Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday Monthly Update From The Homestead - October Edition


Since we are close to the end of October, I thought I would update y'all on what we have been doing this last month. There has been a lot of activity and projects getting done around the place!

But first, some really sad news. The chickens are gone.

Their last day at the farm - snacking on their favorite, kale.

I actually found another home for them that is only three miles away. I didn't really want to butcher them. My heart wasn't into that. However, they needed to be dealt with so we could get rid of the rat problem in the barn. We also want to move the chicken coop out of the barn and into its own building. We have two cement pads we can choose from and I will look at plans over the winter. Early next Spring, we will start over with baby chicks.

We, however, added a mama cat and her four kittens to the homestead! The kittens are adorable and I hope to get pictures of them soon. They don't sit still very long! Keep an eye on my Instagram account for pictures of them!

The garden is wrapping up. I am canning the last of the tomatoes. Paige and I picked what we thought were the tomatoes that were ready or were going to ripen before the big freeze a week ago (?). The plants were killed by the frost, but several more tomatoes survived. Dane and I picked those last night to finish ripening in the house. I have canned close to 50-55 pints of salsa, 36 pints of pizza sauce, and 17 quarts of spaghetti sauce. The last tomatoes will become crushed tomatoes by the end of the week.


I still have peppers to freeze that were not used in canning, but they might get eaten before that happens! I froze eight bags of shredded zucchini. I have four zucchini left and that might just happen them too. I dug up the beets and they are sitting in a cooler in the basement. I need to get them used up soon before they go soft.

I still have pumpkins to finish picking. The potatoes need to finish being dug up. The kale is still going strong. Everything else is dead. I need to get a spot cleared to plant garlic. Otherwise, the garden needs to be cleaned up, the rather ineffective tomato cages need to be put away, and hopefully get the transplanting of the strawberries and lilies done.

The new sump pump and plumbing is in the pit and being used. We never shut that one off, but the plumbing needed to be replaced and a different style of sump pump had to be put in. Hopefully now, the basement will stay much drier with the new set-up.

We had to put a new toilet in. Unfortunately, we both dislike plumbing. However, we like to save money and this wasn't too bad. We couldn't find a tank to toilet gasket that would work with our old toilet. Since the toilet was leaking pretty badly, we bought a new one and got that installed. We did eventually find a gasket online that will work and this winter we will replace the upstairs toilet that nobody likes to use.

Rob has the walls and ceiling painted in the shop. He replaced the breaker box in the shop with a bigger one and will take the old one from the shop to replace the old fuse box in the garage. His skills amaze me and how much he can accomplish amazes me too! I think next on the list is running more electrical for outlets and lights and building shelves and cabinets for his things.

The kids are staying busy. Dane started basketball last week and has practices for another couple of weeks until league play starts. Paige is finished up with marching band, cross country, and all-state choir auditions. She is starting jazz choir this week, working on the set for the fall play, and enjoying a little down time before large group speech starts.


And before I forget, I started my YouTube channel! Sometimes it is just easier for me to talk to a camera than to sit down and type a blog post. However, I will be doing both as much as I can now! You can check out my YouTube channel here! Please subscribe for updates there too!

Let me know what you have been doing this last month!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday Monthly Update From The Homestead - August/September Edition


I love this time of year! We are so busy trying to keep up with the yard, the garden, and the projects. So this will be a monthly update for now and in the future. 

In August, you realize that summer is winding down fast. You may have at least two months left to get everything done outside that you can get done. Canning is full speed ahead trying to keep up with the produce. While I love dehydrating, I am finding myself doing a lot of canning this year.

Then September comes and you realize you may be running out of time! 

Canned green beans

We canned several quarts and four pints of green beans. We also canned summer squash pickles and zucchini relish. I froze eight quart size bags of vegetable pasta sauce. I have canned some salsa and need to do A LOT MORE! I froze a lot of the small onions from the garden to be used with roasts and in stews. 

After waiting patiently, oh so patiently, on the tomatoes, they are finally starting to come along. We have picked more grape tomatoes than we can keep up on eating. I still have lots and lots of green tomatoes though. I did give the tomatoes a good trimming as recommended by several gardeners. This has helped tremendously! I keep cutting back vines about once a week with great results. The tomatoes have been growing faster and turning red faster. Yeah!

I seem to have a lot of green peppers in the garden too. They are suppose to turn to red, orange, and yellow peppers, but nothing yet. If they stay green, I will still use them and freeze them for future use. I also have some mild banana peppers coming along too. I am not sure what I will do with them yet, but I will figure it out!

