Tag Archives: homesteading

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 (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!

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 (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.

 

Revisiting – Raising your own meat, Oathkeepers

oathkeepers-homesteadmeat.pdf (65 downloads)
I love that my children can stand up in front of a group and share everything that has to with their homestead animals and the meat that comes along with it. Shelby and Elwyn had a GREAT presentation for the Oathkeepers.  (August 2017)
by Shelby Fullmer – August 12, 2017

Rabbits

Food – Alfalfa pellets, basic greens like kale, spinach, chard, leaf lettuce (NOT iceberg, cabbage or broccoli), alfalfa, timothy, and bermuda hays, carrots, even small quantities of raspberries, tomatoes and strawberries.  

Shelter – Rabbit hutches or colony living with buried wire with shade/cover to protect from weather.

 

Gestation period – 28 days – up to 14 babies

Male rabbits go sterile in severe heat and all rabbits need a cooling system in Arizona in the summer time. Frozen water bottles, fans, misting systems, in a cooler shelter, etc. are all good ways to keep your rabbits cool.

Uses of Rabbits – Meat, bones for broth, leather, fur, manure

A few of the meat breeds of rabbits for meat, Rex, New Zealand, Californians, American Chinchilla, Silver Foxes, Flemish Giants

Website with more information on breeds – http://theselfsufficientliving.com/best-meat-rabbit-breeds/

 

Chickens

Dual Purpose Chickens are the best egg laying hens combined with the best meat chickens. The truth of the matter is that there are plenty of chicken breeds that are good for both purposes.  Includes Rhone Island Reds, wynnedottes, barred rocks, orphingtons, Jersey Giants – all full sized chickens. For smaller meat and egg production Bantams or (mini chickens) lay smaller eggs and are about half the meat size of a regular chicken.  

Food – Layer, seed, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs, produce/greens, kitchen scraps (no meat)

Shelter – Coop to protect, layer boxes with hay, ground shavings/hay

Incubation times – Bantam 19-21 days, Full sized chickens – 20-22 days

Uses of chickens – Meat, bones for broth, feathers, fertilizer, insect control, garden prepping.

Website with more information on breedshttps://www.backyardchickencoops.com.au/dual-purpose-chicken-breeds

Waterfowl

Birds including ducks and geese

Heavy and medium weight ducks typically are raised for meat production. The main breeds are the Pekin and the Muscovy. Around 90 percent of the duck meat produced in the United States is from the Pekin. Commercial producers are able to obtain a duck weighing 7 to 8 pounds in seven weeks.

Food – Layer chow, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs, produce/greens.  

Shelter – Coop to protect, layer boxes with hay, ground shavings/hay, swimming pool/pond

Incubation times – 28 days

Uses of waterfowl – Meat, bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

More information on raising waterfowl – http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/raising-ducks-geese/ducks-and-geese-zm0z14fmzchr

Quail

Fast growing animals for meat and eggs. In 8 weeks they are full grown and laying eggs between 8-10 weeks old.

Food – game bird chow, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs like mealworms, produce/greens, excess eggs – Quail need at least a 25% protein to lay.  

Shelter – Smaller rabbit hutches work great for quail.  Or larger enclosed coops

Incubation times – 16-17 days

Uses of quail – Meat (mainly breast meat), bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

Information on Coturnix quail – https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/quail/

 

Game Birds – Chukars (Partridges) and Pheasants

Food – gamebird feed and cracked corn in the winter for all your birds. You can also give them treats like fruit, veggies, mealworms, peanuts, and wild bird seed.

Shelter – Large enclosed pens with coop.

Incubation times – Chukar – 23 days, ring necked pheasants – 24-25

Uses – Meat, bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

More information on Game Birds – https://wgfd.wyo.gov/WGFD/media/content/PDF/Habitat/Extension%20Bulletins/B33-Raising-Pheasants-or-Other-Game-Birds.pdf

Revisit – Oathkeepers – How to use medicinal herbs

Oathkeepers - Medicinal Herbs (70 downloads)

http://www.yourbodycanheal.com/medicinal-herbs.html

How to Use Medicinal Herbs

So you’ve decided you want to incorporate herbal remedies into your health regimen. Congratulations! You’re embarking on a journey that will help your body heal itself from the inside out in a way that is much more natural, safe and gentle than conventional medicine.

It’s also a journey that can be a little confusing. There are many different types of herbal remedies out there. Sometimes you will find the same herb sold in many different preparations. What do all those different terms mean? Here’s a rundown of some of the most common ways medicinal herbs are sold and used.

Tablets and Capsules: Like conventional drugs, herbs are often packaged and sold in tablet and capsule form. Tablets involve compressing an herb into a round or cylindrical shape, usually with some sort of binder, colorant, flavorings and coating that prevents them from breaking down in the body too quickly. Capsules are usually made of gelatin and the herb is placed inside the shell. Other ingredients can also be mixed in to make the herb taste better or to prevent it from being digested too quickly. Vegetarians can find capsules made of vegetable cellulose, but check the label to make sure you know you’re not getting any animal products.

Extracts: Herbal extracts may be sold as tablets, capsules orliquid herbal extracts; the herbs contained in an extract are far more concentrated than those in a standard pill. Extracts are made by soaking the herbs in alcohol or water (or a combination) and filtering and drying the herb at low heat. Much like culinary herbs become stronger when dried, herbal extracts are highly concentrated remedies, allowing you to take many fewer pills to get a large dose. Continue reading Revisit – Oathkeepers – How to use medicinal herbs