Tag Archives: compost

Homestead Update 4/17/2016

17 Apr


I decided to try my luck with raised bed gardening. I know I am going to be too busy with my job this Summer to really have a garden so this may be the next best thing. I have been reading about this method and everyone said to fill the beds with a mixture of topsoil, sand, vermiculite, compost, and manure. HUMM? I have plenty of topsoil and sand but nothing else. But wait a minute, what is that behind me underneath all those trees?


Underneath the trees lies 40 years worth of leaves and branches which have fallen and laid there composting as Mother Nature intended. After you scrape away the top layer of uncomposted leaves you find this fine, black humus. So I just took my front end loader on my Kubota and found a few good open places among the trees and scraped off the top two inches and had several scoops of this fine compost which I dumped into the raised beds. I did have a few bags of composted manure left over from last year which I spread over the top of the beds. I’ll probably stick to tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots and onions this Summer to see how this turns out.


On the bee keeping front, the turnips I planted last fall are blooming and the bees are working them heavy.


On the other side of the open lot where I planted the deer browse, the clover and wild flowers are blooming. I think that is crimson clover, which the bees don’t care too much for, but it sure is a thick, green mat of vegetation for the deer to eat.


I decided I needed a water hydrant in the front of the house so I can water flowers and shrubs around the driveway. I had to use a shovel to dig around to locate the waterline, then I was able to use the back hoe on my tractor to dig a trench over to where the faucet will be located. I have a plumber coming tomorrow to put it in. You might remember I did the plumbing myself for my bathroom addition in my shop, but since this is the main water line running to the house, I felt this is a job best left to a professional. Keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update 1-31-16

31 Jan


I am under my Doctor’s order to walk for 30-45 minutes every day. I don’t like exercise walking and I never have. It always seems like a colossal waste of time. The whole time I am walking I am thinking about all the other things I could be doing with my time. So, I decided since I HAD to walk, I would at least walk through the woods on the back of the homestead. I was walking down a deer trail and I saw this fresh buck rub on this cedar tree. I’ve always heard the larger the rub, the larger the buck. Well, this one must be a trophy because that small tree is between 3-4 inches in diameter.


We are having some strange weather now. Last week the temperatures were in the teens with snow on the ground. Today the high was 74 degrees! I decided to replace this culvert that washed out a couple of months ago. The culvert ended up hung between two trees. I drug it back to where it needed to go.


I placed it where I wanted it and covered it with some of the dirt I bought last summer.


Last week I had to remove snow from the entrances of my bee hives. Today I noticed bees flying around all four of my hives. I lifted the tops and poured dry sugar on top of the inner covers. I hope they have enough honey to finish the winter, but if they don’t maybe they will eat that sugar.


I finally took down this pressed fiber swarm trap out of a tree on the front of the homestead. I hate to admit it has been hanging there still, as it should have been removed the first of July. But surprisingly, the weather hasn’t affected it, and it seemed none the worse for being out in the weather for that long. I guess these traps are sturdier than I thought.


This is a big pile of limbs, brush, and sapling trees that I cut down in the last two years. I noticed the pile was much smaller from settling down. I decided to use the front end loader on my Kubota to push the pile into a smaller concentrated pile. As I did, I saw a lot of nice compost underneath the pile. I was surprised those limbs were breaking down so quickly. I am not going to add any fresh limbs on the pile, I will just keep turning it over every so often. Maybe I will have some good compost I can use in the garden in a couple of years. So until next week, keep prepping everyone!

Homestead Update

27 Sep


The winter greens are really growing well, and the worms finally went away. Sweet Thing and her sister have been picking several Wal-Mart bags full every day.


One bag full of picked greens cook down into this one dish of cooked greens. We eat some for dinner, then freeze the rest for later.


This is my healthy dinner with okra and tomatoes, mustard greens, and great northern beans. All together that is only 2 WW Points Plus and I ate 2 servings for 4 total points and I was full and satisfied!


This is one of my next projects to finish, clearing out some of those trees and brush near the road. You can also see that pile of mulch waiting to be spread. I moved a few scoops of it last week, and when I scooped it with the front-end loader, you could see the steam rising from the pile. It has been there long enough to start composting! I am still waiting on the dump truck to bring some more dirt to add on top of my culvert, then I will cross over and start clearing a path through the woods. Always something to do on the homestead, keep prepping everyone!


31 Aug


And cowcrap too! This is what the pile of muck looks like that a farmer piled up around one of his feed lots. That pile is a combination of hay, mud, and manure accumulated over an entire winter of feeding cows hay in a hayring.


You can see what the ground looks like after he scraped up the muck. If you look in the background, you can see another pile of manure in the other pasture. I know of 5 different places where there is a pile just like that, and I sure did want some of that. I had in my mind getting an entire dump truck load of this manure. I was going to spread it out and wet it down, add some more rotting hay, throw in a few handfuls of fertilizer to aid the composting process, then take my front end loader and pile it back up and let it compost for a few weeks  then repeat the process. By next Spring I would have a wonderful pile of composted manure for my garden. I would have bet you $100 that after the farmer found out I wanted some manure he would have told me to come get all I wanted, ,,,But he didn’t! He hoarded it all for himself! I would have lost that bet. Oh well, I’ll just keep looking.

Homestead Update

27 Apr

Well, I finally found the time to do some mundane chores around the homestead this week.


This is a before and after picture where we ran the bushhog. It looks like we could have baled that grass up for hay! I am still debating whether or not to buy a ZTR mower to cut the grass. I could just continue to use the Kubota for cutting grass, but it doesn’t give a smooth “manicured” lawn. I have been advised by several people a ZTR mower would be much better to cover a large area such as we have, but Sweet Thing doesn’t think she will like those mowers and she will be primarily in charge of mowing. So I have a plan in mind. I am going to the local dealer and see if he has a used trade-in or a demo mower we can try-out for two weeks and if she likes it I will buy a ZTR from him; if she doesn’t like it I will buy a lawn tractor from him. I might just buy a small, inexpensive lawn tractor for the area near the house and continue to use the Kubota for the rest of the property. But on the other hand, if we had a ZTR I wouldn’t have the bushhog hooked up on the tractor everytime I wanted to use another implement. Attaching the PTO shaft from the bushhog to the tractor is a major pain in the butt!


While we were picking up limbs and sticks preparing to mow, I spotted this birds nest on the ground underneath a pile of limbs. I left the limbs where they were and eased back later to check the nest and flushed a Brown Wood Thrush off of the nest.


I am surprised she let me get close to take these pictures, those Thrushes are usually very aggressive.


I was planning on buying some mulch to put around the fruit trees I planted and I discovered these rubber mats at Lowe’s. After going on-line and reading the reviews I decided to give them a try. I bought 30 of them at $10 each, but if they last for years like the reviews say, then in the long run they will be less expensive than buying and replacing loose mulch every year. I approached two different cattle ranchers last week and inquired about the big piles of muck they rake up around their feed lots.


These feedlot areas end up becoming a big pile of rotting hay, manure and mud. I thought I sure would like to have a trailer full of that to pile up in the back of the homestead and let it compost into a fine black compost during the summer. Unfortunately, both of them also farm and they scoop up the muck with a front end loader and spread it out on the weak areas of their crop fields. They both said I could bring my pickup truck and a shovel and get some, but that is not what I had in mind! I guess I will have to keep asking around, maybe I can find someone who just wants to get rid of a bunch at one time. Keep prepping everyone!