Monty the Python. three years in my care and I dub thee rehabilitated! She eats perfectly now (a medium rat every two weeks), still has only the last of her various scars from live prey attacks (from her previous owner) but it’s shrunk and her scales have taken on a lovely iridescent sheen.

When I picked her up she was in a dirty smashed tank under a pile of laundry with no heat! It took months before she’d eat anything and she only took live mice which we ended up driving three hours to get (I bred my own while I got her on pre-killed prey I could buy in bulk and freeze). I love my ball python (and my other snake and pets) so much, I’m glad I could give her a better home. Judas Jr. is pretty fond of her too!

My landscaping so far! it’s nice to be past the picking rocks phase, I filled a couple wheelbarrows last year just picking up the front yard. I got the walking path filled in and level earlier this month and seeded this week (just in time for more rain). I found more of the salvaged patio stones to continue the path to the deck and started a landing with room to put the charcoal grill during the winter. I’ll need another tractor bucket of dirt to get the rest of the stones filled in. The corner garden is coming along nicely now that the chickens are fenced out (they always tore it up and dustbathed in the sun there).

This is our first year of having a nice lawn in the front, even when we moved in it was sparse and after installing the french drain along the house everything was torn up in the work path. Now more than 2/3 of the front lawn has grown in. I sowed a pasture mix with a lot of clover and I really love it as a ground cover. I let dandelions and other weeds/wildflowers grow and mowed some parts of the lawn less frequently and wild around the edges and garden borders so there was always something blooming for tor the bees. I think we’ve seen more bees this year than any other year! A ton of wildflowers popped up in the area we cleared on the South side of the house for a small orchard and passive solar. The same for the beginning of our big garden clearing out back. We also had a very wet year which undoubtedly aided all those flowers and having so many continuously flowering plants helped sustain the local bee population. I’ve been digging up and transplanting some of everything to the front yard. We even found some wild Flowering Raspberries and moved seven of those, plus two of the standard variety raspberries to the front where they can be cultivated.

After losing so many chickens over the winter and to the fox this summer we ordered 15 birds (12 surviving) for a new flock. This is our first year trying Buckeyes, we’re hoping they’ll be *the* breed for us!

Judas Jr. loved having chicks to take care of! We recently moved them from their dog kennel brooder (ignore the dirty water, we were just coming to change it for the millionth time that day) out to the old shack. They are settling in nicely and certainly appreciate the space!

All we have left of the old flock is an Australorp hen and Jersey Giant rooster that have taken to roosting in the pine trees.

Since the front yard is fenced in we let the cats, Mordecai and Maestro, out on one of the (last?) really nice days. They loved it! I’m debating planting catnip along the walkway for them next summer.

It’s been a wet cool day but we made it outside between rain showers. Judas Jr. is wearing his battlejacket.

More progress on the barn, the new trusses, fork attachment on the tractor bucket (for lifting pallets and whatnot), the corner of the barn now that the coop is out (how weird that feels after building it just three years ago), and the front garden.

The squashes are coming in and tomatoes are green but I’m anxious to see how far they get before winter. It’s been a very short growing season; cold and wet with late planting because the ground was still frozen in the middle of may. Summer never really started, we had one really hot day. Usually I’m beyond excited for autumn but with temperatures sitting around 60-70 and even dropping below 50, this whole summer has felt like fall! So long as the frost holds off everything should do fine…

Tell me that’s not the prettiest sight you’ve ever seen?
…Well, if you lived here last winter it would be.


There’s 6 cords purchased plus maybe 1.5 leftover. Assuming we don’t have another crazy year, this should cover several seasons and make a nice buffer as we get back to cutting our own (which we couldn’t with barn repairs).

We really lucked out and managed to get through to two different guys, the first brought an old dump truck and let Judas Jr. dump it! He was so excited but you wouldn’t know it by his look of concentration. ;p The second guy brought a hydraulic trailer plus truck bed full yesterday and it was his very last load! It sounds like it’s been chaos between the high consumer demand after last winter and the a high price for pulp wood diverting supplies… I wonder how the wet spring effected machinery being able to drive into the woods to collect logs? We’ve dropped more than a grand on wood and it’s still cheaper than heating exclusively with the oil furnace.

That shack in the background is the new chicken coop for at least this year. We’ve got a new flock of 12 in there, plus the old rooster, acclimating to their new home after brooding in the basement and the old coop respectively. They need to be shut in until they get used to it enough to go remember to go back in. A small run to keep them safe from the fox is one of a million projects piling up (typical, when you have so much to do yourself). I might Rat Hack it out of scraps once some of the firewood is out of the way.

The Rat Farm Guide: Introduction

The image of the doomsday prepper with a lifetime supply of junk food in an underground bomb shelter might be a fun plot for a zombie novel, but it’s not what the Practical Prepper does. In fact, surviving disasters and long-term scenarios is secondary here on Rat Farm. Our immediate goal is keeping ourselves fed and maintained in the present. Getting by on a day-to-day basis needs to happen before we can think about the future, let alone prepare for it, and when we do stock and plan for tomorrow it is out of necessity and a rational mind.

Practical Prepping is about accounting for the basics and working to ensure that you’re never without. It’s not about zombies or societal collapse but about basic safety, health, and personal responsibility. If these things appeal to you but you’re not sure how to take the first step, this is the place. Comprised of first-hand experience, the Rat Farm Guide is by no means a definitive source, but it will give you basic information and show you what worked for us so you can fine-tune the approach to your own situation.

Our goal in providing this guide is to give everyone an obtainable concept of self-reliance with an easy start. The Rat Farm Guide is a beginner’s guide to homesteading and frugal survival with an emphasis on small scale and urban homesteading.

-Judas & co.


The sidebar of this blog will have links to all Guide entries!

The new barn trusses, roof panels, door, and more lumber arrived

There’s forks on the tractor bucket to allow it to lift pallets. Everything of ours (except the trusses) was bundled together and too heavy to lift without flipping the tractor so it had more of a controlled fall. Our first load of firewood is due sometime this afternoon as well, luckilly everything didn’t arrive at the same time.

… And there goes the old coop!

… And there goes the old coop!

Now there’s a site for sore eyes after this and this!

The second to last photo shows the coop on the left. The last photo shows one of the broken off posts that was cut and repaired instead of dug up and replaced like some of the others had to be. We’re trying to get it back together as cheaply as possible by doing the repairs ourselves (really, Lieblings is doing all the work, I just helped with initial stuff) and salvaging as much as we can.