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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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  #61  
Old 08-07-2012, 11:56 AM
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Karen, I am so jealous of your abundance of berries. It sounds like your mamma isn't the only whirlwind in the family. You are always working on something; you put me to shame

Yes, standard doors are notoriously not secure. There are some fancy-shancy reinforments out there (read, expensive), but I vote for your solution, drop bars. That's what I plan to do at our place. I just need to get the steel to make the brackets...
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  #62  
Old 08-24-2012, 03:40 AM
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Default Chicken Barn Divider Project

Last Sunday my son & I divided up one side of our main chicken barn. I wanted to be able to keep the different breeds of chickens separate from each other. Several reasons for that, to stop the roosters from fighting, and to keep the breed lines pure.

This project was done on the cheap...all the lumber materials were either "found" or from garage sales. The door was $5 from a yard sale, it's 1/2" plywood with a screen in it - going to cover that with chicken wire to reinforce the screening, just in case I get a bird try to fly through it.

There is a concrete floor in the building and we didn't want to drill through the sill plate we were putting in for the bottom of the wall, so we laid a 2x4 on the flat on the floor and then uses metal "L" brackets to attach it to the walls on either side. I have to step over that 2x4 to enter the new pen, but that's ok, there will usually be shavings that deep anyhow.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v9...rnDivider1.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v9...rnDivider2.jpg

The blue upright boards are from a deck project - we dismantled the deck and got to keep all the lumber, for free. I thought my son came up with a pretty clever idea. The unpainted 2x4 along the top of these boards has a channel cut in it (it came with a load of roofing steel one time and had metal banding in the channel to hold the steel secure). The channel was just a hair wider than the thickness of our blue boards. To hold the boards in place on the bottom and keep them from kicking out we put a 1x1 strip on either side.




http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v9...rnDivider4.jpg
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  #63  
Old 08-24-2012, 03:43 AM
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Default Chicken Barn Divider Project - 2


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v9...rnDivider5.jpg
The nest boxes were some really ratty old boxes with a hinged front. We took the fronts off, and added a piece of 2" stripping along the lower part to keep the shavings in. Also added a very ratty piece of plywood on an angle along the top to hopefully keep the birds from roosting on top of the nesting area.

Hoping to discourage the hens from walking along in front of the nest boxes (and doing what hens tend to do a lot of - "splat", so have put a landing bar. The bar is actually short chunks of a spindle that is threaded...oddest thing. Found a bunch of pieces of it and threaded them together. turned out to be quite sturdy. Don't know if the hens appreciate their up-town landing bar.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v9...rnDivider7.jpg

The 2 shorter roosts in the back are spindles, and the longer front roosts are 2x2. This time we put them all on the same level instead of tiered. Birds seem happy with it.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v9...rnDivider8.jpg

Inside the new pen - looking out. I'll have to walk through the first pen to get to this one, but that's not really all that much of an inconvenience. There seems to be enough room for 8-10 birds to comfortably hang out. At the moment there are 7 Amercauna hens and 1 rooster.

While we were building last weekend we put all the hens out in the chicken run and grassed area for the day. I figured they could figure the egg laying thing on their own while they were locked out. One hen sure fooled me.

We had the main barn door open. Off one side of the entrance I have a row of 3 nest boxes with doors on them for broody hens. Had forgotten to close one of those empty nesting boxes. Went to walk outside to get another board...and there was a hen in the nest!

She had snuck around the chicken barn, squeezed under a gate...walked into the front of the barn and jumped up in the nest. I closed the door on the box and carried on. About half an hour later she started to cackle and was standing up. Beautiful green egg. I opened the door...she hopped down and strolled out the front of the barn, waltzed over to the big gate and looked at me. So I opened the gate and she went back to the flock. I think the chicken outsmarted me, anyone see that cartoon "Chicken Run"?

I was painting as we went along with the project, sure do like white paint in barns. Not only is it bright, it's easier somehow to "see" the livestock against a white background - easier to spot a problem when it's first developing.

Last edited by KarenBC; 08-24-2012 at 03:48 AM.
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  #64  
Old 08-24-2012, 06:05 PM
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I tell you, the chickens are conspiring! LOL

Looks good, Karen.
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  #65  
Old 08-25-2012, 02:11 AM
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Karen,

Not to worry over the 2 x 4 threshold. I made mine 6" high to keep the litter inside, and covered it with galvanized metal for durability. We sit the waterer on bricks to raise the height of it, and keep it cleaner. Our feeder is the hanging type, and is about 4" off the floor. I put an old stainless steel bowl on top of the feeder to keep them from sitting on it and fouling the feed. We built some metal nests that look like commercial ones, and let them roost on the front of it, since the coop is small.

