Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sowing the Field

The Shelter just needs a roof now. Next comes my outdoor grill/oven/smoker.

We have been hard at work trying to survive the heat and yet get something done before the growing season is over. The bees are doing good but the extra cold winter, the move out to the land and some of them being new hives has really limited the amount of honey that we got so far this year.
The buckwheat "field"

There are two times a year that there is a honey flow. One is in the spring this is where probably about 95% of all honey that you eat comes from. Sometimes in this area there is a really good fall honey flow. Usually this honey the beekeeper lets the bees keep. That honey will give them something to eat through the winter and ultimately can be the deciding factor as to whether the hive lives or not. However the last few falls have been really bad and there has really been very little nectar for the bees to make their honey. So in an effort to try and help the bees we planted a high yielding nectar source, buckwheat. We planted about 1600 square feet of it to see how it does. But if all works accordingly it will give the bees a big boost going into winter.
Planted last Friday, sprouting today, in four to six weeks we should have flowers.

We also tilled up another area that we are going to plant a fall/winter cover crop. The idea behind the cover crop is that the "weeds" will grow all winter long adding lots of nutrients to the soil. Then when spring comes we will mow it all over and let it compost right where it is, again adding nutrients and smothering out weeds.
New garden spot

I also have had to add a layer of what is known in the camper world as "cool top" to the old Nomad. It had a slight leak, we were planning on redoing the roof but it just came a little sooner than expected. This new stuff is some sort of silicone stuff that is energy star rated and has a ten year warranty so hopefully we wont have to mess with it for awhile. The old roofs and cheaper sealer is black, this stuff is white thus reflecting the sun and heat, ergo "cool top". The only pain is that you have to do it in coats and you have to wait 24 hours between coats. So if anyone is going by the farm and wants to paint a layer let me know. :)
Before picture. Did you know you can stand on the roof, seems a little sketchy but i do it.

After two coats i think i have about three more to go.

Lastly we have as of tonight installed round two of the guineas. This time we are going to keep the little peepers in the coop for a few weeks before releasing them. We also moved them into the woods and more near to where we usually are. We want them to eat the ticks in the area near us. So we will see how things go with them. The people that we picked them up from said that at the beginning of this year they started with 12 and as of today they only had 2 left. So it seems like we might have to make plans for getting them to procreate pretty fast.

the peepers in a cricket box, it was a tight squeeze but they have plenty of room now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Canning Fresh Corn

Breaking down the costs:
3 dozen ears of (organic) local corn: $15 
14 (reusable) Canning Jars: $11.65
Total: Approx $1.90/pint
Savings: waste, trips to store, freezer space, peace of mind. & ultimately I wouldn't count the jars as they will be used again, so minus cost of jars: $1.07/pint for local, organic, non-gmo, canned corn. 
We have another dozen & are thinking about doing some creamed corn--ideas?

Breaking down the methods:
(approx 2 hours 'til ready)
1. Cut corn off cob.
2. Spoon corn into jars leaving 1" head room.
3. Add boiling water & salt (optional)* maintaining 1" head room.
4. Wipe Rim of Jar & add canning lid & loosely apply ring.
5. Place Jars in Pressure Cooker (& follow your canner's directions carefully!)
6. Cool & Stow.

**we've read that non-canning salt can turn your canned goods clowdy, however we've not seen this with sea salt. Perhaps the issue is with iodized table salt, so avoid that to preserve color.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Garlic and Archery

We spent a few hours at the land this morning. What was accomplished:
Another timber was cut down for the finishing beams on our 'shelter'.
We made some adjustments to our tree swing, it's less of a 3 person size & more individual now...still a little wonky in it's swing style--to think we thought the tree swing would be a simple project!
We attempted to till some of the field to plant some cover crops--not much success on that front. We're going to need a bigger tiller.
We're pretty certain the guineas have relocated permanently. Not sure where to, but we prefer the relocation idea to other possibilities...
We target shot a few arrows (thanks to a family of boys we know)
Meanwhile, back at our urban homestead, we have harvested a large amount of Garlic. We have several braids, each with about 6 heads, of fresh & DELICIOUS garlic. If you're interested in purchasing a braid we'll meet you at the Wed. curb market in Downtown Greensboro, or elsewhere. $5/braid. (dirt included ;) )
found this great blog when 'studying up' on garlic braiding.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Tick Solution

Development number 2: Guineas.
not a guinea. a newborn calf we saw at the guinea farm.
A week or so ago we ordered a dozen guineas and planned to pick them up at 6 weeks old. That day came on Friday, & we were a little unready. The men (drew & lane) finished a rustic coop for them on Thursday evening & Drew & I carted it out, and 'fenced' it Friday before we drove an hour to pick them up. It was silliness really. While the chicken wire around the outside was a temporary thing (as we want them to be free-range), it was more temporary than we expected and by Saturday evening all but 4 of the guineas had escaped.

guineas are faster than chickens. & some cats let you pick them up (not ours).
what's making that noise?
By Sunday we feared we'd never see them again.
Fortunately, they are coming back. There has been a sighting or two but not of the whole flock, so we're not sure how many are left. We backed the coop up to the wood line & they run for cover back there whenever we approach. They have water, food & the comfort of a coop to return to, hopefully they'll continue to do just that...
What did we learn? Secure your chicken wire. Plan ahead (i.e. have the housing ready before the livestock is on its' way). Secure your chicken wire. Secure your chicken wire.

Monday, July 5, 2010

1 Step at a Time & It Seems We're Running...

Maybe more of a jog, but we have been busy like our bees collecting and arranging and hoping it'll all be okay.
We'll start by sharing one big thing we've added today & another one tomorrow.
a '69 Nomad--totally our style. We're re-covering the cushions & making new curtains & thinking of endless other ways to make it ours. The neighbors are quickly discovering the hippie tendencies of the newest kids on the block...they're surely entertained. meanwhile, Leviah was able to nap comfortably today while we got some goat fencing planned. (No one said starting a farm was easy--with 2 over tired young 'uns it's even trickier.)
Any thoughts on our orchard? Your favorites? Native varieties that are good for this area? We want to get these perennials going!