Sunday, January 29, 2012

OK, Here's a Challenge

Sue, over at E-i-e-i-omg got it started and Mama Pea at "Hard Working Homestead" hooked me into this! So here it is, Hand Make it Forward 2012 Challenge"
This is how it works!
I will have to Make something with my own hands and sent it to the first 5 Bloggers' who comment on this post.
And in turn, They have to do the same! Write a post with this challenge and send the first 5 commenter's something you make with your own hands!
Sounds like a blast to me!! And it can be anything, Big or Small. It just has to be made by you! And you have the whole year (or whats left of 2012 to do it!).
Mama Pea: Do I have that right? (my way of trying to get you as one of the first 5! Can you hear me snicker in the background?!)
Now I do not knit or sew, But I do Can, Cook and I like doing woodworking with my Scroll saw. So who knows what you might get? (I do!)

So come on, Who will be the first to take up the Challenge? (As he rubs his hands together and laughs his Evil laugh)
Any takers?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"SQUEEZO Strainer"

I forgot to mention that under all that junk in the soon to be "Pantry", I found a "Garden Way SQUEEZO STRAINER" model 400-TS. All the parts were there (only one screen, The 1/16th), but the box was a mess. Mice have been living in it and chewed on it quite a bit. That's gone now and after sitting in hot soppy water for a while and getting washed real good, It's on the counter like shinny new!
A friend of mine had given the "SQUEEZO" to me when I first moved to the Homestead and I had forgotten all about it. I hope that this years garden will do well enough, That I will be using this thing a lot!
The manual was in the box too and it has a bunch of recipes that I have never heard of before! Here are a few.
Tomato and Orange sauce
Sicilian sweet and sour sauce
Tomato sauce with raisins and pine nuts
Heaven and Earth
Applesauce Pudding
And the list just go's on and on!
Jam's, Jelly's, Custard's and "Lekvar" (A Hungarian prune butter!).
Oh. So many things to try!
I will post about each one as I try them!

Vacation....Work at home

Today is the second day of my Vacation. I felt that I had worked a lot of overtime during the holidays and did not get a thing done at home! So seven days to work at home.
First an update on Alice. She had a total of 8 kits over a three day span. And she lost all of them! One, on the 24...She consumed this one, Then she had 6 more on the 25th....And lost them to the cold (I forgot to put the nesting box back in the cage, See previous post!) and one more on the 26th...Which she only consumed half of!
I have stopped trying to understand why she eats them and will not breed her again until Buck Henry is old enough to do the deed, in about 2 months.
So after doing morning chores, I decided it was time to get started on the kitchen. Washed dishes and I glanced into the utility room and thought I would get started on that room first.
I do not have a washer or dryer (They are at Mark's and I do my laundry over there) and the room had some old Dog food Bags, filled with recyclables. It also has two closets off to one side. One of which houses the hot water heater and pressure tank (not much I can do with that one). And a much smaller one that had three wire shelves in it. So I started turning it into a real pantry.
I hate wire shelves and the first thing to do was get rid of them! I removed all the junk out and pulled out the shelves.
Have I ever told you that I hate DRY WALL? Or to be honest, I hate to paint! So I was going to build wood shelves anyway, and though to myself, "Why not cover the walls with wood too?!" I have some "Tong & Grouve", Pine boards that I got as seconds on a trip to N.H. one year. They are about 60" long and they were only $0.25 each! If I remember right, We got 240 of them and loaded them into the back of the Explorer we had at the time. We used some of it as Wains Coat in the house we lived in at the time.
Anyway, I had already put in the shelve supports for the first shelve, and cut and fitted boards that reach from the supports to the floor (I removed the baseboards, as it was MDF and looked bad with the wood). I will continue to install it this way up the walls.
See, No paint Required! Gotta love that!
I will take pictures of the finished project and get them into the next post!
Aren't Vacations Great?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Can someone Please kick me in the A..!

