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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Slow Cooker Steak and Gravy

By Tiffany Davis - October 01, 2022 at 08:00AM

Slow Cooker Steak & Gravy is the perfect comfort food for a winter night. Tender steak and rich gravy are slow-cooked to perfection, making this dish irresistible. Serve over mashed potatoes or rice for a complete meal. This Slow Cooker Steak & Gravy is the perfect comfort food for any night of the week! Why...

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Friday, September 30, 2022

How to Prepare for an Economic Recession

By Tiffany Davis - September 30, 2022 at 07:47AM

Recessions are inevitable, kind of like the waves that crash onto the seashore. There’s simply no telling how big the next one will be, and if you’re not ready for it, a rogue wave could pull you out to sea. While there’s little that can be done to prevent an economic recession (besides voting), there...

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Thursday, September 29, 2022

25 Hygiene Items to Stockpile ASAP

By Tiffany Davis - September 29, 2022 at 09:20AM

Looking for hygiene items to stockpile? Emergencies tend to always show up at the party unannounced, which is why every family needs to be prepared for them beforehand. Besides having plenty of food and water, it’s crucial that you also think about stocking up on several hygiene products. No, I’m not talking about just having...

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

How to Pick the Best Livestock for Your Homestead

By Jill Winger - September 27, 2022 at 10:04AM

Homesteading…. whenever this word is used, many people picture a beautiful thriving garden, chickens scratching at the yard, and gentle mooing from across a green pasture.

Growing your own food, preserving your harvest, starting a home dairy, or raising your own meat animals are great homesteading options. However, one super important thing to remember about modern homesteading is that you get to pick and choose what aspects work best for your situation.

>> There is NOT a one-size-fits-all aspect to homesteading. <<

If I personally had to choose one option between all of our homesteading projects, the animals would win every time. After all, animals are the main reason that The Prairie Homestead exists today. Horses are the reason we started looking for land in the beginning and later that land turned into all these possibilities for so much more (I chat more about my love of horses in this podcast episode).

Naturally, animals are a logical progression for many homesteaders looking for more ways to become self-sustainable. There are different animal options for every experience level and each homesteading situation, so the question is “How do you know which one/s are right for your homestead?”.

Before you start adding livestock to your homestead or expanding your existing herd, I wanted to share some of the knowledge we have gained adding livestock to our own homestead.

How to Pick the Best Livestock for Your Homestead

What to Consider Before Adding Livestock

When you are dreaming about your homestead, the thought of adding animals can be exciting and you may be tempted to jump right into the journey. But before you buy livestock for your homestead, there are a few things that you should consider.

1. Why Are You Buying Livestock for Your Homestead?

Adding livestock is the next step to self-sustainability, right? If you have decided that you are ready to take the next step and buy livestock for your homestead one of the first things you should think about is what their purpose is going to be.

Are they going to provide meat or eggs for your family?

Do you want a home dairy to get milk or make your own cheese?

Knowing why you are adding animals to your homestead will give you an idea of what species to consider and what breeds might work best for you.

2. Are You Allowed to Have Livestock Where You Are?

Before you buy your animals, you will want to take into account your zoning and homeowners association rules. Even if you don’t have a homeowner’s association that prohibits chickens or goats, the zoning laws of your city, township, or county might. These rules can be funny sometimes, you might be able to have animals, but they can limit the amount or type you are allowed to have.

It’s heartbreaking to bring home the adorable baby goat or the chickens and then have to get rid of them a week later because it turns out that you can’t have any animals where you live. So, it is really important that you understand what your rules are first. The good news is progress is being made; more places are being allowed to have backyard chickens and sometimes even a goat or two.

3. How Many Animals and Do You Have Enough Space?

A chicken isn’t going to need the same amount of space as a goat or cow, but 50 meat chickens will need more space than 5 laying hens. It really all comes down to the type of animal, the number of animals, and the amount of space you have to offer. Overall, the amount of space you have will determine what will work best for your livestock options

If you need help figuring out your homestead layout and space, check out my FREE handbook on designing your dream homestead.

