Home Improvement Made Easy

Performing home change doesn’t should be an overwhelming errand. Enhancing your home can be fun and simple, and make your home surroundings a great deal more agreeable. Make-over the regions you like and make them into territories you adore. Take after the tips underneath and you will have the capacity to transform your home into your fantasy home.

While considering your next enormous undertaking, begin by securing assistance from your gang and companions. On the off chance that you hold up till the undertaking has started to ask, you may have a troublesome time finding the assistance. You might likewise experience difficulty completing your venture on time, adding additional anxiety to your work.

On the off chance that you have the space and it is permitted under city laws, think about adding as an augmentation to your home. The additional space can be utilized as an office, cave or family room. Think about putting as a bay window in your expansion. These additional items will build the estimation of your home extensively.

As more individuals search for reasonable approaches to pass on style and refinement, lighting organizations are venturing up to the plate with mid-range value focuses and littler renditions of their most expound pieces. A scaled down crystal fixture in your room or main washroom is a flippant accent piece that is consummately suited to a contemporary look and feel.

At the point when picking hues for your room, enrich “vertically.” Choose darker shades for the floor for your new carpet installation, medium hues on the dividers and a lighter shading on the roof. Try not to be enticed to utilize darker hues one side of a room and lighter hues on the other side. This will make the room show up out of equalization, and, outwardly unappealing.

Paint worn kitchen floors. In the event that you have a wood floor in your kitchen, it will endure a ton of misuse throughout the years. In the event that it comes to the heart of the matter where sanding and re-recoloring won’t carry out the occupation, take a stab at painting it. A layer of oil-based open air paint is sufficiently solid for regular wear, and it will give your kitchen a house feel, which is extremely stylish these days.

One of the most straightforward approaches to enhance your living space is to just keep your home as perfect as could be allowed. In the event that you keep your home clean, your home will consequently look much more pleasant. Some of the time enhancing your house is as simple as keeping your living space free from disorder and earth.

Get windows that have an auxiliary coating. In spite of the fact that these windows can cost more, they reduction vitality costs and in addition outside commotion significantly. Attempt these in case you’re contemplating doing any redesigns soon. These windows make your cooling and warming more effective furthermore obstruct outside commotion.

New framing can radically change the presence of your home. This is a speedy and genuinely modest approach to make your home look fresh out of the box new. In the event that you conclude that you don’t care for the look of the boards, you can simply uproot them with insignificant harm.

As should be obvious, home change can be simple. With the tips above, you can perform the undertaking of transforming your home into your private haven, a spot you are glad to call home. What are you sitting tight for? Simply ahead and begin that home change venture you’ve been contemplating.

Welcome

Welcome to Local 76.  While we are gearing up the site, enjoy the articles from some of our favorite finds on the web.

Squash your Gardening Fears!

By Janice Brown

Can we just talk squash here for a moment? I just love squash! I love growing it. I love eating it. I love everything about it. Squash grows relatively well here in Texas, but there are two problems that can be a pain with growing this vegetable, so we will also talk about pests & diseases here too.

Squash comes in many different varieties such as the yellow summer squashes, zucchini, acorn, spaghetti, patty pan, cushaw , and butternut. Pumpkins are also a part of the squash family and can be grown in much the same way as its smaller siblings. Those of you who are a little further north have a better chance at growing pumpkins than those of us who are closer to the coast because you are less susceptible to powdery mildew.

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Understanding and Preventing Pests

The two problems that plague squash are powdery mildew and squash vine borers. One is a disease and the other an insect. Powdery mildew is a fungus that begins as a white powdery growth on the tops and bottoms of leaves and turns leaves yellow soon after. It spreads rapidly, so at first sign, start treating. The good thing is organic copper fungicides work really well on getting the disease under control. Since we had such a warm, dry winter, mustard greens in many of the gardens I manage had powdery mildew. I used Bonide Copper Fungicide and it worked well. The best thing to do is just get a good organic fungicide and begin a regular spraying routine after planting to prevent the disease from forming.

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The next issue is the loath worthy squash vine borer. This nemesis of mine comes in a small package, but does big damage. It looks like a small wasp, with a red body and black wings. It does its damage by laying eggs on the squash plant stem. When the larvae hatch, they bore into the base of the stems of the plant and begin to eat the tissue in the stem. The result is that your plants look healthy and are full of squash one day and the next day they’re dead and you don’t know why. If you look closely at the stems and see a tiny hole with what looks like sawdust around it, it’s a squash vine borer.

