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Fighting tomato blight with pennies

Refrigerator root cellar, step 1...dig

Refrigerator root cellar chimney cap

Smallest wood stoves

Automatic chicken door

Oct 2014

A year ago this week:

Best battery powered chainsaw

Mixing fava beans with other cover crops

Wright brothers + sister = powered flight

Backseat driver

Oct 2013

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Stockpiling compost

Summer 2014 was too wet to allow us to haul in horse manure for 2015, so we spent most of this year using homegrown fertility sources instead. Good thing we got goats! I used manurey bedding nearly as quickly as our animals made it all season, but now I'm starting to bank compost piles for next year.

The photo above shows the result of three goat-shed cleanings. On the right, I forked two cleanings-worth into one small pile after the bedding had been rained on a few times, then I covered the composting organic matter with plastic to prevent nitrogen leaching away during winter rains. The new pile to the left is this week's addition, which will be treated the same way once the straw hydrates and begins to rot.

Between goat and chicken bedding and garden weeds, I've now got three little compost nooks spread around our core homestead. Hopefully by the time spring rolls around, we'll have enough well-composted organic matter to make 2016 a better garden year!

Posted Sat Oct 10 06:43:11 2015 Tags:
new chicken move day

We moved our broiler flock into a big bird coop this week.

I can carry two chickens and Anna has sometimes managed three.

Posted Fri Oct 9 16:13:09 2015 Tags:

Fridge root cellarThe very best carrots ended up in the crisper drawer of our electrified fridge (which we use nearly 100% for that purpose). The rest were deemed goat carrots and headed over to the unelectrified fridge root cellar.

Which forced me to admit that we might actually run out of room in our fast, cheap root-cellar alternative this year. Because there are lots of mangels in the garden that will need to be harvested before our first hard freeze, and the carrots alone nearly fill our in-the-ground fridge up.

Of course, I'm still not sure whether Abigail will lower her standards enough to eat a mangel, or whether I'll end up giving them all to my mother, who said the fodder beets were at least moderately suitable for human consumption.
Yes, I'm well aware that this paragraph makes it abundantly clear to the whole world that my mother is less spoiled than my goat.

Posted Fri Oct 9 06:53:13 2015 Tags:
Digging carrots

Our last big harvest of the year is always carrots. I actually dug a few beds in September to spur along my garden renovation, but there were still several more beds to go. Good thing Kayla was willing to come over and turn a chore into a long morning of fun and gossip.

Sorting carrots

We dug, washed, and sorted nearly a bushel of carrots in a couple of hours, which leaves me perhaps a third that much to work up today. That's a lot of carrots, but only the cream of the crop will go to two-leggers, with the goats eating up the remainder.

Assuming, of course, that I can teach Artemesia to eat anything other that wild food, hay, and alfalfa pellets. Our littlest goat actually nosed the butternut squash out of her dish yesterday morning even though I drizzled molasses on top to sweeten her disposition.

Goat eating sweet corn

"I think she's already sweet enough," said Kayla, patting our darling doeling in the head.

"Yeah, but I'm worried she might not be getting enough carbs to keep her kids fed if she really is pregnant," I replied. And then I proceeded to tether our spoiled first freshener amid the sweet corn stalks.

"Now that's carbs worth eating," Artemesia proclaimed. Munch, munch, munch.

Posted Thu Oct 8 07:23:06 2015 Tags:
Goat gentle leader

Ever since we started letting our goats eat oats again, Abigail has been very ornery on the way back to her pasture. She doesn't want to leave those tasty cover crops behind!

Anna got tired of dragging Abigail when she'd lie down and refuse to walk, so we found Lucy's old gentle leader. The harness makes it easy to win the battle of wills with our ornery goat, so now Abigail goes where we want her to.

We change back to a collar after walking to or from the garden, though. Even though the gentle leader doesn't make it impossible for a goat to open her mouth, we figure Abigail might as well be comfortable during her leisure time.

And maybe, as with Lucy, a few weeks training is all it will take before the gentle leader can be retired once again.

Posted Wed Oct 7 17:03:13 2015 Tags:
Garlic planting

How much garlic do we plant to feed the two of us all year? Now that we've entirely converted over to huge, hardneck Music heads, we get by with 96 plants. About 15 of those are our "seed" garlic, which I split up to plant at this time of year (rejecting the smallest cloves). The other 81 heads of garlic feed us well and also act as an occasional dewormer for our goat herd. We give a little bit away, too, and always have a few extra heads when the time comes to pull in next year's harvest in June.

On the other hand, if I were like my brother, who mentally translates "clove of garlic" into "head of garlic" in all recipes, I'd have to plant a lot more. But for more normal eaters, I'd say 40 heads of garlic a year per person is a pretty good amount.

Posted Wed Oct 7 07:28:00 2015 Tags:
Goat, oats, and hazels

Our staycation coincided perfectly with a week of seemingly endless rain. Then, when Monday told us to get back to work...the sun came out! The change in weather gave everyone on our farm the gumption to jump back into outside tasks joyfully.

Six week old Red Rangers

Mom asked what we're up to now that our staycation is over. I've still got a few beds of garlic and lettuce to plant this week, but mostly we're in renovation mode to make sure that this year's garden weeds don't get away from us the way they did last year. In fall 2014, the only straw we had on hand was seedy, so our mulch was worth than useless. This year, our straw is great and we've also got time to plant a rye cover crop in bare beds. Just gotta get rid of the results of last year's laxness before the ground becomes too cold for my tender fingers!

Posted Tue Oct 6 07:16:14 2015 Tags:
minox drinking water container

We've had the Minox 25 Liter stainless steel drinking container for almost three years now.

Our pump sends water from the well through a sediment filter and UV light where it gets stored in the Minox which is elevated on a shelf for gravity assistance.

Posted Mon Oct 5 15:55:00 2015 Tags:

Free homesteading booksIt's that time of year again when I purge my bookshelf of books I'm no longer reading so I can make room for new interests. Many of this year's texts come highly recommended --- I've just milked all of the knowledge I can from them and am ready to pass the carriers of information on.

Want free books of your very own? Head over here and take my four question survey about your reading habits and you'll be given a link to the rafflecopter form to enter the giveaway. I'm going to give away the books in groups of three or four to allow more people to win, so be sure to take a minute to decide which books you want the most now. Your options include:

As you'll be able to tell from my survey, I'm trying to decide whether to stick with Amazon's KDP Select program, which requires me to keep my books exclusive with them if I want readers to be able to borrow the titles for free using Kindle Unlimited. So consider this post a warning as well as an oportunity. If you were thinking of borrowing my books but haven't gotten around to it, you might want to do so now in case I start pulling them out of the program! Happy reading.

Posted Mon Oct 5 07:36:38 2015 Tags:
Red Ranger update

Our flock of Fall broilers are growing like weeds.

We're both impressed with the foraging skills of Red Rangers.

Posted Sun Oct 4 15:48:04 2015 Tags:

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