Wise resources

Wow what a long time it has been, we have talked over and over about letting the blog die. We love it! We love going through our old stories. We love writing them, But we find our time tied up other places and we never seem to get around to it. Yet every-time we discuss not renewing we talk ourselves out of it. So here I am today with a mile high to-do list feeling like I have to write this blog, maybe someone needs it, maybe it’s just for me either way I feel compelled to throw the days productivity to the wind and write.

It’s May 1st 2023, it has been raining for 3 days, the forecast calls for 3 more….it’s spring that’s not out of character and actually I am enjoying the last few days of curling up by the fire, reading, resting, getting ready for the busy season of planting….that never seems to stop until the fall harvest is over and the beds are tucked in for another winter.

Wait, fire? what?

Yup, of all the many blessings I have to be thankful for today the woodstove tops my list.

First, it’s May 1st and we are still running it ( historically unheard of for us)

Second, we can still run it which means my not only handsome but also handy husband provided for me the resources I needed to keep it going.

Third, we used those resources wisely, wisely enough that our woodlot has many many many more years of wood to provide. Wisely enough that the wood allotted for this year has lasted from Oct 1st ( the official Splitrock day to light the woodstove), right through today May 1st and I don’t even feel bad it’s going, yet there is still more wood I could burn.

Mostly though it’s the thought of the use of resources that I am thankful for and that have me writing today.

Homesteading has this way, self- sufficiency has this way, both for the people in it and the people out of it. Both groups can get rubbed the wrong way by certain claims the other makes. Sometimes it’s romanticized very unrealistically, sometimes it’s all about prepping and government take overs, end times, climate change, who is and isn’t doing what for the better good of the environment, society, animals, the poor I could go on and on and start the next war.

Then also there is who is doing it how, the wrong way, the right way, the financial inputs available to who. Even within the homesteading community there is lots of judgements and expectation and social media is so so good at buttering it all up in weedless gardens or poop free pastures ( neither of which we own if you were wondering).

But, all that said…. it is a different way of life. For me it brings more pleasure, also more work.

Regardless of how they label themselves homesteading brings more awareness to resources and their uses.

Regardless of why people are driven to homestead be it, self- sufficiency, finances, climate change, bad governments, call to stewardship they all in their why and their niches seem to have an agreement on good use of some types of resources.

Today I got smacked in the face with how thankful I am of my woodstove the resources it supplies and all the gifts that flow through it and from it.

Let me break it down and hopefully when you place your eyes on your homestead or your local neighborhood homesteaders you can view them in a light of well used resources, wrapped in their survival, thankful for them and all they provide.

It’s a source of energy my woodstove, 1 that for several reasons can be “bad” for the environment and the air quality depending on who you ask. It also is one unlike it’s electric, oil and gas powered counterparts whose energy I can use for several tasks easily and without much skill.

I am thankful for it’s heat, although today isn’t overly cold it is damp and I am thankful for the dry comfy cozy atmosphere for my family.

I am thankful I can use that residual heat energy to cook my supper, without activating another energy source nor without more energy output from myself ( after the generally prep work is done it just sits there and simmers away)

I am thankful the warm dry air it puts off can dry my clothes in a family of 6 still living at home and our solar panels not enough to run a dryer, I rely on dry woodstove heat or dry days on the line for unending laundry tasks.

In the big picture , there are a ton of other things to be thankful for:

The woodlot that supplies the energy source

The skills of my husband and his many years cutting in the bush that keeps our forest sustainable for many many years to come.

The ” free work out” wood splitting and stacking and restacking inside provides.

The family time, because lets face it….everyone has to pitch in, to gather, split, stack.

The skills my children learn, how to start a fire, (and there is a difference between a fire for warmth and one that has flame), how to keep it going, and how it works, drafts ect…

There is more, so much more….. but my writing time needs to end. Feel free to add the resources your thankful for, or others you would add to my list in the comments.

