Archive for the ‘Homestead’ Category

How to protect sheep from coyotes

Monday, October 7th, 2013

How to protect sheep from coyotes, goats from dogs, rabbits from raccoons, chickens from foxesI began asking “how can I protect my sheep from coyotes?” when we lost some lambs to a coyote. We also lost a duck and another time a turkey. Either a raccoon or a coyote had been involved. However, nothing is as sickening as finding a beautiful lamb dead in the field.

I found a simple and free answer that has worked effectively for a long time now. It is what every male farmer does anyway, but might need to be pointed in the right direction: urinate. That’s it.

This also answers these questions:

How do I keep raccoons out of the henhouse? What keeps foxes away from my chickens? What protects turkeys from bobcats? Can I keep varmints out of my rabbit cages? Can I keep deer out of the garden? How do I protect my goats from coyotes? In short, how does one keep sheep and other farm animals safe from predators? In most cases, you can save your livestock easily.

I got the idea from a catalog that was selling wolf urine to put on the fence posts so that coyotes would stay away (this also keeps deer away, too, though). I thought, if they are scared of wolves, then why not human urine? After all, God said,

the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. (Genesis 9:2, NKJ)

They are already scared of you. If you were sitting on the fence post, they would not come in and chase your sheep, goats, chickens,
rabbits, turkeys, or ducks. So, if your scent on the fence post led them to believe you were close by, they still would not cross over.

You can whiz through farming

Sorry, but it is really that simple. Now, I know most of you female readers may find this concept demeaning, but surely you have some guys who wear the pants in the family. Send them out to the fence row or the henhouse to take a leak. It is crazy, but either a fox will eat your profits or you will use “mother nature” to your advantage.

Simply “marking your territory” will let intruders know to stay away. They would rather go after easier game elsewhere than to risk encountering you. Let the fear of humans be to your advantage. Do you have a dog that has to be kept caged in or tied up? Take it for a walk around the parameter of your fences or around your small-animal buildings. It’s urination and defecation will leave further warning markers that wandering prowlers would rather avoid.

The complicated solutions to protect sheep from coyotes

  • Livestock guardian dog. Expensive to feed—unless you have enough livestock to pay for it, it will cost more than it is worth just to feed and care for it. LGDs can also be dangerous around your children and other family members. Pick a breed with caution and raise one yourself, if you can. Sometimes they will protect sheep well but kill chickens. Be sure you know what you are getting into.
  • Hotwire. If you use five to seven strands of hotwire you can keep many predators from crossing the fence. Also, electrified
    net fencing will keep your sheep, goats, geese and turkeys, much safer than leaving them in a large, open field. They can’t get out (usually) and the predators can’t get in.
  • Tight fence. Sheep and goat fencing allows only 4 inches of space. This does not give the goats room to get their heads stuck through. A stuck goat is bait for coyotes who will hear it bleating and come running for dinner.
  • Red eye. This led light gives an ominous red glow that wild animals will interpret as being the eye of another predator. You have to set up a few of them so a stalker coming from any direction will see it and stay away. This supposedly works with raccoons and coyotes, but like any scare-crow thing, cannot be all one depends on. It seems like another expensive gimmick.
  • Noise. You could leave a radio going. My grandfather used to protect his garden and rows of corn from raccoons by putting out a radio at night. This usually worked for him, but it could irritate the neighbors. Kind of kills the idea of living in the peaceful country.
  • Sleep with them. Tent out under the stars like shepherds of old. Yeah. That will get old fast.

When urination may not work

  1. Rain can remove your defense barrier. We had gone almost two years without a coyote attack. I was pretty happy with my innovative defense mechanism. Then we hit a stressful time when one of the kids was not well and things in the home were stressful enough to distract me from making my morning rounds. Worse, it rained all week. Four days of rain must have been enough to wash away the scent on the parameter of the fence where our sheep were (about an acre and a half field, partially wooded). We lost four lambs that week. Until that point, I thought my efforts were just a “number one” experiment. Looking at those dead lambs made a believer out of me. Frequent urination kept the coyotes at bay.
  2. If rouge dogs are your problem, then taking a leak on a fence post may not be enough to stop them. However, sitting out there with a shotgun a few times will put an end to that. I give a dog a warning shot before hitting the target. If they can connect your scent with the source of the scent on the fence posts, they may begin respect your territory. Otherwise, there is
    the permanent option, but killing your neighbor’s dog can devastate a relationship. In that case, you would be better off buying a livestock guardian dog that will defend your animals for you.

