The Prairie Homestead http://www.theprairiehomestead.com Homesteading | Self Sufficient Living | Living off the Land Tue, 30 Jun 2015 12:47:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Homemade Liquid Fence Recipe http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/06/homemade-liquid-fence-recipe.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/06/homemade-liquid-fence-recipe.html#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=14550 What do you say when your 5 year-old hands you a headless rabbit? Yeah, I was tongue-tied too. We were out working in the yard when I pointed out to Prairie Girl that her barn cat was carrying a freshly-caught bunny in its mouth. A split-second later, I heard “Here, Mommy” and turned around to see her […]

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homemade liquid fence recipe

What do you say when your 5 year-old hands you a headless rabbit?

Yeah, I was tongue-tied too.

We were out working in the yard when I pointed out to Prairie Girl that her barn cat was carrying a freshly-caught bunny in its mouth.

A split-second later, I heard “Here, Mommy” and turned around to see her holding a decapitated rabbit by it’s hind legs.

Followed by, “Hang on, I’ll get the head too…

I stuttered for a minute before quickly explaining the rabbit was beyond the point of saving. Prairie Girl begrudgingly returned the bunny to the annoyed cat, and I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of my blonde-headed little girl wrestling a headless rabbit from the mouth of a hungry kitty. She seems to have inherited her mama’s strong stomach.

But that brings us to the topic of rabbits.

We have a rabbit epidemic…

It wasn’t so bad when we had our two athletic dogs, but ever since they passed away, the bunny population has sky-rocketed. Our remaining dogs (an old, fat one, and a big, slow one) just aren’t cutting it, and although the barn cats will grab one here and there, they still aren’t making a dent.

Truthfully, the rabbits wouldn’t bother me much if they would just stay away from my vegetables. We have a fence around the garden (hog panels plus chicken wire at the bottom), but I think they are still squeezing in somewhere.

And they have done a very thorough job of eating every.single.one of my cucumber plants down to the nubs.

I’m not impressed.

Because I want pickles.

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on rabbit repelling sprays, and versions of this liquid fence recipe get rave reviews. The key is to make it stinky… Very, very stinky.

So I mixed up a BIG batch and have been spraying it religiously.

Some folks say it works for deer too, but since we don’t have deer problems in our garden, I can’t vouch for that.

homemade liquid fence recipe

Homemade Liquid Fence® Recipe

Crack the eggs and combine them with the garlic and water in a bucket (use an old bucket you don’t mind getting icky).

Cover the mixture, and set it outside in the sun for 24-48 hours. Yup, that’s right. We want it to ferment and fester and get really, er… strong.

After it’s had time to get nice and smelly, strain out the garlic chunks, then mix in the soap and clove essential oil.

Place the mixture in a sprayer and spray generously around any area of your garden or yard that is being overtaken by rabbits.

I spray mine around the perimeter of my garden, in between the rows that are having the most problems (cucumbers!), and even on some of the plants.

Reapply after heavy rains or watering.

homemade liquid fence recipe

Notes:

  • WEAR GLOVES with you apply this stuff! It stinks like crazy and the garlic makes it hard to wash off your skin completely. It doesn’t burn or anything. It just stinks.
  • I use a garden sprayer for my liquid fence recipe. It makes the application process much easier, as compared to using a small spray bottle. Although, if a small sprayer is all you have, it’ll still work, your hand just might get tired.
  • As with any spray I might be using on my plants, I try to apply this in the evenings and avoid the heat of the day. Sometimes a spray, combined with the sun’s rays, can “burn” a plant’s leaves a bit. I haven’t had any problems thus far, but just FYI.
  • You can totally cut this recipe in half if you want to make a smaller amount.
  • I let my sprayer sit a few days before cleaning it, and the egg residue clogged it up a bit. It’s best to use a full batch and then clean everything out between uses, if possible.
  • Have old eggs or even slightly rotten ones? This is a great way to get rid of them! The stinkier, the better…
  • If you don’t have clove essential oil, you can add 10-15 whole cloves to your liquid fence recipe and allow it to steep with the garlic before straining. Or, just omit the cloves altogether.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Liquid Fence Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Garden DIY
 
