Tag Archive | how-to

Changes To The Blog

After not having written a post since March, I wondered why I was not interested in doing so, or why I hadn’t. My conclusion was that the blog needed an update.

For those of you who follow us, you may notice that the blog address is different as well as the name of the blog. “Conserver Life” instead of  homesteading 101.

We are still what we consider homesteaders. But our focus as homesteaders, I have been finding, has been leaning more towards not spending money and doing as many things as we can ourselves.

Actually, most of my past posts are about that, but I always felt I needed to stay true to the original idea for this blog so I tried to make it revolve around homesteading specifically. Now the blog will move even more towards not spending money as homesteaders and as non-homesteaders.

I really appreciate all of you! Thank you!

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What Is REAL Homesteading Anyway?

Today, Ernie was told that some local people who live off grid are doing “real” homesteading.

Now see, that ticks me off.

If we’re talking about REAL homesteading, my great-grandparents were “REAL” homesteaders.

They came to this country (Canada) with NOTHING, got crappy land and built a life from NOTHING.

That is”REAL” homesteading.

What people do today is also homesteading but you can do it however you darn well please. Homesteading today is using some (or all if you wish) of the traditional ways of our ancestors when they came to this part of the world, incorporated with new ways of living such as solar energy, newly developed seeds and plants and perhaps working at a really good job.

There is no one way to do it.

There are no such things as “real homesteaders” anymore. Homesteaders are people who decide that they are homesteaders. It can be in mind or in physical reality. It doesn’t matter.

I just wanted to clarify that.

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Saving Oregano

We have two oregano beds that survived the winter. This plant is interesting because it is obviously not native to this region, yet is survives our ridiculously difficult winters. There is always some die-back and some sections of the beds don’t come back, but they always spread.

Both of our oregano beds have a north facing exposure so this is even more interesting to me. Because this herb is so useful, it is a good idea for everyone to plant a little and dry some for use in the off season.

This year I am planting more because of our venture into market gardening. The old beds needed refreshing so I harvested as much as I could very early. The stems were very short but I pinched them down to the ground.

The second bed has even more to be harvested which has yet to be done. All of this will be dried for our own use. The first batch I dried on an old cookie sheet but the second harvest will be dried in our homemade dehydrator.

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The remaining beds will be removed, some good sections will be replanted in different locations, and the dead sections composted. The roots on these plants are VERY tough and difficult for me to even get a shovel into. This must be why they are so good at surviving the winters here.

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This oregano bed has a lot of grass in it. Another reason to remove it.

I use oregano in many different things that we eat like the obvious – pizza, tomato sauce, salsa, salad, etc. but I also put some in my dog’s food – dried of fresh – from time to time.

Some people believe that giving greens to dogs is a not species appropriate but I don’t think that at all.  In small amounts this and other culinary herbs are a benefit to dogs. I have been using them for years with no issues. Dogs that are not used to things like this should be started on them slowly using COMMON SENSE.

So I harvested quite a bit of early oregano for drying and now that is something I don’t have to think about for the rest of the summer. We have as much as we need for ourselves so I can concentrate on selling the rest.

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Getting Along In A Small Community

Living rurally obviously has some challenges. One of the big ones that often gets negative attention from those who live in cities is how people get along in a small town.  Sometimes, trying to accomplish things of importance and make progress towards goals can be near to impossible.

Every community has a person or people who make it difficult to get stuff done.  Often, these people are not overly helpful either and prefer to use the voice rather than the muscles. Sometimes things can be worked out and other times they won’t be. I have found a few things that can help with these issues.

Ignore all negativity. Obviously this is difficult but it works. Negativity is generally there for attention getting. If you don’t give reinforcement to the negative talk, there is no pay off and it will happen less and less. Your hope is that particular person will tire of not being noticed and will leave the group or stop the negativity.

Obviously if there is a problem that needs to be addressed then it must be addressed. This is different from paying attention to negativity. Address the issue and move on.

People talking negatively abound in most places. I have learned that if I don’t have to interact with them in person on a regular basis, I can continue to do the work I am doing and it won’t affect the outcome. If however, I have to work in close contact with these types, I have trouble doing my job. Not everyone will be able stay away from negativity at all times, so the best tactic is to ignore it. And not everyone will be able to ignore it. Do your best.

