Category Archives: Urban Farming

Vegetables, flowers, chickens, landscaping, produce, small spaces

The most comfortable rain boots

Update: see the end of this post for an update after I’ve actually gotten a chance to wear these!

I got a package in the mail the other day. I had been eagerly anticipating it for a couple weeks (not used to waiting any more – thanks Amazon! :-\ )

And then it finally arrived!

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If you know the Bogs brand, then you probably already know what is in the box. If not, let me show you…

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Insulated waterproof boots! I was so excited to see these on sale that I just had to snatch up a pair. I had heard of Bogs and decided to get them since they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. My previous run-of-the-mill rain boots sprung a leak in less than a year. So disappointing.

And, moving back to Nevada soon means less rain, but more snow and especially mud on the homestead. And we’ll be building in all sorts of weather. I know at some point I’ll be tromping all over our property wearing these boots. (See update below 😊)

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I like that these are insulated enough that I’ll be able to wear them in the snow, but not as heavily insulated as some of their boots so on those later spring days my feet don’t roast.

And they are comfortable! And cute! In fact, they are so cute, I’m wondering if I really want to wear them in the mud and muck. Maybe I’ll buy another pair that’s not as cute so I won’t feel as bad getting them dirty. Hmmmmm….decisions. 🙂

One thing about Bogs, though, is that they run small in the shank (the area that goes around your ankle and calf.) I can wear these ones because they are shorter and have a bit of give at the top. But the tall boots would not work for me. I wonder if they make a wide calf version.

Overall I am very pleased. Definitely the most comfortable rain/snow boots I have ever put on my feet. Excited to have a reason the wear them.

What do you wear in foul weather when you have to be outside?

UPDATE: I wrote this post back in March. Today is November 1st. We are now living back on the homestead and my prediction about mud has definitely come true.

Mud. Mud. There was mud everywhere!

Mud. Mud. There was mud everywhere!

We’ve had several fall storms come through and our heavily clay soils are just soaking up that rain and turning into a quagmire.  So these boots have been great in the mud and muck. I especially love that they are form fitting around the ankle so that when my foot sinks down to my ankles in very sticky mud, the boots don’t get sucked off my feet. And yet, the toe box is wide enough that my toes have room to wiggle. Perfect.

And while our well was being drilled? Yeah, they definitely came in handy then!

In the stream created as our well was being drilled.

In the stream created as our well was being drilled.

So now that I’ve had a good chance to wear them, do I still say they are the most comfortable rain boots?

Absolutely!

I am able to wear these boots all day trudging around in the mud and my feet won’t be killing me at the end of the day.

I only have two gripes with them, and they are small ones.

They are a bit difficult to take off when they are coated in slippery mud, but I was able to help that issue by taking out the laces, or loosening them completely. They really aren’t needed anyway.

And the other problem is that sometimes, when walking down a steep hill, the top part of the heel of the foot box can dig into my Achilles tendon area. But overall, not much of an issue.

Definitely the pros to these boots far outweigh the cons and I am sold for life I think. 🙂

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

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Daily Life #12 – Handmade with love

I love that man of mine! Every day, all day. But there are times when he does something which just melts my heart an extra bit.

Like what’s happening right now.

We are not really what you would call sports fans. But we do like to watch the Super Bowl. So in preparation for tomorrow’s game, my wonderful husband is sitting down explaining football to Princess Girl so she can follow along easier.

Be still my heart!

Yeah, I know it’s not much. But one sure way to this girl’s heart is through her children. Not only that, but I just love seeing a man being a good daddy.

And speaking of love, Valentine’s day is just around the corner.

I am almost finished with Hubby’s Valentine gift. In an effort to stick with our new, healthier ways of eating, we have decided to forgo the candy this year (I know, it’s almost sacrilegious to not have chocolate on Valentine’s day, but I think I’ll survive. Maybe.)

Anyway, I came up with some inexpensive and easy gift the girls and I can make for our main man. I wish I could show it to you right now. But it will have to wait.

I also started another bookmark for a special someone. This one is extra special since there is no printer involved. I’m drawing and coloring by hand. And I’m actually excited about how it’s turning out.

