Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Around The Homestead - Tetanus Shot

Last night, I was working on a shelving project in our garage. During this time, I went out to work barefoot (I really like the freeing feeling of not wearing shoes) and was working fine for about an hour. I got to a part of the project that needed a drill, so I leaned over a storage bin to plug my drill in and when I leaned back, my left foot caught the edge of a 4" metal bracket that was laying randomly on the garage floor and cut the sole of my foot.

After getting the cut, I immediately went in the house to wash the wound out and apply an anti-biotic and bandage. Hey, I was foolish enough to get cut, but I was not going to get an infection as well.

When my wife saw me walking on the side of my foot through the living room, the first thing that she asked me was, “Have you had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years?”  I thought and I thought, thinking back to projects that both ended well and had a Tim Allen-like result and I couldn't remember. "I don't think so," I replied and really didn't think much about it until this morning.

Around mid-morning, my curiosity got the best of me as to what *may* happen if I got tetanus. What I read wasn't pretty. I went from not really giving the matter too much thought to thinking about and hoping that I wouldn't die of suffocation (see next paragraph)... OK, enough drama :)

For those wondering what tetanus is...

Tetanus is a serious and potentially fatal infection caused by Clostridium tetani bacteria that enters the body through cuts, deep puncture wounds, insect bites, burns or possibly any breaks in the skin.  The bacteria produces a toxin that affects the nervous system and brain, beginning with stiffness of the muscles and jaw, thus the term “lockjaw.”  The stiffness can initially lead to difficulty swallowing, spasms, leading to the more serious complications such as suffocation, heart attack, blood poisoning and death.

Today after calling around and hoping that I wasn't going to have to pay $100.00 for a shot caused by my stupidity, I contacted my insurance company who informed my that tetanus shots are 100% covered if I hadn't had one it the past 10 years.  I set up the appointment with my regular doctor and was in and out in less that 10 minutes, still leaving time for lunch.

For those wondering, yes, there were lessons learned:
  1. Make sure that your work area is clear of any obstacles.
  2. Take the time to wear protective gear, if appropriate. A pair of shoes would've lessened the likelihood that I would have gotten cut, although increased the chances that bacteria would've made it into the wound. (With 4 children you pick up little gems like this from the doctors in the emergency room)
Would I get another tetanus shot when the time comes?  Yes, absolutely! Especially with the the uncertainties in life right now, you never really know what is going to happen. I always tell my children to "Expect the best, but prepare for the worst." The tetanus shot gives me a 10 year window of one less thing to worry about in homesteading and prepping.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Around The Homestead - Prepping For The Hard Frost Tonight

Since Fall arrived, we've had aour share of colder than normal days. Today was 15° colder than normal. We're supposed to get our first real frost tonight. We've had some light frost which withered our grapes and what's left of our tomato and pepper plants.

Tonight the low is 29° for the town closest to us so it'll be 5-7 degrees colder here.

In order to prepare for the freeze, we dug our some old moving blankets that were given to us and wrapped our rain barrels with them, then secured them with bungee straps. The added insulation helped keep them from freezing last year (our first year with them). I originally thought that if they were full that they wouldn't freeze just do to the sheer amount of water, but have heard several stories of people whose water barrels froze partially, expanding and cracking them, so we didn't want to take any chances.

The second thing that we wanted to get done was to finish getting the remaining tomatoes and jalapeno peppers off of the plants.

Lastly, I stopped by the our chickens. Their feathers came in just in time and they were all fluffed and full. I removed their waterer for the night as it's an outside one and it's made of metal, so it'd definitely freeze.

Now all that's left to do is to make some fried green tomatoes or green tomato bread, which I have not tried, but it looks pretty good.

For those interested, here's how to make friend green tomatoes. Well, God made them, we just cook them.

