The Homestead Barn Cat



Our most recent addition to the Harrod Homestead is our Barn Cat. We had been looking around for a free kitten for months, but had given up on the idea after many people requested it be an indoor cat. Being honest people, we just couldn’t do it! Well one lucky day we happened across a free stray kitten. While at the dump, out from under a large metal dumpster appears D.C. (aka Dumpster Cat). She was sweet and friendly from the moment we picked her up! We knew she would be the perfect addition to our growing homestead.


Living out in the country, lots of livestock feed, and dark warm sheds are just a few of the factors that contribute to rodent problems around these parts. It is especially frustrating when the rats make it to your eggs before you do. Mice can also get into your feed which can leave dangerous bacteria that can make your animals sick. We don’t need that vet bill! Barn cats are great insect hunters as well. D.C. spends most of her day hunting grasshoppers, beetles, and other creepy crawlies. What’s great about that is she eats so many bugs during the day that she doesn’t need much food at night!


If you are thinking about getting a barn cat and you have the time and patience to care for a kitten, it is best to start with a younger cat as opposed to a full grown cat. If you start with an older cat, they may be more inclined to run away and move on. We chose to go with a kitten for  this reason. The important thing to consider when getting your barn cat as a kitten, is you will need to give it extra attention and provide a warm and safe place for it to live until it can fend for itself. Giving your kitten a lot of attention and human contact in the beginning is important so that it doesn’t become ferrel and afraid of humans (sometimes even mean). It is also suggested that you find a kitten that is used to being outdoors. They could be a stray like ours or kittens from another outdoor cat. Cats that have been raised outdoors carry important instincts that you may not find in an indoor cat.


We chose to keep our kitten locked in our shed inside of a large dog crate, with a fan and a light. We would let her out to run around and play during the day and keep her in at night and while we couldn’t supervise her. We slowly introduced her to the dogs and other animals on the property. Just a note… don’t hold the cat while you are introducing them. It can end badly for you (oops). If you have dogs that are difficult to control, this process might take a while longer for you. Luckily, our dogs are well trained and very tolerant. We also made it a point to bring the cat with us morning and night when we fed our animals out in the barn. We wanted her to feel comfortable with roaming around with them during the day. After all, thats where the rodents are! We also only feed her once a day. She eats plenty of bugs during the day that so we don’t worry about her being hungry. We keep her food and water in a covered area that only she can access, but we have also shown her where she can find the other animal’s water.


  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Yearly vaccinations and vet visits
  • Spay or neutering
  • Collars are optional
  • We go without one due to strangling risks, although they make break away collars, we didn’t want to risk replacing them constantly

Whether you are a cat lover or a dog lover (or maybe both), a barn cat can make a wonderful addition to your homestead. What’s one more to mouth feed? Thanks again everyone for reading, and I look forward to seeing you next week!


Fun on the Homestead: A Visitor’s Paradise


One of the biggest changes I have noticed after moving from city life to homesteading life is the attractions and activities we have to offer our friends and family that come to visit. Let me first mention that the main reason for everyone’s visits this year is to see my sweet baby girl, BUT the farm life is a bonus. In the city we worried about how to entertain. Where should we take them to eat? What big attractions should we visit? Should we go shopping or see a movie? Here it’s much easier. We come up with our own creative fun. After all, it literally takes less than 10 minutes to drive from one end of the town to the other. Here are some of the fun, simple activities we have for our guests here at the Harrod Homestead.



The animals are the easiest form of entertainment here. We are already feeding them everyday so we might as well have a little fun with them! It can be as simple as collecting eggs and throwing scraps to the chickens and watching them chase each other around for one piece of crust. One of my favorite activities is taking the goats, dogs, cat (yes our cat), and baby for a long walk around the trail. There’s nothing cuter than seeing a parade of animals trot through the woods. Some of our visitors have never been around farm animals and some grew up with them, but its been years since they last stayed on a farm. One of the things I enjoy the most is hearing stories from years ago of how their parents raised animals and grew their own food.

