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Homestead Update 12/30/2017

30 Dec

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The weatherman is predicting night time temperatures in the single digits for the next few days so I have been preparing. I know you Northerners are accustomed to these temps and you stay prepared but it is rare for us to be in the single digits. I pulled my two generators out and cranked them up and let them run making sure they were ready. I bought 15 gallons of Kerosene for my heaters and lamps. It is a big pain getting kerosene out of a 5 gallon can into these items so I bought this fuel pump. I had one that is a manual model but it doesn’t work too well, but this battery model is the cat’s meow! Just flip the switch and it pumps away. I wish I had bought one sooner. I wrapped my outside water faucets with insulation to keep them from freezing. The faucets are the only thing I have exposed, I hope I covered them enough!

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I worry about Jethro and Wilma in these bitter temps, but I have made them as comfortable as possible. Brandi goes out with me in the mornings when I feed them and she wears her insulated vest for two reasons. One is to keep warm, but the other is to have a bright fluorescent color to dissuade the Coopers Hawks from swooping down and snatching her up. Without her vest, she looks just like a rabbit running across the yard! I take her out and check all around before I put her down, but I still keep her close to me. Keep prepping everyone!

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Homestead Update 12/23/17

23 Dec

Well, it’s been a while since I have been here hasn’t it? I thought about the end of the year being near and I looked back to see what I had actually accomplished around here and I realized not much. I did manage to get a few routine chores done but not much in the way of big projects.

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I came home one day and found this Shepherd mix on my front porch. I checked his collar and he didn’t have a name tag. He was very friendly and I could tell he was very frightened and lost. I figured he would leave and go home on his own but after a couple of days he showed no sign of leaving. We posted him on Facebook and eventually we found his owner. Turns out, I actually knew his owner so I am sure he got back to his real home. Sweet Thing didn’t know it, but I was making plans in my head to keep the dog if no one claimed him. Smile

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I pulled my professional chipper-shredder out of storage after 3 years to get it started. I checked the oil and discovered the crankcase was full of gasoline which had leaked into the case. Not good! I changed the oil and started it up. It ran about 30 seconds before bright blue smoke came out of the exhaust the the engine shut down. I took off the carburetor and cleaned it up with carburetor cleaner. I put the carb back on the the engine and it ran like a sewing machine. Hard to believe after it has been stored all that time without being properly stored or started. I guess I got lucky on that one.

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I went into a convenience store recently and as I was walking in I noticed this garbage can. There were at least a dozen honey bees buzzing around it. They were feeding on the sticky residue from the spilled sodas and such. All of the natural forage was gone for the winter but since the temperature was 70 degrees the bees were out foraging anyway.

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I am going to try a different style of bee hive next summer as an experiment.  This is a Layens style hive. It is like a combination of a top bar hive and a langstroth  hive. It is constructed with 2 by dimension lumber so all of the sides and bottom are 1.5 inches of solid wood. This is intended to give superior insulation power. The hive is also narrow, deep, and dark inside which more closely mimics a bee’s natural home in a hollow tree. I will let you know how this works out later next year.

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I attended a business meeting last week at the world famous Peabody Hotel in Memphis. The hotel was beautifully decorated for Christmas and we were entertained by a Choral Group from a local middle school singing Christmas carols.

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While I attended the meeting, Sweet Thing attended a painting class where she painted this snowman. Apparently that is the latest thing around here to hold classes where the participants are giving painting instructions. Not to mention socializing and drinking lots of wine!

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Keep prepping everyone!! Oh, I almost forgot it’s almost Christmas! How about a tune from Bing Crosby? Enjoy.

 

Homestead Update 11/11/17

11 Nov

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Fall finally arrived here at the homestead and the trees are starting to show their colors.

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I planted an acre of greens in the back bottom right before we received an inch of rain and I got a tremendous emergence! I have more German Mustard, Florida Mustard, and Turnips than we could ever pick. Oh well, I am willing to share them with the deer and other wildlife.

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I still have some flowers blooming in the wildflower garden, but I don’t know what they are. The flowers look like cosmos, but some of them are 8 feet tall! Hopefully, next Spring I will have a good emergence from the flowers I had this this Summer that went to seed. And yes, I know that bee hive is leaning badly, I will get out there and straighten it up today. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 8/6/2017

6 Aug

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Things have been a bit slow around here as you might imagine when one is working 70 hours per week at my job. Our cotton is progressing nicely as evidenced by this large, grown boll. I haven’t seen any open bolls yet, but it won’t be long.

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As I was out working, I encountered these buzzards roosting on an electrical tower. I was fairly close and they didn’t seem too concerned with me being so close. I hope seeing buzzards eyeing me closely is not a portend of things to come!

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Sweet Thing and I went to a yard sale and I bought this Coleman cook stove for $10. The man said it had only been used once and I can believe it because it is so clean and shiny. I talked him into throwing in that electrical worker’s canvas tool bag for free. I’ve always wanted one of those even though I don’t know why!

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I picked up another Native American artifact, this tiny arrow head. You can see how tiny it is in comparison to the button on my sleeve.

