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

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May 2015

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Isolated hen in the kill coop.
I faced the chicken isolation coop so our egg eating hen could see her flock mates.
Posted Wed May 24 15:28:34 2017 Tags:
Broccoli harvest

Cutting the size of our planting area in half and focusing on our predictably heavy producers has been a life-saver this spring. Last summer, I'd gotten to the point where the work-to-reward ratio in the garden was tipping toward "not worth it." But this year, mornings in the garden are delightful, full of planting, weeding, mulching, and harvesting crops that I'm 90% sure will make the journey from seed to plate without too much work on my part. Success!

Posted Wed May 24 06:56:15 2017 Tags:
Egg eating hen caught in the act of trying to access roll out nest tray egg area.

I caught another egg eating hen today in the act of trying to access the egg area.

She's isolated for now to see if she's the only one.

Posted Tue May 23 16:19:54 2017 Tags:
Sun OvenI've always been intrigued by sun ovens, but I have to admit my one childhood experiment with the topic turned me off. We lined the inside of a cardboard box with aluminum foil, put a sheet of plexiglass on top, then watched as our food...sat there.

Luckily, other experimenters were more successful. Paul Munsen from Sun Ovens International has developed a pretty fancy solar cooker, along with plenty of excellent techniques to ensure your meals come out tasty (and not stone cold). He sums his experiences up in free video seminars which cover everything from which type of pot to use and whether to preheat all the way up to using solar ovens for non-cooking tasks like purifying drinking water.

And, yes, I'll admit, he tries to sell you one of his sun ovens too (for a discount). But the information portion of the seminar is valuable in and of itself.

Which brings me to your opportunity to watch, ask questions, and learn. Mark and I are hosting an hour-long video seminar with Paul on Wednesday, May 31, starting at 7:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time, (8 p.m. EDT / 6 p.m. MDT / 5 p.m. PDT). It's free and by invitation only (although you can tell your friends if you want to join up together), so please head over here if you'd like to preregister.

See you there!
Posted Tue May 23 06:42:54 2017 Tags:
Honda GCV 190 mower.

We've been using the new Honda GCV 190 mower a lot this month.

It's been flawless so far.

Starts on the first pull every time thanks to the Automatic Choke feature.

Posted Mon May 22 15:17:57 2017 Tags:
Sugar sprint peas

Even after a decade, we're still trying to find the best edible-pod pea for our garden. But 2017 might be the year that makes the cut!

We started out growing Mammoth Melting Sugar, but those were really snow peas (to be eaten when the pod is flat) rather than sugar snaps (to be eaten when the pod is plump.) So we tried Sugarsnap and Super Sugar Snap, which did indeed give us that sweet crunch we were craving...but also quickly succumbed to a blight that wilted the plants from the bottom up before they were done bearing.

Enter Sugar Sprint. The pods are plump and sweet, the vines are short but prolific, and so far their reputed resistance to powdery mildew seems to be holding true. Maybe these will be the perfect peas for us?

Posted Mon May 22 07:51:49 2017 Tags:
Chickens in the wet mud of a garden bed.

It took a few days for our flock to learn how to use the new PVC chicken feeder, but once they did it they seem to be saving about 20 percent compared to the old method of tossing the feed in fresh grass of that morning.

Posted Sun May 21 15:11:14 2017 Tags:
Bumblebee pollinating kiwi

The hardy kiwis are finally blooming, and the bumblebees found them before I did! For those of you keeping track at home and waiting for your own vines to fruit, our kiwis have been in the ground for nine long years. So the report that hardy kiwis bear in two years from cuttings didn't quite pan out in our neck of the woods.

Male and female kiwi flowersOne of our female vines flowered two years ago, actually, but without a male flower no fruit was set. That's despite the stamens clearly visible in the female flower (shown at the top of the image on the right).

Now that we have male flowers (one of which I'm holding near the bottom of the photo), I can see the difference --- the males definitely go all-out on the pollen-production front. Fingers crossed this is the year we taste homegrown kiwi fruits!

Posted Sun May 21 07:04:41 2017 Tags:
Using hand winch to load up heavy stove into Kubota.

The Kubota dump bed along with a good hand winch made loading up this heavy stove kind of easy.

Posted Sat May 20 14:52:10 2017 Tags:
Late May garden

This is the time of year when planting, weeding, and harvesting begin to run together into one big green blob. After a month of kale, swiss chard, lettuce, and asparagus, suddenly the flood gates begin to open with the first big harvests of strawberries and broccoli.

Young apples

Meanwhile, snap peas will be ready to add to our salads next week, while raspberries and blueberries are getting big. Our tree fruits mostly got nipped once again despite a very early last frost, but a few trees have young fruits that are growing nicely. Such a bounty plumping up in our garden!

Posted Sat May 20 06:59:31 2017 Tags:

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