Stuck in the Sand

Stuck in the Sand

Stretching the line for the new fence through the palmettoes cleared with Silver Oak's machette

I mentioned in one of my last posts that Silver Oak launched us on another adventure when he went to build more fence.  You may recall that most of our new 20-acre off-grid homestead had fence around the perimeter except along the north side.  Since our lot is long and narrow, that means that about 2,500 feet of new fence had to be put in. 

From the cross fence behind our house Silver Oak had put in 580 feet of fence several weeks ago before beginning one of the busiest seasons of the year for a landscaper.  Our animals found the end of the fence about two weeks ago, and after we recovered them all had to keep them cooped up in the small runway till the fence could be completed.  That Saturday Silver Oak determined to finish the fence all the way to the back corner.

But first he had to do something about the keets who were fast outgrowing the brooder.  He built a temporary pen of 2×4 wire, covering the top as well to keep the keets from escaping and potential attackers from intruding (although I’d like to see any fox, coon, coyote or bobcat sneak in past our dogs!).  Now the keets can get out on the ground and fluff around in the dirt, which they love, and have a lot more room to run around.  Since then we’ve opened the door to let them explore outside at will.  They still come back “home” to roost at night.

Stuck in the Sand

The keet pen

By the time he finished the keets and all the other piled up odds and ends, it was mid-afternoon.  He loaded his pick-up with fence posts, barbed wire, tools and his post-hole auger, and headed for the neighbor’s behind us.  I got a call from him 10 minutes later, asking me to come pull him out of the sand.  He had driven along the bank bordering the canal behind our property and got hopelessly stuck in very deep loose sand.

I met him with the Suburban, but when he pulled around the truck and up the bank, the Suburban got stuck too!  Meanwhile a big storm was whipping up.  Sand was blowing so hard it looked like rain over the orange groves.  We decided to head back home through the woods for shovels.  I was wearing flip-flops so we stayed in open areas to avoid snakes.  As we went big drops of rain began descending and by the time we reached home we looked like drowned rats. 

Stuck in the Sand

Hopelessly stuck

After about 45 minutes the downpour ended and we headed back out.  The rain was a huge blessing because it packed the sand, and without too much trouble we dug the Suburban out.  But the truck was down to the rear axle in something that reminded us of quicksand, and the heavy load on the back made things quite a challenge.  Even so we did get it out three times, using shovels and fence posts which we placed under the tires for traction, but every time we drove it out it would immediately slide farther down the bank and get stuck again!

Our kind-hearted neighbor came on the scene at that point.  The same tractor that had pulled our tiny house out of the sand when we were first bringing it down our winding sandy lane came to the rescue once again.  This time the neighbor’s son was the rescuer.  What would we do without good neighbors?

Stuck in the Sand

Our kind neighbor with his John Deere

Stuck in the Sand

The same tractor pulled the semi pulling our tiny house out of the sand last fall

It was now about two hours after Silver Oak had started out, but he still managed to get some work done on the fence before dark.

Now we’ve purchased a hitch-mounted winch that we can use with either of our vehicles in the future if we get stuck.  It mounts on a plate that slides into a two-inch receiver hitch.  It’s versatile and much less expensive than buying four wheel drive vehicles.  Maybe next time we won’t need help from our neighbors!

The next Monday Silver Oak stayed home, and he and Farmer Boy worked hard on that fence, finishing up about 8:20 that night.  Now the animals could be let out of their small runway!  That fence was a major accomplishment!  The back eight acres is now completely fenced with barbed wire.  Now we just need to add some field fence to keep the goats in as well.  It never ends!

 

Blessings,

Stuck in the Sand

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Viruses on Our Off-Grid Homestead

Viruses on Our Off Grid Homestead

Miserable itchy spots!

We’re back…after nearly two weeks of silence!  All is well in our tiny house on our off-grid homestead, but we’ve been hit with viruses.  My computer was infected at the same time that Evenstar’s computer developed an electrical problem.  That left us Silver Oak’s ancient dinosaur desktop which is slower than pond water, and almost worthless.

We were also hit with the chicken pox virus.  We’ve been blessed with excellent health since moving here over five months ago, but we’re glad to be getting this particular childhood sickness out of the way.  All six of our kiddos have taken their turn the past few weeks, and we are now out of the woods and able to get decent sleep again.  How miserable it was for a while!  We’ve used up lots of lavender (essential oil) and green salve to dull the itches and promote healing to all the blisters.

Viruses on Our Off Grid Homestead

Attempting to drill a well.

I hope to catch up this week on some of our ventures.  We started drilling our well!  Yes, an actual well!  We’ve lived this long hauling water to pump up to the tanks on the roof, something we did not expect to do, but resources have been very scarce.  Even though we are drilling it ourselves, the plumbing and pump were too expensive to move forward.  We’ve run into snags and since this is a busy time for landscaping it is slow going.  But we’ve started!

We just had a huge answer to prayer receiving our adoption tax refund for which we’ve been hoping and waiting for nearly a year.  It was so exciting I couldn’t help but holler and cry a bit.  At first the children wondered what was wrong, but soon rejoiced when they learned the good news.  Now we can purchase fruit trees, which is what the children requested for Christmas.  They each want their own trees, so we will go “Christmas tree” shopping in April!  And now we can purchase solar panels and save on the monthly fuel bill.  What a blessing!

Yesterday we went on a Sunday afternoon walk together as a family.  It was eight kids (two with four legs), two horses, three dogs, and Silver Oak and I.  Left behind were Buttercup (the cow), some of the goats, the chickens and guineas, Evenstar’s rabbits, and the cat.  We trekked down our lane and then scouted around the front seven or so acres of our property. 

Viruses on Our Off Grid Homestead

The troop heads down the lane

Viruses on Our Off Grid Homestead

Little Bird rides her answer to prayer (read http://www.livereadynow.com/critter-update/)

There are wildflowers blooming, new gopher tortoise burrows, and lots of sweet smelling palmetto blossoms.  We are so grateful for this wonderful opportunity the Lord has given us to homestead on our own little piece of property.

Viruses on Our Off Grid Homestead

Stopping for a rest at the front of our property

Viruses on Our Off Grid Homestead

Visiting the pond

Viruses on Our Off Grid Homestead

Silver Oak handles Zoe, a new potential guard dog for our livestock and homestead that we are trying out for several weeks

Next I’ll tell you about the adventure we had getting stuck in the sand.

Blessings,

Viruses on Our Off Grid Homestead

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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The Arrival of Buttercup

The Arrival of Buttercup

Gentle Buttercup

On Tuesday, ready or not, Buttercup arrived at our new little off-grid homestead.  We purchased her from friends who sold their small raw milk dairy (pet food only, of course… legally raw milk must be labeled as such in Florida).  She is an eight-year-old Jersey and bred by a miniature Jersey bull, ready to calve in July.  Buttercup is the perfect name for her, because she is going to hopefully be the fulltime supplier of butter for our family!

We were told she is a gentle cow, easy to milk, except for one teat which was dried early this season because of some injury which led to mastitis.  We traded her for 18 pieces (oz) of silver purchased in 2010 for emergency purposes.  We figure if the economy totally falls apart we’d prefer a food-producing cow.  It’s hard to eat silver.  The Arrival of Buttercup

Silver Oak stayed home Tuesday, mostly because we were having a deck-load of company that evening.  My brother and family from Ohio came to visit, so all of my local extended family came for dinner to celebrate our six-year-old’s birthday (he’s known here as Farmer Boy).  Now, Silver Oak is intelligent and very optimistic in contrast with me, the cautious pessimist.  If it weren’t for him we’d never have adventures.  Well, in this case I felt like we may be going overboard to introduce a new cow the same day we were hosting a party for 27, but Mr. Optimist thought it was no big deal.  Ha!  I got the last laugh on this one, as you will see.

