Did I Mention Mentors?

Imparting wisdom

Imparting wisdom

Of coarse I did. It is in my daily vocabulary.

When I am asked how I got started in this lifestyle-the answer is mentors.

My grandpa was my gardening and rabbit mentor. He instilled in me the love of gardening. It has stayed with me as a strong compelling force (a passion) that has caused me to plant vegetables wherever I have lived. In an apartment complex, in a trailer park or house with a yard and  someday very soon a home on an acreage.

Also because of him, I have raised rabbits since I was 12.

My microbiology teacher  was my compost gardening mentor, although she did not realize it, my questions in class pushed her in that direction.  She went willingly because she was excited to have a student that was so eager to learn.

When I wanted to learn about chickens, I sought out several chicken owners. When I wanted to learn about goats, I sought out several goat owners.  You get the drift. I also  read everything that I could get my hands on regarding the desired subject matter. By doing this, I got several opinions. What works for one may not work for you. The goal is to find someone that is successful at achieving what it is that you want to achieve. Someone that you can relate to and that can put things in terms that you understand. A good mentor will help you skip a lot of wasted time and heartache.  Not everyone wants to mentor, or is capable of being a good mentor. Sometimes the best way to be mentored is to just hang around and offer to shovel goat poop and never mention the “M” word at all.

When I was a young mom, I helped to start a “Titus 2 Ministry” class at our church. You know the concept of “older women teaching the younger women how to —“. I knew that I wanted a mentor. There was an older lady there that seemed to have it all together.  I wanted to learn from her, but when I approached her with the “M” word; it made her nervous. Had I just invited her to coffee and shared some of my issues-it would have just happened naturally. As it turned out, I was chosen to be a mentor for a younger mommy. I enjoyed the experience, but I did not get what I was after.

Nowadays, I have naturally moved in to the mentoring role with many people. I mentor from my garden, my kitchen, my quilting room, and with my animals. Sometimes all someone wants to learn from me is just about living life, love and the ability to find their “happy” in the most unlikely places.

Most recently, as I struggle to understand this “blogging thing” I find myself in search of mentors once again.  I am realizing that life is a circle of mentors-mentees-mentors-mentees. As I look at myself I realize that I am always wanting to learn something new, while very capable of mentoring something to someone else.                                      .

Just as I hope to find  good mentors to enrich my life, I feel compelled to provide quality mentorship to the lives of others.

What is it that you are willing to share through mentoring?

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Mandy’s favorite garden

Fast growing  Snail Vines

Fast growing Snail Vines

When we went on that garden tour, my daughter Mandy had her favorite place. They focused more on beautiful setting and flowers.

Mandy said that she would love to have this setting in her backyard someday. The vine is called “Snail Vine” because the flowers look like a cross between a snap dragon and a snail shape. There is nothing snail like in the way that this vine grew. You could almost see it growing while we stood there. BTW Momma picked up a big fat seed pod that was on the ground. Maybe we will all have snail vines next year.

Pretty fall flower bed

Pretty fall flower bed

Here was another idea that Mandy liked.


Steve remembered the bougainvillea from the spring tour.

Rose Trellis

Rose Trellis

and the roses!


You know where I was spending my time. Please look closely at the upper right hand corner. Pretty bee boxes!



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Arcadia Edible Garden Tour

Twice a year, some residents in a Phoenix neighborhood that we call “Arcadia” put on a beautiful show for us. These residents are gardeners. Some of them focus on vegetables, some of them mix it up with vegetables and beautiful flower gardens. There are a few that even add fruit trees, chickens, ducks and goats to the mix.

They gather together and advertise ahead of time so that we can purchase a ticket. Then they send us a map, so that on tour day, we can drive the route and visit all of the gardens.

I have gone several times, I learn so much from each place. There is so much inspiration to learn from. I have been taking Steve the last few times. He is my Ferdinand, he loves the flowers, the trees and the beautiful places to sit and enjoy the view. This year my daughter Mandy came with us.

