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Health & Fitness

Homegrown Liberty Podcast

Updated 2 days ago

Kids & Family
Health & Fitness
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- Do Good Things -

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- Do Good Things -

iTunes Ratings

63 Ratings
Average Ratings
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Ear candy homesteaders

By 208merrill - Oct 11 2016
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Great and useful content, makes working around the homestead more enjoyable

Great podcast

By Drawthow - Jun 30 2016
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Nick is a wealth of information.

iTunes Ratings

63 Ratings
Average Ratings
58
3
1
1
0

Ear candy homesteaders

By 208merrill - Oct 11 2016
Read more
Great and useful content, makes working around the homestead more enjoyable

Great podcast

By Drawthow - Jun 30 2016
Read more
Nick is a wealth of information.

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Homegrown Liberty Podcast

Updated 2 days ago

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- Do Good Things -

E0050 | Raising Dairy Goats for Milk

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 50, and today we’re talking about raising dairy goats for milk.

I’m doing this episode specifically at the request of one of the listeners, thanks for the suggestion Rich! I hope this info is helpful for everyone who has been considering adding some dairy goats to their small farm or homestead. It’s a lot of work but definitely worth it to have one more need met and covered by on farm production. Definitely a big thing in self-sufficiency to be able to not only keep larger animals on your property, but to meet the dairy needs of a family with on farm production. I started taking care of dairy goats when I was ten years old. My dad taught me how to drive his little white Datsun pickup truck and I would drive out to the goat barn to take care of the goats twice a day in all sorts of weather. At the time I really didn’t like the work, but I appreciate the experience and the lessons learned now that I’m older.
Why get dairy animals?
Well the most obvious answer is because you use milk and want to have a source of it yourself. You might need an affordable source of goat milk for health reasons, or you may just be looking for a way to supply one of the normal needs for a family. I’m sure there are dozens of reasons to have a dairy animal such as a milk cow, or dairy goats. But since I have the most experience with goats. That’s what the focus is going to be with this episode. So let’s kind of hit some of the main reasons to get dairy goats.

They convert brush and undesirable plants into a valuable product.
They will clear forested or marginal land for you and convert it into more valuable and usable pasture.
You can keep goats on a smaller piece of property than you would need for something like milk cows.
A breeding herd with a buck and 3 does will produce all the milk you can drink with far less in feed costs.
Goats are easier to handle than a thousand pound cow.
With multiple milkers, you have redundancy in milk production. If one gets sick or dies, you still have production.
With multiple milkers, you can spread breeding out over a longer time period through the year to have a goat in milk year round.

So those are just some of the main reasons that I could think of right off the top of my head. I’m sure I’m leaving out lots of good reasons, but I can’t just keep talking about it all day! We have specifics to cover here!
Let’s Get Specific
Before you go out and buy some animals, I suggest you know what you’re getting into first! You will be well advised to get a book or two on raising dairy goats so you have something to reference in the event you need to troubleshoot an issue. And you will definitely need to make sure you have all your infrastructure in place first! Don’t buy animals just because it’s a great deal! Those deals happen all the time so proceed with caution. Goats are notorious for breaking or destroying fences. I don’t want you to get into trouble with goats eating your fruit trees, or rampaging through your garden. They’ll do a number on anything that is living that you specifically want to stay alive. It’s like they have importance radar built into their small annoying little brains. They can somehow home in on the specific thing that you absolutely do not want them to get into, and just…. I can’t even describe the behavior… It’s amazing really.

They are a powerful tool. That tool can be wielded with negligence, or care and forethought. If you can’t focus their energies to benefit you, they will do things that will make you want to cry.

We’re going to talk about lots of things today, and I hope I cover everything you need to know to get started with dairy goats. Things like infrastructure, such as a milk stanchion, housing and fencing. Equipment, like milking jars, buckets, milk filters. Milk quality and hygiene,

Dec 17 2016

38mins

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E0041 | Homesteading On a Budget: Part 1

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 41. Today we’ve got an excerpt from the Redeeming The Dirt 2016 Conference from my talk on Homesteading on a Budget. This episode is part 1 with most of my talking points, part two which will air next week will be a little longer and will be all the Q&A from my talk, so you’ll want to hear this part so all the questions make sense!

I want to say thank you to all of the listeners who came by and said, "hi", and encouraged me. It was nice to know I had friends there cheering me on. I was pretty nervous through the whole thing because despite the fact that I do a podcast, I’m very uncomfortable with public speaking. Ever since I was a kid I’ve not been comfortable speaking in front of people, I had a horrible stutter when I was a kid and it persisted a little even through my teen years. Oh yeah, I was a skinny home schooled boy who stuttered! I was a major ladies man! So it meant a lot to see some friendly faces and hear your encouraging words. I hope what I had to say helped and encouraged some of you guys. And since most of you didn’t get to attend the conference. I’ve brought part of it here to you! So let’s get into my talk on some tactics for homesteading on a budget!

[EXCERPT FROM CONFERENCE PART 1]

Alright, we’re gonna stop with only a couple questions answered there and pick up next week with a slightly longer episode that includes all the great questions from the audience and my answers on the spot! I know some of those things are somewhat basic and obvious to some of you listening. But I hope that there are are at least one or two good takeaways that you can apply to your life. Tune in next week for what I felt like was a great Q&A session.

Alright guys, that wraps things up, I hope you enjoyed this topic, if you want to follow up on this or ask questions, please hop on facebook and join the discussion in the community group there. Lots of new members have been added after the conference so I hope to see you join the community and share your successes and unique perspective.

Until next week

I hope you have a wonderful day, God Bless. And as always "Go Do Good Things"

The post E0041 | Homesteading On a Budget: Part 1 appeared first on Homegrown Liberty.

Oct 14 2016

29mins

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E0042 | Homesteading On a Budget: Part 2

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Today is part 2 of my Homesteading On a Budget talk from the Redeeming the Dirt Conference

Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 42. Today we have the second part of an excerpt from the Redeeming The Dirt 2016 Conference. This is from my talk on Homesteading on a Budget. This episode is part 2 with all the Q&A from my talk.
I had a lot of fun talking to and helping you guys figure stuff out during the conference. I won’t take up much time doing an introduction since this is going to be a long episode as it is, so let’s get right into it!

[EXCERPT FROM CONFERENCE PART 2]

Alright guys, I hope you enjoyed that second part to the talk I gave on Homesteading on a Budget, I think it’s a great idea to constantly have in your mind ways to stick to your budget and also to just simply be aware that having a budget is a good idea. I’ll keep this super short since that segment was 40 minutes long so I’ll leave it here. I hope you enjoyed this topic, if you want to follow up on this or ask questions, please hop on facebook and join the discussion in the community group there. It’s always cool to be able to interact with you guys and be a little more personal with one on one conversations there. So if you aren’t a member, I encourage you to join just for the community aspect!

Until next week
I hope you have a wonderful day, God Bless. And as always "Go Do Good Things"

The post E0042 | Homesteading On a Budget: Part 2 appeared first on Homegrown Liberty.

Oct 21 2016

43mins

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E0040 | Essential Tool Kit

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 40. Today I’m going to be covering an essentials basic tool kit.

I think there are a couple ways to think about buying tools and building up your personal toolbox and repository of implements. So I’ll kind of be talking about both perspectives, the buy the best and take care of it, and the other perspective of buying cheap and often. I tend to find myself mostly in one of those camps, but I see the value in both perspectives for sure. So I hope by the time we’re done here today I’ll have inspired you to think about your personal paradigm, and decide for yourself what’s best for you and your family. And who doesn’t like talking about tools right? This won’t be a laundry list of product placements but rather just a general list to get you to consider these types of tools, and to help you think about strategies for building up to a comfortable set of tools and getting to where you need to be for your lifestyle and choices. I’ll do a specific episode on my favorites with specific tools and links to where you can purchase them. But this one is just going to be covering a lot of the basic tools and will be a quick overview because man, there’s a lot to cover.

Before we get into the show though, I want to make sure I let everyone know about the mexican sunflower plant cuttings. I’ve probably gotten enough orders to sell out already but go ahead and send me an email with your desired number of cuttings if you’ve been on the fence because you never know, I might have extras after filling all my orders. I’ll keep enough to get my spring stuff started for myself but I really do want to get cuttings of these into as many people’s hands as possible I think they’re that good! I haven’t responded to all your emails yet because I’m trying to keep everything organized and there’s not much point in emailing you guys back to let you know I got your email and I’ve gotten a lot of emails on it haha. So as soon as they are ready to ship I’ll let everyone know who has already emailed me with their total, and get a shipping address and get your cuttings shipped. It will probably take at least 3 maybe 4 weeks to get them rooted so I’ll probably ship around the beginning of November. I didn’t want to take anybody’s money for the cuttings until I was sure that they had all rooted and that I could ship them. I’d hate to have to send back refunds if something happened like, oh, I dunno, a certain 3 year old decided it was perfect dirt to make roads with his little tonka bulldozer and ended up killing all the cuttings. Cause that could happen! So the same week that they are ready to ship I’ll get an email sent out to everyone with payment info, and as soon as I receive payment I’ll ship your plants!
Essential Tools for Your Homestead
When we talk about this kind of a topic, there is so much to cover that it’s a little daunting, and expensive too when you start to add things up. So let’s break things down into a bite sized chunk and see if we can come up with a way to incrementally meet the most basic needs while working towards a fully kitted out workshop you could build a boat in! I think this first kit is a great one to have no matter if you have a huge workshop and every tool imaginable. If you do, GREAT! Go grab a bag or toolbox and make up a small basic tool kit to keep handy.

