Sunday, November 11, 2012

Our Future Animals and Why

For the past 5 years, we have been seriously researching which animals to have on our farm. As we want to be as self-sufficient as possible, the choices must give us the maximum benefit with the minimum effort. Here are the animals and a description of what they will be used for...

Sussex Chickens – These chickens are dual-purpose. That means they are good for meat and egg production. The hens weigh about 3.2kg (7lbs), and produce 240-260 eggs per year. Since we have a 50/50 chance at getting males and females from the eggs, we will use some of the males for meat production. Basically, we will incubate 10-15 eggs per month to be raised as meat. The eggs that become females will be used in egg production or sold.

Dorset Sheep – These sheep are dual-purpose also. They are good for wool and meat. We were looking for a triple purpose sheep, but it seems the breed that we wanted is not imported into the United States. The Dorset is a prolific breeder. It can produce 4-5 lambs per year. The gestation length is 142-152 days. After they have one set of kids, they can be bred again. Ewes weigh 70-90 kg. (150-200 lbs). Rams weigh 100-120 kg. (225-275 lbs).

Miniature Jersey Cows – This is dairy breed, so we will only use it for milk production. They stand 107-122 cm (42-48 inches) at the hips, and weigh 136-317 kg. (300-700 lbs). They produce 2-3 gallons of milk per day. Miniature Jerseys are not a new breed, nor a bred down replica of the Jersey cattle we see today. They are descendants of the original Jerseys imported from the Jersey islands and Britain many years ago with the same size and conformation of the original Jersey breed. These cattle are safer because of their smaller size. Also, they eat 1/3 less than a standard size cow. 

Hereford Bull – This breed is for meat production. Herefords are one of the most highly adaptable breeds of cattle in the world. A Hereford's thick hide, light-and-dark coat color, and ability to live off of grass and hay alone, make it able to adapt so readily to the different climates it lives in. Herefords are known for their great temperament and docility, and because they require little management in terms of feeding, they are one of the best breeds to raise on ranch or rangeland-like conditions. Plus, we love beef stew!

Nubian Goats – Nubians are large, with does weighing at least 135 pounds (61 kg) and 175 pounds (79 kg) for bucks. The minimum height of the breed, measured at the withers, is 30 inches (76 cm) for does and 35 inches (89 cm) for bucks. Anglo-Nubians can live in very hot climates and have a longer breeding season than other dairy goats. Considered a dairy or dual-purpose breed, Anglo-Nubians are known for the high butterfat content of their milk. Nubians are remarkable in temperate zones of agriculture in being able to deal with temperatures as low as 0 °F (−18 °C) with open faced shelters. They readily attach to their new human owners with simple neck and side stroking. Nubians love human interaction and will call for their owner.

Anatolian Shepherd - With acute hearing, exceptional eyesight, and the strength to take down wolves and bears, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a superb guardian of his flock. I think we will call him Maximus.

Koolie - Specifically, it is a herding dog, a subcategory of a working dog. A dog which has a natural instinct to cast out (i.e., circle widely), round sheep and bring them back to their owner. They are used for “heading” sheep and also for quiet careful work at close quarters at lambing time or for “shedding” (cutting out) sheep. Known to be patient, temperate, dedicated, with a strong sense of willingness and devotion; the Koolie is not naturally aggressive but can demonstrate dominance. They show an untiring enthusiasm for work and an admirable hardiness when the job or circumstance requires. Unlike other working breeds, which are noted for their crouched form or style and preference for either yard or field work, Koolies are at ease working in closed surroundings such as yards or trucks and being out in paddocks and droving. As well as working anything from ducks to bulls, like all dogs of their kind they will herd family members and children in the absence of other charges.

American Paint Horse - is a breed of horse that combines both the conformational characteristics of a western stock horse with a pinto spotting pattern of white and dark coat colors. They were developed from a base of spotted horses with Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred bloodlines. The American Paint Horse's combination of color and conformation has made the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) the second-largest breed registry in the United States.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chicken Training


We try to learn and practice as many things possible that we plan to do or have on the land. As chickens are definitely in the plans, we got baby chicks while here in Saudi Arabia to learn how to raise them. It has been an excellent learning experience and one that has made keeping chickens a normal part of our lives.

Early problems were that we got them while it was still relatively cool here, so we had 14 chicks in two different containers, which we mistakenly decided to group all together for the sake of keeping warm. Once they were all together, they started crowding and attacking each other and we lost six of the chicks. After that, we separated them into two groups again and the problems ended. They grew very quickly and consistently, mashaa'Allah, and went from being in their containers to a wire chick cage and then we built a chicken run, which we bedded with some rich compost from our compost pile. We fed them the typical grain-based chicken feed as well as some fruit and vegetable scraps and the pulp from juicing. They love that!

