Homestead Update 7/24/16

24 Jul

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I spent 6 more days in the hospital since I last posted. I think I am finally getting over this allergic reaction after 5 weeks. But, since I have been confined inside the house, I haven’t done much work around here. I have decided the raised bed garden experiment is a success. I was concerned that the plants would burn up when it got hot and dry like it is now, but just a few minutes of watering every third day is enough to keep the plants hale and healthy.

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This is just a few of the tomatoes Sweet Thing picked from the raised bed. The peppers, cantaloupes, and egg plant look just fine as well. I also managed to look into my bee hives yesterday, and I was pleasantly surprised how well they were doing. Two of the hives had swarms installed with an empty super on top with jar feeders inside. I was really afraid the bees would have built all sorts of comb in the upper super since they have had a month to build up while I have been down. Other than a few small pieces of comb, everything was as it should be. I even have several frames of honey I am going to harvest next week when I get set up and ready. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 7/3/16

3 Jul

I haven’t done any work around the homestead in two weeks due to my illness. I had an allergic reaction to Keflex that is so severe it had me in the hospital for 4 days this week.

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That is my right hip and upper thigh.

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That is the back of my left leg. Looks pretty bad, huh? Yeah it feels pretty bad too. My entire body, front and back, looks like this from my neck down to my knees. I expect to have two more really painful days then the whelps and blisters should be finished and I will just have to wait for the peeling and healing to finish. I have missed 10 days of work and will miss at least 7 more. My business partner and employees have been doing my work in addition to theirs so I am going to owe them a big debt of gratitude. I have been doing this job for 38 years and this is the first time in all of those years I have missed more than 1 day of work during the Summer. Another bad thing about this is the fact that I have to stay inside all the time. I can’t get hot or sweat in the least bit or the rash will just get worse. It’s a shame I’m home and not working but unable to do some light chores around here like straighten up my workshop or check in on my honeybees. I know they need some attention, but Mother Nature will just have to take care of them for now.

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This is a native American artifact I found a few weeks ago. It is actually a Paleo Point, which may be 12,000 years old! This is the old stuff PP often asks me about. I have found 3 new places to find artifacts this year. While I have been laid up in the house, I have been watching YouTube videos of people hunting and finding artifacts. I had to stop watching those videos, it is tearing me up that I can’t hunt my new locations! I hope to be on the mend soon and maybe I can hunt a little more before the crops get too big and canopy over and hide the ground. I have found some really good artifacts and I am preparing a long post with some of them. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 6/25/16

26 Jun

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It has been so long since I posted anything I hardly know where to start. The picture above is what a good garden should look like, unfortunately it is not mine. I just grabbed one from the net to show what I hope to obtain someday. I do have my one raised bed that is looking very good, but now is the time of year to determine whether the raised bed gardening method is do-able. It is becoming very hot and dry so I will have to see how the bed holds up with the amount of irrigation I can apply to it.

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My longtime readers know I am a fan of Hostas. I recently received these Hostas in the mail. I was real leery of the condition these Hostas would arrive in, but they looked great! I ordered them from Hostasdirect.com and I have received one other order from them and it arrived perfectly as well.

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I planted them in pots and placed them under a tree. You might notice the two pots on the right seem to be empty. That is because they ARE empty! These pots are sitting on an 18 inch tall table, so the only thing I can figure is a squirrel got up there and ate them. Well, if it’s not slugs or Voles it is going to be squirrels. Just another reason to hate those filthy treerats!

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I’ve had another bad experience with my honeybees. I ended up with 7 swarms captured, but through my own neglect I lost one of them. I went out late one evening and picked up the trap then placed it atop the new hive where I intended to transfer it to. When I went out at 7:30 am to do the transfer, there was a passing, brief, pop-up thundershower occurring. I needed to go to work so I left, planning to be back by 10:00. It turned out to be 1:30 and when I opened the trap I was sick. Those bees were dead, suffocated from heat. I killed those bees plain and simple. Well, I will chalk it up to  a lesson learned. You can’t leave the traps out in the direct sun when the temperature is 85 degrees. That is making me wonder about my other hives sitting there in the full sun. I am definitely going to construct some wire vents to put on some of them when it really gets hot to check if they do better than the conventional hives.

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Two weeks ago, I developed a case of shingles. I had these red sores under my arm and running down my ribcage. I went to the doctor and got some medication for the problem. About one week after I started this round of medicine, I had a severe (and I do mean severe) allergic reaction to the drugs. The rash started out as whelps on my stomach and back and it has steadily gotten worse.

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Now I am covered with this rash, front and back, from my neck down to my knees. As you read this, I will be checked into the hospital receiving treatment, so I will update you on how this works out. Keep prepping everyone!

Honey Bees!

30 May

I want to do a quick post about my bees.

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This is what my best hive looked like yesterday. I have just been dying to get in there and split that hive before they swarmed again, but I just have not had time until today. Not only did I split the hive, we kept 3 frames of honey for ourselves, which was our first! Oh, and as I was looking through the frames, I actually found the queen! That is the first time I had a positive ID on her! That made me really paranoid, I VERY carefully put that frame back into the super and carefully put the next one beside it so I would not smash her. That would have been tragic because she seems to be a super egg layer!

 

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I don’t have an extractor so I used the scrape and crush method.

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We scraped 3 frames and ended up with just over 3 liters of honey. It seems to be a bit foamy after we screened it through a screen colander and a nylon mesh paint strainer. I’ll look in the morning to see how it looks then. Of course we had to sample the goods while we were working, and it was the best tasting honey the world has ever known!

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I also ended up with 2 quarts of this honey/wax mix. I don’t know what it is good for so I will just freeze it for now. I managed to transfer two hives that I caught in my swarm traps, and I have 4 more swarms trapped that I am sure about. I need to get them this week if at all possible.

