Jun 20, 2017

Waste Less Wednesday 6/21/17

Blog Hop Zero waste plastic free less waste sustainable

A blog party focused on environmentally friendly practices: zero waste, recycling, gardening, homesteading, sustainability, living plastic free and upcycling.  It is live 1200 am Tuesday CST through Saturday 0500 CST. 

The Host:

Katy writes at SkipTheBag about her experiences trying to minimize waste, avoiding plastic and homesteading with her garden and chickens. If you love her posts you can follow her here:





Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

Not sure what a blog hop is? Click here

The Rules:

  • Link up to 3 original blog posts relating to environmentally friendly practices. Posts can be zero waste, living plastic free, sustainability, less waste recipes, homesteading, upcycling or anything else to do with helping out the environment.
  • No links to stores or link parties. Giveaways are OK as long as they are accompanied with a post.
  • Please visit your fellow bloggers: they care about the environment just like you!
  • In addition to featuring the most visited blog, the "most social" person will be featured. It's hard to track, but use the hashtag #WasteLessWednesday when commenting on people's blogs and while sharing posts on social media to qualify.
  • Posts will show in a random order.
  • By participating you give permission for any part of your post, including pictures, to be used for party promotion. Don't worry all credit will be given to the original source. You will also be signed up to receive SkipThe Bag's weekly email that goes out Wednesday mornings as a reminder to participate in Waste Less Wednesday. 

Features from Last Week:

Most social:

Link Up Below!


Jun 19, 2017

Baby Chick Essentials

What you need for raising baby chickens

We got some more chicks! If you get the newsletter, you've already received a sneak peek of the chicks. Sign up so you don't miss any more happenings!

We feel so much more confident about raising chicks now that we've done it a couple of times before. We started with Rhode Island Reds, then Ameraucanas, and now we have a mixed flock: 3 Leghorns and 5 Golden Comets.



We've had some great success with raising our chicks (and have yet to lose a chick- knock on wood!). If you are looking to get started here are the essentials for raising baby chicks. The links below for items are affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and make a purchase I may make a commission, but the price to you is unchanged.

Coop/Brooder

Your chicks need somewhere to live. Technically that place is a brooder while it is heated, and a coop if it is not. For us, a house is a house no matter what you call it, and, regardless of what you call it, their first one does not need to be fancy. For our first set of chickens we used a large cardboard box with some hardware cloth over it. Know what? It worked out perfectly. Your chicks are only going to be in there a few months so it's plenty.

Now for our second batch of chicks we knew we'd need something a little more robust not only because our dogs were beginning to understand what chickens were, but we wanted something we could use when it was time to introduce the two flocks. So we knew this coop would need to withstand chickens fighting and it would need to have screens so they could see one another.

We built what we affectionately call our Mini Coop. It's plenty large to hold baby chicks. It held our 6 juvenile Ameraucanas with no problems. Whether you use a box or a coop, they'll need a protected home. Read how we made their big coop.



Water

There are nearly an infinite number of ways that you can provide water for your chicks. At a young age I recommend a waterer or poultry drinker that has a trough. I haven't used a nipple waterer, but I imagine it might be hard for chicks to figure out and I've heard algae can grow up in them. It's far easier to take apart and wash a trough.

When ours are babies we use this one (ours is plastic, and I wish I had known they make it in metal).  I love that we can use regular mason jars for them. The larger the mason jar you use, the less often you have to refill it. However I'd advise against getting one too large and you have to be careful where it is placed. Chickens like to scratch at the ground and they almost always kick up litter into the water so it will need to be cleaned regularly.

When they get larger you should get this waterer because it uses a float to prevent water from leaking out. You can take the top off and refill it with a hose rather than waiting until it is empty. It also doesn't use nipples which can get stuck with algae. I am so happy we got this one, it is a huge time saver for us and we never have to worry about running out of water or it spilling everywhere.


Food

Your chicks will need to eat something. It is up to you if you want to use organic chick feed or medicated/conventional chick feed. We've always elected to use the medicated feed because we didn't want them to get coccidiosis, an intestinal disease, and we weren't raising them to be organic egg layers or organic meat. If you are raising them to be organic you will obviously want to go with the organic feed.

We feed them the medicated started the first month or so, usually just a bag or two, but our current 8 seem to be eating up a storm (or spilling it everywhere), so we may need some more. After the first month we convert to non medicated starter or starter/grower. This has a higher protein content and lower calcium content than you'll want once they start laying. At that age, about 5 months or so, you'll want to switch to layer feed. I am so thankful they named the types of feed so it makes sense: starter to start, grower to get them big, and layer for while they are laying!

While they are eating chick feed they do not need supplemental calcium or grit.

Heat

Baby chicks don't have all their feathers in nor do ours have their Momma to burrow under. So you have to make sure they stay warm enough. Recommendations I've heard are to keep them at about 95 degrees for the first week and then lower it by 5 degrees every week. So week two keep them at about 90 degrees, week three would be 85.