I also have a lot of zucchini which I have been using for a lot of zucchini bread. I have also been adding it to other dishes too as well as grilling it. I also grew some yellow crookneck squash. I will probably not be doing that again. I wanted yellow smooth neck squash, but I didn't read the package close enough. Oh well, the chickens love them! I did pull one hill of yellow squash plants out yesterday and will probably do the rest 


 Pumpkin blossoms

The potatoes have tasted great and I need to get the rest of them dug up. The pumpkins are coming along great too. The beets need to be dug up also. I actually have carrots! They germinated really late, but they are there and growing!

The chickens are still alive. That is saying a lot. We lost one chicken for reasons we couldn't figure out. We have one chicken who will be on the chopping block soon because she is not laying anymore and is becoming very mean to the other hens. The rest of the ladies will need to find new homes or become stew meat. We are only getting 4-6 eggs a day which we still enjoy. However, we have a rodent problem in the barn where their coop is and in the walls. The food and the water is attracting the problem and we need to get rid of the problem. 

So the chickens need to go for now. We will start over in the late winter - early spring with a new crop of chicks. I know I said previously that I wanted to add to the flock, but this problem really needs to be addressed before the rodents find a way into the shop.

Back of the barn

The shop in the barn is coming along great! The walls that are going to be painted are done. Rob stuffed more insulation down the walls before painting them to help keep the shop warmer. The floors in the shop and back half of the barn have been power washed too. It was amazing to see the difference after doing that! Rob wants to finish the ceiling and paint that. He also wants to finish insulating around the windows and get those trimmed out. 

We have enough rain for quite awhile. I am sooooo tired of mowing! Unfortunately, the forecast says rain again this week through the weekend. Oh well, it keeps the garden growing!

Otherwise, school has started! Woo hoo! We started on August 23rd and it has been pretty smooth sailing. The kids have been taking their lunches every day which has been an awesome savings on my pocketbook! Paige has been busy with cross counry, marching band, and choir (All-state, jazz, chamber, and concert). Dane is thankfully not really involved in anything yet! Dane turned 12 in August and we took him to Arnold's Park! It was a lot of fun!

We are still doing a lot of cleaning out, decluttering, selling stuff we don't need anymore, and donating other things. I keep thinking I am done for awhile, but then I reconsider things I don't need anymore!

What have you been up to this last month?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - July 25 & August 1


We are still here, still busy, and still finding more and more projects to do. I think the projects are actually finding us, but we always find things to do! I stay busier than I like and most days I have no idea what I need to do first. That is life though and I try to stay positive no matter what.

I am kind of back to purging and decluttering. I am trying to get Shali's room packed up. I also am trying to do a deep purge of the dining room. We used the room everyday, but it is also become a collect all for the things I don't have a home for. Time for a lot of things to go!

The garden is really starting to produce. The peas are done and I managed to get one quart size bag of shelled peas in the freezer. The green beans are starting to get overwhelming. I need to start canning them. The kale is going to the chickens. The grape tomatoes are starting and they are delicious! We are starting to get zucchini and yellow squash! So good! We could dig potatoes at any time if we want. This is my best garden yet!

I canned eight half-pints of zucchini squash. The little bit I sampled was delicious!

The chickens are doing fine. We are trying to figure out who is laying and who is not. The decision has been made to add some pullets to the flock, just have to get them now. I know someone who has Barred Rocks also ready to lay and that is probably what I will get.

Dane is back home from camp and Paige is busy going to band camp and then all-state choir camp this next weekend. She is done with Driver's Ed and she passed! We took the projects to fair and the kids did very well. We learned some new things for next year and I marveled at the creativity of some of the kids' projects.

We cleaned up more from the storm two weeks ago. We had to have the utility company come out and take care of a branch that had fallen and was pushing down on one of the electricity lines running to the pole. We burned one pile of brush and added to it again the next day. It must have still had a hot spot because it burned again all on its own. We have another pile to burn yet. We have branches still falling out of trees from being hung up in the trees.

We had a pig come visit from two miles away. We were surprised to say the least! His owner came and got him quickly. All was well. If we get pigs, we need a very secure shelter and we were not equipped for that right now!

We are cleaning up the yard some more and making it tidier. We are also fixing a lot of little things like doors and windows. We are also fixing a few things on the wooden play set in order to sell it. The kids have outgrown it and it is time for it to bless another family. We added more fence posts to the garden fence in order to give it more stability.

And, oh yeah...mowing. I am a little tired of mowing.

I think that is it for now. My brain is a bit fried and I can't remember much more.

What did you do this last week or two?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - July 18


Another week gone by in a blur...

I have an observation to make though. I am sure you all probably know this, but there is nothing like having company or family coming over to make sure you get a lot of cleaning up to do in a very short amount of time!

