The Ozark Homesteader – Issue 11

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The Ozark Homesteader – Issue 10

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The Ozark Homesteader – Issue 9

Click here to download The Ozark Homesteader Issue 9.

The Ozark Homesteader – Issue 8

Click here to download The Ozark Homesteader Issue 8

2014: We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

slaton black and white on bed 10660153_10203447765213843_6462675026137501480_nWe’ve been really busy this past year!

Let me catch you up to speed in case you have forgotten. Or if you never knew.

About a year ago we were living an idyllic life on the homestead. The temperature sucked, and so did the snow, but life was great. Our less than cozy cabin provided us with all of the luxuries of home. We had our dogs and our cats – and goats, and chickens, and ducks. It was a chore to feed them every day. The toughest part was providing them with water. Ice was easy enough to come by, but water was a different story.

We had decided to have a baby, so we were also working on that. And we had been working on that for the better part of a year. That was pretty frustrating. We didn’t have as much money as we could have used, but we were getting by.

Then we received good and bad news at the same time. We found out that Jen was pregnant at just about the same time that she was fired for not complying with her employer’s demand for her to submit to a flu shot.

I started looking for work. I found it in the little town of Clinton, AR. I don’t have any ill will toward those with whom I worked, but there were some shenanigans going on there. Not to mention the hours and the pay weren’t all that great. But I knew that going into it, so I couldn’t and didn’t complain. I had to get out of that one.

I applied for some positions, and ultimately accepted one in Springfield, MO. Springfield is close enough to family to be practical, and the position fits my skill set quite nicely. So we made the move from Arkansas to Missouri.

The move itself was interesting. We had an apartment lined up. On the day of our move, as we were headed to Springfield, we found out that the leasing agent who we had been working with had let our apartment go to someone else. Jennifer made many calls during that trip (it was a 3 hour trip, after all) to line up some places for us to look at.

Only one place that sounded reasonable had an apartment available for us to move into that day (thanks Joceyln!). We liked it, and it was just a couple of minutes from where I would be working. This was a good thing since I had to start work the next morning at 7 am.

We made it through the spring, and the summer. Baby boy was born without a hitch in September, a little later than expected.  He was born about as naturally as we could manage without having all sorts of questions to answer.  We don’t regret that at all.  We do regret that it wasn’t even more natural.  Maybe things will be different if Slaton has a little brother or sister.

Now we’re into winter. Same temps as last year. Not as much snow. No real hills or ice to speak of. We have electricity, which makes things much warmer, even if less cozy.  We have smartphones, cable, internet, central heat and air, microwave, and water that doesn’t start in the form of ice.  No wood cutting is required to ensure survival. I’m working, and Jennifer’s working. In fact, Jennifer has two jobs in addition to being Slaton’s Super Mommy.

To sum it up, we are laden with the all of the trappings of modern convenience once again.

We also have our 3 dogs, which is pretty inconvenient seeing as how we live on the third floor. We lost our oldest cat after the move. That was pretty sad. We also have 3 more at my mom’s house in Arkansas. That’s pretty sad as well. But the apartment is crowded enough as it is, so the cats won’t be coming anytime soon.

In addition to those things that often define a modern lifestyle, Jennifer has found a nice little motherhood support network. I found a volunteer gig in addition to my full time job. We found a Vegetarian/Vegan group.  We don’t have many friends here yet, but come on; we have a 4 month old!

While we don’t have many friends, I have met many of Springfield’s least wanted, and many of Springfield’s finest. There is a lovely bunch of wannabe gangsters that live here.  417 yall!  But the police employees aren’t half bad.  Maybe better than anywhere we’ve lived so far.  The guys who write the laws are a different story.

091013_2122_DefectiveBu1.jpgWe also discovered a few things about Springfield that would have been nice to know before moving here.  First up, Boomer is illegal here.  They actually put people in jail for violating an ordinance against pit bull dogs and those dogs that look like pit bulls.  Some of our friends have donated money to help us get him legal.  We are almost to a point where we can do it.  I’m not sure how our apartment manager is going to like the big “Warning:  Pit Bull Dog” sign on our door.  Nobody here has a problem with Boomer.  I hope nobody has a problem with the sign.  If you are a fan of pits and not a fan of breed specific legislation, there is an ad on this page where you can donate money to help legalize Boomer. Once he is legal, he and I are going to do some protesting.  Be sure to check back for updates.

