Introducing Raw Food Into Your Dog’s Diet

by Tiffany in The Homestead

stellas raw dog food

I have been interested in the raw food movement to some extent for years. I am not a raw foodie but I do realize the importance of having a healthy supply of raw foods in the diet for maximum nutrition. I align more with the paleo food movement and this too promotes maximum nutrient density (raw or no) and also eating what we as humans are meant to eat. Paleo in my opinion is like the the factory settings diet for the body…our optimal diet, the diet we are meant to eat.

It only goes to follow that I would also become interested in feeding my animals the food they were meant to eat as well. This omnivorous human is meant to eat fruit, nuts, seeds, veggies, greens, and meat/seafood for the live enzymes, vitamins, minerals and nutritive value. I am not meant to eat the products of huge agribusiness…wheat, corn, and soy everything basically. Dogs are also not meant to eat that kind of diet. Dogs crave raw meat, much like they once ate in wild. Conventional dog food is far removed from the diet they once ate.

Last year I ended up taking on a rescue dog who needed to be rehomed. Our plan was/is to start giving her the raw remains of our homestead animals but we have just started to dabble in that arena and have not had any to butcher yet. I am thrilled though to find an alternative that will slowly introduce raw foods into her diet and provide us with a supplemental feeding option for when we don’t have raw animal parts to feed her.

feeding coco raw dog food

Enter Stella and Chewy’s. Their meal mixers product is meant to complement a dog’s existing diet.

So what are the benefits of adding raw foods into a dog’s diet? These are just some of them:

  • Better Dental Health – commercial diets rot their teeth and cause gum disease.
  • Better Digestion – Eating foods they are meant to eat means better digestion and better access to the nutrients in the food.
  • Vitality – You know we get groggy and tired when we eats lots of carbs and sugar… yeah dogs get the same way. Raw food will increase their vitality and quality of life.
  • Improved Skin and Coat – When you eat better, you look better. It is the same for dogs, and it really shows with a glossy fur coat and no more skin issues. No need for medicated shampoos!
  • Stronger Immune System – When their body is running on optimal fuel they are far less likely to get become sick or diseased.
  • A Lean Physique – Carbs make us fat and they can make dogs fat too.

Stella & Chewy’s offers freeze-dried options (including Meal Mixers) to get you started on raw dog foods. Their products helps owners give their pet’s nutrition that mirrors their ancestral diet. You take one scoop of the meal mixers and mix it with your dog’s current food. This allows them to slowly get used to a raw diet and not upset their GI tract with a sudden diet change.

Meal Mixers includes premium ingredients:

    • Packed with 95% nutrient-rich meat, organs and bone
    • Complemented by organic fruits and vegetables and added probiotics & antioxidants
    • No grains, glutens, fillers, artificial preservatives or colorings, or added hormones or antibiotics
    • Available in 4 protein options (Stella’s Super Beef, Chewy’s Chicken, Tantalizing Turkey, and Savory Salmon & Cod)

stella and chewys dog food

An independent taste test study conducted at leading university (University Wisconsin-Madison) showed that 9 out of 10 dogs prefer their kibble with MM. Third party independent lab analysis is conducted on each batch of food before it leaves their Wisconsin-based manufacturing facility. The results for every batch is posted on the S&C website for consumers to see. This is refreshing given how many recalls we have seen of pet food in years past!

The best part is that my Coco loves Stella and Chewy’s meal mixers!

coco raw dog food


This post has been sponsored by Stella & Chewy’s. All opinions are my own.


We Got It! Our Suburban Homestead…

by Tiffany in The Homestead

new houseYay!!! I am so excited to share with you all that I am a new homeowner. My husband and I closed on our homestead in June. We bought in a suburb of Columbus (20 minutes away from downtown). It has over half an acre, a nice patch of woods, and a creek running through it.

The urban/suburban part has always been important to me. I am not a fan of rural living (been there, done that) and I personally feel that the vehicle for change…for our environment, our food system, and for our society in general needs to happen in cities. We need to green the cities, not move out of them.

I would like to tell you how we planned and planned for this moment but we actually didn’t. It just kind of happened. My family had been renting a duplex and we deliberately picked a more run down neighborhood because we wanted to pay less for rent and have more money for play. I was able to garden in raised beds, collect rainwater, compost, and even grow food and fish with aquaponics.