Steve really loved this particular garden last spring. So he was really excited to be able to chat with the owner “Hal” this time. I was off visiting with my friend “Lylah” who is the owner of “The Simple Farm” She was one of the vendors, so I got to buy some of her amazing goat milk caramels.

Tonight, when I went to download the pictures from the camera; I found no pictures from this lovely place. Though we both had a great time chatting, neither one of us took the time to take pictures.

But  guess what? I have pictures that Steve took in the Spring. Yay! So with an apology to Jill (Hal’s  wife), I will share the spring photos.

Steve adored this garden shed. He wanted to sit on the loveseat and pretend that this was our yard.

The garden shed at The  Sweet Life Garden

The garden shed at The Sweet Life Garden

Some of “The Sweet Life Garden” beds.

The Sweet life Garden  Beds

The Sweet life Garden Beds

“The Sweet Life Garden” strawberries growing in the shade.


Steve really liked the flower beds along the fence in front of the property.



News Flash! This just in. My daughter Mandy realized my dilemma and sent me this picture. Her favorite thing about this garden was the way they used the half barrels as planters and filled them with flowers and herbs.


You can bet that we will be going again next year. We want to bring more family members. After all, it is just one of the ways that we Share Our Life’s  Abundance!

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GameSaver Titanium Giveaway


I want one!

I want one!

Even though I have been really busy with nursing school, I am never too busy to help out with a giveaway. I figure that my readers will appreciate the opportunity to enter and win.

So, go for it and good luck!

GameSaver Titanium Giveaway

This GameSaver® Titanium Vacuum Sealer w/Bonus Offer is a sponsored post/giveaway from our friends @ FoodSaver®.com. We are happy to be able to offer you a chance to win one! A vacuum sealer is the perfect tool to preserve your hard won game, to stretch your family’s food budget, and it will also extend the life of your food staples. It is easy to use and will save you money! Michael at The Backyard Pioneer did a full review on this fantastic GameSaver® Titanium Vacuum Sealer w/Bonus Offer! If you are a hunter, this is the FoodSaver® Vacuum Sealer you will want for sure! It’s sturdy and heavy duty. Please enter today for your chance to win one…Good luck to everyone!
This FoodSaver® GameSaver® Titanium Vacuum Sealer w/Bonus Offer is a sponsored giveaway and is open to any resident who is 18 years of age or older who lives in one of the 48 US Contiguous States. This giveaway starts on Monday, Nov. 17th at 5:00 am (MST) and ends on Sunday, Nov. 23rd, 2014 at 5:00 pm (MST). The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders. Good luck to everyone! Let’s be prepared for the unexpected!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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An Encouraging Word to Backyard Farmers?

We will all figure this out together.

We will all figure this out together.

It has been a little while since I wrote a real post. I just keep in touch by posting stuff on Facebook.

School is hard. We are working on tearing down the long beds and installing a sprinkler system-to attract an HOA type home buyer. So I am juggling too many plates. So far I have not dropped any.

Steve had originally set a goal to put the house on the market Dec 1st. Will he make it? I hope so, but a goal is better than nothing. I am not worried. I see the Hobby Farm coming.

But when I look deep into my magic computer, I see cries for help and a bit of discouragement going out from my friends who call themselves Backyard Farmers. I want to be in the middle of it all-believe me. But for now, all I can do is send encouragement. That will change soon though.

For the rest of you-who are reading for entertainment value- let me help you understand this by giving some common definitions.

Backyard Farm-most people use this term to describe a “lot” that is a half acre or less- where animals and gardens are grown for some type of food or fiber production. The owners have an outside source of income. The plants are more than just ornamentals and the animals are more than just pets. I guess that by this definition, I would consider myself a Backyard Farmer. Many people that I know fall into this category.

Hobby Farm-most people use this term to describe a “lot” that is a half acre or more and is used to produce more of the household food. On these places you might see chickens, goats, pigs, and cows. These people also have outside streams of income, because a hobby farm would not normally support all of a families needs. I know several hobbyists living on 1-5 acres of irrigated land.  These people may even sell some of what they produce; like milk, eggs and vegetables; to offset some of the costs of this hobby lifestyle. Steve and I hope to be bumped to this level in the next few months.