Secondly, it is legal to openly carry a firearm or other legal weapon within the city of Springfield.  Who knew?  The fact that Arkansas had just passed a law decriminalizing the carrying of weapons made me a little hesitant to leave, as Arkansas is one of the few states to recognize a person’s right to carry a firearm without a permit or license.  I didn’t know that Missouri had a similar law, only it varies from city to city.  Luckily, Springfield is a city in which it is legal to openly carry a weapon on one’s person.  Why is that lucky?  Let’s just say that I’m not a very popular guy with a certain subset of the populace here in Springfield.

We made a trip back to the homestead a week or so ago. It was the first one in a long time. I’m planning to make those trips much more frequently in the near future. I have a plan to get some things taken care of down there. And we plan to start on a real house in the coming years.

slaton and sock monkey christmas croppedWe can’t wait to move back to the homestead.  We’ve learned some lessons.  We’ve done a little growing.  We know what we will do differently the next time around.  We hope you stay around to see how this turns out.

2014 was really a busy year for us. It brought us all sorts of ups and downs. But here we are!

 

The Monitor Lizard Who Wasn’t

I’m posting this a little late. I guess you could consider it a “Throwback Thursday” kind of post. I wrote it over a year ago, in the spring of 2013. I was recovering from an almost fatal battle with the flu. That battle gave me a chance to look at things from a different perspective. Life has changed more than just a little for us since I wrote it, but I think the message is still relevant. Here it goes:

Today I managed to get five mounds of cucumbers planted. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’m still planting. Still planting? That’s misleading. I’m not still planting; I’m really just getting started.

Not that it is entirely my fault. A mouse problem kept us from starting seeds early inside. A late spring didn’t help any, either. Rocky soil, terrain, and shady trees also contributed to the lateness of my planting. And I needed a fence up before planting to keep Boomer from running through the beds.

Add to all of that the normal day to day activity that it takes just to survive on the homestead. Even if there were 5 of me, I would still be planting.

After the cucumber seeds were in the ground, I had to work on getting more poles up for the green beans. Our garden is about as unconventional as we are. We have beds spread out in different places instead of just one big garden. This lets us work around issues caused by rocks, shade and soil. We are also better able to make use of the natural lay of the land to help naturally irrigate the plants.

When I made it to the green bean bed, I found a monitor lizard observing my approach. Well, it was a regular lizard, not his larger cousin, but he had appointed himself monitor of the green bean bed. Doesn’t that make him a monitor lizard? I mean, he was monitoring, after all.

It was a chore to go get my cell phone, which doubles as my camera. But when I returned, the lizard really hammed it up for me. He seemed as interested in me as I was in him.

This is quite the opposite of the green snake I walked up on yesterday. I almost stepped on him because he looked just like a green stick. He wanted nothing to do with me. He couldn’t move very fast due to the coolness of the morning, so he was stuck with me much longer than I assume he wanted to be. I helped him out by putting him on a sunny rock. He quickly warmed up and was off.

Little lizards are easily overlooked or ignored, probably at least as much or maybe more so than green snakes. However, both play important roles in keeping the insect population under control in a natural way. We like natural on our homestead.

I assume that this type of lizard eats insects. I can’t imagine them eating anything else. Judging from the number of lizards I see in a day, I have an army of reptilian warriors ready to help repel the insect army that is surely coming before harvest.

The little green bean monitor lizard was just one of many that I saw sunning themselves – and occasionally scurrying about – in today’s warm sun. There is no doubt that there were birds on the hunt for those same lizards. Maybe even some snakes would have made a meal of lizard had the opportunity presented itself. Not to mention Boomer, who will swallow anything he can get into his mouth. But the lizards didn’t make excuses. They had things to do and they did them when they needed to be done.

Today, the monitor lizard who wasn’t really a Monitor lizard did more for me than devour some insects – he schooled me in the subject of personal responsibility. He helped me realize that I am the only one to blame for not having my garden planted. No excuses. Just get it done. We admire personal responsibility on our homestead.

For all of the philosophical wisdom imparted by the little lizard, he didn’t make a sound.

