I took a little break from the documentary series "Wartime Farm" to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend. I watched the third episode yesterday and enjoyed every minute of it. This episode taught me more about how the country people of Great Britain handled hard times during the war. I was impressed how they made roof tiles and built a kiln. It even had a glimmer of how they made some medicinal moonshine!
There was information on how they made warm quilts filled with feathers. I just can't say enough how informative this series it to someone like me. I love all the old ways of doing things and how they made their lives the best that they could during that time. I find so many little bits of information that I can incorporate in my life now. This episode touched me most because they celebrated Christmas and the community came together. It really made me think about how Christmas present has become so impersonal and materialistic.
If you are interested in watching the third episode, I'd love to hear what you think about this series. It's really exciting to me to watch these people recreate war time on a farm.
Courtesy of BBC
I'm onto episode two of the documentary "Wartime Farm" and I learned a lot about feeding livestock on silage. I had heard of silage but I wasn't entirely sure what it was, but now I know and I'm eagerly enthusiastic to learn more about it. I found a great booklet on making silage for our small scale farms today. I can't wait to read more in depth on this topic.
This second episode taught me how to make a "haybox" and use it for cooking. This episode talked about pig clubs they had during the war time. It made me wonder why we don't have pig clubs today. Maybe we do and I just don't know about them, but I would be more than excited to participate in something like that. I like how the community worked together and I wish we had more of a close-knit community these days. Not that we don't know our neighbors or have a great small town that we live in, but people are so busy with their own lives today, that we don't work together like we could.
I think one of the greatest things I got from this episode is how to make a feather duster. If you butcher your own chickens, then knowing how to use the leftover feathers effectively would be a great resource. I sat here thinking, why have I never thought about feather dusters from chicken feathers? It touched on the black market during war time and gave some great information on how people made a little extra on the side to support their families. The episode talked about how people who lived rural fared better than those that lived in the city, and I say that all the time now. How if something were to happen, those of us out here in the boonies, trying to make a simple life and putting in the hard work, will do better than those that are in the suburbs and cities. I suppose I have had that right all along. I noticed how involved the women are during this time and all the hard work they do to contribute on the farm. It's clear that women really do work hard on the farms and should get a lot more credit. Not only were they out in the fields helping with crops, they were handling foraging and gardening, and they were having to cook and clean and wash and sew and craft too.
Overall, this documentary gets better and better and I am hooked! I can't wait to find out other great things to learn that I can incorporate into our lives today.
If you are watching the documentary, share your thoughts, I'd love to hear what you learn from it too.
Courtesy of BBC
I don't know about you, but I love history and what our past has to teach us today. I remember watching the Waltons as a kid but I never correlated much about the show until I was an adult and we were beginning our farm. I watched the Waltons every day after we moved here on our farm. It brought me closer to my grandparents lives and how they lived during the depression. It gave me a warm, comforting feeling to watch this family survive and get by during the hardest times in history for farmers. I learned from watching the Waltons, but more than that I became hungry for more knowledge and more history regarding farming.
I remember as a kid going to visit my grandparents in Maryland. They had a modest home in a rural area. My grandfather had, what I considered as a child, a huge garden. He had rows of tomatoes and corn and potatoes and other vegetables. I remember playing in that garden and hiding in the corn. I also remember watching him take out a little bucket from the kitchen with scraps inside and dumping them around the plants. Little did I know when I was a small kid playing in the garden and visiting my grandparents, I was learning! When we first bought this place and I started my first big garden, all of those memories came flooding back to me and I did the same things I watched my grandfather do in his garden. I wish I would of learned more from him!
Whether you are living your dream on a small farm because you want to be self sufficient and live a simpler life, or you are prepping for a SHTF situation on your property and wanting to learn about growing food and being able to sustain your life if something should happen, I am sure like me, you are always on the lookout for good information. I don't think we ever stop learning when it comes to trying to be more sustainable and living on our own. We continue to evolve and learn and therefore, live more like our past ancestors. They knew what they were doing and they did it well. It's what I strive for, living more simply to be sustainable on our own and trying to break free from the corporations that own the world. Okay, I'm getting a little conspiracy theory here, but you know what I mean!
So, when I found out about this great eight part series called "Wartime Farm", I couldn't wait to tell you about it. I just watched the first episode and am ready to start the next. I can see me binge watching this and am very excited about it. This series is based on war time in Britain during World War II and it's got a lot of great historical information as well as ideas and tips on what it was like and how it could be done again if you wanted to live off grid. I wish we had something like this based on the Great Depression here in the United States. I love reading about how the farmers made it through such an awful time in history. It makes me feel inspired and motivated to do the best that I can at our attempts at farming. I would love to share this series with you and hopefully, you will enjoy it as much as I have so far. I am excited to learn more techniques and ways that they made things happen with hardly anything to work with during that time.
