Homestead News, Volume 1

We decided to start a new feature and call it Homestead News. Every so often we have given you an update of things that are happening around here, and we’re running out of names for those articles. So, now they will just be called Homestead News and be numbered by volume. It may not be very original, but it simplified things for us. We have also added a new page to the list of Things To Read, at the top of the right hand column, titled Homestead News where you will find links to these articles. Now that we have explained our new feature, on with the news.

Pearl wants some attention while I wait for a goat to finish eating on the milk stand.

We are now milking five does twice a day. That sounds like a lot of milk, but really it’s not…..yet. Copper and One Stripe have been providing us with the bulk of the milk so far since their babies are being weaned. Our three young does have only been giving us a little, morning and evening, until this morning. Last night was the first night I penned up the young babies away from their moms since the youngest, Easter, is now two weeks old. The young does are developing their udder capacity, which will continue to increase over the next few months. This morning from a full milking with all five does we got a gallon and a half of milk. Tomorrow will be less because this morning I wormed Copper and One Stripe. I will still milk them, and keep their milk for the animals for five days before we keep it for human consumption again. In the meantime, we will be getting the milk from the young does.


With all of this milking we have been making cheese two to three days a week. Now that we have plenty of milk we use four gallons every time. That makes a double batch of cheddar and a quadruple batch of mozzarella. So far we have six wheels of cheddar waxed and aging and two more in the cheese presses on the kitchen counter that we made today. There are several batches of mozzarella in the freezer. Our plan is to make 30 wheels of cheddar for the season. Mozzarella? Well, we always eat some fresh when we make it, then freeze the rest. I separate each batch into three pieces of cheese that are probably around half a pound. The supply in the freezer is building, and that’s okay. We are eating more cheese on our low carb diet and there is nothing like homemade, just like with any food.

In our efforts to successfully grow cabbage for humans instead of insects, we are trying something new this year. Our first batch of green lacewing and praying mantid eggs arrived in the mail today. I’ve already had some friends tell me that it sounds weird to order bugs or to get bugs in the mail. That’s okay, though, because they already knew I was weird. And they’re still my friends! The bug thing will be an ongoing process and I will do an article about it as we get farther along.

I’m kitting a few dishcloths for a wedding shower gift for a young couple at church. I think it’s always nice to get something homemade.

We spent half a day trying to program a radio scanner that we can’t figure out. That was very frustrating. It is now in a box on a shelf. But we do have another one we are going to take a look at. 

Frank has been talking to a young man at church about survival radio. They are now working on setting up a class that Frank will teach for some of the folks in the area. This class will provide information about getting a ham radio license at the Technician level. But even more than that, Frank will provide information about using CB, GMRS, FRS, MURS, scanners and shortwave radio more effectively. They will be talking about how to use a small solar panel to power the battery in a car, or any battery, and allow continued use of radio communications when the power is out. Frank feels very strongly about trying to set up a network of local people that will be able to communicate via radio if there is a natural disaster, emergency or collapse situation, whether it lasts a few days or indefinitely. We really look forward to this class and the relationships it will build with people in our surrounding area.

Cushaw winter squash

The garden is growing, so the masterpiece has begun. We have had so much rain that it is still hard to get into the garden and get a handle on the weeds, or plant a few more seeds. So far, the old pinto bean seeds I planted have not made an appearance. I don’t know if they are too old, or it has been too wet. There are many people around here that haven’t started their gardens yet because it is so wet. We are grateful that we have so many things planted and growing.


I am very excited to see the wild blackberries blooming. We now eat berries every morning with our breakfast, and I look forward to serving fresh berries we have harvested instead of having to buy them at the store. I will be picking every berry I can get my hands on this year in an effort to freeze enough, so we won’t have to buy any. I don’t know if I can do that or not. I would also like to can more peaches and pears, but I’m trying to figure out if I can do it without sugar. I know in some recipes, sugar is a sweetener, but it also provides part of the preservative properties. I’ll have to do more research on that.

We have been picking a variety of things from the garden and herb bed to include in a salad about three to four days a week. I’ll be doing an article on that before long as well. I have to tell you, the herb bed is doing wonderfully this year. I hope to actually start harvesting and using what’s out there. Instead of only growing the plants, it’s time to learn to preserve and put them to use. The new comfrey bed is doing well. I pick comfrey everyday now for the chickens and the goats. 

