Tag Archive | how-to

What Is REAL Homesteading Anyway?

Today, Ernie was told that some local people who live off grid are doing “real” homesteading.

Now see, that ticks me off.

If we’re talking about REAL homesteading, my great-grandparents were “REAL” homesteaders.

They came to this country (Canada) with NOTHING, got crappy land and built a life from NOTHING.

That is”REAL” homesteading.

What people do today is also homesteading but you can do it however you darn well please. Homesteading today is using some (or all if you wish) of the traditional ways of our ancestors when they came to this part of the world, incorporated with new ways of living such as solar energy, newly developed seeds and plants and perhaps working at a really good job.

There is no one way to do it.

There are no such things as “real homesteaders” anymore. Homesteaders are people who decide that they are homesteaders. It can be in mind or in physical reality. It doesn’t matter.

I just wanted to clarify that.

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Saving Oregano

We have two oregano beds that survived the winter. This plant is interesting because it is obviously not native to this region, yet is survives our ridiculously difficult winters. There is always some die-back and some sections of the beds don’t come back, but they always spread.

Both of our oregano beds have a north facing exposure so this is even more interesting to me. Because this herb is so useful, it is a good idea for everyone to plant a little and dry some for use in the off season.

This year I am planting more because of our venture into market gardening. The old beds needed refreshing so I harvested as much as I could very early. The stems were very short but I pinched them down to the ground.

The second bed has even more to be harvested which has yet to be done. All of this will be dried for our own use. The first batch I dried on an old cookie sheet but the second harvest will be dried in our homemade dehydrator.

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The remaining beds will be removed, some good sections will be replanted in different locations, and the dead sections composted. The roots on these plants are VERY tough and difficult for me to even get a shovel into. This must be why they are so good at surviving the winters here.

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This oregano bed has a lot of grass in it. Another reason to remove it.

I use oregano in many different things that we eat like the obvious – pizza, tomato sauce, salsa, salad, etc. but I also put some in my dog’s food – dried of fresh – from time to time.

Some people believe that giving greens to dogs is a not species appropriate but I don’t think that at all.  In small amounts this and other culinary herbs are a benefit to dogs. I have been using them for years with no issues. Dogs that are not used to things like this should be started on them slowly using COMMON SENSE.

So I harvested quite a bit of early oregano for drying and now that is something I don’t have to think about for the rest of the summer. We have as much as we need for ourselves so I can concentrate on selling the rest.

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Getting Along In A Small Community

Living rurally obviously has some challenges. One of the big ones that often gets negative attention from those who live in cities is how people get along in a small town.  Sometimes, trying to accomplish things of importance and make progress towards goals can be near to impossible.

Every community has a person or people who make it difficult to get stuff done.  Often, these people are not overly helpful either and prefer to use the voice rather than the muscles. Sometimes things can be worked out and other times they won’t be. I have found a few things that can help with these issues.

Ignore all negativity. Obviously this is difficult but it works. Negativity is generally there for attention getting. If you don’t give reinforcement to the negative talk, there is no pay off and it will happen less and less. Your hope is that particular person will tire of not being noticed and will leave the group or stop the negativity.

Obviously if there is a problem that needs to be addressed then it must be addressed. This is different from paying attention to negativity. Address the issue and move on.

People talking negatively abound in most places. I have learned that if I don’t have to interact with them in person on a regular basis, I can continue to do the work I am doing and it won’t affect the outcome. If however, I have to work in close contact with these types, I have trouble doing my job. Not everyone will be able stay away from negativity at all times, so the best tactic is to ignore it. And not everyone will be able to ignore it. Do your best.

It is best to realize that continuous negativity is a problem that is not related to things outside of oneself. When you remember this, it is easier to separate yourself from what you don’t want to hear. I used to take it personally but now I don’t.

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Presenting the facts of an issue as they stand. This can go a long way to eliminating negativity. If you present information that is very clear about something, stating the benefits of a particular tactic or option it often helps to calm fears and show that there is no threat coming from you or other supporters. Often there is perceived competition in a group or on a certain project. When you give the facts and benefits of something calmly, and make sense about whatever you are working on, this most often works to end negativity.

Other parties can often not present more compelling facts to support their cause and often decide to quit the group or accept the facts.

Alternatively, you may be wrong about something and by admitting that you will stop the negative talk outright.

