Homestead News Volume 21

We are enjoying below normal temperatures here this week which is a welcome relief to the hot humid weather we have been having. Our hot weather has been similar to what is happening across the country east of here, we have been having daily heat advisories for a while now. We know the heat will return because that is what is normal for this location in the middle of summer, but this morning the low was 61*, normal is about 80* in the midst of summer.

Self discipline has kicked in a little better this summer with rising early and getting out of the house before 10:00am. We don’t always, and definitely haven’t always in the past. It’s easy to sit and drink coffee, visit and peruse the internet. That’s more fun than going outside and sweating. But when we do get up and about and get things done, it feels better, physically and mentally. The bonus is that things get done. So, here are some things that have been happening around the homestead.

We have put about two dozen roosters in the freezer, with the last of them butchered today. Now that the chickens are finished we have six wethers we need to get in the freezer as well. That will be next on the meat preservation list.

There are now more jars on the shelf including green beans, turnip greens and beets.

The garden continues to produce a good harvest almost daily. We are currently getting okra, tomatoes, peppers and green beans.

The pinto beans have been pulled and I’m working on shelling them for canning. The harvest would have been much larger if I had realized pinto beans are pole beans, not bush beans. 

Pinto bean harvest

The first planting of cow peas, purple hull peas, are just about ready to begin blooming and the second planting is up and growing well.

We have harvested the first cutting of amaranth. I will be doing a separate article soon. The second planting is in and also doing very well.

Amaranth after the main seed head has been harvested.

New amaranth seedlings

I have pondered doing a Goat Tale for you, but there really isn’t much to tell so I will include them here. The doe, Patch, that had mastitis and a retained placenta, is now healthy, and I am still milking her on the ‘good’ side of her udder.

Patch – you know, see that patch of white on her side?

In the last few weeks all of our does have bred which has happened before, but is unusual. Neither the does or the buck seem interested in breeding during the heat of the summer most years. This breeding means in the next few months our milk supply will diminish and dry up sometime before they give birth in December. Winter babies are good. They tend to be healthy and thrive better than summer babies, but we will miss having our own fresh milk while waiting for them.

Here is a sneak peek at a project Frank has been working on. He will fill you in on the details in a future article.

We have begun reading Leigh Tate’s book Prepper’s Livestock Handbook. Leigh blogs over at 5 Acres & A Dream which is packed with information about developing their homestead and becoming as self-sufficient as possible. Leigh does a lot of research and tracks data covering their successes and failures. This is where I discovered amaranth and kefir. If you haven’t been there, go take a look, she has a wide variety of information available. We’ll be telling you more about her book after we have more time to graze through it. After all, it is about livestock. 

Frank and I were talking about plans for our activities yesterday and came to the conclusion that this time of year almost everything we do is related to food. It is the food production and preservation time of year. Other things can be postponed until winter when the harvest is in and the weather cools down. 

Life is good on the homestead. Very good. The world? Well, that’s another story. I could direct you to all sorts of horrible, troubling things, but you know what is out there. You know what is coming our way. Prepare accordingly. Don’t be caught by surprise. What comes may shock us, may devastate us, may end the world as we know it. But until that time arrives, the sun is shining, I get to spend my days with the man I love at my side. The flowers are blooming. There is food on our shelves. We have a wonderful life.

Until next time – Fern

Raw Fermented Cacao

When we found out about Frank’s heart blockage, my research went into high gear. We were given the gift of extended life without the damage of a heart attack and I want it to be the best experience we can produce through the efforts of our own minds and hands. That’s why we have them. To work, to use, to do all we can. Everyday.

Therefore, research! 

We changed our breakfast from high protein bacon and eggs with berries to oatmeal, eggs and berries. In time we changed to lacto fermented oatmeal which we feel is even more healthy. We added flax oil, hawthorn berries and low does aspirin to our supplement routine and probably some other things I no longer think of as ‘new’.

One of the things we ran across after a relative mentioned it was raw, fermented cacao powder. After reading a number of articles and figuring out the difference between dark chocolate, cocoa and cacao, we have settled on this. As with most things we buy, we shopped around for a good price in bulk. Healthworks sells this by the pound which we appreciate, so we buy it by the 5 lb. bag. It’s also available on Amazon and other places.

Here are two articles that discuss some of the data we used in making our decision. Two of the main reasons are for the antioxidant properties and the affect on cardiovascular and blood pressure.

So, how do we partake of our daily cacao? We still do not use any sugars or sweeteners of any kind except for honey in our kefir and sourdough and that applies to our intake of cacao.

