Welcome to our Homestead

Welcome to Rocky Oak Homestead™

A quiet, peaceful sanctuary from the chaos of everyday living in a world on the brink of insanity! A place where we prepare for the worst, but hope for the best!

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Pratical Preparedness & Pantry

I don't post about preparedness often....I really figure most have more to offer than myself, but this has been on my mind lately so I thought I would do a post about it...its been awile since I posted anything on preparedness...I hope you can glean something from this....This is certainly in no way everything a person would need, but I hope my common sense approach helps someone...


First I want to say I am not an advocate for spending 100's or 1000's of dollars on long term food storage buckets from fear mongering companies....What we do here at Rocky Oak is simple, practical, reasonable amount of money spent and we know we will eat it.....so thats what I will share with you...Oh! and always, always look for the best deals and sales!

First if you wont eat it, or don't like it don't buy it...An example...I do not use or even like whole wheat so it would be irresponisble of me to spend money on a product we would not ever use...that money could be used elsewhere on items we we benefit from...We do use white flour...so I sit down and calculated approx. how much I use in a year...I kept in mind if for some reason I was unable to purchase flour products like bread, cookies, etc from the grocery store I would need more flour to make up the difference...

We are a family of 3 So if you used 5lbs of flour a month for 12 months that would be 60 lbs of flour a year...Now, keep in mind in a situation where you couldn't buy flour products you would need to make them so add say another 60 lbs..that would be 120lbs of flour for a year....is your family bigger? Smaller? are you going to shelter others? All of these things need to be taken into consideration...I like to over figure and have more than I think I really need...so if I figure I need 200 lbs of flour for a year I would personally double that...flour will last a very long time in a freezer! You can also store it in mylar bag in a 5 gallon bucket or just in a 5 gallon bucket...its whatever works for you in the space you have...flour is cheap!

I use the same calculation for sugar(which we use more of) cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, yeast, etc...figure what you use a month, times by 12 that will give you a good solid starting place for a goal for a years supply....Use the same calcualtion for things like rice and beans...always add more than you think you will need...better safe than sorry!

So many people are down on processed foods...so am I in a normal daily situation...but in a crisis, those foods very well could mean the difference in life and death...so lets think about something...while my preference is home made rice products...the truth is you an purchase pre-pkged rice sides for pennies...A brand I get alot is knorr...they are cheap, decent in flavor and last forever....for a family of 3 you could have a rice side once a week using 1 pkg. thats 4.00 a month give or take a few cents...thats only 50.00 a year...you can open them add them to a mylar bag put in an oxygen absorber and you have something that will last along time! You have saved money on other products it takes to make the same thing from scratch and saved valuable storage space...Some don't like commercially canned soups...I get it...really I do...however, life or death situation, I will take the canned soup...you can pick up canned soups at Aldis for around 60 cents a can...a case/flat  for less than 8.00...for 100.00 I can have a variety of soups for a year! Most have BB dates out for 2 years....

I am huge advocate of home grown fresh veggies and home canned foods...but what if you garden failed for 2  years in a row? What then? What if you just cant garden big enough where you are? Sure, fresh is the best if the local grocery store is open, but what if they weren't? I say canned veggies...again at Aldis, I can buy a flat/case of 12 cans for less than 6.00...If we ate 1 can of veggies a day every day for a  year for a family of 3 (1 can feeds us) I would need 365 cans..thats around 30 flats/cases.....so 30.00 x 6 is 180.00 give or take a few dollars...Canned speciality beans same way...if you prefer canned over dried go for it! I actually do both...

Water at Aldi's you can buy bottled water at time for 1.99 for 24 bottles....or if you are so inclined you can save your gallon milk jugs and fill them with water for storage...I prefer to buy mine...Our well water has a chlorinater on it...I cook with our well water, bathe and do laundry but we dont consume it...so bottled is our choice..for us depending on the time of year our average consumption 36 bottles of water a week...again 36x12=432 bottles....divide that by 24 and we would need 18 cases of water add more just in case...the cost of 18 cases would be approx. 36.00 again give or take depending on brand you use or prefer...