Hopefully this article has helped clarify your understanding of how to keep coyotes out of your sheep, raccoons away from your rabbits, deer out of your corn, possums out of the henhouse, foxes away from your chickens, and any other varmint away from your goats, turkeys, geese, and ducks. Farming can be a whiz.

What is WiFly?

Monday, June 24th, 2013

by DJ Koren
Deejays and technology aficionados are now asking “What is WiFly” and “What are WiFly lights?” WiFly lights, made by American DJ, are wireless, LED effect lights. Operating on a built in lithium battery, Wifly lights last eight to ten hours without a power cable! This means you can do a quick set up anywhere in minutes without having to try to hide ugly cables. What a safety break as well!
Here’s a fun video I put together to explain and show what WiFly does.
What is WiFly?


What are WiFly lights?

Wifly lights operate with a wireless DMX transmitter and controller. (DMX is the system for controlling lights of many different types.) The wireless DMX WiFly controller can reach up to 500 feet without the use of DMX cable. WiFly lights can also be controlled with a remote.

What styles of WiFly lights are available?What is WiFly? This American DJ LED bar light operates off an 8-hour batter and a wireless DMX controller

They have RGBA Quad color, which in English terms RGBA means Red Green Blue and Amber, with RGBA you can mix these colors to gather and make any color in the world. Quad color means all four colors in one led, and with quad color you have nice smooth color mixing.

What are WiFly lights? This par light can be set up anywhere and opperated remotely.

What is WiFly good for?

Brian Redd, with American DJ, did a test to see how long it took to set up WiFly vs. normal lights that use electric cords and DMX cables. He set up two WiFly light bars and two pars (a circular light fixture, like a flood light). It took 56 seconds to put up the WiFly lights. It took over three minutes to set up the conventional lights.
Consider these uses:
•    Wall wash
•    Stage lighting
•    Special effects
•    Impromptu event
•    Production studio
You can turn any room—or any corner of a room—into a stage in minutes. Use these lights for a wall wash, hang them on a truss, or let your creativity go wild with American DJ’s breakthrough technology of WiFly lights. Now, you know what to tell the next person who asks you “What is WiFly?”



We built a greenhouse with cattle panels

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
4 mil plastic on cattle panel hoop house

Greenhouse with plastic installed over cattle panels

It cost us $25. That was just for the plastic. All the pieces were salvaged or free. We used:

  • 16’ cattle panels – five of them. These are about four and a half feet wide, so they made the hoop house about 21 feet long.
  • 20’ by 25’ piece of 4 mil plastic. This will last at least three months until it is warm enough at night to take off.
  • Lumber of all sizes to build the benches for plants. The plywood came from a house that a friend of a friend tore down.
  • Plastic shelving material we got from a friend who made dog kennels for a living.

We made a rim of 2×4’s to hold the cattle panel hoops up. Then end we framed up with 3’, 4’, and 6’ scraps of 2×4 studs. We tied all the panels together with baling twine. Inside we used an old table, salvaged plywood, and plastic panels for work space. We have over forty linear feet to set out plants. If we keep this up, next year will have a winter garden under this cold frame, hoop house.

The unusual thing we did was to build this over an old swimming pool. I only know of one other person in the world who owns a cement pond like ours—it was made from a huge fuel tank, cut in half. So, you will probably not follow our model exactly, but it created an interesting situation for us.

Flooring supports in swimming pool greenhouseOur tank half is nine feet wide at the top, but since the tank was cylindrical, it tapers to a rounded bottom which is difficult to walk on. So, we took left over studs from when we remodeled our basement and laid them across from one wall to the other. We then set full pieces of salvaged plywood on top of these studs, spaced at 12 inches on center. Since the studs were about 8’ long, they dropped the floor to about 2 feet from the top of the pool. This gives us about 8 feet to the top of the cattle panel hoops. It is a little crazy sounding, but it worked out great for us.

Beneath the floor was this empty cavity of about 3 feet. I read about some people heating their greenhouses with a compost heap. That gave me an idea for the empty space under our floor. We shoveled out the cows’ and sheep’s winter manure accumulation and stashed it under the floor to compost. At first it stunk badly, but by the second day the odor was gone. Now we are just waiting for it to activate the composting and start heating the room all night.

It has been a fun experiment and we already have some starts from inside to set out in the warm sun.Plastic shelves in greenhouse Ending construction of the cattle panel hoop house

Salvage plywood shelving in coldframe greenhouse

Laying out greenhouse shelves in snow shower

Our Jersey Cow Gave Birth! Here comes the Milk!

