Author Archives: Homesteader's Supply

Are You Prepared Should Disaster Strike????

I’m sitting here watching the coverage of Hurricane Sandy and I’m in awe of the power of this storm! A friend of mine on FaceBook just posted this photo and it gave me some perspective when the weather folks talk about Sandy as compared to Irene… This storm is massive and that’s an understatement!!! I know it’s not expected to hit Wisconsin, but I tell you… it’s got me thinking about being a bit more prepared!!! Do we have oil for the oil lamps??? Do we have enough oil lamps? How about a store of water for the livestock until electricity is restored to run the well? What about a generator to power the well, the freezer full of beef, essentials that need to run until power is restored. What about a snow storm or an ice storm that took out the power in the winter? How would we heat this house without power to run the fans on the furnace or the blower on the gas fireplace? I certainly know it’s time to consider a wood stove to replace the gas insert in the fireplace! So many thoughts are twirling around in my mind. So many thoughts and prayers being sent out to those in the throws of the storm this very evening!

So, what do you have set up for preparedness? Do you have a way to care for your homestead should disaster strike? Whether it is a hurricane, an ice storm or the snow storm of the century… how will you ensure your homestead survives safely???

More on Turning a New House into a Homestead

It is a beautiful fall day on the new homestead out here in Wisconsin. Rain has been falling for the last two days and the temperatures are cooling down to the mid 50’s during the day and mid 30’s at night. The leaves are now brilliant shades of yellow, orange, red and browns. I took these pictures about an hour ago to share how the barn floors are working out and had to share this one of Do out in his pasture.  Now, about the barn floors. We kept the sand we’d ordered in and moved over 7 yards of sand to build up the two big box stalls and a center stall between the two box stalls. The stall that the horse uses needed much more build up and was like walking on a beach. Each step was quite a bit of effort so we talked to some folks, did some research and finally decided to go with a friend’s advice to add shavings to the sand. This firmed up the footing tremendously!!! It’s super easy to keep clean too. We bought a 10 tine manure fork and the sand / shavings drop through and the manure, whether cow or horse, stays on the fork. Clean up takes minutes per evening, especially when they spend so much time in there on these rainy days! We added a total of four bags of shavings to the horse stall and two bags of shavings to Cookie cow’s stall. Her stall required about half the sand as what was needed in the horse stall. We have less than half of the sand pile left and when it dries out a bit after these rains, we’ll bag up 2500 pounds into sand bags (we bought 50 bags which will hold 50 pounds each) We plan to hang onto this for future projects and will toss a few in the back of the truck for traction this winter. I do believe we will call this sandy learning experience a success. The urine drains down well and dries up quickly while the barn still smells of pine bedding. We’ve done some other small projects over the past few weeks. We trimmed up several trees that were weighed down by heavy, low level limbs. We also got our hands dirty with some plumbing projects. My brother is out visiting from Arizona and showed us how to sweat copper fittings with flux and soldering. We had two valves that wouldn’t completely turn off and he gave us a DIY plumbing lesson on changing out the valves to a better type of water valve. The project was a leak free success! Now, we are all ready to enjoy a home made pot of chili that I made earlier today along with some fresh corn bread!
Happy Homesteading and I hope you enjoy the pictures below!
Nance
The horse stall with shavings mixed into the deep sand base.
Here is the other end of the horse stall. We have rubber mats down for him to eat his grain on.

This is Cookie Cow’s stall. It didn’t need quite as much sand (about half)

Here is the other end of Cookie’s box stall. She’s been bedding down in here at night now that it’s cooler.

Here is Cookie in Do’s stall (they were both in here) waiting out the rain today.

Homesteader’s Supply Featured in Podcast with GNOWFGLINS!

The folks here at Homesteader’s Supply enjoy Wardeh’s work at GNOWFGLINS very much. She does an amazing job on her e-courses and podcast which help other homesteader’s learn the lost traditions of food preservation, cheese making and all things homesteading! Wardeh recently invited both Jerri and myself (Nance) to be a part of her teaching endeavor!