Working on these things by hand is so much more personal than just buying something from the store. No, they don’t cost much, and may not look as nice as something you can buy of the shelf, but each one is infused with love.

And speaking of love, you know what else makes my heart melt?

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My three year old washing the last of the carrots from the garden. I was able to start her on the task and walk away to finish other tasks. Yes, she took forever, but she did the job and did it well. When did she get so big??

And, for those of you who have been around for a while, yes, these are the last of the carrots which we planted from seed last February. They are oddly misshapen, I think because they stopped growing over the summer, and then started growing again this fall. They overwintered wonderfully in the garden. WAY better than they would have if I had picked them. One of the reasons I live growing carrots in this area!

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Daily Life #2 – Chicken Run Repairs

Earlier today I posted a picture on our Facebook page about doing something very homesteaderly today. I think I was inspired by yesterday’s post!

I finally went out and bought the supplies I needed to fix the chicken run roof.

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Yup, some clear corrugated roofing.

When we built the chicken run last year, we put up a cheap tarp to keep an area of the run dry (because it rains here ya know. A lot!). As you can imagine, after a year out in the elements, that tarp was rather worthless.

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So, I prepared my tools, strapped on my belt, and got to work.

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First I cut down the ratty old tarp.

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Then I measured, marked, and cut the plastic roofing.

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While I was working on that, Princess girl was being a great help by removing the nails from some boards I took out down from the chicken run.

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And yes, that is Flower Girl up in that tree. She has just discovered that she can climb it with no help.

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Look at that face!

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Meanwhile, back in the chicken run… I then screwed the cut panels in place, making sure to overlap the edges so that the rain won’t drip through. And, voila! new roof on the chicken run!

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This post is proof that you don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment to get work done around the homestead. My toolbelt is not a fancy or totally expensive one, but it gets the job done, and I’ve had it for years and not even absolutely necessary. The drill I used to screw the panels up is a simple little cordless thing, that we again have had for years. And if I didn’t have it, I could have used a hammer and nails. The only specialty tool I used was the tin snips, but again, I could have just used a sharp knife. I didn’t even have a ladder(because it was too big for the job and I didn’t want to drag it into the muddy, mucky chicken run)! I used a combination of a step stool and a sturdy plastic chair we had in the back yard.

With a little ingenuity and the willingness to get dirty, you can accomplish a lot.

And speaking of getting dirty, I decided that since I was already icky from working in there and because it needed to be done, I would clean out the coop and spruce things up.

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It looks so nice and bright with the clear panels. I’m looking forward to having dry space in the run again.

We already have to take measures to keep their food dry.

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We put their food in a tray to keep it off the soggy ground.

And give them sand to “bathe” in.

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I keep their water out in the open rather than under the cover. This serves two purposes. When I fill it and if they spill it, it doesn’t get the protected area all wet. Also, since it is exposed to the rain, God often fills it up for me. 🙂 By elevating it on a cinder block, the girls don’t fowl it nearly as often (pun intended). 😉

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Hubby and I are rather proud of our chicken run and coop. We hardly spent any money to put it together. And I realized that I’ve never really shown it off. The coop itself is a cabinet we bought at the Habitat for Humanity Re-store for $2.50. Yup, two dollars and fifty cents!

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As you can see from the above picture, I cut a hole in the bottom of one of the doors for the chickens to enter. Inside there are a series of levels and ladders and roosts for the hens to sleep.

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There is also a cut out at the middle level where they access the nest box, which is the brown box attached to the side.

We keep the food in a kitchen trash can with a lid. It is the perfect size for a 50lb bag of feed. We also keep a bale of straw wrapped in a tarp under the eve of the house.

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Other than the straw, cabinet, and nails and screws (and now the clear roofing panels) we didn’t spend anything to build our run and coop. It is nearly all recycled materials. Even one of the doors is an old screen door.

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So, now the coop and run are clean and dry once more.

Do you think the hens care?

Nope.

They are over in the compost corner.

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You do what you can with what you have. You start where you are. And nearly everyone, if they’ve got any land at all and it’s legal where they live, could find enough space in their life for a few chickens.

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

The daily life of an urban homesteader

I’ve been thinking about doing this post for a while now. But several things have stopped me. It never seemed to be the right time and I didn’t know if I was the right person. Half the time I feel like somewhat of a homesteading sham. I don’t live on a farm, and much of my life here in the suburbs is normal, mundane things that don’t have much to do with homesteading. Maybe that’s why I don’t post very often, because I don’t feel like I have very many homesteaderly-type things to write about. But here’s the deal, not everyone can be the type of homesteaders they want to be right away, maybe never. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from doing what they can with what they’ve got. I have a vision in my head of what a homesteader is and does and looks like. Don’t you?

Stop for a moment, if you will. Picture in your mind what is your ideal homestead situation. Mine looks something like this:

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The thing is, I don’t think I fit any of the “perfect homesteader” requirements in my own brain. Especially living here in our normal little house on our tiny little lot in our very suburban neighborhood. And yet, I still identify as a “homesteader”. No, I’m not where I want to be yet. But I am working to get there.

And that’s truly what the homestead journey is all about. It’s about doing more for yourself, being more sustainable, and living a healthier lifestyle,

It really is a journey and you start where you are and you move forward from there.

There’s a great quote out there by Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

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So here we are on our journey which we’ve been on for several years now. We started out in 2007 by planting our first garden. Our garden expanded every year and we branched out into raising animals. We got our first meat rabbits in 2012 and our first chickens in 2013. We purchased and moved onto our homestead land in 2014. Things were going great and we were on the fast track to being “real” homesteaders! And then we took what seemed a huge step backward just two months later when we moved to the suburbs in Oregon. The only thing worse I could think of is if we were in an apartment/condo with no yard. And yet we are still homesteaders. We make our own chicken bone broth and bacon lard. Though it is small we do have a garden. We have some chickens. We even butchered our own meat. Once. Our diet has taken a radical turn toward whole foods (not the grocery store!) and eating a more sustainable diet. We’ve started the process of building our own house. I’ve taught myself how to make soap, deodorant, carpet deodorizer, and various other cleaning and beauty products (which I will blog about one of these days). And I’ve dabbled in 3 season / year round gardening (two posts about that #1  #2). Sounds like numerous other “legitimate” homesteaders I know.

So, yes, even though I don’t fit my ideal vision of a homesteader, I am one.

And thus the idea for this blog assignment was born.

I am going to post every day (or as close to it as possible) for a month about my daily life.

I’m going to get real.

And along the way, I hope to debunk some myths people might be about what it takes to be a homesteader.

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So for my first day in my Daily Life posts, here’s me on my daily walk (I try to get out at least 5 times a week). I really didn’t want to post this pic since my hair is all crazy because it’s humid outside (it’s the Pacific Northwest go figure). But this is me being real. Thus, a picture showing overweight me with my flyaway hair.

So do I look like your vision of a homesteader? I don’t to me. Other than the flannel of course. 😉 In my mind, homesteaders are skinny because they eat right and get lots of exercise. You know, somewhat like Shaye Elliot over at the Elliott Homestead. I mean have you seen her? They just moved their farm and are in the midst of a total home renovation on the new place. And she’s, like, 6 months pregnant!

One day I would love to be skinny and totally in shape (and have great hair). But that’s not where I am on my journey. And I may never be. But that doesn’t stop me from doing what I can now to further my journey in homesteading. So I go for walks in order to stay in shape at least a little so that one day, when we are living and working on the homestead, I might have the strength to survive it.

Because homesteading isn’t about the way we look or the piece of land we live on or the number of animals we have. It’s about the choices we make along the journey to become the people we want to be.

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Happy New Year

I know, I know.

I’m a little late with my holiday greetings. But as I said in my family newsletter (which I just sent out a few days ago), better late than never, right?

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection the past couple of weeks, as is typical this time of year. And also looking toward the future of this year. Are any of you already planning for your spring and summer gardens? Now’s the time to order your seeds and in some cases, get them started indoors.

I just read this online article (How to Pick Your Vegetable Seeds Without Going Crazy) and it’s got me dreaming!

But alas, my biggest decision this year is that I am scaling way back on my plans for our garden. Any when you have a tiny plot anyway, “scaling way back” means that I don’t plan to do much of any gardening this year.

