Tag Archives: homesteading

  • Have you ever thought about keeping bees?

    Well, if you haven’t thought about it—or you’ve considered it but haven’t taken the leap—here are four great questions to answer before you decide to become a beekeeper extraordinaire.

     

    Beekeeping for Beginners_Part One

     

    Do I have the space?

    Bee hives themselves don’t take a lot of space; they actually have quite a compact footprint (see this video for a good look at the size and setup of a beehive). But you’ll need to consider the fact that bees will be flying in and out of the hives near ground level—meaning they’ll be flying through your yard right at just the right height to disturb people and pets who may be enjoying some time outside.

    There are steps you can take to direct the bees’ flight path in and out of the hive (placing a bush or other “barricade” a little bit in front of the hive entrance to direct them upward), but space can still be an issue—so be sure to limit the number of hives to a reasonable amount for your acreage (or lack thereof).

     

    Do my family members and neighbors have objections?

    In theory, it’s easy to say that it doesn’t matter what other people think, but because your family and neighbors will likely have (hopefully harmless) encounters with your bees, getting their buy-in is a great idea—especially in suburban locations.

    In more rural locations, or if you have a lot of acreage, you can place the beehives far enough away from your family’s usual haunts that they can easily avoid too much contact if bees give them the heebie-jeebies.

    One of the most important factors when addressing concerns of family and neighbors is allergic reactions. If you’ve got a family member or close neighbor who’s deathly allergic to bee stings, reconsider keeping bees on your property. The risk simply isn’t worth it. And if you don’t know whether you’re allergic, get tested before you get started—a surprise reaction to a bee sting can turn into a scary, even deadly, situation.

     

    What are the zoning laws or other restrictions?

    While it’s kind of a bummer to think that keeping bees might actually be illegal in your area, it’s better to be aware before getting set up than to pay fines and have to call it quits after you’ve got a good colony thriving.

    If beekeeping is against zoning or other restrictions in your area, you may be able to find a local farmer who, if they aren’t already maintaining hives themselves, would welcome someone to set up hives on their land. You may even be able to work out an agreement that allows you to keep them there for free in exchange for honey, beeswax, or a combination of both. Win-win!

     

    Am I dedicated and patient?

    Keeping bees isn’t rocket science, but it does take dedication, patience, education, and planning. If your plan is to get a big, golden payday right off the bat, then you’re probably best off just buying a SuperPail of honey. It can take up to a year to get a colony established and producing enough excess honey for you to enjoy it without harvesting the honey that will sustain the bees through the winter. But if you’re willing to put in the work, the rewards are well worth it.

     

    Think you’re ready to dive in? The American Beekeeping Federation has a few Beekeeping FAQ’s that will help you get think through some of the logistics of getting started.

     

     

    Sound off:

    Do you raise bees? What other questions should beginners consider before starting a hive?

    Are you newly interested in taking up beekeeping? What questions or concerns do you have about getting started?

    We’d love to hear what you think in the comments.

     

    Sources:

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/improvement/lawn-garden/diy-backyard-beekeeping-47031701#slide-1

    http://youtu.be/zDZDYgBkCx0?t=11s

    http://www.abfnet.org/index.cfm

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: homesteading, raising animals, beekeeping

  • DIY Rabbit Hutch Projects

    Once you've decided to raise rabbits for food storage, the next question to ask yourself is where am I going to put them? Since you are raising rabbits for self-sufficiency, and not as pets, it may be helpful to keep them outside to make that distinction clear (easier said than done, I know.)

    Traditionally, outdoor rabbits are kept in hutches. A hutch is a cage that is usually made of wood and is enclosed with wire mesh. Most hutches have tall legs to protect the rabbits from predators on the ground. You can also build a hutch without legs to keep on a table or, in warm climates, directly on the ground.

    Rabbit hutches are fairly easy to build and serve as excellent DIY projects to complete over the weekend. You can make hutches out of pallets, shelves, and even old dressers.

    Here are 5 great DIY rabbit hutch tutorials from the web to get you started:

     

    Tiny Homesteaders.com “Making Yet Another Rabbit Hutch out of Pallet Crates"

    Space is a very important factor when building a hutch. Since your rabbit will spend a lot of time there, it’s important that they have enough room to move around.  This hutch is a great example of giving your rabbits enough space:

     Rabbit Hutch via TinyHomesteaders

    Photo Courtesy of Tinyhomesteaders.com

     

    Mother Earth News’ “DIY Rabbit Hutch from Wood Pallets”

    When building a hutch, it’s important to have at least part of it enclosed so it will be dark enough when your rabbits need to sleep—or so they can hide if they feel threatened by predators.

