Three Surprising Places To Find Cheap Homestead Goods

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Homesteading is not cheap. From animal feed to fencing to the animals themselves, there are quite a few things a beginning homestead will need. When we first started out we made the mistake of purchasing everything from a big box store. We spend thousands of dollars before we realized we could buy things way cheaper, we just needed to know where to go.

Second Hand Stores

One thing we’ve figured out is that second hand stores are often full of tools. Shovels, picks, drills, chainsaws. You name it, a second store probably has it. I’ve even seen a few bigger ticket items at the second hand stores around here, like tractors. Second hand stores are also great places to purchase homestead goods because you can usually haggle the price.

Peoples Yards

If there is something in the neighbors yard they don’t use that you could, why not ask to buy it? While this may seem somewhat odd, anyone who’s seen the show Pickers knows that its worth it to ask. We’ve gotten old trampolines, building materials and even a saw mill this way. It’s also possible to get plant cuttings or seeds and bulbs like this. Even if the person says no, you didn’t loose anything by asking. Just make sure to have cash in hand for an offer!

 

Facebook

It seems like Facebook is taking over the world (or at least the internet) these days. We’ve purchased second hand cars, goats and chickens this way. Facebook is also a great way to get information. Our peninsula has Facebook groups just for animal and garden advice. Take a look around, maybe there is a group in your area that will be useful. I also find Facebook especially helpful when I have something in mind that I need. It’s easy for responders to tag friends who might know something in the comments. Even if the person reading my question doesn’t have what I need, they usually know someone who knows someone, and I end up getting the things I need.

I’m sure there are a lot of other great places to find cheap homestead items, but these are the main three that we use here. Where do you find your homestead deals?

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Addition Update, Plus Around The Homestead

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Just a little update from around the homestead and how we are doing now that there is snow. Our addition is finally done enough to be considered livable, woohoo! I waited for a bit to make sure everything was working out properly before writing about it, but our insulation and chinking plan came together well. We are nice and toasty warm now!

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First we took all the gaps between the logs and stuffed them with left over insulation. We used the backed portion of insulation on the inside, and other scraps on the outside. The backing is brown and blends in with the logs inside so you can’t even tell it’s there really.

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On top of the insulation we added perma-chinking to prevent moisture from getting in. It also filled any spaces that we weren’t able to get insulation into. These two together fixed 99% of the drafts we had. There are some spaces, like around the door and the floor, that we still need to work on. Kyle ran weather stripping around part of the door, but we need to purchase more to finish it. The floor is just osb board for now (which I hate because it leaves slivers in my socks!). The drafts from it will be fixed when we put down real flooring over it.

In other news, we purchased more chickens! We’re back up to 19, which is around what I expected to have at this time with our original flock before The Great Chicken Massacre. And our 4 wheeler is back up and running! I do have to tease Kyle here a little with an “I told you so” because I thought he was putting the new bearings in backwards but he thought they made more sense that way. He finally took it to the local Yamaha dealership when he could’t get them in, and lo and behold, he’d put them in wrong! Luckily the guys at the dealership are awesome and fixed it right up for us, no damage done.

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See that? Yeah tires are not supposed to sit like that. I can make fun of Kyle for putting the bearings in backwards because we only needed new bearings after my wreck! Luckily after my episode of amnesia, I’ve had no other issues in riding the 4 wheeler (besides being a little panicky and going super slow, but at least I’m riding again!). We do really need to purchase a second 4 wheeler as a back up. Kyle hiked the 15 miles to the road to get to work on his first day because it wasn’t fixed yet. He said he never wants to do that again, and after seeing the blisters on his feet I don’t blame him. Hopefully we can save up some money now that he’s working and buy another 4 wheeler. It’s at the top of our “must haves” list, but they are expensive even used.

Funnily enough, our truck also needs the right front bearing replaced too. What are the odds that both vehicles need the same part at the same time?! Thankfully one of the local mechanics has the piece in stock, so we’ll get that fixed shortly. After another 4 wheeler, we need a back up  vehicle as well. At least we can get taxis to and from the park if something happens to the truck, but I doubt a 4 wheeler taxi exits, even in Alaska.

#everydaychores #aroundthehomestead

A photo posted by Katie Sarvela (@sleddogslow) on

We’ve been working hard on getting firewood cut and stacked, and getting our two 55 gallon water barrels filled. It takes a lot of time to filter that much water with our homemade water filters. Once we’ve got them filled it will be easy to just top them off as needed. Hopefully we’ll have a rain water catchment system set up by next years rainy season. That will really help cut down on trips to the creek to haul water.

We still have lots to do and lots to plan for next year around the homestead, but we’ve come so far from where we started! I can’t wait for the adventures tomorrow will bring!

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Why Dog Is (Wo)Man’s Best Friend

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The other day I had the worst experience of my life, and I really think the only reason I made it out okay was our dog, Ronan.

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As anyone following our adventures here or on Facebook knows, I was in a 4 wheeler wreck not to long ago. I immediately went to the ER and checked out fine, I didn’t get knocked out or have a concussion. I even got in to a dentist and had my fractured teeth fixed that same week. Well a few days ago we had made a trip into town to do some shopping and pick up some more chickens. We couldn’t fit everything on the 4 wheeler for the trip home so we left some of our groceries in the truck. The next morning I volunteered to drive the 15 miles by myself to the truck and bring everything else back.

