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Your Homestead Tell and show others with words and pictures how you built or are building your homestead and how you keep things going day-to-day. One thread per member, please.

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  #41  
Old 11-12-2011, 09:12 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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This weekend I got all the brush off the fence on the west side of my property. The neighbor to the E takes care of the empty property to my W and helped burn the last few brush piles that were on the fence. That area will soon be under chickens and pecan trees. Meanwhile, I am toying with the idea of building another chicken box, this time documenting, photographing, and recording each step in order to submit an article to BHM.
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  #42  
Old 11-19-2011, 09:50 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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I'm trying to get my red hen to go broody. I got some fake eggs to put in her nest. She is content to sit on them at night, but has no interest in them during the daytime. I am building her a broody box so that she can sit on eggs and later tend to chicks without the rooster bothering her. Its measurements are 18"x24"x20". It will have a wire mesh floor and a poo tray under the floor. So far the challenge is getting 1x2s fastened together without splitting. I have been drilling pilot holes for nails to pin it together and filling the joints with wood glue.
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  #43  
Old 11-24-2011, 12:11 AM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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Today I moved the red hen into her brood box. It was an ordeal for all involved. I had to catch Mr. Gamecock and swaddle him in an old sheet to keep him from attacking while his hen was moved into her new box. Neither of them was very happy about it. Mr. Gamecock made his neck bottle brushy and struck at the mesh of his cage every time somebody passed by for the rest of the afternoon. The hen called for him to come get her for a long while. While I was making a new brush cutting tool I heard one of them crying. The sound is like tires squealing a long way off. Its too bad I have to separate them out for the hen to raise her chicks. I worry that Mr. gamecock will injure one during food/water resupply. Lately he has been aggressive. He goes nuts when the door is opened. His neck gets bottle brushy and he pounces if given a chance.

In other news, one of the extra black copper marans cocks went into the freezer. That's the first time I have killed a farm animal. I thought I would be squeamish about disassembling a critter that i raised from a chick, but once the head was off he was a dead bird about to become food. I got most of him plucked and found that there was nearly no meat on him. The only good cuts were the breasts and thigh/legs. I ended up skinning him and taking about 1 meal for 4 worth of meat off him. The offal got buried.

I began making a brush cutting tool today. The shape of it is similar to a spanish falcata. It is a sort of hybrid axe/machete. I began with a piece of steel 1/4 inch thick and cut out the basic shape with a reciprocating saw. Another day I will smooth it up and put an edge on with files. I will hone the edge with stones. I would like to make a wood handle, but I will probably wrap leather strips around the tang.

Last edited by macgeoghagen; 11-24-2011 at 12:19 AM.
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  #44  
Old 11-27-2011, 08:57 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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Here's a pic of my falcata in progress. The sharpened edge will be on the right side as shown. The end result will be a tool with the handling characteristics of a machete and the cutting power of an axe. The whole thing is curved forward to make it bite into whatever its cutting.
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  #45  
Old 12-02-2011, 12:44 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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The best time to take a walk in the woods is after a few days of rain, when everything has been washed clean. The leaf litter is all soggy, allowing one to move through the wood without crunching a warning to everything within earshot. The few birds that remain are grumpy and damp. They hide silent within the few trees that have kept their leaves. Only the cardinal and his wife chirp to each other. They have found a holly bush on the forest edge some quarter mile away. There is no food here. The acorns are either buried or eaten. The pine cones are open and empty. The pines themselves seem to be taking a break, gathering the water that has fallen and relieved that the oaks go to sleep during the winter, when the sun is low in the south. I took a walk up over the hill that day. The south corner of my land is on the top of a hill. It is a good hill, obscuring the sight of a subdivision to the southeast and south of my house. I walked around the west side of this hill, on the property of someone that I know to be friendly. She leaves the woods to itself, giving a safe area for deer to hide in. I followed a trail made by these deer. It wound through the understory of blueberry and young oaks, under a stand of pines. In spring it would give good cover, but with the branches naked it did not. Further on, the other side of the hill looked as if it was terrace farmed at one point. broad clear areas were nearly flat, separated by short, steep slopes that had overgrown with trees and shrubs. Nothing grew in the poor soil in the flat areas.
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  #46  
Old 12-18-2011, 08:28 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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I have made the ugliest falcata ever. It is useful for cutting brush or a roman legion, but not in style.
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  #47  
Old 12-23-2011, 12:48 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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Today one of my black chickens laid her first egg. It is a medium brown color.
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  #48  
Old 01-02-2012, 06:04 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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Eggs. The gamehen mix lays light brown eggs. The black copper marans lay darker eggs with very dark speckles
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  #49  
Old 01-04-2012, 03:55 AM
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Lovely eggs indeed.
I enjoy reading your thread and must mention I have the same tablecloth.
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  #50  
Old 01-05-2012, 08:39 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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Its a popular design of tablecloth. My mom had the same one thumbtacked in place on her table for several years.
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  #51  
Old 01-07-2012, 10:22 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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Today I knocked down deathtrap 2, a 10x10 shed that has been rotting on the edge of my land for years. I pulled off the plywood sheathing and the structure immediately started to lean. I gave it a push to help it along and it collapsed. I started to de-shingle the roof, which is now at ground level, but I ran out of daylight.

