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Faithful Homesteader

Learning on the Homestead

Faithful HomesteaderIn the past, I was fairly content to just stick to my normal routine. I worked in an office; I was a couch potato and a gamer. Living a homesteading lifestyle was certainly far from my mind. However, things change, and now I am more open to trying new things and seeing learning as a great adventure.

In the past five years, I have learned about wild birds, chickens, and horses. I have learned some about gardening and various soil types. I have even planted some seeds! I can appreciate the importance of learning self-reliance; I am hungry for knowledge.

gritbooks - Copy
There is so much I can learn from these books that I received from GRIT.

I read an article about dealing with stress, and it talked about having a "learner’s mindset." That phrase stuck with me. In the case of the article, it seemed to be speaking of learning from stressful situations. However, for me it is a new way of looking at my life. There is so much that I want to know.

I would like to learn sign language, Chinese, and martial arts. I think it would be great to make my own soap and lip balm. I would love to have ducks and start learning about them. I know learning is good for brain health, and I want my brain to be as healthy as possible. My mind already isn’t as sharp as it used to be, but I will continue to exercise it the best that I can.

I will continue looking for that next great adventure and learning more about the homesteading lifestyle. I only know a small fraction of what there is to learn. I am motivated, and I am always looking for something new to write about concerning my homestead journey and just life in general.

Find more resources at the GRIT bookstore.

A Second Dog on the Homestead

Last year it was a big adjustment for me to welcome a dog to our little homestead. I am a cat person, but my husband is a dog person. Besides being a dog lover, he wanted a dog on the homestead that could be a good watch and guard dog. We also wanted a dog to help protect our chickens. We brought home a bully pit (American bulldog/Pitbull mix) and he turned out to be way too friendly for a watch/guard dog, but he does keep predators away from the chickens. He still has a place in the family, but we decided he needed a friend.

Hadassah GRIT
Our Bullweiler Hadassah. Photo by Faithful Homesteader

After some discussion about what breed we wanted, and some research, my husband thought that a Bullweiler (American bulldog/Rottweiler mix) could fit the bill of what we were looking for in a dog. They are known to be good guard dogs and quite smart. I was reluctant to get a second dog, but I did like the idea of a playmate for our dog Nuddie. (Learn more about to choose the best farm dog for your homestead.)

I had so many growing pains with Nuddie, and I certainly lost my patience on many occasions. It has been my goal to do better with our new dog. We had a boy so we decided on a girl this time. We named her Hadassah. When we first brought her home she was a lot more laid back than Nuddie. He is what we call a velcro dog, but she is more independent. Right away we could tell she was going to be the boss of him. 

Hadassah and our bullypit Nuddie. 
Photo by Faithful Homesteader

When we first brought her home, we put Nuddie outside and let Hadassah meet our cat Abigail. We let them be around each other for a time and let them acknowledge each other in a calm settled environment, loving on both of them during this time. Then we brought Nuddie inside and let him meet her. He can be so excitable, so we did have to watch him closely. He was so infatuated with her right away. It didn’t take long for them to become playmates. 

Since we want Hadassah to be a guard dog, we are socializing her differently. We expose her to people, but we do not have people pet her or really interact with her. We want her to be more standoffish. We take her places so she gets exposure being around people, but we don't let people love on her. So far she has done quite well. 

Nuddie is a help when it comes to training her because he already has all the commands down. If he gets to be too much, we put him in the crate for a time, but usually we leave him out during training sessions. Hadassah looks at Nuddie and copies him when it comes to commands. Before getting a second dog, my husband told me that a first dog can be a big help with a second dog because they can help teach the new dog how to behave. I have found this to be true and a big help. Since we want to make sure the dogs listen to us, and only us, we have trained Nuddie to know his commands in a mix of two foreign languages, as well as sign language. We don’t use English and we're doing the same with Hadassah.

In the area of play, it certainly takes a load off of us to have two dogs. They do well with entertaining themselves. I like to make sure that both dogs get enough love and attention from both of us though. When we take Hadassah outside on her own, Nuddie sits at the backdoor whining. He is just a year old, and he is still such a baby. 

