Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Starting Seeds and Preparing for Spring

 
This week on our homestead we planted English peas, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic and leeks in the garden. Now our last frost date isn't until the end of April. In the greenhouse, I started my herbs, peppers and tomatoes. Am I nuts to think the cold won't kill them? Not really. I far too aware I'm farther north than my previous gardening experience.

Now I could have gone out and spent a small fortune on those seed pots but the Cockeyed Homestead is a shoe string operation. My seed starting pots are made out of toilet paper and paper towel rolls. If more are needed, there are plenty of free newspapers available. FYI (for your information) we also use toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer lint and dipped in paraffin for fire starter in the wood stove, and also use them for rabbit treat toys. We recycle as much as we can. In fact, it takes us two months to fill three 32-gallon trash cans. Even my empty one liter bottles of tonic water are saved. But I digress.

For frost protection
It's almost the end of February. It will take a few weeks to grow the seeds big enough to transplant from the greenhouse.The plants outside can be covered with sheets to protect them from an overnight frost. Our daytime temperatures are in the 50s and 60s. We even hit the 70 this week. Or for really tender plants, my empty tonic water bottles protect them. We simply cut the bottoms off and place them over the plant in the afternoon before a frost. During the summer, a small hole is drilled into the top and they are inverted as a slow drip watering system for the plants. The water goes where it is needed most...the roots. As an alternative, I can replace the water with either worm, compost, or rabbit poo tea for a slow release fertilizer. If slower release is
For summer drip waterers
needed, a quick trip to my local dollar store for a supply of sponges. Two sponges pack will net twenty sponge inserts in the caps to slow the dispersal down. For a buck and some change for tax, it's a good deal.

Two liter bottles work better, but we don't buy two liter sodas opting for aluminum cans instead. Recycle centers actually pay you to recycle these. Everyone can use a few extra bucks back, right?

I take tonic water for the quinine to help with my nocturnal leg cramps. There is nothing like waking from a deep sleep by Charlie horses. Before the tonic water, I was awakened a couple times a night with these.

Planting, setting seeds, grooming angora and Jersey Woolies has dominated the week. Fifty English peas, ten pounds of russet and red potatoes, forty leeks, onions, and garlic cloves all in the ground. Ten bell peppers, cayenne, turmeric, ginger, ten types of lettuces and spinach, fifteen assorted herbs, and thirty tomato seeds are snug in their pots in the greenhouse just germinating and growing for spring.

How has your week been?

"Y'all have a blessed day."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

On the Homestead: When Predators Attack

It's been a disheartening week on the homestead this week. With the cold snap came the nocturnal predators. I awoke and started my outside feeding of our critters.  I noticed that only four hens out of six showed up and were closely followed by Whitie the rooster. Dinner, the other rooster, and the other two hens were no shows which were highly unusual. Well, I figured it was their loss and went on the tend to the rabbits.

I rounded the corner of the house and headed for the angora rabbitry building. I noticed a huge amount of feathers on the ground near where the chicken roost at night, then I knew the cause of these chickens absence. A predator had entered the chicken pen during the night. There were rooster feathers all over the place. I do  know Dinner had not gone peacefully, but had put up a fight. No bodies, not much blood, but loads of feathers littered the ground.

We are still not sure what predator got the hens and rooster. Needless to say, Whitie and the hens have abandoned their newly built coop and are back on the front porch for the time being. They are safer. We'll clean up the mess after we build a proper enclosed area for the chickens this spring.

A couple of days later, Mel was bringing in one of the Jersey Woolie, Ebony, to groom  and she noticed Whitie harassing a hen to walk to the other hens so he could protect them. The bird was obviously injured and hobbled on one leg with the other tucked tucked up under her. She was using her right wing as a crutch. Mel filled a milk crate with straw, placed the hen in it, and brought it inside. She now has a permanent spot by our wood stove.

After checking her out, we found no cause for her leg being drawn up. No obvious breaks or wounds. It might be muscular which time may heal. Her comb is a ragged mess and you can see where feathers have been stripped of their fluffy bits around her head. We figured she survived the attack and went into hiding under the house and hunger brought her out. For now, I'm calling her Gimpy. I know cruel, right? But it's true. Whether she survives or not is still up in the air. All we can do is hope. She just might be able to join Whitie and the other hens again.

