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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Root Cellar Info

Yes Root Cellar, we have been playing with the idea of having one since before we moved here; and our first house plans always included some "foresight" as to where a trap door could be kept. The real deciding factors (yes there is an 's' there), was the Joplin tornado; that was just a tad bit to close for comfort. Also we had watched a video the other day that had a man now in his 80's who hand dug his root cellar in 1980, which would have put him in his 60's when he dug it. Well... in my opinion if a 60 something person can dig a root cellar so can we!

Now there is absolutely no storm shelters on our road, and I think the closest one is about a mile away in a cow field. so the plan is to have it big enough for our food storage while giving us room to stand in it in case of a storm. Seeing as how the storms I'm worried about generally aren't likely to be going for more than a few minutes. Tornado's don't sit on you like a hurricane does.

The plan is to dig down at least to 7ft and we think we are going to use concrete floor and walls, with only a ladder for entry and exit, as an attempt to keep the kids from playing in it. We have rain going on right now, and it's suppose to continue for the next couple of days; so I guess digging some more will have to wait for a non-rain day. Well, at least not while it's raining.

We did manage to get out and do some more digging in it yesterday after the girls went to VBS(my son has spent a couple nights at a friend's house). I think we have dug down to a foot at least on one side of the part of the cellar we have started on. The plan is to get down to a foot then move down and dig down to a foot again; then move down again and dig a foot again till we get the full length. Here is a picture of how it looks now, I left a shovel in the hole for some prospective:

I hope this gives some better perspective than the last few pictures I have put up, the plan is to have it only under the addition to our current home. The thought on this is, if it does take more than another year before we can get the house we want up, at least we will have some comfort.

We have been putting all we dig out to good use, as the path to our garden floods when it rains so we are "raising" the path too it. We fill our small wheelbarrow with dirt/stones and my youngest munchkin takes it and dumps it on the path then it gets smoothed some and we make a very big point to walk on it.

This is the section closest to the garden as it was the furthest from the house. My daughter had asked, "but mom how am I suppose to do the whole path? The wheel barrow will get stuck after a while from me pouring the dirt out." You know, kids are just soooo much fun sometimes! It never occurred to her that she needed to start at the far spot and work her way forward. Then I really made her day winks I got a picture of her -working-, the best part is; I had utterly no complaints about her doing this work. Which for her is not easy to do.

We have also been digging up quite a few large stones that we are saving out for the house foundation where the ground needs building up:

As you can see from this picture we found a "few" stones already, I guess one of Missouri's natural crops is stone. I know it's that way in up state New York. These will be moved in the next couple of days either later tomorrow or on Thursday, as my son's job of late has been to move the stones to the house site. So we have to wait till he comes home (late tonight) from VBS before we can think of putting him to work. it's amazing how he manages to get out of doing hard work sometimes, as we had only realized (one of those silly moments of clarity) that we really needed to get this dug before we started building the addition.

Now for a plant update:

This is one of my 2 Elderberry plants, I think it's a very happy plant right now. It's hard to believe that it was just pretty much a stick when we planted it in April. I wonder if it will produce any fruit next year? I imagine it is possible that it will.

Here is the other Elderberry plant:

Doesn't this one look happy too? The first one sent out new branches off the original stem and this one is growing off that original stem and it's sending up new branches. I have side dressed both of these with some extra peat moss that I have had, which I have put right over the straw that I put on them after I had planted them. I will admit to something though, as I was worried about these having a good start I did buy some fertilizer stakes and used one on each of these. Which is probably why they are growing so well. I think I'm going to start looking up Elderberry jams and wine as I can be ready in case I do get them next year. You never know sometimes.

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Guess what we're working on...?

So here we go today's post is to see if you can guess what we are working on right now, and tomorrow's blog post will have the answer in the title. So first I'm going to show some pictures, then I'll give a bit more commentary on it.

This is my favorite new toy... even though it is not really mine, it's Silver's; and it is a masonry drill with a planting bit. I have to say I do like the planting bit for planting it goes right through the ground and loosens up everything in the process. It helped me get the rest of my garden in yesterday, in only a few minutes.

Here is Silver using the drill for loosen dirt we are digging out of this spot next to our shed.

This is the depth we dug at the deepest spot after one hour.

Here is the width after that same hour.

...and here is the length after one hour.

This is what it looked like after one hour:

Now, I realize that this is -not- a good image for this but it's the best I can do for now. After an hour of drilling and digging we stopped for a while.

This is what it looks like now:

Well considering, it is now afternoon the shadows help to show what it looks like better. We got it a little bit deeper, wider, and longer; we could not work as long as the air temps were 84 degrees and it is totally clear out. We are hoping to do more later after the kids head off to VBS.

Now, this spot we are working on when done will be; 7X10X6. It is a good item for every homestead to have and there are a few people out there that might not think you can do this work by hand. This will also be good for weather conditions here where we live. Another clue is we need to have it done before we put on the addition to the shed.

So... can you guess what we are working on...?

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Small Request

My friend over at the Origanna Woods, Jon is trying to raise money to get their 73 year old neighbor a well. If you are able to give any assistance please do. This "young" lady has never had a well at her home and has had to haul it. she also lives alone and everyone on the road there gives her a hand. However as most people there also do not have wells they are all hauling water. Jon himself has no well and he wants to help out his neighbor with one before he gets his own. The following is a link to his blog so you can read about it.


Be Well and Blessed Be...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Simple Pleasures: Window Version

Back to talking about simple pleasures, and how somethings we don't notice how wonderful they are until we don't have them. In this case it is a window, which as I write this i am sitting here listening to rain fall through, my open window. Yes, an open window; we finally got the danged thing up.

This is the wall the window is now in when we started cutting. We started the cutting on the inside as we had to cut through one stud to fit the window in place.

As you can see Silver is using a (electric) chainsaw.

Our saber saw had a blade mishap and I discovered that no, we did not have a spare blade and the circular saw wouldn't work in that spot. so as we were at the either we have wet bedding or we keep going point we brought our our electric chain saw, and used it to finish the hole. Which by the way, needed to be bigger than he originally thought it needed to be; as the roof came down lower than he thought it did.

Here is Stormy checking out the cat door we made him, because of course you know that we always do what our cats think we are doing. Funniest thing was after we moved the ladder and finished the window he tried to figure out how to get into it again.

And here is the finished window:

The screen came from a section of the tent from last year, a section with only one minor cat claw mark on it. We put it on, stapled it in place, then put the 2X3 pieces over it then cut off the extra. This was to keep the screen well secured.

So now I get to enjoy my new window even on this semi-rainy late afternoon. I did manage to do something in the garden:

These are "Tiger's Eye" beans that I bought from Seeds of Change, I misplaced them somewhere in the house and when I was looking for the replacement saw blade that wasn't there I found them buried in the back of the drawer. I also did not remember that they were bush beans, but I am happy they are so I did not have to cut some new poles for them. I planted them in the space between the groupings of the poles beans kinda like a "boarder" planting. I think they are very pretty seeds and one I had was purple with the orangy striping instead of the other way around. They are an heirloom that is suppose to be a good dual purpose bean.

Wow! Two posts in one day, and on both blogs!

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Thinking about Freegans

I have been discussing "freegans" on a few websites in the last week and I even mentioned them on my word press blog today, but I thought I'd devote an entire post here to them. I think the freegans have an interesting idea(l). I say it that way because they are true "foragers", they try their best to acquire almost everything they have for free.

check out their info page here:

Now I do have a few things I disagree with them on, the first is their "dumpster diving" for food.

"Perhaps the most notorious freegan strategy is what is commonly called “urban foraging” or “dumpster diving”. This technique involves rummaging through the garbage of retailers, residences, offices, and other facilities for useful goods. Despite our society’s stereotypes about garbage, the goods recovered by freegans are safe, useable, clean, and in perfect or near-perfect condition, a symptom of a throwaway culture that encourages us to constantly replace our older goods with newer ones, and where retailers plan high-volume product disposal as part of their economic model."

Ok, I have a very -BIG- issue with this as over the years I have worked different grocery stores and different fast food places. The first "issue" is that these places are responsible if you get sick from what you steal (yes it is still stealing and in some places they get arrested for this) from the dumpsters. One of my bosses when I worked in a grocery store bakery use to give the day old bread to a food pantry. That was until someone sued him because they got sick after eating something that was not quite edible any longer.

Second issue, I worked in the meat department of another grocery store and had my eyes opened. The head of the department when the items (ones we packaged) were after the date we could sell by. He'd open the package and smell the meat, if it did not smell bad he's repack it and put a 2 day date on it and then we'd go through it again till it either sold or smelled bad. Now if that then went into the dumpster and it still looked good one of these freegans (I have seen some take meat), took that home and it was not good and just smelled bad and they ate it my then boss would be libel if they got ill and die. As it is his responsibility that it is disposed of if it's not fit for human consumption.

Here is my other issue with what they do (it's more a statement):

"Squatters are people who occupy and rehabilitate abandoned, decrepit buildings."

Ummm... I have never seen a squatter who "rehabilitated" any building. I have seen a great many squatters over the years I spent homeless with my kids and those people could care less what the building's shape was in as long as they could live there for free. they would never once fix it up, and once in a while the people would get hurt by the place they were squatting at. that does not mean it does not happen, I'm saying I have never seen it happen.

Other than those 2 things I have no problems with the freegan idea at all especially if they really can manage to live without working. For me right now I just can't find work close enough to be worth the gas money to get to it. I think having a "free market" is a very good idea where people can pick up items for free that others do not use.

The one dump up in New York state close to where we lived had a "store" in it where items that were still in very good shape went into instead of into the landfill. it is a good idea and a good policy, if it were easier to manage it would be a good idea to have such places in most urban areas. Now having said that I'd like to say there should be some limits. There is a "free shop" near us here and unfortunately there are what I call, "snatchers", these are people who hang out almost all day and "snatch" good items. things many other people who come in later that might really need them cannot get a hold of. This should not be allowed, and there should be some kind of limit on how much of certain items you can take per day.

Oh well...

Now today we are planning to (finally!) get a window put in, and I am hopefully going to be able to get another garden bed dug.

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Second Blog

OK folks just for the pourpose of having a larger audiance I have created a second blog on word press you can find it here:

...and No... I do not plan to just copy/paste my entries from here to there. I plan on writing both sites independently, so for one I can "hear" my own words in a new light. Two, so that maybe I can "gleam" a new idea from what I write about and, three so more people know about what I'm doing.

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Babies Day out

Today is an *update* post and we start with some "babies", first my second batch of Chickens:

They got a "taste" of the outside a few days ago and again yesterday. They seemed to enjoy their "outing" a great deal, I am hoping when we put them out with the bigger ones everyone will be Ok. It seems the ones in this batch that are not the Jerseys might be meat birds as the grey/white ones are growing very fast, faster that my first batch of chickens grew. I have also figured out the non-Jerseys aside from maybe 1-2 they are all male. Another reason to butcher the non-Jerseys in this grouping this fall, I have also found out that yes we have 1 Jersey male. So now if he makes it till I butcher the other males this fall I should be Ok with my "breeding program". Since I did not get Leghorns but Reds I'm going to do the crossing with the reds and see what I get. I know the Jerseys are already a dual purpose bird, but I am hoping to increase their egg production with the addition of the other breed.

OK next baby moment:

This little one caught her first bug and ate it today (cicada), mom was looking on very pleased as well. Course she kept having to run a bit as her brothers kept trying to steal it from her.

My kids had a fun morning today, we discovered a job that they like as well. We sent them out with some jars and had them go "bug hunting" for Cicadas for the chickens. This is what they got after 30 minutes:

This is a quart jar, and we tossed these into the chicken yard and sat and watched the birds have a nice feast on bugs. They enjoyed it greatly, though it was very funny watching them come up to figure out what it was we tossed into their yard. Then of course once one of them started eating the rest did. This whole jar's worth was gone in under 5 minutes.

Before my next section in here I'd like to send my condolences along to the people of Joplin, Mo they are close to us and they were hit with a tornado that did a great amount of damage. The same storm system headed my way next, but thankfully we were spared a twister. Unfortunately the people of Joplin were not spared, I do hope those who passed on did so swiftly and with out great suffering.

OK, enough depressing talk! How about some garden news!

If you look close you will see one of my many bean sprouts! This was taken a couple of days ago and now I can say that all of the types of beans that I have planted have at least one little seedling coming up.

My bushel gourds have sprouted, my lemon cukes, summer squashes, and possibly a pumpkin are coming up. We can't wait to have one of the "summer stir fry's" we had last year once the squashes and long beans are producing. I'm really excited about the bushel gourds as I have never grown them before and I'd really like to try "making" the bushels after they are done growing.

This "forest" are my potato plants, they are huge! Seems goat manure and straw agree with them a great deal, pity I'm out of straw as I really need to cover them. I am hoping to get a good crop from them, I also need to go out and mesure them again. i have a suspicion that the straw has "watered down" finally. So I just need to fill in, which unless I miss my guess is going to take a bit of time to do.

I have transplanted the rest of my tomatoes as well remember the "box" we picked up for free? Well I have put the tomatoes in it.

I started the "box" off with the chicken manure from the brooder that's been outside in the weather. WE covered the bottom about 2 inches thick.

Then I filled the "box" with peat moss till I had about 6(?) inches of room at the top, which then I went out to the house site and scraped some top soil up from where a dead tree composted. That went in and I stirred it in with a garden fork.

The final bit was transplanting the tomatoes and then covering them with some extra straw we had scattered about. A couple of the plants are kinda scrawny, so I am hoping that the "move" will help them grow stronger.

We spent part of yesterday framing a window that we still need to put into the building, we had 2 windows; but... in the storms last night one broke either due to wind or due to hail. I am not sure but the wind is looking pretty good as the window was not laying down last night but it is now. If we are lucky this rain will stop so we can hang it, and so i can do some more plant bed digging; as right now the ground is waaaaay too wet to dig in. I still need to re-plant my smaller melons/cukes, and I need a bed for my peppers which are still being very slow to grow. However now that I know they are a slow plant it doesn't bother me as much.

Sorry for my book challenge being a flop..but I guess more things got in the way of me finishing it like I wanted it too, I am hoping to finish that book still and I am going to try to finish working through the rest of the books that I need to while doing everything else. I might even get time today to read as we have another rainy day, we will see.

Everyone stay safe,

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Back to bread making!

After a short break from bread making (needed more flour), I got back on the bandwagon again. This time I am trying out with my normal loaves of bread to try to make some rolls so I can do my own hamburger buns, they did come out rather well; better in fact than my loaf of bread did today!

This is the dough right before baking, now I could only do three as I only had 3 small bowls available to rise the dough in last night. what I did was make the dough a little dryer in the hopes that they would hold their shape better when baking time rolled around. To bake them I just put all 3 in the roaster at the same time making sure to leave some space between each. then I shaved about 4 minutes off both baking times.. I.E. instead of 20 minutes take off cover I did 16 minutes, then again 16 instead of 20 for the second round of baking.

Here is how they came out:

As you can see they came out beautiful! We are going to have some steak sandwiches for lunch today and i can hardly wait to try them with these buns! I imagine if I tried I could make them even smaller, so we will see what I can manage. I still used the no-knead method of bread making with this, it just winds up being a little more difficult to dot he "fold overs" with a smaller piece of dough, you don't have as much to work with.

Silver did say that generally a smaller loaf does tend to bake better than a larger one and if this keeps up I just might start only making little loaves, if I can come up with enough bowls to rise the dough in. pictures the kitchen covered in covered bowls with rising dough in them That would be a sight to see!

Ok.. now I know I'm suppose to be doing a book a day here but it looks like the one I started might be an all weekend book as it is already 11am here, and I'm working on getting a bath started so no time to read right now as we want to get the bath in before it rains. This is also the kdis' last day of school for the year so anytime after 1pm my time they are suppose to be back, and then chaos will in-sue. Then...tomorrow we have been invited over to our new neighbor's house for Sloppy Joes and movies (and Silver helping to fix a computer), and I'm going to make my no-egg chocolate cake to bring with..and bring alone some starter for them. So I may not have time to even pick up a book tomorrow. But hey, it'll be a fun day! I am looking forward to it!

I have some Turkey pictures to post next unless you have seen them in one of the other places that I put them today. I took the pictures this morning in their yard:

This (I think) is the Jenny, she is smaller and her head is not as red as the other, also the waddle (that is the hangydown thing right?) is smaller. Isn't she pretty? We're thinking of calling her Thanksgiving *grins*.

This one is the Tom (I think), as you can see his head is redder than the other one, you really can't see his size compared to the other in this pic but he is bigger. Another interesting way we can tell them apart right now is it seems this guy is missing one claw on his left foot. It might have been bitten off when they were young as there is no wound.

And here they both are, I'll be happy once we get the coop done, which won't be till after the first; as I really want to rake the litter out of the yard and replace it. It would be easier to do when they aren't in the yard.

These two are sooo not afraid of me, but then again the rooster that we have(course we bought pullets) isn't afraid of me either. He's learned though that it's not a good idea to chase me though. He has pecked me twice and after the second one I swatted at him and now he keeps his distance from me. Unless of course I am bringing a treat into their yard.

I am going to -TRY- to get my book done today, if not it will be done by Sunday (provided of course the world doesn't end on Saturday). So if I don't make a post later about the book you'll know why.

Be Well and Blessed Be............

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book a Day Challenge Day three

Well, a minor problem here I have not finished this book today, which to me is shocking; I have made it about 1/2 way through it so I will talk about what I have read and will finish the rest for tomorrow.

"Wildlife in your Garden"

By: Gene Logsdon

Published by: Rodale Press

Copyright (and my copy): 1983

ISBN# 0-87857-454-9

Now note this will be about the book from page 1 to page 114. I do have to say this is a very interesting book so much that I keep stopping to talk to Silver about what I find out in it (probably why it's taking so long to read). I plan on going back through it later with a fined toothed comb and getting more details for better reference.

The introduction is about a pretty much introducing you to the people he uses to reference the things he discusses in this book. It starts out as well with a toad in a flower pot. Whom is intentionally in the one man's garden so as to help his home without chemicals.

The next chapter deals with the correct mentality for being "eco-friendly" so to have a yard that works with nature instead of fighting everything that nature can toss at you. In this he discusses the food web, and using the main"character" he has in this book starts collecting info on everything that passes through his "neck of the woods". Gene points out it is a good idea to watch what goes through your yard be it a postage stamp or a # of acres in the country. Do all this before planning out the "hows" of getting rid of the things you don't want. One of those "things" might be feeding something you want.

Here is an example of the workings of the cause and affect the "food webs have":

"AS skilled as we are in marshaling numbers in our computers, the food web defies adequate programming. Introduce the factor of chance, and the computer can only run simulations. For example, if you kill a pair of mice in your house, the computer can quickly tell you not only how many millions of mice you theoretically "caused" not to be born in the next 50 years, but also how many of that number would have survived, given a "normal" mouse environment. What is normal? It is possible that by killing one pair of mice in your house, you allowed another pair to produce more healthy offspring than the two pairs would have produced together, if a shortage of food or habitat prevailed." end of page 3-page 4 top

The next chapter deals with fences, and the different type that can be used to keep out the wildlife you don't want. As for some creatures it really is the best method of removing the "problem" is by barring entry. He also shows diagrams of the different types and goes into descriptions of how to install the different types of fences. Which do include the use of a movable electric fence.

The next chapter deals with some "other" broad methods of taking care of pests. For rats, as they do eat baby chicks; raise your chicks near your nursing house cat as the momma cat will kill the rats and then the kittens grow up with the chicks and won't try for them as they grow up. He explains a few different trap types but prefers the live cage traps as they won't kill an animal in case you get someone's pet by accident. He also points out if you are trying to reach a "natural balance" (so to speak) don't use poisons as you might poison something you don't want to.

Another method for rats that also works with squirrels and mice is using some kind of a "shield or guard" method, which in reality is just another "barrier" type. He suggests putting metal "guards" on young fruiting trees to prevent animals from chewing on the bark and if you go 18 inches wide it should deter thing from climbing them too.

He includes a few in-depth designs for bird houses and gives the correct width for the entry holes for the different birds so you can tailor them to they types you want to keep in your garden or yard.Still on the wild bird line he states the best feed to put in the bird feeder is really cracked corn, black and white sunflower seeds; nothing else. Even says the smaller birds can and will eat both. Another big point on that is it will be cheaper to buy the cracked corn anyway. Apparently the "beekeeper" in this book thinks that the Kingbird is the best bird to have in your yard/garden. yes it eats bees, but only the slow or close to dieing ones. IT also keeps all other birds away from it's territory. So having it taking up residence near a bee hive can be a mixed blessing.

The current chapter I am on and the one preceding is about ponds and the benefits of having them around. First off all the wildlife needs water, bees included. You can draw some beneficial to your yard/garden with a properly maintained pond. Make it as natural as you can and it lists the proper depths based on what you want to put into the water. He also tells you ways to "stock" your pond without shelling out money.

Now that is all I have gotten to so far, this is a very interesting read for me; more so than I thought. there seems to be a great deal of very useful info in this book from what I have read. Such as Moles... they are not truly harmful to your garden. However, other animals who chose to use the moles' tunnels might harm your garden. The biggest "issue" around moles is they tunnel close to the surface of the ground, making grass look ugly; not a big deal for me.

I do hope I finish this book off tomorrow so I can give you more info on it!

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Rain again...... for a -few- days

Yep we have rain coming -AGAIN-, actually it's here already. I awoke this morning to the sounds of thunder and no weather radio going off, I wonder if moving back by our bed turned off the settings. We got tired of jumping up and running out 3-4X's a day to get it so we brought it back here. It has not gone off since.

Due to the rain that we have on and off for the next week (it looks like), I guess I will not be going out and doing the work I wanted/needed to do. Guess I get to really work on my book challenge and find other things to waste time with.. speaking of a waste of time:

That is one of those you have to see to believe.. the CDC (seems like a joke.. but they are getting carried away if it is) has a plan for "zombie apocalypse", yep you read right -ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE-; I don't know about you.. but even I think that one is a tad far fetched.

So anywho here is today's book:

"Wildlife in your Garden"

By: Gene Logsdon

Published by: Rodale Press

Copyright: 1983 (also is my copy as well)

ISBN # 0-87857-454-9

Now first.. that is not the same cover that is on mine, I can't seem to get a picture of these danged books as every time I try it winds up over exposed. I am hoping it will be about how to deal with the animals it says it deals with on the cover. As it states below the title "Dealing with deer, rabbits, raccoons, moles, crows, sparrows, and other of Nature's creatures". Should be an interesting read as I have -not- read it yet, I kept putting it off so now seems like a good time. Especially with a rainy day, I'll have tons of time to "get through" it; and I do hope it's a better read than the book I did yesterday.

On another note, some of you may have noticed with my "signature" that I am not Christian(yes this is a public outting sort of), I have a minor gripe this morning about something. I send my kids to a Fundamentalist church a couple times a week to get some experience in Christianity. BTW they have attended in the past: a Catholic church, a Baptist church, and Evangelical Covanet(spelling someone???) church; so they know that there are differences in the belief system there. My gripe however, is this church they are going to seem to think "the reward system" is the best way to turn children to Christ.

I have a problem with that... my kids get candy every time they bring in a new kid, get candy every time they memorize a scripture. I have 2 problems with that...

#1 candy should not be the motivation to learn anything...

#2 memorizing something does not mean you know what it means

Then to top it off my middle child who has embraced this new church whole heartedly (good for her and I mean that), decided to be "saved", and so the people in charge gave her a gift for doing so.. a leather bound bible with her name inscribed...???? One I wish someone had asked if it was OK to give it too her as they do not know this child rips/cuts up paper anything (and she is 12 go figure). Second that is not a cheap gift from someone I don't personally know to my child. Granted way back when my mom was taking my girls to her Catholic church one time after mass a older woman handed a expensive rosary to my mom for this same child (which reminds me I need to have her dig that out if my little girl is going to run with this chosen path).

It is my own personal thought that if someone wants to believe something then that belief will speak to them as they learn about it. It should not be "I'll follow this because they give me things", that is sooo wrong... Belief should -NEVER- be done with a reward system.

But.. that is only just my opinion on it!

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book a Day Challenge Day 2

"Raising Poultry The Modern Way"

By, Leonard S. Mercia

Published by, Garden Way

Copyright, 1975

My copy, 11th printing - June 1982

ISBN# 0-88266-058-6

Well... this was one pain of a book to get through in one day. I will probably re-read it later in an attempt to make a bit more sense out of what I read today. It is a very good “Tech” book on poultry raising from the late 1970's to early 1980's.

One thing that is noticed early on is he refers to the raising of any of these birds as “projects”, which I guess in some small way they really are. This book contains a lot of charts and pictures for everything he talks on one of the first charts is for floor space requirements on page 12. The next page he has a map of the US divided into 4 “zones” to show the differences in building practices for the building you are going to place your “flock” in.

He goes into detail about the correct ventilation for the chicken house as well and from reading it, it seems more like a commercial chicken house as we know them. Again this is still good information to have as if you are good at building (I'm not Silver is) you can figure down to what you need for your personal space.

Another thing he details throughout the book are “management systems”, and that there are three main types of them. Floor, Mesh/slatted floor, or caged; but goes in later and states ranging them too. He goes into an in-depth explanation of all three early in the book then as the book progresses he explains the best types for each type of poultry and what works best for what you are raising that poultry for.

He does go about the best places to buy your chicks from and the biggest thing he points out throughout this book is -BUY THEM AS LOCALLY AS POSSIBLE-. There is less stress when they have not much time in being shipped, or being cold for that matter. The best is to be able to pick them up yourself, if that is possible.

He goes at length many times in the book about cleaning your brooder, now the brooder he refers too is a separate building and explains the proper way of cleaning it more than once in the book one spot caught my attention almost immediately:

First sweep or wash down cobwebs, dirt and dust, then use a good disinfectant. There are a number of good commercial preparations available. Some of them require that the house stand idle for a period of time and be thoroughly aired before chicks arrive. Failure to observe these precautions may cause the chicks to have severely burned feet and eyes.” Bottom of page 40

Now I'm sorry but that defiantly makes me want to rush out and buy some of that cleaner... apparently they used such ugly cleaners even in the mid 1970's.

Now he goes through each poultry type explaining why you should debeak your birds and gives diagrams of a “properly” done one of different ages, he does this with clipping feathers and making Capons out of chickens. He also gives 2 methods of putting your chickens through a molt, and stating if they haven't by the time they have been laying a year that you really need to do so. He also explains how even with supplementing their calcium the shell thickness deteriorates over the “laying cycle”. Which is one of the big reasons for forcing a molt.

He explains how to tell just by a careful eye how to tell if the hens are producing or not, which it seems is a “bleaching” affect on different parts of the body.

After reading and seeing his description of how to Caponize the cockerels I definably think I'll need to see it done a few times. It looks very complicated and could wind up killing some birds if not done right. Something else I noticed is that while for meat birds he states not to give them roosts he does say to do so for Turkeys, which I am guessing is because it is natural for them. Also while he points out it is not recommended to have more than one “type” (chicken/duck/turkey/etc) on your “farm” in small scale it should be ok. The reason why it is apparently not a good idea is that it seems these different birds don't all carry the same diseases and mixing the bird together on one farm can cause one illness to spread that would not otherwise.

Overall it -is- a good book with lots of info in it. However, right now if I were suffering from insomnia I'd pick it up for another straight through read. I kept having to put it down to process everything I was reading, so it is useful but not an easy read. Also if you like tech manuals this is a poultry book for you!

"Yucky" Work Morning

When I say "yucky" I do mean yucky... I went out this morning and moved out humanure pile around a bit as it was getting, as "piles" get a little high. So I took my garden rake and raked it flat making use I used all the space we have set aside for this. I then went and got out cat box and dumped the soiled clay litter in it, now before people go yelling about that not being the right thing to do. I doubt once in a while adding some clay into the mix will hurt it any. Yes, cat urine is a little more concentrated than human but; that just means it has more minerals in it. Then I went and got oh.. 3 cups of powdered lime and spread it over the top. Again yes I know that's not "normal" but I think for here it is a nessecity(sp?).

While on the subject of humanure, which most major "green" homesteaders think is black gold. I do have one thing to point out on using it in a food bed. I do not plan on it, if I am using a particular bed/tree/etc for food purposes I'm not using my humanure in it. Why? Silver is a diabetic and takes meds for blood sugar control. He also has an inactive thyroid and takes meds for that, not to mention the blood pressure meds, the pain meds.... I don't want to risk those chemicals in the meds to transfer to my food. Yes, the process of making humanure into compost kills bacteria and parasites... have you ever seen them mention it gets rid of chemicals not "normal" to the human body? I haven't so I'm not risking putting "unknown" chemicals into my food.

the other concern on it is commercial crops, you know the ones that use Roundup to "control" weeds... it does transfer to what you eat so unless you are completely off the "food grid" which means no eating out; you might have herbicides in your system. Also growth hormone from store bought milk, I don't want to take a chance at those being in the foods I grow so any humanure I get composted will be going into pure ornamental beds.

Now I finally managed to get a picture of the potato plant hieght!:

That is 2 3/4ft tall! It took us a few minutes to find a way to get the stick and measure into all the thick straw but we noticed one plant was close enough to the side of the "bed" for us to take a picture. Now here is my problem.. I'm out of straw! Totally! The plants are about 6in above the top of the straw and I have to wait till the 1st to get more! I do hope they will do OK until then. I just have to remember to get 2 bales this time instead of 1.

Now another "yucky" thing... As i have said I am "trying" to have this a "green" homestead, but that sometimes our methods won't be; case in point.


Yep garbage, I have long pondered garbage and what to do with it. Around here many people either dump it into a trench, get a "trash service" that uses a landfill, or burn it. Well considering we cannot afford the "trash service" right now we have been burning our garbage, which I know is not considered "green". However I'd like to point out a few things:

#1 Landfills:
Landfills take your garbage and dump them on the ground and cover them (sometimes) with dirt. Hoping that eventually it's compost down into nothing.

#2 Personal "garbage dumps"
This is a "country" thing where someone with a large amount of property either digs a big trench, or has on on property and they "dump" their garbage there. Again hoping that eventually it will just "go away".

#3 Burning Garbage
Taking your garbage that you have and.. well... burning it till it's gone.

Now the first 2 are in my opinion -NOT- good ideas, I don't want to add to the rest of the world's garbage problems. The last one yes, burning things like plastics releases nasty chemicals into the air and leach into the ground. Well... so does just dumping it, because as thing break down their "chemicals" leach away over time.

So I have not really seen a "good way" to deal with my garbage until I am producing everything I use on a daily basis myself. Once I can do that I will no longer have the "nasty" waste that come with living in the modern world. I'm going to start up trying to compost things again, once I get a new garden bed dug (for next year). The plan is to "sheet compost" that bed then in mid winter or verrrry early spring burning the extras to add potash to the soil there.

OK now this is today's book:

"Raising Poultry the Modern Way"

By: Leonard S. Mercia

Published by: Garden Way

Copyright 1975

My copy: 11th printing - June 1982

ISBN # 0-88266-058-6

Again this is an older book so it might not have tons of info useful now, but then again that might not be the case. It might have tons of info that would be useful to know about raising chickens but as things change over the years gets "lost" in the shuffle of modern life. In my opinion.. any information you take in from something means you did learn -SOMETHING-, even if it seems minor now.

And now a cute moment:

This little guy is going to be my son's new cat as his "disappeared" over the winter. We found him sleeping in this nail box (which still had nails in it) over the weekend. He fit completely in the box and slept there at least an hour! I would think it would be uncomfortable.

Be Well and Blessed Be ...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book a Day Challenge Day one!

OK thought I'd clarify one thing about this before starting, as in book I don't always mean a 200+ page book. If I have a verrrry long day then the "book" of the day will be one of those pamphlet"guides" that are around. I have a couple of them around somewhere.

and now...

Today's Book:

"Homesteading: How to Find New Independence on the Land"

Written by; Gene Logsdon

Published by; Rodale Press, Inc.

copyright; 1973

My copy: 9th printing- June 1978

This I think is a MUST HAVE book for anyone who wants/ or is into homesteading, so after reading what I have summarized on this book and you agree go and hunt through Ebay and garage sales, used books stores and maybe

In the beginning of it he writes about the “farmers” he has run into over the years, and sates the one thing they all have in common is that they are “one of the last tribes of independent thinking people left in the country.” Then as he starts to talk about a “new” kind of farmer the “Homesteader” he states that he believes that these “new”farmers are from 2 distinct groups. People coming from the city to the country and old farmers who give up most of the acreage they had for a smaller amount just for “family use”. He states the reason behind him writing this book is that you can get a lot of food on a small farm. “All you have to do is know how.” He goes on to point out that “anybody who can read labels can do the job with Chemicals”. So this book is about -NOT- using them. He then proceeds to go through and tell some tales about what “organicists”have done in experimentation. One of them he tells about how some cattle men in New Zealand used root crops to feed cattle with good success so much that one tried that idea with nursing doe rabbits and they wound up cutting their feed bill in half.

In the next chapter he starts off mentioning how everyone envisions the “perfect” farm and then points out that “perfection” does not exist and gives off examples of how the “not perfect” farms work just fine.

The following chapter deals with “places” to homestead as in the land it self. What seems like good land, and.. what isn't. He also lists the “usual” prices for “country” land in smaller acreage amounts, which of course is based on what was going on then not now. One thing he mentions is buying an “old farm house”, as in the kind that hasn't been lived in; in 5-10+ years. They can have more problems than you can tell at a quick glance. If you do buy one be ready to need to fix it up. He goes into not buying property if you cannot get a good deal on it and also points out if you can afford it please do. Don't forget about the taxes either, they can hurt you if you are not ready for them.

In the same chapter he also goes into vehicles for your homestead and what I mean is not just your car/truck, but also tractors; and other farm implements. He gives some advise on buying an older tractor and about how much you'd spend at the time this book was written, one thing he does mention while talking about the tractor is buying attachments for road grading. Which is a minor necessity if you have a gravel/dirt driveway/road. He also points out the time to put gravel down is in the spring before the thaw. He also in this same chapter points out the reasoning behind having a deep freezer, and a hammock. Quote:

Buy a Hammock. If you can't find time to lie in it and watch the birds on a hot afternoon, somehow your organic homestead ain't making it.” Bottom of pg 39.

The next chapter deals with soil, and his suggestion is to know a little botany to tell you what kind of soil you have as what grows on it before you use will tell you more than tests will. He discusses what can be done if your soil isn't the best. He talks of not using a compost pile but instead sheet composting his beds as they are sizable it would take some time to get enough to compost properly. You may be surprised at some of the methods he lists. He also states using wood ashes from your wood heaters, or if you need to burn brush you have cut do it on the garden beds before planting time.

The next chapter is on food crops for your home stead and the must haves.. and the “don't bother's”., and the best methods for growing them.

The next chapter is on just fruits. He goes into much detail on “pest” prevention whether it is for birds or bugs. He lists his top choices for an orchard, berries, grapes, and melons. The next chapter is just on grains, for both you and your live stock. He gives a lot of info on corn here and also points out how versatile sweet corn is and that it is the only corn he was growing when he wrote the book. Sweet corn can be dried. The next one he talks about is wheat and how it will feed both you and your animals. He discusses the different types of wheat and what kind of flours they make, and what time he grows it. I am guessing from what he says about it, Wheat is a fast grower. In this chapter he also discusses Soybeans (which today may be a no-no for you), Sorghum, Oats and Rye.

The next chapter deals with livestock and the best ideas for them, including space. He includes Bees as livestock as in his opinion they do so much “work” for you that they should be considered as such. Now he also includes fish worms in this as well, because if your garden beds grow well you'll have an abundance of them and you could sell the extras. To other farmers or to fishermen. Next ones he has listed are :


Chickens (goes into great detail especially on how to feed them and what to supplement their feed with)

Turkeys (which he only says “Don't”)

Guinea Hens



Goats(which he says unless you are allergic to cows milk don't)

Cows (again great deal on then including feed housing and types)

Beef (which for some is a separate category)

Hogs (again great detail including pointing out to make sure either you or the person butchering it knows what they are doing)

Sheep (which he does not think is practical but give plenty of info if you really want to try)

The next chapter deals with “Help from the Wild”. In this chapter while he does “tip his hat” to the person Euell Gibbons (Stalking the Wild Asparagus), he gives a month by month detailing of what can be harvested from the wild on your own property. Which includes the best time to harvest wood and the best way to do it. Tapping trees for sap. Then the various plants and berries harvestable (of course not every one). He includes hunting in all of this in late fall, and mentions using the woods in the winter if you are in the right area for cutting Christmas trees. He also points out all of the good things you can get from your own pond.

The next chapter is all about making money on your homestead, ranging from selling home made items, grown items and even “renting” your land. Now this is for like renting use of your pond for fishing, allowing people to hunt your wood lot. The next chapter is all about blending technologies, as sometimes the “old” works just fine for what you need. The final chapter is just his wrap up including a list of fun things to do in your spare time.

Now I realize I wrote lots of details at first and then gave a verrrrry brief bit of info, well I did that as I noticed I was getting a tad wordy. I don't want to give you all the info I want you to see if you want to read it. I do disagree with Gene on at least on thing, I seem to not be having any trouble with raising Turkeys. However, as he does not say why you shouldn't raise them just says “don't” I will never know why. I love this book and I get lots of info every time I read it I have read it at least 4 times as of now.


Be Well and Blessed Be...

Good Tuesday Morning!

Well I have made an executive decision... I am staying away from video games (hopefully) until winter. So any of my facebook friends out there whom I play games with, sorry but. I really do have better things96 to do right now.

In the next couple days I am going to go out and start "scraping" the top soil off of the spot we are going to build the house and put it either in the "in ground" garden spot or one of the various pots I have picked up. Why waste top soil?

On today's list of "Chores" is total kitchen cleaning, now if the house will warm up... I have trouble getting started when it's cool out, and with an outside temp of 48 degrees (up 10 since the kids left) I don't want to do much.

Speaking of the kids, they are in their last week of school; I am still interested in looking into homeschooling to at least give them extra info. It seems at least my girls have not had any world history at all and they are entering 6th grade. I have a big problem with that, I mentioned the name Ramses and they had no idea that it was the name of an Egyptian Pharaoh... they didn't know what Pharaoh meant either. I have a bigger problem with that, since when do school not teach about Egypt?

Something I am hopefully going to be able to doing the weeks to come is "a Book a Day", and then write about the book here, the hope is I'll get one done a day, depends on the day really but we will see what I can manage. Later today I am hoping to write a post about this book:

This is "Homesteading How to Find New Independence on the Land" by Gene Logsdon, ISBN# 0-87857-068-3. Mine is a 9th printing from June 1978, the original copyright is 1973, published by Rodale Press Inc.

I have read this book before and actually many times, but I figured giving a summery after a good re-reading of it will help people who have never heard of the book decide if it will help them. This idea behind a "book a day" is because I do have a stack of books needing to be read, and as I have some odd titles that I have picked up at yard sales, thrift stores,used book stores; I'd like to share them.

I have also been told by an acquaintance that Carla Emery's "Encyclopedia of Country Living" is their bible on Homesteading so once I can get a copy (it's on my wishlist now btw) I'll see what it has to offer us here. Well that's it for now I hope everyone had a good weekend!

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hard working Morning

This morning we spent after breakfast of course, working on the garden. Which I have been putting off due to the heat, which in my opinion has be ridiculous. I started with finishing the digging out of our squash/pumpkin bed; which btw.. has a little more than that. I had my son putting up some strings on my bean bed for my white rice beans to grow up.

After about 20 minutes of using our pic ax on the garden bed (sooo much better soil this year goat manure ROCKS!), I stopped to plant the bean bed.

Pardon the brightness for some reason the camera is acting up... Anywho, what I did here was leave a space in the middle for my tiger's eye beans once I find where they disappeared too. For the rest I planted each type for three poles a piece. WE have Kentucky Wonder (old homestead), Missouri Wonder, Chinese Red Noodle, Taiwanese Black seeded, and my White Rice bean. For now I have our soaker hose running through it, but we are thinking of moving it over to the "other" bed and getting a second one for the beans.

This little thing is a tomato believe it or not, as I transplanted 3 pots worth of them this morning as well this one I think is the Bonnie Best. The other 2 pots where Amish Paste Tomatoes. The interesting thing here is I put these in the spot I had the Zucchini last year and the soil there was better than the bean bed (this year) has! So I have big hopes for these three sets of plants! WE have plans for canning tomato sauce that are completely home "grown". I do still have to find places for the others once they look big enough, also for the pepper plants that are finally growing halfway decently. I -promise- to get my plants started earlier next year (watch I'll forget and in March remember suddenly).

...and here is the big project from today. This bed has: cucumbers, bitter melon, regular melons, summer squash, and pumpkins. One of the pumpkins is the Lady Godiva's for eating seeds, the kids wanted to eat pumpkin seeds so we are giving them a try. I am using the lousy tomato cages we had last year to grow lemon and Dragon's egg cucumbers on and the Bitter melon as well. I do wondered about the bitter melon though as I noticed the seeds were huge! Anyone out there grown them before that can tell me something about them? We are growing them for the fact that Silver is a diabetic and it is suppose to help with blood sugar levels.

I had planted some Tigger melon's over by our dogs as I have a cow panel to support one of the "wild" roses that I wanted to save. So I planted my smaller melons and a couple of cucumbers there next to the cow panel in the hopes of having them grow up it. Still waiting on them to sprout and start growing, however the Bleeding Hearts I planted there have started flowering already I am planning to get a picture of them soon. One of the Dahlia's have started growing and something else I planted there that I can't recall it's name; but I am sure it will look nice.

Potato Update:

My potatoes are doing amazing I'm going to take a picture maybe tomorrow with a tape measure if I can find it. I have run out of the straw we bought as this morning they were sooo tall I had one of my girls go out and cover them again. I hope they will be OK until I can get some more around the first. So the potatoes in straw do work well so far when it's time to "dig out" the finished product we will see what we get.

I have been surprised that with all the heat the cilantro has not bolted yet, as it's still to small to cut any yet too. The chives are moving along very slowly, and the Dill seems to like it's small pot. My other herbs are seeming to grow but I still am unsure as to which ones came up. I'll figure it out eventually.

