new to homesteading

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by mcurry, Apr 23, 2005.

  1. mcurry

    mcurry Guest

    Hello to everyone!
    I am new to homesteading and just found out about it within the last few weeks. My dh and I, along with 5 newly adopted children, live in a small town called Barstow CA. We have a rather large home (4500sqft) and 1/3 of an acre in the front that we are cultivating. Right now we have 8 fruit trees (no citrus yet) and dh has been putting in a garden as we speak. Right now we have tomatoes (lots), pole beans, bush beans, beets, carrots (2 types), collards, kale, lettuce, peppers of all kinds, zucchini, and cucumbers. I am homeschooling the children and gardening is their science project. I would like to live off the grid, but due to my disability, I need my jacuzzi. We have invested in 8 cute little chicks in anticipation of wonderfully beautiful eggs. My husband says that when it's time to eat the chickens (sounds horrible but we gotta eat) that there are people that will kill and dress the little dears for us. I will be checking on that. Are there any suggestions that you may have for me? I want to really become self sufficient, live a quiet life and mind my own business. What else should I be doing? Oil lamps, quilting? I would appreciate any help that you can give me. Thanks for your time.

    Barstowmama
     
  2. HilltopDaisy

    HilltopDaisy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Welcome to Homesteading Today! I think you'll enjoy it here, as there is always something to learn. Read, read, and read some more!
     

  3. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Welcome to the group. I'm going to second what Daisy said... make sure you read. Get as much knowledge as you can... Carla Emery's "Encyclopedia of Country Living" is the best resource available today. There are also other very good books, but as far as I can testify to Carla's is the one you want to start with. You can order it at http://www.carlaemery.com

    As far as quilting, sewing, etc.. If you already sew quilting will be fairly easy to pick up. If you don't sew already I'm going to suggest that you learn. It doesn't matter if your trying to live self suffcient or not, if you have 5 children your going to want to stretch a dollar anyway you can. :haha: I believe that there is a Joanns right there in Barstow that has classes. Since your also growing a garden I'm going to suggest that you invest in some canning supplies. There is a book called "Ball Canning Bluebook", or something like that... it's a very good resource. Also pick up as many jars as you can get your hands on. Yard sales and thrift shops usually have some good deals on these. You can NEVER have too many canning jars.

    8 chicks will give you plenty of eggs for yourself and perhaps sell a few to nieghbors. Be careful about preditors though. Snakes love nesting boxes and will go into the coop to get out of the desert sun. They usually don't bother the hens, they just are looking for shade when it's hot. Make sure that your always aware when you go to collect eggs or feed your chickens. Are you also planning on getting a goat or cow for milk? There is nothing like fresh milk straight from the source. Since your family is large you might need more then one goat or go straight to a good milk cow. You will also benifit from the addional by products such as butter, cheese, yogert etc. All home made in your kitchen.

    OK, I'm starting to ramble so I'll stop. I wish you all the luck in the world. Barstow gets very hot though so I'm going to add one more thing... living in the desert your going to have to get used to doing all the outside stuff early, like get up at 4AM and be done by 9 or 10AM... then go back out about 5 or 6PM and do your evening chores. I lived in the desert for a lot of years, and in the summer months there was no other way to get the work done. The summer heat is just too harsh. I'm very familuar with Barstow, and believe me your going to love your AC when the time comes to use it.
     
  4. barstowmama

    barstowmama Member

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    I've been through one Barstow summer so far and 110 is the norm and I'm hoping this year that we won't get as high as 116 like last summer. What do I do about the chickens? Should I set up a misting system for them? I haven't seen any snakes so far and hope not to. We used to live in Grand Terrace and we had tarantula's and scorpions. Eek!

    My children are being homeschooled due to some problems with the elementary school politics. I finally decided to pull my "learning disabled" children out of school and will take care of their education myself. My husband is onboard so that helps a lot. Today's science project was planting their own vegetables. Each of the children picked their own vegetable to plant and they have to be responsible for weeding, thinning etc.. They're pretty excited about it. Homeschooling has been so much fun and I really enjoy the togetherness I have with my children. I know what they're learning, I can do more math one day or reading...it's all up to me. I filed an affadavit as a private school and removed them from the school district. It's a real shame what they do to our children. It takes me on the average 4 hours to get through their day. Eight hours in school and they are "learning disabled". I believe that the teachers are "teaching disabled". :bash:

    I'm excited about learning to can. My husband knows how to do it so he'll teach me. I've learned to make homemade pita bread, regular bread and rolls. I want to get a goat, but I don't think they'll allow it where I am in town. That would be so great since the kids are all lactose intolerant. Right now soy milk is what they drink.