But first let’s talk about some of the categories of needs so we can get organized and think about this methodically.

Workwear - These are things you wear that you NEED if you are going to do work
Measuring - The name says it all, you often need to measure things

Light - You can’t work if you can’t see
Power Tools - This type of tool is a force multiplier and can make a massive difference
Hand Tools - This spans a huge category of tools and we’ll break things down more

Pounding
Prying

Oct 07 2016

33mins

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E0038| I Hate Ducks and Other Stories

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 38. And today I’m going to be doing a homestead update episode! This is where I tell you what all we’ve been up to, how things have been going, and what we have coming up! But I can’t tell you the secret just yet. I promise I’m working hard, but there’s lots of exciting things happening all at once and I have to pick and choose my battles! Only so many things get my attention each week and that particular thing keeps getting pushed back just a little bit. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to let you guys in on some part of it!
But let’s just get into what all has happened recently!
A Rough Summer
As most of you regular listeners know, we had a rough summer. I got sick with something like the flu after Catie was starting to recover. And I dunno exactly what it was but it took me out for at least a week. During that time, Catie didn’t know all the things that needed to be taken care of, added to that, she was still weak and recovering, and all three kids were also getting over being sick as well. And we lost a ton of seedling trees. You see I arrogantly assumed I would be able to handle taking care of all those seedling trees by myself out near the garden. I thought, “I don’t need to install any automated irrigation. I need to check on things every day or every other day anyways, so I’ll need to be out here anyways. I’ll just water by hand, that will be easier.” Well guess what…. I was wrong. Out of the ten thousand seedling white mulberry trees, I might have 20 left. The five thousand or so black mulberry, there are two left alive. Lots of other losses… 1 of my chinese chestnuts remains alive out of 20 or 30.

The garden is a wreck. After that two week period of time I just threw in the towel and chalked it up to a lost cause. I’ll chop and drop, then cover crop for winter and see how it goes next year with a different purpose. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The point here is that no matter if you think you can handle doing things yourself. It’s always best to set yourself up for simplicity and ease of maintenance. If I had set up automated irrigation, then I would have been fine. Catie could have just looked at things to make sure everything was working fine and been done with any nursery work. We would have kept thousands of dollars worth of trees alive, and had the seedling trees to plant this winter. Now I’ll be another year behind because I’ll have to wait another year to stratify, sprout, and grow up the seedlings for another year before planting.

If you can automate something, DO IT! If you can set up your system for easy, low time cost maintenance, you set yourself up for success. I’m going to be doing a lot more automation this winter and going into spring. I don’t want to have those same types of problems in the future. So I’ll be documenting how I do all that so I can teach you how! I want you guys to be able to learn from my mistakes and bypass years of lost time and skip tens of thousands of dollars in lost finances due to preventable and costly mistakes. I plan on being your guinea pig, the one who takes the hard hits with trying out things and learning what works, and what doesn’t. I hope to be able to show you shortcuts to success, and help you figure out practical cost saving methods to build resiliency in your life.
I Hate Ducks
There I said it… I severely dislike our ducks. They have to be the most annoying bird I’ve ever had the mispleasure of dealing with. I much prefer chickens. Ducks are annoying, they go where ever I don’t want want them, eat everything I don’t want them to eat, destroy things for no other reason than seeming pleasure of destruction. They don’t do any real meaningful work for me. There just aren’t enough good reasons to keep them. If I had good fencing up to keep them on the lake then maybe I wouldn’t mind them as much but they are just loud,

Sep 23 2016

31mins

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E0049| Q&A On Farming: Don’t Follow Your Passion

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 49, and today I’m answering some listener questions on farming. There are lots of seniors in high school getting ready to graduate in the spring and they’ve been doing a lot of thinking about their future. Lots of them are wondering if going to college is worth the expense, the time, and the risk. So I’m going to throw some info at ya, talk about things from my experience. And give my thoughts on what I would do if I were to start over as a soon-to-be high school graduate.

It’s a frigid 32 degrees as I’m recording this episode but the fire is going in the wood stove so the office is at least tolerable. And tomorrow we are butchering Pigpig! It’s both a sad day and a happy one. Because an animal I raised from a baby is graduating to the freezer, I’m going to miss this one. But I will be very thankful to have not only bacon, but what I anticipate will be the best bacon I’ve ever eaten. She’s been eating very well this past month on acorns and leftover food scraps as well as fermented feed. She’s had a very comfy life, a much longer one than a normal pig, and will be treated with dignity and respect, and a whole lot of thankfulness for her service and sacrifice. And Titus who has been talking about “eating that pig” for months now will get some homemade bacon finally!
So you want to get started farming?
Lots of questions over the past couple months on this vein so I figured I should make a whole show about this topic. My first response is GREAT! We need more people getting connected to where food comes from and hopefully more people growing and producing more food. Next I want to say, farming might not be for you! I don’t want to scare you off or be a downer on the exciting idea of growing food. But farming is hard work, it’s tiring, both physically and mentally. It’s risky, and has a long learning curve. And just because you’re passionate about something, doesn’t mean you won’t be bad at it! But never fear, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own food! I look at it like this, there’s growing for personal use, and there’s professional farming where you are growing for the main purpose of bringing something to market. Most people picture truckloads of produce or animals going to be processed into a final product with the farmer selling wholesale, or maybe with a direct to consumer model. And to be honest, that’s what I normally picture when I think of a farmer. But it’s far less black and white. And I want to make sure you’ve heard of or are considering more options and the whole spectrum of possibilities out there! I don’t have all the answers. But I do want to present a few different scenarios, and maybe make you aware that you can be a part of this kind of lifestyle/ movement without raising truckloads of radishes.
What’s the Best Path?
First of all, if you really dig the idea of growing lots of food for lots of people, I really encourage you to learn as much as you can and pursue the idea. But I also want you to do me a favor and be open to the idea that a niche market might be a great fit too. Not everyone who falls in love with the idea of growing food needs to be a “farmer” on a tractor harvesting tons and tons of food. I think those people are wonderful and we definitely need more of them, so let’s kind of work from the end goal to the here and now. That’s what I always like to do with my clients and anybody who asks me these kinds of questions. “Where do you want to be in ten years?” or “What do you want your life to look like in ten years?” Those are the kinds of question I ask. Because if you don’t have a vision for the future, you can’t get to where you’re going cause you don’t know where it is that you’re trying to be going…. Get it?
Where Do You Want To BE?
That’s the real big question. And yaknow what? If you don’t have that answer, that’s ok too! Because you know,

Dec 09 2016

26mins

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E0048 | Cold Stratification of Seeds

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 48, and today I’m teaching you all about how to cold stratify seeds for planting in the spring! This is super timely right now as we are headed into winter and for some of the seeds you might want to start it could take months of cold stratification to get their germination parameters met for sprouting. So if you’re wanting to get a bunch of tree seedlings planted in the spring, then now is the time to start!
Why do we stratify seeds?
Most seeds have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent them from germinating before a good season for growth has arrived. These germination prohibiting mechanisms keep the seed dormant through times of drought, or harsh conditions. Some of these systems keep them dormant through fall when temperatures are cool, there’s adequate moisture and otherwise it’s perfect growing conditions. This prevents the seed from germinating shortly before killing frosts arrive in winter. It can also keep them dormant through a warm period in spring and prevent them from sprouting too early. Because these systems exist, we as growers must sometimes artificially or pointedly supply the seeds with all the things they need to successfully and consistently germinate. We have to mimic nature, or at least be aware of the plant’s needs so that we can supply what it needs to grow and thrive!
Stratification is...
The process of breaking seed dormancy and promoting germination. Mostly what we’re talking about today is going to be Cold Moist Stratification, but some seeds need a combination of warm and moist and cold and moist, or sometimes there is need to alternate several times to replicate what happens in nature.
Look up requirements for each species you intend to start from seed.
It’s easily found online or in reference manuals. If you want to go the free route, just type into google’s search feature “stratification requirements for (insert species name)” For example, to find stratification requirements for apple seeds, type in “stratification requirements for Malus domestica” or for peaches, “stratification requirements for Prunus persica” but if you want specific information that is reliable, you must use the binary nomenclature or the scientific name. If you don’t know it, then just type into the google search feature “(latin) or (scientific) name for X” and it’ll probably be the first result. Now that you know the scientific name for the genus and species, you can look up the germination needs for free!
How does it work really?
Well the seed coat may be thick and hard and need to be softened by consistent moisture for a certain amount of time. There could be germination inhibiting hormones present such as abscisic acid. The seed coat might be thick and hard enough to prevent oxygen from getting to the embryo and thereby inhibit respiration, and keep the seed in a dormant state.
The short answer is that cold stratification softens the seed coat, leaches out hormones, allows moisture and other elements into the seed and signals that it’s time to grow.
Some seeds need a certain amount of light, some need a particular temperature range, some need to have their seed coats damaged by fire, or the digestive process of an animal to trigger the growth response. So by using “Cold Stratification”, we can simulate winter conditions and this one method is probably the most commonly needed when it comes to breaking seed dormancy. That’s why I’m talking about it first!
What kinds of seeds is this appropriate for?
Generally, temperate climate tree and shrub seeds will benefit from cold stratification, and a lot of the perennial herbaceous plants will also. This is generally not necessary for annuals because they are designed for quick growth. So specifically if you’re looking at a perennial, especially a tree or shrub, you should check to see if it needs stratification trea...