In small towns, there are the same problems as in large centres, just fewer people. People are people no matter where you are. When there is a lower population, you are closer together and hear complaints more often. It is kind of like being in a office where people don’t get along.

One of my relatives lives in a very large city. At her place of work, she has been bullied by another co-worker and the other people in the office have not been overly supportive. There are some that she gets along with but by no means all.

Being in a small town or rural area is no different from the city in that fact.

Because of this,

rural areas should not be given bad publicity about how it is to live there. Negativity and difficulty getting along happens everywhere.

The best thing to do is to not get sucked into the bad talk, keep your mind on the solutions and continue on with helping small towns prosper.

How We Feed Our Homestead Dogs

Pets are an expense, food and vet bills being the main issues. When I consider feeding my dogs on the homestead, I always feed the best food I can find. This doesn’t always mean pre-made, store bought food either.

The reason for this is simple.

Dogs need to eat well just like we do. What they eat affects their health. Having six dogs and many more over the years and being a pet professional, I have tried all kinds of store bought dog foods as well as those I prepared myself and I have seen many different kinds being fed to their dogs by clients.

On the homestead, the more food I can provide for my dog the better.

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The dogs are waiting to find out what Ernie is making.

This is what we do:

We Feed Dry Dog Food

We buy the best quality dry dog food we can find that is made in the closest location to us. Yes, we use a dry dog food for convenience. Yikes! Isn’t this the opposite of a homesteader’s thinking? In a way yes and in a way no.

By yes, I mean that it is not self sufficient and likely NOT the most ideal thing for a dog. By no I mean that I have always felt that our dogs need to be able to eat from many different sources. Often, I have worked with a dog who has been babied and won’t eat anything but certain types of food. I expose our dogs to many different kinds of foods and this includes a good quality dry food.

So if you want to and can feed your dog raw or only stuff from your homestead, perfect. It can be done and is the best way in my opinion to feed dogs. I have fed raw in the past, but currently don’t have the access to the kind of meat I want to feed to six dogs. Also, two of my dogs are 15 years old and can’t chew bone anymore. They also are starting to not eat, so I give them whatever I can that is tasty enough to interest them AND give them nutrients they need.

We Feed Cooked Fish

We buy canned salmon and sardines, and fish that was caught from the local area lakes. Don’t forget that if you are or want to be a “raw” feeder, canned fish is cooked and so is not raw. All fish caught in local lakes is cooked before feeding to the dogs. You could probably feed it raw but it would have to be frozen for at least 3 weeks before feeding.

We Feed “Scraps”

All scraps have to be whole foods i.e. NOT processed meats, foods with additives etc. Our scraps include things liked cooked potato and other veggies, meat scraps like chicken, venison, beef, pork etc. If there is fat, we still feed it but are extremely careful not to feed too much at once. Cooked fat is different from raw fat and has a different affect on the body for dogs. So limit or eliminate cooked fat.

We also buy dog cookies/treats at this time from the pet store, but that is also for convenience and we buy from companies that are as local as possible with the best ingredients as possible. It is easy to make your own dog treats and we also do that. There are unlimited recipes to be found on the internet.

We Feed Meat From Local Sources

We get meat locally. The beef is grass fed from nearby ranchers and we get chicken from a woman who raises them herself. We used to get pork from a farmer but have not had any for a few years. Ernie also hunts during the season, and sometimes the dogs get extra deer meat, but we always freeze the deer for 3 weeks before feeding. The deer antlers are also given to the dogs instead of bones to chew, but can also cause cracked teeth so we need to be careful about that. If I feed bones they must always be raw. We only give chicken bones as we have had bad experiences feeding other bone.

If I feed raw meat only on one day, I make sure to always give bone meal (made specifically for dogs from ethical and clean sources) if it is beef or feed the chicken with the bones. Feeding raw meat exclusively without bone leads to nutrient imbalance.

Other Fresh Foods

We also feed raw or cooked eggs. If we have farm eggs then we feed raw and can feed the shells as well. The skin on the inside of the eggs has nutrients that benefits the dogs. If the eggs are boiled in the shells, we do not feed the shells as they become sharp when cooked.  Dogs can be fed eggs either raw or cooked and receive similar nutrients. Eggs are like a vitamin pill for dogs.

