Skills

Things you learn as a part of homesteading.

Craft Time

I’m sorry I havent been on the blog in over a year. I’m still trying to find myself lol. Just kidding. Life has taken many turns and I’ll blog more about that later but for now I wanted to show you some stuff I’ve been working on.

I love to watch youtube and I found a lovely cat loom knit pattern. I love loom knitting because I cant knit to save my life but have always wanted the coziness of  a knitted hat and scarf. It’s different than crochet. Anywho..I saw this cat and have a great idea for it.

Right now with Halloween coming I’ve decided to make orange and black cats and sell them on etsy and to friends on facebook. You can find links to both on the side bar. I am also going to make some pink ones with a little cancer charm hanging from the neck. All money for those pink ones will be donated to cancer research.

So without further ado here is my cute Halloween cat in orange!

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Halloween Cuteness!!

Happy Homesteading!!!  😀

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Tips for living and eating healthy Part 1

Tip #1 is eat REAL food. It’s not cheap. This is why it bothers me that the lower incomes have to eat crap. Crap is cheap, many are on fixed incomes and to be healthy and actually eat real whole food is hard.  I told you in another post that it costs me $100 a week to keep myself on a great diet that allows me to be pain free. How many people do you know that have an extra $400 a month per person in their household to eat healthy??  I know of no one! I honestly didnt think we did either, but each week its there. Eating healthy has to be a priority. Dont fall into the Diet Shake trap. To me commercial shakes are not healthy, they are not full of stuff made in a lab not what God designed to go into our body. It has to be a conscience effort each week to find the best, cheapest way to eat real, not just grab yet another package of something that someone has taken the work out of to make it easy… Think Color and lots of it!!

Tip #2 It’s ESSENTIAL that you grow your own food!!  Every family, I dont care where you live, needs to grow something you can eat on your own. YouTube is chalked full of ways to grow food with limited space. Vertical gardens, window gardens, hydroponic, container gardens, you name it, its there. They not only show you how to do it, but many include videos on how to make whatever you need to start with. There just simply is no excuse for not growing food. Seeds are 50 cents a packet or $1.00 and that money will save you a $100 if you do it efficiently. They even have these videos on using a bag of miracle grow. You cut open the top and plant in the bag. That can be thrown on a deck. So $4 and you can grow tons of lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes whatever has shallow roots. Well what is that?? Look it up. It takes work. Nothing in life is free. There is no shame in learning! Be a lifelong learner and then a sense of pride comes when you accomplish something. Its amazing!! FYI garden seed become 3 for $1 at the end of the season so stock up and put them in the freezer for the next year. They will still grow 😉

Tip #3 You need to eat less meat. I”m not saying go Vegan or Vegetarian, although my body does really really well on a Vegan diet, I’m saying meat is expensive. Most families are eating it everyday. As a farmer I know how much it costs to grow out those animals. Cows take two years before you can eat them, unless you eat veal but then its less meat. Even grassfed, I still need to buy hay at $5 a bale.. this year my rabbits and baby calf..less then 6 months old, went through 100 bales of hay. So I bought the cow for $300, spent $500 in hay, will spend another $500 easily because she is now bigger, next winter, and then I have to pay 300-500 for butcher costs. And I’ve waited two years to eat any of this meat! Not to mention the hours spent in the barn hauling poo, and food, and water. I have to mark up the meat or I cant buy another cow to grow for the next two years. We bought a two day old calf for $160..thats a lot of money and now we buy milk replacer at $70 a bag…eat less meat.

