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Homesteading and Simple Living Comments

Comments in the moderation queue: 8

View the most recent comments below. To join in the discussion (or see a comment thread in order), click on the title of a comment, then follow the directions on the subsequent page to add a comment of your own.

If you're really worried about food security/availability, then you really need to include livestock in your plans. While you can survive on a plant based diet, you need meat to thrive, particularly if you work hard or become ill.

Animals have the advantage of being harvestable on your schedule without waiting for MotherNature's schedule. Your whole year's harvest of crops can be wiped out in a day by a nasty hailstorm, etc. In time of prolonged drought, you can keep a few head of livestock watered more easily than irrigating 20 ac of corn & beans.

And if it really comes down to a true SHTF scenario and you need to worry about marauders, you may be able to hide a few steers, chickens or rabbits, but how do you camouflage 20 ac of pumpkins? It's unlikely marauders will try to steal your pasture (unless of course they happen to be from the Fed BLM ;-)

Comment by doc Wed Apr 23 20:18:57 2014

I do not have the option you have. You have lots of land and are out in the country. So I end up walking my dog in the neighborhood but letting her run next to the Nashville International Airport in Tennessee.

I happened upon a swarm that formed right in front of me while letting my dog run in the field. It was a cool sight. I left to go home and knowing I had a neighbor that has hives, and decided to stop and tell him about it.

He was interested and I took him to the swarm and helped him capture the hive. It was a cool experience.

So this turns out to be my hive just in his yard (he has 7 others). I will be interested in seeing how it works.

Thanks for your blog. I live vicariously through you.

Mark

Comment by Mark Mayer Wed Apr 23 15:48:03 2014
When my bucket handles break I take some old garden hose that is no longer usable. I cut about a 10-15 inch length tube, slide it through the wire handle, reconnect the handle. Works great, waterproof and never hurts your hands.The longer the wire the longer the hose handle so it does not slip around.Can't stand small handles.I save all my old hose for everything.Good Luck.
Comment by Ruthlynn Savoy Wed Apr 23 13:50:40 2014
Carol started our ducklings for us; she definitely knows ducks. We are more Ruth Stout than Steve Solomon but the ducks help a lot with our slug-infested deep mulches. On most everything else we're with her. And only an hour south of her, which helps.
Comment by risa bear Wed Apr 23 01:23:03 2014
Maybe an old garden hose?
Comment by Brian Tue Apr 22 22:42:55 2014
My parents are about to start their homesteading retirement years, heading to northern Montana to 20 raw acres. I'll check out the book and see how it might apply in their northerly climate. Perhaps that, and your books, can be my homestead-warming gift...when I visit to help them build a house.
Comment by jen g Tue Apr 22 19:01:21 2014
It is SUCH a great age, isn't it!? When they can roam a little with stable legs and explore, but aren't so bold as to wander far or fly over things with determination. Love it. We have a batch under two mamas as we speak, two weeks to go. Can't wait.
Comment by jen g Tue Apr 22 18:57:31 2014

Now, if you made a web app where folks could just input their data and the website would spit out a map, that would be right up my alley.....

Comment by anna

Figured Anna would like this web application that calculates property boundaries online (with a few output options for GPS, spread sheets, Google earth...)

http://platplotter.appspot.com/

http://platplotter.blogspot.com/

This project started out as a spreadsheet but migrated to Google's online programming tools- would like to hear how it works for you,

Jason

Comment by Jason Tue Apr 22 16:05:05 2014
Just in time! My watering can I bought several years ago split this weekend, I will NOT be buying another thanks to this post!
Comment by Missy Mon Apr 21 18:55:48 2014

I read this technique somewhere and had great results with it.

When transplanting a tall seedling (near 12 in.), clip all but the top leaves. Plant deep enough that it looks like a small, normal transplant. In the bottom of the hole add a scoop of compost, a tablespoon of blood meal and a tablespoon of bone meal.

The quantity of tomatoes off that setup was phenomenal. I don't recall how early the first were.

