Urban Basics

Getting back to basics in an urban setting

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We lost our first chicken

It is a sad day for us today. Our white Brahma hen died. I don’t know why she died. I couldn’t do anything to help her. It makes me so sad! I feel so useless. I have a long way to go in learning how to care for chickens. You really don’t know it all until and unless you know how to help sick chickens. Even when you do know it all…. you can still lose them to all kinds of illnesses and there just isn’t much you can do! I am so frustrated! We looked her all over, there are no external signs of illness. She just sat around all day in one spot. At night fall I went to close the girls in for the night and she was still sitting in the same place she was in the afternoon and all the other hens had gone to roost in the coop. I scooped her up but she didn’t act right so I brought her into the garage and made her a nest out of a cardboard box so I could watch her closely. By about 2 am she was gone. Makes me so very sad I couldn’t help her.


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I am learning to make soap

906874870I have always wanted to learn how to make soap. I have been researching on line and it is kind of scary. Working with lye makes me nervous so I am learning as much as I can before I try it. In the mean time, I found out that you can buy soap base at the craft store. It comes in different forms. Olive oil base, goats milk base and Shae butter. I got one of all three and brought it home. Then we picked our scents, herbs and colors and got to work.  I want to make sure I enjoy making soap before I do it with lye. I had a lot of fun. The first picture is a tea tree oil soap, picture number two is a lemon zest and mint soap using the olive oil base soap, the third picture is a layered bar. The bottom layer is olive oil with vanilla scent. The top layer is a goats milk soap with vanilla and oatmeal. I like this last soap the most! I am collecting oils now so that I can make more from scratch. I need to buy the lye and more vanilla too. The goats milk soap is really good for you skin so I need to find someone that has a goat and talk to them about buying fresh goats milk from them. I wish I could have a goat! My neighbors would be horrified! LOL

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Green eggs!

861839821Gigi started Laying! About two weeks after we got her she started laying, Can you see the green tinted eggs next to the store bought white eggs? I think they are rather different and pretty! Thank you Gigi for the wonderful eggs! I can’t wait for the younger hens to start laying.

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Gardening organically depends so much on composted fertilizer. We just started our¬†compost and it wont be ready for a while so it has been a challenge gardening without it. compost-binThis is the kind of compost bin we use. We have been putting in veggie scraps, egg shells, grass clippings, leaves and chicken manure. I didn’t know how much hands on maintenance a compost bin really is. Compost needs 5 ingredients. 1. Brown dry materials – leaves and dry grass clippings. 2. Green materials – fresh grass clippings and kitchen scraps. 3. Dirt – This is “starter” to introduce living organisms into the compost which helps it to break down faster. 4. Water- dry compost will keep those organisms that you want in your compost away. Moist, but not soggy compost is ideal. 5. Air – hard compacted compost will not let in enough air for the organisms to thrive and multiply.

If you have good compost, your compost should reach temperatures of about 120 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Start by mixing three parts brown materials to one part green materials. Then layer on a thin layer of dirt. Continue layers 3:1 brown/green ratio adding dirt between each layer. Pour over the top plenty of water. Once a week add air by mixing with a shovel or pitch fork. Continue this for a few weeks and then check the bottom layer for finished compost. You can sift this compost through a mesh screen before adding to your garden.

As a side note: If you are adding chicken manure, you will need to wait about two to three months before using in your garden unless you add it after the growing season ends. It can be added directly to your garden if you wait until fall. This way the chicken manure can sit in the garden all winter and be ready to fertilize your new garden come spring.

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836834859811Here are some pictures of whats growing in our garden. I just planted some sunflower seeds which have just germinated. I plan to save the sunflower heads after they are done flowering to give to the chickens in the winter. They love sunflower seeds! Next, we have apple trees in pots. I hope to one day own our own piece of land so that I can plant these trees in the ground. The next picture is of my wonderful husband Chris building me a potting bench with storage. The last picture is my lettuce growing. Doesn’t it look nice? I am one content mama!