But what about Protein????!!!   Omg if I had a nickel for every time I heard that, I’d have enough to buy a full grow cow lol.  Its why diet companies make so much money!! They all claim x amount of protein per serving! The more the better it seems. Tip #4 You are getting more protein than you think with vegetables. Why do you need protein? To build muscle. So what are you doing exercise wise that is building muscle? You have to be honest because if you are not exercising at all, you will get all the protein you need just from veggies alone. As you start to exercise your body needs protein to make and build muscle. If you dont do anything at all your body easily starts burning muscle instead of fat. If you are using it, the body is like..oh wait I cant use that, she/he is using that for pushups..I’ll use this stuff over here(fat). So please do something!! Many people insist you cant live without meat. Now personally my body likes meat..about twice a week. That’s it. If I eat too much my body feels bloated and gross, but that’s me. Get a fitness pal or Fatsecret app for your phone or use it on the internet to calculate your protein consumption. If you are working out fairly regular I’ve read you need half your body weight in grams. Ex. I weight around 180 for I need to have 90 grams a day. I think this is a bit high for me but I listen to my body and its important to know what foods have proteins in them, beans, nuts, any legume really like peas, and kale, broccoli… then eat accordingly.

Tip #5 It’s important to know your own body. It took me a bit to get to where I understood what my body was telling me. When I first started juicing and doing smoothies I was tired, and lightheaded. There are a few reasons this happens. Well first my body was going through a detox time and my body takes longer to detox because of my fibro. Second reason was I wasnt eating or juicing enough. Your body needs a MINIMUM of 1200 calories. Always. Look up calorie intake calculations online for what your body needs or go to a gym and have them help you out. I need 1300-1500 calories on any given day or I get lightheaded. Lack of protein is another reason you might feel lightheaded. If you are working out and you dont fuel your body with what it needs it starts freakin out. That is why you will see lots of body builders drinking protein shakes after or during a workout. You need nutrition after you workout..right away or your body just starts grabbing it where it can, and you dont want it grabbing it from muscle! What works for me is a smoothie for breakfast and then I work out. I dont get sick because its a liquid breakfast. When I finish working out I grab my “snack” which is a juice. It has fruit sugars that can easily be used and it also has protein from the veggies. Now if I’m working extra hard or I havent fueled my body well enough I will start feeling “hungry.” That is when I grab a protein powder. I’ll talk more on that in a minute. Listen to your body, if you are hungry eat, but if you are bored, get a piece of gum lol. Dont eat whatever, have something healthy and just enough to stop you from feeling hungry.

Tip #6 Dont be afraid of Protein Powders. I dont do commercial shakes, but I do use a protein powder on occasion. If you are eating meat every day you probably wont need one, but with me only eating meat a couple times a week, I occasionally use a Vegan Protein powder. I usually put it in my juice for the day. I have learned how to tell if my body want protein for the day, by a feeling I get in the morning. Its usually that I’m hungry. I know weird, but I”m almost never hungry in the morning which is why I started doing a smoothie for breakfast. I dont get hungry normally until 10 am ish. This is the protein powder I use. protein

I wish honestly it was a little more natural but its the best I can find. What I like is it is Berry flavored. Many a juice recipe gone wrong, have been saved by this powder. Its a pea and rice protein instead of whey. Its your choice what you use but because alot of my juices have fruit in them the Very Berry works well instead of a chocolate. Plus I have sensitivities to dairy, eggs, gluten, and peanuts sooooo… many whey proteins give my body a fit.

 

 

 

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Farming by Months

Last January I wrote a post about Being Prepared. You can read that here: Being Prepared  It is now the next year and it’s October. So again the hype about the winter storms coming…it’s going to be the coldest most bitter winter we’ve seen in a long time….. really? Ok well are you prepared???  You’d think that after the horrid winter we had last year that people would be a little more prepared, but they are not. Yes most are buying propane now while it’s not $6 a gallon, but as far as other preps..non existent.

It’s mainly the time of  year that gets me thinking about this. On our homestead you have months pretty much mapped out. So in case you don’t have a map..here is what you should or could be doing for each month based on what we do. I’m sure we are not listing everything, but its a nice general list.

