Friday, March 13, 2015

Around The Farm March 13, 2015

Looks almost peaceful, doesn't it?  Pics can be deceiving like that.  We were up half the night looking for them, worrying about them as we listened to the coyotes hollering, and knowing it was icy hoping they hadn't slipped and broken a leg.  We drove around before it was even fully day light, but still couldn't spot them.  At 7am a neighbor called with their location - they were on the opposite side of 8th street.  That's about the busiest street around here at 7:20am (when we got to them) - it's the street that leads to the school.  We had to get them across the road, through traffic, then walk them home.  Dan didn't stay here in the snow long, he brought them down to the road - it was too icy and difficult to walk in the fields.  Dan fell down the bank, landed on his knee, and I walked them the rest of the way home.  One of them got her nose in the feed bucket I was using to lure them home, and pulled my shoulder back at an angle, so that I've had pain all week from it.  

Then add in that we had never properly fixed the gate they tore through in the upper pasture, Friday afternoon we were chasing horses.  They went through the broken gate.  The guys had the horses almost home when someone drove by and beeped their horn, spooking the horses.  It took us another hour, and the help of a neighbor, to find them.

I'm so done with those cows, but they are still here. Dan wants to keep them until April.  For now they are in the goat pen.  

Between chasing animals, a funeral, and a new baby to visit (I have a new nephew), and some just plain general laziness on my part, I got very little done on the farm this week.  With the snow melting, it is more and more obvious how much there is to be done.  I wish I could afford to hire help, but I don't think that is going to be in our budget this year.  And really, there is no good excuse for me not getting more done.  Like that gate - if I had gotten Matt to help me fix that gate earlier this week, I wouldn't have  been chasing horses this afternoon.  Pure laziness on my part, no other excuse for it.  It's time to transition from the lazy days of winter into the full force, get things done, mode of Spring.   If I just tackle one project a day it will make a big difference.  Eventually. :-)

The decorative pond thawed enough that I could remove the dead fish.  :-(  I am so sad that I killed them - we thought they would be ok in there all winter, but it was a rough winter and the ground froze too deeply.    On the positive side, that is the longest I have ever had carnival fish survive - usually we keep them in the house and they die within a week.  The pond is still pretty full of ice, I'll probably shop vac all the water out and start fresh this spring - it's full of leaves & debris.  I need to read up on pond care.

Piper, who is extremely pregnant, also has CL.  I'm so discouraged.  The hair has fallen off, so Dan will take her out back (always to a field we don't keep any livestock on at all) to clean it out and hopefully she and her babies will be ok.  (I'm guessing twins, but it could only be one).  The first goat babies should arrive early April here.

Yuck.  This is what spring REALLY looks like.  :-)  The pastures are all starting to look a mess too.

I cleaned up some of the hay from outside the dog pen - where we had  Ugie the goat for the last couple of months.  It was ice under the hay yet.  I put the hay in the chicken coop to help with some of the mud for now.

Peterson the peacock is still loose.  I have not seen him at our neighbors since we attempted to catch him - but my sister in law did spot him there, so I am hopeful he's still hanging around.

Washing the eggs.  :-)  This was a few days worth.  The hens have slowed down a bit, and keep going broody, I've been kicking them off nests all week, but today I left one nest to hatch out.  I like baby chicks.  :-)


I started cleaning up this area so I'd have a place to sit down while working out here..  but it just looks so sad to me, with the one faded chair cushion and the faded umbrella, and the dead leaves in the stones...  it's  a start.  I'll want to paint those basement doors again too, once it is warm enough

This doesn't show the mess as much  - but off to the right is almost all mud.  We had a ground mole last fall that did a lot of damage.  I did a google search and found out I should have put down seed in the fall (there is so much I should have done in the fall, and did not, leaving extra mess this spring).  I did find this "In order for you to seed, the ground temperature has to be warm enough for the seeds to get established and the roots take hold. I would also recommend to aerate your lawn in the spring, seed, you can also fertilize, and water regularly. Aerating will allow the seeds to penetrate into the ground better. "  It sounds like mid april - so just a month away - before I should put seed down.

Upcoming Projects

This rain barrel is for sale for $300
I'd love to make a similar one - but I may need to hire someone to paint it. 
I spent a lot of time researching rain barrels, and how I want to make mine.  Mostly I want to paint them (which you should all know I'm not very talented at, but I do love Krylon..) but before I can do that I want to put them together.  I've done my research, you can see everything I have found here -
I'll update as I make them.