Not everyone is a morning person or pig for that matter,

Most mornings start early for me on the homestead. I went out in the blowing snow this morning to feed the animas. I slipped on a puddle that froze over and then covered over with a fresh layer of snow during the night. I laughed at myself hoping nobody saw me flailing around for a brief second before I made contact with the ground. Once I made may way into the barn I said good morning to our LGD (livestock guardian dog) and gave her some snuggles. I put some feed into some buckets and made my way out to where the hogs are. Our Boar Butch is a big lad he probably weighs over 600lbs he has a little lean-to that he sleeps all snuggled up buried in straw. Most mornings you can hear him grunting peacefully as he snoozes away. I shout over to him that his breakfast is here but that I am not serving it to him in bed, that he needs to get up. He lifts his head and looks at me with a snort an puts his head down as if to say go away! I pour his feed into his feed bowl and walk away. A little while later as I am finishing up feeding everyone else I notice that he has reluctantly made his way out of his bed of straw to get his breakfast.

I normaly get out of bed around five most mornings. This gives me some time to myslef before our household gets busy. With a family of seven it doesn’t take long to get busy. Our youngest who is six months old is up shortly after I am and full of smiles. I love morning snuggles and smiles with her, she is pretty peaceful. Then our three year old wakes up hopefully after six. Once she is awake good luck to eveyone else to continue sleeping. She is loud and full of energy, she comes down the stairs singing at the top of her voice (other than the fact that it is nice to see her so full of life and confidence to say that it is a pleasant sound would be a stretch). Our teenagers would sleep all day if given the option however around here you are expected to be up and ready for the day by eight. They roll out and make their way to the main floor of the house just in time on the weekends. Saying good moring to them may be a dangerous thing to do.

Everyone is different. Some wake up quietly smiling looking forward to the day, others wake up singing, and yet others don’t like the thought of getting up at all and do so begrudgingly.

How do you wake up? Are you a morning person?

It has been awhile…

Well it has been a crazy long time since I got behind the keyboard to write just about anything. There are always excuses as to why I don’t write. So today I set one excuse down for a nap and poured myself a coffee and thought I would write a few words to let you all know that we are alive and doing well here on Splitrock Heritage Homestead. It has been a busy season no doubt about it. In the last year alone we have had some major changes happen on our homestead. This spring we added another little girl to our household which now means there are seven of us. She is such a blessing and sweetheart. She has taken a lot of time in various ways (a lot of which are just because she is too cute and you want to see her so much). So here I am writing.

Just to refresh peoples memory of who we are and what we do let me give you a quick recap. We are a family of 7. Our kids range in ages from almost 18 down to 6 months. We are a blended family. We work off the homestead as well as work the homestead. Our homestead is on 160 acres. We are off grid. We do have internet. We raise Silverlace Wyndotte chickens (as our layers) we raised Jersy Giant chickens for our meat birds this year. We also raise Berkshire pigs, and are currently building our herd of cattle with the goal to run mostly highland cattle, we have a handful of goats. Our land varies from sandy to granite with wetlands and ponds throughout. We are working on fenecing (a constant thing) and through proper fences we hope to improve our grazing area as it was overgrown and down on nutrients from the past.

So this is hopefully one of many new posts to come. I am interested in hearing what it is that people who follow this blog or our instagram account #splitrockheritagehomestead would like to hear about? What kind of topics? What questions do you have about off grid living? Blended Families? What? just let us know and we will do our best to accomadate those kinds of posts in the future.

It’s a good day to write….

It’s freezing rain here…..actually we are in a complete weather warning system that includes….. Rain, freezing rain, snow, high winds, downed trees, power outages ( not for us 😁). It caused us to cancel our Christmas gathering with my in-laws and my husband to be called to work. It’s the kind of day you spend indoors by the fire with a hot cup of tea and a good book, gather round for a board game and a great day to eat soup. Sometimes I even like these kinds of days, they can be refreshing and good for the soul. I have also found this one to be a great lesson it what homesteading has provided us…..

We went grocery shopping yesterday afternoon after church, a regular occurrence for our family, this time just for the basics milk, bread, a quick put together lunch. It took FOREVER the line it went around the store, really around it. We took express ( less then 12 items) we started 7th in line….if this was a drive thru everyone would be mad. It was panicked hysteria, well maybe not that extreme but it was getting there. Everyone is worried, what if the power goes? What if we can’t get to the grocery store? What if we run out of gas? Water? and it makes me think what if?