The duplex was a cozy 1100 square feet that I actually loved. It required us all to be together…a lot. Our family/living area was also a home office for two, a gaming area, and a TV watching area. In general I loved the money we saved living there (rent, utilities) and I loved small house living.

On the drawbacks list was the lack of a fourth bedroom, since my two autistic boys have issues that make sharing a room a bad idea all around. The kitchen was dated and in need of a remodel, we couldn’t have pets or farm animals, the garage was tiny and could barely fit a car in it, and we were limited on what we could do inside and outside the home.

So what made us move?

Well, it is a long story and it involves the death of my mom recently. But the short of it is that I finally committed to staying in this area and laying down roots in a place of my very own. A lovely creek, called Blacklick, winds all through our city and I thought it would be out of our budget to own a home that backed up to the creek but I found a creekside home that had just been listed for under market value because it needed some serious updates. Well, that house had five offers in a matter of two days so our realtor directed us to another creekside property just down the street that was a bit pricier but included over a half acre. It was being offered via short sale and had been on the market for a year due to some sticky issues with flood insurance requirements.

Short story…we now own the house. We can raise rabbits, chickens, and ducks, and we can keep bees. I can have a huge garden, I have room for lots of fruit trees, and we have the most insanely beautiful creek (with plenty of fish) right in our back yard. We have already started our orchard with two apple trees and two pear trees with more to come.

A view of our backyard from the house…I think that playset will be upcycled into a chicken coop next year. You can see the beginning of our orchard front and center.

suburban homestead with fruit trees

Go past that expanse of lawn (which will soon be garden) and you come to a lovely patch of woods. Here we have the compost bin, a firepit, and plenty of trees for firewood.

Woods, compost bin, firepit

Go through the wooded area and you come to a real gem. The creek looks tame in the picture below…it hasn’t rained in a couple days. During heavy rains though that creek rages and raises about 6-8 feet. We often see kayakers go by.

creek backyard

Also love the existing garden at the house. It is all ornamental…lots of hosta and flowers but I often overlook the “pretty” plants in favor of edibles, so to have that part taken care of is awesome.

flower collage

The drawback, at least for me, is that the house is huge. It is 2500 square feet. I don’t want or need all that space but did get our four bedrooms, a nice finished basement, and a two car garage. I have a suburban homestead that I pretty much adore and I am dropping hints to my Dad that he should move in with us and utilize some of this extra space. Though one extra bit space I love is my new home office with a large window that overlooks the yard. The wood burning fireplace and a bathroom just for the husband and myself are kind of nice too.

What excites me most is that this property will allow us more room to homestead. We plan to start slowly, not wanting to alarm any neighbors or bite off more than we can chew at this time. In the garage we are starting to construct raised beds, set up a 250 gallon aquaponics tank, and build rabbit hutches. We have many projects to keep us busy through winter.


This is what I call prime city living!


6 Reasons to Freeze Your Food

by Tiffany in The Homestead

6 Reasons to Freeze Your Food

A freezer is a homesteader’s very good friend. It allows us to preserve our bounty, buy in bulk, make meals ahead of time, and keep a food stash for when times are tough. Many of us have love our freezer so much we have two or more of them. All that freezer space provides us with lots of possibilities!

Here are six reasons why freezing your food is so awesome…

1. It saves us money. Freezing allows us to buy local foods, in season, at the peak of their ripeness/freshness when they are the most affordable. It also allows us to capitalize on good sales (store sales, clearance, etc) and deals (herdshare). We can buy our food when it is cheapest and freshest and simply eat it later.

2. It makes meal planning easier. Take a quickie inventory of what you have in the freezer and then search your bookmarked recipes that incorporate the ingredients you want to use ie “pork” or “ground beef and carrots”. Using what you have makes things easier and it saves money.

3. It reduces food waste. If you know you won’t get around to eating those veggies then spend a a couple minutes chopping them up and freeze them. Add them to casserole, soup, or stir fry at some later date. If you are not in the mood for leftovers don’t chuck them, freeze and eat them in a couple of weeks. If some fruit has started to look sad, freeze it and add it to smoothies.

4. It allows you cook ahead of time. Typically we run short on time on the weekdays. They are jam packed with school, work, kids events, etc. If that is the case you can use the slower pace of the weekend to cook some meals that freeze well and can be reheated for weekday meals. This also works well for work lunches…make them on the weekend, portion them out by day, and freeze. Freezing can give us freedom to cook when we want to and not so much when we don’t want too.