On The Gray Homestead, we apparently have lizards who teach personal responsibility. We can’t wait to find out what the frogs have to teach us. There are at least 22,487 tadpoles in the pond; surely we can learn something from at least one of them when they crawl out of the water. We’ll keep you posted.

 

 

Surviving Change, Surviving Plans, Planning Survival, and reaching 10,000 Views!

We surpassed 10,000 all time views of our blog today! It probably doesn’t mean much to anybody except me, and there are probably a million other blogs that have passed the 10,000 view mark. But still, it’s pretty important to me, even if it has taken us a year or so to get to this point.

I’ve been trying to find some inspiration for posts lately. Maybe this is what I needed.

Writing about our adventures as homesteaders is not very viable at this point, since we aren’t really homesteaders anymore. I’m not sure we were ever anything but wanna be homesteaders. We had some successes, and we didn’t die, so I guess we were at least partial homesteaders. To that point, we’ve been toying around with some ideas about what direction we should take “The Gray Homestead”.

First, our homesteading adventures are going to be a little less frequent. Secondly, with a baby on the way, time for homesteading activities is going to be further reduced. I don’t see us driving a newborn down the road to the cabin. I usually get a new pain in some part of my body every time we make that particular descent. Thirdly, posts about Boomer are extremely popular. Maybe I should post about his adventures at homesteading. Well, in his case, maybe I should post about his adaptation to city life. Boomer has lived most of his life on the homestead. Come to think of it, Apollo was born and raised on the homestead. He’s having a little difficulty conforming to city life, but I digress.

We’re open to suggestions. I am considering spending more time researching other homesteading blogs and reblogging them. I’m also considering commenting on current libertarian issues that could be considered relevant to homesteaders.

One plus side to our moving off of the homestead is that we have learned to appreciate our time on the homestead. We now look back and miss some of the things we took for granted and some of the things that made our homesteading life difficult. But, there are things that we now remember are enjoyable about city life. As I write this, our apartment is at 78 degrees – the coolest it has been since noon. They can’t get our air conditioning problem straightened out. At least on the homestead, when it was hot, we knew why.

I’m also seriously considering offering my services as a home made wine consultant. You provide the ingredients, I will help you make a batch of the most satisfying wine you will ever consume. The first year I tried, I had decent results, especially for a first try. Last year’s wine turned out extremely well, and that wine was made on our off grid homestead, and fermented in some seriously less than ideal conditions, including sub zero and 100+ degree temperatures. Looking back, with a little extra work, I could have drastically increased the alcohol content of the wine during those particularly cold times. Seriously, if you are interested in making some wine, contact me. Blackberries are coming into season, so the time to act is now. The muscadines won’t be in until later in the summer, so start planning now!

Another idea we are playing around with involves opening the homestead up to people who would like to do a little part time homesteading, or maybe just want to try it for a week or a weekend. If this interests you, let us know. We are willing to entertain serious proposals. The homestead is still there, though nature is sure doing a good job of taking it back. We could use someone to help out with it. Surely we could work something out that is beneficial to both us and someone who wants the opportunity to do some part time homesteading – without having to make a large investment.

Also, we would consider consulting for anyone planning to live off grid. It’s a serious undertaking. We benefited from the help of a neighbor who had been living the off grid lifestyle for a couple of years. His experiences were valuable to us. We also learned a lot from my sister and brother in law, who live an on grid homesteading lifestyle. We would like to be able to pass some of what we learned on to others who think they are ready to take the homesteading plunge. One piece of advice that I would like to share with anyone considering the lifestyle without any real life experience with it comes in the form of a quote attributed to Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, a German Field Marshal who served in the late 1800’s: “No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength.” In other words, no plan survives first contact with the opposing force. This guy was wise beyond his years. He is actually the guy who came up with representing friendly forces with the color blue, and enemy forces with red. If his plans didn’t survive first contact with the enemy, then no matter how good yours are, yours probably won’t, either. Please consider some help with those plans.

So, if you are in the Ozarks and would like to discuss any of the above over a glass of home made wine (or any beverage), send us a message.

We hope to get back to homesteading in the future. We aren’t really sure when or how, but I’m sure we will. Maybe in 18 years or so?

Here are the stats for thegrayhomestead.com over the last year. We finally passed 10,000 views!

I know the text is small, but this graphic represents where the viewers of our blog live. As you can see, we have readers from many different countries.