In todays world, the desire to get back to basics is becoming more and more desirable. Our hope is that you will find some of the knowledge we share a benefit to you, to get closer to your dream of a healthier lifestyle, less dependent on assembly lined, processed, manufactured items.

Our goal is to help you find ways to use modern conveniences to allow you to live the life you want to live, and raise your family with the traditions that are important to you.

Grab a cup of coffee, or a glass of tea, and join us as we share our lives, our family and our knowledge with you.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


The time for the 2016 Spring Gathering is fast approaching.  Today, I would like to introduce you to 3 of the featured guests who plan to give presentations during the Gathering. 

Joy, is the inspiration behind Bean Post Farmstead, where she lives with her family near Miller, Missouri.  She will be presenting information about raising rabbits, including health/ nutrition, sustainability, cost and time considerations as well as foraging, pasture, and garden planning, also seasonal considerations and transitioning away from the typical pellet diet.  She has been raising rabbits for 7 years, and feeding naturally for 8 months. Joy has just begun a new blog, bean post farmstead.  She is looking forward to meeting everyone and participating in some of the other presentations, especially the Bee Keeping Basics.  She says, "We've been wanting bees for a long time but haven't learned anything about them yet, so we're excited!" 

Justin will be presenting information on Basic Bee Keeping. Justin grew up in rural Alaska on a piece of property that was homesteaded by his grandparents.  During his 21 years in Alaska, he participated in many outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, playing in the woods and riding snow machines in the winter months.  Growing up in a house heated by wood, Justin learned the basics of homesteading first hand.  His Dad bought a piece of land up in the Caribou Hills, which is in the middle of nowhere.  This is where his family built a cabin and lived for about a year, completely off grid. They had a generator but had to haul in any fuel used, any food not grown, and actually tapped into a spring for their water.  Justin moved to Missouri 16 years ago.  According to Justin, "I have been interested in bees for about a year now, and should have 4 hives or more by the end of the year." He is hoping to harvest his first Missouri honey in 2016.  Justin and his wife Melody live on a working homestead in Dade County, meaning "it's a work in progress," according to Justin.  They have cattle, hogs, chickens and rabbits and are also doing a large garden.  Justin is creating a blog for following the progress of his bee hives, but is not quite ready to go public with it.  We will share when he does!

Our last introduction for the day is the owner and creator of Sudsy Soap, Cheryl.  Cheryl started her goat milk soap business 2 years ago.  Her soaps contain oils, butters, fragrance and essential oils.  She makes everything from a Gardeners/Mechanic Soap to a Bug Be Gone Soap.  Since starting her soap business, she has added candles, lip balm, body butters, and bath bombs.  She also makes laundry detergent, stain sticks and bath salts.  She and Bruce live on a small farm outside of Mt. Vernon in Lawrence County, where they raise goats and chickens, and have a large garden that Cheryl and Bruce share the labor of preserving the produce.  She also works a full time job for Opaa! Food Management as Director of Mt. Vernon School District and is a training director for new districts in the company.  Cheryl also teaches Food Handlers Classes and Servsafe Classes in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.  On the day of the Gathering, Cheryl will be teaching us how to safely make a basic soap from items we find in our kitchens. 

I hope to have information from 3 more of our presenters to share with you next week.  We still have additional rabbit husbandry, growing and using herbs, natural gardening, natural goat husbandry, dispatching and processing small game, blacksmithing and bowl making!  It is shaping into a wonderful day.

The closer we get, and the more finalized plans become, the more I realize what a wealth of information will be shared at the 2016 Spring Gathering.  For complete details and to reserve your spot, visit the event page or email me. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Spring Gathering 2016

Plans are coming together for our 2016 Spring Gathering at our homestead on May 14th, 2016.  We are very excited to be able to offer educational sessions along with a time to share ideas and experiences with like-minded people.  We are planning to run sessions from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.  We are hoping this will allow ample time for morning and evening chores and still give you time come and enjoy the day.

At this time we are scheduled to have 9 presenters who will be offering information on many topics: raising rabbits and goats, growing and using herbs, blacksmithing, wooden bowl making, natural gardening, butchering small animals, basic beekeeping and more!  Our day will be available at no charge to attendees.  Bring your lawn chairs and a picnic lunch and plan to spend the day with us.

You will be able to choose and attend 6 of the 12 sessions that will cover various topics.  The schedule for the day is outlined below.  Sessions followed by (*) will only be offered at that time, all others will be offered at two different times during the day.

