Posted in Farmgirl Money (saving it!)

How to Afford to Homestead and Live Well (money tips)

Enjoying a cup of coffee on the porch while the ducks splash in their little swimming pool and the chickens scratch in the sunny pasture. Deciding what to bake from scratch. Walking through the garden to see what rows need to be weeded, replanted, and what ought to be harvested. A chat with the neighbor over the fence. Homesteading allows us the great privilege of simplifying our life to the point where our days are spent how we wish. Homesteading doesn’t mean we don’t work anymore (we have been in a position where we didn’t have a homestead or jobs, and not working is just not fun)- we do plenty of work around here, but we do it out of gratitude and we have the ability to live on less.

Here are some farmgirl money tips to help you achieve your dream- whether it is to farm full-time, buy a homestead, homestead where you are, be a stay-at-home mom, or just live on less.

You Don’t Need to Make More, You Need to Spend Less

I love books on pioneering and old ways of living. In the Foxfire books that I am reading, the old timers chose to continue living how they always did, even in the 1970’s, when they could have lived a modern life. Many of us do not want to give up anything. We work, and work, for things that do not add to our life or that could easily be lived without. It’s all in your perspective. I didn’t grow up with much and my husband grew up with a lot, so I think we live in the Ritz and he thinks we are living rather low on the totem pole. I would be just as happy in a much smaller house (our current house is 1100 sq. ft.) in a warm climate, off-grid. Doug cannot live without his IPOD and wifi. So, we meet in the middle and homestead our own way. You can too. Remember, don’t make more, spend less.

Do you need cable television?

How much do you spend on subscription services like Netflix, Amazon, and the like?

Can you use the computers at the library for wifi?

Do you need a new car, or can you buy a used one with cash?

Do you need a smart phone? Do you need all the bells and whistles?

You can lower your electric bill substantially by unplugging anything that leaches energy. Unplug phone cords, lower unused freezers down to their lowest setting, turn off the porch light, turn off lights when not in use, turn off the LED lights on appliances. When making a new purchase, try to get one that is manual instead of one that plugs in. Use a clothes line instead of the dryer. Get some kerosene lamps for winter!

You can lower your gas bill substantially by investing in a wood stove. Not only will you be set if the power or furnace goes out, you will have the lovely ambiance of a stove that you can warm by or cook on while cutting your gas bill.

Good Savings Habits

Stay away from credit cards! Warning, money trap! 28% interest! You do not need them to raise your credit. You can still buy a house. And for everything else we are going to try not to take out loans and use cash, so the high credit score is moot anyway!

Use a cash based budget and you will save money. It is far too easy to use plastic money these days.

Put up $1000 for emergencies and then pay off debt.

Some money every month needs to go towards debt. The sooner we all get out of debt (we’ve made our fair amount of bad decisions and have a bit of debt), the sooner we regain our freedom and live better.

This one came from my son (who is, thankfully, much smarter than we are about money)- take half of what you have left over after paying bills and put it in savings. “Even if you have $25, put $12.50 in savings!” Andy told me. Smart kid.

Look where your money is going to. At the beginning of the month, before the lockdown was over, I had $400 extra to put towards my car payment in addition to the regular payment. Once the restaurants opened up again, there isn’t a cent of it left! What is your vice? Around here, a lot of people spend a lot of money on marijuana. Alcohol isn’t cheap. New cars aren’t cheap. In order to live a simpler, more peaceful lifestyle, we all have to figure out what can go. What we don’t need. What we no longer want to work towards.

How To Make Money to Homestead

Start your own business. Keep it simple. Keep it small. We used to do several farmer’s markets a week selling our herbal medicines. Before that I sold handmade puppets and throw pillows at craft fairs. In some places you can set up a roadside stand. Or do larger shows. Or advertise online. What do you do well? Can you teach it? Demonstrate it? Write about it? Sell it?

