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.

 

Our blog made it onto the list of the Top 60 Blogs in Missouri.

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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Why Build With Straw Bales?

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If you are a regular reader, you already know we are in the middle of building a straw bale insulated home.  I often meet people who assume I am therefore some sort of straw bale evangelist.  This always strikes me as odd because I can’t really understand why I would want to push my building choices on someone else.  As an adult, I feel perfectly able to consider the options and weigh which ones fit our desires and needs.  Therefore, I feel most adults are likewise capable of the same.

So, if you have to ask why you would build a straw bale home, please don’t build one!  If you think straw bale homes mean rodents, rotting straw, fire or other similar disasters, please insulate with something that you are comfortable with.  Rest assured that we don’t care and certainly won’t judge your choice harshly!  

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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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Goat’s milk yogurt

thick and creamy goat's milk yogurtHomestead 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.

 

My family loves yogurt.  When our goat’s are in milk, I make 1 gallon of yogurt a week and I still can’t keep up with my kid’s appetites!  Who can resist a bowl of thick, creamy goat’s milk yogurt with a bit of fruit mixed in? 

 

Wait, thick and creamy goat’s milk yogurt? 

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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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Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bake

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal BakeHomestead 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.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Whatever you have for breakfast should stick with you until lunch, especially when you’re out working on the farm.  Our go-to breakfast is soaked oatmeal.  Make it up the night before, turn the burner on low under the pan of oatmeal in the morning, head out to do morning chores and viola!  Breakfast is ready when we come back in.  We add in seasonally available fruit, nuts and raisins to mix it up a little.   We do vary a little with our breakfast options, homemade granola, eggs & bacon and on occasion, boxed cereal.  Most of the time when it comes to breakfast, oatmeal is on the menu.
One morning last winter, when it was chilly in the house and I was thinking of ways to help warm things up, I started thinking about baked oatmeal.  After looking around for some recipes and not finding what I was looking for, Travis decided to make up his own recipe.  He’s good like that.

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Eating Well in Rural America

Eating real food in rural AmericaHomestead 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.

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

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The House Design

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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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Getting Ready For Plaster

weldedcloseupHomestead 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’re still working on our straw bale guest cabin.  As you probably know, things don’t always go according to plan or go as quickly as you’d like them to go.  The bales were stacked and ready for the welded wire in December.  Winter is very mild here in southern Missouri, and we thought we could put the lime plaster up before the weather got too cold.  But as the night time lows dipped around freezing, we realized that we were just going to have to wait for warmer weather.  There always other projects to do around here, so work on the guest cabin slowed to working on it on rainy days.  Several other projects took priority and have been completed.  Our focus has returned to the guest cabin as we’re nearly ready to get started on our actual house!   It’s time to get this cabin done!

 

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