Bagworm Infestation on the Homestead – yuck!!

Now that it’s sunny and we can get outside, we’ve been busy prepping the garden, mulching and cleaning up the yard.  You know, the usual “Spring Cleanup”.  We’ve been at the new Homestead for one year now and it seems that each month teaches us something new.  This month – Bagworm Infestation 101.  Ew.

What is a Bagworm you ask?  It’s basically a moth that feeds on trees and then takes parts of the tree to form a cocoon with silk strong enough to strangle and kill the tree.  (For a more detailed description click here).

See this lineup of trees?  See the little dead one on the end?  Yup, that tree had the most cocoons hanging from it.


See those little sack like things that look like seed pockets?  Guess what? They aren’t seeds, it’s a bagworm cocoon filled with hundreds to thousand of eggs.  Again I say, EW.   140421_0006 140421_0008

So how do you get rid of them without spraying nasty chemicals?  You get your children to pick them off of the trees before they hatch.  Once picked, put them in soapy water and throw them out (in a sealed plastic bag of course). P.S. Papa Nice also helped, but he’s not in the pic 🙂


There are “safe” pesticides out there, and we might resort to that.  For now, we are picking them off.  I will keep you updated as the summer goes on to see what happens.  Right now, the Bagworms haven’t hatched so it’s hard to tell if we’ve gotten rid of the problem.  I also read that birds will get rid of a small infestation, so I’m hoping the cocoons we couldn’t reach up at the tippy top will serve as a tasty snack for some birds (as long as they aren’t Starlings – we don’t need another infestation of those nasty birds!!).


February 2014

February has been a very busy month.  This long winter filled with snowy days has it’s advantages – being stuck inside without having to run the “school/activity shuttle” has provided uninterupted time to work on prepping the homestead for the upcoming season.  Here is what we worked on and learned in February 2014:


Around The Homestead

barley fodder button

– Learned to grow fodder –  I’m not sure how I stumbled on this method, but I was hooked pretty quickly.  The thought that I could give my chickens more nutrients, less cost and would keep them happy this winter – woo hoo!  Click links below for more information.

– Shoveled lots of snow –   Lots and lots and lots of snow.  We had to dig a path around the house to allow for the melting snow to move to the proper drains (ya know, so it doesn’t end up in our basement.)  At least and kids and dog are enjoying the snow 🙂

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– Cooking From Scratch  Before we grow our own grains and attempt to process it ourselves, I thought it would be a good idea to make sure I enjoyed (and coud successfully pull off) cooking food from scratch.  Bread, pasta, baked goods, etc.  Turns out, I DO like it!  Click here to visit some recipes I enjoy!



wry neck button

-Wry Neck & Crop Issues –  When our Silkie got sick this month, I immediately scoured the internet looking for ways to help her get better (without spending a fortune to save a $10 chicken).  At first we thought she had “Impacted Crop”.  That was something I never heard of before, but upon further investigation we found it was not her crop that was inpacted, but rather her neck that was twisted.  “Wry Neck” is common in silkies – I had no idea.  “Fluffster” was at the bottom of the pecking order and she was being starved out but the other hens.  I believe that becuase she wasn’t getting the nutrients she needed, she then developed Wry Neck as a result of vitamin difficiency.  We attempted treatment and she was doing better for about 5 days, but then I believe she aspirated after a feeding becuase once I put her down, she fell over and died quickly. It was a sad moment for the kids and I.  We tried to nurse the chicken back to health and ultimately failed.  But, that’s farm life and lessons were learned.  I’m posting the pics to give you an idea of what “Wry Neck” looks like.  See the links below to learn more about “Wry Neck” and “Impacted Crop.”

starling button

-Starling Invasion – This winter has been awful and the wild birds are looking for food wherever they can get in.  Unfortunately a flock of Starlings (which come in droves of 50 – 100 birds) decided to feast on our chicken feed and attack our hens.  Our chickens are fenced in, but they are not fully inclosed.  The Starlings eat just about anything, including eggs!  We attempted to put netting over the coop – the Starlings got in.  We put up shiny bird reppellers – the Starlings could care less.  After much research, we learned that Starlings are indeed invasive and the only was to get rid of them is to kill them.  So….. I learned to use a pellet gun and fight the Startling fight almost daily.  Click the link below to learn about these awful birds.

basement chickens button

-Basement Chickens – That’s right, our chickens moved into our basment for about 2 weeks.  The weather got so bad the chickens would not leave the coop and turned to picking each other bare (not to mention the Starling situation).  We seperated them into two groups, ran an air purifier (which worked AMAZING) and put them back outside once the weather got a bit warmer (and the Starlings seemed to have moved on).  On a positive note, I didn’t have to trudge through the snow various times of the day to care for “the girls.”


