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Homesteading Tips

Alderman Farms is a small homestead focused on self-sufficiency and thriftiness. Located in Brookhaven, Mississippi their desire is to promote good old-fashioned methods of small farming, using traditional American skills and “know how”.

Their values are evident on their website, blog and social media where they share their homesteading tips, and everyday farm life with us. On their different online media you can follow along as they investigate inspirational techniques such as Back to Eden Gardening, creating a sustainable permaculture, raising critters humanely with loving care, and preserving the heritage of homesteading for future generations.

Below are just 2 of the great videos they have created to share their experience and knowledge with others. Check them out, because who hasn’t needed to stretch a fence at one time or another with only the pliers in your back pocket?

Happy Homesteading!

How to tighten fence with nothing but pliers

How to set a corner post without concrete

 

For more homesteading tips check outDIY Powdered Laundry Soap andDIY Wood Pallet Shelf

Do you have any homesteading tips?

DIY Wood Pallet Shelf

Learn how to make a DIY wood pallet shelf. It’s super easy, just follow the steps below.

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1 wood pallet Chainsaw or Skill Saw
Drill Screws
Paint or Wood Stain Sand Paper
Paint Brush or Rag Hammer
Scrap piece of wood (optional) Stencils, Acrylic Paint & Varnish (optional

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Lay your pallet on a flat surface
Cut the inner 2×4’s across the top of the second 1×6 from the bottom

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Now that you have the outline of the shelf we need to put a base on it. You can either use a piece of 1×6 pulled off the MIDDLE of the pallet (that way you still leave wood for a shelf from the opposite end of the pallet) or you can use any scrap of lumber that cover the gap at the bottom.

Stand the shelf so that the bottom of it is facing UP and lay the board you are using for the bottom on top of that. Hold securely and attach the bottom board with about 3 screws on each end, and 3 into the middle 2×4. Remember to make sure your board is flush with the wood on the side of the shelf that goes against the wall or it won’t hang right.

If your board is longer than the shelf now is the time to cut it off. If the board you used for the bottom is wider than the shelf you can either leave it as is or trim it off with your saw.

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Now, just like that we have our shelf. Round up a scrap of sand paper and give the rough edges a bit of a sanding. I am going for “rustic” (or lazy) here so I just cleaned up anything that would leave slivers!

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Using either left over wood stain or paint give your shelf some color using a paint brush or a rag depending on the product. Let it dry.

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After the paint/stain is dry if you want to spice it up a bit you can add just about anything you like to the front of the shelf. For my own shelf I chose to do a quote with a simple graphic done in acrylic paint.

To finish it off, I recommend giving it a coat of a varnish or clear acrylic sealer which is available at most craft or hardware stores. This way the paint doesn’t bleed and you can wipe the shelf down as needed.

Pumpkin Farms are Great for Agritourism

Thanks to the celebration of Halloween pumpkins have changed from being just another vegetable to a specialty crop used for much more than just a food source.  Once used as a food source for Native Americans and early American Settlers, the pumpkin has become a celebrity in the vegetable world.

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Today’s pumpkins are carved into spooky faces, decorating our homes and providing alternative sources of revenue for farmers.

New pumpkin farms are cropping up all over the place as a means for farmers to diversify their farms and create new sources of revenue.  These farms are becoming part of the agri-tourism movement as farmers turn corn fields into mazes and pumpkin patches into “u-pick” adventures complete with wagon rides, haunted houses and craft events among other things.

These type of agri-tourism enterprises may be something for smaller farms or beginning farmers to consider if they are operating on limited funds or a small land base.

While you may not be harvesting your own pumpkins this fall, we wanted to share with you this short video of some harvest time family fun, as well as a few of our favorite DIY pumpkin projects.   From yummy eats to dog treats, The Great Pumpkin can do it all!

#1 – Pumpkin Latte

Something to warm you up on those cool fall days !

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www.farmgirlgourmet.com

#2 – Fabric Modge Podge Dollar Store Pumpkins

An easy craft project to do once the days get shorter and you have evenings to spare!

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http://www.the36thavenue.com/2011/10/mod-podge-fabric-dollar-store-pumpkins.html

 #3 – Pumpkin Pull-apart Bread with Vanilla Glaze

This is a sure fire hit to share with family and friends!