Farm is a term used for larger lots that are used to not only produce food for the resident, but also food to sell to others. A farm would have multiple acres to plant; not only to feed the family and animals, but also as a cash crop to sell large amounts of produce to others. In addition to the cash crops, the farm may also have animals to provide food for the family- as well as large amounts of excess to sell to others. This type of production provides the farmer with an income stream that is capable of keeping a family going without an outside job.  With all the regulations that are being applied, this is getting harder and harder to do though. I only know 1 farmer.

Homestead- a home on acreage that is used to produce most of the products that are used by the residents and animals. The goal is even more self sufficiency; without bringing anything from the outside. Very few can really do it. It is pretty hard, but there are those who you will hear that are living totally “off-grid”. I do not personally know any homesteaders.

Lately I have been pretty quiet about my backyard “farm”. There is a reason.

I have been successfully raising vegetables, fruit, and animals in my backyard for many years. Yes, there were many who did not understand, and some thought I was crazy. I did not even stop to think whether it was “legal” or not to do so in my area. But as long as I kept my animals clean and relatively quiet, no one really cared too much about what I was doing in my backyard. I was respectful of my neighbors and they were respectful of me.

I have seen that in the last 5-10 years though, it has become quite a trend to keep a few chickens and raise a garden on a residential sized lot. I have had many people come to me wanting to know how I have done it. They are on the path to “self-sufficiency” and want to know how this can work for them too. With all this new attention to Backyard Farming, there are more people who are also pushing against it. There is a general belief that a farmer is someone who is less educated,  and less clean. So I am less likely to share what I do in my backyard.

But with all new trends, the pushing and pulling will eventually balance things out. Time will help with that. Those who are serious will find the way to do it in a way that will be more acceptable to those who push against. Those who push against will get used to it as long as it is done properly.

As I meet the new people who are attempting to follow this trend, I notice that some of them have been very successful at keeping things clean, quiet, healthy and visually appealing. Some are not; they get caught up in the idea, but get overwhelmed and unable to care for it all. Some are very respectful of their neighbors, some are not. Some care that we all live in this big world together, some only care about what they want to do. Then there are those who do all the good things mentioned and still have neighbors that have nothing better to do than to peek over the fence; making it their business to see what the neighbors are doing.

Many Backyard Farmers start out very clean and quiet. You do realize don’t you that it all starts with just two chicks:) It grows from there. and it is very easy to get carried away. Soon you have 20 chickens, 4 goats, a pig, a pony out back, and the Code and Compliance officer knocking on your front door.

I believe that we all should be able to keep gardens and honey bees and a couple of chickens in our backyards. Maybe even a couple of goats, if we have the room to make it right. But there is a line between having just enough and having more than you can manage. That my friends more often than not is what gets the notice of those that push against.

Where is the encouragement that I promised? The good news is that with so many new people following this way of life in the last 5-10 years, our magic computer has become full of information. There are more and more people everyday coming up with new and clever ideas of how to do it better, cleaner and healthier. I myself have been collecting mentors. Some of these people are a source of information, some of them actually have beautiful examples for me to visually enjoy and attempt to emulate. You too can find a teacher online, or even better- in person. Find a mentor, register for a class or go to your favorite search engine. But with any new and wonderful trend comes a responsibility. Let’s help  to clean up the image of the “uneducated and dirty farmer”.

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Healing Bone Broth

Rich chicken broth with lots of gelatin

Rich chicken broth with lots of gelatin

The last couple of years, I have been working diligently on healing my gut and ridding my body of an inflammatory condition.

Then, I got this infected mouth. Well, it was really one tooth, but it felt like my whole face. No actually… it felt like my whole head! Though I am indeed thankful to live in a time that a tooth infection does not lead to yanking the tooth out in the barn and then praying that I do not die of infection; I hate taking antibiotics.

I have worked too hard on my good gut flora to have it all destroyed now. So I doubled up on my kombucha production. I divided my kefir grains and am making two batches at a time. I will drink a cup of kefir or kombucha two hours prior to taking the antibiotics. That will give the good bacteria a chance to get into the gut before the bomb hits. They may not survive, but I just want to stay ahead of this thing.

