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Making a Sign for the Homestead

Amish Produce Sign.jpgSince the written word has existed, there have been signs. Signs have been used for both informative purposes and advertising purposes from early on. The discovery of Pompeii shows that even in the ancient world that signs were used regularly. Sometimes a sign can be as simple as a picture, sometimes it's a long description of words stringing a thought. Sometimes it's a basic combination of both. Like I made a sign for our homestead. Why, you ask? Why do you need a sign? Well, the simple answer is that I don't NEED one. I wanted one. We will be selling eggs, produce and other services (sign making maybe?) and we wanted a way to communicate that. Sure, simple signs are probably just as effective, but I wanted something a bit nicer. The Amish use simple signs and they are effective to some extent.   I've never made a sign before, but I had and idea of something I might like. So I decided to go for it.I wanted a sign that captured the essence of our homestead.  We live in Bear Lake but picked the Spanglish version "Oso Lago" so it was not just a simple "Bear Lake" sign. (Thus the name of the Blog). I was determined to use simple, cheap and readily available materials. In other words, I had sticker shock at the price of "nice" wood at the stores.  Have you seen how much oak, prime pine, or even #1 Poplar costs, let alone if I get all exotic with cedar.  So I began to make my sign using pieces of 2x4 that I had ripped while making my Garden Tool Organizer (hmmm... I guess I need pictures and a write up on that now too). The pieces were ripped to about 7/16 thick.  I stacked 5 of them on top of each other, used 4 more pieces of ripped 2x4 as uprights and then used finish nails to join them together.  This was the base of the sign.

A sign I am making for our house/mini-farm.

Butchering a Goat At Home.

Emily (Ozark Jewel) wrote this:


(I wrote this article for a goat magazine. The same methods of hanging, skinning, gutting, and cutting up the carcase can be used on just about any smaller livestock. The photo illustrating the angle to shoot is *just* an illustration, I do not pull the trigger with my other hand in that position. It was just to hold the buckling still for the picture. The angle is the correct one for a quick kill. Please do not shoot goats or sheep through the forehead. The skull plate is too thick and it may take many shots to put them down. Through the back of the skull is the correct place and only uses one shot.)



Hi, First let me introduce myself. I am Emily Dixon from southern Missouri. My dad and I are running about 150 head of goats at this time, though the numbers are constantly increasing. We have Boer and Boer-cross meat goats, and Nubian, Lamancha and Alpine dairy goats. I am 23, and one of 12 children. With such a large family, you can imagine we go through a lot of meat in a year's time. We have raised our own beef for as long as I can remember, but up until a couple of years ago had never eaten our own goat meat. In 2003 I started thinking about how silly it was not to eat some of my own homegrown product. After all, it tastes good, is healthy for you, and since it's homegrown, I know what went into it. I looked into having a few wethers processed for me at a local butcher's. The cost of getting a 60-100 lb. wether processed was rather prohibitive with as many as my family could consume in a year's time, so I decided to look into the best way of slaughtering and butchering my wethers here at home. When I decided to give butchering a try, I used a most humane method that I found on the web for slaughtering, and since I also had butchered chickens and the occasional deer, I just adapted what I already knew to fit butchering a goat. I have since butchered about 30 wethers, bucklings and cull does, and have been very satisfied with the results. My method is very simple, you need no "butchering equipment", and one person can do it alone if need be, although two people are handy to hang the carcass, and load up the offal. Now, I am not just writing this for those of us that raise "meat goats", because those extra little dairy wethers pack a truly surprising amount of meat too. About half or more of the wethers I butcher are dairy goat breeds. The meat is good no matter the breed. I have observed that the Nubians tend to carry a little more weight than the Lamanchas or Alpines, but all are satisfactory once in the pan. I get too attached to bottle kids and cannot butcher them, so if I plan on eating any dairy wethers, I leave them on their dams and touch them as little as possible. It is much harder to get attached to something that is wild. I butcher anywhere between the ages of 3 months to 1 year as a general rule, although I have butchered older goats too. The buckling pictured in the butchering photos was a 3-month-old Nubian. [newpage] The equipment I use is a t-post, a rope, a handy tree limb, a .22 pistol if the goat is a young kid(if it is an older goat, a larger shot might be in order) a sharp knife (preferably bigger than a paring knife), and a wheelbarrow. Here is my method: Slaughtering and hanging: Shoot the goat through the back of the head, right behind the poll(or right behind the horns), angling the shot toward the lower jaw. (See Photo 1.)

Off-Grid Solar living... in UPSTATE NY

Member katlupe shares with us how she harvests energy from the Sun all-year round in Upstate New York.

I live in the middle of the state forest in upstate New York. All my neighbors are the wild kind - well, the close neighbors anyway. I just can't see my neighbors. Living out in a secluded area you might think could be a hardship, especially if you knew that my house is "off the grid".

