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Homestead Update 3/19/17

19 Mar

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Tomorrow is the first day of Spring, but this is what we had last week, maybe 2 inches of snow.

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I ordered these large bags of wild flower seeds but I need to wait another month before I plant them. I wanted to have some flowers for my bees to feed on. Speeking of bees, I split one of my hives today. I opened it up and every frame was crawling with bees and there was a LOT of brood, much of it capped and ready to hatch. I did a walk-away split on this hive last year and it worked perfectly, I hope it turns out that well again.

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I made 10 telescoping covers for my hives recently and I wanted to put metal on the covers like the ones I buy from Mann Lake. I bought this metal brake from Harbor Freight two years ago so I decided it was time to give it a try.

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I have to admit my first attempt was an abject failure! The cover on the bottom is my second attempt and it looks just fine. The cover on top is the one I had to re-bend and try a second attempt, that is why it is so wrinkled and ugly. After covering six of the tops, I realize I really didn’t need the metal brake because the aluminum flashing is so thin. The flashing might be twice as thick as a store-bought pie plate, but describing it like that is being generous. I could have made a metal brake using a couple of 2X4s and it would have worked just fine for this task, but I might need to bend something heavier in the future so I will hold on to it.

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I had a meeting with one of my clients at his office and I checked out his train set. This is not a child’s set, this is a big-boy set!

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I doubt if I will ever see a more elaborate set than this one!

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I was looking through my pictures for this post and I realized I haven’t posted a picture of Brandy lately. She weighs 9 pounds now and that should be her final, adult size. It is a real ball of laughs watching her play with her toys!

 

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I was in the restroom of Subway recently, and I saw this sign written in braille stating employees must wash hand before returning to work. Then I wondered to myself “how many blind people do they have making sandwiches at this Subway?” Just more unnecessary government regulations intruding on our lives. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 3/5/2017

5 Mar

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This week I planted some cold crops in my raised bed. The bed did so well last summer even with me neglecting it badly I decided to give the lettuce, broccoli and onions a try.

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I put together and painted some bee hive supers and assembled some frames. I even made some frames from scratch and they turned out really good. But, I have to say, if I can buy them from Mann Lake for 88 cents that is cheap enough not to make them myself.IMG_20170215_092921808_HDR

I saw this cardboard box on the side of the road near our house so I just had to stop and pick it up.

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Turns out, it was just filled with garbage! Oh well, you can’t find a prize every time.

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The wind blew our newspaper down the road and when I walked over to pick it up, I found this nice, Uncle Mike’s sidekick holster. Score!

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We spent the weekend in Memphis at the Peabody Hotel for a meeting I attended. While there we dined at Texas De Brazil. After consuming several pounds of grilled meats, I finished off my meal with Key Lime pie, vanilla bean ice cream, and coffee.IMG_20170302_201907071

Sweet Thing finished up with Pecan pie, ice cream, and coffee. If you go to Texas De Brazil, be sure to bring your appetite! Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 2/12/17

12 Feb

The temperatures have been unseasonably warm the past 3 weeks so we are having a false Spring. When this happens, we always get  another hard freeze after the fruit trees have bloomed out so we will have no locally grown fruit this year. The daffodils are starting to bloom, the trees are budding out and the forsythia is blooming. This is 2-3 weeks too early for here. It has been so warm my bees have been really flying! They are not just cleansing, they are foraging and bringing in pollen. I plan on adding some sugar water to the feeders next week so they don’t starve. I went into Winter with 5 hives, but now I am down to 4 hives.

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This is the dead hive. I was one frame short in the lower hive body so when I placed the medium super on top of it, the bees drew out the comb to fill in the space anyway. The comb just hung down from the frame above it.

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I set up 7 hives in anticipation of swarm season and I will add 3 more hives next week. I am tired of the grass growing up around the hives so I put down a layer of landscape cloth before I set the hives.

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I will come back soon and add some pine bark mulch on top of the fabric to hold down the grass.

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I took this picture of a tree outside of one of my farmer’s shop.

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That is what a 20 year old crepe myrtle looks like if it hasn’t been butchered back to keep it short. I really like the look of that trunk with the bark peeled off, that tree has a lot of character.

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I used my front end loader and pushed up a pile of old limbs and I discovered this really nice looking composted material on the bottom of the pile. I flipped it over with the old compost on top of the fresher limbs on the bottom. I think in a couple of more years, I can get some good usable compost from the bottom of the pile. I also uncovered a big brown snake under the pile. I’ll have to start watching out for them now since the weather is so warm.

