When we bought our t-post driver last year, I considered welding a weight on the top to give each stroke more oomph.
But it turns out Anna has become the primary pounder now that we don't use a sledge hammer.
The Tractor Supply Deluxe Post Driver is just the right weight for Anna as-is. So we'll keep the driver weight-free.
My favorite part of The Resilient Gardener,
by far, was Deppe's chapter on ducks. She keeps her ducks the way
we keep our chickens --- on pasture as part of a diverse
homestead. By the time you read her duck chapter, you'll want some
Why the focus on
ducks? Deppe considers ducks to be the perfect livestock for the
Pacific Northwest, and sings their praises in great depth. She
believes ducks forage better than chickens, lay better at an older age
and in the winter, are easier to keep out of the garden with two-foot
fences, and are happy even during cold, wet winters. On the other
hand, Deppe warns that ducks aren't for everyone. Ducks are more
vulnerable to predators than chickens are, the ducklings cost more and
usually can't be sexed at hatching, they need water to dabble in, they
don't do well in confinement and can't live in tractors, they can't
stand frozen winters, and they require more coop space since they roost
on the ground. But if you have a larger homestead with plenty of
room for the ducks to forage, Deppe believes ducks are the way to go.
I won't go into depth
about Deppe's duck advice since you'll really want to read the whole
chapter if you're interested in following her lead. However, I did
want to end with a few of her tips on making duck-care more
sustainable. During the proper seasons, Deppe feeds her ducks
cooked potatoes and winter squash, the former of which cuts feed costs
by 67% if ducks are also given lots of space to forage.
(Winter squash is lower in protein, so Deppe finds that addition doesn't
cut feed costs nearly as much.) Deppe's ducks get the cull squash
that are small or were harvested not quite ripe, and the ducks seem to enjoy Delicata and Sweet Meat especially.
Another hint Deppe gave
for making your ducks homestead-worthy pertains to ducklings. She
notes that if you let ducklings swim in warm water during their first
few days of life (carefully drying them in their brooder afterwards),
the activity turns on the ducklings' wax glands so they quickly become
waterproofed and able to forage in damp conditions. On the other
hand, if you skip that early swim, the wax glands won't activate until
the ducks are eight weeks old, and you'll have to baby your ducklings
that whole time so they don't get wet and chilled.
I love how passionate
Deppe is on the subject of ducks, but Mark and I are equally passionate
about chickens. So even though we're trying ducks this spring on
her advice, we'll be keeping careful records of which type of bird does
best on our homestead. Stay tuned for lots of number crunching
(and cute photos) all season!
Late April is the perfect
time to slip in some extra laundry days. And Wednesday was a
perfect late April drying day, with lots of sun and some gentle breezes
to blow the sheets dry.
I always come up upon a
problem in my washing campaign at this time of year, though. I
like to wash some heavy things like comforters and winter coats right
around now, but these items are too big to fit through the
wringer. And, un-wrung, the wet items are too heavy for me to
carry to the line and too heavy for the line to hold up. But I
figured out last year that if I just wash one bulky item per day, I can
drape it over the wringer washer, flip it over once and squeeze out some
of the water collecting in the bottom edges, and have a clean, dry
comforter in less than 24 hours. That's right --- a wringer washer
does double duty as a drying rack!
The thrill of picking up a box of Anna's newest paperback at the mailbox can only compare to when the first box of Weekend Homesteaders arrived. A few of these books will be gifts, but most are earmarked for giveaways here on the blog.
Nearly as good was the smile
on Anna's face when she saw that some of our readers had purchased paper
volumes of Naturally Bug-Free. If you're on the fence about
getting your own copy of this beautiful and informative text, Amazon has
marked down both the color and black-and-white versions another 5%. Act now while they're on sale.
Carol Deppe puts her advice on garden resiliency
to work by growing different staples to feed herself at different times
of the year. Corn and dried beans fill her belly in the spring;
she eats fruit all summer; potatoes, winter squash, and fruit feed her
in the fall; and potatoes and winter
squash are on the menu in the winter. To these garden staples,
Deppe adds duck eggs (and a bit of meat) from
her flock, along with some purchased pastured meat and canned tuna.