  • Jan- Start your cold weather seedlings such as celery,broccoli, peas, lettuces and other greens. RELAX!!
  • Feb- Start your beginning summer seedlings like cucumbers, green beans if you want, corn if you want, onions, leeks, whatever else cold weather you didnt start, start working on  your chicken, turkey, rabbit tractors- Start Un-Relaxing   😦
  • March- Start your warm weather vegetables like tomatoes, green peppers – start barn repairs and maintenance -Till part of the garden and Start planting cold weather crops late march (the jan seedlings), purchase live animals to raise for your freezer, finish your animal tractors
  • April- finish planting your cold weather vegetables( your feb seedlings and any other you seed straight into the garden)  and finish tilling the rest of the garden.- start pasturing your rabbits and chicks(on warm days)-deep clean out the barn and start compost piles mixed with grass clippings – do a food inventory and see what you have that you will be saving for the coming winter (start buying extras of stuff all summer)
  • May- Plant the remaining vegetables, weed, pasture animals, finish all other barn projects and start all your summer projects, start gathering wood for winter
  • June, July, August- farming is in full swing, harvest, weed, dehydrate food for winter, can food for winter, all the scraps from canning and regular eating dehydrate into winter food for the rabbits and chickens- dont waste anything!! Whatever you cant use should be in compost piles breaking down all summer. plant cover crops of buckwheat on places that are done harvesting, go on family fishing trips to gather more food for the freezer!
  • September- Do a food inventory and see how much you have on hand for winter-. finish buying remaining products and start putting compost onto the parts of the garden that is done.- Plant cover crops like oats and radishes for over winter on all late harvest areas. Start preparing the barn for winter. Start organizing the freezer to fit the animals you bought.
  • October- Butcher all animals and fill your freezer. Make sure you have your inventory list full or mostly full. Finish garden areas for winter, finish barn projects and get things ready for your year round animals to be overwintered. start hunting for more winter storage(if you cant hunt, find someone that does, if you dont like guns-learn to trap), finish yard clean ups, finish your wood harvest and if you havent already-move seasoned wood into a close area for easy winter reach.
  • November- Brace for that horrid winter coming lol. Finish your minor purchases for winter, finish anything you forgot about..RELAX!!
  • December- Continue to brace for the winter coming that has not yet come… Relax when you hear its still on the way because you have enough!!  RELAX!!

Recently we have been watching Extreme Preppers. Some people call them crazy, but if you watch you get many good ideas! Yes I agree some are just plain nuts, but honestly they all are doing things we should be doing..storing food, water, finding alternatives for when our power is out, and making sure they are safe. Those basic principles are what everyone should be doing. It doesnt matter if you live in an apartment or not. Find a location in the country of a friends house..your “bug out location” as they call it. Plant a garden with them so you can prepare for winter in your apartment. Grow vine foods in your windows, use your fish tank to grow some lettuce. Youtube is filled with prepping secrets and alternative ways of growing food. The only reason that anyone cant be prepared, in my opinion, is you are lazy and dont want to. Well dont be coming to my house! I’ve told you all here what do to!!

Check out my next post on making a food inventory list!

 

Happy Homesteading!!!   😀

Categories: Homesteading, Skills | 1 Comment

Skill: Jewelry Making

So..I know..no blog posts in forever and now two in one day!! Woohoo! Jackpot! Actually I feel like total crud. I ate wheat a couple days ago and I’m still feeling the effects of it. I cannot eat gluten anymore. It actually was causing my “fibromyalgia” I know..sucks. Anyway, that is why I’m blogging today. I am canning soup right now, so dont think I’m not still homesteading 😛

My last post was about tatting. I love tatting as much or more than crocheting. As I was making those pendants and stuff I started looking at making necklaces..then earrings..then bracelets..lol. It just snowballed. For christmas I asked for jewelry making stuff and my husband responded well to the thought of that. I think mostly it was because I had made money tatting and he thought I could make money with this too.

It’s hard. Dont let anyone tell you different. It’s expensive. Dont let anyone tell you different. To get the good crystals, the sterling wire, the gold wire that doesnt turn silver at the touch of needle nose pliers, to get glass beads and not plastic..it’s expensive. If you think it’s not hard, come on over! I’ll have you making loops at the end of the wire in no time..but oh wait they all have to be the same size..go ahead..do it quickly..hurry..you have other necklaces to make. Oh did I mention the whole necklace has those loops..hurry..here are 50 pieces of wire..make loops all the same size! Go!

Yes you can make jewelry cheap, yes you can make it quickly, but if you want to develop a skill. You do it right and to do it right means you get the right tools, you buy the best materials you can afford, you take the time to make it just right..to make all the loops the same size to the best of your ability. I have easily $150 wrapped up in this and I am at about a medium grade jewelry maker. I use some glass beads, some plastic that look expensive and will hold up better, I use higher end metals but they arent sterling silver or 18 carat gold. I dont cheapen my bracelets by using thread. I use wire instead. I am learning and I am getting better. Besides why would you buy sterling silver wire if you dont know how to make what you need efficiently. That stuff is ungodly expensive.

IMG_0515 IMG_0533 IMG_0536Here are some of my pieces I’ve made so far. See those loops on those earrings..the ones holding everything together..quickly..make 50 for this new necklace lol. The bracelet I posted on facebook. I got two orders. One for smaller white pearl beads with red instead of pink. Then she ordered one with green instead of the pink. Then she wanted matching earrings! I have started listing my stuff on etsy. Those earrings and that matching set are on there. I try not to charge a ton. I figure my material costs, double it for unexpected price increases, add a $1 for labor per hour..yeah I’m a sweat shop worker, then double that price to make a profit. As I get better and can afford better materials, I’m sure my prices will go up but this is fair and I wear all my jewelry. I have kids and pets and I homestead..they hold up.  I also am going to list my tatting, crocheting and anything else I make.

Feel free to browse. I’m not writing this blog solely so you check out my store and order..I also write because it is important to expose yourself to many things. I had no idea I would love making jewelry. I just tried it and liked it. I tried knitting..didnt like it, but I can crochet. I learned to tat..now I can make one of a kind pendants for necklaces. I also like doing necklaces and got tired of not finding what I was looking for that I am going this weekend and buying polymer clay and epoxy clay to make my own stuff. Of course I found all these wonderful ideas on youtube! You can learn a lot by watching someone else. If you lost your job today, how would you make money? Homesteads dont run without money, no matter how much we wish they did. You can only barter so much before you need to buy. If you stay at home, what can you do to help out with money?? Learn something. School is not over because you grew up.

I’m not saying you need to learn something new everyday, but when you say to yourself..aaaahh I’m bored! Well search Crafts on youtube and learn something lol.

 

Happy Homesteading!!   😀

http://www.etsy.com/shop/SGFJewelryandCrafts if there is not alot listed, its because I’m busy or dont have a lot made yet 🙂

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Skill: Tatting

Every once in a while I get this bug to try something new. Lots of people follow pinterest. I just cant get into it. I am however a lover of youtube! So one day I was looking up a new crochet stitch. Side note: you really should learn to sew, crochet, or knit. You can make a ton of wonderful things for your family. Anyway..one day I was looking up a new crochet stitch and off to the side there, to the right, was a nice choice of other videos. I looked over and saw “lets tat a bracelet.”  Hm..what’s tatting??  Click!

I watched was intrigued, grabbed my lock stick crochet looking thingy and did it with crochet yarn. Interesting..must learn more. I called my mom..apparently I have now reached the point where I no longer mimic my mother and grandmother..this is a great grandma thing. She used to tat on handkerchiefs and make a lovely decorative border. Well since I cant do the whole handkerchief thing (whole nother story), I decided to look up more info online.

Here is my first tatted piece

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Cool huh? Its about the size of a coaster. So since I haven’t blogged, I figure I’d let you know what I’ve been up to! I’ve also been working for farmer Joe so it doesnt leave a lot of time. Homeschooling the kids, doing chores, taking care of all the animals..oh did I mention we have rabbits?? hm..did I blog about that? I’m going to have to look! See its been sooo long. Dont think I didnt miss you all. Anyway..back on topic. If you would like to tat, you can make money off of it. I did and still am. Facebook is your biggest key selling point by the way.

Here is the youtube video that you should learn to tat from..oh and by the way there is shuttle tatting and needle tatting. I found I cant do the whole shuttle thing, but you can convert any shuttle tat into needle once you get the hang of it. Ok her name is RustiKate and she is da bomb peeps..really. Here is a video to get you started but you seriously should watch all her videos! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVrStT1G1qU

Then once you watch her videos then watch this one. It is by onevirtuouswoman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-L25GJiJlA. She does her hands a bit different but the bracelet is cute. I did this with size 3 crochet thread. I seriously recommend getting size 10 crochet thread..I’ll show you why in a minute. So here is my bracelet off of that tutorial.

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After I did that..I had to learn more and more. I found that you can add beads to tatting.. I found free patterns on google images. I found free patterns on intatters.com. It was just amazing!

I found snowflakes. Just in time for winter! I tatted a bunch and put a pack on facebook to sell. Here is the picture of those.

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I found that it was a minimal cost. I charge $6.50 plus shipping for this pack. It has one larger snowflake..here is a better picture of that one. I use size 10 white crochet thread for these so if you want to make these for you or gifts..that is why you need a nice roll of white thread in that size.

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It is about the size of your palm..the other ones are a hair smaller and then obviously the others are little. They are stiff and come with hangers for the christmas tree. They do take some times to make, but I can make a set in an afternoon. I sold 8 sets of these right before christmas and make a nice little chunk of cash to start my next adventure…

I love learning things. It’s amazing what I can learn to do.. I also am selling these pendants for necklaces.

IMG_0510 They are using two different size yarns. The one of the left is a smaller, thinner yarn made for tatting, that is a size 20. If you use embroidery thread get a size 12. The one of the right is our of a size 10 thread. It is tatting thread but is the same as crochet thread. I am selling these for $4 plus shipping..just the pendant. If you want the black velvet necklace part, it is $6 plus shipping. These are not super stiff, but hold their shape pretty well with spray starch. If I stiffen them, they will scratch your neck, plus the color doesnt stay sharp. Everything is customizable too.

Learn a new skill this new year..put it to work raising money to help you homestead. All my profits go to help run the homestead during the winter months when I cannot sell any produce or meat. If you would like to order either the snowflakes or the pendants feel free to contact me at simplygrownfarms@yahoo.com.

 

Happy Homesteading!!   😀

 

 

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Skill: New Family Business

Well recently I was reading an article by Joel Salatin. The person asked him at what ages their children started their business and at what age should kids start a business.  He replied his son started around 10 and that kids between 8-10 should be starting a small business.  So it got me thinking, if my children are 11 and 12 they are behind the game!  I dont even know what their passions are. I mean I know my youngest wants to go into the army and the oldest wants to be a policeman..but what business could they start to earn money, learn about responsibility, and would be easy enough for them to do?  So I asked my children..what sort of business would you want to start? The blank stares were enough to say..ok they dont know either.  We took some time to think about it and I asked my youngest son..what would people of our small town use or buy that you could sell year round?

mealwormsThe answer my friends actually came from Old School.  I had posted about my chickens and she suggested growing mealworms. So I suggested it to my son.  I told him these would be easy and people like to fish around here. They can be fed to tank fish and lizards. In the winter you could sell them for people to feed their chickens as extra protein. (People can also eat these, however that is just gross in my opinion.)  He thought that was a great idea!  So we are starting a new business here on our little tiny acre, Mealworm farming.

We ordered mealworms today, bought the containers, bought the bedding, and will go to the grocery store and buy the food.  He will run this himself. Mom put up the start up cost, which will have to be paid back, but he knows that and is excited that he might be able to make money.  It will take some time to get the business off the ground but I am hoping my father will be the first customer. We priced dried mealworms at the store so he can stay competitive. I have a dehydrator so we can easily do the dried worms. I told him I would even buy some until others started. My girls(chickens) would love them.

I hope this will teach my child about real life. If he decides not to go into the army, then he will have a business to fall back on.  This learning opportunity will help him manage the financial part, take care of living creatures, take labor..minor but still labor, he will be learning how to market and sell..I mean what better way to teach a child about life then to have a business of his own?  I am still working on an idea for my older child. He is really into computers. I know my brother could help him by teaching him things..but I think we need to start smaller. I suggested earthworms because again we could sell the worms for fishing and then the poo could be used as fertilizer. He wasn’t all that interested and earthworms take longer to produce then mealworms. I actually did do earthworms for a while, but forgot to water them because I have a million pokers in the fire and you’re bound to forget one. I’ll stick with lambs and chickens.  I opted also to only raise two turkeys this year..if one dies..it dies. I dont think I can handle 8 right now on this acre. Live and learn.

Mealworms will be ready mid summer for those who want some. I’m not sure how into this he will be or how large of a scale he wants to do, but all we have to do is beat out everyone else on the web right? lol.

 

Happy Homesteading!!   😀

Categories: Homesteading, Skills | 2 Comments

Skill: Crochet

I know I’ve blogged before about crochet, but I wanted to get more in-depth on why this is a great skill. Crochet has been around for forever, kind of like knitting.  I’ve tried knitting..not my favorite pasttime. It’s ok though because one of my best friends loves to knit. We can always request something from the other person if needed.

I’ve been crocheting since about age 9. I made a blanket. Ok, false.. I started a blanket, but I had big dreams! They died after two rows.  So I had this stuffed animal horse on my bed and I made that long double row string into a halter/bridle and rode my horse.  Crochet left me for many many years.  Mom always crocheted. If she wasn’t reading a Harlequin romance novel, she was crocheting. Many hours were spent watching The Young and the Restless, All My Children, and General Hospital while crocheting. Nights were spent watching Dallas and crocheting.  She could make anything- butterfly magnets, hair bows, barbie doll dresses, roses, doilies, table cloths, pictures. It was amazing to watch and I wanted to do that some day, but I was a kid and I wanted to hang out with my friends.

It wasn’t until I was married and had a child that I actually took up crochet again. It often gets put on the back burner.  I’ve only made a few things, but what I have made I have used or someone else has used and that makes me feel good.  I have a running joke when people ask me how long it takes to make a blanket, I reply and say at least 3 good years.   🙂

Now I’m going to share with you what I’ve done so far. Now mind you it has been 12 years and these are the only projects I’ve done.  The first blanket I actually finished was this zig zag one. My mom used to make these all the time in a variety of colors, so I knew I wanted it to be my first.

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The next one I started right after…and it’s still not done. Probably because it was for my hubby lol. It is halfway done, but you get the idea. It will make a great wheelchair blanket when he is old and decrepit and I forget to finish it.   😉

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This next one was a great idea. I thought cool I would love to make a fall blanket.  Then I realized I would have to sew each of these squares together and that would take forever!  So into a tote it went for about 3 years lol.  I finally got it out and sewed it together.  When I was done I noticed there were a lot of knots in there and they showed on one side.  So I added a lot of extra fringes on one side.  So now I ended up with a nice elegant side and the other was more of a country look.

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Then came the pregancy.  Not mine!  My bestie since K was having a baby. I thought it would be great to make a blanket for a twin size bed and then a carseat blanket to match.  I thought the smaller blanket could grow up with the child until it would be old enough to give up the “blanky” then transition over to the larger one. I started working. This was the fastest blanket I’ve ever made and had to enlist my mom to help because the shower was soon and wanted to give it to her then.  But as all of life goes, plans dont always go as you hoped.  I got the blanket done, but not the carseat blanket. I was started on that and told her it would be done before the baby arrived.  Then……  She told me she was having twins!  Well I could not whip out another blanket or even another car seat cover by then, so I told her I was scrapping the car seat cover and the blanket was the gift lol. She understood. The blanket is fleece on one side and it is sewn onto the crocheted blanket.

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So now that all that was done I decided to make something fun. I made a hairbow!

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Recently my mom gave me all her crocheting magazines and I decided to be like my momma, try to attempt to read an actual pattern, and make a doily.  It wasnt too bad. The first few rows kinda sucked and I had to tear it out but I finally figured it out!

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My next project is to make a picture. My mom made an entire woodland scene with like 5 deer including a buck as a tablecloth. It was huge and awesome. My great grandmother made the last supper.  I decided to go very small and do a project for my new home.  I havent started it yet, but here is a picture of what is should look like when its done, notice I said should look like lol.  It will be 9×20 inches once I am done.

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Let’s see you do that with knit! lol  Learn to crochet, it is awesome!

Happy Homesteading!!   😀

 

Categories: Homesteading, Skills | 2 Comments

Skill: Blacksmith

Fairly recently my children have been learning to bend and twist and mold steel into wonderful things.  The art of the Blacksmith is almost non-existent.  I honestly didn’t think it existed anymore but there is an actual association!  My kids started doing this about September of 2011.  A friend, who lives in another town, came across a flyer.  It stated that the local museum was holding classes every second saturday of each month.  Anyone was invited to come.  The cost was free will donation for the coal and metal. I asked the kids and they both thought it would be cool.

The first project he taught the boys was to make an S hook.  It took them forever!  It was really hard to learn exactly how to hit the metal to move it where you wanted. When all was said and done we had fairly nice little S hooks!

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They have made a small S hook, large S hook, and a coat hanger hook.  The poor guy isnt really prepared, I don’t think, for other projects for them to do. The last time we went he had them do an S hook all alone with no help. The oldest got his done within a half hour. The other got discouraged because his hand was hurting and he accidentally bent it the wrong way and had to reheat and bend it all back.  It happens I guess lol.  I let them tag out early that day.  Overall I think it is a wonderful trade to learn. You can do so much with it!  Check around your local area and see if there are any classes you could take.  it is a great trade to learn for a homesteader!!

 

Happy Homesteading!!  😀

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Skills: Tawning a Sheep Hide

This past year we raised two sheep. We had originally bought three but one didn’t make it. I wasn’t sure what to do with the hide and when the first one passed I tried to “cut” off the fleece. My thought was that I could learn to spin the wool.  I found on the internet how to wash the wool and then packed it in a bag and put it in my freezer. It took me 4 hours to cut all the wool off with sissors. We were not sure we would like to eat lamb and we didn’t know how much meat it would give so we felt it pointless to buy shears.  They were expensive and that would be a waste of money if we were not doing it again.  Anway, I ended up not being able to find cards to borrow and it all kinda fizzled out.  I threw away the wool when I cleaned out my deep freeze.

I still had two more lambs and I knew cutting off the wool was out of the question. I searched the internet again. I was going to tan the next hide, or at least try.  Turns out it wasn’t that hard, but the overall process made the hide smell um..not so desirable. Partly because I didn’t deflesh it as much or as well as I needed to. I think with a more thorough defleshing it would be much better.  It still is awesome and the directions are easy to follow.  The wool stayed intact and it hardly smells at all now.  You can wash these hides again but you might have to go through the process of drying it while stretching and applying oil again. Not sure. I really haven’t had the need to wash it.  Here is the picture of my first tawned hide. It’s tawning, not tanning.

It's about 3 foot by 2 foot. If folded in half you could make a couch pillow out of it.  I have it on top of my piano.

It’s about 3 foot by 2 foot. If folded in half you could make a couch pillow out of it. I have it on top of my piano.

I was going to do the last sheep but decided it was getting too cold out and I just didnt want to stand out there and freeze my butt off defleshing.  I’ve tried to do a deer hide this way also, but I was having my son stir the solution and he didn’t do a good enough job. You really have to make sure it doesn’t settle on the bottom of the bucket. It has to be moved around all over the hide and sloshed really good.

Here is the link to the page and directions I used. 500 g= about 1 pound  Sheep Tawning Directions

I am going to use this process again on a deer and see if I can get the hair to stay on. I hope to do it with a cow hide one day. That would be so cool!  We’ve done it with a squirrel and it turns out ok.  This was the skill I decided to learn this year 🙂

Have fun and Happy Homesteading!! 😀

Categories: Homesteading, Skills | Leave a comment

Homemade Laundry Soap

It’s time…I’m out of soap. Laundry is needing done.  Finally the post on homemade laundry soap!! (Come on get excited with me!) WOOHOO!

This is super easy and cheap.  Here are all the supplies you could possibly need plus recipe and instructions. You can decide what works best for you.

soapsupplies

 

So here I have Borax, Washing Soda, and Fels-Naptha soap. When you are buying this, buy one box of Borax and washing soda, but buy 4 bars of Fels-Naptha. Now you can make 4 batches of soap and no more running to the store.  Ok, I also have a spoon because you need to stir it, a pan to melt the soap in, a knife to cut the soap up, a one cup measuring cup, a funnel to pour it into containers, an empty gallon old milk jug to measure water, and a container to hold the soap once it’s done(for easy pouring).  I also have a 5 gallon  bucket with lid and an 18 qt dish pan.

First, you can either cut up 1 bar of soap with a knife and melt it or you can grate it.  I HIGHLY suggest grating this soap. It takes a little while but honestly it is so worth it because you do not need a stove then to melt it.  If you use a pan you have to keep pouring water in and melting sections at a time. It sucks. Use a grater.  I keep all my supplies in this one dish pan which I also use. I do not use these supplies for anything else..ever!

OK, so first grate the soap. Use a small grater, like for garlic. It will make the soap look like ground corn meal.

grated soap

 

Once it is grated, place into the dish pan container and pour 1 gallon of HOT water in, stir until dissolved.

meltingnaptha

 

Do this first, because it takes the longest.  Once the soap is dissolved. Take your 5 gallon bucket and put 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda into the bottom. Pour 1 gallon of HOT water in and stir until dissolved.

dissolvingpowders

 

Now that both mixtures are dissolved, pour them together and stir until they are mixed.

pourtogether

 

Depending on how runny you like your soap you can add up to another gallon of water.  I personally like a more gel type and use another 1/2 gal.  That makes my total water 2 1/2 gallons.  3 is way to runny for me.

Let this sit in the bucket until completely cool. You can stir it on occasion if you have the time or you can leave it overnight to cool. A chemical reaction occurs in this and make it form a gel substance on top and water underneath. Stir when comepletely cooled to break up the gel.  If you have a temperamental washer you might have to strain the soap before putting it into a container. I actually just took out my tray that held soap on my HE washer.

finishedsoap

The entire soap making process took me 20 minutes and will last me over a month for a family of 4.  We do about 5 loads a week, give or take, and I use 1 cup of liquid. I keep my soap in the 5 gallon bucket and fill a gallon jug at a time to use.  If you want a different fragrance you can try adding an essential oil to the batch(mint works well), you can also add the fragrant crystals they sell in the laundry isle, or you can add a cap full of regular detergent.  I find the smell of naptha grows on you and I don’t like anything else in mine.

If you have extra greasy clothing add more soap or you can actually wet a bar of the naptha and pretreat by rubbing it in.  I am working with a Mennonite lady on getting an actual recipe for a degreasing soap. She has only made it a few times with her mother and the recipe she gave is very incomplete.  When I have that I will share it. She says it gets out grease like no bodies business and she uses it on all her husband’s clothes.  This soap above will work on lightly greased stuff, but if your hubby is a mechanic this soap will not work that well. Try pre-treating first and see .   😉

Happy Homesteading Everyone!! 😀

Categories: Homesteading, Recipes, Skills | 4 Comments

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