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Archive for the ‘Self Sufficient Living’ Category

We had quite a wet spring but thanks to my brother Dave, the entire farm is planted (he’s on the 9N in the pic below). I couldn’t have done it without him, he’s the best brother a guy could have.

How is your garden coming along? How’s your weather? We had over 6 feet of snow this winter and I’m predicting a hot, dry summer here in the Midwest. Then again we just had a thunderstorm that dumped a couple of inches this morning. It hasn’t really rained in 3 weeks though….

Our new crop this year (drum roll please) cotton! I got a couple of packs of seeds from Baker Creek Seeds.  A wonderful company who donates seeds every year to our non-profit Project Garden Share. Speaking of Project Garden Share, if you’d like some free heirloom seeds sent to you, contact me! All we ask is that you plant one for yourself and one for PGS (so you can donate it to a local food bank for those in need.)

Here are some pictures of everything from pumpkin mounds, bonfires, happy chickens and a bean trellis made from tree branches that will be covered by pole beans soon (‘How to’ Post coming soon). We are also trying out weed blocking fabric this season, I’ll let ya know how well it does…..

Garden Rows with weed fabric pumpkin mounds planting vegetable garden bean trellis bonfire farm leaf lettuce garden close up chicken golden comet tomato flower brown eggs sunset

1949 Ford 9N golden comet chickens tight garden rows with weed fabricBeans sprouting tomato row chicken Garden Garden rows Sunny summer farm day

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Want to start your growing season early? Maybe extend in into the winter months? Then build a cold frame or sometimes called a mini greenhouse. A cold frame is 4 walls that secure heat and protect plants from the elements and a top that allows light through.

straw bale cold frame

Step 1) Find a good location that gets lots of sunlight and faces south.
Step 2) Build the walls. I used straw bales. They’re great at holding in heat and no tools are needed.

cold frame 1

Step 3) Use some old windows to put on top. I used some storm windows I found in the trash at a local church.

cold frame2

Step 4) Fill with plant trays full of seeds.
Step 5) Keep an eye on temperature, moisture and airflow. Open up the lid a few inches to circulate fresh air in.
Step 6) Acclimate your seedlings by taking the lid off when they get bigger.

Happy Planting!

cold frame straw3

Next Post: Starting your seeds in the cold frame.

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I was hoping to trap a raccoon that’s been trying to get into the chicken coop but instead, I caught this little guy. I also made a 34 second video of his catch and release below the facts part.

Opossum in trap

I didn’t know much about these marsupial creatures so I looked up some facts about them:

  • The word opossum refers to the North American species (those found in other areas are called possums)
  • The Virginia opossum is only found in the United States
  • Opossums are related to Kangaroos, Koalas, Tasmanian Devils, and Brazilian Short-hair Pigmy Possums
  • Opossums help gardens by eating snails, slugs, insects, snakes, rats and overripe fruit.
  • Opossums are highly resistant to diseases such as rabies because of its efficient immune system and lower body temperature.
  • Opossums are not a public health threat.
  • There is far less of a risk of infection from opossums than from house pets.
  • The opossum’s greatest enemies are cars and domestic pets.
  • Another predator of opossums is people, who hunt them for food, sport, and pelts.
  • Other enemies include owls, foxes, and larger wildlife.
  • Opossums compete with sheep and rabbits for food.
  • Opossums have more teeth than any other North American land mammal (50).
  • Opossums are not territorial and move to wherever food is available.
  • Opossums cannot hang upside down by their tail, but use their tail to climb.
  • Marsupial refers to the reproductive system, which entails the very young embryos being born and attaching to the mothers nipples
  • Opossums do not have good eyesight or hearing — they rely mainly on their sense of smell.
  • Opossums are very clean animals and groom themselves much like a cat does.
  • Opossums are also found in Australia and South America

These facts were found at: http://biology.clc.uc.edu/students/114-sum98-opossums/misc.htm

My favorite part of this video is at the end when I pan over to the chickens… They’re all like “What the heck was that?”