When gentle Buttercup was unloaded from the trailer, she was not in a gentle mood.  This new place and all the animals staring made her jumpy.  She immediately tore the lead rope out of Silver Oak’s hands and fled.  It’s a good thing we had closed the gate from the runway back into the paddocks.

The Arrival of Buttercup

A croud of onlookers (goats) waits for Silver Oak to open the gate

The Arrival of Buttercup

She breaks loose

For the evening milking Buttercup was not interested in entering the stall Silver Oak had hastily built.  A small oak tree partially blocked the opening, and she was not going in.  Ok, no problem, just give her a bucket of feed, sit down and milk.  Unfortunately she positioned herself against a tree making it impossible to milk on her right side, so Silver Oak crouched on her left (the wrong side) and Evenstar reached in from behind.

She ate too fast.  All at once she was done and ready to move on, but there wasn’t much milk in the pail.  Ok, so cut down the little tree and try again to get her into the stall.  But now she was no longer hungry and saw no reason to enter.  By this time all of the guests (my family) were here shouting out good ideas and enjoying the show.  I wish so badly I had been out there with a video camera, but I was too busy with dinner.

The Arrival of Buttercup

She refuses to enter the stall...at any hint of using a rope or pushing her head in she whirls around

It took over an hour and several volunteers to finally get the elusive Buttercup into her stall!  What a circus!  Then she was so upset she kicked at Silver Oak and knocked over the milk pail three times.  The head gate was not made yet so Buttercup had too much freedom to move in the stall.  Evenstar remedied this by poking her hind end with a stick to keep her at the front of the stall.  Hilarious!  But it was 7:30 pm before the party could really begin!

The Arrival of Buttercup

Finally she's in! Quick, grab the milk pail!

The Arrival of Buttercup

Ugh! Now she's moving around too much and this silly board is too low!

Things did improve.  The next morning it only took five minutes to lure her into the stall (she was hungry), and that afternoon Silver Oak made a head gate and added a fence wall on one side of the barn to complete the stall situation.  Now she goes in easily and is proving to be the gentle cow we were expecting after all!

The Arrival of Buttercup

It's much easier now with her head locked in, standing correctly

The Arrival of Buttercup

Farmer Boy's birthday cake, made by Grandma

Two days after Buttercup came she and the two horses were nowhere in sight at chore time.  After a long search and tracking their hoof-prints through the woods in the paddocks, we discovered they had skipped the country.  Almost.  You may recall that Silver Oak worked hard last month during his days at home to build fence on the unfenced north side of the paddocks.  He did enough that it took the animals a few weeks to discover they could still get out and explore elsewhere.

The horses had turned west and found a gap in the neighboring orange grove fence.  Silver Oak and Evenstar found them happily munching nice green grass at least ¼ mile away on the banks of the canal bordering the grove.  Can’t blame them.  There’s not much grass around our place yet.  But Buttercup was nowhere to be seen.

Silver Oak and I went back to the woods and retraced hoof prints.  We discovered cow tracks that turned east where the horses had turned west.  When she got to our neighbor’s west fence she turned north and Silver Oak finally found her in a mucky swamp.  When he called she lifted her head, turned, and slowly followed us back to the end of the unfinished fence, around through the woods, and all the way home.  What a nice cow.

The Arrival of Buttercup

Peace and quiet reigns again at chore time

Since the great escape we’ve had to keep the gate to the paddocks closed till the fence is finished.  Which explains why Silver Oak stayed home Saturday and today working on fence, in spite of his landscaping work not being done for the month of March!  The animals don’t do the best cooped up in the small runway with only hay (not good for the pocketbook either).

The Arrival of Buttercup

Lots of delicious creamy raw milk (pet food only, of course!)

Saturday when Silver Oak went to build fence he launched us on another unscheduled adventure.  That’s for another post.  For now, let me tell you we LOVE all the milk!  Saturday we made a big batch of deliciously creamy butter, and we have real buttermilk to make cornbread and pancakes with.  Yum! Fresh cottage cheese with nearly every dinner is such a treat.  We’re living like kings!  Except kings probably never milk their own cow.  :)

The dogs and cat love the skim milk after we remove the cream.  We’ve cut back on store-bought pet-food already.  What a life!

Blessings,
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Homestead Scenes ~ 8

Our daughter Evenstar brings you Week Eight of Homestead Scenes

~Florida Wilds~

Homestead Scenes ~ 8

Homestead Scenes ~ 8

Homestead Scenes ~ 8 Homestead Scenes ~ 8Can you spot the gator (above)?

Homestead Scenes ~ 8

Homestead Scenes ~ 8

Homestead Scenes ~ 8

Homestead Scenes ~ 8

Homestead Scenes ~ 8Daddy (Silver Oak) with us children at a state park enjoying the “wilds.” (I’m on the far right.) My mom (Rose Petal) is taking the picture.

Thanks for stopping by!

Homestead Scenes ~ 8

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Critter Update

Critter Update

Five-week-old keets

Fortunately we have encountered no more rattlesnakes on our little off-grid homestead.  But the guinea-fowl babies (keets) are starting to look like guineas!  Now there are only nine instead of the ten I reported last.  One came with a bad leg, and it was getting worse in spite of our best efforts.  Guineas like to hang out together (reminds me of little girls) and they would run from side to side in their cage, trampling their unfortunate sibling.  The poor little lame keet tried to keep up, to no avail.

Joel Salatin teaches that a profitable farm must cull weak or physically limited animals to keep strong stock.  A farmer’s time is too valuable to waste on non-profitable stock.  I’ve always enjoyed helping the underdog, which definitely has its place, but all the time we were spending trying to help this lame bird was a waste.  We considered putting it out of its misery until Evenstar, our oldest daughter, had the bright idea of putting an ad on Craigslist.  We gave it to a lady who enjoys caring for animals like this.  Both parties profited and the keet lived!  As a bonus we connected with a boarding stable who has given us much free manure for our future raised beds and orchard.

Critter Update

Our attempt to put a splint on the ailing leg...didn't last long

Next is a surprise!  Last spring we sold a palomino mini horse named Summer, one of the animals we had to sell before moving to town for the summer.  It was sad, especially for Little Bird, who was six.   Recently Evenstar found a Craigslist ad about a little horse she was sure was Summer.  Overcome with curiosity, she called, and when the delighted new owners discovered who we were they insisted we take her back.  FREE!  They wanted nothing but to know she would be loved.  Their little boy was ready for a bigger horse, and they couldn’t keep her.

Amazing! Summer came home again after nearly a year.  What a glad welcome she received.  Little Bird has been praying for another little horse in spite of knowing we didn’t have money for one, never dreaming God would answer this way.  She cried tears of joy!  I love seeing God answer our children’s prayers in spite of us.

Critter Update

Tess, our Arabian mare (L), greets her old friend Summer (R)

Critter Update

The kiddos are so glad to have her back. Little Bird strokes her face.

