Tag Archives: homesteading

When asked… “What do you like about homesteading?”

The obvious answers are that I love the lifestyle. I love the fresh veggies. I love the fresh meat and knowing where my food comes from. I love the sweat and tears. I love the animals. I love the time that I spend with my family while we are working on different projects.

But one answer that I give more than ever it that I love the people who I meet and those who follow a similar lifestyle. My friends Gary and Susan are prime examples of people who I ADORE. This morning, (At 6am, no joke) I message Susan if she had any quail eggs that I could buy from her. I needed to add back to my quail line. My feathered crew is not laying real well right now. And guess what? Not only did she have some, but she gifted them to us and then brought this mama a care package of dried herbs from their garden!! (and she was online too at 6am) They are the most generous people. I LOVE their dry herb gift too!!!! OH MY! My winter teas are going to be so tasty!!

If you are planning on dehydrating herbs (or any other fruits and veggies) the Excalibur Dehydrator is my dehydrator of choice. Check out the links below or visit our amazon store for more items that are choice for our homestead.

End of Summer Projects

It is that time of the year. The summer for public school kids in our area is coming to a close. I love that we have a bit of freedom in our homeschooling. We have a handful of projects to still get worked on our homestead for this summer season

  1. Our aquaponics system is being put back up. In this process, we are researching a solar power system to save on the moneys that we spend on this. Our power bill is already OUTRAGES at over $400/month. Thanks APS (Northern Arizona Power Company) for upping your prices again. So, our goal is to find a “do it yourself” solar panel system to get our water system back up and running to help save some money and not tap into the power grid. Fresh produce year round for this family is ideal. For now too, we are planning on putting in just goldfish, but eventually will put back in tilapia.
  2. We are taking out annual family photos early this year. My AMAZING nephew Brent is leaving for the ARMY next week. So our photos for our Christmas cards/calendars and gifts to my sister and parents are going to be created early. We normally don’t take them until November… so a bit of a change. This year, Trystan will be back in them and we have a new family member, Michael. 🙂
  3. We have 7 goats and 10 kunekune pigs to sell. That would cut down on our feed bill immensely. So hopefully we can find some home for these babies. But, if not, we will have some full freezers in December.
  4. We have the county fair coming up in about 5 weeks. We can not wait! My kids love to go and see animals, compete in the showmanship and ride the rides. I can not wait to have some fair food. I have lost over 50 pounds so far this year and having fair food will be mom’s special treat!
  5. We start back up with homeschooling in about 2 weeks. I am still gathering our curriculum and writing our daily schedules. We have picked up a few books to fill in the gap and will be starting out with the comic book writing projects.
  6. Working on 3 new books from our homestead. One is a collaboration with the kiddoes. And has been in the works for a while. It is an Advent projects, ideas and scripture book. Another one (actually a 3 book series) about Haka. This one is about complete. Missing some artwork. We had been so terribly busy with traveling to see Trystan in Phoenix that now that he is back home again, I have an extra day each week to be able to complete these tasks. And the 3rd is a book project (fiction) that I have been working on for a while.

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.

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 (186 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!

Have you met a Muscovy Duck?

Have you met a Muscovy Duck?

Muscovies are not related to any other duck, in fact, some believe they are possibly descended from geese rather than ducks. They are amazing additions to any homestead or farm. 

Muscovies are a silent duck (Yes, you read that, they.do.not.quack) and they have amazing caruncles on their face and necks. They also have long claws and will roost in trees if they want, unlike other ducks that I have raised over the years. 

Muscovy Eggs

Ducks eggs are the richest, creamiest, smoothest eggs going. We use duck eggs in our baking and it tends to make cakes rise more and be fluffier. Muscovies, however, are not year-round layers, so if you are looking for year-round duck eggs, this is not necessarily the breed for you. 

Muscovy Ducks Used for Meat

Muscovy meat is dark and very lean. It’s worth knowing that the boys weigh in much heavier than the girls and can be up to twice their weights. 

Feeding you Ducks

In the summer months our birds will require very little extra food as they forage plenty even on our little homestead in Northern Arizona, but in the colder months they’ll need feeding a duck or  chicken feed daily. My do like to forrage through the Kune Pigs’ Alfalfa feeder in the winter time as well. 

 

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 (100 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.