A Week in Review

I have neglected writing anything here for a week so I wanted to do a quick post.  Not much has been going on around the homestead lately.  I picked up my first batch of seeds (about half of what I am planning to plant this year).  I am chomping at the bit to start seeds and for it to be spring already!  But Mother Nature has hew own plans so I’m thinking warm thoughts as it is supposed to be getting cold again with Thursday’s high/low expected to be 12/-1.  I didn’t tap the maple trees yet when I saw this forecast.  I still need to get some buckets and hose for when I do tap the trees.  The chickens haven’t seemed to mind the cold and continue to lay eggs regularly.  I went skiing with friends on Saturday.  It had been three years since we had last gone.  I had a couple wipe outs when I was trying to do more than I am really capable of (once going off a jump and the other trying to maneuver in a woods).  No injuries though.  Sunday was a pretty lazy day, sleeping in until 11am, (which anybody that knows me would know I used to never get up BEFORE noon on weekends or during summer break, went to an antique shop I had never been to, followed by watching football.  We did move about 10 wheel barrows full of firewood over to the side of the house so that it is more accessible, but that was the most productive thing we did all weekend…

I’m putting the finishing touches on my next Homestead Needs post so it shouldn’t be a week before I post again.

See ya later

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2014 Goals

As we ring in the new year it is time to start thinking ahead to what I will be doing around the homestead in the coming year.  This has actually been on my mind since it got too cold to do much outside, but I had not sat down to write out my to-do list until today.  I actually made two lists, one titled “Personal Goals” which includes a bunch of things I want to do to make myself a better person and to help me get to where I want to be in the future.  For example, “Eliminate as Much Debt as Possible” is near the top of my list.  Since I first heard Dave Ramsey on the radio this topic has been on my mind.  This is the year I start in earnest on that goal, with one of the first steps being a comprehensive budget and Dave’s “Baby Steps”.  If this is one of your goals I suggest his website and radio program as a starter.

The second list is the one I will share here- Homestead Goals.  This list is comprised of many things that I want to do around house and property.  Some are necessities while others are things that would be nice to do.  Some will require budgeting and planning to accomplish while others are free or cheap to do and only require time and effort to do them.

Here is the list:

  1. Expand Greenhouse
  2. New Chicken Coop
  3. Fix Drainage
  4. Clean Pond Muck
  5. Build a Dock
  6. Build a Woodshed
  7. Split 3+ Cords of Firewood
  8. Remodel Bathroom
  9. Remodel Mud Room
  10. and finally…  25-50% of Food Requirements

Number one I have already been planning and got a bunch of free tempered glass to build the expansion with last year.  Two would be nice to do so that the coop is better and will not be in an area that floods when we get a bunch of rain.  Three should help to get the rain water from flooding my plants and yard every time we do get a bunch of rain.  Four is one I want to do a lot more work on than I have so far with the plan being to drain the pond (which doesn’t have any fish in it right now) and shovel out the muck and debris that has collected in there.  While the pond is drained I hope to do number five.  A woodshed that will keep our wood dry I view as a necessity- tarps just aren’t cutting it.  Seven, eight and nine are pretty much self explanatory.  Ten will be the focus of a longer post with how I plan to grow the majority of my food on the property but 25-50% should be a manageable goal, especially if I am able to get some meat chickens this year.

Homestead Needs Part 1 – Focus on Water

This post will be part of a series where I explore the needs of a homesteader and his homestead.  These are mostly things that I have been thinking about but some topics I may do more research and present other ideas other than my own.

On a basic level the 3 human needs are water, food and shelter.  Without water we will not last more than a few days.  Food we could possibly go a week or a little longer without.  Shelter we could go longer without but as a part of our survival, to cope with the elements, and for protection, it is a necessary item.  

Water is the first item on this list that I will focus on.  If we were still a nomadic people our water would come from natural sources, like lakes and streams.  For a longterm situation, like on a homestead, water can come from a variety of sources.  On the homestead you could potentially dam a stream to create a lake from which you could pull water from.  If there isn’t a stream close by you could dig a pond.  If your homestead is too small for a pond a well would work- hopefully the groundwater or aquifer are not too deep.  For my house I have a cistern that is fed off of the roof by rainfall/snow melt.  Many people use rain barrels to use the water that falls on their roof, either as a way to conserve water from other sources or reduce cost from city water sources.  Whatever the source of the water, quality and quantity are the major concerns.

A high quantity of quality water for use as a drinking source for people and animals is important.  If the water has a lot of foreign matter or is not clear, it is not going to be very appealing to drink when you put it in your glass.  Animals won’t be affected by color or other items as long as the water is free from disease causing organisms.  If your water makes you or your animals sick, you won’t last very long without medical attention.  Filters and chemically treating water are ways we prevent people from getting sick now but since many homesteaders want to be off grid and free of those connections we must make sure our water is healthy enough to drink from the start.  Boiling or distilling water would insure that our water is good but it would take a lot of boiling to keep a cow, horse, pigs and other livestock watered.  I don’t drink the cistern water I collect yet but we use it to bathe, water the dogs and chickens.  After I put on a roof wash system, a pre-filter and clean the cistern inside to make sure it is all in good order I will.  But for now we buy our drinking water.  

Since a cistern is what we have and it is not used as often as wells or ponds, I will focus a little more on it.  A cistern is basically a large collection tank for storing water.  A pump is used to pull the water into the house, keeping the indoor plumbing system pressurized.  Our cistern is concrete but they could be made of metal, plastic or even wood.  Sizing depends on your family size and the amount of rainfall that you get.  Ours is 1000 gallons serving two people, two dogs and the chickens.  We have been low on water but have not run out yet.  The water runs into the gutters, to to the downspout and through pipes into the cistern.  A roof wash is commonly used to divert the first part of water from a rain away from the cistern.  This keeps dirt and debris from getting into the water.  Inside the house I am installing a two filter system to filter the water further.  

For water being such a simple topic this post has ended up being longer than I thought it would be.  The next post will focus more on food.