I encourage you to watch and enjoy this great eight part documentary and learn from the valuable information. I plan to continue watching and can't wait to find out more as the documentary progresses. I hope you will share your thoughts with me!
With temperatures soaring outside this summer, it's important to think about more than ourselves when we want to beat the heat. Plants, animals and humans can be overwhelmed by excessive heat. We spend a lot of time around the Pierce Ponderosa trying to find ways to cool off, especially the animals and the plants in the garden.
We have a lot of dogs, some are short hair Chihuahuas, and we have our Great Pyrenees that are covered in a thick fur with an under coat. It is important that there is fresh water for all animals, indoors and outdoors. I keep water bowls around for all the animals and I make sure to change the water a few times a day to ensure it's clean and fresh. A great tip for an animals water is to freeze water in small water bottles. Drop the frozen bottle into the animals water bowl and it keeps the water cool. You can remove it when it's thawed out, rinse it off and freeze it again. Our chickens love a frozen bottle in the water bowl. They enjoy pecking at it for it entertainment and it keeps their water cool.
Dogs, chickens, kids and adults all like a cool mist. It's a nice treat to walk under a light mist of water to cool off. I can attest that chickens do not like to be chased around with a mist nozzle with the hose, however, they don't mind walking through a mist to get in and out of their house. It's a win-win situation when you use a stationary mister versus chasing chickens around trying to cool them off. The dogs love it too, they enjoy going through the mist and feeling that cool water landing on their coats.
Plastic swimming pools are a must have around the farm for all the animals. The dogs like to get in and splash around and cool off and so do the ducks. Our ducks will spend hours in the pool playing and bathing and splashing around. Even the chickens enjoy a small pool with a couple inches of water inside to stand in and cool off. You have to cut some of the pool edge off for chickens, so they can walk in and out. I generally will use the pools from the year before to cut for the chickens to make a standing pool.
I keep a couple of box fans in the animal house to circulate air and to give the goats, chickens and ducks a little cool air to stand or lay in front of during the day. It's important to make sure the electrical cord is secured and up and out of the way. Don't place a fan near any water sources. We attach them high on the wall and tilt them downward toward the ground for the animals. In the house, we have quite a few fans for the dogs to lay in front of. Our Great Pyrenees take turns working outside on the farm and during the day there can always be a Pyr found in front of a fan when they aren't outside.
It's important to watch for heat stress in animals on the farm. Even chickens and ducks can show signs of heat stress and can die from a heat stroke. I like to check on the birds and the goats often during the day to make sure they are doing alright and aren't in any sort of distress. If I see a chicken or duck that is showing signs of heat stress I bring them inside and place them in a sink full of cool, not freezing, water and gently bathe them until they are wet all over. I then keep them in a cool place until they show signs of cooling off. I make sure to keep electrolytes on hand that I can add to their water. I've only had to do this a couple of times and it was older chickens. We have plenty of shade here on our farm with our tree line wooded areas, so we don't normally have emergencies, but the older hens can get stressed easier. I have never had an issue with heat stroke in any of my dogs, but I do watch for the signs and make sure they are brought inside often to cool off. Of course, heat stroke can happen to us too, and it's important to be aware of symptoms of heat stress on ourselves and our children. Working outside for any length of time can cause us to get overwhelmed by heat. It's imperative that we stay hydrated and take breaks often to get out of the heat.
The plants in our gardens can get hot and will let you know they aren't doing well. They start to droop and wilt and you can see the soil around them is dry. I like to do all my watering in the evening and I soak everything thoroughly so that the ground stays wet into the next day. If I see plants drooping during the day I will generally give them a little extra water during that time. I like to use the inside of disposable diapers when I plant. I cut open a new unused diaper and remove the insides and place it inside the hole I have dug for the plant. I get it wet before placing my plant on top. This material holds water well and helps to keep a plant wet and cool, even when it's hot outside.
It's hot outside and it's getting hotter all over the place. With the heat soaring but our chores still need to be done and our animals need to be outside, it is always good to know a few ways to beat the heat on a farm. How do you deal with the heat? Do you have some tips we could all use? Share them with us.
In the last couple of weeks I have said "So, you want a Great Pyrenees?" a great many times. I have our cute, fluffy, Great Pyrenees puppies for sale and have received a lot of calls about them. The first thing I want to know is that the person inquiring about these amazing dogs knows what they are wanting. There are many, many wonderful pros about this breed. However, there are some cons as well!
