Build A Blackout Survival Kit

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Build Blackout Survival KitEven if you are not into prepping or survivalism having a blackout kit is one of those things that just makes sense for any and every household. Just about everyone experiences blackouts or power outages. With climate change and all the crazy weather that has hit our country in the past few years I think a blackout kit is smart. Anyone can be adversely affected by an outage due to severe rain and flooding, a snow storm, or an ice storm. It is best to be prepared and to do that you need to think about what you need now so you have in later.

So what items do you need to assemble to be prepared for short or long term power outages? Here is a list:

What Goes in a Blackout Kit

  • A waterproof bag or box to hold everything
  • Emergency radio
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries for all gadgets in the kit
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Small lantern
  • Glow sticks
  • First aid kit
  • Battery powerstation for mobile phone charging

Assemble all these items in a strategic location that the whole family knows about. You don’t want to tuck it away in the basement where it would be hard to get to in total darkness. Instead aim for an area more centrally located such as a hall closet or a kitchen cabinet.

In addition to having a kit ready and waiting, you should also be prepared in a few other ways. Make sure freezers are full or add 2 liter bottles of water in the empty spaces to preserve frozen goods as long as possible. Have 4-5 gallons of fresh drinking water stored for emergencies. Have a backup plan for heat if you live where there are harsh winters…ie a generator, a wood burning stove, etc. Build a firepit in the backyard for cooking. Have a 10 gallons (or more) of gasoline stored in case it is a large blackout and gas stations are closed.

Hopefully you will never have to worry about a long term blackout but you just never know. I have never experienced a blackout that lasted more than a few hours but just 10 minutes away from me a suburb in my city went without power for about a week. It is always best to be prepared…just in case.


Feeding Rabbits on the Homestead

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Feeding Rabbits on the HomesteadLike all pets, rabbits need a balanced diet in order to thrive. Because 20% of a rabbit’s entire body weight is occupied by its digestive system, diet is especially important to a bunny’s health. Many of the pellet foods that are provided in the US market contain everything that your rabbit will need nutrition-wise. They are also the simplest option – even though some of them are high in calories compared to what a rabbit would eat out in the wild. They can be kind of pricey though. If you are raising rabbits for their manure or for eating then you have to consider the return on your investment. Are you getting enough meat and/or manure to justify feed costs? If not, how can you reduce costs and still make sure they are eating a balanced, healthy diet?

Pellets lack essential water content, which is crucial to a rabbit’s urinary tract health and so are disliked by some. Even so, if nutritious pellets are chosen, they can be very beneficial. Bunny owners should look for fresh pellets that are high in fiber, contain sufficient non-animal protein, and have very little calcium. The best option will probably be some sort of soy free, non GMO rabbit pellet.

Pellets should not be the primary component of any pet rabbit’s diet. Because of their nutritional value and water content, vegetables should be offered in abundance. Most rabbits should receive between 2 and 4 cups of vegetables a day, depending on the bunny’s weight. Veggie food scraps can be given to rabbits and you can also dedicate an area of your garden for homegrown bunny food. The classic carrot is a great vegetable to feed your homestead rabbits, but other healthy options include romaine lettuce, pumpkin leaves, broccoli, turnip greens, sweet peppers, and parsley. The best vegetables to feed a pet rabbit are those that are grown organically to avoid exposure to harmful pesticides – something that smaller animals such as rabbits are particularly susceptible to.

Although fruits should play only a limited role in a bunny’s diet, high fiber fruits are good to offer in limited amounts. These fruits include peaches, nectarines, apples, strawberries, plums, tomatoes, and pineapple. No seeds or pits.

That brings us to hay and grass. All rabbits should be given some type of hay on a daily basis. In a rabbit’s diet, hay is the key source of fiber, which helps to ensure proper functioning of the digestive system. Additionally, hay is great for bunnies to chew on and promotes healthy teeth. The most nutritious hay is timothy hay, although oat and alfalfa hays are also fantastic options. You can make your own hay from grass too. Let your grass get a little higher than you typically like, mow it, and spread the clippings out on a plastic tarp to dry in the sun. Once dry, feed it to your rabbits. Don’t forget that they can eat weeds too. Clover and dandelion are bunny favorites.

During the summer months rabbits can do quite well on grown produce, grass, weeds, and supplemental hay. During the colder winter months you will not have the garden or the lawn to source from. In the winter you can grow other types of fodder indoors such as sprouted wheat grass. I buy non GMO wheat berries and I sprout them in sprouting trays. After only a week or so in the trays they can be sectioned apart and given to the rabbits. If you have enough trays and keep them going you can feed your rabbits this home grown fodder a couple times a week in addition to hay and pellets. In the photo below you can see one of my trays with wheatgrass on my kitchen counter…

A photo posted by Tiffany Washko (@tiffanywashko) on

With some good planning you can reduce reliance on pricey pellets while still making sure your buns have a healthy diet! Enjoy!


DIY Herbal Mouse Deterrent

by Tiffany in The Homestead

DIY Herbal Mouse DeterrentMice are part of life in many parts of the Midwest. This fact was a big eye opener for me when I moved to the area from the Southwest. We have so many agricultural crops here that mice and other vermin make their homes among the crops and then come harvest time they decide to move into your home. I just can’t share a home with them so if they do decide to make an appearance we break out the traps. Before it gets to that point though I always like to try and deter them first.