You've made great progress!
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  #66  
Old 08-26-2012, 12:23 AM
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Gracie, I attended a lecture series by a doctor who uses lots of herbs. He recommended books by James Duke. I think that was the author's name.

KarenBC, I'm enjoying your posts and pictures.
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  #67  
Old 08-26-2012, 12:14 PM
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So very nice.

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  #68  
Old 08-27-2012, 12:30 PM
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It's that crazy busy time of year, trying to get as much done as possible before the killing frost, and the onset of winter.

Yesterday we butchered 13 rabbits, today we'll get those cut up & frozen. Usually I'd make a soup base out of the rib cages and pressure can it...but with so much other canning to get done today, will be freezing those for later canning when the pace isn't quite so crazy.
Cleaned out the 2 big pens they were in, and transferred in 17 young rabbits from the breeding barn. Have 6 more young ones to bring over, but I don't like to take all the bunnies off the does all at once. Seems easier on them to wean slower and let their milk quantity adjust to how many young they are feeding.

Picked the beans last evening, Royal Burgundy (purple coloured green beans) and a variety that has a big flat bean, somewhat like a lima. Spent 3 hours toping & tailing the purples and shucking the flat ones. Just getting the jars sterlized and will be pressure canning all of those this morning.

Went picking apples this week, so have oodles of apples to process. Hoping to make juice out of the sweetest ones, applesauce too, and perhaps dry some.

Bought a 10 lb. bag of prune plums, need to get them cut up for drying too. I do them in chunks. They are nice in oatmeal instead of raisins.

My son got a job just under 2 weeks ago, (yippee!) we are having to do a lot of adjusting with schedules. On the 3 days of the week that I work in town we travel together to save on gas. I was able to change my shift to 9-5, and his is 10-6. Means he's in an hour early and I'm an hour later. But we both like to read, so take along books. Having that hour is actually kind of nice. It does my heart good to see him loving his first real job, it's at a hunting/fishing store, so right up his alley with his interests. He seems to be doing very well, I've got my fingers crossed for the 3 month probation period.
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  #69  
Old 08-27-2012, 12:40 PM
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You are such a dynamo!!

And winter isnt far ahead is it.
I look forward to your winter preps.

And congrats to your son--.

annie
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  #70  
Old 08-27-2012, 03:48 PM
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Thanks Annie...but I don't think I'm any different than anyone else living this sort of lifestyle. You do what you have to. I'm more in panic mode at the moment...how am I going to get everything done...like today...that rabbit has to be cut up & frozen...raspberries need picking, laundry for the work week needs to be done. Pickup is loaded with used plywood, couple of horribly heavy double thick tarps and some pieces of slate, need to find spots for all of that and get it off the truck.

The hay HASN'T been cut yet, way late, so I left a message with the neighbour who is supposed to be doing it on shares. The hay is a definite worry, need about 100 bales worth for the llamas and about 30 for the rabbits. Probably don't need that much for rabbits, but I'd way rather have it and not need it than vice versa.

Neighbour needed help rounding up cows for the fall trek back home. My job was to block an intersection and keep them pointed towards home. They only needed me for 10 minutes...so flew down there, watched a bit of the roundup and headed back. They had a lady on horseback, it was so neat to watch her & her horse in action. She raised Canadian breed horses, didn't even know we HAD a Canadian breed til she moved into the neighbourhood!

There are lots of different birds coming my way Oct. 5th, geese, call ducks, runner ducks, Lady Amherst pheasants and a black shouldered peacock. I won't keep all of them, but need to house them until they sell. Likely keep the different geese and the runner ducks but move the rest along.

I'm at the point of to many projects in to little time before winter.
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  #71  
Old 09-04-2012, 10:58 PM
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Default Adjusting to new schedule

Yikes, this waiting 1.5 hours for my son to get off his shift to pick me up from my work is rattling me a bit. I keep thinking about all that I could be doing with that 1.5 hours on the farm. But the savings in fuel is worth it.

Have been processing apples like mad the last few days. The dehydrator is going constantly making fruit leather. I add jello powder to the applesauce to sweeten up the more tart apples and add a spike of flavor too. My son likes taking "fruit jerky" as he calls it to work, he can eat it on the fly when things are busy in the shop. Was thinking that jello would be a good prep thing to stock up on. Don't think it ever goes bad and it packs a powerful punch of sweetner.

