Category Archives: Homestead

It’s that time of the year – Starting your garden

If you haven’t already organized… now is the time. Get those seeds organized and ready to plant. If you haven’t already seen our organizing tip video on your seeds, check out this post: http://krisandlarry.com/2019/01/25/seed-storage-and-other-tips-to-start-your-garden/

This week, I went onto Amazon and picked up empty planting 6-packs (Amazon Link). I picked up 720 cells which are 120 6-packs. There are listings for less too. I will link them all below. I am running late on my personal schedule to plant these, but not too late this season. And neither are you. Normally I have recycled ones from the last year, but when cleaning out the greenhouse last year, we threw away all of the older ones to start again this year. ( We do this about every 5 or so years.)

So, what are some of the options out there for home gardens and seed starting. I linked a handful of options above.

Our family review of these items? Even though the plastic 12-packs are not exactly environmentally friendly, we do use them over and over until they are just wore out. This could means several years. This is our go-to in our house hold.

The pressed peat pots work great, but they are more work during planting. I have never had a successful crop when using them if I don’t cut the sides with a boxcutter before planting. The roots at least in my experience, do not grown well out of the pots for a while.

While I do have the plant pot maker, I don’t get the newspaper nor does anyone that I know. The pots work well as long as you don’t water, then the newspaper starts to deteriorate.

And I put my foot down on the pressed peat pot disks. One version that we picked up showed me that the outer layer takes a really long time to disappear in the gardent beds.

New class added online – Cheese class for kids ages

https://outschool.com/classes/homemade-cheese-the-basics-to-soft-curd-goat-milk-cheese-class-1-9x7okyJw#usCGc3YJOv

Description

The student will learn how to make two different homemade simple cheese recipes using vinegar and lemon juice. 

The student will learn and decide on what (optional) additions they can add to their cheese.

The teacher will demonstrate how to create 2 soft cheeses from scratch. Students can follow along and create their own if they have ingredients, or just watch and learn. 

 Teacher is available via email for any additional question. 

Homework? Let's eat!! 🙂

Learning to homestead with a small property

20 years of researching has led me to the conclusion that you can homestead on truly any size property. You just have to have GREAT organizational skills on smaller properties to streamline what you want to accomplish. Here is a link to homesteading.com and 15 homesteading ideas for your property. https://homesteading.com/homestead-farm-design-ideas/

Seed storage and other tips to start your garden

Download the 2019 Yavapai County Planting Schedule 2019 Yavapai County Planting Schedule (109 downloads)

Over the last 20 years, I have been able to streamline how we store and use our seeds for our gardens. Check out the quick video below!

Meet me on the homestead – Kunekune pigs

Our baby “War Pigs” have grown up and that includes Haka, the littlest runt from the litter of December 2017.

 If you were at the Heights Church for the Christmas Eve services in 2017, you were able to see a litter of 3 day old baby kunekunes. (I added a few photos below)

So here is a picture of Haka, Our “little War Pig. ” And guess what? His first book children’s will be out soon. We will keep you updated!

Kunekunes are an AMAZING breed of pigs that we have had on our homestead for over 5 years now. We use them often when people request us to come and share our animals as part of a “petting zoo program.” Mama Pumpkin is one of our most requested animals to share. 

Our family jokes that they are called “War Pigs” because they were (extra buffed out via CGI) in the war scene for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. See the clip below that we found on youtube.

 

Kunes are a very docile and gentle pig, making them a great addition to a homestead. They are more like having big hairy dogs than having pigs.
 

Originally from New Zealand, the pigs have made a comeback here in the US as well as the UK. Their name means “fat and round” in the Maori language. They come in a variety of colors including black and white, brown and white, solid ginger, solid cream/fawn, solid brown, solid black, and ginger and black. 

