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by Julie Dees

New homesteaders or those returning to the farm life are often wary of raising livestock. Trying to keep your crops and plants alive and thriving is tough enough. The responsibility of a living, breathing creature (other than your child) being completely at your mercy can be a daunting prospect. Raising chickens can be the answer to help ease you into it and open that gateway to keeping other livestock.

Benefits of Keeping Chickens

There are a lot of benefits to raising chickens and they are gaining popularity for many reasons. Along with your daily egg for breakfast, they are also great for companionship and amusement. Some birds will become pets, acting like dogs and following you around the farm.

Chickens can be useful in keeping the fly population down and even help with bug removal in the garden. Of course, you have to keep an eye on them as they will help themselves to fresh produce, flowers, and greenery whenever possible.

Keeping chickens can also add to your homestead’s income. Many breeds are known to be dual-purpose birds. This means that they are as prized for their meat as they are their eggs. Aside from selling the extra eggs, you can sell butchered and prepared chickens for the meat. Adult or started birds, baby chicks or hatching eggs, or even composted manure can also be sold or traded.

Basic Care and Equipment

Chickens don’t need a lot of specialized equipment. They have pretty basic requirements. Shelter with something to roost or perch on, fresh water, and food are their top priorities.

It is rare for chickens to need a heated environment, even in snowy, northern climates. As long as they are provided a dry, draft-free place to shelter, they are usually pretty happy. The key is to keep them from getting wet and chilled and they’ll be fine. They huddle together on the roost at night for warmth.

The opposite is true for hot locales. The birds need space to spread out, plenty of deep shade and fresh, moving air. Providing them water to stand in or misters to cool the air is also helpful. Heat is far deadlier to chickens than cold temperatures.

Fresh, clean water is something your birds (or any other animals or people) can’t do without. They can survive without food for a couple of days, but not water. As far as feed goes, you can either provide them free-choice or have them on a set schedule. It is up to you as long as you do feed them well!

A few other things that should be on your chicken list:

  • Oyster shell – your laying hens need that extra calcium for the egg shells
  • Grit – chickens don’t have teeth so they pick up grit to grind food in their crop
  • Laying box – just about anything will do for a laying box – add some straw or shavings and your girls will do the rest. Make sure it’s easy for you to gather the eggs.
The Gateway is Now Open

Chickens are easy to care for and are widely known to be the “gateway livestock”. They get you started with a couple of hens and pretty soon you’ll find you’re raising a zoo in your barnyard. It is a healthy addiction and is just the way it works.

And so you know, goats are usually the next creature in this natural progression. Good luck and have fun as you build your flocks and herds.

So do you have animals already in your care? If so, what did you start out with? We’d love to hear your story.

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Natural Stress Relief – 10 Simple Tips

by beconrad

Natural Stress Relief Tips

Whether you are feeling stressed out by your job and your demanding boss, or feeling the stress of dealing with your home and family, sometimes you just need a break. When you are craving relaxation, you need to look for creative ways to unwind and melt away the stresses of the day.

You do not have to spend big bucks at the local spa or take time away from the duties of work and family. Here are 10 simple, natural stress relief tips to alleviate tension and de-stress.

1 – A Long, Hot Soak

Treat yourself to a a soothing bubble bath. Nothing melts the cares of the day away quite like a tub full of warm bubbles. This relaxing indulgence costs only pennies, but it will make you feel like a million bucks.

2 – Take a Walk!

A brisk walk around the block or a relaxing stroll through the woods can relax your mind and make you feel better about the world.

3 – Curl Up With a Good Book

Reading a good book will engage your mind and help you learn new things. The next time you are feeling stressed, just head to your bookcase and grab your favorite volume.

4 – Give Yourself a Facial

Make a homemade facial mask. When you feel better about your appearance, you will feel better about your life. Just whip up a facial mask using ingredients from your own pantry and feel your stress melt away.

5 – Take a Power Nap

Napping in the middle of the day is a great way to treat yourself and unwind from the stresses of the day.

6 – Have a Cup of Restorative Tea

Drink some green tea. Green tea is good for you, and its soothing aroma will help you relax and unwind.

7 – Treat Yourself Sometimes

Indulge in your favorite sweet treat. Whether you scoop up a big bowl of ice cream or treat yourself to some delicious chocolate, the pick me up will do you good.

8 – Spend Time With a Friend

Have lunch with an old friend. The next time you are feeling stressed, just call a friend and schedule a lunch date or cup of coffee.

9 – Play!

Play with your kids. Nothing is quite as relaxing as playing with your kids. Whether you throw a ball around the back yard or watch them climb on the monkey bars, you are sure to have a great time.

10 – Zone Out for a While

Binge watch your favorite show. Close the door, turn down the lights, fire up Netflix and fall into your favorite TV show.

While we’d never say that you shouldn’t seek out medical treatment if you need it, natural stress relief methods are something that you can do for yourself every day to help stabilize your mood and relieve accumulated tension.

Stress is an integral part of modern life, but you do not have to let it get to you. The next time you are feeling stressed out and unsure what to do, just take a few minutes to pamper yourself and indulge in your favorite activities. You will feel less stressed, more relaxed and ready to take on the day.


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