Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Putting Our Focus Into Action February 25, 2016

Filed under: family,homesteading,simplicity,Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 8:04 pm
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Recently, I have been reading various blogs about the off grid journey that other homesteading families have been taking. It is a real education to see just how varied the lifestyles are. Some adopt a few of the off grid ideologies, while others go all out. It would seem that there are as many variants as there are homesteading families. Each has their own way of thinking and living out their dreams of self-reliance and off grid life.

Some families are still living the urban life, but are slowly taking on a more simple attitude. They are paying off their debt, without accumulating more, and are becoming more frugal in their spending. Some families are rural and just taking life a bit slower, planting a garden to feed their family over the summer months, and possibly raising a few chickens for eggs. You have bloggers who are definitely in the prepper category. Even within that category, you can have varied levels of self-reliance. Lastly, you have those who fit anywhere in between these examples. Hobby farmers, small family farms, tiny house owners who are trying to live a full life on less, and many more.

In nearly every case, the bloggers are in a state of transition. They are still evolving in their journey. Some make the transition quicker than others. There are those who seem to meet their journey’s goal within a very short time. Likewise, you have those who are moving towards their goals at a much slower pace. It is inspiring to read about their journeys. I always learn a new perspective from reading their blog posts. I also learn what they have found to work, and what doesn’t.

This brought to me a challenge. I have often spoke of scaling back and purging the unessential things from our home and lives. Recently, I began following a video blog, Starry Hilders Off Grid Homestead, on YouTube. She has a Facebook page as well. While watching her videos, I began to feel a convicting in my heart. It was a challenge coming from within to take our simplicity a little further than we currently are. It was also the kick in the arse that I have needed to feel reinvigorated about our journey.

While we have been dealing with job changes, our son’s therapy routines, and homeschooling, I have slowed down in a few areas that I used to enjoy. The first is doing laundry by hand. I used to enjoy it, even in winter. On warm days, I would wash the laundry outdoors, enjoying the sunshine as I watched the kids at play. I loved the peaceful nature of that task. I actually looked forward to it. I washed laundry every day or two, then hung it out on the clothesline to dry. In winter, I would heat up the water on the wood stove, wash laundry indoors and hang it up on folding clothes racks near the wood stove to dry.

We had family members staying with us over a long period and I got out of the habit of hand washing. We had gone from a household of 4 to a household of 8 people at one point. Being the lone person hand washing laundry, it just became too much. So, I started going to the laundromat in the nearest town, 10 miles away. This became a habit. Now, several years later, I still use the laundromat. I look at myself today and wonder why I am doing that? I spend nearly $70 a month doing laundry. That is ridiculous!!! I could be doing it for free here at home, utilizing the hand washing and clothesline, instead of feeding handfuls of quarters into the machines.

As I watched one particular video, I remembered something that really had me kicking myself in the arse. Washing laundry by hand is not only faster, but often is more effective in cleaning the laundry than using machines. When washing daily, the laundry takes less than a half hour to wash and hang out on the line. It can actually take me longer to set up the laundry tubs to do the washing and then rinse them out afterwords, than it takes for me to wash the clothing and hang it up to dry. On a hot summer day, the laundry can be fully dried within an hour. With that in mind, where is the laundromat making life easier? That $70 a month spent at the laundromat is $840 a year that we could have spent elsewhere.

A second area that I have had to rethink is our garden. Each year, we have either had to deal with drought or our garden being flooded out by heavy spring rains. One year, the plants did great but early summer heat damaged the garden. Many people lost their gardens in the same way we did. This has been a constant frustration point for me. I love having a garden and home canning the harvest for our pantry. I take delight in going out in the garden to pick the vegetables and salad fixings for our meals each day. Having the garden fail to produce has disheartened me many times. In the homesteading blogs, I am seeing more and more posts about raised bed gardening, also known as the Back to Eden or the Square Foot Garden methods. In some blogs, I read about those who simply lay out cardboard on the ground, then heap their straw/manure/compost layers on top to form a mound into which they plant their garden plants and seeds. Other blogs use the actual raised beds that are built using wood, bricks, cinder blocks, or large stones. Years ago, in the early 1980’s, I used the raised bed method to grow a garden in an upper desert region. This method was very effective in helping me to have a productive garden. I actually produced more harvest than my pantry had room for! I gave away about half of the harvest one year. Looking back, I really wish that I would have set up the raised beds here on our homestead much sooner. It may have made all the difference in whether or not we had a harvest on the years when the gardens were being flooded.

