to run electricity.

I happened to be at a dollar store the other day looking for deals on seedling planters (which I got a sweet deal on by the way, but that will be another post), and happened across these really cute little lanterns.

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They were made to hold a tea light candle though, so they weren’t quite right.

As I continued to browse, I also found some super cheap solar lights. lights

I didn’t figure they would last long in my yard, but I did have an idea! So, I purchased two lanterns at $5 a piece and 2 solar lights at a whopping .94 cents each.

Once I got them home, I decided that the black color of the lanterns was a bit boring, so I gave them a quick spray of off-white spray paint that I had setting around in my shed. Then I hit the raised parts with some sand paper to give them a little character.

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Since the lights were so cheap, they weren’t put together very well (which was a good thing in this case), so it was easy to separate the lights from the stakes.

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I didn’t need the stakes for this project, but saved them for something else. I’m sure I’ll find a use for them at some point!

Next, I took the tea light out of the bottom of the lantern. The bottom simply screwed on and off, so it was easy to remove. That left a hole big enough to fit the light through.

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The next part was a bit tricky. I put the solar light inside the lantern and glued the end to the bottom. My hot glue gun went kapoot when I plugged it in (why does it always happen when you need it?) and it was 10:00 at night, so I had to use Gorilla glue instead. If you have a normal glue gun that likes to actually melt the glue, this step will be much easier.

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I had to use a bottle to prop the light on to allow the glue to dry.

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I didn’t get a picture of the next step, but I let the glue set on both the cap and the end of the solar light and then attached the cap to the end of the light and let dry.

Once the glue was dry, I screwed the bottom (now attached to the solar light) back onto the lantern, attached the hanging wire, and viola! I have two custom solar lanterns to light the chicken’s yard.

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Not bad for $6 and about an hours worth of work, hu?

First Project of Spring- Front Porch Garbage Can- Farm Style!

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Finally! We are having nice days here and there and this weekend was absolutely beautiful. We ended up spending the entire weekend outside and I got to mark a project off of my ‘To-Do’ list.

I have had an old vacuum canister for probably a year now. I knew that I would be able to upcycle it into something, so I held on to it. I noticed last fall that we really needed a small trash can for our front porch. We spend most of our time out there in the warmer months and trash inevitably gets left behind. Of course, a plastic trash can would blow right away with our Southeast Colorado wind, but a metal trash can would stay in place. Sooooo….guess what I used?

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Yep. I used the metal vacuum canister. I forgot to get a picture of mine before I painted it, but it looked very similar to the one above pre-paint.

Now, it obviously had that ‘vintage’ feel that I normally love, but that theme just doesn’t fit with my front porch decor so I went a different route.

I am really into country chic right now, so I decided to add a little farmer flair to the porch. Since I’m also loving small pops of red lately as well, I decided to go with a deep red base on my project. I gave it a couple of coats of spray primer then I shot the inside with black and followed that up with two coats of a deep red.

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I gave the can a couple of hours to dry thoroughly and, while it was cute the way it was, I needed to add more.

So, I went to my handy-dandy vinyl plotter and made a cute decal. I love vinyl decals. They are such an easy and inexpensive way to gussy something up and give it a custom and one-0f-a-kind look. This is what I came up with…

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I think it turned out really cute and it adds a bit of whimsy to my front porch (and keeps things much cleaner!).

One project down 599 to go!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I am so thankful where my life has taken me this past year. I am thankful for my two amazing boys. I am thankful for my almost perfect husband. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful to have a job that allows me to stay home with my family. I’m thankful that my small town allows chickens! I’m thankful that I own a home on a large lot of land  that I am able to play on.  And I am thankful for YOU!

Homemade Chicken Treats: Bore No More Balls (Recipe Included!)

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We finally have a chance of snow this week. Since this will be my first winter having the girls, I’m afraid of them getting bored and pecking each other when it’s too cold to be out and about. I’ve been seeing these DIY Flock Block style chicken block recipes floating around the internet. Most of these recipes make a block that you hang. The theory is that it gives the chickens something to do so that they don’t get bored and hurt on each other.

Unfortunately, my coop is a little small to hang a large block and there is really no way to hang anything from the ceiling. My solution? Make my own DIY flock block type homemade chicken treats; only make them smaller sized balls rather than large blocks. This way the girls can chase them around their coop or outside when the snow melts.

I created my homemade chicken treats using own recipe using other recipes I’ve seen as inspiration. I used what I had on hand though. As a matter-of-fact, I didn’t put this ingredient in the recipe, but I did have about a tablespoon or so of homemade raspberry jam that I added in. The girls absolutely love raspberries! So if you don’t have exactly what is on the ingredient list when trying these DIY flock block styling treats, just adding what you have and what you know your chickens like.

Featherbee Farm’s Bore No More Balls

Homemade Chicken Treats

INGREDIENT

2 cups organic chicken crumble

2 cups organic chicken scratch

1 cup steel cut oats

1 cup steel cut oats-cooked in 1 cup water

2 TBS. chia seeds

2 TBS. wheat germ

¼ cup sunflower seeds

2 eggs

2 egg shells (crushed)

1 apple (finely diced)

2 TBS. apple cider vinegar (with mother)

2 TBS. Molasses

1 TBS. oil (to grease pan with)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat oven to 425 degree.

Grease a large pan with oil.