9:00-10:00  Soap making--a simple soap made from common kitchen ingredients
                    Raising Goats Naturally--Raising and natural treatment for common problems
                   Growing Herbs*--Basics of herb gardening and common herbs that are easy to grow  

10:15-11:15 Basic Beekeeping--Understanding the miraculous honey bee
                     Raising Rabbits--Raising Rabbits and dealing with common issues        
                     Blacksmithing*--See and watch some new items made from common metal  

11:30-12:30 Natural Gardening--Growing produce with natural pest control and soil enhancement   
                    "Pellet Free" Rabbits--Feed your rabbits in ways that don't involve processed pellets
                    Dispatching Fowl*--process chicken, quail and perhaps and prepare for the freezer
12:45-1:45 Basic Beekeeping--Understanding the miraculous honey bee     
                   Raising Rabbits--Raising Rabbits and dealing with common issues
                   Dispatching Rabbits*--process rabbit and prepare it for the freezer 

2:00-3:00   Prepping Herbs*--Learn various ways to prepare, preserve and use common herbs
                   "Pellet Free" Rabbits--Feed your rabbits in ways that don't involve processed pellets
                   Natural Gardening--Growing produce with natural pest control and soil enhancement   

3:15-4:15  Soap making--a simple soap made from common kitchen ingredients
                  Raising Goats Naturally--Raising and natural treatment for common problems
                  Wooden Bowls*--Watch as Caleb works to turn a slab of wood into a shallow bowl   
The sessions will be informal and questions will be encouraged.  You may choose at any point to skip a session, spread a blanket and have a picnic lunch, or you may eat lunch during one of the sessions. We have a large grassy area, and will have bottled water and drinks available.  Again, there is no charge for anything throughout the day and a box will be provided for donations to help offset costs, IF you choose to do so. 

One of the goals with our own homestead is to help others take their dreams to a realistic point.  You don't have to own a large acreage to provide healthy food for your family.  You can grow a garden anywhere; you can make soap and other projects in your kitchen; raising rabbits, chickens and even goats is possible in small areas; growing and using herbs will take your cooking to a whole new level, and many have medicinal uses as well; beekeepers are found even in large cities!  Some towns even allow small animal husbandry, with some restrictions.  Check the ordinances where you live.  You can preserve healthy foods by attending farmers markets, shopping produce sales at your local grocer, or trading your neighbors for their excess produce.  Nothing is impossible.  We hope to teach some basics and begin to offer resources of knowledge and networking to give you the motivation to start!  My point is that you can do this! No matter where you are in your life, there are ways you can provide better, safer, more enjoyable food and items for your family.

Papa and I were both raised on farms and it did not occur to us until recently that we have knowledge, and a wealth of family and friends with knowledge that should be shared.  Many people do not have access to this knowledge, so this is our way of beginning to share with others.

In addition to Papa and myself, we have had 7 others step up to help organize and put together this event.  With their help, we hope to make this a recurring event at least twice a year.  Look for the organizers, the day of the event, in their bright orange shirts.  Let them know how your day is going, and let them know what we can do to improve future Gatherings.  We already have several topics in the works for a Fall Gathering if you all would like.  Your feedback after the event will help us determine what sessions to plan for the Fall Gathering and will help us make improvements to best meet your needs.

Please, let us know of your intentions to attend, so that we can have plenty of drinks available, and plan for parking accordingly.  Visit  2016 Spring Gathering on FaceBook to reserve your spot, learn more about the presenters and find out additional information as it becomes available!  No FaceBook account?  Email me with 2016 Spring Gathering in the subject line!

We hope to provide you with a day of fun and knowledge, please come hang out with us.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Thinned Mint, Anyone?

The past week has been another roller coaster around the homestead. We've worked in the garden, planted in the greenhouse, begun work on re-doing pens in the barn for the animals, worked in the rapidly growing herb bed, marked our queens in both our bee hives and added supers for honey stores, and made a trip to the ER with our son.  All the while we have begun planning a 2016 Spring Gathering for local homesteaders/self-reliant persons/farmers etc.  We are excited about how well it is coming together and I will be doing some individual posts regarding the event, presenters and schedule for the day.

Yesterday, I worked in the greenhouse and herb garden.  I have always wanted mint....and now I have MINT....three growing....oh-my-goodness-mint!  The best advice I have for anyone growing mint is do not be afraid to pull up the runners and dispose of them!  Mint is prolific, some even say invasive!  My Homestead Mint is a very hardy variety and yesterday I thinned at least a bushel basket full.  I pulled it, roots and all, and know that I will be doing this regularly.  I planted it in a buried container initially, to help contain the roots, but it still sends out runners and likes where I put it enough to spread like wild fire.  I don't say all this to discourage anyone planting it, in fact just the opposite, I encourage everyone who wants any kind of herbs to grow mint.  Mint is an easy herb to grow and has many uses.  Success is almost assured, but you do need to be aware of its prolific nature when choosing the planting site and be prepared to spend a bit of time to keep it controlled.

