Out With The Ants!!!

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Every year around April or May, our homestead gets invaders. They are small invaders but can be very damaging to the house, and our wallets. 

After years of trying different things to get rid of our yearly ant invasion that seems to show up no matter how neat one is with the home, dad came up with a solution.

It only uses items we normally have in our home anyway, and ants seem to be incapable of resisting it. The downside is that until the ants are gone, it is an eyesore.

Here is the recipe that dad found that kills whole nests of ants:

Roughly:

1 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon borax

Bring water to a boil and add the sugar. 

Stir until the sugar is dissolved. 

Let cool until just warm. Add borax and stir.

We then set it out in cups or jars for the ants to find. They die in the cup or jar and the whole nest ends up dead in the containers. After a few weeks of this, we don’t find a single ant in the house.

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The Frankenstein Bug

In 2011, I started working a night shift job. One night, I was cleaning as usual, when I encountered a bug that looked like it had been through a nuclear attack.
This sucker had legs built like a grasshopper, but it’s body looked like a centipede! Beastie looked something fierce! My knee jerk reaction was probably what most of you would have to this elusive creature. I killed it!
Later, I became curious and looked up what on earth it was that I had found. It turned out to be a house centipede. They come out primarily at night, and they are shy though in a state of confusion and fear may rush at a person. It’s ok though. They aren’t aggressive. No more than a regular honey bee. They only bite if you give them reason to think they are about to die.

Despite their ferocious looks, the house centipede is a great bug to have around. They take out one of the few creatures that really might survive a nuclear attack.
Their favorite snack? The cockroach. So, moral of the story, if you see one of these hideous looking creatures, just leave it alone and know that one more of them means several less cockroaches.

Why a barn cat?

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Cats are admittedly adorable, and entertaining to watch. However, most people prefer to keep a cat inside. So why keep a barn cat? After all, there’s rat poison or rat traps that can be used to control rat and mouse populations on farms right? And if not those, maybe a dog like the rat terrier?

Well, yes and no. My family tried that route and we found that at least on our homestead, traps don’t keep up with the amount of mice.  As for the poison. That would work except for the fact that the mice eat stuff in our garden too, and we have dogs. We also live near a road, so for us personally, turning the rat terrier out wasn’t really an option.

Putting poison out in the garden meant a few things. First, there was a chance of a dog finding it and eating it before we could stop them. We have had a few emergency vet visits because of that. Our dogs are dearly loved and the most painful death I ever witnessed in a dog was from rat poison that we found out that the dog had eaten and it was already too late for the dog to be saved.

Secondly, there is the fact that when it rains, if there is rat poison out in the garden, protecting the plants, the rat poison is being dissolved into the ground. The plants will then suck up some of what made up that poison.

Thirdly, if mice ate the poison outside and we didn’t find them, another animal could find the dying or dead mouse and accidentally poison itself by eating that mouse. So, we decided to get a cat. This has been working out splendidly. The only thing that I question, is if one cat will be enough to get rid of as many mice as seem to be in the sheds and gardens.

Taffy caught grass
Taffy caught himself a swift and ferocious clump of grass while he was learning to stalk and hunt. Look at that goofy tongue sticking out!

Since getting Taffy, and since he learned to hunt, we have been seeing a drastic decline in the mice and sparrows on our homestead.

If you have a barn cat, what led you to decide to get one? Let us know in the comments below.

Turkey Season On The Homestead

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It’s turkey season on the homestead. Not in the way that most of you would assume I mean when I say it’s turkey season, although if I remember correctly it is also turkey hunting season. No, the reason why it’s turkey season on the farm right now is because we have oodles and caboodles of baby turkeys called poults hatching.poults

Just about a week ago, as a matter of fact, we had a clutch hatch. Unfortunately for them, since they were being hatched in an incubator,and they had already incubated in the egg for a while, we incorrectly guessed how fresh their eggs were.

So, our poor poults hatched out a few days ahead of when we expected, and went splat on the floor of the incubator. Don’t worry, they weren’t hurt. However, the floor of the incubator is slick. So, these poor babies were unable to get their legs under them to learn how to walk and ended up splay legged.