  1. Slice tomatoes
  2. Dip in raw scrambled egg. 
  3. Then dip in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. 
  4. Some folks add a little heat like cayenne pepper.
  5. Fry in olive oil for best health and flavor, until brown and soft. 
Although I've never tried it, here is the recipe for Green Tomato Bread, if you'd like to try it.

Enjoy the weather and stay warm!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.

One of the issues that we've run into as our children approached their teens (and even now as most of them are most of the way through) is how they handle ourselves when someone makes a disparaging comment or comments about themselves.

Anything from lying, to cheating to worse is hurled at our  children by others who it would seem derive their happiness from making other miserable.

I can't remember who the quote is attributed to, but remember hearing this during a sermon once that spoke of living a God-honoring life. 

Following that sermon, we took the words to heart and have shared them with our children.

"Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it." If you did that, what would the outcome be?

A while after putting this into practice, we had one of our older children come home from high school to tell us of a problem that they had with someone gossiping (and outright lying) about them. One person who hear the story simply said, "I know him and that's not the type of person he is." The situation was then diffused and dismissed.

What a blessing it can be when we live our lives as a testimony to who we are as well as whose (God's) we are.

Actions truly do speak louder than words!
Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.” - See more at:

Reputation is a reflection of who you are. You can manage your reputation by using good public relations, but polishing a rotten apple won’t make it a good addition to fruit salad. - See more at:
Reputation is a reflection of who you are. You can manage your reputation by using good public relations, but polishing a rotten apple won’t make it a good addition to fruit salad. - See more at:
Reputation is a reflection of who you are. You can manage your reputation by using good public relations, but polishing a rotten apple won’t make it a good addition to fruit salad. - See more at:
Reputation is a reflection of who you are. You can manage your reputation by using good public relations, but polishing a rotten apple won’t make it a good addition to fruit salad. - See more at:
Reputation is a reflection of who you are. You can manage your reputation by using good public relations, but polishing a rotten apple won’t make it a good addition to fruit salad. - See more at:
Reputation is a reflection of who you are. You can manage your reputation by using good public relations, but polishing a rotten apple won’t make it a good addition to fruit salad. - See more at:
Reputation is a reflection of who you are. You can manage your reputation by using good public relations, but polishing a rotten apple won’t make it a good addition to fruit salad. - See more at:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Give Us Tall Trees!

One of the things that I like to do in my journey to live a self-sufficient life is to study, or at least read some of the books and works of pioneers in this area. Below are some quotes from Daniel Carter "Uncle Dan" Beard (June 21, 1850 – June 11, 1941), specifically from his book The American Boys’ Handbook of Camplore and Woodcraft

He was an American illustrator, author, youth leader, and social reformer who founded the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1905, which Beard later merged with the Boy Scouts of America. I like his insight into nature and how the human spirit craves to belong in it and I believe that that is reflected in a lot of his writing for in addition to practical knowledge, there is a lost of wisdom woven into his pages.
There is life in the roar of plunging streams,
There is joy in the campfire's blaze at night.
Hark! the elk bugles, the panther screams!
And the shaggy bison roll and fight.

Let your throbbing heart surge and bound,
List to the whoop of the painted Reds;
Pass the flapjacks merrily round
As the gray wolf howls in the river beds.

We weary of our cushions of rest;
God of our Fathers, give back our West.
What care we for luxury and ease?
Darn the tall houses, give us tall trees!
However crude these verses may be, the sentiment is all right. But may be it will express our idea better if we do not attempt rhyme. Suppose we try it this way

The hooting of the barred owl, the bugling of the elk!
The yap, yap, yap of the coyote, the wild laugh of the loon;
The dismal howl of the timber wolf,
The grunting of the bull moose, the roaring of the torrent. 
And the crashing thunder of the avalanche!
Ah, that's the talk ; these are the words and sounds that
make the blood in one's veins tingle like ginger ale. 
Why do all red-blooded men and real American boys like to hear
The crunching of the dry snow; 
The flap, flap, flap of snowshoes; 
The clinking of the spurs and bits; 
The creaking of the saddle leather;
The breathing of the bronco; 
The babbling of the rivulet; 
The whisper of the pines, 
The twitter of the birds, 
And the droning of bees.

