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Archive for July, 2014

We have run into many snags in our adventures.  Since we do have two small children, we decided to break into things slowly and not dive in head first to homesteading.  That and we got here too late in the spring to even start a garden.  So since I have to work a full time job and things like that, we haven’t had enough time to do hardly anything.  I have been getting a little bit sad about our lack of accomplishment, so I needed to cheer myself up a little.  I decided to get out my paints and make myself the begging sign for the sign post I have always wanted to have.  As I have mentioned before, we have this cute little stream that is my absolute favorite part of the property.  We are also having a “house warming” picnic which is really more like a small camp out.  I decided that the stream would be perfect for a rubber duck race and the picnic would be the perfect and really the only time to have such a race.  So naturally I had to make a sign so that the 5 rubber ducks that will be racing can find where the starting line is.  As corny as I am told that I am, it was nice to do SOMETHING, no matter how insignificant it is in the grand scheme of things.  It is just my way of brining a tiny piece of my dream home to reality.  Especially since we may not have time to do much of anything other than make a clearing this year.  DSC_0492

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My little piece of land is far from flat.  It is steep and hilly and many people would run from it. (That’s why we got it so cheap!)  I think it’s a perfect spot for a gorgeous terraced garden.  I’m not even going to think about leveling, but rather take advantage of the natural curves of the land. The south facing slope is fantastic for heat and sun exposure.  The cliffs and valleys are going to work out perfectly for garden beds.  The huge boulders will collect heat from the sun and radiate it back to the plants that need it.
Here is the spot I picked for my garden:

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I spent the afternoon clearing the small stuff so that in the next few days we can start taking down trees.  Another advantage of this land is that there are rotten trees all over the place.  I hardly even need to move them and they are in place for my hugelkultures.  All the small trees and branches I take down fall right next to where they will need to be to cover the logs. Some of the slightly larger trees will be used as a small border to keep the terraces from collapsing.   The only thing that will be moved is the biggest trees because we will take those out for firewood and building.   Hopefully all I’ll have to do that is annoying is pile dirt on top of the mounds.  Hopefully.  Here is what the area looked like after my work. Not that you can really see a difference.

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We got quite the rain last night and it gave us a good chance to check out the water flow through the lot.  And through our future driveway.  As you can see it floods. A lot.  We knew this just looking at the spot before, but we can really see the stream it becomes.  I expect this is mild compared to spring and mud season.  We talked about putting the driveway somewhere else but that would mean going up and down muddy hills and cutting a lot of trees.   We also talked about putting gravel as long the driveway, but that would likely cost a few thousand dollars.   I think our best option is actually going to be French drains along the length of the current stream.   This would mean digging a trench, putting sand in the bottom, putting in pipeline with holes in the top half, covering that with gravel and finally landscape fabric covered in dirt.  This would hopefully drain the water off the driveway and empty it to a less annoying place.  We would also plant water thirsty plants around the sides of the driveway to soak up the excess and help prevent erosion. The less annoying place could potentially be a man made pond for water storage and fish.   All the water being channeled like this could also potentially become a source for hydro electric.   But that is beyond me at this point.  Seems like a lot of potential, but I have yet to find anything like it anywhere.  Any thoughts?

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Last Minute Potatoes

So I ran out of time to plant potatoes, but I had already bought them. Some of them had already rotted.  I did the best I could at a quick fix to prevent them from all being wasted.
I dug shallow rows and threw the potatoes with the 6 inch growth in the holes.DSC_0071
Then I covered them with leaves. DSC_0176
I put a rotten branch border around the pile to give it a raised bed kind of feel.   Ha ha. I mostly just wanted to be sure I could find it before the potatoes (hopefully) started growing.   This was about a week ago and so far one potato has sprouted through. One on the edge where the leaves weren’t that deep.  If they grow well, I will pile more leaves or some hay around them as they get taller.  Maybe I’ll stack some more branches around it to help keep critters out.  Again, ha ha.  Who knows, maybe they will grow amazingly and I’ll do it again this way next year.  That would make growing potatoes very simple for sure.

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Naming Our Homestead

DSC_0015I know I have shown you all this creek a few times before, but it really is my most favorite part of the homestead.  I’m showing you again because I need to come up with a name for this place.  The name of the homestead doesn’t have to be based on the creek at all, but it was kind of a starting point for me.  What I am wondering is how people come up with names for their special places they call home?  How do you decide on what you call the place you will be spending your whole life (hopefully)?  I know some folks don’t really care for names, but I do so I’m looking for some suggestions.  The man here is one of those who doesn’t seem to care so he is no help.  The little girl calls it the property.  I think we can do better.  Tell me some stories.  How did you name your place?

 

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One project I am sort of starting this year is the living fence.  Ideally, the fence will run about 2200 feet to contain the front portion of the property.  This area will be fenced in to contain the kids and animals and be the area we live on.  The rest of the lot will be left as is for the most part.  I might get around 30 feet of this planted this year.  I know that’s a joke and why bother, but once I get a handful of plants started, I can root some clipping and the fence should take off.

So what is a living fence?  It is a fence made of plants, bushes and trees rather than built with standard fencing or wood.  It will take at least 5 years to establish rather than a few days, but it will be well worth it.

There are may reasons to go with living fences rather than regular ones.  Living fences are beautiful and blend in with nature.  No ugly wiring to look at, but it can still block out whatever is on the outside of your fence.  They attract beneficial insects and birds.  They can include insect friendly plants with flowers and birds friendly plants with berries and seeds.  Living fences can be a food source.  Some of the first plants in my living fence are brambles that will provide us with more berries than we could ever eat in years to come.  These fences can provide you with materials for making useful household items.  Willow is another plant I started this year.  The willow branches can be used for basket making, woven fences, and rooting hormone.  Living fences are valuable windbreaks.  They can provide fodder for livestock.  You can grow medicinal plants in living fences.  I may even throw a couple grape vines into the mix with beautiful arbors to walk through.

What I have  planted so far is about 5 feet of blackberries and maybe 15 feet of raspberries.  They are tiny now, but brambles grow quickly.  I will put up a small support trellis up through them when I have a chance.  I’ll share the pics I have so far, but there isn’t much to see.  Like I said, the plants are pretty small and I haven’t cleared around them much yet.  We have a hand saw, but that takes a while so I am going to have to wait for the chain saw to be broken out to make much of a difference.  Hopefully that will be in the next couple weeks.  I put red arrows on the pictures so that you could see my baby raspberries.  I had to show you something…

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I want to try canning some meatballs for making grinders and for spaghetti this year. The only problem is that I don’t have a good meatball recipe.  My meatballs are basically hamburg and maybe some bread crumbs if I’m feeling fancy.  I happen to be Irish so it’s not really my fault, but it’s also not worth canning my bland meatballs.   So I’m having a contest.  First ever on my blog!  Comment on this post with your best meatball recipe and tell me where you got it.  I will make all the recipes I get so I can  taste test.  The best recipe will earn the winner a can of meatballs plus a couple cans of something else delicious. I’ll wait about a month and repost this as a last call then I’ll get to cooking.  Send me something fantastic!

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