Well a trip that should have taken 2 hours ended up taking me 9 hours. And I never made it to the truck. It seems I suffered an episode of some kind of amnesia (most likely transient global amnesia). I can only remember bits and pieces of Friday morning, and almost none of the rest of the day. I was basically Dory from Finding Nemo, but without being able to remember that I couldn’t remember. I can recall telling Kyle I was taking Ronan with me since I’d be going slow on the beach (we still need to replace a piece on the 4 wheeler from my wreck, so it pulls to the right a bit). I remember being scared and not knowing where I was going or how I got there or why I was alone. There is another access up the bluff between ours and the park where we keep the truck, and I know I stopped there because there were trucks parked at the bottom. I know I walked up that access at least twice, and knocked on the door to at least one cabin. I know I walked inland, away from the beach for a ways and couldn’t recall deciding to go that way, so I followed Ronan back to the beach. I also sat in the trucks and honked the horn in case anyone could hear. Morse code SOS, cause, ya know, the me that knew nothing still remembered that, thank you high school history class. I waited there for a bit, and at another cabin at some point in time because it was familiar to me. At one point I turned on the truck because I couldn’t remember the date and was listening to the radio to know when the tide was. And when they announced the date I immediately forgot, even though I knew they had just said it.

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The whole time I was back and forth on the beach and up and down to the bluff Ronan was with me. In all of my “awake” times I can remember him being with me and just thinking over and over again that I was okay as long as he was there. The only reason I even went home is because I saw Ronan heading that way, so I followed. And he wasn’t even home when I got there! Kyle had to go find him the next day at our friends cabin (where I’d spent some time sitting because it was familiar even though I couldn’t remember why. I was just to scared to move from there for a while).

Of course this would have been scary enough had it happened in town, but having it happen where there was no guarantee of being found was really terrifying. Ronan was the only thing keeping me calm most of the time.

It really was like being completely blacked out and not knowing where I was, how I’d gotten there, or why I was there. I kept thinking even if I found someone I didn’t know how to ask for help, the only thing I could remember was my mom’s cell phone number (which she is NEVER allowed to change now). I didn’t even remember my name or why I needed help at one point, just that I knew I did and that I needed to stay with the dog. All of my memories of the day come from being “awake”, which seemed to happen more often as the day went on. I have almost no memories during daylight but have more and more at dusk and after dark.

Once I got home I knew exactly that that was where I needed to be to be safe, and I recognized Kyle and our daughter (though I refused to hold her because I still wasn’t “me” for a while after). By the next morning I felt fine, and have had no memory lapses since. Hopefully this was a one time thing, potentially caused by stress from the wreck, and never happens again. Luckily Kyle will be home to keep an eye on me until his job starts next month (did I mention he got a job? Yay!).

I did make some strange decisions while I was out of it. For some reason I thought maybe I was out searching for spirit stones so I came home with one in my pocket, and had left another 3 on the beach, which Kyle retrieved the next day. But my boots weren’t muddy so I must have found them on shore somehow. I also came home with a bear spray and tide book that I hadn’t left with, but I must have known it was a good idea to have them so I took them. I’d love to return them, if only I could remember where I had borrowed them from! (Update, figured this out and returned them!) I also came home with an empty tank in the 4 wheeler. It was full when I left, and can go at least 40 miles before it runs out, so I probably drove up and down the beach a lot. And I can remember unbuttoning all my layers down to a tank top multiple times to make sure I wasn’t wearing my boba and I hadn’t lost my daughter. I wasn’t sure if I had really checked all the times I thought I had before!

Amnesia is no joke, and not something I would wish on my worst enemy. Apologies if this post is somewhat jumbled and jumps around. My memories and emotions from that day are still off as well, so this is the best record of my impressions from that day that I can write.

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Anyway, Ronan got lots of petting and treats the next day. If he didn’t directly save my life, he kept me from putting myself in more danger than I already was by keeping me calm and oriented toward the beach and home! Good dog!

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A Kick In The Teeth

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Sometimes life kicks you in the teeth. Or Alaska. Or a 4 wheeler.

Yup. Definitely a 4 wheeler.

After talking about being safe on the homestead, I gained my first serious injury on the beach. Turns out speed + wearing two pairs of gloves because *brrrrrr* + giant flat rock = holy mother of pearl that hurts.

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Hurts the face, and hurts the wallet. Not only did I fracture my two front teeth (not pretty), I also jacked up our 4 wheeler. Which we really appreciated. And which not having may be the make or break for us being able to make winter work out here. It’s not going to be cheap to fix either my teeth or the 4 wheeler unfortunately. But that’s life. Sthit happenths.

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So where does that leave things? We may need to give up the homestead for this winter and pick back up next summer. We’re trying to figure out how to stay for now, but we aren’t sure it’s possible. Step #1 is figuring out how to get Kyle to his job interview on Thursday, and then to work without driving the truck on the beach (if he gets the job). A 15 mile hike before and after work each day is just not feasible, and the beach won’t be safe to drive pretty soon.

