Citrus Vanilla Kitchen & Coop Cleaner

1-IMG_2811

Dear Vinegar,

Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways ~

1. Kitchen: you make my salads, my soups, my pie crusts and my overall health delightful. You keep my veggies pesticide free and my eggs debris-less. Don’t forget you’re mighty skills in the preserving department.

2. Water: Thanks for keeping my dogs and my flock of chickens healthy. Apple Cider Vinegar keeps us all working just right.

3. First Aid: I use you to clean my dogs ears and in a pinch, clean out wounds and owies.

4. Cleaning: My oh my, the power you have. I use you in my laundry, in my bathrooms, in my kitchen and in my chicken coop. Wonderful, beautiful you.

Yep, that’s right, I love vinegar. This new obsession kind of came naturally with the homesteading adventure and I’ve been so amazed at the power it holds over my household. And how much I’ve fallen in love with it’s smell. Seriously.

I’ve always used vinegar in my cooking, but until recently fell short on using it as a disinfectant and cleaner. I have allergy induced asthma and I began to notice I’d have flare ups every time I used chemical saturated cleaners in my home. Um… not cool. Especially since I share my home and spaces with critters who have smaller and more sensitive respiratory systems than I do. What to do, what to do.

After some very thorough (internet) research, I found a whole wide world full of DIY natural cleaning recipes, most of which starred my long lost love, white or apple cider vinegar. It was on like Donkey Kong.

I even used it to clean out Wyatt’s ears when he got a NASTY ear infection a few weeks ago. An infection so bad we gave him the nickname Dead Body because well, that’s what he smelled like. A little solution of 1 part apple cider vinegar 1 part water helped him redeem his place as just smelling like horse poop. Phew.

1-IMG_0484

Dead Body in all his ear infection glory…

In the beginning of my chicken adventures, I knew I couldn’t use harsh chemicals to clean out their coop. Chickens have very sensitive respiratory systems and I didn’t want to upset any of my soon to be hard working ladies. I ordered a book called Fresh Eggs Daily (also a great website here) as a guide to natural chicken keeping and I fell in love the ideas and recipes it had to offer. This lady knew her stuff, and the use of herbs, garlic, apple cider vinegar and white vinegar just made sense. One of my favorite recipes from the book is a Citrus Vanilla Coop Cleaner that can also be used in the kitchen. I was skeptical about the the smell because vinegar can be strong, but since vodka is so expensive where I live, I gave it a try.

1-IMG_0165

Doesn’t Stella deserve a chemical-free workplace?

The smell took some getting used to. The first time I used it I was not completely sold, but the more I used it, the more I loved it. So, I thought I’d share!

Citrus Vanilla Kitchen & Coop Cleaner from Fresh Eggs Daily

  • 4 oranges (or 6 limes, 5 lemons, 2 grapefruit, or a mix)
  • 2 cinamon sticks
  • 2 vanilla bean (great Costco snag)
  • Bottle of white vinegar (or inexpensive vodka (which doesn’t exist in Canada))
  • 2 one-pint canning jars
  • Spray bottle

Peel the citrus and divide the peels between the canning jars. I then proceed to juice the citrus and drink it. Break the cinnamon sticks in half and add. Slit each vanilla bean and add to the jars. Pour enough vinegar or vodka into each jar to completely cover the peels leaving at least 1/4 inch headroom in each jar. Screw on lids and set jars in pantry or on the kitchen counter to age. Shake the jars every few days to mix. The spray is ready to use when the liquid starts to turn an orangish-tan color, usually within one to two weeks. Strain the contents into a spray bottle and enjoy! The cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans can be reused for a second batch, but use fresh citrus peels.

I usually double the batch and use large mason jars… between the husband, the dogs and the chickens I go through a lot of cleaner.

There you have it, an awesome all-natural chemical-free kitchen and coop cleaner.

Thank you vinegar, I love you.

Does anyone out there have any uses I missed?

~Katy

Fall on the Farm 2014 – A week in photos

Last September brought sunshine and warm temperatures. This September brings an early, gorgeous fall full of surprises. We’ve had snow, sun, wind and an amazing display of color. Hunting season is upon us and we are hoping to harvest an elk and some deer for the freezer. Our evening walks have turned into hunts as we are lucky to have over a thousand acres to explore. Clay packs his gun, and I pack my camera.

1-DSC_0040

Clay practicing for hunting season

1-DSC_0057

Maynard free ranging with the littles… he’s grown an appetite for chicken scratch

1-DSC_0145

1-DSC_0102-001

The boys playing on the banks of the Peace River

1-DSC_0156-001

Back channel off of the Peace

1-DSC_0121-001

Hiking

1-DSC_0118

My old man keeping pace on a hike

1-IMG_0704

First canoe trip with the whole family. Boys did great!