Comment by tom Mon Apr 21 17:56:34 2014
Brian --- Not yet. I picked off the flowers last year so they'd get established, but am hopeful we'll get at least a fruit or two this year for tasting purposes. I'm looking forward to taste-testing a new fruit!
Comment by anna Mon Apr 21 17:42:06 2014

Carol Deppe is a Harvard PhD in biology. While she may have adopted much of her system ala Solomon style I think that is determined more by where she is growing food than anything else.

She used to be a professor locally and our growing conditions are radically different from her current growing conditions and I have recollections of her advising differently back when she was local.

Her other book, Breed your own vegetable varieties, while much older is also highly recommended and very useful as she covers genetics from the standpoint of a small householder or farmer breeding a localized variety.

Comment by c. Mon Apr 21 16:12:54 2014

Hi Anna and all,

Carol's first book really inspired me !!!!

I eventually ordered some of her seeds and got to know here via e-mail.

Last year I grew her Homesteader Squash.

One of those squash was high enough Brix that on is still sitting in the heated kitchen with no signs of getting older. So it seems to be true that: "High Brix produce does not rot."

The squash looks like the Am. Indian storage squash I have read about???

Anyways, good to see her name on this site.

I am anxiously awaiting news about captured swarms :).

John

Comment by John Mon Apr 21 15:43:21 2014

A couple of things to consider when choosing a breed- do you want eggs when everyone else is short on eggs? If so-what breeds are best for that, when should you start pullets so that they begin laying in winter and hopefully continue laying through the winter?
do you want to buy laying chicks every spring or do you want to be able to perpetuate your own flock with laying eggs from your own stock? If that is so then I couldn't recommend hybrids like sex-links-that is sorta like saving seed from hybrid plants.
do you want to leave the incubating and mothering (keeping warm) to the flock themselves or do you want to have control over it? You might want to consider a breed(s) that are known for having some broodiness in the breed.
What I see from breeders/showers they consider hatcheries as not breeding for show qualities at all and truthfully I would have to agree with that logic. I can't picture hatcheries doing the deep culling that would be necessary to obtain good show stock...I would have to theorize that they would be more inclined to breeding for the numbers game-that would be egg production. I have gotten very good results in egg laying from birds purchased from hatcheries. On the other hand many breeders breed for show quality at the expense of production.
Everyone has different qualities that they need-my chickens are visible to traffic and I ALWAYS get inquiries as to started pullets for sale and have pretty good luck with them. For that the sex-links are great. Also anything black and white speckled-doesn't matter what breed they are-they're all domineckers to the neighbors...and in very high demand. If you want to sell a few eggs (or barter) then winter production is very important. Selling a few birds or eggs is a great way to recoop? some of your expenses. all-around I read that Buckeyes are very good-good table quality, great foraging, ok (but getting better) egg production and natural mothering. Also the coloring is important if you want to forage-partridge, brown, red, and speckledy are the best colors for not being spotted by predators. If you love chickens then you could compare breeds til the cows come home (I know I do) but you just gotta bite the bullet and place that order. Theres nothing wrong with trying to mix your breeds to try to get the best of both worlds, or 3 or 4 worlds-just do your homework on breeding and genetics, make sure you know which - the male or the female pass on certain characteristics that you are looking for-it might surprise you.

Comment by Barbara Mon Apr 21 15:37:27 2014
Have you had a chance to taste the honeyberries yet?
Comment by Brian Mon Apr 21 14:09:10 2014
Our old cat chose the onion bed for his lounging... I think he broke or bent every single onion stalk,. My solution ( too late ) was to scatter pine cones between the onions. New pine cones are very sharp and prickly.
Comment by Deb Mon Apr 21 00:38:16 2014
Well, that is a good way of looking at it. Maybe there won't have to be such babying of the tomato plants this year and I'll actually get some to can!
Comment by Brandy Sun Apr 20 08:05:35 2014
Ha. I used to wonder why there were large gaps in rows of tiny carrot seedlings until I noticed that the cat enjoyed lounging on finely worked seedbeds. If I protected the beds with chicken wire raised a couple inches by low wire hoops, she'd crawl under! A great, hard-working cat. Sadly she got carried away at dusk one evening by a coyote. Live by tooth and claw, die likewise.
Comment by jackie Sat Apr 19 18:17:45 2014

Conspiracy Coop . . . hahaha!

