The Ozark Homestead

The Journey to a Simplier Self-Sufficient Life

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Sequestration; Glad I Prepared

With the sequestration looming, I know that many Defense Department employees are worried about furloughs and how it will effect their families. They may find themselves unprepared for a cut in pay. For my husband and I, sequestration will also mean that we have to cut back, but it won’t be on food or household supplies, because we have stored those things for such a time as this and with spring coming, we will soon have an abundance of fruits and vegetables to add to what we have stored. Our goal here at the Ozark Homestead is to be totally self-sufficient from not only the grocery store, but the power grid and other entities that has a strangle hold on the necks of our lives.

For me, being self-sufficient is what “homesteading” is all about. It is more that gardening, raising animals and making my own laundry soap. It is those things, plus having the knowledge and skills to care for the needs of my family and community independent of entities I can’t control. The government, power companies, food industries, oil companies and other life controlling entities have proven that we can’t trust them to solve our problems and meet our needs. Just look at the mess this country is in and that is clear.

Sequestration is my families test to see how prepare we are. It will help us identify areas we a weak in and areas that need improvement. I know one area is the power grid. We need alternative power sources, including solar, wind and other non-grid technologies. Another area is animal feed. Animal feed is expensive and with the drought and ethanol production driving feed prices up, it is necessary to Gina animal feed sources that can be grown here on the farm. It is important to have a diverse supply so the if one source doesn’t do well, we have a backup. That is why I will be trying my hand at growing duckweed, raising earthworms and mealworms, growing and raising as much of the feed for my animals as I can to try to eliminate our dependence on the feed store.

As we use the sequestration time to assess our strengths and weaknesses, we will be making hard choices of areas that we need to cut the waste and plug holes where we have ignored things that put a drain on our budget, like leaking faucets and cracks around doors. It will be a time to set priorities and buckle down and get serious about being responsible for our own lives. They stronger we are, they better we are able to help our community and those in need.

Living in a military community, it is I fathomable that our government would ever allow this to happen during a time of war, but as of midnight tonight, it will be a reality. That means that wounded warriors will have longer wait times to receive care they need. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines whom have been stretched and stressed to their limits will suffer more by having their jobs and lives made more difficult due to the civilian employees that are their to support their mission not being their to do their jobs, on top of the huge budget cuts which will result in cuts to service to those armed forces members and their families. In my opinion, they have sacrificed enough.

One good thing about sequestration for me, my husband will have more time to help me build my new chicken coops and rabbit hutches. So for us, sequestration will be a learning experience and a time to reconnect with family.



Turn the Other Cheek? But He Killed My Dog

Good fences make good neighbors.” So says Robert Frost in his famous poem, The Mending Wall. Frost questions why they make good neighbors. My question is how high of a fence do I need to co-exist with my neighbor.

It is shocking how a nice warm Sunday afternoon can turn terribly traggic in a instant. This past Sunday, my neighbor, who has had it out for us since we moved here, shot and killed our beloved yellow lab, Shelby. She had wandered off after our gate blew open.
20130221-070322.jpg Shelby was the gentlest, most loving animal I have ever known. She was gentle with all our other animals. She tolerated the chickens eating her dog food, she cuddled with Brotus, our male kitten and was submissive to the sheep.

We had the great joy of sharing our lives with her for 5 years. Even though I often got annoyed with her for getting in the way when I was working, I so enjoyed her constant companionship. I am amazed at how much she was apart of my life and how many times a day I am reminded of her.

I am reminded of her every time I go out the door. She was always there and would follow me on all my farm chores. Her favorite thing in life, besides laying her head in my lap watching T.V., was to race us when we took the UTV out on the trail that runs through our property. She somehow knew we were going before we ever even got on the UTV. She would start jumping up and down and whining. She would stayed close to me when I hiked alone through the woods, but when the family went she would run ahead and chase squirrels. She will be terribly missed by me and my family.

Living on a farm with animals, you have to get use to the circle of life and the loss of livestock and pets. But to have your pet brutally killed by an evil man for no other reason than he can, that is not something you should have to get use to.

The Sheriff’s Deputy was apologetic that the killer probably will not be prosecuted for killing Shelby, even though the Deputy believes he did it. “What I believe and what I can prove are two different things,” he explained.

So my question now is, how to peacefully co-exist with this evil neighbor?

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Dreaming of Spring

After below freezing temperatures last week, the warmer temperatures this week have  me dreaming of spring and all the wonderful things that come with it. This weekend, I spent time fine tuning my garden plan and making my shopping list of seeds and plants I need to purchase. I made more seed pots from paper towel rolls and newspaper. I cannot wait to get out there and see lovely veggies growing in my raised beds.

Heirloom Seeds

In addition to dreaming and planning my spring garden, I am excitedly anticipating lambing season and the arrival of my fuzzy faced smiling little lambs.  I need to inventory all my supplies and update my lambing kit to ensure I have everything ready when those little lambs start arriving.