I was featured a couple of weeks ago in a Podcast on raw milk and keeping a family cow. Wardeh and I had a great conversation about our move from Arizona to Wisconsin and how all of us, including Cookie cow, handled the move. We talked about cheese making a bit, but more about how to keep a cow healthy and why we put all that work into milking a cow twice a day! You can hear the podcast by clicking on this link or on any of the photos of me below.
Jerri was also featured this week on Wardeh’s podcast discussing cheese making and the “Ultimate Cheese Press” manufactured by Homesteader’s Supply. They talked about why make your own cheese? How to get started with some easier recipes and how to troubleshoot when thing go wrong. Listen to Jerri from her home in Arizona talking with Wardeh on this Podcast.
We hope you enjoy the podcasts and welcome any feedback you have! 
Happy Homesteading!!!!!!

Preparing For A New Winter!

The trees are turning, revealing amazing fall colors of reds, yellows, pinks, oranges and browns… the garden survived the first frost and is winding down production. We built up the box stalls in the barn to ensure that the cow and horse had a warm and dry place to bed down at night. The days of fall are getting colder and shorter.
We’ve been in Wisconsin for about three months now and it’s already time to start planning for the coming winter months. We talked about what it is we’ll need to get done before winter and I realized, as the discussion went on, how different the climate in Wisconsin will be from that of Arizona. In Arizona, we’d get snow… sometimes at least a foot in a good overnight storm, but it would typically melt off in a day or so and while it was cool outside, it was rarely bitter cold. I am thinking that those mild winter days are behind me with the move to Wisconsin! So, today’s blog will toss around our winter planning ideas and I would encourage hearing from all of you on how you’re planning for your winter months.

130 bales of 2 string hay plus the loose pile

First item on our list was to ensure a good food supply for Do and Cookie cow. We did end up finding a great resource for hay. We purchased about 100 bales of Alf-Alfa and about 30 bales of grass hay.We hadn’t been here long enough to find a resource for used pallets… so for this year we used two 12′ x 5′ corral panels as an air gap beneath the pile. I am hoping it is enough to keep it from molding. So far, the bales we’ve fed have been lush and green with zero mold smell or evidence of too much moisture. We did stack this in the corner of the 30 x 60 pole barn / garage. One thing completed on our list!!
Today’s big task is to go through the barn and garage to pull out anything that can’t tolerate freezing temperatures! I use Espree Aloe Herbal Fly Repellent on the cow and horse… this doesn’t tolerate freezing well so I’ve made a livestock shelf in the basement for this and other items I’ll pull from the tack room. Ivomec, Blu Kote, etc… Really, any liquid items in your tack room should be pulled for the winter months to avoid container splitting or reducing the effectiveness of the product.
Tack was another question that popped into my mind, though from what I’ve read on many forums, a good oiling in the fall and covering your tack will keep it safe from damage through the cold months.

Heated auto fill  water source

Water sources for Cookie and Do are another consideration for the Wisconsin winters. We have a heated water source. It’s an auto fill, tied directly to the well, and has a heater inside the housing to keep the water from freezing. While I am comfortable with this, and love that it has access from front and back (though not visible in the picture)… I’m thinking I want a back up water source in the barn. In Arizona, I used  a large metal garbage can that I purchased specifically for a back up water source. I put a large rock in the bottom and set a submersible heating element on top of the rock. I used the rock just to create a larger heat source. We had temperatures in AZ that would dip to -9 degrees and this stayed at 40 degrees. As long as I can make sure that the furry kids have access to water, I’m happy!!!
So, in summary… the furry kids have a warm place to sleep for winter… plenty of food…. and a good water source. All items that can freeze have been removed from the tack room and into the heated basement. Tack has been oiled and covered for protection. Have I missed anything that you can think of???
Happy Homesteading and I hope you all are enjoying the hot cider and amazing fall colors!!!

Nance

Barn Stalls Update… and a Give Away!

