Owning a Family Milk Cow: Your Questions Answered!

family milk cowI’ll admit it… I’m totally prejudiced.

Try as I might to get all excited over green beans and squash, I’d much rather talk about milk cows and home dairying. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the gardening aspect of my homestead, but animal husbandry is just more of my thing I suppose… And did I mention that I have a pretty severe brown thumb? Yeah… that might have something to do with it.

I firmly believe the family milk cow is going to be the next status symbol. ;) And heck, if you don’t have room for a cow, there’s no shame in a dairy goat (or sheep) instead.

Regardless of what species you choose, home dairying has got to be one of the most satisfying aspects of homesteading–even if you aren’t as prejudiced as I am.

However, since it’s been several generations since the family milk cow was commonplace, most folks have a bunch of questions on the topic. And that’s not surprising, since most of us (including myself) grew up with the white stuff from the store.

I’ve decided to collect all of my most-common reader questions related to milk cows and home dairying in one big ol’ post. Hopefully this will answer any questions you might have on the topic, and prepare you for a dairy animal of your own in the near future.

Common Questions About Family Milk Cows

Should I get a cow or a goat?

This is a hotly debated topic, and honestly? I think it very much depends on the person and the homestead. My Cow vs. Goat post will help you to weigh out the pros and cons of each home dairy animal.


How much land do I need for a milk cow?

It depends on where you live and what type of pasture you have available.… [Continue Reading]

121+ Skills for the Modern Homestead

homestead skills

Preserving food? Check. Driving a tractor? Check. Milking a goat? Check.

For me, one of the most exciting aspects of modern-homesteading is learning new skills. When I first moved to Wyoming at the tender age of 18, I had an entire mental checklist of all the things I wanted learn and do.

And as I’ve morphed into a modern-day homesteader, that list has grown along with me.

There is something so empowering about learning how to do something new with your hands. Or mastering a skill that, at an earlier point in your lie, would have seemed completely foreign.

It’s actually quite addictive, really… Since we are at the start of a brand new year, I figure there’s no better time than to start making homestead plans.

So without further ado, may I present to you:

101 Skills for the Modern Homestead

(Keep in mind that no one person will likely master all of these skills. And some just aren’t applicable to certain situations. (I sadly won’t ever be harvesting maple syrup from my homestead… I know that.) But hopefully you can pick and choose some ideas to inspire you!)

1. Milk a goat, cow, or sheep.

2. Compost both kitchen scraps and animal manure.

3.  Make the perfect pie crust.

4. Learn how to cook a whole chicken.

5. Grow a vegetable garden in your climate.

6. Know how to properly prune and graft a fruit tree.

7. Learn first-aid and CPR.

8. Know how to dehydrate foods to preserve for later use.

9. Give an animal an injection (the muscle, in the vein, or under the skin)

10. Assist with foaling, kidding, lambing, and/or calving.

11. Know how to assist an animal with a difficult birth.

12. Grow a windowsill herb garden.

13. Learn how to safely cut down a tree.… [Continue Reading]

What 2013 Taught Me and My Homestead Goals for 2014

homestead goals


If I had one word to describe 2013, that’d be it.

But I’m not complaining, because as you know, we rather like a bit of organized chaos around here.

I’ve been doing a lot of pondering about the last 365 days and thinking about what I learned, the mistakes I made, and the adventures I’ve had. And instead of keeping them to myself, I thought I’d share them with you (cuz that’s what bloggers do, after all) ;)

20 Lessons I Learned in 2013

1. Perfection is overrated.

2. Thou shalt not die if your house is not perfectly in order all the time…

3. If you are a homesteader, the summer months are not a good time to decide to write a research-heavy eBook.

4. But finishing that 200-page research-heavy eBook is the BEST FEELING EVER.

5. A good camera makes all the difference.

6. I am not naturally talented at gardening. In fact, my thumb seems to be getting browner as time goes by.

7. You can’t do it all.

bull snake

8. Finding a snake in your house is a good way to get your heart pumping.

9. Geese are mean, but definitely seem to deter snakes. (Except in the house…)

10. Water Kefir: If you have a bottle that’s been fermenting for a while, open it outside–pointed away from your face. And blueberry water kefir is not fun to clean off of your ceiling.

11. Having a wood stove in my house is even more awesome than I thought it would be.

12. If you are a one-year old boy, a toilet is the most fascinating item in the universe.


13. It IS possible to mix up your own GMO-free chicken feed. Not easy, but possible.

14. God answers desperate pleas for rain.

15. And a torrential downpour after a year-long drought is so beautiful it will make you cry.… [Continue Reading]

8 Reasons I Love Life in a Small House

small house living

I always used to feel like I had to defend my little farmhouse…

… when people would first walk through the door. No one ever seemed to notice all the neat things about my home; the hand-painted signs adorning the walls, the farmhouse antiques I had salvaged from yard sales, or my creative furniture arrangements…

They only seemed to want to talk about the size.

“Wow… this is… small.”

“So, are you going to build an addition soon?”

“How are you going to have more kids?”

Now honestly? Our house isn’t that small. It’s around 1100 square feet. I know of much larger families living in much smaller spaces.

But it is very representative of the houses built 100 years ago out here on the high plains of Wyoming. Resources were scarce, so the rooms are small and choppy and the stairs are so narrow that if you have big feet (like me) you kinda have to turn your foot sideways when you walk down the steps.

small space living

Is it functional? Absolutely. But my boxy little farmhouse is a far cry from many modern-day homes with sweeping living rooms and a bathroom attached to each bedroom.

But what started out five years ago as “I guess we’ll just make it work,” has turned into, “Hey… I actually kinda like this!

My insecurities have melted away and this quirky little 96-year old farm house has grown on me… A lot.

As of right now, I can confidently say that, not only am I content with living in a small space, but I’ve actually come to prefer it. Here’s why:

8 Reasons I Love Life in a Small House

1. Little houses are more budget-friendly. 

Small spaces are cheaper to heat and cool, and usually have smaller electric bills as well.… [Continue Reading]