A third area that I am feeling needs changed is the criteria of what we will hold on to and what we get rid of. Even with all the purging that I have done in the past, we still have more than we actually need. The problem is that we always find new things that we want to keep. In summer, it is not difficult to go to yard sales and find something that ends up being an impulsive purchase. That alone can increase the stuff in the home that is not really necessary. This also applies for sales at the store. The purchase always seems reasonable until you get it home. Once home, you find yourself wondering why you bought the item. For this reason, I rarely go to a yard sale. When I do go to them, I have a specific item that I am looking for. I stick to my agenda and try not to allow myself to be swayed into the impulsive buying.

As readers already know, I have been working on clearing out a room of the house that has been used for storage for nearly the past two years. Much of what was stored is being purged from our home. We have thrown out bag after bag filled with items that we had held on to, but was not needed. Of all the belongings in that room, nearly everything has been purged from the room with the exception of the furniture, a few books, and a tote of photos. This has lit the fire under me to do the same with the rest of the rooms. Once the rooms are fully purged of the unnecessary things, we will have to have a system in place to avoid bring in too much again. One method is to limit items by the “one item in/one item out” rule. This works well, if you stick to it.

I am planning out my new raised bed garden space. It will be in higher ground and the beds made from cinder block. It will also be in an area that will be easier to water in summer as well as being closer to the house. I am thinking of incorporating trellis in the garden beds to save on space.

Lastly, I have a major goal for this season to get the house fully organized by summer. I have always loved the idea of “a space for everything & everything in its place.” Once I am finished, this will be the way I will have the home set up. I have learned in life that if the right system is set up, your daily life is much easier. You still have your daily chores, but the intensity is greatly reduced. The storage issue has always been a big one in our home. Typical of the time period in which it was built, our home has no built in storage. No cabinets anywhere in the home. The only closet is one that was added within the past 20 years. All storage is either shelving added on the walls or bookcases/shelving units that we have brought in. This is yet another area of organizing that I will be addressing as we do our remodel. When each room is done, some form of storage will be added to the room. Most likely to be added will be shelving or bookcases.

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Resetting Our Focus February 23, 2016

Filed under: homesteading,organization,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 6:44 pm
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Over the weekend, hubby was home for his time off from the truck. What a LONG 8 weeks it was that he had been gone! Luckily, this isn’t always the length of time apart. We sure have enjoyed the family time though. As always, it goes by far too quickly for us.

I awoke early today. Long before sunrise and much earlier than my usual. It is surprising when I consider how tired that I was after yesterday. Sunday was our “Family Day” when we just had fun together. We had celebrated a joint birthday party for the kids at a children’s museum. They had a lot of fun there. Being a trucking family, we are having to be creative in our celebrations. Little Miss’ birthday will arrive before Daddy’s home again, and Pookie’s birthday will arrive just after he heads back out on the truck. Looking at the calendar, we realized that Daddy’s next home time will be Easter weekend. That would not have worked out for a birthday party. To wait until the next scheduled hometime would put the kids celebrating late April/early May. So, we had the party on Sunday instead. On their actual birthdays, we will have cake and presents. This was simply a special gathering to have fun with friends and family.

On Monday, we had a work day. I had cleared out the back room as much as I could without help. There were boxes that Hubby had to sort out and lifting that I cannot do. So, he helped me with that portion. What a task! Thankfully, it got done. We are only keeping an extremely small fraction of what was there. About 90% of it is either being donated or was put into the burn pit.

