28 March 2013

Frost advisory, again

It's almost the end of March, and we had yet another frost advisory for overnight.  The annoying part is I had just washed all but one of the blankets and beach towels from the frost earlier in the month.  Even more annoying, I had just bought a bunch more starts yesterday afternoon since the original forecast had us warming ... until it was revised sometime while we were up in town.  (*Sigh*)  So instead of planting all the new starts in the third garden box, I spent last evening putting all the potted plants into the shed and putting blankets and beach towels over the citrus trees and first two garden boxes.
blankets to protect from frost ... in late March
I suppose I ought to be grateful it isn't snow.

27 March 2013

Lemon blossom

We might not always feel like it, but we are still alive.  I caught the sinus crud from hubby, and with us both hacking up phlegm very little has been accomplished this past week.

One accomplishment I noticed last evening as we watered the fruit trees and garden boxes is: the little Eureka lemon tree from Mall-Wart has begun to bloom.
Eureka lemon bush blooming
It's much more a bush than a tree right now, as it was trained and shaped to be a potted houseplant, I think.  When it goes dormant, I will try to prune it into more of an outdoorsy orchard look.

First lemon blossom on the property here, though!

20 March 2013

Whole lot of growing goin' on

Not much new building or tree takedown or planting, as hubby has come down with the sinus crud and my back has been hurting since Monday.  There is a lot of growing going on though!  Along with new sprouts in the garden and salad boxes that are a bit too small to get decent pics of, the chicks are busy growing.  We did have to put together the pen kit yesterday for the littles, which are not quite so little as last week.
pen kit for the chick/rabbit hutch

broiler, Wyandote, and pullet chicks growing

the "golden girls" pullets playing hide-and-seek
The "golden girls" seem to be in a shy phase, especially since discovering the house portion of their little coop kit.  They are easily twice the size of the Wyandotes and other pullets, although the broilers are catching up quick.  The big surprise with the Cornish-Rock broilers is how active and curious and downright brave they are (for chickens, at least).  They have a reputation for basically laying by the food dish and eating or sleeping constantly, but at least two of my five are spending more time scratching the leaves and walking around in between naps.  It's a bit difficult to tell them apart from each other, although the golden pullet I bought at the same time as the broilers is now noticeably different looking - lighter build, more pronounced tail, and smaller.

We had planned to be building a medium-sized coop ("Rampart Fowl") this week, but still haven't made it up the highway to buy the lumber, wire, and roofing for it yet.  We've been putting it off and saying, "Hopefully tomorrow will be better," since Monday.  We need to get feeling better quick ... the county fair starts Saturday morning!

18 March 2013

Tree clean-up and homemade charcoal

Busy weekend, and we both sort-of overdid it yesterday, so today is a low-gear day.  I had intended to post last night, but just didn't have the motivation once we finished up.

First was the clean-up of the two trees we took down.  The smaller one I felled was healthy enough that hubby cut the trunk into sections to stack for firewood for the coming winter and the little wood-burning cast iron stove we intend to get.  The tree hubby felled though, was obviously unhealthy, and was rotting from the center out.  It may not be fit for the firewood stack, but there is another use!  We spent the weekend partially burning the trunk to make our own charcoal:

That wasn't the only project going, though.  While hubby attended to fire-making, I decided to fill up garden box #3 with the cardboard bottom, laves/dead grass raked up from around it, and the pile of bags of dirt.
There is one small problem with raking up a small area when it is obvious where you raked: then the raked patch sticks out like a sore thumb until you feel a need to grab the rake and rake up a larger area.  Then you need to ask your husband to construct a quick-and-easy compost area of the scrap lumber that braced the load on the 700 mile trip down plus some chicken wire.  Now we have a northeast compost pile!  I also have somewhere to put the Spanish moss that falls off the trees (usually still attached to the dead branch).

Finally, it just got a bit too dark to keep working on the yard, plus it began to drizzle in front of the forecasted rain.  We moved under the old carport to each enjoy a pipe and admire the progress.

16 March 2013

Garden box 3 built and more new chicks

OK, I overdid it yesterday.  That makes the second time, after Wednesday's little adventure with the chainsaw which resulted in my first tree being felled (with hubby's coaching).  Hubby didn't have the camera, as not only was it my first tree, but it was my first time feeling the power of the force of chainsaw.

Yesterday morning I took hubby into town to meet his dad so they could ride to Daytona to have a guys' day  during the annual Daytona Bike "Week" (which is apparently ten days).  It didn't take long after that for a strange feeling of boredom to hit ... the dog really is a poor conversationalist.  Since we had one of the little reddish-gold pullets die overnight, I called up Tractor Supply to ask what their policy on chicks and survival is.  Usually, there is no refund of replacement, but since the other five were (and still are this morning) fine and it was less than 24 hours, the manager on duty said if I brought in my receipt she'd replace the one chick.  Off to the little city I drove.

Considering it's about 25 miles each way, which uses about a gallon of gas each way, and I was going to replace a $3 chick ... it made perfect sense to me to buy a few more things while I was there.  Along with a window box style planter, I brought home five little Cornish-Rock chicks (aka "broilers").  Here is a pic of the littles staying warm in the shed:
eleven little chicks in the rabbit hutch
So the current census of chickens is:

  • Four unknown-breed pullets bought last weekend, nicknamed "the golden girls" since they are that cute pale yellow
  • Four Golden-Laced Wyandotes, genders unknown, bought Thursday and quite distinct with their dark brown "chipmunk" striping
  • One unknown-breed pullet, with reddish-gold striping bought Thursday
  • One unknown-breed pullet, pale yellow, to replace the dead one
  • Five Cornish Rock broiler chicks, gender unknown
So we are now up to fifteen little cheepers total.  That only kept me busy until about lunch time, so I decided to do up another project that has been percolating in my mind the past couple days.
garden box #3 in pieces

garden box #3 finally put together
It took me a lot longer than it should have to get the wood screws in this!  I must really out of practice ... it's actually a bit embarrassing.  By the time I finally got the last corner bracketed, I was sick of looking at it and went inside to vent my frustration on a couple more boxes to unpack.

The unpacking is probably the point where I hit the "overdone" mark, since the ones I chose contained cast iron, canned goods, and baking dishes.  It is a bit depressing to only move my glass bakeware from one box to another.  I do miss being able to use an oven!

Well, when I picked hubby back up in town, I decided to have little fun and not tell him everything I had done.  I did mention I had overdone it, so he asked where I'd like to be taken for dinner.  When I mentioned unpacking a couple more boxes, he said that sounded like a cheesecake dessert was in order (he strongly believes in positive reinforcement).  The real fun for me was when we pulled in to the driveway, and he immediately noticed the new garden box.  Then I mentioned we should check the baby chicks in the shed before we went into the house ... "Hey wait a minute!  There's more here than this morning!"

There is one more thing I accomplished yesterday, but it is a surprise for hubby and won't be revealed until he has built "Rampart Fowl" this week.  Fortress Fowl will need to wait for next month, plus we will need to do Rampart Fowl first to get an idea of how we want to scale up the basic design and what improvements we can make.  Goals and rewards ... it works both ways.

14 March 2013

2nd garden box planted

While talking to my son this evening, I realized I have not posted pics of the second garden box at all, and haven't done an updated pic of the salad box.  I grabbed the digicam before it got dark and remedied that:
3 kinds of mint: spearmint, peppermint, and orange mint
the veggie box:
tomatoes, green beans, carrots, zucchini, and cucumbers for pickles
the salad box:
4 varieties of lettuce, 2 kinds of spinach, 3 beets,  tomatoes, zucchini,  dill, basil

fresh-cut dill, basil, and parsley for scrambled eggs in the morning!

another round of fresh salads

The flock begins to grow!

We brought more chicks home today. Their was talk of broilers but we decided to build up the chicken faction. Seems better to have your producers. Broilers wont be counted as members of the chicken flock in most respects due in a large part that their lives are so short. Sure a tasty end to things but not exactly chicken family.

Please Enjoy more chicken TV, and meet the girls?

12 March 2013

This week's goal: Tree takedown

So this week's goal/project is to take down four trees in the area we want to build the (real!) chicken coop.  Not necessarily because we want to build where the trees are, but because these trees have been infested by insects, which attracts the attentions of the pileated woodpeckers, and then various fungi grow in the holes.  All four are up to the fungus stage, with dead limbs which could fall in a decent storm.

