Monday, March 15, 2010

Homestead Update

Around the Barnyard: Sheep are funny. A few days ago, Beloved went out
to the sheep pen with a shotgun. Our older ram had been acting as
though he were going lame. Beloved thought to put him out of his
misery. Well, Midas (the ram) took one look at Beloved and that shotgun
and got up on his feet and started running around as if showing Beloved
just how energetic he was. Needless to say, Midas is still around. The
younger ram, Dodger, is finally meeting his match. Abbie's dog, Hot
Dog, is becoming quite a good working dog. When the young ram gets out
and is getting close to the yard & house, Hot Dog is let loose and she
chases Dodger back into woods behind the house. There is green
vegetation there that he can graze on, yet he is away from the yard.

Beloved began working on the bathroom this weekend. Small task first -
repairing the toilet. Well, the small task became a much larger one
when he found that the screws that hold the tank in place were rusted
and difficult to remove. We ended up having to make a trip to the store
to buy a tool set that will hopefully make the task easier. It was an
interesting day. All I can say is that goodness that we have an outdoor
privy! On day 2 of the toilet repair, the rusted bolt seemed to have won
the challenge. Joe declared the toilet fixed as he carried it outside.
Sigh. So, we are now greatly blessed to have that outdoor privy as it
is our only toilet now. On a side note, our 4 yr old daughter has been
a bit reluctant to become fully potty trained. Since we are using the
outhouse, she has become fascinated with it and has been using it quite
often without being prompted to do so. An outdoor privy may not be the
answer to toilet training for all children, but it is sure making it
easier with her.

Speaking of the outdoor privy - Beloved has decided to build a new one.
This one is very small though functional. He wants to build one a bit
bigger. We need enough room for a small trash can & a place to hold the
toilet paper. He is also wanting to add on another little room to use
as a shower house. We'll likely use a camp shower bag for the actual
shower. The main idea though is that we will have a outdoor privy &
shower to use over the summer while we remodel the indoor bathroom. If
there is no indoor plumbing in the bathroom over the summer, we will
still have a toilet & shower available. It is funny that we have the
outdoor privy. It has been many years since I used one when I was a
kid. Our neighbor had one and we used it when visiting her home. I
wonder - with all the new strides being made in solar powered
conveniences, is there a solar powered outdoor privy seat warmer to keep
frost off the seat in the cold winter? LOL

I am going to be working on the house again beginning this week. We
seem to still have too much stuff. Amazing after the big purge we did
last year. As I look around the house, I see things we still have, but
had no need to use for several months. I have already packed up several
boxes of things, including clothing the little ones have outgrown. We
want to turn the living room into more of a study area. With Abbie
homeschooling now full-time Beloved is wanting to set up an area just
for her homeschooling. For now, she is working at the kitchen table.
That is fine for now, but I look forward to getting the clutter off the
table during the day so I can use the table for other things. It will
make a nice area for all of us to utilize.

We had 16 ricks of firewood delivered. This was wood that we had
ordered earlier in the season. Now that winter is nearly gone, this
firewood is going to have the summer spring and summer to dry out for
next season. This firewood, added to what Beloved has been cutting,
will be more than we will need for next winter. What a blessing! We
are also getting a large amount of firewood that is small enough to use
in my cookstove. I love using the cookstove whenever possible. It may
take longer to cook a meal on it, but it sure provides a lot of warmth
in the kitchen area. The winter storms have provided us with a large
portion of the wood. Many families in town (10 miles away) have fallen
limbs and trees that need to be cleared. Beloved is clearing the wood
for some of the families at no cost in exchange for us being able to
keep the wood. It works well for all involved. They get free yard
clean up and we get free firewood.

Over the past year, we have learned to barter more effectively. It is
surprising at times just what people are willing to barter. Joe is
great at this. At his work place, they get some of their shipments sent
to them in the wooden shipping crates. The company has always burned
them since they don't have any use for them. Joe was able to work out
an arrangement with the owner that instead of getting a burn permit and
burning the crates, Joe brings the crates and wood pallets home. We are
able to re-purpose them here at the homestead. He's been able to
barter/trade with others for other items we have needed. The propane
stove & refrigerator were two of the larger items bartered for. Getting
free firewood in exchange for being willing to cut the wood & clean it
out of other families' yards has been a very good barter also. If you
look around, you can usually find someone who is willing to trade items
or a service. In today's economy, bartering can be a useful tool for
those who are on a limited income.

I have been reading gardening books over the winter. One that I really
enjoyed was, "Getting More From the Garden". It was very informative.
One part in particular that I loved was a chart on page 21 that is a
Garden Planning Chart. Based on the average harvest yields for the
various types of garden seeds, the chart tells you how much seed to
plant to provide food for each person for a year. The chart uses a 50'
long row as the garden width. It gives the amount of seeds or plants
per row, distance between rows, amount per person, and spacing between
plants. In example, the chart shows that you can plant 12-15 tomato
plants per 50' row. You need 5 plants per person in your family. So, a
50' row would give you enough tomato harvest for about 3 people. It
also states that the rows should be 30" apart and plants should be
spaced 12-24" apart, depending on the plant size when full grown. From
this, I know that I will need 20 plants for a family of 4 which will
take about 1 1/2 rows. Another example shows that you need 1 hill of
summer squash for each person, yet you'll need 3-5 hills of winter
squash per person. The difference between the two is that typically,
you don't home can summer squash like you are able to do the winter
squash. There are 35 of the most popular vegetable garden plants
listed. Definitely worth a look if you are planning to can or freeze
the harvest for feeding your family all winter. After looking the chart
over, you may have to make small adjustments to meet your own family's
tastes and your growing season. For example, zucchini grows like a weed
here. I would only need 3 hills as 1 would produce enough zucchini for
the 2 young children. If there is a particular vegetable that your
family really loves (for us it is butternut squash) you may want to
plant a few extra plants. It is really a blessing to have the chart to
give you a good start in your planning. I especially like the fact that
the chart lists the amount of seeds by weight. Now, when I go to buy
the seeds, I will know how many ounces of seed I will need for our
garden. It really takes the guess work out of the process.

Well, it is getting late. The frogs and other nighttime sounds are
telling me that it is time for this homesteader to be getting some sleep.

May the Lord's blessings be with thee,