Do you have your seeds yet?

Even with the snow spring is here.  Did you purchase your seeds yet?

The last few years, we have been compiling a journal and made our selections based upon our needs, garden size, growing season and our preferences.  This year our aspirations are to put up an even larger garden to allow us to preserve even more than previous years.  However, we love to try new things.  Searching through books to find “new” plants and/or seeds designed for short seasoned crops, we were surprised to find how many mail order companies we stumbled upon.  Here is a small composited list thanks to in case you would like to try something new as well.  I hope it is a blessing to you.  (There is only 40 listed here of the 100’s out there.)

Burpee Gardening


It’s snowing again!  HOO- RAA!  Everything has a fresh dusting of snow, it is so beautiful!  We are so grateful for the amazing snow season this year!  The kids had been asking to go winter camping for a couple of weeks now. (or is it spring camping) Confession: we did chuckle looking at some family photos in Alaska, they were fishing in a boat.   BWAAHAAA!  Trout opener in Michigan was in thermal waders, along snowy banks and broken ice shores in only a few locations.  Otherwise, dangerous ice fishing conditions.  They estimate the smelt to run here though starting this week… we’ll see how that pans out. 


Get Your Own EGGS! (Part 2 of 2)


Now that you are set on a size of chickens or maybe you even purchased your chicks already…
you enjoy them and live happily ever after.  LOL.  Not really, like any critter a plan of action is goods.  You may already have one; even better!  If not, this post is for you along with all the other chicken tenders, LOL, I mean chicken farmers.  Egg laying hens need a place to lay those precious jewels.
The space per bird confined is 10sq. ft. per heavy breed and 7 sq. ft. per lightweight breed, 2 sq. ft per bantam.  Plus roosts.  If you are letting them forage or have an outdoor run, you can get by with about half of that space per bird.  Also remember if sacrificing some space, that they do need to be able to get out of the elements.  Every investment you put into your birds will result in a high quality of eggs and better production.
 Calculate the space you will need.
Maintain a plan for proper ventilation; yet sealed away safely from predators and the elements.
Are you planning to add onto a preexisting structure or start from scratch?
Ideas beget ideas, here are a few with links for details.  😉


Tarter farm offers this downloadable chicken house plan.
You can download this free plan from Purina by clicking here.
Here is a gambrel style coop that is sufficient and could hold enough hens for a family in town.  Check it out.
Here’s a tractor by the Kycklingars.
The Cluckingham Palace Coop.  A great portable chicken tractor.
COCO Channel Castle has a beautiful coop.

Mini Coop

Hopefully these were a help to you.  Here is a link for over one hundred plans and/or layouts.  Best wishes to you.  If you have a favorite, feel free to share with a link.

Get your own EGGS!!


Photo by: Stefanie

Overflowing with excitement, I cannot contain the fact that it’s chick season!!!  I do believe chickens are the favorite “farm animal” amongst our children.  Do not get me wrong, all the animals are important, good companions or intrigue us with their fascinating behaviors.  Yet, chick season is so fun!  We can go to our local Tractor Supply Store and spot a new breed we should try.  Even if we have a flock at home and 25 new babies.  LOL   It seems we can not get enough of our feathered friends.

Have you raised chickens before? 

Are you limited on space?

Do you have predators or a lot of loose neighbor dogs?

What is the purpose of them?   Meat ?  Eggs?  or Meat and Eggs?

What will you feed them?  Do you want only free range? 

How many eggs will you use a day?

All of these egg-celent questions (I’m corny I know) will determine your set up, breed and the number of chickens you are looking for.



You will be addicted if you start, this could be hazardous to your health, well being, and pocket book.  (Northerners- that’s a purse) OR Your money!  I warned you, I did!  If proceeding, please use caution (or as my hubby says- common sense- and I quote “we only have so many neighbors to give eggs to..”- that’s why our dogs love them too 😉  I really do have common sense- I just love chickies more!)  LOL!

STEP 1: IF you haven’t already and you are in town- check your ordinances.  Some states have a farm act, that says even if your local ordinance says no “farm animals in town” they will allow you to petition of guidelines.  For example- if you just want a few eggs, you can commit to not having roosters and show them your set up, etc.  It really varies on your location AND if you live in a “community or have a neighborhood ordinance too”.  If this is not an issue skip.  Then look at the yard or buildings you already have.  Chickens do not require a fancy set up, it can be very simple and possibly less of an expense than you think.

