Spiders and beetles and bugs, oh my! Exploring alternative home pest control options

This was originally posted on Modern Homesteaders-go check them out!

I don’t know about you guys, but I cannot tell a lie.  Once spring rolls around, I start walking with tip toed feet through my house fearful of my first contact with unwanted visitors who come into my house.  While so many things on Blueberry Acres Farm seem idyllic, the reality is that here in Missouri we have winters mild enough and summers warm enough to invite a whole host of creepy crawlies into our lives.  You would think growing up in Florida where the cockroaches fly and were huge would break one of that fear, but alas…no.  I still hate bugs with a passion bordering on phobia.  Or is it a phobia bordering on passion?  Either way, our desire to remain as chemical free as possible has led us to explore some more environmentally friendly options such as:

Dioatomaceous earth (aka DE).  We sprinkle this stuff in many many places.  It’s available online and sometimes in retail stores, but we have found it to be much more cost-effective to buy in bulk.  DE has a lot of other cool applications as well, but obviously if you have something crawling across your kitchen floor, it’s not going to make much sense to sprinkle powder on it, so sometimes you need to spray…

Rubbing Alcohol in various applications.  Get a clean spray bottle and either fill it with alcohol for a quick squirt killer or dilute it by mixing 3/4 water, 1/4 alcohol.  The nice thing is that it shouldn’t leave a residue and apparently bugs don’t build up a resistance to it.  However, since it doesn’t leave a residue, it shouldn’t be relied on for long-term control, just “eek, a bug” moments instead.

Insecticidal Soap Spray  This is another option for spraying but beyond just the “eek bug” moments, this should also leave a residue that will help repel the invading hoards.

Beyond these ideas, Herbal/Floral options abound.  I think every gardener knows the repelling characteristics of Marigolds, but what about using them near your entrances?  Rue is another option for planting near entrances to repel flies and mosquitos.  I’ll be honest-we haven’t considered Rue in the past because it can irritate skin if you rub against it, so this may not be ideal for homes with small humans like ours.   What about those tacky Citronella candles?  Sure, you could use those (I hate em!) but I’d rather plant Citronella/Lemon Grass instead.  It may not pack as much of a punch as those oil infused candles, but I don’t worry about the grass catching my cat’s tail on fire either.  This year I’m also going to experiment with Lavender to see if I can expand it’s moth repelling properties.  My goal will be to make planters of insect repelling plants and decorate my entrances with God’s natural bug dissuaders.

And of course, beyond sprays and sprinkles, some good old-fashioned prevention helps.  Don’t leave sitting water hanging around, especially near high traffic areas.  Mosquitos anyone?  Make sure doors and entrances have a great seal.  Here at Blueberry Acres Farm, Sheldon will be put to work this weekend on that project as we enter into the warmer months.  What are you doing this spring to make sure that the only guests who come into your home are those you have invited?  Would love to hear from you!

A must make recipe for almond junkies: marzipan cupcakes

So, Sheldon is a bit of a marzipan addict. For Christmas, he ordered a big box of those little marzipan fruits just so he (and my Dad) could sit and eat them. Santa didn’t even get cookies put out for him and his reindeer..he got marzipan.

pic courtesy of amazon.com

pic courtesy of amazon.com

As a result, I have been hunting for the perfect marzipan cupcake recipe and thanks to All Recipes, I was able to riff on one of their recipes and create what I think was the perfect almond flavored cupcake for the marzipan junkie in your life:

The crust:

1 Cup AP Flour

3 Tbl White Sugar

7 Tbl room temp butter

1 egg yolk

I used my stand mixer to mix all of these together to form a ball of dough.  From there, knead for a few minutes on a floured surface (or in a wide mouthed bowl if you are lazy like me) until it is smooth.  Wrap in plastic and let sit in fridge for 15 minutes.

The filling:

8-12 oz marzipan or almond paste  cut up (You can get marzipan in big cans.  Recommend that for this recipe)

5 Tbl cold butter, cut up

2 whole eggs

1/2 almond extract

Mix these together until they form a smoothish paste.  The original recipe calls for it to be smooth, but I left mine lumpy (lumps of marzipany goodness) and it was sooo worth it.  More on that in a sec.   Then take the dough and press it into cupcake liners like you are making mini pies.  Go about halfway up the liner.  Pour in the filling about 1/2-2/3’s of the way up the liner.  Then cook in a 400 degree oven for a 20-25 minutes.  Allow to cook on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes (until you can take them out by hand really) and then allow them to cool for another few minutes.  The original recipe called for frosting/glaze but I found that I just didn’t need it.  Because we left the marzipan in chunks inside, it was like having a cupcake with filling and it was awesome.  I would post pics of the finished product here, but frankly they didn’t make it that far.  Yum.  Good luck and happy baking!

Desperately seeking oreos….

Oreo cows that is!  We are ready to add cows to the pasture here at Blueberry Acres and I’m wondering if any of you out there in the blogosphere have suggestions for finding Belted Galloways, aka oreo cows.  We have contacted breeders but are finding that so many of them are more interested in show cows vs. hamburger cows that I’m not confident that we are contacting the right people!  So, other farmer/homesteaders…have you had experience in researching and buying the “alternative” breeds?  We would love to hear from you!

pic courtesy of wikipedia

pic courtesy of wikipedia

 

 

 

Barn-Hop