By the way, before we changed our diet and cut out all sweets I was a serious chocoholic. Very serious. I missed chocolate very, very much. Adding cacao to our diet is good for us? Hallelujah! Chocolate has returned to my taste buds! Okay, that’s a little over board, but I really do like chocolate and enjoy our medicinal dose of cacao every single day.

We put it in our coffee. A cup of coffee, a spoonful of cacao, a splash of goat milk creates a real treat, and it’s good for us. Who said living right had to taste bad and be torture? It’s not for us, it’s the good life and we appreciate the opportunity to live it.

Until next time – Fern

That’s Why They’re Called Chores

A long time ago, let’s see about 25 years ago, we were at a doctor’s office. Frank was talking to him about the things we were doing or needed to do around the homestead we lived at then. The doctor looked at him and said, “That’s why they’re called chores.” Chores are daily routine tasks. If we were all sitting together in a room tossing out ideas that come to mind we could make a big, long list of chores that lots of folks do every day, week or month. I was thinking about the idea of chores this morning as I, yes you guessed it, was completing some of the chores.

  • Make coffee and fix breakfast
  • Feed the cats, chickens, pigs, dog, goats
  • Milk the does
  • Strain and cool the milk

  • Clean up the chore related stuff, like buckets and such
  • Grind wheat and make a batch of sourdough bread; left to rise
  • Wash the dishes
  • Frank stripped the bed and started a load of laundry before he left this morning, so I put them in the dryer. Later the bed will need to be made and the clothes folded and put away.
  • Now for a different kind of chore, a project chore. Remove the barrels from the greenhouse, rinse out and hose off each one, let it drip dry, then towel dry. Sweep the floor and plywood pieces before replacing the barrels on a square of plywood and replacing the table top board. Repeat until all were finished.
  • Some of these chores are repeated throughout the day, like fixing meals
  • Evening animal chores include everything listed above, except add watering all the animals to it. This time Frank goes with me.
  • Wash the eggs, put the milk away

  • Strain and feed kefir
  • Bake bread and eat a sample. The eating isn’t much of a chore.
  • Get the coffee pot ready for tomorrow
  • Some days include gardening, mowing and all kinds of other things

Now take your daily routine and throw in the need to do everything yourself, with or without the help from others, for all of your daily needs. You knew I would be talking about this, didn’t you? It’s what we’re all trying

to prepare for. Our daily routines, once the collapse occurs, will be filled with chores from sunup to sundown. Chores that will be required if we expect to survive. Chores that will make us wistfully wish we had a few of the conveniences that we now enjoy, things that would make our lives much easier. Like turning on the faucet and having safe drinking water at our fingertips, or hot water at the turn of a knob. We live in the lap of luxury and yet many days we will hear complaints about doing chores. I think that’s what prompted the good doctor’s comment. “That’s why they’re called chores.”

Okay, so let’s use a little imagination and see if we can describe even a small portion of the chores or events that may happen in one day post TEOTWAWKI. Ready?

Wake up and get out of bed. Are you sleeping in a bed? Or were you on guard duty all night and find relief at the rising of the sun so you can go to bed?

How about a hot cup of coffee? Do you have any coffee left? Do you have a cup to drink it out of? Did you store enough to last a while, even with rationing? Okay, do you have the type of coffee pot that can withstand the heat of a fire or the top of a wood stove or rocket stove or whatever device and fuel you have that will produce heat? Did you bring in wood last night for the fire or do you need to gather it this morning? Okay, we have coffee and heat, now we need water. Did you haul and filter the water last night so it will be ready this morning? Does it need to be boiled before it can be made

into coffee? Where is your water coming from? Is it a public source? Do you need protection to go there and get it? How much can you haul at once? How are you going to haul it? Or are you able to reroute a water source through your existing plumbing and continue to use your kitchen faucet? That would be a luxury in a collapse situation.

By the way, when you got up this morning, assuming you weren’t on guard duty, where did you go to the bathroom? Have you been able to take care of a safe, sanitary toileting location? This isn’t something people talk about much, but let’s face it, everyone of us needs some hygienic way to take care of toileting. Yes, we still haven’t decided on the location of our outhouse, but we will soon.

Okay, toileting taken care of, water, coffee and heat. Now I’m hungry. What’s for breakfast? Are you going to cook? That brings a whole new set of thoughts and questions. Where did you get your food? Did you grow or raise it? Does it need any preparation? Are

you going to have a piece of bread and butter and call it good? Where did you get the bread? Did you make it or barter for it? Where did you get the wheat or flour, leavening, oil or fat and salt? Do you have an abundance of those things on hand? How did you bake the bread? Do you have a functioning oven, wood stove, cast iron dutch oven or something else to bake in? Do you have the fuel it requires? Do you have the pans you need? Now for the butter. Where did it come from? Are you milking an animal that is giving you enough cream to make butter? How are you keeping the milk, cream and butter cool enough to prevent spoilage? 