Kids & Organizing

 Pajama Themed Birthday Party – My daughter turned 6 and she wanted a “Pajama Party” – without the sleepover part.  Guests came in PJs and we had a great time playing “Pass the Stuffed Animal”, “Pin The Pillow On The Sleeping Bag”, “Musical Pillows” and “Freeze Dance.”  We decorated pillow cases with fabric markers and after eating pizza and sundaes, we ended the night watching a movie while eating popcorn.

sleepover tableware buttonsleepover party theme food sleepover activities

– Homestead Log Book –  In an attempt to get more organized and on top of my chores, I created a binder to hold all of my charts and calendars.  I’ve never been one to keep all organizing charts on the computer – I enjoy have paper copies (sorry trees) that I can write on and cross off.  Here are a few of my charts:


Thanks for reading y’all!! 🙂 Mama Nice

” Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galations 6:9

5 Easy Tips & Tricks To Decorate For Christmas

Thanksgiving is over, time to decorate for Christmas.  But wait… I have WAY too much to do.  I don’t have time, ahhhhh!  Good thing I can use these 5 tricks and complete my decorating in one day.  Woo hoo!!!

1. Spray Paint – Love this idea from  Find a decor item in a thrift store or your attic, spray paint it white and viola!  An updated decoration.  Brilliant!

white paint trick

2. Glass Jars – fill them with ornaments, candy canes, bows, pine cones ~ anything!  So simple and you can change them for every season.

Turn something like this:   into this:  glass jar decor

3. Picture Frames- with FREE Printables.  Again, print out and change them for every season! Lovely…


4. Wooden Letters – Every craft store sells them.  Spray paint them whatever color you like.  Set them on your mantle, or above cabinets.  Get every letter and spell words all year long!

Turn this:  into this: wooden letters

5.  Outside Lights- Last but not least, decorating the outside.  Don’t feel like hanging up those gazillion Christmas lights?  Try out this Light Projector for easy set up with big effect.

Now, get decorating!!

5 Holiday Teacher Gifts for Under $5

I have three kids and a total of 6 teachers to buy for at Christmastime.  While I very much appreciate teachers, I can only afford so much.  After searching Pinterest and talking to some teacher friends, I came up with a list of 5 practical gifts every teacher could use.  Did I mention they all cost $5 or less?  Cha-ching!


1. Message Board Picture Frame –

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      • Eraser Fabric – cut a piece of scrap fabric, or buy a $1 pair of kids holiday socks (Target $1 bin).  One pair of socks = 2 erasers.


2. Lunch Coupon –

If you enjoying making food, gift your own coupon like this:

gift cert


3. Rice Hot Pack –

These rice packs are perfect for sore muscles, cold weather or stress relief between classes.  Click Here for tutorial.

rice hot pack


4. Braided Scarf

No crocheting or knitting!  If you can braid, you can make this scarf.  Click Here to see tutorial.

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5. WaWa gift card –

(If you don’t live in the Northeast, you might have no idea what “WaWa” is, and I’m sorry you don’t have the pleasure of knowing the joy of a local WaWa.)  

Start a “Classroom Collection Gift”.  If there are 25 kids in the class and everyone donates $5, thats a $125 giftcard.  I think that’s a pretty nice classroom gift.  My teacher friends have said it’s great because it can be used for food, coffee or gas.  Win win!


If anyone else has $5 gift ideas, please share!!!  Thanks for reading 🙂

Playhouse Chicken Coop

When we moved to our new house we had to start from scratch building a chicken coop.  I ordered a cheapy prefab coop online to house the 3 hens we brought from the old house.  The coop and run was small, but it did the trick until I had the time (and money) to create something bigger and better.  If I had all the money in the world, I would hire someone to build a super fabulous dream coop – but that’s not my reality.  As you may have guessed, I’m more of a DIY/Repurpose kind of gal.  The end result? A chicken coop made from a kids playhouse.  What do you think?