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon dish soap
  • 10-20 drops clove essential oil -- optional
  • 1 gallon water
  • Pump sprayer
Instructions
  1. Crack the eggs and combine them with the garlic and water in a bucket (use an old bucket that you don't mind getting icky).
  2. Cover the mixture, and set it outside in the sun for 24-48 hours. Yup, that's right. We want it to ferment and fester and get really, er... strong.
  3. After it's had time to get nice and smelly, strain out the garlic chunks, then mix in the soap and clove essential oil.
  4. Place the mixture in a sprayer and spray generously around any area of your garden or yard that is being overtaken by rabbits.
  5. I spray mine around the perimeter of my garden, in between the rows that are having the most problems (cucumbers!), and even on some of the plants.
  6. Reapply after heavy rains or watering.

 

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Shredded Hash Browns Recipe http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/06/shredded-hash-browns-recipe.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/06/shredded-hash-browns-recipe.html#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=14471 I had a dream… …of being able to make shredded hash browns at home without them being completely gross. Because even my best-laid plans would leave me with poor results… Too soggy. Too gummy. Too raw. Too burnt. And hopelessly stuck to the pan. I can make homemade marshmallows and french bread from scratch, for […]

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homemade shredded hash browns recipe

I had a dream…

…of being able to make shredded hash browns at home without them being completely gross.

Because even my best-laid plans would leave me with poor results…

Too soggy. Too gummy. Too raw. Too burnt.

And hopelessly stuck to the pan.

I can make homemade marshmallows and french bread from scratch, for goodness sakes. What was up with these stinkin’ hash browns?

I am way too stubborn to buy frozen shredded hash browns from the store, so there we were, stuck eating fried potato cubes instead. Tragic.

Come to find out, there were only a few simple steps standing between me and homemade hash brown potato heaven. Who knew?

If you are in the same boat I was, you’ll want to definitely pin or save today’s post. It’s life-changing information, I’m telling ya.

homemade shredded hash browns recipe

Crispy Shredded Hash Browns Recipe

  • 2-3 potatoes (Any type will work, but Russets are classic hash brown potatoes. I use medium to large sized spuds)
  • 4 tablespoons butter or bacon fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Shred your potatoes. I don’t peel mine first (because I’m lazy. Because the peels provide extra nutrition. *A-hem*), but you can if you want.

If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can use a hand grater. I personally hate grating stuff by hand, so my food processor makes short work of the potatoes.

homemade shredded hash browns recipe

Now comes the important part: rinse your potatoes. The starch on the potatoes is what tends to make them gummy and sticky. We want it outta there.

I simply put my shredded potatoes in a colander, and rinse until the water is clear, not cloudy.

Allow the potatoes to drain thoroughly. I like to squeeze ’em a bit to get out all the moisture I can, or you can pat them dry with a clean dish towel.

Toss in the salt and pepper. Don’t forget this step. Seasoning is important…

homemade shredded hash browns recipe

Meanwhile, heat up the butter or bacon fat in your skillet until it’s melted. I use my 12″ cast iron skillet, because I’m cool like that.

homemade shredded hash browns recipe

Place the potatoes in the pan, give them a quick stir, then leave them alone to cook on medium-low heat.

The leaving alone part is important. Don’t fuss with them, just let them cook on that side for 8-10 minutes or so.

Now give them a flip. I’m not talented enough to flip the entire potato mass at once, so I flip it in sections. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just get it flipped.

Cook the other side 5-8 minutes, or until it’s that lovely shade of golden brown and appropriately crispy.

Serve immediately. Accompany with ketchup if you want, or eat plain for pure shredded hash brown goodness.

homemade shredded hash browns recipe

Kitchen Notes:

  • If you don’t want to use butter or bacon fat, coconut oil will work in this recipe. I do think butter or bacon grease will offer more flavor, though.
  • Every stovetop is different, so watch the pan closely the first time you make these. You want the heat high enough to crisp up the potatoes, but not so hot that it burns the bottom before the middle has time to cook.
  • It’s tempting to try to crowd the pan with more potatoes (I get greedy sometimes…), but keep in mind that if you do, you’ll likely end up with soft/soggy hash browns. In order for them to nicely crisp up, they need to have room to cook.
  • Serve your homemade hash browns alongside some of my other favorite breakfast foods, like:

4.0 from 2 reviews
Shredded Hash Browns Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
 
Ingredients
  • 2-3 potatoes (Any type will work, but Russets are classic hash brown potatoes. I use medium to large sized spuds)
  • 4 tablespoons butter or bacon fat
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Shred your potatoes. I don't peel mine first, but you can if you want.
  2. Rinse your potatoes.
  3. I simply put my shredded potatoes in a colander, and rinse until the water is clear, not cloudy.
  4. Allow the potatoes to drain thoroughly. I like to squeeze 'em a bit to get out all the moisture I can, or you can pat them dry with a clean dish towel.
  5. Toss in the salt and pepper.
  6. Meanwhile, heat up the butter or bacon fat in your skillet until it's melted.
  7. Place the potatoes in the pan, give them a quick stir, then leave them alone to cook on medium-low heat.
  8. The leaving alone part is important. Don't fuss with them, just let them cook on that side for 8-10 minutes or so.
  9. Now give them a flip. I'm not talented enough to flip the entire potato mass at once, so I flip it in sections. It doesn't matter how you do it, just get it flipped.
  10. Cook the other side 5-8 minutes, or until it's that lovely shade of golden brown and appropriately crispy.
  11. Serve immediately. Accompany with ketchup if you want, or eat plain for pure shredded hash brown goodness.

 

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6 Strategies for Fly Control in the Chicken Coop http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/06/fly-control-chicken-coop.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/06/fly-control-chicken-coop.html#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 18:57:41 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=14469 “Keep your mouth shut…” That used to be my routine bit of advice for anyone entering my chicken coop during the summer months. Fly control in the chicken coop used to feel like a losing battle for me, and the results were… gross. The cloud of black, buzzing flies used to be so thick when […]

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fly control in the chicken coop

“Keep your mouth shut…”

That used to be my routine bit of advice for anyone entering my chicken coop during the summer months.

Fly control in the chicken coop used to feel like a losing battle for me, and the results were… gross. The cloud of black, buzzing flies used to be so thick when you’d open the door, you almost needed a welding helmet to keep them out of your eyes and mouth.

If you think I’ve been talking about bugs a lot lately, it’s because, well, I’m a little obsessed with natural fly control strategies… When you have big piles of future compost (aka manure…) sitting behind your barn, it tends to attract a lot of flies, which end up in your house, in your barn, in your food, in your homemade lemonade… You get the picture.

Unless you want to blast your homestead with massive amounts of pesticides (and I don’t), I have yet to find a one-size-fits-all cure for dealing with summer bugs on the homestead. However, taking a multi-faceted approach has been very successful for me.

In fact, I currently have fewer flies in my chicken coop than I do my house… For reals. If any of you have tips for getting Prairie Kids to keep the front door shut, let me know. But in the meantime, I’ll think you’ll like these strategies for natural fly control in the chicken coop—>

(this post contains affiliate links)

6 Strategies for Fly Control in the Chicken Coop

1. Fly Predators

Fight fire with fire. Or in this case, fight the annoying bugs with good bugs. I’m still a newbie to fly predators, but am hopeful thus far, especially considering the rave reviews I’ve heard from other homesteaders and horse/agricultural folks.  I released my first fly predator shipment mid-May, and my second shipment came last week.

fly control in the chicken coop

How do Fly Predators Work?

After you order, you’ll get a lovely little baggie of predator pupae (cocoon things) in the mail. Let the bag sit for a few days until the tiny predators begin to hatch, then deposit them in key spots (aka manure piles) around your barnyard. The adult predators feast on the pupa of the annoying flies, and you get a fly relief program that doesn’t require pesticides. One caveat: chickens like to eat the predator pupae, so try to deposit them in an area where your chickens don’t have easy access.

2. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is just handy to have around, period. DE is a fine powder made from the fossilized remains of algae, or diatoms. I use it in various applications around my barnyard, garden, and the coop as a natural pest deterrent. Some people also feed it to their livestock/chickens and claim it works from an internal aspect as well.

fly control in the chicken coop

To use Diatomaceous Earth in the Chicken Coop:

Sprinkle DE in and around coop bedding or in areas where chickens take their dust baths. DE works from a mechanical aspect, not a chemical one, as it tends to dry out insects and make areas less hospitable for larvae.

