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Seed Database

Alright folks, this one is one that isn't tied to an outside article on my part, but no less useful. If you are looking for a plant variety, any plant variety at all, you can use this database to see if they have a company listed that sells it. It was put together by a university and works with both the common name and the scientific names! Enjoy.


https://plantinfo.umn.edu/

Tool Profile: Broadfork

The most recent of my articles relating to homesteading. This one is an overview of the Broadfork, including it's construction and usage. It includes links to places where you can purchase a broadfork if you are interested in one.

http://www.suite101.com/content/homestead-farm-tool-the-broadfork-a316684

Volunteer work for the win

After many articles posted on such topics as romance and camping, I have posted another that applies to the homesteader. This one is about offering to work with others for free as a way to gain invaluable knowledge and skills. Feel free to take a gander if you like and comment either on the article or here as you see fit. Hopefully it will be helpful in giving some useful ideas.

http://www.suite101.com/content/learning-and-adding-valuable-skills-by-working-for-free-a311635
Down to Earth blog has something to say about this.

Clicky clicky

Creative Self Employment

Alright folks. I just added an article to my Associated Content page on some thoughts regarding how to move forward if you wish to be self employed but perhaps are trying to come up with a way to make it work. It offers a pretty broad stroke of ideas and some basic concepts on how to make things work for you in a way that doesn't require a high degree of risk for your family. Have a look and feel free to comment as you see fit on the matter here.


http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5922272/creative_self_employment.html?cat=3

Writings

I thought I would let everyone know that I am still around, but have been working a great deal of overtime lately. In addition, I have begun focusing a lot on my writing and am now using Associated Content among other things as an outlet that actually pays. Among the topics I will be posting there on, Homesteading will be one of them. Since they don't pay as well for things that were published elsewhere first (per view without the option of additional pay), I will likely post many articles on homesteading there before later reposting them here. Many of the things I will post there will never been seen here because they do not relate to the topic of this community. If you are interested in following me, you can see when I have added updates on twitter or on facebook. Both should contain links to the Associated Content site, but I will include it here as well so that if you wish to link directly you may. Every article there gives me additional payments based on the number of views beyond any initial earnings, so the more you look, the more I will make off of it. I would probably never be able to pay my bills with what I earn on the site, but it will at least cover a few minor things from time to time possibly. Go have a look if you like.


https://twitter.com/DXLogan


http://www.facebook.com/D.X.Logan


http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/906526/dx_logan.html

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Campmor

I have bought a lot of things from the campmor folks over the years and never been dissatisfied. They do some things themselves, but mostly just buy up items that have some cosmetic flaw or are being in some way taken from the market despite no real problems with them. Most of the time this means last year's model of whatever it may be or something that wasn't selling as well for a company. As such, much like such places as Save-a-Lot and Odd Lots, they are selling quality items at a reduced price in many cases. Obviously these items are geared towards the outdoorsy types and many times prove invaluable for a homesteader as well as a hiker.

For those of you who are technophiles or who simply need this or that item (read cellphone here) to get by, but want have a more reasonable way of having these things without being tied to the electrical grid, I have a few items that may interest you. First are some radios that involve both solar /and/ crank so that you can just leave the thing sitting on a windowsill somewhere and have it fully charged when needed instead of always cranking when you want to use it. Second are some universal portable chargers that allow for simply setting them in the sun to charge any number of your devices. In general, these have internal batteries that can hold a charge for a very long time so that you don't have to be plugged in for them to be of use. Setting several in a sill with only one plugged into your device means that later if you have used said device a great deal that day and want to charge it back up, you don't need to wait until the next sunny day. Also of course it gives you a few backups if you get a long bout of cloudy days.

Alright, these two are the radios that I felt were most likely to be of interest. The site has others if you wish to look.
http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___88908
- Solar Crank radio with light, USB charger, etc. Fairly decent features all around for $50
http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___88887
- Almost the same as above for any of the features you are likely to care about but for just under $30 instead.