Dec 03 2016

26mins

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E0039 | Chickens: Clan Mating System

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 39. Today I’m going to be teaching you all about a system of breeding and keeping a genetically diverse flock of chickens for years independent of outside genetics. What that means is that you will be able to keep breeding and improving your flock for years without worrying about inbreeding problems.

I learned about this method as I’ve learned a lot of chicken care tidbits from Harvey Ussery. But rather than explain it the exact same way as he has. I’ll try to put it in my own words and show you what I mean by explaining what I’ll be doing with my new flock of Black Copper Marans.
Proper Care of Your Flock Genetics
One of the foundational elements to a sustainable and profitable homestead is going to be animals kept well, and bred well for years to become healthier and better adapted to your location. We do that with our vegetables by saving seed year after year from the best, healthiest, and most productive plants we have. Likewise we should be doing the same with our livestock. Now, the way most people keep their birds is to have a single or maybe two roosters, and they allow a hen or two to hatch a clutch of eggs every spring, or they set some in an incubator and raise them up. But that’s neither a responsible way to breed your birds nor will it be likely to produce long term benefits.

The problem with that method is that you will be breeding father to daughter, or siblings, this is kind of like line breeding but more haphazard and while sometimes it will produce an exceptional animal like in line breeding, for the most part you will be degrading your flock quality. It is by no means a long term solution. You will start to see mutations and genetic abnormalities show up, deformed chicks will be born more often. The short story is that you will after a couple years be forced to acquire “new blood” to keep the flock strong. So if you want a truly self sufficient, or well maintained flock, you should be breeding with purpose and care should be taken.

That means being careful with who gets bred to whom and what birds are allowed to pass on their genes to the next generation. I’ve even heard of some rare breeds being saved with a single trio of breeders, and new selections being made every year to preserve the very best genes to pass on to the next generation. You may have 20 birds, but you won’t be saving eggs from all 20. You’ll save eggs from the best two hens out of 20. Generally you are shooting to breed the top 10% of your available hens and the absolutely best roosters.
Practical Application
Just because you may have a lot of inferior birds in the flock doesn’t mean you can’t continue to improve the flock, you just need several small holding pens to keep the special breeders separate so you can ensure you have specific pairings.

I’ll have 2 or 3 smaller runs with shelter, a feeder, and a water source for the breeding birds. I’ll leave the selected rooster and whatever hens I decide to breed with him, and do the same for as many good roosters I have. I may have lots of other birds who have off traits that I don’t want to breed in my flock lines. That’s fine, I just don’t hatch eggs from those hens! We eat those eggs, or sell them (not as hatching eggs) Those birds that aren’t going into our breeding program get mixed in with the general egg laying flock. This will also enable me to keep the most valuable breeding stock more secure behind higher security fencing. So my hope is that if anything gets in to kill any of my flock, I’ll at least have good breeding stock secure in a fort knox chicken pen or chicken tractor. I am seriously considering building 3 chicken tractors to keep my special breeding stock in and making it out of hardware cloth so nothing can break in, not even snakes would be able to get in to steal eggs and not even weasels would kill my birds in there.

Sep 30 2016

33mins

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E0043 | CoolBot DIY Walk-In Cooler Technology

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We have a really cool technology and product that we are going to try out for you guys. It's called CoolBot and is a DIY walk-in cooler gizmo.

The post E0043 | CoolBot DIY Walk-In Cooler Technology appeared first on Homegrown Liberty.

Oct 28 2016

34mins

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4 Steps to Building Healthy Soil

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 46, and we’re talking about Building Healthy Soil. This is one of those topics that always comes up and I’ve not done a great episode specifically on this topic, and gotten deep into it. I’ve done a couple episodes where I talked about building raised beds a bit, and how I do that, but never got real deep into the why for a lot of the particulars. So I figured now would be a good time to do a soils episode where I teach you a bunch about the principles and practices of good soil management.
What is Dirt?
First I’ll talk about the big 4 components like most universities will cover. We’ll talk about them in the same way as typical geologists and ag teachers will, but then I want to talk about the real backbone of healthy soil, the most important thing.
Minerals -
These are the main component that make up most soils according to soil scientists. It’s sand, clay, silt, calcium, magnesium, you get the picture. This is mostly just kind of filler materials like sand and small rocks. But the minerals are absolutely vital to healthy balanced soil. Lots of people think it’s a great idea to wholesale add large amounts of minerals to their soil, but that’s often unnecessary, or even can be harmful to healthy balanced soil. There are few instances where it makes sense to add minerals, so if in doubt, leave it out.
Air -
This is one component that’s often forgotten or overlooked. Good soil will have a lot of air inside it. It’ll be fluffy and airy. The particles will clump together and leave gaps and spaces between them. And believe it or not, air is probably by volume the second highest component found in good healthy soil. That’s kind of weird to think about huh?
Water -
Another critical component often overlooked or misunderstood is water. Vascular plants die quickly without an adequate supply of water. If you could zoom into short of the molecular level, you would see what look like globs of water sticking all sorts of bits together. So healthy soils will always have a good amount of water by volume.
Organic Matter -
Here’s a biggie, organic matter. This is the rotting stuff from plants and animals that remains in the soil. This is a very important part of soil and not to be dismissed lightly. You can grow wonderfully healthy plants in 100% organic matter in the form of compost and they will flourish. So whenever possible, you should try to add organic matter to your soils and build up that content to the best of your abilities.  
What Makes it Soil?
Healthy soils are teeming with life. Lots of people think we add fertilizers to feed plants. That’s not the best way to go about it. Yes it works for a while, but if you are feeding the plants instead of the soil, you are feeding components that aren’t biologically friendly to the most important components in the soil. Remember I said I’d tell you what the most important part of the soil was after we covered the big 4? Well here they are, these are the really important 3 components in good healthy soil.
Bacteria -
This is probably the most important and most often overlooked component of soil. Most people think of soil as just this brown or grey stuff that holds the plant up and gives it somewhere to put roots. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are billions and billions of bacteria in healthy soil, so much that you’d never be able to count even a tiny fraction of them in a teaspoon of soil. They recycle dead roots and other components and multiply, then when they die, they leave behind a nutrient soup that’s just right for the plants to absorb with their roots.
Fungi -
Beneficial fungal organisms, pathogenic, as well as benign all make up this category. One of the hot topic buzzwords you’ll hear a lot in sustainable and regenerative circles is mycorrhizal fungi, or arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi,

Nov 19 2016

27mins

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E0055 | Building Raised Garden Beds

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Building Raised Garden Beds
Welcome back to another episode of the homegrown liberty podcast! I’ve been hard at work with Catie and the boys cutting down trees, mulching brush and limbs and clearing for the new garden space. I took some video of the area before we started clearing, and pretty soon I’ll have it cleaned up. Then we’ll be filming the brand new garden beds going into their new home! I’m excited to have a new garden setup so close to the house and I’m looking forwards to showing you guys some different methods and techniques. I’ll be looking for some feedback on what you think we should do with the garden layout. But let’s get to the….
Question of the Week
From Dillon

Nick,

Over the years, have you made any significant modifications to your “7-layer cake” approach to building beds using

wetted cardboard
compost
dried molasses
inoculants
amendments (e.g., blood & bone)
mulch

I recently moved and need to build some new beds. I also have a U-haul store’s worth of cardboard boxes at my disposal and a wet Mississippi winter to get these things built and primed for spring planting.