Golf Carts and Lawn Mowers


As soon as we found this property we invested in a golf cart so we could explore our property as often as we’d like, sweat and chigger free! We can take our guests through the woods, into the fields, and even for some off roading adventures. The kids enjoy driving the cart as well! We also recently purchased a riding lawnmower (a much needed investment). Not only is it a productive task, but for those that haven’t ever driven one, it can be an enjoyable activity as well!

Critters and Creatures

Although I am not a fan of any unwelcome critters creeping into my house, I love listening to them late at night while sitting on our porch or even spotting animals on our property. As soon as dusk hits in the spring and summer you can hear the thousands of frogs and toads start singing simultaneously. You can hear the coyotes calling to one another in the distance. And if you are really quiet while taking a night ride around the trail, you can hear the crunching of the leaves of some mysterious creature hiding behind the trees. No matter how many times I see a Little Blue Heron or a Black Racer snake, I am still fascinated by their existence. Being so close to nature all the time is one of the most beautiful things about living in the country. Our guests come to get away from all the hustle and bustle, but WE LIVE HERE. It still takes my breath away ever day.

Other Entertainment


Here are a some other activities we have come up with:

  • Fishing
  • Feeding the goldfish
  • Shooting the BB gun. Most recently we shot at an old watermelon
  • Firecrackers. We also recently tried to blow up the watermelon… it failed
  • Build a fire and roast marshmallows
  • Canning!
  • Board games
  • Gardening
  • Pick blackberries (obviously this is a seasonal one)
  • Play chase with the goats
  • Egg toss. Although we try not to waste too many eggs, its ok to have a little fun with them sometimes
  • Catch a chicken. This is a tricky one
  • Corn Hole


One thing I love about living out here is you find your creative side. You are forced to look at things differently. While you could hop in the car and drive 45 minutes to the nearest mall, you’d much rather stay here and enjoy God’s beautiful creation. Thanks again for reading! Come back again next week!


You Can, Can! The Lost Art of Canning


Canning doesn’t need to be something sacred that your grandma or your great great grandma used to do. Anyone and everyone can, can. I came across the idea of canning while listening to homesteading podcasts. They brought up a good point. If you have a successful garden, canning your fruits and vegetables is a great way to preserve your bounty. Justin and I started our first garden this year, and we quickly realized how much can go to waste when you don’t preserve and store your excess quickly. So canning it was! Here is how I got the Ball (Lol, like the jar. I crack myself up) rolling.

I started by doing A LOT of research. I listened to podcasts, searched online, checked out books from the library, joined a canning group on Facebook, and talked to experienced canners. One of the podcasts that I found extremely helpful is Canning Season, by John Gavin. He did a Canning 101 series and provides you with a TON of helpful resources.

After doing all of the boring research, I still felt overwhelmed and nervous about the whole thing. Come to find out, that’s completely normal and very common for beginners! I knew that I had to push myself  to do it. So naturally I started ordering canning supplies!

What You Need to Get Started

To start, you need a canner. There are two types of canning methods, water bath canning and pressure canning. Water bath canning is a technique used to preserve fruits and most vegetables that have a high acid. For the water bath method you will either need a canning pot with a rack or you can use a large stock pot and extra jar rings as a the rack. Pressure canning is used for canning fruits, veggies, and meats with a low acid. For pressure canning you will need a pressure cooker/canner.  I know, I know, this all seems confusing, but I won’t go into too much detail. After all, you’ll want to do your own research through more experienced canners and canning sources.

I chose to go with a pressure canner (like this one) because I can use it for both the water bath method and pressure canning. I went ahead and bought the larger pressure canner because the price difference was negligible and I liked the idea of canning more at one time. You go with what works best for you! Just a note… if you have a glass cooktop you are limited to the type of canners you can use. I myself have a glass cooktop and the Presto Pressure Canner works well for me. Make sure to call your stove manufacturer (if it’s glass) and ask if  your cooktop is appropriate for canning.

Other items you will need include, jars of different sizes (used is fine), new jar lids (you can find these at Walmart with or without the rings), and a canning kit (like this one).


It is important to always use recipes that have been tested and approved. I only pull recipes from recipe books and from trusted and experienced canners (like John Gavin). It is not recommended that you use recipes that have been passed down from generations before you. I know it’s sad and disappointing, but let’s just try and keep everyone alive and well with safe recipes.

