Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Is There Anything Else I Should Be Asking?"

So in most homesteading situations you will be buying a house. If you've already purchased a house you probably already know this, but it bears mentioning. When you buy a house there will be at least 3 relatively important systems that you are not intimately familiar with. Heat, Water, and Electricity. Make absolutely sure that you get a solid walk through on those systems from the previous home owner, and learn their quirks. This goes beyond the basic learn where the kill switch for your oil furnace is. At the low end, it will keep you from embarrassment. At the high end, it will save your house from major damage or destruction.

What Brings This Up?
Our wood stove is the specific incident that is prompting this particular incident. I've used wood stoves before, many times. In general, wood stoves are very simple devices. That in mind, I didn't bother asking any questions about quirks on the wood stove and I really wish I had. I would have avoided a rather cold few nights, and a bit of embarrassment.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to Butcher Our Rabbits

Even now, before we get our breeding rabbits we had a big question we have to answer before we even decided to finalize our decision to get rabbits. What about butchering them. Given our requirement for ourselves that our raising methods be humane, we also require of ourselves that we give a humane death to our rabbits. To some this may seem like a strange statement, after all, we are killing them for meat. That said, there are better and worse ways to kill an animal. Think of it this way, why do we euthanize our dogs and cats instead of letting them die at home of cancer, or cluster seizures? It's less painful and frightening to them. Ok, so why bring them to a vet which is stressful for them instead of shooting them at home? My answer to that is two fold, one, I don't want to kill my pets if I can avoid it, and two, an injection of lethal doses of anesthetic or other method isn't going to miss a vital organ and leave a screaming animal in pain. So, given that to have a meat operation we would have to kill animals, we went to our favorite activity, research.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rabbits: Space Part 2

Last Thursday we discussed factory and pet home suggestions for raising rabbits, and some complications for what we were going for. Today I am going to be writing about pasture raising, and colony raising and concluding with what we want to do, and why.

Pasture Raising
Pasture raising a rabbit is not like pasture raising a cow, it isn't out of a cage wandering in a field and eating grass. It is in a movable pen called an Ark. I don't know who pioneered this first, but the one who one most often hears about with it is Joe Salitin of Polyface Farm. His operation is one of the big ones that we drew inspiration from, especially involving the rabbits and chickens sharing space in one way or another. Here you see the movable pens that his rabbits forage in and their Raken   as well as some information on that.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Decision Making On Rabbits: Floor Space

Obviously, given the subtitle of the blog, we decided in the end that rabbits were indeed a good idea for us to raise. The question that really matters for everyone else is why, and how did we come to that conclusion? As with every other decision we have made so far, it was based on a fair amount of research, and a lot of things are still evolving for us. Our base considerations were cost, heartiness, care requirements, ethics, and finally, can we handle killing rabbits for meat? In this post I'm going to discuss how much space each rabbit needs.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Apologies for the late post, not sure if I imagined writing a post up, or if I forgot to save it or what, but this is a bit last minute.

Today I'm going to talk about gloves of various types that one has use for around the house. I took inventory of the gloves that I have and use and was actually a little stunned by the number. Gloves are one of those items that every household needs, how many depends on what all you do. That said, there are actually a number of things where gloves that are great for one thing will actually not be good for something else. I'll be interested to see if there are other kinds of gloves that people use regularly that don't come up in this post. If so chime in in the comments.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Article Worth Reading

A piece written by Mark Bittman for the New York Times. Covers a lot of our ideas, and concerns while having good ideas for workable solutions to the problems facing the future of food. Well thought out and well written.

Our Sadly Not So Brilliant Idea

Every once in a while I have what I think is a Brilliant Idea. It's creative, it makes use of resources well, it fits the criterion for the objective perfectly. I've found that the key to using these ideas well is to do some research. If you have an idea that seems awesome and does things in a cool, creative new way in an old field there is often a reason it hasn't been used. This was the case with our most recent one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Quick Hit: The Value Of Friends

There is more to say about the value of friends than just one short post, but it's worth making a quick start on it. One of the things I've been working on is a finished room in one of our outbuildings to use as an art studio/sitting area. This particular space was one of the big draws of our place, and was something we were enthusiastic about when moving in. Unfortunately there has been a bit of a debacle with the local building inspector, and things have gotten slowed down by 3 months. Unsurprisingly then when things started moving again, I wanted to get things done as fast as possible. To that end, when I had to insulate 800 square feet of ceiling, I called in friends.

Two friends showed up on 3 day notice, and helped out with the rather unpleasant job of doing ceiling fiberglass insulation. It was a learning experience for both of them which may be valuable to one of them who has been doing work on her own house. That said, both of them were covered in fiberglass and itching thoroughly by the time it was done. The value is obvious, I have friends, they showed up and helped cutting down the time this took significantly. It meant that I got that 800 square feet done within 5 hours rather than 15, or more. Not only that, neither of them asked to be paid (which I can't afford right now). They just know that if they need a hand, I'll come give it if I can do so at all.

Chances are over time, you will make acquaintances and friends with a variety of skills and abilities. As you homestead draw on those skills and abilities. Chances are you don't know how to be a plumber, an electrician, framer, finisher, floor installer, foundation layer, insulator, painter, excavator, lumberjack, farmer, animal expert, butcher . . . etc. Use the people you meet to learn what you can, and get done what needs to get done. Chances are you can do something that they can't and need done, or you can simply offer your time and labor helping out. Don't be afraid to help folks out "for free." In the end it will end up coming back and helping you when you need to reach out for help.