Raising Entrepreneurs on the Homestead



I have a passion for all things entrepreneurial.  I know it kind of goes against the status quo of going to college, getting a degree, and working a 9 to 5 job.  That just doesn't sound very exciting to me.  What excites me is hearing stories of others who have started their own businesses.

So of course I don't want my kids to think that getting a degree is the only way to make a living.  If that is where God leads them, then yes, of course they should pursue it.  But, before they decide on what they want to do, I want them to start their own business here on the farm.  I prefer it to be farm-related as there are so many avenues they could take.

It needn't be a huge deal and I most certainly don't want them to put a lot of investment into it.  But, they also know that to start a business, you have to invest.  That is the risk they have to take.  They also have to know that if it doesn't work, then they should be able to learn from their mistakes and keep working at it or try something else.

That's the part where I have to take a step back.  I love to support them and give them advice, sometimes help them out financially(although they put the most into the business), but I have to take a step back and let them do this business that they chose.  And that could mean allowing them to fail.

For example, my son was 13 at the time(that is about the time I like for them to come up with a money-making idea) and he chose to raise turkeys.  The first year he raised bronze hybrids.  I do believe he only got about 15 or so and lost maybe three.  He wanted to sell them cheap, like Walmart cheap.  So I explained to him that his turkeys are raised a heck of a lot better then the factory-farmed turkeys and that pastured ones sell for quite a bit more.  We settled on a price, more expensive than Walmart yet cheaper than pastured turkeys.

His first year went well, but he realized that the hybrids grew too big and because he didn't want to keep buying them every year, he decided to raise a heritage breed.  That way he could keep a tom and some hens, hatch out poults and save money.  His second year was going well until he put them in the chicken tractor which was in our fenced-in garden.  Our livestock guardian dogs did not have access to them and it didn't take long for a fox to come along...he lost most of his turkeys.  Ouch.

That took the wind out of his sales for awhile.  He had enough to sell to family and close friends, but he didn't quite get his money's worth.

One day a friend of the family asked if he could trade his older tom for a younger tom so that they could butcher it.  Being naive and too nice at times and against my reservations of knowing for sure the young turkey was a tom, he said yes.  Well, it wasn't a tom, it was a hen, which meant he could not hatch out eggs, which meant he would not have any turkeys for the next year.

After that bit of 'good' news, he took a year off of raising turkeys.  He wanted to purchase more of the Bourbon Reds, but they are quite pricey and after his bad experiences, he did not want to put the money into it.  Until this year.

He had a part time job this summer and some money saved, so he plans on getting more turkeys.  Only this time he will be getting a hybrid breed and butchering them earlier.  I'm glad he did not give up.  He has learned from the mistakes made in the past and realizes that you win some and you lose some, but you have to keep trying.

I also encouraged my 14 year old daughter to think about ways to make a little money from the farm.  She has decided to raise rare breed chickens.  Right now she is diving into learning the different breeds and is quite fascinated by them all.  She is also researching how others make money on rare breeds.  We shall see how it goes!

My oldest daughter is in college right now, but she and I dream about what we can do once she gets her degree.  She still has the entrepreneurial spirit and would love to incorporate her degree and love for autistic children into the farm and use our horses among other things.

Unless they really have a legit idea and have excellent responsibility, I do not encourage them to start a little business until they are teenagers.  They just don't have the stick-to-itness when they are younger.  They become too distracted, usually don't have enough money to really do it on their own, and can give up too easily at times.  Then it ends up becoming the parent's business because they are the ones putting the time, money and effort into.  Plus, what is that teaching the child?

I'm sure some of you have young entrepreneurs on the homestead as well.  I love to listen to them dream, don't you?  The farm shouldn't be a place of all work and no pay.  There are so many opportunities here that can spark a creative idea and possibly a business venture.

I would love to hear what your children are doing to earn some cash on the homestead!




How to Train a Farm Puppy Part I (Leash Training)


I'm going to be bluntly honest here.  There is more than one way to train a farm dog.  What works for some might not work for others.  I've been putting this post off and chewing on it for awhile because so many take offense to a certain way of training that they might not agree with.  Then things get ugly and there's WWIII.

