Have you wondered where we have gone?? I can FINALLY tell you all what is going on! We have been selling livestock and stuff for the purpose of pulling up stakes and heading West, and I had to keep it all a big secret. We have been in negotiations since last summer with a network to do a t.v. show about homesteading, and we received the initial contracts about a week ago. If we can come to agreeable terms, you just might see us doing what we do, on a weekly basis! Weird. Super weird. But hopefully a great adventure!!

Stay tuned for updates as we follow the Oregon Trail!

 
 
Well, that is the aftermath of the storm last night.  Well, that is 7% of it.  Here is the story.

Last night, I was sitting down, and I looked at the window.  The blinds were shut, but through the slats I could see that the sky was yellow, and the trees were sideways.  That scared the you know what out of me.  Living in Kansas, my heart always sinks when I see this.  I wasn't expecting it, either.  The whole day was just hot, no clouds, nothing exciting.  Then it got windy.  So we went out to put the animals in in case it was going to storm.  Soon after that, we were getting 80 mph winds (literally, not kidding at all.), rotating clouds, a wall cloud, trees were breaking, and branches were falling.  I felt like I was in the beginning of Wizard of Oz... Goodness it was scary!

So, then we were RACING to get the animals in.  No one got fed besides the birds, sounds harsh, but it is better then getting killed by a branch!   At this point I was running around hysterically, trying to get the HUMANS in... It was like gathering a flock of chickens!  No way in my mind were they ever going to stay outside in that.

So we all got in the house, and it was 7:00.  Getting darker and darker.  It doesn't usually get dark until about 9:00 now so this was unusual.  You could her the wind blowing and it finally started raining a bit.  Even in the house, you could hear trees snapping into two and branches hitting the ground.  Then I would here lighting and make the TV sound go up so I couldn't really hear it...  it was pretty darn SCARY, and I am obviously not a big fan of storms.

After the whole ordeal, thank the lord, we and our animals were all safe.  I went out afterwards and fed everyone.  Everything was calm and no one was screaming in my ear.   Not even ALICE... now that is a statement!

So, here is what we were left with.


 
 
  Written by Grace

We have so far had about 10 losses here on the farm in a matter of one month.  I am so sad to say that our oldest lamb, Beady's lamb, died today.  I fed them alfalfa and he started choking.  They have all choked before - don't ask me why - so I wasn't too worried at first.  After about 5 minutes, he continued and I was at a loss of what to do.  I had no idea what to do... I mean how do you do the heimlich maneuver on a sheep?  I don't even know how to do it to a human!


It continued for 15 minutes before he went down.  My mom dragged him out of the stall and we tried hard to save him.  Tubed him, pushed on him, hung him upside down, stuck our hand down his throat, all of it. Nothing worked.  He died a hard death at about 11:49 A.M this morning.  I feel really bad for him.


So, that is just a reminder to me that I should be happy for any life that God gives me.  Even if it is to be butchered sometime in it's life, still cherish what is still here.  If you have a buck year or ram year, or just a plain boy year, don't be upset.  Love the lives that God has allowed you to have while they are still here on Earth.  I believe things happen for a reason, and this was a learning experience.  I am not happy that he is gone, no, but I loved him while he was with us.  
 
 
 
 
Picture
Photo Courtesy Charley's Greenhouse


To reduce costs, many people build their own greenhouses.  That way, you can get exactly what you want.  But what if you really don't have the time, or the ability, to build your own?

From Mother Earth News, an article about all the finer points of choosing a greenhouse kit.



People who love gardens also love greenhouses. The best backyard greenhouses 
feed the need to dirty our fingers while the rest of the garden is dormant. Even 
a small greenhouse can provide effective season extension by jump-starting 
seedlings in spring. When managed properly, a greenhouse is a backyard oasis 
that yields fresh food year-round.


If a lack of construction skills is keeping you from building a greenhouse, 
consider a kit. The best greenhouse kit is one that fits your needs and your 
pocketbook. Kits are easier than building from scratch and don’t require as much 
building experience (although it certainly helps to have a DIY attitude when
you  set out to build your own greenhouse, even from a kit).

Shopping for Your Best Greenhouse Kit

Local Regulations. Start by researching required permits, 
zoning, setbacks, underground utilities and other requirements for your area. 
Some localities demand a certain type of foundation. A greenhouse attached to 
your home will likely face more stringent requirements than a free-standing 
greenhouse. In some places, greenhouses are regulated under a “storage shed” 
designation. Consider size carefully, as you may be able to avoid many 
regulations by simply settling for a small greenhouse.


Site. Your greenhouse site must have adequate light — six 
hours of uninterrupted sun on a clear day. You may have to trim or remove a tree 
to create more light for your chosen location. Also, consider access to water. 
Is there a nearby hose bib to provide water, even in winter? Some gardeners add 
gutters and an interior rain barrel to their backyard greenhouses for a winter 
water source. Electricity can power heating, lighting and ventilation, so keep 
an accessible power source in mind, too.

Vendors. Check companies carefully — even a small greenhouse 
is a big investment, and you should feel comfortable with the supplier. Don’t
be  afraid to ask questions, such as:


• How long has the company been in business?
• How many kits has it sold?  
• Does it manufacture the kits or simply resell them?
• How extensive is  the warranty?
• What technical help can the company provide?
• How is  the greenhouse shipped and packaged?
• What is the cost of shipping?



You might add other questions to this list. If you have minimal building 
experience, read a copy of the kit’s manual beforehand to make sure it’s 
understandable to you. If you’ll be building the kit on weekends, ask whether 
someone from the company will be available to answer questions on Saturdays and 
Sundays. You may want to see demonstration photos or videos of the kit’s 
construction before committing to buy. Tech support may be limited if greenhouse 
kits are not the company’s specialty but just one of many products it
sells.



Read more:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/best-greenhouse-kit-zm0z13amzmar.aspx#ixzz2SFLa2VZh



 
 
This is a story I came across months ago, and saved because it is so sweet.  I love this blog.


http://coldantlerfarm.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-christmas-calf.html#links



I got a call from Brett this morning. He was out doing chores, checking on the
horses, when he found a brand new Highlander Bull Calf laying wet in the snow.
The heifer he recently bought was pregnant, he knew that, but he was told she
was due in the spring…

He saw that the calf needed help. The mother wasn't being very attentive and
he didn't want to lose him. He brought the little guy inside, cleaned him up,
and jumped in the truck to get some emergency
calf nutrition at Tractor Supply. If the bull calf pulls through, he will be a
bottle calf. A bottle calf can not be left alone while the farmer goes off to
have fun kicking his heals up with horses and friends...

So here's where the story gets interesting. Brett is still coming for Christmas. He's just
going to bring the calf with him if the little guy pulls through. Being a
newborn and on a strict bottle schedule we'll just set up a spot for him in the
house. I have gates and a tarp. My floors are linoleum and I have a shovel. So
this year there will most likely be a highlander calf in the house with us,
drinking from a 2-liter bottle and mooing right under the lit up tree…


Go to her website to read the follow up comments...Cold Antler Farm
 
 
Something killed my male duck, and the mama rabbit ate the runt of her litter that was born yesterday. 

I really didn't think the runt was going to make it to adulthood because he was so much smaller than the rest, but it still makes me sick.  Keeping rabbits is really not very high on my desired list of activities, because they are really fairly bad parents.

I'm feeling guilty about my duck, because I built the little coop he as in, and I put him in there; he was being too hard on one of my female ducks and I wanted to give her a break.  I'm guessing it as a raccoon, because of the way it was killed (which as particularly brutal), and because the attacker would have had to climb the fence to the bird yard and it was strong enough to bust out one of
the boards to get to this duck.  Kind of a crappy morning around
here.
 
 

This is the "birthing suite" within our French Lop rabbit enclosure in the barn.  My daughter and I got the front gate done about a week ago, and good thing we did!  This morning I could hear my four month old Anatolian barking and barking and barking, which she also did each time one of our sheep was giving birth.  I thought maybe one of the lambs was out or something, so I go out to the barn to see what was wrong.

I check the soon to be mama bunny, and she has pulled a TON of fur out and put it in her nesting box.  That means birth is imminent.  I didn't see any babies though, and Holly was at the front of her cage pulling more fur.  I go to feed the sheep and goats, and my 12 year old yells at me that Holly has gone to the next box and is having babies!  We actually got to see the babies be born.

So we have seven new little lives here on the farm.  My daughter says it's like Christmas.  :)

 
 
Having a stocked pantry is just good common sense.  I like to refer to it as food insurance. 

You have health insurance, car insurance, home insurance, all of those things as IN CASE something should happen.  Even if you live in an apartment in the middle of a huge city and never cook, having dry goods stored so that you can still eat during a crisis, whether caused by storms, terrorism or simply a loss of income, moves you from possible victim to probable survivor.

From mother nature network, a gathering of pantry staples that will last indefinitely when stored correctly.  To this list I would add dried beans, and you would be set if you were snowed in for a month.  Just be sure you have some water stored as well, or a secondary source that is always available to you, even in a power outage.

By the way, water will go stale after having been stored a long time.  If that happens, just pour the water back and forth several times between two containers...that will put oxygen back into the water.  :)

"Could those foods you're getting ready to toss, still be good? Janice
Revell, co-founder of
StillTasty.com, says "Look in your pantry and
your cabinets and check whether the items really do need to go. You'll be
shocked by what you really don't need to throw away."
 
So before you throw out that years-old sugar or replace that bottle of
vanilla that's been gathering dust, consult our list of "forever foods." You may
be surprised how many of your kitchen staples have a shelf life of decades —
even after they've been opened."

See the list here...http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/photos/forever-foods-10-cooking-staples-that-can-outlast-you/sugar

 
 
After almost three years of living this homesteading lifestyle, I have learned a valuable lesson;  start small, and dream big.

I have a very bad habit of aquiring animals that I think suit our purposes, before I have their buildings/stalls/fencing/enclosures finished.  I am now in the position of having to sell half of our stock, because I do not have the pastures available to them to forage.  That means that every bit of what they eat has to be purchased, which just isn't practical.  In addition, there does not seem to be much of a market in our area for sheep, which makes it nearly impossible to recoup any money spent feeding them through the year.

The main lessons?  Know your market, know your own strengths and weaknesses, and concentrate your efforts on one or two species.  I am grateful for this experience, and know now that I am simply not the kind of person who can keep a menagerie and still break even, let alone make a profit.  I know some who do, and I applaud them.  But for us, scaling back and rethinking our business plan is our plan of action.  And I will no longer bring any animal to the farm without having the space available for them.

Learning this lifestyle is certainly an ongoing project.  But it is absolutely one that is full of lessons worth learning.