The reason why is actually pretty exciting. We are hoping to be in the process of actually building our house this summer. Which means frequent trips between Oregon and Nevada. And as I learned last year, my garden doesn’t do so well if I’m not around to care for it. Imagine that. 🙂

So, I’ll probably throw some carrot seeds in the ground and call it good. Those were what did the best and we ate the most of last year. And I love that they are frost tolerant and you can leave them in the ground all season and just go out and grab some as you need them.

It kills me not to really be making plans for the garden. But the trade off is worth it as we make progress on our house.

A couple days ago was a fairly mild day here in the Portland area, overcast but dry and not too cold. So I used the opportunity to get outside and do some yard work.

Almost done! And it's a good thing, too, because the debris can is almost full!

Almost done! And it’s a good thing, too, because the debris can is almost full!

I scooped up the walnut leaves and put them in the yard debris can. Yes, we have a compost pile, but not the right set up to cook the toxins out of walnut leaves.

Just after New Years, we had snow here. It was a rare treat for us in the Pacific Northwest. Normally, any time there’s snow here, it’s covered in ice. This was a light, fluffy, “dry” snow. At the beginning of the day it wouldn’t even compact into snowballs. The girls and I spent 3 hours playing outside.

Our back yard looked quite different with a thin layer of snow.

 

And then, that night, a freezing rain came in, covering everything in a layer of ice.

For this girl from the desert, ice storms are pretty magical. It is surreal to see ice coating everything. However, I am glad no one in our family had to go anywhere. One of those times I am thankful that my man works from home.

The hens don't mind a bit of snow.

The hens don’t mind a bit of snow.

We had a bit of sad news recently. One of our hens (“Pepper”) was killed by a predator of some sort. Considering it was during the middle of the day in broad daylight, we think it was one of the many neighborhood cats.

Flower Girl with Pepper this past spring.

Flower Girl with Pepper this past spring.

Now we’re down to three hens, one of which doesn’t lay very many eggs per year and none in the winter (our English Game Hen). The other two, however, have laid fairly steadily this winter (after their molt), even without supplemental lighting (for more information on supplemental light in the chicken coop, see this great article from Jill at The Prairie Homestead). I would love to add to our little backyard flock, but then I think of how much we are hoping to be gone this summer. And I think of transporting them back to Nevada when we do finally go. And I think, three chickens is enough. For now. 🙂

And in the mean time, we’re dreaming. We’re dreaming big!

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

First Frost

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We had our first frost here in the Portland area this morning. November 22nd and we just now froze! Gosh, the growing season is long here!

I love frosty mornings even if it does mean a bit more work to care for the animals.

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This morning’s chore was pretty easy, though. I just broke the ice layer in the chicken’s water dish and plucked it out. Not so easy when it get’s frozen solid.

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Frost sure is beautiful. God’s design frequently amazes me.

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Garden Journal

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I keep a garden journal.

It’s a journal which helps me remember when I planted, how long it took for things to germinate and produce, how well things did, etc.
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I started my first journal in 2009 and finished it in 2013 (I didn’t garden in 2014 since we moved twice that summer). I started a new book in February of this year. I usually use whatever blank journal I have on hand. (And since I’m a journaler by nature, I always have extras laying around.)
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I don’t like pre-printed journals which have questions for you to answer since I find them too confining. I want to write about what I want to write about. Or more than likely, they don’t leave me enough space to write. I like to use a conversational voice when I write and tend to write a lot (have you noticed? 😉
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So even though I just started a new joirnal this year and it will take me a while to fill it, I bought a new one yesterday at Michaels craft store.

I just couldn’t pass it up.

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Look how incredibly perfect it is for gardening and farming and all sorts of homesteaderly stuff! (Yes, I just made up a new word!) In fact, I’m wondering how I can use it sooner, because I don’t want to wait till my current journal is finished. 🙂

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I know a couple of homesteading friends who might just end up with one for Christmas.

And I have a 50% off coupon!

I’m thinking I see a trip to Michaels in my near future.

How about you? How do you keep track of all your homesteading endeavors?

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121