Nuddie is pretty good with the chickens these days and he helps teach Hadassah how to behave. Broody chickens stand up to him pretty well and kind of put him in his place. We are working on exposing Hadassah to the chickens, and teaching her to not go after them. We hold the chickens in the dogs' face and scold them if they go after the chickens.

Hadassah got chased by one of our moody, broody chickens. Maybe that will help her get the message not to mess with them. We want her to realize they are a part of the family and to afford them the same courtesy as anyone else. We do make sure to spend time in the yard with the chickens from a distance. I will be glad when she is too big to go under the deck where the chickens have their safe haven. I am looking forward to getting through the training stage and having two good, adult dogs as part of our little homestead family.

Safely Bringing Fish Home from a Long Distance

Faithful HomesteaderFor some time our pond has been filled with two 14-inch comet goldfish and a bunch of flathead minnows. My husband noticed one day that one of the comets was dead. It was just floating in the pond. My husband had talked about getting rid of the pond for a while because of the upkeep with the filters, but I mentioned that it could throw off our little ecosystem. The frogs like the pond and they eat mosquitoes and other bugs in the garden. I like our fish and pond lilies. It is hard to imagine not having the pond after all these years. 

GRIT fish

I was concerned about the comet being lonely so we decided to get it some friends. We found a place in the city selling butterfly koi. It was a bit of a drive for us so we needed to rig a set up that would keep the fish alive for the journey. My husband set up a bucket with a trash bag liner to fill with water, but we also needed a way to pump air into the bucket to replenish oxygen.

power convertor

My husband ended up hooking up a power converter in my truck so that we could run an AC appliance off of DC power. He had an old aquarium air pump we could use. He had rigged some special jumper cables he made for use in his truck. They were used to connect from my truck battery to the inside of the truck. They were connected to the power converter. The air pump was plugged into the converter and the air line was taped to the bag to provide air for the fish. 

fish bag

It all worked well .We were able to successfully bring the fish home and into the pond. When my husband told me about the set up and how things were connected to my truck battery, I didn’t know what to make of it. 

The fish have been a bit skittish since we brought them home. I keep trying to take pictures, but they are camera shy. They spend most of the time hiding. The original fish still doesn’t seem quite itself. It is not eating like normal. I am hoping that all will be better soon and that the new fish will feel at home. I hope our original fish will get back to acting like itself and enjoy the new friends. 

We have lost some other fish over the years. One comet just disappeared and another one appeared to commit suicide by jumping out of the pond. One time we had bought some small gold fish, but they didn’t last long and were eaten by the frogs. They decided they would make a nice lunch much to my dismay. 

It seems like a lot of critters appreciate the pond. I love seeing the frogs hanging around. I don’t always get to see it, but I have noticed that many birds appreciate the water from the pond. I put in a lot of labor when we built this pond. I sure don’t want it to go away and I don’t know what we would do with the fish if we did do away with the pond. For now I am hoping to enjoy the new set up with the new fish. 

Taking Care of a Sick Chicken: Clostridium Bacteria

Faithful HomesteaderMy chickens are my babies so when anything happens to them, it is hard on me. I have lost multiple chickens to illness so when our Andalusian chicken, Andie, showed signs of illness, it was a major stressor. 

My husband was the first to notice that she wasn’t herself. We usually give the girls some larvae, but when she didn’t go for the treat, it was definitely a bad sign. Seeing her just lay around while the other chickens were being active was another clue that something was not right.

We first noticed things were bad on a Saturday afternoon. My husband was convinced that she was going to die. I wanted to take her to the vet. Even if we could not save her, I wanted to know what was wrong and if we needed to be concerned about the other chickens.

First thing Monday morning, as soon as the vet office opened, I called for an appointment. We had brought Andie in the night before so we could observe and easily catch her to take her to her appointment. That morning her poo was water and a very disturbing yellow color. I gathered a sample to take with us for our vet visit.

When we made it to our appointment, the sample was analyzed and Andie was examined. She was alert and had some fight in her. Those were positive signs. The vet did mention that she was underweight. Just the week before she was sick, she actually felt a little heavy. The vet said that chickens can lose weight fast. 