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FYI – The coop was put on top of two pallets that were covered with stapled down linoleum.

Step by Step How To:

1. Clean & Paint

Find an old playhouse (you can usually trash pick one or find a freedie on craigslist). Take it apart and clean the heck out of it.  Then let it dry completely.  (The house I got had mice nests inside….ew.)


Once you have decided on the colors, lay plastic pieces on a blanket and start spray painting.  Krylon and Rustoleon both sell spray paint for plastics.  Read the spray bottle and make sure it’s made for outside and plastics.  You really only need to spray the outside of the playhouse, the inside doesn’t matter.  Make sure you read the label and allow for the correct amount of drying time in between.

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2. Weather & Predator Proofing

Once the paint is dry, it’s time to start making sure all the parts are weather tight and predator proof.  Starting with the door, I used heavy duty plastic (sold at walmart in the fabirc section) and chicken wire to cover the holes in the door.  The plastic allows the light to still come in, but protects the hens from the rain, wind, etc.  The chicken wire keeps out any predators that might try to scratch their way through the plastic.  I caulked the edges for extra sealing, but I don’t think it’s necessary.  I used screws designed to hold the chicken wire in place (like this).

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Attach plastic and chicken wire over the windows.  Again, you want light to come in.


Since there were 4 windows in the coop, I covered 2 of them with plastic and chicken wire and the other two I covered with repurposed lids of old plastic bins.  My kids helped to decorate those windows with permanant markers which was then coated with a clear coat of spray paint.  The white color still lets some light in.

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Now for the tricky back window.  In my coop, there was a gaping whole in the back of the playhouse.  I formatted a hinged door to cover the hole.  This allows access from the back to clean it out.  At first I thought it would be a good “egg collection” door, but you will see I didn’t end up putting the nesting boxes there. I put another piece of heavy plastic to help prevent drafts under the “flap door”.

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Now you can put the pieces together to finish the inside and finishing touches.

3. Fixing Up The Entryway

First, add some kind of predator proof latch to the door.  I also added a hook and eye latch to prop the door open and also keep the door from flapping in the breeze.  I also found that when it rained, the rain blew in the front door, so I added an overhang using an old plastic bin lid.

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4. Preparing The Inside

You’ll need to add some kind of roosting bar and nesting boxes.  The playhouse I used had a little shelf on the inside.  I thought it would be a great place for the nesting boxes.  I added supports on the sides of the shelf and put a little ladder together. Then I added some more plastic bins (can you tell I have a bunch laying around?) Here is what it looked like the first time.

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I quickly found out that the girls would roost on the nesting boxes at night and (ahem) poop inside the nesting boxes.  Yuck.

So I reconfigured the nesting boxes and put them on the floor under the shelf and attached some peices of wood to the shelf for roosting.  Since the hens didn’t seem to use the ladder, I took out the ladder to make more room.  This is what it looks like now and it has worked much better.


Now all you have to do is add wood chips, water and food and you’re good to go!  Total cost was about $100 – which was mostly paint.  The fencing was another $100.  Considering most new coops cost over $500 NOT including a fence, I think my $200 project is pretty awesome!

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Things I will probably still do to make it even better:

– Secure the playhouse to the pallets with “L” brackets.

– Secure the pieces on the inside with “L” brackets and then seal the seams with caulk.

– Add a vent out the top that can be opened and closed. (Right now the natural breeze through the seams provides air flow, but I worry the draft will be too cold this winter.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on how I could make the coop even better! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Nice Family Homestead – In Progress

We’ve had one busy summer.  After moving to the new house, there was much to be done!  Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to!


The view from the second story of our home.  Our property goes to the very back tree line.  Almost 3 acres.  The middle plot will be a large garden.  We (mostly my hubby) spent the summer getting the land ready for planting next year.





The compost pile made from pallets.  They are working out wonderfully!







