New Peacock on the Block

Our new boy is 3 years old (Corona is 2). He’s still getting his bearings down in the coop and she has no idea he’s here yet. She hangs out at the house in the daytime and heads down to the coop in the afternoon / evening to take inventory and make sure all is as it should be.

USPS talking about raising shipping / handling fees on live animals

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USPS wants to add from $9 to $12 per box shipping / handling fees for poultry. That would make the purchase of chicks ridiculous.
My answer isn’t going to be to complain to them, even though it would seriously impact the replacement cost for new pullets.
Nope, I’ll simply become my own breeder. I have roosters. I can find more roosters. I can buy an incubator.

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Thank you, Uncle Sam, for making me more self sufficient and less reliant on the government and its agencies.

Nana might be a redneck!

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Ant Season! Time to make bait.

It’s ant season at Nana’s Ranch. What that means is; we have ants picking up and moving into the house. There are a few things going on here:

  1. As it gets hot outside, some ants look for a cooler environment to move their eggs and larvae to. *The same thing happens in the rainy season when ants start leaving flooded subterranean homes and move their little ones to dry ground; our house.
  2. As their eggs hatch, hungry babies need to be fed and a well stocked but loosely guarded kitchen and pantry are excellent places to grab a meal to-go.
  3. The ants may be looking for something as benign as water.

The first step to keeping the ants away is cleaning. I wipe down all surfaces, change the trash and compost daily, and put food away ASAP. I also check the pantry often to make sure they haven’t found my honey or any other sweet syrup. If they have, I rinse it off and put it in the fridge until the problem is gone.

When I find ants milling about,Ā  I spray them with a diluted mix of Dawn Dish washing liquid and water. It’s a 5% solution and is about as non-toxic as you can get. If you prefer an organic liquid dish soap, by all means use it. You may have to make the solution a little stronger. Rinse surfaces when the ants die. If it takes more than a couple of seconds for the ants to die, your solution is too weak. Add a little more soap.

The next step in erasing the problem is finding out where they’re coming from. Sometimes it’s a crack in the foundation or through a window sill. The ones in my kitchen right now are coming in through the sliding glass door at the dining room.

I hate using harmful chemicals @ Nana’s Ranch. I want every surface to be safe for food prep, pets, and grandchildren. That’s why I choose to make my own ant bait. Not only is it cheaper than store bought (never mind the trip to town to make the purchase) but it actually works. Now a days, you’re lucky if the ants even look @ the commercial products, let alone go in and take the bait.

When you make your own ant bait, you can adjust the recipe to fit your ants. They’re either going after sugar or fat. If a sugar recipe (jelly, jam, syrup, honey, sugar) doesn’t work, add a little oil and see if that works. I’ve used bacon grease in the past.

RECIPE FOR ANT BAIT

1 TABLESPOON WATER

1 TABLESPOON HONEY

1/4 teaspoon Boric Acid

Place all ingredients in a glass jar. Stir (heat honey if that helps) carefully. With a hammer and nail, bang several holes in metal lid to the glass jar. DO NOT DO IT WHEN THE LID IS ON THE JAR or you’ll shatter the glass and have more to worry about than an ant problem. šŸ˜›

Use glass, not plastic to protect pets. Some dogs would chew right through a plastic container to get to the sweet treat inside.

I lay the glass jar, lid screwed on tight, on its side just outside the door where the ants are traveling. Pouring just a drop of mixture onto the patio helps bait the ants.

Change out your mixture every few days – or just add a more honey / water / BA mixture to what’s already there.

It will take a couple of weeks to kill the ant colony. Have patience! The ants love this mixture and they will take it back to their babies. As it’s being consumed, there will be thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of ants swarming the jar. This is a good thing! It means they love your offering. If you don’t see a lot of activity, change your ingredients until you find something they seem to love.

CAUTION: Boric Acid is a caustic agent. Please read about it so you don’t put yourself or your family at risk.

Boric Acid can be purchased at most drug stores in the First Aid section. It is used as an eye rinse. Some pharmacies have stopped carrying it due to liability issues (at least they have here in pathetic California). I find it’s more available in rural than urban areas. Check on-line sources if you can’t find it near your home.

I put a second bait station under my kitchen sink. If the ants continue to be around the compost bin, I’ll place a small dish next to that (by the coffee maker). I don’t have a cat to worry about so an open container will work for me. If you have pets or children who might get into trouble, please safety first! Use a covered glass jar for all bait stations.

If there is no risk to children or pets, finding the nest and dusting around the opening with a little Boric Acid can be helpful. I also place it in the ant’s trail. This dusts their bodies with the caustic agent. If the ants are only going after water, this might be the only way to kill them.

