Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Coiled Baskets June 20, 2013

Filed under: Crafting,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 8:46 pm
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I have been teaching Little Miss how to make coasters out of coiled clothesline covered in yarn. She is using red, white, and blue yarn to make patriotic ones for July 4th.

The process is the same as if you were going to make a basket. The only difference is that you only make the flat circle from the basket bottom if you want a coaster. I gave her a wide-mouth canning lid to use as a template for the finished size. This width will make a nice sized coaster for our coffee mugs and glasses.

I found a wonderfully simply tutorial on the Craft Yarn Council’s website for their Colorful Spirits Coiled Baskets.  These baskets are very easy to make.  I have always loved the look of coiled baskets.  I’m going to be making a few over the summer using yarn and maybe fabric strips for our home.  The process for making the baskets and coasters is essentially the same whether you use yarn of fabric.

We chose to use clothesline rope in Little Miss’ project.  You can also use jute, which tends to make a firmer finished project.  The clothesline is a bit more pliable than jute to work with.

Either way you decide to make them, the projects are fast to complete.


Equipment Maintenance June 13, 2013

Filed under: homesteading,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 6:19 pm
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I don’t know why, but it seems as though mechanical repairs always seems to take place in batches. Case in point, our lawn tractor battery needed replaced. We went out and bought a new battery in the city 40 miles from home. Within 5 minutes after my darling husband had replaced the battery and began mowing, the cable that engages the blades snapped. So, another trip to the city, only to find out that they have to special order the part. An 80 mile round trip wasted. Had we known the cable was weak, we could have placed the order while getting the battery. We finally get the new cable and fix the tractor on my husband’s next weekend home. The tractor was running like a champ…..until…. the tractor stopped turning to the left. Luckily, once hubby was home from the road again, he was able to easily repair that issue without having to buy any parts. It was a matter of making an adjustment. During all this time, all 4 tractor tires went flat. We had bought a push-mower to use while waiting for the tractor’s cable to be ordered and shipped. After only a month of use, the new little mower’s automatic choke stopped working. The mower keeps stalling out.

I am beginning too think that it would be less stressful to park the equipment and just tether out a horse or large goat to eat the grass instead of using a mower. (Please note that I am being sarcastic here.) People often wonder why I prefer the low-tech ways of doing things. This equipment issue seems to be a good example. LOL

The equipment problems brings up a good point however. Do you keep a supply of the basic equipment maintenance supplies on hand? Do you have extra oil, grease, belts, cables, case of fix-a-flat, and other items to make simple repairs without having to make a special trip to the city? we have been lacking in this area, but I am planning on making a few purchases as finances allow to have some extras available.


Natural Ant & Fire Ant Control June 6, 2013

Filed under: green living,homesteading — ourprairiehome @ 5:57 am

I have been wanting to share this idea for a while now, but never seemed to think of it when I was ready to post on the blog. This idea is one that we have used with great success. I first tried it over 20 years ago and have found it to work better than anything else.

A couple of summers ago, we found a large fire ant nest in our front yard. Not fun! For those who have ever been bitten by these little buggers, you know how painful they can be. They are also hard to get rid of, from what I have often been told.

As soon as we found the nest, I gave my darling husband a container of yellow cornmeal. Yep! The same stuff you use for making cornbread. He scattered it over the nest area pretty well. The next day, the cornmeal was gone and the fire ant hill was completely absent of any activity. Even 2 years later, there has never been another sighting of the hill area becoming active again.

I have used this same trick in the house when I find an ant trail forming. Outdoors, where we had a large trail of the big carpenter ants, I also scattered cornmeal. With every type of ant I have used this on, the results have been the same.

How it works is easy. The ants carry the cornmeal back to the nest and they consume it. The cornmeal swells up in their bellies and kills them. I love that it is completely organic and safe around the cat and kids.