There is no shame in having a 9-5 job. My husband enjoys having a set paycheck. We have created a lifestyle that only requires one income.

“A penny saved, is a penny earned.” What can you do that you typically pay someone else or a company to do for you? Be your own grocery store! Grow some of your own food. Preserve your own food. Make some of your own clothes. Learn new skills. Have your own animals. Cook and bake from scratch instead of buying processed foods. Walk or ride your bike.

Live Well

Living simply doesn’t mean suffering. If something means a great deal to you and you really enjoy it, then keep it in your life. If you fell for advertising on facebook and just bought cheap clothes from China, that was a money trap (and one less bag of chicken feed you could have bought).

There are plenty of free activities to keep you busy. Make a phone call to an old friend. Write a letter. Go hiking. Have people over for dinner. Utilize the library for books and movies. Play an instrument, paint, sew, weave, and spend time with people you love.

Be brave and really look at your money and how you can live simpler and live a homestead life. Do you need a big house and green lawn? Do you need all the electronics? Do you need a vacation to the Bahamas? Do you need the new Subaru?

Or would peace of mind and coffee on the porch suit you better?

Posted in Homestead

The Wisdom of Simple Living

A fascinating book dropped into my home library by way of a student who thought I would enjoy it. It is the second in the series, and by god, I am enjoying it! Foxfire 2 has delighted me this past week with recipes, anecdotes, and interviews with homesteaders that were born in the late 1800’s. What began as a journalism class at a high school in Georgia in 1970 turned into twelve-plus books in the Foxfire series. The students interviewed and photographed elders in the Appalachian communities and surrounding areas about life during a time that most of us have never seen and most of us will never read or hear about. Without these books, a hundred years of homesteading wisdom, history, and life would have vanished. I saved up enough money to buy the whole set and I can’t wait to keep reading.

I think the folks that were interviewed in the Foxfire books would be most surprised by our lack of neighborliness and community these days. Back then, midwives delivered babies, neighbors dug graves and built caskets, elders took in the homeless, black and white folks were family to each other- the community was strong because that is how it survived. It seems a close community would have made life a whole lot less lonely and a lot more fulfilling. Wouldn’t they be surprised that we don’t know most of our neighbors’ names? That is something we just have to get back.

A long time client and friend of mine passed on last week. Death is a part of life but it always makes you sit up a little straighter and look around. Are we living the life we want to live?

You know over the years we have gone back and forth, forwards and backwards, from suburb living to hand washing clothes with a plunger and a two sided tin tub to fancy coffee machines and new clothes back to aprons and simple living. I tell you what, nothing beats simple living.

I can give you lots of reasons ranging from less bills, less stress, more security, healthier food, less hurry, more satisfaction, and more time with family. We still work hard, but that’s alright. Working hard keeps you young and makes your heart feel good. Simple living and homesteading is about choosing one’s priorities in life. Looking at one’s footprint on the earth. How much time one has for relationships that are important. And taking time to build community and help each other out. Everything has become about money. It’s not all about money. It is about community. Those around you. Your life! Sometimes it’s nice to sit with a glass of homemade wine next to your spouse and just watch the corn grow.

Check out the Foxfire book series on Amazon. It’s like gathering wisdom from the elders that have passed on.

Posted in Homestead

Baby Steps; How to Begin Homesteading

It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.

J.R.R. Tolkien

We moved into an apartment four years ago between homesteads. It was a beautiful, top floor, one bedroom with views of the mountains and a fireplace with a light switch. Lush carpet, a large bathtub, and walking trails everywhere. We had just come off the worst year of our life and we seriously considered giving up homesteading and farming and just living like this. Not a bad life. We’d peruse the stalls of the farmer’s market (our first year not being a vendor in a long time), then after bringing our bounty home, we would dip into the swimming pool. But something was missing. We could both feel it. I rented three large garden plots at the community garden. I canned peaches from the farmer’s markets. I looked out across the sea of cement and knew what we were missing. Doug knew it too. Once you begin to homestead, it entwines itself into the fibers of your being, it cushions your heart, drives your decisions, and makes you feel at home. There are no U-turns. Once a homesteader, always a homesteader.

