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


Jun 2017
Jun 2016

Walden Effect Facebook page

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

Deer damage

The deer have officially won the war of the early summer garden. It pains me to admit defeat...but the parts of the fencing delay that I could have changed (Mark enjoying six weeks filming with graduate students, a trip of a lifetime to visit his brother out West, Mom coming to visit our new digs, my writing taking precedence over all else), I wouldn't change. And the parts we couldn't change --- health problems, weather  craziness --- well, we obviously have to roll with all that.

Covered beans

Which is not to say that the garden was a complete loss. We ended up eating a lot of broccoli and lettuce, a couple of cucumbers, a few handfuls of peas, and various herbs. But all of the parts that are uncovered are now pretty much kaput.

Red zinnia

I'm disappointed, obviously. But establishment years always have unexpected hurdles to overcome. And our soil is clearly improving, as evidenced by the fact that our plantings suddenly became tasty enough for the deer to eat as soon as our topdressed manure began to sink in.

Meanwhile, I'm singing the gardener's endless refrain: "There's always the next garden in the fall." If I plant now in flats, maybe we will have managed to fence in the garden when the time comes to set out....

Posted Wed Jun 20 06:00:41 2018 Tags:
mark Vacancy

Milkweed blooms at the community garden.

No caterpillars in sight.
Posted Tue Jun 19 06:00:44 2018 Tags:
Heat pump water heater drainage
"Hi guys. Just curious if you could do an update on the hot water heater you got for your new place. I'm curious how it's done over the winter vs. summer. Still glad you bought vs. a standard electric?" --- Jason

I'd been meaning to post an update --- thanks for the reminder!

For summer use, I love our heat-pump water heater. It operates as an air conditioner and dehumidifier while also heating water using much less electricity than a traditional hot water heater. We haven't plumbed the drain pipe to the outdoors yet, so I also end up with about two gallons of water to use in the garden every week --- bonus!

On the other hand, we chose to keep the unit in electric mode over the winter so we wouldn't chill down our living quarters. The particular brand we bought automatically turns to heat-pump mode after 48 hours, which meant every two days I had to push a button or end up with a cold room. So, a minor downside...but not enough to decide against the model. (Placed in an unused basement or close to an overachieving wood stove, you could likely leave it in heat-pump mode all year.)

Similarly, the noise factor might be a problem for some of you. I'd say it's as loud as a window air conditioner, which I actually found soothed me to sleep at night. (We generally only use hot water in the evening to do dishes and bathe, after which the water heater runs for around two hours to refresh itself.) For me, this was a surprising plus rather than a minus, but your mileage may vary.

The final factor is energy efficiency...and here I have to trust the manufacturers that the unit is dramatically more efficient than a traditional model. Our electric bill has been lower than expected this summer, despite running the minisplit to cool our living space quite a bit more than we ran an air conditioner back in our old place. But we also haven't plugged in any chest freezers, so it's hard to know where the savings came from.

Overall --- yes, I would totally buy another heat pump water heater. Whether I recommend it to others depends on their house layout and how they feel about moderate levels of noise.

Posted Mon Jun 18 06:00:45 2018 Tags:

Full view of garden fence corner brace post.
Each corner of our garden fence has a brace.

The tension wire tightened by the ratchet keeps the posts from sagging when we stretch the wire fence on it.

Posted Sun Jun 17 06:00:36 2018 Tags:
Turkey family

Can you see the baby turkeys in the photo above? I took this picture at the furthest extent of my camera's zoom, but maybe the image below will help see that the entire family was literally strolling down the road right by our place.

Baby turkeysI don't mind the turkeys, but the deer are getting voracious as we slowly work in fence-building episodes around our various other commitments. While I regret the repeated losses, I can now answer my own question quite easily. Yes, deer love asparagus and cucumbers and raspberries and pretty much everything else imaginable. Hopefully our fall garden will be fully fenced and fully safe.

Posted Sat Jun 16 06:00:25 2018 Tags:
Ratchet fence tension wire close up.

Why were we using T posts in some areas of our new garden fence?

To save a little money in spots where a 4x4 might be over doing it.

We elected to use the above ratchet device to keep the brace posts tight.

Posted Fri Jun 15 06:00:35 2018 Tags:
Guest room

Junk pileThere's nothing like an incipent visitor to prompt us to finally unpack the last jumbled pile of untouched boxes from our move. Within a few days, Mark converted the picture on the right to the picture at the top of this post. Then Mom made the journey to give the guest room a purpose.

Tarantula on child

We took surprisingly few pictures even though we had oodles of fun. One major crowd pleaser was the insect talk turned comedy hour at the library. "You don't get out much, do you?" the presenter tossed our way as Mom and I exploded into gales of uncontrollable giggles.

Mound City

We went to the park and the museum and the Indian mound. In fact, I ran her so hard, she lost her shoes.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this trip possible --- ferry people Maggie and Tina and Rose Nell and Joey, hosters Sue Ella and Jayne, trip planner Mark, bed snuggler Huckleberry, and most of all thanks to Mom for coming so far to make my week a delight. I hope we can do it again soon!

Posted Thu Jun 14 06:00:41 2018 Tags:
Using ear protection when pounding in T posts.

We are using 8 foot long T posts at some of the fence intervals with plans of using 1 and 1/4 inch PVC conduit to slip over the T post to extend the length to 8 feet.

I like using ear protection when using the fence pounder.

Posted Wed Jun 13 06:00:33 2018 Tags:
Anna Jimsonweed
Jimsonweed flower

Did you know that the common garden weed Jimsonweed was named after the Virginia settlement of Jamestown? The name dates back to 1676 when British soldiers sent to squash Bacon's Rebellion instead ended up enduring an eleven-day hallucinogenic episode due to dining on Jimsonweed leaves.

I'll be pulling these volunteers out shortly, but wanted to enjoy the evening-opening, moth-pollinated flowers first.

Posted Tue Jun 12 06:00:49 2018 Tags:
Concrete post field notes.

We thought about mixing our concrete up in a wheelbarrow but the bag says you can just pour it in the hole and add water.

It worked fine without any mixing or poking with a stick.

Posted Mon Jun 11 06:00:27 2018 Tags:

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

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime