Saturday, May 26, 2018

May 26, 2018

We have a renegade steer we call Houdini.  He keeps popping the staples on the fence and jumping on it to escape the fence.  Of course, the first place he goes is my flower bed/kitchen garden.  This time I marked him with some purple paint to secure locating him again when it is time to take a steer to the stockyard.    There is only so much bad habit one can take.

Black snakes at their new location

We have split the egg layers from the meat birds since it is time for them to come out of the brooder.  The egg layers went over to our mini coop to get ready to go in with our other egg layers.  This way the others can get used to them while they are growing.  However, our dogs started barking to alert us that something was up.  My husband looked into the window of the the mini coop and could see a black snake inside.  He went to get equipment to deal with the snake and turned over the mini coop to get to it.  When he got in, he discovered that there was also a second black snake in there.  One had already consumed a chick.  He got a bucket with a lid while I ran for the hoe, and we prepared them to be re-homed a few miles down the road to a non-chick location.

Finally got around to finishing the
insulatory curtains for our passive solar great room.  I used black out lining to not only add extra r value and moisture barrier, but to darken the room should we want to watch a movie during the day time (when will we have time for that?)  I made them from floor to ceiling so it will provide a layer of still air between the curtains and the window for even more r value.  They were a big job that I had a mental block about for months.  So happy they are complete.

For the holdbacks, I discovered that I could buy some holdbacks, remove the ends, and replace them with some crystal knobs I had left over from an upcycled furniture project.  I love the new look.

Whether you need some light that is off grid, or you just don't want to run electrical,  tiki type lights are often a solution.  This year, the Dollar Tree had some tiki torches in my colors (purple and green), so I got some for our deck.  My husband helped me install them with some EMT brackets in 3/4" size.  In order to keep water out of the lamp oil should it rain, I discovered yet another use for wide mouth jars in pint size.  They are heavy enough not to blow away (so far).  I am also experimenting with plastic peanut butter jars.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

May 17, 2018

Man.  Life is moving fast.  My youngest daughter got through graduation and within a week accepted her first after college position!  Woo hoo!  Next thing you know we are driving down to her place to pack her and her husband up.  Horse trailers sure do come in handy!  And we don't even have a horse. . .

This week we have had a little visitor.  My son went on vacation and asked us to do some dog sitting.  Venus is an Alaskan Klee Kai.  Small, but smart and full of energy!  She has been a constant reminder of stopping to smell the roses, and the honeysuckles, and the clover.  Wait!  What's that brown pile?. . .While she is in, she is wishing she is out.  She is just fascinated by the cows, the chicks, the dogs, the chickens, and did I mention the chickens?  So we have been taking lots of walks on the leash, as she is so small that she can fit through all of the fences.  The best thing I did was put a large carabiner clip on her leash so when I am in the workshop, the clip is fastened tightly in the vice grip.  When I am picking asparagus and strawberries, she is clipped to my jeans belt loop, and when I am weeding the raspberries, she is clipped to the fence.  Enough room to roam, not enough to get under the cows.

On a homestead you want everything to do at least two things.  A case in point is my front flower bed that is no longer a flower bed, but a kitchen garden to be conveniently located to the front door.  it is in a constant state of flux as the seasons change.  Here is a video tour:

I have redone the solar fountain in the middle of our drive turn around.  The plastic barrel look pots cracked over the winter.  This time, I am trying galvanized tubs.  I braced in the solar panel with brackets left over from old blinds.  Here is some fountain action:

Another thing we have been working on is a corn hole game for a large event we are having soon.  As it is large and it uses resources, we wanted it to do dual duty, and we needed a way to store it.  We figured out that if we put it together and painted it, it could serve as the chicken coop sign when we are not using it, bringing color to that part of the farm.  I painted it to honor our cantakerous rooster "Sheriff Roy" who served our hens well and protected them for five years.  RIP Roy.  Again, the green and purple.  The purple doesn't show well in the picture, but the black Australorp rooster looked purple when the sun was streaming in.  The holes in the corn hole boards were made removable by screwing a paint stick to the hole cover and screwing the paint stick to the back of the board.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

May 3, 2018

New chicks arrived today at the post office.  We got Cornish Cross to try this time, along with some black Australorps to replenish our egg layers.  To keep the chicks from getting out of the chicken tractor, we had to block the front and back sides at the bottom with cardboard.  We love our 4 x 4 brooder.  It does take a lot of storage space though.  We usually hang it.

Tomorrow is my daughter's graduation and we are doing a barbecue reception afterwards, so I have been working on decorations.  I needed a banner that would be long enough to tie across a picnic shelter.  In the picture, you can see that I used clothespins to help it stay together while the glue dried.

I have been making myself some jewelry and replenishing my clothes so I will have some that fit me now that I have lost weight.  The black set I made out of a thrift store necklace that only cost seventy-five cents.  The blue and white set was also from some vintage necklaces I picked up at the thrift store.  The red set was made from some glass beads I picked up at Hobby Lobby for $2.99 (with a 40% off coupon) along with some crystals I already had.  I even made my husband a new tie tack!  This is so much fun!  I also made a rack for my necklaces and bracelets using some leftover wood, some half staples (that my husband ground down the tips on - thanks honey!) and an olive jar.  I love creative projects!

Since we got some new bees, I have been worried about them drowning in the frog pond.  It has steep sides and it has happened before, so I wanted something to float in the middle of the pond.  I went to the dollar tree and bought a pot with a large lip on it and a pool noodle that I cut to fit the sides and strung it together with string.  It floats!  I hope it will do the trick for the bees as well as be pretty.  I planted some portulaca in it so it will hopefully grow and drape over the sides.  I also chose portulaca as it can remain dry longer and I didn't know how often it would get watered (there is no hole in the bottom of the pot).

The Asian pears and
Moonglow pears have quite a bit of fruit on them finally!  Yay!  After 7 years of having fruit trees planted, we are finally getting abundant fruit!  We got a few Asian pears last year, but only enough to eat and not preserve. I hope to get some in jars or dried this year.

The Liberty apple tree looks full of apples, and we even have a few peaches from the Leah peach tree (my daughter planted a peach pit and it grew into this tree and survived a move from our last home.)

Good things come to those who wait.  The irises have been beautiful this year.  Life is good. . .