Category Archives: Homesteading

Reality of Homesteading

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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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Missouri Ozarks: What’s Great & What’s Not

Missouri OzarksHomestead 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.

 

It has now been three years since we purchased our farm in the Missouri Ozarks. What a whirlwind of three years it has been!  We are very grateful to be here and are enjoying our new routine, but like anything, it isn’t perfection either.  When we were making our decision regarding moving to the area, we kept looking for someone writing about their experiences in the area.  There were several blogs and such, but very little information about how people really felt about the area after having spent some time here.

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Putting Farm Animals to Work

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Farm animals have an important place on the homestead.  From the backyard homesteader to the full time farmer, producing your own eggs, milk and meat is a fulfilling accomplishment.  We give our farm animals fresh food and water and the best care possible.  But could our farm animals being doing more for us in return?  We need to look at “the pigness of the pig and the chickeness of the chicken” as Joel Salatin puts it.

 

Instead of working against each farm animal’s natural instincts, why not have those instincts work for you instead?

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Farming: A Career Change

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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

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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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10 Reasons For Trees

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Let’s hear it for the trees!  Trees are beautiful and majestic, but their benefits are often overlooked.  Here are 10 reasons why you should have trees on your homestead.

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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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