Archive | August, 2015

Homestead Update

30 Aug

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I use this net to sweep through the soybeans I check each week. In this field I swept up several honey bees which was unusual since these soybeans were no longer blooming. But, the weeds in the field were blooming. The main weed they were working was prickly sida, commonly known as teaweed.

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It is hard to tell from the picture, but teaweeds have lots of small yellow blooms. They sure seemed to like those blooms!

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I drove by this pile of driftwood from the river backwater and noticed someone had thrown a bunch of wooden shipping pallets onto the pile. Well, you know what happened to those pallets don’t you? That’s right, I went back and got them and stacked them behind my barn. I can always use a good pallet!

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I drove by this house and noticed this bush. Do you see those dead limbs sticking up and the green foliage underneath? That is a huge, old fig bush that was frozen back to the ground two winters ago, but regrew from the roots. My small bushes did the same thing, but this bush was at least 15 feet tall. That’s how cold the winter was!

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Some of my regular readers know how I keep my eyes open and spot lots of things lying on the side of the road. I spotted this out of the corner of my eye and thought “Oh Lord, surely that is not what it looks like.” And thankfully it was just a doll. There are some evil, vicious people in the world today,  just like the nut who killed the TV reporter live on-air last week. You never know what kind of murder and mayhem you may encounter out in the world. You have to be on guard at all times. The TV and internet has been full of articles remembering this 10 year anniversary of hurricane Katrina. Many, many people said they were shocked at how fast civilization collapsed once the electricity went off. I’m not the least bit surprised. As a matter of fact, I surprised it doesn’t happen more often! The world is full of animals just waiting for an excuse to go on a rampage. The stock market crashed (not really a crash they say, just a correction) and the powers that be said don’t worry, everything will be OK. Keep moving, nothing to see here! Keep your bullets, beans and bandages stocked up and keep prepping everyone!

Rosie Swale Pope

29 Aug

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We had a famous visitor to the homestead today; Rosie Swale Pope. We looked out next to the highway and someone was sitting under one of our trees enjoying the shade. We went down to check and see if she needed some help and started talking to her about her journey. We gave her some water and food while she told us about her life story. This is one amazing woman! I came in and did some online research and couldn’t believe some of the thing she has accomplished. She is a famous adventurer and motivational speaker who is currently running solo across The US pulling a 300 pound cart behind her that has all her supplies and this is where she sleeps at night! One of the things she claims is running 27 marathons in 27 days. I don’t know if I believe that! I think that would kill your body, I don’t care how fit you are. Just Google her name and you can read about some of her miraculous adventures. Below is an excerpt from an article in the Philadelphia Enquirer.

When you first meet United Kingdom’s Rosie Swale Pope, referred to by most people as just Rosie, you can’t help getting caught up in her enthusiasm and her love of life. She is on a mission to raise cancer awareness and to inspire people to live life to the fullest and to never give up. She made a stop in Philadelphia Wednesday and Thursday as a part of her journey to run the United States from New York to San Francisco.

“I first came to America as part of my sailing trip,” she said, referring to her solo transatlantic voyage in 1982. “I was blown away by how friendly America was.”

She also spent time here on her trip around the world. This time around she is exploring as much of the states as she can. She expects to run 10 to 12 miles a day. It should take her about 9 months to a year to complete this jaunt.

“I can do 17 miles a day and have even done 27 miles a day before, but this trip I want to spend more time meeting and talking with people,” she said.

When she leaves Philly, Rosie will be heading to Washington through Baltimore and she plans on stopping by the White House although she doesn’t expect to meet with the president. Then she will head to Louisville Kentucky and all the way west to San Francisco.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc/Global-adventurer-Rosie-runs-across-America.html#AtFwyzL4QPcykHs1.99

Rosie has sailed around the world in a sailboat with her husband, and after his death from cancer, she sailed solo across the Atlantic Ocean, one of only 4 women to ever do so. She trekked alone 3000 miles on horseback through Chile and has run marathons all over the world, even through the Sahara Desert. We wish her well in her trek across America! God bless you Rosie!

Homestead Update

16 Aug

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I didn’t do much around here this week although I did pick a few grapes from the vines I planted last Spring. I’ve neglected the orchard this Summer, but hopefully everything that survives will be tough and hardy for the future. I disked up a small area in the back preparing to plant some turnip greens when we get a rain. We have 3 days with a 50% chance this week so maybe I can get the greens planted then.

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I found the first open cotton bolls of the year this week. The bolls are small and dinky because they came from a burned up sand blow area in a field, but at least they are an omen of things to come. The end of this season is near! Finally!

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As I was working, I stopped under a tree to send a text on my phone and these chickens came running out to my truck. I guess they thought I was going to feed them. Someday soon I will have chickens here on the homestead. If you look at the top of the picture you can see the sun shining through the fog that morning. We have a lot of heavy fog days in August because of the high humidity. That’s what drives the heat index values so high in the Summer. It’s cooler this week, but the prior week the heat index was nearly 115 degrees. That is way too hot!

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This is a picture of one of the Cooper’s Hawks that live here at the homestead. When I do get chickens, I don’t know if I will ever be able to let them free range because of the hawks. Do any of you have hawks bother your chickens? Keep prepping everyone!

Antique Cars

15 Aug

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Sweet Thing and I ate lunch at Cracker Barrel last Sunday and we spotted these antique cars on the parking lot. I guess they had been to a car show in the area. They sure are spiffy aren’t they? I really like that truck pulling that camper, although I bet GMC never put out a stock model truck like that. That one is a purely custom job.

