Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 27, 2014

I was so proud of myself yesterday.  I taught myself how to use the router (the woodworking kind).  We needed an awning window for the greenhouse, and I am determined to make it out of materials we already have lying around.  So I found an old acrylic cabinet door (from a media stand).  I made a frame out of some rough sawn oak a friend gave us using the radial arm saw to cut the 45's and used the router to make the indentation for the acrylic door.  I still have to finish putting it together, but my plans are to sand it, paint it in some nickel spray paint I have (to match the aluminum greenhouse), and use a piece of screen door hinge I have left from another project we did.  We bought an automatic vent opener from harbor freight to open and close it on hot days.  I plan to use some old chain to attach to the bottom of the window to insure it doesn't get blown open too wide and put too much stress on the automatic opener.  I will include some pictures when I get it finished.  Last night I gave the meditation at the Lent service at church on "Financial Enslavement".  The Bible seems to support being out of debt, and knowing that money is a temporary thing, but wisdom will see you through.  I hope we can get better and better at living that way.

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 2014

Saturday we put up the gates on the deer fence. Before we did, the chickens got into the garden and were pulling up our onions. They can't get in now. We also added some extra corner supports and a guy wire for the gate opening. Our two weeping willow trees came in and were planted by the pond. A nectarine tree also arrived and was planted in the driveway line. We bought the rest of the 20 foot pieces of rebar to make the protection for the rest of the young trees. We cut each piece into thirds, spray paint them black, place them in a triangle around the tree with a post driver, and wrap them with bird netting to keep the deer off of them. It really looks nice. This weekend we also bought an incubator, and have set it up with 30 eggs. We used a pencil to put x's on one side and o's on the other so we can tell they have been turned. Can't wait for 21 days to be over. We moved the elderberry bush to near the bees and the wild elderberries. The golf cart works! Yay!! We bought a little dump trailer to tow behind it. I looked at a used one on Craigslist that they wanted $75 for it. I offered $50 and they said no. Glad they did. I got a new one for $89.99 with new tires and theirs was 15 years old. . .

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, 2014

Today we learned how to test a battery to see if it was good. The fellow at Big Boyz in Siler City loaned us his battery load tester so we could find out which one of our golf cart batteries was a problem. Since they were all registering at over 6 volts with our multi-meter, this was not the indication we needed. With the battery load tester, we were able to test each battery individually (must disconnect them from each other). After hooking up the load tester, you then press the button on the front and hold it for ten seconds and watch the needle. If the needle goes down into bad territory, you know you have a bad battery. Big Boyz sells refurbished batteries, as well as gets new ones in at a reduced price from the ones we have seen at your standard auto supply store. As we are going to be getting into the battery business soon when we go off grid, this was a good lesson to learn. We ordered the same load tester (SPX OTC 3181), as we feel that someone in the battery business probably knows what they are doing. We also ordered a hydrometer. This way, if we find some used batteries, we will be able to test them before we buy them. We also bought the gates to our deer fence today. We bought the Tarter Wire Filled gates from Southern States. One was 16 feet, and one was four. They match the rest of our fence, and we find that the silver color almost disappears from view when looking out the back window.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 16, 2014

Well, we have replanted the seedlings that got fried. We finished the bottom 4 ft. of the deer fence around the growing area. We also planted 7 rows of potatoes, 3 rows of onions (red and white), a row of broccoli, and a row of carrots, lettuce and kale together. These are 75 foot rows. We are trying to multiply our muscadine grapes by sticking the cuttings in the ground deep to see if we can get them to root. The pond is nice and full and the new grass is coming up. The daffodils are blooming. We are expecting the weeping willow trees and a nectarine tree to arrive this week. We are designing a moveable coop for the garden area and are planning to try to hatch some chicks. We are also planning an on farm produce stand. Life is exciting and busy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March 12, 2014

Beginning a farm, what a challenge! So yesterday we discovered our newly finished greenhouse was not vented enough after it fried most of our seedlings when we were gone to work. Such a shame. We discussed this morning the events, as well as our time constraints and have concluded that next year might be a better year to start at the Farmer's market once we solidify our crops. We will work for one more year on our infrastructure. In the meantime, I have got to find a market for our free range eggs. The chickens have started laying about a dozen a day. We put another two sides on the fence around the growing area, got the plowing done for our first crops, and moved all the blackberries into the growing area.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March 5, 2014

Winter is a great time for things like studying, workshops and new infrastructure. Last week I went to a workshop on Cut Flower Production in hopes to use flowers for diversification and to spruce up the Farmer's Market table (not to mention the farm.) This week I am going to a Fresh Produce Safety Workshop. On my reading, I keep going back to portions of books as they apply to me. I am using the Chicken Tractor book to build a chicken tractor for the growing area. I love the way they show the different generations of chicken tractors and included why they changed them. It helps me learn from their mistakes as well as find one that will work better for my farm. I had read previously Joel Salatin's book on Pastured Poultry Profits and liked what he was doing, but am trying to apply it in a way that will work best for us. I'm also reading John Seymour's The New Self-Sufficient Gardener, or at least the section on the seasons of garden work, as I am determined to live and work in a more seasonal fashion as I believe it to be healthier and the way things were meant to be. I am planning a new "Seasonal Living" tab for my blog that will hopefully be updated every year as I learn. I ordered the following books and received them this week - The Complete Homestead Planner by Cynthia Bombach - this looks like it has some considerations that might be helpful, but may not be much more helpful than what I am already doing plus some other books I have read (it would probably be a great help to someone who is not very organized); The Homebrewer's Garden by Joe Fisher and Dennis Fisher - this is mostly for my husband as he is already growing hops and just finished a batch of beer; and The New Farmers' Market by Vance Corum, Marcie Rosenzweig and Eric Gibson - I have not read enough of it yet to form an opinion but am looking forward to getting some great tips.

Monday, March 3, 2014

March 3, 2014

The weekend was great! Nice warm weather so we were able to get outside and work on the corner posts for the growing area fence on Saturday. We added the cross pieces and John did a wonderful piece over the walk-in gate that looks like a Lincoln log. Sunday afternoon it was again a nice day, so we started on the woven fence. It was a little tricky going around the curved area and we had to stretch each section, so it took longer. Now that we have it figured out, I'm sure it will go much faster next Saturday. Just for fun, we had a drink together later in the greenhouse to toast the fence start and we went through the checklist in the back of Carla Emery's book to see how we are doing with our skills. Not bad!