Turning the New House into a Homestead!

new homestead
I apologize for the time since my last blog… We have been trying to unpack and get settled here on the new homestead. While walking the property, talking about what to do to turn this little hobby farm into a working homestead, I had the idea to invite all of you to share the journey with us. So, with that thought in mind, here is our first installment of “Turning your new home into a working homestead”.

new homesteadMoving from Arizona to Wisconsin was quite an adventure. I am happy to share that we are all finally on one parcel of land. Cookie and Do were delivered last Sunday from the boarding facility and the big rig truck has been completely unloaded. While we moved from Arizona to Wisconsin with the desire of getting back to the moisture and green of the Midwest, we were quite surprised with the subtle differences between the two states…

Climate aside, there are a few differences that take a bit of getting used to. Now, I’m sure that had we arrived in any other year I wouldn’t have noticed quite so many differences so soon, but being as the “worse drought since the 50’s” was in full swing when we arrived, the difference jumped out right off the bat.

In Arizona, we shopped at one of two local feed stores for hay, C.O.B. (Corn, Oats and Barley with Molasses) and these nifty alfalfa pellets called Estralla. Cookie and Do survived the desert living off this diet for their entire life! Arriving in Wisconsin with brown pastures and no rain in sight, I set out to find a feed store… and was shocked when I couldn’t really find one! No one sold hay! Farm and Fleet sold a sweet feed but it was pelleted – not whole grains and NO ONE carries Estralla pellets out here.new homestead They were designed for the southwest apparently! Who knew???!!! We ended up buying the sweet feed in pelleted form and found alfalfa hay cubes that were shipped in from Canada. The horse lost some weight, but we kept them going until the rains came back and the pastures greened up. I’m sure that when I am able to experience a normal Wisconsin summer, I too will scoff at the notion of a feed store in the Midwest, but right now… I’m longing for my Olsen’s Grain in Chino Valley, AZ!!!

Other differences… the grocery stores are so incredibly different. We had to dry up Cookie cow for the trip and left much of the condiments in AZ with friends. The grocery stores out here are TINY and a bit specialized. While this is fun and an adventure each time we go shopping, it’s also difficult because several stores become involved to accomplish an entire grocery list. We did find a large Safeway type grocery store in Middleton and will likely do most of our shopping there for the non-homestead created essentials.

Complete side note….. While I am all about the homestead and growing / raising our own food… I have to confess that there is this cheese spread called Owl’s Nest Port Wine Cheese that has me completely addicted!!!! It’s now my favorite after work snack with some salty butter pretzels!!!

Another very fun difference… you can buy fishing worms… live bait… booze and sub sandwiches from the same store!!!! The one closest to us claims “LIVE BAIT AND LIQUOR!!!” ahead one mile on a sign!!! I went into the store just to check it out… and found it to be quite a neat little country store!

new homesteadThough, despite the differences, I wouldn’t change a thing! I am LOVING the Midwest and now that we are starting to find sources for a winter stock pile of hay… I am feeling secure for Cookie and Do too!

Hope you enjoy the new homestead adventure journey with us and wish you all the best!!!

Nance – with Homesteader’s Supply!

 

Tending Livestock During a Drought

Hello all. It’s Nance… the geeky homesteading side of Homesteader’s Supply… Jerri is still in Chino Valley, AZ while I and my family have recently moved from Chino Valley to Arena, Wisconsin. The move was for many reasons, one of which was that homesteading in the dry Arizona landscape was super expensive and almost impossible in many respects.

Gardening was super challenging… I tried straw bale gardening, in ground beds and container gardening… none of which offered enough harvest for canning and all of which required at least twice a day watering.

Then there was the challenge of having livestock in a land of no pasture grass…. We bought hay year around and with two dairy cows, a horse, a goat and two dairy calves, the feed bill peaked at $1,000.00 per month. Each time gas went up… so did hay prices because all of it had to be trucked in… then when gas prices when down – however hay never did go down in price… What was an $8.00 bale of hay is now a $22.00 bale of hay!

Along with the homesteading issues we faced… we were also looking for a school for my son to attend for auto mechanics… so we pack up the house in to a U-Pack truck and load Cookie cow and Do, the horse into the trailer and set sails to Wisconsin where we had a college for Matt and green grass for the furry kids, along with the hope of easy gardening!!! Little did we know we were moving from the driest place on earth to the…. second driest place on earth!

Our trip was welcomed on day two with 102 degree temps in Missouri and day three offered 106 degrees in Illinois. To say it was hot in a pickup and civic – both with no air conditioning – is an understatement!!! We bagged up ice into Ziploc bags for the cats to cool off on. We wrapped ice into bandanas and tied them around our necks to keep us somewhat cool. We arrived into Wisconsin during the worst drought since the 1950’s! The pastures we planned for Cookie and Do was now brown and void of nutrition.

So, how do you tend to livestock during a severe drought????

I ask because we ran out of transition hay for the furries and had to resort to buying cubed Alf Alfa hay… I have yet to find a store that has any hay to sell and need to make sure these two have some food with nutrients!!!

How are all of you fairing in the drought????

Here’s to hoping for rain and a quality hay supplier by fall for a winter stock pile! Despite the drought, we are all very happy with the move and look forward to a good hard rain!!!

Udder Care Kit! Works for cows, goats, sheep!

This kit provides 3 necessary items for caring for your animals udders/teats. And you get enough to last quite a while! I swear by each and every one of these products… Cookie cow tested and Cookie cow approved. We went the entire year without any mastitis issues!!!!!

