Sustainable Dreams

Brain Tanning Rabbit Hides vs. Alum Tanning Rabbit Hides

I am pretty new in the world of tanning hides, so I try it all out as I go. I am very pleased to say that rabbit hides are very easy to do using either of the methods mentioned here.


How to Keep Rabbits Cool on Hot Summer Days In The South

The heat of the summer months can devistate rabbits, sometimes to the point of death. There are ways to help them stay cool, and I found that using multiple methods together has been successful.

About Me

Where do I start? I have been a stay at home mom for a long time...a homemaker.

Our family income has always been on the

Breeding Rabbits: The pregnancy check

My education and work experience has given me a good hold on checking dairy cows for pregnancy, but where rabbits are concerned, until now, I had only seen others check for pregnancy. It sounds so simple to think you can just jump right in to it without mishaps and mistakes, but it may be more difficult than you are aware of to get a real feel for pregnancy checking rabbits.


My first pregnancy check on a rabbit was successful.
I questioned myself though. I wondered if maybe what I thought were kits in her belly were just larger pellets. Its very easy to make that mistake when you dont have the practice or the "feel" of it yet. 

Theres one window of opportunity that is safe to pregnancy check rabbits without risking injury to the fetuses. That window is two weeks after the breeding day. On day 14, the little marble sized kittens are difficult to feel, and can easily be mistaken with pellets in the rabbits bowels. When I checked, I thought I felt 2 kittens maybe the size of an olive or grape. At the time I was certain she was pregnant. 

As the next 20 days passed for the pregnancy, we watched the rabbit gain weight and mature a bit more, but it didnt seem as though her belly was really growing, so I began to doubt my posative pregnancy check. I was worried I wasted 30 days of breeding time on an assumption, and Chris even questioned whether we should breed her again. Luckily we didnt because she would have been pregnant twice over and had the second breed prematurely with the others. Yes, rabbits can get pregnant while they are pregnant!

I am proud to say, my positive pregnancy check was successful, and today, day 30, we have our first litter of kits, kittens, or bunnies...whichever term you prefer, WE HAVE BABIES!

Take a look at the video below as I pregnancy check our first bred.


Video: How I beat aphid infestation in our organic cabbage plot

Who wants to pour chemicals in their gardens when there are natural ways to get rid of aphid and other pests? I don't, so I try really hard to do it all naturally and cost effective.



We had a terrible problem with aphid in our greenhouse that Chris built recently. They started devouring the spinach first and moved on to the cabbage where they really did a number.

If you know anything about aphids and fireants, you will know that aphids secrete a substance that is sweet to fire ants, and the ants move in to eat that sweet substance. Lady bugs will eat 60 aphids per hour, but the problem introducing ladybugs after the infestation gets that bad is that the ants will kill the ladybugs. The only thing left to do was to bait the fireants and work a bit harder trying to rid the cabbage of aphids.

Watch the video to see how simple it is if you are willing to put some extra effort into ridding your garden of aphid naturally!


Video: Canning Venison (Deer Meat)

I used to be kind of scared to even entertain the thought of canning meat at home, but as time goes by, and more people at home are doing it, I decided to try my luck canning venison.

I have to say, it is definately ugly when you can it, but my experience has been great, and Im glad I decided to step out of that comfort zone on this one.

I have put together a video that walks you through how I canned my venison. I am no movie star but its about as real as it gets lol. Follow me through my beginnings :)
Click read more below to see the video!


Utilizing Free Resources to Save Money and or Generate Income

As we move forward in building on what it means to be self sufficient, we have come to realise that everything we do requires some sort of monetary investment in order to see any kind of abundant success, or return. We have drawn the conclusion that there are free resources available to cut those costs, or at the very least, balance the difference by doing a bit of creative brainstorming to both find free resources and to be able to use them as a potential income source.

Read on to see some ideas on finding free resources as well as some things that we, and others  have come up with to generate a bit of extra cash flow, and or minimize some costs associated with building and maintaining a homestead. Keep in mind, we are "wannabee homesteaders" and are working toward that goal. It will not be an easy task!

Click here to visit our wood crafts page on FB if you are in Alabama or know someone that is.




Lumber

Chris works at a sign company that uses materials which come on huge spools. These spools are disassembled as the materials they hold are used up, and the lumber from the spools is then discarded as trash. With upper level permission, Chris has salvaged quite a bit of lumber from them. He has built a greenhouse, picnic tables, benches and garden beds from its individual parts. Soon he will be building his shop! We also have many other ideas for the future. This not only provides a potential income source to us, but also allows us to build things we wouldn't have the cash to build otherwise.



One down fall to this is storage space to collect it up as it gets here. We are working on that though, and although Chris hasnt decided one way or the other yet,  I think it would be a good idea to build vertical lumber racks for better space management.

When you are in many situations where you see a good resource to salvage that is going to the dump anyhow, chances are they will allow that instead of taking up time, space, and resources of their own that matter. Its their waste and a precious resource for you. We look at everything as a potential repurposed plan. Don't be afraid to ask!


The following pictures are projects available for sale in the Dothan AL area. If you would like something rustic built for you, my bet is that Chris can do it! He's my hero with his abilities to create beautiful rustic furniture as well as his ability to make things work such as the worm spinner I asked him to build for me to harvest my worm castings!

Rustic Re-Purposed wood picnic tables. $65
Child sized picnic tables $45

Rustic end tables- $25 each

entertainment stand- Not currently available but different wood and design possible.

Cupcake tower- No two would be the same and they must be covered if used for food

Worm casting harvester- this was an experiment but works great. the next will be a bit different. no price figured yet.

Cricket box- Can be used for any purpose



Rustic signs and wood crafts

Woodburned Garden Signs $5
Who doesn't go crazy for pallet wood? I certainly do, but sometimes they are difficult to take apart and some of the wood breaks, leaving us with jagged edge pieces of all sizes. It is still work getting those pallets apart, and I absolutely hate the thought of waste. I came up with a plan that allows me to recover that broken, splintered wood! I use it to make cute little garden signs. At first it was just for our garden, but when I noticed how people loved them, I decided to sell them at $5.00 each. 

Weeds

Just a simple arrangement before painting.
Have you ever noticed just how beautiful weeds can actually be when they are gathered and arranged in a pretty little bouquet? We have all seen them at least once in our lives as decor haven't we? Consider gathering weeds when they dry and spray painting them to add color and character to any room. You can purchase vases or make them. Arrange your weed bouquets in them and sell them at the local flea market or roadside stand or even online for a crafty way to make a buck. I have had several weed arrangements around my home and it really can be nice to look at. I am beginning to incorporate that into things for me as well, but the bigger focus right now is tables and signs above!

If you know or wish to learn about medicinal weeds as a source of income, that would probably be a successful strategy because there is definately a market out there.

Firewood


Our primary source of heat is a wood burning stove. Being in Alabama, the winter isn't as bad as other areas (I was born and raised in NY), so we can get away fairly minimal with the amount of time we actually have to heat here in AL. We use about a cord of fire wood per year which can cost more than a couple hundred dollars depending on the methods and measures of the dealers.

For details on different methods used by dealers, and how to be sure your prices are accurate for your needs, check out the post entitled "How to measure the value of cord wood so you're not over paying."

Firewood is a resource that can be found as a free resource with a little homework and effort. You may or may not be able to get every bit of the wood you will need for the cold season, but even some of it is a bonus with the price of firewood now-a-days. Going even further, you may get lucky enough to have an abundance to sell if you find the right opportunity. Consider the list below to get ideas on how to get free firewood.


  • State lands - As you drive down higways, you can see fallen trees and limbs everywhere. Call your state department and ask for a contract that gives you permission to clean up the wooded land. Often times, they may offer you an area to care for because for them, its actually a type of free maintainance. You could also check with the county you live and or the town/city.
  • Friends and neighbors - Most of us know people that own property with some wooded land in the mix. Where there is woods, there is dead and fallen trees that sit around. If they dont use it, why not ask them if you can? Its doing them a favor and cleaning up debrees, and its giving you the free wood.
  • Hunting grounds, golf clubs, shooting ranges etc... - Chris (my other half) is pretty heavy into hunting and guns. He has developed a relationship with the owner of a semi-private shooting range as well as the land owner where he hunts. He is allowed to go to both places and clean up the limbs and fallen trees to keep the land clear. It helps to develop personal relationships with the owners of places you use regularly. Never overlook the obvious and always be the guy that contributes to their cause as well. Those little favors matter!
  • Trade - If you know someone with available wood, even if they do sell it for profit, think up ways to offer your service or something you have that they may need. Its surprising to see how willing many are to trade when you start that conversation.
  • Roadside - When people clean up in the spring or after storms, they will usually put everything out by the road for the town to pick up later. Never just take it without asking because I believe that still can be considered stealing if you don't have permission. Most of the time though, if you take the time to knock at the door, they will be happy to get it out of their sight. They may also keep you in mind for future clean up next time so it never hurts to connect with people:)

Scrapping

In many states, they offer recycle deposits for soda cans and bottles that you pay at the time you buy it. Here in Alabama they dont do that, but we can still get some cash for collecting up aluminum cans. We crush them and collect them until we have a truckload. Below is a list of good metals to scrap if you have a bit of extra space to collect it up. We don't have alot of space, but when the little space we do have is filled up, we can cash it in and every little bit counts and every effort to build something bigger matters!

Aluminum
Copper
Brass
Steel
Iron
Cast iron

Of course you have the jewelery metals too like silver and gold, but thats a different approach all together.

Livestock

Although we have chickens, we dont really have room for alot more, but they do lay eggs, and they do age, so its always a good idea to hatch fresh chicks. Utilize that as a resource to generate some cash flow as space permits. We haven't started yet, but it is in the works to both replace as well as sell.

We have also discussed raising rabbits for food and sale!


There are so many possibilities to generate cash here and there, and the trick is to dabble in all things, so that you find what works in your area as well as whats right for your own life style.

Do you have other ideas you would like to share? Please let us know since we are all learning together. Comment below with ideas and advice!