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1008_butterfly121-300x200The population of Monarch  butterflies has dropped 59% this year. This is the lowest population ever recorded. Scientists attribute the drop to the destruction of breeding habitat in the U.S., due to commercial farming practices involving herbicides and genetically engineered crops.

What does this mean to you? Everything! If these native pollinators are dropping in record numbers, so are other pollinators. But there is something you can do about it. Make a small rest stop (or waystation) for the butterflies to help increase their numbers. This is a quite simple thing to do.

To create a habitat for monarchs, you need to provide milkweeds for the larvae, nectar plants for the adults, and sufficient vegetation to provide shelter for the larvae, pupae and adults. This all comes in a small kit for $16 here at Monarch Watch Stop.

How to Build a Monarch Waystation and lot’s of other useful links:

You can also purchase Milkweed seeds here for $3 a pack at Butterfly Encounters
Milkweed Growing Instructions: Live Monarch
From Here and Now on NPR a great radio piece with audio – Majestic Monarch Butterflies Under Threat
IMAX 3D Movie: Flight of the Butterflies
Teachers: Monarchs in the Classroom

I’ll be building a Monarch Garden this spring and I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

Migration_Map
Let’s help our little orange and black friends….before it’s too late. If you’ve created a garden already, please pot in comments and offer some advice to others. Spring’s almost here and I can’t wait! Happy planting!

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When Should I pick edamame or soybeans? Harvest soybeans the moment you see the bottom leaves start to turn yellow but the rest of the plant is green. The entire plant will turn rapidly so don’t waste any time because the beans will be too tough to eat. Pick em fast (see pics below) 1 day and they can turn brown.

How do I store fresh picked edamame or soybeans? Here are some easy steps to save edamame:
1. Bring pot of water to a boil. Boil beans for 5 minutes – This stops the enzymes and maturation process.
2. Remove from water and dry with a paper towel – By drying them they won’t all be stuck together in the freezer.
3. Place beans in freezer bag and store in freezer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great picture taken by Studio SPC


Stop……Pepper time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other stuff growing on the farm this week:

 

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We’ve been taught from a young age that rabbits are cute, cuddly, adorable little creatures. They fool hunters and outsmart monsters…They sell us cereal and batteries… They help a young prince grow up and learn to skate… They save the world, promote naked women and are sometimes late but what they really are……..are garden destroyers.

You’ve been brainwashed,  Ya been bamboozled into believing these creatures are harmless and I’m here to say, No! All my hard work from; preparing the soil, planting, watering, weeding and general upkeep can be shattered in a single day by one of these varmints.

You can’t really trap a rabbit during the summer. Why would a rabbit enter a metal trap (with whatever bait) when there is a cornucopia of fresh veggies and herbs all over the place? Besides, live trapping of rabbits is not recommended because rabbits can carry certain diseases which may be transmittable to the trapper. Here are a few.

I recommend a .22 , a steady aim and patience. I know it sounds terribly cruel and inhumane but its all part of being self-sufficient. You can’t be self sufficient if you don’t have any produce left to consume and can. Here are some Delicious Rabbit Recipes, my wife is Italian and her Grandmother would always make tomato sauce with rabbit. Don’t worry about the rabbit population, it’s booming.

Rabbits have a very fast reproductive rate. The breeding season for most rabbits lasts 9 months, from February to October.  Normal gestation is about 30 days. The average size of the litter varies but is usually between 4 and 12 babies, with larger breeds having larger litters.  A kit (baby rabbit) can be weaned at about 4 to 5 weeks of age. This means in one season a single female rabbit can produce as many as 800 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A doe is ready to breed at about 6 months of age, and a buck at about 7 months.(Source)

Here’s a link to 10 Ways to deter rabbits from your garden in a feel good happy way: Click Here. Of course, none on this list has actually worked for me. I think I have mutant bunnies.

