Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mirror Creativity

Mirror Creativity

Why do we attempt to create things? Why do we spend so much of our time trying to perfect a certain art or interest? Could it be, perhaps, that this is due to our Creator's undeniably beautiful creation around us? That we are trying to mimic our Creator's artistic hand? Think about it a moment; how many writers and poets have been trying for thousands of years to bring forth the perfect words that can describe the almost, sacred beauty of nature? Or painters, or musicians, or builders? They are still trying to copy and describe nature and its beauty. And no matter how hard we try, we shall never be able to recreate either in words, images, songs, etc; the creation around us.
It seems we are always trying to create and model our creations after God's designs, so many things are inspired from them; yet none of them can compare to the creativity of our God. 

But despite that, what a wonderful challenge and goal to work towards. To mirror Christ in all things, our interests, our life, everything. Even though we will never come even close to the depth of the majesty of His marvelous hands. 

I feel the earth around us will never be fully explained in any art or fashion, you can only imagine it, whisper its name to the wind and feel its presence; the presence of our Creator who is in all things.

Blessings - 

~ Aspen   

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dream Homestead Chronicles: Rotational Pastures

Making the most of one's land is an essential ingredient in creating a well-oiled homestead that runs smoothly.

Most (not all, but most) homesteads are on the smaller scale and therefore every square inch of space is prevalent in the makeup of the homestead and the working of it. 

And even if you have much land to work with, taking care of and improving the soil of your land and increasing it's yields; is near and dear to every homesteader's heart.

Today I'd like to discuss the pros and cons of using rotating pastures for livestock.

Everything you need to know is in the name. Rotating your pastures after your livestock have grazed through it, then allowing it a rest period where it can regrow and produce more nutrient-dense plants due to the droppings of the animals that have grazed over it, is the basics of this method.

Having several fenced in areas that you wish to have grazed and then rotating your animals to a different pasture once they have grazed the current one down, is called "controlled grazing." It allows you to oversee that your animals are making the most of their pastures and eating all the different plants offered them, instead of allowing them free reign on your whole pasture, where they will only eat their favorite plants and leave everything else behind.

Grazing in sectioned pastures and keeping strict control over the pastures that are grazed has enormous benefits. The quality of the land and plants will be much improved and will create a higher yield of forage; or if you intend to plow and plant the pasture that your livestock have grazed and fertilized, the richness of the soil will greatly benefit your crops as well.

The meat, wool, eggs, and milk of animals who are raised primarily on pasture will be much healthier, whereas if they were locked in a pen and given grain, hay, etc. And the animals themselves will be healthier since they will be actively grazing their pastures instead of standing in one spot munching on hay all day long, and their diet will be much more diverse on pasture, therefore providing them with more vitamins and minerals from the varied forage. 

Unless you live in a location with a warm climate year round, you will only be able to graze like this for half of the year. However, my thought is during the colder months, sow your seed of choice into your different divided pastures and rotate them around; so even during the winter, fresh food may be offered to them.

Or fodder can be grown in a large or small scale, depending on your needs but that's another post altogether.

I practice rotational pastures with my herd of goats, quail and ducks, on a very small scale.

My Button quail in a moveable tractor that we push around the front yard as the grass gets fertilized.    

Here I've tried to document for you how quickly and efficiently my goats have cleaned up our old garden plot, and some of the backyard that they are allowed to graze. There is no need to let them graze down to the nub, unless you want them to. I believe it took them about 3-4 days to trim everything down to my satisfaction.


Simple hog panel fencing across their grazing area makes for easy movebility.

After being grazed for 3-4 days:

I have several pens set up that I can move the goats to. Once they graze one down, the next is grown up and ready for them.

Now, keep in mind goats are very different in their foraging habits than cows. They prefer leaves and weeds, to grass.  

They eat leaves, weeds and grass; in that order.

 They will be standing in foot high grass and when you come out the door, they'll scream at you like they are starving. Silly goats.

Goats will eat grass, after they've eaten everything else first. This is why they make great pasture companions for cows, horses, or geese, who eat grass but won't eat the trees or weeds unless there is nothing else available.

In my mind, a rotating pasture should have an assortment of animals all grazing it at once for optimal cleanup. 
Goats to keep the overgrown trees and weeds in check, cows (or insert any grass eating livestock here) to keep the grass grazed down, chickens and ducks to keep the bug population in check, and livestock guardians to keep an eye on things when you can't.

Everything working together to create harmony and peace is the mindset I have for my homestead. And indeed, for my life.