Instead of nesting boxes, we simply spread out a whole straw bale over the ground in their home, which gave them a nice thick bed to peck and scratch through. They established little nesting areas in the straw and, earlier than expected, started laying eggs at 5 months. The eggs are very small in the beginning and gradually grow in size over the period of a year, up to jumbo size eggs. Currently we are marveling at how the eggs are elongating and gradually getting larger week by week.

One important thing we learned were the ratio of cockerels to hens, which shouldn't be more than one per 5-6 hens. We had two cockerels, one of which was very good looking and had a very big mouth. He crowed so much, all day long, that for the sake of the neighbors we selected him to slaughter. He was a special Czechoslovakian breed, famous for the floppy red comb and constant crowing. Now we have just one cockerel, who is a quiet fellow, probably scared to make too much noise for fear of meeting the same fate of his buddy.

Another extremely important lesson, which was not in our chicken book, was about the bloody egg. One day the girls came in with a bloody egg. The next day, they came with another, bloodier than the first. It simply had a few streaks of blood on the shell. I made a note to look it up and see if it was a problem. However, by the third day, a hen was dying after being attacked by the other birds. Despite our efforts, she died before we could even slaughter her. I looked up the issue of the bloody egg and learned that it is normal when hens are first laying or when their eggs are increasing in size, to have streaks of blood on their eggs. However, if the eggs continue to be bloody in the ensuing days, then it means the hen isn't healing. She will go off her feed and water and the other chickens will, in a cut-throat way, attack her. It really is survival of the fittest in the world of chickens! After this, we have watched closely if a bloody egg has turned up, to ensure that it doesn't persist. We have had two occasions when there has been a bloody egg, but just for one day and then nothing else.

In the event of seeing a bloody egg two days in a row, the chickens vents must be inspected to see which one is bloody. That chicken must be removed immediately from the rest and put separately in a cage with its own water and feed supply. Then the chicken will be able to heal without the others attacking it and can be returned to the others when it is fully recovered.

Now, our 6 and 9 year old girls take care of the chickens. They go out once or twice a day to fill up their feed, add grit to it when needed, change their water, give them whatever scraps and pulp we have for them, and gather the eggs, mashaa'Allah. It is going very easily and well and we are feeling much more comfortable and confident about raising chickens on our farm in the future, mashaa'Allah.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Grow your own bath and dish scrubbies

When it comes to household cleaners, cleaning cloths, and scrubbers, it is always worth checking to see what you can grow yourself to handle the jobs first. That failing, look at options to make something, re-using or recycling things to fill the need. If you follow these steps, the majority of the time you fill find that you won't have to go out and buy anything. This can certainly be said for loofahs, which are not only bathtime bliss, but make excellent natural dish scrubbers.

This is on our Things to Plant List for our land. If anyone has a garden or even a little space to grow a plant or two, this is a neat option...and you'll never need to buy another bath or dish scrubber again!

Grow your own dishrags

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pots, Pans, and all things Kitchen

Bism Illah

The lifestyle changes we have made over the years to facilitate sustainability, earth consciousness, and the materials and things we will need for the long-term, have been gradual. However, they have always been based on modern research on environmental safety & preservation and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam.  I considered for many years the dangers of using teflon, non-stick, cookware but still ended up sticking with it for things like eggs, pancakes, etc. But then, as I became more and more health conscious, I wanted to get healthier pots to cook in. About 10 years ago, I bought a stainless steel set, which I'm very happy with masha'Allah, but still hadn't found a non-stick solution. Then the whole "back to the Salaf" brainwave washed over me and, mashaa Allah, my mind became clear!

What did they use back then for cooking? I checked with hubby about materials available then and he confirmed that cast iron (just think of Surah Al Hadeed), steel, copper, brass, pottery (clay), wood, stone, and glass would have been the things available. Well, then it all started to come together. I looked on the eco-friendly websites to see what they recommended as healthy cookware and what did I find? Cast iron, glass, stainless steel.

Oh, and before I go on with my pot and pan discoveries... the most dangerous things to cook with are non-stick and aluminum. Check out this link... it is just one in MANY you will find on the web if you research cookware materials to avoid: care2

So, me being me, I couldn't just talk the talk, I had to walk the walk. I researched about cast iron, its care, its durability, and its health benefits. You actually get some iron in your diet naturally from cooking with the pots. They are simply wiped with a good vegetable oil or animal fat and baked for an hour or two in the oven and that seasons them so that they become naturally non-stick. They even come pre-seasoned now so that you start out with a non-stick surface and simply have to maintain it. They last forever, unless you do something really drastic with them. You simply scrub them with a bristle brush and hot water while they are still warm and let them dry... no detergents, no chemicals, nothing! My mother-in-law used them for years and told me that she doesn't know why she ever gave them away because they were better than anything she ever cooked with.