Mowing had to be done after getting some much needed rain. We trimmed around everything. We hauled a load of broken appliances and junk that didn't fit in the dumpster to the landfill. We even took a magnetic roller around the buildings to get the nails and screws that had been dropped. We tidied up a lot and got a lot of little piddly projects done. I weeded as much as possible, but that chore is never done. 

I picked my first crop of peas of the year! Yeah! 



Family came and we had a great time! We talked a lot. We ate a lot. We watched the dogs play. We shot off fireworks and had a big bonfire.

Then Saturday night brought this:







We got a fierce wind, two inches of rain, and a bit of hail. The garden fence had to be repaired. The potatoes were flattened, but I think they will be fine. The tomatoes and their cages need to be fixed. The rest of the garden is looking a bit flat too. We have a lot of branches and trees to clean up. It could have been a lot worse, but so disheartening to look at when we just had everything cleaned up!

On tap for this next week is cleaning up the yard again, working on the shop some more, weeding some more, picking our first crop of zucchini and hopefully green beans. I am hoping to plant more beets and maybe spinach for the fall. Paige will be done with Driver's Ed at the end of this week. Dane will be finishing his projects for the county fair as he will be at camp the following week. 

That is it for us! What is going on at your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - July 11


Whew! Another week gone! I swear I am going to figure out how to slow down time...

The kids were a busy bunch this last week. They went to their dad's house for two days. Paige drove some more Driver's Ed and worked at the pool (she is a life guard). Dane went to his aunt and uncle's house on Saturday with his grandparents.

On Sunday, the kids and I went to my parents' house to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary! Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad! A lot has happened in forty years and I am sure more will happen in the future!

This week, Dane has basketball camp from today to Thursday. Paige is on her second to last week of Driver's Ed. Both kids are frantically getting ready for county fair that is the first week in August!

And we have family coming Friday to stay with us this weekend! Whew!

So what happened last week?

I weeded the garden. Amazingly, it needs weeding again.

We got some much, much needed rain after being dry for almost three weeks. I had started to water the garden because the tomatoes were starting to wilt and the peppers were not growing. I think both are starting to come out of it now. The peas are definitely ready to pick and I hope to get that done tonight yet.


I dug up all my garlic. The plants had dried back so it was time. The bulbs were pretty decent sized and I am pretty happy with the harvest. I got thirty bulbs which is what I planted. I also got some bulbits. I had planted the garlic last fall about an inch into the soil. The bulbs must have sunk further down because I had bulbits which are a second forming on the bulb above the surface. They are still edible and I learned a lot about planting garlic this year!

We cleaned up more of the shop and worked on the barn. Rob got another wall of the shop painted which he is happy about. He also cleaned the front of the house, front porch, the front doors, and the sidewalk! The house looks brand new!


We also had two date nights at the tractor pulls in Rockwell! I love watching them every year. Rob got me into tractor pulling and I am so happy he did!

I am also trying to get back into cooking more from scratch and planning ahead for the week. This is my goal almost every weekend, but the weekends just seem to fly by. Saturday morning, I made two loaves of bread, two batches of granola bars, and a double batch of egg muffins. We ate some of the egg muffins for lunch Saturday, but the rest have been for breakfasts this week. I also diced up a canned ham we were given and will use that for scrambled eggs, omelets, pizza, and pasta salad.

How was your week?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - June 27 & July 4


This last two weeks have really been a roller coaster. We have had a few ups and a few downs. 

The garden is growing well. All except my peppers. They are not growing much at all. I think I am going to hit them with a shot of fertilizer. My carrots did not come up very well either. However, I hit up some end of the season sales. I planted more tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I will probably go back and get some more strawberry plants and see what else is left. 

We need rain and soon. We are suppose to get a storm tonight so hopefully we get some significant rainfall with that. We are dry...as in do not light a fire anytime soon dry. 



We lost our house cat, Lola last Friday. She hadn't been doing very well this last week and was scheduled to go back to the vet last Friday. She passed away on the way to the vet. She was 15 years old and had lived a long, good life. We buried her in the yard so the kids can visit. They were pretty attached to her.



The chickens are doing great. The egg output has been slowing down a bit which leaves us with some tough decisions. Rob wants to put up a camera in the coop and see who is actually laying or not. If they are not laying, they need to be part of the freezer. I am a little more attached than that. However, I am really considering getting some pullets and expanding the flock so we have fresh layers. I have already looked into it.

Other than that, we have been doing a lot of cleaning up outside. We (meaning mostly Rob) took down two dead trees in the grove. We have also been putting some work into the inside of the barn. As of right now, the goals for July is to: 

  1. paint the walls in the shop 
  2. move the wood in the barn to a neater pile in one of the other buildings 
  3. rent or borrow a pressure washer to clean the floor in the barn
  4. kill as many rats and mice as possible
  5. build shelves in the shop so Rob can find his stuff a lot faster and easier

We are never bored. That is for certain.

