The Walden Effect: Homesteading Year 5. Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homestead Blog


Homesteading Tags

Recent Comments

Blog Archive

User Pages


About Us

Submission guidelines


Feb 2015

Walden Effect Facebook page

To get blog posts delivered to your inbox, enter your email address below:


Holding a sick goat in your arms for a long February day is like experiencing a road trip as a child. You have a vague idea of where you're going and why, but no control over the route or how long it will take to get there.

If you're lucky, your seat mate brought some cud to chew and is willing to submit to the boredom of joint napping. Otherwise, it will be a long series of "No, don't eat my notebook. No, don't jump on your mother. No, just no."

Visiting chickens

The sights alternate between seemingly endless monotony and moments of surprising wonder. Like when the chickens travel far outside their usual stomping grounds and come to call.

You've never brought enough books. Or at least not quite the right books. But it somehow doesn't matter because you end up suspended in an endless now.

And if it's an overnight trip? Well, then you sleep fitfully and wake early, hoping today's road will be straighter, the path less windy, and the destination more clear.

Thank you all for the secondhand hope. It's much appreciated.

Posted Sun Feb 19 06:40:13 2017 Tags:
Chain table update one year later.

We've been using the chain suspended counter for a year now.

The chains are pretty much out of the way once you get used to their location.

Posted Sat Feb 18 16:08:31 2017 Tags:
Daffodil bud

Our month-long goat rollercoaster is on another downswing at the moment. Artemesia was doing much better, with the exception of serious weakness in her hind end, earlier in the week. So the vet prescribed selenium (for the weakness) and recommended trying to take her off the antibiotics.

Within 48 hours, she was back to circling as best she could on her wobbly hind legs. The vet, once again, was out of town, so we put her back on antibiotics, hand feeding, and hope. If you've got some of the latter to spare, please send it our way.

Posted Sat Feb 18 07:10:37 2017 Tags:
Truck being winched up on to a roll back wrecker.

Our old farm truck broke a serpentine belt today.

Lucky for me that it was before I loaded it up with gravel.

It was nice when two people stopped to see if I needed help.

Posted Fri Feb 17 15:09:42 2017 Tags:
Cardboard mycelium barrier

We didn't order any spawn, so how do we plan to get fungi into our new mushroom logs? The idea is to riff off our recent mini-log success and see if we can get mycelium to run from existing logs into fresh new wood.

After bringing three sycamore logs home to our mushroom station, I soaked corrugated cardboard in warm water and layered the wet paper product on top of the fresh logs. Corrugated cardboard is a perfect environment for spawn, so it should tempt the existing fungi out of their old logs and into the new.

Shiitake logs

Speaking of old logs, we stacked three of those on top of the cardboard layer. I was careful to choose all logs of the same variety since I want to get a triple dose of inoculation rather than having different types of shiitakes fighting it out for the fresh wood.

As a side note, I fully expect the three old logs to stop fruiting as soon as they notice the fresh substrate beneath them. In general, fungi are either colonizing new ground as fast as they can or popping out mushrooms to spread their spores, never doing both at the same time. So if you only have a few logs, you might not want to try this at home --- your fruiting logs will be out of commission for as long as they're spreading spawn down below.

Of course, this is all hypothetical at the moment. Time to settle in to wait and see what happens!

Posted Fri Feb 17 07:16:09 2017 Tags:
Goat tire installation.
We installed another tire to help Aurora feel special and tall.
Posted Thu Feb 16 15:12:40 2017 Tags:
Aquaponic growbed

I'm ashamed to say that my fish started ailing right about the same time as Artemesia and my reaction was, "I can't deal with sick fish right now." Predictably, not dealing meant they all kicked the bucket, then rotted within the tank (I really didn't want to deal with them) and fed the plants for a while that way.

Now that the water's cleared back up, it's time to figure out what I did wrong and get back on track. I suspected the issue was pH since that was the one part of the water chemistry that was still swinging pretty widely before I introduced the fish. Sure enough, upon testing, I found the nitrogen had all been eaten up but the pH was a far-too-sweet 8.0.

Aquaponic celery

It's possible the high pH is just a remnant of the cycling process not quite being complete. In the past, I'd lowered pH with lemon juice, but Aquaponic Gardening suggests citric acid (the acid in lemon juice) is a bad choice since it kills the good bacteria in my grow bed.

This time, I just did a partial water change (15%) using rain-barrel water (pH 6.5), which brought the overall tank water down very slightly. Then I used two tablespoons of vinegar to bring me back to neutral (7.0) pH. Here's hoping the pH stays a bit steadier over the next few days so I'll feel comfortable adding back in fish....

Posted Thu Feb 16 07:21:10 2017 Tags:
Carrying mushroom log
We cut out the top of yesterday's sycamore for mushroom logs.

The base will turn into firewood for 2018.
Posted Wed Feb 15 15:57:25 2017 Tags:
Male hazel catkins

The male hazel flowers are opening up, both on wild hazelnuts and on the hybrids in our yard. Finally, a good source of pollen for the honeybees who have been unusually busy during this warm winter weather!

Hybrid hazel budThe bush pictured at the top of this post is an unnamed hybrid from the Arbor Day Foundation. But, in the background, next generation named hybrids look like they might produce female flowers this year.

It's unusual for a plant to commit to female flowers before it makes the energetically cheaper males. But when I dissected one of the plump pink buds on the catkin-less plants I'm pretty sure I found stigmas (female flower parts) buried deep inside. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what these buds turn into. Maybe tasty nuts with thinner shells?

Posted Wed Feb 15 07:50:04 2017 Tags:
Cutting down a tree for Valentines Day.

The Oregon battery powered chainsaw comes through once again.

We cut down a Sycamore tree today to propagate more mushroom logs.

Posted Tue Feb 14 15:41:29 2017 Tags:

Didn't check back soon enough and unread posts ran off the bottom of the page?  See older posts in the archives.