As we drove through the parking lot of the beautiful apartments, we could not help but notice the overflowing dumpsters and sea of trash. The lack of recycling. No place to compost. No food gardens. Non-stop electric use.

There are many reasons people choose to homestead. One of them is a desire to walk softer on the land. To leave less footprint. To attempt, however feebly, to lesson our damage to the earth. Another reason folks turn to homesteading is to feel something real. Homesteading life is real life. It is doing things with your own hands, creating, growing, watching Mother Nature work, feeling truly alive. Another big reason is that people want to work less. Homesteading can be expensive. It depends on how much you need, what you want to do, and how cheaply you can come across instruments for your farm. But the more you do yourself, the less you rely on others. If your grocery store is in your root cellar, you don’t need to give so much money to all the middle men from farmer to store. If you grow your own food, you really save money. If you sew your own clothes, or shop second hand, you save money. If you buy bulk, hand make meals, use wood to heat your house, or find entertainment at home (nothing like a glass of homemade wine and a lawn chair to watch chicken antics), you can save money. A penny saved is a penny earned. The less you spend, the less hours you put into an office job. The less hours at an office job, the more time in real life. On the homestead. There is great joy in homesteading. Maybe that is why more and more young people are seeking this lifestyle. I read a blog recently where a young housewife was wondering how to begin homesteading. So much to learn, so much to do. Baby steps, y’all. One thing at a time!

When something breaks, begin replacing it with a non-electric counterpart. Or sell the electric version and purchase the hand cranked model.

Here are some non-electric alternatives that are great on a homestead:

  • Hand cranked coffee grinder
  • French press or percolator
  • Kettle
  • Tea strainer
  • Hand cranked food processor
  • Cast iron Dutch oven
  • Cast iron pans
  • Wooden spoons
  • Good mixing bowls
  • Canning jars
  • Clothes line
  • Hand washer and clothes plunger
  • Wood stove
  • Grandfather or cuckoo clock
  • Oil lamps
  • Candles
  • Water bath and Pressure canners
  • Grain grinder

Pretty soon the power will go out and you won’t even know it!

Electric items that really help get the root cellar filled and dinner on the table:

  • Vitamix
  • Excalibur dehydrator
  • Pressure cooker
  • Crockpot

Basic homesteading skills to learn:

  • Gardening
  • Canning
  • Preserving the harvest
  • Sewing
  • Fiber arts
  • Cooking
  • Baking
  • Herbalism
  • Animal care (a new term I learned is, veganic homesteading. We aren’t using animals for food on our homestead, but we do have a menagerie of pets!)
  • A skill that can bring in some income.
My friend shared this funny photo with me from the internet. Hilarious!

Good homesteading habits:

  • Do you need that? Only purchase what you need.
  • Try to purchase things second hand first.
  • Borrow reading materials and movies from the library.
  • A deck of cards and a couple of board games are a lot of fun!
  • When making your grocery list, look at the items and see what you can learn to make. Ketchup? Granola bars? Cereal? Crackers? Bread?
  • The only gardening tools one really needs is a good hoe, rake, pitch fork, shovel, and hand trowel.

Just start:

  • Start a farm in pots in the south window, or the balcony, or a community garden, or in the front yard.
  • Start a compost pile under the sink with worms, or with pallets in the garden.
  • Check out library books (or read my blog!) and learn how to start a garden, harvest, prepare, cook, can, dehydrate, freeze produce. How to sew, crochet, play musical instruments, make candles, soap, herbal medicines, and cleaning products.
  • Let go of vanity. You look fine. You don’t need makeup, fancy clothes, or high heels. Old clothes, a good apron, and galoshes will do.