    I'm so glad that I found this site. I have always felt that I should have been a farmer's wife and that I would have been great at it. The only problem I would have is butchering my own meat. I hear that there are people that will do it for you for a fee.

    Thanks again for all the help and I will look for those books as soon as I am able.

    barstowmama
     
  5. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    welcome to the boards. I second what everyone has said. I must however, emphasize that you need to get comfortable butchering your own livestock. if you truly wish to be self sufficient then you can't leave the "unplesant" chores for someone else. That's money you could use to do something else.

    I don't mean to sound harsh but its something you need to consider.

    Once again welcome to the boards.
     
  6. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    As far as your chickens go, make sure they have lots of shade and water. If you have any trees build their pen around it because they will need it in the summer months. As long as they have a place to get out of the summer sun and water to drink, they will be fine.

    I know exactly what you mean about the Calif. school politics. I homeschooled my son for those exact reasons. I got sick of him being exausted and upset because of their ways..he's also learning disabled. After one year he was excelling in all areas that they said he was faltering in. I'm so glad that I took him out of there. Fortunatly Ca. is one state that it's easy to do that in.

    It's too bad that you can't get a goat. I personally believe that soy isn't as good as they want us to believe and leads to other health problems. But, under the circumstances I guess you have to do what is necessary. I do think though that raw milk is better then store bought because all the good stuff isn't processed out of it and it's better for the digestive system, but that's just my opinion. I'm sure others aren't going to agree.

    The summers in Barstow are all just like you expeirenced last year. I grew up in the desert, and I don't recall there ever being one that didn't get up to the temps in the 110+. We moved 15 years ago and I don't think I'd ever live there again. It gets hot where we are now, although not as bad. But, I don't handle the heat very well anyway, and the smog is getting worse every year even in the rural areas. Currently we're in the process of selling our house and moving to the pacific NW. I can't wait to get there.

    I also think you should get comfortable butchering your own animals though. First of all it's not cost effective to hire it out if all your doing is chickens. Now if your doing beef, or pigs then it would be worth your while especially if you dont' have the equipment or space to do them right. But chickens are easy by comparison. Just don't think of them as pets. They are there to provide you with eggs, fetalizer and dinner.... in turn you give them food, water, shelter, and a good life. Especially if you compare their life to those in the egg farms and such. It's a trade off. :p
     
  7. barstowmama

    barstowmama Member

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    Good morning everyone!
    Thanks so much for your guidance in this transition period that we're going through.

    Butchering the chickens will be a tough one for me and my husband. The kids have named them all. I'd have to research the way it's done, and then what do you do with the feathers?

    I'd love to have a goat, but the neighbor's probably wouldn't appreciate it. My husband used to raise goats and has fond memories of fresh goat's milk. I think the fresh milk would do the kids some good.

    Homeschooling is going to be the most fun. I now know that I can teach them not only what they need to know, but not teach them what they don't need to know. How many times have I gotten a release form from the school asking for permission to teach them about sex/alternative lifestyles/birth control. If I want them to know these things I believe it's up to me to teach them.

    There is a shady place in one corner of the yard and I would like for the coop to go there. DH is a great carpenter. He'll do a great job and the chickens will be quite comfortable. Right now they're quite young and are in a pen in the garage. They're very cute. I have to stop thinking like that.

    In the garden my dh is using a combination of compost/manure/topsoil/super compost in the vegetable gardens. Lots of flowers, lots of vegetables. How does one "trade seeds"? We bought some at Walmart and we also bought plants at the local H&E. Hopefully we get some good veggie's out of all this work.

    Thanks again for the help and anything else you can come up with will be appreciated.

    barstowmama
     
  8. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    Hope you like rain moving to the Pacific NW Jan. We lived in Crescent City for 6 years and I hated it. Glad we moved to the desert. Grew up in So. Cal. so we missed seeing the sun. We are now at 4,400 ft so the nights cool off. We can use our patio (something we only did once in CC in 6 yrs).
     
  9. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    No, NO, NO!Don't let that happen if you can help it, for animals that are fated for food. Food-fated friends is fatal. Depersonalise dinner. If you MUST do it, then call them things like SirLoin, Sir Roger Bacon, and Prince HamLet; or Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner; or Soup, Dumpling, and Stew; or like that.

    Laying hens you can generally allow them to make pets of, but you'd better know the sex first.

