Category Archives: Farm Life

Electric fencing supplies

 supply list for temporary electric fencing

 

Homestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

On our farm, we practice rotational grazing while still getting our perimeter fencing fixed up. This means that we use a lot of electric fence.   We have purchased a lot of movable fence posts, poly wire and reels and have found that they are not all created equally.  If you’re getting started with electric fencing, it’s good to know what do you really need and what works. Here is the supply list of what you need to get started  and our top picks of what we use.

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Homestead Goal: Simplify

Goals on the homestead: SimplifyHomestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
At the beginning of every year we make goals that we like to accomplish for the coming year.  Projects to start or complete, financial goals, adding animals, selling animals and so forth.  This year we have a resounding theme: simplify.
When we started our farm, we wanted to try it all.  Do all the things!  Get all of the animals!  We knew we couldn’t do it all, but wanted to see what we did like.  We had experience with poultry, rabbits, dairy goats and gardening. We added pigs, sheep, cattle, dairy cows and meat goats to our farm.  In addition to the garden, we added an orchard.   Now that we’ve had these animals for a while, it’s time to look at which direction to go.  It’s time to simplify.

Wait, simplifying the simple life?

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Reality of Homesteading

 Homestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

As I was milking our Jersey, Spark, the other evening, I was thinking about how this was what I dreamed about for years.  Living off the land, growing our food and getting milk from our own cow.  Life is good!  And then Spark swatted me in the face with her tail.

 

Everyone glosses over the realities of homesteading/farming.  They show the good, happy parts of farm life and skip over the not so great stuff that nobody really wants to hear about.  We’re shown the end result, the glass of milk or a clean basket of eggs, and all the stuff that happens beforehand isn’t mentioned.  But isn’t the end result, the glass of milk and fresh eggs, the point?   Yes, it is and it’s certainly the reward for a job well done. However, there is a romanticized view of homesteading these days. The white picket fence, well behaved animals, a perfectly weeded garden, cooking from scratch and still have time to sit on the porch with a glass of lemonade is what’s often portrayed on the internet.  Getting swatted in the face by a cow’s tail or cleaning out the chicken coop that will really start to stink to high heaven if you don’t clean it, isn’t what you read about.  While I love this life, there are some realities that are part of it; sweat, dirt, bugs and poop.  Lots of poop.

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Chores with a Toddler

Farm chores with toddlerHomestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
When our third child was born, I was determined to get back to my normal routine of caring for animals and gardening as soon as I could.  Being outside is my happy place.  I was able to get my chores and gardening done with my baby by babywearing.  I wore my baby every day for the first 2 years of her life.  When she was about 2 1/2 years old, I stopped wearing her on my back daily. My little adventurer wanted to explore and didn’t want to always be stuck on mama’s back. When I did put her on my back, she felt very heavy and would throw her weight around which would sometimes throw me off balance.  Sadly, I had to admit that my baby wearing days were over. 
This new phase of life definitely put a wrinkle in being active outside on the farm, but I was determined to continue to be outside, caring for the animals and tending the garden.  Plus, I really, REALLY want my little girl to love the farm.  She is so interested in everything that is going on around her, the animals, the vegetables and flowers, I don’t want to squash that. 

How can you get farm chores and gardening done with an active toddler?

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Eating Well in Rural America

veggiesHomestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

Eating real food with real ingredients is a priority for our family.  Before we moved to the Ozarks, we lived outside a large city where organic produce and meat was not hard to find. The prices were reasonable since there was a demand for organic food.
We moved to an area of the country where the organic food movement is just now trickling in.  It was definitely an eye opener to see how spoiled we were, with pretty much anything we wanted just a 10 minute drive away.   There are grocery stores that sell organic meat and produce about an hour away, which we do go to if we happen to need to go to the city for other reasons. However we prefer to stay on the farm and avoid unnecessary running around as much as possible.

So how do we eat well in rural America when organic food isn’t so readily available?    

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The House Design

house_drawing-1Homestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
We have spent about 2 years on our farm now and have gotten to the point where we are ready to build a house.  It took about that long to get a feel for the best siting and to get various other prerequisite projects completed, such as a barn to store the straw bales.  This has given us some time to think about what we really want.  Here are some of the things we considered in our design:

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Surviving Summer

drinkHomestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
The heat of summer is upon us!  It’s the time of year when many people retreat into their air conditioned homes to keep cool and comfortable.  But what would you do if you didn’t have air conditioning?
When we lived in Colorado, we did not have air conditioning.  Sure, it got hot during the day, but the nights were always cool and there was no humidity.  Our house was also positioned in a way that the afternoon sun didn’t shine into our house during the summer. We were quite comfortable and didn’t even think about needing air conditioning.
Fast forward to the beautiful Ozarks.  We are currently living in a trailer house until we finish building our house.  Trailer houses are poorly insulated and tend to act like an oven in the summer heat. And the humidity!  Everything melts in the humidity, people included.  We soon found ways to not only survive an Ozark summer, but to enjoy it without central air.

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Farming: A Career Change

road1Homestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
A conventional job is often described as comfortable, stable, or secure.  Whether or not that is actually accurate, it can certainly feel that way.  However, humans tend to be rather illogical about things and that perceived security may not be as secure as it feels.  Regardless, comfortable easily describes many jobs.  Routine and known things are somehow comfortable.  Branching out into the unknown can certainly be intimidating.  This is how I felt when I left the safe, familiar world of engineering and decided to buy a farm.  That coupled with my inexperience in the field of farming made it feel extra scary.  However, today I’m grateful that we pursued our dreams, even though we haven’t yet fully met all our goals.  
Here are some things to think about if you decide to consider a career change.  My experience is from engineering to farming/ranching/permaculture so that’s what I’ll share, but I suspect it could apply to more than just those specifics.  Keep in mind that I’m not giving advice, just sharing our experiences.  As my neighbor always says, free advice is worth just that anyway.  Most importantly, try to be honest with yourself throughout this decision making process or else this is a waste of time.  Be willing to consider downsides.  Don’t look at best-case income/etc unless you also consider worst case or more realistic outcomes.

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Getting started without permanent fencing

sheepHomestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

When we purchased our farm in the summer of 2014, we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us.  Our farm had a lot of barns, most in disrepair.  The fencing wasn’t much better.  There was a lot of barbed wire, some of it was in good shape but most of the fence was in desperate need of repair.  There were some rotten posts, holes in parts of the fence, the entire fence down in other areas.  Despite all of this, we were eager to get started adding animals as soon as possible.  We wanted to add sheep, goats, cattle and pigs to our farm.

From the beginning we knew that we wanted to practice rotational grazing with all of our animals. Rotational grazing involves moving livestock to fresh paddocks to allow the grass in the previous paddocks to grow back. How frequently you move your livestock depends on your situation and can range from a couple of times a day, to once a week.  Electric fencing is often used in rotational grazing systems, with a permanent perimeter fence.  Electric fencing seemed like a good solution to our fencing issues.  The decision was made to use temporary electric fence exclusively until we could get some permanent fence built. 

 

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The Chicken Coop: “Coop Deville”

The Coop Deville: A mobile chicken coopHomestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
When we moved to Missouri we had to leave our mobile chicken coop, “The Eggmobile” (a la Joel Salatin) behind.   Travis had designed and built that coop, but it was just too big to move from Colorado to Missouri.  We sold the chicken coop to a good friend and decided to build another coop similar to what we had had before.  A mobile chicken coop was a requirement for us, we wanted the chickens to follow the livestock for pasture sanitation and fertilization.

 

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