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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

September 25, 2018

How to do a cheap neighborhood potluck to get to know your neighbors. Since the weather was iffy, it was great motivation to clean out the basement. As you can see, there is a piece of pvc pipe with a rope running through it and attached to our ceiling rafters with old curtains on it to hide our junk. Our tables are a bit beat up, but color unifies and we had a roll of brown kraft paper. The flowers were perennial balloon flowers I found at Lowes that they were marking down for $1 each and I intend to plant. I decorated them with some tulle netting that I had and some Christmas curling ribbon that we had. The candle holders and candles were leftovers from my daughter's wedding here two years ago. (We made the candle holders out of some old bunk beds we had found at the thrift shop.) We bought bottled water at Aldi's (about $5.00 spent - and these are the leftovers) and used an old planter as the method to keep them cold (washed out, of course). Then we just threw some hot dogs on the grill, made the fixings, and asked everyone to bring a potluck dish and a drink to share. Had a great time and even met a new neighbor. We sent the invite and reminders by Facebook messenger this year, with a few phone calls thrown in and asked neighbors to invite neighbors. We did buy paper plates, forks, and cups (for other people's drinks they were bringing.) I also made two chocolate pies. Another year we didn't want to clean out the basement and the weather permitted us to move our equipment and have it under the Tractor shed for shade since we don't have a lot of trees. We also had benches left over from the wedding, but in past years, we have asked them to each bring a chair.

We had a Dinner for Eight party at our house this weekend on Saturday, and a neighborhood potluck on Sunday afternoon.  The hit of both of these parties were our new pigs, Red and Freckles.  It gave the kids something to do to go pick some tomatoes to take to the pigs.  The pigs showed off by showing us how they drink from the water barrel with the pig nipples.  We so enjoyed seeing this.  The pigs have also been entertainment for our cattle.  The cattle rotation came close to the pig area this week, so they were busy getting to know each other.

Sherri Powell picked a peck of peppers to pickle.  Where did Peter Piper find a peck of peppers already pickled?  I mostly pickled these jalapenos for one of my brothers who loves them.  We have gotten around to just canning them right in with what we used to mix the pickled peppers with.  This year's peppers have fresh mixed horseradish that we got from our neighbors  (Thanks Don and Carol!).  I planted some of the leftover pieces in my kitchen garden to grow.  

So we went and picked my mom up from SC to keep her out of the path of Hurricane Florence. My mom is a busy person and needs something to do (wonder where I get it from?) Anyway, when she came, I mentioned I needed to clean the fabric up in my sewing room. I thought that would keep her busy all weekend. Ha. She finished that the same day, and called me up to help her. Then she wanted to vacuum, and before I knew what happened I was taking the vacuum cleaner apart and fixing it and she was directing me where to vacuum. Well then she proceeded to direct me on how to clean the dish drainer with a paint brush to get those tiny metal pieces. My husband took a turn when she wanted to clean out the refrigerator.  Anyway, we got so much done she ended up being more of a blessing to me than I was to her.   For those times when I just needed to sit down a minute, I found my husband's homemade blueberry wine to be delicious.  LOL.   It even gave me the subject matter for the children's moment I did the Sunday after, and left the house cleaner than ever for the events we had at our house the next weekend.

Life is so good. . .