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http://thefarmgirlrecipes.blogspot.ca/2011/09/pumpkin-pull-apart-bread-with-buttered.html

#4 – Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

Don’t forget about our 4 legged friends this fall!

Photo courtesy of www.simmertildone.com

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http://simmertilldone.com/2009/10/07/retriever-retriever-pumpkin-eater/

 

How to Keep your Farm Business Organized

About the Project

I am sure that at this point if you are like the majority of normal people on this earth, you will be sitting staring at the pile of documents in a shoebox patting yourself on the back for at least making the effort to shove them into a box.

The good news is that for not much more effort you can have all your financial documents organized and ready to be used at a moments notice.  Its simple, easy and the majority of your time will be spent in the initial set up.

If something should ever happen to the person in your business that takes care or the day to day aspects of your businesses or personal finances this will help other come in and understand where everything is sitting.  So valuable!


Materials and Tools

  • File folder box
  • 13 folders
  • Tax returns for the last 7 years
  • Your individual retirement savings and investment accounts
  • Your children’s education/investment savings plan statements
  • Your will and living will.  (If you need to make one talk to your lawyer, or if it’s quite simple, go to Legal Wills)
  • Your home and auto insurance
  • Your life, disability and critical illness insurance
  • Your group benefits plan
  • Your company retirement plan
  • Your credit card debts
  • Your loans for car, student loan, line of credit, other loans
  • Your mortgage
  • Your bank statements
  • Your lawyer, accountant and financial advisor information

 

General Instructions

Once you have collected all the above personal information, simply file it into individual folders.  Then take a snap shot of all the information for you to update every 12 months after that, using the downloadable chart provided.  Keep a record of this on your computer and also in one of your files in your box.

Homemade Gifts in a Jar

If you are thinking about making a few homemade Christmas gifts for friends and neighbors don’t wait until December to get started!  We have collected our Top 5 “gifts in a jar” from around the web which will help you make easy, inexpensive but unique homemade Christmas gifts.

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Christmas in a Jar
Complete with printable labels!

Bath Snowballs in a Jar
You can’t go wrong with this lovely jar from Martha Stewart.

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Cowgirl Cookies
This is a fabulous idea complete with cool printable labels from Bakerella.

Peppermint Stick Cocoa in a Jar
Yummy and pretty at the same time !  This mix will fill a 1-quart jar (12 servings), but if your containers are different sizes, just keep the ratio of ingredients constant.

Lemon Hand Scrub
Say goodbye to dry, chapped farm hands !
I have been using this simple mix for a few years and it is the best recipe to rejuvenate your skin and bring your fingertips back to life.

DIY: Powdered Laundry Soap

Article by Christine Hennessey

Making my own laundry detergent is one of those things I always say I’m going to do, until I run out of my current bottle of detergent. Then it’s right back to the store for a new one. Well, not this time. This time, I planned ahead. I researched different “recipes” online, found an easy one that only called for three ingredients and didn’t require any complicated steps like boiling, and yesterday, I got to work.

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Borax, washing soda, and a bar of soap. Nothing more, nothing less. I was able to find all of these things at the grocery store (not Whole Foods – while you can shop for groceries
and keep your bill pretty low, their cleaning supplies are way overpriced). I chose Yardley because it was the least offensive when it came to ingredients – mostly all natural stuff, mostly things I could pronounce, 100% recyclable and, most important to me, not tested on animals. Also, it smells like lavender, which is just dreamy.

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To make this soap, all you need it is a measuring cup, a cheese grater, something to catch the grated soap (I used a cutting board), and a clean, dry container in which to store
your detergent.

Begin by grating the soap. (This is when I really began to appreciate that lavender scent). This was by far the most difficult part of the process, and I say that only because everything else was so ridiculously easy.

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Once the soap is grated, throw it in your container. Then, add one cup each of borax and
washing soda. Mix thoroughly. And then… you’re done. No, really. That’s it. You just made your own laundry soap. It’s actually that easy.

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But, you may be asking, how does it work? I decided to try it out on some towels still sandy
and wet from the beach, along with the quilt on our bed which, thanks to the dogs, always needs a washing. Directions say one to two tablespoons should suffice, and I went with one heaping tablespoon. When I wash loads of clothing (including our sweaty workout gear and
Nathan’s work clothes) I’ll probably use closer to two tablespoons. We get pretty dirty and smelly, especially in these hot and humid summers.