    Your climate, I hope you've priced shade cloth and made provisions for erecting it.
     
  10. barstowmama

    barstowmama Member

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  11. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Are you a member of the California Homeschool Network http://californiahomeschool.net/default.htm ?
    If your not, I strongly suggest that you join. I think it's only 35.00 a year, or something like that. They will back you 100% with advice and legal assistance if the school district tries to play hardball with you. They also have a wonderful chat forum that is loaded with good information.

    If you can, try to start referring to the chickens a dumblings, noodle soup, or something like that. Since you kids are all so young, if they hear you calling them by different names maybe they will get it ingrainned that the chickens are there for a purpose.


    Hank actually the rain doesn't bother us...I've loved this winter just because of the rain, it's the sun and summer heat that causes me problems. I got sunstroke a couple times when I was a kid. First time wasn't too bad, but the second one put me in the hospital for a week. Since then I've been very sensitive to the sun and the heat. Every year seems to be a little worse the the year before and I spent all of last year in the house because I couln't handle it. If I step out of the house in the summer, I'm sick to my stomach & dizzy. In the summer I have to get up and do all of my outside stuff very early in the morning... grocery shopping and stuff like that has to wait until the evening. We bought a piece of land in WA a few years ago. I usually spend a couple weeks up there in the summer anyway, and it's the only time I can be outside in the daytime hours. So, after thinking about the summer coming, and other things, we decided that it was time to move... With any luck we'll be there by the 4th of July. :)
     
  12. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    its always easier to get forgiveness than permission. Don't ask don't tell sort of mind set.
     
  13. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like you want these chicks for laying hens (did you get straight run, or pullets?), so butchering won't be an issue for a couple of years, anyway.

    Have you researched 'urban homesteading'? I know there are at least a couple of websites on that topic that might have some helpful information for you. Carla Emery's book is a must-have, though. I think something else that would be helpful for you would be The Tightwad Gazette (three volumes -- library might have it).

    I can't help you with your climate -- it's a good thing there are people here from all over! But suggestions for what you can do in town include: vegetable garden; fruits, nuts, and berries around the perimeter of the yard; an herb patch; poultry -- chicken tractors are great; meat rabbits (DON'T let the children name them, LOL!); beehives. You can do all the crafty stuff, like quilting and soap-making (after the children are in bed, as soap-making is dangerous), and so on, no matter where you are. But my suggestion is to tackle one thing at a time, and get comfortable with it. It sounds to me like you've got a lot going on right now, with your children, homeschooling, the garden and the chickens. I would say wait until next year to add anything to that, or you may end up overwhelmed. It is much too easy to plant a big garden, and then half-kill yourself trying to keep up with weeding and harvesting later. The children are too young to count on them for a lot of help (though they should be helping some), so most of it is going to fall on you. I think it's better to tackle a small project, and see it through to completion, than to take on too much and not be able to finish it later -- when you do anything, you have to keep in mind what the children are going to learn from this. I'm sure you want them to learn to follow through, keep their committments, and finish what they start. Since they will do as you do, you need to be careful!

    Are your children biological brothers and sisters? I used to want to adopt a big family, but my husband (now ex) was against it, so we didn't. I still look at the adoption websites sometimes, though, and cry inside for those children.

    Kathleen
     
  14. barstowmama

    barstowmama Member

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    Good morning everyone!
    Thanks again for all the wonderful help and support as we try to get this thing going. It is a lot of work, but my dh is always here to support me. He put in the gardens and bought the chickens! I just stand around and marvel. I do the homeschooling, home cleaning, cooking, and interior, he does all of the outside. The children are learning to be a big help, but the three year old is destruction on two little legs. Jessica can tear up a room in 10 mins. or less! :haha:

    I do know how to quilt and being disabled I thought that I would try some of the craftier items. Candlemaking sounds like fun, as does soap making. Quilting is something I've always loved, mistakes and all.

