Homesteading and Livestock
Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Building a Homestead From the Ground Up


The key to building a successful homestead is developing the courage and knowledge in doing most things yourself. With the proper planning and hard work you can discover the best ways to become self-sustaining. Start by looking at each of your expenses and find a way to remove them completely. Some are easier than others. I started with brewing coffee instead of driving to the coffee shop each morning. Every step towards efficiency brings you one step closer to that dream of self-sufficiency.

One efficient way to create a homestead is to locate it near a forest and learn how to use the wood resourcefully and sustainably. Country living requires a little courage and some hard work but is generally less expensive than living in the city. Don’t be scared of homesteading. Your family will fall in love with country living and the wild animals will begin to acquire names. Everything falls into place after you educate yourself and attain experience. You naturally become more aware of your accomplishments after you see your projects actually working. It is amazing how much hard work is required to produce your first basket of eggs.

Homestead location requires the most planning because it should fit the lifestyle you want to live someday into retirement. While basic survival is a priority, water and sewer should be at the top of your list of considerations when designing a home in the country. A property with a woods is a great option because trees can be used to build your house and heat it for free. We use a method called “coppicing” to cut trees without killing them and they continue growing beautifully.

A remote location without typical electricity can be more affordable because most people are not willing to live in that type of area. Take advantage of this if you plan to build a home. Use solar panels and windmills to power it. You can buy even more solar panels with the money you saved from not having utility bills and a mortgage.

In the next several articles, I will explain how to develop a homestead from start to finish, with hopes to inspire others so they can begin planning their roadmap to self-sufficiency. The first step in creating a productive homestead is finding the proper location. The next is deciding how you will meet all of your survival needs while building your home. At the same time you will need to discover the best options for growing and producing your own food depending upon your location. Then I’ll show you how to produce your own electricity and the best options for heating your home sustainably. 

The Ozbun family lives on a homestead located in the Appalachian Mountains. Their Clerestory home is off-grid and powered by both active and passive solar powered systems. Wind generators frequently supplement the home’s power system during storms.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

The Best Chicken Coop In the World!


I know it’s a grandiose claim, but after testing out our Egg Cart'n Chalet from and after trying other options over the years, this clever design ticks all of the boxes for our homestead. My daughter and I made a video unboxing, setting up and revealing this build.

Just a few years back, as rookie homesteaders, one of the first things we did (like many new homesteaders) was build a chicken coop. We ended up building an aesthetically pleasing, heavy duty design, but we missed the mark on so many levels.

First, we way overbuilt our coop. It wasn’t our intention, we used standard construction materials, shingles on the roof, treated plywood, 2x4s, etc, but in the end this thing could withstand a hurricane. What we overlooked was the fact that wood rots. Even though we protected the floor with linoleum the floor still rotted, twice! I’m convinced our chicken’s poo is akin to battery acid!

The coop is well built but its a nightmare to clean out. It’s the most dreaded chore on our homestead. Drag out a tarp, scoop out the old bedding and waste. It’s stinky, messy and an inefficient process. 

After a few years the goats tore away the shingles on the egg door. We replaced them, they tore off more. We added more. The ram on the door broke. After a few years and some failed fixes the egg door is very heavy to lift each time.

It’s also immobile. Initially we kept the chickens locked up, but they love to free range. Free ranging chickens are great for killing insects and ticks and for fertilizing our turf. Since we cannot move our coop we often let the chickens free range. This presents problems because we now have stashes of eggs laid all over our 20 acre property. It's also a problem because of predators and we’ve lost a few chickens to chicken hawks and other predators. On one hand we don’t want to lock them up on the other we don’t want to risk them getting attacked by predators.

After a lot of research we decided to seek out a superior chicken coop solution that would check off the following boxes:

Must be built to last
Must be portability
Must hold at least 10 chickens
Must be easy to clean

After a lot of research we found the Egg Cart'n Chalet at First the company is a small family-owned business with great reviews and testimonials. The Egg Cart'n Chalet is built with a metal roof, aluminum frame and heavy duty perforated plastic flooring. It’s built to last AND its built with materials that will not rot like wood does.

This is more than a coop, rather a portable chicken coop tractor. It has many clever features like a ramp that can be lowered or raised to allow the chickens access to the grass below. The coop features heavy duty doors with locks and windows. There is a sliding egg access door on the back.  It’s also built with a most clever setup for portability. It uses an EZ Lift system to lift and move the chicken coop/tractor anywhere you’d like. We can move the chickens around our property and allow them to eat insects and fertilize our turf, from within the safety of the coop. The way it’s designed using a latch system and leverage, we can easily move it around with one hand.

The Egg Cart'n Chalet can house 8-12 chickens we have 10.

Lastly and one of the things we most overlooked aspects of owning a chicken coop is ease & efficiency of cleaning. The frame is aluminum the floor is 1″ perforated polypropylene. The entire unit can be powerwashed out to clean it. We LOVE this feature. SInce its portable we can simply wheel it on over to our hose and power wash it out OR we can roll it into our compost area and clean it out there and recycle the waste.

Finally the packaging and instructions were great. The instructions were in perfect English. The hardware all came in bags and each were labeled. The various sections of the coop were also labeled.  The step by step instructions included images. We set the entire coop up in about 2 hours.

So those are all of the pros and our honest review of the Chicken Chalet. In terms of negatives, we haven’t found any yet. We plan to do another video and review after using it for the summer.

Be sure to watch my daughter and I work together to unbox and build our new chicken coop and see what the best chicken coop in the world looks like!

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Homescratch Homestead, Step 2: Financing

Step 2: Financing

Financing options are highly personalized and circumstantially specific. Once we discovered our property using the treasure mapping tool (read Part 1), we didn’t have the cash flow to cover both the cost of the property and the build. Conventional mortgage loans are not available without an existing house on the property, so we had to seek other options for available loans. Below is a synopsis of options that we found within our search parameters. 

Lender Land Loans

Land loans are riskier for lenders than mortgage loans. The value of raw land is less than the value of a house and historically more owners default on payment. In a foreclosure, there is no guarantee that the bank will receive the money back for the cost of the land. Due to the high risk, any lender who is willing to grant a land loan will require up to a 25% down payment with a higher interest rate and a maximum timeline of 5 years to pay the outstanding amount due, known as the balloon payment. 

Many banks, including our local bank, will not touch this type of loan due to the inherent risk, but we found that People’s Bank offers both lot loans and contruction loans. With People’s Bank, we had 2 options:

1. Take out a lot loan and keep our cash to build. 

2. Purchase the property and take out an owner/builder construction loan. 

Option 1: Finance the lot and keep our cash to build

Pros: This would allow for the most flexibility with the building process, eliminating the bank’s timeline for the build. Also, the fixed budget creates financial accountability to build within the cash that we have. 

Cons: Cash is fixed. If the budget is not realistic, then the building process could flounder. With the 3-year balloon payment due, there is limited time to finish the build and refinance into a conventional mortgage. 

Option 2: Purchase the property and take out an owner/builder construction loan*

Pros: The land is yours, and the deed can be handed over. 

Cons: Zero cash is left and this option would put us at the mercy of the bank. The bank has stakes in the completion of your property, so they have a significant measure of control for the timing and amount of the cash withdrawals, required inspections and the full building schedule.  If the house is not completed in the 12-month time period, there are steep fees. Living in an area with an extreme winter made this option less appealing or realistic. 

*Note: the owner/builder construction loan requires proof that you are a licensed contractor or will be working with a licensed contractor for the project. 

Initially we thought we would just purchase the land and get a loan for the build. After meeting with a lending agent, we realized that we needed to keep our cash and develop the property within our own schedule. Since we are not subbing out any of the work (except for state required plumbing and electric), we needed more freedom within this process as we both have other job commitments. 

Now that we had found property and had researched our options for financing, it was time to close the deal with our realtor. Once we presented our findings, he presented yet a 3rd option—seller financing. 

Seller Financing

In our case, the owners of the property were an investment group and interested in financing the property in lieu of the bank. Suggesting owner/seller financing was a genius move from our realtor, as it put us in a better position for negotiation. The sellers would be willing to take our lower offer since they would be regaining interest on our payments for the next three years. Not only did that decrease the overall cost of the land, it eliminated close to $9,000 of bank fees for the loan initiation, approval and refinancing process. The risk and requirements for us is the same. We paid a 25% down payment, the lenders met the bank’s interest rate of 5.5% and we agreed upon a balloon payment of 3 years with no penalty for early payoff. If we default on the payment by September 2020, legally the land continues to belong to the owners. 