But I guess that’s a problem to solve tomorrow. Everything looks better in the morning right? I’m sure my bruises will!

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Pregnancy And Homesteading

Pregnancy And Homesteading - SledDogSlow.com
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I don’t want to make an entire post complaining, but being pregnant while starting a homestead has brought some interesting challenges. My pregnancy is only supposed to last another month (yay!) so we’re really feeling rushed on our timeline to get certain things done. Like our 12 x 12 extension to our studio shed. We really need that extra space to live comfortably out here with another person, no matter how tiny. We will be staying in a friends cabin directly after birth for while though. It’s closer to town and has some amenities like running water that will make adjusting to having a newborn a little easier for Kyle and I. Staying there will also give him more time to work on our extension and making it winter ready before bringing our daughter home. I’m really glad that we’ve met so many amazing people in this area, and extremely grateful to our friends for offering us their place for as long as we need it.

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So far my pregnancy has been pretty easy compared to a lot of the horror stories I’ve been told, but its really effected how useful I am out here. For one, having my center of gravity changed so much makes me that much more prone to falling down. I’ve become a regular pro at turning tripping forward into falling on my butt. It also makes for some interesting contortions when I attempt to get up from these falls. Or just getting up in general. Kyle thinks its funny to lay his arm across me when I’m trying to get out of bed, just that small amount of pressure and I’m stuck! He told me I look like a turtle rocking from side to side to get enough momentum to get up. Of course he didn’t think it was so funny anymore when he pulled a muscle in his back and had to make the same moves to get up himself! Unfortunately my new center of gravity isn’t something I can do much about. It’s just something I have to work around in my daily tasks on the homestead.

I knew being pregnant when we started building our homestead would mean not being able to help with things like lifting logs. Something I hadn’t considered being pregnant would affect is my ability to do laundry. There is a lot of bending, even when sitting down, to scrub clothes on a wash board. No big deal right? Except for the extra inches my stomach now sticks out! And it doesn’t help that I have short arms either! The best I’ve been able to get around this is to sit back in a chair with my legs on either side of the wash bin. At least then I’m not bumping my baby bump into anything.

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Another thing I hadn’t really considered before making this move pregnant was transportation. Riding in a vehicle can be awkward enough, but riding pregnant on a 4 wheeler is a whole nother thing. Kyle is stronger than I am so he does nearly all of the driving when we ride together since the sand and gravel on the beach here will sometimes grab your tires and try to pull you. Riding behind him was fine until I hit the “growing” stage of my pregnancy, and now it’s downright uncomfortable. I’ve had to scoot far enough back to avoid bumping into Kyle that I end up sitting on the bars on the back of the 4 wheeler when we go anywhere. I was just recently given a boat cushion to put on the 4 wheeler, so that has helped a lot. No more going over bumps while sitting on metal cross bars for me! Of course the cushion doesn’t help the fact that sitting on a 4 wheeler is like straddling a barrel. Hello hip pain. Getting on and off is it’s own brand of fun as well. But the 4 wheeler is a necessary tool for our survival out here, and no matter how awkward riding it gets, I still appreciate it because at least I’m not walking those 15 miles.

There is also a whole list of things that need done on the homestead that I can’t help with until after our daughters arrival, and not even right after either. Things like fetching water, hunting, even foraging. When we went blueberry picking I was leaving bushes half picked for Kyle to finish off because I had to move. I just couldn’t stay bent over or sitting in one position to pick for too long. All the pulling of joints and ligaments loosening up thanks to great pregnancy hormones (you can just feel the sarcasm here right?).

There are the things everyone expects during pregnancy that have a different spin living remotely as well. Not being able to put on my own shoes (or fit in them anymore), means I wear flip flops a lot. Yup, flip flops in the woods, no wonder I’m always tripping right? At least wearing shoes that I can slip on and off means I don’t have to ask Kyle to help with socks and shoes every time I go in or out of the house. I do have to ask him to fill my wash bins every time I need to do dishes or laundry though. I can’t carry the 5 gallon water jugs we have, let alone get them up a step to my wash stations. I can’t help tie up the dogs or herd chickens anymore either. Bending + new center of gravity + flip flops + chasing chickens = a recipe for disaster.

I love living out here, and all the challenges that come with starting a homestead from scratch. Even with my pregnancy slowing me down, I know I’m able to contribute a lot in the day to day. I do keep up with laundry, dishes and all the cooking. And even if I don’t and am having a bad day, my wonderful husband picks up the slack so I can rest. I also get to sit down and put my feet up anytime Kyle needs something researched for whatever he is working on. And any projects that I can handle on my own I do take on, like building our water filter and canning food for winter. So even though I’m disappointed with how much I can’t help Kyle with, I do know I am as helpful as I can be. I know there will be a whole new slew of challenges building up our homestead with a newborn, but I think starting it pregnant has given me a trial run in baby influenced set backs. I will definitely be more mentally prepared to put projects on hold to spend time keeping Kyle, myself and my daughter happy and healthy!

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