I'm so mad at myself!! Yesterday I posted about Alice and the one kit she had. How she killed it and disposed of it. Well I took the nesting box out of her cage and cleaned it out. But I did not put it back! STUPID,STUPID, STUPID!!!!
I went out this morning and Alice was waiting for breakfast, with  6 DEAD KITS, laying on the wire on the floor of the cage!
I had though that her having only one kit was kind of strange and killing it was stranger still! But she must have known there was something wrong with it and taken care of it.
STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!! 6 more kits! And all of them lost because of my stupidity! Can someone please come and kick me in the A..!?
And CR, you now know what not to do with new kits and nesting boxes! Do not touch the kits or move the nesting box for the first few days! I believe that Rabbits are like birds, if you handle the new born, they will kill them or abandon them. And I have read that trying to bottle feed them is almost impossible.
I called and talked to Chris (the guy I got them from) and he could not understand that, first she only had the one and that I took the nesting box out and had not put it back.
He had matted her with a "Silver Fox" buck the last week of December and 28 - 30 days latter, she had her litter. I just screwed up and did not do my part! When I see Chris in the morning, He has promised to give me a swift kick in the pants!
Any other volunteers? Please!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Big dissapointment!

I got home from work yesterday and went to feed and water the rabbits and found that Alice had her litter! She had been bread two weeks before I got her. I had put a nesting box in the cage a couple days ago and I would find her in it each morning. There was only one kit in the box and Alice had used the box as a bathroom. So I removed the box and took the kit out (mistake?) and cleaned out the old nasty bedding, replaced it with new bedding, put the kit back in and placed the box back with Alice.
I went out later to check on them and Alice had killed and eaten the kit! All that was left was it's head! I was bummed, to say the least!

Why did this happen? She has had other litters and has done well with them. All I can say is that she was stressed and not use to me or the envioment yet! So I will let her settle in and not breed her again until Buck Henry is old enough to do the job. That will be in about 2 month's.

This is not the out come I had hoped for. But live and learn!

Friday, January 20, 2012

OK, You can laugh if you want!

You will probably find this funny. But it's not funny to me!

When I got home last night, I decided to get the animal hair cleaned up. Daisy and Luke can produce the most amazing amount of hair I have ever seen! It was in the corners of every room and with hardwood floors, It seemed to have a life of it's own! Moving where ever it wanted and covering everything! It took me 20 minuet's of work with the broom and shop vac, and I still did not get it all!

But that is not what this post is about!

So, When I got up this morning, I looked at the kitchen and decided that it was time to get it cleaned up. Washed dishes, put things away where they belonged, wiped down counter tops, cleaned up the toaster and coffee station, and yes swapped the floor again!

I had a bunch of onion bags stored in a basket on the counter, to be used to store onions or potato's (If I ever get any out of the garden!). And I decided to store them in a closet I have in the utility room.

And that is not the funny part ether!

Have I ever told you that I hate spiders? I know that they serve a good purpose in the garden and that is where they belong! NOT IN MY HOUSE! I have had a problem with them ever sense the weather turned cold! They seem to be every where.... In the shower. every corner of every room in the house!
And yes, I know that they are just house spiders and are not harmful. But I was bitten by a spider at my ex-MIL house once and it caused all kinds of problems for me! Blood pressure went through the roof, Hart rate went up and I could not seem to catch my breath! Spent several hours in the emergency room the night!

And that's not the funny part ether!


I went to the utility room and got a plastic shopping bag to put the onion bags into and as I shook it out.....A DEAD HOUSE SPIDER FLEW OUT OF THE BAG AND... LANDED ON MY NOSE!!!!!

I Jumped, I screamed, and I ran (clawing at my face the whole time). I didn't stop running until I was half way down the driveway! And yes, if you must know, I screamed like a little girl!!

This happened over two hours ago and I can still feel the monster sitting on my nose, staring me in the eye!


You can stop laughing now and wipe the tears from your eye's.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Quick up-date

Sorry that I have not posting much. But there is a big issue that I have been working on that has been pretty worrisome. I hope to have it resolved in the next few days.
Up-date on the Rabbits: They have settled in quite well and are doing fine. The past few days have been pretty cold and each morning that I have gone to feed and water them, the water has been frozen. But today was 68 and tonight's low is supposed to be only 50! Go figure Virginia weather!
I was told by Chris the other day that he forgot to tell me that he believes that Alice (The Californian Doe) has Bunnies in the oven! He inadvertently placed her in a cage with Buck while moving Rabbits around from cage to cage and he said that he saw them do "THE Dance of Love". So, that was about three weeks a go and I will have to get a nesting box into the cage with her soon. Could this be the first babies born here on the Homestead?