I have a lot of piles. Piles of brush for burning. piles of dirt from digging. Piles of charcoal from burning. Piles of firewood. Piles of limbs and trunks of trimming into firewood. Piles of chicken poop. piles of dimensional lumber for salvaging. piles of metal for heating up and beating with a hammer.
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  #52  
Old 01-11-2012, 07:09 PM
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It's great how you're telling your story , I feel like I'm right there !
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  #53  
Old 01-15-2012, 05:18 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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Electricity in old houses is a puzzle. A puzzle that can kill you. I installed a lamp in these conditions. it began with my wife inheriting a stained glass ceiling lamp, the kind that hangs on a chain and plugs into a wall outlet. The wiring was horrible. Some ambi-sinister ancestor of my wife's had spliced the wiring by twisting it up and wrapping it in globs of electrical tape. Do not spice wiring with globs of electrical tape. If you must splice, twist the wire together, then solder it, then tuck it flat, then cover the spliced area with heat shrink tubing around each conductor, then heat shrink tubing over the whole assembly. It is easier just to go get a length of wire that is the proper length. Anyway, I re-wired the lamp. I removed the bulb socket, wires, and stupid little in-line switch. I installed a socket with a pull chain switch and wired in a 12 ft cord that came with a plug manufactured as one piece. I removed the hanging chain altogether.

Then I installed two wall outlets. The room chosen for the lamp is a little room with no outlets or lighting. The little room backs up to a closet with exposed framing inside, so I was able to select a place for the outlets without too much difficulty. The outlet boxes were single receptacle black plastic with nails attached for easy installation into a stud. One outlet was to power the little room, the other for the closet. For electricity to supply these outlets I ran a wire from a junction box up in the attic. It was a mess. A combination of old fabric wrapped wire and single conductor wire were wrapped up in there. The single conductor wire went to an old exhaust fan that no longer works, so I removed it. The motor on that fan still works, but the belt is long gone and the bearings in the fan are worn out. Maybe I will make an electric go kart. With much difficulty and coinage of new curse words I snaked the wire through the ceiling, rafters, and closet. I turned off the appropriate breaker while I was making the connections.
To hang the lamp, I got a large bracket that people hang potted plants from and screwed it into the wall, taking care to screw it into a stud. I hung the lamp from this, plugged it in, and completed my project. It is not exactly centered, but it is functional.
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  #54  
Old 02-06-2012, 08:26 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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Deathtrap 2 is no more. finally. The thing that kept it from being done was all the honey-do stuff that takes up time but doesn't accomplish anything meaningful. Move heavy item X from A to B. Re-arrange items D, C, P, and Y to revision 12 then arrange them back into their original configuration, but with the changes we talked about in revision 8 but never implemented and with item Y oriented as in revision 5.
I began a new chicken enclosure. It measures 20x20 and is made of 2"x4"wire mesh with T bar posts. It is part of what will be a series of 6 enclosures, some 20x20, some 10x20. These will be used to house 3 smallish flocks of chickens. They will alternate enclosures so that there is an empty enclosure between each flock. They will move when they tear up the dirt. At first, flocks will be in 1, 3, 5. When they have torn up the grass they will be moved to 2, 4, 6. I will construct 2 more chicken hutches with wheels to accommodate each flock.
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  #55  
Old 02-09-2012, 08:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macgeoghagen View Post
Deathtrap 2 is no more. finally. The thing that kept it from being done was all the honey-do stuff that takes up time but doesn't accomplish anything meaningful. Move heavy item X from A to B. Re-arrange items D, C, P, and Y to revision 12 then arrange them back into their original configuration, but with the changes we talked about in revision 8 but never implemented and with item Y oriented as in revision 5.
I began a new chicken enclosure. It measures 20x20 and is made of 2"x4"wire mesh with T bar posts. It is part of what will be a series of 6 enclosures, some 20x20, some 10x20. These will be used to house 3 smallish flocks of chickens. They will alternate enclosures so that there is an empty enclosure between each flock. They will move when they tear up the dirt. At first, flocks will be in 1, 3, 5. When they have torn up the grass they will be moved to 2, 4, 6. I will construct 2 more chicken hutches with wheels to accommodate each flock.
Are you sure you arent a goverment contractor? That sounds like my week
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  #56  
Old 02-13-2012, 09:50 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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I get my pay from the US taxpayers. They are my employers.

