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Faithful Homesteader

Learning How My Dryer Works

Faithful HomesteaderFor many months now, we have been dealing with our dryer not drying. We discovered the ancient art of hanging our clothes out to dry. But because of our schedule and various weather conditions, sometimes that's not practical and a dryer is needed. One thing I hate about hanging our towels out to dry is that they end up stiff as a board. I do like the benefit of saving on electricity and by doing things the old fashioned way. But I still want a dryer that dries for those times when I don't have time to wait.

My husband finally ordered a kit so that we could replace the heating element and all of the thermostats, which is a common problem on our model. This was another opportunity for me to learn, so I did the replacing as my husband walked me through everything. I had no idea that a dryer even had multiple thermostats. I never even thought about how a heating element worked so I was glad to learn something new.

thermostats
Old and new thermostats. There was a little bit of a difference.

After making sure to unplug the dryer, the first thing I needed to do was to take off the back panel on the dryer using a ratchet and socket. I have not had a lot of experience using one and didn't even realize there was a switch for when you are screwing and unscrewing the bolts. I learned that the hard way.

I then needed to disconnect the heating element and the thermostats. We took pictures to make sure that we would connect everything back the right way. We replaced three thermostats. When I pulled out the heating element, I was able to see that half of it looked burned. I could see the big difference between it and the new one.

heating element
The old and new heating elements side by side

Once I got everything replaced and connected, it was back to putting the panel back in place and screwing in the many bolts. I felt a good sense of accomplishment and I was excited to see a positive result. But after all the work, the dryer would not work. We eventually figured out that the fuse was tripped. Even after all that, our clothes still would not dry. It was such a disappointment for me. I was ready to have a great sense of accomplishment because I fixed my own dryer.

My husband was ready to source another dryer, but I really want us to fix it. It is a hassle to find something that we can afford and then we would still have to dispose of the old one. I told him that I want us to still try to fix it. He says the it will be fixed by replacing the control switch.

I am really all about learning everything I can about the dryer and the different appliances around the homestead. In the past I was content to let my husband fix everything around the house and do all our vehicle maintenance. Now I get a bit of a rush from learning and doing some of these things on my own.


Photos property of the Faithful Homesteader.

Volunteering in Your Community

Faithful HomesteaderI haven't had a regular paid job in several years, but I have found worthwhile ways to spend my time. It feels like I have several jobs even though I don't get paid. I am glad to have the opportunity to give back to my community through volunteering. I want to encourage others to get involved.

Several years ago when I moved to my semi-rural area, I found that we were surrounded by many ranches and there was certainly no shortage of horses. I told my husband that I would love to find a way to be around horses. Sometime after that I found an ad for an equine therapy ranch. They were looking for volunteers and no experience was necessary.

horse therapy
Photo property of the Faithful Homesteader.

I decided to give them a call and I set up a time to tour the ranch and I went through the training. It was great to get hands on with the horses. I learned how to groom and tack a horse. The ranch works with a variety of students with disabilities. It is great to see the connection between horse and student. Equine therapy ranches are a great place to volunteer. I know from my personal experience and hearing about other places that they are always in need of volunteers.

Another area that I have become involved with is in helping fight human trafficking. A couple years ago we had a speaker come to our church and talk about her ministry that was started to join in the fight to help human trafficking victims. The ministry is involved with education and there is a safe house as well where girls can come and have a chance at recovery and healing. Another aspect of the ministry is doing outreach with posters of missing girls who are at a high risk of being sex trafficked.

Equine therapy and human trafficking are both important causes that are always in need of volunteers. However, there is no shortage of ways to give back to the community. Meals on Wheels provides an important service for people who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals. There is always a need at food pantries and for helping the homeless.

In my area there is a great non-profit center that helps connect people with volunteer opportunities. They put out a monthly newsletter that lists the opportunities. For anyone looking for ways to give back, non-profit centers are a great resource. Jewish Family Services in my area also lists volunteer opportunities.

One thing for me about volunteering is that it gets my out of me comfort zone and around people. I spend a good amount of time alone, but when I volunteer, it gets me out there. Volunteering at the ranch also gives me another chance to get fresh air. I figure a bit of manual labor is good for the soul and body too.