When a person adopts a puppy because it's a cute ball of fur and is eagerly giving kisses, they sometimes don't see the big picture and look into the future. Great Pyrenees puppies are the most adorable creatures and they seem like little balls of love and fur. However, they do grow up, and they grow fast and they grow big...very big! If a person lives in a subdivision or an apartment they may not be able to accommodate the needs of an extra large dog. These dogs are extremely laid back and aren't overly active or hyper. But, they do require space for exercise and they have a built in desire to work because they are livestock guardian dogs. This breed of dog comes from a rich history of shepherding and caring for sheep in the mountains. What starts out as a small ball of fluff, quickly turns into 130-150 pounds of big, furry dog. These dogs do require maintenance and care. They can be very stubborn and are free thinkers and do what they think needs to be done, which isn't always what you think needs to be done. They aren't lay around the yard dogs and they like to roam and can travel miles in their attempts to patrol their borders. The Great Pyrenees like to bark. They bark and bark and bark some more. If you live in a neighborhood, your neighbors might not find your new puppy as cute as you do, if they are kept up all night from incessant barking. The breed is considered nocturnal. They like to lay around and sleep all day, with one ear and eye open, while they protect their property. When the sun starts to set they wake up and come alive and start to warn any thing and every thing that they are on duty. They do these warnings with a lot of barking.
The benefits of having a Great Pyrenees, when you know about the habits of this breed, are exceptional and prove why these dogs are amazing. They are called gentle giants, and this is true to their families that they love and protect. They are wonderful around children and small animals that they consider their charges. They are extremely loyal and loving and they bring a great deal of joy into their owners lives. They are incredible guardians of livestock and will keep their livestock safe from predators that lurk on the edges of a farm. They are right there during births to help the mothers with their new babies and they protect them all as they are vulnerable from predators during that time. They will lay there and let goat kids and lambs pounce all over them and never bat an eye. They are never far away from those that they protect and make the perfect dog for people with livestock and small animals.
With all of that information that I pass on to people, I again ask them "so, you still want a Great Pyrenees?" And, when they say "yes, I do!" I feel like I've at least been honest and open about what they will be getting. It's a long term commitment, but so worth the time and effort for the giant bundle of love that takes over your life.
When you see a groundhog do you think it's cute and cuddly or do you see it as a pest on the farm? Groundhogs are rodents found throughout North America. If you raise vegetables or have fruit or nut trees, you can learn quickly about the destruction from the groundhog. They can live in urban or rural settings, but they are very likely to be found in areas where there is a lot of vegetation or on farm land.
Being large rodents, they can cause a lot of destruction in a vegetable garden or to large crops. They can interfere with fencing, by making the fence post holes unstable, and can eat the roots of newly planted trees. Farmers find it difficult to deal with groundhogs. We have had them on the Pierce Ponderosa Farm and we see them all around our area.
If you don't have to deal with groundhogs as a pest on the farm, then you might consider them to be cute, cuddly creatures. I remember when we lived in a suburban area, driving down the road by my daughters school. The groundhogs would be standing up on the side of the road and almost looking like they were waving at the cars going down the road. I thought it was incredibly cute. Once we moved out to a rural area and started dealing with groundhogs and other pests and predators, my opinion has changed about a few animals.
If groundhogs find their way to your property, they can do considerable damage to your property. Most damage caused by groundhogs is from their constant burrowing all over your land. Groundhogs burrow to build their den. This is where the groundhog sleeps, raises their young and hibernates. Their burrows can be extensive, having up to five entrances, and can contain tunnels that are as long as 50 feet long. A groundhog den can be deep in the ground, as deep five feet straight down. With deep channels in their dens, they cause real risks to gardens, crops, orchards with their root systems, and can even cause damage to foundations of buildings on the farm. The deep dens are also a challenge to farmers, causing holes where their farm equipment can become stuck. A horse, cow, goat or other farm animals can break their legs by stepping in holes that groundhogs make. If animals break their legs, a farmer could have to put the animal down in serious situations.
A groundhog can dig over 700 pounds of dirt, burrowing and building just one den. A single groundhog could create many dens within its territory, moving in and out as needed, because of crop changes and weather. Groundhogs look for good Drainage when claiming their home on your property They won't dig their dens in damp or wet ground, or even rocky areas. You often find their burrows near hedgerows and along the edges of farm property or within the farm fields. They like slopes and rolling hills.
You can spot the main entrance of an active groundhog den by seeing a small mound of loosely packed dirt at the entrance. This allows the groundhog a view to the world and where the sun can come inside.
If you see grass growing in the entrance of a den, then it's a good clue that the Den is no longer in use by the groundhog. However, other animals like to use old groundhog dens to hide and live inside. Foxes, opossum, skunks and raccoons will use abandoned dens left over from groundhogs.
