Archive for the ‘tipi’ Category

Fall Colors

Speaking of Fall… thought we would share some of our fall color photos with you. With the type of trees we have on the homestead we don’t get the really dramatic leaf colors but we like it anyway.

Fall colors at Hickory Hollow Homestead.
(Click image for larger view.)

Autumn trees and tipi at Hickory Hollow Homestead.
(Click image for larger view.)

Hope you’re enjoying the changing of the season in your area!


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Homesteading Year One

Can you believe it’s been a year since we officially became modern day homesteaders? While we’ve had our share of good homesteading experiences, Year One has not been without failures and disappointments. Some we anticipated (the poor garden production), some were out of our control (the summer heat and drought) and some that slapped us upside our heads (the truck accident). Ultimately, we can say that the first year has been a successful one because we’re still here.

There are several priorities that must be considered when you decide to live this way, such as land, lodging, water, food, power needs personal hygiene, and so much more…


If we had to do it over again we would have handled the land selection differently. We’re still happy with our 10 acre homestead but what we should have done was figured out how to live in the area for awhile before making our final land selection.

Rent is pretty inexpensive in a small community like we live in or perhaps we could have “rented” some land space to set up housekeeping in the tipi. Either way this would have let us scope out the area more thoroughly before purchasing our homestead.

The one thing I really wish we had was a water source on the property. We do have a “wet weather” creek that runs through a corner of the property but it’s not very close to the tipi. Also we have several places that could be made into ponds with a little work.


Obviously having a “roof” over our heads was a priority at the top of the list. A lot of folks questioned our decision to live in a tipi but believe it or not it wasn’t that bad. That is if you don’t mind it being boiling hot in the summer (highest temp I remember inside the tipi was 114º) or freezing cold in the winter – low temp was 9º. Also don’t plan on it being completely weather proof especially during a big rainstorm 😉

There’s not much you can to do make a tipi cooler during the summer months so we spent most (ok, ok, all of our time) outside including cooking and sleeping outdoors at night) BUT… you can make it warmer during the winter if — and that’s a big IF — you have decent wood to burn. Which we didn’t.

As we’ve posted before, the forested areas of our property had been logged for timber several years before we moved here and there were lots of tree tops left on the ground. We thought that these tree tops would burn and should make good fuel for our cold winter days but we were WRONG!

When we moved here last September we used some of the cut wood for our campfires and to cook with and didn’t seem to have any problems. Then it started raining. And it rained. And rained. What we didn’t realize at the time was that the wood was soaking up all that rain water and that made it not burn well. We tried stacking the wood to maximize air circulation but by this time we were well into the winter months and there wasn’t enough heat from the sun to dry the wood. We also covered the stacks but it was too late to keep the wood dry.

The unseasonably cold winter weather, bad wood, and poorly designed stove meant that we spent most of the time doing the SAW-SPLIT-DRY-BURN process. Saw the wood into shorter pieces. Split the wood into smaller pieces. Dry it on top of the wood stove to drive out the excess moisture. Burn the small pieces to keep warm. Repeat immediately because the small pieces didn’t allow us to load up the stove for a long burn.

We originally thought we would have a small cabin built for this winter and while we did spend quite a bit of time discussing our options we just couldn’t quite decide on what we wanted to build. Since we really don’t have a ton of money sitting around to do this more than once we wanted to make sure we did it right the first time. SO… what the heck, we have plenty of wood cut, stacked, and cured for this winter AND Bob plans to make a barrel stove that will be more efficient that the one we bought last year. SO… here’s the plan… we’re going to spend this winter in the tipi too!


Providing your daily food is not easy but it’s absolutely essential if you want to be self-sufficient. Like I said in a recent post, the spring/summer garden was a disaster! Like one of our readers commented – reclaiming forest soil takes awhile. We used some pelletized lime on the beds about 6 weeks ago and also added some well rotted cow manure to each of the beds before planting the fall garden and that has really help a lot! Unfortunately I’m a little bit late getting some of the seeds started because it was just TOO DARN HOT in August so it looks like I’ll have to be creative about extending the growing season. I’ll be sure to post some more about that later on.

We’ve also taken the first steps to raising poultry. Our main goal for having poultry is for eggs. Eggs are a very complete food and we plan to make them a big part of our diet. And for Blaze too, of course! The ducks we purchased recently should begin to lay any day now. Unfortunately the chickens won’t be ready to produce eggs until sometime in January.