What is going on at your homestead? What is your goals for July?

Thanks for reading, 
Erica


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead: June 13 & June 20


It has been two weeks again and time is flying! I mean to do this every week and hopefully I will again soon. I am lacking pictures for this post, but stay tuned and I will have more!

The clothesline is done! Rob finished that last week with minimal assistance from me. I love it because it is a little higher than the last one and it has a center support post. I can hang more laundry on it without the center sag that I had with the old clothesline. I hung laundry out all day yesterday and love it! I hope to have a post up this week about how we built it!

I have been spending a lot of time in the garden trying to stay ahead of the weeds. I haven't been entirely successful, but I am doing the best I can. Rob and Dane have been catching toads for the garden to help with the bugs. So far, so good! Before they started, my green beans and zucchini plants were getting eaten alive. We have managed to keep the rabbits out, but the bugs do not respect the fence!

Paige starts Driver's Ed this week. She just got her permit last week and Grandpa has been taking her driving. Yes, I am totally shirking my parenting duty on this. I am fine with that!

We have started on the shop and the back of the barn. Rob has been getting the work bench the way he wants it and fixing/painting what needs to be done. I started on the back of the barn yesterday. Yuck! Too many critters making a mess! About a third of the barn got done and hopefully I can finish the rest by the end of next weekend.

We (mostly the kids) cleaned out the chicken coop. We do a thorough cleaning about every three months with a more frequent cleaning under the roost. I love the smell of a freshly cleaned coop!

Otherwise we have been doing a lot of little things like getting curtains bought two months ago hung up, going through more stuff and getting rid of a lot, prepping, and staying on top of the kids and their chores!

What have you been up to?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Protecting The Garden: Building A Critter Proof Fence


One of our big projects this year became putting a fence around the garden. I was having a serious problem with rabbits and possibly deer. Never mind the dog that also liked running at full force through the garden. 

Since I live in a wide-open rural area surrounded by farmland, the critters don't have a problem finding my garden nor eating what I planted. I lost 22 tomato and 12 pepper plants to them earlier this Spring. It was time to end the free buffet. 

What we bought and used:
200' - 4' tall wooden snow fence
200' rabbit wire fence
3/8" narrow crown staples (we used an air stapler)
post hole driver
several 6' fence posts
5  - 8' landscape timbers
3/4" fence staples
2" x 4" green treated lumber
1" x 6" green treated lumber
12 gauge fencing wire
2" and 3" coated deck screws
2 barrel bolts
2 - 4" hinges
chicken wire fence
4 solar lights

Just some information before we launch into how we built the fence. My garden is 25' x 60'. We didn't need all 200 feet of fence, but they were sold in 50' rolls. I choose snow fence for costs and functionality. Rob would have preferred a white picket fence, but that was a little more than my frugal heart could handle. 

First Rob set the fence posts in the ground. We did use contractor's string to make sure that lines were straight for setting the posts in the ground. We also set the landscape timbers in the corners and packed the ground them. We used a post hole auger for the corner posts and post hole driver for the fence posts.



While he was doing that, I was rolling out the snow fence on the ground. I laid the rabbit wire fence over top of the snow fence and stapled the fences together. The spaces between the boards in the snow fence were too wide so we needed additional protection from the critters. 



After that we put the fence up to the fence posts using the 12 gauge fencing wire in two spots on the posts to hold the fence to the posts. We used four fencing staples on each of the landscape timbers to hold the fence to the timbers. We suggest not picking a windy day to do this - it just makes the job harder. 



We live in a very windy area due to the flatness of the land. We regularly get 20-40 mile per hour winds. We need to add support to the fence and the corner posts to help keep the fence upright. We used 2" x 4" in 8', 10', and 12' lengths. We screwed them to the posts and each other. 



Rob built the gate to the garden using the 1" x 6" boards and chicken wire fence. We decided to use two barrel bolts to keep the gate closed. If you look very closely at the bottom of the gate, Rob buried a 1" x 6" in the ground to close the gap between the gate and the ground. We don't need to offer a way in for the rabbits. We also have a 2" x 4" across the bottom inside the gate for the gate to rest against and more support for the gate posts. 

We also put a solar light in each of the corners for light and looks. It does look very nice!



This fence looks simple, but it took us a lot of trial and error to put up. We reset the posts once. We added posts after the fence went up. The ground did not firm up like the concrete it usually is so we needed to support the corner posts better. 

We also made a few of the posts wide enough to be able to get a tiller into the garden. We can pull out the board where we overlapped the fences and roll back the fence. 