Thanks,

Dillon

Thanks for the question and it’s a timely one seeing as how I’m in the process of building a completely new garden space. The process you described above is closer to what I like to do for more of a broad area soil enrichment right before sheet mulching. This is what we did at Jack’s place to help build soil and make a lower pH zone for root development above the limestone slab that sits a couple inches below his soil surface. While not a bad method for starting a new garden space, not exactly what I prescribe for gardening.

For my raised beds this year I’ll be essentially doing what I describe in Episode 25 of my podcast titled “Expanding Your Garden”.  http://www.homegrownliberty.com/e0025-expanding-garden/If you follow those directions you should be well on your way to having some great soil. With that said, I’m going to be building some of my raised beds with wooden sides and set level and off contour so I can create a more flat, terraced garden space. The main reasons for this departure from my curving contour based earlier garden beds are twofold. I want to build raised beds with hardware attachment options so I can standardize on sizing for row covers and season extension. I’m setting up beds on a standard unit of 4’ wide by 8’ long. This way I can construct chicken tractors to work only a small section of garden bed, or place a similarly sized hoop structure and have a modular and standardized growing space. The other major factor is that my wife likes those straight lines, she wants it to be neat and ordered. And like I always say, “happy wife, happy life”. So I’m making straight line garden beds to make my wife happy and to make my life easier when it comes to modular gardening attachments for the raised beds.  

I’ll go into my raised garden prep ideas briefly here but if you want a write up that’s more thorough, check out episode 25 and also episode 46. http://www.homegrownliberty.com/4-steps-building-healthy-soil/

Basically all I do is this.

If you have established turf or grasses, there are a couple ways to deal with it. The best in my opinion is to solarize with clear plastic to kill the grass, roots, and weed seeds. Second best would be to flip the turf upside down and proceed, or lay down a couple layers of wet cardboard as a weed barrier. Side note, if you go with the cardboard option, you’ll need to either import more compost to make a deeper layer of growing space above the cardboard, or you’ll need to expose the cardboard, and plant your transplants into soil under the cardboard. The least desirable option is to treat the whole area with some kind of herbicide, preferably a concentrated vinegar solution over some synthetic herbicide but I think it’d probabl...

Jan 26 2018

10mins

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E0054 | 2018! Hay as Mulch for a Garden

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Can hay be used as a compost/mulch for the garden? Tune in to find out Nick's thoughts on the matter!

The post E0054 | 2018! Hay as Mulch for a Garden appeared first on Homegrown Liberty.

Jan 05 2018

10mins

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E0053 | 2 Methods: Simple Plant Propagation

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Today I'm addressing a question on propagating willows from cuttings. And since it may be easier for some people to understand all the steps easier through video, head over to my Patreon page to sign up and see a video with all the details on these methods. Much of the same info is applicable to tons of other types of plants as well. I’ll film that video this weekend and upload it next week! So go to patreon.com/homegrownliberty if you would like to see my video on how to do this!

One of the listeners has had some trouble getting black willow to root so I’ve been asked to chime in with how I would go about it!

I’ll give you two quick and easy methods you can try and then talk about the details of each.

Method #1: Stick as many cuttings as you’d like in some moist potting soil and wrap that container up in a white plastic trash bag, tie the top, and leave it in dappled shade for a couple months.

Method #2: Put all the cuttings in some water in a quart jar with an aquarium air pump blowing bubbles in the bottom of the jar.

Those are my quick answers, now here’s the details on how to take and prep the cuttings, followed by specific details on each method to make sure you have success.

To take the cuttings, get a sharp pair of pruning shears and a bucket of water or a jar if you prefer. Cut as much of the newest growth that is close to pencil diameter, no smaller than pencil lead. The smallest stuff won’t have enough embodied energy to root, the larger stems will have cells too stuck in their current role to differentiate and turn into root forming cells. So it’s best to take more young material.

To prep the cuttings, make sure all the cuttings are kept with the tip of the branch pointing up and the base of the branch pointing down. The technical term for the tip is the apical end, and the part that is closest to the roots is called the basal end. So it’s good practice to just make sure you always have the cuttings oriented correctly with the apical tip always up. Then strip all the leaves off, willows root quickly enough that you won’t need leaves, if you really want to, you can leave 1 or 2 leaves on each cutting but that likely won’t be needed. Keep the cuttings in water from the moment you take each cutting until it’s time to stick them in the rooting medium. It’s important to keep them wet or they’ll die.

For method 1, I’d go with a 3 gallon pot filled with a good loose potting mix like pro-mix, but any potting mix should work just fine. You can also use a white 5 gal bucket with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. You’ll want a minimum of 8” of potting mix to make sure you maintain good moisture levels and so there’s enough of the wood in soil to root well.

Willows will root all along the whole stem of the cutting so for optimal success, I’d push each 8’-12” cutting ¾ into the potting mix.

After they are all stuck in the potting mix, water the whole thing well to close gaps between the cuttings and the potting mix and to ensure the mix is well moistened. Let it drain for a minute, then get a white plastic trash bag, not black or clear or anything else, white. This will allow enough light through to keep them alive but not let it heat up too much.

Tie the bag off lightly and suspend the bag above the pot or bucket so it doesn’t droop down and touch the cuttings, make it look like a teepee.

Place that whole setup in dappled shade. Direct sunlight will kill the plants, and full shade will promote rot, you want some dappled light to hit it for at least 2-4 hours of the day.

They should root in a few weeks to a month, as soon as they start putting on new growth that’s more than an inch, open the bag and check daily but leave them in the dappled light. Then after they are growing and rooted well, you can submerge the whole bucket or pot in a bucket of water to turn the potting mix into a slurry so you can remove the cuttings wi...

Aug 25 2017

6mins

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E0052 | Patreon Campaign Launch

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Welcome back to another episode of the homegrown liberty podcast! WHAAA? Yep I’m back for a special announcement. I want to extend a special opportunity to all my friends who stuck with me all last year and helped make my podcast a success. I am going to be launching my Patreon campaign soon, but I thought.. I should give you guys the first shot at this and give you all a special thank you for your support and encouragement. But before we get into all that, You’re probably wondering “What is all this? What is Nick talking about? Patrea-what?”
Consulting
There is a need out there for consulting, for good solutions, for good information. A lot of you guys, and myself included are trying to make a go of this homesteading lifestyle in some fashion or another, some degree. Some of us are just learning, stuck in a dead end job, barely making it day to day. Some of you guys might be in the first year of implementing some of these things, you’re struggling to learn gardening for the first time in your life. Some may be ten years into this kind of lifestyle but no matter how experienced you are, you’re only one person, and you don’t have all the time in the world to research better ways to do things, or to find better solutions to complex problems.

For several years now, my main source of income has been from traveling all over the USA doing consulting jobs. And there are lots of people who can afford to pay a professional to come and help them fix or avoid problems. Or to troubleshoot issues they’ve been having and to come up with some good solutions. Some people just need help figuring out how to start a homestead and lay things out smart, because if you don’t know enough to know what questions to ask, then it’s hard to get things going right from the start. Some of ya’ll are perfectionists like me and just need enough of a push to start doing something with the confidence gained from having someone who is supposed to know what they’re talking about, identify issues and help design a good layout. And I totally get that!  
Budget
But here’s the rub, most people who need that kind of help and direction are in no way able to afford to pay me to drive for a day or two, spend a whole day with them, and drive home. A single consult can take a whole week out of my time, and that’s not cheap. I mean, I don’t have a problem charging for my time, and asking for what it’s worth. And I doubt any of you guys have an issue with that either. And yaknow what… It really bothers me that everyone who most needs the help I can give, can’t afford to get that help. There’s a problem here. To add to that issue, I have a ton of stuff I want to be able to convey and teach, that I just don’t have time for if I’m going to keep the lights on, and take care of my own family. I’ve gotta pay the bills, but at the same time I really want to give away my time and attention for free. So I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to get more helpful info into the hands of those who could use the knowledge while still being able to pay the bills.
Options
I had mostly finished setting up a paid membership website where I would have different tiers of content available to members. But again, I ran into the whole problem of only the people who could afford to pay would have access to the information. And that’s antithetical to what I really want to accomplish. Not to mention there are a bunch of people with the same idea and let’s face it, I’m not one to follow the crowd.

I think I figured out a way to switch from mostly higher end and expensive consulting into giving away my time for free! But I’ll need your help to do it.
Patreon is the Solution
I found a really cool crowdfunding website called Patreon. If you haven’t heard of the website before now, it’s similar to kickstarter and indiegogo, except where they enable a person or group to build a cool product, or film a documentary,

Jun 29 2017

13mins

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E0051 | Year End Update

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Today is the last episode of 2016 and our Year End Update!
Welcome back to another episode of the homegrown liberty podcast and today will be kind of a 2016 recap and an update on what we’ve been up to here. As well as letting you all know what we are doing in the upcoming year, and I have both some good news and some bad news.
Pigpig in the Freezer
We got Pigpig in the freezer finally, we’ve been really enjoying the fresh pork for some time now and we set up a 100% repurposed material cold smoker. It sat in the fridge salted for a week or so before we smoked it and it’s fantastic. We are so excited about having our own bacon.