Keep it going until they have all their feathers or you have caught up to ambient temperature. Now pay attention to your birds. If they are all huddled together it means they are too cold, if they are spread out and "panting" they are too hot. Don't force them to be at 90 degrees simply because that's what the recommendation is. 


How do you provide heat?

In the past we've just used a small utility light with a standard incandescent bulb. You'll want to avoid an LED light, because while it will shine, it will not provide any heat! This is the one time you should get a standard bulb over the environmentally friendly option. Just the regular light bulb has worked well for us, but we live in Florida and chick raising is in the spring and summer when temperatures are getting warmer.

For these chicks we purchased a heat bulb. The red is supposed to help them with their circadian rhythm and provides heat. We noticed that they were getting too hot with the lamp and the air, so we turn the light off in the day and just keep it on at night when it gets cooler and eventually we switched back to a regular incandescent light. Again, watch your chicks, they'll tell you what they need.

How do you measure the heat?

A thermometer! It doesn't matter how fancy it is. It can be an old mercury thermometer or a fancy laser thermometer. We've used both.


Litter

You'll need to put something in the bottom of the coop. It helps absorb the poop and chickens love to scratch at things. We've used old leaves, wood chips, and straw. Pretty much the only thing I've heard advised against is cedar. The fumes and scent off of the cedar chips made someone's chicks ill. Remember the chicks will be in an enclosed space with this so limit items with a strong odor.

We change ours about once week. The reason for this is two fold. First, it's a small space with a lot of birds. The number one thing chickens were put on earth to do is poop. So it can start to smell if the poop-to-litter ratio gets off. Second, they like to scratch and some falls out the holes so it needs a topping off.

Roost

Your little chicks will start to sleep on a roost at a young age. A roost is a raised area where chickens sleep. It generally is a a bar or rod shaped item raised off the ground for the chickens to sleep on. Depending on when you move them into a permanent coop you might be able to get away from this, but they chicks experiment jumping up on the roost and trying to balance up there from a young age. Our first roost was a piece of bamboo strung up between both sides of the box. It might have been a little narrow for our chicks, but they got the hang of it. Our outdoor coop has a 2x2 piece of wood that the chickens all jump up on to sleep.


That's it! It's very easy to raise baby chicks. Now that you have some babies, you'd better start working on their coop. Or maybe you want to learn from some of the set backs we experienced such as them molting, eating their eggs or getting chicken pox (yes, that's a thing!).

Don't forget to sign up for the weekly newsletter to keep up to date on all of our chicken raising, homesteading and zero waste antics.

Thanks for sharing on Pinterest!
Shared on Animal Tales

Jun 13, 2017

Waste Less Wednesday Blog Hop 6/14/17

Blog Hop Zero waste plastic free less waste sustainable

A blog party focused on environmentally friendly practices: zero waste, recycling, gardening, homesteading, sustainability, living plastic free and upcycling.  It is live 1200 am Tuesday CST through Saturday 0500 CST. 

The Host:

Katy writes at SkipTheBag about her experiences trying to minimize waste, avoiding plastic and homesteading with her garden and chickens. If you love her posts you can follow her here:





Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

Not sure what a blog hop is? Click here

The Rules:

  • Link up to 3 original blog posts relating to environmentally friendly practices. Posts can be zero waste, living plastic free, sustainability, less waste recipes, homesteading, upcycling or anything else to do with helping out the environment.
  • No links to stores or link parties. Giveaways are OK as long as they are accompanied with a post.
  • Please visit your fellow bloggers: they care about the environment just like you!
  • In addition to featuring the most visited blog, the "most social" person will be featured. It's hard to track, but use the hashtag #WasteLessWednesday when commenting on people's blogs and while sharing posts on social media to qualify.
  • Posts will show in a random order.
  • By participating you give permission for any part of your post, including pictures, to be used for party promotion. Don't worry all credit will be given to the original source. You will also be signed up to receive SkipThe Bag's weekly email that goes out Wednesday mornings as a reminder to participate in Waste Less Wednesday. 

Features from Last Week:

Most social:

Find out how you can save money and reduce the amount of chemicals in your home with an Ecoegg

Link Up Below!

Jun 12, 2017

How To Use A Safety Razor For A Close Shave And Not Get Cut

Don't get cut with a safety razor using these tips!

Worried shaving with a safety razor is going to be a blood bath? I'm here to tell you not to worry; it won't be like a scene out of a horror film once you read these tips.

Safety razors are a great way to minimize plastic waste in the bathroom. Most disposable razors have some sort of plastic that you throw away: either the entire razor or the razor cartridge. Safety razors, however are plastic free! You just replace the blade which may be able to be recycled.

For some reason safety razors have received a bad rap that you are more likely to cut yourself. I was nervous too when I first started, but once I actually did it, I realized that it wasn't a whole lot different than using a regular razor. However there are some tips which will help you get a close shave and minimize the likelihood of getting cut.

The general goal of using a safety razor is to have the blade run along a smooth shaving surface with the blade in the optimal position to cut the hair without cutting the skin.

If you click on the product links below and make a purchase I may make a commission. Thanks!

Get a safety razor.

