Blog Posts by MadeInAmerica

  • Adventures in Homesteading 101: It's Slaughter Time!

    As a homesteader, culling your flock of chickens and other fowl you might have becomes a neccessity after the hens or females are no longer able to lay or when you have too many males. Here are some helpful tips I've learned along the way in our journey of becoming more self-reliant as homesteaders who grow and raise as much of our own food as we can.

    *Some people might think that killing birds you've raised from hatchlings is a cold-hearted way of going about things, but I look at it this way...our beautiful birds have been given much care since day one so that one day they may be able to give back what we gave them through the sustenance their flesh provides us. Their little lives are celebrated, honored, appreciated, and not forgotten from hatchling to death and beyond.

    From the beginning, it's important to not allow yourself to become emotionally attached to every bird in your flock, only a select few that you would like to keep around for a long time as outdoor companions if you

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  • Does Your Cat Smile?

    My cat smiling.

    Does your cat smile?

    Mine does. All the time...and it's creepy. I don't quite know if it's because she is a happy cat or just plain bonkers, but she smiles at me whenever she is doing something I don't want her to do, like sneaking into my food when I'm not looking (or she thinks I'm not looking) and I catch her in the act, or when life just seems to be going her way.

    I had never seen a cat smile before until her. Is this a normal thing for cats to do? My husband and I have 5 other indoor only cats. None of them smile. Only Cracker (named for her white fur with black spots). She is a feral, rescued off the streets of St. Louis, Missouri as a kitten while I was a long haul truck driver. She was raised on the truck, accompanying me during my travels across the USA and Canada. The moment I rescued her, scooping her up into my arms to bring her into the warmth of the cab of my truck, she smiled.

    She smiled again when I gave her what seemed to be her first real meal, half of a can of

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  • Adventures in Homesteading 101: Budget Friendly Chicken and Duck Coop Building Ideas

    As homesteaders who grow and raise our own food, when my husband and I decided to expand the amount of our poultry and ducks, we needed to build a bigger home for them. Backyard poultry and fowl need plenty of room per bird in order to live healthy and happy, and we wanted the best we could afford while staying within our measly budget. Fortunately for us, my husband used to be a contractor so building one was relatively easy. Most chicken coops are basically a frame, walls, floor, roof, and a wire enclosed run, making it easy enough for just about anyone to build their own. Additional aspects, such as segregated runs and decor can also be easily incorporated into a coop design with little effort, although it does increase cost. Building your own will not only save you a lot of money, but it also allows you to customize it to suit your own needs. Aesthetics can be added later when funds allow, which is what we plan to do as we can afford over time.

    Pictured above is our larger second

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  • Backyard Chickens: Have You Hugged Yours Today?

    Chickens make awesome pets, as some of us know. My husband and I homestead, which means we raise and grow as much of our own food as we can on our 2 little acres out in the country. Our Buff rooster, pictured above, quickly became our best backyard buddy who stole our hearts so much that he will never see the inside of an oven or frying pan. His life started out on our homestead as a day old baby that we lovingly raised and, over time, trained. He's a stud-muffin and he knows it. He rules the hen houses, keeping all of our feathered ladies in line and our breeders fertilized. He loves to be held, hugged, cuddled, cooed at, and talked to while strutting his stuff around the backyard and in the coops. When anything within his vicinity is amiss, he's quick to holler a loud "Ehr Ehr Ehr Ehr Eeehhhrrr!" to let me know, sending me running to his assistance.

    I thought I'd take a moment to introduce some of my favorite fowl on our homestead and encourage and, hopefully, inspire non-chicken

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  • Adventures in Homesteading 101: How Does Your Orchard Grow?

    Historic Lamon Orchard in Yosemite National Park

    When my husband and I began our homestead, the very first thing we wanted to get started on right away was our orchard. Trees take longer to mature and produce than gardens do, so it is tops on the priority list when adding them to your property. We only have 2 acres to work with so prior planning, in order to utilize every square foot to its utmost, is advantageous for us in our homesteading adventure. We wanted a wonderful orchard where we could take a short, lazy afternoon stroll or sit on a bench in and enjoy the cool summer shade, and sip some iced tea while taking in our beautiful view of the valley below us.

