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Our Homesteading Goals for March 2017

Our Homesteading Goals for March 2017

Can you believe it’s already MARCH!?! I sure can’t! Time sure is flying by this year I feel like, which makes sense because we’ve had a lot going on. It’s a lot of work working towards the self-sufficient life, but it is well worth it! 🙂

This post, as the title suggests is our goals post for March! I know we’re already 9 days into March, but I want to get this out there, so here it goes…

Get the Garden Prepped

For the last couple of years we’ve had 2 raised garden beds, one is 4 ft by 10 ft and the other is 5 ft by 10 ft. The harvest from these beds the last couple of years was so-so, and I feel like that was from not maintaining the proper balance of nutrients in the soil. But here we are again, Spring is near and it’s time to start thinking about planting again!

Last fall when we put the beds to sleep we piled on all of the compost we had on hand, a ton of grass clippings and wood chips, and we finished it off with a pile of leaves. I was just out there looking at it the other day and it’s starting to look very promising.

So this month we want to finalize our garden plan, start some seeds indoors, and add an additional layer of compost to the beds. We also need to redo our fencing around the beds. We have a large number of deer in our backyard and last year we had a cheap 7 foot high garden fence which did the trick, but is in dire repair or replacement with something else.

Bring Home the Chicks

Last month we finished up the chicken coop, well, we’re about 95% done, and this month we are going to bring home the chicks! As I had mentioned in a previous blog post, we are going to be picking up the chicks from Tractor Supply! They get new shipments on Wednesdays and Fridays until April 30th, so I’ve been calling up there eagerly waiting for them to get in some Black Australorps or Buff Orpingtons. I don’t know if the kids are more excited or if we are! 🙂

Prepare/Welcome? New Baby

As some of you may know, we are expecting our 4th child, and our first girl in the next couple of weeks!! We are eagerly awaiting her arrival but have a lot to do before she gets here to ensure we have plenty of time to relax and bond with her 🙂

In the last few weeks before her arrival we want to ensure we have a lot of freezer meals made and put up, as well ensure the pantry is stocked. We still need to pack our hospital bag and figure out the plan for when my wife goes into labor, such as who is going to watch the boys and all of that kind of stuff. Definitely some exciting times!

Stock Up on Non-Food Items

Lastly, this month we want to stock up on all of the essential things we need that are not food related. What I’m talking about here is toilet paper, paper towels, personal care items, etc. We want to buy this stuff in bulk and have a system in place where we’ll always have a multi-month supply. We think this is a good idea because it is just one less thing we would need to worry about during our bi-monthly grocery store trips.

Leave a comment below with the goals you are currently working towards, we’d love to hear them!

Until next time, God Bless and Happy Homesteading!

Andrew & Maria

Tractor Supply Chick Days

Tractor Supply Chick Days

Howdy Homestead Dreamers, I hope everyone is doing well! I just wanted to write a quick blog post about our chicken situation…

I was super excited to find out this week that our local Tractor Supply just received their chicks! I had always heard that they had chicks each year, but this year is our year! Our chicken coop is about ready, but we still have a few more things to do such as set up the brooder and pick up some organic chicken feed.

For the brooder I think we are just going to use a box or bin with bedding and a clip-on heat lamp. With the organic chicken feed we lucked out and there is a small family-owned pet store on my way home from work that carries the feed, so I’m going to be swinging by there on my way home from work to pick some up.

I was also happy to see that they have multiple breeds available. We were hoping to get either some Buff Orpingtons or some Black Australorps, and it looks like they may have both! Another great thing about the Chick Days at Tractor supply is that I believe their minimum order is 6, whereas if you buy from an online hatchery, the smallest order that I saw was 15. Being that we can only have 6 hens where we live, this is perfect.

Buff Orpington
Buff Orpingtons
Black Australorp
Black Austtralop – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Australorps_henne.jpg

We will be posting some pictures as soon as we get them, so stay tuned!

Until next time, God Bless and Happy Homesteading!

Andrew & Maria

Being Prepared on the Homestead: Water

Being Prepared on the Homestead: Water

Homesteading and preparedness go hand in hand, even if you don’t realize it!

I wanted to use this post to share some of the things that I have been thinking about lately as we have been working on pursuing our homesteading dream. The more that we travel down the homestead road, the more I realize how dependent we have become and how unprepared we truly are!

Water

Let’s face it, water is one of the most important resources that we need! With that being said, I do feel as though a lot of people, including us, take it for granted… We don’t think about all that goes into what makes our water clean and drinkable, all we do is turn on the faucet, fill up a glass, and take a drink. What if one day we turn on the faucet and nothing comes out?