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I hung some new flags in my barn storage area. Not much question where I stand is it?

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There is a cemetery adjoining a field I check each week and I noticed this concrete armadillo on a grave stone. The stone had the man’s name and dates of birth and death along with the caption “Here rests the Armadillo.” I guess the man’s nick name must have been Armadillo.

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Right beside the Armadillo was a gravestone marking where the ashes of this lady was buried. I’ve seen the ashes of people entombed in a mausoleum, kept in an urn in a home, or scattered in the sea, but I don’t recall ever seeing them buried. I see some interesting things in my daily travels. I don’t have any pictures, but my tomatoes and squash are doing well, and my okra is just starting to produce and my purple hull peas are blooming so my garden is doing fairly well considering how little time I have spent taking care of it. I went to a gun show last week and bought some reloading powder as well as some 22 LR. I haven’t seen any of that sitting on a shelf in several years. I guess we can thank President Trump for that. People must be feeling comfortable enough in our situation to slow down stocking up, but not me. I say buy now while you have the chance so when the next big shortage occurs so you won’t be caught unprepared. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 7/2/2017

2 Jul

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Well let’s see what has been going on around here the past 3 weeks other than working 70 hours a week. These are some of the onions I harvested from my raised bed garden.

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I picked this apple from our orchard. Most of the peach trees had no fruit because a late freeze got most of the blooms. But, one of the trees bloomed later and was loaded down with peaches. Unfortunately, every peach had a hole bored into it! I haven’t sprayed our trees, I have been just letting them grow and get established. I think next Spring I will spray them, they should be ready to produce some fruit by then.

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I was out working and I noticed this garden beside the field I was checking. There was a nice, old-fashioned, scarecrow to keep the birds away.

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I also parked in front of this old, closed down storefront. You don’t see many stores like this anymore, it’s a shame it is closed. I actually have a hat I would like cleaned.

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I found this jaw bone in a field. A horse maybe?

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I found these native American artifacts in a field. I found all of them within 10 feet of each other. I have found a lot of artifacts this Spring. I’ll take some pictures and show them to you later.

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I saw this large, blooming hedge by a field I was checking. I think my bees might like this.

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Anyone know what this might be?

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I have a large pile of soil I scooped up with my front end loader when we were building our house. I finally got around to making a soil sifter to clean the gravel, glass, nails, etc. In my very first wheel barrel load I found this nice projectile point, two marbles, and an old penny. Who knows what else I might find. I’ll keep you informed. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 6/11/17

11 Jun

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I have been out and about working this week. As I was checking this cotton field in the foreground, I noticed that steep, highly erodible hillside in the background is planted to corn. That corn will never yield very well. Even if we have an unusually rainy Summer, the corn will still suffer from drought stress because when it rains, the rain will runoff the hillside before it can soak up. Looks like a bad decision to me.

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The tomatoes in my raised beds are looking good. As I was cleaning out the grass and weeds, I harvested about 3 dozen onions I planted last Fall. I don’t know what I will do with so many onions at one time.

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I made a new contraption for harvesting honey made from plastic tubs and wedding veil material. I needed the frames to stand upside down so the honey would drain properly since the cells in the comb are at a slight upward angle.

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I didn’t have a comb uncapping tool so I used this hair comb that Sweet Thing bought at the Dollar Store.

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After I uncapped the comb, I clamped the frames down with two strips of wood to keep the frames upright. This method of harvesting seems to work well, although I might not get too much honey this year. Yesterday I discovered two of my hives were queen less! I just happened to have a swarm captured in one of my traps still hanging in a tree. I went out and brought the trap home and did a news paper combine with the swarm hive and the old queen less hive. I’ll let you know how that goes. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 5/7/2017

7 May

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I have been working around the yard this week planting new shrubs and perennials. I received another order from Hostas Direct and they came in perfect condition. It is hard to believe I can open the shipping box and find 8 perfect specimens like this. I also bought some hostas and other plants from the FFA chapter of a local high school and they were really nice. I planted some tomatoes and peppers in the new raised bed I made last month and they seem to be doing well despite the 6 inches of rain we received last week.

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Sweet Thing has been working on some crafts so she made this picture frame. I cut the wood and sanded it down then she white washed it, added the twine to hold the picture, and added some decorative accents. She is going to donate several of these to our local Bee Keepers club to auction off at our yearly fund raiser.

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She made some vinyl letters and designs to stick onto these drink glasses. One of those machines I showed you in her sewing room printed these on vinyl and cut them out. Don’t ask me how. I may think of some ideas she can do for me with that machine!

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I was in my shop last week making 3 more swarm traps to put out and Oreo and Kensey came in to help me. I have 22 traps out now and 4 of them have bees in them but I haven’t brought them in yet. I might get one or two tonight and bring them in and transfer them in the morning. The past two days have been sunny but the wind was blowing 30 MPH gusting to 40 MPH. Not good conditions for working bees, that wind puts them in a really BAD mood! I don’t like the wind either. I’ll keep you updated on events around here. Until then, keep prepping everyone!