Sand… Sand… and more Sand!!!! Ok, if you ever have the notion to buy 13 yards of sand… DON’T DO IT!!!! So, now that I didn’t get that advice in time… we have 13 yards of sand to deal with!! I ordered it to fill in the box stalls in the barn. They are dirt floor and after many years of poop scooping the stalls were about 8″ too shallow and a bit bowl shaped. After adding about 3 yards of sand to the first box stall, we found the flooring to be too shifty… Cookie and Do’s hooves sunk in the sand and Do seemed to be a bit unsteady on his feet. We needed to add something to the sand to keep it from shifting beneath the hooves. We pulled up the stall mats and raked the stall level and smooth again. After many chats with others who own livestock, we decided to go with the advice to add shavings to the sand to help firm it up and create a stall floor that they can bed down in this winter and will wick away moisture.
Once it was all raked smooth, we added three bags of shavings and it did make an immediate difference! The horse walked in and his hooves were solid on the shavings and didn’t sink down into the sand! All was wonderful… UNTIL.. the cow came in… I will post a few photos below to give you an idea of the happy cow dance… Seriously, she made a mess, but didn’t hurt the added stability of the floor with the shavings mixed into the sand. We have since added the sand foundation to two more stalls and just have to add the shavings . Keep reading after the pictures for some give away fun…

Here is Cookie diving into the shavings… notice the horse looking over like “What the HELL!!!”

Now, she’s really blending the shavings into the sand… and the horse with bad fetlocks is staying way out of the way!!!!

So, as you can see… the cow loves the changes to the stall!!! While we continue working on the barn we need a bit of help from you… WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH ALL THE EXTRA SAND????????????????

Some ideas we have… fill sand bags and put them on a pallet. We can load them in the back of the truck for weight this winter and traction should we get stuck in the snow… actually, we’ll put some in each of the three vehicles..

Other idea provided by my son Matt… HORSE SHOE PITS!!! so now we are trying to figure out a location for those…

As for the give away… I have a 3 pack of Pickle Pro lids for the best suggestion on what else we can do with the sand. We only have about 6 yards left – maybe 5 by the time we fill sand bags…

I look forward to reading the many ideas and suggestions!

Happy Homesteading from the great state of Wisconsin!!!!

Got Sand???? Why Yes… Maybe Too Much!!

Another episode from the new homestead in Wisconsin…

We had 13 yards of sand delivered yesterday. I had no idea how much 13 yards of sand was and as I sat waiting for the truck to arrive, I silently hoped I had enough! Now I know that 13 yards is a dump truck load of sand and quite honestly… way too much!

So, once the load of sand was dumped… we began moving wheel barrow load upon wheel barrow load into one of the box stalls. The stall was way too low and needed built up. I thought we were getting a mix of soil and sand, which would have packed down nicely… but we got beautiful volleyball court sugar sand… and A LOT OF IT! We moved and raked many yards of sand into the stall and it built up nicely… until the horse and the cow walked in… Now, I find myself out there raking the deep hoof marks flat and wonder if I haven’t made the first mistake on our new homestead.

Perhaps sand wasn’t the best choice… now that we have enough to create an Olympic size volley ball court! It packs down well enough beneath rubber mats, but the moment hooves touch the bare sand (without a mat), there are big dig marks in it and the horse seems unsteady. (He had bad fetlocks) We are leaning towards digging about half out of the stall and putting shavings on top of the sand.

I sat down and researched it a bit tonight and realized how rash of a decision I made. I called for top soil and woman I spoke to shared that many use sand to build up box stalls for horses. I planned on putting rubber mats down where the horse eats… and we feed hay outside… so while I wondered about sand colic, it wasn’t my biggest concern. My concern is that the cow and horse sink in the sand much like the wheel barrow does in the picture above.

Have any of you used sand to build up a box stall? I figure we moved enough sand to build it up about 8 inches… maybe I should have done it in stages? It was damp when when moved it into the stall… as it dries I find that it is FINE FINE FINE sand. I’m really thinking we need to dig about half of it out and move that to the other big box stall and then put pine shavings on top of the sand.

Ok, what are your thoughts?? I had great feedback on the pasture blog and I’m working pulling the big weeds and mowing the rest down for a reseeding this winter/spring. Now… I’m looking to all of you to see what you think I should do with this sandy mess I’ve made for myself… and if I dig it out… any suggestions on what to do with the 13 yards of sand??? HAHAHA… If you look at the pictures below, you can see the depth the hooves sink into the sand. Maybe I am worrying about nothing and it will all work out well. I’ve read about how sand dries out the hooves too… so much I should have considered before delivery!!

By the way – we will be filling up some sand bags for weight in the back of my truck when it snows this coming winter!!!

Any and all thoughts are welcome… and as always… Happy Homesteading!!!!