The Star Plate Coop is beautiful!!!!! You must be so proud . . .

Comment by Terry Sat Apr 19 10:34:48 2014
This coop should be named the "conspiracy coop", since it's wearing a tin-foil hat. :-)
Comment by Roland_Smith Sat Apr 19 07:13:47 2014
Elaine --- This post will get you started in the right direction. In the long run, you will prune the top to a weak side branch, but since the tree is a dwarf, it won't be pushing too hard against the height restriction.
Comment by anna Fri Apr 18 18:14:21 2014
Kellee --- We're still using our onions as giveaways. Stay tuned to the blog and you'll likely win some for free this summer. :-)
Comment by anna Fri Apr 18 18:06:46 2014
Brian --- Their buds were just barely starting to open into leaves when the freeze came, so of course they got nipped. :-/ That may be the story of the hardy kiwi on our farm, but I'll wait and hope that maybe they can survive that nippage and still give us flowers this year. That's awesome that yours is blooming so well!
Comment by anna Fri Apr 18 13:11:36 2014
when will you have walking onions for sale again.
Comment by Kellee Fri Apr 18 11:35:08 2014
Do you top the apple trees? I am wondering about the continued pruning directions for this type of apple tree growth??
Comment by Elaine @ Sunny Simple Life Fri Apr 18 11:23:08 2014

Any updates on how the Hardy Kiwis did?

Ours our loaded with blossoms this year and we were lucky enough to not dip below freezing here.

The cuttings I stuck in a pot seem to have a few that may have rooted, but all the cuttings I completely buried seem to have done better. I will update you again later.

Comment by Brian Thu Apr 17 13:49:21 2014

Here in s.w. Oregon all our fruit trees have bloomed! Yikes!!

My strawberry plants are blooming and Mt raspberry plants are loaded with flower buds. Peas are up and garlic is growing. I have taken the chives Swiss chard and kale out of the green house.

Just praying that no snow or heavy frost appears.

Comment by mona Thu Apr 17 12:59:23 2014
Yeah, so I'm commenting here for the first time. I've been reading a while now, half-year? And so a THANKS are in order, first off. For all the tips and sharing and good information you've posted. Love this chart referenced on the fruit tree kill. So maybe I'll start commenting here more often. I follow a few other 'farm blogs' but mainly on Wordpress. Anyway, much blessings to you in your endeavors, good thoughts and love your way, from Indiana, Eumeaus.
Comment by Eumaeus Thu Apr 17 12:01:16 2014

here are some links to articles about bee viruses.

http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/21/science/la-sci-sn-virus-bee-colony-collapse-20140120

“I want to be cautious,” Chen said. “The cause of colony collapse disorder remains unclear. But we do have evidence that TRSV along with other viruses that we screen on a regular basis are associated with lower rates of over-winter survival.”

http://articles.latimes.com/2014/feb/19/science/la-sci-sn-colony-collapse-bumblebees-20140218

from wikipedia Additional evidence that CCD is an infectious disease came from the following observations: the hives of colonies that had died from CCD could be reused with a healthy colony only if they were first treated with DNA-destroying radiation,[98] and the CCD Working Group report in 2010 indicated that CCD-exhibiting hives tended to occur in proximity to one another within apiaries.[38]

these articles are all about ccd which I think you suspected was the case with one of your losses in a previous year. But, often times you can get just weaker bees with a virus without getting ccd. Which could contribute to a failure to survive the winter, although this winter was just crazy cold.