Experimenting with making applejuice. Last year I found a Champion juicer at a thrift store. Sure like it. Isn't as noisy as a Vitamix I tried...sure gets every bit of juice out of the apple. The juice is very cloudy, not clear like store bought. Made about 2 gallons and have it in the fridge right now. Will see if it settles a bit, had a good head of foam on it. Planning to can up the juice.

Discovered why one of my jars of blackberries canned up with the Tattler lids didn't seal...accidently put 2 rubber rings on it. Oops. I'm finding that if I make sure the Tattler rings are thoroughly warmed up I get a perfect seal rate (barring double rings).

I canned the blackberries in water in half pint jars. First time I've canned in water only, not a sugar syrup. Was a bit nervous how that was going to turn out. 12 lbs. of blackberries...all done in water, no sugar. Blackberries are so hard to come by this far north. I do have one northern blackberry cane planted and it survived the first winter. I don't think I'm in any danger of it taking over the yard and fences like it would in a more friendly climate. Anyhow, the jar that didn't seal - was awesome in my oatmeal this morning. Going to try experimenting with canning more fruit with water...be curious to hear how anyone else has done with using water instead of a sugar syrup.

The potato plants are turning colour and dying back...I think that means it's time to start digging. Hoping to get the smallest ones canned up. Last year I canned some, they turned out good, very few had skins split or went mushy. I used them with home canned pickled eggs to make instant potato salad.

Have ordered 3 round bales of hay from a neighbour - that should get my 2 llamas through the winter. They don't eat as much as a horse or cow. Not having a tractor to move the bales may prove interesting this winter. I think I can fit 2 bales in their winter shelter. If I cover one well with a tarp that should help keep them out of it. The 3rd bale planning to put it on a pallet and tarp it near the front of their shelter and under a big spruce tree.

Picked up 18 bales of hay for the rabbits over the weekend, that's all tucked away..with the leftover hay that I had on hand, think I need another 10 bales or so. There is a neighbour selling hay for $4.50 a bale, so will see if I can get those this week.

Also ordered 3 cords of cut dry pine firewood, delivered into the yard. I don't need it this winter, but trying to get well ahead. Will need to split it, but that's ok - splitting firewood is one of my favorite jobs...with the gas wood splitter. Or I should say stacking the wood is my favorite, my son likes to run the machine, and I like the exercise of walking back & forth.

So my winterizing is coming along. I need to get out to the feed mill east of town and pick up a mini tote of "screenings". That's a mixture of grains, made into pellets, minimum 14% protein. I can feed it to the different birds, rabbits and llamas. Always makes me crazy nervous driving home with that big bag of feed on the truck by myself, it's usually even with the cab of the truck for height. I tie it down with ratchet straps every which way, but I still fret on corners and hills. The truck is an F250 so can handle the weight...but I do tend to be a bit of a nervous-Nelly when hauling things. Especially things that I've invested $$ in!
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  #72  
Old 09-04-2012, 11:26 PM
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Karen,
Just a question?
You use pine in the woodburner>

Txanne
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  #73  
Old 09-04-2012, 11:32 PM
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My, you've been busy! Congrats on all the accomplishments.

Re: canning fruits in water, that's the only way my grandparents ever canned grapes. Seemed to work out pretty well, never knew of any problems anyhow. She'd usually use them for grape pies, or sometimes would press the grapes along with the water they were canned in for grape juice. DW has started running strawberries and raspberries through the Victorio and making kind of a spread with the resulting pulp that she cans with very little or no sugar. It makes a good base for various things, and is pretty tasty straight on toast as well.

I envy your apple abundance! We've got a dozen or so trees finally trying to grow, but we'll be several years before we're apple independent. Fortunately DW gets utility grade apples at the U-pick where she works in the fall very cheap, so that keeps us going in the meantime. We look forward to someday having enough of our own to press cider. She does can a pre-made apple pie filling that we like very well; open jar, pour into pie crust and bake. I'm just finishing one now that she baked last week.

Keep up the great work!
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  #74  
Old 09-04-2012, 11:40 PM
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Yep we burn pine up in the northwoods. There is an over abundance of it here, standing dry and dead since the Mountain Pine beetle went through about 4 years back. Knocked out 80% of the pine forest. Nasty little blighters.

The apples aren't from my own trees (yet!) - but it's pretty easy to find apples free for the picking here. They might not be big apples like in orchard country, but they are plentiful (and a lot of people don't want them!)

