Monday, February 20, 2017

20 Things You Can Do On Your Spring Homestead


Spring! The promise of hope. The start of the growing season. The warmer temperatures and fickle weather. The possibilities of what can be done!

I love Spring! Winter is over except for the possibility of a late snowstorm. Summer is coming. You can be outside most of the time without freezing your gluteus maximus. Which is a good thing because there is so much to do in the Spring on a homestead!

20 Things You Can Do On Your Spring Homestead:

1. Start seeds inside. Check out your planting zone, but now is a good time to start onions, tomatoes, peppers, and other things you might buy as plants at the store.

2. As soon as your planting zone allows, plant seeds in your garden. You can plant radishes and other cold hardy vegetables and greens as soon as the frost is out of the ground. Most of them will survive a late frost also.

3. Fix fences. Winter can be harsh on your fences. While the ground is fairly soft (not soggy), now is good time to put new stakes in the ground and pull up old ones.

4. Fix damage to outside buildings. Did you have a roof leak on the coop? Now is a good time to address it. Did the snow and rain damage the sides of the building? Now is also a good time to address that.

5. Get new chicks! Spring is a great time to start a new flock or add to the current one. Anyway you look at it, new chicks are cute and should be on a homestead!

6. While you are getting chicks, some new turkey poults, goslings, and ducklings would be good too. If you are looking for some different forms of protein in the form of eggs and meat, all of these are great. If you really want to and have the room and shelter for them, goats, lambs, calves and piglets are all great additions to the homestead too!

7. Build a new raised garden bed or make a new garden. If you can expand, now would be a good time to do.

8. Clean up the yard. Get the rocks out of the lawn so you don't ruin the lawn mower or break a window. Clean up the trash that has blown over from the neighbors.

9. Pick up the sticks and branches that fell over the winter. At my house, this gets it own number on the list. We have a lot of trees and we seems to lose a lot of branches over the winter.

10. Cut down the dead trees. Cutting down the trees now will give the wood time to cure if you are using a wood stove. Otherwise, make a little money on the side selling firewood.

11. Plant new trees. I am a big believer in planting trees. We need them for the environment. They provide a great wind break and shade from the sun. If you plant fruit or nut trees, you can add to your food resources.

12. Clean out the buildings. The garage, the coops, the barn, all of it. They all need a good Spring cleaning after winter and being closed up.

13. Build a rabbit hutch and start raising rabbits. Rabbits are a great form of protein and good eating. If you end up with more rabbits than you know what to do with, start selling them to make a little income on the side.

14. Spring clean the house. A good homestead works best when the house is clean, tidy, and organized. Get everyone involved and give the house a good cleaning including washing the windows and the curtains.

15. Clean the outside of the house and buildings. A good cleaning of the buildings keep the place looking neat and tidy. It also keeps the mold off the house, the dirt from building up in the crevices, and problems from happening like leaks and corrison. Don't forget to clean the gutters too!

16. Take care of the clothesline. Nothing smells better than fresh laundry and the money saved from doing it. Now is a good time to tighten up the lines, replace any lines that have cracked or rusted, and clean them. I just use a wet rag over my hand and run my hand down each line 3-4 times. You would be surprised how dirty they are!

17. If you don't have any, now is a good time to set up a rainwater catchment system. It is as easy as setting a screened barrel with a spout under a downspout from a gutter to catch the water. You will save money not having to run your well or pay for the extra water. You will also have water on hand for livestock or watering plants if you lose power.

18. Want chicks, but don't have a coop? Build a chicken coop! There are some specific things they need like an enclosed area, nesting boxes and a roost, but they don't need a lot of room. You can make one fairly cheap with reclaimed materials too.

19. If you haven't already done this, plan your garden. What do you want to plant? What worked last year? What would you like to preserve and can? What do you actually like to eat? Last year, I planted 22 tomato plants and I am glad I did. I had a really decent harvest with plenty to can and to eat. This year, I want to plant at least that many, but I need a better staking system. I want to plant more peppers too. I only had four plants out of sixteen produce. I need to plant them further away from the tomatoes that tried to suffocate them. You need to consider things like that when planning your garden.

20. Start some beehives. Spring is a good time to get some beehives started. With bees being endangered, more people need to do their part to start raising and homing them. You can purchase a beehive kit from Amazon to get started. To get bees, talk to local beekeepers or your local extension office about where to purchase them. In addition to getting bees, plant some bee loving plants and bushes around the homestead to keep them fed!