STEP 2: Come up with a plan.  Answer the questions above and pin point what kind/s of chickens you would like. 

Generally laying hens are smaller bodied birds than your muscular meat breeds.  Purebred hens or commercial strains is your next question.  The commercial hens are so much more efficient on your feed to egg ratio.  You have the choice of 2 different groups.  The Bantam (smaller- 1/4 the size) or large breeds.

If you are going for a dual -purpose breed, they are larger and more hardy and self reliant.

The you have your meat breeds also known as broilers or fryers. (Not a lot different- Shelter without a nest box, water and feed them until butchering age, harvest, and enjoy freezer fresh meat year round.  Take note they do eat a considerable amount more feed though.)

Okay for the EGGS:

Fresh eggs are so delicious looking and tasting.  Once you eat a fresh picked egg, you’ll have a hard time going back.  The taste is so wonderful, the yolks are so much brighter, AND to top it off : you know what you are feeding them and that they are FRESH!

The typical laying breed will lay 250-280 eggs a year, starting at about 18 weeks of age.  (20 for heavy breeds).

Something to consider is the space per bird confined is 10sq. ft. per heavy breed and 7 sq. ft. per lightweight breed, 2 sq. ft per bantam.  Plus roosts.  If you are letting them forage or have an outdoor run, you can get by with about half that space per bird.

Photo by Junior Libby

STEP 3: Get out that trusty pen and paper.  (or IPAD..shh.. I won’t tell).  By now you may have picked out what breed/s of chickens you’d like.  OR at least narrowed down the selection based on purposes.  Then figure out what things will be needed. 

  • A Chicken Coop (if keeping the chicks in the basement, porch, etc you may have some time leeway on this. (Nests, cages, run, roosts, etc.)
  • Chicken brooder- these are a bit expense, homemade works great (metal dog crate or a heavy card board box with a heat lamp and red heat lamp bulbs will work)
  • Chick Starter
  • Chick Feeder/s
  • Chick Waterer
  • Bedding of some sort
  • Extension cord/s (optional)

Now you could get these all when you buy your chicks, but it does help to have it set up first.  😉  Your local feed mill, feed store, or tractor supply store will have these items.  Or you can order them online if you purchase your chicks online.  Here are two hatcheries: 

  • Whelps- I will personally recommend them.  (This is not an affiliate- but do mention, you did see it here and maybe they would give our readers a discount in the future. 😉 ) However, they have always had hardy quality of chicks.  When we’ve had 25 chicks, we didn’t loose 1.  A few personal contacts deal with them annually and they are great!
  • Another I’ve heard so many good things about is McMurray’s hatchery.  I have not purchased any of their chicks, however, a lot of 4-Her’s do.  They are known for their quality too.

There are other hatcheries too.  If you work, own, or would like to share one; leave the name in the comments section with a link for others to see as well.  Thanks.

STEP 4: Figure out where you are going to purchase your chicks and set up your chick brooder area.

STEP 5: Add your chicks.

In the mean time, GET YOUR OWN EGGS!



Balm of Gilead

Balm of Gilead

(This is educational use, not for medicinal purposes.)

So this winter the kids and I have been making balms and salves.  What a blessing it has been, we are hooked and love it!  The longer project has been Balm of Gilead.

First we picked some buds of several downed trees.


  We then filled our quart jar 3/4 full with organic virgin olive oil.   Making a double broiler system, we boiled the buds in olive oil for 3 hrs.

  (The fresh picked buds covered in oil begin to heat and this helps release the resin.)


Removing the jar carefully from the heat we placed the lid and screw band over top.  We then placed it resting near the wood stove.   Each day when we fill the wood we shake it around.

Balm of Gilead is used  for many purposes.  (This is educational use, not for medicinal purposes.)  I can only tell you what we love it for.

 An example would be my husband wounded his hand.  There was an open gash and a lot of swelling with pain.  Only a few weeks ago the boys and I made a mixture salve with a few different oils and herbs to compliment the tree oil.  We purchased little tins like this:


Each one of the boys can place it in their first aid compartment of their backpack for hiking.

