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


Jul 2016

Most visited this week:

Fighting tomato blight with pennies

DIY low budget geothermal cooling

How many batteries do I need for my solar panels?

Electric club car trouble

Automatic chicken door

Jul 2015

A year ago this week:

Can you make ricotta out of mozzarella whey?

When to stop milking goats

ATV oil observations

Onion harvest

Jul 2014

Walden Effect Facebook page

To get updates by email, enter your email address below:

Rain barrel gutter diverter

Anna found this gutter diverter in action at Fairview last week.

Assuming the diverter is at the same elevation as the top of the rain barrel, it should do away with the need for an overflow pipe.
Posted Sat Jul 30 14:26:46 2016 Tags:
Seedless grapes

When I first started researching seedless grapes, the consensus appeared to be that they were very difficult to grow without spraying. "Whatever," I thought naively. "My grapes will do fine."

The Mars Seedless on the left shows what generally happens with that kind of attitude. Fungi began attacking the young grapes over a month ago, and at first I plucked off the affected fruits whenever I noticed damage to prevent the disease from spreading. Eventually, though, I threw up my hands and let nature take its course. And, in exchange, nature provided one ripe grape. The lone fruit was tasty...but not a very good harvest from two vines that have spent nearly five years in the ground.

In stark contrast, Reliance is continuing to live up to its name. I started the vine on the right from a cutting less than three years ago. It's already fruiting, and after picking off only one or two blighted grapes, the clusters are now pristine. One was already ripe enough to eat and it definitely hit the spot!

Guess which variety is going to replace the troublesome Mars Seedless this winter?

Posted Sat Jul 30 07:25:34 2016 Tags:
Developing sunflowers

Cardinals usually get the first ripe sunflower seeds.

Soon we'll harvest mature heads for winter goat fodder.
Posted Fri Jul 29 16:25:33 2016 Tags:
Baby raccoons

July has been an extraordinary month for local wildlife. Within walking distance of our core homestead, we've seen:

  • A juvenile black bear near our neighbor's mailbox
  • A black coyote on top of a round haybale that jumped down to join its more normally colored partner
  • Masses of turkeys, including a mother with twelve offspring that seemed to whittle down to about seven over the course of three weeks...unless that was a different family
  • These two baby raccoons by the same neighbor's mailbox
  • And --- the kicker --- massive bear tracks near where we park our vehicles that were longer than my own barefoot tracks

What surprises will August bring?

Posted Fri Jul 29 06:24:40 2016 Tags:
Circus goat

Someone's proud of herself for learning to jump on top of a slippery trashcan lid at the limit of her tether.

Do you think she's ready to join the circus?

Posted Thu Jul 28 16:07:52 2016 Tags:
Bud grafting

Grafted plumStone fruits (peaches, plums, etc.) can be dormant-season grafted just like apples. For example, the baby tree to the right is an Imperial Epineuse that I whip grafted onto purchased rootstock in early April 2015. Halfway through its second season, the young plant is thriving.

On the other hand, the other four plums that I grafted at the same time perished. So I decided to earmark my homegrown plum rootstock for a more appropriate type of stone-fruit grafting --- budding.

Less than two months after setting out the stooled rootstocks, the plants had expanded into a thicket of growth. So I whittled each one down to a single large stem, cut T-shaped incisions in the developing bark, then peeled it back enough to slide bud shields from a named variety into the hole. Since I'm just beginning to feel my way through bud grafting, I inserted two buds into each of the nine rootstocks. With even a 10% success rate, I should end up with two new plum trees --- fingers crossed!

Posted Thu Jul 28 07:55:59 2016 Tags:
Cleaning a fan

Today was fan cleaning day.

Simply snap off the fan guard and loosen the nut on the front to disassemble for easy cleaning.

Just remember --- on fans, righty loosy, lefty tighty.
Posted Wed Jul 27 14:09:00 2016 Tags:
Tree mulch

Last year, we installed landscape fabric beneath most of our oldest row of high-density apples. The idea was to cut weeding work...but I'm afraid the plastic mulch also appears to be cutting vitality.

Apple branches

It's hard to be sure whether the fabric is at fault because I have several different apple varieties growing in this area and there's some fireblight in the mix. But the apples that were mulched with straw are thriving while those amid the landscape fabric have lost most of their leaves.

Leafless branchesI suspect water is the culprit --- or lack thereof. Summer rains tend to fall hard and fast in our area, meaning that a lot of that liquid likely runs off the landscape fabric despite the small holes meant to allow rain to soak through. In contrast, straw grabs and holds the liquid, topping up the trees' reserves slowly over the course of several days.

I've pulled back the fabric so I can topdress with manure, and I'll probably end up replacing it with a biodegradable weed barrier of cardboard coated with straw. If we had an irrigation system that hit these trees, the plastic might not be a bad idea. But, for now, I'm going to stick with what works.

Posted Wed Jul 27 07:11:39 2016 Tags:
Row cover fabric

Brussels sprouts are growing fast under their row covers.

In about a month, we'll top the plants so they start producing baby cabbages for winter meals.
Posted Tue Jul 26 16:19:00 2016 Tags:

I was a bit dubious of our vet's diagnosis that Aurora was merely suffering from internal parasites. After all, would she be fine one day and then nearly comatose the next in that case? But now I'm thinking he was right. Because ever since being flushed out with a vast array of pharmaceuticals, our doeling has been growing faster and plumper every day.

Walking goats

Her mama, on the other hand, is starting to drop below the perfect 3.0 body-condition score. That's perfectly normal with heavy milkers, but I'm still going to try to plump her up with some extracurricular grazing in hopes we can keep her fat enough to Full belly clubmilk through the winter.

It's a long shot for a first freshener to milk through, but it sure would be nice not to have to worry about the hassle of breeding and kidding this fall and next spring. August and early September will be the deciding time because I'd like to breed around Halloween if we're going to have to dry Artemesia off and give her time to recover before turning her back into a milk jug once again.

Posted Tue Jul 26 07:11:31 2016 Tags:

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