How to Avoid Losing Your Authentic Self and Getting Carried Away

Did you leave the rat race only to find you moved it to your backyard? I see this in YouTube creators who drift away from their authentic selves in pursuit of subscribers and the all mighty dollar. Avoid this trap and get back to your roots.

I have started to jokingly refer to watching how-to videos on YouTube as going to “YouTube University.” Over the past two months, I’ve stepped up the number of videos I watch on a variety of homesteading topics, such as:

  • The many aspects of beekeeping
  • Raising chicks and setting up a brooder
  • Building sturdy gates for our garden
  • How to set up the framing and rafters on my chicken coop
  • How to install fencing including corner braces
  • Building raised beds

Much of this is stuff about which I have an idea, but I find YouTube helps me confirm that what I planned to do is right or it sets the bar higher and builds my knowledge. For example, when I started raising bees in 2009, I had a book on backyard bee keeping, but not much else. Today, I can pull up almost any topic I want and watch several videos on it. For example, my understanding of the development of a bee from an egg onward and how a bee’s role in the hive changes based on its age has been enhanced by watching beekeeping videos. SO has my understanding of mite control.

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The Best Time to Start Stocking up on Firewood

The winter is almost over and we have not used our wood stove for a week, but that doesn’t stop the firewood deliveries.

I just had a cord of firewood delivered, but I don’t plan to burn it until next winter. My plan is to have a cord delivered every few weeks until I have at least six cords on hand for next winter. I want to give them at least six months to dry out and season so they will burn better. In fact, if I don’t burn some of it until the following winter, that will be even better.

I was expecting fairly green wood, but it wasn’t bad. Much of it had reportedly been harvested from dead standing trees. This load was a mix of oak and hickory with an occasional piece of maple thrown in. It should make excellent firewood by the time winter rolls back around.

Ironically, we haven’t completely stopped burning wood yet this spring. This weekend, temps will drop again, so I’m sure I’ll be back to burning fire in our wood stove in the basement. It’s been 66 or 67 in there; if the indoor temp drops to 64, I’m firing her up.

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So You Want to Raise Bees: What are your Objectives?

Many homesteaders and preppers raise bees. Are they right for you? What are possible objectives for raising bees? What are the start-up costs?

I’ve decided to take up the hobby of beekeeping again because it fits well with our current lifestyle: We have moved to a home in a rural location, we have plenty of land, and I have the time to give them the attention they deserve. Because I raised bees before, I have some experience, enough knowledge to be dangerous, and a good bit of equipment, reducing my startup costs.

My objective is to raise bees for their honey, which I expect will provide us with a resource during tough times. That resource may be as simple as added calories that can be easily preserved (honey stores forever), or it may be as a means of barter. It could be an important natural sweetener down the road since we won’t be making maple syrup or raising sugar cane around here.

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The Walls are Up as Chicken Coop Framing Continues

More sunny weather allowed us to make substantial progress on our chicken coop yesterday. We expect to pick up with roofing late next week.

Work on the chicken coop continued thanks to the nicest weather we’ve had in all of 2021. All four walls are framed and up.

We also experimented with different lengths of rafters for the roof and the overhang. We settled on a 7-foot roof. It stick out about two feet in the front and 9 inches in the back. You can see the 2×4 we pinned up there to give us an idea of what it would look like.

Today’s post is going to be a photo essay. Enjoy.

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Warm Weather Allows us to Make Excellent Progress on our Chicken Coop

Back to the grind stone–or should I say nail gun? Warm, dry weather allowed me to get back into the field and work on framing the chicken coop.

On Monday, I took advantage of the warm weather to work on the chicken coop. It was a productive day in which we finished the floor and completed framing both the front and rear walls, which are the load-bearing walls.

We started our framing with the rear wall, pictured above, because it was the most straightforward wall having nothing but studs on 16-inch centers. The front wall had two 32-inch opening which we will use to access the interior of the coop for cleaning it out, maintenance, and to check on the chickens. I inserted 4×4 headers over these openings. We used our experience from building the back wall to work on the front wall.  It went together well, and I will provide photos in a day or two once we get it in place on the floor.

top and bottom plate
We marked the location of our studs on the top and bottom plates of the rear wall. This help ensure everything aligns and the walls is square.

