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Shitake mushroom harvesting from logs.

We harvested enough shitake mushrooms today to last several meals.

Might be our biggest shitake harvest so far.

Posted Sun Jan 22 14:43:41 2017 Tags:
Buckets of manure

Did I ever mention that I love manure? Mix in a healthy helping of high horsepower Kubota action and fertilizing the garden has never been so easy or so fun.

Kubota passenger

Thanks for coming over and taking pictures, Mom! Your wonderful presence and all those delightful bags of leaves were much appreciated too. Next time, maybe I'll let you drive.

Posted Sun Jan 22 07:57:30 2017 Tags:
firewood chopping station

It's been a year since we moved our firewood station closer to the back door.

I would guess we've saved a couple hours when you total up the time saved.

Posted Sat Jan 21 15:44:22 2017 Tags:
Water testing

My aquaponics experiment is a slippery slope. I started out with easy herbs transplanted out of the garden (plus a few daffodils for color), and all they needed was the tiniest of fluorescent lights overhead. But as the ammonia got converted to nitrite and the nitrite to nitrate, I realize the error of my ways --- herbs aren't hungry enough to use up all of the nitrogen in my tank.

Seed-sprouting in an aquaponics grow bed

So I've added some greedier plants, starting these from seed because I don't have any heavy feeders in the garden at the moment. Cucumbers and summer squash, plus some basil and parsley to round out my herbs.

But the writing is already on the wall. These summer beauties will be glad to suck up the excess nitrogen...but they're gonna need more light. And so the cycle continues....

Posted Sat Jan 21 07:19:30 2017 Tags:
Painting the floor

A little more paint and the bedroom is done. It's tough to take a comprehensive photo of such a small space (literally about twice the size of a twin bed), so here are a few shots from each direction as a sort of tour.

Storage under the bed

The raised bed gave me plenty of room for storage. Books by me (multiple copies of each, so they don't need to be easily accessible) go in the bookcase support while bins of clothes and ancient journals/sketchbooks are safe in mouse-proof bins.

Closet color

The closet is pretty empty at the moment, but I'm just thrilled to have finally found the spot where rodents were entering my sleeping space. Down beneath a built-in cabinet, we discovered a four-inch hole that Mark has now filled in with wood and liquid nails. No wonder that corner of the trailer was mouse central for the last decade!

Everything has a place

Better yet: my boots and winter coat finally have a home other than draped-over-that-chair and tossed-in-that-corner. Here's hoping that cutting down my possessions to the ones I really use and giving each a place will prevent future clutter. For now at least, it's a joy to have everything so shipshape.

Posted Fri Jan 20 07:37:38 2017 Tags:
Goat poultice fig trick.

We made a major goat discovery today.

Artemesia will eat all her copper bolus with a little trickery.

Cut a dried fig in half with a gram from the copper bolus in both halves.

Posted Thu Jan 19 16:14:13 2017 Tags:
Anna Rogue 1
Chickens in the garden

One renegade hen got into the mule garden last Tuesday. "Whatever. It's winter," I said.

The next day there were two. Then three, and the mini flock got bold enough to wander to the front garden on the far side of the trailer.

"Mark!" I called angstfully.

Long-suffering husband stood in the garden for half an hour and waited to see what was going on. Sure enough, renegade number one was flying up onto the top of the gate and over, followed by her sisters. A piece of tin, one more chase of pesky fowl out of the yard...and the next day Rogue 1 was back in the garden. How's she getting in this time?

Posted Thu Jan 19 07:47:35 2017 Tags:
New shelf for fan.

The new elevated bed needed an elevated shelf for the night time fan.

Posted Wed Jan 18 16:01:21 2017 Tags:
Bean seedling

While I was sick this past summer and fall, I doubted everything about the homestead (well, everything except Mark and Artemesia). Now that I'm bouncing back, it's easy to settle into old patterns. But I've decided to be smart instead and make the necessary changes so I don't go down the same dark road again.

To that end, my garden ambitions this year are extreme --- I hope to cut back my work by 50% while still feeding us most or all of fresh produce we eat. Spreadsheets to the rescue!

Garden joy spreadsheet

I've attached my garden-planning file in case anyone wants to use it as a jumping-off point for your own work-to-joy analysis. For those terrified by the mere idea of Excel, here's the upshoot:

  • We're cutting everything back a small amount so I won't end up giving so much away
  • I'm not going to preserve any soup for winter, so I dramatically reduced quantities of soup components
  • I generally deleted crops that aren't streamlined to the point where they produce in proportion to the amount of work I put into the project

I suspect we'll end up having to buy a few more goat carrots, onions, and possibly winter vegetables. But otherwise we should still be eating primarily off the farm for the entirety of 2017.

Final estimates: garden square footage will reduce by 43%,  yields will reduce by 38%, and work will reduce by 50%. I hope this means joy will also increase by 100%. Stay tuned for more details as the project progresses.

Posted Wed Jan 18 07:40:25 2017 Tags:
Aquaponic daffodil.

Our first touch of color this year showed up in the form of an aquaponic daffodil.

Posted Tue Jan 17 15:28:49 2017 Tags:

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