Are we done? For now. We are still thinking about putting a board around the bottom of the fence for even more support. Even though I don't mind the color of the fence, I might still paint the fence white. 

Did you need a fence around your garden? What did you do?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, June 6, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead: May 31 & June 6


We have the fence around the garden and the garden is planted! That, my friends, may be the best and biggest news of these last two weeks. Besides mowing, these two things have consumed most of our time. 



This has been a time consuming project and I will try to get a blog post up about in this coming week. However, one of my goals from last year has been checked off the list! We still have some work we would like to do on it before fall, but that can wait because we have other things to get done...

like the clothes line.
like the shop.
like sorting and organizing the tools so we know what we have and where to find it.
like building raised beds for the strawberries and whatnot. 
like moving the lilies out of the garden.
like transplanting the rhubarb.
like cleaning and organizing my side of the garage.
like a multitude of other projects. You get the drift. 

Rob has been a rock star during these projects. He is doing most of the work and is the brains behind the planning and designing of the projects. I don't know what I would do without him! He would rather be doing other things, but yet he is doing the work on "my" projects. So awesome!

School is out for the summer. I say that ironically because Paige started life guarding classes the Tuesday after school got out. She also has marching band every week this summer and drivers ed in July. However, Dane is enjoying his summer off! Actually Paige is too because she is a little bummed that school is out. She loves school even as a high school student!

I am still decluttering and organizing. I started work in the basement with the laundry room. I have shelves full of painting supplies, laundry supplies, emergency food storage, and whatnot. We also have bags, socks, pillows, and other things that need to be let go. The other room I have been tackling is Shali's old bedroom. She did go through more clothes and we have two big boxes to get rid of as well as some things from her vanity. 

I have been trying to be more conscious about what I can resell when decluttering. I always need extra money for one project or another. I have a store on Ebay that I sell things through and I am trying to add more of the decluttered items to it that I know will sell. I have sold a lot of different things over the years, but I still get nervous about selling the new and unfamiliar to me. 

That is pretty much it unless you want to talk about the daily life things that happen. We took the cat to the vet and found out her thyroid is out of whack. She is on pills which is not fun, but oh well. The car got an oil change. I have stuck hard to only getting groceries once a week. I wish I could say the same for the hardware stores!

In a weekly dose of cuteness, meet Rebel the garden guard:

He sleeps on the job a lot. He seems to like the garden for his naps!

What have you been up to this last week (or two!)?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - May 15 & 22


This blog post is being sponsored by a tired and out of shape blogger. She is recovering, but sadly knows that she needs to get into shape and soon. 

I did finally go to the doctor and get some breathing issues addressed. I have had asthma for over 25 years. However, I have been managing it without an inhaler for almost 20 years. The last few months, however, have not been good. I have been constantly short of breath and have had a few attacks. The doctor does not know exactly what is causing the problem, but thinks it might be more allergies than asthma. As I am already on an allergy med, they are treating me with a generic Singular for allergies and asthma. If it works, great. If it doesn't work, back to the drawing board. I also got an inhaler to use as needed. So far, no need. 

You don't realize how much your health impacts your activities until you are trying to get as much done as humanly possible! I carry a few extra pounds too so getting into shape so I can handle the work has been a priority. 

What have we been doing? A lot! The weather has been gorgeous for over a week and that means really tackling the project list. I am not sure where to start or what project has been the biggest.

We borrowed a tractor and moved dirt around the house. Some of the land around the edges of the house was starting to slope towards the house. We are always actively having to work to keep the basement dry so this needed to be addressed. We moved a fair amount of dirt around the house and have a good slope built up again. We would like to put heavy plastic down with rocks over top of the plastic. We will see if the budget will allow that. 

We (meaning Rob) cleaned up the grove. There was a brunch of work to do in there so all the kudos go to him. I helped when I could as did the kids. He cleaned up the downed trees, about a million branches/brush, and filled in the holes left from decaying stumps and just some low spots. The grove looks fantastic now!


We got all the flowers planted. I need just a few more for the one bed I cleaned out (lower right corner). That particular bed has columbines and wild roses growing there right now. I planted three new perennials in there, but it could benefit from three more perennials. The half-barrels on the left hand side are flowers I got for Mother's Day from Dane and Rob. The orange flower on the upper right hand picture is also from Dane. I went to Country Gardens and got some more flowers to match it and fill in those planters. I also got a yellow gerbena daisy plant from Jordan that I need to bring outside. 


We got the poles up on the new clothesline last night. We rented a post hole auger to make this job much less work. It was worth every penny of the $66 I spent to rent it. We used 4x4x10s for the posts and used Quikrete to cement them in the ground. We will wait a few days to let them get settled before finishing that project. 


