So Much to Update, So Little Time

This post is long overdue.  Post-able events have occurred.  The problem is a plague has befallen the homestead.  That might be a bit dramatic, but it kind of feels that way. It has gotten to the point where I have either thrown a rib out of place, or cracked it with coughing.  Moving hurts.  This isn’t conducive to physical homestead activities like building coops and bale feeders, running fences, or tilling garden plots.  Heck, it’s not conducive to collecting eggs.  But I am not looking for pity.  I will however take any and all prayers for my families health.

A couple weeks ago my wife had a conference in Las Vegas so we decided that the baby and I would tag along.  Neither of us had ever been to Vegas so I was interested to see the sights.  The landscape around the city is amazing with mountains in every direction you look.  It is quite beautiful, but something was missing.  I didn’t realize it until we were driving home from the airport, but I really missed trees.  The few palm trees just didn’t do it for me.

My wife had meetings every day, and we didn’t want to switch our schedule for one week so were got up at 5 local time every morning.  The baby and I would walk my wife down to her morning meetings and then go walk the strip.  The strip in the morning is great.  It is quiet.  The only sidewalk traffic was myself and joggers.  By lunchtime, this all changed.  Out came the tourists, and the crazies.  It never occurred to me to put on a costume and stand in a busy place asking for tips.  Simply for wearing a costume these people wanted tips?  This wasn’t even my favorite request.  There was one guy, whom I saw on a couple of occasions, that had a sign asking for money to buy pot, because he really liked to smoke pot.

The other thing that struck me at the end of our stay was the discord between the opulence of all the resorts and casinos and the multitude of people begging to survive on the street.  No where was this more brought to my attention than the last full day we were there.  My wife and I had not tried any of the hotel buffets, so we decided to try the Caesar Palace lunch buffet.  It was amazing.  But the amount of food waste being generated in contrast to those on the street begging was sobering.  I don’t claim that food is not wasted in my house, but it saddened me to think that there were people so close begging for food when so much was being wasted.

I enjoyed our trip to Las Vegas, especially the time with my wife, although my wife and I agree it isn’t a place we would choose to go again.

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While we were gone, it was supposed to be warm and dry at home.  I was really hoping that the snow would melt and everything would dry out.  A tall order considering there was still a foot of snow on the ground when we left.  While it was still wet and muddy, almost all of the snow melted and it was a good start towards drying out, so that was nice.

With the snow out of the way, I was able to take stock in some areas of the property.  One such area was the orchard.  I have had nothing but trouble in getting the orchard up and going.  This spring is going to be no different.  This is what I found when the snow melted.

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The mice stripped the bark off the bottom of almost all the trees.  I will obviously need to wrap the trees next fall to protect them.

In the coming month I need to start some seeds, get the garden plot tilled up, fence in the garden area, build a chicken coop, build a hay bale feeder for the sheep, work on the grading in the front yard around the drive, build a hoop house, etc.  Never a shortage of projects.  Until next time.

 

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They Live!!!

I haven’t had much time or inclination to check on my hives this winter.  If you remember one of the hives had foam insulation tacked onto the hive boxes themselves, adding insulation.  The other was just a plain old Langstroth hive.  A couple days ago I was walking around and admiring the ground now visible because of the recently melted snow and I walked past the hives.  I decided to give them a smack to see if I could hear signs of life.  To my dismay, I heard no buzzing, no humming, no nothing.  I was a bit bummed.  I had no plans to buy another package of bees this spring.

Today was a warmer day and I had taken our dog out the side door of the house, closest to the hives.  As I tried to keep the dog from getting too muddy I noticed motion out of the corner of my eye.  Something was flying around the hive mouths of both hives.  Being sure not to get too excited, I figured they were just flies.  Upon closer inspection both hives had bees flying to and fro from the hive mouth.  This makes me a happy man.

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Crowdbuilt Chicken Coop, Kind of…

With the order of the new chickens, I am going to need a bigger coop. This is something I wanted to do anyways. I have been playing with the design in my head for awhile, but wanted all of your input. What do you wish you had done on your coop?  What is the coolest thing you have ever seen on a chicken coop?  What is your favorite thing about your coop?

I am thinking it will be 8 feet wide by either 12 or 16 feet long, and I am leaning towards 16. I would like to have the actual coop be 8’x12′ with a 4’x8′ run in section for the sheep on the end enclosed on three sides. I am thinking it will have a simple shed style roof with the short side being 4′ tall and the high side being 8′ tall. The tall side will face south and have windows. The short side will face north and have nest boxes accessible from the outside. 

I plan to have rabbit cages hung inside the coop to double up the usefulness. The reason for many of the dimensions is to avoid as many cuts as possible to the lumber. I plan to build it on skids so that if I need to move it in the future I will be able to. 

Please share with me your thoughts and opinions, so I can build the best coop possible. 

Posted in Chickens, DIY, Farming, homesteading, Opinion, Preparation, sheep | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chicks and Lawn

So the whole “permaculture” type lawn seed mix has had me thinking.  I called a local feed store and talked to someone there about making me a custom mix.  I figured it would be easier to talk about it in person so I decided I would make it over there this weekend. While I was on the phone with them I figured I would ask if they were selling chicks.  They were, and with no minimums on number or breeds.  Yahtzee!

Homestead Boy #2 and I headed over there Saturday morning as soon as they opened at 8:30.  We were the second ones there, and we would have been first if we hadn’t stopped for hot chocolate, :).  I showed the gentleman the list of seeds I was interested in having mixed up.  He said they had about half of them, the other half could be ordered.  He is going to call their supplier and see what the cost would be to have the seed mix made up.  The mix will include yarrow, dutch clover, chamomile, english daisies, perennial rye, baby blue eyes, alfalfa, sweet alyssum, trefoil, little blue stem, and fescue.  Anything that I am missing, or that I should remove?