Meanwhile, Mel cut a little too deeply while grooming Ebony. Rabbits have tissue paper fine skin. It resulted in a rather large cut on her shoulder. We are tending to it with an antibiotic ointment. She's been placed in the dog crate in the living room. She'll get the preferential treatment until she heals.

Mel was doing dishes and I was at my computer last evening when she looked around the corner of the short wall that divided us, We're running an animal house!"
Three of five cats were on the breakfast table because it's next to the wood stove, the border terrier, Herbie, was under my feet, and Nnyus, the pit bull, was lying on the kitchen floor. Plus the chicken by the wood stove, the rabbit in the living room, and two other cats lazing on the back of the couch. "We can move out and let them have it," she said.
I responded, "Sure we could, but none of their houses would fit us. We wouldn't be the Cockeyed Homestead, if things were normal, would we?"
We both had a good chuckle about that.

Amy on the left
Our Wwolfer, Amy, and her son were here last weekend. Mel showed her how to groom angora rabbits. I had him building a drop down nesting box out of wire for the new/old 30x36 rabbit cage. It was Colleen's, meat rabbit, previous home on my old homestead. I'm still waiting for his return next weekend to attach it to the cage itself. I got the idea from the Hillbilly Half Acre Homestead channel on YouTube. It seems like a more natural way to have litters for rabbits. In the wild, rabbits would have their babies in burrows. It would also free up floor space in Colleen's cage by not having a nesting box cramp her up. She's a big bunny. Once the babies are big enough to climb out of the drop down nest box, they can be weaned and placed in grow out cages within a couple of weeks.

I have been researching the raising of quail on our homestead. Now that the angoras have been moved to their official home, our angora rabbitry, we have empty cages outside. It would be another meat source for us. I was talking with Jason at the Big Bear Homestead, and he raises Cortunix quails. He has offered to hatch half a dozen for us in the spring. They are easy to butcher, clean and are delicious! So stay tuned to our YouTube channel for further updates on this.

I kinda like this one with additions
I could get hatching eggs but the plan is to get some Buff Orpington chicks in the spring. They are a broody bird so hopefully we can hatch out more birds. We will also be incubating some of our own New Hampshire Red eggs. We're both sold on this breed. I wouldn't mind getting some Americauna, Easter eggers, chickens also. Yes we are branching out in our chicken and egg production. Since Mel has the certification to sell eggs, why not take a stab at the market. They will be semi free range eggs and definitely organic once I start sprouting their feed in the spring. Only semi free range because I want to have a productive garden this year. I plan on housing the different breeds in chicken tractors. They are mobile and can be moved daily if necessary even close to the garden. I figure all it would take is one 4x8 piece of plywood, some 2x4x8s, chicken wire, and some screws. Maybe a couple of latches, a tarp, and a tow rope. We've got enough paint leftover from other jobs to paint them for weather proofing. We could even stick rabbits and quail in them too. I figure under $50 each.

Anyhow that's my plan. Mel may have other ideas. That's it for this week. As always,
"Y'all have a blessed day."

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Confession Time and New Video Series on YouTube

But I love you too!
My only New Years resolution of sorts that I made was to focus on me more than others in 2017. If you really knew me, you'd realize what a challenge this is for me. In all my almost 60 years of life, I've put others before me to the point where I literally drove myself constantly into the ground. Do I sound selfish? It's not totally going to be a meme year though. The homestead is a huge undertaking and that's where my main focus will be, but there are other goals I'd like to explore and do that I've put on a back burner for far too long putting out everyone else's fires. Everyone else needs to take responsibility and just deal with it.

Sounds strange coming from a professed minister, right? Not entirely so. A huge part of my meme year involves others and their well being including my own. What I've wanted and been guided, by the Lord, is to reach more disabled folks and show them an alternative to just existing. I've been shown that this is my ministry field now. While I've continued writing my post stroke blog, I've done very little else. I've done very little else. This will change in 2017.

I'm starting with a subcategory of our Cockeyed Homestead YouTube channel with a series of videos on homesteading and being disabled. I'll probably start a whole new channel. How does "Single-Handed Homesteader" strike you? No, I'm not leaving the Cockeyed Homestead and will still do videos for that channel, but this will go more in depth of my faith, philosophy, how-tos, to give those disabled folks out there both a kick in the pants, and hope that they can also have their dreams or at least some of them. This was a goal I set for me almost three years ago. It's time for me to get cracking on it. For many over at my stroke recovery blog, it's been a long awaited promise fulfilled. No, it won't be as originally intended with me by my lonesome. Homesteading is hard enough without disabilities, and with the move here, I'm no longer alone.