We also got the poles put up around the garden. We used the same post hole auger for the corner posts and the gate. I bought snow fence to put around the garden. We are lining the snow fence with rabbit wire fence to keep those darn critters out. We would like to get this project as soon as possible because...


these replacement tomato and pepper plants would like to be planted. Their predecessors were some rabbit or deer's snack over a few nights. I am going to get a few more plants of each yet, but I would love to get them in the ground. I do have all my seeds planted. I planted beets, carrots, green beans, peas, kale, yellow summer squash, zucchini, pie pumpkins, and more onions. 

In other news, school will be out this Friday. I have been spending some time looking for interesting challenges for the kids this summer. Shali is leaving on Thursday for 10 days for a college trip to England, Scotland, and Ireland. I am so excited for her! Jordan is heading to work at the church camp in Okoboji when school lets out in Cedar Falls/Waterloo. She works for the YMCA in the before and after school program at the local schools. Shali will be heading to work at the same camp when she gets back from her trip. Paige will be starting life guarding training as soon as school lets out then onto Drivers' Ed. Dane will be enjoying his summer of very few commitments!

Summer is busy, that's for sure! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 25 through May 9


To sum up these last three weeks: we got a lot done! I got to play in the dirt and garden! Yes!

I transplanted about 50 raspberry plants to a new area. I just need to get a lot of mulch to help keep the weeds down. The weather is taking care of the watering. As of two weeks later, about 1/4 of the transplants are sprouting new leaves. I wish more were doing the same, but of right now I am happy with that.

I planted four rows of red, Yukon, and russet potatoes and about 50 onions. I hope to get more done in the next week, but I shall see what kind of time I have. I have to plant the other 50 or so onions and some shallots. I have plant those on the edge of the garden by the potatoes so the rain won't affect that.

I also got 11 bell pepper plants and 20 tomato plants in the garden. I might get more pepper plants (4-6) and some grape tomato plants. All I have left is the seeds to be planted. As of right now, I will be planting carrots, parsnips, green beans, peas, kale, summer squash, zucchini, and sugar daddy pumpkins. Hopefully the rain will let up this week and I can get them in. I should have on Saturday, but life happens.

We got a ton of yard clean-up done. There is still some more to do. Rob trimmed up a lot of trees, cut down the dead ones, cleaned up a ton of sticks, and cleaned up the fallen trees. Dane and I cleaned up branches, cleaned out the dead stuff from the lilac bushes, and raked a fair amount. We were able to have a fire in the fire pit one Friday night and burned up some of the branches in there. That helped some! However, we have quite a pile building up. You will probably see that fire from Wisconsin!

We also had another fire in a bigger pit area Saturday night before Mother's Day. That was a big fire! We bought some more wood and brush from another pile to keep the fire going longer. The kids wanted a fire and we had very little wind so the fire happened. We had smores, played a tough game of I Spy, and talked a lot. It was a great end to a pretty great day.

Notice I talk about the weather quite a bit? The weather has been deciding for us what we are doing. We had a beautiful week of weather followed by five days of almost monsoon like rains. Then a beautiful week of weather. Today is Monday and we are scheduled for rain the next five out of seven days. Just crazy!

We got one major project in the shop done. We moved the work bench to the wall with the plug-ins. The work bench was on the opposite wall from the plug-ins and Rob decided (I definitely agreed) that needed to change. It was a major undertaking with lots of sore muscles due to carrying almost everything out that was in there. Rob has a lot of unpacked stuff in the shop and getting the shop done is a top priority now so he can find things and work on other things.

While cleaning out the shop, I purged a lot of junk furniture. I thought some things had potential, but I was wrong. I got rid of a dresser, a vanity, and two desks. They were falling apart! Since I am still in a purging mood, things need to go! I did keep two dressers, a seat, and a bench that have plenty of potential. They just need some love!

We are also trying to decide what to do about the chickens. Of course we want to still keep them, but the ladies are starting to slow down on the egg production. Plan A would involve getting a rooster and letting the ladies lay their own chicks. Plan B would involve getting chicks and integrating them over the summer. What do you prefer?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 18


Hello! We are having some very lovely temperatures here! The wind seems to want to blow too, but it feels so good to be outside soaking up the sun.

We got a fair amount of yard work done. The branches are piled up in three piles around the house and will be loaded into a trailer. Some of it will be burned and some of it will become mulch for the garden. The kids did most of that work as well as picking up trash around the yard.

I have my raspberries dug up and will get the replanted as soon as I get a new spot ready. I am excited to have them out of my garden and ready to get a new, bigger patch going. We all love fresh raspberries!

I also found out yesterday that my garden will be tilled in two weeks. I am excited about that too. I want to get my own tiller, but I am shopping around for a decent used one. I bought my seed potatoes, onion sets, and shallot sets yesterday too. I might buy more seed potatoes, but I am waiting to see.