Then I went to the freezer to get some bone broth out to thaw.

Oh no! There were only 2 quart jars left. Well, I knew just what to do.

When this backyard homesteading momma cuts up her chicken, she puts the backs, the feet and the wing tips in a bag and tucks them in the freezer. She also puts the bones and gooey stuff left over from a roasted chicken in the bags

So I went through the freezer and found all the tucked away backs, feet and gooey bits. I  like to make my big batch with 10# of meat. I came up a little short, so I took out a rabbit too. I have found that rabbit bone broth does not gel as well, but the chicken feet will make up for that.

Did I use my crockpot- No. Why? Because I wanted to make a batch. I went upstairs and brought down the big gun. Ta-Da Most of the items that I keep around serve multiple purposes.  I got my pressure canner.

This Girl Means Business!

This Girl Means Business!

I put my 10 # of meat and bones in and added 2 onions, 6 carrots and a whole head of garlic. I did not peel anything, just did a rough chop. I sliced the head of garlic across the middle. Then I added 3 Tablespoons of sea salt and 6 peppercorns. I grabbed some parsley and dill from the herb pots out front and tossed those in too. I filled the pot with water to about 3 inches from the top.

I turned the heat up until it just started to simmer. Then I turned the heat down to very low (one on my dial) and locked the lid on. Once the meat was cooked, I fished it out and stripped the meat from the bones. I put the meat in the fridge for meals and put all the bones and gooey stuff back into the pot. Now is the time to add the apple cider vinegar. About  1/2 cup to this mother load.

It only cooked down about 3 inches

It only cooked down about 3 inches

Here, my friends is the magic of doing it in the pressure canner. With the lid locked and no weight on, you can keep it going 24 to 48 hours on very low. Because  the lid is on, it will not evaporate much either.  A crock pot is fine for a small batch. But I am serious about this. A full freezer is a happy freezer, and you know that I like to keep my freezer happy.


After 30 hours of simmering, the bones are crumbly and the broth is ready to strain into the jars. I will chill them overnight and then find them  a temporary home in the freezer tomorrow. I say temporary because I will drink a cup of this every evening before bed. I will have to make another batch pretty soon.


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Sun Oven Giveaway!

I am recovering from a terrible toothache. I do not feel much like writing a post today. Here is something that I can get excited about though.

Win An All American Sun Oven in this Giveaway!


The folks at the All American Sun Oven company have teamed up with a large group of bloggers and we are giving away a deluxe Sun Oven! The retail price of this set is $399! But that is only the start of the reasons why you should enter to try and win this oven.

Sun Oven Giveaway

Using a sun oven can help you be more frugal by cutting your utility bills. Wouldn’t it be great to have that bill lowered. Cooking in a sun oven is just as easy as using a conventional oven and really only takes a few minutes longer in the cooking cycle. Prepare your recipe using a little less liquid in casseroles, soups and stews. For baked goods use the same amounts of liquids as the recipe calls for. Find the optimal direction of the sun and get cooking. Of course, using a sun oven does require the sun to be available. However, it is possible to obtain good results even on a partly cloudy day.

The All American Sun Oven is manufactured right here in the USA. The company stands behind their product. Globally, Sun Oven has worked to bring this off grid cooking solution to many undeveloped parts of the world, allowing people to eat healthier, cooked foods. I am happy to work with a company that has a giving mission.

With all the benefits of lower utility bills, being prepared to cook without fuel or electricity, and supporting a wonderful company, who wouldn’t want to own a Sun Oven! So lets get to the giveaway.

The Terms

(otherwise known as the small print)

The All American Sun Oven Giveaway is open to any resident who is 18 years of age or older who lives in one of the 48 US Contiguous States. This giveaway starts on Monday, Oct. 20th at 5:00 am (MDT) and ends on Sunday, Oct. 26th at 5:00 pm (MDT). The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders. Good luck to everyone! Let’s be prepared for the unexpected!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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