Initially, I purchased a cast iron skillet, griddle, and two 3 quart deep pots with lids and used them along with my stainless steel. The best deals I found for them were on, although I am not advertising for them, LOL. They are not very expensive, especially considering I will be able to pass these down to serve generations of our family, inshaa'Allah. I keep thinking they'll be useful if I have to fight off an intruder too. A bonk on the head with an 8lb frying pan should be a decent deterrent, don't you think?

Here is a site all about cast iron cookware: Learn about Cast-Iron Pans

We also phased out our plastic utensils, replacing with stainless steel and/or wood. We have all stainless steel plates, bowls, cups, and mugs, glass measuring jugs and baking dishes, bamboo steamers, and an oven stone to cook pizza and breads on. Rather than use plastic containers for food storage, we use the stackable stainless steel tiffin containers and a variety of large and small jars. We even have a few small clay pots for storage and serving, mashaa Allah. Let the ever sustainable Sunnah go forth... in our kitchen - ameen!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Aerial view

Here's the Google Earth view of Healing Earth.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Encouragement in Islaam to Utilize and Till the Land

The Encouragement in Islaam to Utilize the Land
 & to
Till the Land
Taken from
‘Silsilah Ahadeeth As-Saheehah’
By the
Muhaddith, Shaykh, Allamaa’
Muhammad Nasir uddeen al-Albaani
Translated by
Abbas Abu Yahya

‘There are many Ahadeeth regarding this, I will mention a few of them:

7 – From Anas the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- said:
‘There is no Muslim who plants a plant or a tree, or sows a seed and no bird, or human or animal eats from that except that it is a charity for that person.’
[Collected by Bukhari, Muslim & Ahmad]

8 – From Jabir from the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam:
‘There is no Muslim who plants a plant or a tree, except that whatever is eaten from it is a charity for him.  Whatever is stolen from that is a charity for him.  Whatever is eaten from it by an animal is a charity for him.  Whatever a bird eats is a charity for him, no one suffers a loss except that it will be a charity for him till the Day of Judgement.’
[Collected by Muslim]

No. 9 – From Anas -Radi Allaahu anhu- from the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- said:
‘If the final hour comes and one of you has a small date-palm plant in his hand, and if you can plant it before you stand then plant it.’

‘Imam Bukhari brought a chapter heading in the previous book (al-Adab al-Mufrad) for this Hadeeth, where he said: ‘Chapter: The Production of Wealth’ then he narrated from al-Harith bin Laqeett who said:

‘There used to be a man from amongst us who would get his horse to reproduce, and then slaughter it. And he would say: ‘Why should I live so that I ride this thing? [i.e. The Day of Judgement is very close].’
Then a letter came to us from Umar:
‘You should cultivate and prosper with that which Allaah has provided you, since indeed in this regard there is enough time.’
Its chain is authentic.
Bukhari also narrated from Dawood with an authentic chain, who said: Abdullaah bin Sallam said to me:
‘If you hear that the Dajjal has exited and you are about to plant a small tree, then do not delay tending to cultivating it, because the people will have a sustenance from that later.’
And Ibn Jareer narrated from ‘Amaarah bin Khuzaimah bin Thaabit who said:
‘I heard Umar bin al-Khattab say to my father: ‘What prevents you from tilling your land?’
My father replied to him: ‘I am an old man and I may die tomorrow.’
So Umar said to him:
‘I swear that; indeed you must plant on your land.’
Indeed I saw Umar bin al-Khattab plant a plant or tree with his own hands along with my father.’
[From ‘al-Jamia’ al-Kabeer’ by Suyootee]
This is why some of the Companions used to regard a man who works on his land as a worker from the workers of Allaah – Azza wa Jal.

Bukhari narrated in ‘al-Adab al-Mufrad’ from Nafi’ bin ‘Aasim that he heard Abdullaah bin ‘Amr say to his nephew, when he was coming out of his [al-Waha] farm:
‘Are your workers doing their jobs?’
He replied: ‘I do not know.’
Abdullaah said: ‘As for me, if I was skilled and trained I would learn the job your workers do.’
Then he turned towards us and said: ‘Indeed if a person works along his workers in his home [and the narrator once mentioned: ‘with his wealth’]; then that person would be a worker from the workers of Allaah – Azza wa Jal.’
Its chain is ‘Hasan’ InshAllaah.
al-Waha’ in the Arabic  language means: a garden, and it was a very large piece of land which was owned by ‘Amr bin ‘al-Aaas in Taif about three miles from Wajja, and it seems he left it for his children.

Ibn ‘Aasakir collected in his book ‘Tareekh’ with an authentic chain from ‘Amr bin Dinar who said:
‘Amr bin al-Aaas entered a farm which he owned in Taif which was called al-Waha, it had a million stakes of wood [which were used to prop up the grapes], he had bought every stake of wood for a Dirham.’
These are some of the general benefits from those Ahadeeth from the Salaf as-Salih -Radi Allaahu anhum.

Bukhari wrote a chapter heading in his ‘Saheeh’ for the first two Ahadeeth by saying:
‘Chapter: The excellence of growing plants if they are eaten from’

[Taken from ‘Silsilah Ahadeeth As-Saheehah’ vol. 1 hadeeth no 7-9 p.37-40]

Monday, August 6, 2012

Non-Muslim Sunnah


When looking at how we would focus our lifestyle and consider the changes and improvements we needed to make in our lives, we looked firstly at the Qur'an and the Sunnah. In this case, not the Sunnah of manners and worship, but the Sunnah of lifestyle of our Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. The reason we looked at this is because our Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was sent down at a specific time and lived a specific lifestyle, which was in harmony with the earth (a focal part of our Islam). We then looked at what environmentalists and sustainable living veterans were doing - the crunchy movement.  We came to this question: "Why are all the non-Muslims raving about the Sunnah?"

What, you ask? Is there a group of non-Muslims that have learned about the Sunnah and love it? No. There are masses of non-Muslims who swear by living the Sunnah - but they don't know it is the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet. They just know it is the best way to live. Why do they know and practice, and we, as an Ummah, rarely do?

Why is it that when we go to the doctor, they tell us to eat whole, unrefined grains, natural foods, fruits, vegetables, like olive oil? Sunnah food! We are warned day in day out about avoiding chemical-laden, refined and processed foods like white sugar, white flour, white rice, etc. Why do they tell us to use honey, which we have ahadith and Qur'an ayaat about? Why are they giving us tips about how to eat mindfully, when we have extensive ahadith about the etiquettes of eating that tell us these things?

Why is it that the Green Revolution is telling us to build houses out of earth, just as they built the first masjid in Madinah? In the secular world, we are reminded that every day is Earth Day. In Islam, every day IS Earth Day because we have been given this earth as an amanah (trust) from Allah. They tell us not to use dangerous and harmful chemicals...subhaan Allah, it's as if they read the ayaat in the Quran "and do not destroy yourselves."

We turn up our noses at the "primitive" squat toilets used in the Middle East, but the west says that they are the healthiest toilets to use for proper elimination and even sell steps to use in front of western toilets to give the same effect of crouching. Subhaan Allah! We are even told that conventional toilets are a huge waste and composting toilets are the way to secure our earth's future.

Just go online and you will see articles and blogs about giving up material things, getting rid of the clutter. Non-Muslims are raving about the virtues and value of giving up unnecessary things to better appreciate what is important in life. So now, we have non-Muslims taking practical steps towards Az-Zuhd, when we are out shopping and filling our homes.

Non-Muslims are recycling, living for a year without throwing anything away to see how they can reduce their impact on the earth. They have gone back to the materials used in the time of the Prophet - iron, steel, glass, pottery - and shunned the plastic, aluminum, and teflon found to be so dangerous to our health. They even went back to the Sunnah in the materials they use - cotton, hemp, linen, wool, silk, leather, while we buy Japanese polyester abayas and thobes.

What have we come to that the rest of the world is doing what was sent us by Allah, in the form of our Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) and his Sunnah, as the best example of how to live? As you will see in the posts about our lifestyle changes and evolution, we are taking the best example of how to live as our model for living our lives, now and ultimately on our land bi ithn Illah.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Nineteen Years in the Making

Before I met my husband, in 1992 he had this dream of buying land in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. His initial vision was 140 acres of land, in an area known as Canyon Milagro. The years passed but the dream remained. In 2002, we married and he shared his dream with me and I greened the dream. We didn't know exactly how we could make the dream a reality with the hustle and bustle of the American lifestyle.

In 2003, out of sheer necessity, we turned our back yard into a natural/organic garden as we were both poor and hungry. This was one of the first steps in preparation to learning how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Over the years we went on camping trips, visited Native American museums, Energyfests, Plimoth Plantation, and other historical places that would teach us about the simple, homesteading life.

In 2009 we left the United States so my husband could take a position at Taibah University, Madinah al Munawarrah,  to put us in an environment more conducive to our spiritual well-being. In two years, the blessings of Allah brought us 51 acres of land located in Roy, New Mexico. The price was within our grasp so we began the process to purchase the land. On July 18th, 2011 the next stage in our dream became a reality...we were now land owners.

It is our plan to continue to reside in Saudi Arabia and return to America to develop our land during the summer breaks. We hope to have a final transition to the land by 2019, inshaa'Allah. On this blog we hope to share with you the steps we've taken and continue to take to make this dream a reality.