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.

Lieblings salvaged me something from the barn… A vintage cast iron trivet/wall hanging.

It’s become my mantra of late as I’m trying not to rush or feel frantic about all the things I need (or want) to do.

Lieblings salvaged me something from the barn… A vintage cast iron trivet/wall hanging.

It’s become my mantra of late as I’m trying not to rush or feel frantic about all the things I need (or want) to do.

2013 Rat Farm Planting List:

Gardens: 
16x24’  384 sq. ft.
8x16’  128 sq. ft. (512 total)

Large American Leeks
Vates Kale
Alaska Pea
Oregan Sugar Pod Pea
Cheorokee Wax Resistant Bean
White Belgian Carrot
Peacevine Cherry Tomato
Yellow Submarine Yellow Pear Tomato
Black Plum Tomato
Paul Robeson Tomato
Acorn Table King Winter Squash
Butternut Waltham Winter
Galeuse D’Eysines Galeux Winter Squash
Alma Paprika Pepper
Oaxacan Corn

2013 Rat Farm Planting List:

Gardens:
16x24’ 384 sq. ft.
8x16’ 128 sq. ft. (512 total)

Large American Leeks
Vates Kale
Alaska Pea
Oregan Sugar Pod Pea
Cheorokee Wax Resistant Bean
White Belgian Carrot
Peacevine Cherry Tomato
Yellow Submarine Yellow Pear Tomato
Black Plum Tomato
Paul Robeson Tomato
Acorn Table King Winter Squash
Butternut Waltham Winter
Galeuse D’Eysines Galeux Winter Squash
Alma Paprika Pepper
Oaxacan Corn

Our Fifth Year: 2013

- Incubated chicken eggs again, rare “blue”(grey) Jersey Giants
- Raised guinea fowl
- Sold Honda Element, bought old Toyota Cruiser for 1/2 the price, used difference for wood
- Bought a dumptruck of firewood (first time buying wood since first year)
- Put heavy duty bumper on Cruiser so we wouldn’t destroy it if we hit a deer
- Rewired all four burners on the stove
- Tilled/planted 16x24’ (384 sq. ft.) and 8x16’ (128 sq. ft.) gardens
- Fox got a few chickens, red tailed hawk attacked the last Jersey hen in the driveway but I pulled it off
- I got to manhandle a wild hawk :B
- Caulked windows/door frame on West side of house
- Stained/painted West side of house (ran out of good weather to do more)
- Built deck for the front door
- Finished stone retaining wall made with rocks from yard
- Lots of landscaping where drain went in/tractor tore up yard
- Started going to Food Shares
- Cutworms decimated parts of the garden, early frost killed green tomatoes, decent harvest, got a sense of dependable crops
- Grew enough to store/eat over winter (supplemental)
- Painted bedroom “Wizard Purple” (photogrpahs blue but is REALLY purple)
- Built 6x6’ of wall mounted bookshelves in bedroom
- Processed “cut and split” wood to actually fit the stove (it was as long as 3’ instead of the advertised 17”)
- Finished a country style dining room table with bench
- Installed secondhand air exchanger to help circulate/remove moisture
- Expensive 4-year-old soapstone woodstove broke before cold snap,
bought cheap Menard’s steel stove, swapped/installed ourselves just in time
- Learned to cook on steel cookstove (couldn’t on soapstone, it also percolates coffee)

Rat Farm by Year tag

I grew up around children who were deathly afraid of bugs but we seem to have broken the curse. =p

We had to learn not to pet bees, though.

Edit: It’s an Elderberry Borer (D. palliatus)!