Shotgun Update

Quick few things…

1) 13 – Number of shots from .22 to knock the coon out of the tree that decimated 8 of my 13 chickens.
2) Garden is in… more updates on that soon.
3) Grape Trellis is coming along nicely. Video soon.
4) Busy getting ready for my daughter’s graduation.
5) 3 cubic yards of mulch is a lot of mulch!
6) At least one of my chickens that is still alive is a rooster.

More updates later.

CQ CQ CQ – KC3ISO – I Got my License!

  Yesterday the boys and I went down after church and took our Technician Test for Ham Radio.

Myself and Noah passed the test.  My 12 year old did not. While I was there I went ahead took my General Test. Surprisingly, I passed that too!  Noah took it but did not pass it.

As much grief as I give the government sometimes I have to give kudos to the FCC.GOV site.  They had the information uploaded and updated by 10:00 AM today (maybe earlier).

So as I drove home from work today I ventured, very timidly into the world of Ham Radio with a “Radio Check”.  A little later in the evening I talked to a few people. One guy down near Lancaster, PA (through one of the local repeaters connected to the WAN) and then later one of the guys in the “Breakfast Club”.  The Breakfast Club is a group of fellows that a lot of us listen to between 6:00 and 6:30 AM while driving in to work.

I have so much to learn.  Hope to catch you out there!

KC3ISO – 73 – Over.

 

Why I raise Chickens.

Posting at: 7:28 PM
Current Temp: 21°F
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I often get asked the question “Is it cheaper to raise your own chicken?” when a someone has the idea that they want to venture into raising their own food.  “Are the eggs cheaper?” is a common question to.  Let’s be clear.  The answer is no.  It’s no on all fronts. That’s not to say that there aren’t times you beat the market, but scale of economy pretty clearly dictates that someone who is raising 20,000 chickens and 1700 dozen eggs a day is going to be more more efficient at it than I could ever hope to be. It’s not cheaper.  I’m even going to be bold and tell you it’s probably not going to taste as good as store bought chicken… or McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Subway bought chicken.  There is a reason for that.  You don’t know what chicken tastes like.  You *THINK* you know what chicken tastes like, but what you really think is chicken isn’t really chicken.

 

This story about Subway’s chicken sandwich in Canada not really being a majority of chicken is shocking to some people.  Those people are surprised and concerned that this study might be true. Of course, Subway has denied it. Here’s the thing though, the percentage of chicken DNA is just a discussion point because none of those places serve 100% chicken. They don’t have to, and you probably wouldn’t like it if they did. Most modern Americans (and Canadians) don’t know what real chicken tastes like because they don’t buy real chicken and the US and Canadian governments allow that.

You don’t buy real chicken at Wal*Mart (or most anywhere) most likely.  Real chicken isn’t salty and savory and it varies from chicken to chicken. Some taste better than others. Have you ever really looked at your chicken?  Check out the verbiage on the labeling in the picture. “Chicken Breasts” * – well with some rib meat too… oh and 15% “broth”.  Broth isn’t chicken.  Oh, and this is “all natural” too.

Now in full disclosure I don’t raise all the chickens I eat. Not by a long shot. But I DO raise some of it and I know what real chicken tastes like. I always enjoy reading the stories of people who raise their first chickens and talk about how tough they are, how bland, etc.

But, the reason I raise my own and my eggs is because I do know for  a fact that it’s 100% chicken.  It’s not cheaper. It’s not easier… but I need to do it much more often.

Today’s Tidbit

Posting at: 9:54 PM
Current Temp: 39°F
High Temp: 45°F
Low Temp: 33°F

My acreage is on a corner. The south side has a gas line easement. I want to improve the drainage along that that SW corner. You should always call 811 before you dig. One of the requirements is that you must have the project area marked out so I painted out an area where I’m going to be digging for improved drainage (pics to come).  So far I’ve got the all-clear from Verizon. I’m waiting on the gas company… they have to put out flags for me.  I’ve also got a legal project window to dig in. I can move it if I want to because I set the start date.  Yeah, that goes against the grain of “doing what I wanna”, but it’s less against that grain than blowing up the corner of my property by igniting a gas line.

I also rinsed the dirt of my Yukon. I didn’t scrub it, just knocked off the major dirt.

The Myth of The Perfect Homestead

 I’ve read many books and article about finding “the perfect homestead”.  In fact some of my favorite books, authors and websites which have influenced me through the years have talked about this mythical “perfect homestead”.  I’m a sucker for the 30,000 ft. view that shows the layout of land, where the water is, what the wind direction and flow, the angle of the sun, where the gardens will go, where the pasture will be, how much of it is wooded, how sustainable will you be able to be. Those just please me. In general, I’m an organizer. I like things at those levels. I like planning and executing to see it done.  I’ve been poisoned conditioned (yes you read that right) to believe you need all of these things and that when you are looking for the perfect homestead that I had to check off all these boxes.  Don’t get me wrong, everyone has things they can live with our they can’t live with, so check boxes aren’t necessarily bad, but I think that a great disservice has been done by some of those writers.   Let me explain that a bit.

Continue reading “The Myth of The Perfect Homestead”

A (Warm) Late Winter Bee Update

This past Saturday, February 18th, I took a trip up to the Bear Lake House to check on the bees and to pick up my evaporator equipment for making maple syrup (more on that soon).   It was 62°F on the way up.  That’s a HUGE (in my best Donald Trump Voice) difference from our norm this time of year.   I wasn’t sure if the bees made it or not.

 

I had friends at work who lost their hives. Its funny. I got a bunch of people into keeping bees at work, in fact a few of them are much more active at it that I am.  I love this homesteading stuff. You can check out my video below.

3 Reasons I FINALLY got into Ham Radio.

3 Reasons I Finally Got Into Ham Radio

The boys (16 and 12) and I are taking the “Technician License” class for amateur radio (commonly known as ham radio) right now. We are entering week 5 of our 6 week class and will take our test (Lord willing) on March 5th in the afternoon after church.

Ham radio is always one of those things that I’ve talked about doing for the homestead. It’s partly from a “prepper” mentality (a word which has been hijacked by the news media to mean some deranged nut) that I’ve always had and partly from my geeky side. I’ve read about it and just never could make the leap because the equipment was always confusing at a casual glance and downright confounding when you dive into a forum of Hams who begin to argue about which radio, power source and antenna you MUST buy and which ones you should never buy. It was always discouraging. The cost was high, the commitment to learn CW (commonly referred to as Morse Code) was a hurdle and noise around the hobby just kept me from pulling that trigger.  One thing I’ve learned though, in my beginning journey into Amateur Radio is really a lesson that I’ve learned from homesteading and life in general. It’s this simple… take every forum discussion, email, personal opinion and even books about subjects as a guidance and then imagine that you came into a room of guys and asked all of them who made the best Pick Up Truck.  That’s REALLY what Amateur Radio and homesteading is like.

Continue reading “3 Reasons I FINALLY got into Ham Radio.”

Realignment and the New Homestead.

Good afternoon.  It’s February and the past few months have been a blur. I’m not sure if it’s my perception as I approach middle-age or just the everyday reality of having 4 teenagers (well, one ALMOST teen and 3 full blown teens), but time really does fly by. I get a little nostalgic sometimes… ok, quite a bit I guess. Technology makes it easier. Daily I have Google and Facebook reminding me of things that happened on this day, the past few years, so I can easily see how much my kids have grown in such a short period of time.  Even the picture over to the left is from almost a year ago now, while we went on a much-needed vacation.

Vacation?  What is that you ask? How do you get away from the Homestead and go on “vacation”? Who is going to feed the woodstove to keep the house warm and keep the pipes from freezing? Who is going to feed the animals? Who will carry water and chip out the ice to get fresh water? Who can I trust to take care of the rabbits, to run off neighbor hood dogs, to run the lines for tapping maple trees? Who is going to split the firewood, mend the fence or milk the cows or goats?  Who can take a vacation? …and that’s a good question.

I understand that this article may not get read at all, because it’s been a long time since I’ve actively participated in my own website here, but some of you that DO READ it, you may have some feeling that I’ve “sold out” or you may be disappointed that I’ve given up. Although we have made what I call a “Homesteading Realignment”, we are still serious about Homesteading.

You may have been a reader of my blog years ago “The Hill at Oso Lago” (I’ve got it all archived and may post it and link it here sometime) that chronicled our move from Ohio to Northwest Pennsylvania.  We came over here to plant a rural church, to joyously expand our homesteading and self-sufficient horizons and to be part of the local community. You’ve seen a lot of our activities and homesteading projects. You know that we had several writers here on www.themodernhomestead.com and also had a linked forum. Many of you may know me through the years from Homesteading Today (for over 15 years now) and some of you may even have been to homesteading events that I’ve sponsored at my farm when we lived in Ohio.  You know this homesteading stuff pulses through my veins, so although we haven’t given up homesteading, we have taken some time to do a realignment.

Our realignment really is driven by a few things in our life. One thing is limited time.  I work a full-time job, I’m a full-time church planting pastor and I’m a full time husband and father.  The reality is there are only so many minutes in a day and so many things that you can do in your life. We all have the same amount of time every day to accomplish what God has set us on this earth to accomplish. As I reviewed where I was spending some of those minutes, I saw that my children had some different needs coming up in their life. I’ll talk about some of those things in upcoming posts, but college is among those needs as well as some bedroom walls.  If you know about our previous homestead, then you know that our house was slightly under 1000 square foot and that there were six of us living it. The kids rooms were open lofts on either side of the kitchen/dining area.  We had one bathroom. Now, this is definitely going to be one of those “first-world” problems that you read about… but 4 teens and 1 bathroom just got to be a point of tension. We DON’T live on the side of mountain with little contact with other people. We have places of employ, schools, sports, church, counseling, and an everyday worldly reality that we live in. There are some societal expectations of cleanliness, not smelling and appearance. So that was an area that we wanted to realign on. We wanted a second bathroom. We actually UPSIZED.

Another area of realignment was wood heat.  We have heated with wood exclusively for over 12 years. I grew up heating with wood. I’ve cut, carried and stacked a lot of wood in my lifetime. Definitely more than most keyboard homesteading purists. I don’t hate it. I actually do enjoy the warmth of a wood burning stove. The new homestead, in fact has two fireplaces, but here’s a guilty secret… we haven’t used them yet.  We have natural gas and a forced air furnace.  Although I don’t like paying the gas bill, I DO enjoy the ability to go away for a day or two and not be concerned about whether my pipes are going to freeze up and break.  I like cleaner air in my house and far cleaner floors, and I love how much less dust there is. Like most things, there are trade-offs. I have plans to install an air-tight fireplace insert to supplement the gas and as a back up heating source, but right now, we’re just taking a thankful little break from chopping, stacking and carrying wood.

Now before you go all indignant on me and tell me why I need to be living in a 120 sq. ft. “tiny home” and that I’m “not a real homesteader”, let’s make an agreement about the definition of homesteading.  Ok, here’s the first (and most important) statement… you don’t get to define the term. Remember this is THE MODERN HOMESTEAD. I’m not seeking to roll everything back to 1862 (ps, if you don’t know the significance of that year, definitely don’t lecture me about homesteading purity). Homesteading has different goals and commitments for different people.  I’m not married to a definition of what “TRUE HOMESTEADING” is.  I cheat around the edges of the definition and flirt with a lot of different things.  What I mean is this… my happiness in life is not based on how pure of homesteading enthusiast I am. My happiness is founded on Jesus and revealed in relationships and fulfilled through obedience to God.  He allows me to things I enjoy, but if it becomes number one to me, it becomes an idol. I reserve unchanging commitment to God and my wife.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a TON of new projects lined up here at the new homestead.  You’re going to love them. They will help you become more sustainable, more efficient, more deliberate and more free I believe. I’ll have a post about upcoming plans and you’ll get a chance to see videos also. I’ve got a lot to say and do and I’m hoping I can be helpful. I’m sure you’ll disagree with me and we may have some good discussions on things. I’m no professional… more on that later, but I like to learn. I’m inviting you on our realignment effort and journey to learn with us.

I’ll talk more about the realignment in the future, I’m sure, but for now… Happy Homesteading and Go Bless You.