backyard coop

Want A Backyard That Produces Instead of Costs? Try Chicken Coops And Vegetable Gardens!

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a backyard that actually produced for you and your family instead of costing you? If your backyard could provide more value to your family other than just being something nice to look at and maybe have a few backyard BBQs in? Well, this article will introduce to you the idea of the productive backyard; a backyard that can actually work to feed you and your family!

And how are we going to do this? Let us introduce you to what is known as the ‘urban farming’ movement, which is rapidly gaining popularity in America today, and don’t worry it has absolutely nothing to do with ‘doomsday prepping’. No, you can still be an urban farmer and maintain the respect of your neighbors. We promise they won’t think that you are crazy.

Let’s start with something simple: a herb and vegetable garden.

Starting your first herb and vegetable garden can be a milestone of sorts, and will pave the way for deeper investments into the urban farming trend. Here are some useful tips for your first vegetable garden.herb garden

  • Start slow and small. Start out with a couple raised vegetable beds during the first season and take it from there.
  • Use raised beds instead of row arrangements to maximize use of space. Raised beds will also increase yields, help prevent weeds, and allow you to feed and water your crop separate from your landscape.
  • While your raised beds can be any length you wish, keep their width under 4 feet so you can reach the center of the bed without stepping in it.
  • Mulch frequently and mulch often. Mulch can make the difference between a successful vegetable garden and a failed one. Not only does it improve soil quality, it also fights weeds. Lots of leaves lying around your backyard in the fall? Gather them up and shred all of them into mulch.
  • And finally, have fun! If you’re not having fun watching and learning from your vegetable garden, we can guarantee that it won’t succeed.

If you’ve played around with vegetable gardens, maybe had a few very successful runs with great results, it may be time to upgrade your mini urban farm. If you’re no longer content for your backyard to just be providing you with fresh herbs and vegetables, then let’s tackle some meat and eggs as well. We’re talking about of course, backyard chickens! While most often used for eggs, they can be used for meat as well. Anecdotally, we’ve heard that chickens also actually make great pets.

chicken feeder and watererYour chickens will need a chicken coop to live in of course. And while you can certainly purchase one online, if you have the skills, then building your own can be a very rewarding activity. If you’re thinking of building your very own coop, check out these chicken coop designs 2017 which are the latest coop plans receiving fantastic reviews! Regardless of whether you decide to build your own or buy one outright, it is important to make sure that your chicken coop satisfies the following requirements.

  • It’s Big Enough – That’s what she said! Your chickens will, depending on breed size, need two to four square feet of indoor coop space for healthy living (remember, you’re not running a factory farm here!) plus and additional five to ten square feet of outdoor run or grazing space. Plan accordingly.
  • It Protects Them From Being Eaten – Not from you of course, but from other animals such as dogs, foxes, weasels, and whatever your local predator is. We highly recommend hardware cloth as the primary means of protection as it stronger than chicken wire. Important: Bury the hardware cloth beneath the ground as well as some predators will dig underground to bypass the above ground defenses.
  • It Allows Their Smell To Dissipate – We’re talking here about ventilation of course. Our recommendation? Minimum of one ventilation panel per side including the roof. If not, ammonia gas builds up (from you guessed where) and not only will it make maintaining the coop and extra laborious affair, but it is detrimental to the health of your flock as well. And don’t forget to cover the ventilation panels with hardware cloth.
  • It Protects Them From The Cold – This is selective because the chickens already have natural protection against the cold, called feathers. You’d be surprised how much insulation their feathers can actually provide and how well they can withstand the cold. That said, some regions have temperatures so extreme that the cold can cause frostbite. Those regions are marked using US Hardiness Zones, in this case Zones 2 and below. If you live in those areas, then external heating and insulation is required.
DIY coops

Tips To Make Your Garden A Productive Space Using Vegetable Gardens and Chicken Coops

If you have a well taken care of garden or backyard, then you know just how much work it can be. Lawn trimmings, manicuring, and just basic cleanup can end up taking up a ton of time, and a lot of time it can almost seem like a wasted effort. But what if you could make your garden or backyard work for you instead of you working for it? To put it into business and accounting terms, what if you could reclassify your garden or backyard from ‘expense’ to ‘asset’? Wouldn’t that be great? While maintenance and time expenses would remain (or possibly even increase) you can sleep well in the knowledge that the effort you put into it will repay you in the future.

The most efficient way to turn your garden and backyard into a productive space is by letting it feed your family, literally. In today’s article, we will be discussing two primary methods for achieving this: vegetable gardens and chicken coops with the former providing your family with fresh, organic, pesticide and GMO free herbs and vegetables and the latter doing the same with eggs and even meat.

Let’s take a quick look at how you can set them up.

 

Vegetable Gardens

As a first timer, you want to keep things simple. First, location; you want to place your garden in an area that is sunny and sheltered (think of an area where you would want to sunbathe). Shelter in this case doesn’t mean shade but rather protection from excessive wind which may cause disturbances at the root and poor growth. This is particularly important for plants such as cucumbers and tomatoes. If you have an area of your garden that has particularly good soil quality, then that is also likely the best place for your vegetable garden.

