Archive for homestead

Even The Smallest Yard A Homestead Garden

Most people probably think that you need acres to homestead–space for cattle or goats, chickens, pigs, large garden, etc. Not so! You can start to homestead in surprisingly small spaces!

This video by John at Learn Organic Gardening at GrowingYourGreens showcases a suburban homestead garden on only 1/10th of an acre! You can do this! Careful planning and starting as soon as possible (trees take a while to get going) are key. Enjoy! This is inspiring!

P.S. The Self-Improvement Giveaway 11 is still going on. You can get hundreds of free self-help resources all in one place. Don’t miss it!

Today’s post is for Day 10 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. #blogboost

Getting Ready For Winter And Catching Up

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here because we’ve been busy offline. Raise your hands if you spent days around Thanksgiving traveling! We traveled Wednesday through Sunday, north of us, south of us, and then north of us again. By the way, NEVER, if you can possibly help it, NEVER travel on a highway on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. What normally takes us about 4 hours to drive took 7!!! I now officially think that colleges should stagger their return dates after major holidays.

What else were we doing? Getting the animals set up better for winter! I started with the run-in. I admit I had put off mucking out the run-in for a while (don’t ask), but it’s not as obvious that it’s building up when it’s goat pellets and hay versus when it’s horse or cow droppings. I was picking out the run-in all the time when we had large animals out there! I did not have to clean up after the pigs, because pigs make a different toilet area away from where they eat and sleep.

I needed to clear out the side I use to access the back so that I could more easily get a larger order of hay brought in. It was deep when I started.

 

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It started looking better as soon as I got the hay all off of it, but I still needed to take out the composting stuff.

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I had the brilliant idea of using my little electric tiller to break it up, making it easier for me to shovel out (we don’t have a tractor). That only worked on part of it; part of it was too hard for the tines to get into. I had to use a metal hay fork to break up the layers to shovel them off. Yes, it’s embarrassing to own up to this, but such is life sometimes!

I finally got it dug out to where I could open the gate all the way. I then proceeded to move all of the project wood that I had in the back, rearranged the feed bins, and moved the milking stand. You can see part of the back of the run-in in this picture showing my progress on the floor.

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I called in the hay delivery–40 bales. That’s the largest I’ve ever taken at one time, because I used to have firewood stored in the back of the run-in as well (still working on storing the new firewood). There’s a certain feeling of security that comes from looking at a wall of hay put up for the next 2 months! The empty feed bin in the photo is sitting on top of the milking stand. The next step for this area is filling up all available feed bins!

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Next I moved on to making a shelter for Bubba and Marshmallow since they’re still in the inside yard until they get castrated, hopefully just before Christmas. I was originally planning to build an entirely new shelter in the back behind the inside yard and against the outside wall of the coop extension. That would get them out of the inside yard, but would’ve also put them where they couldn’t easily see the other goats. I started to move plywood and 2x4s out to the area and then decided that I would rather use what I already have instead of building something from scratch and having to worry about whether I had enough plywood, could roof it well enough but simply enough to take apart after a month.

I decided to use the chicken coop. I have posted pictures of the extension before; it’s still the same size. I was on medication over the summer that made me just sweat rivers and could not stand to be outside doing anything. I even gave up the garden. I just felt too bad when I was outside.

I closed off the side that’s open to the extension to help it stay a little warmer inside. I then moved the plywood around on the front so that the door actually is on the same side as the door in the framing (I had not worked out how it would fit together before and did not have the time while I was doing all this to make a door). I added shelves for the goats to get up on and hung two hay racks.

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I have since realized that (1) Bubba and Marshmallow don’t like to go in there and (2) the chickens like to sit on top of the boys’ hay. So I need to figure out how to keep the chickens off the hay in an easily removable way. For Bubba and Marshmallow, I think they need a nightlight. I just purchased this light on Amazon. It’s an outdoor, solar-powered string of lights that costs less than $9 per strand. I bought two; I’m planning on putting one in the coop for Bubba and Marshmallow and one in the run-in for the main herd (does and whethers). The big bucks are in front of the house and get light as long as we leave the porch light on.

outdoorsolarlightsI’m thinking I’ll also block off one side under the front porch for Bubba and Marshmallow to get out of the wind during the day since they like to be on the front and west sides of the house where they can talk to other goats. They can get out of the wind now, but they can’t see anybody else when they go there so they don’t.

What have you been doing to get ready for winter?

Two Big Summits You Don’t Want To Miss!

Holy mother of pearl! There are two back-to-back summits that you do NOT want to miss–the Prepper World Summit 3 and the Mother Earth News Summit.

I don’t how I’m arriving late to the party for this first, but the Prepper World Summit 3 is currently ongoing. It’s run dates are October 22-October 31, 2016. They will have encore days on November 2 and 3, thankfully!

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The Prepper World Summit 3 has a “hand-picked team of 20 world-class prepping & survival experts will reveal how you can avoid common prepping mistakes, take your preparedness to the next level and create a survival plan that WORKS for you and your family.”