The sample showed clostridium bacteria. The vet said that it is generally confined to only one chicken, so I was thankful for that. I asked about the recovery chances. He said they were generally good, but it was important that she eat. He also did not recommend keeping her isolated as it could just add more to her state of depression. I actually liked the concern for her mental well-being.

We decided that it was okay to bring her in at night so that we could easily give her the meds she needed, twice a day. We put her out in the morning. I tried to put her out a little before the other girls so that she would hopefully eat something, but initially she was not into eating too much. The main thing that she would eat was a little bit of millet. It did not look like she was drinking anything either. 

I was quite concerned that she was not eating much. The vet had suggested trying some grains like oats to help firm up the poo, but initially she was not going for it. We bought some baby food so that we could feed her with a syringe. The baby food also seems to be easier to eat for sick chickens, overall, and I was able to sprinkle probiotics with it easily. We also gave her water with the syringe. 

The challenging thing about trying to feed her with the rest of the girls was that the others wanted to eat all the food. After it didn’t seem like we were having much success with her eating, we put her in a crate with food and water, but outside with the rest of the girls for part of the day. It finally seemed like she was eating. We would let her out later in the day and I was so pleased to see that she actually went out in the yard and was foraging a bit. 

Grit Andie
I was so happy to see Andie out in the garden after being sick. Photo by Faithful Homesteader

Little by little she was eating and started acting like herself again. Her poo started looking fine and her little personality started coming through again. My husband had written her off, but I was not ready to give up on her. I still worry about her, but she seems to be doing well. I will feel most hopeful when she starts laying again. She is our only full-size chicken and I sure do miss her eggs.

Summer 2019 Garden Update North Texas

Faithful HomesteaderI had some high hopes for the garden this year, but it has not been all that I hoped it would be. Due to an early wet season and our dog, much of our labors were in vain. I was so looking forward to an abundance of squash and carrots. I always like when our corn does well.

Our small harvest of corn. Photo by Faithful Homesteader

This year I actually put in a lot more labor than I had in previous years. My husband is the gardener with a green thumb. I planted seeds and plants. I added compost and mulch to the garden. This was the first year that I actually planted some flowers for my enjoyment. 

My garden Petunias Photo by Faithful Homesteader

Squash has become a real staple of my diet and in previous years we enjoyed quite the harvest. I wanted that this year too, but our dog decided on a different plan. We actually did block off the squash bed with some chicken wire, but our dog still managed to get in there and dig it up better than a tiller. I hoped some of it would be salvageable, but so far that is not the case. I am so not happy with the dog concerning this. He also ate a pear tree. He destroyed and went after the area with the beans, but my husband was able to salvage them.

Another thing that I was looking forward to eating was some artichoke, but our dog Nuddie destroyed the seedlings. My husband was looking forward to growing the cucumber, but hurricane Nuddie trashed that crop as well. I guess we have to do a better job at doggie proofing the garden. 

Carrot pond
Our carrots under water. Photo by Faithful Homesteader

We were also not prepared for just how wet it would be so early in the growing season this year. The ground just became so saturated that it ponded for weeks at a time and certain crops just couldn’t handle it well. Our garden bed that we were growing the carrots in became a pond for several days. Some of our corn did not fare well either. Fortunately we did grow some corn in another area and it survived. Just in time to be off of doing a six week keto diet, I was able to enjoy some of the sweet corn for dinner. 

We always grow peppers and tomatoes. I have enjoyed some peppers, but not the tomatoes so far. Something is getting the tomatoes too. Before that, we did give away some to friends. I always love it when we have enough to do that. 

We had one of our peach trees that produced very well this year. Since I was doing a keto diet, I did not enjoy many of them. I did have one small peach just so that I could say that I had a peach from my own tree. Last year somebody stole all our peaches and we did not get to enjoy even one peach. 

I guess I have to move on from the disappointment of what we lost in the garden. Hopefully what is left will be good. I have really come to love home grown fruit and vegetables from my own garden. There is nothing quite like it.

Frogs on the Homestead

Faithful HomesteaderI love attracting all kinds of critters to the yard. I get so much joy out of seeing birds, butterflies, squirrels, rabbits, lizards, frogs and toads. Since we put in a pond several years ago, we have attracted quite a few frogs, but this year we seemed to have more than ever. It made me think about the plague of the frogs from the Exodus story.

