When Did Independence Become Illegal?

Over the last year, I have really started to notice a growing trend. At first, it was a news story here or there, usually talking about someplace far off. The news was disturbing, of course – people being forced to do this or that for violating some rule against what they could do on their land.

Then, I heard a story about a lady in Canada who had her sheep slaughtered by the authorities. They had to be killed to be tested for diseases. Let me repeat that: they had to be killed to be tested for diseases. None were found to be infected but all her livestock was dead. Her whole herd, wiped out. Zero compensation. In fact, she has thousands in legal fees to pay, plus all of her normal living expenses. Getting a flock of sheep back, same breed, is out of the question at this point (years later).

I wrote an article a while back about the illegal outdoor clothesline. People who live in HOAs (Home Owner Associations) know what I’m talking about. Many in the city also have laws that don’t allow clotheslines in yards, or have rules about not being able to see them from the road. Don’t even get me started on the rules against having food gardens in your front yard! I can understand why some municipalities would want to limit it: untended gardens can cause real pest problems. What I am talking about are blanket laws passed that limit what people can do on the property they own.

It’s like there’s an all out war against living independently from the grid.

I grew up in Alaska. You can still buy land here that isn’t part of any municipality and that means you truly own the land. No taxes, no restrictions (other than state safety and sanitation regulations), and no one to tell you “You can’t do that on your property!” Growing up, I thought that’s how it was. That was my normal. Imagine my horror, learning that people could get their land taken from them for not paying taxes or because the municipality decided they wanted to build a new road, right where your house is. You have no rights, no authority. You are responsible, but you have little authority against government (local or otherwise) entities.

Now I’m seeing people who are being kicked out of their homes because they live in tiny houses. I read about people who have their own grid with water, sewer, and electrical being forced to tie into the grid. I see people who are being told they have to remove a pond off their property because of some new law (never mind that the pond had been there over 100 years with fish and wildlife depending on it). Oh, and they had to pay for the removal, too.

It’s like there’s an all out war against living independently from the grid. It’s almost as if you’re a criminal because you don’t need what the government provides. You don’t need the electrical company’s power, you have your own – and you’re a criminal for it. Recently, here on my home island, the local utility company decided that everyone must pay water fees, even if there is no one living in the domicile. What that means is if you have a vacation home or a duplex, and no one is living there or using the water, you still have to pay. And there is little anyone can do about this ‘legal’ theft.


“If we aren’t being taught how to grow our own food, how to take care of ourselves and our families, and how to live without the need for huge governments, banks or corporations – as our ancestors once did – then we aren’t being educated; we are being indoctrinated to be dependent and subservient to the system~Gavin Nascimento.”


Of course, on top of all of that, there’s the requirement for licensing on everything from marriage to hunting, fishing to using the national parks set aside for our use. And though we have “the right to bear arms and defend ourselves from those who would do us harm,” we have to effectively get permission and go through hoops from the government to do so. The laws get more and more strict for the law abiding citizens, making it harder for us to exercise the right while the criminals are toodling along, bypassing all the red tape and still getting as many guns as they want. The “Gun Free Zones” are prime target areas to create victims, too. The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun and that is a time tested truth. To stop the bad guy, you need a good guy with the same or larger ‘stick/rock/etc.’ But I digress.

There are raids on homes for growing food and raising livestock. I recall an article about a couple who bought growing equipment for an indoor hydroponic set up and were raided by police, SWAT-style. It was believed they were growing marijuana. Charges were never filed because nothing was found. The leaves found and tested in their trash, on 3 separate occasions, were found to be tea leaves, not cannabis.

There was a time in this country when the same government not only encouraged keeping chickens and having a “victory garden,” you were considered patriotic for doing so! Homesteading was patriotic. Oh, how times have changed. Now, you have to perform feats of super human patience and paperwork-filling skills just to get the organic label to put on food you may sell from your homestead/farm to the public. The government is perfectly OK with all these chemical sprays and dusts put onto our food as it grows but you have to go through some crazy stuff to prove you aren’t using any. The system is completely backwards and I strongly believe that is a direct results of Big Agra and their lobbyers.

“We can’t let these people grow and make and do for themselves! Then we lose profit! We lose control! Our investors will suffer!”

The world is so angry now, or perhaps I am just more aware of it due to social media and instant information. In many ways, instant information has decreased the value of knowledge. It’s so easy to just look something up that committing anything to memory isn’t done the same way.

I used to have dozens of phone numbers memorized when I was a kid. Not so much anymore – just pop open your smartphone and tap the picture! Knowledge is no longer earned, therefore its value has decreased. Now, that is not to say that the internet and social media hasn’t had some positive influences – I learned to can food (both water bath and pressure styles) because of videos and articles online! I learned a great deal about gardening in my zone (7b) and would not have had the successes I did when I started if not for it.

The desire to be away from cities, work the land, and provide for yourself is under attack. Not everyone can just up and move to the country and live the life they truly want. I’m currently one of them (working on it though!).




Featured Contributor: Dana of Mama Zed Homestead

There are only 3 regular guest contributors here at Homestead Dreamer, by choice. I have high standards (ok, so there’s typos 😉 ) for the information shared with people. It’s important to me that people can rely on what they read here as factual, useful, and without any fear mongering. A considerably amount of research is put into what’s written on the things I don’t have personal experience with and sources always given.

I want to give special recognition to these three hardworking people and bring to your attention who they are! We conclude the 3 part series with Dana of MamaZedsHomestead.com. She is the newest contributor to Homestead Dreamer and had added to the team immensely! Her “You CAN do it” attitude and message is something that is near to my own heart. An avid DIY’r, Mama Zed brings perspective from just about as far away from Alaska as you can get: Australia! I hope you enjoy getting to know her as I have.

I highly encourage you to check their site and follow them on social media – I do!


Tell us a little about yourself

I LOVE to DIY. If there is a project, something that we need or an item that needs fixing, I will usually try and do it myself. This has led to learning how to make our soap, brewing cider and mead and building our kitchen to name a few projects! My family means the world to me and my motivation in life is to see them living the best life possible. This is what made me the frugal, DIY, earth loving mama that I am today.

What is your dream?

To own our homestead debt free! Right now, we own 2 and 1/4 acres debt free and are currently saving to build our straw bale house on it so we can move in and start our debt free, self-sufficient life!

What got you into homesteading?

I grew up on 5 acres in New Zealand, so I was exposed to homesteading and prepping from a young age. I remember pouring over books like “The New Complete Book of Self Sufficiency” by John Seymour and numerous herbal encyclopedias as a child and plotting my dream homestead.

Were you raised in the lifestyle or did you choose it?

I would say both. While my mother’s dream was to become a homesteader and this was something we were raised with, I do think I chose it. I moved out at 16, have lived in the city, and I still came back to homesteading as being a core aspect of my identity.

What skill was the hardest one to learn that paid off the most?

For some, it may not be considered a “homesteading” skill, but for me, money management is essential to a successful homestead. I am 25 and had accumulated a nice chunk of student and credit card debt over the years. Learning about how to manage money has been a hard road. However, we’re now debt free and in the next few years will own our home without a mortgage – it has definitely been worth it.

What are you really passionate about in your genre?

I am really passionate about sewing and yarn crafts such as knitting, crocheting and spinning.

What goals do you have for this year to progress your overall dream?

This year we hope to save enough to start building our straw bale cottage! Between having two children under two and running a business, it will certainly be a challenge.

What skill do you think all humans should know?

I think all humans should know how to build and maintain shelter for themselves. I know far too many people who struggle when the air conditioner breaks down (though in Australia, this can be a valid struggle!) or when the power goes out. I would be mortified to see these same people trying to cope if it was something they had to deal with on a long term basis. Knowing how to do without or make do with what you have, having back up plans or alternative options is knowledge that I believe everyone should have.

What message would you like to get out to people?

Don’t rely on others to provide for you. Whether it’s the government, your family or a friend, there is no guarantee that they will always be there to help you out. Learn how to do things for yourself so you put yourself in control. It is a very empowering and rewarding state to be in.

Is there anything else you’d like to share or say?

Never stop learning! There are a million blogs, books, podcasts and videos out there for you to watch to access an enormous amount of information. Pick a skill you’re interested in, research the crap out of it, practice it, and then do it again! “I wish I could do xyz but I don’t know how,” is the WORST excuse. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking you can’t do something just because you don’t know how to. Yet.

You can find (and follow!) Mama Zed on her main websiteFacebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!




Featured Contributor: Bobbi Peterson of Living Life Green

 There are only 3 regular guest contributors here at Homestead Dreamer, by choice. I have high standards (ok, so there’s typos ;)) for the information shared with people. It’s important to me that people can rely on what they read here as factual, useful, and without any fear mongering. A considerably amount of research is put into what’s written on the things I don’t have personal experience with and sources always given.
I want to give special recognition to these three hardworking people and bring to your attention who they are! We continue the 3 part series with Bobbi Peterson of LivingLifeGreen.com. She and I have worked together on other projects and her factual insight and positive message are just a few of the reasons I accepted her as a contributor to Homestead Dreamer. She was gracious enough to be interviewed, which is shared below!
I highly encourage you to check their site and follow them on social media – I do!