I hear you. "But Jo, that's not selfish!" True, in part. I don't think I've got a totally selfish bone in my body. It is my commitment service to the Lord that guided me to this. Why else would He have allowed me these challenges to overcome? Especially with Him knowing me so well. (grinning) It nourishes my soul and blesses me abundantly so in my mind it is selfish.

The second part is to get involved on the local level.  I researched stroke support groups. While being a leader and unique in life is admirable, it can get lonely at the top. I used to say even a minister needs a minister from time to time. Yes, I have my Heavenly Father, but it doesn't hurt to have a good support system here on Earth too. After repeatedly calling the local stroke support group and not getting a call back, I'm going to present myself in person at the local hospital, which sponsors the group. I'm not leaving until I have talked to someone who knows what is going on. Yes, I can be stubborn that way.

So that's the plan. Work continues on the cookbook and life continues on the homestead. As always...
Y'all have a blessed day!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Homestead How to Books in the Works

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/156335
Click image to buy a copy
A little known fact about me is that I'm a multi published author. Before my strokes took away my ability to read and write, I was writing a survivalist series of books, in part about urban homesteading. The first book in the series was self published, as were the rest of the planned series. Well, I had a personal SHTF situation quite literally with my strokes and my husband's care being shifted over to hospice.  It has been a long, slow  recovery process for me. In fact I'm still in it. I've fought tooth and nail, clawing my way back to get to this point.

I've been asked by several of our YouTube subscribers to write a cookbook. I am presently going through my database of recipes, some of which we've videoed on our channel to compile it with fresh pictures. It is slow going, plus I'm typing one handed. My brain just doesn't work as well as it once did.  I haven't done much writing except for blogs in five years, but it's been good practice. Since cookbooks are basically lists, I almost feel almost confident enough to handle this type of writing now. In the downloadable ebooks, I'll put links to the videos that correspond to the recipes. At least those uploaded to the publishing date. The rest may appear at a later date with no links, of course. You just have to search our channel under the Cookin' playlist. Today there are 22 recipes there already and growing, but not in written form. (Hm, an asterisk on the page that YouTube deleted one or more videos. I'll have to figure out which ones and why.) Ya gotta love technology. Anyhow, there will be a web address listed in the paperback version.

How long is the cookbook? How many recipes? I dunno. I haven't thought that far ahead. Heck, this may be several books. I just haven't figured out the divisions yet. I've got thousands of them in my head, on my computer, and written on cards and pieces of paper in my stash from decades of cooling professionally and at home. When can you get a copy? I dunno that either. I've got to figure our the answers to the previous questions first. There are a lot of angles in publishing especially self publishing. What my angle? Why should someone but the book when the video is free? For example, the cover art, any other art, the dividers, the divisions, who am I gearing sales for (marketing plan). Included in the marketing plan is public appearances, pre-sales, and book signings which means the pre-purchasing of paperbacks to sign. It also involves care of the homestead while away doing these events. A whole lot of juggling and planning and I'm not the master juggler anymore. I'm I really able to do this again? Do I really want to? We honestly need the cash injection to keep operating. If neither of us are working off the homestead.  Our feed and seed bill alone is $100 a month and we're small time right now. We can't grow in self sufficiency or profitability without it.


Who knows, I may start writing the above mentioned series again. At least, I'm going to try even if it takes a couple of years to write one. You got to understand. In my previous life BS, before strokes, I was writing, editing, and publishing four to ten books a year between nonfiction and fiction. Taking a couple of years to write one book is a harsh reality check for me.

For Mel, she's on that newbie stage of writing of eat, sleep, dream of writing. She probably wouldn't eat if I didn't put a hot plate of food in front of her and make her stop writing once a day. I remember those days well. All's I gotta say to her is spring is coming and enjoy it while it lasts.

As always,
Y'all gave a blessed day,

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Homesteading Honesty

Happy Birthday Mel!!!! Yes, today is her birthday.

We approach, mentally and emotionally, with the reality of what is on the homestead. Although we are not off the grid, we are trying to get there or live as self reliant as possible. Honestly, we may never truly be off grid. We love our tech stuff like cell phones, video cameras, and computers too much. Modern convenience like an electric well pump which allows for running water inside the house is a no brainer for us also. We use our modern washing machine/dryer. We have no problem running the dishwasher for sterilizing canning jars.  And the microwave for those quick meals. It's not that we can't live without these things. We have and can do it again.