The following is a DIY recipe for deterring mice with herbs and oils. Once you make the mixture you can soak cotton balls or strips of cloth in the strong scent and then place them in and around entrance points. They also come in handy in kitchen cabinets and drawers. No one wants a mouse in the kitchen!

Herbal Ingredients:

1 C water
2 Tbsp Basil leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp Peppermint leaves, chopped

Essential Oils:

12 Drops Peppermint
12 Drops Rosemary
12 Drops Clove

Boil the water and pour over the fresh herbs, once cool strain them out. Add the essential oils to the herbal liquid and mix. Use this repellent along with cotton balls or cloth strips every 2-3 weeks.


Top 5 Reasons Country Living is Better

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Top 5 Reasons Country Living is Better

The debate over which is better, country or city living has been raging for years now. However, moms who love nature will tell you that packing up, hiring a moving company, and hightailing it to the country is a great way to go. No, you don’t have to choose a cabin that is way out in the middle of the woods, but wouldn’t it be nice to live more than 50 feet away from your neighbors. If you are a mom who is on the fence and debating whether to move out of the city or suburbia and make your home in the country, read on below for some of the top reasons that living close to nature could be the best for your family.

A More Nature-Involved Upbringing

There is nothing like a walk in nature or a BBQ in the backyard with the birds singing to bring home just how important nature is to raising a family. When your children can walk outside and see the sky blanketed with stars instead of just the foggy haze of the city, the twinkle in their eyes should make you happy you decided to take up the country life indeed.

Kids have Fewer Allergies

While it hasn’t been scientifically proven, studies have shown that children who are raised in the country have fewer allergies and a lower risk of developing asthma. This is enough of an incentive for any mom to move her little ones from the city to the country in a hurry.

Kids have Room to Run and Grow

This one is of course a no-brainer. Kids cannot get a ton of exercise in a tiny apartment with a busy street in front of the building. Kids need the room to stretch their limbs so that they grow. While a child can grow up just fine in a small space, it is great for a mom to be able to see her child run free and not have to worry about cars or other hazards in the country.

Helps Develop the Imagination

There are things that can develop a child’s imagination in the city, of course, but there is nothing like being free in the country to encourage a child to be creative. If you have a child that is sensitive, there is nothing like the quiet of the country to get their imagination started and to put them on the path to problem-solving with the best of them.

Reduces the Symptoms of ADHD

Studies have shown that being in nature reduces the symptoms of ADHD and ADD in children quite a bit. Even city kids who have taken a walk through a green park often calm down quite a bit after communing with nature, so how well must living in nature full time help those with these same problems?

Time to be Together as a Family

One of the biggest benefits of moving from the city to the country is the increased time it allows you to spend with your family. When you live in the country you don’t have rush-hour traffic to sit in for hours on the way home from the office and unless you want to drive a long way, you aren’t signed up for a ton of extracurricular activities. This gives you the time to spend with your family that living in the city just can’t and that is the most important thing to any mom.

These are just a few of the reasons that you as a mom should move from the city or suburbs to the country. From spending time together as a family to developing the imagination of your impressionable children, country living is just better and every family should give it a try. So what are you waiting for? Move your family to the country today and enjoy everything that nature has to give!


20 Herbs to Grow For Medicinal Home Remedies

by Tiffany in Gardening, The Homestead

20 Herbs to Grow For Medicinal Home RemediesAs you make your garden plan for spring and you order seeds from catalogs take a moment to think about plants you can grow for their medicinal properties. There are plenty of safe and effective herbs you can grow and use in homemade remedies for everything from first aid uses to illness.

Learning about herbs and all their uses is actually quite fun. It is a perfect way to pass time during the dreary, cold winter months. Make a plan now to come to know the following herbs and plant a few. Then when spring and summer comes try your hand at making herbal remedies. You can create your very own homestead apothecary! Enjoy!

20 Safe Herbs to Grow and Use

Aloe – A succulent prized for its thick gel that is perfect for soothing burns and skin irritations.

Burdock – This tenacious weed is great for skin problems like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Calendula – Beautiful flowers that promote cell repair and growth in rashes, sores, and burns.

Chamomile – Gentle but effective in treating colic, indigestion, infection, and more.

Chickweed – Soothes skin irritations and calms itchy eyes. Great eating too!

Dandelion – A great liver tonic and blood purifier. Good for digestion.

Echinacea – Stimulates the immune system and fights off cold and flu in the beginning stages.

Elder – Helpful with fevers, viral infections, and frequent bladder infections.

Goldenseal – Can be used to fight off illness and conjunctivitis. Makes a great mouthwash.

Hawthorn – Can help with cholesterol levels and blood flow.

Jewelweed – Excellent for dealing with poison ivy and poison oak.

Lemon Balm – Helps with depression, memory, focus, and digestive issues like colic.

Licorice – Soothes inflamed tissues such as sore throats and ulcers. Also good for adrenal fatigue.

Marsh Mallow – Lubricates dry coughs and moisturizes the lungs. Also soothes skin.

Nettle – Helps with joint pain, allergies, and hay fever.

Plantain – Often used for wounds, bites, stings, and blood poisoning.

Red Clover – One of the very best vitamin and mineral supplements you could ever take.

St. John’s Wart – Helps with stress, depression, nerve damage, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Valerian – Helps with insomnia and nervous system disorders.

Yarrow – Helps with swelling after injuries, soothes menstrual cramps, and reduces heavy bleeding.