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There are several ways to combat this pest. First, I suggest covering plants with row covers until stems get hard enough that the larvae can’t bore into them. This also prevents the adult from laying eggs on the stem. However, this also keeps pollinator insects from getting in to pollinate the flowers from which the squash develops. So you can hand pollinate by taking a cotton swab and using it to rub the center of each flower to collect and transfer the pollen. This is what bees usually do for us as they gather nectar.

Other methods of control include:

  • Vigilantly keeping watch for tiny holes with brown “sawdust” around them. As soon as you see one, shine a flashlight under the stem to illuminate the borer on the inside. Once you’ve located it, stick a pin right through that little bugger! I know this seems cruel, but once you’ve seen the damage it can do you’ll be more than okay with this.
  • Cutting larvae out by slitting stems with a knife and stabbing the borer. Bury the slit/damaged stem in the ground and hopefully it will root and you won’t lose the plant. This works best with vining plants.
  • Wrapping the stems with strips of nylon stockings, to prevent the larvae from getting in them.
  • Trapping the adult moths with yellow sticky traps. They’re attracted to yellow.
  • Getting rid of finished vines and tilling the soil in the fall and spring to get rid of overwintering pupae because these can hatch and damage next year’s crop.
  • Planting squash in a different location each year, so that if some pupae do overwinter in the soil, they won’t find the new plants.
  • Planting extra squash. Some for you and some for the bores. There are only so many eggs they can lay and they shouldn’t be able to damage all of your plants.
  • Planting really early (March) and then again really late (August) to get harvests while they’re not as active.

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Planting

Squash can grow in two ways, on vines and on upright plants, usually referred to as bushing squash. For small gardens, bush types are better because they don’t need as much space. Vines can quickly take over, but if borers damage vines, it’s easier to bury parts of vines to regenerate growth.

Plant seeds or transplants in March and April after danger of freezes are over. Mix a good well-balanced fertilizer into soil prior to planting. All squash need good drainage, so planting in a raised bed or hilling up soil is a must. To hill, mound up a hill about 6inches high and plant 2-3 seeds in a group about 3-4 feet apart. Once plants start to grow, you will thin groups to one healthy plant. As soon as blooms occur fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer. For example, a 7-0-0. Keep fertilized from then on with the balanced fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.

Harvesting

Note the harvest size on packages when planting to determine how big fruit should be for harvesting. Most summer squash is ready at 4-6 inches zucchini at 6-8. Different varieties will be different sizes, but make sure to pick any variety, before they start to get hard. The smaller, the tenderer so don’t worry about picking too early.

 
JaniceBrownOn the Grow is a garden coaching service launched by Janice Brown to teach people how to be successful gardeners in the sometimes difficult, Gulf Coast climate. On the Grow provides garden education for the home gardener, children in outdoor classrooms, neighbors in community gardens, and employees in workplace gardens. Whether you want a new idea for a girls’ night out, a new way to engage children in nature, or want to implement a fresh wellness program in your company, On the Grow is here for you. Your coach will take you step by step teaching you the basics, while presenting you with a fresh perspective by helping you experience the healing benefits of gardening. Our mission at On the Grow is to help everyone experience the joy of a garden and build a greater connection to Mother Earth. Connect with One The Grow on Facebook and Twitter!

The post Squash your Gardening Fears! appeared first on Texas Home and Garden.

High Tech Kitchens

Today’s kitchen remodels are bringing more and more tech into the mix. Appliances are capable of so very much more than in the past and  have become more immersive and interactive as we weave connectivity into our devices. Check out some of these ways to incorporate high tech living into your most demanding space. High Tech kitchens aren’t the wave of the future, it’s happening right now.

Appliances

We now have single-serve coffee makers that allow us to set the type, strength, temperature, and brew time. A completely customizable cup of coffee with just the most scant of effort. You can get a countertop slow cooker that will bake, roast, brown, and saute! Refrigerators with built in computers that run apps, stream music, and help you organize your family’s busy lives. Ovens that allow you to preheat, adjust the cooking temperature, and alert you when your dish is complete… all via an app you use on your smart phone!