We plan to get a couple of goats next spring to supply us with milk and meat. We’re looking forward to having the milk to drink but also we want to use it to make cheese, yogurt, kefir, soap, and so much more.

We’ll also be starting up a few beehives next Spring. There’s plenty of uses for the honey and the wax 😉

Of course, there’s always the option of hunting. We’ve harvested several squirrels — makes great squirrel stew — and we’re hoping to get a deer this fall. If we do, we’ll pressure can the deer for our meat.



Quite a few of our readers have asked about — hmmm – how shall I put this? — what we’ve been doing for a toilet. Well… after months of going to the woods to dig a hole we finally found a good source for sawdust and have started our “humanure” which means that we’re composting our waste. Currently this involves a 5 gallon bucket with a snap on toilet seat lid and some sawdust but eventually when we do build a cabin it will be a bit fancier 😉

Here’s the basic concept:


  • 5 gallon bucket with toilet seat lid — I highly recommend the Luggable Loo 😉
  • Supply of sawdust.


  • Snap the lid onto the bucket,
  • Before the first “use” put a small layer of sawdust in the bottom of the bucket,
  • “Use” as needed,
  • Add more sawdust as needed — depending on the “use” 😉

When the bucket is about half full we empty it into a compost bin. The waste and sawdust is covered with a layer of dry leaves or straw. We pull this layer back, empty the bucket and then put the leaves back on. Believe it or not, the bucket isn’t really that dirty but we still take a toilet brush and give it a scrub and a rinse before starting the cycle over again.

We have a compost bin that is exclusively used for composting this waste. After the first bin is full we’ll start another bin and let the first one continue to compost for about a year before using the finished product on trees and flowers.

Without going into a lot of gory details here a link to read more about it here.


Also, we’ve been asked about what we’re doing for bathing. First let me say that homesteading will make you adjust your standard of cleanliness. There’s many a day we don’t take a full shower and only make do with wiping our faces and arms.

During the winter we took a lot of “spit baths” in the tipi. Fortunately we had an ample supply of rain water and it really did a good job of washing and rinsing. We felt clean but we’re not sure that everyone else would have thought the same way about it.

The long, hot, dry summer that we’ve been experiencing made is necessary for us to hook up to rural water. While it doesn’t feel nearly as wonderful as rain water it does allow you to strip down to your birthday suit and take a full blown shower 🙂 YEP… we shower right there in the middle of our front yard. Good thing we have lots of privacy here!


Doing laundry by hand is a long and tedious job and yet another level of our life that we needed to adjust our standards. In our previous lifestyle we were pretty good about not wearing our clothes only one time and then washing them. I mean, let’s face it, do your clothes really get that dirty in just one day?

Now, here on the homestead, we’ve been known to wear the same pair of shorts for up to a week without washing them. During these hot months of summer Bob has mostly gone shirtless while I usually have on a sport bra or tank top.

Don’t worry…we taking showers on a regular basis (using the garden hose sprayer) and changing our underclothes. There’s a difference between cleanliness and not being sanitary but our day-to-day work clothes just don’t get washed that often. We change into our “go to town” shirts and hats and then back into our work clothes as needed.

So what does it take to get the laundry done, you ask? First you gather up the dirty clothes, duh! I have a couple of 5 gallon buckets that I sort the clothes into and then I add some of homemade laundry soap and fill with water (I have to admit that the pressurized water does work well for this last step). I’ve found that letting the clothes soak over night helps to loosen more of the dirt.

On day two, I take a bucket and use a toilet plunger and agitate the clothes. Then I empty them into a large tub and wring out as much of the dirty water that I can. Then I rinse the clothes and wring them again. Rinse and wring until I’m satisfied that I have all the soap (and as much of the dirt as I can get) removed. Finally, hang them to dry. Currently I’m using a temporary clothesline but Bob is going to build me a permanent umbrella style clothesline soon – yeah!


Like I’ve already said, we did decide to hook up to rural water this summer but we’re still managing our limited power needs with just one solar panel, a charge controller, and a deep cycle battery. Basically we have ONE 15 watt compact fluorescent bulb for our lighting needs at night and occasionally we need to charge up the laptop computer. It’s all a matter of learning to live with less.

P.S. For those of you who are curious about this system – Bob (who understands this “stuff” more than I do) has promised to write up a more detailed post about it – soon – so be sure to come back for more info.