Ariel and Her Lamb, Chloe

We bred nine ewes and according to when they were marked, I expect to have lambing season spread out over the entire month of April. That means very little sleep in for me in April. Even with the barn camera, I lose a lot of sleep going out to check on my girls of times a night when it gets close to their time to lamb.

Spring in the Ozarks also brings about the abundant beauty of nature. We are blessed with hundreds of beautiful dogwood trees and other flowering trees. Hiking through our woods in spring is a spectacular display of Missouri wild flowers. It also brings an abundance of colorful mushrooms.

Ozark Homestead Dogwood

Spring means shearing time and processing lots of wonderful wool. The first few year we sheared the sheep ourselves. Not knowing what we were doing made that task brutal on the back and stressful to the sheep, not to mention they looked awful afterwards. The wool wasn’t very usable. Last year we had a professional shear them which went much quicker and smoother.

Spring is a very busy time of the year and takes a lot of planning to prepare and make the task easier. Dreaming of Spring and the abundance it brings makes the dreary gray days of winter a little brighter.


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Kodak Moments at the Barn

Amos the WetherIt never fails that the times that I leave my phone or camera inside when I go to the barn, that is the time when the animals decide to have a Kodak moment. This morning was one such time. The temperature was only in the single digits this morning so I was in a hurry to get out to the barn to get water to the animals.  In my hurry, I forgot to bring my phone with me to the barn. With the bone chilling cold and being so bundled up,  every task was difficult. I had on my wool glove liners and hand warmers under my Frosty Grip gloves. I had to remove the gloves to open the rabbit cages and change out their water bottles. I worked as fast as I could, but my hands hurt so bad that I only finished one cage before I had to put the gloves back on to warm my hands.

As I was rushing around to fill the chickens and ducks’ water, from behind me I hear mama barn cat coughing.  I turned to look and saw three of her 6 month old kittens rush over to her as if to see if she was alright.  Ariel, a Babydoll Southdown ewe, then walked over, bent her head down and pushed one of the kittens out of the way and then came the Kodak moment.  Ariel gently touched her head to the head of mama kitty as if comforting her.  It was so touching to see the interaction between the mama cat and her kittens and between the cats and the sheep.

Jynx Kitty

The ewe’s relationship with cats is quite different from that between the cats and the rams. My wether, Amos, chases them off every time they stray into the rams paddock.   On more than one occasion,  I have witnessed Jynx, our black kitten, being chased by Amos and leaping on top of the rams shed to escape him. Oh did I wish I had my camera the morning that Amos had Jynx trapped on top of the ram shed and Jynx kept poking her head over the roof to see if he had left yet, only to have him ram the shed and nearly knock her off the roof. Cat claws don’t hold well on slanted metal roofs.

I love taking photos of the animals, but find it hard to capture those moments that tell the story.  An opportunity for a great short occurs, but by the time I unzip my pocket and whip out my camera, the animals have moved on.  I am looking forward to warmer weather so that I can spend time just sitting on an overturned bucket and observing all my barnyard critters and hopefully get some awesome new photos that tell the story of life here at the Ozark Homestead.


Save Money and Increase Self-Sufficiency by Making Your Own Condiments and Sauces

Homemade Ketchup with Local Potato Fries

Homemade Ketchup with Local Potato Fries (Photo credit: Chiot’s Run)

Rural living has many advantages, but being able to make a quick trip to the corner grocery isn’t one of them.  Out of necessity, I have had to improvise when cooking to substitute ingredients or make my own.  While cooking dinner yesterday, I discovered that I was out of ketchup.  Since a trip to the store takes an hour roundtrip, I decided to make my own.   I actually liked my homemade ketchup better than the store-bought brand I have purchased for over 20 years.   I started looking at other items that I purchase that I could make from scratch.  Making my own condiments and other ingredients could save my family money as well as reduce the amount of plastic and glass I throw in the trash.  Also, I like that if our electricity goes out or something happens where we are unable to purchase the things we need from a store, that I can still make the dishes my family enjoys like tuna sandwiches and meatloaf.  In addition to saving money and reducing the waste my family sends to the landfill, I like that I can know what ingredients are in the food I feed my family and where those ingredients come from.

I encourage you to open your refrigerator, spice cabinet and pantry and see how many items that you purchase that you could make yourself.  Try these recipes to get you started.

Homemade Ketchup

1 cup tomato sauce
½ cup sugar
2 T vinegar
1/8 tsp cloves
dash of salt

Wisk items together. The cloves add the flavor of like the name brand ketchup.

Homemade Hellman’s Mayonnaise

1 egg (room temp)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
dash cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
3 T. vinegar

In a blender on low-speed, blend first 5 ingredients. Slowly add 1/2 c. oil. Add the vinegar and the remaining oil. Blend until firm. Use immediately or store in refrigerator for 1 week.

Homemade Mustard

1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
Dash of salt

Soak mustard seeds in vinegar and water at room temperature for 2 days. (Make sure seeds are submerged, if not, add just enough additional water to cover.)

In a food processor, purée soaked seeds mixture with sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt about 2 minutes or until almost smooth. Add additional water to thin to desired consistency. Add dash of salt.

Homemade Worcestershire Sauce

2 cups apple-cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground yellow mustard seed or dry mustard
1 tsp. onion powder
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or clean pantyhose and let cool completely before using. Worcestershire sauce may be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 months.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

3 cups whole milk
1 cup whole cane sugar OR 3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, warm milk over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, add whole cane sugar or honey and stir until combined. Let the mixture warm up over low heat until steam rises. Do not overheat or milk will curdle and separate.

Reduce the mixture to half of it’s volume, about 4 hours or more. A skin will form on the top of the mixture. You can remove it occasionally, if desired.

When the sweetened milk has reached the desired consistency, skim the top of the mixture and pour into a clean glass jar. Add the butter and vanilla, if desired. Place lid on jar tightly and place into the refrigerator to let cool completely and thicken. Use immediately or refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Homemade Soy Sauce

1-1/2 cups boiling water
4 TBS beef bouillon granules (or 2 cubes)
4 TBS cider vinegar
1 TBS dark molasses
1 tsp sesame seed oil
pinch of black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until dissolved and pour into a bottle with a tightly sealed top. Use immediately or refrigerated indefinitely. Makes 2 cups.

Homemade Beef Bouillon

3 cups celery, minced
3 cups carrots, minced
2 onions, minced
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 lb ground beef

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cover and cook over very low heat for 1 hour. Pour into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

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Homesteader’s Version of Recycling – is it Hoarding, Collecting or Repurposing?

Necessity being the mother of invention, farmers and homesteaders long has been the masters of reuse. Often, farmers have had Homestead Recycling Centerto create a tool or piece of equipment to accomplish a task, often from other items taken from the farm’s “salvage yard” or “junk pile” because they could not afford to purchase them new. Today, you see people, repurposing, recycling or the new term “upcycling” old unused items into different things with a new purpose. For homesteaders, that it is just a way of life. When I was city-slicker and would drive by a farm and see what appeared to me to be just junk, I would wonder why they didn’t get rid of it?

Now, being a former city-slicker and not wanting to appear to be a hoarder or anything, I have my salvage yard hidden in the woods behind my barn. I regularly go to my junk pile before I go to the farm supply or hardware store to get items to build or fix something here at the homestead. I can usually find something that I can make work for my situation. Just last week, I repurposed a cage I had built to hold a sick duck into a carrier to take lambs to the vet. All I had to do is move the door and beef up the bottom with some scrap lumber. I saved myself $100.00 or more. By not throwing everything away in the county dump, I create a more sustainable, self-reliant homestead. I have begun to look at items and tools with new eyes. When I am at a flea market or garage sale, I look at things for what it can be, not just what it is. I think of ways I can use it to make things more efficient or a way to expand an operation. PVC pipe isn’t just for plumbing, it is a cage over my raised beds. An old garden gate becomes a gate in my barn to keep lambs away from stored hay and grain.

Looking at a salvage yard of old tractor parts, a junk pile of old lumber and chicken wire, or just a junk drawer in the kitchen, some see it as junk, to some rusty gold, but to the homesteader or farmer, it is storage of items for future use.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is it hoarding, collecting or repurposing?

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Japanese Lady Beetle–Beneficial Insect or Pest?

asianladybeetle The Japanese lady beetle or multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) is known to most people as the lady beetle which invades their homes in the fall and swarms their houses when spring arrives.   To many homeowners, these unwelcome house guests are considered a pest.  However, the multicolored Asian lady beetle is a friend to the gardener consuming large numbers of plant-eating pests, thereby reducing the need for harmful pesticides.

English: Larva of an Asian Lady Beetle (Harmon...The Japanese lady beetle can be pale yellow, brown, bright orange, red, black or mustard in color with from 0 to 20 spots.  Mating occurs during the spring after males and females leave their hibernation sites.   Their eggs are yellow, oval-shaped, and are usually found on the undersides of leaves in clusters of about 20.  Their larvae has an elongate, somewhat flattened body and are covered with tiny, flexible spines.  The larvae feed for 12 to 14 days, during which time they consume large numbers of aphids, scale insects, and other soft-bodied insects.  The adults can live 2 or 3 years and will consume around 5,000 aphids in its life.

Although the Japanese lady beetle can be a nuisance in the home, the work they do for us in the garden may make them worth putting up with.

For suggestions on how to prevent or control the Japanese lady beetle or multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) from invading your home, visit or and