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Showing posts with the label chickens

Grow and Raise Your Own Food Now So You Can Learn From Loss and Failure Now Rather Than Later

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Growing your own food is not easy. Raising your own food is not easy. Many people think they can just put some seeds in the ground and they will have food. Many more people are easily intimidated by raising animals for meat. However, they think they could do it if they had to when an SHTF happens.

The fact is that the truth is very, very different.

I have been gardening for many years. For a lot of those years, I was a lazy gardener. I didn't want to do the work of improving my soil, providing critter control, or even weed the garden. My garden couldn't have sustained us for more than a few meals, much less preserve any of it.

It wasn't until I got into a preparedness, self-reliant state of mind that I started to take gardening more seriously. I started weeding it more religiously. I planted perennials that would provide food year after year. I started raising layer hens and put their used bedding and fertilizer on my garden. Talk about a huge improvement to my soil!

When we h…

Improving Soil with Chicken Litter

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(In March, I wrote an article for the Rootsy Network where I am a guest contributor. I love what they are doing over there! If you are into homesteading, self-reliance, and do-it-yourself, you must check them out!)


Most homesteaders struggle to find ways to dispose of all the waste that livestock can produce. One of the easiest ways to dispose of the waste is to add it to the garden. Gardening is fun, but gardening is a lot less fun when you are fighting your soil to grow a decent crop. Most gardens need soil amendments. Used bedding from your chickens and other livestock is a great way to amend your soil. Where I live, we have heavy black clay soil. It doesn’t till well, hold a lot of moisture in the spring and early summer dries out during the summer into a hard brick and can be impossible to weed unless it is wet. On top of that, this soil doesn’t seem to grow good produce because root crops are fighting for space in the soil and plants struggle to establish good roots. The garden ne…

The Reality of Selling Eggs From Your Homestead

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(In December, I wrote an article for the Rootsy Network where I am a guest contributor. I love what they are doing over there! If you are into homesteading, self-reliance, and do-it-yourself, you must check them out!)

When I started homesteading, I did not decide to homestead because I wanted to make money. I homesteaded because I wanted to live a simpler life and provide for myself by producing my own food. After trying to unsuccessfully garden for a few years, I figured out what I was doing wrong. With the garden going strong, I wanted to continue on the homesteading journey.

To me, the next logical step was to get egg-laying chickens. Being a rookie chicken owner, I ordered fifteen brown egg laying chicks in a variety of breeds. They came in the mail, I picked them up as soon as the post office called, and we got them set up in their place. We lost about five of them within a week. I went to the local feed store and purchased six more chicks.

For the rest of this article, head over to…

Monday Update From The Homestead: June 13 & June 20

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It has been two weeks again and time is flying! I mean to do this every week and hopefully I will again soon. I am lacking pictures for this post, but stay tuned and I will have more!

The clothesline is done! Rob finished that last week with minimal assistance from me. I love it because it is a little higher than the last one and it has a center support post. I can hang more laundry on it without the center sag that I had with the old clothesline. I hung laundry out all day yesterday and love it! I hope to have a post up this week about how we built it!

I have been spending a lot of time in the garden trying to stay ahead of the weeds. I haven't been entirely successful, but I am doing the best I can. Rob and Dane have been catching toads for the garden to help with the bugs. So far, so good! Before they started, my green beans and zucchini plants were getting eaten alive. We have managed to keep the rabbits out, but the bugs do not respect the fence!

Paige starts Driver's Ed thi…

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 25 through May 9

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To sum up these last three weeks: we got a lot done! I got to play in the dirt and garden! Yes!

I transplanted about 50 raspberry plants to a new area. I just need to get a lot of mulch to help keep the weeds down. The weather is taking care of the watering. As of two weeks later, about 1/4 of the transplants are sprouting new leaves. I wish more were doing the same, but of right now I am happy with that.

I planted four rows of red, Yukon, and russet potatoes and about 50 onions. I hope to get more done in the next week, but I shall see what kind of time I have. I have to plant the other 50 or so onions and some shallots. I have plant those on the edge of the garden by the potatoes so the rain won't affect that.

I also got 11 bell pepper plants and 20 tomato plants in the garden. I might get more pepper plants (4-6) and some grape tomato plants. All I have left is the seeds to be planted. As of right now, I will be planting carrots, parsnips, green beans, peas, kale, summer squash, z…

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 11

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What happened this week?

This week was a little exciting, a little bit frustrating, and has a little bit more work involved for us.

We are down a chicken. One of the full-grown layers was killed by a hawk. In all the problems I thought I would have with keeping my chickens alive, this was not one problem I thought I would have. Hawks are not a big problem, but we had noticed three of them nesting on the property. We weren't sure what kind of hawk they were, but now we know they are the chicken-killing kind of hawks.

Since I like my chickens to free range a bit, the hawks need to go. I would like to do it humanely, but if we have to shoot them then we will. Shooting the hawks is probably illegal, but I have more invested in my chickens and would rather not lose them!



In the frustrating and creating more work for us category, what you see above is the remnants of my clothesline. We had a dead tree fall on Tuesday and take out the clothesline. Both poles will have to be replaced as well …

30 Things You Can Do On Your Winter Homestead

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Ahhh...winter. Love it or hate it, winter happens every year. Some of you have much milder winters than we do in Iowa and can still garden year round. That is not happening here! I can barely see where my garden should be at!

I don't know about you all, but I lose hope Spring is coming when Winter is here. Winter is just so cold and so harsh. We have had it easy this winter until January came. January brought some really cold temperatures, more snow, and the bone-chilling wind (that I wasn't missing!). 