I still haven’t bought a scale to weigh all the yield, but it really doesn’t matter, just bragging rights. What matters is that we raised her well, she lived in forest her whole life, and she got to absolutely pig out on a really nice white oak acorn drop this fall. The meat smelled fresh and clean, no odor except for a slight nuttiness. The leaf lard was so great that it was turning to liquid with body heat. It smelled slightly of acorns and pecans. Looking forward to rendering that for pastries this winter. We’re just very thankful for the harvest and the good food. I tell ya what, that stuff really fills ya up. Eating real, healthy food is amazing how it will satisfy with very little. We are realizing that unless we also have a whole beef in the freezer as well that one pig will not be enough to last us the whole year. I’m going to be experimenting with old fashioned meat preservation methods next time. I’d like to make some hams and old fashioned bacon, proscuitto, etc.. I want to be able to hang a lot of it in the pantry inside and not have so much taking up room in a freezer. A big goal is to get our electricity usage down as much as possible. One day I’d love to build us a more energy efficient home, earth bermed, with geothermal cooling and wood heat. We’ll still have an air conditioner to help on the hottest days. But My goal eventually is to become as independent of needing outside inputs as is reasonable.
Puppies!
We got the boys a couple puppies for christmas. They’ve been asking for ages for a dog and we found someone who had a litter of puppies that had to go to homes or they would end up in an animal shelter. So we took two male pups and the kids are in love! It’s really cool to see them taking so much responsibility for those little dogs. Titus is up and dressed for the day to take the puppies outside to use the bathroom and run around for a while before breakfast. It’s going to be really fun when they get big enough to spend a lot of time outside with the kids running around and playing. I imagine this upcoming summer is going to be a blast with young dogs swimming in the lake!
Christmas Present for Catie
I went to one of the big hardware home improvement stores and checked out the landscaping area outside where they had plants on sale. And man did I strike it good! I ended up with enough pansies and snapdragons to fill the flowerbeds and give Catie a wonderful and colorful flowerbed in front of the house this year. Very happy wife! And if you know me, you know one of my favorite sayings is “happy wife, happy life”.
Garden
Garlic and perennial onions are just rocking! They’re about a foot tall right now and doing great. That’s something I think would be really great to bump up planting of in the future. I’ll be saving every single one of the perennial onions we grow to plant out again next year. And I’ll probably order some extras. I’m hoping we can get enough onion beds growing that we can just go out and harvest those perennial onions as needed and have enough perennial production to meet our needs in the future but it’s going to mean really stepping up the numbers for sure. We’re building new garden beds, and expanding our ability to produce lots of food. Exciting stuff!
Refocusing The Homestead

Dec 30 2016

21mins

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E0050 | Raising Dairy Goats for Milk

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 50, and today we’re talking about raising dairy goats for milk.

I’m doing this episode specifically at the request of one of the listeners, thanks for the suggestion Rich! I hope this info is helpful for everyone who has been considering adding some dairy goats to their small farm or homestead. It’s a lot of work but definitely worth it to have one more need met and covered by on farm production. Definitely a big thing in self-sufficiency to be able to not only keep larger animals on your property, but to meet the dairy needs of a family with on farm production. I started taking care of dairy goats when I was ten years old. My dad taught me how to drive his little white Datsun pickup truck and I would drive out to the goat barn to take care of the goats twice a day in all sorts of weather. At the time I really didn’t like the work, but I appreciate the experience and the lessons learned now that I’m older.
Why get dairy animals?
Well the most obvious answer is because you use milk and want to have a source of it yourself. You might need an affordable source of goat milk for health reasons, or you may just be looking for a way to supply one of the normal needs for a family. I’m sure there are dozens of reasons to have a dairy animal such as a milk cow, or dairy goats. But since I have the most experience with goats. That’s what the focus is going to be with this episode. So let’s kind of hit some of the main reasons to get dairy goats.

They convert brush and undesirable plants into a valuable product.
They will clear forested or marginal land for you and convert it into more valuable and usable pasture.
You can keep goats on a smaller piece of property than you would need for something like milk cows.
A breeding herd with a buck and 3 does will produce all the milk you can drink with far less in feed costs.
Goats are easier to handle than a thousand pound cow.
With multiple milkers, you have redundancy in milk production. If one gets sick or dies, you still have production.
With multiple milkers, you can spread breeding out over a longer time period through the year to have a goat in milk year round.

So those are just some of the main reasons that I could think of right off the top of my head. I’m sure I’m leaving out lots of good reasons, but I can’t just keep talking about it all day! We have specifics to cover here!
Let’s Get Specific
Before you go out and buy some animals, I suggest you know what you’re getting into first! You will be well advised to get a book or two on raising dairy goats so you have something to reference in the event you need to troubleshoot an issue. And you will definitely need to make sure you have all your infrastructure in place first! Don’t buy animals just because it’s a great deal! Those deals happen all the time so proceed with caution. Goats are notorious for breaking or destroying fences. I don’t want you to get into trouble with goats eating your fruit trees, or rampaging through your garden. They’ll do a number on anything that is living that you specifically want to stay alive. It’s like they have importance radar built into their small annoying little brains. They can somehow home in on the specific thing that you absolutely do not want them to get into, and just…. I can’t even describe the behavior… It’s amazing really.

They are a powerful tool. That tool can be wielded with negligence, or care and forethought. If you can’t focus their energies to benefit you, they will do things that will make you want to cry.

We’re going to talk about lots of things today, and I hope I cover everything you need to know to get started with dairy goats. Things like infrastructure, such as a milk stanchion, housing and fencing. Equipment, like milking jars, buckets, milk filters. Milk quality and hygiene,

Dec 17 2016

38mins

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E0049| Q&A On Farming: Don’t Follow Your Passion

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 49, and today I’m answering some listener questions on farming. There are lots of seniors in high school getting ready to graduate in the spring and they’ve been doing a lot of thinking about their future. Lots of them are wondering if going to college is worth the expense, the time, and the risk. So I’m going to throw some info at ya, talk about things from my experience. And give my thoughts on what I would do if I were to start over as a soon-to-be high school graduate.

It’s a frigid 32 degrees as I’m recording this episode but the fire is going in the wood stove so the office is at least tolerable. And tomorrow we are butchering Pigpig! It’s both a sad day and a happy one. Because an animal I raised from a baby is graduating to the freezer, I’m going to miss this one. But I will be very thankful to have not only bacon, but what I anticipate will be the best bacon I’ve ever eaten. She’s been eating very well this past month on acorns and leftover food scraps as well as fermented feed. She’s had a very comfy life, a much longer one than a normal pig, and will be treated with dignity and respect, and a whole lot of thankfulness for her service and sacrifice. And Titus who has been talking about “eating that pig” for months now will get some homemade bacon finally!
So you want to get started farming?
Lots of questions over the past couple months on this vein so I figured I should make a whole show about this topic. My first response is GREAT! We need more people getting connected to where food comes from and hopefully more people growing and producing more food. Next I want to say, farming might not be for you! I don’t want to scare you off or be a downer on the exciting idea of growing food. But farming is hard work, it’s tiring, both physically and mentally. It’s risky, and has a long learning curve. And just because you’re passionate about something, doesn’t mean you won’t be bad at it! But never fear, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own food! I look at it like this, there’s growing for personal use, and there’s professional farming where you are growing for the main purpose of bringing something to market. Most people picture truckloads of produce or animals going to be processed into a final product with the farmer selling wholesale, or maybe with a direct to consumer model. And to be honest, that’s what I normally picture when I think of a farmer. But it’s far less black and white. And I want to make sure you’ve heard of or are considering more options and the whole spectrum of possibilities out there! I don’t have all the answers. But I do want to present a few different scenarios, and maybe make you aware that you can be a part of this kind of lifestyle/ movement without raising truckloads of radishes.
What’s the Best Path?
First of all, if you really dig the idea of growing lots of food for lots of people, I really encourage you to learn as much as you can and pursue the idea. But I also want you to do me a favor and be open to the idea that a niche market might be a great fit too. Not everyone who falls in love with the idea of growing food needs to be a “farmer” on a tractor harvesting tons and tons of food. I think those people are wonderful and we definitely need more of them, so let’s kind of work from the end goal to the here and now. That’s what I always like to do with my clients and anybody who asks me these kinds of questions. “Where do you want to be in ten years?” or “What do you want your life to look like in ten years?” Those are the kinds of question I ask. Because if you don’t have a vision for the future, you can’t get to where you’re going cause you don’t know where it is that you’re trying to be going…. Get it?
Where Do You Want To BE?
That’s the real big question. And yaknow what? If you don’t have that answer, that’s ok too! Because you know,

