Because we use a lot of gas on our homestead for the bulldozer, generator, and tractor, not to mention the tiller, ATV, and gravel truck, we are really reeling from the hefty gas prices. All year we’ve been talking about getting a farm fuel tank so we can legally avoid paying road taxes on gas for vehicles/equipment that never leaves the homestead. So we’ve been looking and looking for a fuel tank. The only ones we could find on Craigslist were all the way to Minneapolis or North Dakota…both a hefty 4 hour one way trip!
Last week, the neighbor David works for part-time had a chainsaw that didn’t want to run. So David brought it home for Will to work on. He did, finding the air filter plugged, the carb dirty and out of adjustment. After an hour’s work, it worked perfectly. (David just cut 6 cords of wood with it for this man!)
We took it back to him right away, as we figured he wanted to cut wood. While we were there, visiting, Will mentioned that we were looking for a fuel tank. Dale brightened up and said he had an old one out in the snowbank behind the garage! If we wanted it, come get it! Were we ever happy. It was kind of “ugly” and a little dented, but Will thought it would do the job. So he hauled it home.
On opening it up, he drained out 6 gallons of diesel fuel, perfectly clean! And on looking inside with a flashlight, there was NO rust at all. GREAT!
So, to get it to deliver gravity flow gas, he had to build a stand for it. We have 8 cords of great, solid black ash from the beaver swamp, so he found four nice logs and added some used 2″x6″s and a couple of economy 2x4s we had bought on sale. A few screws, and we now are ready to add a hose, nozzle, and filter, which we’ll pick up tomorrow. Will talked to the oil company that delivers fuel to our farm neighbor, Jerry Yourczek , and they will be happy to deliver to us. So soon, before gas goes higher, we should have a tank part way full. Can’t afford to fill it! (500 gallons!)
Will plans on plumbing it directly to the generator so we don’t have to keep dumping 5-gallon cans in it. That’ll be a labor saver, of course. And it’ll be safer because sometimes you do spill a little (never fill it running or hot!).
So it just goes to show you –if you need something in the country, just keep asking people. Sooner or later someone will have what you need or will know where to get it. Love the backwoods!
I am going to be planting several different kinds of pepper plants, tomato plants, and squash plants. I was wondering what is a good way to isolate some of them so that I will be able to collect the seed.
I wrote an article on seed saving that will be coming up in the May/June issue of BHM. Distance or caging are the only two viable methods for home gardeners. Tomatoes and peppers can “usually” be separated by about 50 feet to get “fairly” pure seed. To get truly pure seed, you have to make cages to keep insects from cross-pollinating the different varieties, then either introduce “resident” pollinators into each cage permanently or else hand-pollinate the blossoms with a paint brush. With squash, I only plant one variety of each species. That eliminates cross-pollination, yet lets me grow several different kinds of squash every year. You might consider that in your garden. — Jackie
I start several seed trays a year of various plants and I was wondering if there is a way to prevent “damping off” in the starter trays. I’ve noticed a few days after planting them they grow a fuzzy white fungus over many of the pots.
Be sure you are starting with sterile seed-starting soil. If you use commercial mix, it probably is sterile already, but if you’re using your own soil mix, bake it in the oven in a roasting pan, at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. It does stink! Let it thoroughly cool, then fill your trays. Dampness encourages damping off. While your containers should be covered with plastic before germination, poke holes in it or remove the cover for a few hours every day if it becomes too damp. These measures should stop your damping off problem and fungus/mold growth on the top of the soil. If you reuse your containers, be sure to soak them in a bleach-water solution and rinse them before reuse to avoid reinfection. — Jackie
New to canning
I bought your new book on canning and preparing your pantry for recession and I must say I feel pretty overwhelmed. I work 40 + hours and week and so does my husband, at least right now, we are both state workers and most likely going to get more time off (not by choice). To start slow with my new pressure cooker, what would be the easiest thing to try?
Green beans and carrots are both very easy to can and don’t require a lot of processing time. Also, believe it or not, many meats, such as chicken and beef canned in broth are very easy to can, too. I know it seems kind of overwhelming when you are just starting, but when you just keep pecking away at stocking your pantry, all of a sudden, it’s pretty full! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! I know my sweetie, Will, loves helping prep foods for canning…and walking through the pantry to see all the jars. — Jackie
What do you feed your baby turkeys? Is commercial chick starter ok to use? When do you switch them to a grower? I love your articles and especially the canning book. I can hardly wait for that cookbook!
I feed my baby turkeys chick starter, then switch them to grower when they are feathered out. Of course, in the old days folks just fed scratch feed. But the turkeys didn’t grow as fast or get as big, either.
I think you’ll like the cookbook. It’s got tons of my favorite family recipes in it too. — Jackie
I just ordered my new fruit trees (apple,pear,peach,cherry,plum,all dwarfs) for our new Urban homestead (yeah we finally did it!), and was wondering if you could provide any tips for getting them off to a good start, since it will be several more weeks before they get shipped to me.
I want to use as few chemicals as possible, preferably staying as organic as possible to go along with the rest of my gardening. The majority of fruit growers around here do not use organic methods, so finding good local information had been difficult.
Congratulations on the engagement! It’s wonderful news!
Thank you. I think it’s great news, myself!
To get your fruit trees off to the best start, be sure to make a huge hole for each one. I think, of all things, this is the most important. All too often, fruit trees have their roots crammed into a small hole and dirt and sod just thrown back in and packed down. If you take your time to “dig a $100 hole for a $10 tree,” soon you’ll have a $1,000 tree! Dig a very deep hole that is plenty wide for the roots to spread out naturally. Then put a foot or more of nice, rotted compost in the bottom of the hole. Plant the tree, then fill in around the roots with good topsoil, without sod. As you plant, water the tree so there aren’t any air pockets among the roots; that stunts or even kills roots. Leave a nice dish around the tree, about two feet or more in diameter, to hold water when the tree is watered. And be sure to water it every day for at least two months, while it gets started. (Of course, if your soil is clay and it’s been raining a lot, disregard this!)
Add a nice mulch around the tree; we use rotted manure to add fertilizer as well, right out to the drip line of each tree. In the fall, pull this back from the trunk a few inches and be sure to protect the trunks with aluminum window screen, up at least 3 feet to keep mice, voles, and rabbits from eating the bark. That kills young trees. If deer are a problem in your area, be sure to fence your yard or orchard with 6-foot high fencing or they will eat your trees. Young trees really don’t need much pruning after planting unless branches have died or have been broken. Leave the tree alone to grow. Enjoy your new trees! — Jackie
Canning with lemon juice
I just juiced 25 lbs of Lisbon lemons and froze it into ice cubes. Now I’m thinking about using it when canning my tomato sauce this summer. Can I use fresh lemon juice instead of bottled juice? If so, is there a difference in the amount. I use 1 T. per quart and 1 t. per pint when I use the bottled juice. I tried canning bacon-wow, that was fun and tasty!
Wow, lucky you! Yes, you can use fresh lemon juice. Use it the same as if it were the bottled juice. Canned bacon IS really good! — Jackie
Eradicating poison oak
Well it is very hard to tell which one of happy couple is the luckier of the two. You guys are truly blessed to have found each other.
My question is about poison oak. We have some growing in two trees of a lovely few acres we will be moving to. How do we safely get rid of it?
You can cut all the vines and shrubbery, wearing rubber gloves and other protection, then bag the vines. Don’t burn them. A neighbor of ours did that and got a severe reaction from the smoke! Take the bagged vines to the landfill. Then cover the “stumps” with heavy black plastic, pieces of plywood, or old carpeting to smother the newly emerging shoots. Another remedy is to spray the vines with Roundup, up as high as possible. Don’t get it on the tree leaves; it’ll kill the tree. Use Roundup for shrubs and vines; it’s stronger. I do not like to use Roundup, but will use it for “emergencies” where I can’t kill a stubborn weed pest with normal methods. Be sure to wash your work clothes and gloves in hot water immediately after to remove the poison oak oil from them.
Actually, I think Will and I consider ourselves equally blessed. And we’re very happy with our relationship. — Jackie