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Turning your house upside down once or twice a year for a thorough cleaning is an exhausting process that often leaves you wishing you could be more organized throughout the year. Decluttering does not have to be a big ordeal that saps your energy. Each of these easy decluttering tips can be done in ten minutes or less and will leave your house looking neat and uncluttered.

Plastic Cups

Open your kitchen cabinet and look inside. Ideally you will be treated to the sight of a cupboard full of lovely glassware. If you see a cabinet full of plastic cups, it may be time to pare down your drinkware collection. Restaurants, movie theaters and local businesses often give away drinking vessels with branding and promotional information brightly printed on the side. It is all too easy to wash these and put them in the cupboard with the rest of your glasses. Soon, you have an army of plastic cups advertising at you every time you reach in the cabinet. Save one to wash the dog and donate the rest.

Shabby Linens

It’s no secret that we all have sheets and towels that have seen better days. Many people hang on to these well-worn items longer than they should, creating chaos in the linen closet. Look through your linens and toss anything with holes or tears. A good rule of thumb is to keep what you would feel comfortable with a guest using and get rid of the rest.

Writing Utensils

Everyone has a junk drawer bursting with odds and ends that do not belong anywhere else. At least half of every junk drawer seems to be filled with accumulated pens and pencils. In a digital age, no one needs that many writing implements. Keep a few of the ones you like best and donate the rest to your local school.

Condiments

Let’s face it. We like to eat out on occasion. But then we end up with double handfuls of condiment packets thrown into the takeout bag. Instead of tossing the unused packets, many people shove them into a drawer a bin in the refrigerator where they languish for what seems like forever. Don’t fall into the condiment trap. Look for all those stray packets and toss them in the garbage. If you don’t feel comfortable trashing them, see if your local food bank would like them.

Old Cosmetics and Beauty Products

Tossing food past its expiration date is a no-brainer, but it seems to be uncommon knowledge that cosmetics and beauty products have a shelf life as well. As a rule, anything older than two years needs to go. Old cosmetics are a favorite hangout for germs and any beauty product past date just won’t be as effective. Check the expiration dates for your favorite products and be merciless.

Magazines

That large stack of old publications that resides on your side table or in your bookshelf is taking up a lot of space. Perhaps you told yourself that you would use them in a future DIY project, or there is a specific article you just knew you would want to reference one day. Realistically, you are very likely to never get around to those projects. Digitize the articles you want to keep and recycle the rest. You just crossed something off your to do list.

CDs

With external hard drives and cloud storage, there is just no reason to keep your CDs. They will soon be as unfamiliar to kids as eight tracks. If you just can’t bear the thought of parting with your most treasured CDs, put them all on one spindle and toss their jewel cases. This will free up most of the space they were occupying while allowing you to hold on.

Extra Cords and Cables

Long after electronics and appliances have made their way to the thrift store, the cords and cables that came with them remain in the junk drawer. Be brave, and pull out that tangled mess to determine which cords you still need. Recycle the extras or send them to the thrift store to reunite with their lost electronic partners.

Fridge Magnets

It seems that every restaurant, gym and mechanic bombards you with a free magnet to stick on your refrigerator. Eventually, your fridge becomes so weighed down with these that you may not even remember the original color of the appliance. You do not need those magnets. Any phone number you need is programmed into your device or just a click away online. Keep one or two and get rid of the rest. You will be amazed at how much better your kitchen looks.

Outdated Documents

If you are like most people, you file your important papers and forget about them. There are few documents you need to keep for more than seven years. Go through your papers and shred the ones that you have been hanging onto for no reason. Sign up for online statements for everything you can to keep the paper from piling up again.

After you go through your home and declutter using these ten tips, every room will feel more spacious and usable. Getting rid of the items on this list has the added benefit of automatically updating the look of your home, making it a much more aesthetically pleasing space.

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Oh, we are all about…




Here Are The Pros (With A Con Or Two) Of Raising Ducks

Most folks automatically think of chickens when it comes to fresh farm eggs on the homestead, and I love my chickens. But ducks also produce delicious eggs, and they’re definitely worth considering. Like any other homestead animal, there are pros and cons to raising ducks that you’ll want to think about before you bring them home. Continue reading to see if ducks might be a good fit for your homestead as well as some useful tips to help you get started.

