This year, I’m using my refund to improve my homestead.

I’m not sure what exactly I will do with it, however. We need to improve the property, invest in some livestock, and I could always learn more.

The possibilities are pretty varied. 

My options are:

Investing in some livestock

I’ve considered purchasing a dairy cow with my refund this year, or possibly a dairy goat or two. I’d prefer to buy a cow because of the cream and the quantity, however, I can see advantages to goats.

Goats are smaller, and require less food and land than cattle. They also make nice companions, and generally cost less than a cow to acquire. I can purchase 2 nice pregnant goats for less than one dairy cow.

Our new bucklings!
Our new bucklings!

We already have 2 small bucklings (more on these guys in another post). They are Saanen/Nubian crosses, and I wouldn’t mind having a dairy goat herd, since that would mean meat, milk, cheese, and soap.

I think it’s important to spend my refund to make us more sustainable, but I want to spend it in a meaningful way.

Since I haven’t found a reputable cattle breeder in my area yet, I worry about being taken advantage of when buying a cow. A cow that currently isn’t pregnant causes me to worry about her being a free martin (a heifer that’s the twin of a bull calf; a free martin is sterile).

I’m not sure about spending my refund on a cow that has a calf at her side because unless I can see vet records, I worry she might not take easily. Cows can be more expensive to feed and care for than goats, so I want to make sure I find a cow that works for our farm.

With horses, it’s common to sell an older broodmare while pregnant or with a foal at her side to show she CAN produce, but it speaks nothing of whether she catches easily. You need to examine vet records, and speak to the vet individually.

I know less about cows than horses, but I do know that if I purchase a cow to breed, I will want to have a vet look at her. I’m unsure of whether I want the additional expense and hassle of a pre-purchase exam on a cow.

I might just spend my refund on goats, unless I find a reputable cattle breeder in my area.

If you’re considering livestock, chickens, sheep, and goats are smaller, easier to handle livestock that will let you take the next step towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

FREE online events, plus takeaway options

I can finally let you in on 2 free events you don’t want to miss. 

I’ve known about these events for a while, and now I can finally tell you about them. I’m attending both, and I hope to see you there!


Home Grown Food Summit – April 6 – 12, 2015.

This awesome event will be jam-packed with presentations, and you’ll be sure to walk away with a ton of valuable information you can implement immediately on your homestead.

Interested in learning more?



The Essential Oils Revolution – May 11 – 18, 2015

This event is also online, and will be full of informative information about essential oils. It doesn’t focus on any one brand of essential oils, but rather how to use essential oils to change your life. 

I’m becoming more interested in using essential oils for health (we have skin issues in this house) and cleaning, so you’ll definitely be able to meet up with me at this online summit.

Interested in learning more?


You will WANT to be at these events, and they’re rolling out in the most convenient way possible.

Each presentation will be available for free for 24 hours per presentation, or you have the option to purchase a complete collection of the presentations after the event.

Even if you attend, if you buy the complete collection of videos, you’ll have them refer back to them if you need to.

I’m considering spending my refund to purchase the presentations at both of these events. 

It would be a nice addition to my library, and I’m sure, even though I plan to watch all the presentations, that I will pick up even more watching them a second time. 

(If you’re looking for some great reading before these summits, Mountain Rose Herbs has a great book called The Naturally Clean Home. There’s a ton of information about making your own cleaning products without the chemicals found in commercial products).

Another way to further my education

I’ve been thinking about taking an introductory herbal course with the Herbal Academy of New England. It’s a 6-unit introduction to incorporating herbs into your life beyond the everyday ways I already use them.

I’m particularly interested in their unit on common discomfort – just the other day I had a headache and wondered about natural remedies. Spending my refund to improve my natural remedies skills is another step towards independence.

This spring, I pledge to improve my preservation skills.

I want to improve my preservation skills, since our garden is already producing, and I think we’ll have a large crop this year.

via Pantry Paratus
via Pantry Paratus

I’m thinking of using my refund to add a Chop Rite Clamp-Down Medium Chopper (#10), like the one above from Pantry Paratus to my kitchen. Since we either have meat we produce on the homestead, or meat we buy in bulk (like beef), having a grinder would be great!

My husband is a big fan of sausages, but since we don’t have a meat grinder, it’s harder to produce them on the homestead.

via Pantry Paratus
via Pantry Paratus

To can meat, you need a pressure canner, so I’m thinking of buying the All American Model 915 from Pantry Paratus. It’s in my price range, and is the 2nd smallest pressure canner available.

Since I do a lot of canning on my own, I want a smaller pressure canner I don’t have difficulty handling on my own. 

For our extra produce, whatever I don’t can, I want to ferment or dehydrate.

And while I’m on the subject of produce…

I’m considering purchasing a Seeds of the Month Club Subscription with my refund. Every month I would receive 4 or more packets of seasonally-appropriate seeds straight to my doorstep.

Since some of the seeds I purchased at the end of the season last year haven’t sprouted (kind of a waste of money), I like that the Seeds of the Month club will automatically send me viable seeds every month.

Soaps, because I like nice soap

After years of marriage, I finally got my husband to agree that spending a little more on nice soap is one of those small things that makes life better.

I was actually surprised he agreed with my opinions on soap, since he’s a basic needs kind of guy.

via The 104 Homestead
via The 104 Homestead

I’m in love with the soaps from The 104 Homestead Shop. They’re handcrafted, and since we have skin issues in this house, I might buy a few bars of the Honey Oatmeal soap (pictured above) with my refund to improve our daily lives.

via 104 Homestead
via 104 Homestead

I also love the Dirt Lovin’ soap. I still have long nails, and this soap will help get the dirt out from under them after I’ve been caring for the animals or planting in the garden. 

Fermenting Products

I’ve been learning more about fermenting lately, and have wanted to try to make milk kefir and water kefir. I don’t know much about these ferments, and I look forward to sharing my journey with you.

When I get my refund, I think it’s a perfect time to try making kefir.

Thrive Market has milk and water kefir starter that I’m thinking of investing in. I won’t be able to find starters in my area, so I will have to order some online.

via Thrive Market
via Thrive Market

They’re a little bit of an investment, but once I have my kefir started, I can use the grains again and again, so I’ll get a lot of value! I’ve been wanting to add more healthy drinks to my diet, and kefir is definitely on my list to try.

Do you have plans to improve your self-sufficiency skills this year? I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment, or drop me a line!


Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category.  Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.

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