At this point we are almost two years into the process. Originally I thought we should be able to pay off the lot within two years. Thankfully our realtor is savvy and guided us on the right path. If everything progresses as planned, we will be able to refinance our property by next spring, pay off our lot and roll into a conventional mortgage within the three-year timeline. ...

Lyndsay Dawson Mynatt is a dedicated forager, outdoor enthusiast, and blogger for MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Her published articles include: Build a DIY Cider Press in the 2015 September/October issue of GRIT and 5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Mayonnaise in the 2015 Best of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Follow her adventures at A Faithful Journey, and read all of Lyndsay's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Why You Should Be Letting Your Chickens Out


When I was growing up, there was a man that lived across the street from my parent's house.  Every morning, he would go down to his chicken coop and let all of his chickens out for the day.  They spent the day outside, coming and going from the coop as they pleased.  Every evening, he went down to the coop and made sure that they were all up again.  He raised and sold both chicks and eggs and had about 50 hens at any given time.  I never realized until I got older and had my own chickens why he raised them this way.

Benefits of Pasture-Raising Chickens

There are many different ways that you can describe what is essentially letting chickens loose during the day.  Free-ranging, foraging, pasture-raised, etc.  It's important to note that if you are selling meat or eggs then you need to make sure that you are meeting the regulations for that particular category of raising them.  I want to talk to you about letting them loose.  Let them access forage and grass.


Because there are so many benefits!

When you raise chickens on pasture or forage, you can reduce your insect load in your yard or garden, decrease your feed costs, and increase both the chicken's health and your own (if you eat the eggs and/or meat).

Chickens that are out on pasture will eat some forage and grasses (usually about 30-40% of their diet).  They will eat vegetation that is lush and plump.  They'll spend the majority of their time looking for insects though.  Insects will make up about 40-50% of their diet when they are out naturally ranging.  Natural bug control anyone?

Obviously, if the chickens are out and eating forage and insects, they will require less feed from you, which saves you money!  I always think it's crazy when people mention that keeping chickens is expensive.  Believe it or not, I don't spend a dime on feed once my chickens leave the brooder.  They are out all day long foraging and it doesn't cost me anything!

There are several reasons why letting your chickens forage makes them healthier.  If you have chickens and you keep them up, you may have noticed in the past one chicken that gets pecked frequently.  Or maybe you've seen one chicken that pecks the other chickens constantly.  (I don't mean a quick show of dominance peck, but a constant pecking that removes feathers and causes wounds.)  Chickens require methionine in their diet.  Methionine is an amino acid that is used to make proteins.  A chicken's body cannot make it but it has to have it.  Methionine is found in animal proteins, not plant proteins.  Feed companies usually add methionine to feed but it can break down over time.  Chickens that aren't getting enough methionine will try to find it any way that they can, including other chickens.  Extreme cases of methionine deficiency can cause cannibalism. 

Insects are packed with methionine.  When chickens are out foraging, they are able to get plenty of methionine in their diet.  I've always let my chickens out during the day.  A few years ago, we had a couple of hens that had to be kept up during the day.  We gave them ample feed and made sure that they were healthy.  One of the hens began some cannabalistic behaviors.  We started letting her out and the first afternoon that she was out, she stopped.  Turns out, she had a methionine deficiency and was craving it.  I checked the label of the feed and it should have had plenty of methionine in it.  Apparently, it had broken down since it was added to the feed and she wasn't getting enough. 

Chickens also need vitamins A,B and D.  They are able to forage and get vitamins A and B from the grass and insects that they consume.  Just like us, chickens can make their own vitamin D when they are exposed to sunlight.  Chickens that are on pasture or foraging will get enough sunlight to make plenty of vitamin D.  (Chicken feed often contains a compound called fagopyrin that causes sensitivity to sunlight and can lead to sunburns.)

Allowing your chickens to be on pasture also creates healthier eggs and meat products for you.  There have been numerous research projects done about the nutritional value of eggs and meat that is raised on pasture.  The difference in pasture raised and feed-raised is astounding! 

According to the USDA, pasture-raised eggs contain 40% more vitamin A, less cholesterol, more omega-3 fatty acids, more protein, less saturated fat, 3x's more vitamin E and 7x's more betacarotene!  If you eat the meat, you'll enjoy benefits like less saturated fat, more omega-3 fatty acids and no added hormones or antibiotics. 