So, yesterday morning, the first one came down:
Me with the mini-Tracker hubby gave me
What ...?  Y'all don't believe that one?  How about this one:
Hubby and his full-sized Tracker knife
Ok, he can certainly get stubborn enough, but neither of us is the able-bodied, strong, and stupid private we each used to be.  No more pulling your leg, this is actually how it went down:
Notched the direction we wanted it to fall, then cut from the back side ...

Chainsaw and gravity did most of the work felling the tree
Hubby said this was the first tree he's actually cut down, and was pleased at how well it worked out.  He had wanted a pic of it falling, but once the trunk made the first cracking noise, gravity brought it down too fast for me to raise the digicam.  It is probably related to how damaged the tree was as well.  Oh, the pile behind hubby is made up of deadfall from the damaged trees on that side of the property.  There are three more piles of deadfall on the other cardinal points - that is only the north heap.

One down, three more to go ... and of course there is the clean-up after they are on the ground.  Felling the tree seems easy next to the clean-up and cutting it into manageable pieces to move.

10 March 2013

Hubby assembles the coop kit

I snapped a couple of pics yesterday afternoon as hubby put together the little chicken coop kit.  We were both feeling good yesterday morning, and the tax refund was burning a hole in our bank account ... and as I mentioned previously it took much willpower for us to walk out of TSC without the chicks or coop kit last time,  This time, that was the whole point of going back.
Hubby assembling the coop

a clearer pic, thanks to a Gimp filter called "cartoon" ...
 so now he looks like my live-in comic book hero!
Once it warmed up this morning, I brought the little girls out to the coop.  They were a bit timid at first, but now by mid-afternoon they are moving around like they hatched there.  Hubby set up his video camera for about 45 minutes this morning, which he says he'll edit in fast-forward just for amusement.

And I quote. Peep Peep Peep.

Yesterday we went into town and did some shopping .
As you can see we brought home some lively little ones.

I think they are a little camera shy.

02 March 2013

When we arrived, I started.

When we arrived I started to record what my day to day was like. Now Free and unemployed but what are my days going to be like? what will I do? will I be board?
As it turns out I will be working full time at homesteading and as a model painter. The second "job" will be self employment and a source of fun money. I am also working on my youtube channel, Hey every little bit helps.
 And this brings me back to what I have written about my days. Starting from the day the "mothership" landed.


We spent our first day home. We woke before noon and shortly went to lunch. Our day was spent out  looking for sheds and storage buildings. We have found two we want. At Lows we bought a small refrigerator for the house. We have an issue with the water heater, it runs out very fast . We are looking at an inline water heater. Lows will get far too much of our money. We ended the day with a small dinner and a nice chat about arranging the buildings and gardens. I fell asleep early shortly after 8:00 in the evening
Here's a little pic' I took one night looking at the moon.
 Thanks for looking!

First harvest - Salad Lunch!

Today marks a small but significant milestone here.  For today's lunch, I went out to the first garden box - aptly nicknamed the salad box - with an old wooden bowl and a pair of scissors to trim a bowlful of lettuce leaves for salads.  The romaine lettuce plants are bigger and more robust than the buttercrunch lettuce, so that made up the majority of leaves harvested, but I had two of the plastic cells in the buttercrunch flat that had two plants I could not separate (I did succeed at separating one other buttercrunch cluster for ten out of nine cells).

Since this is the first harvest (no matter how small) for this property, I simply had to snap a picture:
First romaine and buttercrunch lettuce harvest
While washing and tearing the leaves, I also grabbed the rest of the components for a good lunch salad out of the refrigerator: bacon, a hard-boiled egg, shredded mozzarella cheese, a slice of bread to make croutons, dried cranberries, baby carrots, and some store-bought spinach for the darker green we love.  Hubby asked if I intended to get a pic of the salads before we began to eat:
first salads from the garden box
Out in the seedling tray, waiting for this latest cold front to pass, are two varieties of spinach, two varieties of carrots, two more varieties of lettuce, and three varieties of beets.  We have already agreed to use part of our tax return on a chicken coop and some chicks ... especially considering how much will-power and self-discipline from both of us it took to leave Tractor Supply without a small coop kit and a handful of cheeping baby chicks.  As the season progresses, we plan (hope) to get more of our salads from just outside our front door!