We, mostly Rob, got the garage cleaned out and organized. We still have some more cleaning and organizing to do, but the garden tools and shovels are all hanging up! I have dreamed of that for quite a while! Rob also tore out some shelves that were rotting and falling apart. He also did a lot of sweeping and dusting. The garage was pretty dirty!

Paige went to prom! She is only a freshman, but her date was a junior. Here is the pretty girl in all her finery:



She wore a dress that her older sister, Jordan, wore to her junior prom. This dress was in pretty decent condition, but I had to use my sewing and ironing skills. I fixed and sown back on the beads and larger rhinestones that came loose. The skirt had a couple minor tears that I sewed back up. We spent $26 to get her hair done and grandma bought her a new pair of heels to wear. Jordan applied her make-up and Paige wore jewerly that she already had. A fairly frugal prom!

The chickens are still alive. We have been free ranging them again and so far no hawk. We did find out it was illegal to shoot them. I am looking into other ways to discourage them from eating my chickens!

Other than that, we have been going to track meets, cleaning, and generally keeping up with life. The cats will go to the vet tomorrow and that should be more fun than it sounds. One of the cats is deathly afraid to even leave the house so this is always a fun trip.

I wanted to let you all know about a new site for starting and adding to your current food storage. Preppers Market carries healthy emergency food storage with none of the nasty stuff you don't want! It tastes delicious and offers a great variety for you and yours. It would make a great gift to help jumpstart someone's food storage or add to their existing food storage. Check it out!

Preppers Market LB pasta

What is going on around your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 11


What happened this week?

This week was a little exciting, a little bit frustrating, and has a little bit more work involved for us.

We are down a chicken. One of the full-grown layers was killed by a hawk. In all the problems I thought I would have with keeping my chickens alive, this was not one problem I thought I would have. Hawks are not a big problem, but we had noticed three of them nesting on the property. We weren't sure what kind of hawk they were, but now we know they are the chicken-killing kind of hawks.

Since I like my chickens to free range a bit, the hawks need to go. I would like to do it humanely, but if we have to shoot them then we will. Shooting the hawks is probably illegal, but I have more invested in my chickens and would rather not lose them!



In the frustrating and creating more work for us category, what you see above is the remnants of my clothesline. We had a dead tree fall on Tuesday and take out the clothesline. Both poles will have to be replaced as well as the line. We are extremely fortunate that the tree did not fall on the house or fall the other way on to the power line. This can be cleaned up and replaced fairly easily.

Gardening is still on hold. The ground temperature is a little bit chilly yet to plant anything. A few days of sun might cure that. We are also going to move the raspberry patch out of the garden and into its own spot. I think they will do better and I will have the room back in the garden. If I don't have a tiller (my dream tiller) by the weekend, I will rent one and get the garden tilled hopefully in the next week.

We (mostly Rob) spring-cleaned the first floor of the house Saturday. He would call it normal cleaning, but the floors look fantastic! We also did some decluttering with another load accumulating for the thrift store. I took one load on Thursday last week, but we always have more things to get rid of.

I also did a big grocery run on Saturday. Meat prices are atrocious!!!! Corn and beans for feed is down. Gas prices to transport the meat is down. Why is ground beef still $4.50-5.00 a pound?!?! Crock-pot and arm roasts were $3.99 a pound. I am still in sticker shock!

Everything is on hold this week while we get ready for prom! Paige is going to her first prom on Saturday and, in our true frugal style, is wearing a dress that Jordan wore her junior year. I still need to get a few repairs done on the dress and iron the skirt. With three track meets this week this should be interesting, but we will get it done!

What is happening on your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - March 14


This has been another busy week on the homestead. Every week seems busy, but some weeks just wear you out. However, this last week wasn't too bad. 

We have been doing a lot of little things. Cleaning out the garage and getting the doors to work right has been fun. I had to go to Menards Saturday morning and I got two new springs which should make all three garage doors operational now. Rob is also adding buttons to the outside of the doors to make getting in and out of the garage easier.

I got two new tires put on the Escape. I wasn't very happy about doing that since I had just put four tires on a year ago. However, lack of knowledge on tire rotation, a tie rod going out in November, and not having a good alignment done after that caused undue tire wear on my vehicle. 

While getting the tires put on, I bought two live traps for the barn. We have a few opossums living in there that need to be relocated or just dealt with. I am not sure which option we are choosing, but they do not belong in the barn and they are way too close to the chickens. The opossums must go. 

The sump pump has not been fixed yet. The sump pump drains into a tile in the yard and the water is really running right now. To change the sump pump, the check valve, and PVC in the basement would be a really wet and miserable experience right now. We can wait until the ground dries up a bit. We still have the old sump pump in the basement and Rob keeps a close eye on it to make sure it is running correctly.

