The handle on my favorite hammer just broke off and I’m heartbroken. I’ve never loved a tool more than I loved that thing, but it honestly needed a new handle about 5 years ago. I had cobbled it together so many times with screws, putty, and nails. It surprised me that the handle didn’t just come out where I’d cobbled it together, it just broke clean off under the head itself. The new handle won’t feel nearly as comfortable in my hand as the old one did.
Tools require care. They are prone to rust and may require sharpening from time to time. Most also have wooden handles that can split or break when left out in the weather. Chances are you already have several in poor shape.
Do you know that most people in the US don’t know how to use a shovel properly or how to hold and use an ax?
Knowing how to use your tools appropriately not only helps you do the job more efficiently, it also saves you money and protects your body from undue harm. Tools are designed to be used in a specific way. When used in an intended way, they need less sharpening and care. Your body also requires less energy to operate them and will be less likely to be injured. Continue reading
There was a saying during World War II, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. ” The same holds true today for modern homesteaders, only we tend to say, “reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle.”
The basic premise is first to reduce our reliance on materials that would ordinarily end up in the landfill by purchasing products with less packaging and reusing or recycling the packaging on those products that do have it.
Homesteaders have an advantage in this because our grocery stores come from our own property, but we still have feed sacks and some commercial purchases to make at the local grocer. Continue reading
Plants can be grown from cuttings as well as seeds. Some plants do even better this way. Grapes, for example, are far easier to grow from a cutting than from a seed. Blackberries are also easier to grow from a cutting than from a seed.
Propagation by stem cuttings is the most commonly used to propagate woody shrubs and vines. Maintaining high humidity around the cutting is critical. This can be accomplished in a greenhouse or by placing plastic or glass over the pot.
There are four main types of stem cuttings are herbaceous, softwood, semi-hardwood, and hardwood. These types refer to the growth stage of the parent (stock) plant, not the plant type itself. Different plants will have different optimal times for taking cuttings.
Let’s discuss the four types of stem cuttings in detail.
When you live in the country, the power sometimes goes out. This almost always happens when it has been raining in the winter, it is cold, and you have a million things to do. You certainly don’t have time to figure out how to bake bread without an oven or electricity.
There are several different ways to bake bread without an oven. Solar ovens, flatbread in a pan over a fire, baking in a tin can over coals, and baking in a dutch oven are just some of the ways you can make your bread when you have no working oven.
Our favorite way is baking in a dutch oven. It is actually very simple and once you’ve done it you might wonder why you didn’t do it this way before.
Predators and nuisance animals are the bane of the homesteader. They literally eat our hard labor and profits. In many states, it is perfectly legal to shoot or trap an animal that is harassing your livestock or eating your fruits and vegetables.
In California, where we live, these laws get sticky, but it is still possible.
Hunting can be a great source of meat for your homesteading family. This can be especially true if your flock has suffered losses due to predation, but it can also provide you with variety in your diet.
For many in this country, hunting could be a solution to a very real problem, hunger. For some, it is.
Hunting and trapping was something we did when I was a child. It wasn’t just for fun, it was needful. I’m glad that I can share this skill with my children. One day they might need it as much as we did.
Here’s another skill you can learn now, even if you aren’t on the homestead yet.
First Aid and CPR are necessary skills when you live in the middle of nowhere. It can take over an hour for the ambulance to get to us, we’ve timed it, then we have another hour to get to the hospital. That is time that we can’t waste. Not only are we familiar with basic First Aid and CPR we also have taken advanced classes in wilderness survival, wilderness first aid, and water safety.
You can do this too.
Occasionally, we have to cull an animal that we weren’t prepared to cull. We always try to have a refrigerator in the garage for aging meats. This is needed for this eventuality too.
If an animal is in too much pain from an injury, we won’t let it suffer but we need it to die as quickly and painlessly as possible. A sharp knife across the jugular is the cleanest, quickest way to do this for most animals (except for pigs). They will bleed out in seconds and the pain is minimal.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about knowing how to change a tire and change your oil but that isn’t all the mechanical knowledge you might need on a homestead. It really helps if you also have a basic understanding of how an engine works.
You could just call up a mechanic or get a tow truck to haul your vehicle, truck, tractor, etc. down to the shop. If you know how to do some basic repairs, you won’t have to spend the money on the mechanic or the tow truck and you’ll save yourself the downtime too.