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Hubby and I just bought an ATV for our homesteasd. We have started a list of all we will be using our new ATV for. The list gets bigger by the day.
Comment by mona Sun Jan 22 19:10:34 2017
The nitrite level suggests the tank is not yet completely cycled. There was a huge up front dose of urea which hasn't been completely converted to nitrate yet. Ongoing your nitrogen input will be much lower. A nice bushy bunch of herbs should be enough to keep the nitrates in check once they've had a chance to consume the initial nitrogen load. A moderately planted 10gallon of aquatic plants can consume the typical nitrate input pretty effectively. Terrestrial plants that are not being limited by carbon the way aquatic plants are, will likely consume even more nitrogen.
Comment by ScottS Sat Jan 21 14:15:23 2017

Isn't is just amazing what a HUGE difference a few little changes and some elbow grease make?!! Love your new digs!!--- It will be so much more pleasant and efficient as well- Great job!

Comment by Jayne Wead Sat Jan 21 09:07:52 2017
I put my goats' copper in marshmallows. I have also tried peanut butter and oats, but that only worked for one of them.
Comment by Mike B Fri Jan 20 13:51:38 2017
Another great option for filing a mouse hole is steel wool or a Brillo pad, followed by whatever method you choose to patch it up. I learned this from a long time maintenance guy at a former church. The steel wool deters the mouse from re-chewing the same hole through the patch.
Comment by Robert Fri Jan 20 10:28:13 2017
Fig Newtons are my ruse of choice for all species. They have the advantage of being malleable.
Comment by Julie Whitmore Fri Jan 20 06:54:28 2017

I have houdini chickens too!

One thing I noticed about these chickens, they are digging into the ground under the fruit trees. Then they eat the bug eggs and other debree that are there. Next they deposit a little fertilizer.

I am hoping that this action will deminish my fruit tree bug problem and fertilize the trees some.

Comment by mona Thu Jan 19 11:00:02 2017

I'm betting they are all going right over the top!

This made me smile. I have experienced pretty much the exact same thing. Here's what happened:

One fall, after frosts, I decided to make a new house for the flock. Job done. Then I moved it onto the spent garden. I fenced in the area with snow fence and steel posts. Moved them in. All went well for a while. The chickens looked happy and they were cleaning up the garden leavings. Plan working! New house deluxe!

But then one morning I found the rooster back in the old digs. Hmmmm. How ever did he get out? No holes, no damage, fence intact. Hmmmm. Put him back with the girls. Next morning, Rocky the Rooster and a hen were in the old digs. Same drill. The following morning, day 3, ALL the flock had spent the night in the old house. HMMMMMMM.

That evening, I went out at dusk to see what was happening. To my surprise and amazement, I watched the whole bunch jump flat footed from the ground to the top of the 4 ft plus fence. Some landed on the fence to get a second wind, some just hurdled it and kept on going. I was just astounded at how high they could jump from a dead stop start. So, I'm betting your hens are just being birds and going for the sky.


Comment by Tim Inman Thu Jan 19 10:42:25 2017
To stop that behavior, clip their flight wings. Can't get over a fence if they can't fly.
Comment by Nayan Thu Jan 19 10:05:25 2017
I like the work smarter not harder attitude. I'm sure we will all benefit from your less intense schedule through some fun adventures and exciting projects.
Comment by Brian Thu Jan 19 09:15:16 2017

Hi Anna,

I forgot how big a block was? 2x3 feet?

I expect to be growing quite a bit more this year and with a lot less work.

I am still eating last year's apples. Stored in paper shopping bag, in a loose plastic bad in the refrig. Kale didn't do very well just being frozen. Tasted off.

Gotta try drying stuff like you do.

Comment by John Thu Jan 19 08:40:22 2017

Hi Anna and Mark,

Anna, I am impressed. I started off last year with lots of intentions. And I did get a lot to grow thanks to your last year's spreadsheet.

I have been looking harder at Aquaponics and enlarging my current setup. I especially like the idea of putting the Aquaponic over spill into the garden and the claim that things grow twice as fast??!!

That claim makes sense to me with what I have read about using the paddy system with cattle.

Gotta try some of that water on my real-time conductivity sites. I should be able to see results quickly once the ground thaws and the biology gets up and running.

FWIW - I ran the snow plow over two sensors, so I gotta wait until the ground is non frozen to get the sensors back into the ground taking real time data.

warm regards to you both, John

Comment by John Thu Jan 19 00:25:30 2017
Good lord...way too organized! Reminds me of my spouse the researcher! Oh the spreadsheets, the orgainzation! I however am more the disorganized daydreamer. :) Then she keeps telling me I'm an extrovert on some sort of chart and she is the introvert.
Comment by Eric Wed Jan 18 20:44:33 2017


Most tapes recommend removal by pulling the tape back on itself, not up.