The key with DE is not to expect it to be a ‘miracle fix’, but rather a component of a full fly-prevention program.

Diatomaceous Earth Cautions:

  • Always be sure to purchase food-grade diatomaceous earth, not the stuff designed for pools.
  • Wear a mask while sprinkling DE. It is a fine particulate that may cause lung irritation.
  • Allow the dust to settle and the coop to ventilate a bit before allowing the chickens back in (to minimize the dust in the air they would be breathing).

Get the full scoop on diatomaceous earth and its many uses here.

3. Hang Water Bags

An old wives tale? Maybe. But considering it costs practically nothing to try, why not?

How to Do It:

  • Fill a heavy-duty gallon-sized bag (Ziploc freezer bags would work) half-full with water
  • Add 1-2 pennies.
  • Hang by doorways and entrances to the coop.

Some people say this is dumb, while others swear by it. If you have a good water-baggie story, be sure to let me know in the comments!

4. Make Essential Oil or Herbal Sprays

Again, not a miracle fix. But a part of an overall fly program? You bet! There are many, many herbs and essential oils that bugs just plain don’t like, and mixing them into a spray is a great way to make your chicken coop even less appealing to our little buzzing friends. An added bonus: it makes your coop smell all happy.

A Few Essential Oils Bugs Hate:

Rosemary, basil, dill, peppermint, spearmint, lavender, thyme, geranium, lemongrass, citronella, lemon, wild orange, etc.

A Few Herbs Bugs Hate:

Rosemary, mint, basil, dill, lavender, thyme, bay leaves, tansy, etc.

fly control in the chicken coop

Chicken Coop Fly Repellent Recipe

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake well, and spritz generously in the coop wherever flies congregate. (For me, that’s around the main door. It has a window in it and always has the most flies around it– unless I keep it sprayed down, that is.)

Other ideas:

  • Hang bunches of fresh herbs in various places in the coop
  • Place fresh herbs in nesting boxes. Not only do many herbs deter flies, but your chickens will love it.
  • Mix dried herbs into your nesting box bedding.
  • Plant an herb garden close to the coop. The challenge with this would be keeping the chickens out of the herbs, but that’s a post for another day…

NOTE: This tip won’t work well unless you utilize Tip #5, which is—->

5. Keep it Clean

Sounds obvious, right? But man, it’s effective (and doesn’t cost you a cent)! Flies like stinky, smelly, sticky, sweet things. Therefore, one of the best ways to discourage flies from congregating is to remove aforementioned stinky, smelly, sticky, or sweet things.

For me, this means cleaning out and freshening the coop more frequently to remove areas of wet manure (a fly’s #1 favorite substance). The main offending areas are underneath roosts and perches. Some folks place a board under those areas, so they can easily carry the board outside to scrape it off. I personally just make it a point to clean the bedding under the roosts more frequently, or remove the big piles.

I also add fresh bedding frequently (to reduce the smell), turn over existing dry bedding, and sprinkle on my diatomaceous earth in the process.

Also, while I love to feed my chickens scraps, the food residue can be a huge fly attractant in the hot summer months. Therefore, I always put the scraps outside in the summer, NEVER inside the coop, and I try to rake up any leftovers. Otherwise, you’ll end up with crazy fly swarms.

6. Fly Traps & Fly Strips

Can we all just take a moment to recognize the humble fly strip? Lowly though it may be, it offers immediate results (yes, I have fly strips hanging in my kitchen…), and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

fly control in the chicken coop

While you can certainly use fly strips in your coop,depending on how many flies you have, you might find yourself replacing fly strips quite frequently… If that’s the case, a better option is a fly trap.