Tomorrow morning after work I will be going after a truck load of compost. I found a lady on Crag's List that has a copious amounts available for pick up and it's the right price.....FREE! So I will be loading it at her place and then off-loading at mine! More material for the Lasagna Garden!
Will keep you informed on Alice and how that goes!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Livestock

I have been on the homestead for over four years now and the only Livestock I have been able to get going with are the Worms. They did not coast a lot and I was able to start with 1,000 of them (approx. 1 lbs). And to feed them does not require an out lay of funds at all!

But Tuesday I added Rabbits! The manager/Chief at work raises Rabbits and Quail for his own freezer and to also sell on "Crag's List", dressed, frozen and vacume sealed.
He was the guy that I was getting the Rabbit manure from to feed to the Worms and he offered to sell me three of them to use as my breeders to get my own Rabbit herd going.

So here they are:

This is "Alice"

A 2 1/2 year old California. She will be the main breeding female for a while. She has had 5 litters to date, for a total of 14 kits. She is pretty lay'ed back and is a Chow Hound! She had her last litter on 14 December.

This one I do not have a name for yet. She is a "Black Silver Fox". 7 months old and has had one litter so far, with 4 kits from that one.

And this is "Buck Henry". A 2 1/2 month old male, "Black Silver Fox". He is going to be the Daddy of the Herd when he gets a little older!

The three of them will give me a cross-breed meat Rabbit that will put me one step closer to producing some of my own food. I have always though that I wouldn't have an animal that did not contrubute to the whole idea of the Homestead. And they will not only provide meat, But also manure for the Worms and the garden.

The feeding and mainteance will be more involved then what I have had to do with the Worms. But its not that hard a thing to do. I have them housed in a metal shed for right now, But plan on building them a hoop house to live in the near future.
I have done a lot of research and found out that Rabbit meat is leaner then Chicken and they atain market size pretty fast. They should dress out at around 2 1/2 lbs and are going for $2.25 a lb on "Crag's List". So maybe I will make a little on them some day!
And My Blogging friend Susan over at e-i-e-i-omg sent me three books on Rabbits a while ago, that really help me make up my mind to get started with them. Thanks again Susan!!!!!!

So there's the Livestock up-date! Talk to you later.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

You forgot!

But that's OK! Because I remembered!
In the last post I mentioned that while working on Worm Food that I did something that I had not done in a long time.
I have a stereo that I have not turned on in quite some time and it has a carousel  that will hold 51 Cd's. So I fired it up and loaded a random collection of Cd's, hit shuffle and went to work on the squash.
And hare are the Artists that I listened to:
There was Country :
Garth Brooks
Colin Raye
Diamond Rio
Little Texas

And Oldies:
Beach Boy's
Frankie Vally and the 4 seasons

Also POP :
Niel Diamond
The Carpenters

And even some Christmas music too!
Bing Crosby
Andy Williams
Mannheim Steamroller
The Carpenters (again!)

It true what they say, Music helps the work to go faster!
And because I was by myself, there was some singing and dancing involved! Something that I will not do if anyone is around!

It was good to hear some of the music I grew up with (remember, born and raised in California in the 60's!). And to hear the Country of today and the Christmas music that was blaring from the radio just two weeks ago!

So what do you listen to while you work, or do you Whistle?

Just asking!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Worm food preps

If you follow this post, you will remember that I posted about picking up 15 winter squash that someone had put out for the deer to clean up.
Well today was the day to get about half of those things ready to feed to the Worms. I have a 20 gallon tote that has been sitting on my front porch with all the winter squash (not sure what type it is!) in it. And it has rotten down pretty well.
So I brought the tote into the house last night, to allow the squash to warm up a little. I knew that I was going to get my hands all into it and cold fingers do not work so well! So at about 0930 I started!

And here they are! Look pretty bad don't they? Not for human consumption, But the Worms love this stuff. Remember that they do not really eat this stuff, but they consume the bacterial soup that it breaks down into! So the smaller the material, the more surface area the Bactria has to work on.

So slice and......

Dice! Size is really not that important because I use another way to help break it down further. I will explain in a bit!

