Category Archives: Uncategorized

Easy Peasy Hummingbird Nectar

Hummingbirds are beautiful creatures and fun to watch but I don’t like having to boil the nectar. From what I have read it is important to cook it so that any bacteria that might be present in the water is killed.  I know you can buy it already made but the frugal person in me won’t allow that.  Fortunately, I came up with an easier way to make it.  All you need is water, sugar, and a handy dandy coffee maker.

A common ratio of water to sugar is 4:1.  For my feeders I pour 2 cups water into the coffee maker and place 1/2 cup sugar in the glass carafe.  Turn on the coffee maker and it will do the rest.  Once the water has dripped into the carafe simply stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Let it cool and pour it into a clean feeder.  That’s it.  Easy Peasy.

IMG_20160805_103154

Now I know the coffee pot does not boil the water but it does heat it to steaming.  I have had hummers at the feeders all summer so not boiling the water doesn’t seem to be an issue.

As a side note…Do not add red food coloring to the water. There is some evidence that it can cause birth defects in the babies.

 

 

Mulching the Garden for Free

Bermuda grass in my flower beds is relentless.  I hate to admit it but the last few years it was so out of control I was embarrassed for anyone to see my flower beds.  This year I was determined to get rid of it or at least get it under control.  I prefer not to use the commonly used spray to eradicate Bermuda grass for reasons I won’t go into here but it was the only way I was going to stand a chance.

First, I used garden scissors to cut huge amounts of the offensive grass out of the beds so I could at least see the ground that it was covering.  Second, I sprayed the base of the grass as close to the ground as I could get it.  The final and very important step was to cover the ground with thick layers of mulch.

Here is were the frugal part comes in.  I had a load of wood chips delivered for free from a tree trimming company that was looking for a dump site.  I also acquired several bags of pine needles from a friend.  (Best part about that was I didn’t even have to rake and bag them myself.)  Additionally I picked up all the pine cones I could find and obtained a few pieces of used brick that was going to the dump from a construction site.

The pine needles and pine cones were used in one section of the flower bed.  The wood chips were used in another.  I partially buried sections of brick amongst the wood chips for a decorative effect and while the Bermuda grass might manage to come up through all that mulch,  I dare it to come up through that brick.

I have to admit there is still some grass in my flower beds but for the first time in several years I can enjoy my flower beds instead of feeling disgust at how bad they looked.  As an added benefit the mulch also helps hold in moisture which results in a less frequent need to water.

Thanks for reading.  Have a frugal day.

 

 

Almost Free Basil Plants

DSC_2393_1759

I plant basil every summer. Not just for culinary uses but for its medicinal value.  A little research on the internet about basil will reveal that it has properties that help draw venom out of bites and stings but that a blog is for another day.

Since I usually don’t get around to planting basil seeds in the spring I end up buying a   plant at the local home and garden store.  This year there happened to be three plants in the planter instead of one.  So being the frugal person I am I gently divided the roots of the three plants and replanted them into separate planters.  And presto I now have three basils plants for the price of one.

Once the plants reached full size I took several cuttings and put them in water for a week or two to root.  Once each plant had a fair amount of roots I transferred them to planters to give away.  At this point I have lost track of how many plants I got from the one that I bought.  I have shared with friends and at the end of the summer plan to take one of the smaller ones I rooted and bring it indoors for the winter.  If all goes according to plan I won’t have to buy one next spring.

Thanks for reading. Have a frugal day.

Garden Weed & Grass Prevention

Due to the high clay content of our soil all of our garden is planted in tires with soil that has been composted from the barnyard.  Yes, I have heard chemicals might leach into the soil from the tires. No, I don’t know if it really does but that is not the point of the post.  All winter long the hubby saves the empty feed sacks for me. To keep weeds from growing up between rows I put down the feed sacks as pictured above.  Then I scrape the top layer off of the barnyard with a snow shovel as seen below.  The goat’s hooves have already broken down the nanny berries and left over straw so it is ready to use.

IMG_2788IMG_2781

Then I pile it thick on top of the feed sacks to weigh them down.  The feed sacks create a breathable barrier to keep out weeds and grass.  The compost makes it easier to walk on.  Over time the sacks break down and a few weeds and grasses may make their way through but for the most part the area stays clear and it is one less area I have to weed.  As an added bonus it looks nice and it was free. I love free.

IMG_2799

Starting the Summer Garden Indoors

DSC_0674_037

When starting seeds for the  summer garden I planted seeds in cardboard egg cartons.  These are free. I love free and can be cut into sections and be planted directly into  a larger pot or into the garden.  Since I start so early I  transfer the plants to a larger pot and then later into the garden.

DSC_0676_039

Next I put the egg cartons in a plastic container and cover it with a clear sack from the dry cleaners,  in a clear plastic disposable lettuce container with a lid or a clear shoe box storage container. It needs to be covered to keep the moisture in and create a greenhouse effect.  Even covered it will probably need to be watered occasionally. I use an repurposed dish soap container to water.  It is gentle on the young sprouts and less likely to knock them down than pouring water on them. Next I put them on top of the freezer where the defrost cycle keeps it nice and warm.  That way I don’t have to spend money on a warming pad or electricity to run it.  Most seeds do not need light to sprout.