4. Are You Able to Provide Shelter and Water?

When you are thinking about adding animals to your homestead you need to figure out if you have an adequate shelter for the type of animals you are planning to add. A shelter is important and the type you use really depends on your climate. Your shelter is in place to provide a dry shaded area in warmer climates and keep them warm in cooler climates.

When you are deciding on your shelter you may want to consider an area where you can add electricity. If your shelter is going to be enclosed, you may want to run a fan in extreme heat or heat lamps if it gets extremely cold. Other items that you might use electricity for our tank heaters or heated buckets if you live in a climate where your water will freeze.

In my experience, it is much easier to have a shelter already in place BEFORE you bring home your animal. If you bring your animal home first, you are left scrambling to find something to use for shelter.

A part of providing shelter is also having an area where you can provide your animals with water. Depending on the animals you choose it can be a small bucket or a huge tank, you will need to be able to fill them either way. Hauling water is always an option but after a while, this chore can become a bit much, especially if you are doing it in the dead of winter. Try and find an area for your shelter that is as close to a water source as possible.

Livestock for Your homestead | Meat Chickens

5. Can You Provide Feed for Your Livestock?

You know that you will need to feed the livestock you are adding to your homestead, but have you thought about the cost or what feed is available to you? What works for someone else’s homestead might not work for yours, the area you live in and the amount of space you have can help you determine your costs and what resources you will have available. 

For example, if you have pasture land, then you won’t have to purchase as much hay for grazing animals. On the other hand, if you can only provide an acre of grass, then you will need to feed hay year-round (hay can be expensive and the price can vary year to year). 

I have occasionally witnessed folks who impulse-buy chicks in the spring and then later, when they are grown, feeding them doesn’t fit into the budget anymore. It is very important that you understand what the long-term costs of feeding your animals are going to be. If you are worried about your budget, there are ways that you can try and cut some of those costs.

There haven’t always been feed stores available to provide bagged feed, so there are ways to provide creative options without sacrificing your animal’s nutrition. Here are 20 Ways to Save Money on Chicken Feed that might help get you started. 

In today’s economic climate, things are more uncertain and the increase in the price of feed has been one result. If you are interested in learning more about how to keep livestock during these uncertain times, then my new course The Recession Proof Homestead could be very beneficial for you. 

6. What is the Life Span of Your Animals?

Considering how long you will have with your animals has to do with feed costs, but also vet bills and end-of-life care. If your sole purpose is to provide meat for your family, then the life expectancy of your animals is relatively short compared to a laying hen or dairy animal. You will be butchering your meat livestock when they are the right age or weight. 

If you are looking for dairy animals, then you will want to think long-term. For example, the average dairy goat can live to be 15 years old so you will be required to feed them and provide medical care for the long haul. 

7. Consider the Amount of Time and Work

When you are choosing to add livestock to your homestead, remember that you will always have livestock chores that require your time. The basics are feeding, watering, and cleaning pens, and if you have dairy animals, this might mean milking once or twice a day. Think about the amount of time you have to set aside for chores and consider the amount of work you are able to put in. 

Livestock For Your Homestead | Beef Cow

Where to Find Livestock for Your Homestead

Now that you have considered everything that adding livestock to your homestead will entail, let’s talk about how to actually find your animals. There are quite a few ways to search for your new animals now that the internet is around. You can try the following ways:

(1) Craigslist and Facebook

  • Craigslist often has a ton of local livestock ads and you can search right around your area for what you are looking for. I used craigslist to find our goats and our first dairy cow Oakley.
  • Facebook Groups – In recent years this has been a little more tricky, but there are still groups that sell animals and you can find local connections through very-localized homesteading groups on facebook. 

These two places where you can find animal ads really help with not limiting you to just your local area, and you can choose how far you will travel to get the right animal for your homestead. These internet sources also allow you to look for animals of all ages. You can decide if you want to start a the beginning or look for a more mature animal and skip the baby phase altogether.

(2) Order From Online Hatcheries

Another online option that many people use is very specific to poultry. You can purchase your chicks and sometimes breeding pairs from online hatcheries.  You place your order on the hatcheries website, they give you the arrival date and your chicks are shipped to your local post office for pickup. 