It is best to realize that continuous negativity is a problem that is not related to things outside of oneself. When you remember this, it is easier to separate yourself from what you don’t want to hear. I used to take it personally but now I don’t.

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Presenting the facts of an issue as they stand. This can go a long way to eliminating negativity. If you present information that is very clear about something, stating the benefits of a particular tactic or option it often helps to calm fears and show that there is no threat coming from you or other supporters. Often there is perceived competition in a group or on a certain project. When you give the facts and benefits of something calmly, and make sense about whatever you are working on, this most often works to end negativity.

Other parties can often not present more compelling facts to support their cause and often decide to quit the group or accept the facts.

Alternatively, you may be wrong about something and by admitting that you will stop the negative talk outright.

In small towns, there are the same problems as in large centres, just fewer people. People are people no matter where you are. When there is a lower population, you are closer together and hear complaints more often. It is kind of like being in a office where people don’t get along.

One of my relatives lives in a very large city. At her place of work, she has been bullied by another co-worker and the other people in the office have not been overly supportive. There are some that she gets along with but by no means all.

Being in a small town or rural area is no different from the city in that fact.

Because of this,

rural areas should not be given bad publicity about how it is to live there. Negativity and difficulty getting along happens everywhere.

The best thing to do is to not get sucked into the bad talk, keep your mind on the solutions and continue on with helping small towns prosper.

Oh those silly changes again…

Recently I wrote a blog post (ok not really recently but sort of) talking about how we were going to do more travelling and I would work from wherever I was.

Well, talk about messing up plans.

Two weeks ago we went on one of these trips – a camping trip – to a campground not too far away, about three hours. Both Ernie and I didn’t really want to go but because I was determined to go and had done so much planning to do so, we went.

Right at the end of the trip, one of our dogs passed away. Not just any dog. Not one of the 15 year olds, but our youngest and most active and my best pal, Miranda. She had an infection that had gone unnoticed by us and undiagnosed by the vet. She was on a medication that depressed the immune system to stop her from chewing her feet. She picked up a bladder infection which spread. I was weaning her off the med when she crashed. We took her to the vet where we were and they tried their very best, but it wasn’t to be.

Needless to say, we realized that we were focusing on the wrong things. Should I say I was.

Taking care of what you have is so very important. Because of this tragedy in our lives, I have a push to make the transition to homesteading full time and staying put. I had mentioned in my earlier blog post how I had wanted to travel ever since I was small. I guess I was wrong. I also can no longer look (groom, pet sit, or train) after other people’s dogs, something you may have heard me discuss in the past, but now seems pressing to do.

It often takes something major to happen to snap us out of, or move us toward what we really should be doing. Unfortunately, this realization usually happens after the fact.

I know this all sounds kind of silly, but when you have a feeling about something, listen to it. Feelings are facts in my opinion. You don’t have to read everything I post, but just know that your support is very helpful. Thanks.

How We Feed Our Homestead Dogs

Pets are an expense. Food and vet bills are the main issues. When I consider feeding my dogs on the homestead, I always feed the best food I can find. This doesn’t always mean bought food either.

Dogs need to eat well just like we do. What they eat affects their health. Having six dogs and many more over the years and being a pet professional, I have tried all kinds of store bought dog foods as well as those I prepared myself and I have seen many different kinds being fed to their dogs by clients.

On the homestead, the more food I can provide for my dog the better.

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The dogs are waiting to find out what daddy is making.

This is what we do:

We Feed Dry Dog Food

We buy the best quality dry dog food we can find that is made in the closest location to us. Yes, we use a dry dog food for convenience. Yikes! Isn’t this the opposite of a homesteader’s thinking? In a way yes and in a way no.

By yes I mean that it is not self sufficient and likely NOT the most ideal thing for a dog. By no I mean that I have always felt that our dogs need to be able to eat from many different sources. Often, I have worked with a dog who has been babied and won’t eat anything but certain types of food. I expose our dogs to many different kinds of foods and this includes a good quality dry food.

So if you are a “purist” and want to and can feed your dog raw or only stuff from your homestead, great. It can be done. I have fed raw in the past for years, but currently don’t have the access to the kind of meat I want to feed to six dogs. Also, two of my dogs are 15 years old and can’t chew bone anymore. They also are starting to not eat, so I give them whatever I can that is tasty enough to interest them AND give them nutrients they need.