You can purchase fly traps (and accompanying attractants/bait) from Amazon or your local feed store, OR make your own fly trap from an old soda bottle instead.

fly control in the chicken coop

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Creamy Spinach Quesadilla Recipe http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/06/spinach-quesadilla-recipe.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/06/spinach-quesadilla-recipe.html#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 17:41:24 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=14409 So I really, really wanted to call this recipe “Weed Quesadillas” However, I was a little worried some folks might get the wrong idea. Ya know, considering we do live rather close to Colorado… But all you cool homestead folks know exactly what I’m talking about, right? Not *that* kind of weed, but rather those lovely […]

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spinach-quesadilla-recipe-

So I really, really wanted to call this recipe “Weed Quesadillas”

However, I was a little worried some folks might get the wrong idea. Ya know, considering we do live rather close to Colorado…

But all you cool homestead folks know exactly what I’m talking about, right?

Not *that* kind of weed, but rather those lovely plants we are constantly pulling and pruning and mowing from our gardens and yards.

I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for “weeds” as of late. Mr. Emerson says it best:

What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve gone from cussing my weeds to appreciating them (well, most of them, at least…), and finding ways to put them to good use.

From eating dandelions, to sautéing up lambs quarters, it’s astounding the bounty you’ll find growing outside when you know how to look.

The first time I ever ate lambs quarters was in cheesy quesadillas. I was so impressed with the outcome, those humble quesadillas set me on a path to learning what other types of useful wild plants I had growing in my yard.

Spinach Quesadilla Recipe

Two Cool Things About This Weed, errr… Spinach Quesadilla Recipe:

1. If you have family members who think eating foraged plants (aka weeds) is absolutely crazy, these quesadillas are a fabulous introduction. They’ll never know… *ahem*

2. You can use any sort of edible leafy green in this quesadilla recipe: lambs quarters, purslane, dandelion greens, plantain leaves, wild amaranth, kale, spinach; whatever you have in the garden, yard, or fridge.

Spinach Quesadilla Recipe

One Important Reminder About Eating Weeds/Foraging

Please be very, very careful with what wild plants you are picking and eating in your yard. Before I stuck my weeds in my frying pan for the first time, I triple-checked to make sure my identification was accurate. It’s always a good idea to ask your County Extension Agent or a knowledgable forager in your area before you take that first bite.

Spinach Quesadilla Recipe

Creamy Spinach Quesadilla Recipe

(aka Quesadilla a la Weeds)

  • 4 cups spinach leaves (or other dark leafy greens of your choice), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened (how to make cream cheese)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a combo of mozzarella and sharp cheddar, but feel free to use whatever you have in your fridge)
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Flour tortillas (how to make tortillas)

In a medium frying pan, sauté the onion in the butter until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more.

Add the spinach/greens to the pan and allow them to wilt for 3-4 minutes. It will look like a massive quantity at first, but will quickly reduce in size.

Place the cream cheese, tomato, and shredded cheese in a separate bowl. Mix in the spinach/onion mixture. Season with salt & pepper as needed.

Spinach Quesadilla Recipe

Spread two to four tablespoons of the mixture on half of each tortilla. Fold the tortilla in half.

Heat the tortilla in a lightly greased pan, flipping once. Your quesadillas are done when they are a lovely shade of golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted.

Makes 4-6 tortillas, depending on how much filling you put on each one.

Kitchen Notes:

  • I used my cast iron grill pan (affiliate link) to make the lovely lines on my tortillas, but a regular flat pan or griddle will work just fine too.
  • Eat your spinach quesadillas plain, or serve with a side of guacamole, salsa, or sour cream.
  • Homemade tortillas are the best, but if you’re in a hurry, store-bought ones work as well. I used a thin wheat tortilla for this batch.

Spinach Quesadilla Recipe

Creamy Spinach Quesadillas Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 4-6 quesadillas
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups spinach leaves (or other dark leafy greens of your choice), roughly chopped
  • ½ of a medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1½ cups shredded cheese of your choice
  • Flour tortillas
Instructions
  1. In a medium frying pan, sauté the onion in the butter until the onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Add the spinach/greens to the pan and allow them to wilt for 3-4 minutes. It will look like a massive quantity at first, but will quickly reduce in size.
  4. Place the cream cheese, tomato, and shredded cheese in a separate bowl. Add in the spinach/onion mixture.
  5. Stir to combine. Spread two to four tablespoons of the mixture on half of each tortilla. Fold the tortilla in half.
  6. Heat the tortilla in a lightly greased pan, flipping once. Your quesadillas are done when they are a lovely shade of golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted.

 

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