Topics include:

  • Bug-out bags. I need this reminder…Don’t ask.
  • Surviving in an urban environment.
  • Growing a stealth food forest. I wonder what kinds of foods will be included?
  • Building community.
  • Prepping with chronic health conditions. I hope they cover more than medication. I’ll pay attention to this one during the encore listening.
  • Permaculture basics. I’m going to be taking as many notes as I can!
  • Building a secret greenhouse on your house disguised as a porch. I’m definitely going to watch this one!
  • And so much more!

Squee! I can’t wait for encore day to listen to everything I’ve missed! Sign up here to be able to listen free!

The second summit that’s coming up is the Mother Earth News Summit online. Yes, they do in-person fairs in several places around the country every year. This one is online and is free! This one runs October 31-November 6 with encore days on November 7 and 8. It includes 35 speakers over 7 days.

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Topics include:

  • How organic gardeners produce 2X to 10X greater yields.
  • Build your next garden beds for $0 (yes, nothing)!
  • Grow 75% of your food in less than 10 hours per week!
  • 5 ways to achieve FOOD ABUNDANCE in small urban spaces.
  • Lazy backyard chicken farming secrets.
  • Rainwater Harvesting: turn water scarcity into water abundance!
  • How to get FREE ACCESS to local seed varieties.
  • Make clothes that last 10X longer, using the “old ways.”
  • Whip up delicious, slow-cooked meals using the sun!
  • Transform your property into an edible landscape.
  • And so so much more!

The Mother Earth News Summit is more geared toward homesteading and gardening type of discussions. Even if you just have a little garden patch or grow tomatoes in pots, sign up! You may learn some easy tricks to be able to expand what you grow.

These are going to be so much fun, I’m giddy just thinking about them! Ok, maybe not giddy, but really excited! What’s your favorite topic that’s being covered? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Don’t forget the Thyroid Connection Summit going on October 24-31, 2016.

 

What Do I Mean By Vegan Homestead?

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When I bought our property in 2012, we were eating basically a “traditional foods” diet–Paleo but with a small amount of grains such as brown rice or oatmeal. I thought we would be able to try to grow most of our food on our 4 acres, fishing in the pond, eating eggs from our ducks and chickens, getting dairy from our own cow and goats, beef from our own cow, chicken and duck from our older birds, and pastured pig. Life was looking grand.

Until I actually got livestock.

We started off taking 2 free-lease ponies, added 2 miniature cattle (bull and heifer), Image5874 piglets (2 boys, 2 girls), 5 goats (1 boy, 4 girls), and many ducklings and chicks. We discovered that (a) not many people really need to own a bull, especially people with no cattle experience, (b) pigs really are smart and actually can be very nice, (c) everything else in the world wants to eat your birds, and (d) goats are really cute!

So we sold the cattle, which I had no business owning, and the pigs, which would come running to lay down for belly rubs whenever we yelled “piggy love!” We would have kept the pigs for pets if I’d been able to keep them separately and afford to feed them. However, something would have had to been done about the rooting. I know it’s what they’re designed to do, but I now have areas of our pasture where I can’t take the riding mower due to how deep the ruts are and I’m actually afraid that a horse would break a leg in that part of the field. Someday I hope to get it disced.

My daughter, Kaida, had already stopped eating chicken and duck after we got our own birds and she saw how cute they were. She became friends with some of them, being able to hold and pet several of our hens as well as our then-head-rooster, Halloween. Note: all of our original chickens and half of our ducks have been eaten by predators, mostly fox. We did get more chicks recently because they not only helped with bugs, but apparently helped keep the weeds in check. The backyard needs them, badly!

After selling the cows, we were still kind of okay eating beef, but had already stopped eating pork. We just lost interest in eating it; we would always picture our piggies laying down with their eyes closed for belly rubs every time we tried to eat bacon or ground pork. I had to sell the pigs, but I at least sold them to someone who would let them live on pasture without rings in their noses. The goats got to stay because they’re cheaper to feed.

By this time, I knew that I would not be able to butcher anything so I decided that if I couldn’t do it, I at least had to watch how the butchering was done and see if I could be a party to that. No, I could not. A fast shot between the eyes while still out in the field eating would be the ideal way to kill for food, but I decided that we were done with eating animal products since it wasn’t physically necessary. Luckily, Kaida was fine with that since she already didn’t really like eating meat.

Vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes would become our staples. fruits_&_veggies

There were also health benefits that encouraged me to pull back from eating animal products. There have been challenges too, but I will cover them in another post.

Full House! ER, Barn!

The stalls that I have almost finished in the shed-turned-barn are intended for does and kids to be in away from the weather. Unfortunately, I was not prepared for a whole week of sub-zero temperatures!

I had to put all of the girls, with the babies, in one stall and put all of the boys in the other. It’s a little crowded!

Girls and babies!

Boys!

Thankfully, I think tomorrow will be the last day. Saturday we should be able to at least put the boys back out so we can spread the girls out some. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to clean the stalls on Sunday after the rain hopefully melts enough of the snow that I can pull the cart to the muck pile.

Does anyone have good ideas for dealing with stalls when there’s too much snow out for your cart to move?