Most visited this week:
Fighting tomato blight with pennies
How many batteries do I need for my solar panels?
Smallest wood stoves
Refrigerator root cellar chimney cap
Electric Club Car trouble
A year ago this week:
Chicken tractor predator protection
Scarlet runner beans
Slanted roof ceiling fan installation
Learning to cook on a rocket stove
Walden Effect Facebook page
Huckleberry and his favorite cousin.
The mercury dropped to 49
this past week, scaring me into thinking fall may be coming along a
little faster than usual. Time to double down on preserving basil (the
tenderest summer crop) and time to make sure the bees are ready for the
I'll delve into the hives to check on winter stores next week, but for now I started with a varroa mite test.
I expected the news here to be good since splitting and swarming both
lower mite populations dramatically. So I wasn't entirely surprised to
find only 5 mites beneath the daughter hive and 11 beneath the mother
hive after 48 hours. Looks like our high-class bees came through for us
again! (Now, if they'd just make some honey....)
The goats have been bad again.
"Meat birds, I assume? I am contemplating a small batch, but not sure I want those cornish cross due to all the problems common for them, but is it economical to feed other breeds for a longer time before processing? Red Rangers look good, but the hatchery is out."
We've raised Australorps as broilers in the past
and felt like their meat was extremely nutritious. But dogs and ducks
and other problems meant we didn't have a large enough flock to hatch
our own eggs this year. And when I pondered the hatchery catalog, I
decided that if I was buying broilers, I might as well try something
that would be a bit meatier and (hopefully) more economical. So, like
you, we chose Red Rangers, which we reserved in midsummer for a fall
The previous photo showed
the chicks the day we brought them home from the post office --- they
already looked pretty big and spunky! But the comparison to the photo
above, taken two days later, shows that the baby broilers are also
growing fast. I plan to let them out on pasture this weekend and will
keep you posted on how they fare.
We got the lumber needed for
wood shed 2.0 staged today.
Do you want a beautiful, isolated homestead with the world's best
neighbors? Two friends of mine --- Steve and Maxine --- are selling 90
acres and a house for $225,000. If that's too much for you to handle,
they're also willing to split the land apart into two parcels, like so:
This property belonged to Maxine's mother and is a quarter of a mile from Steve and Maxine's beautiful homestead.
Having neighbors who've homesteaded for as long as I've been alive is
an invaluable resource that should really be factored into the already
low price tag. And even though I can't promise they'll teach you
everything they know, I have a feeling the couple would quickly take
anyone with an interest in farming under their wings. (They're some of
the nicest people I know, are very interested in folks of all shapes,
colors, and creeds, and are much less introverted than I am.)
The location is on the Clinch Mountain in Snowflake, Scott County,
Virginia, a ten or fifteen minute drive from Gate City and less than
half an hour from Kingsport (one of the towns we consider "the big
city"). If you're planning on working in the area, chances are you'll be
looking in Kingsport or Johnson City, and these towns are also good
spots for shopping and entertainment.
At only $1,200 per acre for the non-house portion, this property is a great deal (and if you get the house, it's move-in ready). So if you're looking for an inexpensive homestead in an area that I consider one of the most beautiful in the world, this might just be it!
This year, our garden has
subsisted on 95% homegrown manure. This was more of an access issue
than a planned experiment, so I ended up behind and unable to compost
the bedding before application. I needed that fertility now rather than later.
Interestingly, there have
been some areas in which the uncomposted goat bedding trumped
well-composted horse manure. My plan over the summer has been to apply
the goat bedding two weeks to one month before planting to ensure there
wouldn't be any seedling burn from fresh urine and goat berries. Then,
if I was planting something large (like sweet corn), I raked back the
manurey straw when I was ready to make planting furrows. If I was
planting something smaller like carrots, I raked all of the bedding to
the side of the bed, to be pulled back up around seedlings once they
For new annuals, it's
pretty easy to incorporate a waiting step between bedding application
and plant growth. But what about when fertilizing perennials who are
already in place? I was a bit leery when topdressing fresh goat bedding around our strawberries and asparagus, but I ended up seeing fewer issues than expected. The strawberries, actually had no
complaints, presumably since there was already a layer of straw beneath
the goat bedding to sop up any high-nitrogen effluent that floated down
toward the ground. The asparagus was a bit less pleased, with the
youngest fronts showing wilting of the top four inches or so, a clear
sign of nitrogen burn.
The other good news on
the manure front is that most of our garden soil is now so good that
we're moving out of the renovation stage and into the maintenance stage,
meaning that some crops don't need pre-planting doses of manure at all.
We no longer feed our beans or peas, and in certain beds I also skip
feeding before planting leafy greens. I'm actually starting to imagine a
time when the composted manure from two goats, a flock of layers and an
annual round of broilers, plus the contributions of our composting
toilet will provide more fertility than our farm needs. What a change
from the eroded soil that required truckloads of manure before anything
would grow at all!
We picked up our new Fall
It's not as if I go
hunting song sparrow nests throughout our yard. But I seem to have found
each of our resident pair's nurseries this year.
I started a Film and Video class at ETSU today and will not be making a blog post on Tuesdays and Thursdays till December.
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