I'm researching an outdoor bread oven, and a smoke house too.  I don't know how far I will get with those projects, but I am hoping to build both this spring.

Around The Neighborhood - 
The  farm on the hill, where we learned how to grow & harvest tobacco last year, sold for $600,000.  For just 60 acres.  But it is a really nice barn.  The new neighbors will be Amish as well, from Lancaster County. 

They appear to be tearing down the farm house on Hickory Grove road - Jay Showers old house. It's owned by an amish family, I'm pretty sure they will build a big new house in its place.

The Lapp's are building on again - 

I think it's a porch.  We'll see.  They also built this recently -  (sceenshot of someone's facebook post)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Making My Own Rain Barrels

This rain barrel is for sale for $300
I'd love to make a similar one - but I may need to hire someone to paint it.  

I needed to draw up a plan for my rain barrel project, and I decided I might as well put it right here - that will enable anyone with experience to comment and give input.  I'll update as I progress - right now the barrels are frozen to the ground in half a foot or more of snow, but with the temps in the 40s all  next week, I expect to be able to get them to the garage to work on them soon.

The Barrels - 
I have 55 gallon white barrels that my husband got from someone last year when I  first started talking about wanting to make my own.  After reading a LOT of websites, I think I decided I want two barrels by the garage, and one off the corner of the house.  (There's really not room for two at the corner).  Eventually I want a whole row of them up at the upper shed, but I'm starting with the backyard first - where I keep my raised garden beds.  

Ask around, someone is likely to know where to get food grade barrels.  Apparently many places have to pay to dispose of them, because they are plastic, so they are often cheap or free.

The Base
I will most likely elevate them off the ground with pallets, or some sort of wooden structure built from scrap our rough cut lumber.

I found this information at the Rain Barrel Man site - I'm thinking 2 feet of the ground, approximately.  (But after reading more, closer to 3 feet might be better)
The higher the elevation the greater the water pressure will be at the lower point. Each foot of elevation change is equal to 0.433 PSI (pounds per square inch) of water pressure or every 2.3 feet in elevation you will get 1 lbs of pressure. So if you place your Rain Barrel on a 2 ft. stand you would have 2.165 pounds of water pressure. To give you an idea as to how low that is, is to tell you that the plumbing in your house is between 40-80 PSI and you would not want that in your Rain Barrel because it would be empty in seconds! 2 to 3 PSI is a good operating mode especially if you connect a drip irrigation kit to it.

Getting the Water IN the Barrel

I really like this for getting the water from the downspout to the barrel - but I want to see if I can find a cheaper version.  ($32 for that???)  I'll take the photo into our local hardware store and see what they recommend.

I love the river rocks on top of the barrel.  My plan is to cut a large hole into the top of the barrel, cover it in screen, then in river rocks as shown here

Then I want to cut (drill) two small holes (one inch diameter? ) at the top of the barrel for overflow.

I love this site - one of the things I learned there was this- 
Don’t get bugged. Mosquitoes are naturally drawn to stagnant water and rain barrels provide the ideal breeding ground. Screens will stop some of that, but not all. One year, I had mosquitoes crawling in through my overflow pipe.  Adding several drops of baby oil to each rain barrel will create an oily film in the water, and should stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in your rain barrel.

This site suggested a food grade oil, which is probably wise - but also mentioned that some people use goldfish in them.  Huh.  I like that idea...  no oil with the fish, and you have to make sure they always have water.. and of course there is the added concern of how big will they get, where will I keep them over winter if they are huge...  maybe I'll use olive oil

I also loved that he just tossed an old window screen over the top of the barrel.  :-)  I also noticed that his gutters appear to just be shortened. the piece that is already on the bottom of mine, at the ground, is now above the barrel.  If I can shorten my spouting like this, it would save needing that "rain saver" part above.  He notes "Your downspout might not quite hit the sweet spot on the rain barrel.  A little extra piece of aluminum downspout is probably the simplest solution. I used a piece of Plexiglas, which also does the job nicely."  - You can see that more clearly on his site.

The Spigot

Isn't that cute?  It's also $46.  So no thanks.  :-)

This Youtube video helped me A LOT.  I needed to see how the spigot actually is attached.  I made this materials list after watching it, I have a small town hardware store with helpful staff, so this basic list should work for me, they will make sure I get the right sizes.