Why? Because in these sounds we get the dampness of the moss, the almond-like odor of twin flowers, the burning dryness of the sand, the sting of the frost, the grit of the rocks and the tang of old mother earth! They possess the magic power of suggestion. By simply repeating these words we transport our souls to the wilderness, set our spirits free, and we are once again what God made us; natural and normal boys, listening to nature's great runes, odes, epics, lyrics, poems, ballads and roundelays, as sung by God's own bards!
Oh, that we could leave to our children a legacy of the love of God's Nature and the understanding of how importantly intertwined we are with it. I love walking and talking with my children about the majesty, creativity and wonder of Creation.

On a hunting trip, a pastor friend of ours once helped us (our boys and myself) to understand a little more about nature when we were hunting. We had gotten up at 3:30 in the morning to get ready and to be in the woods ready to hunt at sun-up. "Listen.," he would say. "The sounds of crickets and the owls give way to various bird songs as the woods slowly woke from it's slumber."

We had a great conversation about appreciating the woods and learning the cycle of things.We also had a similar conversation at dusk as well as bird songs gave way to crickets, frogs and toads. There are a number of things that we can learn from just being out in the woods.

Nature continually speaks whether we listen or not. Take the time today and listen to what it's telling you.

Get out amongst the tall trees!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Homemade Bread

Some of the earliest memories that I have are of going down our family friend, Mamie's house. Mamie and her husband Jim lived a simple life. She cooked everything fresh from scratch and he hunted. I remember going out back and looking at all of the hunting dogs who always seemed to be incessantly barking.

Mamie used to sit with me on her front porch and tell me stories and share some old wives tales as well.

One of the things that I really liked was going over her house and smelling fresh homemade bread being baked with the scent filling the whole house and even drifting outside. Even going inside and seeing bread pans covered with dish clothes was enough to make my mouth water.

Since then, I've been hooked on homemade bread. The recipe below is not Mamie's recipe, but is a basic one for homemade white bread.

  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1½ T yeast
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ⅓ cup oil
  • ⅙ cup sugar
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1¼ cups cold water
  • 6½ cups flour



In a small bowl mix the ½ cup warm water, 1½ T yeast, and 1 T. sugar.

Let it sit for about 5 minutes or so.

Step 2

In a mixer or in another bowl mix the 1 cup of boiling water, ⅓ cup oil, ⅙ cup sugar, and 2 t salt.

Stir until it dissolves.

Step 3

Add in the cold water and mix and then add in the yeast mixture. (You want the mixture temp to be lukewarm before you add the yeast and thats why do you do this.)

Step 4

Add in 3 cups of flour and stir.
Let this mixture rise for 30 minutes.

Step 5

After 30 minutes, the mixture should have some bubbles from the yeast.

Add in 3 cups of flour. It should form a nice not sticky dough. Let this rest for about 30 minutes.

Step 6

Add in remaining 3 to 3½ cups of flour. It should form a nice not sticky dough.

Let this rest for about 30 minutes.

Step 7

Grease (with butter) and lightly flour the bread pans. This will help the bread to release from the pan and to come out easier.

Step 8

Separate dough into bread pans.

Cover with a dish towel and let these rise for about an hour (or until the dough has doubled in size) in a warm place.

Bake bread at 350°F for 35-40 minutes.

Step 9

Remove the loaves from the oven and brush the tops with butter.

Step 10

 Enjoy with butter or your favorite jam or jelly spread!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Getting Started with Homesteading

I have come to find that one of the best things that we can do as homesteaders is to encourage those who have a similar mindset. I am still trying to escape the bonds of “the Great American Success Story” and return to a more simpler time and lifestyle of self-reliance and sufficiency, but want to encourage anyone who may read this.