In the fall we have apples from our trees and the dogs eat them right off the ground or are given one to eat. We make sure not to give too many so that they don’t eat too many seeds. Most seeds go right through because they don’t chew them, but just to be cautious we watch how many they eat. We also feed raspberries when they are available from our garden and blueberries when we can buy them in season.

Vegetables from the garden can include spinach, kale, parsley, and herbs.

And thats about it really. Basically, we try to keep it simple and not rely too much on processed food from the grocery store. If we come into a regular source of local meat for the dogs, I will start feeding that.

Happy Homesteading!

 

Working From Home – Reusing Items For Equipment Part 2

Recently, my homemade dryer arm was completed with the help of several reused/recycled metal and plastic parts – and a new grooming arm that was purchased 2 years ago that I have never really used. Ernie pieced together the contraption so that I could brush out a dog’s coat while having the air blow on it without having to hold it myself.
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The dryer sits in a piece of plastic that came from the back shack and is attached to an old plastic tripod. The arm moves in and out and turns from side to side, so I can adjust where the air is blowing. This frees up my hands to hold a dog and brush at the same time. Works great. Many things were saved from being chucked in the garbage.

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DIY Handmade Tree Ornaments

The first project for the tree decorations this year are pine and spruce cone “ornaments”. I feel these are appropriate because they are part of a tree (obviously) and they bring the outdoors inside without make much of a mess. They are already dry, don’t fall apart and can be used year after year.

All you need are pine and/or spruce cones, (the ones I have here are Norway spruce), and some thread or if you want to use something fancier, you can use ribbon or glittery gift tying ribbon. I am using sewing thread because it is not too noticeable when hanging on the tree, and also because I will not be spending anything on this project and I don’t have any ribbon I can use.

All you do is tie a piece of thread or ribbon around one of the cone “branches” near the top. Try to make it balanced by placing the thread closer to the centre of the cone. Tie the end into a loop and hang on the tree.

The other ornaments are crocheted snowflakes that my mom made about 30 years ago. They were hidden away in an attic in a relative’s home and we finally found them. They are a little yellowed but look great on the tree.

This is truly an homestead craft project as it costs nothing to make, if you get your cones from your own trees or some that you find.ornamentsupplies

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Use What You Have For Homesteading Style

Today my project is this alpaca/acrylic scarf that I have made in two days from yarn that I bought ages ago but didn’t use. Actually I did use a couple to make scarves, and they turned out to be super warm but not overly dressy.

I made a long wide scarf with large needles so that it could be wrapped and doubled up if necessary for more warmth, but still look dressy or as I like to call it “glam” haha. This scarf is SUPER warm due to the alpaca in the blend. I had four colours, not enough of any one colour to make a sweater so I thought this would substitute. This was just knitting both sides and I used no pattern.

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First harvest 2014

This spring we have harvested our first vegetable – spinach. It seeds itself and we pick it early. Whatever we don’t eat we blanch and freeze for the winter. This year’s spinach harvest was not bad. The amount we get depends where it seeds itself and how much Ernie tills up.

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Onion Update

Just a quick update on our container onions. Shown below are the onions planted in a plastic container along with some of our onions from our 2013 harvest. This year our large onions are not rotting in our cellar, likely due to the cooler weather he have had all winter. This has never happened before, but it is nice so we will probably have onions until late spring.

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Happiness by Homesteading

After reading many blog posts about being frugal, saving money, being happy, how to find your purpose in life (thank you James Altucher), I decided to make a post.

I am happy.  I do not own a cell phone. I do not make a lot of money. I do not live in a big city. I do not have a lot of “things”. My truck is a hand-me-down and works when I need it.

Things do not make us happy. It is our attitudes about “things” that make us happy or miserable.

I have always known that I cannot keep up to the “Jones” as “they” say. I just can’t. I only feel good when I am working for myself at something that I love doing no matter how much I make. When I don’t do this, I become unhappy. Then I get sick.

My husband was born right after WWII. His family was REALLY poor. But he remembers being happy. Happiness is an inside job. And after many years of self help because of trying to find out my life’s purpose, I just let go and let it happen.

Allow what is trying to work its way into your life. Trying too hard, especially if you are not doing what you really want to be doing, will result in stress and unhappiness. Oh, and most if not all of this will get easier to do after 40.

Here are some of the things that I do to make me happy: