Saturday, August 20, 2011

Half log siding

I have always wanted to have a log cabin....there's just something so cozy and homey about them.  Well, the place I have now is pretty far from that, but I've discovered half log siding.  It's not really the "rustic" cabin look but it's still beautiful and it's something I can hopefully do a few pieces at a time as I can afford it.

Simple yet beautiful and effective.  I can't wait to get started on this so I can have my very own log cabin....even if it isn't a "real" one.

And since we're on the subject of log cabins...just thought I'd throw in a few video's that caught my attention as well....enjoy!

Aaaahh....this would be like my dream come true!  I'll get there one day....

Gotta get me one of those little on demand hot water heaters!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Got some fertilized eggs for my chicken to sit on -- yay!

My wonderful friend Dilli was nice enough to donate some fertile eggs to my poor baby-less broody hen who has been pretty much sitting on an empty nest for over 2 weeks now.  She now has 5 little eggs under her that hopefully, in about 21 days, will be cute little balls of peeping fluff :)

The poor, poor garden and my rant for the day

There is still so much to learn about gardening that I feel completely overwhelmed. I read everything I get my hands on about the subject, but it doesn't really help much in 'real time' circumstances. So many different soil types, so many different growing requirements, different growing requirements for do you fit that all together along with what grows good together and what doesn't? The garden did absolutely HORRIBLE here I purchased potting soil, hummus, top soil, and composted manure and mixed it in with the the dirt from the property. I even sifted all of it so it wasn't lumpy or rocky. I just don't understand why hardly anything produced?? The squash that I just threw in the ground in the side yard (with nothing added) did better than the one I had in the actual garden (even though it still didn't do the best in the world) Some say I watered too much due to certain symptoms I was describing about the tomatoes, but it's so hot everyday they wilt really bad if I didn't water....should I have just let them wilt?

It's just so frustrating. I'm trying desperately to to prepare and be self-sufficient and I feel like I'm just running in place....between the heat, the deer, the soil conditions and my immense lack of experience (and money) I'm just not getting anywhere. I never had these problems with my gardens in TN, except for the lack of experience part. Had a few gardens in various places (along with a hardworking husband to help pay for it all) and they usually did pretty good. Of course we usually weren't in one place long enough to truly learn how to 'live from our gardens'; it was more of a hobby I suppose; the start of wanting to be self-sufficient, but never really reaching it. I no longer have my canning jars, my pressure canner, my water bath canner, or my dehydrator. (heartbreaking story there) I've been buying a few jars here and there and hopefully can get another water bath canner soon, but the pressure canner (even the cheap version at walmart) is WAY beyond my financial means at the moment....sigh....

I know it takes time...nothing happens overnight...but I feel we're quickly running out of time and it's going to happen before I'm even halfway prepared. I did build a pantry, and it's the most food we've ever had at one time in my life, but honestly, if the economy were to collapse right now...the food I've worked so hard to stock (and I mean it's taken me MONTHS to save this amount) would maybe last 2 weeks if we were lucky.

I guess I wouldn't be as worried if I had more experience with gardening and raising livestock. Or if I knew more about wild edibles and how to save seeds. I learn better from a teacher, not a book...there's only so much my brain will process from reading. I probably have over 1,000 magazines between Mother Earth News, Countryside, Backhome, Backwoods Home, Hobby Farms, Urban Farms, and a few others.......yet I still can't figure out what's going wrong with my garden :(

I know my first mistake was not getting a professional soil test done. I barely scrounged up the money for one of the cheap one's from Lowe's but I couldn't make heads or tails of it. That's not a mistake I will repeat. I will get a proper soil test done this spring regardless of what else I need to pay. My daughters and I will be living from this garden (hopefully) so it needs to be a priority. I have a bag of sulfur and plenty of leaves so that I can PRE prepare a few blueberry beds...ugh...I REALLY want blueberries and that's one thing I always kill....even in TN. I'm not giving up though. I will try again and again until I get it right.

I have learned how to blanch and freeze a few things though and am now wishing I had bought a bigger freezer. I also have been having good luck with breeding my rabbits. The female I currently have is not a 'meat' rabbit so she's not big (about 5 or 6 lbs) but she's a great breeder and a great mom. The babies grow slow though, so I sold all the last litter as pets. Probably what I'll be doing with this litter as well since they are almost 2 months old and weigh only about a pound. Not really cost effective feeding 8 baby rabbits that aren't even big enough to butcher. My blue silver fox was just bred for the 1st time so as soon as I see what kind of mother she is I will be getting rid of the smaller female and the second smaller buck (he's a dutch) and keeping my New Zealand mix buck and my silver fox female. My Father in law (who is now living on his own) also has his full blooded New Zealand female, but she won't be old enough to breed till about February. I'm just praying that it will all come together for us eventually and hopefully before TSHTF

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Harvesting Rain water

This is something I did on a small scale years ago and something I REALLY want to get back into.  Since I haven't started it myself I thought I'd just post a few videos on the subject.

 eh, gotta run but I promise to post more video's asap

I know it’s been awhile since I last posted; I tend to get lazy sometimes and other times I’m just busy with life and trying to make ends meet. 

Zac brought home more free stuff:
some hanging racks, which really excited because now I have a place to put my spices and it doesn't take up precious cabinet or counter space. Overlook the busted up door in the background, it will be replaced eventually 

a miter saw (which also excited me) Notice the nifty sawdust catcher bag in the back     

a circular saw, a table top fountain, some tv tray things (which we never use lol) an art easel for kk, some  wildlife pictures for Destiny, a wooden porch swing (still excited),                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 a gate, a door,  and a few other little odds and ends.