There were some things that I thought about that really help get one started, which is the key. The journey, is the goal. I've found that is important to try to do something... anything on a daily basis that helps move you towards your goal of self-sufficiency. Some things to think about to get you started include:
not the destination really

Getting out of debt
Once this is tackled, a whole new word of opportunities open up and you have the funds to not only achieve your dreams, but help others as well.

Become more informed of the world events around you
In order to make a change in the world, even if it's your world, you have to be aware of what is happening. It may, according to what is happening in the world, or with the economy, make sense to make a more to a more rural location at a certain time over another.

Plan your work, then work your plan
Once you know what you want to do, purpose it in your heart to work a little more towards your goals every day, even if it's just planning or talking to others about being self-sufficient.

Learn new “old” skills (gardening, hunting, fishing, foraging, canning, sewing, etc.)
With the passing of each generation, I am firmly convinced that there are a lot of skills that simply vanish. I've heard it said over and over again, "My grandfather used to hunt," or "My grandmother used to sew." We've become so accustomed to being a microwave (I want it now) society that the "old ways" are simply not taught anymore.

Plant a garden
Do you know where your food comes from?... What's sprayed on them?... What genetic manipulation was done to the food?... What could be better than taking control of what you and your family eat to ensure that it is healthy, nutritious and grown with your own two hands?

Raise chickens
Similarly to the statement above. Do you know what is in the chicken that you buy at the grocery store?... What hormones are in it? Not to mention that chickens are a remarkable (and easy) animal to start of with.

Take personal responsibility
It seems like we (as a culture) have lost a sense of personal responsibility. There is always some excuse for mistakes that we made. People are always looking for someone, increasingly the government, to bail them out, give them food, provide a house, transportation, a cell phone, etc. There is little that is more rewarding than being the master of your own destiny, in a matter of speaking. God is the ultimate Master of us, but there is such incredible personal satisfaction in knowing and celebrating your accomplishments. Imagine, eating a meal provided by your garden and own animals in a house that you and your family built.

Learn how to store food
This goes hand-in-hand with growing your own. There are times of surplus. These are the times that you put back food either through canning, dehydrating, smoking or freezing to preserve it for future lean times. Having stored food also lets you be a blessing to others in need. A pastor once told me that we are blessed to be a blessing. How true that is!

Do something everyday, no matter how small, to further your goal
This goes along to what I've said a few times above. Do something, anything, everyday. You will not regret it and it will help to keep you focused on living the lifestyle that you want to live.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Homestead/Self-Sufficient Series - Alaska: The Last Frontier

I previously posted about watching some homestead/self-sufficient television shows in my sparse downtime and talked about a show called Mountain Men.

This time, I would like to discuss a show called, Alaska: The Last Frontier. For those who do not know, Alaska: The Last Frontier follows the adventures of the Kilcher family, Atz Lee Kilcher, Eivin Kilcher, Otto Kilcher, Atz Kilcher, Eve Kilcher, Jane Kilcher, Charlotte Kilcher at their homestead in Homer, Alaska.

The following is taken from Alaska: The Last Frontier's Facebook...

Alaska: The Last Frontier introduces viewers to the Kilcher family and their isolated community outside Homer, Alaska. The Kilchers have cultivated and lived on their homestead for generations. These men and women of the wild live off the land, spending the limited months of summer and fall gardening, hunting and fishing for food, gathering supplies from the land and preparing their animals' safety in preparation for surviving the harsh Alaskan winters. 

What can I say about the Kiltcher family? They are the real deal. Honest. Hardworking and well,... real. The new season is almost upon us, but in reflecting on the previous seasons, we see the struggles and triumphs that define a true frontier family.

For those interested in watching the show, this season just premiered on October 6th at 8PM CST

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sharing Our Stories

As I have mentioned previously, I believe that one of the best things that we can do as homesteaders is to encourage those who have a similar mindset. I have written a really brief post about "our Homesteading story", or the point when one wakes up and realizes what one really wants in a self-sufficient lifestyle.