What if we can’t draw water from the well? What if there is no gas, no groceries? What if we can’t keep our food cold? our houses warm? Turn lights on? I am not a prepper, I don’t stock up on anything. Our budget doesn’t allow it, our storage space doesn’t allow it and honestly it’s just not my thing we will figure a way to work it out and get through it….we always do.

It also caused me to reminisce, when I was a kid the power went out here all the time. We made do. No-one went with out, no-one rushed to the grocery store or the gas station or panicked. I remember the power being out for 8 days once, we had livestock then, we had a whole pack of rescue dogs then, everyone did fine at least by my childhood memory and no one was stressed about it, we coped, we used our skills and our available resources, we made do.

But we have lost so much of that, we rely so much on the “systems” on the things of convenience being there the skills are all but distant memories. How would we do here at Splitrock?……Honestly for a while I think just fine.

We have resources- wood, running water streams, cool places to keep food, food available, some we raise, some we can hunt, some although not a lot in this season some we can forage and we have the tools to do it.

We have skills- We can cook both on an open fire and a woodstove, we can hunt, skin, butcher, forage food. We can collect and boil decent drinking water. We can light a fire for warmth with just the resources the woodland provides with out using our wood supply. We can keep food cold, put snow in the fridge, suspend food in cold ponds. We can live here with out running water, with out power…we have done it.

Its why we do it, it’s why we are here. To stay connected to living and not just float through it. To know where our food comes from and what it takes. To feel closer to God and what he gave us. To be good stewards. To teach our children. I hope when they come back to visit in later years, they remember these skills, they hone them, they go out and practice them…. you never know when you might decide it’s just not worth waiting in line at the grocery store for.

Complete disclosure!

I’m trying to drink 1 cup of barely lukewarm coffee, watching the sun shine through the window and the blackflies beg to come in. I can’t wait to get back out there!

Then I look inside at my house ( which is just really the place where we sleep and collect stuff from the day before) and I see my misgivings, my admittingly horrible house keeping skills, my failure to provide a clean organzied home for my husband and my kids. I beat myself up for a bit then I remember…..

I’m a homestead mom ( although this doenst mean they all have messy houses)

Its 830 in the morning all ready I have, been outside for over an hour after I got the kids out the door I’ve ….

Hayed horses

Hayed goats

Watered pigs, horses, goats

Milked a goat, filtered the milk

Let out chicks and ducklings and fed and watered them.

I pet the barn dog

I told the baby all the things we need to plant in the garden as we picked weeds.

I had a conversation with both my boys before they left for school today

I am a mom of 4 completely different kids at different stages with different needs.

I run a business

I assist an aging lady close to my heart

We are involved in our marriage and in our kids, our kids are involved.

We have Church and bible studies, men’s group and youth group, farm associations, boyscouts and girl guides. Work, coffee house, youth hub…..

As I pour the rest of my now cold coffee down the drain add my mug to the ever growing pile of dishes, and start turning todays milk in yogurt I remind myself that I pour my house cleaning energy into the things that matter to me. So we live in a disorganzied messy house. But…

Our souls are nourished by nature

Our bodies are nourished by sunshine and rain dancing, bare feet, good homemade fresh food we are connected to, that we know where it comes from.

By conversations and tree climbs

Sometimes by hard work

And lets be honest our immune systems are nourished to.

When I was girl my mom had a plaque on our all with a poem:

It now adorns the wall at my house as a reminder of what really matters…. One day it will adorn the walls of my children to remind them to.

For now I have a messy happy healthy in all the ways that matter to me home. And an amazing girlfirend that can’t come here and not start tidying up. Thank God for her, for sunshine for nature for the good stuff.

January- A Season of waiting…

Here at Splitrock January is for lack of better words stale, it is the month we hunker down to stay warm, the month we plan and reflect on the year before but mostly it’s the month of waiting.