There are also a host of new appliances that actually change the way we cook. The introduction of machines that were previously out of reach for home use have changed the capabilities of what we can accomplish in our kitchens. Sous vide machines and infrared cooktops mean that we’re able to create dishes that were once only possible in the fanciest of restaurants.

 

Connectivity

While connected appliances may still be a ways away for most consumers, being connected in the kitchen is not. The portability of today’s computing power has meant that those devices have started to be adapted for the ways in which we’re using them. Take, for example, the Sony Xperia® Tablet Z: Kitchen Edition. This device was made specifically for the perils of use in the kitchen. Tablets like these will be the bridge for true kitchen connectivity.

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Connect With Us

Have you created the high tech kitchen of your dreams? What is absolutely essential to you when it comes to high tech kitchens? What’s overrated? Tell in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

The post High Tech Kitchens appeared first on Texas Home and Garden.

Universal Design: Easy Living for All

By Dan Bawden, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, of Legal Eagle Contractors

Universal design is about creating a home for everyone, regardless of age, size, or ability. Universal design’s features and products make a home safer and more comfortable for a wide range of people. And, as the name implies, universal design fits everyone and every lifestyle including:

  • Families with young children.
  • Older adults who want to stay in their home as they grow older.
  • People who are taller or shorter than average.
  • People who have limited mobility or dexterity.
  • People with a permanent or temporary disability.
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In this bathroom remodel, Legal Eagle Contractors utilized several universal design features.
Photo courtesy of Legal Eagle Contractors

Universal Design Features Checklist

Universal design features are those components of a home that work well for all residents and any guests who may visit. They just make good sense. Having universal design features and products in a home prevents accidents, increases comfort and safety, and enhances residents’ independence.

Essential universal design features include:

  • At least one no-step entry to the house either through the front, back or garage door.
  • Entryway doors that are at least 32 inches wide and interior doors at least 30 inches wide to allow for ample room to pass through.
  • Light controls, electrical outlets, and thermostats that are easily reachable for a person in a wheelchair.
  • A 3-foot-wide corridor, free of hazards and steps that connect all rooms on the main floor.
  • A bedroom, kitchen, entertainment area and a full bathroom, with plenty of space for maneuverability on the main floor
  • Reinforced bathroom walls for the option of adding grab bars.
  • Lever-style door handles and faucets that don’t require grasping or twisting to operate.

 

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Aging in Place Bathroom tub conversion 
Photo courtesy of Legal Eagle Contractors

In addition to the above, there are many other universal design features and products that many people, especially those over 50, like and incorporate into their homes. They include:

  • Raised front loading clothes washer, dryer and dishwasher.
  • Side-by-side refrigerator.
  • Easy access kitchen storage (pull-out shelves, adjustable height cupboards, lazy-susans.
  • Low or no-threshold stall shower with built-in bench or seat.
  • Non-slip floors, bathtubs and showers.
  • Raised, comfort-level toilets.
  • Multi-level kitchen countertops with open space underneath so one can work while seated.
  • Windows that require minimal effort to open and close.
  • Covered entryway or porch to protect you from rain and snow.
  • Rocker-style light switches.
  • Task lighting directed to a specific surface or area that provides illumination for specific tasks.
  • Easy to grasp cabinet knobs or pulls.
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Aging in Place Specialty tub
Photo courtesy of Legal Eagle Contractors

If you are about to launch a remodeling project, do it right the first time. Making the hallways three feet wide is relatively inexpensive if it’s included in the overall scope of a remodeling project. If the need for wider hallways arises down the road, retrofitting your home will be hugely expensive. Plus, there’s absolutely no better place than your home to invest your money, especially in today’s dollars. And the benefit is two-fold. Not only will the value of your home rise, you will also reap the reward of upgrading your lifestyle, both now and in the future.

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Aging in Place Shower conversion
Photo courtesy of Legal Eagle Contractor

GHBA_RCThe Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association is an organization of remodelers and industry professionals. The Remodelers Council is dedicated to promoting professionalism and public awareness of the remodeling profession through education, certification and service to the Houston community. For information on this article, please contact Lorraine Hart at lorraine@idealconsulting.net. To join the council or to find a professional remodeler in your area, please visit the GHBA website.

The post Universal Design: Easy Living for All appeared first on Texas Home and Garden.

