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Thursday, March 26, 2015

It was a Dark and Stormy Night really was too...

It overfilled my pond a wee bit, the young willow on the right of the picture has wet feet.  However it's not the only one with wet feet...

That would be my Macintosh tree.  It's kinda swimming, so as soon as it dries up a little bit (yeah Spring and dry prob not anytime soon) I need to get more dirt around it to keep it from happening again.  I just need it dry enough to move the dirt without it being clumped.

The other side wasn't so wet thankfully:

Not sure how well you can see it, but the Redhaven peach is in water that isn't in water now.  It soaked up in a few hours where as the Mac is still in all that water.  See the tires?  I thought I'd try the grow potatoes in tires since I have 7 tires right now.

Also I have  another picture of the cinder block stove.

The back will get raised up like the sides, then we'll fill up the holes of the  cinder blocks then they'll be capped and some rebar will be put across to cook over.  Also the center will get a solid block for the burn surface.   I can't wait for it to get done so we can cook in the mornings on it.

Hope you're safe with the severe weather moving about.

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Garden Sprouts!

I went out this morning between rain drops and this is what I saw:  That is a pea.. and it's not the only one either, seems so far half of the peas have sprouted and I'm waiting on the rest.  I can't wait to see them climbing all over the place.

Then there is this:

There is a row of spinach seedlings there.  I am sooo excited.  I have lettuce sprouting too but the pictures did not come out at all what so ever.  I know my red current did survive and is putting on growth big time and the willow I planted last fall near my pond is alive as well and greening out.

I LOVE Spring.

BE Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Wood Fired Water heater

This was written by Silver and I, Riven have posted it for Him.

A couple years ago we were given a gas fired water heater. Upon inspection it was apparent that the entire burner assembly was useless. So a week or so later I removed all of the burner and the insulation from the bottom foot or so, at first thinking the tank might be useful. About that time I watched a couple videos on using wood fired water heaters and decided to see what I could do with it.

Other than keeping the heat shield used to hold the burner assembly, I found a old unused steel tire rim that the shield fit into snuggly. The lower half I filled with dirt and gravel to help keep it in place. The opening in the shield where the gas burner had entered I opened a bit and used for the wood feed.

Given the fear of over pressure and possible explosion fed by all the warnings we had seen on the net, I only filled the tank with water and left the lines unattached. After filling the “fire box” and lighting it using small branches and kindling, we found that to heat the initial forty gallons took approximately a hour. After, it took less time, refilling the used water, keeping the fire running with only small pieces of fire wood.

At the time we did not have a water heater so it was a godsend for us. Much easer than heating the water on the stove or a fire a gallon at the time. Some time later we were given an electric water heater that with some parts worked and so we stopped using the wood fired one. Given the setting up of our outdoor kitchen I moved it to that location and am setting it up once again for use there. This time I will not have any fear of running it under pressure as it is fairly easy to tell when it is getting hot enough and the pressure relief valve is attached. Given the fire box is less than a cubic foot does not hold enough for a long burn time.

One last thing the warnings online also mentioned the chimney being too small to work accurately. We had no trouble with it on ours nor do we expect to. My guess on others experiences is they were trying to have to big a fire going in it. As we were not in a hurry to have the water heat up we did not over feed it.

 I hope this helps any that are interested to try there hand at it though only if you feel comfortable with attempting it.

Silver has said if anyone has questions feel free to post them and He'll do His best to answer them.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mostly done Kitchen

Well have the main structure on the outdoor kitchen mostly done.  As is I don't have a floor and we need about 6 ft of roofing still...

We ran out of it, one and a quarter rolls apparently wasn't enough.  That ladder on the front side is the one Silver built for doing building jobs around here, it takes 2 people to move it.  Right now we're planning the locations for everything and deciding what color(s) to paint the uprights.  We're going to put a wood floor down on 3/4's of it.  Where we are putting the rocket stove and bread oven needs to not have a wood floor.  Silver is going to make a counter top with 2X4's.

This is the start of our cinder block cook stove like the one we started out in the first six months of being here, it was so much fun cooking on it.  Oddly it did not use much fuel to cook a meal on it.  We need to get some new blocks to make the rest of it as I'd like it to be permanent and figured new would work better.

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Out door work

So we got started on a long over due project today.  The outdoor kitchen.

The wood has been sitting for a while now and the weather has been cooperating with us while Silver is feeling mobile enough to do some building.

We have been waiting to get this built as we really want to be cooking outside again, and in the summer it's better to bake outside in the heat than in the house.  After a long winter I can't stand the being cooped up feel of having too cook inside the house.

Our intern was helping out with this today, we have discovered she is very good at eyeballing distance.  See the corner post in the fore ground?  It is made with 3 2X4's glued and nailed together.  Silver has a habit of making buildings that'll live a few hundred years..  Or that you could prob store an elephant in.

We should get the roof finished on it tomorrow which is good because we have storms coming in Tuesday.  The floor'll be put in later and some half walls on the side.  We're going to use that water tank to catch water off the roof for my herb garden.  We're hoping the first cooking item placed in (err just outside) will be the cinder block cook stove Silver made that first year we were here.  It was fun to cook on it especially in the early mornings when the sun is just beginning to rise.

Looks like we should have across the street neighbors soon, we had 2 groups stop by today to check out the property there.  I hope someone decides soon.

Hope your Sunday went well.

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Judgement is In

So today was rooster sentencing day, and no they didn't get a fair trial and I'm afraid the sentence is death.

We butchered 6 roosters today four of which are destined for the soup pot, while two will either be roasted or fried.. maybe grilled. I did learn a couple things from this batch of birds. First, I had read a number of times about how it is easier to skin your birds instead of plucking them. Yeah... personally? For me skinning them took twice maybe three times as long to do. The biggest problem is the feathers got in the way of me seeing where to run my knife to remove the skin.

The second thing I learned is that turkens are easy to pluck. It took almost no time for me to get the feathers off the body of it. Even better the skin doesn't look like it had the feathers in it over half the body. It was also the largest of the birds after butchering and it was one of the youngest ones we butchered.

Silver is going to make some home made stock from four of them and the feet from the birds (well the feet that were healthy, two of the Leghorns had sores on them). The feet have a lot of cartilage on them and some fat(s), it is simple to clean the feet too once you learn how. You boil some water, take the water off the fire/burner and drop the feet in the pot. Now you take them out one at a time and starting at the nails pop the sheathe off the nail and start peeling the top layer of scales off. As you go to the leg joint it gets more difficult but it is easier to start at the claws.
My biggest problem with these birds (I got them for free so it's only a half assed complaint), is most of them have had feet problems. Two of the white leghorns we got had feet that couldn't grip the pearches, couldn't grip at all and they had sores in the “palms” of the claws. The guinea fowl we had had one badly broken leg that healed wrong. There is a brown leghorn hen who has no toes. These were all in the birds we got for free last fall. Bothers me a bit they were like that. I'm just glad that they are living here now, so they have good lives till they wind up in my stock pot!

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

It's Lives!

I have proof that my garden has some life in it!

This is one of the sun chokes, it has beaten my peas on coming out of the ground.  I'm still waiting on them coming up.  I have had a few peas whose dirt got uncovered showing me they will coming out of the ground any day now.

I swear it wasn't there yesterday, so it had to come out overnight.  I am so excited, I can't wait to see that sun choke bed covered in green life, and now it's a wait to see what comes up next!

Happy growing!

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Trees... PLANTED!

So we spent a hard afternoon planting the trees today here they are:

My peach a Redhaven:

Next is the Double Delicious (Stark Bro's own):

It has the thickest truck of the four trees.  Next is the Cortland I ordered as the final one's pollinator:

Sorry for it being blurry I couldn't get the camera still.  Now the final tree the one Silver wanted is a MacIntosh:

The Mac is the only one without any "baby" branches.  Though it has tons of unswollen buds on it so we'll see where it grows from.   It took us all after noon because we had dug a trench back when we had the track hoe a few years back and that was for the fruit trees.  Our soil is mostly clay here so it took forever to fill in around the trees after planting.

I mixed in the last bit of the composted sawdust some rabbit manure and one of the pot fulls of dirt that I had peppers growing in a year ago.  It made for some nice loose soil of the type we do have around here so they should have a nice start.

We're going to be covering the pathway between the apples with sawdust tickly to keep "weeds" down and prevent the blackberry bramble from taking over my trees.   I love the black berries but... I don't want them to take over the trees.

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Special Delivery

I got a package today!

My pretty babies have arrived, and of course they'll have to wait a day to get put in their home due to the dreary weather we're having right now.

So I have made sure to unwrap their roots from the plastic bag so they can breathe over night.  Thankfully it won't go down to freezing tonight.  Three apple trees and a peach tree.  The peach came from Stark Bro's nursery in this state and the apples came from Illinois.

We have some soil prep to do tomorrow morning and some brush clearing to do, we got most of the brush today, but the thick spot will be done tomorrow.  I can't wait to get them in the ground and watch them as they grow this year.

I got an email yesterday saying they had been shipped with arrival today!  I have been pacing like an impatient parent, all day.  They look very healthy, and are bare root.  So getting them in the ground is very important unfortunately I can't till tomorrow.

I am planning on getting pics with them in the ground.  I also know my peas will be up in a day or so based on what I saw in my garden.  My chicks got put in with the big birds and seem to be doing well with the others.

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed BE...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Step 2 Gardening in Spring

SO another nice day here in the southern Ozarks, and I finished doing my spring prep on one and a half of my beds (the short ones).  I also did some planting in them too.

This bed was done with the hay from the goat pen like the pea bed was and also the composted saw dust.   Fun thing about that composted saw dust though is we've been mixing in chicken manure and wood ash into it for a few weeks and it's made it a bit more "airy".  The foreground half of that bed is planted with onions (yellow) and the back half is lettuce (red romaine).

The bed is the furthest "back" one we have, and the plan is when the lettuce is done I will be putting my zucchini in there.  I planted the onions close together so they could give us some small green onions.

This is the other portion of the bed:

This is my spinach that I [planted.  I had forgotten I had gotten spinach seeds!  I was a nice suprise when I found them getting my lettuce seeds out.  I am hoping they grow well.  Everything from the stick to the right is spinach.

Also one more thing:

This is going to be my herb garden as where I stood to take this pic is where our outdoor kitchen will be built.  I am planning on having Silver "box" the buckets so that they look better.  This way the herbs don't escape or take over my whole herb garden (love mints don't you?).

That's it for now.. we're getting ready to have a cook out in this nice weather!

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Peas... DONE!

Well due to the coming rains last night and today we got a move on planting the peas.

We decided to go with the tepee styled trellis built with saplings.  As we couldn't get the saplings to go into the ground the way I wanted them.  I had wanted two more fence like trellises down the bed line to make it easier for my tomatoes to be planted there after.  However this will do, as long as I'm creative I think with the placement of the tomatoes.

I planted Alaskan snow peas in the hopes if we get another cold snap (fingers crossed) they'll be ok.  What this is planted in, is last year's popcorn bed (gods that was a failure).   We laid the stalks on the ground and covered it with the hay the goats didn't eat and tramped down onto the ground of their pen.  Then some of the composed "saw dust" we got from the saw mill mixed with both wood ash and chick manure (chick because it literally came from our brooder).  Just enough  of this "dirt" to let me plant the seeds in.  Now I just have to hope the two loose roosters don't decide the peas look good.

Speaking of the chicks, in about three-ish weeks I need to move them into the pen because one of the families my girls attend church with has offered us ducklings.  Now considering the avian flu in this state I don't want anymore other birds but ducks have to be separate anyway so I'll chance that.  I wanted ducks anyway and this'll give me the chance to have them.

Tomorrow after the rain is gone I get to work on the other planting beds I currently have.  The next on my planting list is lettuce and onions.  I plan on putting my zucchini where the lettuce is when the lettuce is done.  I will be starting these however with more of the bad hay, once all the beds are covered we'll be piling near the garden for adding to the beds through the growing season as it will help to retain water in my beds where it is needed and it'll help kill weeds as well.

Hope you're planting start(s) are going well!

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Saturday, March 7, 2015


So I also have some pictures of my tomato and pepper seedlings, now these are a week and a half old (the pics).  Right now my tomato seedlings are trying to take over I think:

They, have been "reaching out" to my light that I have over them; and can almost touch it now.  Silver thinks they'll be over a ft tall when we do finally plant them.  My thought it they'll have a good start so why not?

Now what I'm really happy about is these:

Now I know in this picture they are not much to look at but, the fact I got some pepper seeds to sprout finally made me happy.  They are about a month behind on growth compared to the tomatoes.  However I think they'll pick that up in no time.  It took them a month to sprout, now they are starting to reach for the light too.

It looks like we might be out of winter's grip finally, which is good as I really need to get my peas planted this week.  I have an interesting idea for a trellis for them.  I will have to see if I can get it to work though.  I also have to get my lettuce and my onions planted very soon, so I don't miss out on time for them to grow right.

Speaking of growing.  Strawberry is growing well, she's already proven she can climb the gates to her pen.  I had to come up with a creative way to block those off from her.  Now it's going to be a race to see if we can get a better pen built before she climbs the fence.  We're also still looking for a male for her, I'm hoping to find a nice one that we can keep long term.

That's it for now, got lots of work to do now that the snow's are melting away.  Enjoy your weather!

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Fire Starters

My partner suggested I write  a post about his fire starters as anyone we tell about them seem to not believe us on how simple they are.  All you need to make them is some old candles (thrift stores,yard sales,etc) wood pellets (like for pellet stoves) and cardboard egg cartons.

This is our bucket of wood pellets,  we go through about 1 bag of them every 2 years.  Which we have noticed is pushing it a bit as they start crumbling after a year.

When my chickens aren't producing sometimes in the winter I buy eggs in the larger flats.  This gives me many fire starters once the process is done.  I wind up storing these up in the winter time.

You fill each "cup" in the egg cartons till they are level with the line of the carton.  We had tried pine shavings, but learned they do not burn as long as they do with pellets.  You could also use dryer lint.  Or even hair from your hair brush.

You melt the wax down in a sauce pan on the stove. (we have a dedicated pot for this as we come across cheap and inexpensive cook ware all the time)  Then you slowly pour the wax into the "cup" part coating the pellets.  Sometimes after they dry you have to go back over them again.

This is what they look like when dried.  You then cut each "cup" out and when lit they -can- burn for 5 mins, sometimes less if your pellets are starting to crumble.  These cost us about $0.25 USD per starter to make.  We tend to have a good many by winter start, which have taken us into spring camp fire-y usage.  These really do work, they are simple to make and don't cost much over all.

Another post coming today!

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...