We had some beautiful weather last week and part of Saturday. Rob got some yard work done and he identified some areas around the outside of the house that we will have to build up or landscape so the water will run away from the house. We have gutters where we can, but some of the roof is not conducive to having gutters hung. He also fixed the gutters and downspouts so they work well again. Some of the downspouts had an unfortunate meeting with a very fast lawnmower driver!

I started cleaning up the basement. The basement has been very unorganized for awhile. I cleaned off a set of shelves that we are getting rid of to put newer, sturdier shelves in that place. I cleaned under the stairs and moved a bunch of totes into that space. I also started cleaning up and organizing my food storage better. I should have bought more of these storage baskets because the size is perfect for what I am doing.  I hopefully will get that project done very soon. 

The rhubarb has started to poke through the ground. I am thrilled about that! I love rhubarb (learn to grow it here)! No asparagus yet which is okay with me. I think I might get some radishes and possibly some spinach or lettuce started in the ground soon on the edge of the garden. I am really looking forward to some fresh vegetables!

I am still keeping up on the food storage and prepping. My goal was to increase our water storage which I am working on. One of my other goals was to get our food storage up to a year or more and I have been adding to what we have already. I have a continuous food storage which means we eat from, rotate, and continuously add to the food storage at all times. This time of year I really add to our food storage using part of my tax refund. 

What have you been doing around your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - March 7


In order to get back to a more consistent posting, we are bringing back the Monday Update From The Homestead. And folks, the homestead has been busy.

As you all know, Rob moved in about six weeks ago. This has been a huge adjustment on everyone's part and we are still working out the kinks. However, he is quite handy and I love that about him. He has fixed the upstairs bathroom sink, is fixing the sump pump in the basement, fixed the other drain in the basement, and the list goes on. He also likes order and consistency which my household is not big on. However, we need it so this has been an interesting experience. 

Dane's room flooded last week. Hence, the sump pump repairs. We have a perfectly good sump pump, but the float kept getting stuck on the side of the pit. So we bought one that does not get stuck on the side of the pit. The new sump pump has a float that goes up and down on a rod. The old one had a float that was on an extended arm and went up and down. 

Dane was moved permanently up to his sister's old bedroom and is currently getting settled in. We are still trying to par down the toys and figure out what to do with the organization of the room. He got moved into a room that is about half the size of his old room. This will involve creative use of room and roaming Pinterest for lots of ideas!

So what is our next project? Fixing the sump pump for starters. Rob is also going to re-caulk the upstairs shower since a chunk of the caulk is missing right now. Then I think we are going to turn Dane's old bedroom into a family room with all the movies, games, and whatnot down there. We are going to paint a waterproof sealer on the floor, put down carpet, replace the door, and replace the paneling in that room. Then we can decorate it and furnish it. We have most of that on hand now. 


One part of the back of the shop. We have a lot of cleaning and fixing to do.

Getting Rob's shop set up is also a priority. He would like his tools and space to make and fix things. I can't blame him on that. Hopefully, we will get that started as soon as possible. 

As for the weather, we had a bit of snow last week, some cold, and now really nice temps. The ground was starting to dry up a bit before the snow and I am waiting for that to happen again. I would like to get out to the garden soon and start cleaning up the garden for spring. I would also like to get a start on building some raised beds and plant a small row of radishes and maybe peas. We have a chance of storms through Tuesday and nice temps the rest of the week.

Speaking of the garden, my garlic is coming up. The onions that I left in the ground last fall are coming up too. I haven't seen any sign of my rhubarb or asparagus yet, but it is really early for those plants. However, no real ground frost/freezing means early start on the crops here. 


She is not normally an inside dog, but loves to be inside any chance she can get!

We have developed a system for the dog and the chickens. The dog likes to hunt the chickens and the chickens like to roam the yard. The dog has a fenced-in outdoor area so that is where she goes during the day so the chickens can roam. At sunset, the chickens go in and the dog comes out so she can be the protector she is not. But she does like to bark a lot!



I also have not decided if I want to add more chickens or not this year. There is a part of me that would like to add about six more layers to the flock, but I am not sure if I have the room. I probably can make the coop work with the addition of another roost. I have wanted to do meat chickens also and I still might on a small scale. I am thinking maybe 10-12 meat birds so I can get the hang of the process. I would have to build a temporary coop or chicken tractor for them though. There is no room for that many birds in the regular coop.

Other than that, we just have been busy. Dane's basketball is wrapping up and Paige's track is just starting. She will also be done with jazz choir in the next month which will be nice. 

How is your homestead today?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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