These hairy pigs can reach 300 pounds or more however, making them the largest of the miniature breeds or the smallest of the meat breeds. They are a pasture pig that eats primarily grasses and fresh fruits and veggies. We do not feed our kunes any commercial pig feeds and we have rescued a few of our kunes who were being fed dog food. Not a great choice for these gentle giants.  Being that they are pasture pigs, ours like to graze in the same field as our horses. And they love tomatoes, strawberries and other fresh goodies. 

Raising mealworms for animal feed

The Benefits Of Raising Mealworms

Mealworms are an ultimate healthy snack for chickens, ducks, geese, and quail. They are jam packed with protein and something that your critters absolutely love. We raise our mealworms to feed to our hatching babies in the house. We raise (Grand Champion) Quail. The babies go CRAZY over the mealworms that we put in their feeders. 

A few things I have found in raising mealworms are that:

I know what I am feeding my birds!

I know what I am feeding my kids, why shouldn’t I monitor what I am feeding my birds too? After all, our birds give us meat and eggs that my kids are eating. Mealworms pack so many nutrients and protein. And your birds will thank you for it. 

Meals worms are one of the easiest additions to your homestead. I keep mine in a tub(with holes drilled into the top) and an old fishtank in my laundry room. I feed each container a potato on Fridays and blow out their tanks once a month of all of the “skins” that they shed. Yep, that simple! I have a few pieces of cotton balls in each container for them to lay their eggs in and the bottom of my containers either have oatmeal or chicken scratch. 

The mealworm life cycle is in four stages: egg, larvae, pupa, and darkling beetle. The larvae stage is what I feed to my birds. 

 

You can find me and others at the Simple Life Mom Hop and the Simple Homestead Hop!

Elderberry Syrup for those winter colds

My children know that when they are starting to feel yucky, they can just go into the fridge and get out the elderberry syrup. And all they need to do is to take a spoonful. We have been making this for years. 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dried elderberries (There are many places to get these… The best price that I have found and from a company that I trust is Mountain Herbs – https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/elder-berries/profile
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick (I keep these around for my chai tea)
  • 4 whole cloves (I keep these around for my chai tea, too)
  • 1 cup honey (I buy local honey from a small store in my area called HoneyMan.)

Instructions

  1. Add the berries, water, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon stick to a large pot and bring to a boil. 
  2. Once boiling, reduce the berry mixture to a simmer. (I actually cooked today’s batch on my wood stove)
  3. Allow ingredients to simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove from the heat.
  5. Add your honey to your jar.
  6. Strain the berries from the juice, using a cheesecloth and small mesh sieve over your jar. 
  7. Now you have the perfect syrup for fighting off the sniffles this season. Keep your jar in the fridge.
  8. Take 1 tablespoon daily by spoon . When I am in the middle of a cold, I take it 3 times a day. 

You can find me and others at the Simple Life Mom Hop and the Simple Homestead Hop!

Firestarters to make it easier in the winter

Here is a download of this oathkeeper class if you want it as a printout:  oathkeepers-firestarters-Feb2017.pdf (66 downloads)

Learning different techniques to get that heat and/or cooking first started can be a matter of life and death. Here are a few tricks for fire-starters to get you started on some survival knowledge. These work great too in your own fireplace, wood stove, manual pellet stoves or your outdoor fire pit. (We use a few of these at our house too!) Many are great to keep in your camping and 72 hour bags as well.

We also get a chance to show you a simple and effective room heater to use ONLY in an emergency (we have heated up our greenhouse in the dead of winter with it until we got a Chiminea to help with the colder northern Arizona winters.)

What firestarters do our family use? Right now, the toilet paper roll stuffed with lint is our go to. We use this one even without the wax on it. 

Having reliable DIY fire starters nearby will spare you from many headaches down the road.

 Posted by Ryan Lisson – January 9, 2015  

http://www.wideopenspaces.com/make-easy-diy-fire-starters-home-woods/

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the great outdoors, your fenced-in backyard, or sitting next to your cozy living room fireplace, a quality DIY fire starter is just nice to have. As a rule of thumb, you should know how to start a fire without one. (You do, don’t you?) If not, you should learn soon as it’s just ahead of tying knots when it comes to necessary outdoor skills.