I am in a livestock guardian dog group on facebook and I must tell ya, I've thought of dropping out of the group on and off for quite some time.  I remember commenting on someone else's post who was seeking advice on how to train a dog to not mess with the chickens.  So, having successfully tackled that one, I shared my little tips. Unfortunately, I had a guy (who thought he was a dog psychologist) tell me I did it all wrong and went on to tell me what my dogs think and why they act the way they do and that I'm pretty much ruining my dogs.

I'll tell ya what my dog was thinking.  He was thinking about chicken.  Pretty deep stuff right there.

So, instead of sharing my training experiences in that group and getting hammered, I'll write my own post about it.  Take that, LGD group.  Hmmmf.

My children train our dogs with my guidance and they have repeatedly won in their large 4-H obedience classes year after year. Our dogs don't eat chickens either!  And by-golly they aren't abused. We must be doing something right!

This post is not on how to train a livestock guardian dog, but a farm dog.  There is a difference.  Although I have Great Pyrenees who stay with the goats and some that stay around the house, I also have a Golden Retriever, a Golden Pyrenees and a Boxer/Beagle.  With either a farm dog or an LGD, it is very important to at least teach them basic obedience.  But I will be focusing on your general farm dog.

Having a well trained dog on the farm is so important!  Although they are not perfect, our dogs listen to us and respect us, and that in itself prevents so many bad things from happening, which I will explain in a later post.  When you train your dog or puppy correctly, there will be a healthy relationship between the two of you.  That in itself is invaluable!  

Leash Training


The most important thing you can do when you get a puppy, is train them when they are young.  

A puppy is never too young to learn how to sit.  When you teach him this, make sure you don't put too much pressure on his hind-end to go into the sitting position, just a gentle nudge is all you need.  Dogs usually work well with treats when learning how to sit.

Once he knows how to sit, we start leash training at around three months.  We use a collar attached to the leash at first.  The puppy will put up a fight for a little while, but each time the little guy calms down, we praise him and pet him.  These training sessions need only last around 15 minutes per day.  After only 1-3 days of this, the puppy will normally be used to the leash.

Then we move on to the choker chain.  The choker chain is your friend. Not an evil abusive tool, but a corrective tool that I can't stress enough about.  It drives me bonkers to see a dog with a regular collar on and a leash, dragging their owner around. Yet when I mention a choker chain the haggard owner gives me a skeptical look or tells me their dog doesn't do well with a choker chain.  The picture below is how the choker chain should look on the dog.




A choker chain, when used correctly, will keep your dog by your side when going for walks.

When we put the choker chain on the puppy, he will pull on it and panic at first because it tightens and he doesn't yet realize why.  Because of this, it's important to be gentle with him and give him breaks with positive reinforcement.  We hold off on treats until he is calm and ready to move on to the next step.  So lots of petting and hugging helps to strengthen the bond and reassures the little guy.  

Once he is used to the choker chain, we start to walk around with him a little bit more and teach him to walk next to us on our left side.  If he starts to pull ahead or lag behind, a quick little pop of the leash will tighten the choker just enough to get his attention.  This does not hurt him, but he will realize that he better slow down and stay next to you.  You might have to do this often, depending on how stubborn your fur baby is, eventually he will figure it out.  The video below is of my daughter and our little rescue dog, Snyper.  Notice how quickly she pops the leash when he is lagging and how quickly he responds to it.  


video


Consistency is key.  If you keep correcting quickly whenever he pulls, that puppy will eventually be a wonderful companion to walk around the farm or anywhere.

While you have him used to the choker chain, now is the time to take the leash training a little bit farther by teaching him to sit when you stop.  Since your puppy already knows how to sit, you can tell him to do so when you stop, and if you continually tell him he will eventually do it automatically.  If he forgets, remind him verbally and if needed, give him a gentle push on the top of his behind.


