Watching the Weather: The Difference Between a Watch and a Warning

I live in New England and today everyone is talking about the severe weather potential. However, the closer we get to watches and warnings being issued, the clearer it becomes that most people have no idea what the difference is between the two. So, for those that aren’t in the know, allow me to clear things up:

Watch: Conditions are favorable for dangerous weather. Take appropriate safety measures, like securing outdoor items, going indoors, and making sure pets are safe. Keep an eye on the sky because severe weather could develop quickly. Take your emergency kit out and put it in a safe place in case it is needed.

Warning: Severe weather has been experienced nearby and is headed in your direction. Seek shelter immediately. If there is time, grab your emergency kit before seeking shelter. If possible, turn on the news for weather updates so you know if you are about to be hit.

So what does this mean for today’s weather in New England?

If a severe thunderstorm watch is issued, it indicates that conditions are favorable for damaging winds and large hail. A severe thunderstorm warning indicates that such a storm has been observed and that nearby areas are reporting high winds or large hail.

A tornado watch indicates that conditions are favorable for producing a tornado. A tornado warning means a physical tornado has been spotted nearby, or radar has indicated rotation.

By paying attention to weather alerts, you’ll have time to take the appropriate safety measures and seek shelter. When traveling during storms, have a plan in place for finding cover if a warning is issued. Make sure your family members know the proper way to respond to watches and warnings and always keep an emergency kit ready to go in a centrally accessible location.

Join Smiley360 and be the First to Try New Products!

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I’ve got an exciting website to share with everyone and it’s called Smiley360. For any of my blogger friends out there, this is a great opportunity. The site uses surveys to match you up with great new products that they send you for free to try out and talk about. Once you’re accepted to a mission, you’ll have tasks, like posting about the product on your blog, social media, etc. It’s free to join and sign-up only takes a second. What have you got to lose?

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Homesteading 101: Getting Ready to Can

I have a lot of friends that have told me over the years that they really want to get into canning, but it seems so overwhelming. The jars, the lids, the pots and all of the accessories – it’s so much they say. I try to explain that you really don’t need all the gadgets, bits and bobbles to get started, but they never believe me.

If your’e thinking about getting into canning, the best advice I can give you is to focus on ONE thing to try and stick with it. Don’t plan to make salsa, spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes, green beans and award-winning jelly in your first year. Instead, focus on ONE thing and learn to make that really well. Then next year you can expand on your supplies and your skills.

One of the easiest things you can start off with when learning to can are tomatoes. Just plain, canned tomatoes. For equipment, you won’t need much, just:

-Jars
-lids
-A large pot
-A jar lifter

That’s really it! Sterilize your jars, get your lids in warm water and start peeling those tomatoes. Pop the peeled and diced tomatoes in your jars, along with a basil leaf, a little salt and some citric acid, then cover with hot tomato juice, put the lid on and process in boiling water. The size of your jar determines the processing time. Once it’s done, use the jar lifter to remove the jars from the water and put them on a towel on the counter to cool. You’ll hear the lids pop as they close.

That’s it – you’re done!

Even once you’re canning a variety of things, you’ll still buy more equipment each year. Lids, rings and extra jars are always needed. You can upgrade your equipment, buy new recipe books, labels and other goodies. When you first start canning, it’s a bit of an investment. Ease into it to spare your wallet and your sanity.

Productivity Tip: A To-Do List that Really Works

I’ve been struggling lately with getting everything done in a decent amount of time. Part of my problem revolves around the fact that I don’t really have a solid to-do list. I usually just jot things down in my notepad app on my computer, but then the items never really get addressed unless they are things that can be done online.

So, in an effort to get more done, I’m tackling my dreaded to-do list and giving it a makeover. I’ve found that by having 4 quadrants, I can quickly assign items in order of importance. That gives me a visual representation of what’s important, what needs to be done, what can wait and what can be delegated to someone else.