The salve we made was applied to my husbands hand.  The swelling seemed minimal, it started to “numb” it a bit, and with the chamomile and lavender, he was very relaxed. 😉  All in all, it looked a lot better 14 hours later.

As always, check with a doctor first, but for education purposes NOT MEDICINAL, here is a basic recipe:

 Balm of Gilead

1 Cup oil (extracted oil)

9 oz of beeswax

4 drops of Vit. E

The balm can be mixed with different oils, this is just a basic recipe.  Grapefruit seed oil, lavender, lemon, chamomile, or your carrier oil to palm, coconut, etc.  Just remember by altering (adding or starting with a solid at room temp. oil) will change the texture and properties.

Whether it’s a project when the kids are asleep or a family project, have fun experimenting!

DIY- 2 Ingredient Lip Balm

2 Ingredient Lip Balm

You will need:

Vaseline (small jar is fine)

A handful of chocolate chips- I use Nestle Miniature Milk Chocolate Chips

Glass measuring cup

A shallow saucepan (or an extra small fry pan with 1 inch + sides will work fine too)

Something to place your lip balm in (tin, mason jar, mint tin, etc.)

*This is flexible too, if you do not have an older measuring cup you want to use, a clean reusable small glass jar of any sort will work.  When doing several different kinds at once or large batches or gifts, I have reused the glass Tostito’s jars too.

So here we go:

Find your glass measuring cup

 or glass jar…

When you have your glass container then place enough water in the pan covering as much of your glass cup as possible about 1/4 to 1/2 is best for this batch.  This will create a double boiler system to melt your Petroleum Jelly in. When you are set place your dry (make sure there is no water) measuring cup in the pan of water.

Then to add 1/2 cup of Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly to the measuring cup…

On medium heat, allow the water to start to boil.  When the water starts to boil (your Petroleum Jelly has already begun to melt) be sure to stir it.  You can use a chopstick, skewer, any wooden utensil that you do not mind if it gets “greasy” and you can set aside for future crafting only.   (I use plain old wooden chopsticks).

Then add 2 Tbls of mini chocolate chips.

 These can be heaping, who doesn’t love chocolate?  We use Toll House, num!!!

As all your ingredients melt, continue to stir.  When everything looks smooth and evenly blended , remove from heat. The pour into your old lip tin, a jar, etc.  I pour them into these:

Whaaallaaa!  Cute little tins to accent a gift, or make a pack of various flavors as a cute gift, maybe as a party favor, etc.  Experiment and have fun!

Variations:  Use different flavored chips, combo of chip flavors (PB & Choc.) and you can always add essential oils ( just check their grade value)  We just made a large batch of Mint Chocolate Chip Lip Balm.  Just stir in a few drops of peppermint essential oil before pouring into the containers.

Welcome to the Rustic Pioneer blog!


Delicious Sugar Scrub

3 C. Sugar
1 Cup oil of olive oil
(*feel free to substitute with your favorite- I like almond oil)
10 drops of essential oil of choice for scent
(ideas are peppermint, lavender, chamomile, etc)
(These are great for an AM scrub- lemon, orange, a combo., etc.)
In a large bowl mix sugar and oils.  If you want to make more than one scent, hold out on the 10 drops of essential oil.  Instead place your divided mixture into several bowls or coffee cups and add 3-4 drops per /cup.  Place in cute jars and/or decorated containers.  Great gift item.  This is super easy!
Here are links with similar recipes and deviations:
 1.  The most delicious recipe ever!  Cinnamon vanilla sugar and sweet n’ spicy brown sugar scrub by tidymom.  A great luxurious spa gift or accent and she has a link for great gift tags as well.  Enjoy!
2. Cute idea from Vivian and recipe a little more textured than my recipe.  This is great for removing paint from your hands.
Lavender Homemade Sugar Scrub Recipe
3. This lavender sugar scrub posted by Samantha is another option for gifting. This includes a recipe, and label template.  Thanks Samantha!
Sunshine Sugar Smoothing Scrub Recipe
4.  Sarah includes this with a recipe of her own, it looks great too!
5. White cane Glimmer Sugar Scrub
Click here for a few more links.