I would definitely recommend all canners to start with the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. It has a ton of recipes and gives you a step by step guide to safe canning. I also recommend Canning for a New Generation. It has a lot of fun recipes and I also like that their recipes are usually smaller.

But What About Botulism?

Botulism is such a scary word! And it is indeed a nasty bacteria that can be very dangerous. The fear of botulism was my main reason for being hesitant to home can. The key to avoid this is to ALWAYS FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS EXACTLY. I can’t stress that enough. Once you have familiarized yourself with the process of canning you will be able to focus on the exact recipe. Be confident! If I can do it, YOU CAN DO IT!

Can Away!

Now you have the basics on how to can, so get out there, do your research, and start canning. You will be one step closer to a self-sufficient lifestyle. It’s much more rewarding than picking something up from the canned food aisle. Thanks again for reading! Come back again next week for updates!




10 Tips for Successful Thrifting and Garage Sailing



Thrift Store shopping and weekend garage sailing are passions of mine. I love the thrill of the hunt and the reward of coming home with loads of great stuff, and a happy wallet and husband. It is easy to shop around these places and pick up stuff you don’t really need. Which is fine, but today our focus will be how to shop for things that you need or REALLY want.

  1. Make a list of items you want or need in advance, and keep this list running.  For example, I recently decided I NEEDED a food processor, so I did some research and looked at prices. Wowzas! The one I wanted was about $100. Instead of running out and buying it, I put it on my Christmas list as well as my Garage Sale list. Within a couple of weeks, I happened across one at an Estate Sale for $10! It still gives me goosebumps 🙂
  2. Be patient. If you decide you want a used table saw, don’t expect to find it on your first trip. Check craigslist, go to a few garage sale each week, try different thrift stores. It takes a little more effort to find what you want, but when you do, it’s much more worth it.
  3. Frequent the same thrift stores. I have found that when you visit the same thrift stores on a weekly basis (for shopping and donating), they are more inclined to keep an eye out and put things aside for you. I am specifically referring to the smaller, non-profit thrift stores. Places like Goodwill may not be able to hold items for customers due to store policy.
  4. Have a price in mind. When you DO happen across that very thing you have been searching for, have a FAIR price in mind. By now, you most likely have done your research on the cost of the item at full price, as well as the used price. If not, do a quick google search on your phone.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to knock the price down to what you had in mind. The worst they can say is no.
  5. Know when to walk away. Once you have made your offer, if they choose not to budge and you KNOW they are way overpriced, it’s time to walk away. It can pull on your heart strings to watch it go, but you will sleep better knowing you didn’t get ripped off. I struggle with this part the most. My husband is a great mediator, hehe.
  6. Map out your garage sales. Instead of wasting time searching for sales and taking 15 wrong turns, map out your garage sales a day or 2 ahead of time to really maximize your efforts and time.
  7. Location, location, location. When mapping out your garage sales, look for sales in affluent neighborhoods. A lot of times they will have really good stuff! Make sure you check the prices though! Also, try to keep all of your bargain hunting on the same side of town. After all, you have to make it to Grandma and Grandpa’s in time for Brunch at 11.
  8. ESTATE SALES! These two words together make my heart flutter. I have gotten some of the best deals and items from estate sales. One time we snagged an upright deep freezer for $35! It was in great condition and one of the items on my list! Estate sales generally have everything half price on the final day, so make sure you get there early if you can.
  9. Don’t be afraid to dig. Sometimes you have to dig to get to the good stuff! I usually do a few walk throughs before I move on. You would be surprised how easy it is to miss the jewels amongst the junk.
  10. Respect the owners. Keep in mind that these used items were once precious to someone. If someone doesn’t make a good deal with you, don’t get all bent out of shape. They may still have some emotional ties with what they are selling. Places like Goodwill, often times can’t change their prices for each person. I once witnessed a customer yelling at the cashier because she couldn’t get something for 50 cents less (rude). Many thrift stores are non-profit, so the money you bring in is needed for a better cause.

I hope you will find these tips useful when you’re out on the hunt! Don’t forget to subscribe and stay tuned for what’s next. Happy thrifting and garage sailing!