Texas Bluebonnets

Texas Bluebonnet season is officially here and it’s absolutely gorgeous!They’re a bit ahead of schedule so get out there and check them out as soon as you can. Here’s a couple nuggets about Bluebonnets and some advice for those of you springtime blossom hunters!

The Texas State Flower

First and foremost, the bluebonnet is the official Texas state flower. And rightly so! They beautify our roadways and signal that Spring has officially arrived! Bluebonnets are so synonymous with Texas in Spring that they’re akin to the flowering cherry trees in Japan or the tulip in Holland. It feels pretty sweet to be in such cool company!

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HWY 105 Just North of Brenham, TX

About Texas Bluebonnets

The Texas Department of Transportation has heavily influenced the presence of the gorgeous wildflower along our state’s roadways. Each year the department sows about 30,000 bluebonnet seeds across the state. Only a small percentage of those seeds actually germinate and produce flowers that first year as a method to protect the species from drought and other adverse conditions. To ensure that the bluebonnets thrive and complete their life cycle the Department of Transportation refrains from mowing and cutting the grasses along roadsides through the end of the Spring and early Summer to allow the flowers their moment in the Texas Sun!

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HWY 105 Just North of Brenham, TX

Finding Bluebonnets

Viewing these little beauties is as easy as hopping in the car and heading out for a nice country drive. From the Houston area head west to Brenham and Chappell Hill for great displays. Up in the DFW area make your way over to Ennis to see spectacular views. Basically, the triangle that is formed by Houston, San Antonio, and DFW makes a perfect region for viewing our favorite flower.

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Safety First

Because Bluebonnets are most practically discovered along the side of the road there’s a couple of things to keep in mind while viewing. Make sure you’re fully pulled over to the side of the road. Be careful and mindful of the traffic and do not endanger you, your passengers, and other vehicles on the road. If you spot a delightful patch of bluebonnets at the last second do not slam on the breaks. Rest assured that there will be another patch up the road and if you absolutely need to photograph that spot turn around and circle back to it.

While you’re out and about amoungst all the pretty little flowers keep your eye out for less appealing elements out in those fields. In particular, road debris is common right off the side of the road. Nature can get you too. be mindful of fire ants, spiders and snakes. It’s their home and you just might be stomping around in it.

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HWY 105 Just North of Brenham, TX

Other Delights

While bluebonnet hunting, take some time to discover some of the other absolutely gorgeous wildflowers dotting the Texas country-side. Don’t know what you’re looking for? Here’s an easy resource for learning to spot Indian Paintbrush, Pink Evening Primrose, Blackeyed Susan, Mexican Hat, Flowering Dogwood, Indian Blanket, Texas Dandelion, and Drummond’s Phlox.

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Indian Paintbrush and Pink Evening Primrose

Sightings

Let us know where you’re spotting Bluebonnets across Texas! Send us your pics via Facebook and Twitter and use #TexasHomeAndGarden on Instagram!

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The post Texas Bluebonnets appeared first on Texas Home and Garden.

How to Love Your Home Again With a Remodel

By Kathi Fleck, LoneStar Property Solutions

One of the major reasons a homeowner wants to remodel their home is to find new ways to love it again. But with this sort of commitment, there are sometimes doubts that may arise that make people hold off on going forward. Here are some possible answers to four common questions that homeowners ask their remodeler before getting started.

Will the remodel be worth it in the end?

Any home remodel entails investment of time, money, and patience. Obviously, if you are ready to make such an undertaking, it all needs to be worth it in the end. As with any investment, you need to understand where things are really going. Be sure the budget you have set is feasible for the results you desire in the end. Your contractor can help in this aspect, as it can be difficult for some to figure out the cost behind certain features. Knowing what the end result should be will help give you peace of mind in the worth of the project.

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How much should I invest in my home?

Every home is different. Your particular real estate market and neighborhood has a great effect on remodeling spending realities for the best return on investment. Of course, if you plan to stay put for the foreseeable future, the emotional benefits are what matter the most. Still, be mindful of what is worth spending. You may feel that you have a great house, but you wish it were in a different neighborhood. The opposite can be equally true. Finding the equilibrium between these two feelings is where you should be at. A well-done remodel can often help straighten things out and make you feel more at home.

Do I really need this much of an update?

