Friday, January 29, 2016

Chimney Sweeping on the homestead and what not to do.

 If there is one thing I can tell you about this experience it is; you need to know what you are doing ahead of time. I must stress that we didn't know, and we made some mistakes on our first try.
Step one: always start at the bottom.

When you embark on your journey, don't do what we did.

Well, after we got the sweeping brush stuck in the chimney, we had to pull off the top three sections of the chimney pipe to get it un-stuck. I had to climb up onto the roof to help with that. Let me tell you, I was not thrilled. Little known fact, I don't care for heights.

Starting at the top.

Once we got the brush out Gary was able to see down into the lower sections of pipe and saw quite a bit of creosote built up in there. So he then proceeded to go into the attic to re attach the pipes and clean the lower pipes from that much closer distance.
Once that was completed we then went inside to the stove and that's when we realized that we had a big mess on our hands.

Realizing we would need to clean the debris.

I got to work after I spread a large plastic bag around my floor to catch all the debris.
there was so much creosote plugging up the stove I dug out as much as I could.
Then I got the vacuum and cleaned out the rest.

Creosote plugging up the wood stove vent hole. No bueno.

I guess the moral of this story is, If you don't know what you are doing, find out the steps first and save your self all the trouble of a messy clean up afterwards.

Of course all of our mistakes are now lessons learned(in what not to do) and we can pass this on to you.

First you want to place a large bag(paper grocery bag works well as long as your fire place is totally cold.)around the bottom of the chimney pipe ( the one that attaches to your stove).

Then you need to make sure that you have the correct size brush for your pipe.(measure the inside diameter of your chimney) Ours is 6" but we had an 8" brush. You do the means it gets stuck.

Once you have the correct brush for your pipe and you have put the bag around your bottom pipe you may now go up on your roof and sweep your chimney safely and with minimal clean up.

Next time we will do it right.

As I was searching for the correct brush size to replace the 8" with a 6" brush, I came upon a product I am interested in trying. I would love some advice if you know anything about it or have used it your self.
Here is the link:

As always, I wish you all 


~ Vicoria ~

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Homestead Kitchen Update

Click here to see the current Kitchen Update Video

It has been a while since my last  Homestead Kitchen Video.
Click here to see my first video.
This was in 2014, soon after we bought the property.
I look back at it now and  it's so funny how we get used to things.
I was used to filling jugs of water from a hose.
I was used to boiling my water on the propane grill.
I was used to washing the few dishes we had in two buckets on the table.
Fast forward a year and a few I have a counter, with a double sink (I got on Craigslist for $25) and cold running water.
I still have to heat my water to do dishes and clean up with. 
But some how it feels like less of a chore.
I keep a large pot of water on the wood stove (we also got from Craigslist for half the price of a new Vermont Castings) at all times, so it's like having on demand hot water.
Water on the stove and my babies on the bed together by the heat of the wood stove.

I have so many favorite things in my new homesteading life, this picture represents one of the purest. The dog and cat lounging by the wood stove(their favorite spot) together.
It is a representation of the peace I feel here.
I can't tell you how much I love being here.
I feel joy every morning that I wake up here and look out the window at the sunrise.
I am truly  thankful for all that I get to do and share with you all.
I hope you enjoy this new Update on the Homestead Kitchen.



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Homestead Tip #2: Drying egg shells.

Homestead Tip # 2 Video

This is a really simple tip. once you have used your eggs, put the shells into a heat safe metal pan/tin

 and place them on top or to the side of your wood stove.(or in your oven on a low temp for 25 min.)

Before you know it they will be dried and ready to grind down into a usable form.

I do this daily, because we use a lot of eggs.

We feed them to our chickens and use them in the garden.

Here are a few links on the subject;

30 ways to use Egg shells!

6 Reasons to start using Egg shells in your garden!

How to Make Calcium using Egg Shells

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A long winters' break and A new posting schedule!

     I have to admit I have loved my winter break from blogging, posting on Facebook and  YouTube.  It was not a planned hiatus. It just sort of happened. I am so glad it did though, because I am back and I have a plan.....

Well lets just say that I am giving myself the rest of this month and all of next month to get into this new habit and I have decided to schedule my blogging and filming days.

I have made a schedule that I think will work for me, so that I don't feel so overwhelmed and rushed.

I have also decided that for right now I will have Homestead Tip Tuesdays and Misc. Thursdays.

What's that you say?  

Well on Tuesdays I will post a Homestead tip here and on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.
It will be some cool and useful, most likely frugal tip to use on your homestead.
It might be a Kitchen tip or a Gardening tip. I have an entire month of them all planned out!

Misc. Thursdays is just that. it could be an update video  or a Homestead tip, or anything else.

I will kick this off today with

  Homestead Tip # 1: Homemade suet cakes for chickens.

The video is the tutorial and the blog post has the recipe I used and a list of all the ingredients that you can use to make the treat to your own flocks liking.

I hope that this renewed interest takes hold. It is going to be fun to see if I can actually do it.

As I  said the best laid plans ....  well they can often be derailed.

I am already behind on my filming for

Wish me luck!



Homestead Tip # 1: Homemade suet cakes for chickens!

Maine Homestead Project YouTube Link

 I love to spoil my animals. I also have this thing about feeding them the healthiest foods I can. Just like I feed myself organic, I feed them the same.

It can be expensive. Prohibitively so. I do it anyway, especially with my chickens. I do it because I am going to eat their eggs and also their flesh, and make broth from their bones. So damn straight they are going to be fed the best!

It gives me joy and peace to know that they are having the best life I can give them. A safe coop and run, supervised free range time, fresh air and sunshine, clean water and good food. My motto is " they will only have one bad day" the rest of their life will be full of love.
When it comes to treats I feed them many things. Like organic dairy, organic veggie scraps and when they can't forage, like now in the winter time, I give them whole heads of cabbage , Organic scratch and black oil sunflower seeds and meal worms.

This suet cake is made as a winter supplemental treat. I add lots of different things to it. Here is the recipe I made in the video. I also made a list of the other things you can use.

Homemade Suet Cake for Chickens


3 c. Beef tallow(melted)
1/2 c. Coconut oil
2 c. Organic Scratch feed
1 c. black oil sunflower seeds
1 c. Organic steel cut oats
1 c. Dried Mullberries(organic)
1 Tbsp. Organic ground turmeric
1 tsp. fresh minced garlic(organic)

Mix all ingredients well. It should be well coated and pourable, but not too wet.
Pour your desired amount into a greased tin/s and cool completely. To store I wraped mine in plastic wrap and put them in a container that I store in the coop. It is cold out there so I know it isn't going to melt and it is vermin proof.

Ideas for other healthy additions are:

Dried herbs and spices like:

  • mint
  • oregano
  • basil
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • garlic(fresh or dried)
  • parsley
  • turmeric(fresh or dried)
  • ginger(fresh or dried)

Dried fruits:

  • apples
  • cranberries(unsweetened)
  • apricots
  • prunes
  • peaches
  • blueberries
  • cherries
  • berries

Nuts and seeds ( Unsalted! ):

  • peanuts
  • sunflower seeds(black oil)
  • almonds
  • roasted cashews
  • hazelnuts
  • pecans
  • pumpkin seeds
  • flax seeds
  • hemp seeds


  • rye
  • oats
  • buckwheat
  • wheat

Last but not least.......Mealworms!

This site is full of great info on treats for chickens and I refer to it often. Please visit it for a full list of healthy treats for your girls.

I hope you make this fun treat for your girls and boys. I know they will love it!

It is an easy treat to make them and with fresh organic and dried organic ingredients you can't go wrong!

Go make a batch today!