Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chicken Experiement Update

Our spicy chicken experiement?


Our girls seemed super happy to get their little spicy treats and they gobbled them right down and begged for more.  I gave them table scraps and even a treat of spicy cornbread for a week straight and hoped for the best.

And nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zero.  Ziltch.

Not a single egg.

So, I guess not all old wives tales are true.....or maybe we just have stubborn chickens!

I guess I'll go back to trying to be patient and let our girls have their egg-laying break.

The days are getting longer.

And slightly wamer.

(even though we've had our first snowstorm of the year here at the end of February and one more predicted tonight.....looks like March is coming in like a LION!)

And I'll keep treating the girls to table scraps and stale bread and sometimes their own special chicken treats I cook up.

And soon.  Soon and very soon, they'll start laying again.

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Homemade Laundry Soap

In the CrazyLife family, we have sensitive skin.  Like really sensitive skin.  Thing #4 breaks out in goose prickles if anything brushes on his skin and even the sensitive soaps and laundry detergents and such don't work.  His poor little belly is always pimpled up.

So last summer I started making my own laundry soap, hoping it would help.  And it did!

It was easy really.  A couple bars of Fels Naptha soap, grated up.  A cup of washing soda.  A cup of borax.  Mix.  Use 1-2 tablespoons in each load.  Sometimes I would add half a cup of baking soda as well.  If I needed fabric softener, I would add vinegar to the rinse.

But we seemed to go through it so quickly.  Even though it lasted longer than commercial laundry soaps, I felt like I was constantly grating soap and making more.  I mean, we probably do about 16 loads of laundry a week, if you include all the towels and sheets.  (not to mention all the clothes that somehow never make it into the dressers and get thrown back into the laundry, completely folded, when the kids are picking up their bedroom floors!)

So now on top of doing laundry ALL THE TIME,  I was making laundry soap, ALL THE TIME.

Something had to be done.

Enter Pinterest (my newest internet obsession!).

I found a "recipe" for laundry soap that was basically the same as what I was doing, but it stretched it further....much, much further.  In fact, the batch that I cooked up during Christmas break is still in use...with two and a half more mason jars to go!

Here it miracle laundry soap: White Purse Laundry Soap

I did switch things up a bit and make it my own, but that is the basic formula/recipe that I used.  Plus, it was kind of fun to do.....even the kids got in on the act.


2 bars Fels Naptha or other soap of choice (I really want to try ZOTE soap as I've heard it has a great smell and is such a pretty pink color!)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda (NOT BAKING soda!)
1 cup baking soda
6 cups water


1. Heat water.  Grate soap bars.
2. Add grated soap gradually to hot water and melt. Do not boil!
3. Turn off heat and add borax, washing soda and baking soda.
4. Pour into 4 quart size mason jars.
5. Add enough warm water to each jar to fill it almost to the top - to the "shoulders" of the jar, if you will.
6. Cover and let sit overnight.

This is a fun step....the water and soap mixture separate out and look really cool.

7.  Take the separated mixture and put it in your blender (not your mixer as I first tried - SUCH a MESS!) And blend until it whips up into a creamy pudding-like mixture.  I had to do this in several steps in order to get through it all.

8. Clean out the mason jars used above and re-pack the pudding-like soap mixture into the jars.  I was able to fill 6 1/2 quart size mason jars with the finished project.
9.  Add a cute label and move to your laundry space.

(seriously, my laundry room is never that matter how much I wish it was!  But doesn't it look so nice in pictures???!!!)

I'm using about one tablespoon in each load of wash and as I mentioned above, we're on two and a half months of the same batch....with two and a half jars left to go.  It cleans just as well, if not better than my powdered mixture and is lasting so long, so it's super economical!

The best part is that our family's skin is happy and goose prickle free!

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hens on Stike! And a "spicy" experiement!

Our hens are not laying eggs.
They have not laid one single egg since the beginning of November.
Now, this isn't really unusual.
Our girls have always molted right about then, which means no eggs.
And then winter begins, which means no eggs.

But this year is different.
They are being stubborn.

We like to give our girls a break in the winter.
I mean, really it isn't totally healthy for them to lay year-round.
Letting them "chill" out and not lay during the winter months gives them longer lives and extends their laying periods (at least in our experience).


It's been warmer than usual this winter. I mean, 52 degrees on January 31st in Northern Michigan is a bit mild, you know?
And we put a light in the coop at the beginning of the month.
So we gave them a two-month rest period before expecting hoping they would lay again.

And they haven't.
I think they are on strike.

So we're doing a little experiment.
I checked around the forums on my favorite chicken information site: Backyard Chickens
It seems that some people have had success kick-starting their chickens laying by feeding them red pepper flakes or ground red pepper.
So we're trying it.  
Everything I've researched says it can't hurt.

Today is day three of feeding them a special cornbread treat with a secret ingredient (red pepper flakes).
So far....nothing.
I'll keep you posted.
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