My go-to books (and my own books!):

Growing 101 Herbs that Heal by Tammi Hartung

The Homesteader’s Pharmacy and The Herbalist Will See You Now by (yours truly) Katie Lynn Sanders (http://authorkatiesanders.com)

Little House Living by Merissa A. Alink

Farmgirl School; Homesteading 101 again by moi, Katie Lynn Sanders

Preserving the Fruits of the Earth by Stanley and Elizabeth Schuler

Grow Your Own, Eat Your Own by Bob Flowerdew

Plus myriads of great cookbooks and homesteading memoirs. The best thing to do is to start somewhere, anywhere, and the more you do yourself, or without electricity, or simply, the more it becomes second nature.

I’d rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.

George Washington
Posted in Homestead

Farmsteading Scenes and Living Life Well

When we first began this journey, we went into it wholeheartedly and completely naive. We learned, we cried, we laughed. A homesteading/farmsteading lifestyle makes life amplified. The good is really amazing, healing, and life-giving; babies being born, fresh food from the garden, baby goats prancing sideways, a lamb’s comical yell, gathering fresh eggs from the coop, watching the sun set, waving at friendly neighbors, gathering wood to bring inside before an approaching storm, hanging clothes on the line while watching wildlife.

Crop losses, predators, freak accidents, money worries; there are a lot of things to worry about while being a homesteader. The neighbor’s wolf/husky got into my coop last night and killed my favorite chicken, Bubba. I was mad at myself for not closing the coop sooner. I was mad that I purposely chose this lifestyle! Where there is life- and farms are teeming with life- there is death. And it is much more in your face than apartment living. When we lived in an apartment, on our way to our next homestead, we had plenty of stresses and things to worry about then too. So, it really is a matter of how you want to live. This lifestyle gets ingrained in you, so that you have no other choice but to live like this. And we do love it.

Being a homesteader and farmer comes with a great sense of accomplishment. I tend to point out everything on a guest’s plate that I grew or handmade. I love the methodical motions of traditional domestic work. We appreciate the intense rush of love that comes over us when we see a baby being born. We appreciate seeing the horizon and knowing how to judge the weather by watching nature. Homesteading and farming is all about family, and living life to the fullest. If life is short, then I want to spend time bottle feeding precious infant goats, and being followed around by lambs and chickens. I want to laugh at duck antics while sipping homemade wine. I want to watch the fire swell up as it fills the wood stove. I love tying off the final piece of yarn to finish a project or snipping the last thread on a dress I have made.

If you are considering adopting this lifestyle- Do It! You won’t regret it. It costs some to get started but it pays itself back quickly. We save money, eat well, live healthier, have a happier marriage, a closer family, and a sense that we are really living. Start somewhere. Get chickens, or cheese making equipment, or get out yarn to make holiday presents. This is a very good life.

Posted in Homestead

A Day in the Life of a Farm Wife (and why homesteading is the best life)

The early morning dawn brings with it the sound of roosters crowing around the village. The smell of wood smoke fills the air as the fire comes alive with a whoosh in the wood stove to start the day. A kettle of water is put on for coffee. Out into the early morn, a scarf pulled around the neck, the chickens are let out. They scurry by and gleefully pounce on scratch being thrown. Next up are the goats, and the sound of “mah”ing brings a smile to the farmer’s face. The sheep try to body check the others out of the way in order to get to the hay first. The sheep are distracted while the goats are led to their stanchions in their turn. The gentle sound of milk hitting the metal bucket methodically starts the day and inspires prayers of gratitude. A sleepy farmer can easily balance their head against the warm side of a goat happily chomping on sweet feed. Back inside, the milk is strained into half gallon jars and placed in the milk fridge. Boiling water is poured over fresh coffee grounds, and the cats and dog are fed and watered. Hot coffee is poured into a mug.