So, if you're not letting your chickens out daily, what's stopping you?

Shelby DeVore is an agricultural enthusiast that enjoys writing about gardening, raising livestock and simple living. You can read her most recent posts on or follow Farminence on Pinterest and Twitter.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Growing Up Off-Grid: Interview with a Traditional Skills Pioneer


This article was produced from a 2019 interview with Renee, a 57-year-old retired librarian and knowledge manager, and married mom of two adult sons who lives 12 miles south of the state capital in Warren County, Iowa. As Renee will tell it, she “was raised with MOTHER EARTH NEWS.” And while she doesn’t claim to be an expert, but rather someone that learned and utilized information from the magazine from an early age, she’s used all the skills she learned through the years. “I still ‘use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without’, Renee says, and brings her feelings of blessed happiness into daily reading, weeding, crafting, and cultivation of the simple life.

The beginning and a catalyst for the way I was raised was the marriage of two people with five kids with a one-income family who needed to figure it out. My mom and stepdad were city-raised but going back one generation further, and it’s the farm.

The credo for my family was use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without. We moved to a 3.7-acre homestead, with the vision of being self sustaining. It met all the requirements that my parents were looking for: It was rough and wild and a good price with well water deep on the Jordon aquifer. Running water on the land. Dead wood and living trees. A house with three bedrooms and one bath and a double basement.

Reflections on Firewood

In the ensuing years, we cleared the brush and dead wood to stoke and feed the wood-burning furnace.  Some days, it was so hot inside we sweat. My parents learned about what wood burned best and hottest.

They bartered with other farmers in the area to clear the dead fall for the hauled-away wood.  My dad made a log splitter, and in August after the hay was put up we, would start the wood brigade. Pickup truckloads of wood carried, split, and stacked — one year we did 11 cords! We always kept the wood pile about 50 yards from the house to discourage critters and bugs. Every night after chores, we all carried a large arm-full to the house. Mom preferred apple wood, but my dad liked the walnut and other hardwoods.

We had a 100-by-100-foot garden, fruit trees, room for a barn, a chicken coop with 50 chickens, ducks, and geese. We had two 3-tier hutches for rabbits, a goat, a milk cow, usually three to five Angus steers, and another three to five hogs.

Remembering Home Dairying

This all started in 1968 when I was 8 years old and my siblings were 7, 5, 3, and 2. We all had jobs; Collecting eggs, feeding, watering and grooming the horses and other animals, and washing eggs. We separated milk and cream, using the pasteurizer, and started the rennet for yogurt and cottage cheese.

Our cow Molly was a Guernsey-Jersey milking shorthorn who gave 4 gallons of product each milking, twice daily, with a 1-to-2 ratio of cream to milk. We made ice cream every month — and each month was a new flavor.

My mom's creative flavors rivaled Ben & Jerry’s. January was peppermint. She made banana from overripe fruit sold by the A&P at a reduced price with walnuts that we collected and hulled. She made maple-flavored from syrup that was from our trees, and lemon. But her best was the Mexican vanilla — it was to die for!

My grandfather was a paper goods salesman for Hawkeye foods, so we had all the discontinued sample containers to put product in to.

On Food Preservation and Making a House a Home

We had a split-level basement. On the top level, there was my dad’s shop and tools, then a shower stall, washer and dryer that rarely were used, because we hung clothes on the line because god wind and sunshine were free.

My parents set up a stove and a standalone aluminum sink with cabinets where we washed the eggs, did all the cleaning of the separator, and had the sprout jars set up for alfalfa, wheat, and beans. It was my littlest sister’s job to spray mist and turn the jars every day.

We had two large chest deep freezers and a fridge down there as well, one for meats, one for vegetables and fruit that were not canned or jellied. The largest fridge was for dairy and eggs. We had shelves upon shelves of canned vegetables, fruit, fish, other meats. Jelly and jam of every kind, because we picked berryies all the time: Raspberry, blueberry, elderberry, rhubarb, currants, wild grape, apple, and pear. Pickles for every taste along with super-hot pickled peppers my dad would trade at the tavern. Mom wore triple gloves to make those!