Evenstar recently invested in a Satin Angora rabbit to add to her rabbit ventures, and to her shock last Sunday morning discovered eight tiny cold babies (kits) on the ground under her cage.  She’d shown no nesting signs, so she had kits without a nesting box. We warmed them as quickly as possible, then shaved her tummy.  Angoras’ long fur makes nursing difficult if not shaved.  We tucked the warmed kits into the shaved wool and placed them into a nesting box, hoping this first-time mama would catch on and do her duty.  She did, and five of the eight survived!

Critter Update

The oven was already warm from baked oatmeal, so we held the hairless kits in there briefly before snuggling them together in a box on a bag with warm water (for lack of a water bottle) wrapped in a towel, leaving them in the slightly warm oven till the nest box was ready.

Critter Update

Several days later the survivors are visible beneath the fuzz

Critter Update

An English Angora rabbit that Evenstar recently bought for only $7 at an auction! Unbelievable!

Critter Update

Blossom, our 12 year old, got a new parakeet last week to replace Pepin who had escaped last year.  This time it was a baby she could hand feed and would hopefully grow up very tame.  Sadly, it died the second day.  She followed all the instructions to a tee, as far as we could tell, but little Merry suddenly got sick and died.  She is waiting a week for a free replacement, hoping for a better chance with a little older one.

Critter Update

Blossom feeds sweet little Merry

Last week we also put one of our little black ladies in a separate pen on a clutch of eggs.  She was broody and we wanted to try increasing our little flock of Black Australorps, a heritage breed of chickens good for meat and high egg production.  But after a few days she rebelled.  We’ve had little success moving a hen once she is setting on eggs, but it doesn’t work to leave her in the coop with the others either.  Any advice for us?

Critter Update

Our little broody hen

Today comes another addition to our homestead:  the little jersey cow I mentioned recently!  We can’t wait!

Blessings,

Critter Update

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Homestead Scenes ~ 7

Our daughter Evenstar brings you Week Seven of Homestead Scenes:

~Bunnies!~

 It’s baby season for me right now in the rabbit business. I have a large, lively five-week-old bunch that will be ready for homes in a week, another new litter born last Sunday, and more on the way! 

Homestead Scenes ~ 7

 Homestead Scenes ~ 7

Homestead Scenes ~ 7The little kids love to play with the bunnies, and as a result, they are very tame and friendly, a big plus when it comes to selling them.

Homestead Scenes ~ 7

Homestead Scenes ~ 7New babies are born totally helpless, hairless, with eyes tightly shut. They are very fragile at this age, and losing a few is not uncommon, especially with a large litter. When they reach two weeks of age, I can breath a sigh of relief; they are usually all strong and healthy after that.  

Homestead Scenes ~ 7One week old.

Homestead Scenes ~ 7

Homestead Scenes ~ 7Five weeks old.

Homestead Scenes ~ 7I usually name each and every one of my bunnies (with the help of my siblings of course).  This is “Milkshake.” The two bunnies at the very top are “Preacher” and “Mango.”

 

Thanks for your visit!

Homestead Scenes ~ 7

 

 

Linked w/ Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Laundry On the Off-Grid Homestead ~ 3

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 3

Sunshine is free!

In the last two posts we’ve focused on the large challenge of doing laundry for eight on our off-grid homestead without a washer or dryer.  If you haven’t already done so, read Part One and Part Two to better understand the following tips about doing laundry by hand, including using a spinner:

~ Use pre-spot on spots or stains the same as with a washer.  Scrub spots by hand or on a wash board.

~ Soak really dirty laundry overnight in the soapy water before washing.

~ Make sure there is enough room for clothes to move freely in the water while plunging.  Break large loads into several small batches in the washing tub, doing each batch one or two minutes with the plungers, depending on how dirty they are.

~ Use five gallon buckets for rinsing.  For dirtier loads rinse twice, using two buckets for rinsing, and squeezing water out in between with the laundry press.

~ The water catching bucket that comes with the Charming Spinner is not large enough to catch all the water that is removed unless you use it after washing with a regular washing machine, so we use a larger tub.

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 3

Removing a sheet from the spinner

~ After removing clothes from the laundry press, some really wet or heavy items may still need a quick hand squeeze before placing them into the spinner.  This makes it much easier to avoid problems with unbalanced loads and having to stop and rearrange the clothes.

~ In the spinner, place heavier items in first, then lighter items on top.  Most items should be placed in one at a time to keep the load balanced.

~ We normally have two people plunging and rinsing, another running the spinner and helping with rinsing, and two others hanging the clothes on the line.  The children handle it daily now with a little oversight from me.

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 3

The laundry team at work!

~ We no longer throw clothing (with the exception of undies) into the wash after only wearing it once or twice.  It usually must look or smell dirty.

~ I like clean bed sheets.  Especially now we don’t want to wash all of them every week.  We have them on a rotation schedule.  To keep from sleeping in dirty sheets, we’re pretty strict about any dirt in bed.  The younger ones go outside and get dirty till naptime (2:30pm), then take showers or clean up and get night clothes on before nap.  After nap they play inside or on the deck.  It also saves power to shower in the afternoon rather than after dark because it requires no lighting and less heating of water.  Of course when we are on a big project till late we don’t have much choice but to shower late as well.

~ Our weekly laundry schedule keeps things from piling up and washes appropriate things together.

  • Monday:  cleaning rags, play/work clothes, socks, undies
  • Tuesday:  darks (jeans, delicate dress clothes, etc), house bath towels
  • Wednesday:  kitchen towels, hand towels, cloth napkins, pillow cases, night clothes, sheets, camper bath towels
  • Thursday:  really dirty clothes (Silver Oak’s work clothes, soiled play/work clothes, etc) – this load starts soaking the day before
  • Friday:  first delicate whites, then cleaning rags, socks, undies 

Laundry that needs to be disinfected has been a little difficult.  It’s time and energy-consuming to use really hot water, and I am generally not a Clorox user for health reasons (spot treatment only).  We use lots of hydrogen peroxide which disinfects and whitens, but I’m wondering how to become more sustainable and efficient in this area.  Any ideas?

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 3
At a museum learning about laundry in days gone by

I’ve shared what we do, now what about you?  If you are off-grid or just trying to save on your power and water consumption, what have you found that works successfully with lots of laundry?  Hope to hear your ideas!

Blessings,

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 3

Linked w/ Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Laundry On the Off-Grid Homestead ~ 2

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 2

The Charming Spinner

In our quest to efficiently do laundry off-grid for a family of eight, we looked into wringers and other options for removing water after washing a large load of laundry.  Our Mobile Washers worked well for washing, and our bucket laundry press squeezed out excess water.  But how could we remove enough water efficiently to allow the clean clothes to dry quickly on the line? 

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, eventually we learned about a spinner called the Charming Spinner which is what we ended up with.  Here is why.  The hand wringers are fairly sustainable if you get a commercial one that will last, but also expensive and still take a lot of time to run a large load through.  Electric wringers are even more expensive.  A spinner didn’t cost any more than a commercial hand wringer, and will make clothing quite dry in two minutes.  In fact, it makes it as dry as if spun out in a washer and then put in a dryer for 20-30 minutes!  It does take electricity for those two minutes so it is not quite as sustainable, but if we are able to get solar panels as our power source, it will be a pretty good deal.