But there are situations when you’re short on time, or the kindling is a little damp, or you just plain want an easy way out (no judgment here). Or perhaps you don’t get outdoors much and don’t want to embarrass yourself by committing all kinds of camping blunders.

Worry no more. These DIY fire starters are simple to construct, cheap to make, and will save you time and frustration in the long run. Plus, they make great gifts as well!

Materials

First, you’ll need to collect some materials. Luckily, nearly every item needed for these DIY fire starters is easily found within or around your home. Odd leftover bits of candle wax, crayon stubs, paraffin wax, shredded paper, toilet paper/paper towel tubes, dryer lint, paper/fiber egg cartons, small paper cups, sawdust, pine cones, and string are some solid choices, but feel free to experiment! You’ll need an old coffee can or glass jar to melt the waxes, and do so by placing in a pot of boiling water (double boiler system).

Pine Cones

Simply gather up as many open pine cones in your yard as you can and allow them to dry well. Tie a string around the middle and thread it up to the top. Melt paraffin wax with some chunks of old crayons or candles (for color) and dip the pine cone into the hot wax. Allow to dry on wax paper. When ready, simply light the string like a wick, and watch the pine cone go!

Woodchip Cups

If you do any woodwork or cut your own firewood, you’ll likely have large amounts of sawdust, shavings, or chips laying around. Gather some up and let it dry out well. Fill some paper cups (or muffin cups in a muffin tin) with the shavings almost to the top. Pour the wax over the mixture and let harden.

Shredded Paper

You can follow the same recipe as the wood chip fire starter above. Just gather up some shredded paper (most homes and offices have plenty of this available) and fill the muffin cups as before. Pour wax over it and let harden. Then light the shreds of paper or the muffin cup itself to start it.

Toilet Paper Tube

Obviously you could cut up a paper towel roll as well for this fire starter idea, but simply stuff dryer lint or other flammable materials into the tube. Make sure it’s full but not packed, as you need air space to let oxygen in. You can add wax or petroleum jelly as well, but it works quite well as is.

Cardboard Strips

We all have too much corrugated cardboard coming through our house. Instead of recycling or burning it, do both! Cut strips about two inches wide by three or four inches long. Dip them in melted wax, leaving a small portion undipped. The corrugation leaves channels for air flow, and these light very easily.

Other ideas?

Don’t limit yourself to just these examples. There are many other creative ways to make your own DIY fire starter. You could use birch bark, dried conifer twigs, cotton balls, etc. Or you could even combine some of these ideas together, such as putting a pinecone into an egg shell container, and covering with wax and sawdust.

As long as it lights easily and burns for a few minutes, you’ve succeeded.

 

 

 

 

 

The Uber Match- http://www.practicalprimitive.com/skillofthemonth/ubermatch.html  (additional photo

(As featured in the September 2011 issue of Practically Seeking)

 

The ability to get a fire going can be the difference between life and death. That is why I always have multiple means of creating one at my disposal.

The Uber Match is simple to make, and when done correctly is reliable, along with being highly water and wind  resistant. Why you would NOT have a couple of these in ANY outdoor kit I cannot fathom!

Though traditionally made using strike anywhere matches (yes, you can still find them in this post 9-11 world) they can also be made using strike-on-the-box varieties — just make sure you have the box striker as well or you are screwed.
An Uber Match will burn for 5-7 minutes easily, produces a much larger flame than a standard match and gives off far more heat.

A major trick to making sure your Uber Matches will really work well is to allow a little bit of space between the matches and just below the match head.

Now onward with the process!

Step-by-step Instructions on How to Make an Uber Match:

  1. Take out 4 matches, preferably of the strike-anywhere variety. (These are the ones that have a white tip on the red match-head.)

 

  1. Completely unroll a regular cotton ball, and then split it in half, length-wise. (One cotton ball makes two Uber Matches.)

