Monday, November 12, 2018

November 12, 2108

Busy times.  (Seems like I am always saying that, lol.)  We finished our new shed.  We ended up spending a little over $300 for metal roofing and screws, which is a lot cheaper than the materials for a whole new shed and gained a shed that is 12' x 20'.  It solves a lot of problems with housing some of our tools and may even provide us with some wood storage that is out of the weather.  We have a greenhouse next to the house, but still end up growing most of our small plants inside due to the fact that we already heat that area, and didn't want to add extra expense or work to heat another area. We chose not to get enough panels that go all the way to the ground, as we did not think they would add value in proportion to the money spent since our main objective was just to keep the rain off of our tools.

As we were getting ready to harvest our sweet potatoes, we decided to clear the field by first taking up the vines.  We tried both our pigs and our cattle to see if they would like to eat the vines, and the cattle consumed it more thoroughly, so we ended up bringing them about 5 truckloads.  The pigs acted like they were going to eat it and really didn't, but the cattle ate the leaves, vine and all.

In our preparations for winter, we decided to try insulating our fig trees with leaves this year to see if it would prevent them from dying back to the ground next year.  We love figs, and we would like to get more of them.  We had to go rake leaves at a neighbor's house, as none of the trees we planted are big enough to produce enough leaves.  We used fencing that we had laying around to created areas around the trees to contain the leaves.  One of the pieces of fencing had holes in it that were a bit too big, so we added some bird netting that we had.  Zip ties held both our fencing and netting together.  For the larger trees, we put rebar in the ground to hold the circle shape of the fencing.

Our newly planted ginger and turmeric also got a layer of leaves to insulate them for the winter.  The horse trough we planted them in worked well to contain the leaves (as was planned.)

I have been working on turning an unused space into our library (well, it was being used to drop off junk that we didn't know where else to put - but I want to create a better space to organize said junk.)  I was quite proud of myself for building the 16 feet of bookshelves myself (with input from my husband, of course).

While I was priming these, I also primed the last of the windows that were bare wood, as well as repainted the gold wood on a chair to white so I could incorporate it into another room.

After I finished the shelves and painting, I also decided I needed a zebra hide rug for that space, so I painted some fabric I already had, primer coats on both sides, followed by stripes projected onto the fabric and painted with acrylic paint, followed by two coats of polycrylic to preserve it while being stepped on.  I cut it out last, and was very pleased with the floor cloth I ended up with.

To furnish the room, I found a drum table from Amazon Marketplace for $50 which was just what I had envisioned, along with two wingback chairs for $25 each that I am working on slipcovers for.  They were plaid when we bought them, and I wanted them to be charcoal gray to go with the zebra hide rug.  I spent $60 on fabric to get this accomplished.  $110 for two wingback chairs that are made very well (Hickory Tavern) in the color of my choice is money well spent in my opinion.  I also loved that they had straight legs as I am going for a British Colonial style decor.

I am quite pleased with how the room is turning out, but there is still work to do.  I will update with a video when I finish all the details.

Monday, October 15, 2018

October 15, 2018

It is quickly becoming that time of year where we are having to add some heat to the house.  Currently, we are just opening our bedroom windows to glean the heat from the greenhouse.  Soon, we will have to stoke up the wood stove at night.  Having a lean-to greenhouse on the south side of the house has worked very well for us.  You can see in the picture that we are drying the cayenne peppers in there.  Drying the produce, drying clothes,  and getting some sun in the winter months for vitamin D has made it so useful that we haven't yet gotten around to growing plants in there!  Maybe this year. . .

Recently I wrote to my favorite Facebook Group Homesteads and Sustainability about whether we should bother to use cover crops, as the earth seems so good at providing itself with just the right plants to turn the top dirt into top soil.  Never was it more evident than across the place where we dug this summer to put in a water pipeline.  The volunteer plants, Senna Obtusifolia, seem to have nitrogen fixing capabilities.  Despite all of its uses in folk medicine and food, such as in cassia gum, or a coffee substitute, it has become known as an obnoxious weed.  The group pointed out that while nature is good at providing the plants that it needs, if you choose a plant in the same group, you might get more out of it such as a forage for animals or a food source you would rather have.  Also, planting seeds tends to hurry the process along.

I recently ruined my cell phone (and it was only about ten years old) by carrying it in the same bag as my water when I was going to stain the calf barn.  When I found a new one (my first smart phone that will still work on my $80 per year pageplus plan), I decided I needed something else to carry it in and pulled my hiking bag out of the camping equipment.   It was a great way to be able to function hands free while mowing.  I had made it out of the end of a shirt sleeve with a tab on it to slip onto your belt. 

We are in the process of turning our old greenhouse into a storage shed.  I am picturing it with a metal roof with a solar charging station for my golf cart with room for the trailer and a few other items.  I am having to rid it of thousands of blackberry vines and passion fruit vines, but I hope to be able to add the metal roofing by next weekend.  Then we have to get the old golf cart running again.  I found a service manual online that I hope will help with this.  How hard can it be?  Compared to our other equipment it seems to have so many fewer parts. . .Cross your fingers for me!

Our two pigs, Freckles and Red, are growing up a storm and are in their third pasture rotation.  We are experimenting with feeding them goat feed since it was what they were using when we got them, as well as has a higher protein percentage with a lower cost.  I was also recommended to feed them Bull rations, and will check on that next time we need to buy feed.  We have had them since 9/3, and they are only on their 5th bag of feed, as they are eating so much from the pasture.  We are thinking they will be ready by March 3rd, but we'll see. 

We got a new barn kitty from one of our friends at church.  The kittens were abandoned at her house and she was looking for homes.  Meet Merlin!  We kept him inside the first week, and for the last few days have been transitioning him outside, trying to get he and Guinevere used to each other (no worries - she is spayed).  He is so cute, but was beginning to show his velociraptor tendencies to the furniture.  Tonight might be his first night outside in the barn.

In our journey to self-sufficiency, we have yet to add a dairy animal to the farm.  With the help of our friends Joe and Michelle Sroka, I was able to try out milking a cow to figure out whether it would be a good fit.  Thanks to Joe and Michelle and your very patient cow! 

Additionally, I have been working on a new business to help fund the farm and have just gone live with the website:  Check it out!  I also added a new capability for people to be able to follow this blog by getting an email when I update.  The link is in the upper right hand corner.