This is the average morning of a homesteader. If one has children, then they are tending to the youngsters as well. This was our life during the first years of our homesteading. For the last four years in the city, we have not been able to have anything but chickens, but here on our new farm, we are happily plotting the loafing shed and the pasture fencing for the “mah”ing of goats and the low “mom”ing of sheep. (Have you actually heard farm animals? It does make you wonder where the children’s books came up with their animal sounds.) We have homesteaded in each place we have lived, from country to city and back to the country. We build the infrastructure of our homestead and farm. The wood stove is coming in two weeks. The fencing this week. The loafing shed in two weeks. The goats and sheep? When we find them. Most likely in the spring. And our hen continues to crow.

Our 1st homestead

The rest of the day for a homesteader is filled with satisfying chores. Keep the fire going. Plan supper. Make bread. Clean the house. Plan what to pack for hubby’s lunch tomorrow. Care for animals. Do laundry. Hang on the line. In growing months, tend to gardens-plan, plant, weed, harvest, preserve. In winter months, catch up on sewing, make Yule presents, craft, crochet, and write.

There is a joyful cadence to homesteading. A well versed schedule of chores, work, play, and rest. Of being present. Immersed in the cycle of life and death, joy and pain, intensely taking part in the life before us, and savoring every bit of it.

My granddaughter always chooses what she wants to me to order (everything)!

Yes, from old fashioned skills come real peace that truly cannot be found anywhere else. We step back from the craziness of the world, and stoke the fire, make cheese, harvest grapes, bake bread. We spend less, save more, have a lower footprint, and a lighter heart. We tend to be heathier, eating fresher food, breathing fresher air, making real connections with neighbors and holding family close. We appreciate and communicate with the natural world. We teach others how to do the same.

The joyful sound of newly canned preserves, their tops popping tight, lining the counter. The smells of manure, hay, wood smoke, coffee, bread, roasted chicken. The sight of mountain views and sunsets and skies of stars and baby goats entering the world. The feel of a sheep’s fleece and how the yarn slides through one’s fingers at the spinning wheel, and a soft kitten’s fur against one’s skin. The taste of really, really fresh, homegrown food and drinks. The sound of the baby laugh when the dog licks her or the squeal of delight as the older child finds the perfect pumpkin in the patch.

Our first homestead when we farmed the whole yard!

Yes, this is why we homestead. It is why we come back to it each time we move. It is truly a good life. For us, it is the only life.

Posted in So You Want to Be a Homesteader Series

The Good Life

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When you walk through the gates of my little urban homestead, there is a sense of serenity within its walls.  The trees grow abundantly and circles and rectangles and wild tufts of herbs and flowers and vegetables grow everywhere.  Climbing grapes and flourishing raspberries, rows of corn.  The chicks chirp madly for more food and the hens strut about their yard.  The farm dog stretches lazily on the couch.  The cats are curled up in the sun.  Homemade bread and fresh eggs for breakfast with hot coffee on the porch listening to crickets and birds sing.

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Yes, we lead a very sweet life.  This is the life of a homesteader.  I have given you 27 ways and gone into more detail over 24 days of what loveliness goes into being a homesteader.  I hope you know now that you can homestead anywhere, at any age.  You can start with baking from scratch and move on to full out farming later.  That you should most definitely get a cute apron.

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Always buy the best you can afford.  Cast iron is the best.  Do your chores kind of slow.  Keep your mind easy.  Get a pen pal.  Strive to live an old fashioned life.  There are great joys and blessings that come with being a homesteader.

Now, I happen to know of a darling homestead coming up for sale.  It is fully solar powered, with a wood stove, and a root cellar.  It has a chicken coop and outbuildings.  It has established gardens and a sense of home and place.  It is beautifully kept up, wood floors, large kitchen.  My homestead goes on the market today.  I am going back to the country.

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I will post the MLS as soon as I have it.  If anyone knows of anyone who wants a sweet little urban homestead in Colorado, I’ve got one!