Silver was going to work on the chicken coop this morning but because of the temperatures this morning/now his hands got cold and he couldn't hold the hammer any more. As I am writing this the outside temperature is 49 degrees and that was at 2:12 pm. So have had a definite difference in temperatures in the last few days.

Well that's it for now and the next 2 days we are going to be spending shopping for groceries that I'll be glad when I don't have to buy anymore. We are going to show our newest neighbors the way to the discount grocer Monday as they are not open on Sundays.

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Monday, May 9, 2011

How did you spend Mother's Day?

I spent mine building half a chicken coop, and digging my bean bed where my peppers grew last year. Had a nice hot bath, and got the kids to do some outside cleaning without the use of a sweet bribe.

Either later today or tomorrow we should be finishing the chicken coop and I have a vining plant bed to dig out. Here is the coop as we worked on it:

This is the first part of it the shortest side of the coop as we are going to give it a big angled roof.

Here is the same side attached to the landscape timber that will be against the ground, also in the spot it will be when finished. Incidentally these aside from the timbers are 2X3X8's

Here is the "tall" side it is a little taller than me and Silver, it will "butt" the end of the yard and the top will all be screened windows for air and light. During the winter we are planning to just put plastic over it to still allow for natural light but without the bad wind.

Same side now laying on the ground so we can put the leftover paneling on the outside, we are leaving a pretty good sized gap for the door as we want to make sure the turkeys can get in and out as well.

Here, we have connected the two sides with the roof rafters and small pieces of the timbers at the bottom. The paneling is up on the front and most of the back. Eventually we are going to build external nest boxes that we are going to accatch to the back of the coop and give them a top opening so we don't have to reach into the nest from the front to check them.

Paneling added to the short side, where I took the picture is going to have some kind of door eventually. We are not putting in a floor as what my plan is, is to use straw on the ground and put new down once a month then after a year completely clear it out and put it on the compost pile and start again. Silver suggested adding wood shavings in the middle of the month.

Here is a shot from the back.

Now like I said I also dug out a bed for my bean plants, and that it was where my peppers were last year. Well, I did have a nice surprise when I went out and started digging. First I noticed since this was one of the spots I used the goat manure last year that there was tons of clover growing. Now, there is no clover growing any where else; but where I put the goat manure. Second is that the ground was a lot nicer looking when I dug it up, and I did not hit clay as soon as I did last year. That must mean that I am slowly making the soil there better. It was also much easier to turn the soil over than it was last year.

Here is what I have done so far:

Silver set up the upright for this and I am hunting up saplings to use for the beans. This is my first time growing pole beans so I'm not sure exactly the best route for this. I am going to try some heavy twine on the one end with them attached in the ground with the tent stakes from last year. If you look carefully at this picture in the upper left corner you can tell what the soil color normally looks like this year this bed is much, much darker and better looking. It also have a lot more worms in it than I saw last year. You'll see my little path on the right and then next to that is where my vining plants are going to go. pumpkins, squashes, and watermelons. I have already put out cucumbers in a flower bed I started as it has a "cow panel" (heavy wire panel), I do hope they do well there.

Well I am planning hopefully to get out and dig out that vine bed in a couple hours so I'm going to get back to my house work now.

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Surprise In the Garden

The title says it all I had a lovely surprise in my garden today, specifically 3 surprises. The grapes that I bought before we moved here and we planted last year that I thought had died have leaves on them!

It was a total shock when I was out back by where they were this morning and I noticed green by where I planted them. So I walked closed and there they were growing as if they never had any problems last year!

Nice and green even though the leaves are tiny they are growing!

This one seems to have leaves on one of the former branches and not complete new growth! I hope that means it will produce faster.

I know it might be another year before I get something out of these but to know they are growing is good enough for me right now. Considering I thought they were totally dead. My guess is they used that first year to grow tons of roots and acclimate to the local soil and climate, and now they will grow more up top. I am hoping in a month or 2, to get a wine kit and start learning the process for wine making as eventually I do plan on making my own wines. I really want to do a dandelion, a rose, and elderberry wines. We've got tons of wild roses all over the place here, later this summer when it's in bloom I'm gonna get a picture of the one white one we have. I have never seen a white while rose before so I am hoping to eventually get some cuttings and propagate it around a bit.

As for my grapes a little while ago I went out and cut all the dead off them and put a little straw around them and probably tomorrow or the next day I'm going to put more on them. Tomorrow we are suppose to make the chicken coop. The chickens seem to like their outdoor yard and the turkeys seem to be starting to loose their head feathers and I do think we have a pair as one appears to be much bigger than the other. Silver thinks we should name them "Christmas" and "Thanksgiving", it is an interesting idea as we are going to butcher these two. The plan is to buy some heritage turkey's next year.

So far my new batch of chickens seem to be doing well, and none have died; so I do hope they stay that healthy. The Jersey's are not cheap and they are the ones I really want to raise and breed into the Reds I have to get a very good multi-purpose bird. The reds for their egg production, the Jersey's for broodiness, weight and the fact they are a good winter layer. If it goes well I will be very happy.

On another note I think I am through with school fundraisers... this last one my girls had was a nightmare. First it took a long time for the items to come in, then it was missing one item. I find out from the school that a lot of the items were missing so they re-ordered the item we were missing. It came in yesterday and I was shocked.. Now it was chocolate covered raisins. What my daughter came home with was yes chocolate covered raisins, but they were in a plastic zip lock bag! ...who in their right minds would think my neighbor would be willing to accept that????? Well I told my neighbor about what happened and she said she'll look at them so I sent my daughter down to my neighbor's house with it.

About a half hour after my daughter got back and, no my neighbor wasn't going to take it(I can't blame her). My neighbor calls me and asks me, "do you expect me to believe that those candies came to you in that bag????" Then on top of that she says, "are you sure that the kids or dogs didn't eat my candies when they first came in? Well, I'm calling the school and if I find out you are lieing to me you own me $10."

Well, I told her to go right on ahead and call the damn school because that is what happened; I have a hard time believing that myself but it's what happened. I am afraid that this will be the "final straw" in dealing with this neighbor. We had considered them friends but due to this hassle with this fundraiser and the issues over the dogs I just can't deal with them any more.

Anyone know of an old usable bathtub near me so I can give these people their's back???? *sighs*

Hope your weekend is a good one!

Be Well and Blessed Be.....