Like most people, seeing what I’ve already accomplished helps motivate me. Sure, seeing the giant to-do list can be daunting, but every time I cross a line through something, I feel like I’m really getting something done. By having everything categorized by importance, I can see what I absolutely have to finish and just focus on that portion of my to-do list. This will all make more sense as a visual, so without further adieu:

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By only giving myself 3 spaces on each of my high priority sections, I can make sure I’m not over scheduling myself. This way, I actually have a shot at getting everything done in the day. By organizing items by priority as I add them to my to-do list, I keep myself on target for the day. Drawing out the grid only takes a second each morning and gives me a minute to pre-plan my day before jumping in.

Do you use a to-do list or a priorities list? What is your system like? What works for one person might not work for another, so show me what you’ve got!

Homesteading 101: Timeline of a Broody Hen Hatching Chicks

My posts about my broody chicken have gotten the most hits recently, so I’m guessing there’s some interest in what all happens when your hen decides to raise some chicks.

For starters, broodiness or going broody is just a way of saying the hen has gone into baby-raising mode. This involves becoming a bit on the temperamental side, fluffing up or turning out her feathers, becoming agitated with her humans and spending more time in the coop. Broodiness was bred out of most modern chickens, but some breeds, like buff orpingtons, are known for going broody with some frequency.

Signs of Broodiness

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As mentioned earlier, there are some signs that you can look out for that might indicate your hen is going broody. Here they are:

  • Becoming aggressive (i.e. pecking and waving wings at people that come near)
  • Fluffing up feathers
  • Spending more time in the coop
  • Pulling feathers from her breast
  • Making growling sounds
  • Fortunately, these behaviors are temporary. Once the babies hatch, the broody will return to her normal temperament. Don’t try to disturb your hen too much once she has begun sitting on her nest, since this can lead to a failed hatch.

What to Do

There’s really no human interference needed once a hen goes broody. All you should do is stealthily mark the eggs in the nest with a pencil or permanent marker while the broody is eating or drinking for the day. You’ll only have a small window of time to do this, since most broody hens only leave the nest once a day or less. Remove any unmarked eggs from the nest every day. It has been my experience that the broody will stop laying once she starts sitting, but other hens may try to lay in that nest.

If your hen has nested somewhere undesirable, like outdoors or in the favorite nesting box, it’s possible to move her. Move the eggs with extreme care and make sure the broody can rearrange them before sitting on them.

It will take 21 days (give or take) to hatch the eggs. The hen will know when the hatch is over, and any unhatched eggs can be discarded at that time.

Hatching

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Around the 18th day of sitting, the hen will get up and reposition the eggs. She’s arranging them to make it easier for the chick to hatch. Don’t disturb her during this process. For the final 3 days of the incubation period, she will not leave the nest. She may make soft clucking sounds, which may be alarming, but she is talking to the babies in the eggs. Near the end of the hatch, the babies will start peeping back at the mother hen.

During the last 3 days, the hen will not leave the nest and she will relieve herself in the nest, regardless of the eggs or chicks. Once she takes the chicks out for their first outing, the nest may be cleaned. During the first outing, the broody will teach the chicks where to find food, how to dust bathe and how to get back to the nest.

That’s all there is to it! The broody and mother nature will take care of the bulk of the work for you, leaving you free to enjoy the show.

Find Me on Facebook!

I finally made the jump and created a Facebook page. You can find me here. I’ll be posting deals, product reviews and links back to my most popular posts. Come join the fun!

Do you have a Facebook page? Post a short description of what you’re about and link in the comments. Lets help each other out!

Homesteading 101: Broody Chicken Day 5

It has been 5 days since my Buff Orpington started sitting on her eggs. So far, so good. In another 2 days, I’ll try candling them to see if they are developing. I’ve noticed that her jaunts outside seem to be fewer and farther between. In fact, I haven’t seen her leave the nest in a couple of days. I’m thinking about delivering food and water to her to make sure she eats and drinks. She’s still quite fluffy and ornery, so that seems like a good sign.

I’ve also noticed that the broodiness seems to be contagious. My Easter Egger female has also started sitting longer in the coop when she lays and the other day, she just sat for a couple hours on a pile of golf balls.