A major influence in remodeling is updating a space from a fashion standpoint. There are kitchens and bathrooms built in the 1960’s and 1970’s being demolished all the time to make room for up-to-date modernized kitchens. However, there are ways to update a space without a complete teardown. Keep your home’s value in mind and try to steady your remodeling budget under 25 percent of that total value. If you can’t do what you were first imagining on that kind of budget, your remodeler will work with you to find a plan that will work for both you and your budget.

Can I trust the person suggesting the plan?

Obviously, you want to work with a contractor that you trust in your home. Checking out that contractor’s previous projects and following up with references is always a good idea. You want to know that even if the design looks great on paper, it will also be built correctly by the contractor. Any good contractor will have reliable references, pictures of previous projects, and other ways to show you exactly how their work is up to par.

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-2LoneStar Property Solutions creates your dream project while eliminating all of the guesswork, uncertainty, and sense of overwhelm that comes with remodeling. They do so through coordinated design, product selection, scope development, building services and an open line of communication with clients. From the first meeting to the final walkthrough, their main concern is that you’re positively thrilled with the end results.
 
They are a member of the National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI), the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating, and The Good Contractor’s List. Their designs and commitment to customer satisfaction have garnered the attention of industry associations and go-to home improvement sites.

The post How to Love Your Home Again With a Remodel appeared first on Texas Home and Garden.

Container Gardening

Most people think of container gardening as that thing you do when you live in a small place with limited outdoor possibilities. Let us reassure you that it’s for everyone, everywhere. Check out these great ways to embrace container gardening to beautify all of your outdoor spaces be they small or large!

Get Grassy

Grasses and filler plants are perfect for adding greenery in just the right spaces without having to have the upkeep and maintenance of traditional hedges. You’re allowed an incredible amount of versatility that will allow you to regularly change up your look whenever you want. If you love changing your look with the seasons you can add in some annuals or if you want to kick back relax you might want to go with some perennials.

Petal to the Metal

There’s something absolutely fantastic about pairing beautiful delicate blooms with the hardness of metal. Grab that old metal wash bucket and get to gardening! Flowers are perfect for containers. They’re a fantastic vessel for annuals and you really can’t go wrong. Above all, planting flowers in containers are one of the best ways to put the perfect pop of color in spaces that don’t otherwise allow for planting.

Succulents

Succulents make for perfect container plants. If you forget to water them for a bit, they won’t mind. If you get hit with a massive rainstorm they’ll be fine. It’s hard to do away with a succulent. There’s so many amazing varieties and many multiply rather quickly so you can start with a few and within a few years have a container full! Many you can actually cut and propagate into other containers. Succulent container gardens are perfect for people on the go that may not be able to dedicate themselves to routine watering and maintenance but really want to bring some beauty to their outdoor spaces.

Veg Out

Did you know that you can grow several vegetables and lettuces in containers? Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and all sorts of fruits and vegetables will thrive in containers. Make sure that you’re putting your mini gardens in locations where they’ll get proper light. Southern and Western facing locations should work fine. Make sure your edibles have proper drainage and good soil.

Herbs

Herbs love containers! You can’t go wrong with a container herb garden. Plant multiples in big containers or individuals ones in small pots. There’s no limits to how to incorporate these gems into your outdoor spaces!

Get Inventive

There’s just no end to how inventive you can get with container gardens. Check out this absolutely amazing example of container gardening without limits! Are you a fan of container gardening? How have you worked it into your outdoor spaces? Post your pics on our Facebook page and tell us about your experiences with container gardening in the comments below!

The post Container Gardening appeared first on Texas Home and Garden.

Focusing on the Dream, not the Price

By Lorraine Hart, Ideal Consulting Services

Most people who have done a remodeling project and have not been totally satisfied with the result or the experience have something in common. They focused on the wrong thing. Unfortunately when the focus has been the price rather than the dream, the project just doesn’t measure up.

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Patio Cover built by Ashworth Design & Remodeling
Photo courtesy of Ashworth Design & Remodeling

 

In preparing for your remodeling project, I suggest that you focus on creating your dream for your home, rather than focusing on price negotiations. Keep in mind that this renovation, whether small or large is something that you may be living with for years to come. You certainly don’t want to have any regrets or wish that you had done it differently. The small amount that you save now may not be worth it in the long run. By communicating with your prospective remodeler, together you will be able to make your dream a reality.