On to the chickens.  I was so happy to find a place where I didn’t have to worry about a minimum order, restricting breeds, etc.  Better yet, they pick them up from the post office, sort them, and get some food and water in them before we need to pick them up.  I ordered some buff orpington pullets and roosters, black australorp pullets, silver laced wyandotte pullets, araucauna pullets, and speckled sussex pullets.  A few of each.  I am excited to increase the flock size.  Now I need to get to work on the new coop.

Posted in building, Chickens, DIY, Family, Farming, homesteading, kids, Preparation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Creating the Mowable Meadow

Homestead Dad:

I have been thinking about finding/creating a seed mix that could be used for both lawn and pasture seeding. Something that is durable, requires very little input, and can be grazed. I found this blog and it has some good ideas. Anyone have anything to add to the list?

Originally posted on Permaculture Northwest Ohio:

I want to replace large swathes of my lawn with something lower maintenance.  And ever since I’ve been introduced to the idea of the “mowable meadow” at Permies.com, I’ve been inching forward like a slug gathering tidbits of information here and there.

A more accurate title for this post would be “creating the mowable meadow using information gathered and glued together from multiple sources on the internet and then testing it for my climate zone and reporting back on the results.”

So I’d like to make this post a group project of finding all of the possible plants that will work for our climate zone.  There is actually a company I just found creating bags of seeds for this kind of project- http://protimelawnseed.com/products/fleur-de-lawn.

Some early candidates I found to enhance the “lawn” were:

CROCUSES: These flowers pop up in the spring while the grass is still dormant. They’re done blooming…

View original 230 more words

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Under the Sea

Earlier this week the whole family was able to take a field trip with a homeschool group we are a part of to a new aquarium in the area.  A good time was had by all.  The favorites were the sharks, the seahorses, and one of the underwater sculptures.  It is always fun for the kids to see some of their friends and as an added bonus we got to celebrate Homestead Boy #2’s birthday.  Excuse the pictures, it was lower light and with my iPhone.IMG_5543 IMG_5545 IMG_5544 IMG_5546 IMG_5548 IMG_5559 IMG_5550 IMG_5557 IMG_5556 IMG_5547 IMG_5562 IMG_5563 IMG_5565

 

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Prepare Yourselves, For This…

It is starting to warm up.  I have been worried about something for several weeks now.  Worried might not be the right word, maybe concerned.  I got the first taste of it this year yesterday.

Where we park our cars the snow had been shoveled away and with the slightly warmer temperatures yesterday and the strong sun, it happened.  The mud began.  



After every time it snowed I would think to myself, “when this all melts, we are going to have a huge mess.  That day is coming closer.

Don’t get me wrong, I want the warm weather, and the melted snow will fill up the marsh, but it is going to be a mess.  And if it happens like it did last year, with the warming along with rain, it will compound the mess.

Best case scenario, it warms up significantly and we have brilliant sun for several days melting the snow and drying it out all at one time.  Otherwise, prepare yourselves for me to whine about how much of a mess it is here.  You have been warned.

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Frozen Water Pipes

So I had mentioned that my new blog friend Dan at Vegetablurb.wordpress.com had his pipes freeze and he is having to haul water from an outside yard hydrant. 

This morning I went out and got the animals watered quickly, no problem. This afternoon I went out and wanted to use the hydrant again and it wouldn’t budge. I have to believe it’s frozen. The good news is it’s only the hydrant that is frozen, not the whole house water supply. For now I can get water in the house or the barn. If I get a chance I may try to gently warm the hydrant with a torch and see if I can free it. 

Hopeful the slight warm up this weekend will help things. I may be ready for a bit warmer weather. 



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Cast Iron Pizza

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE pizza.  Honestly I could eat pizza for every meal for the rest of my life and I would be a happy man.  So I was understandably excited when I saw this post shared on the Homestead Blog Hop by HomesteadMccoy.com.

Cast Iron, AND pizza?  Yes, please.

cast iron pizza

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Fear, Just a Little Longer

We have lived in this house for about nine months.  This is the first house I have ever lived in that had it’s own well to supply water.  This is also the first house not to have a basement.  Because of this, I have been living with a fear.  The record cold we have been having here this month has brought on this fear.

Under the house is a crawl space.  It is unheated.  We added sheet insulation around the perimeter, but it is not a conditioned space.  The water line that we laid last year is buried safely underground where the temperatures don’t fluctuate, but it must come above ground between the cement slab and the bottom of our house.  My dad and I installed a heat tape, which is a thermostatically controlled heated tape that activates when the temperatures drop below a certain point to stop the pipe from freezing.  We also added pipe insulation on top of that.  As long as that heat tape doesn’t fail, we shouldn’t have any problems.  In fact, even if the tape failed, with the insulation around the perimeter and the thermal mass of the house, I would guess we would be ok, but I still have that seed of fear.

I was reminded of that fear when a blogging friend of mine, Sam at Vegetablurb, blogged about how their pipes have frozen.  Like him, we have an outdoor frost free spigot that I use to water the animals all winter long.  I also have a supply of drinking water, so we could survive the pipes freezing, but it wouldn’t be fun, especially with the kids.

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This is the time of year when it is supposed to be getting warmer, not colder.  The rest of this week is supposed to be extremely cold, but then by the grace of God, it is supposed to start warming.  And by warming I am talking lows in the teens and twenties instead of single digits and negatives.  I will take what I can get I suppose.  Until then, I will have that seed of fear, just a little longer.

Rooster sitting in a barn on a rural farm

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