1-IMG_0698

Maynard LOVES to swim and has been practicing very hard to look like a normal dog whilst doing it

1-IMG_0642

I got some new babies. Two turken eggers (like my Gerty) and four frizzles

1-IMG_0687

Glorious day on the Peace River

1-IMG_0627

Fall foliage on the farm

1-IMG_0690

Maynard matches the fall decor perfectly

1-IMG_0613

Hunting for elk on our evening walk

1-IMG_0543

Our rogue canola field

1-IMG_0573

Maynard hard at work

1-DSC_0179

Evening on the farm

 

Fall has proven to be just as busy as our summer season as we begin to put the farm to bed for the winter. There is much cleaning, mulching, harvesting, preserving and playing to be had. What a wonderful life to live.

Wishing you a beautiful and busy fall season.

~Katy

Game Cam Whodunnit

A few weeks back Clay checked on our furthest game cam, about 1/2 mile down from our house. As he approached, he realized that something was wrong, it was facing a different angle. Upon further inspection it appeared as if someone had vandalized our camera! But how, oh how could we figure out this mystery?

M2E77L229-229R404B328

This guy seems legit…

M2E2L1-1R350B300

Not so sure about this one…

M2E74L222-222R408B310

Our first baby on the cam!

M2E73L221-221R408B329

Oh my goodness, those spots…

M2E79L231-231R404B329

Wait a minute….

M2E77L229-223R404B328

Hey, stop that!

M2E62L206-205R408B322

Oh so you’re the culprit…

M2E1L0-0R350B300

Returning to the scene of the crime to check on your handiwork I suppose?

M2E71L216-215R408B332

Well, now you’re just doing victory laps…

M2E38L15-15R350B300

Oh yeah, it’s never the moose

Now to figure out how to fix the broken strap holder… damn bears.

~Katy

Farm Happenings and Catch Up

Hello all,

Sorry for the recent absence, I was off in Alaska land enjoying time with friends and the beauty that is the North. I thought I’d share a catch up post as we have been very busy on the farm.

Before I left for Alaska, my parents came for a visit. They genuinely worked their butts off and for that I am grateful. I also feel kind of bad because I don’t want people to think they have to work on their vacations on the farm, but alas, there is an unending amount of things to do. One of the most helpful acts was when my father taught Clay and I how to butcher a chicken. Many of you have read my compelling post about our rooster invasion, and it was definitely time to send five of them packing… to my freezer.

An animal lover at heart, I struggled with this idea, but as a homesteader I knew that I needed to be apart of my foods journey to my stomach. When I was little, I remember butchering time at my grandparents farm and found it to be great fun. My job was to sit on the box the headless chickens ran about in to make sure they didn’t run into the woods… every now and then one would “accidentally” get out and I had to chase it. In retrospect this was a weird game for a little girl to enjoy, but hey, it made me who I am today.

We had five roosters lined up for the slaughter. I carefully caught each one and spent a minute with each thanking them for their service. I didn’t stay for the actual slaughter part (I’m a wuss) but got down and dirty with the plucking and the packaging. And the wine drinking.

1-DSC_0003

Boiling the water for plucking

1-DSC_0029

1-DSC_0031

Part of the plucking crew… I enjoyed getting the pin feathers, maybe too much

 

1-DSC_0033

Packaging with my handy dandy food saver

1-DSC_0044

Headed for the freezer

So five fresh chickens made it into our freezer!

When I returned from Alaska, I found fall had arrived at Canadian Acres.

1-DSC_0117

Fall fireweed

1-DSC_0120

Rose hips ripening… I will be out to harvest these this week

All five of my laying hens have started to lay, and I have an over abundance of eggs. How lucky are we.

1-DSC_0063

Freshly laid egg

1-DSC_0144

Our five olive egger colors 🙂

1-DSC_0148

The prettiest yolks I ever did see

I am amazed by how much I truly enjoy keeping chickens and love them. The dogs have been wonderful during free range time and the littles are growing up so fast!

1-DSC_0083

Me and my not so littles

1-DSC_0130

Canadian Acres version of a street gang, on the hunt for some grasshoppers

1-DSC_0135

Wyatt watching over his flock

But then it happened… SNOW. Wait, what?! Snow? On September 7th? Oh god… I am not ready for this.

On Clay and I’s 2nd wedding anniversary it snowed. Ugh.

No one at our house was impressed. I hurried to save my two ginormous tomato plants and my three pumpkins. Not sure if I got them inside in time, but I strung up the tomato’s to encourage them to ripen and am curing my pumpkins with hope. The weather is supposed to turn nice again on Saturday and we should have a few more weeks of fall before it begins. Winter is most definitely coming.

1-DSC_0155

Ugh…

1-DSC_0176

Beatrix watching the snow fall

1-DSC_0202

1-DSC_0197 1-DSC_0210 1-DSC_0211At least it doesn’t look like it will stay. Happy fall everyone!

~Katy