 

  1. Melt paraffin wax (our preferred wax for this and available at your grocery or hardware store) or any other type of wax (old candles, crayons, beeswax, etc) in a small container over low heat. An old tuna can works great for this and will sit easily on the stove burner.

 

  1. While your wax is melting, take one of your matches and, starting just below the tip (make sure you can see a short bit of the match stick) wrap around the stick one complete turn with the cotton. Take your second match place it up against the first, then wrap the cotton once completely around the two together.

  

  1. Add your third and then fourth matches in the same manner, wrapping the cotton around all three, then all four matches, creating a square, not a line. This way of wrapping creates necessary air space between the matches to allow for easy ignition. (Remember fire requires fuel, heat and oxygen to establish combustion.)

   

  1. After all 4 matches have been wrapped together continue to wrap the remaining cotton around all 4 sticks until you have completely covered the match sticks all the way down to the bottom. Strive to make the wrap nice and even all the way down, as if you were wrapping a mummy for Halloween.

  

  1. Roll the now completely wrapped matches tightly between your fingers to really squeeze down the cotton wrapping.

 

  1. Give the BASE of your Uber Match a quick dip in the melted wax and allow to cool and harden slightly. (For the sake of domestic relations, lay down a piece of aluminum foil for a cooling station — wax can be very difficult to remove from counters, stove tops and plates!)

  

  1. Once the base is cool enough to handle, give the top of your matches a quick dip in the wax far enough that the entire Uber Match is now completely coated in wax. Set it aside and allow to cool. When the wax is cool enough to handle but still warm enough to mold, use your fingers to press the wax-covered cotton into the matches and shape each Uber Match to a nice smooth cylinder.

  

  1. After the wax has hardened on all your Uber Matches, place several into an old pill bottle (along with the box striker if you have been forced to use strike-on-box types) and put this in with your camping gear/emergency kit/GO Bag. Allow the remaining wax to cool in the tuna can and it will be ready to melt again for your next set of matches!

  

  1. These Uber Matches will strike even when wet. And be careful, they have a much bigger flame than a regular match!

  

 

 

 

 

How Do I Make Vaseline Cotton Ball Fire Starters?

http://www.ramblinjim.com/articles/using-vaseline-cotton-balls-as-a-fire-starter/

To make your fire starters, you just need two ingredients — petroleum jelly and cotton balls. Any brand of petroleum jelly will work, just make sure it’s 100% pure petroleum jelly. You’ll need a lot of it, so get it in bulk. For the cotton balls, get jumbo-sized cotton balls and check the package to be sure they’re 100% cotton. Artificial fibers won’t take a spark.

Rubbing the Vaseline into a cotton ball is messy work. The fibers of the cotton ball tend to pull apart and the Vaseline gets everywhere. The cleanest, easiest method I’ve found is to put a scoop of Vaseline into a snack-sized Ziploc bag, toss some cotton balls in, zip it up, then knead the Vaseline into the cotton balls.

You want to get as much Vaseline in the cotton ball as you can without completely saturating the cotton ball. It’s very important to have some dry fibers available in the middle to take the flame, especially if you use a firesteel or magnesium rod.

 

How to Make Lint Fire Starters

https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-make-lint-fire-starters-1388857

 By Erin Huffstetler  Updated July 05, 2016

Forget about paying for fire starters. You can make all the fire starters you need for free.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 15 minutes or less

What You Need

  • Dryer lint
  • Cardboard egg cartons
  • candle wax (old candles work great)

Here’s How

  1. Fill each cup of the egg carton with dryer lint.
  2. Melt the wax in a double boiler.
  3. Pour the wax over top of the lint.
  4. Allow the wax to cool and harden. Then, cut the egg carton up to create 12 fire starters.

To use: Simply place a fire starter in your fireplace (or firepit) with your kindling and light. The wax will keep the starter going long enough to ignite your kindling.