Rabbits eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, which make it difficult to keep them out of vegetable gardens. Rabbits enjoy eating lettuce, carrots, apples, strawberries, pears, broccoli, kale, spinach, celery and tomatoes. Rabbits will eat almost any leafy vegetable. Rabbits will eat garden vegetables to the ground and damage the bark around certain bushes.

I know some of you have rabbits as pets and I think that’s great. They’re not eating your garden. So, let’s end on a fun note……

My Top Ten Famous Rabbits of All Time:

  1. Bugs Bunny (Our buddy)
  2. Rabbit (Winnie the Pooh)
  3. Thumper (Bambi)
  4. Velveteen Rabbit (my favorite)
  5. Peter Cottontail (Thornton Burgess)
  6. White Rabbit (Alice in Wonderland)
  7. Roger Rabbit (from Who Framed?)
  8. Playboy Bunny (Classic)
  9. Trix Rabbit (Love me some Trix)
  10. Energizer Bunny (I hate him)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s a list of my tips to grow more veggies, keeps animals away, water the right way and more!

  1. Make plant markers by using an old mini blind. Take the slats, cut them with scissors and use a Sharpie. Go to Goodwill if you don’t have any. You can get one for .50 cents.
  2. Keep deer away from your garden by using human hair. I save my clippings when I buzz my head or you can go to your local hairdresser and ask for hair, they may look at you weird but they’re happy to get rid of it. Sprinkle it around the perimeter and replace every couple weeks or after a big rain.
  3. Use coffee grounds to fertilize your soil. Go to a local coffee shop and ask for their spent grounds. They save them at my shop for gardeners and have a sack behind the counter.
  4. If starting vegetables from seed is intimidating, try radishes. They’re really easy and go from seed to fruit in 35 Days.
  5.  Also, to keep deer and other animals out of the garden, pee on the fence posts. This is easier if you’re a guy but if you’re a gal, be happy about multiple orgasms.
  6. To trap critters, I’ve had the best luck with the following bait; Raccoons love marshmallows and cat food. Rabbits like carrots (duhh) but love brussel sprouts and spray the trap with apple cider. Ground Hogs love apples and mice well…peanut butter is all you need.
  7. Don’t water during the day. It’s useless and a waste. Most of it will evaporate and if you water the plant, the sun can burn it up (think of water droplets as tiny magnifying glasses). Always water at the base. Keep in mind vegetables are made up of mostly water. A tomato is 90-95% water.
  8. If you want to get children interested in gardening, stay away from root vegetables. They can’t see the growth and understand what’s going on underneath the ground and can’t visualize it. Stick with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins and corn. The changes are visually stunning and fun to watch.
  9. Always plant flowers throughout your garden to attract pollinators. And besides, it atheistically pleasing.
  10. Grow organically and plant non-GMO seeds. Why put poison on something you’re going to eat. And if you’re growing organically, be sure your plants and seeds are not genetically modified. Why waste time gardening organically if you’re growing a tomato created by splicing fish dna and a strawberry?

On the topic of GMO’s….On Friday, The Farm Bill amendment that would have unambiguously given states the rights to label genetically modifiedingredients in food without fear of reprisal from biotech companies was been voted down in the Senate. The amendment, introduced by Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Mark Begich (D-AK), was voted down by 73-26. If your Senator didn’t vote for it, call their office. Here’s a link to all the Senators from every state Click Here.

It was all over every major news corporation, wasn’t it? Ohh wait, it wasn’t covered by anyone.

Plug: My wife created a site of wonderful artwork; whimsical themes for children in a variety of mediums. She offers original works, archival reproductions and can also create custom artwork for those who request it.  Please visit her site by clicking on the banner above.

and finally a quick update on the farm…….in pictures. Happy Sunday everyone!

Lady bug on a bush bean plant

I need to trellis the peas.

Orange is my favorite color

Pumpkin patch is blowing up.

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