These are the two solar chargers I thought would be of the most interest to you. Again, there was at least one other, but for the price, you gained no additional benefit in terms of battery life, wattage or voltage, etc
http://www.campmor.com/solio-rocsta.shtml
- Can work with many items and has an internal battery for $70 5-6V, 800mA output range, 4.8 Watts
http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___88739
-This one is a pocket clip solar battery with internal storage, but has no clear stats on how strong it is. It does have the benefit of being something you could just clip to your belt while you were walking around or working on things and still be charging it as well as having it on hand for if you needed it on something. It is $45

Grain space requirements and weights

I've mentioned before amounts of grain supposedly used on average by a family of 4, but honestly it is going to vary depending on your own eating style. It is generally measured in bushels and pecks, but when you work with grains, you generally are measuring either by weight or volume. First, if you didn't already know, a bushel = 4 peck. Secondly, Below is a list of some of the more common grains you might consider. I don't yet have a listing for Amaranth, Millet or other such grains and some I could not have full information for some grains so have not included. However, those that I could so far obtain the full information for, I am listing. The format is:
Grain Type - Space required to grow one bushel in feet - Weight of one bushel

Wheat - 10X100 - 60 lbs
Oats - 10X60 - 32 lbs
Field Corn - 10X50 - 56 lbs
Barley - 10X90 - 48 lbs
Buckwheat - 10X130 - 50 lbs
Rye - 10X150 - 56 lbs


Sorry that the list is not yet more complete, but hopefully it will prove useful in your planning. Assuming you are not also growing grains for your livestock, you can provide all you need in a surprisingly small space. Realize that the amount produced can flux a fair bit based on weather, care, soil qualities, etc. Unless I am entirely off base, the numbers above are average so I would suggest growing more than you need and just trading extras. That way if there is a bad season, you still have enough to get you through the year. Also remember that if you plan to keep seeds, you will have to grow more than you plan to eat. In theory obvious, but it is easy to forget that detail when planning out your growing season.

Breed Spotlight: Kinder Goats

Some of you already are aware that I have found a breed of goat that particularly interests me. Because I am keen on the keeping and raising of goats, I wanted to find a breed that had a lot of qualities that would lend to it being all around a good fit for both my needs and tendencies. That breed is the Kinder, a relative newcomer breed. Here is a bit of information on them as well as an article that I thought might be useful all around to anyone who is considering breeding their own herd of goats in any form. The things that apply to most goats also apply to these of course, but the specifics that make them different or unique are included below to note how that breed differs.

Some of the highlights of note regarding Kinder Goats as a breed:
* Small size and dual purpose (meat and milk).
* Very high butterfat content (enough to manage twice the cheese production of a normal gallon of milk from cow or other goats).
* May manage a quart a day average, double at peak.
* Can breed year round.
* Dressed meat ends up being around 60 to 63 percent of their total weight.
* High birth rates (300% or more). Long lived.
* Easy to keep fenced in since most aren't big jumpers.
* Relatively quiet once they are familiar with their new home.

Article by Jo from Laudo Deum Farm

The first thing you will want to decide if you are thinking about getting into Kinders is if you want to start your own herd with already existing Kinders from somebody else’s herd or if you want to work on your own blood lines (we call this “starting from scratch”.) These are your first decisions that you will need to make.

The advantages that I see to making your own herd are these: 1# You will control the bloodlines and the health of the herd (but only if you have verified the health status of your ’starters’). You will have the satisfaction of having “raised up” the goats the way you want them to go, choosing which qualities to keep and which to cull for. You will have an easier time controlling the health of the herd and raising the kids with CAE prevention. #2 Hopefully, you will avoid working with other peoples culls, if you start out with handpicked, excellent stock.

If you can, go looking for quality breeding stock from serious breeders who have some understanding of what it means to breed goats. These breeders should be taking care of their animals, hoof trimming, feeding properly, have good housing and in general look and act like responsible goat people. When talking with them ask about how they care for their animals and ask in particular if they have disease testing. You may even make the sale conditional on the results of the blood tests. Ask if how long they milk their goats and for the Nubians if they participate in showing, DHI, or record information about their lactations. Sometimes this isn’t always an option that we have. If the only genetic stock that is within a reasonable distance has a known health problem then you will have to decide what to do. Go for it and use the utmost precautions? Or avoid completely? I guess it all depends on how well you think you can handle a CAE prevention program or deal with any of the other contagious diseases. Understand that some of those diseases can infect your property for a long time (such as soremouth and CL.)

There are several disadvantages to starting your own herd. First of all, it will be a while before you actually get any “Kinders.” You will have to go through the steps of getting the different generations and breeding them down, so to speak, and this takes time. Also, inherently you will have more animals to keep and care for in the first 5 or 10 years. There are possibilities of having serious faults in some animals when combining the Pygmy and the Nubian blood lines. You may need to spend more money on breeding stock at first to get the higher quality goats with the best breed traits. But even if you have to pay more at first, you may be happier and more satisfied with your end result. I’d like to discuss a few of the pro’s and cons I mentioned earlier.

