Monday, November 28, 2011

Hillbilly Cream Separator & Making Butter

I've been working for a few months on a way to separate cream without buying an expensive gadget. I read that it is easier to drain the milk off the bottom than to try to skim the cream off the top, and after one failed attempt at buying a second-hand glass jug with a spigot at Goodwill, I decided to go very low-tech:

After several tries where I ended up spraying milk all over the place,
the trick seems to be to stab, twist and pull the knife out in one fluid motion:

If you look close you can see the line where the cream has separated from the milk after sitting in the fridge for a day:

Today I decided to put the cream right in the mixer and make butter:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another chicken coop project

The heat lamp will have to wait for another day. Today I decided to install a wood floor in the chicken coop. The old floor of limestone rocks was getting to be too much of a hassle because the girls would scratch around in their pine shaving bedding and then get bored and start digging through the rocks (notice the mini crater).

I dug through my pile of scrap wood and found that I didn't have any pieces of plywood big enough to cover the entire floor. I guess I'll just have to make do and cover it with several smaller pieces. First I cut several pieces of 4x4s and 2x4s to act as floor joists:

Then I pieced together the flooring:

Fresh pine shavings:

 Penny comes inside to check it out!

I hope this will make cleanup easier and not harder. 

Thanks for stopping by today!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chicken Lighting Update

Here's a long overdue update on the chicken lighting setup. Our hens now have artificial light in the evening instead of the morning. (The 4:30am wake-up call was encouraging too much noise when neighbors were likely still sleeping.)

As Anna Hess of the Walden Effect suggested they would in her comment to my original post - the girls usually hop up on the roost before it's actually time for 'lights out' so there has been no problem just popping in and turning off the light at their appointed bedtime (8:30ish).

The next project for the chicken coop? I'm thinking about maybe installing a heat lamp for winter, even if our Buff Orpingtons are already winter-tolerant with their mass of fluffy feathers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Frost + green tomato harvest

Our first killing frost happened a few days ago. I was mostly ready except for a bunch of green tomatoes.

Tomato harvest ready to cook down into sauce:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

E-Book review - Weekend Homesteader

As I've delved into the blogging world over the last couple of weeks, one of the sites I read regularly is the Walden Effect, by Anna and Mark Hess.  In addition to regular blog updates about life on their homestead in Virginia, Anna writes a monthly ebook called the Weekend Homesteader. I got my hands on a copy of the November edition and found some very useful information. Anna has articles about garden rotation, storing water, how to cook a whole chicken, and the one I found most thought-provoking, diversifying your income.

Anna and Mark make their living selling a poop-free chicken waterer that Mark invented called the Avian Aqua Miser.

I've always been an entrepreneurial sort, but as Anna points out, you have to be careful that your brilliant idea doesn't end up being just a hobby if it only pays you mere pennies per hour for your time.  Anna and Mark have sold eggs, honey and grapes off their farm, and ended up making less than minimum wage for their effort.

There are two things that Anna says has made the chicken waterer business a success: selling a niche product and cheap internet marketing to an international audience.

Both of those principles are food for thought for me. I have a side business right now selling refurbished laptops on Amazon. I am taking advantage of the second principle, but my product is not very niche - I have a lot of competition.

You can get your copy of the Weekend Homesteader for only 99 cents on, or check the Walden Effect, as Anna posts many of the articles throughout the month.

Thanks for visiting!


Painting the Chicken Coop

The cobbled-together chicken coop has a coat of paint! I took advantage of the almost-warm 50 degree sunny day and used up a leftover can of yellow. (See before pics here.)