Some people also recommend removing the tape before it is fully dry to reduce "lift off" of edges.

Not sure if you were already doing these...

I love the blog. I live vicariously through your blog.

Don Falls Church, VA

Comment by Don Wed Jan 18 10:43:35 2017
Dig holes so that posts will fit tight against building wall. Fasten posts to wall for greater strength. Before placing post in hole, add spikes or large screws so they will be below ground level. Fill hole with concrete and allow to set. Mix the concrete, don't put it in dry. A large bag of sacrete should fill one or two holes. Fill remaining hole, if any, with dirt. Holes should be two feet deep, when possible.
Comment by Errol Tue Jan 17 17:16:26 2017
I have been using Frog Tape for quite awhile now. I really see no big difference between that and the blue stuff. I try to work without it whenever possible. Seems either way I'm touching up anyway. Your room is looking so bright and cheerful! Looks great!
Comment by Pam Kaufman Tue Jan 17 11:00:53 2017
I'm planning on building a trailer roof too, for a 40' home, and have done some research. I read that OUTSIDE POSTS ARE BEST, because trailers have only 2X2's for their walls, and the new roof's weight will cause them to BOW. SO DO THE POSTS !! HOWEVER, DO YOU DO THEM AS ATTACHED TO THE TRAILER SIDES OR SEPARATED from them. WELL, trailer homes do settle, don't they? So best is to keep these 4x4's independent. This likely means placing them upon cement piers for immovability. THESE COST MONEY to make !!! The cement form = $10, cement about $30,4x4 posts = $10+ each, the MOUNTING BRACKET for the post = $12++, and figuring one post every whatever distance, one can rack up a pretty good bill. Intermediate posts CAN be placed without these piers, however, I figure: just stand them up on cement blocks. A single slant roof is easier than a peak roof.
Comment by terry mulligan Mon Jan 16 20:39:58 2017

We painted the water damaged ceiling of our 1976 singlewide moble and it looked really good. My husband is a painter and he did what you plan to do. He used a primer and then paint. It lasted for the 20 tears that we lived in our moble.

We painted the panaled walls of the bathroom. The lines on the walls gave the room character.

Comment by mona Sun Jan 15 14:47:21 2017
Little changes like painting can really brighten up not only a home but ourselves during the winter. Your home is looking great!
Comment by Pam Kaufman Sun Jan 15 10:40:03 2017
I was thinking same thing Nayan said about your back -- great exercise for that - like an inversion table without the table LOL!
Comment by Jayne Wead Sun Jan 15 10:08:18 2017

Looking at the pictures, it should certainly help keep your limbs flexible! And performers like cirque du soleil make it look deceptively easy.

But I can't shake the feeling that it is a lot more dangerous than it looks. One could literally get "wrapped up" in the silks pretty easily. Which could be anything between embarrassing and fatal.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Jan 15 07:57:13 2017

Thanks for sharing your sense of adventure :) Looking forwards to all the other fun things you'll think of this year!

Comment by Kayla Sat Jan 14 22:02:32 2017
Fantastic - wonderful self-care.
Comment by Charity Sat Jan 14 21:37:52 2017
Looks like fun but definitely something for young folks to do. I'd probably kill myself, but I also think that going upside down would probably fix my back, or at least make it better. :)
Comment by nayan Sat Jan 14 10:35:05 2017
If you're troubled by the full moon, I've got bad news for you. ;-)
Comment by Roland_Smith Thu Jan 12 18:40:09 2017

Hi Anna and Mark,

Most impressive. Where did you get your testing kit and how much $$. And what are you using for directions? Maybe as a downloadable .pdf?

I have had a MUCH lower tech system running. Heater just failed I hope

my gold fish have not failed?

warm regards to you both,
Comment by John Thu Jan 12 16:08:47 2017
Bacterial bloom causing cloudiness in a new aquarium is a common occurrence. It is almost certainly not the nitrogen processing bacteria whose slow reproduction leads to the multiple weeks required to cycle an aquarium biofilter.
Comment by Scotts Thu Jan 12 10:12:45 2017

I don't know about the turbidity idea. In my two years of aquaponics, I usually had crystal clear water. The plants grew well.

I had about 3 sq. ft. of growbed, and three to four inches worth of comet goldfish. In the beginning I tested a lot, and worried about levels... In the end, I found if I just keep the fish fed and water oxygenated it tended to level itself. I would toss in some unfiltered creek water and some lake water if you have one near you. Build a robust ecosystem with local organisms.

