Spring brings upgrades to the homestead

We announced, close to the end of 2015, that we had plans of making 2016 better than ever, that we were going to be working towards more self sufficient ways than we have been and that we felt we were more prepared to survive if SHTF more 4 years ago than we are today. I felt we had gotten to comfortable in our ways and we had let some things, we were doing, slip from under us. For instance, we used to raise more animals for food and supplemental income as well as animal by-products. At the time of this announcement, in 2015, we did not even have but 3 chickens!

So now we are into spring at the homestead and we have really done a lot, already, to work towards this goal. First we made a list of goals for 2016, we have already started working towards those. We have secured a new flock of ducks, chickens, have pigs coming up for breeding purposes now and the 2 females, we have are close to mating age. So we could have a few porks to slaughter for winter by late fall, that would be a great step towards self sufficiency. We have two turkey, one is a hen, and she is already giving us eggs in a brush pile nest. In fact, we just found 8 eggs in her nest. They are not fertile so we are eating those.

Our turkey hen is a Spanish breed, our gobbler is a Blue Slate. He is young and not her original mate, so she will not yet let him get close enough to fertilize the eggs. We may seek out someone to hatch the eggs for us later, once the gobbler can get close enough to do his job. Until then, we won’t be slack on any eggs! Chicken eggs, right now a few a day, duck eggs, a few a day. Once the new chicks and ducklings get grown up, a few months, we will start getting more eggs. Right now the chicks (cinnamon queens and buffs) are a few weeks old. The ducks a week older.

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We actually started our upgrade before 2016, because we already knew what we wanted to do near the end of 2015. Really, it has been on my mind for a year, but it does take some funds and changes at the homestead to do any large upgrades. So, we got our boar and two female pigs before the year turned. But we got them small, piglets, so now they have really grown up and the two females we have will be ready to mate in a few months. We named the boar, Wilbur and the two sows we named Charlotte and Sassy. Here are a few recent pics of the pigs we are raising. Their offspring will be butchered each fall for a meat stock through winter.

 

We have been hard at work on our own cabin. We are building a pallet cabin which currently has 3 rooms. One main 12×16 room, 2 attachments for a small bedroom and a small compost bathroom. We have used free wood pallets we harvested from around the areas we live, scrap wood and just recently we started using discount lumber and we will finish it off with cut off from logs. Those are readily available at most saw mills. By adding those to the cabin as a covering over the current OSB it would make it pretty water tight, air tight, better insulated and one pretty cool look! As we get the cabin finished, which we plan on having it done by this summer, at least to a point we can move in, we will let the two Derksen portable cabins we have had for years go back to that company. Here is a shot of the cabin from just 3 days ago.

We’ve come along way with this cabin. Two years in the making now, but we were taking out time and using some of the hardest wood you’ve ever seen to build with. Seasoned oak 2×4’s are no joke to nail into. We do not use energy here so all our tools are manual. That means nailing every board. Most of the time its just the two of us, me and my daughter. Occasionally my wife chips in when she is at the homestead. We are not carpenters and have never built a building, like this, in our lives. We literally winged this project and had much to fix  and rig along the way. I can say this, we have really learned how to do quite a lot thanks to this project.

Once this cabin is done we will live in a cabin we built ourselves, no more trying to pay for a portable building, or two as it is, and dealing with the sickening feeling that gives us being tied to a company that does not care about their customers nor their products. Such lousy portable buildings they are, those Derksen things. Yes, we have had many years of experience with these people…we do not recommend! We have had some success, luck as it may seem, in securing a male and pregnant female sheep. Both for food and wool, our sheep will come in handy when it comes time to produce more meat as well as barter and trade items AND the ability to produce enough wool to make our own clothing and such. We see this as a major step in becoming self sufficient. Here they are now, Buck and his girl Honey.

As the year trudges on, and more and more we prepare for what may or may not come, we realize that we can only improve ourselves and what we do. There is nothing that we can do to “fix” or improve the natural surroundings of the homestead. Each year we uncover more and more wild sources of food, such as the new plum trees we cultivated this year, the wild white peach trees we cleaned around. Just yesterday my daughter and I spent an hour uncovering wild raspberries, transplanting and trimming them. They will produce an abundance of black raspberries come June. We are always adding to our gardening plots as well as what we try to grow. We are slightly behind with the planting this year as the pallet cabin is taking precedence, but soon and very soon the gardening will need to be stepped up or be late. So until next time, stay vigilant and get your family prepared to survive in the event it becomes necessary!

 

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