Homestead Frugality

This month I thought I would touch on a couple of money saving tips and a few money making tips, living on a fixed income does have its depressing moments. But with a bit of thought and some possible foresight and planning, those bumps or potholes can be smoothed over.

Just the other day I was in a group conversation about mowing and all of the various plants that grow in my yard. Among those are dandelion, bitter lettuce, and yarrow. In the span of 20 minutes, I had people who wanted to buy or trade for these “weeds” this is fine with me. I can harvest from the yard before I mow let them dry in the carport they mail the plants to the folks that want them. Granted it’s not a lot of cash, but to let it build up as a sort of emergency fund it’s surprising how much money can accumulate in a short time.

How To Raise Chicks: How To Get Hens To Adopt Mail Order or Feed Store Chicks

If you have ever raised day old chicks from the feed store or by mail order you know that it is a hassle. You have to monitor them all the time, check the temperature of the brooder and in general be their mommy until they are old enough to go in with the adult birds. Not to mention heat lamps are notorious for starting fires!

In contrast, a mother hen does all that and more! She keeps the chicks at a perfect temperature all the time, babysits them to perfection, teaches them how to find food and what to eat, and defends them aggressively against any threat, including other chickens!

Is This the Worlds Most Awesome Chicken Coop?

We have used many things for chicken coops over the years. A garage, dog crates, pet carriers, pens constructed from insulation panels, scrap wood, and mismatched cuts of wire fencing, plastic, and whatever else could keep chickens contained. It was a shantytown for poultry but it did the job.

With a change of residency came the opportunity to actually construct a coop that would be something I could stand in, walk through, and not worry about it falling over. Being a thrifty type, using an old travel camper that was on our property seemed like the only natural choice.

The 1970s-era camper was fairly gutted but still had some remnants that needed to go. We took out the remaining lights, shelving and extras, and then The Man of the Place built a frame on each side to create a ledge. We put leftover roofing steel on the front of each, to cover that underneath. These ledges were for roosting or feed or whatever. We used the top of the air conditioner box to hold a roosting rail, fastening it across to the other side of the wall. We had to put a bracing wood underneath, bolting that in. For the seating, that was pretty much it.

Emergency Power Alternatives Made Simple Part II

Battery Bank / Power Inverter (READ PART ONE HERE –EMERGENCY POWER ALTERNATIVES MADE SIMPLE Part I Solar Panels and Charge Controller) By Robert B – http://keepingupwiththepreppers.blogspot.com/ The battery bank is the most important component of your system. Once the sun goes down, the battery bank will provide electricity throughout the night if built correctly. The […]

Our Off The Grid Solar System

This is a follow up to a reader’s question I received from a previous post. As a reminder, my wife and I are the couple living alone 100 miles in the Canadian bush. Back around 1980, when I first started on my off-grid journey, both money and experience were in short supply. One might say I was young and clueless. Nonetheless, I set out to homestead in northern Maine and I outfitted my cabin with an off grid setup which was so small it bordered on the absurd. I had one small solar panel, small charge controller and a car battery. I planned to power a car radio and tiny TV.

Raising Meat Rabbits – The Easiest Way For Preppers to Put Meat on Their Table

Raising rabbits as a source of meat for your family is an excellent addition to any prepper’s homestead. I realize that this is not an original idea, people have been raising meat rabbits for years. In fact, rabbits were a common backyard food source during the Great Depression and during World War II Uncle Sam encouraged families to raise rabbits and chickens for protein to go along with their victory gardens. Even the poorest of families could provide a steady source of meat for their children because rabbits were relatively inexpensive to raise. Their diet is made up entirely of grass, vegetables (fresh from the garden or scraps from the table), and clean water. There are also numerous commercial feed options.

The rate of reproduction for rabbits is pretty astounding! Gestation is about 31 days and the does nurse the kits until they are about 5-6 weeks. Litters range from 4-12 kits. The kits will reach butcher weight between 8 to 12 weeks and, depending on the breed, can provide about 5lbs of meat each. A doe can be bred every 45 days to produce the maximum number of kits each year. So under optimal conditions, a single doe can easily produce 150lbs+ of meat in a year! Rabbit meat is lean and packed with protein.

A Great Idea For Preppers – The Biogas Digester

A digester is a great homestead appliance. You put all sorts of refuse in it and get fuel from the other end. However, it requires some work. First, we have to decide whether we want a continuous flow system or a batch system, there are pros and cons to each. At this point, I want to impress to the readers this is an old technology, been in use for decades if not centuries. It has even been shown in post-apocalyptic movies like Mad Max. So when you see it on a social media site being trumped up as a new thing, it’s not.

A batch system is just that, you place all your materials in a container and seal it, keep it warm and in a couple of months, you will start getting methane gas. Once the charge is exhausted it has to have the sludge removed, refilled and stated over. A person can have several small batch systems running to maintain an uninterrupted supply of gas.

EMERGENCY POWER ALTERNATIVES MADE SIMPLE Part I Solar Panels and Charge Controller

Building an off-grid power source for your home or “Bug Out” location is not as difficult as you may think. Having power can drastically improve the quality of life during a long or short term power outage. After losing all of our food during a three-day power outage after a severe storm, we learned quickly that taking the power grid for granted was not a good time.

Please keep in mind that we are not experts and there are always dangers when dealing with electricity.

Choosing and Installing a Tankless Water Heater

When I purchased my country property several years back it was in dire need of updating.  Over the last few years I have gradually replaced many items which were hanging on at their end of life!  The conventional 50 gallon tank water heater was approximately 15 years old and while it worked, it took between 5 to 7 minutes to get hot water to the master bathroom, depending on outside temperature.  I knew it needed to be replaced so I began researching tankless water heaters.  I have no connection to any brand mentioned other than being a happy customer.  I had already decided to use propane gas as a fuel source as I did not want electric and I don’t have access to natural gas. This article describes my research and choice of a water heater.

I lived in Europe for five years and most of the housing had tankless water heaters so I gained some valuable experience with on-demand water heaters; both good and bad.  Fast forward a bunch of years and the on-demand heaters were becoming the rage in the USA because of the high utility costs of conventional tank water heaters.  But I stayed with my 50 gallon tank and paid the price of heating water 24/7/365.

Our experience introducing chickens to our homestead

Our first experience with raising chickens was very interesting… we bought from a local who obviously knew more about chickens than we did at the time and took it as a chance to unload some “damaged” goods. We started with 6 of the ugliest stinkiest chicks we had seen. By 3 months it was obvious these were not normal chickens. They were mixed breeds and mixed up. Some were bantams, all but 2 were roosters and we had everything from deformed feet to hens that would not lay an egg. At one year old we had one dominant, mean rooster that killed every other male in the flock in one afternoon. The two hens remained free ranging with him because we didn’t know what to do with him. Then he started charging my 2 yr old and the lawnmower and ended up pushing up daisies. The other 2 hens never laid an egg and were killed by something a lot larger and hungrier than they were. That experience taught us what we did not want.