Another tip for vegetable gardens is to use raised beds instead of vegetable rows. While vegetable rows might work on large scale industrial farms, your garden will not have enough space to accommodate too many rows so raised vegetable beds are the more efficient option. Each bed can be 4 x 4 feet or 4 x 8 feet. As for vegetable varieties? Well, that would vary based on your climate and preferences but generally our ‘beginner’ recommendation is as follows: zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and basil.

 

Chicken Coops

automatic chicken watererChicken coops are often the ‘next step’ after starting your own vegetable garden as it is definitely a step up in terms of time, effort, and investment. And you may even start to get attached to your chickens as well (especially if you don’t plan to eat them) something that will never happen with vegetables. Through our experience, we are sharing with you below the most important things to know when starting your first backyard chicken flock. Check out this link on how to build a chicken coop for more great tips to guide you on your chicken coop building adventure!

  • Purpose of chickens – Do you want to raise chickens simply for their eggs or do you want their meat as well? This is important because while all chickens can lay eggs, there are certain breeds that are specifically bred for meat consumption, which are known as ‘broiler chickens’. On the other hand, breeds that are more suited for egg laying are referred to as ‘egg laying chickens’.
  • Number of chickens – How many chickens do you want? Our advice is to start small and increase later if necessary. However, in order to take the planned future increase of your flock size into account, we recommend constructing your chicken coop to accommodate more chickens than your initial planned flock size. Here’s a good coop size primer: 2 to 4 square feet of coop space per chicken plus 5 to 10 square feet of run space. This will give you an idea of how to better plan for your flock and chicken coop in relation to the size of your backyard.
  • Shelter for chickens – As a chicken owner, you are responsible for protecting your chicken against predators such as raptors, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, minks, and weasels. Chicken wire is the standard prescription for an average chicken coop; make sure you get the ones with only 1-inch spacing and also don’t forget to bury it in the ground to keep digging predators away. If you think chicken wire isn’t strong enough (and in fact more determined predators can chew their way through chicken wire) then opt for the stronger (but costlier) hardware cloth instead.
  • Coop Climate – As the chicken coop will be the home of your chickens, climate control may be necessary. If you live in a US Hardiness Zone 3 or below, then you will need external heating and insulation for all other zones, the chickens’ feathers will more than suffice. What is always necessary however, is ventilation; there can be no compromise on this one. Make sure you have ventilation panels on all sides of the coop; excluding the floor of course.
neutral pastel bedroom

The Smartest Pillow To Have In Your Bedroom in 2017!

It’s 2017 and technology is all the rage. Every new billionaire created nowadays is usually tech related and big data is everywhere; why do you think all the ads you see when scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed seems to be just right for you? Well, a new smart pillow, called Zeeq, aims to integrate sleeping with advanced technology and data mining in order to create maximal sleep optimization. The project started in July 2016 with a funding goal of $100,000 however the campaign has now ended as the project raised $400,000 before the end of August. Production has already begun in China and India. Let’s take a look at what this pillow has to offer.

First off, you should know that this pillow is not going to come cheap; while it has been offered on Kickstarter for an early bird price of $179, the MSRP is actually $299. Just let that sink in for a moment. The question is, what do you actually get for that price? Well the Zeeq pillow comes equipped with the following built-in to the pillow: 8 speakers, 1 microphone, a 3-axis gyroscope,  a vibration motor, and a 5000 mAh battery to power it all. Rechargeable of course with an estimated battery life of 5 to 10 days. Oh and it connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth too of course. All those electronics sound pretty fancy, you might be thinking, but how can it actually help me get a better sleep? Read on.

zeeq pillowThe pillow is designed to prevent you from snoring; it does this using the microphone obviously, and when it detects snoring, the pillow vibrates in order to prompt you to switch sleeping positions. The vibration level is also customizable so you can adjust depending on how heavy or light a sleeper you are. You can also set the threshold as to when the pillow will start vibrating, for example some people snore very lightly without any issues so it would be annoying for a pillow to keep vibrating when you are indeed having a good sleep.

As for the 8 built-in speakers if you are the type that falls asleep better with music on but your bed partner does not, then the Zeeq pillow is a great choice, allowing you to stream music wirelessly from your phone to the pillow. And don’t worry about waking up your partner; the speakers are designed in such a way that you can only hear them when your head is pressed directly into the pillow.

As for the gyroscope, this is where the data collecting comes in. The gyroscope will detect your unconscious movements throughout the night and in the morning, the Zeeq app will assign you a ‘Sleep Score’, which supposedly measures how deep and restful of a sleep you get. They are not the first to do this; there are many mobile apps that use your smartphone to monitor your sleep movements and assign you a similar sleep score, as well as waking you up gently (so that it doesn’t disrupt your REM sleep). Zeeq also has an alarm function, using the vibration feature to wake the sleeper up, it offers the option of waking up at a specific time or ‘Smartwake’ that is designed to wake the sleeper up at the end of a sleep cycle.