At the instructables site, I read this comment - 
"skip the garden faucet, get a 1/4 turn 3/4" ball valve. 
Compare water flow with regular garden faucet and 1/4 turn ball valve 
(both screw into same size hole and fit a garden hose): 

Ok, I am not sure, after watching the video, that I need that much additional pressure, but I sort of love how the water comes through the stand, not the barrel.  I'm envisioning some sort of hose out of the bottom of the barrel, enabling you to completely empty it, which is awesome.  But I will probably settle for a spout near the bottom of the barrel

This site has two spigots - one at watering can height.  Something to consider...

Painting The Barrel
Do a google image search on painted rain barrels, and the results are pretty awesome.

With all of the plastic paints (like krylon) out there, it shouldn't be too difficult either...  not that I could paint the more intricate designs, those are beyond my skill set, but I can probably come up with something I have fun doing.  And maybe I can hire a friend to make me that peacock one...

This site shows entries from a rain barrel painting contest - what a great idea!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Around the Farm This Week - March 5 2015

While everyone else is shouting "come on spring!" I'm walking around thinking we need 6 more weeks of winter to save up for, and prepare for, all the work spring will bring.  The rain barrels are not done, the shed roof needs repaired, spouting is missing off the back of the shed, fences all need repaired, at least two shelters need completely rebuilt...  and that's not even a real start of a list.  I need to start our spring project list, list the materials needed, adjust our budget, and plan to get some of this taken care of.  But oh vey, this spring will bring a LOT of work.  (I'm still blaming my son's fall wedding for being so far behind - but some - perhaps a lot -  of it was laziness too.)

How Not To Catch A Peacock:

 1. Drive car to location. Shine spot light on peacock, who has roosted on a neighbors truck for the past few days, but tonight is up in a tree.
 2. Repeat the phrase "he'll be a sleep, he'll be easy to catch" as the not sleeping peacock looks down at you. 
3. Drive home, get truck & extension ladder, leaving others behind to sing lullabies to the peacock, & tell him it's past his bedtime, he should be sleeping. 
4. Listen to female (ie "mom" or "wife") list all the reasons using an extension ladder in the dark, on a hill, after an ice storm, may not be a good idea. 
5. Ignore female. Extend ladder on icy hill. 
6. Find that the ladder does not reach the branch. 
7. Attempt to lift ladder in the air & use it to scare peacock, so that he will fly down to ground.
 8. Watch peacock fly to another tree, 10 feet higher than his original perch.
 9. Plan To repeat.

Eggs all washed. smile emoticon Each winter we line the inside of the coop with old feed bags, to help stop drafts. The hens have all done well all winter - we're getting 10 eggs a day now. For some reason, our hens only lay if we feed them one feed from clarks (true value). Although other feed labels look comparable, & friends & neighbors have no issues with other feed (we'd prefer to buy local feed from Norms farm store) if we switch to any other feed, they stop laying.

Since we're getting 10 eggs a day, I'm making a lot of egg recipes.  This puff oven pancake was a hit this week - it's an old recipe I've used often, but I added a lot more stuff, like an omelet, this week -

On The Internet This Week - 

 I have had this posted on my facebook page by well meaning friends so many times in the past week - everyone thinks I "need" these.  But the two pictures do not go together.  

"The black eggs are boiled eggs in sulphuric springs. The chicken is a Ayam Cemani rooster a rooster and a Hen together are known to sell for $2500 - $5000 for the pair. They come from Indonesia."The birds are completely black: black plumage with a greenish shine, black legs and toe nails, black beak and tongue, black comb and wattles; even their meat, bones and organs appear black. " "The hens lay cream-colored eggs with a slight pink tint" - from the backyard chickens forum

Where those black eggs came from -
Ōwakudani (大涌谷 lit. "Great Boiling Valley"?) is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is a popular tourist site for its scenic views, volcanic activity, and especially, Kuro-tamago (黒卵 lit. "black egg"?) — a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs. The boiled eggs turn black and smell slightly sulphuric; consuming the eggs is said to increase longevity. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. You may eat up to two and a half for up to seventeen and a half years, but eating a whole third is said to be highly unadvised.

We have 2 black angus cows that could be bred this spring. But we can't keep them in the fence.   I don't know how many times we have been called, or I have hollered out "the cows are in the middle of the road" just this week.  Too many.  Way too many.