Meat....So while it is best and the cheaper to raise your own that is not always practical...So, I suggest looking for the best deals...For instance....we have several outlets here called "Chicken Depot"....while not organic, free ranged yadda, yadda, yadda...it is food and you can get good deals...for instance...I bought a 5lb bag of boneless, skinless breast for 3.99...a 5 lb bag of pure meat, breaded chicken patties and a 5lb bag of chicken strips for 7.99...I bring them home, re-package them to last longer and not freezer burn and toss them in the freezer or you could always can the boneless, skinless breast....I have also been able to to get whole 6 lbs chickens for 4.99 when they have a meat sale...once in a while one of our local grocery stores will offer a 25 lb meat sale for beef....you go in and they have paper bags of meat for 25.00 all different cuts...you take whats in it for 25.00 ...we also have a section of 5 for 25 meats...meaning you get 5 pkgs of meat(beef or pork mix and match) for 25.00....I usually save 10.00 or so that way....bring it home, can it or re-pkag for longer storage...

I cant possible touch on everything you would need....but use common sense...toilet paper for instance I shop around...Typically we like charmin, we are spoiled that way...LOL...however I found a place that I can get 24 rolls of TP for 4.99...its 2 ply, while definitly not charmin its not bad either...it does the job quite well! Each time I go to that store I buy a couple packs of it...bring it home and throw it in the closet...

Medical supplies...look at garage sales for things like stethoscpes, crutches, walkers etc....I have found awesome stuff for pennies....Bandaids, iodine, rubbing alchohol, peroxide etc...all cheap!

Cleaning supplies...I am a bleach-a-holic...I am never with out bleach...it kills everything...LOL...its cheap, readily available and for around 40.00 you could easily have a years supply on hand...I only use clorox but cheaper is available...

My goal is to help folks understand being prepared doesn't have to be expensive and you don't have to spend your life savngs to do it...it can be done on a budget...its common sense....buy what you eat, eat what you buy! Don't listen to all the ads for food products that last 25 years...why be stuck with something you may not like or never need?

Dont go out and try to do it all at once...if you have the means to buy a years worth of canned items, go for it...once you have them you simply rotate and keep your stock at a steady supply...




The Homestead Lady

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

More reflections from Rocky Oak

As this year comes to a close and I am beginning to ponder all things spring.... I am thinking seeds, gardening, critters and changes...The longer we homestead(been at this 16 years now) the more I realize there is no end to improvement, changes, and trying new things...We have always been the kind of folks that are always up for a new adventure...this year will be no different...So what are we thinking?

Chickens and Turkeys--I am thinking maybe one huge hatch of turkeys and chickens this spring and not constantly having my incubator going...Might do 2 turkey hatches....the rest of my eggs will be sold for hatching...

Rabbits...Our freezer is full so thinking we will either do away with all the rabbits or only keep a couple for breeding....

Pigs--Definitly keepers...hoping for piglets early spring...

Goats---Sigh....I love me some goats! We sold my entire herd last spring due to my health and just not having the dedication to care for them with my health issues....This year is better...thinking about adding a few back to the homestead....We are looking into Sannens or LaManchas...Closer to spring we will make the decision...We have 18 acres for them to browse and eat thats a definite plus....means no feed bill in the spring/summer and early fall months...winter would be all they would need commercial feed...

Cows--Looking at adding a calf or 2 to the homestead this spring....again...time will tell...Cattle are down in price in our area we will see what prices are like come spring when the grass greens up...

On the gardening front...We are making some changes this year to our gardening....Last year we did the eden method and loved it...however being in the subtropical climate we are in the weeds eventually took over...This year we will do lots of container gardening....Maybe even a few raised beds....Looking at maybe having a hoop house as well...

I made my list....checked it twice...Seed list that is...and I am very happy with my order...While it is pretty good sized order the seeds will provide food for us for years to come...I will be making that order in the next week or so....

This way of life is amazing....hard work and never ending...but amazing...I love the simplicity in it...I love how here at Rocky Oak its like a whole different world....When I venture into our nearest town, albeit very small I cannot wait to get back to the comforts of the homestead...its quiet, serene and feels safe...Other things on the agenda this spring are to add a couple more security features, a hand pump for a deep well(ours is 480 feet) so in the event we don't have power, rather than using our generator we have hand pump...We will also add to our rain catchment system....

