Category: Homesteading

2021 Garden — Seed Starting

It’s almost time to start seeds for this year’s garden. I’ve got about two weeks to get some pots ready — we’ll get the peppers, asparagus, celery, and verbana started. There are a few herbs that we can start too — oregano, rosemary, and thyme. I’m not growing any eggplant this year.

 

Plant Indoor Sow Date Start Indoor Sow Date End Transplant Start Transplant End Direct Sow Start Direct Sow End Action Date
Bell Peppers 17-Feb 6-May 17-Feb
Celery 17-Feb 6-May 17-Feb
Oregano 17-Feb 29-Apr 17-Feb
Rosemary 17-Feb 6-May 17-Feb
Thyme 17-Feb 29-Apr 17-Feb
Asparagus 22-Feb 21-Mar 28-Mar 16-May 22-Feb
Eggplant 22-Feb 7-Mar 16-May 30-May 22-Feb
Verbana 22-Feb 21-Mar 16-May 30-May 30-May 22-Feb

ORC Hunting – Message to State Rep

Quick message to my new state rep trying to get airgun hunting legalized here for large game:

 

Good Afternoon!
Congratulations on taking office yesterday.

ORC presently does not allow for hunting deer with air guns. With smaller air guns, that makes sense from an ethical hunting standpoint (same reason, I assume, a minimum draw weight is defined for archery). But there are rather powerful air guns available — and I’d love to be able to hunt deer with something like an 50-cal AirForce Texan CF. There are other states that permit hunting big game with an air gun — and I’d encourage you to see about getting similar legislation enacted in Ohio.

Thank you for your time,
–Lisa

DIY Reverse Osmosis Filter for Maple Sap

Notes from the reverse osmosis system build we are planning:

Ideally, we run RO inside — lose 3% efficiency on RO for every degree drop, and systems are rated at 77 F. Is this bad for sap storage, though?

Multiple RO membranes connected in series (“dirty” out goes to next one’s “in”, “clean” out goes to fresh water collection). 3x or 4x membrane — more concentrated as fluid runs through each of the membranes. Diminishing returns, 3-4 max units.

Process:
Sap goes into rain barrel — need valve out from rain barrel. Sensor in sap holding tank and smart outlet for pump — turn off pump when tank is near empty.

Pumped from rain barrel holding tank to filter. Output from filter to input on first RO.
“Fresh water” output from each RO goes to fresh water holding tank (rain barrel). “Dirty stuff” output from each RO goes to input on next RO for farther concentration.

“Dirty stuff” output from final RO, the concentrated sap, goes into Digiboil (65L, ~17 gallons of liquid)

Little pump we use for brewing draws from Digiboil to fill boil trays on the burners.

RO system:
Pump — need to compare this one and this $40 one.
Water filter housing Either with 1/4″ inputs or 3/8″ inputs  — prefer 3/8″
Water filter 10″ long x 2.5″ across filters — these look like they’d fit
RO membrane & housing combo but we can get replacement things from Ali for about $10

 

Connections:
Something from rain barrel to 3/8″ input on pump — GHT female and 3/8″ male
Something from 3/8″ output on pump to 3/8″ input on filter
Something from 3/8″ output on filter to 1/4″ input on RO
3/8″ tubing from rain barrel to pump, from pump to filter, and from filter to RO
1/4″ tubing to run between RO filters
1/4″ tubing from each RO to fresh water holding tank
1/4″ tubing from last RO to Digiboil

 

Food Plot Ideas

I want to plant some food plots around our property this upcoming year. Chufa looks like a cool, unique plant to add. Something we can eat too — and it can attract both deer and turkeys. https://gamekeepersclub.com/p-245-turkey-gold-chufa.aspx (25 lbs)

There are two heirloom dent corns I’d like to grow — https://www.southernexposure.com/products/hickory-cane-dent-corn/ and https://www.victoryseeds.com/corn_pencil-cob.html. A few patches of hull-less oats would be cool, and maybe some alfalfa.

Snow Maze for Chickens

The past few days was the first big snow storm out chickens have seen. They didn’t like walking in the snow so much. Anya made a snow maze for the chickens. The funny thing I’ve noticed about chickens — and remember, these are birds that can fly (well, for short distances) — is that they get stymied by two foot walls. The whole flock will be standing on the other side of our courtyard wall, chattering and cocking their heads at the wall trying to figure it out. Well, 18″ of snow works the same way — one chicken “cheated” at the maze and just flew into a different section, but they generally hit a head end and meandered around until someone accidentally worked their way back into the main part of the maze.

And she added a prize at the end of the maze

Autumn Wrap-up and Winter Projects

Autumn is coming to a close. We had an great growing season this year — I covered the lettuce beds with fabric tents three or four nights in November because temps would be near freezing. We had a few nights where our small pond froze on the surface, but tomorrow night will be the first sustained sub-freezing temperature. I got a bit of a late start to outdoor gardening because we rebuilt the garden beds in a sunnier location, but I still managed a 200 day growing season. Adding another six weeks for the seeds started indoors, I had plants growing for 244 days — about 2/3 of the year! Moving the beds to a sunnier location greatly increased productivity, and the compost in the garden area has turned into a large pile of dirt. We’ve been adding new stuff to the north side of the pile, and I’ve been moving everything south as I turn the pile. It is impressive how much the pile of grass and leaves shrinks down as it decomposes. In early autumn, I put about 16 cubic feet of compost into the garden beds to make a lettuce and kale bed. Yesterday, I amended another fifteen cubic feet of the lettuce bed. Anya and I used two cucumber A-frame trellises and a few of the tomato trellises to create a structure and covered the lettuce bed with greenhouse plastic. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue growing lettuce throughout the winter. I also plan on planting the broccoli, brussle sprouts, and cabbage under the cover next April.

I was worried the chicks we got in August would be too small when the temps dropped, but they are fifteen weeks old today. They love being outside and fluff up really big when it gets cold. Both the coop and chicken tractor have a wide roost so they can keep their toes under their warm feathers.

In the next few weeks, we’ll build some nesting boxes and get the coop finalized. I also want to finish making packets for the seeds we harvested this year and file them into my seed storage boxes. In the next week or two, I will be making a lot of candied almonds — vanilla cinnamon candied almonds, maple roasted salted almonds, and some plain candied almonds — for us and to give away to neighbors.

This winter, I want to finish the crochet blanket I am making for our family room. It should be a thick, warm blanket that we can all snuggle under. I want to finish Anya’s new Peppermint Swirl dress. I also want to make her micro-corduroy dress/tunic/shirt to replace the one she outgrew this past year. Both will be worn in the spring/summer, but sewing is a cold/snowy day activity for me.

Chicken Fodder

I wanted to grow a little treat for our chickens to eat as winter sets in and green leafy things become scarce. I took about half a cup of wheat, a quarter cup of barley, and a quarter cup of oats and mixed the seeds together. I covered the seeds with water and soaked them for about 20 hours. I then spread the seeds in a 8″x8″ aluminium tray that has holes poked into the bottom. This sits into its plastic lid to keep from dripping water everywhere. Twice a day, I run water into the tray and let it drip out. No soil used — the roots and seeds form a fairly solid mass as the seeds sprout. One week later, I have lots of bright green shoots. Hopefully they think it’s a tasty treat!