What do you want to do on your homestead this Spring?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, February 10, 2017

10 Lessons Learned From The Victorians, The Pioneers, and The 1800's


The Victorian age in Britain was a fascinating time. Many changes were made from the beginning of the century to the end. Britain experienced a massive industrial upheaval becoming more mechanized and more advanced as the century went on.

In the United States, we went through many upheavals resulting in the Industrial Age at the end of the century. We were exploring the West as pioneers, experiencing mass immigration from other countries, went through the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Spanish American War.

Many similarities were experienced between both countries.The daily life of people were essentially the same. A lot of people nowadays think they want to go back to this time, but they don't always realize the work that was involved.

I just got done reading How To Be A Victorian: A Dawn-To-Dusk Guide To Victorian Life by Ruth Goodman. What an eye opening book! I also have read a lot of pioneer books, industrial age books, and immigrant life in America books from the same time period as Ms. Goodman's book.

We do not realize how good we have it and how hard our lives would be if we had to go back to those times. I am focusing on the poor mostly in these lessons because most of us would be considered poor then. We would be working in factories, mines, or farms. We would be living in tenements, small houses, or in one rented room. We would have a lot to learn. 

10 Lessons Learned From The Victorians, The Pioneers, and The 1800s

1. Life was hard unless you were rich. Everyone including the children had to work. Money was scarce, food was expensive, and city living was not cheap. Working conditions were often dangerous and harsh. Many people worked 12-14 hours a day, six days a week. Chores were often back-breaking and labor-intensive.

2. Everyone was expected to contribute including the children. Everyone had to work including the children. Without the children working, families often could not afford rent and food. By the end of the 19th century, goods became cheaper as the ability to transport them became easier.

3. Being a stay at home mother was rare. You hear more about stay at home mothers from pioneers and the well-off families. However, with the poor, the immigrants, and the servants, mothers needed to work as soon as they could. There are testimonials of women bringing their babies to work with them or leaving them home with older children.

4. Medical science was far from good and reliable. People often died from diseases like cholera, diphtheria, typhoid fever, small pox, etc. People often died from the so-called cures too. Anyone could make a "cure" and sell it from door-to-door. These cures may contain laudanum, cocaine, opium, mercury, and other dangerous substances. Although medical schools existed, many doctors did not have the tools to perform surgeries successfully or safely. People would often rather suffer or die than to have a doctor treat them.

5. Schooling was a luxury. Many children either went to a country school or a city school from ages 5-12. After that, many children started working in factories or were needed at home. However, quite a number of children did not go to school in the poorer classes until reforms were made in Britain and America in the middle to end of the 19th century. These reforms included children going to school at a certain age, being in school at least part time, being in school until 12 years of age, and knowing the basics of reading and math. Very few children pursued schooling beyond age 12 unless they were in the upper middle class or upper class. Very, very few girls pursued or were allowed to pursue higher than elementary education.

6. Meals were much, much simpler. Meat was not eaten at every meal. It was too expensive to eat every day unless you could hunt or raise your own. If any meat was served during a meal, the first and biggest serving went to breadwinner of the house. He needed his strength to keep working long hours. Most noon meals were bread, potatoes, butter, maybe a piece of bacon for flavoring, a sort of savory pudding, and/or a savory pie. Vegetables were not easy to acquire in the cities nor were they affordable to most poor people until the end of the century. Sunday meals may have a more meat based meal, but only if they could afford it.

7. Daily chores were not easy. Many innovations were made in the 19th century to help women in the home, but everything still had to be done by hand. From cleaning out the wood stove or coal stove to getting water for dishes and laundry, many tasks were grueling, dirty, and back-breaking. Laundry was a multiple day process with stain removal, soaking, heating the water, the actual plunging and scrubbing, wringing the water out, hanging to dry, starching and ironing. Some people were lucky to have water indoors which made laundry, dishes, and cooking a little easier.

8. Pioneering and homesteading was dangerous ordeal. After a man or woman found land to buy or discover, he had to get there in good time to claim that land. It took money to initially purchase land or you could "prove" a homestead claim with ownership after five years. If you had a homestead claim, you had five years to "prove" the claim. You had to live on the land, build a house, till the land, plant crops, plant trees, and improve the land you were trying to claim. A person had to do this all by himself or with the help of neighbors. You brought only what you could carry in your wagon and you hoped you could purchase the rest when you got to your claim. If you were lucky, you might have a new town within a few hours walking or horse-riding distance to purchase supplies including food. You took the risk of claim jumpers, robbers, Native Americans, and greedy land agents stealing your land and maybe taking your life.