The Pros
  • Ducks are great for pest control in the garden. If you love to garden but hate using dangerous pesticides, ducks could be the perfect solution. The nice thing about ducks is that they don’t dig up the ground as chickens do. You’ll want to keep them away from your very young seedlings, lettuces, and ripe strawberries. Otherwise, you can give them free reign to hunt for bugs, slugs, and snails in your garden.
  • Ducks are cheap to feed. Ducks are excellent foragers, and they can literally feed themselves. Let them free range through your garden, and they’ll eat everything from worms, fly larvae, and mosquitos to snails. They will even graze on grass, and they’ll love to eat your kitchen scraps.
  • Ducks produce delicious eggs. Duck eggs have richer, more buttery taste than chicken eggs. Even better, they proved six times more Vitamin D and twice the Vitamin A of chicken eggs.
  • Many breeds are dual purpose. Many breeds of ducks not only make great egg layers, but they can also provide delicious meat for the freezer, too.
  • Ducks like to graze on grass and weeds. Let your ducks run in your yard, and you won’t have to mow as often.
  • They produce great fertilizer. Whether you let your ducks forage in your garden or on your lawn, they’ll leave wonderful fertilizer behind wherever they go.
  • Ducks are very winter hardy. Ducks are tough birds! In general, they do well in just about any kind of weather with a proper shelter to protect them from wind and snow.
  • Ducks never eat their own eggs. Egg eating can be a common problem with chickens, but I have never heard of, or experienced, ducks having this problem.

 

The Cons
  • Ducks can be messy. Ducks are at least as messy as chickens, and probably even more so. Be prepared to clean out their house often and change their water at least a couple times a day.
  • Ducks are noisy. They are social animals, and they like to talk to each other, a lot! Expect to hear them talking back and forth a lot, and their alarm sounds are especially Personally, I enjoy the sounds of ducks in the yard, but if you have close neighbors, the noise is something to consider.

Some Tips to Help You Get Started with Ducks on Your Homestead
  • Choose a breed that suits your needs. With dozens of breeds to choose from, there’s sure to be one that’s perfect for your homestead. I personally love Indian Runner Ducks for egg production and pest control around the homestead. They are land ducks, so they don’t require a pond, just a water dish deep enough to dunk their heads in. They produce eggs year-round and have sweet personalities. Other popular breeds for homesteaders looking for good egg production include:

Khaki Campbells- Another favorite of mine, Campbells are hardy ducks that lay lots of eggs and have great personalities. They are land ducks, too, so they don’t need a pond or pool for swimming.

Welsh Harlequins- Harlequins are great foragers, and they’re super docile. They don’t lay as many eggs as some other breeds, but you can still expect about 150 eggs each year. They are also large enough to be a meat bird, so they are dual purpose.

Anconas- Anconas are another dual-purpose bird, and their meat is generally less fatty and has better flavor than Pekin ducks. Their eggs are either white, cream or blue and you can expect them to lay about 250 eggs per year.

Magpies- These adorable ducks are super friendly, and they make great pets. Their eggs are usually white, but sometimes they can be green or blue.

  • Start out with a pair. If you’re not sure about getting ducks for your homestead, start out with just a pair. Ducks are very social, so they will be lonely if you try to keep just one, but two will give you a good idea of how they’re going to do in your particular situation.
  • Feeding your ducks properly. Although your ducks will forage for most of their own food, its’ best to provide them with free access to a quality duck pellet. Proper nutrition will ensure that your ducks lay as many high-quality eggs as possible.
  • How much water do your ducks really need? Above all, make sure your ducks have access to plenty of clean drinking water. They need access to water that’s deep enough to dunk their entire head. Most breeds of ducks will also love to have a little kiddie pool to swim in but be prepared to clean it daily.
  • Providing suitable housing for your ducks. Your ducks will be vulnerable to predators, so they will need a shelter that will keep them safe, especially at night. Ducks are more winter hardy than chickens, but you should still protect them from wind and snow and make sure they have shade in the summer. They don’t usually use a nesting box as chickens do, but they will probably go into their house to lay their eggs. A “chicken tractor” or a movable hutch along with an electric poultry net fence both make great options for keeping ducks.

While I love my chickens and they will always have a place on my homestead, I love ducks, too. Each bird has its purpose, and there’s no reason not to have both. But even if you’re not entirely sold on the idea of getting chickens for your homestead, ducks are definitely worth considering.


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