Groundhogs breed seasonally. The breeding season for groundhogs begins in mid-February, soon after the animals emerge from hibernation. A groundhogs gestation lasts 31-33 days and her annual litter will consist of 2 to 9 pups, born near the end of March.
Baby groundhogs are born with no fur and are blind and helpless and approximately four inches in length. Baby groundhogs open their eyes at about 4 weeks old, they don't leave the den to see the outside until they are around 6 to 8 weeks old.
Groundhogs are solitary animals, except during their breeding season, and by the end of summer, the young groundhog will move away from its mothers den and will establish its own permanent" burrow.
Groundhogs can consume up to a pound of organic matter a day. Considering these animals, on average, weigh about 8-10 pounds, that is a lot of vegetation in a day. They are lazy and will generally dig their burrows and construct their dens in the middle of meadows and fields so they do not have to go far to eat.
Getting rid of groundhogs is no easy feat. Groundhogs are pests on a farm because they are hard to send away, and they continue to cause destruction with vegetation and to buildings and animals. They are naturally suspicious of traps, and so trapping them is difficult. Some people try poisons, but they don't make any sort of approved groundhog removal chemicals. Putting poisons and chemicals on your land can be dangerous. Another recourse can be hiring a removal company that has experience in removing groundhogs from your property. The life span of a groundhog is on average about a year. They are prey animals and have many predators. Some groundhogs live longer, especially in captivity like our groundhogs in local areas that are kept and used for groundhog day activities.
Do you have issues with groundhogs on your farm? Do you see them as cute and cuddly or as pests that cause destruction to your land? If you have any tips or advice on removing groundhogs from a farm, I know our readers would love to hear them!
Making predictions at the beginning of the year is a lot like making resolutions, the predictions can go one way or the other, but I feel fairly confident that the predictions I'm making will be on the up and rising side of homesteading and small farming.
There is an updraft of people that want to start their own homestead or small farm. In an article from USA Today, More and more young adults in their 20's and 30's are branching out to start their own farm. This is a positive movement, proving that sustainable living, organic healthy food and more humane treatment of animals is gaining popularity in the United States.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, Compared to 1950, today's small farms are producing up to 262% more food using as little as 2% fewer materials, such as fertilizer and seeds. There are approximately 2 million farms in the United States and at least 80% of these farms are family farms. These statistics prove to show that people are making different choices today and want options away from big box stores and corporations that control our food sources. There are more farmers markets, Co-ops, CSAs, direct marketing and other community sources for fresh, healthy food for families. These opportunities allow small family farms to earn income from their hard work on their homestead.
With the facts staring us in the face, we can confidently make a few predictions for 2015.
More small family homesteads and farms will begin to grow and there will be more people looking to purchase land and old farms to begin their lives living off the land.
Some communities will loosen restrictions on small livestock in towns, to allow families to have backyard livestock. Suburbanites want to keep chickens and rabbits and bees to help their families and grant them a small-scale portion of a sustainable life. Chickens not only offer a food source for families, they offer entertainment and companionship and are becoming closely related to a designer pet.
More restaurants and chefs will source local food to serve their customers. Farm to table meal events and restaurants are becoming more popular in the United States. Hard to find produce and specialty mushrooms along with pasture raised chicken and pork are becoming highly regarded and sourced to showcase chef's desires to create dishes that stand out.
Humane treatment of animals will be a top priority as people pull away from purchasing meat from corporations that raise animals as fast as they can, full of antibiotics and other chemicals. Keeping animals in confined spaces and given no quality of life. More people are becoming aware of these situations and will want to either raise their own meat, giving free run on pasture and free-ranging on their land, or purchasing their meat from farms that raise their animals in this manner.
Non-GMO produce will be grown to feed people in communities that want to know what they are eating. The GMO corporations, that are affecting seeds, plants and produce, are causing issues with livestock and soil and people are beginning to stand up and speak out about this movement. There will be a bigger shift toward organic gardening and less use of chemicals on plants and in soil. The use of these pesticides is causing a decline in pollinating insects, like bees and butterflies, and keeping these insects healthy and alive will be a priority.
Predictions have been made, so now we have to watch and see if they happen like suspected. As the trend to live a better life, eat well and raise our children with health in mind, we will see people taking a stand and making choices that reflect what they truly want in their lives.
What do you think? Do you think I am on the mark with my predictions or do you have a different opinion? I would love to hear from you.
Hi! My name is Jaymie and I'm married to my best friend and have three children. We live on our hobby farm in the north Georgia mountains and love it!
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