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I put together this 12 inch bandsaw from Harbor Freight. And like anything from HF that has a lot of parts, following the instructions is a bit problematic because they are obviously written by some Chinese dude with only a rudimentary grasp of the English language. You really have to use your imagination and judgment to put this together. But after a little trial and error, I only had one small screw hole that had been drilled incorrectly, but I redrilled the hole myself so problem solved! I’ll have another post next week, until then keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 9/24/16

25 Sep

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I finally had a good rain on my garden area to bring up the turnip greens and deer browse I planted 2 weeks ago. I checked yesterday and it appears I’m going to have a good stand of greens to pick in a couple of weeks. I love some fresh winter greens! I found this good, heavy metal barrel on the side of the interstate. I’m not sure what it held, but the label said it was some sort of coating and sealer. It looks like it was full of thick, tan, rubberized paint. I might use this for collecting sawdust in my workshop. When I start working on a lot of wood working projects, that creates a lot of sawdust that I want to keep.

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I started feeding my bees with this 5 gallon community feeder. I know I am probably feeding bees from all over the area, but I haven’t had time to put the screened feeders on the hives, maybe next week. I lost another hive recently. The hive was fine two weeks ago, then I noticed a lack of activity yesterday. I opened the hive up and found no bees, and it was full of wax moth larvae. Nasty! I still had 15 swarm traps out because I couldn’t pick them up as I have been housebound. Well, I went out yesterday and picked up 6 of them and low and behold, there were bees in one of them. I brought them home and transferred them over, but they are really strange. I don’t think they have a queen. They have built 4 pieces of comb about 6 inches square, but there is nothing inside the cells, there is no honey, pollen, or brood. It will be interesting to see how long they last.

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These are some commercial hives beside a field I check each week. I know commercial bee keepers do things differently than us hobbyists, but these hives are on the north side of the tree line. These hives will be shaded all day long and the books say put your hives in the sun to help reduce small hive beetles. I have my hives in the sun and I always worry they are getting too hot. I have lots to learn about bees, I guess. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 9/11/16

11 Sep

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Just a quick post to let you know how things are going around here. I looked out of the back door recently and I saw 9 turkeys grazing across the yard. I finished planting the deer browse and turnip green patch in the back in anticipation of the 80% chance of rain the weathermen were promising. After I hurried to get it all planted, we only got 1/10 of an inch of rain so the seeds will just lay there until we get some decent rain.

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I started feeding bees with a community feeder. I hope to install the individual no-drown feeders in each hive tomorrow.

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I encountered this grain truck as I was making my rounds this week. The truck came around the corner of this intersection and the trailer full of corn collapsed. I bet the driver said “Darn”!

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I also encountered these pigs feeding in the edge of one of the cotton fields I check. After I took this picture, I chased them back to their pen where they belonged!

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I also saw this Mini-Mansion that had burned during the past week. It reminded me to check my fire extinguishers when I got home. You always need to be prepared for fire safety. Keep prepping everyone.

9-11

No, I didn’t forget this was the 15th anniversary of the attack on 9-11. I have been watching the lip service the politicians have been giving this event over the weekend and I have been disgusted beyond words. I don’t know exactly what needs to be done with these terrorist; there is not one, easy solution. We might be able to stop the big organized attacks, but there is no way to stop all of the lone wolf attacks, so I guess we will just have to learn to live with those. We should have left Saddam in charge over there, he kept those people in Iraq under control. They were too afraid of what he would do to them to start any bull. Maybe we need to take a lesson from him? God bless America!

Homestead Update 8/27/16

28 Aug

I thought my psoriasis was getting much better until I went out to look at a cotton field and walked around for a couple of hours and got hot and sweaty.

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Now I have this red, itchy rash again! Oh well, I guess Sweet Thing was right, it is too soon to get out and work. Man, I hate it when she’s right!

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We were out looking at some cotton with a new disease for our area called Target Spot. If you look at picture closely, you can see a pile of leaves on the ground underneath the cotton plants. The leaves are supposed to still be on the plant, but the disease infected them and caused them to prematurely defoliate. That caused the cotton bolls to be underdeveloped and probably not be harvestable. There is really not a good cure for this disease, so that is just one more problem to worry with!

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I did manage to check my bee hives again, and they were doing quite well. We harvested 4 frames of honey and ended up with almost a gallon of honey. Sweet!

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My bees have been searching for water and I noticed them drinking out of this bucket I placed under the dripline of my barn. I use this water for watering my plants when the bucket catches some rain. I sliced some 1/4 inch slices of swimming pool noodles and placed the slices in the bucket for the bees to land on and get a drink. So far, they are not using the slices, they still land on the bucket and walk down the side to the water.

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I filled up this plastic tray with rocks and fresh water and they started drinking from it as well. I guess I am going to start feeding them sugar water again. I have been looking around for plants that might be blooming to provide forage for the bees and I see very little available. I guess we are in the late season dearth. Some of the fall plants such as Goldenrod will be blooming soon, but until then they could use some supplemental feeding I think.I promised myself I would take better care of my bees this year. Last year I neglected them due to beginners ignorance, and this year I was unable to tend to them for 8 weeks due to my allergic reaction and psoriasis. Well, even though I missed the summer caring for them, there is no reason to neglect them now. Hopefully next year will be the year they finally improve and excel. 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!