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Becoming Independent and Off the Grid

2pairfarms.com - Becoming Independent and Off the Grid

Quilt – From the Beginning

I always wanted to quilt, but time just wasn’t on my side.  There was college, raising kids, working and so on.  Some where in all that, I found time to make a quilt for my daughter’s baby dolls along with matching skirt and bolero jacket.

She was just three years old and cute as could be.  She wore her little outfit and wrapped up her favorite baby in the tiny quilt.

The first "quilt" I made.I got the pre-quilted fabric at some garage sale and got busy cutting the squares and sewing them together.  The jacket and skirt came from the big pieced quilt. The baby doll blanket was made with what was left.

Now, all that’s left of the set is the baby doll blanket.  I’ve look many times for the rest of the outfit, because I know I didn’t throw it away.  I’m afraid it is lost forever.

While I sewed many clothes for the kids over the years, I didn’t get a chance to make any quilts again until my daughter’s best friend was going to have a baby and she wanted to make a baby quilt for her.

Leah cut the pieces and sewed some of them together, but she was pregnant Baby quilt.with her first child and didn’t get it finished.  The two girls had their babies ten days apart and the quilt went by the wayside.

After a while I came across it in the sewing room and decided to finish it myself. After piecing the rest of the pieces it was difficult choosing the blanket binding to use.  Since it was for a baby I decided to use a wide ribbon style with a bright color.

I finished the quilt the same way my mother’s mother did it.  I tied knots with yarn.  Quite a few of them.  One in every corner.  When I was finished knotting it, I was glad it was a small blanket.

Stripes QuiltTwo years later I started a quilt for myself and had cut the fabric in strips.  As I was getting ready to cut the strips into squares my daughter came to visit and saw the quilt parts.  She begged for it and said she liked it just the way it was.  I promised it to her.

Work got in the way an it was a while before I got it finished, knotting it too.

Now I am working on the next three quilts.  One for Fat quarters for a quilt.each of my children’s households.  The kids picked the fabrics.  It’s a struggle to decide if knotting or professional quilting will be the finish.  I’ve considered quilting each block as I go.  I’ll have to wait and see when they are done.

Birds, Birds, and MORE Birds!

With our ducks and chickens getting older and pretty much on auto-pilot, we are ready to add to our flocks.  I wanted some pretty birds, so I ordered several chickens just to look at.  The pretty birds we ordered are silver-laced, buff, and gold Wyandotte pullets.  We also chose Barnevelder and gold laced Polish pullets.

Baby guinea fowl, chickens and ducks.Unfortunately, the silver laced Wyandottes were short run so we had to substitute them with barred Plymouth Rock.  They will be just as pretty.  I’m so excited to see the pullets when they grow up.

Since we already had the Australorps with a rooster, we didn’t get any pretty bird roosters because too many roosters leads to trouble.  Depending on how many chickens we need in the future, we might consider separating breeds and getting the roosters for each breed.  We’ll decide based on egg sales.

We also ordered five more khaki Campbell ducks since some of ours met up with a couple of snakes.

The most exciting new birds are the 25 guinea fowl.  We ordered “hatchery Thirsty chicks.choice” birds.  Since the hatchery doesn’t sex them, it’s going to be a waiting game to see how many dinners there are.  We’re betting the ratio of 50/50 male/female.  The females will be kept for breeding along with one lucky male.

This bird arrival went much more smoothly than the last.  They all arrived on time and appear to be in good health.  The ducks are the largest, more than twice the size of the guinea fowl.  The chickens’ sizes are some where in between the guinea fowl and the ducks.

For right now they are getting the chick starter.  I’ll get some turkey starter for the guinea fowl since they have a whole lot more growing to do than the others in just about the same amount of time.  They need more protein to build their little bodies.

We used the same brooder crate we made for the previous two groups of hatchlings.  It works great for the ducks and chickens, but the guinea fowl are so tiny they fit right through the chicken wire.  That called for some fast thinking.

David had already cut some 8′ x 12″ boards for use in the garden, so I grabbed those and put them up on sides of the crate to prevent them from getting out, or worse, getting injured or killed in the wire.

The feeders were a different story too.  We use the regular chick feeders, the ones with the holes for each chick.  While the guinea fowl can easily reach their food from the floor, they seem to prefer to stand on the food.  For this they can fit their whole bodies inside those little bitty holes!