 We already sold one because she would not stay fenced, I think we may need to sell a second one - the 3rd stays in the fence when the other cow isn't in the same pasture to lead the way out.  But do we really want just ONE cow to have a baby this year?  What will it cost to have just one cow inseminated?  Add to the list of things we need to figure out.  The two babies in the back pen are ready to move up to the middle pen, they are off milk and on just grain and hay now.  It's too icy to move them just yet, but I need to get them out of that pen before I can get more babies.

Goats - 
Doing well.  We found a new home for Uggie this week - that was hard.  

If you have visited the farm, or petted the goats at heritage days, you have probably met Uggie - she is one of the friendliest, and oldest, goats I have had. (She's the one you all ask "what happened to her ears?" - She's a LaMancha, they don't have regular ears) This winter we had to move her out from the goat pen - I can't risk her getting pregnant, so she had to be on her own in a separate pen. She wasn't happy - goats are herd animals. They hate being alone. She had the opportunity to be a companion to another older goat, both pets. I know it's what is best for her - but I hated seeing her go. She's been here 7 or 8 years, since she was a baby.

I'm pretty excited about this garden calendar, although so far all I have done is download it.  I used to have a printable one that worked like this, but this is a spreadsheet that does all the work for you :
Garden planning calculator. Tell it what you want to plant, it will tell you when to start the seeds, & when to plant outdoors -

I think that pretty much sums up this weeks chaos & interests - I'm hoping to do this each week, so I have a diary of what life is really like here on the "peaceful" farm in central PA.  :-)

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Recipe - Puff Oven Pancake

6 eggs beaten, 
1.5 cups flour, 
1.5 cups milk,
 1.5 tsp salt.
 Melt 6 T butter in a 9x13 pan, mix then mix the other ingredients & pour on top

This morning I added sausage & cheese. It's also good with sliced apples & a little brown sugar.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tackle It Tuesday - Jewelry Storage

In February I'm working through storage & Organization for all appearance related items.  Last week was make up.  This week was jewelery.  I still have my closet, dressers, and nail care to go.
This is all of my jewelry, gathered up from no less than 4 rooms and 8 locations around the house.  I know, I know.  But when there is no good system for storage, things can get out of hand quickly.  I've tried a few systems over the years. One of the large jewelry cabinets hidden behind a full length mirror, craft boxes to sort earrings, regular jewelry boxes...  so far nothing has worked well for me. 

After sorting it all out, getting rid of about half, and putting the items I'd like to save, but know I will not wear right now (gold hoops will come back in favor eventually - but for now, I really only wear the silver ones..) in that white craft box to pack away, I came up with this solution:

The key to the success here is location, location, location.  :-)  All of my jewelry is now stored beside the mirror I use to get ready each day. I tackled this project last Tuesday  - and although it's only been a week - I am in love with this.  Before I would set jewelry on the cabinet right outside this door, all the time.  I'd take off earrings while sitting on the couch and let them on a stand, etc.. but this is so conveniently located that I haven't set jewelry anywhere but away where it belongs for the past week.  Awesome.

I don't wear the pins frequently - but to keep it easy to access them, the burlap is hung on picture hooks.  (Cup hooks would work too) so I can pull the entire thing down, remove the pin I want, and put the entire thing back up there.

The necklaces hang on a $3 tie hanger (belt hanger?  I don't know for sure what it is!) that I removed the hanger from.  I found it at Dollar General.

My earrings are on an old chain that is broken and tarnished.
Then in the little flip down drawer on our medicine cabinet, I added some scrapbook paper to the back, then inspired by the bottom photo of this post, I found mini cupcake liners in my pantry and used them for holding the earrings that will not hang over a chain well.  While in the pantry, I noticed a thread holder - a very old metal one - on my sewing desk, and I stuck that in here to hold rings.

Photos that inspired me:
I love all the old frames re-purposed to frame jewelry.  

Right now my bracelets are stored in two small baskets hanging on the wall - but I might eventually do this.  

I think I'm in love with the luxury of this much space just for accessories.  I love all the different containers here.

I doubt this would be too practical - but I've always loved metal graters, so it amused me

If you had the space, this would be a pretty cheap and quick option.  

Another take on the frame idea - She has a silver one on her site too, and she shows you the thrift store dog photo she started with.  :-)  I love that she used a kitchen towel from the Dollar Store for her backing material!