Comment by rebecca Thu Apr 17 08:33:08 2014
this was delicious! I forgot the balsamic vinegar and it was still yummy. This is my first time cooking with dandelion greens. Thank you!
Comment by Anonymous Wed Apr 16 22:24:58 2014
Although I don't live near swampland Spring storms tend to flood lower garden area . I used this technique to create raised beds. The ditch (on both sides of beds) will be filled with shredded limbs from power lines. Hopefully the beds will drain quicker while wood chunks store the excess for later use. Best of both worlds; isn't permaculture great.
Comment by Tom Wed Apr 16 21:27:12 2014

Rebecca --- Excellent question! I'm not worried about the two colonies we lost this past winter because I know what happened to them and neither problem is contagious. One absconded this past fall, probably because I treated them for mites with powdered sugar. The other was a very late swarm that simply wasn't big enough to stay warm through the winter.

The diseases that seem to be likely to carry over in old hives (according to the literature) are the two types of foulbrood. If I had any thoughts that bees might have died of foulbrood (or if I was using equipment from an unknown source), I would definitely try to disinfect. This is the method we've used in the past to disinfect suspect equipment.

Your specific question was about viruses, though, and I've never read about any viruses that affect bees. It got me wondering, though --- could there be viruses we don't know about? Definitely worth pondering if bees die of unknown reasons.

Comment by anna Wed Apr 16 13:52:51 2014
Can't wait to see how it turns out!
Comment by TERRY Wed Apr 16 11:47:24 2014
you have had many hive failures at this point do you ever disinfect the failed hives incase there is a virus involved in you colony deaths?
Comment by rebecca Wed Apr 16 11:13:43 2014
Eric --- A chinampa is a raised growing area in swampy ground with ditches around it. It's really more about the growing area than about the ditches --- you just need the ditches to make the growing area work. (If you follow the link in the post, you'll read much more about it.)
Comment by anna Tue Apr 15 20:08:04 2014

Anna, what is the difference (guess I cold have wiki'd it) between this fancy 9 lettered "chinampas" and a good 'ol fashioned "Ditch" (five letters)?

I can recall my youth, I could have told my dad I "put the car in a chinampas" and maybe he would have been less mad than he was as I put my car in the "ditch" that winter night I went out despite his advisement. :)

Comment by Eric Tue Apr 15 19:00:21 2014
Children need to express their style and creativity. Even if their "individuality" is exactly like everyone elses! I'd say something about "yadda yadda living under your roof..." but she clearly isn't. ;)
Comment by Emily from Bristol Tue Apr 15 17:43:51 2014

If wet aisles do become a problem, instead of all the work involved with schleppin' around wood chips, etc, just wear galoshes.

To put drainage problems in perspective, I've read that American farm production would be increased by 25% if all farmers made complete & proper use of drain tiles!

Comment by doc Tue Apr 15 16:26:20 2014

Daniel --- I did put punky wood in the swales in the forest pasture, but that's because I won't be walking there much. I want to be able to walk and run a wheelbarrow through these aisles, frequently, so nothing bulky can go there. If I had spare wood chips, they would be perfect, but I never even have enough of those to mulch the fruit trees, let alone "waste" in aisles.... :-)

Brian --- I'm probably going to wait until our frost-free date to uncover our figs. Last year, I uncovered them earlier, they leafed out, and then they got nipped....

Mom --- Glad you enjoyed it! I don't know enough about whether tomatoes were a big part of their gardens at that time to answer your question, unfortunately.

Roland --- It's always a tradeoff with blight around here. My best results have come from putting plants in the sunniest part of the yard so anything that splashes up dries quickly. Of course, if I had a spot that was sunny and had well-drained soil, that would be even better, but the choices are wet soil and sun or dry soil and shade, so I chose the former. :-)

Comment by anna Tue Apr 15 13:28:54 2014
Kathleen --- I always want a dwarf avocado tree, but the realist in me doesn't let me get one. A gardening friend tried it and failed to get any fruits, and my own experience with dwarf lemon trees inside suggests that our trailer is neither warm nor sunny enough in winter to keep tropical trees happy. I guess that's the one "vegetable" we'll keep buying....
Comment by anna Tue Apr 15 13:24:07 2014