In order to use the pillow, you’re supposed to fire up the smartphone app before you go to bed and set your desired wake up time, snoring levels, and music. And then let the pillow do the rest of the work. After reading all of this, you may now think, wow, that pillow sounds really hi-tech but is it actually comfortable? And is it easy to maintain? Let’s take a look at these questions.

The Zeeq pillow’s filling is shredded memory foam (which provides additional ventilation so it doesn’t get too hot) meaning that it’s likely firmer than most other kinds of pillows. As it is made from memory foam, it is suitable for people who suffer from neck pain. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if it joins this list of best pillow for neck pain 2017. And even with all those electronics in there, you don’t have to treat the Zeeq like some sort of delicate flower; you can sleep on either side, squish it, contour it, and fluff it up without issues. As such, it’ll probably make a great side sleeper pillow although the manufacturers claim it’s ideal for all sleeping positions.

And what about maintenance? Zeeq’s makers assure us that all the electronic components in the pillow are encased in a waterproof membrane, and the pillowcase, which is made of Tencel fabric is waterproof as well. The pillowcase is washable but the pillow itself is obviously not. This is no different than most memory foam pillows however.

In conclusion, most of the technology that Zeeq has is already replicated elsewhere; we have vibrating pillows, speaker pillows, alarm clock pillows etc. What Zeeq has done is to put all of that technology into one integrated (and expensive) package. Is all that worth the $299 sticker price? I suppose only time will tell.

beautiful living area

What Is The Best Method For Getting Rid Of Roaches?

 

Roaches have been around for millennia and will probably endure for millennia after we have been wiped off the face of the earth by nuclear war, asteroid impacts, or the next Ice Age. Nevertheless as long as human civilization as existed, roaches have been a thorn in our collective sides, being pests that not only look creepy but also contaminate your food with their feces, eggs, and disease-carrying saliva (which they regurgitate on your food in order to digest it). Despite our advanced technology however, roaches continue to be a common household pest in almost every country in the world, so it is no wonder that the shelves of hardware shops are filled with products claiming to be able to trap, kill, repel, and poison them. And these are just the commercial solutions; there are also countless ‘natural’ solutions and remedies you can find on the Internet as well as a whole industry relating to professional pest control.

With so many different options at our disposal when facing a roach infestation, how do we know which ones are truly effective and which ones we would be better off with slapping them individually with our flip flops? We wrote this article to show you which methods work and which don’t, and tell you exactly why.

effective roach killer

What Doesn’t Work

Soap and Water: This pest solution calls for mixing dish washing liquid with water in a spray bottle and then spraying these roaches on sight. The idea is that the soap clogs up the breathing pores of the cockroaches and causes and eventual death by suffocation. There are two problems with this method: the first is that it only really works on small roaches (under a quarter of an inch), while it only slows down the larger ones. On really big roaches, such as the American cockroach which can grow up to over 2 inches in length, this barely even slowed them down. It’s still effective against ants however, given their small size. The second problem with this method is that you can only target visible roaches, and since roaches are nocturnal, unless you want to sacrifice your sleep to hide in your kitchen at night and spray roaches with soap water, this is really not the most practical or effective solution.

Citrus: According to folklore, roaches and other insects are absolutely repelled by citrus liquids. This natural solution often recommends mixing your mop water with lemon juice or using citrus essential oils to create an anti-roach solution to wipe on your floors. While this did make our house smell pretty nice, we noticed no reduction in roach activity whwatsover.

Cucumbers: Perhaps the most ridiculous folk remedy we’ve seen, apparently cucumbers are supposed to repel roaches and other pests. This remedy calls for placing cucumber slices at roach entry points. First of all, this method does not work, period. Second, the very idea of placing soggy cucumber slices all over your house is absurd; can you imagine what visitors would say?

 

 

What Does Work

Professional Exterminators: These people know what they’re doing, no doubt. That’s why they’re the professionals. However, their services don’t come cheap, so unless you have a really serious problem, you might want to handle it yourself. If you are worried about excessive chemical usage, always check to make sure that your exterminator is licensed in your state and also certified by companies such as Green Shield.

Glue Traps: The most famous of this is the old Roach Motel: Roaches check in, but they don’t check out. These traps sometimes come prepackaged with bait, but sometimes you’ll have to use your own. Place one of these traps, and when you wake up in the morning you’re sure to find a few roaches stuck to them for you to exact your revenge on. While this method is effective, it takes a long time to significantly reduce the roach population while on the other hand a single female roach can lay hundreds of eggs over its average 100 day lifespan.

Poisons: Poisons are simply the BEST option for getting rid of roaches because it kills them in their nests too. A little known fact is that roaches eat other dead roaches, as well as the feces of other roaches, meaning that a single poisoned roach, will excrete poisoned feces and after its death (usually taking 2 to 5 days), will leave behind a poisoned corpse. Check out this best roach killer 2017 which will effectively get rid of all the roaches in your home. While there are many types of pesticides on the market, our top recommendation is to get a poison bait trap (it’s not exactly a trap per se as the roaches are free to return to their nest after taking the bait) as it is the most convenient option.