January can get cold here, frigid cold in our little valley in the highlands. We have seen -45 this January, school cancelled do to extreme cold. It is the month we keep the fires roaring, drink hot tea and get lost in good books, great conversations and our thoughts…mostly our thoughts.received_477177792792977.jpeg

January allows us time to reflect on the past year. Things we changed like the layout of the barn or the pig pen 3 times and not yet satisfactorily permanent. Things we did well milking our first time around, square-foot gardening and it’s abundant harvest. Things we royally failed at moving the chicken coop so it didn’t flood for the 3rd spring in a row ( which it will), doing the grand barn addition we planned and planned and planned….and put off save for a lean to off one side.Things we added Solar on the house only 10 days of generator power all month! A beautiful well natured cow, 2 horses a baby ( a human one). You win some you lose some you try again.20190202_174338.jpg

January is the month we make plans of the things we hope to do for this new year, Move the chicken coop!, add to the garden, fence the cow some good pasture. Dare I say a pumpkin patch is in the dream works. Raise some chicks and some ducklings, make more syrup. Dream realistically instead of outrageously ( at least out loud).Work out budgets and cash flow and time lines, scratch half the list and try again.20190113_150744~2.jpg

Mostly though I find we are stuck in waiting…. waiting for the goat to kid, waiting for the sow to farrow. Waiting at the window for the sun to peek out, for the temperature to rise. Waiting for there to be some color at the bird feeder, don’t get me wrong I love the chickadees ( we should have called this place chickadee ranch) but a little red or even a little blue  to stir up all the grey would be awfully nice right about now. We wait for the seed order to arrive, for the chicks to start hatching for the pantry to be stacked again. We wait for ours plans to unfold, for the windows to be open and the days to get longer, the hens to lay again. Waiting to start the work in February milking, pruning, wood stacking….A time to sit in the waiting and reflect, to remember we are blessed.

A reminder to slow down

While the sunlight hours in a day has dwindled and life is getting closer to our winter solstice I am reminded of slowing down.

Day light makes things so much easier to see…it is easier to see how much water is in the trough or where to step on the snow covered ground…it mught even help if you have lost your keys outside around the barn…

This morning I woke up to get ready to go to work…had a coffee and some breakfast…did a little reflection…and then went to do chores…

I noticed that my keys were not on the clasp that they normally are on…

This double ended clasp I have been using lately to hold my keys…I normally have them connected to my belt loop…which is exactly where the clasp was this morning when I went to grab my keys…however the keys were not with the clasp…

So I looked with a flashlight as best I could…I looked all around the barn…and now I will wait for daylight when I can see better…

Yesterday I was in the barn mucking out stalls and I built a new stall or pen (whatever you would like to call it) for the doe to kid in as she is expecting in the next month or so…I think that I may have lost them while working in the barn…I have turned the house upside down…I need to have better light in the barn and around the barn…

So here I am slowing down for the day not because I wanted to but because no matter how hard I try I cannot walk near as fast as I can drive…

My Journey Mug

Back in the spring of 2001 I headed down the trail with everything that I could fit in my saddle bags and my bedroll. I harnessed up the mules Jim and Kate and saddled Easy a black Tennessee Walker. I handed over Easy’s reins to Ken a man who I hardly knew at the time but a man who had enough faith in me and my ability to take me along on this journey. I climbed up on the wagon and waited for Ben to give the go a head. He moved out in front of the train on the path of many who years ago made the journey for a brighter future, a journey of hope.

Along this trail I made many amazing friends. I created memories that have been brought back to mind with the smell of saddle leather or some other little thing. Along this trail we stepped in the footsteps of settlers and people headed to chase the dreams of gold. It wasn’t much different than what we are trying to do here on Splitrock Heritage Homestead. We are trying to do the same thing as peole did years ago. Carving out a future, creating a life, living a dream.

Years ago (not all that many really, 17 years ago) I saddled up and went on an adventure with people who changed my life. With people who impacted and imprinted on me so many different things that it would be hard to explain it all, so today I am not going to try. I am just going to sit back while I enjoy my coffee and remember how blessed I am to have met all of those wonderful people. Thankful that those people took the time to speak into a young mans life. (I will write more about some of those adventures as time allows, but until then let me leave you with this thought.)

