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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!

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!

Snake Bite!

8 May

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My sister was cleaning up some old firewood on the patio and she was bitten by a Copperhead! You can see the fang marks in the center of the circle by her little toe. She said she knew she needed to be careful and watch for snakes and spiders but this one got her anyway. She said the doctors didn’t give her any anti-venom. They told her the anti-venom could be as bad or worse than the bite itself. They are giving her intravenous antibiotics and meds to control the pain. I sure feel bad for her, get well soon, Sis!

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Speaking of snakes, I was riding along a drainage canal when I looked over the edge and spotted this Moccasin curled up on a limb soaking up some sun.

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I picked up a clod of dirt and threw it at him. I partially dislodged him from his perch and needless to say he was not pleased! He is coiled up in striking position flicking his tongue like a whip!

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I have been going out in the fields checking on crops, and I found a new spot to look for Native American Artifacts. These are some bits and pieces of artifacts as well as some pottery shards, so I know I am searching in a good spot.

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I found this nice, round smooth stone as I was searching. I can’t be sure it is an artifact, but it sure fits my hand well and could be very useful to a Native so I am hanging on to it.

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I did find one decent piece so I am excited to come back and check this spot again. It is in a corn field so I will only have a few weeks before the corn becomes too big and hides the ground.

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I wondered what might have attracted the natives to this spot so I looked around and sure enough I spotted this naturally occurring small river at the head of this field. Of course, modern men have cleaned all the trees and brush out of the channel for faster drainage, but it still would have been here 500 or more years ago to provide many of the things a primitive man would have needed. The river would provide water for drinking, cooking, bathing, as well as providing fish, frogs, turtles and act as an attractant for game animals and birds.

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Just a quick update on Brandy. Here she is in her favorite spot, nestled up in the crook of my arm. She is making good progress on her biting control and house breaking. She might end up being a good dog after all. Keep prepping everyone! Get ready for Hillary 2016. Heaven help us all!