I personally have had a few issues with having chicks shipped by mail, so I tend to lean more towards buying what the feed store has to offer.

(3) Local Feed Store Chick Days

Another way to find poultry specifically is during your local feed store’s chick days. For those of you that don’t know, this is a time in the spring when feed stores have an inventory of adorable chicks in their stores for people to purchase. The downside is that the feedstores usually have limited stock and only a few varieties. 

(4) Local Bulletin Boards

Local stores sometimes provide bulletin boards where people can post classified ads. I would check your feed store and vet office for these types of classified ads. 

(5) Friends and Local Farms 

The most obvious and easy way to find animals in your area is through your homesteading community. Ask friends, folks at farmer’s markets, and local farms about their animals and if they will have any available. This is especially good for buying dairy animals, since you not only are buying an animal but you can usually count on all the information you could need. Learn how to find local food sources here.

Things to Consider to Make Buying Livestock Less Stressful

You have considered all the possibilities and are now on the hunt for livestock to add to your homestead. This is an exciting time but don’t get caught up and impulse-buy the first animal you see for sale. When you are buying an animal, you should do your homework. 

(1) Know What Breed is Best For Your Homestead

You should have an idea of what livestock breed is best for your homestead. For example, not all chicken breeds are the same: some can be docile and others a bit aggressive. And if you are comparing dairy cow breeds, you may want to look at the amount of milk a breed produces.

It really depends on what you are looking for when you are buying livestock for your homestead.

(2) Find an Experienced Buyer or Friend to Help

A good place to start is to find someone with experience buying the breed of animals you are interested in and asking them what you should know before taking an animal home. The questions you need to ask may be different depending on what the animal is and what its’ purpose is going to be on your homestead. For example, you probably don’t really care about the milk production of a beef cow or a meat breed chicken’s laying ability.

(3) Check if the Animal is from a Clean Herd

There are different diseases that each species can be tested for annually. A clean herd means that your potential animal’s herd has been tested and is disease-free as of the testing date. Each species has its own different tests and diseases that are looked for. For example, it is common for goats herds to be tested for CAE and CL which are highly contagious incurable diseases.

Also, if you already have some livestock at home and you’re bringing in new animals, make sure you quarantine the newbies for a bit so that you know for sure that they aren’t bringing new diseases to your homestead.

(4) Registered or Unregistered Animals

Having registered stock isn’t always an important thing to look for, but if you are buying dairy animals, the babies will probably eventually need to be sold. It sometimes can be easier to sell purebred animals and the registration is proof on paper. For example, in our first year of homesteading, we bred our milk cow to a beef bull, so the resulting baby was a brown swiss cross, and there wasn’t much of a market for half-dairy, half-beef cows. The following year we used Artificial Insemination to get a pure brown swiss calf and it was amazing how quickly it sold. 

Are You Ready to Buy Livestock for Your Homestead?

Making the decision to add livestock to your homestead can be an exciting time for you and your family. But before you bring home your animals, be sure you consider every aspect and do your homework. There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to what animals are best for homesteading. Your decisions should be based on your area, what you are allowed to add, and what you are able to provide for your livestock.

More About Homesteading:

How to Pick the Best Livestock for Your Homestead

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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Instant Pot Caramel Popcorn

By Tiffany Davis - September 24, 2022 at 08:00AM

This delicious and easy-to-make Instant Pot Caramel Popcorn is the perfect snack for any movie night or party! You can make this for one person or for a crowd, and it only takes a few minutes in the Instant Pot. The caramel sauce is made with real butter and brown sugar, so it’s rich and...

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Thursday, September 8, 2022

Easy Ways to Start Living a More Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle

By Jill Winger - September 07, 2022 at 05:03PM

Living Sustainable Zero Waste Lifestyle

Homesteading has always been about self-sufficiency, about being free from modern systems, and providing more than we consume.

And I truly believe that this homesteading way of life goes hand-in-hand with finding ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

As humans, we have basic needs for survival like food, water, and shelter; these needs are met by using some form of our earth’s resources. When you choose to live sustainably, you are choosing to limit the number of earth’s resources you use and reduce the impact you have on our community, our land, and our world. 

