Tips and Ideas


Deron and I have and do and come up with all sorts of ideas to make life a bit easier living as we do. I suggested "dumping" them here on this website so that others may try them out too. These ideas and suggestions will be added "as we go" and as we have time to put them up here.

These ideas and suggestions are just things that have and do work for us...use them at your own risk. We can not be responsible for the way you interpret them and try them or install them. <grin>


Reflective Window Treatment
This idea has worked like a charm for us, our reflective window curtains. I came up with the idea because when I bought a house 30 years ago in St. Louis, MO the people before us put aluminum foil taped to their windows in the summer....worked great, but you can not open the windows when the foil is taped to them. So, I bought some silver reflective fabric and made simple curtains for our windows. These are set into the window, as close to the window as you can get them, using a spring type curtain rod. Then with your regular curtains over them, in the regular "curtain hanging" method, the suns rays do not come through the window bringing the heat with them. This honestly kept/keeps our home much cooler in the summer.


Curtain Tie Back Curtain Tie Back
We also have velcro tie backs for our window curtain...or the wind here would blow them into the next state and then some. We use small I-bolt screws. With the wind our curtains need to be tied back a bit further and tighter then normal. Our I-Bolts are back approx. 6" from the middle of the window frame. We have approx. 8" of velcro through the I bolt to wrap and tie the curtains back with. When I open the curtains, I tie both the silver and the regular curtains together within the velcro.


The reflective curtains worked so well I thought, why not black in the winter to bring in the heat. I not only made black fleece curtains (again for the inside of the window about 2 1/2" from the window with regular curtains over them on the inside of the window). I made the black polar fleece window curtains not only too long, for stopping any drafts, but also I sewed the top so that the top of the seem for the rod (where you would hang the curtain from) but also about 2" taller (a seem above where the curtain would hang from) so that the curtain covers up top, again so that there is no draft area. Deron and I live in NW SD and it is very windy here. Our windows are very insulated and also caulked, but with the wind here, every little bit helps. I was lucky enough to find some inexpensive thick grade polar fleece and it cost us about $3.50 per window. (And yes, we do have white rooms. Some of you, mostly baby boomers, will understand this.)


Deron,Arrow & Raya out on the prairie

Riding horses can be very important depending on where you live and how far out on the dirt you are. Riding horses, like they have for, well, forever, can still be a life line in a crises.

Deron and I have learned that we also NEED horses that pull. We have three fillies we are hoping to train out this Spring/Summer, or at least get started well, and we KNOW NOW that these fillies need to learn to least a travois.

We will also teach these fillies to pack. We had packing horses and know how handy they can be. With the Highway gate (and we can not move the vehicle across the Prairie), with our mailbox being 6.4 miles from our house, and with Deron having to walk that mileage and carry items in and out, when the prairie is snowy, wet, raining, is time for him to have a trail companion that can handle the length of the walk, the hard to handle terrain, as well as be strong enough, after all that, to help carry/pull items back home when the ATV just won't handle it.

We will be building Horse Travois. We have made them for the dogs and goats, but like I said, it is a long way out and sometimes the terrain very hard to walk, and then there is the trip back, the one that counts.



We bought a "pay as you go" cheap cell phone from a discount store. We buy our minutes as we need them. We pay about $9.00 per month with no extra or hidden charges. $9.00 per month includes about 90 minutes per month. We really like the fact that WE control the cost of this service.

Our phone works as well as any for telephone conversations. It may not have a key pad, Internet, or take photos, or come in fancy colors, but like I said, we save tons of money with ours.

Deron and I get such a kid out of people that tell us that "nights and week ends are free". Really? You believe that? The truth is nights and week ends are figured into the monthly charge you pay. The cell phone company is not going to give you anything free! And do you really need that camera?


Kenmore 158.15000

My best advise on a sewing machine, own one! You don't need a fancy or expensive machine for the benefit they will bring. Your curtains do not need to be fancy, but you will save money heating and cooling if you have the right ones. Owing a sewing machine will save you money on curtains and other items. You can buy your sewing machine at a garage sale for a song.

If you do not know how to use a sewing machine rest assure, it is not rocket science. There are manuals and sewing how to books and instructions on the Internet. Buy some cheap fabric and play with it til you are comfortable.


viewneverchanges 2005-09-16.jpg

Goats are wonderful animals but there are so many misconceptions about them. Goats do not stink, does and wethers (castrated males) have less smell then the family dog. They do not eat "anything" and certainly not tin cans.

Goat milk is better for you then cows milk. Goats eat less then a cow, take up less room and are safer animals to be around. Goats can be as loyal and as friendly and as easy to train as the family dog.