Lacking in motivation lately, I decided to put together a list of thirty things you can do around the homestead! Even though the temperatures are hovering around zero with a foot of snow of the ground there is plenty to do!

30 Things You Can Do On Your Winter Homestead:

1. Search Craigslist and Facebook Sale Sites for heaters. Buy one that actually suits your needs. It is really hard to work in a barn with no heat!

2. Put an extra layer of bedding down in the chicken coop. Who wants…

Have I Always Been A Prepper Homesteader?

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Have I always been a prepper homesteader?

No.

I have been a prepper homesteader for at least the last ten years and maybe longer. I have been wanting to be a homesteader for a lot longer than that. I would read and re-read the Little House on the Prairie books as a kid (and as an adult). I have always loved reading about early Iowa settlers and what they had to do to survive and thrive. I find their stories absolutely fascinating.

 As for being a prepper, I found myself becoming one out of necessity. When my son was born eleven years ago, we were broke. My then husband was unemployed and having a personal crisis. I was working part-time and selling everything I could to make extra money. We were getting by on the grace of our parents. We also had three little girls at home needing food and shelter. Sure we had a roof over our heads, but we really struggled to keep the power on. We also had a lot of credit card debt to pay off.

After we got back on our feet, I swore that would never happen…

18 Ways To Save (And Make!) Money Homesteading

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Homesteading is not cheap. It can be done frugally, but at some point, you have to open up your wallet. You need equipment, feed, fencing, coops, hutches, and so on. However, you can minimize your costs or prevent future costs by being proactive. You can also make a little money homesteading if you wish.

I want to help you save money and maybe make money homesteading. My goal in life is to save money and help others do the same. We can always try to save money!

Below is eighteen suggestions that can help you to save and possibly make money homesteading!

1. Shop around. Your local feed store may be great for convenience, but sometimes you can find feed and supplies cheaper at the co-op or another store. For five miles, feed and supplies might be cheaper in the next town. Shop around and save some pennies.

2. Scout out the junk piles at family and friends' homes. They might have some things to get rid of that will suit you perfectly. That is how I ended up with materials for my chicken …

Homemade Nesting Boxes for Chickens

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Excuse the mess. The chickens aren't very neat!  
One of the things about my homestead is that I don't have a lot of money to spend. Like none. I have become very good at taking whatever free items come along and putting them aside for future use. I may not know what I am going to be using them for, but at least I have the materials on hand.

Such is the case for these nesting boxes. I am not very good at construction and people around me know it. Rob actually came up with the idea because his neighbor had some big feed tubs that he used for gardening. I had just gotten some free tubs from a coworker about the same time. By using these tubs, I eliminated the need to have to build wooden boxes.

To give the chicken something to fly on to and hold the nesting materials in the tub, I used a 1" x 6" board that I cut half moons with using a jig saw. The board was leftover from the kennel project. I attached the boards to the tub using little screws I had on hand. I used thr…

Monthly Frugal and Homesteading Update

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This month has been a bit busy and my mind has been going in a different direction. July has been a no spend month. I was very unintentional about it, but the budget demanded it. The budget is going to demand it for August also so no spending unless necessary.

The great thing about having a no spend month in the summer is that my garden and everyone else's garden has been exploding with goodness! My garden was being a bit late, but now is producing nicely. I wish the tomatoes were a little more prolific, but I am happy to just have tomatoes turn red this year! My onions are actually growing too!

It's the little things that get me going...


The chickens are all alive and well. I decided to start free ranging them all day. They are usually in their coop by 8:30 pm all on their own. I let them out at 7:00 am to start roaming the yard. I am still feeding them some starter mash with cracked corn added to it, but they are eating less of that and more of the nature provided food. I am…

Introducing the Chickens!

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One of my huge homesteading goals for this year was to get laying chickens. So far, this is one of the best things I have ever done! The chickens have been fairly easy even though we had a rocky start together, but all in all I can't wait to try meat chickens in a year.



We had a rough start when they came home. We thought we had their crate warm enough, but evidently not. We lost three due to failure to thrive and four to being too cold. We rigged a heat lamp into the crate and had very happy chicks. We had 16 to start with, we lost 7, and I bought 5 more bring the total to 14 hens.



They outgrew their crate about two weeks after they came home. Rob and I (mostly Rob) got the old dog room ready for the chicks after we moved the dog to the garage. I moved the chicks in there and they loved the extra room. We kept them cooped up with the heat lamp for another two weeks until we built the outdoor area.



We used a 10' x 10' dog kennel that was given to me and surrounded most of it …

In A Holding Pattern...

Feels like I am just waiting and waiting and waiting. Waiting for the nicer weather that is now here and hopefully staying. Waiting for the chicks to arrive. Waiting to plant my garden. Waiting to get my yard cleaned up and in shape. Waiting to build my raised beds. Waiting to be outside in my favorite outfit, tee shirts and jeans.

What is a girl to do while she is waiting? Plan, plan, and plan. Spring clean the house. Reorganize bedrooms. Purge clothes and toys. Figure out where to put the day lilies and how to landscape around them. Watch the amount of sunlight around the barn to make sure the blueberry bushes will get enough sun. Decide what to plant in her planters by the driveway: pretty, functional, or both?

Look at lots of chicken coop plans and decide that I don't want to build anything really. I have two buildings at my disposal and have decided that I want to boot the dog out of her dog house in the barn and put the chicks there. I think it was once a place for the milk…