I do think the best choice for fish is a comet goldfish. It is beautiful and very hardy, basically a koi for a tenth of the price.

Comment by Eric in Japan Thu Jan 12 09:49:41 2017
I got a Chicago Hardy fig three years ago. I live in zone 6, WV. I figured potting it wouldn't work as I have no semi-heated space for it; I do have a small greenhouse but it isn't heated and I don't figure the wild temperature swings on sunny winter days would be good. I put it in my orchard with a ring of hardware cloth around it, and for winter--this will be the third--I fill the cylinder (which is about 30" high) with dead leaves and then wrap it in an old sheet. Both winters, it died to the ground, both springs it finally showed itself when I was ready to give up on it in May. All three years, the fall extent was what you say I should prune it to: three branches and 30". No sign of fruit. I had concluded that it never would, and was considering moving it to a container as I could put a semidwarf fruit tree in the space it's taking up; but I see here that it fruits on new wood, that someone with similar experience then got lots of fruit some years. Another thing is that I'm adding new trees to my orchard because the berries have all done poorly and the low end of the orchard is where everything that did poorly is located...and below, there are black walnut trees. Since they're lower, there are no dropping leaves or hulls, but the evil trees could be sneaking their roots uphill underground. So, all this is useful, thanks.
Comment by Mary Wildfire Thu Jan 12 09:01:26 2017

I have retired from the UK and moved to Bulgaria. I have bought a house and small plot of land and was looking on line for help on growing my own food. I downloaded your book Weekend Homesteader to my Kindle and was in the process of reading it when I found your web address. I have been on your website and though I will not be as adventurous as you two are it was of great interest to me.

I have started looking at your archive blogs and will be watching your future blogs with great interest


Comment by Jennifer Tibble Thu Jan 12 08:50:48 2017
A wedge with a larger included angle should split faster, but would also require more force.
Comment by Roland_Smith Thu Jan 12 08:45:00 2017
Is your water acidic or alkaline? How do you get water that is either back to PH 7 (or so)?
Comment by Nayan Thu Jan 12 08:43:20 2017
We heat exclusively with wood and over the course of the average winter we can go through several cords.Haven't wanted to spend the money on a regular gas powered splitter so we had been borrowing one from a neighbor which can be inconvenient. Three years back we bought a small cheap electric splitter from Harbor Freight on a whim, I didn't really think it would perform well or last very long. It has actually worked great! Never any problems at all. It is slower than a reg splitter but no gas to deal with and definitely quieter. Some rounds that one can blow through with a gas machine might need to be studied for a second to pick the weak spots to attack first, but no big deal. We burn mostly black oak and several varieties of pine and by picking the spots to hit first we split up to 18" rounds no big deal. If someone is used to muscling through rounds whilly-nilly they will have to adjust their technique some but given the cost and no gas etc it isn't a big sacrifice.Once in a blue moon will I buy from HF, all my chain saws are Stihls.all my weedeaters are all Stihls, I try to always buy quality first, but this was an experiment that worked out fine.Bob.
Comment by Bob Wed Jan 11 16:21:27 2017
Thanks for playing the puzzle and thank you Kayla.
Comment by mark Wed Jan 11 15:28:04 2017
Happy birthday Mark!
Comment by Kayla Wed Jan 11 14:16:13 2017

34 (my age) plus 4 (our difference) plus 10 (your difference).

PS Feel free not to publish if inside knowledge is cheating.

Comment by Maggie Wed Jan 11 00:50:58 2017
One more small mom and pop business lost to the big box store...:(
Comment by Eric Tue Jan 10 16:58:30 2017

But nothing living is allowed to be anywhere near me when I sleep

Depending on how long it has been since you replaced your matrass and pillow, you'd be amazed at how many living things are near you when you sleep...

On a different note, research has show that we sleep better if we sleep alone. And of course if you'd let the cats in, they'd be sleeping in comfort, while you'd be twisted like a pretzel. :-)

Sleep hygiene, to me, doesn't seem to involve actual, well cleaning.

That probably doesn't help. It seems to me that bedrooms are often the most dusty places in a house.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Jan 9 17:54:21 2017
Glad you are continuing with the interior while the weather is a bit cold and you are inside more. Should be lovely.
Comment by Charity Mon Jan 9 15:55:26 2017
Lowes has always cut lumber to my specifications at no cost. That even includes polycarbonate sheets that I used to make my cold frame.
Comment by Nayan Sun Jan 8 09:11:33 2017