And Frank the funny photographer took some beautiful pictures after one of the latest rains. We had a nice double rainbow for a short time.

There is always a lot happening on a homestead in the spring. It’s the time of increased activity after a long winter’s rest. Now, if it would just quit raining for a day or two we might get to mow the grass before it gets knee high.

April 13th

April 18th

April 19th

Keep an eye on Yemen. It looks like things are heating up in the Middle East. We just pray it doesn’t boil over.

Until next time – Fern

20 thoughts on “Homestead News, Volume 1

  1. Hi Terry. Thank you for the site. I went to Mark's Scanners and found the site for the WS1065. It's lengthy. I'll take a look at it. Thank you again, earnestly, for your help.Frank

  2. Hi Terry. I have the Whistler WS1065. I have the programming software and cable. I have checked with Radio Reference. It appears that I am not the only person that has this problem. I understand that you now program in objects and bits, the older scanners you programmed in frequencies and channels. My wife and I have spent hours and hours trying to program this radio. One little example. On the program you put the frequencies in row one, and then row two, three, four, and so on. But on the scanner, the numbers don't match up with the program. So, if I'm trying to find a particular frequency, it's not the same channel as what is on the program. I boxed it up and put it away. Maybe when things are less busy, when the garden is put to sleep, and all the cheese and things are done for the summer, I'll dig it out and try again. This is the first electronic device that between my wife and I, we cannot figure out. I wish I had never bought it. Thanks for the advice. Take care.73s, Frank

  3. I found your technique of splitting up your quads at night to make sure everyone was getting enough milk very interesting, Leigh. I haven't run across anything like that before, and don't think I would have thought of it. Thank you for sharing that. Kefir has been a great daily addition to our diet. I am glad we are back to using fresh goat milk for it instead of store bought, like we had to do over the winter. It took a while for the grains to adjust to a different type of milk, but we much prefer our own fresh milk. Thank you for sharing, Leigh.Fern

  4. It's always nice to have something to do on those rainy days, CQ. It's a good time to get caught up on reading others blogs as well. You had a great article yesterday about being a good neighbor. I really enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing here.Fern

  5. Keep watching, Fiona. It is hard sometimes to keep up with the news. There is story after story of dwindling freedoms, corruption, greed and violence. Be vigilant so that you will be able to take the right steps when they are needed. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  6. Thank you, Grandma. We visited Utah a number of years ago, and after driving through Arizona, New Mexico and then into Arizona, I told Frank I needed to get to land that grew more than sage brush. I missed the greenery of this area. Frank spent a lot of time in and around Big Bend, Texas as a young man and really admires the beauty and rugged landscape of desert regions. Each place has been endowed with it's own special beauty.Thank you for the canning tips. It's good information to know since we have eliminated sugar from our diet. Making cheese gets much easier with time. At first I just tried to follow the directions and hoped for the best. Now after five years, I'm pretty comfortable with it. And, yes, we do think it is really yummy! Thank you for sharing.Fern

  7. That's great news, Goodwife. I wish I had known as much as you do now at your age. Just look how much more I would know now, 17 years later! Thank you for sharing and increasing my knowledge.Fern

  8. Thank you, Calidore. I was in the dark when I started making cheese. I had a couple of books, but had never seen anyone make it before, so I was a little nervous. It took a few years to get the cheddar to taste good. We ate a lot of not-so-good cheese before I could say I really liked it. I guess I'm still at that stage with making soap. Unsure. I have watched many YouTubes and read many an article, but have yet to take the plunge. All of our supplies are sitting here looking at me…waiting. Yes, we will be using milk in our soap recipe. It will have lard, milk and lye for the only three ingredients.Your microwave bottling technique sounds interesting. The only thing we use our microwave for is heating a few things up. Frank read many, many years ago that microwaving alters the composition of food, so we use it very seldom with food, and don't use it to cook.I'm glad to hear that sweeteners are not needed in canning or preserving. By the way, are you still getting some much needed rain? I sure hope so. Thank you for sharing. It's always nice to learn from others.Fern

  9. It sounds like you two are doing many of the same things we are. What kind of antenna is your husband making? Frank has plans to build a new one of his own, too.My tomato plants are still very small and not doing much of anything between the flea beetles, too much rain and not enough sunshine. Yesterday afternoon I got the mower out for about an hour and did the places we walk even though it was really still too wet. This morning, and for probably most of the day, it will rain…..again. Thank you for sharing.