Dec 09 2016

26mins

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E0048 | Cold Stratification of Seeds

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 48, and today I’m teaching you all about how to cold stratify seeds for planting in the spring! This is super timely right now as we are headed into winter and for some of the seeds you might want to start it could take months of cold stratification to get their germination parameters met for sprouting. So if you’re wanting to get a bunch of tree seedlings planted in the spring, then now is the time to start!
Why do we stratify seeds?
Most seeds have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent them from germinating before a good season for growth has arrived. These germination prohibiting mechanisms keep the seed dormant through times of drought, or harsh conditions. Some of these systems keep them dormant through fall when temperatures are cool, there’s adequate moisture and otherwise it’s perfect growing conditions. This prevents the seed from germinating shortly before killing frosts arrive in winter. It can also keep them dormant through a warm period in spring and prevent them from sprouting too early. Because these systems exist, we as growers must sometimes artificially or pointedly supply the seeds with all the things they need to successfully and consistently germinate. We have to mimic nature, or at least be aware of the plant’s needs so that we can supply what it needs to grow and thrive!
Stratification is...
The process of breaking seed dormancy and promoting germination. Mostly what we’re talking about today is going to be Cold Moist Stratification, but some seeds need a combination of warm and moist and cold and moist, or sometimes there is need to alternate several times to replicate what happens in nature.
Look up requirements for each species you intend to start from seed.
It’s easily found online or in reference manuals. If you want to go the free route, just type into google’s search feature “stratification requirements for (insert species name)” For example, to find stratification requirements for apple seeds, type in “stratification requirements for Malus domestica” or for peaches, “stratification requirements for Prunus persica” but if you want specific information that is reliable, you must use the binary nomenclature or the scientific name. If you don’t know it, then just type into the google search feature “(latin) or (scientific) name for X” and it’ll probably be the first result. Now that you know the scientific name for the genus and species, you can look up the germination needs for free!
How does it work really?
Well the seed coat may be thick and hard and need to be softened by consistent moisture for a certain amount of time. There could be germination inhibiting hormones present such as abscisic acid. The seed coat might be thick and hard enough to prevent oxygen from getting to the embryo and thereby inhibit respiration, and keep the seed in a dormant state.
The short answer is that cold stratification softens the seed coat, leaches out hormones, allows moisture and other elements into the seed and signals that it’s time to grow.
Some seeds need a certain amount of light, some need a particular temperature range, some need to have their seed coats damaged by fire, or the digestive process of an animal to trigger the growth response. So by using “Cold Stratification”, we can simulate winter conditions and this one method is probably the most commonly needed when it comes to breaking seed dormancy. That’s why I’m talking about it first!
What kinds of seeds is this appropriate for?
Generally, temperate climate tree and shrub seeds will benefit from cold stratification, and a lot of the perennial herbaceous plants will also. This is generally not necessary for annuals because they are designed for quick growth. So specifically if you’re looking at a perennial, especially a tree or shrub, you should check to see if it needs stratification trea...

Dec 03 2016

26mins

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E0047 | Thanksgiving 2016

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 47, and we’re doing something very different this week. I have some special people here sitting with me and we’re just going to have a conversation. This is thanksgiving week, and today is the day after thanksgiving. And when lots of people are out looking for good deals and shopping. We are spending time with family and thinking about what we are thankful for this year. So if you’re reading this, click on the podcast and check it out for the conversation with Nick, Catie, Titus and a few words by Asher who is 2 and a little shy of the microphone. This episode is just going to be us talking about what we are thankful for and having a little chat with the kids. We wanted to keep pretty family focused this week so we hope you are doing the same!

For questions or comments shoot me an email to nick@homegrownliberty.com if you want to have me drop by for a couple hours and do a little bit of consulting. I’m planning on a Texas trip the beginning of December sometime.

Until next week

I hope you have a wonderful day, God Bless. And as always "Go Do Good Things"

The post E0047 | Thanksgiving 2016 appeared first on Homegrown Liberty.

Nov 25 2016

15mins

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4 Steps to Building Healthy Soil

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 46, and we’re talking about Building Healthy Soil. This is one of those topics that always comes up and I’ve not done a great episode specifically on this topic, and gotten deep into it. I’ve done a couple episodes where I talked about building raised beds a bit, and how I do that, but never got real deep into the why for a lot of the particulars. So I figured now would be a good time to do a soils episode where I teach you a bunch about the principles and practices of good soil management.
What is Dirt?
First I’ll talk about the big 4 components like most universities will cover. We’ll talk about them in the same way as typical geologists and ag teachers will, but then I want to talk about the real backbone of healthy soil, the most important thing.
Minerals -
These are the main component that make up most soils according to soil scientists. It’s sand, clay, silt, calcium, magnesium, you get the picture. This is mostly just kind of filler materials like sand and small rocks. But the minerals are absolutely vital to healthy balanced soil. Lots of people think it’s a great idea to wholesale add large amounts of minerals to their soil, but that’s often unnecessary, or even can be harmful to healthy balanced soil. There are few instances where it makes sense to add minerals, so if in doubt, leave it out.
Air -
This is one component that’s often forgotten or overlooked. Good soil will have a lot of air inside it. It’ll be fluffy and airy. The particles will clump together and leave gaps and spaces between them. And believe it or not, air is probably by volume the second highest component found in good healthy soil. That’s kind of weird to think about huh?
Water -
Another critical component often overlooked or misunderstood is water. Vascular plants die quickly without an adequate supply of water. If you could zoom into short of the molecular level, you would see what look like globs of water sticking all sorts of bits together. So healthy soils will always have a good amount of water by volume.
Organic Matter -
Here’s a biggie, organic matter. This is the rotting stuff from plants and animals that remains in the soil. This is a very important part of soil and not to be dismissed lightly. You can grow wonderfully healthy plants in 100% organic matter in the form of compost and they will flourish. So whenever possible, you should try to add organic matter to your soils and build up that content to the best of your abilities.  
What Makes it Soil?
Healthy soils are teeming with life. Lots of people think we add fertilizers to feed plants. That’s not the best way to go about it. Yes it works for a while, but if you are feeding the plants instead of the soil, you are feeding components that aren’t biologically friendly to the most important components in the soil. Remember I said I’d tell you what the most important part of the soil was after we covered the big 4? Well here they are, these are the really important 3 components in good healthy soil.
Bacteria -
This is probably the most important and most often overlooked component of soil. Most people think of soil as just this brown or grey stuff that holds the plant up and gives it somewhere to put roots. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are billions and billions of bacteria in healthy soil, so much that you’d never be able to count even a tiny fraction of them in a teaspoon of soil. They recycle dead roots and other components and multiply, then when they die, they leave behind a nutrient soup that’s just right for the plants to absorb with their roots.
Fungi -
Beneficial fungal organisms, pathogenic, as well as benign all make up this category. One of the hot topic buzzwords you’ll hear a lot in sustainable and regenerative circles is mycorrhizal fungi, or arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi,

Nov 19 2016

27mins

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E0045 | Homeschooling Methods

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Homeschooling is the topic today, and I’m going to be getting into some of my thoughts on why you should homeschool your kids. And I want to try to encourage you in setting out on that journey. I intend to dispel some of the myths and preconceived notions that might give you pause. And I want to cover the positives as well as highlight several methods and approaches to homeschooling.
Why Homeschool?
What’s the deal with homeschooling? I’ve had several people ask me to talk about this in the past few months so I figured I’d give you my take on homeschooling and what it means to us. And I wanted to kind of go over some of the means and methods that other people follow. I hope you take my thoughts and my words and think critically about what I have to share here and apply it to your life as it makes the most sense for you and your family.
Freedom -
Frankly the freedom to change your family schedule and be flexible is wonderful. Let’s say there was a sickness or an injury that necessitated that your family move for a short time to help someone or get treatment in a different city. The freedom to just pick up and go is great. Life happens and sometimes tragedy strikes. Conversely, what if there was a fantastic opportunity for someone in the family to do something amazing or wonderful, or to learn in a unique way, homeschooling affords you the flexibility to not be held to a single school location or jump through the hoops of changing schools.
Time -
Homeschooling allows you the choice to let children go as fast or as slow as they want or need to with learning any specific subject. Comparing this to public school, you have set subjects and a set amount of learning must be done to complete the grade. Nothing more, nothing less. Additionally, if one of the children excels at reading, they can progress as much as they want to, they won’t be held back a grade level to keep pace with their peers. So this can greatly enhance the efficiency of learning by allowing massive leaps forward with certain subjects while relieving the time burden later on for subjects that are more difficult for the student to learn.
Family -
It’s inherently a more family focused and family involved type of learning method. So if having a family who knows each other and are knit together is on your priority list, then homeschooling might be a great solution. Personally I like the idea of my kids growing up in an environment surrounded by family members instead of strangers.
Diversity of Experiences -
To compare, public school has generally a single adult teacher and a classroom of peers that are almost all the exact same age and experience. This is close to a monoculture of ideas and experience. Only one person in the room has authority and experiential wisdom, how sure are you that every one of those teachers holds the same values and care for your child as you do? What about growing up spending the vast majority of their time with people the same age and foolishness level? I think homeschooling wins just based on one simple fact, that the child grows up interacting and learning from people much older, as well as much younger. A homeschooled child grows up knowing how to communicate with younger siblings as well as elderly people and everyone in between. How much more well rounded of an individual will you raise? I want my kids to be comfortable interacting with anybody, not just those who are their same age and definitely not learn the whole clique social order garbage.  
True Learning -
Homeschooling allows your children to experientially learn about real life. You can’t get that kind of learning through most of public education. Sure you’ll learn some real life lessons there, but for the most part it’s very much not grounded and based on what life is really like. I’m a big fan of bringing experiential learning to my kids, to be there to keep them safe,

Nov 12 2016

31mins

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E0044 | Preparing for Winter

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 44. Today we’ve got some thoughts on preparing for winter and what I’m doing to get ready for the cold season. But first some news on what I’ve been up to and an update on the plant cuttings! 