So after 4 hours of slicing and dicing and picking out seeds, This what I end up with! A5 gallon bucket nearly filled to the top! Boy are the Worms going to love this or what?

This is the other method I talked about earlier. Four gallon zip-lock bags ready to go into the freezer! I will take one bag out and let it defrost (the freezing with help to break  it down even more and make the bacterial brake down much faster. I will use one bag for both beds. I kept out a portion of all this goodness (?) and took it out to the two beds this after noon.
Sorry that the next few pictures are not to good. I need to get a better camera (wish list!).

And one of the reasons that it took as long as it did was this! Saving the seeds! I want to plant the seed out a ways from the main garden this year. Mainly I hope to entice the deer and rabbits away for the main garden and if I get any thing out of the squash garden, I'm that much ahead!
this is where I wanted to ask you that question I made reference to in my reply to your comment! Am I doing this right?
Remove the seeds from the fiber and strings, rinse in warm water to remove the slime, Spread out onto newspaper and let dry completely (I will move them and turn them over to get them dry!) and then place into a air tight container, cool dark place until ready to plant?
If there is anyone Elsa that has some advice on this, I would appreciate your help too!

This is the first bed I built almost two years ago (again sorry about the quality!). I have pulled back the bedding and this is the area where the worms mix the Casts with the bedding.

And after digging down just a little ways, THERE THEY ARE! You can see that they have taken care of the food material I placed in here only a week or so ago. And it is quite wet, but no frost! The last few nights have been down into the 20's, But with lots of bedding (remember "BEDDING IS OUR FRIEND"!!).

This is the second bed. And you can see the tomato that I tossed in here. It was green then, but it ripened over the past week and was just fine. I broke it open to allow the rot to start from the inside. Again I have pulled the bedding back.

And dug down just under the surface and.......Yep there they are! Food mostly gone her to. So I added the squash I held back for the freezer, added a little water to both beds and pulled the bedding back over them. Closed up both beds and called it a day.
Someone (Sorry, I do not remember who right now!) asked me if the worms could survive outside during the cold temps of winter. I live in N.C. and we can get quite cold here in January/February (again, into the 20's the last few nights). But the Worms do just fine, With lots of BEDDING! Say it with me......."BEDDING IS OUR FRIEND"! That's my Mantra! My Mentor, Bentley ( At RWC), lives in Canada and has set up beds right in the ground! He digs trenches, lines them with cardboard, adds bedding, then food material, more bedding and then the worms, and finishes with......You guessed it.....BEDDING! He has been known to put a tarp over some of his trenches to help hold in some of the heat caused by composting of manures. But he places the manures in the trenches in such a way that the Worms have a way to get away from the heat if it gets too high for them!

So that's it for Worm food for now. I still have 7 squash to take care of yet. I may let that break down on the front porch and save what I put in the freezer for later. That will take longer, But it will not be as much work for me!
Remind me to post about what I listened too while I took care of the squash!
talk to you all later!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winter is back

Just two days ago it was 64 degrees and sunny. Today's high was 32 and with a wind chill......27! The clouds have blocked the sun for most of the day and it was just down right bitter out! Daisy, who normally loves it out side, Ran out did her thing (Quite fast, I might add!) and wanted back inside! Daisy.....Come on Dad, Open the dang door!!
The Holidays were here and gone before I knew it! I put in extra hours at work and spent more time there then I did at home! The people I spend the holidays with all were out of town this year, and we can not get together for our Christmas until next month!

2011 was a year that I would rather forget for the most part! Most of the Homestead goals were not met and the garden was pretty much a loss (Weeds, Deer and the crows got the most out of it!). The only goal I have set for the New Year is to keep better records of what I'm going to be trying this year.

The only thing that worked out were the WORMS! As long as kept the beds supplied with bedding and food, They did great! Lots of babies and this spring I will have to build two more beds to divide the two I already have! Casts production was really good and I have been adding them to the raised beds and the Lasagna Garden for the past few weeks. Hopefully this will help to control the weeds and allow me to have a decent garden garden this year!

The biggest problem with 2011 was the budget! Not enough coming in and way to much going out!!! Hopefully 2012, that will turn around and run the other way!!

Boy, talk about doom and gloom! Sorry!