9. Even in the 1800's, very few people were living exclusively off the land. Many pioneers, homesteaders, and farmers did the best they could, but still had to go to town for flour, sugar, salt, nails, and material for clothing. Neighbors helped each other. They did as much as they could themselves, but even people living in the country still needed trading posts and general stores. They sold eggs and fresh vegetables to earn money or to trade for needed goods. Yes, they did as much as they could for themselves, but they couldn't always grow wheat for flour or produce their own goods for building houses and barns.

10. Living to old age was a rarity in the 19th century. The average age of males was 40-45. The average age of women was 42-50. People could and did die from so many things then. Life threatening illnesses, workplace accidents, unsafe equipment, unsafe medications, child birth, and many more things than what we have to worry about now. Now we live longer due to advances in safety for the workplace and medical advancements, but we have our own killers that were rare in the 19th century. Advances in personal hygiene and workplace safety helped increase the chances of living longer as the century went on, but the average still seems like a very short period of time.

Many people think now a days that they could easily go back and live in these times. While having the knowledge we have now would make a big difference, most of us simply could not handle the amount of work and labor that our predecessors had to do. We are not conditioned for a hard life, hard labor, working long hours, and being physically fit enough to do it.

Do you think you could live in the 1800s? Do you think your families could handle this?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, February 9, 2017

How An Online Book Store Will Work For Me After The Collapse


As I have mentioned before, I have an online book store through Ebay. At any given time, I have at least 400 books and magazines listed with more always ready to be listed. I don't just sell books and magazines, but that is my main focus. I really like selling on Ebay so I keep going.

I believe in first, second, and third streams of income. I have a regular 7:30-4:30 job that provides me with insurance, 401K, and income to pay the bills. I have this blog, another new blog, and an often neglected YouTube channel. Then I have the online book store. The rest of these provide supplemental income. I have never intended them to be more than that, but would never mind if they became more than that.

What has been on my mind lately is what will I do if we have a collapse of any sort. All my current streams of income rely on a steady internet connection and electricity. How will I survive in a collapse situation? Can I reasonably do any of these jobs without internet and electricity? Can I convert any of these into other income streams?

The answer is yes. My everyday job might be harder to do because of the twelve miles I drive to work. We would also need a good-sized generator to run the pumps. Everything that is on computer would have to be done by hand accounting. I would need access to fuel to drive to work, but depending on the situation that can happen.

The blogging and vlogging would be harder to do or would not happen at all. However, I could apply my writing skills in other areas to keep people informed. 

However, I have a plan for the online book store. If the collapse happens, the online book store would become a regular, walk in the door book store. I would keep it in a separate building away from the house. I have more than 400 books, magazines, and other goods to sell or trade as of right now. I am continually growing the online store so I keep increasing the inventory.

There is questions and situations that will need to be dealt with. 

What about currency? That will be a tough one. Of course, I will always consider gold or silver as currency. If the current currency is still in place, that will work too. As I mentioned before, I will also trade for items that I need or others may want. 

This book store may become more of a trading post after awhile. I am good with that. I see books being necessary for reference materials, for knowledge, and for escaping reality for a bit. I would also put out items that we no longer use or need in the store too. Good used clothing will be necessary to people and worth the time to sell. 

I am not sure what I would use as a pricing scale yet for trading, but I think keeping prices low will help the business. I despise it when I hear people talking about jacking up the prices after a crisis. Taking advantage of desperate people is wrong and I plan on keeping that philosophy in my business. 

I would also consider turning the book store into a sort of consignment store if the conditions were good for it. If currency is not a problem, then I may allow other people to bring good, used items to sell. In this case, we will all need any money we can get. Selling for others allows me to make money as well as them. 

I hope, over time, to pick up for more skills and ways to make a living after the collapse. I know a lot of the living done after the collapse will be for survival, but we will need to also start working on rebuilding an economy. We need to start rebuilding cities and towns. 

Someone will need to provide the goods and have the ability to trade for other goods. I think flexibility will be key for running any business after the collapse which is why I discussed expanding the book selling and turning it into more. Keeping the options open will mean a better business for me. 

What are your plans after a collapse? Do you plan to run a business? How do you plan to stay employed?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish In February


February can be the most boring month of the year. You are still cooped up in the house. The snow and ice are still making their appearance. Valentine's Day is still a holiday. You know blah, blah, blah.