For a load of towels and a quilt, though, this seemed to work fine! My laundry came out smelling faintly of lavender, feeling soft, and looking clean. Also free of dog hair, which is always my main concern. I’m so glad this experiment worked. Not only because I can cross a goal off my list, but because making your own laundry soap is so much cheaper than buying it at the store.

Interested in reading more from Christine Hennessey? Check out her blog The New Me.

Link Photo by: Horia Varlan

DIY: Mineral Feeder for Cattle

Everyone who owns cattle needs a functional mineral feeder.

This 10-minute video clip shows you how to make a DIY cattle mineral feeder from a barrel and truck tire. It is portable, it keeps the mineral dry, and it is inexpensive to make.

DIY: Fy Spray for Horses

“It seems like everyone knows at least one homemade horse fly spray recipe that uses natural ingredients (by “natural” we mean a recipe that doesn’t contain man-made insecticides). Here at CowboyWay.com we decided to take two homemade horse fly spray recipes, and one semi-homemade recipe, and put them to the test. We wanted to know if the homemade fly sprays with natural ingredients would actually keep flies from biting our horse, and if so, for how long. We chose the recipes we tested based on simplicity, ease of finding the ingredients, and a lack of ingredients that might be irritating to the horse.” – The Cowboy Way

Visit The Cowboyway to read more about their tests and find recipes to use in making your own natural fly spray.

Do you have a good recipe or method for controlling flies or mosquito’s? Please share it with us, we would love to hear your ideas!

Link Photo courtesy of Flam

 

DIY: Farm Tools

Farm Hack from farmrun on Vimeo.

DIY Farm Tools: What is FarmHack?

FarmHack is a resource for farmers who embrace the long-standing farm traditions of tinkering, inventing, fabricating, tweaking, and fixing things that they broke. Open to farmers of all ages, it has special relevance for young and beginning farmers, who may want to learn from their peers’ and their elders’ successes, mistakes and new ideas.

You will be amazed at the things you can learn to build and do via the Farm Hack community. From automatic chicken door openers, to DIY farm harvesting equipment the possibilities for building your own farm equipment are endless!

Through the new online Took Wiki you can connect with other farmers and learn from their projects, submit a project of your own that might be of benefit to others, or present an idea you are wanting feedback on.

And that’s not all, FarmHack has also gives you the tools to host your own in person events:

“We want to work with you to host a FarmHack event at your university, non-profit, or farm. Most of our previous events have been organized with volunteer labor and minimal costs, but have had valuable outcomes.

We have an event organizing tool in the Tools wiki, intended to help guide you in thinking up and planning a Farm Hack event in your area.

And if you want to help facilitate an event at your venue or with your posse, put your ideas out there in the “New Event Ideas” Forum at the Farm Hack Forums, so that other users can help brainstorm and jump on your organizing team.” – Farm Hack website.

Do you have some of your own farm hacks to share with our community? We would love to see innovative projects from our fellow farmers!

DIY: Cold Frames = Warm Plants

Does your growing season seem too short?

Cold frames can be a great way to extend the growing season by allowing you a place to start plants earlier in the spring, or keep them growing longer in the fall. Along with that they may allow you to grow plants and vegetables that normally would not grow in your climate.

 

What is a cold frame?

Think of it as a mini-greenhouse. Like a greenhouse they are built to capture the suns energy and create a warm, humid environment for plants to grow. What separates them from greenhouses is that they are usually much smaller, sometimes portable, and they don’t have an external heat source (outside of the sun).

Your cold frame can be simple to make; as easy as using a few straw bales and some re-cycled windows, or it can be an elaborate, even decorative element in your yard.

We have included some DIY guides on building cold frames to suit all different needs and tastes.

Please share any other tips or ideas you have for building or using cold frames in your garden, we would love to have your share your experience with us.

Happy gardening!


Hot Beds/Cold Frames (building guide and detailed information)

Simple Hay or Straw Bale Construction

Simple Cold Frame with Detailed Plans

Hoop House
Link photo courtesy of Terrie Schweitzer