It has been frustrating to see the amount of damage the field mice had done over the past 2 years that the room was used for storage. Blankets, quilts, sleeping bags, clothing, were damaged. We will definitely be investing in more storage totes in the future. Many of the bedding items were old, so I don’t feel as bad as if they were new. It is still an expense that we will have to make though in replacing it all.

Now, the last of the room can be finished by me. Mostly clearing out a large antique desk and sorting through the bookcases. The closet will be another project for Hubby later since it contains only his things. Being so close to done is very rejuvenating to me. When first faced with clearing out a packed storage room, the task can seem overwhelming. You literally can feel drained just thinking about it. Now that it is nearly completed, I am eager to finish the job. During Hubby’s time out on the truck, I will be getting the room ready to move the kids’ bed into it next time he is home. Then, we will move into the kids’ old room.

I am really looking forward to getting the front room rearranged back into a nice area for homeschooling and relaxing. It has been too long since we have had that. I also am going to love having more useable space in the house. For many, the idea of purging over half of your belongings can seem crazy. Let’s face it, we live in a society where having more seems to be the goal. People want to have the best of everything and more of it.

This brings me to the topic I wanted to touch upon, Setting Our Focus. When we choose to simplify our lives, we have to reset our way of thinking. First, we have to consider just how we got to the place we are in. What choices did we make that led us to the lifestyle that is needing changed? We have to find those answers within ourselves before we can move forward in the simplifying. To skip this step is to set ourselves up to fail. We will be making the same choices and mistakes that caused up to be living in a way that brings about stress and financial worry.

Most often, the greatest obstacle that people have is in their purchases. Our society has the idea that you need the newest and best of everything. That is the complete opposite of those who seek a more simplified lifestyle. Yes, we want the best, but only in the fact that we are wanting something that will last. One example would be a wheat grinder. There may be cheaper ones for sale, but buying one that will last for many years of hard use is preferable in that it won’t need repairs or replacing very quickly. Cookware is another purchase where better quality is the preferred. Again, this helps to prevent having to replace items after only a couple years of use.

The purchases that we try to especially avoid are the impulsive ones. How often does a child ask for a toy at the store, only to forget about their new toy within a week of buying it? Clearance sales can be a nightmare. The impulse to buy something because of the lower price can entice you to spend money on something that you wouldn’t purchase if it were regular price.

The money spent on the frivolous and impulsive purchases can best be used to either pay down a debt, build up your food pantry or other needed supplies, or to simply put away in a savings account. Here is a personal example. Recently, Hubby and I were out running errands and bought coffee. We went to Starbucks as a treat. I spent $11 for two venti (20 ounce) size cups of coffee. At a grocery store, that same $11 could have bought a 25 lb bag of flour with $3 in change left over. This is why I refer to Starbucks as a treat. It isn’t something that we do on a regular basis. We also are aware that the cost takes away from something else.

This doesn’t mean that you cannot have fun and take the kids on outings if you are simplifying your spending. On the contrary! We are able to do more. A good example is the children’s museum. To get a family of 4 into the museum costs $32 for one day. Now, if that same family were to buy a yearly family pass, it would cost about $80. Just 3 trips to the museum would more than pay for that fee. When buying the annual family pass, there is an option to pay and extra $40 to get an annual pass that will get you unlimited admissions into 5 museums in our area. One of the museums is a large science museum that is quite pricey to attend if paid by the day/visit. Add the annual pass for the museums package to the $65 cost for an annual family pass to the zoo, and you have spent less than $200. This means that your family can go to all these places, unlimited number of times, for a year at that one price. The kids love going to these locations and it is worth it for us. I realize that not everyone would enjoy it, but this gives you an idea.

 

I’m Baaack! September 9, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 1:36 am
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So long since my last post. We have gone through more changes. Hubby is back to OTR trucking. He needed to make the change as the local job was paying less than we needed.  When he started to local job, he had overtime each week that doubled his pay. Then, about 8 months ago, the overtime stopped. Our pay was half what we were getting. He tried getting a job with the oil/gas fields but they were not hiring.  So, the decision to go back over the road was a necessity.