Last edited by macgeoghagen; 02-13-2012 at 09:59 PM.
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  #57  
Old 02-18-2012, 09:40 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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Today I began making a chicken hutch. This one will be 2'x6'. The black copper marans chickens will move into it and into their new 20x20 pen. The red game chickens will move out of their cage into the 2'x4' hutch and 8'x16' pen.
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  #58  
Old 03-04-2012, 10:00 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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I moved chickens this weekend. The black copper marans went into the 2x6 hutch and 20x20 pen. The red chickens went into the 2x4 hutch with 8x16 pen. Everyone seemed to like the new accommodations. The red chickens were pleased to have so much more room.
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  #59  
Old 04-03-2012, 10:05 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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I have most of my garden planted. I have tomatoes, lettuce, green beans, squash, okra, watermelon, and cantaloupe. My gardening method is best described as "lazy square foot gardening". Square foot gardening requires careful planning and an enclosure to put your dirt in. Regular gardening in this area is done in long rows and involves the use of a tractor. I plant things in clumps. A clump of something will be about 3 feet wide X however many feet long I need to get a good crop. From lawn to vegetables the process goes like this:
1. break the sod and topsoil into big clods with a shovel. 2. till the big clods into loose soil. 3. rake out the grass and roots. 4. rake the loose soil into a rectangular raised bed with sloped sides and a flat top. 5. plant seedlings that I started back before the last frost in the raised bed.

Grass is allowed to keep growing between the clumps. I try to leave a space between each row that is wide enough to mow. I would probably have less weeds if i plowed the whole thing, But I am too lazy to till up that much ground with my tiller attachment for my trimmer. I am way too lazy to pick all the grass and roots out of that much ground. So I till where I must and no more.

Beans generally are planted in a double row. squash, okra, and lettuce are planted in squares or rectangles. Tomatoes, watermelon, and cantaloupe are planted in rows with the ends pointing north and south. When they start to grow I will train them onto a wire fence. When the fruit starts to grow I will make a cradle for the fruit out of hardware cloth or wire mesh. For my humid climate that works better than leaving the fruit on the ground for bugs and rot to eat. I'm sure I could use poison to keep the bugs away and kill the bacteria that live in the ground, but I won't.
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  #60  
Old 04-17-2012, 10:44 PM
macgeoghagen macgeoghagen is offline
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The garden is doing well for the most part. A few of the plants died, but well within what is normal. Some were dug up and pooped on by a cat. Some dried out and died. The soil here is odd. Though it is sandy it does not drain well Though it has plenty of organic stuff in it it does not hold water well. Generally, the first inch of soil gets wet but the rest of the water just runs off. It sheds water. I had to make dirt bowls around every one of my plants so that the water would stick around long enough to seep in. The tomatoes are flowering. The lettuce is ready to be picked. Tomorrow I will have a salad. The squash plants have 5 adult leaves. I picked off the remnants of the seed leaves today. The green beans are about a foot tall. They should flower soon.

One of my hens went broody on 2 april. I don't know how many eggs she is on because she screams at me when I open the chicken house. I isolated her by tacking a scrap of netting across the chicken house between her and the other chickens. During the first few days of her broodiness the other chickens would climb in with her and end up laying eggs on top of her.

I'm going to eat Mr. Gamecock. He knows this. I can tell because he keeps himself trim and fighting fit. Even with plenty of food he would rather flap and run around.
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