Deterring Homestead Predators!

Let me just start this blog by saying, I have learned this lesson the hard way. I had beautiful jumbo Coturnix quail that I had shipped from Winnipeg, Manitoba. They were huge! I had wild, Italian, all white, tuxedo. People were driving 2 hr round trip to buy my hatching eggs at $20/doz. Then in one fell swoop a mink killed my entire flock one morning before dawn, and I caught him red handed when I went out to feed them in the morning. However, it was too late he killed all 14 of them. I was devastated, I felt like it was my fault and I had to do better. So I’ve put together a list of measures I’ve taken to make sure when I hatch a new flock in the spring, this doesn’t happen again, and I thought I would share it! First I am going to go over the types of predators we have in Ontario, Canada where I live. You may have different types where you live, but this is a pretty comprehensive list.

Rats

Skunk

Mink/stoat/Fisher cats/weasels/ferrets

Raccoon

House cats

Fox

Coyotes/Wolves – hybrids of the two

Dogs

Possum

Snakes (they will eat eggs/baby chicks)

Hawks

Eagles

Some other parts of Ontario, and other provinces in Canada have Bears (brown, black and polar in some regions)

Mountain lions

Linx

I underestimated the predators I would have right smack dab in the middle of suburbia the first year, and I paid dearly.

So here is a list I have put together of everything I can think of to deter predators from messing with your livestock.

•Bury wire 6” under coop and around the run, this will keep anything from digging a hole and crawling underneath

•Plug holes with steel wool (my farmer friend from LattimerLane taught me this trick) small rodents and mink can fit through the SMALLEST of holes and gaps, if their head can fit, their body will follow

•Proper wire, maximum 1” hole, heavy gauge, chicken wire keeps the chickens in, but does not keep the predators out

•Proper run size – although you want your livestock to have a nice big run, make sure you have the resources to build it properly. The heavy gauge wire is expensive. This was my rookie mistake about 5 years ago, I just used chicken wire because my run was so big, and I paid dearly in the end.

• Good coop door latch (raccoons and possums have hands that can open all types of latches, ensure you have a good, solid latch)

•Wait to let your critters out after dawn and have them in before dusk – most predators are nocturnal

• Livestock Gaurdian Dog (LGD) this requires specific set of training skills though, so ensure you are willing to put the time in for that! One good LGD is the Great Pyrenees.

•Close all bins of food – also keeps mice away and their droppings can be dangerous

•Collect eggs daily

•Keep smells down – predators have a keen sense of smell, and once they know your livestock is there, they are ruthless!

• If you live in extremely rural areas, you may want a shotgun, this requires properly licensing etc

•Hav-a-heart traps – these are catch and release traps, but just be aware that you have to release them very far from where you live in a very secluded area so they do not become someone else’s issue

•Good perimeter fencing in yard deters some of the bigger predators

Hopefully that is helpful! If anyone has anything to add, please let me know in the comments! Have an awesome day!

Delicious Homemade French Onion Soup 🧅 🍜

There’s nothing better on a cold day than a nice warm bowl of soup!

So let’s get straight to the recipe! I’ve been making this soup for a few years now and it has never let me down! Some people like to add wine or brandy to their soup, however, we don’t consume alcohol. If that is a taste you like, you can add a bit to the below recipe!

Makes: 6-8 servings

Ingredient List:

2-3 lbs yellow onions

2 cups Parmesan cheese

1 cup mozzarella cheese

5 tbsp butter

2 tsp salt (I use pink Himalayan)

8 cups beef broth (can substitute bone broth, chicken or vegetable broth)

3 tbsp flour

1 tsp sugar

Black pepper to taste

Homemade or store bought croutons

How to make it:

  • Peel and thinly slice onions, and cut once more
  • Melt the butter in sauté pan, and slowly brown the onions
  • Cook under a lid on medium heat for 10-15 mins
  • Add salt, pepper and sugar
  • Cook on low/med (stir occasionally) for approx 30 mins until onions are caramelized
  • Heat broth in a separate pan
  • Stir flour into sauté pan with onion to thicken
  • Combine broth and onions
  • Add any spices you wish at this point (I don’t add any because my kids are kinda picky!)
  • Cook on reduced heat for an hour
  • Divide soup in 6-8 oven approved bowl, add mozzarella, top with Parmesan cheese and croutons
  • Bake at 350*F for 20 mins, and then broil for 1-2 mins
  • Enjoy!!!

Have a great week my friends! Thanks for stopping in 😊

  • Summer Update

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on here. We had a beautiful baby girl in April and I am still running a home daycare full time, so the summer was a blur! I just wanted to share some homestead updates and pictures!

    We had a bumper crop of pickling cucumbers this year! We canned a lot of pickles to get us through the next year (I think about 55 jars). We picked and canned strawberries for jam. We harvested some wild edibles, such as wild garlic and canned it for future use! I didn’t get as much accomplished this summer as I would have wanted, but having a newborn and two other small kids is a season of life that lends itself to being busy! My older children are back in school now, which gives me time for some more garden work and food preservation and I’m hoping to be more consistent with this blog!

    Thanks for stopping in! 🌻🌱🌶🌽🥒🥬

    Hatching Coturnix Quail

    We had our first crack at incubating and hatching quail eggs this fall! I just bought one of the cheap styrofoam incubators (it was $50 at TSC) and ordered the quail egg rotators off of Amazon ($50). I bought some quail eggs from a man up North so that I could vary the bloodlines. Quail take 18 days from set to hatch, with lock down at day 15. They are jumbo Coturnix and it was said to keep them around 99.9 to 100.5 degrees. We only had 7 hatch out of 18, but not bad for our first go.

    Once they begin hatching, wait about 24 hours until opening the incubator and taking them out. Sometimes you will have some late hatchers. We made a homemade brooder that consisted of:

    ~very large Rubbermaid bin

    ~Heat light

    ~digital thermometer

    ~wire mesh or wood planks to support the heat lamp, that are strong enough to hold the light up – which also serves as some type of cover for the bin, as they grow they become flighty, and you don’t want them hopping out!

    ~small poultry water dish (put clear marbles in it so the chicks don’t drown), small food dish

    ~pine shavings (NOT cedar, they are toxic to small animals) also, make sure you get the larger shavings, if it is too fine, it can create respiratory issues for birds

    This is a video of our set up.

    We keep the heat at 99*F and decrease one degree every week until they are feathered out (5weeks) and ready for an outdoor coop! Make sure they have a space where they can get out of the heat lamp space if they are too hot.

    We feed a combination of chick starter and game bird layer, processed through a grinder so that they can eat it without choking.

    One more step to self sufficiency! Little by little we are learning and growing, taking small steps at a time! Have a great weekend everyone! 🐣

    Ya win some, ya lose some…

    This summer around the homestead has been full of victories in the garden. Our peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, spaghetti squash, pickling cucumber, celery and straw/black/rasp berries all had a great year! Lots of drying canning and freezing going on in this house hold.

    I started all my flowers from seed this year, and they were amazing. I had marigolds, petunias and zinnias. I really think they help to bring the pollinators in when you inter crop them into your veggie garden.

    Some of the sad news from this summer… First we had several quail die from and unknown illness 😦 and then a predator killed 5 more. I know have to lock them up at night, I always used to let them access their run at night, but I can no longer do that. We have eggs in the incubator as I type this so hopefully we will have replenished birds soon. Our neighbour also called the town to tell on us for having chickens (we only had 2 🙄) so we ended up having to bring them back to the farm we purchased them at. My town only enforces the bylaw on chickens if someone complains. She literally said nothing for 2 years, her husband passed away, and almost immediately called the town after that. I could tell the bylaw officer felt bad, he said you have a beautiful yard and a nice coop, and these animals are well tended, but they have to act on complaints. Very unfortunate, but I will be fighting to get the bylaw changed. The neighbouring town bylaw allows for 3 hens, so I’m hoping to make that change! Thanks for stopping in, I hope you all are enjoying your summer! 🐝🦋🌱🌸🌻🌼🌞⭐️🌈

    Start Homesteading where you are!

    We have to start preparing for the gardens! The plan for this year was to start my seeds in the windowsill, however, as soon as the weather brightens up a bit I will be constructing a 10×12 ft greenhouse!!! I am so excited! Every year we expand little by little, so we don’t have to borrow any money to do it. We also expand slowly as to not overwhelm ourselves either. Our 1/6th of an acre has such potential to feed our family and build skills and relationships. My children will grow up knowing where food comes from, and that is a foreign notion these days. Even if you have a small suburban lot or a balcony on the side of an apartment building, you can grow food! Teach your children to cultivate the earth! I promise you will never regret it. Once you harvest your first crops you will be hooked! Some small things you can do to start where you are…

    1. Start seeds in your windowsill. Buy a few trays from your local gardening store, some potting soil and a few packs of seeds! Keep them in a warm place in your home (like near a heat vent) for the first few weeks until they germinate! Once the seeds sprout, move to a south facing window and watch them grow!!

    2. Start cooking from scratch. Cooking from raw ingredients is so fulfilling. It is healthier for your family, and it allows you to control what you eat! Prepackaged, commercially made food is not healthy and causes many health concerns later on in life.

    3. Buy Local. Build relationships with the farmers and small businesses around you! You will be better off for it. Buy locally grown produce, and bring it home and feed it to your family! Supporting local farmers ensures that they stay in your area.

    4. Start a garden. It doesn’t have to be huge, but start! Every year you can add to it, building your garden knowledge and skills along the way. There will be ups and downs as you learn about weather, soil and garden pests. It is a journey that is worth it, I promise! Once you pick that first veggie from your garden, you will be hooked!

    5. Food Preservation. Canning, drying, root cellar, curing and freezing!

    6. Small animal husbandry. Check with your local bylaws before you put out any money for this. However, quail, chickens and rabbits can be kept on small properties and are awesome for the homestead. They provide meat, eggs, poop fertilizer and entertainment! (Chickens are hilarious to watch)

    7. Become a producer instead of a consumer. Try and make things you need, instead of running out to buy everything! Candles, cleaning products, body care products, baby food etc the list goes on! The more you can produce yourself, the better!

    You don’t have to have your dream property to start building skills now! Take the leap, but start slow! Living a simple lifestyle is so rewarding!

    My decision to leave ‘Corporate America’

    I have worked in the oil and gas sector my entire adult life, since I graduated university (10 years ago). We all know that oil is down right now, and my company made the decision to downsize. I was one of the people that was laid off, as I played an administrative role and was not a necessity like an engineer or I.T. I was very upset with this, I was losing my pay, my benefits and my work friends. My boss wrote me a very nice recommendation letter to give to future employers during an interview (which I was grateful for). A lot of my family members were pushing me to go get a similar job and stay in the corporate world. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, I had other plans! For years I have thought to myself that I wish I could spend more time with kids and more time building my Homestead. So, I have made the decision to open a home daycare. There are pros and cons to all the decisions we make in life, but I felt the pros outweighed the cons! I am so excited to be employed by self, and I pray it is busy enough to pay the bills! Time will tell! Sometimes when one door closes, another one opens! Daycare in my area is so expensive! I have three children, so for before and after care for two children, and a full day spot for an infant I was looking at $85-$100 a day. The. You factor in gas and wear and tear on your vehicle (commute was 100km daily), buying more take out food for lack of time and energy, I would have had to get a high paying job to make it worth my while! However, I now do not have a pension or benefits, but my husband does. So we made the joint decision that I would stay home with our children and care for a few other children as a small source of income. Sometimes you ha e to follow your heart and hope that everything works out for the best! ❤️