Interview With Bobbi Peterson of Living Life Green

Tell us a little about yourself!
I recently graduated college and started my blog shortly after. I love to focus on the environment, gardening and homesteading!
What is your dream? 
My dream is to eventually buy my own land and start homesteading full time.
What got you into homesteading/prepping?
I began writing on environmental and gardening topics in May 2016 and found the homesteading community shortly after. I fell in love with it immediately!
Were you raised in the lifestyle or did you choose it? 
I chose the lifestyle.
What skill was the hardest one to learn that paid off the most? 
Gardening! I currently live in the woods in a very rocky area with barely any sunshine, but I’ve learned to cope!
What are you really passionate about in your genre? 
Gardening
What goals do you have for this year to progress your overall dream?
I’d love to learn some woodworking! I’m not very crafty, but I think it would be an excellent and useful skill to have.
What skill do you think all humans should know? 
Gardening and food preservation because you never know when you’ll need an extra food supply.
What message would you like to get out to people? 
I think everyone should look into this lifestyle and see if they could incorporate it into their everyday lives. There are so many skills that we’ve forgotten over the last few decades that we should bring back and make mainstream again!

You can find Bobbi on their main website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!




5 Things To Do With Wild Fireweed

Wild Fireweed grows everywhere here. It lines the roads and fills the valleys, bringing a vibrant splash of color in an otherwise green temperate rainforest. Also called Willowherb, Wild Fireweed is not only edible, it has some minor medicinal uses, too. Learn more about this wonderful wild edible and increase your foraging knowledge!

Wild Fireweed is a gorgeous plants that produces bright pink/magenta colored flowers. The more common variety has an odd quirk in how the flowers bloom and die off, too! They bloom and die from the bottom to the top, not the other way around! Here in Southeast Alaska (and many other places, I’m sure), we use it as a gauge to tell how much more summer is left. I’ve found it to be a much more accurate way of telling when we’ve gone around the bend, seasonally speaking. When the flowers dying off hit the middle of the plant, you know you’re running out of time to get things done!

Here are 5 different things to do with Wild Fireweed!

Fresh

Young shoots and leaves are delicious greens that you can add to a salad, sauté up with other greens, or just nibble on while out hiking around. As the plant gets older, the leaves get more bitter and once it has begun to flower, the leaves aren’t very tasty at all.

But wait, there’s more! The flowers themselves are edible and have a delicious sweet taste. Also, as the plant gets larger, they tend to get thick stalks on them that can also be eaten. NOTE: If eating the stalks/stems, you don’t want to eat the outer part – very bitter! Instead, you eat the meat out of the middle! Slice it open and enjoy a bright, clean tasting green that will also help hydrate you some. Enjoy the vitamins A and C you’re getting from it, too!

Jelly 

Making Fireweed Jelly is a lot of fun, and easy! There are many recipes out there and people tend to have their own preferences. Some use red and white clover, others don’t. There are recipes that use only wildflowers, too, like this one

Syrup

Making syrup isn’t too much different than making jelly is and also very easy. If you have the flowers available, a batch doesn’t take very long, either. Use it over pancakes and waffles, of course, but don’t forget oatmeal or drizzled over vanilla ice cream!

Tea

The flowers can be dried and stored to be used in making teas later on. The flowers are added not only for the sweetness they give, but also for the medicinal purposes of indigestion. It’s believed that fireweed helps maintain your gut health.

Honey

I was surprised what I found out when I first looked up fireweed honey. It seems there are several things sold as “wild fireweed honey.” Each one is different and it really makes me wonder if the overpriced ‘honey’ I’ve bought wasn’t just some thick, fireweed flavored sugar syrup.

  • Honey from bees that fed on wild fireweed
  • A variation of ‘honey’ made with sugar and flower blossoms
  • Flowers pressed to extract the ‘honey oil’

No matter which way you slice it, all are pretty darn tasty! Personally, I enjoy the honey from bees who’ve been playing in the fireweed patch over the others. It is my sincere hope to someday have a couple bee hives so I can harvest my own fireweed honey!

Bonus – Want more?! Here’s a wonderful information sheet with recipes included from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Cooperative Extension office.

Comment below with any questions or other ideas of things to do and make with Wild Fireweed!

Sources
Medicinal Uses of Fireweed
When Alaska Hands You Fireweed



Featured Contributor: Dan of Survival Sullivan

I get emails from people who claim to follow my site and want to guest post for me all the time. Last week alone, I had 8 different ‘offers’ to guest post and “help provide important information to my readers.’ Needless to say, I delete them without replying and mark them as spam.
There are only 3 regular guest contributors here at Homestead Dreamer and that is by choice. I have high standards (ok, so there’s typos ;)) for the information shared with people. It’s important to me that people can rely on what they read here as factual, useful, and without any fear mongering. A considerably amount of research is put into what’s written on the things I don’t have personal experience with and sources always given.
I want to give special recognition to these three hardworking people and bring to your attention who they are! We start the 3 part series with Dan Sullivan of Survival Sullivan.com. He and I have worked together on other projects and his factual insight and positive message are just a few of the reasons I accepted him as a contributor to Homestead Dreamer. He was gracious enough to be interviewed, which is shared below!
I highly encourage you to check their site and follow them on social media – I do!

Interview With Dan Sullivan of SurvivalSullivan.com

Tell us a little about yourself!
Well my dad was military but I didn’t find out about prepping until 2012 I think, right around the Mayan Apocalypse. I started looking deeper into it, I saw there are legitimate reasons to prep and that was it! I got hooked, started practicing, I started my blog and trying to help as many people as I can
What is your dream? (Example: Mine is owning land/homesteading) 
 A 2-3 acre survival farm with a permaculture garden, chicken and a pond 100% energy independent and more.
What got you into homesteading/prepping (If you focus on only one, please specify) 
 The fact that I worked for a survival company and spent enough time managing products to learn more about prepping
Were you raised in the lifestyle or did you choose it? 
I chose it, although I was raised partly by my grandparents who lived on a homestead.
What skill was the hardest one to learn that paid off the most? 
Perseverance. I read people stopped prepping after Trump was elected, big mistake.
What are you really passionate about in your genre? 
I would have to say bug out bags. They fascinate me. I believe there is a perfect BOB for everyone.
What goals do you have for this year to progress your overall dream?
Well my biggest hurdle is that I can’t afford the 2 or 3 acres of land… hopefully I’ll make some financial progress this year to reach my biggest survival goal.
What skill do you think all humans should know? 
Awareness. If they learn that, they’ll be naturally inclined to learn more.
What message would you like to get out to people? 
 That preparedness is a lifelong journey and they should not abandon it. Ever.

You can find Survival Sullivan on their main website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!




Tips For Gardening With Kids

Gardening with kids is something I don’t have much experience with. I have plans on getting my 5 year old nephew playing in the dirt with me this year but beyond that, it’s not something I’ve been able to experience. Many people ask me for tips on the subject and while I can make suggestions, I don’t know if any of it would really work. I turned to Ann from SumoGardener.com to help shed some light on the subject.


Kids are always curious to learn new things and love playing in the dirt. One of the best activities to feed a child’s curiosity is gardening. It gives children an opportunity to learn some of the most important skills in life: getting food! It also increases awareness of nature, the environment, and weather: all while having fun!

If this is your first time gardening with kids, the tips below will surely help you and your children to make gardening fun and exciting!

Gardening Lessons

The first thing that you need to do is to provide some lessons to the children about gardening, age appropriate of course. Encourage questions to help keep their interest. A great idea, if you have space, is to make a patch that is just for them. Letting them keep a journal to write down the things they’ve planted and the progress of them over time. Not all kids will enjoy gardening but they will enjoy spending time with you!

Kid Based Gardening

After explaining what gardening is, now is the time to show them! Explaining as you are planting the first few seeds helps them see how it’s done, but always make sure to not do everything for them! Let the kids provide ideas and help them with constructing the plan and planting the seeds. Let them learn how to be responsible when it comes to caring for the plants in their garden patch. 

Avoid Chemicals

Since you will be gardening with your kids, it is advisable not to use anything that is based on chemicals. Make gardening fun for kids and safer by not incorporating any products that have harsh or man-made chemicals in them. It would also be ideal to assess the soil for any lead and contaminants before letting the kids start their gardening activities in there. Getting bagged soil lets you skip this step.

Edible Plants

For people who don’t know, kids are more willing to eat vegetables and fruits that they have planted themselves. Most kids today don’t like to eat vegetables and fresh fruit and letting them plant these foods will make the kids want to try and eat them. You also need to make sure that the kids will be the one to harvest the plants.

Gardening Kits and Tools for Kids

There is gardening equipment that is perfect to be used by kids. Normally sized garden tools are too heavy for little arms! You can, of course, assist them but if possible, get some garden tools made for kids that will fit their hands better and keep things fun!

Not everyone has the space or time to be able to have a garden patch dedicated to their child to learn with. That doesn’t mean you have to be left out!! There are several tabletop options, too! There are garden kits specifically for kids to learn with and they can choose either food or flowers to grow.