What can a goat do for you when you are living off grid. Oh my goodness, I can not imagine our life without them. First and foremost, when you become frustrated or lonely go out with the goats, if you do not feel better, find yourself smiling or indeed laughing, call 911. A good milker will give about 2 gallons of milk a day and you can make butter, cheese and soap with it too.

I have a whole website (rather large) on ways goats can work for you. The website has information for training, how to make some of your own equipment, and even how to teach them a few tricks and or agility. Goats really are great animals and fun to have around. Check out our sister site menu for Working Goats.



In my opinion you can not live out from town and not have a dog. Several dogs are better. Number one reason...dogs handle things. If you are 10 minutes from law enforcement, let the dogs deter your problems with the two legged type.

There is so much a dog is good for. A well trained dog on a farm or ranch is worth more then it weighs. We have an entire page here on this site about Raya our "farm dog" as well as sister sites Working Big Dogs and Dog Star Kennel. Have a look.


Wire Hanger Antenna

When Deron started talking about this, well, let's just say I half listened. I did however find some hangers for him and he built it in just about two hours. I AM TELLING YOU, IT REALLY WORKED. We have it mounted on a 10' PVC pipe and are now receiving four more channels then we ever have here.

Here is the link, I know when you look at it you might feel as I did.... but really, truly, it works wonders! It's cheap, it was very easy for Deron (may not have been for me) and really took very little time.....time that we can now spend seeing a few new shows!


Cactus Moat

We have cactus on our property. Lots and lots of cactus. So when clearing my Dog/Goat Agility area, about 10 acres, I took the wheel barrels full and unloaded it in the ditches at the fence line so that it would bring the ground up and keep the animals that do not belong to us out, and our own in.

What I found was that the cactus started growing there, and the animals avoid stepping near it. So I got the idea of a Cactus Moat around the fence line. You know what? IT WORKS! Animals, all animals avoid that cactus. Animals do not like it in their feet any more then we do ours.

So now, I am digging up cactus and taking it to the fence line. I am going to be at this for years and years, well, probably my life time. Moving cactus off our property and under our fence line.

It is such a great way to kill three birds with one stone:
1. Getting the Cactus off the areas where we do not want it.
2. Putting it somewhere needed.
3. Keeping animals on the side of the fence they are suppose to be!


Arrow Modeling His Flymask Windwalker Sporting Her Flymask Abby Lounging In Her Flymask Indian Sporting Her Flymask Missy In Her Flymask Tonna Displaying Her Flymask Yellow Flymask


If you own a sewing machine you will be able to make one of these Fly Masks for your favorite equine in about 45 minutes. You will need;

A Heavy Duty Needle in your Sewing Machine
All Purpose or Heavy Duty Thread
Approx 5.5 yards of Poly or Nylon 1" Webbing (cotton could also be used) in your favorite color or the color your horse normally wears in tack
a Lighter to burn the webbing edges
Tape Measure

For the Average Sized Horse or Standard sized Donkey you will cut the top strap to 22" and fold it over equally (at each end) down to approx 17" from tip to tip. Sew the ends over and NAIL (back and forth at least three times) the seams so that the equines halter will fit through each end.

Always burn each end of the webbing after it is cut to size. DO NOT BURN COTTON WEBBING, IT WILL CATCH FIRE.

For the Average Sizes Fly Mask cut 14 - 12" webbing straps. Burn each end. Sew with a NAIL DOWN stitch, then box stitch (square around the end of the webbing. Then sew a big X on each two of the straps, nailing them down with each length. Have a look at the photo above of the yellow/gold Fly Mask to see just what I am trying to describe.

If you own a mini or a draft or another size equine, measure the forehead of your animal from side to side of the halter where the Fly Mast will sit. Adjust the amount of webbing you will use accordingly.

It is pretty self explanatory how they fit on the equine's halter, but have a look at Indian's side view if you have any doubts.

These Fly Mask will last year after year after year. The one Abby, our donkey is wearing is at least 5 years old. You can see that I replaced on of the hanging straps with a blue since I no longer have any of the printed webbing it was originally made from.

I wash ours in the washing machine with towels and hang them to dry.


King Sized Afghan Winter Blanket

I handcrafted this King Sized Granny Square Afghan for our bed in the winter. I made it yeeeears ago and can tell you, it makes a huge difference on a cold night. Deron and I turn off our heat at night, even when it is below zero outdoors. We use a sheet, a blanket, this afghan, and another sheet on top of that. With the sheet on top of the huge afghan, we stay quite toasty under it. I made it oversized, our bed is a Queen, so that no one pulls the covers off the other person. ALL of our top bedding is oversized.

This is not a great photo, but you get the idea.

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