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When it comes to saving the seeds from your vegetable crops, you need to be sure about the variety of crops you’re harvesting from. It’s important you select open-pollinated varieties of vegetables to save seeds from.

Veggies like beans, peppers, tomatoes, and peas are a good choice to get started, especially for a beginner. This is because the seeds are easier to store and the plants that grow from them are of the self-pollinating type so you needn’t take extra care while growing them.

Even though you may be excited to start saving seeds from cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash, these types of plants are insect-pollinated so the resulting seeds won’t give you a plant that produces flavorful and healthy fruit. Hence, you’ll be sticking to open-pollinated varieties because even if they are cross-pollinated with different varieties, or self-pollinate, it’s most likely the resulting plant will bear fruit that is similar to that of the parent plant.

Once you plant your open-pollinated crops, mark the plants you’ll use to save seed from. Make sure to select them on the basis of which has delicious fruit and bore more of it, along with other factors.

Saving the Seed

Tomatoes

Starting with tomatoes, your garden farm staple, I’ll let you know that saving seeds from your tomatoes will be easy. Pick the fruit after they’re ripe and remove the seeds from the middle before you use the tomatoes for making sauce or a salad. Remember to carefully remove the surrounding gel-membrane-pulp and not just the seeds because this can damage them.

Place the gel-seeds mix into a glass of water and remember to stir the mixture a few times a day. Eventually, the gel will ferment and you’ll be left with seeds sitting at the bottom of the jar. You can strain them out and lay them on a few paper towels to dry.

Peppers

Once you’ve selected the pepper plants you want to save seeds from, (after tasting and the number of fruit they yielded) leave a few fruits on the plant to (over)ripen. Once they appear wrinkled, retrieve the peppers, remove the seeds carefully and lay them to dry.

The benefit of leaving the fruit on the plant for the extra amount of time is it helps you get the seeds easily without plucking or pulling them, which could damage them.

Beans and Peas

Leave a few pea pods and other beans on the plant for another month after you’ve harvested the rest until they’re well over ripened, brown in color and have dried up. Get out the seeds and keep them away to dry.

Storing Your Seed

Store your seeds in small paper packs before keeping them in a sealable glass container. You can store different types of seeds together this way, as long as they’re separated by paper packs. You’ll need to store them in a cool place so your fridge is a good option if you live in an area prone to hot and humid climate.

There’s likely to be some moisture inside the fridge too, so to keep it from reaching your seeds you should add some silica to the containers so they stay nice and dry. Remember to label seeds and use them within one year of extracting them.

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The Homesteader’s Guide to Guard Donkeys

When we think of livestock guardian animals, we usually think of guardian dogs or llamas. Donkeys are usually thought of as a reluctant work animal with a grumpy disposition. But the truth is, donkeys can be a very effective and loyal livestock guardian for sheep, goats, chickens, and even calves. They are naturally inclined to defend their territory from single canine predators like foxes, coyotes, and roaming dogs. If you haven’t considered the lowly donkey as a guardian for your herd, you just might be missing out!

A guardian donkey will be protective of his or her territory and be very alert while socializing and grazing with the rest of the herd. When his territory is threatened, he will go on the defensive very aggressively. His front and hind legs make formidable weapons and he will use his teeth as well. Their loud braying could sometimes be enough to scare off a predator, and it will also serve as an alarm to you and the other animals that something is wrong.

Choosing a Guard Donkey

The best guard donkeys are usually raised up with their herd from the time they are a foal. A jenny with a foal makes a great choice because the foal will bond with the herd as it grows up, and it will be a superb guardian. A jenny on her own may work out well, too, as long as she is used to being around other livestock. A gelded male donkey could also be a good choice. Jacks, or intact males, don’t usually work out well as guardians because they can be much too aggressive with other livestock. Just be sure the donkey you choose is a standard size or larger. Miniature donkeys are too small to be effective as a livestock guardian because they will be prey themselves. The same goes for baby or very young donkeys.

When introducing a new donkey to your herd, it’s best to set up a separate paddock for the donkey within your pasture. Keep the donkey separated for several weeks, and use that time to let the donkey get used to you. Introduce the donkey to your other animals slowly over time, and don’t let her loose unsupervised with the herd until they’ve had plenty of time to get used to each other. Don’t ever purchase an unmanageable donkey, especially if you are not experienced with equines.

Pros of Using a Guardian Donkey to Protect Your Livestock

Donkeys will bond with their herd over time and become very territorial. Often, the smaller animals in the herd will come to look at their guardian donkey as a protector over time, and will run to her when threatened. When a donkey’s territory becomes threatened, it will become very aggressive and charge at the threat in an attempt to chase it away. It will use its feet and teeth as deadly weapons, even potentially killing a single canine predator.

Donkeys often live for 30 years or more, so when you find a good one you can count on her for a long time. They don’t cost much to purchase, either. Their fencing and housing requirements are much like sheep and goats. Donkeys are generally calm until threatened, so you won’t need to worry about them being aggressive towards your guests. Unlike livestock guardian dogs, donkeys don’t roam, and they won’t keep you or your neighbors up all night with their barking.

Cons of Using a Guardian Donkey to Protect Your Livestock

Some donkeys won’t confront canines, and will choose to run away instead of standing their ground or charging. Others will only protect themselves and pay no attention when other animals are threatened. Some donkeys can be aggressive toward other livestock, too. Be especially careful of donkeys around lambs and kids. It can be difficult to know if a donkey is going to make a good guardian until you bring her home and try her out.

Donkeys can’t defend against large predators like bears, wolves, mountain lions, or wild hogs. They are not effective against a pack of canines either. They probably won’t pay any attention to small predators, like raccoons, or flying predators, like hawks. A single donkey won’t be very effective in a very large pasture where the herd is scattered in a large area.

Some donkeys will bray a lot if they are lonely, bored, or at feeding or treat time. This could disturb your neighbors and your family as well. Some guardian donkeys may not ever accept your homestead dogs and may attack them just like they would any other predator.

Caring for Your Guardian Donkey

If you are familiar with handling horses, you should do very well with a donkey. Their feeding, handling, and care requirements are pretty much the same as other equines. They require regular hoof trimming, vaccines, and check-ups. Donkeys will drink a lot more water than goats and sheep, so plan accordingly.

Feed your donkey plenty of hay. He will also need trace mineral salts and probably some grain to keep his weight up, especially in the winter time when grass is scarce. Your donkey will need to be fed separately from your sheep and goats. Don’t ever give your donkey access to Rumensin, urea, or other feed or supplements that are meant only for ruminants. Donkeys originally come from desert climates, so they do not grow a warm undercoat like horses do. They will need good shelter from rain and snow.

Don’t ever interfere with a donkey that is defending his territory. If you do, he may view you as a threat as well, and you will get kicked or bitten. If a donkey has attacked or chased off a predator, you should give him plenty of time to calm down before you attempt to approach him.

Conclusion

Donkeys can make excellent livestock guardians in situations where a guardian dog may not be ideal. Donkeys can often be trained for riding and pulling, making them a multi-use animal on the homestead. All-in-all, a guardian donkey is definitely worth your consideration when choosing a livestock guardian for your homestead.


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