It has been an adjustment. Luckily we have done this routine before so it wasn’t as hard as it could have been. The kids took a bit of adjusting and have been dealing with missing their Daddy, but we are working through it.

I have been without internet up until recently when I bought a smart phone. My app phone was just too outdated to use for internet.  I now have the app for posting blogs, so am planning to be better about doing so.  I also am going to be getting a phone line for the house and dial-up internet soon.

We have been blessed with a local church youth group coming twice a month to trim trees and do yardwork for me.  That has taken a load off my chores list.  I am now planning out the autumn/winter projects for the seasons.

The kids and I were able to take a week long vacation to visit friends. It was a bit of a trial run for us. Little Man doesn’t travel long distances very well and has anxieties when in new locations. This was a good opportunity to get him a little more exposure to the idea.

We are looking at getting a puppy sometime in the next few months. The pup will begin to be trained and socialized immediately to start laying the ground work for him to become a service dog for Little Man.  It takes about 2-3 years to fully train the dog from puppy training through any specialized training needed.  As soon as we get the dog, we will begin the process of taking the dog everywhere we go that he can go with us.  Once he completes the Good K9 test successfully, he will be able to go everywhere as a service dog in training. 

 

Simplicity Goals – Livingroom April 12, 2015

Filed under: old fashioned,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 2:59 am
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It has been a little while since I last posted in this topic.  Life happens and gets in the way of best intentions sometimes.  I have finally set up a planner for my blog posts to help me be more efficient in this area.  I have been very surprised at the response about my kitchen post.  It would seem that our family is not the only ones thinking of scaling back to the basics.

livingroom

 

When you look at the picture above, what do you notice?  There is little excess.  In fact, there is no excess that is visible in the photo.  Can you imagine how easy it would be to keep this space clean?  Think of how peaceful your time would be when spent in this room.

Tonight, I wanted to continue the Simplicity Goals series with the livingroom.  I remember when visiting Katie and Levi Schwartzentruber, as you entered their home, the first room you entered was the livingroom.  Hardwood floors were the norm throughout their home.  Katie often mentioned to me that the wooden floors were more practical and easier to maintain with a family.  There livingroom, unlike most homes today, did not have a lot of seating for guests.  There were two rockers, both near a woodstove.  These were where Levi and Katie would sit.  The children typically sat on a bench or on the floor.    In the corner of the room, Katie had her treadle sewing machine and oft times, there was a quilt set up on the frame to be hand quilted.  When chores were done, or during a quilting bee, chairs and benches from the kitchen were brought in and placed around the quilt frame while the ladies worked on the quilt.

I remember how welcoming the space was.  When the number of guests was more than the livingroom, chairs were brought in.  Often, there were wooden chairs on the porch that could be brought in.  Chairs from around the dining table as well.  Just as with the quilting bees, chairs were brought in as needed.  On a daily basis though, the room was kept with the minimal furniture.  This reflected the Amish beliefs about not being given to excess.  Yet, we can learn so much from it today.

How often do we allow ourselves to be caught up in the wants and expectations that our society dictates?  We have become convinced that we must have all the comforts we can afford.  There are often times a feeling of needing to have just the right decor in our home.  How many of you know of someone who routinely changes their room decor to match the seasons?  I am not saying that this is a bad thing.  It just isn’t for me.  I look at not only the cost of the decor items, but the amount of storage required when these items are swapped out each season.  Then, you have the maintaining of the items, or their replacement when worn or damaged.

Katie had a very simple way of decorating.  She did it with quilts.  A lightweight quilt draped over the chair not only added color to the room, but provided a back cushion as well.  On chilly evenings, it was readily available to wrap around the shoulders for warmth.  Her windows had simple black fabric for curtains.  The fabric was heavy enough to keep the chill at bay.  In summer months, she might put up white fabric curtains that were a lighter weight to allow the breeze to come through the opened windows.  On her floor, a simple braided rag rug was the only covering.  One placed near the door, others at the rocking chairs.  Again, this is what brought color to the room.