We’ve always had a couple of extra gallons of water on hand, but not nearly enough for our family of 5, especially if the water was off for an extended period of time. What about our garden, what our animals? How are they going to get water? We need to think about those things as well.

So lately I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and this is definitely an area that we need to work on ourselves. I think we’ll continue to buy a couple extra gallons of water whenever we are at the store, but that water doesn’t last long in the cheap plastic containers that it comes in. I’ve been scouring Amazon the last couple of days for some ideas and here are some of the products that I’m interested in.

Products

     

As I’m trying to develop our plan for water preparedness, I’m thinking about water storage, water filtration, and water purification. Whichever route we end up taking and whichever products we end up going with, we’ll need to begin to fold this into our routine so that we become comfortable with these alternate methods of getting and using water. Someday it would be great to have a well or a natural spring, but until we get to that point, we’ll need to have alternate backup water plans.

We’d love to hear what you are currently doing in this area, so please leave a comment below!

Until next time, God Bless and Happy Homesteading!

Andrew & Maria

Identifying Our Dependencies on Other Stuff

Identifying Our Dependencies on Other Stuff

In this third and final post of the series “Identifying Our Dependencies”, I’m going to touch on the other parts of life that we are dependent on and how we plan to break free from them.

Animal Feed

Rabbit

We currently have one rabbit but we plan on getting more. Rabbits produce great manure for the compost and they are great pets for the kids. Additionally down the road we have started looking into raising rabbits for meat. With that said, rabbit food, just for our one rabbit can get pretty expensive! We currently buy it rabbit pellets to eat but we want to start giving the rabbit more organic food to eat. We plan to feed it a lot more vegetables that we produce ourselves as well other feed that is produced by us.

Chickens

The plan is to get chickens in the spring and the chicken coop build is currently underway. After doing just a little research we have found out that chicken feed, let alone organic chicken feed, can be quite pricey! We haven’t gotten around to doing a lot of research quite yet, but just like for the rabbits, we want to start creating our own chicken feed as well.

Schooling

As you may know, we have 3 young boys, ages 5, 3 and 1, and we have a new baby due in a few months, a GIRL! We chose to homeschool our children for multiple reasons, which we will go into more in another post. By homeschooling our children we are able to be less dependent on the system, on schedules, and whole lot more!

Home Repairs

When something breaks around the house, either the water heater, the boiler, the pool, etc., there is nothing worse than having to call someone to repair it for you! Having someone else do it for you will cost you twice as much! I’d imagine that everyone by now has heard of YouTube, instead of just having funny cat videos, it has videos on how to repair pretty much anything! In the past couple of years we have been pretty good at trying to fix things ourselves, but we want to get better and we are trying to depend on service technicians less and less.

Vehicles

Talk about money holes, vehicles are near the top of the list! We currently have 2 vehicles, a commuter car, and a van to transport the whole family around. I would love for us to be able to get down to 1 vehicle, but I’m not sure if that would happen, unless of course we were able to start a home business where we wouldn’t have to leave the house for work (more on that below). However, whether we have 1 vehicle, or 2 vehicles, one of the best ways that we can save money and become less dependent on the system, is to do the repairs ourselves. This is an area that is going to require a lot of learning and hard work, but it’s definitely possible.

Money

moneyAnd money, yeah that green stuff, the root of all evil. Unfortunately these days everyone needs money, it’s just the way it works. My wife and I both currently work, my wife part-time and myself full-time. Working takes away from so much family time that it should be considered a crime. We’ve been tossing around some ideas for the last couple of years of how we could both stop working and start some sort of home business, but we’re not quite there. Thinking about the possibility of us both working from home, including the whole family in the business, just seems like the perfect scenario. We will continue to purse what opportunities we have as we follow our homesteading dream and will be sure to update you as progress is made!

Well we hope this series was beneficial for you, I know it was for us. Listing out these main areas of life that we are currently dependent on certainly was an eye-opener. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to a lot of the things that we had listed out, and if you have any tips you could provide us, please leave them in the comments below!

Until next time, God Bless and Happy Homesteading!

Andrew & Maria

Identifying Our Dependencies on Household Items

Identifying Our Dependencies on Household Items

In this second post of the series “Identifying Our Dependencies”, I am going to focus on some of the common household items that we use and how we plan to be less dependent on them.

Household Items

cleaning chemicalsWe were finally hit by the stick and started to realize all of the bad chemicals that are in most of the household items that we use on a daily basis. The area of household items seems like it would be an easy quick win for us, so let me break down some of the things that we are trying to do.