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 2

Checking out a really OLD wringer washer

I do hope to get a commercial wringer someday as a back-up, but let me tell you about this spinner!  Many Amish people use them, as well as missionaries in foreign countries.  Some people use it with a regular washer and dryer.  The two or three minutes of spinning before putting it into the dryer means using your dryer about 30 minutes less with each load.  The spinner works well with alternative power systems so it is ideal for using in an off-grid setting like ours as well.  It handles about half of a super capacity washer load, so depending on the size of our load each day we have three to five spinner loads.

The spinner works well as long as it has a balanced load.  It spins so fast that if it’s a little heavier on one side than the other or top-heavy it causes problems.  It’s quiet, and after only two minutes the clothes are so dry that it takes only several hours in this Florida humidity to hang dry them. 

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 2

View of clothes inside the spinner from above with the lid open

As far as I know, there are only two ways to get them.  You can order them online here, or call the Amish owned store in Charm, OH at (330)893-3033 and order from them (same price).  That is how we got ours, and I promised I would let everyone know how it turned out.  If you order it from Ohio, tell them folks at LiveReadyNow.com recommended it.  We don’t get any kickback, but we want them to know we’re keeping our word about telling you.  They are great at answering questions and giving tips about using it as well.  We’ve used ours for four months now, five days a week, and we are happy!  No more sore fingers from wringing out by hand. 

There is another similar spinning machine on the market for a little less money, but the reviews are not so good and I read too many complaints about customer service.  I feel confident that the people at this Amish store will back up their products.

When we could finally order the spinner I was so excited.  We were weary of the time consuming job of wringing clothes out by hand.  When I put the first load into the spinner nothing happened…no matter what I did.  Bummer!  Wasn’t it going to work with our battery bank and inverter?  Then I realized I wasn’t waiting long enough.  It spins much faster than a regular washer does, but it starts so slowly you can’t even tell it’s doing anything for about 10 seconds.

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 2

A pleasant sight...

Now we can hang our hand-washed laundry in this humid climate, and as long as it’s out by 9:30am it is easily dry by lunch time.  That was unheard of even with a washing machine!  We can face the rainy season knowing we will usually be able to get laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away all in the same day, even with daily afternoon showers.

Tomorrow I’ll share things we’ve found that make the whole process run more smoothly.

Blessings,

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 2

PS.  Be sure to read the other posts about Laundry on the Off-Grid Homestead part one and part three!

Linked w/ Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Laundry On the Off-Grid Homestead ~ 1

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 1

Our two youngest always hang the socks and undies on a rack to dry

How do you do laundry when living off-grid with a limited power budget and water supply?  Laundry is a big deal for a family of eight.  When visiting third world countries we have done laundry in a tub and wrung it out by hand.  But it is very time consuming to keep clothes clean by today’s standards when trying to live sustainably.

For over a year we have not used a dryer, with the exception of a few times at the rental house last summer, and we’ve lived without a washer for almost five months.  Yes, laundry takes more time than it did with a washer and dryer, but is quite doable with a few simple tools.  As mentioned in a previous post “Going Sustainable with Laundry,” we use Mobile Washers as the tool for washing our clothes, and with the sucking action of these special plungers it only takes a few minutes of plunging to get clothes clean.

We do a load of laundry every morning, five days a week.  I can do a large load with a young helper from start to finish in about 40-45 minutes.  That includes prepping the homemade detergent made from soapnuts (more about that some day), and watering the plants with the laundry water when we’re done.

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 1

Plunging in the wash tub

The most difficult part has been removing water from the washed clothes to be rinsed out or hung to dry.  Much of the year we have high humidity here in central Florida, and it can be almost impossible to dry everything before afternoon showers during rainy season.  Last summer at the rental house we used racks in the house at times to finish drying while it poured outside.  Miserable, because it brought even more humidity into the house for the air conditioner to eliminate.  Not the most sustainable!

Removing water from a large load of clothes by hand can be tough.  The exercise is good, but the skin around your fingernails gets raw.  And it’s nearly impossible to remove enough water for efficient drying.   Tiffany at No Ordinary Homestead gave me a tip about making a laundry press with five gallon buckets.  I tried it, only I drilled more holes and bigger ones so the water could escape faster, and I drilled no holes in the bottom bucket so the water squeezed from the clothes could be saved and recycled. 

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 1

Drilling holes to make a laundry press

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 1

Holes in the bottom...

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 1

...and in the sides

Here’s how it works.  The wet clothes go into a holey bucket which is placed into a non-holey bucket.  A third bucket with a lid is placed on top of the wet clothes.  Someone sits on the lidded bucket for about a minute, squeezing water out of the clothes.  That is what you call sitting down on the job!  The water runs down into the bottom bucket to be added back to the wash water or used to water plants. 

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 1

Place clothes into the holey bucket which is resting in another bucket without holes

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 1

Place third bucket with lid on top of clothes in holey bucket

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 1

Have a seat!

The holey bucket idea works great for squeezing water out between washing and rinsing.  It’s quick and easy.   But it still leaves too much water in the clothes after rinsing to place on the line for drying.  It would take all day to dry!

I looked into wringers, and other options.  After searching and checking around, we ended up with a great piece of equipment that we’d never heard of before.  In my next post I will introduce you to the Charming Spinner!

Blessings,

Laundry On the Off Grid Homestead ~ 1

PS.  Be sure to read the follow-up posts about Laundry on the Off-Grid Homestead part two and part three!

Linked w/ Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Homestead Scenes ~ 6

Bringing you Week Six of Homestead Scenes:

~Dirty Kids~

Homestead Scenes ~ 6

Homestead Scenes ~ 6

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 6

Homestead Scenes ~ 6

Homestead Scenes ~ 6

Homestead Scenes ~ 6

Hope you enjoy, and stay clean!

Homestead Scenes ~ 6

Linked w/Frugally Sustainable , Barn Hop, Growing Home, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Homemade Cottage Cheese and Butter

Homemade Cottage Cheese and Butter

Rinsing the butter

We recently had a good “problem:”  too much milk.  That is rare with two lactating dairy goats with their kids still on them.  We’ve noticed mama-fed kids are much healthier and grow faster than when bottle-fed with milk replacer.  The kids rarely holler and no time is consumed preparing and washing bottles.  But kids do get a large portion of the milk for several months.  At five or six weeks we separate the kids at night so we get at least one good milking in the morning.

Well, last week I made butter from our own goats’ milk for the first time! Goat milk cream is harder to separate because the fat molecules are smaller than in cows’ milk.  But I had saved a quart of milk from one of Melody’s first milkings.  It was thick and rich with nearly a cup of cream! I scooped it off and put it in the blender.  When it turned to butter I poured the buttermilk off and rinsed it.  After adding salt and wrapping it in wax paper it firmed up in the fridge.

It was delicious sweet butter!  Goat butter is whiter than cow butter, with a milder flavor.  It was devoured in no time!

Homemade Cottage Cheese and Butter

Yummy goat milk butter!

Another of our favorites is cottage cheese.  I pour a gallon of milk into a pot, bring it barely to a boil, remove from heat and add about ¼ cup vinegar or lemon juice.  A live culture is better (real cottage cheese), but at the moment this ‘fake’ cottage cheese is yummy.  Gently stir it for a minute as the milk curdles.  After it’s cooled we strain off the whey to use for baking, cooking rice, or a soup base.  Years ago I would throw it out or give it to the chickens till I learned the biggest nutrient content is in the whey!