DSC_0649_033

Once they are sprouted I move them to the light box the wonderful hubby built for me out of lumbar scraps (gotta be frugal).  It can be seen in the above photo. It is enclosed on the top and three sides. I lined it with foil to  help reflect more light.   It is open on the front for watering and to allow ambient light in.  When the plants are small I place the containers on a box to bring them closer to the light. As they grow I go to a smaller box.  Once they are big enough I move them to a wire shelving unit with a fluorescent light attached and set it In a south window so the plants also get sunlight.  Once the box is empty I move the next batch of sprouts into it.

DSC_0678_041

These are lettuce and tomatoes I started in January.  I will be able to move them to the unheated greenhouse in a few weeks.

Growing Sprouts to Reduce Chicken Feed Cost

Most people who raise chickens do so because they want farm fresh eggs.  If you are like us, you sell the surplus eggs hoping to recoup some of your feed cost.   A year ago I started growing oat sprouts and while it is extra work it has been worth it.  Not only are we covering the feed cost of our hens, we have made enough to cover the cost of 48 chicks that we purchased in November  and their feed. They should start to lay eggs in about a month or so and we can start saving for the next batch of chicks.

So if you are still reading, I will assume you want to know how it is done.  I have a six day cycle that I will explain step by step below.  On day one I start with four cups of oats and by day six I have approximately 20 cups of sprouts. The photos depict a five day cycle. I have bumped it to six so I will have sprouts for the chicks now that they are old enough to start eating them.

You will need two buckets and six containers with holes drilled in the bottom.  I used shoebox size storage containers and plastic meat containers.  I drilled (well the hubby did) approximately 10 holes in the bottoms of the each container. For day one I used a water garden planter that has holes all over it so it would work like a strainer.

DSC_0259 - CopyThis picture shows volume before and after soaking.

DSC_0262This picture shows the progression of growth. The yogurt container in the container on the left compares day 1 and day 5.

DSC_0261It will form a solid mat if you don’t stir it daily.

DSC_0264Ready to take out to the hens.

Day 1     Place 4 cups of whole oat feed in a 6-8 cup container with holes.

Put the container in a larger container (I use a gallon ice cream bucket) without holes and fill with water.

Soak over night. Each day you will need to soak a new batch of oats.

Day 2   Drain the water and transfer the oats to the shoebox storage container.

Day 3 Rinse the oats and stir. Drain the second batch of oats that you are soaking.

Day 4   Rinse the oats in each shoebox container and drain the batch that is soaking.

Continue to repeat this process every day and by day six you will have approximately 20 cups of home-grown sprouts for your girls. As long as you keep the process going you will have a batch ready everyday. It is not necessary to stir the oats. However, if you don’t, it will make a thick mat. I stir our sprouts because the hens eat it better that way. It is necessary to water each tray every day. I keep mine covered with a plastic trash bag and only rinse once a day. If you don’t keep it covered you will need to rinse twice a day.

We still feed them laying pellets just not as many. They prefer the sprouts over the laying pellets.  The egg production did not decline with the change. If anything if picked up.  If you give it a try let me know how it goes.

As an added note. I keep a drain strainer in place to keep the oats from going down the drain.  They don’t need light to grow and you could get a clogged drain in a matter of days if you don’t use a strainer.

 

 

Another Way of LIfe

IMG_3131As we drove through the indian reservation to get to the Grand Canyon I noticed several things. We were in the middle of a desert. There we no trees only scrub brush.   The homes were very sparse. Some appeared to be built out of nothing more than plywood.  ( I chose not to take pictures of the homes. I felt that would be an invasion of their privacy.)  However, you can tell by the landscape photo how sparse the land is. There were no electric lines anywhere. A few homes had solar panels but most did not.  I began to wonder, if there is no electricity, do they have water?  In Flagstaff I had noticed several pickups with large containers of water in the back. Surely they don’t have to haul all of their water in.

I began to realize life here is very different than in Oklahoma.  I pride myself in being frugal and being able to live off the land, yet I live a life of luxary compared to the people living on this reservation.  We stopped at a reservation area that had a variety of booths selling Native American jewelry, dream catchers, pottery, etc.  I spoke with several of the vendors and learned that the only income for some of those on the reservation comes from the sales of these goods.  I also learned that unless they have solar panels they do not have electricity. There is no water unless they haul it in. Some are able to haul it in, but some are not.   I can’t even imagine how they survive without water. Hygiene aside, how to they cook?  What do they drink? I assume that when they buy groceries they must buy bottled water to drink.  I gather that  most aren’t able to go to town very often so one would have to buy in large quantities.

I came away with great respect for these people.  I wish I could have spent more time talking with them. There is so much I could learn from them.  I would love to go back to the area and spend less time doing the usual tourist activities and more time learning about their culture.