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
This calcium product helps prevent milk fever in dairy cows.

Help prevent milk fever in your dairy cow with two tubes of this calcium supplement.

We bought a bred Jersey cow earlier this year and the folks at the dairy we bought from told us to prevent milk fever we should use a calcium supplement.

This morning the kids came running in, saying, “The cow is having her baby!” Hurray! she finally calved. After catching a couple dozen lambs this year, this calf birth was a breeze. Fortunately, we did not have to pull it.

She had a bull and he looks springy and healthy. Figures she would give birth on the coldest day so far. We had our first frost last night.

The people who sold her to us told us we could prevent milk fever if we give her a couple tubes of Calcium supplement. We gave her one a week ago and then one this morning. We will give her a third tomorrow morning. We should have given her one just before she calved or while she was calving, but we did not see her until too late.

The calcium supplement helps prevent milk fever because it keeps her body from robbing her bones of nutrients to make milk. Since a Jersey milk cow comes into so much milk all at once, it can really hurt her system. The tubes of calcium help meet that need without her pulling it from her own reserves.

We milked off a little colostrum—the syrupy stuff that the calf needs to have good immunity. It looks yellow and runs thick. We will freeze it for use later in case we get a calf in need of colostrum.

Tomorrow her milk should come in. In a couple of days, it should be all milk and no more colostrum so we can start using it all to make butter and cheese. If we learn some good tricks, we will share them here!

Get Rid of Squash Bugs Naturally

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Here’s a recipe of how to get rid of squash bugs naturally and organically. My wife discovered this concoction when experimenting on pests that were destroying her winter and summer squash plants. We also found this to be a safe pesticide for Japanese beetles.

Ingredients (you can grow all these yourself):

Handful of Marigold flowers (plant these around your squash patch, too)

Dozen Tansy leaves (the tansy herb also drives ants away from your home if planted in the landscaping)

Six garlic cloves (plant these near your plants as well)

Four hot peppers (jalapeño, chili, cayenne)


Put these items in a cooking pot

Cover with water

Bring to boil, let simmer for 30 minutes

Should yield about 4 cups

Strain two cups of cooled broth into a garden sprayer and fill with water up to the gallon mark. We add a teaspoon of Basic H as well to make the mixture more effective and longer lasting. Just Basic H alone in water is a safe pesticide for Japanese beetles.

How to use this natural, organic pesticide in the garden

Spray this in the evening when the squash flowers are closed so you do not harm or drive away the pollinating bees. You will see how effective this is in getting rid of squash bugs naturally and organically when you water in the morning. Flood the area around the base of the plant with water and if any squash vine borers are present, they will come up out of the ground beside the stem of the plant.

Make your job easier by looking under the leaves for squash bug eggs. They lay in a row and the eggs enlarge before they hatch (about two weeks). Cut these leaves off and burn them. If your plant cannot bear to lose another leaf, then spray the eggs and it should kill them before they hatch.

Be careful with how much hot pepper you use. We tried powdered cayenne pepper and it burnt holes in the leaves! Now that you know how to get rid of squash bugs organically and naturally, use it as a safe pesticide for Japanese beetles, cabbage worms, other pests. Try this concoction on anything that bugs you!


Friday, January 21st, 2011

If you are thinking of starting your own website, I have two words for you: BlueHost and WordPress. A lot of homesteaders, health nuts, and homeschoolers want a site and ask, “How do I get started with a website?” Some want to blog, others want to start an online business. You can do both very easily.

Why I like BlueHost.

These people are great. Not only does the cost beat almost all the competition, the services do more than I need. For free, I can do all the email and auto-responders I want. I also do not have to pay extra for Attracta which has helped me get ranked way up in Google on some of my sites (google “Devotions with Dad” and you will see my site in the top few listings).

Bluehost helped me learn how to get started with a website and I’ve learned a lot just experimenting with the many services they offer. They also give me access to statistics in incredible detail. I can see how many computers have visited my site, how long they stayed, and how many pages they viewed. I can check what keywords are bringing visitors in from the search engines.