In the past, we always used to have to destroy splay legged babies. But then we learned a trick. Hobbling! Yup! Very similarly to how you would hobble a horse only there are two hobbles per poult rather than just one. We will be sharing in our turkey course exactly how we put them on. Actually, these youngsters are featured in a video showing exactly what we do to fix splay legs in very young turkeys. They are all looking great a week later and no longer have their hobbles on.

This Is Why This Year Will Be The Year Of Chicks

IMG_0848This year, we are revamping our buckeye flock. The flock that we have been keeping has learned to roost in the trees and has been brought up sleeping outside their coop. We decided that the easier way to transition birds to sleeping inside would be to sell the older birds and hatch babies.

Right now is hatching time.  We’ve had our new flock hatch out.

When they are full grown these babies will be wonderful meat and layer birds. The reason why we chose to raise chicks instead of training the older birds is because with the babies, we will spent less time working on their training. Our older girls are more set in their ways. When they went to new homes, the new homes could create new habits because they were now in a different environment, not like what they were used to.

Buckeye hens and rooster

 

Ewe won’t believe this

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Ewe Won’t Believe This

Most of you who follow my blog probably remember this little guy who the dog brought home during really cold and nasty weather. His name is Bucky and he is a little Katahdin ram.

We used to keep Shetland/Merino crosses because we love to work wool. The trouble was that because we have several jobs going, we don’t have time to keep up on spinning and using all of their wool. However, we love sheep! They graze a different section of the grasses and weeds than our goats, horses or calf do, plus they are delicious when they are cooked correctly.

We hadn’t been planning on more sheep any time too soon because of our literal wool gathering habit. That all changed when Commando showed up with his *ahem* present.

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We had to then locate the lamb’s owner( which wasn’t a super easy task) and offer to buy the lamb. Fast forward a few months. Being a Katahdin, Bucky won’t require shearing because he has hair. Then there is the fact that we bottle raised him so he is super sweet and friendly.

Yup! We have officially fallen in love with him. He stays as a breeder. So, yesterday, we acquired two something specials.

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Yup! We got Bucky a couple of girlfriends. We are officially back in sheep. They aren’t as tame as Bucky. As a matter of fact, we had an attempted get away today. Thankfully my dad and I were able to bring our stray lambs home.

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How to learn homesteading without losing your mind

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Homesteading is a wonderful and sometimes complicated thing to know how to do. There are so many things to learn! We learned it the hard way. Over decades, we learned how to garden, as my great grandparents did during the depression years in America. My father began learning to raise chickens as a boy and he honed his skill as he grew up.

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Later, when we were living in the mountains in Mexico, he learned how to raise rabbits for meat to help the people there provide themselves with much needed protein. When I was 14, we moved back to America. We had to learn how to garden in the soil of the high desert of central Mexico where I lived from 7-14 years old, the cold rain forest type climate we lived in until I was 6 years old and later, the pine barrens of New Jersey with it’s sandy loam. Now, we are gardening in Oklahoma.

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When we moved to Oklahoma, we got into dairy goats. This was a huge jump for us. Goats don’t lay eggs obviously so learning to deal with kidding was going to be a huge task. Fortunately for us, since we were determined to become more self sufficient, we were able to find a mentor for learning to raise goats. Later, we also branched out into raising our own beef, and wool on the homestead.

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Each thing that we have learned is wonderful. But there can be a steep learning curve. You need to find or get a good mentor if you want to be successful raising a significant portion of your own food.

But, I have some very good news for those of you who want to learn, but have not been successful at finding a mentor. Homesteadingedu launches tomorrow. Our website is http://www.homesteadingedu.com and we will mentor you in all the things we know. We can teach you everything that I’ve previously mentioned plus things like making your own yogurt from store bought milk and making a yogurt start without having to buy any yogurt. We have many many classes coming up on our website.

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Home made goats cheese

It’s Affordable
Our classes are $9.99 a month or $99 a year. Tomorrow is when we start the first few of our classes and more will be regularly getting added. Learning to homesetead without a mentor can be very time consuming and difficult.  Come join us, and make homesteading easier for yourself!

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