What more could you ask for in pasture management?

 One of my favorite things about homesteading and the general lifestyle it holds, is that everything works together to create, to build, to grow and flourish, as it was made to do. Everything, man, beast and plant, in the kind of life we were meant to live, in my opinion. 

So modern world of electronics, fast paced mindset and unrest; you can leave me in the middle of nowhere with my four-footed lawn mowers. 

I've shared my thoughts on a topic I am very excited about and hope to use in a much larger scale in the future, but until then I am using what I can of it on my own livestock.

Do you use controlled grazing with your livestock? What are your experiences? 

Love and Rich Blessings - 

~ Aspen

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Aloe Vera Peppermint Hair Tonic

Aloe Vera Peppermint Hair Tonic

I'm going to use this post as an opportunity to brag on one of my favorite hair products: Aloe Vera.
Unlike many conditioners (natural oils as well) which leave your hair extremely oily and blah; making you resemble Loki; 

aloe vera leaves your hair feeling ultra moisturized, shiny and soft; without all the oily textures that normally entail from conditioners. So, even if you are going somewhere and need your hair looking it's best, you can still use this easy leave-in conditioner, whilst modeling your favorite hairstyle. 
One of my favorite ways to use aloe vera on my hair is simply apply it to your hair, paying special attention to your scalp and ends; and then braid it while it's still wet and sleep on it. Any time I'm treating my hair to a good conditioning, I braid it afterwards to help lock in all the conditioner; so my hair can access all the nutrients better.  
After it's dried, take it out and you'll have beautiful, lush waves, or you can brush it out.
  I think you'll be amazed at how shiny and soft it leaves your hair.

:Aloe Vera Peppermint Hair Tonic: 

  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup of aloe vera (adjust amount to how much hair you have)
  • 5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil
 Mix with finger and apply to hair.

I like to start at the scalp and work my way down. 
Be sure and massage your scalp so that the peppermint oil can penetrate your scalp and help clean out and open up the pores on your head, to help stimulate hair growth.
You may feel a cool sensation on your head when you apply the oil, don't worry; it's normal - the peppermint oil is just working it's magic! 
And if you have any extra tonic, you can apply it to your skin as well, just be careful applying it around your eyes.
Note: Be careful to avoid getting peppermint oil in your eyes, it won't kill you but it will sting.
A list of the beneficial properties of using aloe vera on your mane:

  • Relieves Scalp Itching
  • Reduces Scalp Redness & Inflammation
  • Adds Strength & Luster To Hair
  • pH Balancing
  • Promotes Hair Growth
  • Heals Scalps Affected By Psoriasis & Seborrhea
  • Easily Penetrates Hair & Scalp
  • Anti- Fungal Properties Alleviates Dandruff
  • Helps Hair Retain Water & Moisture

    You can see why aloe vera is one of my favorite moisturizers to use on my wild locks; especially during the heat of the summer months, as it's cooling properties mixed with peppermint oil give such a refreshing effect to my hair, and a much needed pick-me-up during the long, dry months.
     I think it will quickly become a favorite with you and your hair, as well.

    So give it a try and see what this wonderful, nutritiously packed plant can do for your hair! Your hair will thank you.

    I hope you enjoyed the first installment of our series of natural hair health; join us again next week to explore more all natural ways to keep your beautiful locks in tip-top shape.

    Love and Rich Blessings - 

    ~ Aspen

    Friday, June 17, 2016

    Words Behind The Name...

    Words Behind The Name...

    Have you ever wondered about someone's name and the meaning of it? 
    Names are so powerful; I often wonder if people truly know how meaningful and important names are; or how drastically they can change one's self.
    A pet peeve of mine that I've developed over the years is researching the names of my acquaintances. I bet you didn't know I went around stalking people's names, did ye? ;) You learn something new every day!
     You would be truly shocked how accurate the different name descriptions fit the personality of it's owner. So, without even talking with a person but merely digging into the meaning of their name you are able to learn so much about them. It's fascinating!

    While pondering over this topic awhile back, and the meaning behind my own name; it dawned on me what a huge influence my name has on me and how it affects me; even in the smallest areas. 

    "Origin of the name Aspen:
    Taken from the name of the aspen tree, which is derived from the Old English ├Žspe. The name is indicative of any of the kinds of poplar trees that have leaves which flutter in the slightest breeze."