Homemade Cottage Cheese and Butter

Curds and whey

Here is our favorite cottage cheese recipe:

Strained curds from 1 gal. milk (after curding with ¼ cup vinegar or lemon juice)
½ Tbls salt
½ ts granulated garlic
2 ts onion flakes (optional)
Sprinkle basil

Sometimes I’ve also let the curds drain in a cheesecloth or yogurt cheese strainer till really dry, then use it as mild tasting soft cheese.

Homemade Cottage Cheese and Butter

Curds on left separated from whey on right

In a few weeks we’re hopefully buying a little Jersey cow from friends.  She is fresh and carrying a calf.  I am very excited, but a bit overwhelmed about handling 4 ½ gallons of milk every day all of a sudden!  Our fridge space and power budget is very limited at the moment.  I want to make lots of butter and cheese, and get back into cultured milk products like kefirMy kefir grains died when we moved because our goats were dry and without adequate fresh milk or time to deal with it, my grains slowly diminished.  It’s time to get at it again.  So much to do!

Homemade Cottage Cheese and Butter

Ten growing keets

As for the rest of our little off-grid homestead, we are down from 12 keets (baby guinea fowl) to 10 due to one escapee and one that perished.  Last week our 12-year-old, known here as Blossom, ran in and placed a distressed keet in my hands.  It was silently throwing its head back as though struggling to breathe.  Within 15 seconds it flopped over and died in my hands.  What in the world?  It looked perfectly healthy.  Blossom had found it struggling and brought it immediately.

I opened its beak and saw blood in its throat.  Then we discovered a very hard ball at the base of its neck, like a marble.  So I did the natural thing:  cut it open to investigate.  Its crop was completely packed with food.  Evidently something blocked the passage from the crop and the keet ate till it suffocated.  At two weeks old we had moved the keets into an outside pen with wood shavings as bedding.  We’d read to not use wood shavings till two weeks old or they may eat them.  By two weeks they usually know better.  Maybe this keet ate a shaving and it caused a blockage.  Who knows?

The second keet escaped one day when the little guys were holding them.  He ran off, and after a 20 or 30 minute chase he squeezed through the back fence, disappearing into the woods under the palmettos.  I called the chase off, not willing to risk encountering rattlesnakes for the rare chance of capturing the fleeing bird.  He’s probably been lunch for some wild animal by now.

Homemade Cottage Cheese and Butter

The new keet pen

Homemade Cottage Cheese and Butter

Shoot that snake!!!

Speaking of rattlesnakes, Silver Oak is landscaping in town again, so he drilled Evenstar and I in unlocking the gun and ammo case, loading, and shooting imaginary snakes.  Yesterday Hershey was barking at something in a huge palmetto pile, and last week something greatly spooked our usually “unspookable” Arabian mare back in the woods.  We know rattlesnakes are on the prowl, and we’re trying to be prepared.

Blessings,

Homemade Cottage Cheese and Butter

Linked w/Frugally Sustainable , Barn Hop, Growing Home, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Homestead Scenes ~ 5

Bringing you Week Five of Homestead Scenes:

~Florida Flowers~

Homestead Scenes ~ 5Hibiscus

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 5Passionflower

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 5Okra

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 5Malibar Spinach

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 5Black-Eyed Susans

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 5Hibiscus

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 5Orchid

Homestead Scenes ~ 5

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 5Aloe Vera

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 5Can’t remember the name of these, but I love them!

Homestead Scenes ~ 5

 

Hope you enjoy! Thanks for stopping by.

Homestead Scenes ~ 5

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Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

The noisy end of a visitor on our homestead

Last week we sold Melody and Harmony, our newest mama goat and her little kid.  Right now milking three goats every morning and evening is more than we wish for while setting up this new homestead.  We sold them, along with sweet little Evenstar (the tiny one of Jody’s triplets) to a young family.  This happened the same day Misty died, so there was more than one sad farewell.  Things on the homestead are not always happy.

The big push right now is building fence.  Before we switched campers Silver Oak had finished the fence for the runway from the paddocks to the barn to move the goats, chickens and horse into so we could remove fence around our living area.  It has been wonderful not stepping in undesirables going out to the vehicles.  But for over a week the animals have been cooped up in that small area, consuming a lot of hay.  Not healthy for the pocketbook.

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

The runway to the barn

Last week Silver Oak started new fence along the northern perimeter of the property between the two cross fences where our living area is.  The boundary dispute is now settled (PTL!), and we can work freely without irritating our neighbor.  We’ve had a few friendlier encounters with him this week, which is an answer to prayer!

The former fence wound around palmettos in the path of least resistance, but was far from the perimeter and did not prevent our dogs from making visits away from home.  The new fence is just six inches or so on our side of the line, and will have barbed wire for cows and horses as well as 2 x 4 wire to keep smaller animals like dogs, goats, and guinea fowl in.

Palmettos and brush had to be cleared along the fence row to install the new fence.  By lining up the surveyor’s stakes Silver Oak made a straight path between the two cross fences by clearing with his machete.  It was about 200 yards (183 meters) long, and took about 1/2 day to clear.  The next day he strung a line from one end to the other and used his fence post auger to drill the holes and set all the posts in place.  The auger was purchased last fall at half price from someone who had fenced their property.  I was amazed how quickly a hole could be drilled: in 15 seconds.  Then the manual fence post digger removed excess dirt before dropping the post in. 

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

Drilling

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

A hole

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

After the post is placed in the hole the dirt gets packed around it...this is a big job requiring little helpers...ha! In the background is one of the neighbor's fences.

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

Barbed wire is added

The posts were left over from a bundle we purchased years ago when fencing on our old property.  They were much cheaper by the bundle, and they’re a blessing now.  We have barbed wire and 2 x 4 wire from previous purchases as well, although not enough.

Next, Silver Oak got right at it clearing the path for fence from the second cross fence to the back corner of our property.  That is around 400 yards (366 meters) through untouched wilderness and lots of thick palmetto patches.  He admittedly had dreaded the job, but our animals can’t be released into their paddocks until that fence is in.  The patches were so thick and high it was impossible to see over or through them, and he continually referred back to the surveyor’s stakes to stay lined up.

The back corner was behind two big trees, so I hiked back there to help hold up a marker till he could break through the brush and get it cleared enough to string his line.  It was warm, and I kept praying the Lord would protect him (us) from snakes.  And He did!  The entire fence row was cleared and about 365 yards (334 meters) of posts in before we saw our first rattlesnake on this new homestead!

Monday morning Silver Oak went out after breakfast to remove staples from the former winding fence to transfer the barbed wire to the newly placed fence posts.  He was removing the first staple less than 100 yards (91 meters) from the house when from the brush three yards away came the sound of a nervous rattlesnake! 

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

Our mini horse Hunter who was killed by a rattlesnake four years ago

This is a familiar sound because at our old house nearly four years ago a diamondback rattler killed our mini-horse named Hunter.  That was a sad day!  Several days later its mate showed up.  Fortunately Silver Oak was able to kill them both.

Monday he ran back to the house for a pitch fork and his machete, calling for the children to stay put and me to help!  Groan!  I wanted to make sure he didn’t get hurt, but help?  I grabbed my camera and boots and headed out.  He had me hold a very long stick to distract the snake while he stuck in into the ground with the pitchfork…he thought.  Unfortunately the coiled snake somehow wriggled out and slipped down a nearby tortoise burrow.  Bummer!