Year Two – We’ve Only Just Begun

There are so many things that we didn’t do or get started in Year One that we wanted to but the important thing is that we’re still here and tomorrow’s another day.

One of my personal goals for Year Two is to be more consistent about blogging! As you can tell by reading this post… there’s plenty of stuff happening every day to write about but finding the time to do so is another thing altogether.

If we had Internet access here on the homestead it would certainly make it a lot easier to share our experiences and do this blogging thing but then again it might tempting to spend too much time surfing 😉

I’m sure I didn’t cover everything so let me know if you have any questions. We want to send a big THANK YOU to all of you for spending Year One with us. We sincerely hope you will continue to visit our blog to read about our homesteading adventures in Year Two.

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View From Our Tipi Door

Thought you all would like to see the view from our tipi door last Friday when it was cold and snowing. Don't worry, it was nice and cozy (about 65 degrees) inside the tipi 😉


(click image for larger view)

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Oh No – SNOW

Flake5 The weather report is saying 6 – 10 inches of snow by Friday… OH NO! We're stocked up on groceries, wood, and gardening books so we should be just fine.

Looks like I'll be cooking a big ol' pot of beans and ham on top of the woodstove tomorrow.

It's a great opportunity to work on the garden layout. 

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Happy New Year

Hello and Happy New Year from Hickory Hollow Homestead!

It's been really cold here and as you can see we got some snow but not too much. We've been spending quite a bit of time inside the tipi. In fact you could say we have "tipi fever"… but then we knew it would be like this in the winter.

We've been staying warm enough during the day using the woodstove. Like I've said before, we don't stoke it up and try to have it last all night so it's pretty chilly in the morning when we wake up. It was 14 degrees today. Brrrrrr!

We can't wait until it warms up some to start working on our outside projects.

(click image for larger view)

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StackedwoodWe saw this story and thought it was cute. Thought we'd share it. Hope you like it.

It's late fall and the Indians on a remote reservation in South Dakota asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild.

Since he was a chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky, he couldn't tell what the winter was going to be like.

Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared..

But, being a practical leader, after several days, he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, 'Is the coming winter going to be cold?'

'It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold,' the meteorologist at the weather service responded.

So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared.

A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. 'Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?'

'Yes,' the man at National Weather Service again replied, 'it's going to be a very cold winter..'

The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find.

Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service again. 'Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?'

'Absolutely, ' the man replied. 'It's looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we've ever seen..'

'How can you be so sure?' the chief asked.

The weatherman replied…

'The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy..'

Remember this whenever you get advice from a government official!  

As you can see from our picture — it must be the same for homesteaders as it is for Indians 😉

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Like I said in a previous post, the weather has turned COLD here. We're both still recouperating from the accident, we decided to stay inside the tipi and take it easy. Since we were going to keep a fire burning in the woodstove all day we thought it would be a great time to make…

8 Hour Chili:


1 lb Hamburger

1 lb Dry Beans

1 Onion – cut up

Green Pepper – about 1/4 pepper cut up

Garlic – 2-3 cloves (adjust to your own taste)

Spices: Salt, Pepper, Chili Powder, Cumin, and anything else you might like 😉


9:30 am Put dry beans in 10" dutch oven, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Used the propane cookstove for this step. Place dutch oven on the back of the woodstove to stay warm.

Top off coffee cups, sit down, and get out a good book to read.

10:30 am Check water level. Add more water as needed to keep beans covered.

Sit down – sip more hot coffee and read another chapter or two.

11:30 am Stand up and stretch. Check water level. Add onions and garlic and stir beans. I like getting the onions and garlic in early to give them as long as possible to flavor the beans.

Look out the tipi door, shiver, and go back to sit by the nice warm woodstove.

12:30 pm Brown hamburger (on cookstove) and flavor with spices. Add to dutch oven. Stir.

Fix a little snack to hold you over until dinner time. Read book.

1:30 pm Check beans and stir them just to look like you're really cooking 😉

Time for a little more hot coffee. Pick up book. Read.

2:30 pm Lift lid, add green pepper and stir.

Stretch. Sit. Close eyes for a quick cat nap.

3:30 pm Lift lid. Sniff. Mmmmm it's really smelling good now!

Pick up book. Read some more.

4:30 pm Mix cornbread up and cook it in the 8" dutch oven.

5:30 pm Slather some butter on the cornbread. Serve up the chili. We like to stir a little jalepeno juice into the chili after it's in the bowl. 

Serve and ENJOY!


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