Just got back from another week of teaching and consulting, and man, I’m so tired of traveling. I was gone for I think around 17 days out of 31 days in October. I most recently got back from a trip teaching about soil building methods at a workshop in the DFW area, and also made my way to 4 sites along the way to and from my teaching engagement. Helped several people get direction and overcome obstacles to the development of their properties. As well as helping one family feel comfortable in the plans they already had set in place. Overall, I had a great time, but I’m glad to be home and getting back to work on everything that needs to be done here. I need to get garlic in the ground asap, the weather has started to change, and we should start getting some rain in the next week or two now that the weather has shifted. I have a lot of plans going into winter! So let’s get right into it!
Garden Preparation
One of the big questions I’ve been getting recently is how can I gear up for winter gardening? Well, If you’re much farther north of me, then it’s probably too late to get much done other than quick growing greens and alliums that will be harvested next year. But I’ll get into some of the things I’m doing specifically.
Alliums -
It’s time for me to plant all my alliums here in Louisiana. I have a bunch of cool types of garlic I got from one of my contemporaries who has tons of market garden locations in and around St. Louis, and I have some perennial leeks and perennial onions to get in the ground. I’m really excited about all the cool new alliums this year. Next year will be chock full of onions and garlic if we have a good winter! I’ll be filming the planting of my alliums so you guys can get in on the action as well!
Mulching & Bed Prep -
I have some beds that need some renewing and mulching, so I’ll be cleaning them up and mulching heavily before planting this winter. I’ll be using some old moldy feed acquired locally to help build some soil, feed worms and increase biological diversity. It’s amazing what a little mulch and some worm food will do to build great soil!
Winter Greens -
I’ll be planting a lot of greens like spinach, lettuce, collards, arugula, and anything else that will grow through the colder weather and produce a leafy green crop for our salads. I’ll be covering with greenhouse plastic row covers to heat things up a bit and get some stellar growth out of them during the colder weather.
Root Crops -
It’s past time for me to get things like potatoes and carrots in the ground, but here in the south, the only time to really grow root crops like these is when it’s cooler. I’ll be getting them put in the ground soon so we can have some spring harvest. We have nice deep sandy soil so we should be able to get some long cultivars of carrots to grow nicely this year. In the past, my soils have been too compacted, it should be easy this year in the old garden spot.
New Garden Beds -
This is something we’re going to be working on all winter long, no huge rush since things are generally so warm here anyways. I might even be able to use some clear plastic to heat the soil and keep earthworms nice and active all winter long in the new beds and have a rocking start in the spring. I’ll keep you guys up to date on how that all goes. I am hopeful it works out like I think it might. All I have to do is keep the soil moist, warm, and keep food in there and they should go bonkers. Looking forward to trying that experiment out!
Cleanup -
It’s about time to make the last pile of compost for the year. I’ll have plenty of material between the chicken coop deep litter ...

Nov 04 2016

27mins

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E0043 | CoolBot DIY Walk-In Cooler Technology

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We have a really cool technology and product that we are going to try out for you guys. It's called CoolBot and is a DIY walk-in cooler gizmo.

The post E0043 | CoolBot DIY Walk-In Cooler Technology appeared first on Homegrown Liberty.

Oct 28 2016

34mins

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E0042 | Homesteading On a Budget: Part 2

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Today is part 2 of my Homesteading On a Budget talk from the Redeeming the Dirt Conference

Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 42. Today we have the second part of an excerpt from the Redeeming The Dirt 2016 Conference. This is from my talk on Homesteading on a Budget. This episode is part 2 with all the Q&A from my talk.
I had a lot of fun talking to and helping you guys figure stuff out during the conference. I won’t take up much time doing an introduction since this is going to be a long episode as it is, so let’s get right into it!

[EXCERPT FROM CONFERENCE PART 2]

Alright guys, I hope you enjoyed that second part to the talk I gave on Homesteading on a Budget, I think it’s a great idea to constantly have in your mind ways to stick to your budget and also to just simply be aware that having a budget is a good idea. I’ll keep this super short since that segment was 40 minutes long so I’ll leave it here. I hope you enjoyed this topic, if you want to follow up on this or ask questions, please hop on facebook and join the discussion in the community group there. It’s always cool to be able to interact with you guys and be a little more personal with one on one conversations there. So if you aren’t a member, I encourage you to join just for the community aspect!

Until next week
I hope you have a wonderful day, God Bless. And as always "Go Do Good Things"

The post E0042 | Homesteading On a Budget: Part 2 appeared first on Homegrown Liberty.

Oct 21 2016

43mins

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E0041 | Homesteading On a Budget: Part 1

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 41. Today we’ve got an excerpt from the Redeeming The Dirt 2016 Conference from my talk on Homesteading on a Budget. This episode is part 1 with most of my talking points, part two which will air next week will be a little longer and will be all the Q&A from my talk, so you’ll want to hear this part so all the questions make sense!

I want to say thank you to all of the listeners who came by and said, "hi", and encouraged me. It was nice to know I had friends there cheering me on. I was pretty nervous through the whole thing because despite the fact that I do a podcast, I’m very uncomfortable with public speaking. Ever since I was a kid I’ve not been comfortable speaking in front of people, I had a horrible stutter when I was a kid and it persisted a little even through my teen years. Oh yeah, I was a skinny home schooled boy who stuttered! I was a major ladies man! So it meant a lot to see some friendly faces and hear your encouraging words. I hope what I had to say helped and encouraged some of you guys. And since most of you didn’t get to attend the conference. I’ve brought part of it here to you! So let’s get into my talk on some tactics for homesteading on a budget!

[EXCERPT FROM CONFERENCE PART 1]

Alright, we’re gonna stop with only a couple questions answered there and pick up next week with a slightly longer episode that includes all the great questions from the audience and my answers on the spot! I know some of those things are somewhat basic and obvious to some of you listening. But I hope that there are are at least one or two good takeaways that you can apply to your life. Tune in next week for what I felt like was a great Q&A session.

Alright guys, that wraps things up, I hope you enjoyed this topic, if you want to follow up on this or ask questions, please hop on facebook and join the discussion in the community group there. Lots of new members have been added after the conference so I hope to see you join the community and share your successes and unique perspective.

Until next week

I hope you have a wonderful day, God Bless. And as always "Go Do Good Things"

The post E0041 | Homesteading On a Budget: Part 1 appeared first on Homegrown Liberty.

Oct 14 2016

29mins

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E0040 | Essential Tool Kit

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 40. Today I’m going to be covering an essentials basic tool kit.

I think there are a couple ways to think about buying tools and building up your personal toolbox and repository of implements. So I’ll kind of be talking about both perspectives, the buy the best and take care of it, and the other perspective of buying cheap and often. I tend to find myself mostly in one of those camps, but I see the value in both perspectives for sure. So I hope by the time we’re done here today I’ll have inspired you to think about your personal paradigm, and decide for yourself what’s best for you and your family. And who doesn’t like talking about tools right? This won’t be a laundry list of product placements but rather just a general list to get you to consider these types of tools, and to help you think about strategies for building up to a comfortable set of tools and getting to where you need to be for your lifestyle and choices. I’ll do a specific episode on my favorites with specific tools and links to where you can purchase them. But this one is just going to be covering a lot of the basic tools and will be a quick overview because man, there’s a lot to cover.

