School Year Time-Savers

School is back in session, and that means everyone’s schedules are back to crazy. To help you stay sane, I thought I’d share a few of my best time-saving tips. These won’t cost you any extra money, but they will save you a bunch of time and trips to the store.

Poster Board

Stock Up on Poster Board

I used to run to the store for poster board every time one of my kids had a project. And. that. got. old. quick. Now, I just buy a big stack of the stuff once a year, and we’re all set. (Target puts it on clearance in the summer). [Read more...]

Yard Sale Find: Curly Fry Maker

TaterTwister

A dollar will buy a lot of happiness at a yard sale. That’s all it took to make me the proud owner of this curly fry maker. I mean, who doesn’t love curly fries? And with a bushel of potatoes waiting to be cut into fries, I was excited about the idea of speeding up the process.

Presto TaterTwister

Here’s the box in all its 1990’s fabulousness. Those are some high-end graphics. I mean, check out the potato.

Spiral Cut Fries

I took the curly fry maker for a test drive as soon as I got home (you know you would have too). And it worked beautifully.

Curly Fries

Three cheers for curly fries.

Have you found anything cool at yard sales lately? I’d love to hear about it.

How to Protect Chickens from Predators

How to Protect Chickens from Predators

See where the dog tried to dig under?

Last week a dog tried to dig under our chicken run to get at our hens, but he didn’t succeed. Why? Because we built our coop to keep predators out, and so far it’s worked. Here’s a look at the measures we have in place:

  • We elevated our coop, to discourage rats, snakes and other egg thieves from living underneath it. In fact, we actually enclosed the underside of their coop with hardware cloth to make it usable space (it ties in with their run)
  • We wrapped their run in hardware cloth, instead of chicken wire. The smaller mesh prevents raccoons from reaching in to grab our hens, and offers a bit more protection against snakes
  • The floor of their run is wrapped in hardware cloth, too. It’s a completely enclosed space, top to bottom (This is what kept the dog out, but it’s just as effective against coyotes, bobcats, owls and a host of other hungry sorts)
  • We keep a padlock on their run and their nest boxes. Raccoons have super dexterity, and can open slide locks and turn knobs with no trouble. This keeps them out, and it also keeps the neighborhood kids out (you don’t actually have to lock the padlocks to keep the racoons out. The sequence of having to turn the lock, and lift it out is complicated enough)
  • We have motion-activated lights on the back of our house. If something enters the backyard, the lights come on to scare them off
  • We keep the area around their coop neat, so there aren’t places for predators to live or lurk
  • We trained our hens to return to their coop every night. Once they’re in, we lock the door to their run
  • We collect eggs every day to minimize temptation
  • We keep their coop and run in good condition. Damaged hardware cloth, holes in the floor or roof – they could all be an entry point for a predator, so we stay on top of maintenance
Locked Nesting Boxes

Locked Nesting Boxes

Locked Chicken Run

And a Locked Run, Too!

Want to see what our coop looks like and how we built it? You’ll find all of that here.

Front Yard Farming

Butternut Squash Harvest

Remember all those volunteer butternut squash vines that came up in our front yard? We just harvested our squash this morning, and ended up with 24 for us, and a few damaged ones for the chickens. Pretty sweet deal.

Next year, I’ll plant squash in our front yard on purpose. It’s led to many interesting conversations with our neighbors and the CSA families that pick up at our house (we’re a CSA pick-up spot for our friends’ farm). One of our neighbors came over Friday to ask about buying some of our squash, and someone driving by this morning, stopped and bought one. I wasn’t really planning to sell any, but I’m happy to see people excited about eating real food.

If you grew butternut squash this year, I’d recommend waiting until the stems are a tannish-brown before you harvest yours. If you look closely, you’ll see my stems are still a bit green. I’m working on a secret plan that required me to pick mine a bit early. They’re fully edible at this point; they just won’t be good storage squash. I’ll puree them, and get them into the freezer sometime in the next couple weeks.

Here are some guidelines to help you determine when to pick butternut squash.

See Also:

Coupons for Real Food

Coupons for Real Food

People say you can only find coupons for processed foods, but that just isn’t true. Check out this list of coupons for real foods and real ingredients, and see for yourself:

Coupons.com

Hopster

  • $1 off one Once Again Nut Butter product

SavingStar

SmartSource

  • $1 off one Olivari Olive Oil
  • $1 off one jar of Star Olives, 7 oz. or larger
  • $1 off Wholesome Sweeteners brand Organic Sugar, Stevia, Agave or Honey
  • $1 off any three Dole canned fruits

Redplum

  • $.75 off one flip-top dispenser of Domino Sugar (Quick Dissolve Superfine or Pourable Brown)
  • $1 off one bottle of Domino Organic Blue Agave Nectar
  • $.55 off one Florida Crystals Sugar product
  • $.75 off any two Domino Sugar products, 2 lbs. or larger

Common Kindness

  • $1 off Alter Eco Unrefined Mascabado Cane Sugar
  • $1 off Alter Eco Thai Sticky Purple Rice
  • $.75 off any Clover Stornetta Farms product
  • $.75 off any Country Choice organic canister oats
  • $1 off any one Star Olive Oil, 7.2 oz. or larger
  • $.50 off any Uncle Matt’s organic 12 oz. juice
  • $.75 off any Uncle Matt’s organic 59 oz. juice
  • $1 off any Woodstock Frozen Fruit or Veggies
  • $1 off any Woodstock Organic or Natural Nut Butters

PorkBeInspired.com

  • Click “Sign Up Now.” Register for a free account, and print a coupon for $1 off any fresh pork product

Like this list? I’ll be updating it weekly, so be sure to check back.