A Time for Work and a Time for Play

I wore my Uncles hand-me-downs until I was 15 years old. We all can sew. Some can knit, crochet, or quilt. My brother can do beautiful embroidery. I discovered Goodwill and Salvation Army thrift stores after I purchased my own car. I was able to get my own clothes then.

I have worked full time since I was 13 years old when I was a Nanny to three little boys during the hours of 3:30pm to 10pm after school and half-days Saturdays.

We did not watch TV (well, except for on Sunday nights to watch Wild Kingdom). The radio was on my mom's station to hear the weather and news. Somehow she could hear from a far distance when we changed the channel when we would wash dishes. "Turn it back to KSO".

You never said you were bored because if you did, mom would give you a 5-gallon bucket and tell you what to fill it up with.  Mostly it was rocks, sticks, dandelion greens, carry water, or pick up windfall fruit and take it to the chickens. No, we made our own fun when we were not doing chores.

It was not all work, though. My mom was very creative. She built a full-sized tee-pee from old sheets that she let us decorate with house paint. We went on field trips and picnics to free attractions. We went to city parks to play on the equipment.

I'm glad to live in town now but I still use many of my learned skills to this day. I have an odd and wide skill set. I can rewire lamps, outlets and switches. I can butcher beef, pork, rabbit, or fowl. I know how to can and make jelly. I had a waste barrel system. I know herbal remedies and how to use food to heal. I can drive anything from a John Deere tractor pulling a baler to a VW Thing. I can change tires in 20 minutes, know how to change oil and service my own car. I play guitar, because my mom bartered ironing my teachers shirts for lessons. I know weather by the clouds.

So, like I said, I'm glad to have the knowledge I do. I bring all of this into the city, where I live now.

Join the discussion on the author’s Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page. Stay energized!

Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for over 35 years. He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter at The Climate Reality Project, a fellow addict at Oil Addicts Anonymous International  and a talk show co-host at WDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on the Living Off Grid, Really!?!?Facebook page, and read all of Aur's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Backyard Poultry: Growing Goslings to Four Weeks


I got my Chinese Geese the Summer of 2017 as teenagers. Now they are in full swing of breeding season and I am getting an egg a day. I own three white Chinese and a Brown Chinese. I didn't let them have babies their first year because they weren't really focused on breeding but on how much attention that you would give them. Some people will tell you that geese are mean, but my geese are like little puppies that just honk really loud and shed feathers! They will follow me around while begging for pets. 

What are Chinese Geese?

Chinese geese are also known as swan geese that hail from (you guessed it) China! They are also one of the breeds referred to as weeder geese and were imported by farmers for this specific purpose to help in the fields. They are low maintenance and a kiddie pool full of water will suffice their breeding and bathing habits. It does need to be cleaned out daily and they need access to fresh grass clipping or a field for foraging. 

On to the Eggs!

Geese eggs are fairly big and are not easy to find at all. They hide their eggs. I have a communal nest box for my two ladies with lots of hay to keep them laying there but I have had my Brown Chinese-Mink, make a nest in mulch also. Any loose debris is what suits my girls best. It is also adorable to watch them carry hay around on their backs to bury their eggs with. So after a long wait and a long egg hunt, I finally found eggs! 

Incubation is not for the patient. 

I was so excited that I put every egg that I found into my Incubator and everyone had a form of life! My mistake was not saving and putting them in at the same time. So instead of one large hatch, I had a bunch of mismatched in age Goslings. My very first Gosling- Pip was the very first Gosling born on our farm and he will live here for his entire life. Pip is 4 weeks old at this point in time but he had two siblings born a week later and another sibling born a week after that! Remember I was excited! 

The Learning curve. 

Now with Goslings they have to have some type of vegetation within a few days of hatch. Pip and his siblings would come out with me everyday. Soon enough they will imprint on you and truly believe that you are mom. They will follow you everywhere also. I let them run around the yard in the evening with me. They also start bathing at about 1 week old. They'll need a dish that's deep but not toodeep (about 2 inches) so that they can drink and bathe but be prepared. They poop ALOT. I have to clean their brooder out everyday because it gets so icky.

Week by Week development: 

Week 1

When Pip hatched, he was already a lot larger than chicks and ducklings but was so adorable. He was this little yellow foofball that chirped alot and followed me around. 

Week 2

Pip did well being introduced to his two other siblings and they all groom each other. They huddle together while we are outside and talk to one another. They are all doing great with staying close to me and getting enough food to eat. Pip has doubled his size and towers over his two siblings. He has some white feathers coming in under his yellow fluff. 

