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"The first time we did everything wrong." (homesteading)_

We have been in and out of the country for 15 years. The first time, we did everything wrong -- from choosing the land to livestock. Moving in behind an oil well driller was the worst mistake. After they are through with their bulldozers, chemicals you never even heard of, and spreading gravel everywhere, reclaiming the soil is next to impossible. They did this to thousands of acres in the oil boom, but we plugged away at it. Didn't get anywhere!

Then we bought livestock ... all kinds! We may have broke even there, but I doubt it. However, we still have all that equipment and will be better off this time. And the knowledge we gained is priceless.

If we had it to do over again we would do it different. And we are doing it different this time.

If you can, buy as much of the equipment as you can and store it, before you make your move. And know what you want to do beforehand also.

Start small. You may figure down the road you really don't like goats, pigs, or whatever. Then you are stuck and lose money. We have been doing this the last two years. This time we will be ready!

Choose the land carefully. Find out who owned it before and what they used it for. You don't want to grow tomatoes on top of a landfill. Only God knows what they put in there.

There are three words to five by in the country: Barter, Recycle and Scavenge. All three are very important.

My husband has bartered labor to have our house moved, to get railroad ties, and have our car fixed. Trading is a way of life.

Recycle everything you can. I even recycle chicken feathers. I sell them for craft projects, etc. Hackle feathers are used in Indian dance costumes and I sell all I have. Same with rabbit fur. Don't buy what you can't recycle. I just won't buy something in plastic wrap. Plastic jars can be used though.

Scavenging is most productive. We had gotten down so bad that we couldn't afford feed. So we contacted a grocer and took his wet trash (produce, etc.) off his hands. He was rid of it so it didn't clog up his packer machine and we had feed for pigs and chickens.

We didn't have a lot of furniture and couldn't afford to buy much. But there is a site here where the county lets people dump unwanted items. Then they haul it off to the landfill. It has been a gold mine! Construction materials, furniture, antiques, tvs, VCRs, appliances, plant pots and clothing. We have more furniture now than we will ever use. My husband has been refinishing a lot of it and selling it. We now run an ad and offer to pick up old furniture free. It works. And the stuff doesn't end up in our overflowing landfills.

A couple of other things I have learned:

If you put cucumber slices on fire ant hills they will move. Won't kill them, but they leave. Don't know if it works on sugar ants.

We must have several breeds of "skeeters" here. They carry a pox that will wipe out a whole flock of chickens. When the chickens close their eyes (they like to bite around the eyes) you are usually going to lose them. They won't eat when their eyes close. If you can keep them going till the scabs come off, they live. We fed our show breeders Gatorade with an eyedropper (1/4 cup two times a day). We didn't lose one.
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Author:Stevenson, Sue
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Previous Article:Some help with choosing a homestead.
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