The snake got away, but it was a blessed visit, because it got us moving on our rattlesnake emergency plan.  Even if we’d killed it, there are constant opportunities for meeting rattlesnakes around here.  In fact, the old-timers call this area “Rattlesnake Crossing!”  And now is one time of year they are on the move.

Isn’t that so normal…waiting till something bad or nearly bad happens to get us moving in making preparations?  We meant to have everything in place, but…other things kept us busy.  Now we’re again reviewing with the children how to avoid rattlesnake encounters, such as always wearing boots outside of our immediate living area, never entering or touching a bush or stack of wood or boxes without first kicking it or stomping around a bit (they don’t have good ears but feel vibrations), and taking a dog along into the bush or woods.

If a rattlesnake is encountered remember they can only strike 2/3 their body length.  They may or may not rattle in warning before striking.  They are afraid of humans and will generally strike only if they feel threatened, more likely retreating when possible.  If it’s too close, freeze and call for help, moving slowly away only when the snake is distracted.

What is our plan in the event someone gets bitten?  It is 45 minutes to a medical facility unless we break the speed limit which we probably would.  We’ve learned much since Hunter died, but are still learning all we can.  Getting the facts and a plan makes it not nearly so scary.  That’s true preparing for any emergency.  Fear is greater when no plan is in place.

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

Silver Oak attempts to "fork" the snake hiding under the bush

First, we tell our children a person who is bitten must hold still to keep the poison from spreading.  Excitement speeds up the destruction.  The bite should be kept below their heart level.  If a limb is bitten something can be wrapped around it above the bite, but loosely enough that two fingers can be placed underneath.  A cool wet cloth can be placed on the bite.

We are looking into methods used by missionary doctors in other countries where poisonous snakes are prevalent and antivenin is not readily accessible.  Antivenin has its drawbacks too.  In each vehicle we have sting suction kits we’ve often used to extract the venom of wasps, and they are useful for snake bites as well.  But that’s not enough.   Missionary doctors have saved many lives by using DC shock treatment even after swelling and tissue damage had begun.  You can read more for yourself here.

We previously planned to purchase the battery-run venom neutralizers used by JAARS missionaries till we found instructions for doing it with a small engine.  We still need to learn a lot more before we’d be ready to try it, and we’re trying to communicate with those that are experienced.  The idea is to treat bites with shock and get medical help as quickly as possible.

The rattlesnake story is not over.  Silver Oak had not grabbed his gun Monday because it was locked and he was afraid by the time he got the key and ammo the snake would disappear.  He opted for a pitchfork but later learned a good shovel is the best when a gun is not available.  Now he keeps his .22 nearby when working in the bush.

Yesterday after a lunch break Silver Oak headed back out to work on fence.  Soon Hershey, our black lab mix, started barking her serious bark with hair standing up on end.  When she barks like that we listen.  Our encounter with the rattlesnakes four years ago seemed to give her a severe hatred of snakes.  She is too nice to strangers to be a good guard dog in that way, and doesn’t have a clue about herding the animals like Laddie, our Australian Shepherd, but she makes up for it by being a good snake watchdog.

Silver Oak dropped everything and ran for his gun.  There in the palmettos was the snake (or another like it).  He shot it and cut off its head (dangerous even when dead).  It was a five foot Eastern Diamondback.  I’m against killing animals without good reason, but with a family this is too dangerous.  Yeah Silver Oak!  And yeah Hershey!

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

Silver Oak shoots the rattler

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

He slid a board under its head before cutting it off

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

Hershey is congratulated for her faithfulness. Even when the snake was dead she hated it.

After the head was buried we had an instant biology lesson.  The bigger girls cut the snake open and found six eggs.  We killed not one snake, but seven!  They found the heart still beating, and various other internal organs.  Gross!  I would have buried the thing, but if our children want to learn I don’t want to squelch it.  My dad was a biology teacher, so I guess they inherited his interest (he taught me how to dissect frogs when I was little…yuck!).

Again we thank the Lord for His protection.  Monday the snake was right beside a “fort” the two youngest children made the other day while Silver Oak was doing fence nearby.  They had left a clipper and holster in their fort and had run back out the next morning to get them.  Shiver!  And yesterday it was only 15 yards from our house!  I feel protected.

If you have any advice about rattlesnakes or snake-bites, please pass it on.  We need all we can get!  Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

Blessings,

Fences and Rattlesnakes on the Homestead

Linked w/Frugally Sustainable , Barn Hop, Growing Home, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

PS.  Those girls of ours skinned that snake and cooked it for dog food.  Disgusting!  But I am proud of their resourcefulness.  And the dogs love it!

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Homestead Scenes ~ 4

Bringing you week four of Homestead Scenes:

Slideshow Presentation: Tribute to Misty

In honor of our beautiful cat who died this week.

 

The music is from a recording I made when I was 12 (in 2007). 

Hope you enjoy! 

Homestead Scenes ~ 4

 

 

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Unexpected Guests

Unexpected Guests
For Silver Oak’s birthday I got him what he wanted…a farm jack. Now he is a real farmer!

Last week…

One uninvited guest was a small black widow spider found by our oldest daughter (Evenstar) in the big white cabinet under the camper canopy where we keep cleaning and pet supplies.  I’ve never seen one before (that I recall), and was grateful she was alert to it.  Silver Oak showed all the children before smashing it.

We also had a visit from Mr. Gopher Tortoise.  He shows up now and then, this time crawling right through our greenhouse area.  We really like the tortoises, but wish the laws protecting them wouldn’t make things so difficult.  We can’t do any construction within a 25’ radius of their burrows.  We’re at the mercy of wherever they decide to dwell.

Unexpected Guests
The black widow yet unsmashed
Unexpected Guests
Mr. Gopher Toroise makes his move
Unexpected Guests
Feeding an itty bitty bunny…that then died

More babies were born!  One of Evenstar’s rabbits had 14 babies!  Too many.  Four kits died within two days, and two more were so tiny and unable to get enough to eat that Evenstar tried feeding them with a bottle or syringe, but they also soon expired.  So she ended up with eight, which is still a good-sized litter.

Our third Nubian goat, Melody, had her first baby, a cute little doeling!  Melody is Jody’s kid from two years ago (Jody is now a grandma!).  She did just great!  We named the kid Harmony.  This time the big girls did things like spray the cord and help her get her first drink.  They’re taking over for me! 

If birthing photos gross you out, don’t look at the next one.  If you enjoy the birthing process, check these photos of Rosie having her first kid, and Jody birthing triplets.

Unexpected Guests
Harmony’s head and front feet appear!
Unexpected Guests
All the way out, being licked by Mama!

We had a visit from our next door neighbor informing us that one of our dogs has been getting into his trash.  Not good.  We don’t blame him for being upset.  Now it feels more urgent than ever to get the perimeter fence up.  But there was a discrepancy between our survey and his over the property line that had to be resolved before redoing fences on that side (it was actually resolved Friday, PTL!  More on that another time.).  He and his wife had dreamed of owning this 20 acres before we came along, and we ruined their plans.  We can’t blame them for being very disappointed, but the resulting tension has been a prayer concern for us.  We’d really like to be friends with our neighbors.

Some very unwelcome guests were…FLEAS!  We were trying to conquer Misty’s fleas (see former post) which meant they were jumping off of her onto the carpet under our canopy.  Then they’d jump on us and we’d carry them inside.  It turned into quite a time consuming battle, as we are not willing to co-exist with the horrible creatures!