Volunteering can open up a whole new world of experiences. It brings us all closer together. It can be a way to discover new passions. I certainly never imagined being involved equine therapy or human trafficking ministry a few years ago.

Preparing the Spring Garden

Faithful HomesteaderI can hardly keep track of everything that we have going on in the garden this spring. Because of the success of the in-ground beds last year, we are sticking with the same plan for this year. We have fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. If all goes well, we should have plenty to eat and be able to save on our grocery bill.

This year I actually tried to do a little bit of plowing for the first time. I did a couple of sections and now I know just how hard of a job it is. I need to build my strength back up so that it won't be quite so difficult. I also did some raking after I plowed. Now my husband can't say I didn't do anything with the garden. He is the one with the green thumb so he naturally does most of the gardening.

We have about half an acre of land in a normal residential neighborhood. We take advantage of most of the space. We have crops and trees growing in the front yard as well as the backyard. We have two peach trees up front and I am still not over the fact that someone stole all of our peaches last year. I do not want that to happen again.

plowing

Asparagus is growing in the front as well as backyard. It is nice to have a daily supply of such a healthy food. We are growing corn and are happy to see that it is coming up already. Kandy corn and Eureka corn are this year's varieties. The Eureka corn can get as high as 18 feet tall. That is more than three times as tall as me. I can't imagine. I guess it will go well with our giant Sunflowers.

We always have plenty of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and summer squash planted. This year I am looking forward to having our own pumpkins. My husband and the chickens are all about the watermelon. Last year we had our first apple and I hope we get some more this year.

garden

I am really glad that we are planting a lot of flowers. Last year I loved watching the pollinators flock to the sunflowers and marigolds. The mockingbirds were a big problem last year for our blueberries and blackberries. They seemed to have enjoyed far more of the fruit than we did. My husband certainly was not happy.

Generally we don't get too upset with the chickens when they partake of the garden. One exception was when they ate all of our grapes. My husband blamed me for giving the girls a taste for grapes. I find that it is a nice treat to beat the heat for them.

As always, I am looking forward to seeing how well the garden does this year. If all goes well, we will be filling our belly with healthy and yummy things. I am always glad when we can share what we grow with our friends and family.

Learning to Work on My Husband's Truck

Faithful HomesteaderMy husband spends a lot of time working on his custom 4x4 truck and I can go for a long time without seeing him. Lately, he has started teaching me some things about the truck so that I can get used to all its unusual operations. I get to exercise my mind while I do this. The bonus is spending some quality time with my husband.

This past week my husband finally got a winch that he has been wanting for a long time. Initially, he had some help mounting it from his best friend who was visiting from out of town. Once the friend left, there were still a few things to take care of and I helped with those. It was all very new to me. I know nothing about winching or winches.

truck blinkers

The first thing we worked on was putting new blinkers on the front of the truck. My husband had removed the bumper so that he could mount the winch so he needed to install new blinkers to be legal. He started out by giving me some basics about electricity and giving me an understanding about the positive and negative connections. He also gave me a run down of the basics of how an electrical circuit works.

truck blinkers

To make the connections, I attempted to strip some wires, but I found that difficult to do. Putting the connector ends on took a bit of strength for me, but I did manage to do it. Crimping wires takes a lot of hand strength. Once we had everything put together, I mounted the blinkers to the front of the truck and connected it to the original connectors. We spliced the original wires and connectors to utilize the factory harness. Then we tested everything out and it worked.

truck blinkers

The next project was connecting the winch to the battery in the truck. The battery was relocated to the bed of the truck behind the driver side. I needed to drill a hole to run the cable through the body. We put the cables together and connected it to the battery. I even did some soldering along the way when we put in a quick connect so that we can easily disconnect the battery from the winch. My husband said normally there would be a separate battery for the winch, but he bought a bigger deep cycle battery so that he could use just one.

Overall it was a good experience. These days I am all about learning all kinds of new things. I am thinking that next I want to learn about changing the oil in my truck.

Winter Projects on the Homestead

Faithful Homesteader 

It is a quiet time on the homestead. Our girls haven’t been laying eggs and not much is happening with the garden. Today we did get our first egg in a few months. Now is a good time for trimming trees and ridding them of mistletoe. We have also started some seeds indoors. We turned an old aquarium into a terrarium. We wrote about that last season here.