My story is one where I am in the process of breaking free, but also am wanting to. I woke up several years ago thanks to Jack Spiko and the Survival Podcast, however my family wasn’t on board.

At the time, I saw that we were chasing the Great American Nightmare of consumerism and the things that Jack was talking about really resonated with me. I changed my focus and the family has come along in little steps, but I would say that I am not at the ”I’ve broken free” stage yet.

We have done projects along the way to enable us to make small steps towards our goals. We took up camping, hunting and fishing. We made rain barrels to help collect water, started planting a yearly garden, put in peach and apple trees, blueberry bushes, grapes and have a small flock of chickens. We learned how to water bath and pressure can as well as dehydrate. (I love our Excalibur!). We also cover ”long term” ideas and preps like having an emergency bag for each family member and one for each vehicle. We also go over concepts of awareness; of our surroundings, news in the nation and the world and try to practice Operational Security when whenever we can.

There are some more long term goals that I would like to see us achieve like purchasing a nice tract of land, etc., but that comes with time. The main thing that we have found is that you must have a plan (how do you know if you’ve arrived at the destination if you don’t know what the destination is?) and work towards it a little every day. The other key is that our goals are not the end-all be-all. It’s the journey that matters. Everytime we help educate someone is a step. Everytime we pull out a needed item (ie: first aid during games) from our vehicle or personal bags to help someone is a step for us, but also for the person who thinks, ”Yeah. I should probably be more prepared.”

I hope that be sharing a little bit of our story that it helps you along your journey and encourages you to share with others as well.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Around our homestead - It's molting time

I've been noticing that our chickens have been producing fewer and fewer eggs lately. We have a timer that turns on LED lights in the hen house and then lights in the chicken run during the shorter Winter months, so I went ahead and checked our timer. Yep, it was working just fine.

I then looked in the yard and in the hen house and noticed feathers everywhere. After counting chickens to make sure that there wasn't a predator issue, I remembered that our girls went into molt around this time last year.

"What is molting?" and "Why should I care? you may ask. Well, to put it succinctly, chickens stop laying during their molt as their bodies turn to replenishing their feathers to get ready for the colder Fall and Winter months.

The following quote from The Poultry Site explains it a bit more:

After a hen has been producing eggs for several months, she becomes increasingly likely to molt. Molting and egg production are not mutually compatible, so when molting occurs, egg production ceases. The rest from egg laying allows the hen to restore its plumage condition by shedding old feathers and growing new ones. At the same time, the hen’s reproductive tract is rejuvenated, allowing it to increase its rate of egg production and produce higher quality eggs when it returns to lay. Under natural day lengths, molting tends to coincide with the change in season so that hens molt in the fall after they cease egg production due to declining day lengths. In these circumstances, it is normal for all the hens in a flock to go out of production and molt more or less in synchrony. However, if artificial lighting is provided, a hen may molt at any time of year and not in synchrony with other hens. If this happens, she should return to lay in several weeks. 

So all you chicken farmers/ranchers who may be new to this, take heart. Your girls should be back to laying in a few weeks.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Homestead/Self-Sufficient Series - Mountain Men

As one who is trying to live a self-sufficient, homesteader life, I find myself drawn to several "reality-based" TV shows that deal with the topic.

"Wait, you watch TV?," you might ask. Well, I don't watch a lot of television. In fact, I try to watch as little as possible, but on the occasions where I do watch TV, I am drawn to these types of shows that showcase the lifestyle that I love and am trying my hardest to live.

Shows like Mountain Men, Alaska: The Last Frontier and even (some) Doomsday Preppers have made it into my schedule... well, not really my schedule, I record them and watch during downtime at night.