Week 3

Another Gosling sibling joined Pip, Chip, and Bip this week. They all get along just fine and have now moved to a bigger water dish. Pip has once again doubled, if not tripled, his size and has lost almost all of his yellow fluff. Chip and Bip are mirroring Pip's 2nd week.

Week 4

Pip has not lost almost all of his yellow fluff and is working on water proofing feathers. The younger three are following his lead and copying. Everyone goes out to free-range every evening and is putting on weight how they should be. One huge change this week is that Pip no longer chirps! He has a raspy honk coming through now. Now when he swims, he dives and blows bubbles. His head also is not waterproof and he looks like a water monster so we may change his name to Nessie! 

I love having Goslings and will have more updates soon on Pip! You can see him and his siblings on #theadventuresofpip 

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

The Lighter Side of Border Collies

Allie After a Bath

Miss Allie is not happy about her bath and she kept turning her head away from the camera, so I know she is guilty!

Miss Allie has always been overly intelligent and it has been a real treat for me to watch her behave in silly ways, to entertain me or others.  Her real intention is to get attention and sometimes that is good, then there are times she can be a real stinker and cause trouble for not only the other dogs but also herself.  But I still love her and am amazed at her sneaky tricks to get the other dogs in trouble.

Allie and I have had a little over 11 years together.  She has always loved attention and will behave in silly ways to get attention from me.  As the pups came along, she lost that single dog attention and had to share with her daughters and now granddaughter.  She is jealous and will often try her tricks, to get that attention.

When she first came to live with me, Allie was shy but that didn't last long!  She learned that I was her person and it was all about her.  It was also about her getting food.  She resorted to silliness, just to get a piece of cheese.  She would snort, raise her paw and even smile for food.  I figured I could teach her to smile on command for her food and that has always been one of her trademark tricks to entertain folks who visit us.  She smiles a full smile, baring all her teeth in hopes of food or attention and she usually gets it.  She also drops to the ground when I point at her and say, "bang!", although sometimes it takes several times before she 'falls down' and I have to say she is a hard kill.  This is how Allie gets attention but she is also a good one for getting the other dogs in the family in trouble.

On more than one occasion, she will start doing something and the other dogs fall in line with her.  She knows better and then gets the other dogs in trouble.  She has taught Joy to turn over the trash can and climb on the counter.  Yes, I saw her teaching Joy this trick, when Joy was about six months old!

More recently, Allie's granddaughter, Fly, fell victim to Allie's naughtiness.  Or, perhaps it is just a rite of passage that Fly had to learn the hard way but Allie was the one who got Fly into the situation because I had seen her do this to her own two daughters, Jinx and Joy.

My mom's trailer house has something living under it, perhaps a rat but we also know, since the Sunday Morning Incident, that we also have a black and white striped stinky kitty that lives there.  Yes, we have a skunk, and Allie felt obliged to introduce Fly to the benefits of skunk hunting.

Mom and I were a half hour from leaving for church when there was a commotion under the trailer deck that resulted in a foul smell.  I knew immediately the dogs had cornered a skunk.  I stepped out on the deck to see poor Fly, my one-year-old pup, frothing at the mouth and rolling in the dirt.  Immediately, I grabbed some rubber gloves and the Dawn dish soap and rubbed it on her face, carefully avoiding her eyes and mucus membranes. I also rubbed her body down and left it on her until we returned from church.  I checked Jinx and Joy for the smell and they were clear.  Since Allie had only been sprayed once since I knew her, and she wasn't acting funny, I presumed she was fine and we left for church.

Upon returning home, I promptly gave Fly a bath and she was free of the smell.  Then Mom screamed that Allie smelled and had just jumped on the couch.  I grabbed the old dog and dragged her to the bathroom, to try and get the stink off, but it was too late, the oil dried on her, so it will take time to get her smelling better.  As I washed her, I realized that Allie had set Fly up.  She knew that skunk was under the house and it was a matter of time before they saw the skunk and Fly would learn the hard way (Jinx and Joy have never been hit hard with skunk spray but they were downwind).  But in trying to teach Fly about skunks, Allie's plan had backfired and she was hit worse than Fly.  That silly dog, she is a real STINKER! Gotta love those border collies!

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

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