I’m going to have goats again, y’all.

Posted in So You Want to Be a Homesteader Series

The Homegrown, Healthy Life (So You Want to Be a Homesteader #16)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, somewhere during women’s liberation we got led astray.  The frozen dinner folks were ready to pounce.  “Yes, women, go get a job!  We’ll take care of dinner.”  Every convenience began to show up, pushing women into the work force in droves.  Children left raising themselves and food being neatly packaged in factories in other countries.  Oh, and we still get to do all the housework!

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I am thankful for the ability to vote and that my daughters can be lawyers if they so choose, but I will take my original jobs back, thank you very much.  My father-in-law wondered when I am getting a job.  Let me tell y’all about my job and earnings.

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When you gaze down fluorescent lighted grocery shelves with the sounds of bad music and customers in the background, do you ever wonder where the food came from?  Or ever wondered what would happen in an emergency and you couldn’t come shop these aluminum and box lined shelves?  Have you read the ingredients?  Lord, have mercy.  A good 50% of all those foods are poison.  Not to mention grown who knows where, handled by who knows who, sprayed with who knows what.  I am my own food preserver.  I can, I dry, I fill my own grocery store shelves with nutritious, delicious foods.

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I am the farmer.  I grow all of our produce for half of the year, increasing yields each season.  I grow our own chickens (a new venture, granted).  We gather our own eggs.  To fill in, I use other housewives’ farm goods; beef, pork, milk, and organic vegetables to preserve.  It takes a village of us.

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I am the cheese monger.  I make our own variety of cheese, along with yogurt and ice cream, and butter.

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I am the baker.  In my bakery I make coffee cakes, and fresh bread for sandwiches.

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I am my family’s own doctor.  I make my own medicines.  I am the veterinarian around here.

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I am the tailor.  I am the accountant.  I am a hell of a gourmet chef.  I am the winemaker.

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I make body products and cleaning products and support my husband in his job.

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I buy organic flour and coffee, sugar and nuts.  Things of that nature.  I save a ton of money by growing, bartering, supporting local farms, and doing it myself.  Just think of all the things I don’t buy!  I don’t really have time to get a job, you see.  I am busy working and giving my family a homegrown, healthy life.

 

 

Posted in So You Want to Be a Homesteader Series

Supporting Local Farms (So You Want to Be a Homesteader Day 7)

It is a good idea to try and be self sufficient enough that you feel secure.  You have water in empty jars in case the water gets turned off.  You have candles, oil lamps, and matches.  You have food preserved and a bustling garden.  You have firewood.  You have some cash in a coffee can.  Going further, it is really satisfying to raise your own food, preserve all of your own food and drinks, and make steps to be more eco-friendly and simple.  We can get pretty darn self sufficient, but really it not likely to be completely self sufficient.  Mainly because we need people.  We also cannot possibly do everything ourselves.  Supporting small, local farms in your state- as close to you as possible- is a great way to build each other up, create community, eat well, ensure humane treatment of animals, and support a more environmentally friendly path.

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We don’t have too many flour mills here in Colorado (do we have any?), and I know no one is growing coffee and sugar, so I do need to buy those.  I can choose organic or small operations to purchase from.  I grow most of our vegetables for the summer and fall here on my urban farm, but it is always nice to head to the farmer’s market and buy some fruit or unique vegetables from the organic farmers there.  We talk about bugs, weather, family, recipes.  I can also get extra produce to preserve if I didn’t grow enough. The money stays in the community, amongst friends.

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Most of the homestead authors I enjoy reading started out as vegetarians.  Many of us have felt strongly about vegetarianism before.  Many of my farmer friends were vegetarians.  We care about the environment.  We care about animals.  So, once we see that tofu and bananas wreck the ozone as much as anything with all the fuel and deforestation required, and that GMO crops (the basis of many a veggie burger), and factory farming are what are destroying our health and our beautiful planet, it makes a farmgirl step back and reassess.