In other words, February is a prime month for cabin fever!

As usual, though, I am here for you! I have five prepping things to do in February that will definitely help your preps as well as give you a piece of mind. I did concentrate on the letter "F" for things to do. All these things are easy things to do, should be done with your family, and can easily be accomplished this month. 

1. First Aid. How is your First Aid Kit? How are your First Aid supplies? I discovered one day last month that I was out of several types of Band-Aids. I found out when I sliced open the top of my finger. Not a great time to find out, by the way. I made due with what I had, but definitely put those things on my next shopping list. 

2. Clean Out and Organize One Area of Food Storage. Some of you are super highly organized and have your food storage organized to perfection. Then there is the rest of us. However, we all still need to look at our food storage. Is there one area of your food storage that needs to be eaten up a little? Or beefed up a lot? Do you have more expired canned goods that you thought you did? Have you even touched what you canned last summer? 

Now is a good time to address these areas. Too much of one thing can be incorporated into the meal plan. Expired goods should be too. I know I mentioned doing this in January, but February is also a good month to do this. 

3. Finding and Identifying Sources of Water Near You. This is good project to do now because you can access topographic maps of your land or township online for free. You can identify sources of water near you in case you need it. No water near you? Now is also a good time to plan a rain catchment system for your home and/or buildings. Also you might want to plan a way to get water to you if needed and ways to store that water. 

4. Find a Hidden Storage Space in Your Home For Your Preps. We all have empty spaces that can be used for storing preps. Some of you are tight on room and I understand that. However, look at putting totes under the bed, cleaning out a closet that might be full of stuff you will never use again, an empty cabinet, behind the couch, and even using a dresser. We all have places and spaces we can store more prepping stuff and perhaps a bit more discreetly.

5. Figure Out What You Are Planting in the Garden. Have you started getting gardening and seed catalogs? Now is good time to plan what to plant! What worked for you last year? What didn't you eat? What should you have planted last year? All these questions will help you plan for this year.

And...depending on your zone, you may be able to start seeds inside! Yeah!

If you are an apartment, condo, or duplex dweller, a garden may not be possible. However, if you can have some containers outside your door or on your patio, you can still have fresh vegetables! Knowing how to grow food is so important and I would encourage you to find a way to do so no matter your circumstance.

I hope you can accomplish these things in February! Let me know how you did! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Paper or Not? What Is Best For Your Preps?


Paper goods can be a pretty decisive part of prepping. They are handy to have on hand when you have to reserve water, when someone gets sick on the carpet, and to escape the pressure of doing more laundry. I know a lot of people think you should keep paper goods in your prepping supplies because you might have to ration water and they will be easier to use and can be burned. 

I know a lot of people disagree and think that you should keep non-paper goods in your preps because they can be reused. Using cloth napkins, rags, towels, and family cloths are undoubtedly better for the environment and less costly on the wallet and the trash bill. 

I happen to agree with both sides. I keep both, but mainly use non-paper goods. However, just to state this now: I will give up toilet paper when I run out of toilet paper and not a day sooner. I am not sure you can have too much toilet paper on hand either. But I digress...

There are pros and cons to using paper goods versus non-paper goods. Obviously be the best choice. I will break it down for you below:


It seems like a prepper would have less problems using non-paper goods than paper goods. Paper goods have their place, but they can be easily replaced by non-paper goods in almost any situation. 

Those that do believe in using just paper goods should have an outdoor fire pit or a burn barrel to burn that kind of trash. Those preppers who believe in non-paper goods, practice a zero-waste, or minimalist lifestyle will use non-paper goods and should be planning ahead for that. You can always stock more water for washing.

What side do you fall on? Do you use both? Let me know below in the comments!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish In January


January can be a slow month in the prepping world. The weather is usually less than ideal to be outside. The desire to work on the New Year's resolutions is strong and you need to take advantage of that! Did you make any prepping goals for the year?

I didn't, but I have a list of things that I want to accomplish. I thought I would share a monthly list of prepping things you can do in January to get the year kicked off right.

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish In January:

1. Start working out. You want to be inside anyway so it is time to get moving. Join a gym, get out those exercise videos, find an exercise video on YouTube, and/or find a workout you enjoy. You can also go outside and get a brisk walk in. Just get moving! Prepping does involve your physical health and now is the time to take care of it!