We have golf balls in the coop to deter egg eating. When I remove them, it becomes a problem again, so they are staying in there for now.

Hopefully my Buff Orpington will keep up with the hatch and we will see babies sometime around June 24th or 25th. I’ll keep everyone updated!

Homesteading 101: Broody Chickens

Well folks, it’s official – we have a broody hen. Penelope, our buff orpington decided she would like to try and hatch a clutch of golf balls. Now, if you’ll recall, we had an egg eater a few weeks ago. The egg eater was Penelope. So, she ate eggs, laid for a couple weeks, then decided to try and hatch some babies. Makes sense, right?

Knowing that she only had a clutch of golf balls, we had 2 choices: break her of her broodiness, or give her some eggs to hatch. We opted for the second choice. Not because we need more chicks, but because we thought it would be fun to experience a mother hen hatching and caring for her babies. We figured we could sell the chicks pretty easily, so it wasn’t a big deal. Here’s a video of her accepting one of the eggs I gave her. (This is an egg from one of our barred rocks. The rooster is a buff orpington.)

If you think you have a broody hen, here are some of the signs you can look for:

  • Fluffed feathers
  • Grumpy disposition
  • Stays on the nest (my buff orpington stays on the nest all day, even though she is still laying)
  • Big poop
  • Sleeps on nest overnight

I’d say the biggest changes were her personality and her physical appearance. She always took a long time to lay, so being on the nest a lot wasn’t a huge red flag to me. When she started looking like a hot mess and copping an attitude with me, I knew something was up. Then, when she chose to sleep on the nest overnight instead of on the highest roosting pole, I knew she was broody.

5 Tips for Tackling Your To-Do List

Being organized and staying on-task is a constant struggle for me. I’m a stay-at-home mom / work-at-home mom and there are plenty of days when my to-do list simply doesn’t get done. I can’t even count how many times in the past week my husband has come home to find dinner uncooked and the house in shambles. He asks what I did that day and I draw a complete blank.

That’s just unacceptable to me.

So, in an effort to get on track, I’m making it a goal to be more organized, stay on task and get more done in June. It takes 30 days to build a habit, and fortunately, there are 30 days in June. Baby steps. This WILL happen. 

With that in mind, I thought I’d start with sharing 5 tips for tackling your to-do list. Lets learn together to be more productive!

Tip #1: Make a list.

This seems completely obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times I simply say I’m “too busy” to make a to-do list. That results in me running around trying to remember what I have left to do, wasting time and focusing on the wrong projects.

Tip #2: Prioritize your list.

Now that you have a to-do list, it’s time to prioritize your tasks. What’s the most important? Least important? A bonus item? You can number the items on your list, re-write the list in order of importance or use colored highlighters to mark things as “high”, “mid” and “low” priority.

Tip #3: Trim the list.

Lets be honest, we probably all put too many things on our to-do lists. Yes, I’d love to re-paint the window sills. Guess what I have a snowball’s shot in hell of doing today? Painting the window sills. There’s no need to mark that as a “low” priority if it’s not getting done. All that does is makes your list visually intimidating. It’s a motivation killer to have too many items on the to-do list.

Tip #4: Reward yourself.

It’s always easier to tackle a to-do list if there’s a reward. For me, Monday nights are bachelorette nights. My reward will be watching the show. I’ll write “Bachelorette” at the bottom of my to-do list and try to not give in and watch until everything that’s marked “high” priority is done.

Tip #5: Turn OFF distractions.

For me, Facebook is a huge distraction. I can blow hours on end browsing the yard sale sites, checking for updates and looking at people’s photos. I have to turn off the distractions in order to have time to get things done. Now that I have a smartphone, unplugging is an even bigger struggle. I’ve tried blocking Facebook in the past, but since I have to check in every now and then for groups I help run, it’s nearly impossible.

Do you have a hard time prioritizing and tackling your to-do list? Have you figured out a good system? Share your tips in the comments section below.