To establish a good working relationship with your contractor, honesty is needed on all sides. It is best to share not only your needs and wants for your renovation, but your restrictions as well. Unfortunately I often hear about the broken relationships caused by lack of information from the beginning. In order for a professional to create a sound, realistic plan for your project, it is important that they have some idea of your budget. I know that many of you will resist this, however I want to point out that it is next to impossible for anyone to create a project plan and proposal unless they have some idea of your financial limitations.

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Remodeled Master Bedroom Suite by Remodelers of Houston
Photo Courtesy of Remodelers of Houston

It doesn’t have to be the exact amount of money you can afford, but you need to give some parameters to the remodeling professional. This will guide them in developing the project and selecting materials. A professional remodeler will be able to give you various ranges and you can choose the range that will be most comfortable for you. Otherwise the prospective contractor is hampered in determining which way to go. If the project is too low-end you will be disappointed because it doesn’t have all those things which you want included. On the other hand if it is too high-end you stand the chance of falling in love with something that is just not affordable. In either case you both lose.

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Remodeled Bathroom by Craftsmanship by John
Photo courtesy of Craftsmanship by John

Another area to address is that of free estimates. We all see ads for free estimates, but most of us don’t know what that means. What it should mean is that the potential contractor will meet with you to get an idea of what home improvements you are interested in. Once the scope of the project is loosely defined, the contractor can give some ball park ranges. A free estimate does not mean that the contractor will create a design, or do a design analysis and feasibility study. That is beyond the scope of a free estimate. Professionals deserve to be compensated for designs or anything that requires significant analysis.

By selecting a contractor that will do a professional analysis up front, you will ultimately save time, money and aggravation. By getting all the questions answered up front there will be fewer surprises and fewer change orders.

By focusing on creating your dream rather than just negotiating price, both you and your remodeler will win.

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Remodeled Kitchen by Stuckey Builders
Photo courtesy of Stuckey Builders

 
LorraineHart Lorraine Hart is the president and senior consultant for Ideal Consulting. Ideal has been providing business consulting, coaching, and training of small businesses in the construction industry since 1992. Lorraine has been writing and managing content for numerous organizations for over 25 years. She is a national member of NARI and contributor to its national blog. She is also a regular contributor to Remodeling Today and the coordinator and editor of the weekly home articles for the Houston Chronicle. On top of all that, Lorraine is also a member of the GHBA, the Remodelers Council, Custom Builders Council, and the Bay Area Builders.

The post Focusing on the Dream, not the Price appeared first on Texas Home and Garden.

Homestead Series – Choosing Guard Animals

By Carole West of GardenUp green

Choosing guard animals is one of the most important purchases for the homestead. There are several options, some you may haven’t even considered. I’m going to share which animals work to protect based on instinct and training. Let’s dive in and see which ones may meet the needs of your land.

 

Guard Dogs

Guard dogs are the common option homesteaders seek for protecting their livestock. Two of the most popular breeds are the Great Pyrenees, which are a white fluffy dog and the Anatolian Shepherd, pictured below.

This Anatolian is my neighbor’s dog; they use a male and female to protect a large herd of goats on a 20 acre homestead. These two dogs work as a team on a mission and they know their purpose.

It’s always a good idea to have two working dogs especially with large acreage because it allows one to rest while the other is on guard duty.

The Great Pyrenees works the same, these two breeds would live outdoors year round with their livestock, I wouldn’t recommend them as house dogs unless they approach retirement age.

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The Pyrenees and Anatolian

The Pyrenees and Anatolian are very comfortable with goats and sheep; on occasion I’ve seen grown Pyrenees in the fields with younger cows.

Dogs are unique in that some have that natural instinct to protect. Others need additional training that begins from the time they’re a pup.

If you’re looking at using dogs to protect your livestock, it’s recommend beginning with a pup and purchase from a farm breeder. These dogs have normally been born right in the barn with livestock nearby and they’ve had bonding play time with that livestock.

This bonding will help them transition to their new homestead with the purpose to protect.

What about Mutts

On our homestead we use two dogs, they’re lovely mutts that protect our home and land with every bit of energy they have and they take it very serious; they’re not the focus for protecting our farm animals. However if the opportunity approached they would do it.

Our dogs have a great life, they’re more like family farm dogs which means they come and go all hours of the day and night, a dog door would be a great idea if you choose this option.