Deppe's staples are one one of the reasons I didn't get as much out of
her book as I'd hoped to. Although I like the lack of wheat in
Deppe's diet (due to her struggles with celiac's disease), Mark and I
strive for a higher protein diet,
so Deppe's focus on potatoes and other high-carb staples didn't sit
well with me. I also don't really believe in the notion that you
can stay healthy primarily based on supplements, so her use of cod liver
oil to replace most meat in her diet doesn't seem like a nutritious
On the other hand, I was
intrigued by how well Deppe seems to listen to her body. She notes
that she feels most full after eating foods high in water and fiber,
and she used her own varying hunger levels to discover that she needed
to eat animal-based omega 3s. After noticing that plant-based
sources of omega 3s didn't fulfill her cravings, she did some research
and discovered that only some people are able to turn 18-carbon plant
omega 3s into 20- and
22-carbon animal omega 3s. Perhaps that's why some people crave
meat much more than others do?
There are a lot more gaps than usual to fill in the garden this spring. The cold, wet winter killed two-thirds of our potato onions
and softneck garlic (although our hardneck garlic, Music, is plugging
right along unhindered). A dry spell when I didn't think to water
made for holey germination in the carrot and Swiss chard beds, and Huckleberry's hard work scratched up some peas and poppies. Time to fill in the gaps!
For some crops, it's not
too late to just replant. I scattered another round of carrot
seeds on the appropriate bed and popped Swiss chard seeds into hoed rows
(after teasing apart the one seed cluster that had fully germinated,
leading to three seedlings in one spot). There were enough poppy
seedlings clustered too close together that I could just transplant them
to fill in the gaps, and then I slipped broccoli starts into the holes
between garlic plants.
that, I started getting whimsical. How about a few carrots in the
gaps in the pea beds? Maybe some Red Russian kale in the spaces
between potato onions?
The trick with filling in
gaps is to add crops that will mature at about the same time as the
vegetables that originally owned the bed. You also don't want to
plant something that's going to get too big, shading out the vegetables
you really care about, and you definitely don't want to add anything
that will need trellising. So no cabbages, even though I have
plenty more starts on hand, and nothing that will need more than two
months to mature. (The carrots are small hybrids, listed at 54
days to harvest.)
I seeded and transplanted
Monday and Tuesday, knowing a rainy spell was due to blow in Tuesday
afternoon. Hopefully water from the sky will sprout my seeds and
settle my transplants, filling the garden with life.
The handles seem to be the weakest link in our bucket brigade. Anna made this replacement grip out of a feed sack and tape last year, and it has held up well.
Some buckets have lost their entire handle, though. Maybe rope replacements will do the trick?
As the subtitle of her book attests, the primary theme of Carol Deppe's book
is finding ways to grow food that will work even when times are
tough. If you can't afford store-bought groceries, break your leg
and can't spend every minute in the garden, and have to deal with crazy
weather, would you still be bringing in a harvest? Carol Deppe
What's her secret?
Mark would sum it up in one word --- backups. Deppe goes into more
depth, recommending diverse plantings of multiple varieties and types
of crops, no single main crop, succession planting,
using short-season varieties to work around erratic weather, and
including animals in your homestead. Due to climate change, she
recommends not counting on crops that are on the edge of their hardiness
range in your area, and instead says you should focus on crops that are
being grown commercially by your neighbors since these tend to be
Less than a week after the hard freeze,
I'm able to start assessing what got nipped. The bad news is that
the strawberries were harder hit than the numbers suggested --- lots of
flowers are opening and most have black centers, meaning they aren't
going to turn into fruits. On the other hand, the first undamaged
flowers are also starting to open, which means we only lost about the
first four of five days worth of strawberry fruits.
apples are also starting to open flowers that were tightly closed last
week. Most are clearly damaged, with brown stamens, but a few look
okay like the one above. The big question will be whether the
female parts of the flowers survived --- it doesn't take all that much
pollen to fertilize every tree, but if the ovaries are damaged, there
won't be any fruit.
I was also heartened to
see that a few of the hardy kiwi buds were slowpokes and missed the
freeze. Maybe we'll still get a chance to taste homegrown kiwis
Two parts manure and one part stump dirt
will keep these tomato seedlings bright green until they go into the
ground. I wonder if hefty transplants will turn into extra early
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