    In all I have 11 children and 2 grandsons. I have 3 biological children ages 17, 21, and 23, and the adopted children are ages 3, 5, 5, 7, 8, 11, 13, and 16. They are from two different families, one african american family and one caucasian family. Both sets were born drug addicted with either meth or crack, hence the learning disabilities. One of my sons used to do carjacking with his biological father. We tend to lean towards sibling groups because they are hardest to place. I am looking into a group of 3 ages 1, 2, and 3 for placement with us. I do have my hands full. I used to cry because I couldn't have anymore children of my own, until I realized that there were children who needed me just the same. You do learn your capacity to love when these children come into your home and you are able to love them all, just as if you had given birth to each and every one of them. But there's also the downside and that is you don't know what you have in these children until puberty hits. Learning disabilities aside, puberty is when it all hits the fan. It's a tug of war of nature vs. nurture. Is what you teach these children as far as right and wrong, good and bad, going to stay with them? We have a son right now, who is in Juvenile dentention. I used to blame myself, but then I realized that he's his biological mother's son! She's been in and out of jail since she was 14 years old! So it's not our fault. We raised him with good morals (so we thought) and we gave and gave. He had everything he needed, maybe not everything he wanted, but that's life. Sometimes you have to let go and let God and that was the toughest lesson to learn. My two grandsons are 5 and 8 months old. They are little darlings, but I don't get to see them very much. One is in IL and the other is down in the Valley and I'm unable to see him very much. His mother won't drive up the Cajon Pass. Scared...I understand her plight, the pass is not for the uninitiated. ;) We also care for my husband's 85 year old mother who lives with us most of the time because she needs so much one on one care. It's a blessing to be able to care for your parents in their golden years. It's a way to give back for all they've done for you.

    Well that's our history except to say that my husband is one in a million. He has never had any children of his own, and he has taken on a lot. He's a great husband and father and I just wanted to say thank you to him...so...Thanks Larry for everything and then some! :worship:

    barstowmama
     
  15. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    If you teach kids that animals are servants of man, there should be no problem on butchering day. That has always been our attitude, and no matter what the animals get named, they will all share the same fate. No matter how cute the turkeys were, they taste even better! We have a disobedient dog, and they kids have learned that we are first, the dog WILL do what we say or else...so they see all animals are subject to us. OK, I'll stop preaching. We named our Tom turkey "kicker" because that is what you had to be ready to do when you went near him. (he was big and scary to the kids)
    Try turkeys, they make almost NO sound and you get a lot of bird for one butchering. And the dancing! I love mine!
    Good luck!
     
  16. JoAnne in CA

    JoAnne in CA Well-Known Member

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    Hi there barstowmama,

    Welcome to the area. We are in Pioneertown, just north of Yucca Valley. We moved to our little homestead in September with chickens and rabbits, dogs and cats in tow. We quickly acquired two pigs, two goats, and two ducks. Sounds like Noah's Ark, huh? Just wanted to comment about the butchering. Although my husband was raised on a farm, I was not and initally had some reservations about the butchering but was determined to learn to raise at least some of our own food. We actually butchered some roosters while we still lived in town. It was a necessity, as not all of our chicks grew to be hens, and city codes frowned on crowing! Just two weeks ago we slaughtered one of our pigs (potbelly cross) for a pig roast. I can tell you I feel good about it. She fed over 30 people + leftovers for the freezer. The dogs enjoyed her hooves. We rendered her fat, and I will be making soap with the lard. My kids and grandkids were appalled at first to think they would be eating an animal that we had cared for for the last several months, but we all came away with an appreciation and an understanding of where our food comes from--something you don't get by picking up a package of meat in the grocery store. She had a good life with us, and we in turn, tried to make the best use of all she had to offer. So, here's to you, Patsy Swine (we did name her)! We ended up butchering her ourselves. The only butcher we could find, called himself a mobile butcher but said we were too far away for him to come to us. So we would have to bring the pig to him in Apple Valley along with $50.00. We did it ourselves with the help of an experienced neighbor. I wish you well in all your endeavors.
     
  17. muggin_girl

    muggin_girl Active Member

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    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL

    I was going to say the same thing...don't give dinner a name.
     
  18. Shepherd

    Shepherd Well-Known Member

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    Barstowmama welcome to the forum, it's a great place. Before long you will be thinking like many of the rest of us.

    I agree, you need to study how to butcher your own animals. (Do NOT name your animals unless it's food type names like Dumpling, Noodles, etc. I only name the ones with handicaps or that are injured.) You asked when you butcher chickens what do you do with the feathers. Think back to the old ways. They used feathers to stuff pillows and mattresses. You can use them for crafts.

    Someone said be careful not to take too much on at once - great advice. Master the first thing, then move onto something else, to make sure you're not overwhelmed.

    Just a word of advice - try your best to get along with all your neighbors, you may one day have to count on each other a lot. You don't need anyone making trouble for you.

    JoAnne in CA could you explain (maybe in another thread) in detail how to render the fat? This is something I'd love to learn about. Thanks.