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Browsing by Tag: Homesteading

Great e-Book!  Written in 1921, these techniques were used to determine the gender of chicken eggs before they were hatched using nothing more than a strong 'candling' light.  The benefit of knowing the gender of the eggs is you can sell the male eggs as food and only hatch the females, which can then be sold as mature, egg-laying hens.  It is wise to raise a few roosters for trading with other farmers to keep your flock's gene pool clean.  

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A few years ago, my wife and I decided that we wanted to build a greenhouse so that we could start working towards self-sufficiency while eating healthier food.  We also needed a storage shed, for storing garden tools, food for our livestock, bales of hay, and the like.  

I started researching various methods of building greenhouses, ranging from inexpensive plastic hoop tunnels to the pre-built kits made from metal tubing and glass panels.  I also reviewed storage solutions like shipping containers, pre-built sheds you can buy from major retailers, and amish-style pole barns.  

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Thursday, 01 September 2016 12:10

Homemade Livestock Hauler Trailer

I recently used this trailer to bring our pigs in for processing, figured it might be helpful for others to see how it was built. The sides are built up to around 3 feet high with 2x12" rough cut material, pressure treated 4x4's, and half-inch carriage bolts.  I also added hog panels to bring the overall height of the walls to over 5 feet. 

One of our major objectives was to be able to restore the trailer to its original "equipment hauling" function, meaning the walls need to come off easily.  (Why buy multiple trailers...?)

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Wednesday, 02 December 2015 13:36

“Dirt Rich” Community Composting Program

We are working with a handful of neighbors to get a small-scale community composting program started.  The following text is copied from a Word Document that you can download below as an attachment. We encourage everyone to participate in a community program like this, at some level.  Even if you're not gardening at home, you are still producing food scraps! 

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Tired of hauling water and stomping ice out of containers?  I have the solution.

Background:
This is our first attempt at raising pigs in the back yard.  We built a basic fence and pig house, got the pigs, and started feeding and watering them.  We were hauling 5 gallon buckets of water for a short time before we realized a better solution was in order.  We have two of these 275-gallon water totes: one under our deck that hooks up to the gutter, and another down by the pigs.  We fill the one using rain water and then use a long hose to fill up the other tank down by the pigs.  No more carrying water!  The hardest part was figuring out how to keep the whole thing from freezing solid during the winter, as it typically hits single digits in January and February here in Northeast PA.

Caution:
Since water and electricity do not mix well, it is important that you install a ground rod next to your tank.  I installed my ground rod about 3 feet away from my tank and ran a long copper wire up the side of the tank and down into it.  If you are not comfortable installing a ground rod yourself, have an electrician come do it for you.  This way, if something goes wrong with one of the electric heaters, it will not shock us or the pigs.  Be sure to check your wires regularly (every few months, at least) and replace things before they wear out. 

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We have been fortunate enough to have a neighbor that was willing to let us expand our backyard homestead operation onto their property.  They were concerned about us developing the property and claiming "squatters rights" to it, so they asked that we write up a contract for everyone to sign.  The purpose of sharing this document is so that other folks, who are interested in homesteading and sustainable agriculture, can work together and do the same thing while protecting themselves legally.

Note: The information contained herein is for informational purposes only as a service to the public, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015 11:04

Product Review: PFERD Chain Sharp®

There are a lot of DC and AC-powered saw sharpeners available, and they seem nice, but I didn't want to buy one.  Mainly because I can bring a chain into the local shop and they will sharpen it for about $6.  And for $6, you walk out with a chain that is "like new."  However, they can only sharpen a chain 5 times using their big machine before there is no more teeth remaining.  I wanted a sharpening solution that would accomplish a few things:

  • It must work without electricity.  I don't want to bring a battery, inverter, or need to stand near my truck in order to sharpen my chain. 
  • It must be simple to operate.  I am not a professional lumberjack and never intend to be. 
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  • "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes ... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. ... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. ... They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."

    - Steve Jobs