In trying to keep the mint from taking over the other 10 or so herbs I have in one bed, I spent the day yesterday pulling the runners.  When I found myself with no less that a bushel of pulled mint, I began to think of what to do with it.  No way did I want to just burn it, or waste it.  I wasn't sure about feeding it to the rabbits or chickens, so I decided to make sure it was used for human consumption until I can confirm its safety for my animals.  I had always thought of harvesting herbs as a one time thing, much like corn or green beans.  You pick it, process it, and your are done.....with herbs though, you can harvest all season long.  Each type has it's ideal time, and depending on the intended use, you may choose to harvest certain times of the year for specific processes, but you can harvest it any time.  I'm not an herbalist, and am just learning much of the basics about herbs and their uses, so I won't give specifics that I may or may not be accurate about.  I encourage you to do some research.  It is fascinating.

After thinning out the herb bed and removing all the wondering Mint, I selected some nice healthy starts and potted them into cups, with large holes drilled for drainage.  I made sure to choose plants that had large root systems.  These will be offered for sale for $2 each as soon as I am certain the roots are strong and the plants are growing.  I will also be starting, sage, lemon balm, spearmint, peppermint, and others as time allows.

After potting,  I pinched each plant back  to encourage new, bushier growth.  Each place that was pinched back should send out 2 more shoots.  I used to avoid pinching back plants.  It just didn't seem right to pinch them back after they had worked so hard to grow. Now that I understand exactly how the plants grow, and how pinching back encourages healthy, bushy plants, I find it much easier to accept this part of the growing process.  The end results are much stronger, healthier plants that produce more.  I also saved all the leaves that got pinched off and added them to my extract, so nothing was wasted at all.

After pinching all the tops, making sure the starts got a good drink of water, the top leaves were saved for washing off and making my first start of mint extract.  I took the rest of the plants I had thinned into the Canning Kitchen.  I removed the roots and washed the stalks and leaves to remove any bugs or debris.  The stalks were then stripped of the leaves and discarded.  When I got enough to pack tightly into a quart jar, the leaves were packed tightly and covered with Vodka.  After making sure the leaves were all submerged below the surface of the liquid, and air bubbles were removed, the jar was tightly capped and was set in a dark cool place to set for several weeks.  Most people who do extracts recommend colored jars/bottles to avoid breakdown from the light.  I don't have a good selection of blue or brown glass jars or bottles, so I am using a cool dark corner on one of my canned good shelves for now.  Hopefully this will get me by until I can get some more appropriate jars.

I then set out to clean the rest of the mint.  Prep it for the dehydrator so that it could be dried for tea.  I dumped it in the sink, cut off all the roots, washed and rinsed it and laid it out on one of my drying screens to drain. 

These drying screens are invaluable to me.  I made them to store my sweet potatoes over the winter, but have many other uses in the canning kitchen.  I will be making more very soon.

There are couple different schools of thought on the drying process.  Some require stripping the leaves prior to drying, others allow the leaves to remain on the stems.  If you bundle the stems and let them air dry, the stems are necessary to tie to.  I chose to leave my leaves attached to the stems for the dehydrating process.  I will remove the leaves as I crumble them for tea.  This works best for me and they seem to be removed faster after they are dry than removing the leaves when they are green.  With my dehydrator, the mint will be completely dry overnight, even with the stems.  If you are drying in the air or sun-drying on a rack, it might be worth the effort to remove the leaves so that you are not retaining moisture in the stems.  When dry, the mint has a beautiful blue/green/brown appearance.  I will eventually mix my leaves with lemon balm, chamomile, and other herbs for various flavored teas.  I am excited to experiment with various flavors and see what I can brew!

I know my ancestors did not have the benefit of electric dehydrators and had to utilize the sun, air and other means of drying.  By being a Modern Missouri Pioneer and using my dehydrator I can do in a few hours what it used to take weeks to do.  This should allow me the time to experiment and come up with some tasty teas for both summer and winter.  Many of the herbs I am considering, have medicinal properties as well as wonderful flavor.  These teas, tinctures, extractions, decoctions and infusions can be used in combination to boost our health and treat illnesses, all naturally.  They can be used in making salves, lotions and soaps.  The possibilities are nearly endless.  I've only just begun to learn.

I'm sure my son, would love it if I could grow a plant or whip up a medicinal that could repair bone and replace teeth.  He had a mishap a couple of days ago.  While working on a ladder, he leaned one way, the ladder went the other and after the air conditioner effectively removed two of his front teeth on the way down, his right arm "broke" his fall, literally.  He will be laid up a while, recovering from both orthopedic and oral surgeries.  The lessons learned are many, not the least of which is remembering that that little sticker on the top of a ladder that reads, "NOT A STEP" it is really important to pay attention to. 

Everyone be safe when working outdoors in the Spring.  It only takes a moment to do things safely, and it may take weeks or months to heal up if you choose an unsafe method that you think is faster.  Sorry, Son, but you gave me a teachable moment....and you did photobomb my phone last week!  I love you!