Tips

  1. Be sure to cover your work surface, before you start.
  2. You can use saw dust from non-pressure-treated wood in place of the dryer lint, or broken crayons in place of the candle wax. There’s plenty of room to improvise.
  3. Fire starters make great gifts. Make a bunch, and you’ll be all set for Christmas.

 

 

Tea Light Personal Space Heater

http://simplydixon.com/2014/01/06/tea-light-heater/

Jeremy January 6, 2014 do it yourselfhome

This may sound like one of those “free” energy things, and I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical about this working until this morning. After spending a morning next to this thing, I can now say that this tea light candle heater actually works. You have to be near it to get warmer or have a small space to heat, but it works…really.

What is it?

Basically it is 4 tea light candles, placed in a foil lined bread dish, covered up with one terracotta pot and that covered up with a larger terracotta pot.

How well does it work?

I have a relatively large space in my completely unheated basement office, but if i put it next to where i’m sitting I can definitely feel the heat.

Why it works

The inner pot gets really warm, even hot to the touch, so I imagine that the two pot system helps keep some of the heat contained so it can slowly let it radiate from the pot instead of letting the candles heat dissipate quickly in the cold air. I’m sure there are many others who know a lot more about the inner workings of this type of a heating method.

How I made mine

  • 1 glass bread dish (metal would probably work better if we had one)
  • Line the dish with aluminum foil (I figure it would help reflect the heat back at the pots)
  • 4 tea light candles placed in the center of the dish (you can get100 of them from amazon for $8.95)
  • one smaller clay pot, set on the dish (must be large enough to rest on the top of the dish to create airflow for the candles)
  • a larger clay pot set on top of the whole thing but resting on the top of the bread dish.

 

 

Days 2 and 3 – Reestablishing Fodder

By day 3, you should have 2 trays with sprouting seeds and another soaking. Little roots are starting to sprout out of the seeds and a network of roots will begin to grow and intertwine together over the next few days. 

This morning we put out tray #3 with seeds. We are growing ours in our feed storage barn. I am not certain how well it will do as we used to have the shelf by our door in our kitchen. We just installed a new wood stove in the same area, so the fodder had to be moved. 

Here is a download of a presentation that I gave several years ago to the local Oathkeeper’s Preparedness group.  Fodder (77 downloads)

Day 1 – Reestablishing Fodder

Photo of Day 9 wheat/pea fodder

Last year, after my foot surgery, we put growing wheat fodder on the back burner along with many other things. (When Mom is down….) It was a bit too hard to keep up with it.

However, with a yard full of KuneKune pasture pigs, we needed to start growing something for them again during the winter time.  Fodder is PERFECT! It is 100% greens and soil free that is perfect for animal feed. 

Soaking Wheat Seeds

Fodder is a GREAT way to feed animals in the winter time, especially when there are no greens growing in your yard. I soak my seeds for 24 hours in water to help jump-start their growing.

To start, we soak 4 cups of recleaned wheat seed in water for 24+ hours.  That’s my Day 1 for every tray. If you notice mold forming in day 3+ you can add a capful of apple cider vinegar to the soaking water. 

You do not have to stick with just Wheat. You can use barley, oats(although I haven’t had a great outcome in the past with oats), winter peas, black oil sunflower seeds. Whole corn takes too many days to sprout, so I avoid this seed.   

 

In the past, we have used solid trays and drilled holes into the ends for the water to drain. I am trying this new mesh bottom trays this time to see how they work. 

Fodder can feed my kunes and also my chickens, ducks, goats and rabbits. It is a win/win feed and the output is up to 6x the feed grown in 9 days as the weight of the seeds. 

You need 1 soaking bucket (I used an old plastic bin that was missing its lid and you need 8 trays/buckets/bins.  Heck, you can use old rain gutters if you have enough angle that the water doesn’t sit and mold the seeds. 

You will also need a shelf or some way to stack these. I have a PVC pipe shelf that Griffen made for me years ago. 

 
Here is a link to the trays that I am trying out.