When you implement dogs on your homestead remember to consider the expense of food and care. Most dogs including the breeds I’ve mentioned have a 12 – 14 year life span so if you’re on a budget the expense these animals require could become a burden if you’re not prepared.

Let’s consider the other available options.

Male Llamas

Sometimes Llamas get a bad rap and I get asked quite often, “Don’t they spit?” Where this can be true for some, we have not experienced any spitting llamas.

In the early days my husband raised Dexter cows; it was a neat experience. Before they arrived we purchased our first male llama.

After the farm was fenced the llama arrived two weeks prior to our cows. We wanted him to explore the pasture land and get a feel for the perimeter he would be protecting. One llama is sufficient for protecting a small herd of cows.

Male llamas are fun and have a corky personality but you cannot use them for guarding sheep or goats unless they’re gelded.

Llamas for Sheep and Goats

We use a female llama to protect our Jacob sheep; she has a small flock of seven ewes that keeps her content. She’s always on alert for predators; this includes everything from coyotes to squirrels.

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When a threat is in the area the llama sends out a sound to alert the animals she protects. The sheep will group together as she runs toward the predator ready to kick. They can injure and sometime even kill coyotes and dogs.

If you plan to have a guard llama and dogs remember never to put them in the pasture together after dark or when the sun goes down. Our dogs are only allowed in the pasture during the day when we’re outside.

Caring for these animals includes sheering once a year, free choice minerals, clean water, pasture grazing and hay. Llamas are great foragers and they love to trim the trees. Shelters are not necessary but they won’t turn them down either. If you’re seeking to purchase a llama I highly recommend, North Texas Llamas. Jimmy is extremely helpful, knowledgeable and every llama we’ve owned came from him. Sometimes with the females you even get a bonus llama later on.

Emus Guard

Emus are not commonly thought of as guard animals. We acquired our first emu through a rescue; we quickly discovered the benefit of having one roam our pasture so we recently added a couple more.

Emus are fantastic at chasing off all types of predators especially sky birds like, hawks and vultures.

There are different display signal an emu will perform when they see a nearby threat. These signals let you know that something negative is in the area.

* Fast pace running

* Loud hissing

* A display of jumping in conjunction with running

* Standing tall

* Shrinking down

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These birds are relatively easy to care for, however they do sleep at night so you couldn’t depend on them for night watch. Using them in conjunction with a llama would be a better option.

Emus add a little interest to the homestead; you can also raise them for meat and oil.

Emu’s will need shelter when temperatures reach below 30 degrees and their diet consists of foraging for bugs, pasture grass, and daily feed. Water is also an important part of their diet. To learn more about emus visit my blog.

Guarding Donkeys

I’m not a big fan of donkeys unless they’re a foal; they look like a stuffed animal at that age.

To many times donkeys grow up with an attitude making them difficult to navigate around the homestead. They tend to bite and kick which is something I prefer to avoid.

They do have some advantages; donkeys can be housed to protect almost any farm animal. The most important thing to remember is you only need one. If you add more than one donkey in a pasture they will create their own herd and fail to protect your livestock.

A donkey requires access to a shelter, pasture grazing and hay. Regular hoof trimming and worming is also necessary which can get expensive.

 

Summing Up the Options

With all of these options it’s best to first think about what kind of farm animals you plan to raise, this will help you decide what type of guard animal will work best. Never jump into a purchase without doing additional research, I can’t say that enough. Read it’s so important to learn more!

With all animals there is a level of commitment and it’s your responsibility to care for that animal the best way possible. We all make mistakes but doing your research first and planning things out will save you time in the long run and your animals will be happier.

Remember this, the guard animal is just like your fence, it’s protecting your investment.

Homestead Series
Homestead Series – Land Discovery
Homestead Series – Fence Out Predators

 
garden-up-greenCarole West is the founder and writer of GardenUp Green. She’s been gardening since she was a small child, learning from her Italian grandmother. Carole shares her all natural gardening techniques and projects on GardenUp Green so that readers can learn, discover, and be inspired. Carole has been putting together patio gardens and backyard escapes and has even ventured into small scale farming. Her greatest reward comes from her family. Their love and understanding has helped her build an amazing and creative life! Check out GardenUp Green on Facebook, Hometalk, and Pinterest.

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