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Seeds for Your Homestead

One of the biggest parts — if not the most important part — of survival is food. After all, if you can’t eat good, healthy food, you won’t be able to do much else. While having a deep pantry and well-stored goods is an excellent start, to really round out your diet you’ll need to grow your own food as well. If you don’t have the greenest thumb, then now is a good time to start learning. That means you’ll need some seeds.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with seed buying. There are thousands of different varieties, and just as many questions. What’s the difference between heirloom and hybrid? How do you know what grows well in your area? And what if you’re not the world’s most accomplished gardener? How do you know how much to grow for your family?

Thankfully, the internet is a great place to find answers to all of these questions and many more you haven’t even thought to ask yet. The time to get started on a sustainability and homesteading path is now — long before you need to start planting.

Types of Seeds

There are three main types of seeds: open-pollinated, heirloom, and hybrid. Understanding the differences can set you up for success.

Open-Pollinated Seeds

If you have open-pollinated seeds, it means that insects, birds and even wind did the work to create those seeds by spreading their pollen. All heirlooms are also open-pollinated, and they’re also called “true to type.” In other words, they’re the original real deal. Heirlooms are all open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated are heirlooms.

Heirloom Seeds

Heirloom seeds are often more expensive than their hybrid cousins, but they also have a nifty little benefit. You can collect the seeds from your own plants, use them the next year, and get exactly the same plant and produce from them. To maximize this benefit, always take the seeds from the strongest, highest producing plants.

Hybrid Seeds

Many of the seeds you’ll see in big box stores are hybrids (also called F1), which means they’re man-made varieties resulting from intentional cross-breeding of plants. This is done to increase yield, size, flavor, or even to make the plants more resistant to frost or disease. While all that can be very beneficial, especially to new gardeners, if you save the seeds from these plants you might not get the same results next year due to the genetics in play.

When deciding which seeds to start with, keep in mind your climate, gardening skills and goal. If you’re looking to maximize your yield and don’t mind buying seeds again next year, a hybrid might be perfect. If you’d rather jump into the survival aspect and want to get used to saving seeds and working toward sustainability, heirlooms are a better bet.

Choose Your Seed Varieties

When you think of garden veggies, the standard colors and types probably jump into your mind. Red tomatoes, green lettuce, orange carrots.

There are actually hundreds of varieties of every kind of vegetable, and some of those varieties come with amazing colors, textures and flavors. You can have purple carrots, black tomatoes and even Swiss chard that comes in bright rainbow colors, or corn with kernels that resemble stained glass. Your lettuce can be leafy, sweet, or spicy — or even all of the above. Half the fun of planning your garden is deciding what kinds of vegetables you want. Your garden can focus on basic things like yield and hardiness, but you can also put in some color, making it both beautiful and fun to take care of.

Choose a Seed Company

Before you run to your big box store and grab a handful of the basic varieties, consider ordering online. There are a number of reputable seed companies who not only sell online but offer extensive education and tips on how to best maximize your purchase. You can sit in your recliner, perusing a catalog or website with all the information you need — including how much you’ll need to feed your family.

Some companies cater specifically to those looking to get into survival gardening. Their seeds are packaged for long-term storage, so you can buy more than one year at a time if you like and stash them for future gardening ventures.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is my favorite site. They specialize in rare and exciting varieties at reasonable prices. Johnny’s Selected Seeds is another great site for survival gardeners. Another option is Legacy Food Storage, which offers bulk kits of survival seeds meant to be stored long-term.

Check out those companies first, and then get to buying! Don’t forget to check out ways to put up all that garden goodness!

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Suzie Has Some Babies

This morning we figured putting the mamas out to pasture might help speed things along for Frenchie, who is very agitated this morning.

Shortly afterward, Eric looked outside to see Suzie laying on her side, yelling loudly, and Frenchie was nudging her like an experienced mama, pushing her onto her feet. NO GET UP. YOU GOTTA STAND UP FOR THIS. Suzie struggled to her feet, with Frenchie pushing and encouraging the whole time.

Eric could already see two tiny hooves and a little baby nose as he went up to her. He yelled to me that the kid was going to come right there in the dirt so I grabbed a towel and ran out there just in time to catch the baby before it hit the ground.

The little one is strong, healthy, and Suzie is being an excellent first time mom. We have a little doeling who is perfect, looks just like her mama down to her little black boots and white patch on her head…and blue eyes. Her full registered name will be Liberty 76 Belleau Wood.

