Category: Homestead Chores (page 1 of 4)

Building A Root Cellar: A Homesteader’s Bank Account

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A couple years ago we knew we would have to build a new root cellar.  Not only was the current one letting the mice in, but we actually worried it would soon collapse in on itself.

We began drafting plans for the new root cellar, making a supply list, and pricing those items.  We knew we’d save on costs by building it ourselves, and we really liked that idea anyway–we’d get exactly what we wanted.

I’m not going to lie to you–it’s not as easy as you might think.  You’ve got to consider the water level, the frost line, drainage, and air flow, among other things.  It’s not quite as simple as it may first appear.

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Repairing A Frozen Water Pipe On The Winter Homestead

Every winter it happens–we discover a frozen water pipe.  It’s just a fact of life here.  This isn’t the first time we’ve repaired a frozen water pipe, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

If we hadn’t repaired this pipe as soon as we noticed it was broken, it could have warmed up and made one huge muddy mess once the ice inside it melted and the water started spewing out.

Luckily, repairing this frozen pipe was easily done with tools we had on hand.

In order to fix this frozen pipe, we needed:

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How To Make Your Own Foaming Hand Soap Cheap And Easily

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Homestead’s are dirty–there’s no way around it.  When you live on a homestead, you’ll find that you are washing your hands every chance you get.

You can spend a lot of money making multiple trips to the store to purchase your own soap, or you can make your own.  If you are anything like me, you prefer to make your own.

Once a year I make all the goat’s milk soap our family will use during baths and showers.  The rest of the time, we use foaming hand soap for it’s convenience–and I make that too.  I make foaming hand soap about twice a week.  Around here, it sells for $2.50-$3.00 a bottle, so that means I’m saving $25.00 a month on this one essential household item.

In less than one minute, you can also make your own foaming hand soap with just a few ingredients you probably already have on hand.

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Making Goat’s Milk Soap (And Two Different Molds To Try)

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Each year I make two batches of goat’s milk soap.  I find that in order to make the most moisturizing soap I can, goat’s milk is simply the best base (though I do like to dabble in other soaps simply for a “crafty” experience).

Two batches will last our large family for an entire year and there are still some left over for gifting to others.  This year I did one batch of lavender, and one of lemon.  Last year I did a rosemary and an orange.  In general, I like to do one batch of whichever scent will be most potent in my home for the year, and then a citrus for the second.

I pick a comfortable day and choose a time when either the younger kids are sleeping, or when the Farmer is able to help me, to make my soap.  I do this not only for their safety, but also so I can move along fairly quickly as making goat’s milk soap does take some time.  It’s best to pull all your hair back and out of the way if it’s long, and wear clothing that covers everything.

If you aren’t familiar with lye, read up on it first so you know proper precautions to take to keep yourself safe.

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Mastering Basic Cheesemaking: Get Started In One Hour

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If our family had to pay for every grocery item we bought instead of making/producing/growing our own, dairy would be one of our biggest expenses. It would be safe to say that we go through a gallon of milk and a pound of cheese nearly every day.  That doesn’t even cover the butter, sour cream, yogurt, and other dairy products we use.

As you can imagine, a family like ours benefits greatly from being able to make our own cheeses, buttermilk, sour cream, yogurts, etc.  Likewise, many families could not only cut their grocery budgets by making their own, but also create beautiful memories with their kids as they enjoy the cheese-making process with their family.

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Evolution Of A Homestead Orchard: From The Beginning

We have 11 apple trees that our grandparents planted on our smaller portion of the larger family homestead.  I can’t even begin to count how many plum trees we have.  There’s a double line of russian olives that act as a wind break.  At the time that we began thinking about putting in an actual orchard, that’s all there was.

If we wanted serviceberries, chokecherries, elderberries, pears, or other produce, then we needed to forage for them.  Some fruits that we desired weren’t even available to forage and we had to purchase or barter for them if we wanted them.

We decided when the family started growing and our economic situation allowed us, that we would start growing an orchard.  We had to answer questions such as, How much do we plant?  What do we plant?  Where will we put it? and How will we water it?

After we figured this out, we realized we couldn’t plant an entire acre (the portion of land we chose) all at once.  We needed to add trees each year.  Two more questions that we now needed to answer came up.  Where do we start? and How do we keep the weeds away?

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Building Our Own Mini Greenhouses

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With a 70 day growing season, we have to do all we can to extend our growing time.  While our ultimate dream is to have a high tunnel that would provide for all our needs, we know this is simply not feasible for us at this time.

Years ago our greenhouse burned down and we went a few miserable years without one.  Last year we finally had the finances to rebuild it.  Within a week of getting it done, we had some of our severe weather come through and render it unusable once again.

This year we are slowly gathering enough supplies to build a tougher one.  It probably won’t get done this spring.  In the meantime, we are making some mini greenhouses to plant directly into so we can plant sooner and harvest longer.

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Make The Most Effective Fence To Keep Deer Out Of The Garden

The only sure-fire way to keep a deer from eating your garden or trampling it to pieces is to keep it out.  And the only sure-fire way to keep it out, is to build a fence–a really big one.  So which size is best?

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February Prepping Report: What Got Done In February

February was an unusual month this year—warmer than usual.  Sometimes that’s good.  But it made us nervous.  The last two years we had “early” springs.  An early spring means early blossoms on the trees—and that usually means no fruit for that year.

Last year for example, we didn’t get a single apple off our 11 apple trees.  Those of you who also live off the land understand just what it means not to get apples.  They are the perfect homesteader crop, and the only ones we got were off two apple trees deeper into the valley we found to forage from.

This has happened in the past, but it’s only been for a year at a time.  It looks like this year, we might have a repeat.  So we’re planning ahead for this possibility.  We’re planning to gather more berries than normal, and brainstorming what else we should grow/gather extra of to fill this space in our root cellar.  (More pumpkins?)

Other preparing that gone done in February:

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How To Render Tallow

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Rendering tallow is a basic and easy skill all homesteaders should have.  To begin with, homesteaders try to use every part of the animal.  Furthermore, there are just so many things to do with tallow that it would be a shame to throw it all away.

On the homestead, tallow can be used for cooking, making soaps, shaving bars, candles, leather conditioning, and even a lubrication for certain things in your barn.

Commercially, companies use the fatty acids in tallow to make detergents, cosmetics, certain plastics, and also automobile tires.  Who knew?

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