I am resolving to keep our goals simple and attainable so that at the end of the year we don't feel like we 'failed'...We have also resolved to do what is right for us and our situation and not listen to everyone else...All of us have unique needs and goals...We need to meet those goals based our familys needs...

This year I just want to do what makes us happy....we want things that bring joy,contentment & enrichment to our life...Just to enjoy each and everyday for what it is and not worry so much about what the future holds...Tomorrow will take of itself....

The Homestead Lady

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rollin' Right Along

Things here are rollin' right along...the garden is doing good and that in itself is keeping me busy...doing alot of freezing this year rather than canning...

We butchered out 13 of our quail and they were good, so I have 156 eggs in the incubator...honestly I am hoping not all are fertile...thats just a lot of quail to deal with...But it will fill the freezer...

The hens are laying good and we are getting more than enough eggs, I have been sharing a few with family...Next spring should be a great year for eggs since the Rhode Island Reds will be laying then...the Delawares should begin laying any day....

The goats are good and the kids are getting big...they are so cute....can't help but smile everytime I see them...

The pigs are growing and doing well too...they are farm mans project but from time to time I walk out to the pen and take a look...

The weather here has been fabulous and I am enjoying every second of it...I spend a large amount of day outside just enjoying the critters on the farmstead...

We planted 5 more grapes and 2 more blueberries today...kind of an odd time of year, we bought them in the early spring and just had not had the time to get them in the ground...Hopefully they survive...

The apple tree is loaded with apples this year, the peach tree did not set fruit this year...the late freeze got them...looks like I will be buying peaches this year to put up for winter...

We have been having company some lately, not like us at all, but some folks from our old church have reached out to us and they too have been hurt...I think we are just trying to figure out where we go from here...Maybe a new church...We just don't know where the Lord will lead...kind of exciting really....

My absence from here has been good and it will continue with updates as I find the time or feel the unction to blog...So much going on in our world and lives I find myself pulling away from everything that is not priority right now...I am not one that gets into politics on this blog, but I will say...we all need to be preparing our hearts, minds and families...None of us know what tomorrow holds for our country...We find ourselves praying for guidence in what we need to be doing here on the homestead to be ready for whatever our future holds...I admonish each of you all to do the same...All of our worlds could change in a moment and we need to be ready...Spiritually, physically and emotionally....Spiritually for us is priority...I read often about folks worried about the best place to be if something big happens....I say this to them and to you...The best place to be is in the center of God's will...if you are you will be safe come what may...

Until Next Time....

The Homestead Lady

Quail wating to be roasted

Quail dressed in bacon...yummy!

For the cute factor--A puppy(he's sold)

156 quail eggs!

Mater's and Peppers


Maters, peppers and Cucumbers

Salsa! Yum!

Chickens

Chickens

And more chickens!

Monday, March 31, 2014

5 years ago and Amazing Grace...

It was 5 years ago today that we moved over here, but its been 6 years since we purchased this land in August of 2008...it was 17 degrees the first  night we slept here without the luxury of heat...I have posted these pictures before but I like to remind myself each and every year how far we have come...Sometimes I get frustrated at the amount that still needs done so it is nice to remember what we have actually accomplished....

So without futher ado...Rocky Oak in the making...

 BELOW--What the land looked like when we bought it in August of 2008--this is where our home sits now....













BELOW--After Clearing in March of 2009--cedar in right hand corner...this where our "food yard" is located..in the beginning out little cabin set right where I was standing when I took this picture...















BELOW--June 2009--You can see the same cedar tree above only much closer (picture for reference)













August 2010--18 months to the day we finally got a well--again there is the same cedar(far left) tree(pic not taken in August 













July 2011--Finally get a bit of yard and raised beds are looking good
  












May 2012 more raised beds added
  












July 2012 hard work paying on in way of fresh organic, heirloom veggies













July 2011 the berry patch and fruit trees

























The hen house and very large barn yard we built last year...see the rocks? Thus the name "Rocky" Oak and this is certainly not the worst of it...this year rocks just about gone thanks to hard work and dedication...