Living sustainably doesn’t have to be an entire lifestyle change (unless you want it to be); you can start small with more subtle changes.  The good news about making sustainable changes is that most are easy to make and every little bit helps.

Easy Ways to Start Living a More Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Easy Ways to Live a More Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle

1. Wash Your Clothes with Cold Water

Heating water uses a lot of energy, so switching to washing your clothes with cold water can help reduce the amount of energy used. This will help prevent unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions.

2. Wash Full Loads of Laundry 

Wash full loads will reduce the number of times the washer has to be run. Less washing means less carbon dioxide emissions going into the air.

3. Line Dry Your Laundry

Something as simple as hanging your clothes out to dry can help save the environment. This can reduce the number of fossil fuels used, eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and save you a little money.

4. Use Eco-Friendly Natural Cleaners

These natural cleaners are healthy for you and the planet. Using Eco-friendly natural cleaners in your home helps increase the air quality while reducing the amount of water and air pollution outdoors.

You can also make your own DIY natural cleaners like these: 

If you would prefer to support a green company, then there are many different options to choose from. They all should produce natural cleaners that have reusable or biodegradable packaging. Check out Azure Standard for some wonderful cleaning supply options.

5. Zero-Waste Efficient Cleaning Routine

Zero-waste cleaning is mostly about the supplies that you use and buy to clean your house. Many have resorted to using disposable cleaning supplies for convenience. This includes sponges, wipes, and even the plastic bottles that cleaning products come in are throwaways.

A Zero-waste cleaning routine revolves around supplies that can be reused. These can include rags, recycled t-shirts, brooms, a vacuum, wooden toilet brushes, glass bottles, and an old-fashioned feather duster.

Easy Ways to Start Living a More Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle

6. Use LED Light Bulbs in Your Home

Making a sustainable living change can be as easy as changing a light bulb. LED light bulbs use less energy and last longer than incandescent light bulbs. Less energy used reduces the number of greenhouse effects coming from power plants and their longer life reduces the amount of bulbs being thrown away. This is an easy change that can reduce the impact on the environment and your electricity bill.

7. Use Less Plastic Items to Live a Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle 

One of the big ones that everyone has heard about is the amount of plastic in the oceans and building up in landfills. A simple change that can be made to help reduce your impact on the environment is replacing your plastic with reusable or biodegradable options. This change creates a sustainable zero-waste by reducing the amount of plastic you throw away.

I try to store as much as possible in reusable glass mason jars. 

Easy Ways to Start Living a More Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle

8. Use Reusable Containers, Bags, and Water Bottles

Switch all of the plastic containers out in your house for washable-reusable items. You can find reusable options for just about every convenience plastic item in your home. This includes food storage containers, freezer bags, grocery bags, and water bottles. There is no need to throw away when you are using reusable options, making this a great way to contribute to a sustainable zero-waste lifestyle.

9. Use Eco-Friendly Skin Care Products

When the word eco-friendly is used when referring to skin care products it means that these products are made from natural renewable resources that are stored in environmentally friendly packaging. You can buy your products from companies like Toups & Co. (my fave!) or find DIY recipes like these:

Learn more about the importance with skincare products in my podcast episode here: How to Opt-Out of Toxic Mainstream Skincare

10. Buy Local or From Farmer’s Markets

If growing your own produce or meat isn’t an option then the next best thing is to support local farmers and producers. Shopping locally means less driving, the goods you buy aren’t transported long distances and there is less harmful packaging being used. Buying locally helps save the environment and allows you to know where your food is coming from.

Take a look at How to Start Buying Local Food if you are interested in sourcing local food but don’t know where to start.

11. Eat What is in Season to Live a More Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Eating what is in season refers to the things that are being harvested at the time. Eating what is in season naturally goes with buying locally and helps reduce the amount of traveling your products do. An added bonus is that you know where your food is coming from and you are getting the freshest in-season produce. 

Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle

12. Grow Your Own Food for a Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Growing your own food allows you to pick and choose what is in the garden which prevents food waste. It also allows you to decide how these things are being grown. You know that your food is being grown with natural methods that will help sustain the soil and prevent toxins from entering the water systems.

Growing a garden of any kind is such a great way to become more self-sufficient and create that zero-waste sustainable life. If you are interested in learning more about growing your own food supply, these previous posts will get you started:

Live a Sustainable Zero Waste Lifestyle | Preserve Food

13. Save the Environment by Preserving Your Own Food

Preserving food is the process of prolonging the shelf life of certain food products. When you preserve your own food you are reducing the amount of food that would otherwise expire and go to waste. Preserving also helps save the environment because home canned goods are stored in glass jars that can be reused every year. The only thing that gets thrown out in the home preserving process is the used metal canning lids.

Thanks to the lid shortage in recent years, reusable canning lids have become more popular.  I specifically have started to use Harvest Guard reusable lids and have been quite impressed. Take a look at how they work and how I used them by watching here.

There are different methods that you can use to preserve your harvest, you can home-can your food, you can freeze it, or dehydrate it. Each method has its own process, pros, and cons, the following posts can help you decide which might be right for you.

14. Buy Items in Bulk to Help Live a Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Buying items in bulk helps reduce the number of times you need to go to the store and the amount of packaging companies use to distribute their goods. Buying in bulk is also a great way for you to save money and gas. If you cannot find a good-quality bulk store near you, check out Azure Standard and see if they have a drop location near your home.

I have been bulk buying for a long time and I am obsessed, if you would like to start buying your items in bulk check out these:

15. Use Second-Hand Stores or Yard Sales 

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Shopping at second-hand stores is a way to prevent items from finding their way to landfills. Donating things to second-hand stores or having a yard sale is a way for you to declutter and give someone else the chance to reuse what you no longer need. This is a great Eco-friendly way to live a zero-waste lifestyle.

16. Start a Compost Pile to Help Live a Sustainable Zero Waste Lifestyle

Compost has so many different benefits that can impact the environment and I am a huge fan. Compost piles are an alternative to piling food waste into landfills, it regenerates soil, and helps lower greenhouse emissions to name a few.  Making and Using Compost is pretty darn easy and it’s a simple way to start a zero-waste lifesty.e

17. Use Rain Barrels to Conserve Water and Energy 

Rain barrels are used to catch and contain water runoff caused by the rain. They help prevent water runoff that would cause flooding and soil erosion while decreasing the demand for water. Catching rainwater in rain barrels helps conserve energy and water by storing it and then using it when needed. Instead of running your pump or using the city water system use stored rainwater to water the garden or give your chickens a drink. Check your state’s laws about collecting rain as it is not allowed in some locations.

18. Start or Participate in Community Clean-Up

Being a part of a community can be a little bit intimidating if it is something that you are not familiar with, it was for us until we learned how to cultivate community even while homesteading. Use your community to help save the environment by having regular clean-up and recycling days. Find out if your community already has one organized or start by talking to your township to create one.

19. Minimize the Amount You Consume

Living Sustainably is all about using only the resources you need to help reduce the impact we are having on our world. Producing the things that we can and only buying the things that we need is the very definition of sustainable living. You don’t have to give up everything, just be aware and minimize the amount you are consuming when you can.

Sustainable Zero-Waste Homestead

Are You Ready to Try a Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle?

You don’t have to change your entire way of life to start living more sustainably and waste-free. Small changes can go a long way and every little bit helps. Just think if everyone did just a little bit…it would be so very beneficial for our community, our country, and the world. There are so many different things that can be done to help, this list is only a few simple options that can be done to make a difference.

Do you already live sustainably? What are some of the changes you have made to become more eco-friendly and waste-free? 

More Deep Thoughts on Modern Homesteading:

Easy Ways to Start Living a More Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle

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25 Amazing Things You Can Do with Vinegar

By Tiffany Davis - September 08, 2022 at 11:00AM

I’d be willing to bet that most homes across America today have vinegar stored away in them. But while that may be the case, vinegar isn’t used near as often as it should or could be. As it turns out, the household ingredient is far more versatile than you might realize. Want to find out...

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