With one click, I can install WordPress on any domain I own and on any sub-domain I choose. If I wish to create a new sub-domain, I can do so at no extra cost. For example:

Here’s some of what BlueHost supports:

  • Apache
  • FrontPage
  • PHP
  • Perl
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Trendy Site Builder
  • MySQL

Why I like WordPress

It is free. It is powerful. Now, they tell me the best thing is Joomla, but I do not have the time to learn all that stuff (BlueHost does offer it as a free installation, too). WordPress can get you up and running in a day—all you have to do is add content. I add a page or a couple posts everyday and have yet to complain about the process. Looking back, I’m amazed at how much I have learned since I got started building websites.

I took a class in website development and found it all very complicated and confusing—and that was using DreamWeaver, a top line website program from Adobe. WordPress, however, offers all kinds of great templates that are way better than anything I could dream up in DreamWeaver.

Easily upload video, audio, and documents to share with your visitors. Type and edit your content in the administration panel. Manage your comments with the free plugin Akismet, and keep your content findable with SEO Ultimate (search engine optimization). I also highly recommend Jolliprint for pages you want users to able to save as a .pdf or print off. Choose from a thousand themes to match your needs or personality. If you have $60 to spare, you can get access to unlimited downloads on over 5,000 themes, too.

Other web services I recommend

I picked up a free account with Google Adsense which gives me about a $1 every time someone clicks on a Google link. The ads match the page’s content or the users interests.

For blogs people want to receive by email, I use FeedBurner. This free service from Google helps me manage my subscribers and even add Adsense to the feed. This, of course, works with RSS and Atom feed readers—which I find many more people using than the email.

Commission Junction is another great free tool if you want to make some money through affiliate marketing. However, you will need a lot of traffic before you actually get anyone clicking through and buying stuff.

If you are selling your own products or services, sign up for a free account with Paypal. This finance management product works well with eBay.

Anyway, there are all my strings and props. Click here: BlueHost to get off and running. If you have any other suggestions or ideas on how to get started with a website, please add them in the comment box.

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Our first full year of homesteading has taught us a lot and challenged us for this new year. Last year, we

  • Birthed our first lambs,
  • Tripled our garden,
  • Planted fruit and nut trees,
  • Raised our first pig,
  • Got our first horses,
  • Slaughtered our first steer, and
  • Entered animals at the county fair.

Raising organic, free-range meat on the homestead

We have a freezer full of hormone-free, grass-fed beef. We bought a dairy steer two springs ago just after weaning. We raised on him on the property until slaughtering him about a month ago. Thanks to two helpful neighbors, we got through this process quite simply (but it was work).

Our other little freezer is bursting with deer meat from three bucks we got this season. We have also slaughtered a few lambs this past year, but eat it up about as fast as we get it.

We are definitely happy with the way our meat production has gone. Beef is the easiest thing to raise. Turkeys are the worst, but we plan to try again this year.

The lambs are great, but we messed up the schedule with our ewes. We tried to crank out an extra lamb crop and ended up with false pregnancies. They will probably lamb a little late this year, in May.

Raising organic produce with the best results

We tried an experiment that failed last year (that is one way to get an education). My wife and I have always agreed, we would rather have 20 years experience than one year’s experience 20 times over.

We tried to raise squash in an old pasture. We tilled up the clay soil about 4” and spread leaves and manure. However, you have to till the soil deeper than this and mix in more organic compounds like humus, leaves, mulch piles, and manure. The hard clay soil stunted the growth of these vegetables. The hot summer then killed them faster than we could water.

What did work really well, however, was spreading think piles of manure. We spread composted horse manure about 8” thick. The squash went crazy in it! This set up gave the squash all the moisture, nutrients, and depth it needed to survive. The heat still took its toll, but we got more out of about 200 linear feet of manure heaps than we did out of the acre of clay soil.

Winter gardening for summer bumper crop

Winter gardening is an indoor sport: open the seed catalogs and dream! We know we can do well with broccoli, romaine lettuce, bush beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, winter squash, garlic, herbs, and onions.

We are gardening right now, too—well, sort of. We haul in pickup loads of manure from a horse farm, as often as we can. If we waited until spring, the rain would make the ground too soft to do this.

We are experimenting with growing squash across a trellis this year. Last year we noticed the winter squash growing up the fences and putting on fruit with no problem.

We set up cattle panels in an arch shape about six feet tall. We laid down a matte of leaves and then covered it with turkey manure on either side. Come May, this will all be well-composted but will be thick enough to snuff out most weeds. We will then drill down and plant winter squash seeds in it.

For your info, a bumper crop is a gardening success so great that you have to sell the excess off your bumper on the side of the highway (at least that is what I think it means).

Happy New Year!

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