Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Homestead Update/To-Do List

Homestead update:

With Springtime here, that means that there is a lot going on around the homestead from planting to dealing with new animals to basic upkeep, etc.

Here's what's happening at our place.

  1. We are currently planning our vegetable garden which will be raised beds.
  2. We are putting in strawberry plants and raspberry canes
  3. Need to build a new chicken tractor VERY SOON as our pullets are getting huge and need some extra room. The plan is to move the rest of our aging flock of Ameraucanas to the new tractor and then use the existing run and hen house for the new chickens.
  4. Need to clean out and repaint rain barrels
  5. Need to put in new grape trellis
  6. Need to clean up around blueberry bushes.
Whew, that's a lot to do... lol

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Great Article in Mother Earth News about Living Off-Grid In Nature

For my off-grid friends (and those looking to get there), I just came across a wonderful article in Mother Earth News.

The beauty and simplicity of life that it describes is worth the read! The text of the articles follows:

When Sue McKay Miller was 48, she quit her job as a geophysicist in Calgary, Alberta, and moved to a yurt on a 130-acre chunk of wilderness on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. She took a radical approach to simplifying, divesting herself of most possessions while she figured out what “back to the basics” really means for her. 

“I knew that if I hooked up to the grid and started with all the mod-cons, I'd be unlikely to give anything up,” Sue explains. “So I decided to go at it the other way around: start out off-grid with only the bare necessities and discover what I really needed or missed and what I could easily do without. So, after over five years of 'camping out' (albeit in a large, luxurious tent!), what have I learned? I love the simple life!”

Despite being battered by gale-force winds, deluged by rain and half-buried in snow, Sue’s yurt has provided what she needs to live simply, without indoor plumbing, for more than five years. She heats with wood and lights up long winter nights with kerosene lamps and candles. When the deep snow arrives, she dons snowshoes and hauls goods up the quarter-mile driveway in an old fish crate. The wood-burning stove provides heat for cooking, washing, drying damp wood and socks, and living. “On frigid winter mornings I haul my rocking chair in front of the open oven, sip on coffee kept warm on the stovetop and write (with pen and paper, no less!) in my journal,” Sue says.

Sue’s life unfolds naturally in step with the seasons. In winter she makes stews and casseroles on the wood stove as it heats her yurt. In summer, she keeps the stove off and eats salads and raw foods. As summer nights cool down, campfires provide a fine alternative to TV and computer screens. “There is one power hog I really miss—a refrigerator!” Sue says. In winter, she places frozen gallon water jugs into a picnic cooler that she keeps in a cool spot inside. Summer's a challenge. “Perishables perish all too quickly—and an iced drink or a chilled beer would be most welcome on a hot day!”

She charges her cell phone, runs her laptop and powers a radio/CD player using a 30-watt solar PV panel and a 12-volt battery/inverter. This modest set-up provides ample power in the summer but barely enough to keep a single battery charged during short, sunless winter days. All too often, Sue runs out of power just as she’s deeply involved in writing on her laptop. She’s considering upgrades, and down the road she hopes to build a small open-plan cabin with indoor plumbing, a gravity-feed water system and underground cold-food storage. But she doesn’t want to overdo it.

“Very often I hear off-grid folks declare that 'we haven't changed our lifestyle one bit!' They buy a humungous [sic] number of solar PV and water-heating panels and maybe a windmill and large banks of batteries to run the vast array of appliances and electronic devices common to modern life,” she says. “Well, that's fine, and maybe a good option for some people, but is simply unaffordable for many of us.”

Besides, Sue loves her small, one-room home. “I like the simplicity of stove, pot and kettle rather than a wide array of specialized appliances, each with a digital clock blinking hurry! hurry! hurry! at me all the time,” she says. “Once I blow out my bedside candle, the only light is from the moon and stars. And my home is so quiet! No fridge whirring on and off, no water pump clunking, no forced air furnace roaring. That frees up my ears to enjoy nature's music—wind and water, birds and coyotes, frogs and toads (country life is seldom quiet). There is no TV or internet here, and that's mostly a good thing—I'm apt to be easily sidetracked and find it easier to focus without these distractions. However, I'm quite happy to be distracted by MNTV (Mother Nature TV), which may feature silvered clouds waltzing around a full moon, a pair of foxes courting on the frozen pond, or a moose family meandering around the pond and sampling nature's buffet. I live amongst great natural wealth and diversity, and I believe being off-grid greatly enhances my appreciation of it all.”

Friday, February 26, 2016

Pasty Butt - Chickens

Pasty butt is a condition in chickens where some of their feces becomes stuck and clogs their cloacas. This is a life threatening issue if not resolved quickly.

I just noticed that one of our new ladies may have pasty butt. I took a Q-tip and warm water and tried to clean it. It looks like the vent is clean, but I cannot get the dried feces off of her . After cleaning her with a Q-Tip, I rubbed some olive oil on it to try to soften the poop.

After some searching on Backyard Chickens and Facebook chicken forums and a quick soak in warm water, she's now OK.

If you encounter this issue with your chickens, make sure that you thoroughly dry them off before returning them to their flock. If not, they will get picked on by the others.

New Additions To Our Flock!

We just purchased 8 new pullets to replace what was left of our aging flock of Ameraucanas. The new additions to our household has also brought a great deal of joy to our family.

Right now they are pretty content.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Prepper's World Summit

I just wanted to make everyone aware of the Prepper's World Summit that is going on right now. Unfortunately, I've missed a few days, but it goes on until the 20th. the following text is from their website...
Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, rogue governments, economic collapse, medical emergencies, martial law, home invasions, no matter what the emergency is, natural or man made, long term or short, they can all strike with deadly force, at any time, anywhere, without warning.

What are you doing to prepare? Do you know what to do during and after disaster? ​Will you survive?

 You can register and watch it for free at

Friday, January 15, 2016

Very sad news... Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams) has passed away.

It's sad for me because I used to watch him as a boy and dream of doing what he did. I used to spend countless hours with my Alaskan Malamute pretending to be Adams and Ben, and going on adventures.

He was largely because of him that I became interested in living a simple, mountain life style in sync with nature. He started my dream of wanting to live in the wilderness.

Rest In Piece, Dan Haggerty and thank you for impacting my life and giving me a love for the outdoors.…/grizzly-adams-star-dan-haggerty-dies-at…/1160343/

Thursday, December 24, 2015

An Old Fashioned Christmas

Here is a really cool story that helps to tell the true meaning of Christmas. I hope that you enjoy it!

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted so bad that year for Christmas.

We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. So after supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight."

I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up the big sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy.

When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me."

The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.

When we had exchanged the sideboards Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" "

You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked.

The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "why?"

"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him.

We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked.

"Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us. It shouldn't have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?"

"Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children---sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said, then he turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring enough in to last for awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up."

I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and, much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks and so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy filled my soul that I'd never known before. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord himself has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two older brothers and two older sisters were all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, "'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. So, Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Just then the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.