    Miranda, XO

    Carrot 🥕 ‘n Cabbage Pickin’ – A Lovely Afternoon

    Yesterday my family went out and harvested most of the remaining carrots and some of the cabbage that was ready to pick! We got quite the haul! Yesterday was a true testament to the importance of letting your kids play outside and including them in homesteading chores:Sunday morning was brutal! My 4 year old and three year old were fighting all morning. Arguing over toys, books, anything! They were yelling at each other, tattling etc. I was trying to get some house work done but I thought I better get them outside and playing, maybe that would decrease the tension. I brought them outside, gave them their gardening gloves and away we went. For 2 full hours they did not argue one time. They were laughing together, helping me pick and wash carrots! They gathered all the carrot stems up and fed the bunnies, chickens and quail. It was like a peace and calming washed over the whole family. Not that a homesteading life will always be rainbows and butterflies, but I believe that afternoon was a true testament to the importance of giving children age appropriate tasks and responsibilities. This is the type of ‘education’ they will never receive in school. It is one that generations past always gifted their children. We as a society have to get back to teaching our own kids how to garden, cook, forage, animal husbandry etc. If we don’t do it no one will, can you imagine a society where no one knew how to do any of these things? It’s a scary thought.


    Back to the carrots and cabbbage…

    Most of the carrots I peeled, chopped, blanched for 3 minutes and then froze them in ziplock baggies for use in a nice fall time soup!

    The rest I left dirty, unpeeled, in a brown paper bag in the fridge for use later this week. I am going to cook them with a nice pork roast.
    The cabbages I cut into quarters and blanched for a few minutes and they went into the freezer as well!
    Thanks for stopping in today!

    What’s Happening around the Homestead?

    Hello Everyone! I haven’t posted in a bit, it has been a very busy but productive month!The gardens are really producing, the quails and chickens are working hard producing eggs, and I have been canning away! I was going to post a few pictures of what has been going on around the homestead and talk about each one a bit! I calculated the size of my lot and thought I would share it with you. I have approximately 1/6th of an acre, which isn’t huge, but you can do so much with a yard of that size. You have to be smart and use permaculture principles to make it work though! That’s one thing I have learned in the last couple years, do what you can with what you have! I would love to have 5 acres out in the country and have a “farm” but that is not in the cards for my family right now, so I have to be patient and live how I want to live with what I have!
    This is a picture of our ‘barn’ that houses the chickens and quail. A lot of sites say not to house them together, but I have had them together for about 5 months now and have had no issues. They have separate living areas and are not directly interacting with each other. We built separate runs for them on opposite side of the barn.

    Obviously not done painting it yet! 😂
    Back of barn is sectioned off for chickens, right side for quail!

    I have Americauna and Wheaten Maran chickens. They both lay an egg about every other day, sometimes two days in a row. The Marans have beautiful dark brown eggs, and the Americaunas have a blueish-green egg! The quails lay every single day, they are egg machines!
    Lots of eggs!

    So far this year the garden has been pretty productive! We had a TON of cucumber and zucchini, the peppers are growing really well right now and we are finally starting to get some tomatoes! The one garden bed has powdery mildew unfortunately, so that may really hurt my watermelon, pumpkin and squash!  I made a spray which was water, a tbsp. of baking soda and some dish soap, and that seemed to help a bit.

    We grew some cucamelons this year, which was fun! They look like tiny little watermelon but taste like cucumbers. We are harvesting carrot and beets right now. The carrots we have been eating as we go, and I canned up some pickled beets, YUM!

    Beets! Some are puny! 😂 but so taste-y!
    Store bought carrots do not even compare to fresh picked, these are crunchy, sweet and delicious!
    Cucamelons growing up a trellis, they have since taken over the whole thing!

    Thanks for stopping in to listen to my ramblings! Hope everyone is having a great summer! Post some pics of your garden or homesteading ventures in the comments!