We don't buy into the romanticized versions of homesteading either. We know it takes lots of hard work.

Some misconceptions in response to "It's a simpler life."
 WRONG!
It's a simplistic or simplified life because you are doing it all with less. You are thinking outside the box more to repurpose and reuse instead of going out and buying what you need or want. You are mostly thumbing your nose at commercialism and the instant gratification that the world has become. Not that we are totally against instance gratification. We are harkening back to a time when saving for large cash items was the normal. There isn't the same satisfaction owning something you charge on a card as something you scrimped and saved for.

Sure, we could go out and purchase everything we need or want for this homestead spending thousands of dollars on it too. I see quite a few homestead start ups that do that very thing. Would we like to have everything spanking new? Yeah! Wouldn't every one. Well I did title this "Homesteading Honesty" so that's not entirely true. Think about a baseball mitt for a second. Brand, spanking new isn't the greatest mitt you can own. It hasn't been broken in yet. It will take time and work to make it a great mitt. Now, take a look at homesteading tools. A brand new scythe. Has a smooth finished wood and a shiny blade. You can ooh and ahh over it because its pretty. Compare the same scythe that farmer Brown used to cut hay with for a decade. It ain't pretty but it slices through the gay like a hot knife through butter. Why? Because the handle is worn down to exactly where it needs to be. Repeated sharpening has made the edge sharp where it needs to be. There is no awkward breaking in period.

The building is actually level
Yes, we purchased a  ready built shed for our angora rabbitry. But it was a repoed model so it was wired and almost fully insulated saving us several hundred dollars in the conversion.  We couldn't gave built it for cheaper. It allowed us to spend the savings on the rabbit poop disposal system.

We had talked about purchasing another building for the chicken coop. We hemmed hawed around in discussion. We always do the pros and the cons of every purchase. A gift  from a neighbor of free pallets and a YouTube subscriber (now our Wwoofer/helper) made the new chicken run and coop area a reality for cheep cheep cheep. While it is still not complete, it's usable. The chickens have been turned loose into our garden area and new areas to scratch it up for spring planting. Meanwhile, I've been planning the garden and new orchard. I plan on buying 6' fencing before spring but I haven't decided whether to use it for the chicken run or the garden. I'm leaning more towards the garden area. I've got an idea the chickens will get out of any area we put them in unless it's electrified. I've has an aversion to electric fence since I was 5 years old and gotten shocked by one. Although I've been intrigued by the likes of Justin Rhodes and The Grass fed homestead and their mobile pastures.

Well that's it for this week. Y'all have a blessed day.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Winter Doldrums Feeling Stress

This is a fairly new thing to me. The winter doldrums, for me, have set in and it's not even February yet. It's truly making me irritable! Down in the more southern regions where I used to live, winter was wet and freezing for several weeks out of the season. A handy covering of extra sheets were enough to handle the frosty overnight and early morning temperatures for the most part. My plants were rarely damaged. These frosts are deadly here. Everything on the greenhouse that we planted is dead. But the rosemary, spearmint, and raspberry are doing well. At least one raspberry bush is. The one that was trying to make a comeback after the dog fight this summer died back to the roots. It may be salvageable in the Spring if I can keep the roots healthy through winter. The only thing still living in the greenhouse is the English peas. But something is nibbling the green leaves. I can check it in the morning and find an entire plant reduced to a main stem. Mel seems to think it's rats. I'm not seeing any signs of insects so she may be right, but I'm not seeing any rat signs either.

Our plans to breed the meat rabbits and house them in the greenhouse is on hold until our wwoofer can help build the hanging rabbit cages. She and her teenage son should be here sometime this week. She's been off doing holiday stuff with friends and family for over a month. It will be a welcome relief and some company. Man oh man, I'm glad the holidays are over. Maybe with some positive, forward action around the homestead it will help my mood.

Mel's got another new project in the works so it kind of leaves me in a lurch. There's no sense in video taping because the unedited footage cannot be uploaded. The video editing software is on Mel's laptop currently in use for her new project. She doesn't frequent the online live streams because of her project also. Mel's ADHD and depression is working overtime because of the gray days of winter. Me, I'm just stir crazy.