If you are afraid you can't stick with an exercise plan, set up an alarm in your phone to remind you. Also remember, it takes 21 days of practice to make a habit stick. Nothing is different for keeping in shape.

2. Since winter is a good time for soups and casseroles, now is a good time to clean out the food storage. Find the out of date and soon to expire foods in your food storage. You can set them in a basket or on a special shelf so you remember to get them used up! Make these foods apart of your menu plan in January and February if need be.

3. Make out a list of projects you want to accomplish this year and set up a timeline for getting them done. I have a lot of indoor projects to do and I set up a plan to get 1-2 of them done a month. I already started with getting an indoor bedroom painted and stripping the floor. In prepping, keeping your home in good shape is very important especially if you want to bug in instead of bug out.

4. Start a home emergency cash fund. Having a stash of cash at home is very important in case debit/credit cards don't work. It also comes in handy if you need to pay someone at the door. I recommend having a variety of denominations in dollars and a jar of change.

5. Read some good prepping books. I like to curl up with a good book and now is good time to learn more about prepping. Whether you are looking to learn more about food storage, water needs, or survival living, now is good time to glean some knowledge.  I recommend these books:


It is a very simple list and I think you can get it done! Let me know what you did and what you got accomplished!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, January 6, 2017

Monthly Update From The Homestead - January Edition (Goals, Life, Etc.)


Were you ready for the holiday chaos to be over? I was. I love the holidays, but I do not like the craziness of the season. I have scaled back a lot in my celebrating, but the struggle to make the season simple is real. 

December was also Paige's birthday. She turned 16! Yikes! Where has the time gone?!?! She also got one of these: 


Watch out world! 

We are buried in snow and ice right now. That is the reality of living in the Midwest in winter. The wind has been crazy though! If the wind hasn't been crazy, the really cold temperatures have been! We are on our second "cold snap" of the winter. This morning we woke up to -7℉! Brrr....

As I mentioned before, I do not really have any goals or resolutions for the year. Okay, I take that back. I have five things I want to see happen, but they are fairly personal and not really relating to homesteading: 

  1. I want to get $1000 in a savings account for emergencies.
  2. I want to save $1000 for next Christmas.
  3. I want to pay cash for a new to me vehicle.
  4. I want to go on at least two dates a month with Rob - more than just eating out. (He really doesn't know about this one, but he will when he reads this!) 
  5. I want to read a chapter in a book or a magazine almost every day. 

These are very simple, yet personal goals for the year. I do not really have homesteading, prepping, or self-sufficiency goals as of right now. I am going with the flow of these. I have a lot of things I would like to see happen, but I am not setting anything in stone. Truth be told, my mind is kind of scattered right now and I am just letting things happen as they come. We have a lot of projects that need to be done and they will come first. 

I already started the first project. I am remodeling the upstairs master bedroom. We do not use it right now, but would love to move back up there. We sleep in the basement bedroom that I set up for myself about eight years ago. I love this space, but we are going to turn that into badly needed guest bedroom(s). So it is time to create a space that is both of ours and that we love to come to every night. 



We first moved the full size bed that was in there to Paige's room. She had a twin size bed, but the bed was small and the mattress was less than stellar. We threw out the mattress and the broken bunk mate that was under it. 

I have the carpet, padding, and linoleum torn up. Actually, there wasn't much tearing up to do. None of it really reached the edges and none of it was attached to the floor in any way. I cut the carpet up in sections to haul out. The padding was already in easy to handle sections. The linoleum was broken up in easy to handle sections also. The floor now looks like this: 



I will be painting the walls first. The paint needs to be freshened up. Then the floor will be sanded and sealed. Rob wants to match the trim to the floor so we will be replacing at least the floor trim if not all of it. Then we start bed shopping. We are switching from a queen size bed to a king size bed. We both need plenty of space to sleep!

Rob is finishing up the wiring in the shop. He has done so much in there and it looks so nice! He now has plenty of outlets and lighting. He has learned how to wire a three way switch with multiple lights which was a challenge for him. He has also added a lot of insulation to the walls and around the windows which has made a big difference in that room. He has more plans for the shop including adding shelving and cabinets for storage. 

Since it is winter, we have time to get the indoor projects done! When the weather turns nice again (hurry up Spring!), we will be cleaning up the yard and working outdoors again. We will also be building a new chicken coop! 



You can check out my latest YouTube video! That will give you an idea of what I was up to in December. I was mostly trying to clear up some clutter and to clean up my side of the office a bit. 

How is your January going? Let me know in the comments below! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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