    So believe it or not; guess what one of my favorite things is? Trees! And I have a partiality to aspen trees; obviously. 
    For as long as I can remember, what I dreamed of doing was just running wild and free in the forest; living among God's glorious, perfect creation; the earth that He created for us to enjoy and live with in harmony and in peace. 
    You can imagine my agony; considering the location I live in... 
    Now, don't get me wrong I love where I live and am truly blessed to be here in the grand ole' state of Texas. 
    However, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a deep yearning to live where trees populated the ground. I'm sorry, but thorny mesquite bushes don't quite cut it for me, y'all.
    I'll aggravate my mother with my talk of moving somewhere with trees; but I remind her that it's her fault; after all she is the one who decided to name me after a tree...I'm just sayin'! ;)
    That's about as deep as I'll go; but I just find it so intriguing how a name effects one's inner self.
    Which leads me to a paralleling topic: what do we, as Christians call ourselves? After a name; yes? And whose name? Christ's. Is it not amazing the transformation that takes place when you take on the name of God's Son? I just find it a beautiful, just beautiful thing y'all. How words are so incredibly powerful, how God used them to first form this earth, and how he uses words to communicate with us through the pages of His Word. 
    I just get a chill bump down my spine when I think of it! 

    So, what about you? Do you stalk people's names and muse over their deeper meanings? Please tell me I'm not the only one....

    Love and Rich Blessings - 

    ~ Aspen

    Thursday, June 16, 2016

    Dream Homestead Chronicles

    It's been on my mind for awhile and I've finally decided to plunge into the depths and reveal to you all the grand schemes and dreams I have for my (Lord willing) future homestead. 
    Each weekly post will be dealing with a different homesteading topic. From exploring the many benefits of rotating pastures, to compost worms, to extremely simple off-grid living. I will be infusing my posts with past experiences of ranch living, and combining them with research done by others to form an informative post on whatever subject we are discussing that week.
    Now, keep in mind my current living situation does not involve most of what I will be discussing; I'm only dabbling at the moment. 

    What I hope for these future posts will be that y'all can see a (hopefully) large glimpse of my ginormous ideas for a working homestead.
    It will be a learning adventure for us all methinks and I'm grandly excited! 

    So I hope you will come back and enjoy learning all about the simple (yet slightly complicated) lifestyle that I someday hope to live; and chime in with your own experiences and thoughts. 

    Love and Rich Blessings - 

    ~ Aspen

    Monday, June 13, 2016

    All-Natural Hair Health

    All-Natural Hair Health

    Natural beauty is something I am very passionate about. 

    Using natural ingredients to nourish and sustain the health and quality of your hair is a beautiful thing, and I hope to share some of what I've learned during the next few weeks as I share my favorite recipes and tips with you.
    Over the past several years my hair has changed a lot. As a young girl, I always had thick, dark brown, straight hair; that reached almost to my ankles. 
    As I got older, I went through a phase where I ate 100% raw for about six months. During that time, my hair began fraying, falling out and when it reached the bottom layer of my hair, it began turning grey. Scary. 
    I realized that my diet had been starving my hair of the vital proteins and nutrients that it needed. So I switched to a whole foods diet, full of healthy fats, meats, vegetables, etc. 
    Very soon I began noticing little sprouts of hair tufting up all over my head. Shockingly the new hair that was coming in was slightly curly! What? How did that happen? I still have no idea. 
    Fast forward a year or two, and I'm almost able to sit on my hair, that has grown into dark brown/cinnamon red, 'Brave' hair. It can't make up its mind whether to be curly or straight, so it just dangles between them; wildly wavy and violent with volume.  

    Learning to care for my new hair type has been an interesting challenge. Curly hair, so I've learned, is much more labor intensive than straight, smooth hair. It dries out much quicker, humidity makes me look like a giant hedgehog, brushing it is a nightmare, and wearing it down is a rare option unless I want it knotted up and wild for a week. Yes, learning to care for poofy, slightly curly hair has been a challenge, an enjoyable challenge; but still a challenge. 

    So, I've decided to share some of what I've learned of natural hair health for us wavy/curly headed girls. And, if you have straight, silky smooth hair; all the recipes I will be posting will benefit your hair as well. So join me as I start a weekly series of exploring different oils, conditioners, hair masks, essential oils, and tips on maintaining a healthy mane of hair, using all natural ingredients that give your hair all the nutrients it needs to thrive and grow.

    I hope you'll join us!

    So, do tell my lovely followers! What hair type do you have? Do you struggle with keeping it in tip-top shape? 

    Blessings - 

    ~ Aspen 

    Photo credit to Pinterest