Horned Tomato Worm

Look at what we found in the garden yesterday! He was sitting on a tomato plant. We weren’t sure if it was poisonous or not and decided not to give him to the chickens. This horned tomato worm was about four inches long and about 3/4 inch round in diameter. Huge!

My comic

– Sarah

Liquid Gold!

Isn’t there something else called “liquid gold”? I think so… I just hope it’s not dirty, because I am actually referring to honey. Anywho– we secretly harvested one frame worth of honey from the hive today. Don’t tell the bees.

We were just curious as to how our very own honey tasted and just couldn’t wait until late spring or even next summer. Honey harvesting officially ended in August, but our hive was started a bit late (June) and we didn’t get to harvest anything.

We won’t be taking anymore until late spring since the bees will need it to get through the winter. And we are supposed to have a pretty harsh winter this year. Arg! That usually means lots of snow.

In the mean time, we will be holding on tight to our one tiny jar of honey.

My comic

My comic

– Sarah

Naked?

Naked? Naked Neck chickens of course!

Okay, get ready to keep a straight face and don’t judge me… But I love these chickens! They are so stinkin’ cute! I admit that at some times I have been known to have odd taste, but these chickens really are special. Don’t tell anyone, but in two years when our current egg-layers start to slow down on production, I am adding two of these sweeties to the flock. I’ve read that they are “cold hearty”… I wonder if that means snow too?

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Exerpt from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Other names: Transylvania Naked Neck
Country of origin: Romania
Nicknames: Turken
Dual purpose breed

Naked Neck chickens
Despite its highly unusual appearance, the breed is not particularly known as an exhibition bird, and is a dual-purpose utility chicken. They lay a respectable number of light brown eggs, and are considered desirable for meat production because they need less plucking and they have a meaty body. They are very good foragers and are immune to most diseases. The breed is also reasonably cold hardy despite its lack of feathers. Naked Neck roosters carry a single comb, and the neck and head often become very bright red from increased sun exposure. This breed has approximately half the feathers of other chickens, making it resistant to hot weather and easier to pluck.
Recognized color varieties include: Black, White, Buff, and Red in the United States.

– Sarah

Book Review :: The Back to Basics Handbook

The Back to Basics Handbook: A Guide to Buying and Working Land, Raising Livestock, Enjoying Your Harvest, Household Skills and Crafts, and More
by Abigail R. Gehring

After a disappointing “homesteading” book a month or so ago, I really scoured the Internet reading reviews on other books of a similar nature. I was able to find this title at the local bookstore, Mountain Bookshop.

Wow! Just wow. I love the material covered in this book. Albeit, not every subject is covered in great detail, this book will give you the basics in everything from building your homestead and wind systems to livestock and fruit trees. It is crazy how much I have learned from this one book.

While buying or building on land doesn’t apply to me yet, I really appreciate the thought that was given into this chapter. The author goes into how to raise a barn, tap into a water supply, and build various types of fences. Fences apply to everyone.

The chapter on gardening was also especially helpful. It gave detailed descriptions as well as handy little charts on natural pest control. I loved that. Who wants to buy expensive pesticides (not to mention contaminate your food) when you can use simple wood ash to get rid of common pests like aphids? This chapter also got me interested in home fish farming. Something I would have never thought of without this book. When you think of livestock it’s the usual: cows, goats, sheep, horses, pigs. This book brings the underdogs into play: rabbits, fish, bees. Most people can only raise the underdogs and I appreciate that smaller homesteads were taken into consideration.

Butchering and preserving is always needed in a book like this and the author also thought to include maple sugaring and bread baking. I hope to put this whole section into use someday as we have access to a sugar maple tree. The book also covers fiber arts -spinning, dying, weaving- and the basics of making candles, soaps, and handwoven baskets.

Really, what else do you need to know? This book covers everything. I love any book that I can open right up and answer a question I have about this or that. It has also opened my eyes to other aspects of homesteading or self-sufficient living that aren’t as commonly written about. Happy reading!

– Sarah