Interesting about the grapes!
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  #75  
Old 09-05-2012, 12:23 AM
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Karen,

Loved your thread! It was joy to read. Congratulations to your son on his first job. I remember 1 1/2 years ago when my son got his first job and I held my breath til the 3 months probation were up. Keep up the good work and please continue sharing. Love reading it.
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  #76  
Old 09-05-2012, 02:02 AM
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Thanks mo4pintn!

Today was a banner day for my son - he got his first paycheque! He had me make a file folder up tonight and as he put the pay stub in said "this is the first of many to come"...think his chest was a might puffed out.

Pay cheque was perfect timing because his truck insurance notice came in too. Man do they ding male young drivers in this province. He hasn't had an accident nor speeding ticket, and his truck is a 2003...if we choose to put collision coverage on it's an extra $800 a year, bringing the total up to $2800. Is that not majorly insane? Trying to decide if it's worth it to put collision on. If he's responsible for damage to his own vehicle (slides on ice and hits something...or causes an accident) the collison is supposed to cover the repairs. The trick is...if you make a claim, the next time you renew your insurance the premium jumps sky high. I don't think it's worth that $800. Especially since for the most part we are using my vehicle to travel to work, as it's much easier on fuel.

We don't have a choice of who we insure with here, we have a provincial insurance company, and the basic insurance HAS to be through them or you can't license the vehicle. The extras like collision can be had from a third party company - but then if something happens, you are dealing with 2 insurance outfits.

Today was also his first frustration at work when he couldn't get the cash out at the end of the day to balance. He over panic'd - only out $15.64...could have been a return that didn't get entered correctly or something, and he did leave a note for the boss tomorrow. He was 45 minutes late picking me up, and I started to panic thinking he'd forgotten he was supposed to pick me up!

Made us pretty darn late doing our chores this evening, we flew through them pretty fast. The one rabbit doe let me know she wasn't impressed that supper was late, she has a funny sort of growl she makes when she's annoyed. Amuses the heck out of me. Told her to suck it up...I hadn't had my supper yet either. Our rule is that animals get fed first, then humans.
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  #77  
Old 09-07-2012, 03:48 AM
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Default Fruit Leather

For the most part the dehydrator needs attention twice a day, morning & night. When the leather is almost dried I pull it off the solid plastic leather trays and leave it on the slatted tray for a few more hours. Just to ensure it's really dry!

The fridge is usually full of big bowls of applesauce, waiting their turn in the dehydrator.
Here's a pic of filling the trays. The trick is not to make it to thick, nor to thin, and to keep it as even as you can. A rubber spatula helps with that. I don't grease the plastic fruit leather trays at all, and the leather pulls off quite easily, as least with apple leather, other fruits can be a little trickier.
Isn't the prettiest at this stage...but it's real food...not whatever chemical junk the little packets of fruit leather is in the store. Even with jello powder, it's got to be healthier than store bought!


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v9...plesauceTH.jpg

This one is finished, just needs to be pulled off (it's upside down in the pic)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v9...therTrayTH.jpg

If you have a dehydrator that makes fruit leather in this shape, you NEED to find yourself some Tupperware pie tote containers. The leather fits in them so nicely. I snap up pie containers at yard sales.
This is a pie container filled with finished fruit leather. I leave it with the lid off for a day or 2 (to ensure it's absolutely dry) before putting the lid on and taking it down to the cold room.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v9...itLeather1.jpg
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  #78  
Old 09-07-2012, 03:56 AM
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Default 170 lbs. of apples picked today!

170 lbs in 2 hours, after work...not to shabby.

Here's the apples in the back of the Honda with the ladders. I should have taken more containers & bags! Nice firm apples.

When I told the homeowners I thought there would be almost 200 lbs of apples off their tree, I don't think they believed me. Pick enough trees and you get an eye for what the total weight is going to be.



They have a crab apple tree that is just prime...might get back to town on Saturday to pick that one, hopefully round up a helper or 2 as it goes faster.
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  #79  
Old 09-07-2012, 10:38 AM
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You are a human dynamo---and an inspriration to all her read this thread.

Blessings on your efforts

annie
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  #80  
Old 09-07-2012, 12:38 PM
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I find that so amusing Annie! I'm really not...I just keep puttering along. I had an old European neighbour, a carpenter. He was trying to build his own rural property up while working out. He'd say: "A board or 2 a day, pretty soon a house"...and he did build a huge house!

This morning I weighed one of the Tupperware pie containers of finished fruit leather - 4 lbs. Not sure how much fresh applesauce it takes to make 4 lbs of dried...will have to figure that out sometime.
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