Bentley Sings 1

Catahoulas are known for their singing. This isn’t a whine or a cry for attention or a potty break. Theirs is different. Listen to how his vocals seem to vibrate at times.
Bentley, our Catahoula / Weimaraner cross, likes to sit / lie / stand at the front windows and watch for squirrels, gophers, cats, and rabbits.
When he sees one, he starts to sing. When he sees squirrels and cats he get really excited. Gophers get him mildly excited and rabbits get some attention but not too much because he’s terrified of rabbits. We’re not sure why.
This video is of him watching a ground squirrel. Those evil little rodents walk around right in front of him sometimes. They have to know he’s there and can’t get to them.

Crafty Jewelry Stuff @ Nana’s Ranch

One thing I have plenty of @ Nana’s Ranch is time in the evenings after the sun goes down. I’m not really a TV person so when there’s something on that I’m trying to watch (but, let’s face it, the ADD can make it kind of difficult to watch the same movie for 2 hours) I’ll find something else to do at the same time.

One of the things I like to do is play with polymer clay. I don’t use one specific brand because I shop the sales. Fimo, Sculpy, and other brands all work fine for me. I sell most of what I make but I also use / wear a lot of my creations.

Jewelry is one of my favorite things to make.

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I also make paper bead necklaces. Proceeds from the sales of these go toward our volunteer work in Africa.

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I make earrings & bracelets out of the paper beads as well. I usually make sets.

If there is something you want to fill your spare time with, I encourage you to go to a craft store and buy some polymer clay, and start creating. It’s a nice way to pass the time.

As always, thank you for visiting Nana’s Ranch. We like it when you share us with your friends on Facebook & Twitter. Also, don’t be shy; If you like a post, let us know with a LIKE and a comment. If you have any questions, you’re free to ask.

Crafty Soap Stuff @ Nana’s Ranch

I started making soap more than 15 years ago, when my oldest daughter got contact lenses. The optometrist told me to buy unscented hand-soap with no fillers. I looked for soap with nothing in it; pure soap. I couldn’t find any except at boutiques and the cost was EXAGGERATED to say the least. I wasn’t going to pay $8 for a bar of soap.

And since I am an ACTION VERB….

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…I did what any other cheapskate who can read and follow directions would do; I found a book of soap recipes and learned how to make soap from scratch. I also called my friend, Susan, who made soap to sell at farmers’ markets. She gave me some great tips.

My first bars were made of beef tallow and lye. Yes; beef tallow.

“Where does one find beef tallow,” you ask. Well….. I made that too! We were big tri-tip fans. I’d cut the fat off the beef and freeze it until I had enough. Then I put it all into a big pot, added water, and cooked it for several hours. Once it had cooked enough I pulled out and threw away all the remaining solid globs of fat, let the remaining liquid cool enough to strain any small pieces out, and set the clear liquid aside to completely cool. As it cools, it separates. Water to the bottom, white goo to the top. The white goo on top is tallow. I scraped that into a measuring cup and added enough lye and water to make a batch of soap. Very homesteady of me.

The soap was stirred for what seemed like forever before it was poured into molds. I used yogurt containers as molds back then by pouring about an inch into the bottom of each.

I got tired of all the work with boiling fat into tallow and branched out into using olive oil as my fat. Wonderful choice! Now all of my soap is either olive or Canola oil. I still make pure soap for people with sensitivities but I also make wonderful soaps with herbs and spices.

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My recipe is for Castile Soap but I make it here, at Nana’s Ranch, not in the Castile region of France.

I also hand knit 100% cotton cloths.

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I both sell and give away my soaps and cloths. They make great gifts.

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Sometimes I add herbs like powdered, dry mint, catnip, sage, and other herbs I think might make a good addition to my recipe. Mostly these act as an exfoliate (cinnamon does the same) but sometimes they also give my soaps a nice aroma.

As always, it’s a pleasure showing you what it’s like at Nana’s Ranch. I enjoy sharing and I hope you like to see and learn a little more about country living when you visit our blog.

Please share and LIKE us, as well as follow Nana’s Ranch for regular updates.

God bless you!

Snakes in the Dryer! *nobody dies*

We have a lot of different species of snake @ Nana’s Ranch. Most of them are harmless and we like finding them around the property. We have seen California KingsnakesĀ  (Lampropeltis getula californiae) & Gopher Snakes, as well as Rattlesnakes.

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Well, a first for us was the visitor this morning. Bentley was at the sliding glass door, freaking out because a ground squirrel was on the patio checking out a bag of chicken scratch. When we let him out, he startled a good sized Garter Snake that was also on the patio, hunting up against the house, behind the BBQ grill.

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The snake decided to head for a safe place to hide so it slithered over to the dryer vent and just like THAT – crawled up and into the vent. Yes, it did! Grandpa turned on the dryer and after a few minutes the snake came out again. Holy cow…. Nana never thought there were snakes in the dryer.

I’m not afraid of snakes but when I went into the laundry room a few minutes ago, I double checked for the snake. I know we’ll see it again.