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Homestead Update 4/16/2017

16 Apr

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I had some slopes on the Homestead that were starting to wash and develop the beginnings of gullies so I went to the Nursery and bought 1/2 of a pallet of Zoysia Sod.

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I used my Kubota tractor and disc to work and loosen the soil before laying the sod. Since then I have been watering the sod every day and it is supposed to rain several days in the coming week so I hope it takes hold. If this works out I plan on doing more of this next Spring because I have several spots with washes starting.

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The lettuce in the raised bed is doing really well. Sweet Thing picked a big mess to take to the in-laws for Easter dinner and I expect it will be delicious.

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Speaking of Sweet Thing, she has been working to straighten up and organize her sewing room. I noticed 5 different sewing machines over there and I asked her why she needed so many. She asked me how many woodworking saws I had so I just shut up and smiled!

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She really has everything neat and organized. Maybe I should ask her to come straighten out my workshop!

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On the bee keeping front, I caught my first ever cluster swarm. This lady called three weeks ago and said she had a swarm in a bush, but before I could get there the bees left. Then she called a few days ago about this swarm.

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The swarm was so low to the ground I couldn’t rake them into the box so I just reached into the swarm and pulled off several double handfuls of bees and dropped them into the box. Eventually the stragglers began to go into the opening on their own.

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After the cluster got smaller, I got brave and removed my glove and scooped up a handful of bees barehanded. That is a really strange feeling to have a hand full of bees, and not one single sting! I transferred them into a hive when I got home and now after 5 days they seem to be doing fine.

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I was out and about putting out my swarm traps and I noticed this shrub. There were many of them in this fence line and most of them had really pretty red flowers on them. I researched it and determined it is a native plant “Red Buckeye”. I think it will be suitable for naturalizing so I am going to dig up some of the smaller ones and replant them. Have any of you had any experience with this plant? And oh yeah, my swarm traps. I put out 22 traps, some of them have been out 3 weeks, some 2 weeks and some 1 week. I checked them all Friday and I had no bees. Skunked! 0 for 22. I still expect to capture several swarms and I’ll keep you posted.

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I hope all of you had a peaceful, blessed Easter. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 4/2/2017

2 Apr

Just a quick update, my phone and computer are not communicating properly so I couldn’t upload any new pictures.

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I do have this picture I haven’t used yet. Two weeks ago when we had the below freezing cold snap, I covered my Hostas with a blanket. And I literally mean a blanket. This is an old reject I use for hauling furniture and such so I didn’t figure it would be a big loss if it was ruined. The next day was cold but sunny so I just laid it out across the hood of my truck and it dried just fine. I’m glad I covered them up. I missed one and the freeze bit it back to the ground.

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I also managed to put out 15 swarm traps in the last 2 weeks. I still have 10 more to go. If the weather will cooperate I hope to put them out next week. Hopefully I will get my computer issues corrected, until then, I’ll let you know how it goes. Keep prepping everyone!

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 10-30-16

30 Oct

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Just a quick post to let you know I am still alive. I haven’t had an outbreak of psoriasis in 3 weeks so maybe the medicine is finally taking effect. Our cotton is almost completely harvested and the yields were pretty good.

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I made this cherry picker basket to lift up with the bucket on my front end loader on my tractor.

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I had to replace the security light on the front of the shop. While I was at it I replaced my American flag. She’s flying pretty and proud ain’t she? I had to buy that light at Home Depot, they don’t sell metal halide lights at Lowe’s anymore. All they had were fluorescent and LEDs and I thought the metal halide would be brighter.

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After I took the old one down, I had second thoughts however. This old one got hot enough to burn and melt the wires and ballast in the fixture, that is why it quit working. If I hadn’t already mounted the new halide light, I think I would have opted to put up an LED light. I have decided I really like the LED lights in the house even though they are really expensive up front. As the lights need replacing around here, I replace them with LEDs. Someday they will all be LEDs unless they come up with something better in the next few years.

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I planted these mustard greens 4 weeks ago and they have grown big enough to pick. Sweet Thing has already picked several sacks and took them to her mother and sister. I guess the next sack will be mine. I love fresh greens!

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I grew a few cantaloupes to go along with the peppers and tomatoes I grew in the raised bed I made. I am declaring the raised bed method a success! Next Summer I will have a couple of more beds ready. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update

4 Sep

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I was feeling well enough to get out and do some light chores this past week. I started discing an area in the back where I plant the deer browse and turnip green patch. The ground was so hard and dry, the disc was just rolling along on the ground without doing much cutting. I took some scrap wood, made a tray on top of the disc, then placed 4, 80 pound sacks of Quikcrete on top for some additional weight. Now it will sink down and cut much better on each pass.

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I made another wire barrel to burn our garbage. The old one lasted for a year so that is much more economical than buying the DR model costing $450.00!

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Since I have been keeping bees, I take specific notice of any blooming plants. I bought this plant (Texas Jasmine) from the Master Gardeners sale last May, but I still have not planted it, it still is in the pot. The Master Gardeners have a sale each spring, and this year the sale was from 8:00 until 2:00. I learned from past experience, if you wait until 1:00 to get there, they are practically giving things away so they don’t have to take them home. They had some red wagons to place your purchases in then you could roll them to your vehicle. After 1:00, you could fill a wagon with everything you could get in one, and the total price would be $10.00! I bought 20 pots of different plants, but since I was confined inside due to my illness, they are all still in the pots. I did manage to plant 2 apple trees last week that I bought at Lowe’s.

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I took this picture of our fruit trees while I was mowing late one evening. The trees are doing pretty well considering the lack of care I have given them. They are 2 years old now, so I think the root system should be well established. I am going to prune them back and shape them into the proper configuration to produce a maximum yield. And oh yeah, I still think Colin Kaepernick is a disgrace! Keep prepping everyone!

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If Colin saw this, a bolt of shame should strike him right between his eyes, like a bolt of lightning from the sky, causing him to drop to his knees and weep in shame. Do you think that would happen? No, he is too much of an egotistical, narcissistic dog turd to feel any empathy for anyone other than himself.

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!

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!