Let Kids Experience Wildlife

Teach the kids the importance of adding bird feeders and maybe a birdbath in the garden. Animals will visit your garden no matter what! Tell them that these animals are not good to be near your plants, which is why adding feeders may help.

You can also create a small fishpond for kids to get to know how the fish and plants work together to make a little ecosystem!

Decorating the Garden

Lastly, let the kids help you when it comes to decorating the garden. There are a lot of ways to decorate your garden, and the best way is to choose something where their creative skills will be enhanced. Of course, guiding them along and supervising is a good idea! Decorating the garden can help them learn the skill of thinking ahead – if your decorations inhibit plant growth, you are being counterproductive!


 

I’m Ann. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening. This is a subject I enjoy the most. I have been a fan of flowers and plants ever since I was a kid. My blog: http://sumogardener.com




3 Steps To Battle Winter Blues

The holidays are over and it’s now what I always called “the Dark Time.” Especially living in southern Alaska, where we only get about 7 hours of daylight, the name fits. From now until Spring, I am battling winter blues for all I’m worth! Thankfully, a homesteader’s work is never done and this is the perfect time for certain chores.

It can be easy to let the cold and dark get to you during this time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing here in Alaska! It comes from a lack of vitamin D and can make you lethargic, depressed, and completely unmotivated. A lot of people use light therapy to get over it, or go tanning (no judging!) to alleviate the blues. For me, I’ve always done three things that tends to get me through until April where the temperatures are warmer and the sun is shining longer.

Taking Stock of Your Home

This is the perfect time of year, when things are slow, to go through the pantry, fridge, and freezer and take stock of what you have on hand. This time of year, I do a major shifting of meat from the freezers and identify which packs are nearing the one year mark – then I can the meat up so it’s shelf stable and preserved for another 18-24 months.

I also check things like my canning jar and lid supplies, spices, and other needful things like the ingredients for making more laundry soap, cleaning supplies, and specialty items. We don’t use much liquid smoke but I always make sure to have an extra bottle on hand (as an example).

I also take stock of clothing, shoes, jackets, linens, and bathroom stuff. I donate what doesn’t fit, repurpose old t shirts into shop rags, and generally keep the dresser and closet from getting over stuffed with items I don’t wear.

Organizing/De-Clutter

Of course, going through the things listed above will naturally lead to organizing but this is the perfect time of year to really drill down to the smallest things and organize them! By taking it one room at a time, I never get overwhelmed or only half way done in each space. It’s important to break the larger project down into little chunks and not try to get it all done in one day. You didn’t fill your house up in one day! Give yourself a break!

If you only have one day a week to work on the project, so be it! Pick a room, make a realistic goal for yourself and dive in. Music and making sure you have eaten is important to the success and completion, too. You need fuel to work and the music helps you stay focused without being bogged down by the ‘work’ you’re doing. Personally, I find it rather liberating to get rid of all the junk and have a tidy room at the end of it.

For me, this is the ‘big cleaning’ of the year, not in spring. In spring, I’m waaay too busy outside and in the garden to give up any time for the project. Plus, doing it in the darker months makes me feel like I’m all set, neat, and tidy for the upcoming busy part of the year.

Planning Ahead (Especially the FUN stuff!)

My absolute go-to for beating the winter blues is to plan for the upcoming year. Planning what, you ask? Everything! Especially the fun stuff. Here’s a list of things I plan for during this time of year:

  • Any trips or vacations (including camping)
  • The Garden (my favorite!)
  • Hobby projects
  • Canning goals
  • Outdoor and/or building projects
  • Summer activities (hiking, fishing, camping, etc)
  • ….you get the idea.

Each bullet point requires further planning and plotting which takes a good amount of time. Of course, not everyone is a planner like I am but the important thing is to have something on the horizon to look forward to. A trip, seeing friends or family, graduating college…whatever makes you smile and get excited is what you’re looking for! If you wallow in the winter blues, you may get bogged down too much.

BONUS

As a reward to yourself for doing all that wonderful organizing, pick something you really want to learn. A skill, a talent, whatever it is! Not much else is going on anyway, so why not gift yourself a wish! You know what I mean, “Oh, I wish I knew how to play the violin,” or something like, “Oh, I wish I had time to write/paint/draw/learn.” NOW is the perfect time! You’re too busy during the rest of the year!

Embrace this down time! There is a balance to everything and though humans tend to “go, go, GO!” all the time, winter is the time to sit back and reflect. Be productive, certainly, but allow yourself the luxury of doing it at a steady pace instead of a frantic one.

What do you do to beat the winter blues? Share in the comments below!