Mountain Men
I got addicted to Mountain Men last year (it's not a problem if I admit I have a problem, right?) during its premiere season. Living with one foot in the "modern world" and one foot in the word where I wish to live leaves me looking to connect with stories and experiences of others living the self-sufficient lifestyle.

Never heard of Mountain Men? Here is a quote from the History Channel's series:

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live your life off the grid? Have you wished you could shed the complications of modern society and live in the wilderness, using only the things nature has provided? Meet Eustace Conway, Tom Oar and Marty Meierotto of the new History series Mountain Men, three men who have devoted their lives to survival in its simplest form. But how simple is it really?

From the rugged Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to the seven-month-long winters on the Yaak River in Montana to the frigid northern range of Alaska, the country is full of some very unforgiving terrain. Watch as these men face off against mudslides, falling trees, ravaging weather and even hungry animals, to make sure they obtain the food and supplies they will need to make it through the brutal winter months ahead.

The show itself has been on now for two seasons and I think has done a pretty decent job in showcasing how these modern pioneers live. From the isolated Yaak Valley of northwest Montana to the frozen wilds of Alaska’s Great Northern Range to North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, we see the struggles of disappointing trapping seasons, struggles of dealing with the weather, etc., but through it all, the true spirit of these people come out.

Being in Nature is more than living there, it's being a part of Nature and finding happiness and satisfaction in a simple (but hard) life well lived.

To quote Nancy Oar, “It feeds our soul,” she said of the scenery.

She said she hopes viewers of “Mountain Men” will come away with a sense that they are in control of their lives. “Maybe people can look at their own lives and find happiness and satisfaction.”

Next season , there will be a new addition, a guy with his son. I think that it will be a really nice addition in that it will show that there are some families that are trying to/living this lifestyle.

Yes, it is a television show. Yes, parts of it are scripted, but all things being equal, it's a great show and I can't wait for next season!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Yearning For The Country? It Could Be Barnheart!

I came across this Mother Earth News article that describes what I think is how most people who want to homestead feel. To some, it may seem foolish to want to leave "civilization" and "the real word" for a harder life. To me, I see no other way. It's so hard at times to explain to others the incessant longing to live a simple, self-sufficient lifestyle. While it may seen strange at times that I live for the spare moments of time when I can do some work around our homestead. I don't mind getting up early and working around our place.

Our youngest son, is similarly minded. If at all possible, he'll be outside building or working on something. Heck, last week without asking, he cut down brush around one of our wood piles and then reorganized some of the wood. I guess when it's in you, it's in you. Maybe it's hereditary?
I am doing some of the things to bring me closer to my homesteading goal (fruit trees and berries, chickens, rain barrels, canning, hunting, etc.) but still fall into the "trying to break free" category. I have to remember that it's the journey, not the destination that matters.

Anyway, this is a really cool article for what I have… Barnheart!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Homemade Pork and Beans

I saw this recipe on a friends Facebook page and really thought that it sounded good since we like pork and beans. Funny though, I don;t remember seeing it in the Ball Canning book, although that's where it's from. I'll have to go and look for some more gems in there!

Homemade Pork and Beans (makes 6 pints )

  • 1 quart dried navy beans (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/4 lb salt pork, cut into pieces
  • 1 quart tomato juice 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice


Put beans in a large pot. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let the beans sit for one hour. Drain and cover with boiling water; boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes; drain. (Instead of doing this, I soaked my beans overnight)
Combine tomato juice, sugar, salt, onion and spices and bring it up to a boil. Pack 1 cup of beans into hot jar and put in a piece of salt pork and then fill jar about 3/4 full with beans. Ladle hot tomato sauce to within 1 inch from top of jar. Remove air bubbles from the jar and refill to proper headspace if necessary. Wipe rims and add hot lids/rings to the jars. Process in pressure canner for 65 minutes for pints and 75 minutes for quarts at 10 lbs of pressure for weighted gauge and 11lbs of pressure for dial gauge.