My usual winter activities of spinning and knitting hold no interest for me. I'm feeling my body run down. I'm busy tending to animals, with frozen or broken water bottles, breaking up layers of ice on the various 5-gallon water pails around the houses, gathering buckets of kindling, to keep the house 78 degrees like Mel likes it, and tending the wood stove, making sure all the rabbits have hay and food keeps me hopping.  The automatic chicken and rabbit waterers that I purchased to make this chore easier is left by the wayside. Forget about grooming the rabbits. I'm just too pooped just trying to keep up with this list!

A lot of projects Mel wanted to do like replacing and burying the water pipe deeper from the well to the house so it won't freeze. All that pipe and connectors sits in the barn while the water pipes freeze until noon or so. First the ground was too dry and hard due to the drought. I can honestly understand this. Now, it's too wet and spongy to get anything done. Huh? Hello?

This really sounds like a griping session doesn't it? But to me, I wasted my limited financial resources. Yeah, I know it will be eventually done when Mel gets around to it. Everything is half done which drives me nuts! Like I said her depression and ADHD is working overtime. Not that I'm a stranger to either of these health issues. I've had decades of practice with my youngest daughter. We are suffering through some growing pains or getting to know you right now. The close confinement and Mel not working. During the spring, summer and fall the issues were minor. We were just too busy. I'll have to plan better for next winter to keep her on task until completion, but it's harder with an adult who is used to having her own way.

The way I see it there are quite a few options. We'll either kill each other over the winter. Fight and bicker through the winter (neat trick when neither of us like conflict). Decide for sanity's sake to stay in separate corners. We can decide to go our separate ways in the spring. I won't feel bad about leaving because my almost $10K investment mostly stays here. I would have done all that I could do given the situation. Or, we can decide that three months out of a year isn't too bad and find a workable solution for next year. I don't call anything quits unless the pain is greater than I can bear...always leading to more health issues. I may be a martyr, but I do have my limits. I will only give up when there is no other choice. Now Mel is the opposite. It should be interesting.

Y'all gave a blessed week.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017 Y'all!

Happy New Year y'all from the Cockeyed Homestead. This is year two of the new homestead and we've got big plans coming up.

We will be enlarging the garden. Our goal is 25% of our food stock needs. Planting areas include a flax, wheat, and corn plots. These will be a whole new 10x10 planting beds. They will be testing plots to check out varieties and yields. We are starting this small on purpose. We will also be planting our orchard this year. I've researched apples, pears, pecans, peach, blackberry and raspberry brambles, and oak trees since last Spring. I hesitated actually buying the trees and bushes on purpose. But 2017, is the year to grow the orchard. We've spent this winter laying the groundwork for the new organic orchard and test plots.

The garden will take on a whole new layout. This will be the permanent place in front yard. We figure this amount of area will suffice for now. The plan is to clear a few trees this year so we gain a pasture area for our heritage breed chicken project for 2017. Our plan is to have separate areas for different breeds to do a contained/ free range set up. They will help hold down the insect population is the various garden plot areas too. Our goal is to add a dozen chickens of various dual purpose breeds quarterly. They will be butchered on demand meeting our food needs while expanding their flocks size. We will be selling off the excess chicks to fund this project. It also means focusing on a couple of broody breeds to start with. Next year we'll research selling butchered chickens for added profits.

Mel and Moira
The angora rabbitry is complete finally. the long/short range plans included the purchase of new does every year. The search is on for the newest does. We calculated having twenty English angoras by 2020 in breeding and wool production.

Daisy and Moira are old enough to be bred to Dustin. This will be the first generation of our pedigree line of English angora rabbits. We figure to breed them in the Spring. The first batch of meat rabbits will be ready for harvesting about the same time. Tummy yummies rabbit stews and roasts for dinner. This will be the second leg of being more self sufficient in a protein source. We'll also be planting drying beans and peas for additional proteins.

This new year will also see the addition of tiny houses on the property. Yes, they will take time to complete, but we are building a pay as we go set up with no additional debt. The plan is for two of them in 2017, but it may be just one. When the first one of us moves into their tiny house we will also be remodeling the double wide trailer into the community building. The first thing to go is the wall dividing the living room and the office. The next thing is all of the wall to wall carpeting removal. Carpeting is yucky stuff. New plywood flooring will replace it.You'll just have to wait for the video to see what we have planned. It's going to be awesome! We may get the kitchen enlargement done also in 2017 too, but it all depends on finances and time.

We are still on track in our five year plan. So how are y'all doing?

Y'all gave a blessed day.