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Showing posts from September, 2019

Discouraging Things

I've been working on chapter twelve of my upcoming book, 5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel. Chapter twelve is entitled, "Discouraging Things," and discusses the difficulties we've dealt with, especially since 5 Acres & A Dream The Book was published. In trying to organize my thoughts for this chapter, I'm seeing several categories of discouraging things.

One division is things over which we have no control, such as weather, and things over which we think we have control, such as planning and execution. Another problem category for Dan and me has been outcomes that don't meet our own expectations. Lack of knowledge, skills, resources, and of course money are all things that are common sources of discouragement. I know these are things every homesteader can relate to, and I'll be telling a few stories of my own in that chapter.

As a compulsive encourager, I think this is an important topic. Why? Because discouragement can lead to frustration, and frustrati…

Solar Project Part 5: Back Porch Preparations

[I changed the title of this series from "solar pantry" to "solar project," because we changed our original plan. Part 1 of the series starts here.]

So the plan is to move the freezer from the pantry to the back porch and put it on solar. That meant we had to do some rearranging on the porch to get ready. Like most other big projects, that meant a number steps - both planned and unplanned.

About eight years ago, when we were remodeling the kitchen, we took a detour to create a temporary remodeler's kitchen on the back porch.


It served us well, because it took us another year before the kitchen was finished (before and after shots here). Once the kitchen was done I left the electric stove on the porch for canning and whatever summer-time cooking we don't do with my solar oven or Dan's grill.

About three years ago we moved the cabinet in the above photo into the new milking room of the old goat barn. In its place we put shelves.


Now we're planning to move …

Chicken Yard Project: Duck House

I've shown you our new compost bin and the new grazing beds. That leaves the last subgoal on the chicken yard project list - a duck house.

We have two Muscovy ducks, and to be honest, the chickens and the ducks don't exactly get along. They constantly squabble over food and egg laying spots. One of our ducks has a (dud) nest in the chicken house and she chases all the chickens out! So Dan decided it was time to make the ducks their own home.


It will include a house and a small "pond" made of a small stock tank.


Dan fitted the duck tank with a hose bib, so it can be drained and the water used for the compost and grazing beds.


It will be filled with rain water from the milking room catchment tanks.


The duck house was made from scraps.



Once the house was done, Dan tried to coax the ducks with feed to take a look. But they've ignored it!


They've been broody, however, (on unfertilized eggs), and have been are pretty much fixated on that task. They're coming out of it…

Upland Rice Threshed and Rough Yield

A couple weeks ago I told you about harvesting my upland rice.


After harvesting, there are three steps to processing rice: threshing, dehulling, and winnowing. Having hulls makes it a bit more complicated than processing wheat, but I plan to take it one step at a time. Threshing was my first step. My question was, how?

The first thing that came to mine was our yard-mulcher-turned-grain-thresher.


Made from an old Yard Machine brand chipper/mulcher, we've been using it to thresh our wheat for several years. The rice harvest was small enough that a simpler method seemed more in order.


My threshing screen is a frame with quarter-inch hardware cloth stapled to the bottom. The grain heads are rubbed on the screen and fall through into the wheelbarrow. It's a slow method, but good for smaller harvests. This worked fairly well, and also taught me something about harvesting rice. Even though I cut it when the heads were golden brown, I should have let it dry out more before cutting it. I s…

Not Conducive For Fall Planting

This is the time of year I should be thinking about the fall garden, but it's been too hot and dry. So hot and dry that the lawn crunches when it's walked on. Our days have pretty much been like this...


Rain has been scarce this month too, with our last halfway decent rainfall of 0.7" about a month ago. Even with watering, those upper 90s mean that the last of the summer garden has been in survival mode. These conditions are not conducive for either growing or fall planting.

What to do? If I wait until October to plant, I'll end up with an early spring garden instead of a fall harvest! I had to do something, so I got out my seed trays and planted some starts.


The problem with planting in seed trays is that the soil dries out quickly in hot weather, especially when the humidity is down in the 30s%, like it has been. I can water them and an hour later the poor little things are bone dry. That's not conducive for growing! So I decided to experiment. I put the seed trays…

Solar Pantry Part 4: The Plan

At last we've come up with a plan! But before I jump into that, I'd like to summarize this blog series so far (for those just tuning in):

Solar Pantry Part 1: Feasibility
In which I count the cost of putting my pantry fridge and freezer on their own solar power system,and learn that it's beyond our budget at the present time.Solar Pantry Part 2: Analysis In which I analyze how and why I use my fridges and freezer,and learn that many of the items I store in these appliances don't actually need refrigeration or freezing.my pantry is simply too warm in summer for good food storage conditions. Solar Pantry Part 3: Alternatives In which I explore off-grid methods of keeping food without a fridge or freezer,and get a couple of good ideas suitable for us. 
What I realized from these exercises is that my original goal was too narrow. We need to address not just freezing and refrigeration, also we need to improve our food storage conditions in general. In the light of that, Dan and I…

Chicken Yard Project: Grazing Beds

Last time I showed you our new compost bin, this time I'll show you the grazing beds. Grazing beds are an excellent way to provide fresh greens to confined chickens. These are simply frames covered with heavy-duty chicken wire. Seed is planted in the beds and after it grows the chickens eat the fresh greens through the wire. The wire prevents them from overgrazing the bed or scratching up the grass and killing it.


Dan made a couple of these previously, and found that the 2-foot by 8-foot size easiest to manage. We already had two, so he made four more.

He planted wheat and oat seed in the beds. Both grow quickly and the chickens love the grass. Lettuce or herbs can be planted in the beds too; anything chickens love to graze.


When the grass wears out the frames are moved to a new planting spot and the chickens enjoy scratching up what's left. By rotating planting, we should be able to keep a steady supply of fresh grazing for them.


Some people keep the beds fenced until the grass g…

Chicken Yard Project: New Compost Bins

The chicken yard was Dan's August project, but it was delayed because...


... we had car trouble. It clanked terribly every time we started it or turned it off, sounding like something was fixin' to fall off. After checking all the connecting rod bearings, Dan finally figured out that the bolts on the flywheel were loose. He tightened them up and the clanking stopped. (Whew.)

The chicken yard project list had three subgoals:
compost binsgrazing bedsa duck houseMaterials is always a first step, and Dan wanted to use what we had available. That meant cutting his lumber from an old pine tree he cut down last spring.



He treats lumber for projects like this with old motor oil. He saves it whenever he changes the oil in a vehicle. He thins it with a little gasoline and either soaks the ends of posts or paints boards with it. The gasoline evaporates and the soaked in oil preserves the wood.


I missed getting photos of building the compost bin, because I was tied to a kitchen filled with pea…

Book Review

I have Fern at "Thoughts from Frank and Fern" to thank for her review of my Prepper's Livestock Handbook. Please go check it out by clicking here! And do take a little time to explore their blog while you're there. If you're interested in prepping, homesteading, amateur radio, or all three, you'll find a lot of interesting things to read. They very much hit the nail on the head.


Book Review© Sept. 2019 by Leigh http://www.5acresandadream.com