     Rabbit Hutch via Mother Earth News

    Photo Courtesy of Mother Earth News

     

    Monsterguide.net “How to Build a Rabbit Hutch”

    Since rabbit hutches require regular cleaning (we’re talking on at least a weekly basis), make sure your hutch is built in a way that provides you with easy access to get the job done—like this one.

    Rabbit Hutch via MonsterGuide dot net

    Photo Courtesy of Monsterguide.net

    Bettaliving.org’s DIY Rabbit Hutch Plans

    This step-by-step guide (with in-depth instructions and pictures for each step) is a great source if you want to build a hutch on the ground. Rabbit hutches built on the ground are better to use in warmer climates, but even then should provide a way for your bunnies to take shelter from predators or rain.

    Rabbit Hutch via BettaLiving.org

    Photo Courtesy of Bettaliving.org

    For Urban Homesteaders: DIY Project: Nicole’s Modern Bunny Hutch

    This hutch is made from an altered dresser. It’s a great method for building a hutch if you live in an apartment or don’t have yard space for a traditional hutch.

    Rabbit Hutch via Design Sponge

    Photo Courtesy of DesignSponge.com

     

    Looking for more tips on building a rabbit hutch? Check out these links:

    http://www.amillionlives.net/build-a-rabbit-hutch-protective-shelters-for-the-bunnies-dwelling.html

    http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/getting-a-hunch-about-rabbit-hutches.html

     

    Have you ever made a rabbit hutch? What’s the best setup you’ve found?

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: rabbits, DIY, homesteading, raising animals

  • The following 2 recipes (submitted by Lynn from Canada) are a great way to rotate and use your powdered milk:

    Yogurt with blackberries

    YOGURT BY THE GALLON

    Ingredients:

    4 Cups Dry Milk Powder

    4 Quarts Warm Water

    1 Cup Starter

    Optional compliments (freeze dried fruit, jam, vanilla, etc.)

    Preparation:

    Mix the milk powder with the water in a blender until smooth. Heat mixture to a scald over stove top in large pot or in a crock pot (not too hot or it will kill the yogurt's live culture). Watch so it doesn't burn if you are doing this on the stove top. Cool to room temperature (lukewarm to the touch with your finger in it counting to 10. Or if you have a thermometer...till it reads about 120 degrees F).

    Add the following and mix well: 1 Cup starter (plain yogurt or freeze dried yogurt starter or saved yogurt from your previous batch - this needs to be renewed after a month or the taste becomes sour).

    Put into a gallon glass jar with a lid and place in some kind of hotbox (wonder box or thermal box) in a warm room for 12- 14 hours until thickened. If you don't have a hotbox, leave it in your crockpot, unplugged, and wrapped in a large towel to keep warm. You can also put it in a cooler wrapped in warm towels.

    Once thickened: Refrigerate up to 12 hours. May need stirring before use. It does thicken more as it is refrigerated. You may add freeze dried fruit, jam, or a bit of vanilla for flavored yogurt. However, remember to set some plain aside first if you are going to use it as a starter for the next batch.

    Hint: Freeze your remaining purchased plain yogurt in ice cube trays to have on hand for the next batch's starter when needed. Good for 6 months in the freezer.

    Enjoy!

     

    HOMEMADE CREAM CHEESE

    You can also make homemade cream cheese from your own yogurt that you've made. Take one cup of yogurt and place it in the center of a clean TERRY face cloth or a CHEESE cloth (these are sold at your local food store) that is laid over a small bowl. This cloth will act as a "strainer" for your yogurt. Fold the cloth up. Then take a rubber band and wrap the rubber band around the cloth just up past the point where the yogurt comes to. At this point it will look like you've wrapped up a tennis ball in a cloth with a rubber band to hold the "present" closed. Then take a hanger and hook the rubber band onto the hook of the hanger. Hang the hanger up on your kitchen cupboard door knob or hang the hanger onto a large pot or something strong enough to let it hang. Place the small bowl under your wrapped hanging yogurt and let it just hang there to drip the liquids out for 4 hours.

    If you want to (and are home), you can just give it a gentle squeeze now and again to softly wring out some of the liquid. But that step is not necessary. You can just leave your yogurt hanging for 8 hours if you want to while you are gone to work, too. After this there will be liquid in your bowl. Open up the cloth.....you will find a round soft ball of plain CREAM CHEESE! It's THAT simple! Keep refrigerated once this is completed. You can always flavor it with a little bit of sea salt and dill or a little pepper or whatever favorite seasonings you like. You can use it on crackers, breads, toast, bagels or flavor it with fruit extracts instead of the seasonings.

    Enjoy!

    Thank you Lynn for these great recipes and tips!

    Bagel with cream cheese

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, skills, homemade, Food Storage Tips, DIY, homesteading