#1. Controlling the bloodlines.
The quality of the Nubians and Pygmies that go into the herd is obviously going to effect every resulting Kinder. It is very important that you buy the best quality base stock that you can afford. First of all you should look for goats that have excellent mammary systems (on the Pygmy side too) long lactations, and healthy conformation. The Nubian and Pygmy Goat breed standards are your guides.

Yes, that means you need to search out breeders who pay attention to this. Buy from responsible breeders who test and cull for disease and use CAE prevention to raise their blood stock. For your financial investment, you will want to protect yourself and your herd, so do be aware of the health status of both sets of animals. Blood testing is not a fool proof tool but it is a very good starting point. Talk to a vet about it or to experienced breeders.

On the pygmy side you should also look for the ability to raise their own kids since few Pygmies have their lactations noted, and if they have any faults like double teats (often Pygmy breeders ignore this) or cryptochorids (male goats with testes retained within the body cavity) or severe conformational problems. You must try and get a good quality buck; use one that is as close to the Pygmy breed standard as possible. Pay special attention to strong and square legs, wide escutcheon and level rump. It is a good idea to take a look at the udders on his mom, sisters and daughters. (This is true for both dam and buck, but I’m mentioning this for the buck in particular because he is going have a major effect on the total quality of the offspring.) Tall bucks are o.k.

#2 Exercise your option to cull. By cull, I do mean kill. I do not mean finding the goats anything other than a “no-breeding, pet- only” home. Generally, culling and selling needs to be done about every two years in order to keep improving the herd, by removing the animals that are not moving you in the right direction. Also, it keeps alive the other purpose we have for our Kinder’s, which is to provide goat meat. This is probably the hardest thing for new breeders to learn. It also keeps you from becoming overwhelmed with too many goats.

Have in your mind a picture of what you want your Kinder goats to look like and to milk like. Compare the Kinder’s you breed with your “ideal Kinder.” How do they compare? Are they much worse or better? Breed towards your goal rather than randomly breeding animals. This is easier to say than to do especially when working with a small genetic pool. However, it can be done by line-breeding with careful out-crossing. Your ideal Kinder should look as much like the breed standard as is possible. It’s good to study the standard to know what to look for in your animals.

Bucks are more than half your herd. Because they influence an entire generation of your Kinder’s it is very important to not breed from a faulty buck. Once you have Kinder’s to work with, choose the best buck that you have for your herd sire and breed from him. From there you can choose your junior herd sire from your best doe. You may choose to let a buck mature for a year or more before you use him over your herd. See how the junior herd sire develops and then you can begin to match him to other does. Sometimes genes will combine badly and sometimes there will be wonderful results. Always take careful note of what happens during a breeding and how close to the standard the resulting offspring are. Try and keep complete records as you go and even take pictures of the animals you breed, and the resulting kids.

Learn to enjoy goat meat for you will have to cull in the early years at least a little. But that’s the wonderful thing about Kinders. They make excellent meat as well as milk! It most areas of the country there are very few Kinder herds established so far. This means that there is an excellent opportunity for a new breeder to come in and get a head start on future breeders. Paying attention to the breed standard and having a goal to work towards will put you one step ahead by the time it comes to start selling quality breeding stock to future Kinder owners in your local area. Grow your herd slowly so that you can practice “quality control” to have healthy goats you can enjoy as meat, excellent quality milk and as pets.

Permaculture courses

 Hi folks!

I just thought I'd share on something that I am currently working on.
I have been pretty interested in permaculture for the last year or so, and only recently have begun to actively explore my interests in it.  I am getting ready to move in about 7 weeks to a new state, so I can't really start any projects at my current home, but I'm looking forward to getting started in my new home.  I was looking for a permaculture course (why is it that they are so ding dang expensive??) and being that I sort of missed the boat on when the courses start in my current city and in our new city, I set out looking for an online course.  Being that I am simply exploring at this point, I find it hard to want to part with approximately $800-1600 right now, especially for an online class (I would rather be right there, IN the dirt!).  BUT, I did find one course that is offered by an intentional community that I am aware of via an acquaintance of an acquaintance, Heathcote Community.  Its an intro course.  I'm about halfway through it, and it doesn't seem to really delve into much more than the basic concept and principles of permaculture.  So far, my interest is still piqued (which says a lot... maybe I am a little bit closer to finding my calling?) and I look forward to doing my "homework" (which usually is little more than doing a little research on a topic and/or answering a couple of questions (that usually require some self-reflection).
Enjoy!