Bella, for short.

After a short exam, a bit of selenium, and some iodine for her umbilical cord stump, we left them alone. Bella is currently spending some bonding time with mama and getting her land legs but we will go back down in a bit and get some video of her dancing around.

Frenchie is now yelling and acting quite annoyed. Double babies today? Maybe so. 

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X Factor Gets the Girls

Yesterday I put X out in the yard with the adult does to finish breeding whoever didn’t succumb to his charms last go-round. Previously, all mating rituals had been done in a back breeding pen, out of sight of prying human eyes. We had an understanding, X and me. I let him have access to the ladies and he was supposed to do his business at night, away from us. Days are for flirting and hilarious buck behavior, nights are for breeding. Besides, none of the does were interested in the rag we had rubbed all over X anyway so I wasn’t worried. X would follow the terms of our understanding.

X apparently doesn’t actually DO understandings.

Five minutes after entering the yard, he fixated on Topaz and proceeded to breed her three times in a few minutes, 10 feet from the edge of the deck where my friends and I were chatting over coffee, rudely and repeatedly subjecting us to a wanton display of his manly power. Okay, X. We get it. You’re pretty studly. Put it away now…oh COME ON! You have like a WHOLE ACRE in the yard pen to do that in! Must you do it right here?

Yes, he seemed to be saying as he made creepy eye contact in the middle of his rampage. Right here.

The really fun part was that Tempest is apparently also coming into heat again, since she spent the entire time trying to block X from breeding Topaz by inserting herself between them in an effort to get bred herself. It was like watching a love triangle in action. Tempest was shameless, kind of like the drunk girl at the bar who is trying to make eye contact while putting her ankle behind her head in an effort to show how flexible she is, while you’re there with your girlfriend. Mighty X assured her that he would be back for her tomorrow but he needed to spend some quality time with Topaz right now.

We couldn’t look away. It was like a train wreck. If X’s goal was to put on a display of his amazing prowess, he achieved it. We were dumbfounded by his ability to go over and over….and over and over and over.

After an hour of near constant jump-and-humps, we retired to inside the house, both excited that the breeding was confirmed and a little sad about the death of the last of our innocence. Two hours later, I stepped back outside, certain that X was spent and I would find them calmly chewing their cud under the trees.

I was so, so wrong. I showed up just in time for yet another round of LOOK AT ME, and decided that I could go ahead and mark topaz as what I like to call “superbred,” which is like being bred, but with visual trauma for the viewers.

Today it’s Tempest’s turn. The little attention-seeking drunk girl will finally get her shot. When I let her out this morning I shook my head. Be careful what you wish for, girl.

UPDATE: 20 minutes in and he has bred Tempest twice and went back to Topaz once. He looked cross-eyed at Red, who promptly headbutted him and told him NOT

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X Factor’s Diary

[Note: The following text was found in a corner of the breeding pen, soaked in buck urine and tears, obviously penned by our very own X Factor after 2 days of being out in the yard with the girls.]

Topaz wants nothing to do with me now. We had a great time for 2 days and now it’s like no matter what I do she ignores me. I stood outside her house all John Cusack-like with the boombox of my manly voice, singing of my need for her, but she flounced off to eat hay like everything we had was a lie. I even peed on my face and showed her how amazing I smell. Nothing. It’s like I’m just somebody that she used to know. I saw that little brat of hers eyeballing me while she was trying to get some milk this morning, too. If you’re big enough to eyeball your mom’s boyfriend, you’re too big to still be nursing. Good grief. Remind me not to date any more single moms.

Just when I decided to amble off alone into the wilderness to lick my wounds, Tempest came up. Okay, so maybe we had a quick thing yesterday for like 10 seconds but this girl acts like she’s about to boil a bunny if I don’t give her some attention. I stood still and tried to ignore her but she kept trying to do the lambada on me or something. She smells really good too. Okay…I figured I could use Tempest to make Topaz jealous but it turns out that apparently there’s some kind of drama over Tempest being a grain hog or something and they aren’t friends. Whatever. Maybe Tempest can heal my broken heart. Wait, where’d she go?

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Welcome to Just Kidding!

This is the new blog, meant to showcase the wild adventures of our goats. Feel free to follow the blog for updates in email, or follow us on Facebook to see when there are new stories.

The pic is Hoss, a nice little buckling of ours that ended up at another farm as a wether companion.