You want some eggs with that bread? Do you have chickens living under the right circumstances to provide you with enough eggs for breakfast? Again, how are you going to cook them? Serve them? Do you have plates and forks? Salt and pepper? A table to eat off of?

Now it’s time to clean up from breakfast. Do you have any soap or cleanser? A dishcloth and towel? A sink, basin or dishpan? Now we’re back to water again. Did you heat up enough water to wash dishes while you were making coffee and cooking the eggs? What are you going to do when you run out of soap or cleanser?

Okay. Now I’m tired and we have only talked about getting out of bed, making coffee, fixing breakfast and cleaning up the dishes. That is only the very beginning of the day. Now is when the real work begins, work that will entail the basics of daily living,

obtaining water, fuel, food and remaining safe. Everyday, day in and day out, chore after chore after chore. Like Frank said recently, there will be no commercials, no time outs, no vacations or mindless distraction staring at a big or a tiny screen. I really don’t think some people will be able to handle the drastic change of life as we know it and the expectation of having to work hard everyday just to stay alive. I feel sorry for the people that can’t, won’t or don’t give it any thought at all. There will be many people that are unable to cope with such changes. They just won’t and that is very sad.

Please spend some time reviewing the list of chores you will be required to do when the SHTF, and everyday after that. There will be many things we haven’t thought of, even though we feel like we have been preparing for this all of our lives. I know there will and have tried to prepare myself for that. Even if there are things we haven’t acquired or prepared for, we need to be prepared mentally for that shortfall and not let it devastate us or stop us in our tracks. We will do the best we can with what we have, that is all we can do. And it will be enough. 

Until next time – Fern

Are You Tired of Being Prepared?

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Do you know what it’s like to be prepared, on edge, not knowing what is coming next, all the time, for days on end? Is that what it’s going to be like in the near future if some collapse scenario happens in our country and our world? Maybe the last week has been good practice, I don’t know. But it has given us something to think about.

We have lost count of how many days in the last few weeks have brought rain and storms our way, and the last few days have been particularly taxing and tiring. Our rain gauge almost ran over on Saturday at 4.8″, then yesterday and last night added another 2.6″. While I was still up last night at 3:30am listening to yet another downpour, I looked out towards the garden to see several small rivers of water running rapidly across the ground. There are a number of plants out there that look a little worse for the wear, among many small clusters of oak leaves and twigs. We will have to wait a few days to see how many casualties the garden yields. Today we have light breezes, sunshine and 74* to enjoy all the day long. The songbirds are singing, and for the most part, the animals are resting. We’re all tired.

Here are a few glimpses of the storms that have come our way recently. I didn’t get clips of all of them, but when we started getting round after round of continuous weather, I began a collection of sorts. Most of them are from yesterday, in sequential order.

Saturday, 9th
Sunday morning, 10th
Sunday morning
Sunday after lunch
Sunday late afternoon

Sunday evening

There is still lots of runoff all over the place today, along with lots of standing water, but tomorrow we are forecast another beautiful day. That’s good, because we still need to be able to work outside and get the pig pen ready for Friday’s arrivals. But, guess what? Starting Wednesday, we have a chance of rain and thunderstorms everyday for the foreseeable future. We will have to see what Friday brings before we set off on a pig trek.

We are grateful that we didn’t have any storm damage besides the loss of more topsoil from the garden. There are folks around that have had a much more difficult time of it than we. I know that everyone in this region is grateful for the respite from the storms. We are all tired.

We prepare everyday for the future. I guess that’s what everybody does, isn’t it? But I think the vast majority of folks don’t give a whole lot of thought to any serious changes coming their way. I’ve read about the effects on soldiers that are constantly under the threat of attack. Yes, I served in the military, but I was never stationed anywhere that attack was a constant possibility. Being overseas, the military allowed certain leniency when it came to numbing the senses, and there was always a club open somewhere.

For the last four or five days here, it’s been a constant preparation for severe weather, or the threat of severe weather. Many of you will remember the storms in Moore, Oklahoma a year or two back. Well, Moore had those same threats again, day after day after day. If you remember right, Moore was the place where a group of kids were killed during a storm in an elementary school. That’s got to be devastating on those folks, to look at a radar screen and see a tornado warning coming directly at your area.