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This is a picture of one of the fields I work being replanted to soybeans on August 13th. And before you ask, yes, that is way too late to be planting beans. The river flooded out the original beans, but the land lord demanded they be replanted. The land lord has nothing to risk and everything to gain. If they yield 12 bushels he gets 4 bushels; if they cut 0 he gets nothing but it costs him nothing. On the other hand, if they yield 12 bushels, the farmer gets 8 bushels which won’t cover his costs of replanting and if they yield nothing he has to bear the entire costs of replanting. That is not a fair arrangement, but that is the feudal, share cropping system most farmers work under.

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This is a big ole’ bollworm buried up in this cotton boll. That is not something you want to see.

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This is a Fall Armyworm feeding on a cotton bloom. Soon he will be buried up in a boll as well.

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This is a milo leaf covered up with White Sugarcane Aphids. This is a new pest for us, one that is expensive to deal with. As you can see, there are several hundred aphids on that one leaf. They will suck the life out of that plant as well as dripping so much honey dew onto the rest of the plant that at harvest it will gum up the combine making it impossible to harvest the milo. More to come tomorrow.

Homestead Update

8 Aug

I went to our local bee keepers meeting and asked questions about why my bees weren’t making honey. Apparently my hives are “honey bound”. My bottom deep super is full of brood, and the next super doesn’t contain any brood, it is all capped honey. The old-timer beeks said my queen doesn’t want to cross that capped honey so she is content to stay in the lower super and lay more eggs there. They suggested I place another super between the upper and lower supers. I did that as well as checker boarding the brood frames in the lower super and the new middle super which I added. Hopefully now the bees will think they have a lot of empty space to work with and they will get busy!

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I seem to have a lot of adult bees.

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I also have a good bit of old capped brood. I never did find the queen, and I didn’t see any small brood or eggs and that has me worried. I will check back in another week or so and see if I spot any new activity. I have a lot to learn about bee keeping. I should have done this a month ago but I depended on what I read in the books. According to the books, I am supposed to have two deep brood chambers topped by honey supers. Well, apparently my bees didn’t read the instruction manual! They stored an entire deep super of honey directly above their one brood chamber. I guess they felt like that was enough because they wouldn’t go up to the next super and store more. Some of the beeks suggested I take some of the honey out of the deep super to encourage them to replace it. I declined to do that, I want to be sure the bees have enough to survive the winter. If they do happen to make some more honey and store it in the empty medium super I placed on top, I might harvest some of that. Until then I will just let them keep what they have made so far for their own use.

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Sweet Thing went flea market shopping with her sister while I worked last Saturday. She brought home this nice piece of railroad iron I will use as an anvil. There is something nice and satisfying  about the sound of a hammer ringing off of a good piece of rail! I had looked at iron like this before when we were shopping together, but the price was always too high. She paid $9 for this and I said that was a price I would have paid myself. I put the rail to good use already; I used it to nail together the new frames I put in the new supers I just added to my hives.

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Last week while I was checking one of my fields, I rounded a corner on my motor cycle and flushed up 4 white rabbits. They took off in a flash before I could get a good look at them. I wondered if they were albinos or escaped tame rabbits but I couldn’t tell. This week when I approached that spot, I stopped my motor cycle and quietly walked around to where I spotted them and I managed to get up close to this one. Sure enough, it is a domesticated rabbit. It is mostly white with black ears, eyes and nose. Right after I snapped this picture, it took off into the weeds so they certainly aren’t tame anymore! Keep your eyes open everyone, you never know what you might see!

Homestead Update

2 Aug

I didn’t do anything much around the homestead this week. The heat index has been around 110 for the last 2 weeks but Tuesday the actual temperature was only 86 with low humidity, it was like being on vacation that day! I am still worried about my bees, they have not made any honey in the past 6 weeks. I have been feeding them sugar water but I stopped feeding this week. Maybe I am making them lazy and they need to go out and find their own food. I will be going to the area bee keepers meeting this week and I will definitely be picking the brains of some of the experienced beeks to see if I am doing something wrong.

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This is a bee yard right beside a cotton field I check each week. And I do mean the hives are right next to the cotton. The hives are sitting within 5 feet of the cotton. What is that bee keeper thinking? All the bee keepers are screaming about the neonics harming the bees, and we apply those chemicals to cotton several times each year. He should at least move them back away from the field. I have been checking out the hives closely since I know more about what I am seeing. I noticed the commercial keepers don’t use inner covers or queen excluders. They also use migratory covers which they slide back from the edge to allow the bees to have an upper entrance.

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I guess they don’t worry about the rain running down through the opening.

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They are replacing the cross ties on the railroad near one of my fields. This is a pile of the old, ragged ones.

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They used steel bands to bundle the good ties in groups of sixteen and stacked them up to picked up and put on a truck for resale. I sure could use some of those around here on the homestead.

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I saw this freshly spread material on one of the many gravel roads I travel. At first glance it looks like crushed granite, but it is actually crushed steel mill slag. This slag is a waste by-product formed during the steel making process. You can buy this slag from the mills for virtually nothing except the cost of hauling the material. I saw them spreading some on the road one day and I asked the road worker if it was slag. He replied yes it is and volunteered it is a bunch of crap if you ask me! He said it is so soft after being driven over for a short while, the pieces get smaller and smaller until they just completely disappear. None-the-less, I could use several loads of that here on the homestead as well!

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I went out to my man-cave today and Oreo and Kensey were laying on my workbench soaking up the air-conditioning. That’s two cool kitties! Keep prepping everyone!