Before we get into the show though, I want to make sure I let everyone know about the mexican sunflower plant cuttings. I’ve probably gotten enough orders to sell out already but go ahead and send me an email with your desired number of cuttings if you’ve been on the fence because you never know, I might have extras after filling all my orders. I’ll keep enough to get my spring stuff started for myself but I really do want to get cuttings of these into as many people’s hands as possible I think they’re that good! I haven’t responded to all your emails yet because I’m trying to keep everything organized and there’s not much point in emailing you guys back to let you know I got your email and I’ve gotten a lot of emails on it haha. So as soon as they are ready to ship I’ll let everyone know who has already emailed me with their total, and get a shipping address and get your cuttings shipped. It will probably take at least 3 maybe 4 weeks to get them rooted so I’ll probably ship around the beginning of November. I didn’t want to take anybody’s money for the cuttings until I was sure that they had all rooted and that I could ship them. I’d hate to have to send back refunds if something happened like, oh, I dunno, a certain 3 year old decided it was perfect dirt to make roads with his little tonka bulldozer and ended up killing all the cuttings. Cause that could happen! So the same week that they are ready to ship I’ll get an email sent out to everyone with payment info, and as soon as I receive payment I’ll ship your plants!
Essential Tools for Your Homestead
When we talk about this kind of a topic, there is so much to cover that it’s a little daunting, and expensive too when you start to add things up. So let’s break things down into a bite sized chunk and see if we can come up with a way to incrementally meet the most basic needs while working towards a fully kitted out workshop you could build a boat in! I think this first kit is a great one to have no matter if you have a huge workshop and every tool imaginable. If you do, GREAT! Go grab a bag or toolbox and make up a small basic tool kit to keep handy.

But first let’s talk about some of the categories of needs so we can get organized and think about this methodically.

Workwear - These are things you wear that you NEED if you are going to do work
Measuring - The name says it all, you often need to measure things

Light - You can’t work if you can’t see
Power Tools - This type of tool is a force multiplier and can make a massive difference
Hand Tools - This spans a huge category of tools and we’ll break things down more

Pounding
Prying

Oct 07 2016

33mins

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E0039 | Chickens: Clan Mating System

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 39. Today I’m going to be teaching you all about a system of breeding and keeping a genetically diverse flock of chickens for years independent of outside genetics. What that means is that you will be able to keep breeding and improving your flock for years without worrying about inbreeding problems.

I learned about this method as I’ve learned a lot of chicken care tidbits from Harvey Ussery. But rather than explain it the exact same way as he has. I’ll try to put it in my own words and show you what I mean by explaining what I’ll be doing with my new flock of Black Copper Marans.
Proper Care of Your Flock Genetics
One of the foundational elements to a sustainable and profitable homestead is going to be animals kept well, and bred well for years to become healthier and better adapted to your location. We do that with our vegetables by saving seed year after year from the best, healthiest, and most productive plants we have. Likewise we should be doing the same with our livestock. Now, the way most people keep their birds is to have a single or maybe two roosters, and they allow a hen or two to hatch a clutch of eggs every spring, or they set some in an incubator and raise them up. But that’s neither a responsible way to breed your birds nor will it be likely to produce long term benefits.

The problem with that method is that you will be breeding father to daughter, or siblings, this is kind of like line breeding but more haphazard and while sometimes it will produce an exceptional animal like in line breeding, for the most part you will be degrading your flock quality. It is by no means a long term solution. You will start to see mutations and genetic abnormalities show up, deformed chicks will be born more often. The short story is that you will after a couple years be forced to acquire “new blood” to keep the flock strong. So if you want a truly self sufficient, or well maintained flock, you should be breeding with purpose and care should be taken.

That means being careful with who gets bred to whom and what birds are allowed to pass on their genes to the next generation. I’ve even heard of some rare breeds being saved with a single trio of breeders, and new selections being made every year to preserve the very best genes to pass on to the next generation. You may have 20 birds, but you won’t be saving eggs from all 20. You’ll save eggs from the best two hens out of 20. Generally you are shooting to breed the top 10% of your available hens and the absolutely best roosters.
Practical Application
Just because you may have a lot of inferior birds in the flock doesn’t mean you can’t continue to improve the flock, you just need several small holding pens to keep the special breeders separate so you can ensure you have specific pairings.

I’ll have 2 or 3 smaller runs with shelter, a feeder, and a water source for the breeding birds. I’ll leave the selected rooster and whatever hens I decide to breed with him, and do the same for as many good roosters I have. I may have lots of other birds who have off traits that I don’t want to breed in my flock lines. That’s fine, I just don’t hatch eggs from those hens! We eat those eggs, or sell them (not as hatching eggs) Those birds that aren’t going into our breeding program get mixed in with the general egg laying flock. This will also enable me to keep the most valuable breeding stock more secure behind higher security fencing. So my hope is that if anything gets in to kill any of my flock, I’ll at least have good breeding stock secure in a fort knox chicken pen or chicken tractor. I am seriously considering building 3 chicken tractors to keep my special breeding stock in and making it out of hardware cloth so nothing can break in, not even snakes would be able to get in to steal eggs and not even weasels would kill my birds in there.

Sep 30 2016

33mins

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E0038| I Hate Ducks and Other Stories

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Welcome back to another episode of the Homegrown Liberty Podcast, this is episode 38. And today I’m going to be doing a homestead update episode! This is where I tell you what all we’ve been up to, how things have been going, and what we have coming up! But I can’t tell you the secret just yet. I promise I’m working hard, but there’s lots of exciting things happening all at once and I have to pick and choose my battles! Only so many things get my attention each week and that particular thing keeps getting pushed back just a little bit. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to let you guys in on some part of it!
But let’s just get into what all has happened recently!
A Rough Summer
As most of you regular listeners know, we had a rough summer. I got sick with something like the flu after Catie was starting to recover. And I dunno exactly what it was but it took me out for at least a week. During that time, Catie didn’t know all the things that needed to be taken care of, added to that, she was still weak and recovering, and all three kids were also getting over being sick as well. And we lost a ton of seedling trees. You see I arrogantly assumed I would be able to handle taking care of all those seedling trees by myself out near the garden. I thought, “I don’t need to install any automated irrigation. I need to check on things every day or every other day anyways, so I’ll need to be out here anyways. I’ll just water by hand, that will be easier.” Well guess what…. I was wrong. Out of the ten thousand seedling white mulberry trees, I might have 20 left. The five thousand or so black mulberry, there are two left alive. Lots of other losses… 1 of my chinese chestnuts remains alive out of 20 or 30.

The garden is a wreck. After that two week period of time I just threw in the towel and chalked it up to a lost cause. I’ll chop and drop, then cover crop for winter and see how it goes next year with a different purpose. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The point here is that no matter if you think you can handle doing things yourself. It’s always best to set yourself up for simplicity and ease of maintenance. If I had set up automated irrigation, then I would have been fine. Catie could have just looked at things to make sure everything was working fine and been done with any nursery work. We would have kept thousands of dollars worth of trees alive, and had the seedling trees to plant this winter. Now I’ll be another year behind because I’ll have to wait another year to stratify, sprout, and grow up the seedlings for another year before planting.

If you can automate something, DO IT! If you can set up your system for easy, low time cost maintenance, you set yourself up for success. I’m going to be doing a lot more automation this winter and going into spring. I don’t want to have those same types of problems in the future. So I’ll be documenting how I do all that so I can teach you how! I want you guys to be able to learn from my mistakes and bypass years of lost time and skip tens of thousands of dollars in lost finances due to preventable and costly mistakes. I plan on being your guinea pig, the one who takes the hard hits with trying out things and learning what works, and what doesn’t. I hope to be able to show you shortcuts to success, and help you figure out practical cost saving methods to build resiliency in your life.
I Hate Ducks
There I said it… I severely dislike our ducks. They have to be the most annoying bird I’ve ever had the mispleasure of dealing with. I much prefer chickens. Ducks are annoying, they go where ever I don’t want want them, eat everything I don’t want them to eat, destroy things for no other reason than seeming pleasure of destruction. They don’t do any real meaningful work for me. There just aren’t enough good reasons to keep them. If I had good fencing up to keep them on the lake then maybe I wouldn’t mind them as much but they are just loud,

Sep 23 2016

31mins

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E0037 | Choosing Your Life’s Course w/ Ken McKibben

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This episode is a discussion of being intentional with our decisions, not letting life pass us by while just floating along with the crowd. Setting a course for your life and being deliberate with your actions.

The post E0037 | Choosing Your Life’s Course w/ Ken McKibben appeared first on Homegrown Liberty.

Sep 16 2016

45mins

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E0036 | Noah Sanders, Redeeming the Dirt 2016 w/ Joel Salatin

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Nick talks with Noah Sanders about the Upcoming Redeeming the Dirt conference in Alabama. Teachers include Joel Salatin, Nick Ferguson, Noah Sanders & Brian Oldreive.

The post E0036 | Noah Sanders, Redeeming the Dirt 2016 w/ Joel Salatin appeared first on Homegrown Liberty.

Sep 09 2016

40mins

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