The 5-foot 4-inch height of the front wall used studs that were 59.5 inches in length. I had bought several 10-foot 2x4s, so we could cut two studs from each one. For the back wall, an 8-foot 2×4 yielded two 43.5 inch studs with minimal scrap.

The rough openings for the doors ended up being just under 32 inches wide and are 38 inches tall. Based on our elevations, this is plenty of room for me to stand in front of the opening and use a rake to pull bedding out. 

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Outdoor Work Resumes as the Weather Warms Again

Warm, dry weather means its time to work outdoors, so we recently picked up where we had left off with the garden fencing project.

Work on our fencing project, the bee yard, and the chicken coop continues. We have installed H-braces for our fence corners and gateposts, as you can see above. We also seeded both white and crimson clover to provide a nectar flow for the bees. This will be in addition to flowers we will plant later. Because we live in a heavily wood area, I expect the bees will collect most of the pollen and nectar from the trees.

Installing the H-braces was pretty easy. I measured the distance between the posts and cut the bar to fit. Then I drilled one post, stuck a 10-inch long nail through it and into a hole in the end of the brace. This serves to hold one end of the brace in place while I leveled the post and marked the point to drill on the opposite post. Then we drive another big nail through that post and into the horizontal brace. This looks nice, but doesn’t accomplish anything until you use fencing wire to add some tension to the H structure with some fencing wire and a ratchet.

I watched at least half a dozen YouTube videos on how to do this, including videos sponsored by fence companies and by random homesteaders and farmers. I then proceeded, and it went pretty smoothly. We’re ready to pull fencing, but I’m going to wait until the chicken coop is finished.

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Picking the Best Breeds for our Bee and Chick Orders

As spring comes closer, we order our bee hive, bees, and chicks. It was a learning experience but we will plan better next year.

Earlier this week, I took advantage of the warm weather to spend some time in the garage and inventory my beekeeping supplies. I have a brand new hive bottom, a super with frames, and several spare large and medium frames. I also have a hive tool, a bee keeper jacket with hood, gloves, and a smoker.

When my daughter was in high school, she raised bees as a science project. When she went off to college, I inherited the bees. We had them for five or six years before we lost the hive to some unknown die-off. To get rid of any mites or disease, I burned the boxes, disposed of the frames, and packed away all the unused parts and accessories in case I had bees again one day. Looks like that day is almost here.

To construct a full hive, I ordered two hive bodies, an inner lid, an outer lid, a queen excluder, an entrance reducer, and an inside feeder that replaces a frame. I still need a bee brush and hive staples. I have a few cinderblocks that I plan to use as a base.

The three-pound package of Italian bees with their queen will show up in April. Then I will don the bee suit and pour the bees into the hive. I’ll add a second hive body once the queen is free from confinement and starts producing brood. Not knowing what will be flowering and providing pollen and nectar when they arrive, I expect I will need to feed the hive.

THis image of our old hive is from 2009.
This image of our old hive is from 2009, but the new one will look the same. Prices for beekeeping supplies have definitely gone up in the past decade.
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Prepping vs Homesteading

Homesteader and preppers probably have more in common than we think, and there is often some overlap between the two lifestyles.

In one of the bullet points under the “Our Philosophy” page for this blog, I address homesteading this way:

Many homesteaders are not preppers by intention but are prepared as a result of their lifestyle.  A garden, livestock, orchards and off-grid lifestyle give them an enviable degree of self-sufficiency.  While preppers do not have to be homesteaders, they can teach us a great deal.

Many homesteaders are not preppers by intention but are prepared as a result of their lifestyle.  A garden, livestock, orchards and off-grid lifestyle give them an enviable degree of self-sufficiency.  While preppers do not have to be homesteaders, they can teach us a great deal.

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