5. It saves time. Shopping from your freezer means less time wandering store isles trying to figure out what to make. It also means you can prep and freeze various ingredients (chopped veggies, shredded chicken, marinated meat) or entire meals when you have more time and utilize them when you have less time.

6. It allows us to eat out of season. Fresh blackberries, sun ripened strawberries, sugar snap peas, spinach, apples, fresh baked bread from the farmer’s market…you name it, we want it. Freeze some of it and extend the season and the flavors.

What do you love to freeze?

freeze your food

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

7 Comments on 6 Reasons to Freeze Your Food


Gardening and Homesteading Goals for 2015

by Tiffany in Gardening, The Homestead

Goals for 2015The gardening season has ended for 2014…for the most part. I still have a variety of peppers and some flowers doing well. I also have a cold frame with greens going strong but I have done a massive fall cleanup and most of my garden beds will rest until spring. With everything I learned this year I am already making plans for next!

My organic garden goals for 2015 are to grow everything I grew in 2014 and:

  • Make potato cages and grow alot more
  • Start my seedlings earlier!
  • Add leeks and brussels sprouts for fall/winter
  • Grow more carrots
  • Grow different pumpkin varieties (jarrahdale and lady godiva) and grow more
  • Add another raised bed and a hoop with a fabric covering
  • Add more herbs and veggies
  • Plant spring bulbs
  • Add another rain barrel

My homesteading goals for 2015:

What are your goals???


Fall/Winter Garden Prep & Chores

by Tiffany in Gardening, The Homestead

Fall Winter Garden Prep Chores - naturemoms.com

The weather is getting quite nippy and the nights are getting darker. Life is moving a little bit slower, and things are winding down in your summer garden. But perhaps you don’t want to give up gardening just yet. Heck the weather is perfect for outdoor enjoyment right? Well you CAN keep growing well into winter. If this interests you check out my article on extending the growing season into fall and winter. It has lots of great tips and info on what kind of plants do well in cold weather.

In fact I just set up a cold frame for my greens (lettuce, arugla, and spinach). I used a shower door that some threw out during a home renovation and I set it on top of an existing raised garden bed. Cheap and easy!


There are still some gardening tips and strategies that you can employ to get you back outside and some dirt under your fingernails. You can add some color and life to your garden, and prepare it for winter. Depending on where you live, fall can be a very busy time in the garden. Here are some ideas:

* Water fruit tress well until into fall and until the ground freezes. They will have a long, cold winter depending on were you live and they need a good moisture supply to make sure they get through it well.

* Rake leaves and compost them. Or maybe just leave them. There are some gardeners who do not believe in leaving leaves around tees due to the potential for leaf-borne disease. I think that if the tree/leaves are healthy then it is important to leave a nice layer of leaves around the tree, covering the roots. This is what trees do right?! They shed their leaves which then provide insulation and moisture for the roots during the cold. It is a perfect system, don’t mess with it so you can have a perfectly manicured yard.

* Plant bulbs. Dig a hole, drop the bulb in, cover it up with soil and a thick layer of mulch, and go have a glass of apple cider. Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Crocuses, garlic, and Allium (my fave!) are typically planted in the fall so they can complete their growth cycle in time to come up in spring.

* Cut back bulbs that will be staying in the ground and cover them with mulch to protect them from harsh freezes.

* Weed!! Why wait until spring when you will be super busy? Get rid of weeds now!

* Pull all your spent vegetable plants, cut them up with pruning shears to speed decomposition and toss them in the compost pile.

* Clear out any annuals that are spent as well. Leaving them in the ground is easier yes but diseases and pests are discouraged when you clear the beds and allow them to overwinter plant free. So if they are no longer useful, get them out of there. If any of the plants did show signs of disease, toss them in the garbage, do not compost them.

* After clearing your garden beds cover them with an inch or two of compost or aged manure to help improve the fertility of your soil.

* Cover beds with mulch or garden fabric. This helps maintain a good porous surface and helps prevent soil erosion.

* Veggies – Cover strawberries with straw, cut back asparagus fronds after they brown from the first frost, and re-pot annual herbs to bring indoors.

* Drain and detach water hoses. Empty and clean your rain barrel. Store them in the garage or a shed.

* Enjoy the fall!

rain barrel in the garden