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Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

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Grab a large handful of the ingredients and pack tightly to create a ball. Place on pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until they look dry.

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Let cool.

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Watch your chickens go from bored…

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To bored no more!

A Nice Day To Decorate the Farm

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It was in the 70’s here today, so of course we had to be outside! I thought it was the perfect day to do some fun projects that I had been putting off. The chicken’s yard has been bugging me lately. It was just so bare and blah in there. It definitely needed a little something. So, decorating the pen was first on my list.

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I found the perfect spot for the sign I bought at the local feed supply store the other day. I couldn’t resist!

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We were going through some of my grandmother’s boxes in the basement last night and I found a bunch of odds and ends that really have no value, but I wanted to use them in some way. I decided to use some to gussy up the chicken’s yard. Grandma loved chickens, so I don’t think she would have minded that I used some of her decor to give them a prettier place to live.

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Most of the items were a 1980’s gold, so I updated with a quick coat of spray paint. I also had a few other pieces that I have been meaning to hang in there, I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

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Next, I will be touching up the paint on the bench we made when we first built the coop. They sure made a mess of it!

I’m sure I’ll be adding to the decor soon since I love to decorate. But for now, the girls seem happy with their new space.

My Version of a Scarecrow

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Since autumn has made an appearance I have noticed a lot more little starling birds around the chicken coop. I guess food is a lot less abundant elsewhere this time of year and they have figured out where to find the girls’ food.

The chicken’s yard was built with fencing that has larger openings than chicken wire, so the little birds can fly right through. I keep their food inside of the coop, but need to leave the coop door open because their nesting boxes are in there. So the birds fly right in and help themselves.

The other day I went out to check on the animals and I swear a hundred birds flew out of their yard. I had to do something. I know birds carry diseases and I don’t want to put my precious angels at risk, so I decided to build a scarecrow.

I had four feed bags lying around that I had been saving for a project. I figured they might work better than burlap since they would be pretty weather-proof.  I used them for the head, hat, body and skirt. I had an old fake leather (that more resembled rubber than leather) jacket hanging in the back of the closet, so I ripped the lining out of it to make it weather-proof as well. I stuffed the head and body with hay.

I’m not one to do anything the ‘plain’ way, so I made a cute girl scarecrow to watch over the hens.

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I don’t have proof that she is good at her job, but I have noticed fewer birds hanging around the coop while I’m out there!

As soon as I get a few more feed bags saved up, I think I’ll make her a boyfriend. I’ll do a tutorial for a DIY scarecrow as I create him!

Pumpkin Harvest! Bring on the Pumpkin Puree! Recipe Included!

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Every year my youngest son raises pumpkins. At the end of the season, he harvests them and sets up a little stand on main street of our little town and sells the fruits of his labor. This year he made me promise to make him a homemade pumpkin pie with one of his pumpkins. So, being the amazing mother that I am (wink, wink), I roasted a couple of pumpkins and pureed them to turn into a spectacular pumpkin pie or two (and maybe a loaf of pumpkin bread…yum). Now, I hear that you are supposed to use sugar pumpkins for pumpkin puree, but I think that he just grows regular ole field pumpkins. I just choose smaller pumpkins as they seem to have less stringy guts than the bigger ones and they turn out fine. Here is my recipe for roasted and spiced pumpkin puree.

Featherbee Farm’s

Roasted Spiced Pumpkin Puree

Ingredients:

1- 2 to 3 pound pumpkin

2- TBS. butter

2- TBS. brown sugar

2- TBS. white sugar

2- tsp. cinnamon

1- tsp. nutmeg

2- tsp. molasses

1-tsp. vanilla

1/2- tsp. salt

Instructions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

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Wash pumpkin and dry thoroughly.

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Slice off top of pumpkin and discard. Cut pumpkin in half.

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Scrape the insides out of the pumpkin. Don’t throw away the seeds! They are delicious roasted!

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Turn pumpkin over and poke several holes in the skin with a fork.

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Dot inside of each half with 1 TBS. butter.

Divide the rest of the ingredients in half and distribute evenly over each pumpkin half.

Bake for 1.5 hours or until a knife easily slides through flesh.

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Take pumpkins out of oven and let rest until cool to touch.

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Pour the juice into a large bowl. With a large spoon, scoop flesh into the bowl.

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Puree pulp and liquid in batches until completely smooth.

I got about 6 cups of pulp puree at this stage.

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Sit a sieve or strainer lined with cheesecloth or paper towels on top of a large bowl.

Spoon pulp mixture into sieve or strainer. Fold cheesecloth over pulp or add more paper towels.

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Top with a plate to add weight to puree. This will help extract more liquid from the pulp.

Place in refrigerator and let drain for an hour or two.

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This is what your pulp should look like after it has drained.

Discard liquid and divide pulp into two cup portions in either freezer bags or sealable bowls.

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After the pulp has drained I ended up with 2-2 cup portions.

Use pulp within a couple of days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Look for my pumpkin pie filling recipe soon!