In the above header you will see many more pictures from Rocky Oak...in the 2nd row, middle picture you will see a building in the distance...that used to be our bathroom..it still has the tub/shower and toilet in there, but is not functioning...the cabin we had was attached to that off the tallest side...that building now houses our deep freezers as well as other items...we have come a long way baby! LOL

It's been a hard and long journey, not one I will ever forget and I will be forever grateful for the lessons along the way...Each year things change and take shape...What started as dirt, rock and trees has become what we call Rocky Oak Farmstead....there is life abundant here on our little slice of heaven...God has been with us every step of the way... he lead and guided each decision we have made...We have encountered many frustrations and cried many tears...felt many times we wanted to throw our hands in the air and say forget it....but we always knew in our hearts what was expected of us as the Lord had clearly shown us a vision....So, today as I remember what it was 5 years ago, bitter cold and we had a little storage shed, turned cabin, with no heat, no water, no electricty I also remember the dream and vision...Here we are today...temps to hit mid 70's and I hear all the sounds of farm life and I realize our dream, the dream the Lord inspired in our hearts has become a reality...I am humbled...while there are still things to be done, things to tweak...we have done it with the the amazing grace of God....Happy 5th Aniversary Rocky Oak Farmstead!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

So, what do you know?

Picture above from Rocky Oak Homestead  
 
Brenda over at a Separate Path Blog posted this list the other day asking how many of these skills you knew...I have colored the ones we know and practice here at Rocky Oak in green...Also don't forget to check out my entry "Blog Changes" they are coming Friday...

 

Safely use an ax and hand saws.
Split firewood and kindling.
Stack and age firewood.
Grow a vegetable plant.
Plan, plant and grow a vegetable garden.
Sharpen any edge tool – knife, axe, hoe, chisel etc.
Basic firearm safety and gun proof your children and grandchildren.
Raise a chicken.
Shovel snow without putting out your back.
Read the weather.
Spin wool, cotton or flax into thread or yarn on a spinning wheel or with a drop spindle.
Use a garden shovel, spade or hoe without hurting your back.
Light a fire indoors or outdoors.
Go to a country auction and not get skinned.
Crochet.
Butcher small livestock like rabbits or chickens.
Hang clothes on a clothesline.
Basic tractor maintenance.
Know the difference between trees and the unique properties of various types of wood.
Cook 10 basic meals from scratch.
Pasteurize milk.
Distinguish healthy plants and animals from unhealthy plants or animals.
Basic sewing skills.
Set an ear tag or tattoo for animal identification.
Determine an animal’s age by its teeth.
Cut and glaze glass.
Drive a standard transmission vehicle.
Thaw out frozen pipes without busting them.
Know how and when to use hybrid seeds.
Sew your own clothes with simple patterns.
Hand thresh and winnow wheat or oats and other small grains.
Train a working cattle or sheep dog.
Read the moon and stars.
Make soft or hard cheeses.
Live beneath your financial means.
Fillet and clean a fish.
Use a wash tub, hand-wringer and washboard.
Make soap from wood ashes and animal fat.(I am currently learning how to make lye from woods ash and I use lard in my soaps so I am partially there...lol)
Lay basic brick or build a stone wall.
Basic home canning and food preservation.
Save open pollinated (non-hybrid) seeds.
De-horn livestock.
Use an awl and basic leather repair
Make long-term plans for the future – plan an orchard, a livestock breeding program, or plan for stored energy sources.
Jury rig anything with duct tape, baling twine and whatever is on hand.
Be comfortable with emergency/home birth.(could do it but not be comfortable)
Read an almanac.
Euthanize large livestock.
Use flat cloth diapers and wool soakers.
Cook on a cook stove.
Entertain yourself and live without electronic media.
Shear a sheep.
Manage human urine and feces without plumbing.
Swap, barter and network with like-minded people.
Generate electricity for home use.
Make a candle.
Dig and properly use a shallow well.
Refinish furniture.
Drive a draft animal.
Realistically deal with life, death and failure.
Use non-electric lighting.
Butcher a pig or goat.
Restrain large livestock.
Slaughter livestock.
Use a treadle sewing machine.
Give an injection.
Use a handsaw, hammer & nails, screw driver, wire cutters, and measuring tape.
Know when to ask for help.
Know how and when to prune grapes and fruit trees.
Hatch out chicken, duck or other poultry eggs.
Use a scythe.
Skin a furbearer and stretch the skin.
Tell the time of day by the sun.
Milk a goat, sheep or cow.
Use a smoke house.
Stomach tube a newborn animal.
Build basic homestead buildings (sheds, animal shelters, smoke house, ice house, etc.)
Break ground and plough.
Use a wood stove and bank a fire.
Make butter.
Knit.
Make and use a hot bed or cold frame.
Deliver a foal, calf, lamb or goat.
Know how to tell when winter is over.
Plant a tree.
Brood day-old chicks.
Dye yarn or cloth from plants.
Haggle like a horse trader.
Bake bread.
Use a pressure tank garden sprayer.
Halter break a horse or cow.
Graft baby animals onto a foster-mother.
Weave cloth.
Grow everyday kitchen herbs.
Make sausage.
Set and bait traps for unwanted vermin and predators.
Grind wheat into flour.
Make paper.
Make ink.