The picture I posted is of a journey mug. Not just any mug but a mug that was hand beaded by a wonderful woman who I was blessed to get to know on the trail. Thanks Quackgrass Sally. This mug I used for coffee, water, whiskey. It has sparked lots of conversations over the years. It has seen lots of miles and has stories of its own to tell I am sure. We used to sit in the front of a horse trailer with a bottle of Jack and have a staff meeting with Ben and a few others, filling our mugs and chatting and laughing. We would sit in the morning and drink our coffee listening to the mules and horses stamping their feet and swishing their tails. Breathing in the fresh air that only Wyoming and Montana bring. It was a good time. It helped to prepare me for who I am to this day. And so in the morning between when I get into the house from the barn chores and head to work I will smell the coffee and pour into my journey mug a cup of memories to reflect on.

Thank you to so many who have blessed me so deeply.

Thats a COW!?! Bull S**t!

It has been interesting learning how disconnected from agriculture we as a society have become.

We were given a cow…maybe a bull…depends who you ask…let me explain.

Our cow is gentle. She is small as per her breed. She is shaggy. She is stout. She (and this is where it gets confusing) has horns.

WHAT! HORNS! yes horns. Our cow has horns. Like many breeds our cow has horns. It amazes me how many people have seen my cow and after I have told them “this is my cow isn’t she beautiful?” they get a confused look in their eyes and say something like “thats a bull it has horns”.

If it has an udder down under it’s a cow.

Some breeds are hornless (aka polled). Other breeds have horns. Regardless of sex. Some animals have been dehorned for safety reasons. Not all bulls are mean. Not all cows are friendly.

So let me take a moment to share with you some tips that may help one stay clear of an embarrassing conversation.

Tip #1 if the owner refers to the gender of their animal as female…trust them they are probably correct

Tip #2 if the animal has horns, one way to tell if it is a cow or a bull is to look underneath (you don’t have to get close) to see if you see testicals or an udder or teats? If there is an udder it is indeed a female. If it has none of those traits it is probably a steer.

Tip #3 if you are not sure say so…or say what you think…it makes for some fun conversation

Thanks to all my friends who provided me with the idea for this post through some funny conversations.

Adopted horses not rescue horses

One morning not that long ago around 6am the phone rang. Amanda answered it and after a “let me talk to my husband and I will get back to you” she hangs up. She looks at me and says “that was _________ and they have a friend who is taking care of a draft cross and a large pony. The people who own these horses have both been diagnosed with terminal cancer and are in search of a good home. Our name came up so if you are interested we can have them they just need to get them out of there asap.”

Well we have a mini horse who I have dubbed the 1/8 horse and didn’t really have any interest in having a large pony. I said as much to Amanda but that I would go and take a look. So a friend and I went two days later to look at them (we brought another friend’s trailer being a two hour drive we didn’t want to have to repeat the drive if we were going to take them home anyways). When I stepped out of the truck I double checked the address because there was no large pony to be seen. There was a draft horse (looks to be a pecheron cross of some sort) and a quarter horse.

Well they loaded onto the trailer alright…

They came home that day.

I must say that it is fun having some full sized horses around again.

The heavy is named Belle she has done fox hunting in the past…the bay is called Story…she has done some english riding in the past.

I plan on putting a harness on Belle as well as putting her back under saddle (western of course). I will put Story under saddle as well.

The two of them haven’t been used in a few years so it should be interesting to back them again.

Let me be clear about one thing we didn’t rescue these two loves. We adopted them as their owners were going to be unable to care for them. They were loved. They may have not been used for a few years but they were cared for. They had plenty of hay, a mineral lick, and fresh water, their feet have been trimmed regularly and they are up to date with worming. If more people took care of their animals as these peopls did the world would be a better place. We adopted them because the owners were in a poor way health wise in fact the gentleman passed away about ten days after we picked the horses up. He was glad to know they went to a new home and that they were going to be loved.

I am thankful that we were thought of and that we were able to grant that couple some peace knowing that the horses they cared for for years were going to continue to be cared for. Which in reality is that couple still caring for these horses.