In the midst of all of this we had a very urgent deadline to meet.  The camper parked next to our tiny house had to move, and we had to prepare for its exit.  We had actually lived in it six weeks while waiting for our tiny house to be put in place.  Since then we’ve used it for a school room, second bathroom, storage, and guest quarters.  In the meantime Silver Oak’s parents purchased a camper which they want to use when they visit from Ohio, and someone else needs the other camper.  So we had to switch them out.

After living here on the new homestead over four months the original camper was pretty hemmed in.  It was no easy feat to move it out.  We had things stored inside it, under it, around it, and under its canopy.  We had made stepping stone walkways, built fences around it, and arranged potted plants around it.  The electrical, plumbing and sewer connections all had to be disconnected and revised.  The freezer had quit a few times and some frozen bananas had thawed and then refrozen, leaving a gunky mess behind.

We had a two week notice for moving the camper during the time Silver Oak had to be in town most days for landscaping.  So most of the work was done the last several days before the move.  The runway fence from the paddocks to the barn had to be completed to pen the animals in, since the fence keeping them out of our living area needed to be opened to move the camper out.  We also had to finish more decking to make room for the big white cabinet that was living under the camper canopy.  We had several rather late nights again. 

Unexpected Guests

My 97-yr-old grandpa came along

It took all day Saturday to move the old camper out and the new one in (and remove the last of our belongings and clean it).  Once the animals were all secured in the new runway, we took the east fence down.  My dad drove his van between the camper and deck to get to the other side and hitch up the camper, then backed it out.  Silver Oak pulled the “new” camper in, but four feet closer to the existing deck than the first one had been.  In the future the deck will be completed to stretch from our tiny house to the camper, creating a sort of wind tunnel between the two parallel trailers.

Unexpected Guests

The first trailer was just pulled out of the empty space on the left. The deck is piled high with things being transfered to the new camper.

Unexpected Guests

From a different angle, the suburban pulls the "new" camper in

Unexpected Guests

New camper in place waiting to be leveled, hooked to power, water, and sewer, and for all the stuff on the deck to be put away. The deck will be extended in a few months and a permanent roof built.

Problem: after pulling the new camper in, our Suburban was trapped by the fence directly in front of the camper, since the camper was now too close to the deck.  Silver Oak had to remove fence and drive through the wooded future paddocks to an opening at the end to get out (he’d figured this out before hand).  This was finally completed around 8:45pm and we still hadn’t eaten dinner, but at least we’d be able to go to church the next morning.  It was an exhausting job but it felt so good to get it done!

The next day, while in town for church anyway, we stopped and picked up 12 more permanent visitors to our little homestead.  We are now the proud owners of a dozen baby guineas (called keets)!  Guinea fowl are big time bug eaters (including fleas and chiggers), snake killers, and watch-“dogs.”  We could use a healthy dose of all of the above, so we are hoping this new addition will be a great asset to our little farm.

Unexpected Guests

The tiny keets

Unexpected Guests

If they're held a lot, hopefully they'll be tame.

Blessings,

Unexpected Guests

Linked w/Frugally Sustainable , Barn Hop, Growing Home, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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We Lost a Sweet Friend

We Lost a Sweet Friend
A recent photo of Misty

Yesterday was an emotionally exhausting day after an exhausting week.  We buried our dearly loved cat Misty, after a rather sudden and unexpected illness.  Last week was so busy with an urgent deadline that we didn’t realize the seriousness of her condition. 

Unlike our 12-year-old cat Marble, Misty has always struggled with fleas.  We’ve done everything from conventional flea treatment to enzymes (Kleen Green), diatomaceous earth (DE, the tiny shells of diatoms which cut the soft parts of insects and kill them), and cutting off her beautiful long hair.  Just recently the problem increased in spite of our best efforts.

We Lost a Sweet Friend

Kitten Misty with an orphan fawn we cared for

We learned too late that a cat with fleas also becomes infected with tapeworms.  Misty routinely avoided her regular tapeworm wormer, refusing to eat it no matter what yummy things we hid it in.  We’d finally give up and serve her fresh food.  If only we would have force fed her!  How do you force wormer into a sweet but stubborn cat?  So we realize now that she likely died of tapeworm infestation. As we fought the fleas on the outside we didn’t realize the enemy on the inside.  If we learn from this it won’t be all loss.

She hadn’t acted normal the past few days, but our camper-moving deadline (more on that soon) overshadowed everything. Yesterday morning after we bathed her again she seemed really weak.  She drank electrolytes and warm milk, but then just wanted to curl up and sleep.  We kept checking on her, and found her evidently only minutes after she had passed on.   Shortly before I had reached into her box and scratched and petted her, and she’d responded with the familiar arching of her back.  Then she was suddenly gone.  We were shocked and mystified.  We cried.  We buried her, back behind the silver shed.  Our first burial on the new homestead. And we’re still crying.

We Lost a Sweet Friend

She was such a cute kitty

We will always remember fondly the three years we had Misty.  She was a very affectionate and loving cat, who let us hold her like a baby.  The only one who will likely be glad at her parting is Marble, who had never warmed up to her.  We never would have dreamed that she would outlive Misty.  But she still seems spry as ever.  Just yesterday we found two dead rats she had captured.  Go Marble!!

We Lost a Sweet Friend

Musically inclined cat?

We Lost a Sweet Friend

More likely, we love music and she wanted to be near us.

This has reminded us of the loss many early pioneers experienced on a regular basis.  Only, their losses were sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, and husbands and wives.  We know little of the difficulties they faced.  There was no choice but to plunge forward and do the next thing. 

God gives us grace to face the difficulties.  He may not always save us FROM them, but carries us through them, if we let Him.

Sunday we visited with good friends who lost their son Austin over a year ago.  His passing was sudden and unexpected.  The reality of the loss is still being realized.  The graciousness we see amid the grief this family feels is amazing.  They are allowing God to use this loss to minister to many wounded hearts in prison and out of prison.  We make mistakes, but God does not, and He uses tragedy for His glory if we let Him.  And through that glory He brings healing to our hearts.

We Lost a Sweet Friend

We bottle-fed Marble as a 4-wk-old runt about 12 years ago...she's still kickin' high

To read more of Austin’s incredible story and the journey of his faith and that of his parents, go to TheMullettFamily.com where you can purchase “Big Mountain, Bigger God.”  It is a moving story of the grace and power of God.

I’ll tell you about last week soon.

Blessings,

We Lost a Sweet Friend

Linked w/Frugally Sustainable , Barn Hop, Growing Home, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Homestead Scenes ~ 3

Bringing you week three of Homestead Scenes:

~Fuzz~

 Homestead Scenes ~ 3

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 3 Week old kits (bunnies) in Mama’s cozy fuzz.

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 3

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 3

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 3

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 3I was experimenting with a slow shutter speed and dusk.  This is the moon.

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 3 

Hope you enjoyed these fuzzy scenes! 

Homestead Scenes ~ 3

?

 

Linked w/Frugally Sustainable , Barn Hop, Growing Home, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Exploring Our New Homestead

Exploring Our New Homestead
The northwestern corner lies between and behind this leaning pine tree and the oak.

