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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 5/28/2017

28 May

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I looked out our back door last week and watched a red fox stroll across the yard. The family of Foxes have been around so long my dogs in the pen don’t even bother barking at them anymore unless they come really close to the pen. But if I want to see a Red Fox up close and personal, I can just go visit my niece who recently BOUGHT a Fox Kit to raise in the house. Are you kidding me!? She has another small house dog and I told her when that Fox is grown, he will probably kill that small dog one day. Some people, Huh?

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I have been in the fields working all week and I came upon this large tortoise easing across the field.

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I also encountered this 4 foot long Speckled King Snake. I let him live and go on his way; he is a good snake!

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I was sitting in my truck one morning, waiting for my employees to come in for work, when I looked up and saw three deer wandering around in our front yard. I am really lucky to be able to go out to work and encounter so much wildlife.

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I found this patch of Dewberries on the edge of one of the fields I check. When we were children, we would pick these berries, put them in a bowl with sugar and cream and have a real treat. We would put so much sugar on them, when we ate a spoonful it would crunch because we used so much sugar! These berries in my hand were so sweet you didn’t need to put any sugar on them. And speaking of sugar, I have been mixing sugar water to feed to my honey bees. I have captured and transferred 7 bee swarms this Spring and I have two more traps with bees waiting for me to bring them in. I hope to do that this week. I’ll keep you updated. 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 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 12/24/16

24 Dec

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Tonight is Christmas Eve and Santa stopped by the homestead to have dinner with all of his little friends.

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Sweet Thing has the table set with her festive holiday décor so Santa can dine with reindeer and bears.

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His other friends are Elves, Snowmen, and a Christmas mouse!

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Sweet Thing has also been busy making her world famous Chex Mix. She worked three afternoons and made 30 gallons of mix.

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Here is some of it all bagged and all ready to go. A lot of people really look forward to her Chex Mix!

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Brandi helped her make the Chex Mix so now she is asleep beside me in my recliner because she is all tuckered out! Keep prepping everyone!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Homestead Update 11/13/16

13 Nov

This week I have spent most of my time cleaning up and rearranging my workshop. I am making a French cleat system for hanging my tools.

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As I was making the cleats, I realized I needed to make an out feed table for my table saw. I think it turned out really well, although it is fixed so that I can’t move it by myself. I have some modifications I need to make to make it foldable as I get the time.

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Before I started, I bought this Incra Precision Miter gauge. It is highly accurate with an expandable aluminum rail. It has a fold down fixture for holding the wood, as well as T-tracks for adding additional accessories.

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I also bought this Woodpecker brand precision T-square. This thing has holes bored in every 1/16th of an inch that you can stick a pencil lead through to get highly accurate measurements.

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I used those tools to make this exact width dado jig for my router.

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The jig allowed me to cut dados for a shelving unit that are so tight I really don’t even need glue or screws to hold it together. All of my other tools are from Sears or Harbor Freight so it has been really nice being able to use some high quality equipment for a change!

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Oreo and Kensey didn’t care for all that sawing going on. They spent some time out in the shop with me while I was cleaning and reorganizing but when the sawing and hammering started they retired back into my “Man Cave” and curled up in my old recliner. I hope to be far enough along with my project to post some pictures next week. Until then, keep prepping everyone!