I look at the picture, as well as my memories of Katie’s home, and I find inspiration.  With the lack of “stuff” cluttering the room, Katie did not have to spend endless amounts of time cleaning.  She had too many other things to do!  I can tell you from experience that having a house cluttered with excess, on top of doing chores without the benefits of modern conveniences & appliances, is overwhelming.  You spend so much time staying on top of the household chores that the garden or other tasks can suffer from neglect.  Katie not only maintained her home, she used the treadle sewing machine to make all of her family’s clothing, she gardened and home canned the harvest, she baked breads and pies almost daily to feed a family that included 7 children, and she did all the typical things that a Momma does.  Laundry was done in a gas powered, wringer washing machine, then hung up on the clothesline to dry.  Because the clothing is made mostly from a cotton fabric, of poly/cotton blend, it needed ironing as well.  She had a busy enough day ahead of her, even with the help of her oldest daughters, that excessive clutter would have been a hindrance.

How often do we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed?  How often do we wish we could have less time cleaning and more time to pursue other activities?  How easily could we gain that extra time if we simply removed some of the clutter and excess from our homes?

To me, that picture above is close to the ideal livingroom.  Only the essential items are present.  Everything has a place and everything is in its place.  It is peaceful and serene.  I could easily be able to relax in that room.  What about you?

 

Spring…….Finally March 23, 2015

Filed under: family,homesteading,off grid — ourprairiehome @ 5:33 am
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I was beginning to wonder if Mother Nature was ever going to get over her PMS and allow spring to arrive.  It seems that she finally got the idea and has allowed our weather to turn into it’s typical rainy self.  Each spring, I am eager to start planting the garden but have to wait.  You see, we live in a wonderful little area that has a week of nasty weather every year sometime in the week before or after Easter.  Never fails.  Plant the garden before Easter and you end up with a garden that either freezes or gets flooded out.  So, I have learned to be more patient over the years.  I wait until after Easter has passed by before I start planting anything.

We woke up early Sunday morning, about 4:30am, so that we could fumigate the attic.  We live in a state that has a lot of problems with red wasps.  So, it is not uncommon to see people load up on the cans of wasp spray or the fumigating foggers to use in attic spaces and other areas that the wasps might try to set up their nests.  We got the kids up and had a quick breakfast before loading them up into the car.  Hubby set off the foggers in our attic and we headed to town.  We ended up taking our laundry to the laundromat and ran a few errands afterward.  The foggers don’t seep down into the rest of the house, so we don’t have to cover anything ahead of time.

By the time we get home, the foggers have done their job.  This ritual is one that we repeat every 3-4 weeks throughout the warm months to control the wasps.  Another item that we began using last year that works great is to set out around the known wasp areas outdoors the TrapStik by a company called Rescue.

Trapstik

Trapstik for Wasps

This is probably the one thing that has been the most effective.  It is a sticky green trap that you hang up.  The wasps are drawn to it and within a couple of days, we have a full trap.  If you set these out early enough, you have a good chance of trapping the queen.  A wasp queen will leave the nest area early in the season.  If you can get her, the wasp colony will collapse.   What I loved about this trap is that it is pesticide free and we also never caught a honey bee on it.  The trap works to catch all types of wasps and carpenter bees.  We hang them in areas near their nests or anywhere they you notice a lot of wasp activity.  These really are effective in reducing the wasp population.  Some stores, such as Lowes, carries these but we also buy them online.