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This trap had a swarm for at least 2 weeks before I brought it in. The trap was so heavy, I had trouble lifting it. When I opened it, I found lots of bees and lots and lots of brood. I put them in a hive and immediately gave them another empty super to build in. I am going to keep a better check on this hive than I did my other hives last year.

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This is one of my traps that ended up on the ground because the limb holding it up broke. When I discovered it, I had my ATV in the back of my truck so I had nowhere to put it. I moved it to the side of the field and came back in two weeks to pick it up. Low and behold, it had a swarm of bees in it! It was sitting on the ground, the entrance hole about 4 inches off of the ground, facing North. I guess those bees didn’t read the bee manual! Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 5-28-16

28 May

I am back to working my usual 70 hour work week for this time of year so I didn’t have much time for chores around the homestead, but I did want to write a quick update. Not only am I working long hours, when I do have a little time off when it rains, I have still been going to Arkansas to get my parents house ready to move into and check on my sister after her snake bite. She is doing much better now, but she was in the hospital 7 days receiving intravenous antibiotics. I asked her if the bite hurt and she said yes, it burned like fire anytime the pain meds wore off the first few days!

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We needed to make a quick, one night, trip so we decided to take Brandy with us on a “shake down” cruise to see how she traveled. Low and behold, she was a perfect traveler! It is a five hour trip and she slept most of the way down, and when we came home she did the same thing so apparently riding makes her calm and sleepy. When we arrived at the new house, she ran and played and was not bothered in the least that she was in a strange, new place.

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Those are volunteer tomatoes that came up in a large pot right out of our back door. The upper picture was taken only a week prior to the picture below, the third picture was another week later, they are really growing. We always have these volunteer tomatoes come up. I have read instructions on saving tomato seeds where you wash the pulp and dry the seeds on top of a refrigerator. I’m sure that works fine, but we don’t go to that trouble. During the growing season, when we see a tomato we don’t intend to harvest for any reason, we leave it on the vine until it gets very overripe. We then pick the tomato and drop it into the soil in the pots. We had literally dozens of small plants emerge this Spring. We gave some away and I replanted the rest after I put new potting soil in the pots. That is good, Miracle Grow potting soil by the way, it is much better than cheap, Dollar Store potting soil. You could do the same thing in a garden, and if you wanted to rotate locations in the garden to help reduce disease pressure, you could simply drop the overripe tomatoes in the location you want them to grow the following year. Simple and easy, just the way I like it. More to come tomorrow. Keep Prepping everyone!

Snake Bite!

8 May

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My sister was cleaning up some old firewood on the patio and she was bitten by a Copperhead! You can see the fang marks in the center of the circle by her little toe. She said she knew she needed to be careful and watch for snakes and spiders but this one got her anyway. She said the doctors didn’t give her any anti-venom. They told her the anti-venom could be as bad or worse than the bite itself. They are giving her intravenous antibiotics and meds to control the pain. I sure feel bad for her, get well soon, Sis!

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Speaking of snakes, I was riding along a drainage canal when I looked over the edge and spotted this Moccasin curled up on a limb soaking up some sun.

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I picked up a clod of dirt and threw it at him. I partially dislodged him from his perch and needless to say he was not pleased! He is coiled up in striking position flicking his tongue like a whip!

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I have been going out in the fields checking on crops, and I found a new spot to look for Native American Artifacts. These are some bits and pieces of artifacts as well as some pottery shards, so I know I am searching in a good spot.

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I found this nice, round smooth stone as I was searching. I can’t be sure it is an artifact, but it sure fits my hand well and could be very useful to a Native so I am hanging on to it.

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I did find one decent piece so I am excited to come back and check this spot again. It is in a corn field so I will only have a few weeks before the corn becomes too big and hides the ground.

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I wondered what might have attracted the natives to this spot so I looked around and sure enough I spotted this naturally occurring small river at the head of this field. Of course, modern men have cleaned all the trees and brush out of the channel for faster drainage, but it still would have been here 500 or more years ago to provide many of the things a primitive man would have needed. The river would provide water for drinking, cooking, bathing, as well as providing fish, frogs, turtles and act as an attractant for game animals and birds.

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Just a quick update on Brandy. Here she is in her favorite spot, nestled up in the crook of my arm. She is making good progress on her biting control and house breaking. She might end up being a good dog after all. Keep prepping everyone! Get ready for Hillary 2016. Heaven help us all!

Homestead Update 5/1/2016

1 May

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Well, it looks like we are going to be keeping Brandy after all. You look at this picture and say “Ah, Isn’t she a sweety.” No, she is not! She is so bad! I know why she was dumped. She bites and chews on everything, including our fingers. I understand that is partly from being a puppy, and partly from being a Terrier. We are trying to break her of the habit, I hope we make progress soon, I can’t stand to loose much more blood. We are also working on house breaking her and we are probably 80% there. Hopefully we will be 100% very soon.

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I had to work on getting my parent’s house ready for them to move in, and we are almost there. This is the dining room after I added the beadboard and trim. I think it looks pretty good.

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I was looking at my deer browse area in the back of the property and saw a lot of bees working the blooms. As I was watching that clover I noticed lots of Bumble Bees feeding there.

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As I was out working, I saw this field, probably 80 acres, just covered in some sort of Winter crop which was blooming heavily. I sure wished this field was closer to my hives, they could do a lot of foraging there!

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I saw a recipe in a newspaper that looked interesting, so Sweet Thing fixed it for me. This is a mix of Jalapenos, red and orange bell peppers, with a clove of garlic all steeped in a mixture of vinegar and sugar. Man that stuff is good! I could eat this every day! Keep prepping everyone!

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