FREE $50 Bonus
Spread the Joy
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://redbarnblueskies.com/category/homesteading/
Pinterest
Pinterest
LinkedIn
INSTAGRAM
Handmade Soap - Kids Soap, Glycerine Soap with Essential Oils
Follow Us


Follow

Archive for the ‘Homesteading’ Category

postheadericon My Husband is a Dung Beetle

*This post about my husband being a self-proclaimed dung beetle was first published in April 2010. Because it is just as relevant today as it was then, I’ve decided to share it with all of you again. For those of you newer to Red Barn Blue Skies, don’t be alarmed – we’re relatively normal. Enjoy!*

I am married to a dung beetle.

My Husband is a Dung Beetle at Red Barn Blue Skies

First off, let me state for the record that I did not call my beloved hubby this. At breakfast this morning, he announced to Mom and I, “I am the dung beetle of the family.”

While this is not a normal conversation in the majority of homes, it is really not a super surprising one for this group. We obviously aren’t the Cleavers anyway, so let me try to explain this bold statement.

The Dung Beetle

Hubby and I were camping last summer when we came across a funny sight while hiking. I had to stop when I saw something rather strange: it looked like a little turd cruising along the path in front of me.

Upon further investigation, we found that it was a dung beetle with a rolled up ball of poop. He was rolling it uphill and in a very straight path – over pebbles, twigs, whatever. He was a persistent little guy as the ball was about three times his size and it was very unwieldy.

We must have spent about fifteen minutes just watching as this amazing little creature kept to his task. He was the epitome of the saying that “the impossible is possible if you keep at it”. The manure ball would slip and roll back a few inches and he’d just start again on his uphill trek.

Fast Forward to Today

Now, the reason this morning’s breakfast table conversation turned to dung beetles is because we were talking about how ants can carry many times their own weight. We told mom about seeing the little dung beetle at work and Mr. MoonCat Red Barn mentioned that he had done some reading on these fascinating little bugs after our trip.

Hubby’s ENTIRE basis for saying that HE is the dung beetle of OUR family is the fact that the males are the ones who do all the work in dung beetle couples. They usually roll up the ball of poop and move it to wherever the female designates while she directs or even HITCHES A RIDE while he’s working!

If this hadn’t hit me as so funny and of course, inappropriate, I might have decided to be offended. But I chose to laugh my butt off at him. (It’s especially significant today as I “requested” that he move around a bunch of furniture yesterday.)

I did some reading myself on dung beetles and was really amazed to learn how beneficial they are to agriculture.  They can be found on every continent except for Antartica! I had already known (from my dad) not to kill any that we found out in the manure pile at the ranch but really didn’t know why.

I’ve since learned that they help keep down the fly population and thus the spread of disease in livestock. They make the manure inhospitable to the fly larvae and maggots. They are a very beneficial part of managing, rejuvenating, and sustaining pastureland. Learn more about them here. You can even find out how to start your own dung beetle farm!

I hope you enjoyed yet another insight into the not so ordinary happenings (and conversations) here at MoonCat Farms/Red Barn Blue Skies.

And just for the record, I did NOT hitch a ride on his back while he was moving furniture – I directed. 

Dung Beetle Toy

 

And here is one of the reasons I decided to bring this post back – LOOK WHAT I FOUND!

Hello Father’s Day present Mr MoonCat/RedBarn/DungBeetle!

And one for the loving wife (ME):

So ladies, do you have your own dung beetle guy in the family?

postheadericon Spring is Sprung in the Coop

Spring is sprung, both in the world and inside the chicken coop. We’re gearing up for a wave of little blue, black, and splash chicks hatching in the near future.

Spring is Sprung in the Coop at Red Barn Blue Skies with Andalusian Chicks

 

I initially started raising Giant (Standard) Cochins with the thought they would be broodies for my Blue Andalusian chicks. Andalusians just have no interest in taking care of their own kids. They produce a bajillion of them, then they are just “dead-beat” parents and don’t want to take the time to hatch or raise them! They’d rather strut around and show off.

Spring is Sprung

The spring fever has hit hard this year. They are popping out eggs like crazy in my Andalusian breeding pen. I decided I was in need of some help to get the blue babies hatched.

Spring is Sprung in the Chicken Coop 2 at Red Barn Blue Skies

So Cochins to the rescue…or NOT. I waited and waited for one of my beautiful blue Cochin gals to go broody. You would think out of 9 hens, one would cooperate? Nope. Nada.

Hovabator Incubator for Spring is Sprung at Red Barn Blue Skies

So I took the plunge and ordered an incubator online. And guess what? The pretty little lady pictured below decided she wants to raise some chicks! The very day after I spent a small fortune on an “alternative” way to get those babies hatched.

Spring is Sprung in the Chicken Coop at Red Barn Blue Skies

And to add insult to injury, her broodiness was contagious and three of the other girls decided they want to be mamas too. So now my dilemma is finding enough eggs that I want my girls to hatch! Good thing they’re pretty…

Check out more of our adventures with chickens – life is never boring around here!

So what are your own plans now that spring is sprung for us all?

postheadericon Soap Making Class on a Soapy Saturday

This past Saturday was full of good, clean fun and learning at my very first soap making class! My sister-in-law Cindy and I went to a Botanical Soap Making Class taught by Justine Crane. For those of you who have been with me for a while, you’ll remember the Natural Perfumery class of hers that I enjoyed so much last August (read about it  here: What a Workshop!)

**Check out our soap making supplies checklist**

Soap making class for Red Barn Blue Skies

The Soap Making Class

The soap making class was held again at the Intermountain Nursery. We were out on the patio/potting shed area. While it’s a beautiful spot out there and ideal for the classes, we were unseasonably COLD! Leading up to the weekend we were worried we’d be overly warm as the previous weekend was in the 90s (as is usual). Instead, we were treated to a record-breaking 57 degrees for May 22nd. It had been 112 years since that record was challenged! Thankfully, the nursery had a fire pit made from an old washing machine tub (I should have taken a photo – it was really neat) and a propane heater shown below.

 

Cindy Stirring Soap for Soap Making Class

 

There were 11 students eager to learn the correct methods from Justine on making cold process soap.  Since it involves lye, Justine emphasized following proper safety procedures at all times.  We were all wearing long-sleeves, gloves, eye protection, and breathing masks.  Safety first!  (Cindy is planning on procuring us the long white lab coats to complete our look for our next soap making class adventure)

Cindy the Mad Scientist for Soap Making Class

 

We learned the best natural ingredients to use and the reasons or benefits of each. Justine also discussed and showed us the proper tools and equipment to have on hand. She took us step by step through the process and allowed us to each be as hands-on as we wanted. Everyone got to take a turn in some part of the creation of our soap.

Pouring in the Lye for the Soap Making Class

One of my favorite parts was the blending of the scent. We broke up into teams to create top, heart, and base notes from the essential oils. Cindy and I were responsible for the top note. We used bergamot (yum, Earl Grey tea….), lime, and a bit of lemon. Very clean and fresh smelling! The other teams mixed up the heart and base notes and then we combined them all together. It turned out to be an amazing scent.

 

After all of the measuring, blending, and experimenting with some color,  this:

 
Became this:
 

Happy Happy Happy

The soap making class was everything I had hoped it would be. Being shown how to do something and getting to be hands-on really makes a difference in learning some things for me. I’d been reading about making this type of soap for years but was leery of trying it – mostly due to the lye and a few questions I had that went unanswered until now. Justine armed us with the proper methods and the safety precautions and I’m now anxious to get started.

 

I’ve gathered my soap making ingredients and tools and will be ready to go on my solo soap flight in a short time. I actually stopped to buy lye at the hardware store in Prather after we left the nursery. Cindy and I excitedly bounced ideas off of each other all the way home. I was thrilled that Cindy was able to go the class with me. We always have a lot of fun together and seem to really work well as a team. I think this terrifies our husbands at times…..

Thanks Justine for a great class once again. Check out Justine’s sites Oh True Apothecary and The Scented Djinn for more info on natural perfumery and working with botanicals. She also has an online perfumery course!

 

postheadericon Garden Planning in Progress

Mr. MoonCat Red Barn has been toiling tirelessly (do I get extra points for that?) with our garden planning and plotting. He’s determined to get our veggie garden up and running.  He’s a very visual person and enjoys mapping out his vision and making graphs.

Garden Planning at Red Barn Blue Skies
He consulted with the locals:
 
Garden Planning Lizard at Red Barn Blue Skies
He put up perimeter fencing:
 
Garden Planning Fencing and Raised Beds at Red Barn Blue Skies
 
Garden Planning with Raised Beds at Red Barn Blue Skies
He fenced in the chicken coop, built the compost bins, and installed a potato box. Chandler approves.
 
Garden Planning Chicken Run and Compost Bed with Chandler at Red Barn Blue Skies
He received approval from the overhead supervisor:
 
Hawk Supervising Garden Planning at Red Barn Blue Skies
He also received a well-deserved kiss from his appreciative wife – no photo!!
 
So how is your own garden planning going this year?