We Feed Cooked Fish

We buy canned salmon and sardines, and fish that was caught from the local area lakes. Don’t forget that if you are or want to be a “raw” feeder, canned fish is cooked and so is not raw. All fish caught in local lakes is cooked before feeding to the dogs.

We Feed Scraps

All scraps have to be whole foods i.e. NOT processed meats, foods with additives etc. Our scraps include things liked cooked potato and other veggies, meat scraps like chicken, venison, beef, pork etc. If there is fat, we still feed it but are extremely careful not to feed too much at once.

We also buy dog cookies/treats at this time from the pet store, but that is also for convenience and we buy from companies that are as local as possible with the best ingredients as possible.

We Feed Meat From Local Sources

We get meat locally. The beef is grass fed from nearby ranchers and we get chicken from a woman who raises them herself. We used to get pork from a farmer but have not had any for a few years. Ernie also hunts during the season, and sometimes the dogs get extra deer meat, but we always cook the deer. The deer antlers are also given to the dogs instead of bones to chew. If I feed bones they must always be raw. We only give chicken bones as we have had bad experiences feeding other bone.

If I feed raw meat only on one day, I make sure to always give bone meal if it is beef or feed the chicken with the bones. Feeding raw meat exclusively without bone leads to nutrient imbalance.

Other Stuff

We also feed raw or cooked eggs. If we have farm eggs then we feed raw. If not, then the eggs are cooked. In the fall we have apples from our trees but make sure not to give too many so that they don’t eat too many seeds. Most seeds go right through because they don’t chew them, but just to be cautious we watch how many they eat.

And thats about it really. Basically, we try to keep it simple and not feed processed food from the grocery store. Dry dog food is processed but with the high quality that we buy I am not worried about that. If we come into a regular source of local meat for the dogs, I will start feeding that.

Happy Homesteading!

 

Working From Home – Reusing Items For Equipment Part 2

Recently, my homemade dryer arm was completed with the help of several reused/recycled metal and plastic parts – and a new grooming arm that was purchased 2 years ago that I have never really used. Ernie pieced together the contraption so that I could brush out a dog’s coat while having the air blow on it without having to hold it myself.
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The dryer sits in a piece of plastic that came from the back shack and is attached to an old plastic tripod. The arm moves in and out and turns from side to side, so I can adjust where the air is blowing. This frees up my hands to hold a dog and brush at the same time. Works great. Many things were saved from being chucked in the garbage.

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DIY Handmade Tree Ornaments

The first project for the tree decorations this year are pine and spruce cone “ornaments”. I feel these are appropriate because they are part of a tree (obviously) and they bring the outdoors inside without make much of a mess. They are already dry, don’t fall apart and can be used year after year.

All you need are pine and/or spruce cones, (the ones I have here are Norway spruce), and some thread or if you want to use something fancier, you can use ribbon or glittery gift tying ribbon. I am using sewing thread because it is not too noticeable when hanging on the tree, and also because I will not be spending anything on this project and I don’t have any ribbon I can use.

All you do is tie a piece of thread or ribbon around one of the cone “branches” near the top. Try to make it balanced by placing the thread closer to the centre of the cone. Tie the end into a loop and hang on the tree.

The other ornaments are crocheted snowflakes that my mom made about 30 years ago. They were hidden away in an attic in a relative’s home and we finally found them. They are a little yellowed but look great on the tree.

This is truly an homestead craft project as it costs nothing to make, if you get your cones from your own trees or some that you find.ornamentsupplies

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Use What You Have For Homesteading Style

Today my project is this alpaca/acrylic scarf that I have made in two days from yarn that I bought ages ago but didn’t use. Actually I did use a couple to make scarves, and they turned out to be super warm but not overly dressy.

I made a long wide scarf with large needles so that it could be wrapped and doubled up if necessary for more warmth, but still look dressy or as I like to call it “glam” haha. This scarf is SUPER warm due to the alpaca in the blend. I had four colours, not enough of any one colour to make a sweater so I thought this would substitute. This was just knitting both sides and I used no pattern.

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First harvest 2014

This spring we have harvested our first vegetable – spinach. It seeds itself and we pick it early. Whatever we don’t eat we blanch and freeze for the winter. This year’s spinach harvest was not bad. The amount we get depends where it seeds itself and how much Ernie tills up.

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