IMG_4989 This is the view of our chicken coop.  When we moved we downsized to 3 chickens because we didn’t have a coop at the new house.  I ordered this cheapo coop from Amazon and it’s awful.  I’m working on a new coop right now and I can’t wait to show it to you all when I’m done!



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Here are the chickens roaming the yard.  Our dog, Charlie, thinks they want to play ball and keeps dropping the ball in front of them.  🙂

IMG_5340  IMG_5338 After many months of treatments and tricks, the poison ivy seems to have been eradicated from the garden plot.  The soil was tested, manure and lyme were added.  We all have poison ivy.  It sucks.   BUT, as you can see the Winter Rye has been planted and is beginning to grow.  We should be ready for planting in the spring!

Next up – getting those chickens into a better coop and run!happy-chicken

Family Command Center

It’s that time of year – back to school time!  I don’t know about you, but my calendar fills up with activities pretty quickly in the fall.  Kid sports, church activities, school functions and not to mention all the fall festivities that I feel the need to cram into our schedule- apple picking, pumpkin picking, hayrides, etc.  With so much to juggle, our family needed a larger “Family Command Center” to keep us all in the loop and connected.  Of course I couldn’t make just ANY “Family Command Center”, I had to add some creative flare.  I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money and since I’m a craft junkie – I had a lot of things laying around that I could already use.  What do you think?


….. and the break down…..

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I had the large cork boards already hung on the wall.  I bought the circles at Ikea – they were labeled as “trivets”, but they work great as message boards.  I added the kids’ names to each section so I can keep all their important papers in their area.

As for the other wall, here are the links for the “How To” crafts:

Canvas Verse/Quote

Cardboard & Yarn Frame

Cookie Sheet Message Board

Cookie Sheet Message Board

Ah, the need for places to hang reminder notes and school papers.  I had some cork boards already and wanted something a little different, but it had to be thrifty too.  I saw this great idea on Pinterest and thought I would give it a try.  Turned out pretty good I think.  As always, the “How To” is below:



  • Cookie Sheet
  • Sand Paper
  • Spray Paint
  • Ribbon
  • Hot Glue

Step By Step

  1. Clean cookie sheet and sand smooth.
  2. Apply several coats on spray paint to both sides of cookie sheet – allow time for each side to dry completely.
  3. Hot glue ribbon to the back of cookie sheet.
  4. Hang and enjoy!

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Cardboard & Yarn Frame

Another thrifty craft adventure.  I needed (ok I wanted) a frame to go around my family calendar.  It just looked too lonely and naked against the plain wall.  I began my search in my bin of spare frames – no luck.  I went to the local craft store – the prices were too high.  I got inventive – score!



  • Cardboard
  • Yarn
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Sharp Blade
  • Glue (I used a Hot Glue Gun)

Step By Step

  1. Trace the outline of your picture or calendar about 1/2 an inch wider to allow room for the yarn.
  2. Trace the width of the ruler to create a boarder.
  3. Using the egde of the ruler and a sharp blade, cut out the frame.
  4. Put a dab of hot glue on the cardboard and secure the beginning of your yarn.
  5. Start wrapping the yarn around the cardboard in whatever style you like!  I also put a little dab of hot glue along the way to keep the yarn tight. **This took longer than I thought it would, just an FYI.**
  6. Secure the end of the yarn with hot glue.
  7. Hang on the wall.  I used Command Strips.

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Canvas Verse/Quote Painting

I love the look of wall decals, but I DO NOT like the price.  When I created my “Family Command Center”, I wanted to add a Bible verse to hang above the calendar.  After searching on-line, I decided I could make something for less money.  If you are a craft lover like me, you probably have most of these materials in storage.  If you are NOT too crafty, you can still make this craft. Seriously – this could be a great kid project too!



  • Canvas
  • Letter Stickers
  • Spray Paint
  • Craft Paint & Paintbrush

Step By Step

  1. Choose your verse or quote.  Apply the sticker letters on the canvas however you would like the verse/quote to appear.
  2. Spray paint the canvas OVER the stickers.** I recommend 2 layers minimum of spraypaint.**  Let dry.
  3. Hand paint or stencil a design OVER the stickers. Let dry.
  4. Peel off stickers. **Tweezers are helpful for small stickers**
  5. That’s it!  Told you it was easy 🙂

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What verse or quote will you paint?