1 gallon Foam-N-Dip™ is a ready-to-use iodine teat dip that contains foaming agents, glycerine and lanolin. Foam provides superior coverage with less dip by extending the time of contact with the teat and by reducing waste and drippage. Foam-N-Dip™ may be applied with the Ambic Foaming Dip Cup. Contains .6% Iodine.

4 MultiFoamer Dip Cups, 4 different colors so you know which one belongs to which animal. Set comes with one green, one blue, one orange, and one yellow. Foam dipping can cut chemical usage up to 50%. New MultiFoamer makes a thick clinging foam which stays in contact with the teat for a longer time. MultiFoamer features more consistent foam generation, easier cleaning, built-in valve protection, and suitability for various types of foaming chemicals including Coburn Foam-N-Dip Foaming Iodine Dip. All Ambic Dip Cups are made of tough, durable, chemical resistant materials and have a soft squeezable bottle with wide mouth for easy filling.

1 Complete CMT Mastitis Test Kit The California Mastitis Test is an easy, accurate and inexpensive cow side mastitis test. Simply collect milk from each quarter into the four cups of the paddle and squirt in the reagent for an immediate positive or negative reaction. Complete kit consists of 4-cup test paddle, squeeze bottle reagent dispenser, directions, and 16 oz. bottle of CMT concentrate, enough for 1 gallon of reagent.

I add to this routine a stainless steel bucket filled with warm water and two terry cloth towels, one with a bit of soap… she gets washed and rinsed before each milking!!! What do you do to keep your cow or goat free from mastitis and maintain healthy milk????

Homesteader’s Supply Needs Your Help….

Hello to all of you.

We recently applied for a grant sponsored by Chase bank and LivingSocial Media worth $250,000.00, but we really need your help. You see, part of the requirements is to gain votes through social media outlets proving how valuable social media is to small business. We couldn’t agree more!!! We’ve met so many of you through facebook, google+ and twitter!

Part of the grant process is to earn votes… We need 250 votes to even be considered for this grant. Currently we have 44 and I’m eager to see if our customers, our readers and our friends can come together and help us accomplish this part. Once we get the votes, then it will be up to an independent panel to pick the businesses worthy of the funds. I’m hoping our grant application will earn us that chance!

Here’s how you can help… Please visit www.missionsmallbusiness.com and search for businesses in Chino Valley, Arizona or search directly for Homesteader’s Supply – be sure to use the apostrophe, then simply submit your vote.

I can’t begin to thank you enough for once agian being a part of what makes Homesteader’s Supply a special company!!!

Jerri, Nance and the rest of the “Folks at Homesteader’s Supply!!”


New Book on Fermenting Foods

Homesteader’s Supply has often given a “shout out” to Wardeh Harmon because we believe so strongly in what she does! The education she provides folks on the benefits of natural raw foods as well as the heath benefits of fermentation! And to continue our tradition… It’s our pleasure to carry and feature her newest book…

Fermenting Foods!
by Wardeh Harmon
2012  304 pages

Wardeh’s newest book about Fermenting Foods on the market today! Just published!

This book offers advice on the process of fermenting foods, providing information on how it works and the equipment required, and includes step-by-step instructions for making pickles, salsa, condiments, hummus, yogurt, and cheese.

This is the first series book to discuss the wonderful health benefits of live-culture foods and the techniques for preparing them.

Includes over 100 delicious recipes for all types of fermentation.

Check out her online class on fermenting and tell her jerri at Homesteaders Supply sent you!
http://gnowfglins.com/ecourse/classes/ferment

Biography:

Wardeh (‘Wardee’) Harmon lives in Southwest Oregon with her husband, Jeff, and their three children, Haniya, Naomi and Mikah. They raise a dairy cow, chickens and goats, and garden co-operatively with friends.

Besides homeschooling her children, making cheese, old-fashioned pickles and lots of other fermented foods, Wardeh teaches online classes in the fundamentals of traditional cooking, sourdough, cultured dairy, cheesemaking and lacto-fermentation at GNOWFGLINS eCourse (www.gnowfglins.com/ecourse). She blogs at GNOWFGLINS (www.gnowfglins.com) sharing recipes, videos and anecdotes of her family’s life.

GNOWFGLINS is an acronym to show how Wardeh and her family enjoy “God’s Natural, Organic, Whole Foods, Grown Locally, In Season.” 

Making the Ultimate Cheese Press

We found an amazing wood worker who lives here in Chino Valley and owns a shop in Prescott, Arizona. They make beautiful furniture and cabinets. Jerri was on a mission to find someone to build cheese presses for Homesteader’s Supply. This gave us control over the wood type, control over the quality and consistency we expected from a cheese press.
We moved away from pine and into a hardwood in the Mahogany family. It’s naturally resistant to bacteria and washes up nicely with simple soap and water. We had it finished with 100% Tung Oil which is FDA approved for food contact.

So, what’s involved in making the cheese presses? This big plate of wood took six hours to cut. The grooves were added to the bar that holds the hoops in place to keep the hoops from slipping off to the side when tightening down the follower. The knobs were designed to be easy to grip and clean. The followers were given grooves for gripping when needing to pull it out of the follower. All of these designs were developed over time when testing prototypes. It was actually a very fun process!!! After six hours, the parts were ready to be sanded free from the small bit of wood that secured them to the slab. Once they are all free, they are sanded and oiled with three coats of Tung Oil. with plenty of drying time in between. Finally the stainless steel hardware is added and the hoops are cut and sanded until ultimately….. You have the Homesteader’s Supply Ultimate Cheese Press!!!!

Homesteader’s Supply Ultimate Cheese Press