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There are lovely, caring farms and ranches, many around you, that lovingly grow animals for meat and gently send them off into the night.  A world away from the pain and stench of factory farming.  My meat chickens got lots of kisses and lots of sunshine and were dead in less time than it takes to blink.  No pain.

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The key to curing many of our environmental, social, and health problems can be found in our food choices.  By purchasing as much local as possible, from real people in your community, who don’t use pesticides and herbicides, who have bills to pay, and a smile to offer you, and authentic conversation, we can reverse disease, destruction, and separation.  Local is where our food should come from.  As close as possible.  Your back yard is even better.  It is possible to eat primarily local, it just takes some planning and networking on social media and at farmer’s markets to find everything you need.

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I despise the dairy industry and do not want to support them.  Yesterday I visited a small farm thirty minutes from mine where a gorgeous, tanned farmgirl showed me around.  She loves each and every one of the newly hatched chicks that ran by chirping, the bucks who got out and created a lot of babies this year, the old goats, the babies frolicking with their mothers, the pigs, the dogs, the land, that life.  I packed three gallons of delicious, fresh milk into my car.  Today I am making cheese and ice cream.

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Local is not more expensive.  Creating a good network of fellow farmers and ranchers is imperative to becoming a successful homesteader.

Posted in So You Want to Be a Homesteader Series

Be Your Own Doctor (How to make your own medicine)

If you knew how many times I have uttered the words, “It’s a good thing I am an herbalist!”  We were the parents that made regular visits to the ER on weekends with everything from pink eye to a broken wrist.  For the past eleven years, there is little I have been unable to handle myself.  I can get rid of pink eye in two hours, sinus and kidney infections, and oncoming colds over night, as well as chronic issues.

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My home apothecary is filled with dried herbs from my gardens, a few that are purchased due to not growing here, and many jars of brewing extracts so that I am always ready to anything.  My medicine gardens are drinking up all of this spring rain and are ready to burst into blooms.

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Living amongst animals means that inevitably you will be treating a bite.  Emily read from her phone as I tried to stop the bleeding and keep myself calm, “One in three people end up in the hospital after a cat bite.”

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“It’s a good thing I am an herbalist.”  We were so far from my house though that we drove an hour to the town of Elizabeth instead to get to my daughter, Shyanne’s home apothecary.  I wasn’t going to be home for another six hours and I knew it would be too late by then.  Infection would surely set in.  We stopped at a grocery store so that I could at least wash it with soap and water.  I walked like a shocked crime victim to the far bathrooms.

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Shyanne gave us the code to her house.  I applied our Wound Healer and then drenched a paper towel in straight Goldenseal alcohol extract and slapped it on my arm.  Emily heard a scream from the lower floor.  Yikes, cat bites hurt.  But the medicine took away much of the pain and opened the wounds to bleed freely.

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Second day

Yesterday I cleaned the wounds again in the shower and applied Wound Healer and then our Pain Salve.  I bandaged it and went about my day.  Today the wounds are sealed, bruising is gone.  It hurts because it is in the crease of my arm, but there is no infection.  I started taking our own Antibiotic the day of the bite (2 days ago).  The medical system did not gain a penny from me.

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It is just wise to at least know basic herbal first aid.  It could save your life.  Know what herbs stop bleeding, kill infection, set bones, heal torn muscles, and help with pain.  Then move on to internal antibiotics, allergy medicines, pain medicines, and digestive help.  Heart, eye, brain, kidney, and thyroid medicines inevitably follow.  It is addictive and empowering and an important lost skill on a homestead.  I know not everyone has the same passion I do, so if you don’t want to make all of your own medicines, please seek out a qualified, talented herbalist.  (Not just someone that sells essential oils or grows pot.)