Lily pad frog

I love having the frogs hanging out in and near the pond. One of the things that I really wanted to capture with my camera was a frog on lily pad. I just find that such a cool sight. Over the years I have dealt with noisy frogs and it didn’t affect my husband at all because of his hearing loss. But now that my husband has restored hearing, the frogs have been too much for him to handle. They have been definitely affecting his sleep so he was working to relocate them away from the bedroom window. It was sounding like someone crying all night. I have become accustom to them over the years so it doesn’t affect me as much. 

Frog mat

I was amazed when he told me that when he went out by the pond early in the morning, that he counted 18 frogs. It seemed the frogs had decided to use our pond for some major mating. It is something that I could have gone without seeing. I felt a bit traumatized like some of my innocence was stolen. My husband showed me all of the tadpoles and I don’t think that I had ever seen so many in the past. There were strings of tadpoles all throughout the pond. 

The last few nights have been quiet and I have not been noticing the frogs near the pond. My husband said he saw some of them hanging out near the blackberry bushes. It seems like maybe they were done with the mating. It is nice that it is quieter, but I still hope some of them hang around. I read that they eat mosquitoes and I definitely want help with that since I get eaten alive every mosquito season. Now I have a dog that I have to be worried about as well when it comes to mosquitoes. 

I like seeing the frogs and we always have a variety of sizes. We have the cute little frogs and the not so cute big frogs. I like the ones that aren’t affected by our presence and just hang out. It is so unnecessary to me the ones that have to jump in the pond and hide whenever we come around. 

I hope my husband can get used to the noise and just embrace the sounds of nature. I prefer the noise of the frogs to our loud train whistles. Also the frogs don’t shake the house whenever they are around like the trains do so often. They are a fun part of our little ecosystem that we have on our humble little homestead. 

Enjoying the Beauty of an Edible Garden

Before I met my husband, I didn’t know anything about gardening. I did not realize that edible gardens could be so beautiful. I have heard over the years about home owner associations banning people from having edible landscaping in their front yard. After having a garden of my own, this makes even less sense to me. 

Every year as we grow new things, I am blown away by all the pretty flowers that come from our fruits and vegetables. I just never realized this was the case with fruit and vegetables. Like I said I really didn’t know anything about gardening. I didn’t understand how plants work. 

peach tree

Photo by Faithful Homesteader

Our peach trees were such a welcome sight as a sign of spring. I just absolutely love the colors of the flowers and seeing them brings me a lot of joy. Of course now what we are seeing are the tiny peaches and I am looking forward to when they are ready to eat. 

This year both of our apple trees were looking so beautiful. One still has the pretty flowers, but the other one looks like it will not provide us any apples this year. However, I did enjoy the flowers while they lasted. But my husband is ready to chop down the tree because it has never produced any apples. I am still holding out hope for the other one. 

We are getting pretty white flowers from our blackberries. The mockingbirds will likely soon enjoy the blackberries much to my husband’s dismay. Our dog has been chasing the birds off though, so maybe that will make a difference this year. 


Photo by Faithful Homesteader

Last year we planted kale for the first time and I am in awe of the volume of flowers and just how beautiful the flowers are from the kale. Like the blackberries, they are white and they are blooming right now. I love to see that the pollinators are drawn to them. 

We do plant regular flowers like my favorite sunflowers, but I have come to realize that even if we never plant a single one of those flowers that I can still enjoy a beautiful garden. It is awesome the cycle of these plants. First I get to enjoy watching all the different flowers. My eye can behold their beauty. I also get to enjoy watching the pollinators do their thing and that is another beautiful thing to behold. Then I get to enjoy eating the fruit or vegetable itself as long as all goes as planned. 

A luscious tomato and bright colored pepper can also be a thing of great beauty. The year that we actually did get an apple off of one of our trees was a wonderful thing. It was a lovely apple and quite yummy too. 

We are planting some new things this year and I really don’t know what to expect as far as the flowers, but I am looking forward to seeing some new eye candy in the garden this year. I will also continue to enjoy the loveliness of our usual crops such as our squash. 

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