    Orchard Location:
    After careful consideration, we chose to use a quarter of an acre in the farthest rear corner of our property where sun and space for the entire orchard is optimal. Location is important, as fruit and nut trees can be messy when not fully harvested during maturity, attracts birds, and provides windblock and shade. The worst place to plant any fruit or nut

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  • GET YOUR HERB GARDEN ON!: Motivational Tips for Healthier Food and Living

    stack and grow herb Kit

    Want to grow herbs for cooking or have an herb garden yet you keep putting it off? Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've all heard the excuses: "I don't have time.", "It's too expensive.", "I'll never use what I grow.", "I don't have a green thumb. They'll just die anyway so why bother really?", "I live in an apartment.", or "It's easier to just buy them at the store." Stop with the excuses already! By making excuses, you are sabotaging yourself. Herb gardens are an asset to your life, not a liability. They can provide you with inexpensive flavors and scents year-round that you can add to a variety of things; food, drinks, teas, oils, soaps, lotions, potions, and potpourris.
    Here are some tips to squash those excuses running around in your head so you can 'Get Your Herb Garden On'!:


    Herb gardens require very little time to maintain, once planted, when you plant smart. Using herb pots like the one pictured or planting in a raised garden with a garden liner eliminates time consuming weeding.

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  • Adventures in Homesteading 101: Quack Quack - Ducks!

    Chickens not enough for you and you want to add ducks to your backyard livestock? Think twice about that! Ducks are wonderful and fun, don't get me wrong, but they are very different from chickens in many ways and require a lot more effort. We have Pekins and Mallards. On some days they wear me out! Here's the skinny on both if you want more info or are still deciding on which ones to get.

    Pekin ducks: These are the white ducks you see in Aflac tv commercials. They are large, cannot fly, are very smart, very inquisitive, and prefer the company of people over other ducks. The females make great pets.

    The males (Drakes), however, can be aggressive and will nip hard enough to tear through any exposed skin on your body when perturbed. It doesn't take much to get a Drake perturbed either, so I have found out the hard way. They are very demanding also and if they don't get their way they will resort to nipping.

    Ducks are protectively territorial and will sound a loud quacking alarm when

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  • Adventures in Homesteading 101: First Aid for Chickens

    Every once in awhile a chicken gets injured. Minor wounds are something you'll eventually have to contend with when raising your backyard flock.

    If your hens are aggressively pecking at each other to the point of drawing blood and won't quit no matter what you try to do, you might have to consider clipping the end of their top beak to prevent the injury of other birds. Only clip off a little bit of the end. Clip off too much and the bird won't be able to eat.

    Pecking wounds have to be attended to immediately or the other birds will continue pecking at it, making it worse. The sight of blood will draw them right to it. After carefully cleaning the wound, a little Neosporin and a bandaid large enough to cover the entire wound works wonders. Lift the feathers above the wound and attach the bandaid to the feathers surrounding the rest of the wound to allow ventilation of the wound. When you go to remove the bandaid, you may have to clip it off of the feathers. You may have to segregate

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  • Adventures in Homesteading 101: Tips on Housing Your Chickens

    Once your baby chicks are fully feathered, it's time for them to be transferred out of their 'nursery' and into their outside coop. There are a lot of things to take into consideration on how you plan to house them and what type of coop is suitable for yours and their needs. Chickens must be kept dry and have well-ventilated shelter from the elements when necessary.

    If you only plan to have 3-4 backyard hens, a small coop with a built-in layer box, roosting pole, and run is sufficient. Hens will take turns laying their eggs in one spot, so it's really not necessary to have a big coop with multiple layer boxes for only a few birds. These smaller coops can be found at most farm supply stores. They are sold boxed and come ready to assemble. Assembly takes very little time and is easy.

    For larger flocks, a bigger coop and run is obviously a must. The amount of space required per bird varies depending on the source, but I've found that 3 square feet or more per bird works well. The

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  • Orpingtons, Buttercups, and Sumatras, Oh My!

    One of my friends asked me to elaborate on a few breeds. While there are many wonderful and beautiful rare breed chickens in the world, Orpingtons, Buttercups, and Sumatras are the ones me and my husband chose for our homestead flock. Considering adding any or all of these to your flock? Here's the skinny on our experiences with each:

    Orpington: Orpingtons come in three varieties; Buff Orpington and Bantam white and black.
    This is a hardy breed well suited for colder climates. They are fluffily feathered from head to toe. Orpington hens have short, stout, and wide bodies with a husky girth. From head to tail while standing straight, their profile depicts a noticeable U-shape. Their feathered legs are somewhat larger than average chickens and their feathered feet have thicker padded soles. Orpington derrieres are covered in large, thick, fluffy feathered plumes, perfect for cold weather brooding. This is a hefty breed. As adults, they can weigh in, on average, between 8-10 pounds each.

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