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If you are local, I have a 12 week intensive Master Herbalist Program starting August 25th on my farm.  It takes place every Sunday afternoon.  If you are not local, I have a Correspondence Course as well.  Or you can check out my books, The Herbalist Will See You Now and The Homesteader’s Pharmacy to teach yourself.  They make great homestead references. Http://AuthorKatieSanders.com

Homesteader's Pharmacy Cover

Don’t forget the power of plants.  With a good grasp of herbalism, your homestead will be filled with healthy animals and humans!

If you live in Pueblo, or surrounding areas, I still make folks medicine.  My number is 303-617-3370.  You can also visit Shyanne or order from her website at http://WhiteWolfHerbs.com 

Posted in So You Want to Be a Homesteader Series

Cheesemaking (How to Homestead Day 5)

It only takes one moment to change and swirl views and to clarify answers.  One moment.  I have been near out of my mind trying to make a decision over the last nine months or so.  Should I go back to school?  For what?  Do I want a career?  School is upwards of (an additional from last time) fifty grand.  Should I focus on paying off debt instead?  Am I meant to be a teacher, anthropologist, or chef?  A conversation between Emily, Reed, Doug and I and we were pricing out land.  Even though it turns out we will have to wait another one to three years to move forward with that idea, it snapped me into the present.  My confusion should have been the key that I was not on the right path pursuing school.  My career is homesteading.

You can save a lot of money by homesteading, and you can make money if you choose as well, making it a viable career, particularly for a housewife.  There is great serenity to be found slowly stirring a pot of curdling milk and turning it into sharp cheddar.  Or sitting before a fire while crocheting a blanket.  Carefully pulling tiny weeds among the lettuces.  Gathering eggs and throwing scratch.  Hanging clothes on the line.  Piecing a quilt.  The smell of baking bread filling the house.  Serving delicious farmstead fresh food to your family and loved ones.  Yes, this is the life for me and mine.

If you are like me and are homesteading in a city that does not allow goats, then you will need to find a milk share.  I had a choice between goat milk and cow’s milk.  Goat’s milk contains identical enzymes to ours so is easier to digest.  It tastes delicious to us, but some folks prefer the super creamy cow’s milk.  You can use pasteurized milk (not ultra-pasteurized) for making cheese, but I am a raw milk gal myself.  Why kill all the nutrients?  That seems silly.

For soft cheeses, you will need nothing more than a pot, a thermometer, and cheesecloth.  Soft cheese is rather forgiving and you can use lemon juice or specific enzymes for making soft white cheese, like chevre.  (You can get these at Cheesemaking.com)

Simply heat a gallon of goat’s milk on the stove slowly until it reaches 86 degrees.  Pour in a packet of enzymes for chevre.  Let sit for 2 minutes.  Stir well and cover for 12 hours.  (I forgot to take a picture.  I also forgot after 12 hours and it ended up sitting for 24 hours!)

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Strain through a cheesecloth, reserving whey.  Whey is highly nutritious.  I gave some to my old cats and my dog.  I reserved some for the cheese to make it the consistency I want.  And some can be saved for bread making as well.  I use a strainer and clothes line clips to secure.  Let sit for 4-8 hours.  (Now, I had to go to bed two hours later so I put the whole thing in the fridge so it ended up sitting for 11 hours.  See!  Very forgiving.)

I only had 1/2 a gallon of milk this time so I used 1/2 packet of enzymes.  I will add lots of fresh herbs from the garden to this and make a lovely cheese for homemade pizza tonight.

If you make a lot more than you need you can roll a small log into plastic wrap, then foil, then pile the logs into a gallon bag and freeze.

To go further, purchase a cheese press, mesophilic and thermophilic starters along with rennet (vegetable or animal), and a great book.  That will get you started.  Cheese making is not as hard as it sounds and you may find yourself coming up with all sorts of delicious creations to serve with a glass of homemade wine!

Here are just a few of my posts with exact instructions.  Easy Homemade Goat Cheese and How to Make Hard Cheese