  

Farm life can be exciting for a dog, so learning to sit next to his owner is a great way to keep him under control when a potentially exciting new animal arrives on the homestead or when the rabbit gets lose, etc.


Eventually, you will not need a choker chain or even a leash!

And yes, you can teach a Great Pyrenees too!  Watch my daughter and Lilly work harmoniously together.  Even though in this video she is on leash, she does just as well off leash.


video



Here's my braggin' rights:




The next lesson will focus on teaching your dog to come when called.  Stay tuned for Part II!






Why I Don't Treat My Animals the Same as My Children



I recently read a post in a local buy-sell-trade group on Facebook about how we should raise our cats; that they should be inside only, they shouldn't eat mice and we should treat them the same as our children.

The more I am on Facebook or any social media, the more concerned I get.  I've been blasted for keeping my Great Pyrenees outside.  I've been blasted for breeding dogs.  I've been told when and how to raise my animals in such an extreme way that we would either lose our house or file for bankruptcy.

And now I must treat my cats like my children?

Lets look at that in a little bit more detail.

I would feed the cat three times a day.  I would have to somehow spend as much time with them as I would my own children, which would take time away from my human kids.  My kids have to earn their keep around here and have chores to do.  Try as I might, the cat wouldn't be able to do any chores except catch mice, but because some believe that it will die a horrible death by eating mice, I must respect their wishes and just keep the cat inside.  To eat.  To sleep.  To poop. 

So now I have a totally dependent cat who is actually getting preferred treatment over my own children because it does not have a job to do.  In the mean time, mice will breed and grow in number, wreaking havoc in my barn, shed and garage.

How about livestock guardian dogs?

Some seem to think I should treat them like my own children as well.  At the bare minimum I should bring them inside during bad weather.  Let's take a look at what could happen if I did that.

I could lose all of my ducks and chickens.  True story.  Because of a mistake on our part, one of our Great Pyrs did not have access to a bunch of young poultry on two different nights.  We lost all 18 chickens and 16 ducks.  That's all it took, two nights.  Plus, bringing my working dogs in and out will disrupt their body temperature.

But who cares about those ducks and chickens?  I've got a poor 'little' white fluffball panting next to me inside the house, looking quite miserable for some reason because someone thought she needs to be treated more like a human.  Therefore I should just feed her, let her sleep all day and treat her like my kids.  Meanwhile, predators are wreaking havoc outside and wipe out pretty much everything but my horses and pigs.


As long as my dog is happy, they say.  That's what matters.

In reality, she isn't happy.  These animals have a specific job to do. They were created for a purpose.  

My children weren't put here on earth to guard livestock or to keep the rodents away.  They weren't created to supply us with meat or milk.  I know it sounds absurd, but I think we need to really look at this bluntly.


God said we are made in His image and we are to take dominion over the earth and animals(Genesis 1:6).  In other words, not only are we set apart from animals but we are in charge of the earth and we rule over the animals. 


I know this post may seem obvious to some, but I am sure you have come across someone who questioned you about how you raise your pets or livestock.  Not only have I been told to quit advertising my puppies or breed my dogs, I've been blasted for how I raise my goats.  


Someone commented on my blog awhile ago about how cruel I was to my goats.  They should never be milked or have babies that nurse on them because that is painful and cruel.  I'm telling you, we live in a whacked out world.  These people haven't really thought things through and the consequences of their 'beliefs'.  I don't think they realize that if we go by their 'convictions', then livestock would eventually become extinct.  They would not be used for their intended purposes so why breed them in the first place? 


Back to my children.  I will never equate my children to animals.  Ever.  They were set apart from the very beginning.  I'm an animal lover, always have been.   But to give them as much attention as my children is, quite frankly, child abuse.  How messed up my kids would be if I loved my cats the same as them?  Talk about struggling with self worth the rest of their lives!


Nah, I'll stick with God's plan.  I'll continue to teach them how to raise and take care of these beautiful creatures, with kindness and respect of course, so that they can grow up with a greater appreciation of God's design, His creation.  I'll continue to teach them to be a good steward of this earth.


