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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!

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 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: 1/15/07

15 Jan

Since I last posted, I have spent most of my time working on my taxes and working in my shop.

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I have been getting things straightened up and organized. One of the first projects I completed is this lumber cart for storing my short scraps and sheet goods. I put the really short pieces on the shelves on the right side and the longer pieces stand up in the bins to the left. On the back side I have a place for sheet goods like plywood, and in the middle I can store longer pieces of 2X4s and 1X4s. I put it on casters so I can roll it around out of the way when I am not using it.

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I also built this rolling cart to fit underneath my table saw. The cart has shelves for storing my accessories  such as push sticks and feather boards. I also use it for storing my miter gage and rip fence when not in use.

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I needed a way to rough cut plywood before I bring it in and finish it on the table saw. I cut these brackets I can mount on top of my saw horses.

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Then I can add these 2X3s to hold full 8 foot sheets.

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I can quickly take this apart and stack the saw horses and store all of this inside out of the rain. I have some more projects I will show you later, until then, keep prepping everyone!