As mentioned earlier, we are tired. Worn out. Up till 3:00 and 4:00 each morning, waiting for our turn to have the storms come and pass. But, we never lost electricity right here, which means we could watch the National Weather Service on our computers, listen to the National Weather Service on the radio, and listen to the ham radio storm chasers do what they do. It’s ironic how people get different thrills. Some folks like whacking a golf ball, others like knitting, and then there is that peculiar group, and I say peculiar with the highest respect, that enjoy chasing storms to help keep the public informed. Each to their own I guess.

Most of us know there is going to come a day when the electricity will either be off or intermittent. We won’t be able to check that radar screen, or listen to the local talking head on the TV box. Most radio stations are going to be down anyway. I wonder how not having all of these features we take for granted is going to effect

our mental capabilities when they’re gone? What’s it doing to be like when there is no Doppler radar that measures different wind directions? What’s it going to be like when you dial 911 and no one answers? And heaven forbid, what will happen when you want to order take out food delivered, and the phones don’t work? What if it’s dark? There is thunder and lightening all around you. Then during one of those bolts of lightening you see two human type figures standing in your yard. What cha gonna do? Phones don’t work. There is nobody coming, because nobody knows except you. What are you going to do? Use your hands to make a ‘T’ for timeout like in a football game? You gonna sit down, put your face in your hands and cry? What are you going to do?

All of a sudden you hear someone kicking in your front door, about two seconds later, someone is kicking in your back door. You hear a loud boom and wood splinters fly through the air. What cha gonna do? Are you going to pretend like this is a TV show? You know, one of those reality type shows. Well, get prepared for a new dose of reality, because your life is going to change forever, and crying is not going to do you any good.

Folks, that scenario I just described, or one similar to it, happens everyday, multiple times around our world. Just because we live in an imaginary town called Pleasantville doesn’t mean that the Big Bad Wolf ain’t gonna come knocking at your door someday. So, what if a tornado was coming toward your house? Have you got a plan? Have you prepared? Or have you got your head stuck in the sand? What if that tornado is those two guys standing out in your yard? What are you going to do? We will never know what we are going to do until we are put in a dire situation. Some of the best trained firemen just can’t do it. Some of the best trained soldiers, when push comes to shove, just can’t do it. You need to practice. You need to have a plan. Then you need to practice some more.

We live in tornado alley. Like folks that live in hurricane country, earthquake, wildfire, blizzard or tsunami, or whatever flavor of disaster

you have in your neighborhood, we all know that one day we have the potential for that Wolf to be at our door. We should all know that sometimes that disaster is walking on two feet. So you’re tired? You’re tired of being prepared? You want a break? Well, think about something as small as this. Some people say dead bolts don’t work. If it gives you two to three extra seconds of time, realistically think what you can do with two or three extra seconds of preparation. Long time, isn’t it? Every step that you prepare gives you more time to implement your plan. Every second, every extra second that you have might be the difference between life and death for you and your family.

Am I tired? Yes. Am I exhausted? Yes. Are my doors locked? Yes. Do I know where my instruments of defense are situated? Yes. Does all this preparation mean that I am going to be able to do what is necessary?

We just won’t know until that day comes. But do I have a storm cellar? You bet I do. Is it cleaned out of all the spider webs and all crawling things on a regular basis? Yes, it is. I’ve been in it multiple times, but only once have I been in it because I had to. We’re all tired ladies and gentlemen. But don’t give up. The Wolf will be at the door sooner than you think. Take advantage of the sunny days, but prepare for the dark, rainy ones, because you do not want to look out your window when the lightening is flashing and see two folks standing in your yard.

We’ll talk more later, Frank

It’s the Simple Things In Life

It’s the simple things in life that I enjoy the most.

A flower

A goat’s nose


A milk bucket shelf. I needed a place to put my extra bucket. I pour the milk into it after I milk each doe into my ‘milking’ bucket. Frank put this up one day while I was gone. I love surprises and he loves to surprise me.

Birds singing in the sunrise. Saying please and thank you. Holding hands when we are walking. A look and a smile from the one you love. Prayer.

A kitchen faucet that is tall. Frank bought this faucet without me knowing about it, because I had been wanting a new faucet. The one we had leaked. Sometime earlier Frank had gone to a big box hardware store 60 miles away and bought a tall faucet without my knowledge. His plan was to replace the old one so when I came home from work it would be a surprise. Little did Frank know that the man that built the house had plumbed it directly to solid copper 35 years earlier. It took him all day, twisted in ways he didn’t know were possible. But finally, using brute force, he removed the plumbing from the 35 year old faucet. Wa-la! A new tall faucet. Aren’t husbands sweeties? Sometimes. This is Frank’s version of the story.

A cup of coffee

Sharing a dozen eggs with an old man from church.

We are surrounded with simplicity and beauty every single day. Take the time to enjoy and appreciate all of your many blessings.

Until next time – Fern