But I won't teach my cat that.



   
Speaking of not treating our kids and animals the same, there is one thing I can use on both man and beast.  Check it out HERE!







When You Don't Meet Your Homesteading Goals


Sometimes, homesteading takes a back seat.

It's true.  There's a season for everything, and sometimes that season doesn't allow us to put homesteading at the top of the list.  That was us last year.

Now when I say "take a back seat", I don't mean starving the animals or neglecting the homestead.   It still has a seat, just not up front.  And that is okay.

As homesteaders, we can get caught up in everybody's blogs, facebook posts, etc. and see what everyone else is doing and that can sometimes be depressing.  The pressure is real.  No one puts that pressure on us, but we do.  We are downright hard on ourselves.

We read others' goals, like all 50 of them, and we're over here just trying to figure out when to find the time to make dinner.

So what if you didn't can a single green bean last year because you had other pressing things to tend to.  So what if things got so busy because you were dealing with unexpected important issues called life, that you didn't even plant a garden.  Or maybe you just didn't have time to pay attention to when your goats got bred or you waited far too long to butcher the meat chickens because...you guessed it, you were called upon to do something else.

Important seasons of life come up.  And they take precedence over homesteading at the moment.  I know, I know, you might need a paper bag to breathe into after reading that.  What in the world could be more important than homesteading?  How dare I even suggest such a thing!

I'll give you two things, and they both happened to me last year.

1.  A new baby.
2.  My parents.

My precious Eliana was born in March.  Did I keep trucking on to tackle my homesteading goals? Nope.  I wanted to fully enjoy her because I waited far too long to hold a live, warm, healthy baby in my arms.  And, daggonit, I wanted to savor that!  They don't stay little chunky babies for long.  And then what?  Would I be proud to say that I continued on with my new goals, yet was too busy to spend a whole lot of quality time with Eliana?  And then, she is no longer a baby.  And then I would realize that I missed it. I held two lifeless sons in my arms before, and that changed my perspective immensely!

Not only was I gifted a precious baby, but my parents moved in with us due to my Dad's early Alzheimers diagnosis.  I am humbled that they chose us, overwhelmed at what may come, and blessed to have them be a part of our lives.  We had a new room addition added on to our old farm house.  Builders were walking in and out of our house(and even my bedroom, eek!), and things were pretty chaotic for a good while.  Needless to say, getting in sync with my parents' needs and just trying to stay sane when my private world was being compromised was enough to say 'no' to any new goals this year on the homestead!

There were times that I itched to do more on the farm, but I knew it wouldn't be wise at the time.  Sometimes my entrepreneurial brain would start to hum and whirl with ideas, but no, I had to tell myself, "Not yet, Susie, not yet."

And sometimes I would get down on myself, thinking I should be doing more.  But those were the times I had to check myself, take a look at what I had done and was doing at the moment, and know that I was doing enough.  It is enough.  It might not be as much as other homesteaders, but to me, it is.

I still canned, I still had a big garden(even though it was more weedy than it had been in a long time), yet I let some things go, like growing something new or having my little CSA, or growing enough to last all year.

We still raised pigs, a feeder calf, chickens and goats.  So our freezer is full and we had eggs and milk in the fridge(until the chickens went on strike and our goats dried up).  Our homestead still hummed along peacefully and to that I am grateful.  But, it just wasn't our top priority.

I didn't fail my goals, I just postponed them, for good reason.

It was a season of focusing on other things.  You might be there as well.  Just know that I hear ya.  I know how overwhelming life's unexpected turns can be.  I won't raise my eyebrows if you tell me you didn't plant those green beans.  I won't let out a long sigh when you tell me you didn't pick one apple from your tree.

Because you chose to put your attention on something far more important at the time, I applaud you.  You didn't fail homesteading, you just chose what God put before you at the time.  It is a season.  And one day, you will be able to dive back in to homesteading with gusto.

And that is where I am now.  I'm ready to dive.


Are you ready to dive into natural healing for family and farm?  Come join me and thousands of other homesteaders!



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