Hubby uses a short handled razor and I use a long handled one. And we both prefer the ones we have over the other. He has a lot more angles to deal with whereas I have to reach further. For more on kinds of safer razors read All About Safer Razors.

Use a fresh blade

Obviously the first time you use the razor the blade should be new. Don't share blades: that's just asking for trouble! However you should change blades (or sharpen them) if you notice it is getting a bit dull. Getting cut with a newer or sharper blade will make a smaller cut and it will heal more nicely. Try these blades.

Maintain a 30 degree angle

Maintain proper blade angle to get a close shave with a safety razor and not get cut.
The third photo shows the appropriate angle whereas the other
 two don't get the blade in proper cutting position.

The angle is important for the razor to work and provide a close shave. If you make the angle too shallow you'll just be moving the glide along and if the angle is too high it's just the top. Either angle will not cut the hair well and you are liable to get cut. Fortunately most razors are shaped in a manner that tries to encourage the correct blade angle. In the photo you see the first two put the blade at a bad angle, but the third has the razor run right along the leg.

Use short strokes

You will find this advice everywhere, but honestly I generally run my blade the length of my shin, calf and thigh. So why am I advocating it here for you? It's easier to keep the 30 degree angle with shorter strokes. Legs and faces are curvy places, each curve means you have to continually change the angle. So using shorter strokes will likely help you keep the angle, but it's the angle that's magic, not the stroke length.

Keep the blade clean and dry


Doing this will help extend the life of each blade and prevent rusting of the razor itself. I'll admit I'm not great about this. Just this morning I realized my blade had soap scum in the blade guard. Whoops! Well I cleaned it out and changed the blade and I noticed it shaved so much better!


Use the weight of the head

A safety razor head has a little heft to it and it's designed that way for a reason: to keep it close to the skin. You don't need to push down on it. In fact, if you push you mess up the angle and prevent a flat shaving surface and can cause cuts. Believe me, you don't need much pressure. The blade wants to cut the hair, just put it in the right spot.

Keep skin taut

I don't have issues with this on my calf and shin, but up around my knee I've found I provide a flatter shaving surface if I pull the skin taut.

Use a lubricant

I'll admit I don't have to use a lubricant, but I notice the blade slides much easier and the blade jumps less. I have dry shaved on the side of a bathtub, but I know not everyone can do this. So for lubricants there are a number of options. I generally either just use water while in the shower, but find I like using soap better. The lather of regular soap doesn't stick around long, so getting shave soap may be better. I've heard others use conditioner or olive oil. Whatever you choose to use the goal is to help the blade slide along your leg. Be sure to rinse the lubricant off the blade. 

Learning curve

Finally, I have cut myself exactly once using a safety razor. It was on my shin, not a "high risk" area like ankle or knee. I had been using the razor for about a month and I have no clue how it happened. I didn't notice it until after I was out of the shower. That one cut is probably more than I received in the last 5 years of using disposable razors, however it is nowhere near the number of cuts I received while first learning to shave. So if you do cut yourself I recommend being patient while you are learning.

In general, using a safety razor has been no different than using disposable...except from an environmental and cost perspective. Looking to buy one? Check out this one or this one!

Do you use a safety razor?

Don't forget to click over to to learn all about safety razors or join the weekly newsletter to keep up on all the happenings.

Find this interesting? Pin it for later!
Discover how to shave with a safety razor (which is zero waste and plastic free!) and not get cut. It's easy with these tips!
Shared on Healthy Happy Green Natural

Jun 6, 2017

Waste Less Wednesday 6/7/16

Blog Hop Zero waste plastic free less waste sustainable

A blog party focused on environmentally friendly practices: zero waste, recycling, gardening, homesteading, sustainability, living plastic free and upcycling.  It is live 1200 am Tuesday CST through Saturday 0500 CST. 

The Host:

Katy writes at SkipTheBag about her experiences trying to minimize waste, avoiding plastic and homesteading with her garden and chickens. If you love her posts you can follow her here:





Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

Not sure what a blog hop is? Click here

The Rules:

  • Link up to 3 original blog posts relating to environmentally friendly practices. Posts can be zero waste, living plastic free, sustainability, less waste recipes, homesteading, upcycling or anything else to do with helping out the environment.
  • No links to stores or link parties. Giveaways are OK as long as they are accompanied with a post.
  • Please visit your fellow bloggers: they care about the environment just like you!
  • In addition to featuring the most visited blog, the "most social" person will be featured. It's hard to track, but use the hashtag #WasteLessWednesday when commenting on people's blogs and while sharing posts on social media to qualify.
  • Posts will show in a random order.
  • By participating you give permission for any part of your post, including pictures, to be used for party promotion. Don't worry all credit will be given to the original source. You will also be signed up to receive SkipThe Bag's weekly email that goes out Wednesday mornings as a reminder to participate in Waste Less Wednesday. 

Features from Last Week:

Most social:

Four variations on Jamie Oliver's vegan brownie recipe. From UK vegan blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #vegan #veganblogger #veganbrownies #veganrecipe

Link Up Below!