355 watts of power

Now I hope you know what that term means, since you are reading on a homesteader's forum. Just in case, I will tell you. It means that the power company does not have poles and wires strung to my house.  I certainly like it that way!

You see, I have not had to pay a electric bill for over ten years now! Yes, that's great! The house I live in, has never had wires hooked up to it and the electrical grid is about a mile away. This house was built in the 1850s, and has never had any kind of wiring inside - not even the telephone. Until I put it in.

Most people think, to live "off the grid" you must have a big fancy solar system, that will cost so much money that it won't pay to unhook from the utility companies. If you wanted to, you could hook up with a small, add as you can afford it system, like I have. When we first moved here, our system consisted of two fork lift truck batteries (deep cell lead acid), one 50 watt solar panel, an automotive inverter, a small charge controller, and a old car we used to charge the system when there was no sun (Hey! I live in New York! You need twice the amount of panels that other places do.).

You can visit katlup on her website:

Making Maple Syrup... in KENTUCKY!

You CAN Make Maple Syrup in Kentucky!
A Special Report from Pastor Ron Felix and his son Ryan Felix for TMH!

thumb_kentuckyharvest2008.jpgAs the sugarin’ season winds down here in Kentucky I am amazed at the end results of the season. I say this because it was only a year ago we were making syrup in Maine and packing to move to Kentucky wondering if we would be able to make this sweet tasting stuff there. The answer is “Yes” we were able to and not only were we able to but, we even outdid what we made in Maine!! The taste is similar but yet very different. One is not better than the other just different. I’m not sure the reason behind this, maybe different trees, maybe different areas, southern verses northern. Now, before I tell you how much we did this year in Kentucky let me go back and share with you how we first got started sugarin’.

The first time I had seen a maple syrup production outfit was in 2000 when I stayed at a friends house in western New York, he was a professional producer and made about 700 gallons of syrup every year out of about 2,500 taps. Most of the trees he taps have been tapped every year since his granddad started into the maple syrup business. He had his trees tubed and had a suction system that pulled the sap to his sugar shack where he would put it through a reverse osmosis machine before boiling it down. He would also buy sap from others around the area for $5 per 40 gallons of sap. So, to say the least, he was a big operation! After seeing how to make maple syrup I had no idea I would be making it myself in my own backyard, first, because we lived in Virginia at the time, and secondly, because I did not even think about making maple syrup myself.

thumb_cokebottlecollector.jpgI caught the maple syrup bug at the beginning of the 2006 sugarin’ season after we had moved to Maine. My oldest son, who was 16 at the time, came to me asking if he could try to make maple syrup. He had found an article in his outdoor magazine explaining how you could make maple syrup in your own back yard and you did not even have to buy professional taps. I thought this was right up my alley since you didn’t have to ‘buy’ anything! The magazine showed you how to make taps by cutting up old aluminum arrows into 4 inch lengths and then drill a hole the same size as the arrow and hammer it into the tree. Then for a bucket use a 2 liter soda bottle with the cap on the bottom and tie it to the tree.

You can view Full Size Pictures here.
Discuss the article here.

[quote=seedspreader] Pastor Ron Felix and his oldest son Ryan, reside in Kentucky on The Happy 7 Farm. Pastor Ron and his family left a church in Maine to plant a church in Kentucky at the Lord's leading. You can contact them via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. [/quote]


Cutting Your Electricity Costs

This was written by Katlupe.



For anyone who is trying to cut energy costs, here are some ideas to get you started.

You can apply some of the same principles an off the grid home uses, but use it to drastically cut your electrical power usage. Of course, the main energy suckers are the ones that use heat, such as electric heat, electric hot water, electric stove and oven and the electric clothes dryer. Air conditioning, as well. These appliances use huge amounts of your electric power, eating up your watts as soon as they are turned on. Switching to propane or natural gas for water heating, home heat, cooking and clothes drying, along with more efficient refrigerators and freezers will offer much savings. For an air conditioning alternative, there is evaporative cooling systems. Changing to these appliances will instantly cut off more than three quarters of what you usually pay for electricity.

Living off the grid, I have many people contact me to ask how they can cut the cost of their electric bill, without changing over to alternative energy sources. So the very first thing I tell them to do, is to change all their light bulbs to the newer compact fluoroscents. Screw in light bulbs should be mostly compact fluorescent lights, using about one quarter the power of regular bulbs while giving the same brightness and color. I plan on stocking up on those when I find them on sale. Timers are great for children's rooms and rooms that the lights get left on.

And especially for anyone who is thinking of replacing a computer. Replace your big desk top computers with laptops. They use much less power. We run 2 laptops over 12 hours a day on very little power. A desk top (actually it is the monitors) uses as much in a few hours, as our's do in a week. The monitors are what you have to watch. I am sure there must be some new energy efficient ones out there now. Since I started using a laptop, I would never go back to those overgrown dinosaurs!


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