I learned how to make homemade washing detergent with borax, washing soda, and Fels Naptha soap. (which I just recently found in Walmart) It’s sooo simple, cheap, smells good and works great too.
Homemade washing detergent:
·         1 cup borax
·         1 cup washing soda
·         1 bar fels naptha

Grate the Fels Naptha and slowly melt over low heat; stirring occasionally until melted.  Pour into 5 gallon bucket.  Add borax and washing soda. Stir again.  Fill the bucket the rest of the way with water and stir. 

I read that you’re supposed to let this “set” for about a week.  Not sure why.  I didn’t and it worked just fine.  I just stirred it before each use. 

The garden isn’t doing nearly as good as I hoped it would.  The deer keep eating the okra and eggplant that we have planted on the backside.  Lots of black spots on the tomato leaves (I was told it was from too much water) There are also black spots on the Stevia leaves.  I’m not sure if that’s from too much water as well or if it’s something else.  The potatoes started yellowing after reaching about a foot tall; although, one plant did actually reach the flowering stage.  The volunteer potato in my compost pile looks great though.  I think it has a lot to do with the soil here as well.  It is clay and full of rocks.  I sifted through all the soil I planted in and added some stuff from Lowe’s: top soil, potting soil, humus, and composted manure.  I couldn’t really afford the good stuff, or even enough of the stuff I bought, so it was mostly soil I sifted through.  I didn’t have any of my own compost to add since I haven’t been living here long enough to have any of my own compost ready (sure would LOVE to have a compost tumbler) but have a good pile started and have the manure from the rabbits and chickens to add.  You learn as you go; figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

And speaking of compost tumblers, saw some pretty neat DIY one’s on youtube

Pop (my ex FIL) has moved in with us and loves to talk to me about gardening and living off the land.  His ideas are different than mine so we usually butt heads lol, but I still love talking to him and hearing his ideas.  He bought a 3 month old New Zealand doe(ling) and named her Princess Grace.  It’s good to see him getting excited over having something of his own since he recently lost everything.  He loves that darn rabbit and goes out and talks to her everyday lol  

We also have 8 new baby rabbits.  Snickerdoodle (NZ/?) is the sire and Smokey (Blue Tipped Himalayan) is the Dam. I think there are about 8 of them.  I also plan on breeding Bella (Blue Silver Fox) to Snickerdoodle in September so I can get at least one more litter before the weather turns too cold.

Still have a ton of projects to do around here and now that I actually have an outside job, I’ll actually have some money to get things done….hopefully.  I’ve already started digging into the bank so that when I get the money I can start on my second tier of beds. 

Pop's garden 'BEFORE'

Pop's garden 'AFTER'

And last but not least… wood stove herb garden before and after

As you can see, the peppermint plant on the right isn’t doing too good.  I read that it does good in part shade so I’m thinking maybe it’s getting too much sun?  I’m not sure though since I’ve never grown it before.

Between the heat and the deer , the garden is really starting to look rough.  My tomato plants haven’t done good AT ALL this year.  They are puny and the leaves keep getting black spots on them.  I know if the water splashes up on the leaves from the ground that they will get spots on them, but these leaves are too far up to be splashed.  Someone suggested that they might be getting too much water, but it’s hard not to water them when it’s so hot outside everything is wilting.  Maybe the soil is missing something?  I’ve been adding all the compost to the future spots for the garden beds and I think I will invest in a professional soil sample a.s.a.p.  In my actual compost pile I have volunteer watermelon and potatoes growing great.  My 12 year old tells me yesterday “mom, I’m sorry but the compost pile is a better gardener than you” lol
Did I mention in my last post that I finally found a job?  I am working part time in the admissions office of the college I attend.  It’s in the next town and I only get paid once a month so it’s been hard to come up with gas money to get there, but at least it’s a job.  My first check will only be for 24 hours so it will be going straight to my house payment, but the next check will hopefully be able to be put towards building more garden beds (YAY!) and finishing the chicken yard properly.

Aug 2, 2011
Received my first paycheck (woo hoo) and my financial aid refund  so I paid my house payment, put gas in the car, got some groceries, bought some netting to put over the extended chicken yard, bought a landscape timber (yeah, can only afford one or two at a time), some electrical outlets, some expanding spray foam for all the little cracks in the house, a sprinkler, a thing to fix the end of the hose (instead of buying a new hose), a doorknob for the front door,  oh and a video game lol  (Zumba for the Xbox 360…got it used for a REALLY good price and hey, it’s cheaper than a gym membership)  Now will be the end of next month before I get another check L  Ah well, at least I have a job.
Anyway, my Buff Orpington hen has decided to go broody which isn’t a problem except that we don’t have a rooster so none of the eggs with hatch.  She refuses to leave the nest to eat or drink.  I will remove all eggs daily and she still sits…I take her out and put her in the yard; she still gets back on the nest. I took her completely out of the chicken yard into another cage for awhile, then put her into the chicken yard (after making sure there were no eggs in the nest box).  She started eating and dust bathing so I thought things were ok…next day…back on the nest and she hasn’t moved since.  Now I just plan on purchasing some fertile eggs to put under her so she can just get it out of her system lol.  My chicken set up isn’t good for more than 4 hens so I guess we’ll just sell or eat the extra’s when they’re big enough.