I am looking forward to getting out outdoor laundry and kitchen set up again.  Now that Mother Nature got over her winter mood, we will soon be getting those areas ready for summer.  During the warm months, we spend a lot of our time outdoors.  The kids have their pool and play area to enjoy.  Lots of shade trees are a bonus as well.  One thing that I typically stop doing in summer is baking.  I don’t like to heat up the house by using the oven unless it is necessary.  If I do choose to bake something, it is in the late evening or very early in the morning when the cook night breezes are present.  We are looking at designs for building an outdoor bread oven but haven’t chosen one yet.  In the long term plans for the homestead, we want to have a permanent area designated and set up as our outdoor kitchen.  So far, the plan is to build the oven and an outdoor grill from brick or stone.  Having it set up in a sheltered area will make it easy to use during rainy days.  I still love the idea of having a screened kitchen.  Basically, it is a room that is built with half-height walls.  The top half of the wall areas are completely screened in so that you can use the room during wet weather as well as keeping flies and such out.  I can easily see this as being one of the most used spaces during the warm months.  The kids can homeschool at a table while enjoying the cooling breeze.  Having the kitchen in there will allow me to be able to prepare meals and do my canning without heating up the kitchen in the house.   An outdoor kitchen with the screened area will make a nice place to have BBQs and entertain as well.

 

Frugal Remodeling July 21, 2014

Filed under: homesteading,off grid,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 4:08 am
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One of the aspects of living in on old home that we are very aware of is that the old homestead house needs remodeling.  Not necessarily a total updating of the home, but simple cosmetic upgrades.  Some of the plans that we have are more involved than others.  Our home was built about 1890 and is the oldest inhabited structure still standing in our small rural community.  With that age, there are definite changes that need to be made.  Here is a list of some of the upcoming projects.

First, we will be lowering the tall ceilings.  This is to help lower costs of heating the home in winter as well as to allow us to better insulate the ceiling.  We will only be lowering the ceilings by about 1 foot, but it will make quite a difference once winter comes.

Next, we are putting down new flooring.  When my husband served in the Navy, the ships her served on had a rubberized material as flooring.  This material indulated the floors very well and was easy to maintain.  We checked at the home improvement centers and a similar product can be purchased there.  We plan to put it in nearly every room.  The house was built with a crawl space under it.  Each year, the floor becomes cold from the winter winds blowing under the house.  This flooring will help to prevent that.  It will also give the kids a warmer and more cushioned surface to play on.

For lighting, we are looking at buying the old fashioned propane gas lights.  These work in a similar way as the camp lanterns in that you burn a mantle.  The gas lights are very safe and modern versions of the old lights are readily sold for use in Amish or other off-grid homes.  These lights are mounted as sconces on the wall, so will be well out of the children’s reach.  Because they give off heat, we will likely use them more in the winter.  Summer months, the daylight lasts plenty long enough to meet out needs without much additional lighting needed.  As they do now, the kids will still have battery operated lanterns for lighting their bedrooms.  This has proven to be the safest option.  Small decorative lights can be found even at the Dollar Tree type stores.  These usually take 2 of the AAA batteries.  For each child’s lantern, I find myself changing batteries only about once every week or two, depending on the time of year.  The batteries are also purchased at Dollar Tree, so the cost for their lighting is very low.   I have tried the solar lights for them, but the small ones only give out enough light to be used as a nightlight.  Never enough to illuminate the bedroom sufficiently for them to play in the room on early winter evenings before bedtime.  My husband and I still use oil lamps on high shelves.  Currently, we go through a 5 gallon container of kerosene once every 2-3 months if used for lighting the lamps alone.  In winter when lamps are lit for longer amounts of time, the usage is about 5 gallons every 4-6 weeks.

One of the main resources that we are planning to use with our remodeling are businesses that sell reclaimed or factory seconds lumber and building supplies.  Just by using the factory seconds in lumber, we can save over 50% of the cost for building materials.  We found a business that sells this type of product up in Tulsa.  It will be a long drive (nearly 80 miles) to reach the business, but the savings will make the trip worth while.

I found the business by doing an internet search for “recycled reclaimed construction lumber Oklahoma”.  Yeah, it was quite a long search topic but it gave the results we were looking for.  There are many such businesses across the USA.  This one happens to sell not just the lumber, but flooring and roofing materials as well.

We are still planning to build our own wind turbine and expand our solar panel system.  Harbor Freight sells solar panels for far less than many other retailers.  Being as we do not have a house full of electricity using appliances and such, the systems from Harbor Freight will be more than sufficient.

In short, the remodel is more cosmetic than anything.  We are going to relay the plumbing to get rid of the PVC pipes which easily can freeze during an Oklahoma winter.  A subzero outdoor faucet will also be installed at the water faucet near the porch.  A new bathroom is being designed by my darling husband.  Putting in new insulation and more efficient windows is also in the plans.  The house, once done, will be far easier to heat in winter and keep cool in summer.

I can’t wait to get started.  Soon, we will be heading out and buying the first of many trailer loads of supplies to get started.  In the meantime, I am going to be sorting out more things to donate.  There are boxes that have not been looked into for several months upwards to a year or more.  Those are easily going to be donated since we have had no need for the items in those boxes in all this time.  End goal is to have less stuff and keep only what is necessary.  That particular goal has never changed.  Only my definitions of what is needed has undergone adjustments.

 

Newest Homestead Addition April 7, 2014

Filed under: family,homesteading,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 6:15 am
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Well, in recent weeks, a new addition has been added to the homestead.  A stray dog showed up at the homestead.  Not just any dog, but a huge one!  When we first saw him, he had been walking along the state route about a mile from our home.  He was wearing a collar and dragging a heavy chain.  Evidently, he had broken loose and had wandered off from his home.  Off and on over the next couple of weeks, we would get glimpses of him.  At some point, the collar and chain had been removed.  Then, a couple weeks ago we found him in our yard.  Oh joy.  A huge stray dog.  The kids were thrilled since their dog died just before Christmas.  I wasn’t sure if we should try to keep him at first until I realized just how friendly he was.

Zeus1

I called the sheriff department to find out what we needed to do before taking the dog in as our own.  In our area, there is a huge problem with people either dumping off dogs they can no longer afford or want.  They also told me that it is becoming more common that families who have to move and cannot take their dog, will simply abandon the dog.  The lady at the sheriff’s office said that if no one had claimed or tried to catch the dog in the past weeks, it was likely an abandoned dog that broke its chain.  If we wanted to keep the dog, simply consider it ours and let that be that.  If an owner shows up, just present them with any vet bills for reimbursement.

Well, it has been 2 weeks now that we have had the dog.  He is so lovable.  Pookie is already bonding with him.  I named him Zeus.  He just has that regal and powerful look about him.  I was thrilled to learn that he is a Newfoundland.  We are estimating his age to be about 2-3 years old.  When he first showed up, he chased cars terribly on our dirt road.  Now, he is calming down.  He stays outdoors most of the time.  At night, he keeps the coyotes away.  He sleeps near our front door on the porch and hangs out with the kids whenever they are playing outside.

I tried to get him indoors but he won’t come in.  I did manage to half carry him into the house one day but he was happier outdoors.  Training him is proving to be easy.  He had no training prior to coming here.  He didn’t even know the most basic of commands, such as sit.  The training is going well however.  Newfoundlands are very easy to train as they are quite smart.  They are a true gentle giant.  Very tolerant of children.  Later this spring, I will take him to be groomed.  Living where we do, he will get too hot in the summer with all that black fur.  So, it is recommended that we get his fur trimmed by early summer.  When cold weather comes back around, his fur will have grown back in time to keep him warm next winter.

Zeus is already becoming a much loved family member.  We are fencing in a large yard area, about a 1/8 acre in size for a play yard for the kids.  The fenced area includes a portion of the side porch.  On that porch, we have Zeus’ food and water dishes as well as setting up a sleeping area for him.  Once completed, Zeus will be living in that fenced area to prevent him from chasing cars or wandering off.  The porch area will give him plenty of protection from the weather as well.  When we are out at the garden or working around the property, he will be running loose to hang out with us.

Each day when the kids go outdoors to play, Pookie looks for Zeus.  Being as he is a new-to-us dog, I wondered how he would respond to Pookie’s stimming.  Zeus ignores it.  Instead, he follows Pookie around or lays down near when Pookie is sitting.  I wonder how difficult it would be to train Zeus to be a service dog for Pookie.  He has the right temperament for it.  Whether we do that or not, Zeus will be a great companion for the kids here at the homestead.