I got a bit behind in reporting the happenings of last week.  Guess I’ve been busy.  :)  But last Sunday (a week ago) we had an adventure to remember.  Since we moved to this new off-grid homestead four months ago we’ve been so focused on developing things right around our living area that we have not even looked at much of the rest of the property. 

We’ve been curious what the back eight acres looks like.  We had not hiked around that area since before we purchased the property.  This area will be divided into three paddocks so we can rotate the animals as needed.

Sunday was perfect for scouting around because it turned cold the night before and the snakes and chiggers were (hopefully) all stiff and non-threatening.  After lunch we headed out to see what we could see.  What a beautiful sunshiny day it was, and the oak trees in the woods looked friendly and inviting.

This is what we found.  There were lots of wooded areas with many oaks and a few pines.  Then there were clearings with lots of palmettos, as well as some sandy areas with a little grass.  We went along the perimeter fences a bit, but mostly wandered in a zig-zag. 

There is no perimeter fence on the north side, which is why we have not yet let our animals back there.  It was hard to determine where the line was, and once we realized we’d gone too far north, and the only way back was kicking our way through a huge patch of palmettos.  I was sure thankful for the cold weather that renders snakes unmovable.  Who knows how many we nearly stepped on unknowingly.  Shudder!

Exploring Our New Homestead
Look at these looney-birds I found in the palmettos!
Exploring Our New Homestead
Beautiful woods

In the middle of the eight acres we found two interestingly shaped oak trees with several ancient-looking rolls of tar paper and scrap lumber lying beneath them.  A mystery.  Nearby was a third oak with one trunk growing along the ground and another growing straight up as normal.  Another mystery.  The children had fun climbing all over it, and we called it the “horse-back riding tree.”

Exploring Our New Homestead
One of the interesting oaks
Exploring Our New Homestead
The “horseback-riding tree”

Silver Oak found the surveyor’s stake at the back of the property and then marched straight east to the cross fence to see if he could determine where the property line was for sure.  He had to tromp through all kinds of brush and palmettos.  Again, I was thankful it was cold.

Exploring Our New Homestead
Silver Oak disappears into the palmettos
Exploring Our New Homestead
Fun in the sun (and sand)

An area near the three interesting oak trees is such a beautiful location for a cabin.  Maybe someday.  After a few hours of exploring and relaxing, we came to the consensus that there was plenty of forage for the goats (since goats are forage animals vs. grazing animals) and enough cleared areas to plant grasses for pasture as well if we push some more palmettos out of the way.  That’s good to know.

Exploring Our New Homestead
Beautiful spot…hard to see with just a picture
Exploring Our New Homestead

We challenged Silver Oak to chop down this big palmetto patch with his machete. He did it in about two minutes!

Exploring Our New Homestead

Victory! The conqueror stands proudly where the palmettos once stood.

As for our other accomplishments last week, we got another piece of decking partially done, and another smaller tarp roof put up over that.  Silver Oak really wants to get the batteries and inverter out of the dust under the trailer.  They will, hopefully this week, be installed under this new section of deck.

Exploring Our New Homestead
Teamwork!

On Saturday we pulled our second gas stove out of storage in the big shed, since there is now room for it on the deck.  It will be used for cooking when it is too hot to cook inside our tiny house.  We don’t want to be more dependent on air conditioning than necessary.  We’d bought it for $40 from someone cleaning out their old mobile home.  What a blessing!

Removing the stove from the shed was no small feat, as many things had been piled on and around it.  But once removed, it allowed us to do a much-needed reorganization of that end of the shed.  Once again we are able to walk from front to back without getting our legs twisted around each other or risking starting an avalanche.  And we can actually get to some things that have been unreachable.  That felt like a major accomplishment.

We also got our bug-out bags hung on hooks along the wall of the shed.  It is time for them to be reorganized as well.  The move got things a bit discombobulated.

Silver Oak and I had another planning meeting which reminds us that no matter how much we’ve done there is still sooooo much left to do in becoming more sustainable.  Forward ho!

Blessings,

Exploring Our New Homestead

Linked w/Frugally Sustainable , Barn Hop, Growing Home, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Homestead Scenes ~ 2

Bringing you week two of Homestead Scenes:

~Young’uns on the Homestead~

Homestead Scenes ~ 2

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 2 

Homestead Scenes ~ 2Looks like a long day of work turned him a little loony. Homestead Scenes ~ 2

Homestead Scenes ~ 2

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 2

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 2

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 2Zzzzzzzz…

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Homestead Scenes ~ 2

 

 

Linked w/Frugally Sustainable , Barn Hop, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayFarmgirl Friday!Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

 

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Learning the “Old Ways”

Learning the “Old Ways”

Making butter the old way

There is nothing like seeing how folks lived in the “Old Days” to get ideas that are useful today for living more sustainably.  In our society we’ve lost the ability to be sustainable, but we can learn it again if we are diligent.

Last week Silver Oak and I celebrated our 20th anniversary by visiting nearby historical sites.  Then on Saturday our family attended an annual Heritage Festival, with lots of demonstrations of the “Old Ways.”  I want to highlight some things we saw and learned more about.

But first I want to announce that last week our Live Ready Now! blog received The Versatile Blogger Award from Heidi at My Simple Country Living!  What an honor!

Learning the “Old Ways”

And yesterday Andrea at The Greenbacks Gal featured our post about “The Barn Raising” for “Your Green Resource!” on her blog, and pinned it on Pinterest!  What a blessing!

I’ve greatly enjoyed learning to know others who are already traveling some of the same paths we are, and I want to thank these gals for their wonderful encouragement.  Take a look at their blogs to find many ideas about living sustainably.

Now for some thoughts about the “Old Ways.”

Learning the “Old Ways”Before the days of air conditioning houses were built with covered porches to keep out the direct Florida sun.  Doors and windows were positioned to catch the east/west breeze.

Learning the “Old Ways”This historic sugarcane plantation mansion is designed much the same way.

Learning the “Old Ways”A homestead’s most important natural resource is water.  Beside the mansion is a large reservoir for catching rainwater.  Florida well water is usually hard, so minerals will not readily penetrate the soil.  Rainwater, however, is naturally soft, so is well suited for irrigation.  In our future plans a rainwater reservoir should possibly be just as  important as (if not more than) a well.

Learning the “Old Ways”The juice of milled sugar cane is cooked for hours to make cane syrup.  Florida harvesting season just ended and it’s time to plant for next year’s harvest.

Learning the “Old Ways”These old kerosene smudge pots were used to keep a grove warm and protect citrus during a freeze.

Learning the “Old Ways”Most women knew how to spin.  A spinning wheel was a much needed “appliance.”

Learning the “Old Ways”We learned from an “old-timer” about acorn coffee and hand-dipped candles.

Learning the “Old Ways”Cracker Cows are an old heritage breed that eat Florida scrub and palmettos.  We are dreaming about some day owning some of these small gentle cattle.

Learning the “Old Ways”We examined an outdoor shower with gravity fed water from the black barrels in which water is warmed by the sun.

Learning the “Old Ways”This historic schoolhouse is being restored.  It’s extra special because my 97-year-old grandpa used to attend church in this old building with his family when he was young.  His youngest brother attended school in it (sorry about the bad picture).

So much to learn!  So much to do!  God bless your journey toward sustainability and have a great weekend!

Blessings,

Learning the “Old Ways”

Linked w/Frugally Sustainable , Barn Hop, The Shady Porch, Growing Home, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday,  My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

Learning the “Old Ways”
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