Misteltoe

I never really knew much about mistletoe except that people like to kiss under it at Christmastime. I then learned that birds are attracted to it and I kinda like that since I love seeing various birds come to my little homestead. I have learned from my husband that it is a parasite and it could hurt our trees, so we have to take action. He has spent the last week trying to rid our trees of it. One tree has been especially bombarded with it and it has been hard to get all of it.

Every year we do start some seeds indoors. Usually it is a variety of tomatoes and peppers. We usually have plenty of both in our spring/summer garden. My husband always likes to change things up and this year he is using Jiffy-Pots. According to the label, they can be planted into the ground pot and all.

Jiffy-Pot

I have come to appreciate having a garden over the years for several reasons. I love having plenty of vegetables in the garden so that we don’t have to buy them at the grocery store. Having a good garden also attracts some cool birds. It can be frustrating at times if they mess with the crops too much, but I love my birds. I also like sharing the garden with the chickens. They like eating and they can get good shade and protection in the midst of our tomato plants.

I am looking forward to spring. I hope my chickens will be more active. I look forward to yummy garden vegetables and, of course, milder weather.

Life with Pet Chickens

Faithful Homesteader 

In some ways having pet chickens is easy, but giving them a high quality of life requires spending quality time with them. During the day our chickens have the run of the yard and then we lock them in the coop at night. Our girls are pretty spoiled, but they do bring a lot of joy to my life.

pet chickens

I currently have a small flock of bantam hens. They go through stages of activity. Right now none of them are laying eggs. I hope that will change soon. One of our chickens, Lilah, is starting to look like she may lay soon. Her comb is bigger and she is looking good. This is usually an indication that eggs will soon follow. The girls don’t seem very active right now. I don’t know if it is just winter or because there is not much going on in the garden.

Hawks and cats are our biggest concern on the homestead and they could be skittish because of that. A while back, our original chicken, Buster, fought off something. I find it is good to go out and spend time with them. They feel more protected and are likely to be more active.

Between some frigid temperatures and fighting some kind of bug, I have not been able to spend as much quality time with them. That makes me feel bad. I am thankful when my husband can take up the slack and spend some time with them.

My chickens are a part of the family. They are so adorable when they beg for treats at the back door. They look up at me and I just can’t resist them. They always seem to know when we come home even before we go out to check on them.

I like seeing chickens do what chickens do. I will be glad to see the girls getting active again. I haven’t even seen them take any dirt baths lately. Hopefully they have and I just did not see it. It does my heart good to have healthy and happy chickens.

Our Tiny Home Bus Project: Putting in the Walls

Faithful Homesteader 

We have been making slow progress on our tiny home bus project. Finances really do slow us down and my husband was feeling bummed that we had not done more on the bus. We ended up with a little extra cash that we decided to put toward it. My husband decided it would be good to start putting up the first section of wall.

Wall4

Projects like that are definitely foreign to me, but I have wanted to try new things. I always love to learn, so I was willing to help. I took shop back in the day. I can’t remember if it was middle school or high school. I am now in my 40s and wood shop was the last time that I had used any kind of power tool.

Being an active participant in putting up the walls required me to use a jigsaw and a drill. We bought cedar wood planks for the wall. My husband likes the light weight of the wood. He also likes the smell. Previously my husband installed the insulation so we were ready to put up the planks once we cut them to size. Once we measured, we cut the pieces down to 5 1/2 feet. This brings them right to the point where the walls start to curve toward the roof.

Wall3

I cut most of the pieces myself after my husband showed me what we were doing. Unfortunately, I didn’t always do a good job of being totally straight. Fortunately, I didn’t need to be perfect since we are going to overlap the top of the planks as it curves into the roof. Anything that needs more precision, I will leave to my husband.

Bus walls me

Next we were ready to put up the wall. We made our marks on the planks to drill the holes. Then we changed out to a smaller drill bit and put the planks in place and drilled a pilot hole into the wall framing. Finally, we manually screwed in the screws. I ended up doing the majority of the work since I was learning and it also kept me warm in the freezing temperatures. My husband was happy to supervise the whole thing.

Bus walls finished

It is definitely good to have a sense of accomplishment. I was glad to try something new and to be a part of the bus project. It is all new to me, but my husband likes the idea of us both working on the bus. Thankfully he has the skills to do what we need to do and he can teach me a thing or two.