Not only are we concerned about all of the harmful chemicals in a lot of these products, but the cost of them are outrageous! In order to become homesteaders, we need to become more frugal and start producing more than consuming.

Body Soap

For as long as I can remember, I’ve used Irish Spring as my bar soap of choice. Once I started looking into making our own soap, I started to realize that it doesn’t seem to hard. Be on the look out for some posts on my adventures with cold process soap making in the near future.

Hand Soap

Same with hand soap, there is a lot of bad chemicals in here that we don’t want our family exposed to so we hope to start making our own hand soap. Currently we buy all of our soap at the store but we really want to get away from that.

Toothpaste

I’m not too sure about making our own toothpaste as I have never looked into it. We currently buy name brand toothpaste from the store and would also like to get away from that. We might look into some of the organic type of toothpaste out there before attempting to make our own.

Shampoo

As I get older, I’m starting to lose more and more hair. I’m not sure if this is from the shampoo or what, but I blame the shampoo. After doing a little research, making your own shampoo doesn’t seem too difficult, and is something we would like to start doing. The less things to buy from the store, the better 🙂

Laundry Detergent

Each and everyday, we are in closest contact with our clothes. I’m not exactly sure what chemicals are in store bought laundry detergent, but I’m sure it’s not good, especially since it’s rubbing against you all day long. We hope to start making our own powdered laundry soap, so that we know exactly what’s in there.

Paper Towels

Paper towels are a tough one, they come in handy in so many situations, but they cost so much! We plan to start to ease our dependence away from paper towels and try and use clothes/rags instead. In the situations where clothes/rags wouldn’t really work, such as with bacon grease, we plan to start using newspaper!

Toilet Paper

Toilet paper is one of those things that just might not be able to be avoided. I mean yeah, you can use a leaf, but no, just no. Since getting away from buying toilet paper probably isn’t going to happen, we’re just going to stock up on it so that we don’t have to buy it as often. Buy in bulk and use coupons on it and you should be able to get a really good deal.

So there you have it, those are some of the common household items that we are trying to be less dependent on. If you have any tips, tricks, or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!

Until next time, God Bless and Happy Homesteading!

Andrew & Maria

Identifying Our Dependencies on Food

Identifying Our Dependencies on Food

As we begin to travel down the road towards our homesteading dream we thought it would be a good idea to list out the dependencies we have on things. We are beginning to think of ways to be less dependent on things and to become more self-sufficient.

This is the first post in a series of posts where we will go through the main areas of our lives as we strive to simplify them.

Food

We currently make at least one trip a week to the grocery store, but we are in the process of trying to cut that back to twice a month. Below are the most common items that we buy, and ways that we are trying to be less dependent on the grocery store with them.

Milk

Milk CanIt would be nice to have a cow or a goat to provide our milk, but where we live that is not possible. For the time being, we’ll continue to buy milk from the store.

Eggs

Our family goes through a lot of eggs, almost 3 dozen a week. We are in the process of building a chicken coop and then we will be getting some chickens to produce our eggs!

Cheese

Until we are able to produce/get raw milk, we’ll continue to have to buy cheese from the store. We do want to start shopping at our local farmers market, so maybe we’ll be able to buy cheese there.

Bread

We hardly ever buy bread at store anymore, as we typically make 2 loafs every week or so. We do want to start making our buns though.

Chicken

cooked chickenWhere we live we are not allowed to butcher our chickens, so we are stuck with either buying them from the store, or the farmer’s market.

Meat

In the past we have bought a quarter of a cow from a local farm, and that was great. We need to look into doing that again until we can raise our own animals. I also want to take up hunting, as our family loves the taste of deer meat.

Fruit

We currently buy most of our fruit from the grocery store, but would like to start buying it at the farmers market where we can. We would also like to plant some fruit trees, but we’re not sure how long we are going to be at this location.

Vegetables

VeggiesFor the last couple of years we have had a small garden which has produced some of our veggies, but not all of them. This year we hope to double our yield from last year, especially with tomatoes. For the veggies that we are not able to grow, we hope to buy them from the farmer’s market and can them so we can have real veggies all year.

Nuts

Like the fruit trees, we’d love to plant some nut trees, but we’re hoping to move to a larger piece of land in a few years (maybe). We may plant some regardless, at least to benefit the people who come after us.

As you see, we have a lot of work to do! These are just some of the food items that we buy, but they are the big ones that we want to focus on first.

In the next post we are going to focus on some of the household items that we want to start making ourselves.

Until next time, God Bless and Happy Homesteading!

Andrew & Maria