J. Daniel Walker

Living the Dream: Husband, Father, Homesteader

Storage

We downsized from our suburban house in California when we moved to our homestead. Our aim was to downsize our possessions and we have to some degree, but without making excuses for ourselves, getting rid of your stuff is very hard to do. We sold, donated, and threw away a lot of stuff when we packed up our things and started our transition to homesteading. We kept a lot, too.

Since we moved into a smaller home, and we didn’t want to start with a cluttered space, one of the first things we did was purchase a shed to store our stuff. We put nearly everything except our furniture in the shed to start with (and we put some of our furniture in the shed, too) and moved it into the house slowly. We have plans this spring/summer to take time and reorganize the shed and get rid of things we haven’t used in the last fourteen months.

If I am honest, purchasing the shed was Papa’s idea. I was going to put our stuff into storage, but Papa (rightfully so) reminded me of what that would cost over a twelve month period and reminded me that I would have nothing to show for the money after those twelve months. Instead, the shed would be mine forever and would function in the homestead to store feed, tools, and seasonal items.

If you are new on a homestead, a storage solution would be a plus for you. The shed’s design is a simple one, I could have built it for less than it cost me, but having it delivered a day or two after purchasing it was worth a great deal. We love our shed and will use it for years to come. Happy homesteading!

Goats

We have had goats on our homestead for around seven or eight months. Nana and Papa keep the ones they milk at their old place (to be moved here at a later date), but they moved four of the billies to our homestead. At first it was just one, Oscar Brown, but then they brought Jellybean, then Wesson, finally they brought Merlin just a few weeks ago.

We strung three strands of electric around two to three acres that was full of large trees, saplings, and underbrush. They made short work of everything they could reach. We cut some of the smaller trees and trimmed more back so they could have more to eat and we plan to cut several more trees in the spring after they leaf out.

We have work to do clearing out what the goats couldn’t eat (the limbs minus the leaves), but we are very happy with what they’ve done so far. They’ve been pretty simple to care for and stay in their fence as long as they have plenty to eat. Maybe goats would be a worthwhile addition to your farm. More on goats later. Happy homesteading!

How to start homesteading

I don’t know if the right person to ask this question of is the person who has done it for thirty years or the person who has just started. It has been my experience, as a parent, that those who haven’t parented little ones for awhile have forgotten some of the challenges that go along with it (since they have already lived through it, it wasn’t a big deal at all…well, it is a big deal…parenting little ones is tough), maybe it is also true for those who have been homesteading awhile. Maybe the long term homesteaders, while providing knowledge and experience that we need and cannot measure, have forgotten the challenges that accompany getting started on this journey. So, from one who hasn’t been homesteading a long time, how do you get started? Continue reading

It’s Not Always Pretty

We have no grass in our yard. The road gets puddles standing in it when a big rain comes. We have stumps. We have some scrap wood sitting by our road. This image is actually not anywhere near the worst looking spot on the homestead. There are places that look even worse.

To be honest, I don’t know if it is going to look that great in the near future. It might not ever look like a home or a farm from a magazine (don’t tell the homesteadingnurse). We live here and we work here. I would like to complete some projects at some point to make certain parts of our homestead more presentable and more comfortable, but that isn’t part of the plan for 2018 (check out our homesteading goals here).

We had an opportunity to get some wood chips from the tree cutting for the electric lines in our area. Last year we got some mulch from a local sawmill for around twenty dollars a scoop to help with the muddy area around the house where septic, electricity, and water were barrier. This year we will use the wood chips…that we got FOR FREE! Getting the wood chips is good for us, because there are many uses for them (reduce the mud, for raised beds, etc.), and it is good for the tree trimmers because they don’t have to pay to dispose of it.

When you are trying to stretch a dollar on the homestead (to buy other things you need/want or to work off the farm less), it is good to keep your ears open for these kinds of opportunities.

When we start using this for specific things or get it spread out, I will blog again and update you. In the meantime, happy homesteading!

Sick on the Homestead

The title is sick on the homestead, not sick of the homestead (I love it here! ). Before bed last night, I felt thoroughly unpleasant. I didn’t take my temperature, but I had full-bodied shivers before and after laying in my bed that had had the warming blanket on it for awhile already. What do you do when you have responsibilities on the homestead but feel like death warmed over? Continue reading

Drying Clothes

Can you think of a topic any more bland? Although, I have some friends who, upon getting a new clothes dryer, sat some chairs in front of it and watched the whole cycle. Continue reading

Our Three Biggest Homesteading Mistakes (So Far)

We have been here on our seventy acres for around fourteen months now. The first couple of months we were unpacking and waiting for electricity and propane (that was rough to only have a couple of heaters powered by a generator in November and December–luckily, we had some friends who took us in until we got electricity). This has been the first time that we have lived on more than a lot with a house. This has been the first time that we started living somewhere with the intent of raising food (fruits, vegetables, and meat) on our own and for ourselves.

I like to look at every experience seeking lessons. What can I learn from our first year on the homestead? Read on for our three biggest mistakes so far.

Continue reading

Nana and Papa

Homesteading confession: we cheated a little.

The goats belong to Nana and Papa. The peafowl (don’t say peacocks unless you want Nana correcting you, only the males are peacocks…the females are peahens and the babies are peachicks) belong to Nana and Papa. The turkeys belong to Nana and Papa. Long story short, everything except for around half the chickens, a little under half the guineas, the dogs and cats belong to Nana and Papa (and the cats and two of our three dogs were given to us by Nana and Papa). Continue reading

All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)

In western Kentucky we usually call them four wheelers. Where I lived in California they are quads. I have one and they are fun! They are also great tools on the homestead.

We have had some destruction of our fields from ATV riders (ruts cost the ones that farm part of our land money and time…they use the no-till method and when there are ruts they have to go back and till and level it back up). There have been thefts on the homestead (we believe from ATV riders, but the thefts might have been perpetrated by non-ATV riders). Last night just as we lay in bed we heard the unmistakable sound of ATVs (granted it was a bit early…the homesteadingnurse had a rough day so we went to bed just after nine). Continue reading

The Library

The homesteadingnurse loves the pioneer woman. This means that we watch it a bit more than I would choose to and when that happens, things from the show stick with you. In one episode the pioneer woman’s father in law talks about how to make money on a farm. He said something to the effect of making money on a farm necessitates not spending any money.

As I read about homesteading and particularly making a bit of money on the homestead, I see books suggested. I don’t know if these books are as helpful as the ones suggesting it say, but the only way to tell is to check them out. I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on books…particularly if they aren’t really that helpful. What do I do? Go to the library! Continue reading

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