To fix that problem I grabbed a couple of new, but cheap, ice cube trays.  They worked perfectly!  They birds can get all the food they want without climbing inside the feeder.  They are perfectly happy to stand on it.

20130712_075927Watering is no trouble with three one gallon chick waterers.   The twist is that the guinea fowl like to climb in it to drink.  They are so cute, but they won’t fit in there very long.

Of course, the chicks are always a hit with my granddaughter.  She is a curious two year old who wants to check on the chicks every few minutes.  Just when I think she has forgotten about them, nope.  It’s time to go check on them again.

The Value of Chickens and Ducks

Chicks and ducks raised together.

On our quest to be independent we decided to get busy with livestock.  We have had chickens in the past and know how much fun they can be and about their easy care.  Well, almost easy care.

This time around we chose Australorps for eggs and meat because they are a great dual purpose bird.  They are docile, meaning they usually are not going to give you any trouble by pecking you.  They lay well, up to 250 per year (or more).  With ten hens, production should be about 2,500 per year.  Feed cost per year per bird is about $304.00.  The eggs economic value for this region is about $729.00.

Chickens are not the only great source of eggs and meat.  Ducks are a great duckchoice too.  We chose Khaki Campbell ducks.  They are beautiful to look at and will produce about 300 eggs per year.  With ten females, there will be about 3,000 eggs per year.  The economic value for this region is $1,250.00.

If every now and then we let some chicken and duck eggs hatch, those birds can be used to increase the flock for more eggs, or as meat birds.  These birds are nearly free since baby chicks eat small amounts of food, and by the time they do eat 1/4 pound of food per day, it’s time to cull them.  The number of birds to cull every year depends on how many times you allow your females to go broody.

Given all this, there is the added work of feeding and watering the birds each day.  Those processes can be automated, making it only necessary to check the flock each day.  In the end, your family will consume tastier birds and eggs.  Considering that duck is only found in certain types of stores in some parts of the country, for us, to have a meal of fresh duck or duck eggs would be considered something otherwise unaffordable.

Knowing the products are healthier to eat and free from all manner of antibiotics, diseases,  salmonella and other hazards of the poultry industry is priceless.

Mission Craze Performance

I ordered my Mission Craze bow at Clyde’s Archery in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Mission CrazeI’ve had my Mission Craze bow for several weeks now.  The first few uses left my arms tired and sore.  It was partly due to using muscles I don’t normally use in that way, but mostly it was because of the shoulder surgery I had last year. Even so, I am getting better and stronger.

The best part is that it is accurate.  One technically could argue that I’m the one who is accurate since I am pretty accurate with a gun and a bowling ball.  But, I hesitate to say it’s all me because the last time I used a bow was in 1973.  At best I would be considered out of practice.

It’s going to take time until I have enough strength to pull at a high enough draw weight to make a good kill shot, but I’ll get there!  This is my final post about the Mission Craze.

Mission Craze – Best Choice Ever!

Mission CrazeAs you know, we decided to buy bows.  We searched for months until we found one that felt like it belonged in my hands.  It’s been many years since I used a bow, and I didn’t think I would be buying another one any time soon.

We got the call that my bow had arrived and we went in to get it on my husband’s first day off.  When we got there, his bow had just come in that same day.

The tech adjusted my bow to accommodate my draw length and strength.  Since I had rotator cuff surgery some months ago, my left arm isn’t as strong as I would like, but it will get that way.  I feel it after every practice session.  Over time, it will get better.

The first nice day, by that I mean the first day the wind wasn’t 70 mph, we went out to try our bows.  It was awesome.  There were no adjustments needed for the sites.  Since I have a low draw weight, I can use the bale of hay for a target.  Eventually I won’t be able to do that.  But for now, my grandson and I use the hay bale.  David has to use the other target, but that’s another post.

The Craze pulls smoothly and is easily positioned for targeting.  With my left Mission Crazearm still weak, it is a challenge to hold the bow still, so some of my shots aren’t very accurate, but even so, I do pretty good. It won’t be long until I consistently hit the bullseye.  That’s just a matter of rehab from the surgery.  Using the bow is great for that!  Oh, did I mention that it’s adorable??  I love that animal stripe.