Know when it is more economical to buy something ready-made or when to make it yourself.
Castrate livestock.
Choose a location for a vegetable garden or orchard.
Catch and care for wild yeast for bread making.
Weave a basket.
Use electric netting or fencing.
Make fire starters from corn cobs or pinecones.
Use a pressure cooker.
Use a pressure canner to preserve meat and vegetables.
Correctly attach 3 point hitch implements to a tractor.
Trim the hooves of goats or sheep.
Sew your own underwear.
Make your own wine and beer.
Darn knitted or crocheted items.
Know basic plumbing and how to sweat copper pipes and joints.
Keep bees.
Change a spark plug.
Cook on an open fire.
Make vinegar.
Purify water.
Graft trees.
Make and use a bow and arrow.
Preserve meat by curing.
Erect a fence.
Hang a gate.
Make and use herbal tinctures, infusions and other herbal remedies.
Replace electrolytes in a battery.
Charge a battery.
Change a car tire.
Repair a tire.
Do an oil change in any vehicle.
Build an effective compost pile.
Correctly set spark plug spacings.
Change all light bulbs – household and vehicle.
Prime a well pump.
Fix water troughs around the paddocks.
Suture both animals and humans.
Catch a fish without expensive fishing gear.
Gather edible wild greens and prepare them.
Catch and keep a swarm of bees.
Render fat into lard.
Use non-typical fats (lard, tallow, schmaltz, bear fat, etc) in cooking.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Looking back, Moving Forward

It is quickly approaching the 4 year mark that we have been here on this land...So much has happened in that 4 years...so many trials, tribulations and times of thinking we just couldn't go on...But we did go  on, the Lord saw us through and we learned some amazing things during this time...We learned alot about others,but more about ourselves...God was faithful to provide what we needed when we needed it...Farm man hauled in water every single day for 18 long months...we did not have the money to drill a well and our land is so rocky that hand digging was impossible...so we hauled it in...we never missed a bath, the critters never went thirsty, the garden got watered and dishes got done...we made it through using the woods as a bathroom come rain sleet snow or shine...you can read our story HERE


Without futher ado, here is our jouney in pictures...

 BELOW--What the land looked like when we bought it in August of 2008


BELOW--After Clearing in February of 2009


BELOW--June 2010--You can see the same cedar tree in the distance in the above picture


 August 2010--we finally got a well--again there is the same cedar tree















 

July 2011












 

May 2012















 













July 2012














BELOW--July 2011--Some of our berries













 

BELOW This is the building we bought and lived in for 17 months, this is not on our property it is where it was when we bought it














BELOW--Then we bought this --A 1970 10 x 50













 

BELOW--Inside of above mobile













 

BELOW--Then we purchased this in May of 2012 a 16 x70













 

BELOW--Inside of above Mobile











































Our journey has been a hard one, and one I will remember for the rest of my life...but I am grateful for what it has taught me...I have learned you can let trials make you bitter or make you better...I have experienced both I think...I have learned I am strong and resourceful, I have also seen those who say they are your friend will leave you when you need them the most...I have learned there is nothing Farm Man and I cannot get through with the help and guidence of our Lord...It's been slow going for the past 4 years, it took us forever to get water and electric when first moving over here..living in a 12 x 24 (288 sq feet) 'cabin' was hard...we all were tested and tried, but we survived and learned we could...Life is not always easy and sometimes downright hard...but, there is always someone worse off than you...So today and everyday when things look bleak...Remember, someone has walked the road before you and there is always, always someone worse off...