  10. The cheese looks fantastic! I just started milking again on Monday, but only the one doe once a day because I'm letting the quads have all of their mothers milk. I'm just thankful for the pint+ that I'm getting! It will be more by and by, but for now I can at least keep my kefir grains happy.

  11. What kind of scanner did you have the programming issues with? I have had similar problems in the past and got the programming software and computer cable. Mine is one of the trunking object oriented scanners, a Radio Shack PRO-106. You might also try looking at for help. 73,TerryFla.

  12. We are getting lots of rain here here as well and like you I have taken the time to crochet some new potholders for my kitchen. Finished my first knitted piece last week. A scarf that will more than likely end up being a Christmas present. Hugs CQ

  13. This post is great…informative and it should give people who want to make this their life a good idea of the work involved. As to Yemen…I keep thinking of something Pat Frank wrote in the Grandfather of all collapse books Alas Babylon. [This is paraphrased] They are talking about strategy and things…Admiral Hazzard mentions the Mediterranean and says it is shaped like a sack. For the Russians it would have been like shooting frogs in a puddle.I know from reading all sorts of world news sources that modern Russia is not the aggressor that our Politicians are making it out to be but I was horrified to hear about the increase of the US involvement and presence in the Mediterranean. This will sound odd but imagine if England…..the power of the day had stepped in and sent all its army to support the South in the American Civil war? Sometimes civil war is best left to be fought. Harsh but the wound heals then and the country rebuild within the defines of a clear winner. The strong build a government instead of factions becoming anarchy. Okay a rant I am sorry but it is so terrifying to watch!

  14. Enjoy your blog so much, the pictures are beautiful. It is green and lush. I am in the high desert of Utah, so we have to create our own green. I hardly ever put any sweetner in my canned fruit. I f I do it is one tsp to a pint and abt 2 tsp to a quart. Even my applesauce, I don't sweeten, then it is great for baking and for the great grand babies in the family. Your cheese looks yummy. That is also on my to do to try list.You are an inspiration. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing.

  15. Just wanted to say you can can peaches and pears without added sugar. You can use fruit juice, or you can just can them in water. With those it's all about taste and not about preservation! 🙂

  16. I like the new Homestead News. What a fabulous way to do a round up of all that you have been doing. How wonderful that you're goats are milk and you are also making cheese from it. Cheese is something I have not tried. Do you make soap and use the goats milk in that? I've read about it but again never tried it. It's on my very long \”to do\” list.I have a book called \”5 minute microwave bottling\” by Isabel Webb. It is an Australian book and excellent – you might find it on ebay. You can bottle fruit in the microwave very easily and quickly, it preserves just as it would if you used a canner (or in my case a Fowlers Vacola preserving unit – yes I'm Australian) and is brilliant when you just want small lots of fruit to eat. I do quite a bit for my mum who is on her own as a large jar of preserved/bottled fruit is too much for her. In the book Isobel Webb talks about preserving fruit without the addition of any sweeteners and after opening the jar you can add sweetener if you want to. If I can provide you with any more information please let me know.

  17. Fern,There is nothing better than homemade cheese……..30 wheels is a nice stash for the year.My husband is also a licensed ham operator he has setup his radio at home, and a hand held one for the truck. Recently, he's decided to make himself a unique antenna to replace the existing one attached to the house. Your garden harvest looks really nice. I have enough lettuce right now to really chow down full time on salads. I just wish the tomato plants were producing all kinds of tomatoes to add to the salads, :-)…….It's still to early for the tomatoes, the plants are in the garden but haven't started producing flowers. Those are some really nice pictures of your surrounding area with the clouds rolling in. I'm going to have to agree with you regarding the rain……we need some sunny days in between the rain so we can cut grass, and the garden is able to absorb the water.

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