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Posts Tagged ‘homesteading’

Tanglewood Farm is growing! Well, kind of.

I have two young horses over at the farm down the road where I run my lesson program and they are best friends. Declan and Breallen are the cutest buddies! They spend countless hours nibbling each other, scratching each other and even napping side-by-side.

Declan is 3 years old and Brea is just over a year. While Declan is well started under saddle, he’s technically not doing much for the lesson program right now and Brea, being so young, is obviously not doing much other than eating and pooping. After doing some number crunching I’ve decided it will be considerably less expensive to bring the two to my home farm and then they can help the sheep mow down the rest of the field, since they’re unable to keep up with the grass growth.

Declan in his adorable little hunt saddle!

 

Unfortunately I’ve been sick this past week (with coldmageddeon!), while I was supposed to be putting up fences to divide off a section of the field! I plan to keep them on a small spot of land for now so that they don’t eat too much grass at once. It’s important to ease horses slowly onto new pasture or they can colic (which for horses can be deadly). Anyway, I managed to get the step-in posts up this afternoon briefly and all that’s left to do now is string up the electric tape and connect the charger!

… and patch the water trough, and install the hay feeders… and walk the field checking the footing, and clear the barn for horse-hay-storage, and stack the hay and…

It’ll definitely be more work, but I can’t wait until I get to wake up to see the cutest little faces I know, every morning!

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Our Dark Days Challenge starts this week. To remind everyone, sign up here to share your SOLE (Seasonal, Organic, Local, Ethical) meal once a week through March. Here on Not Dabbling, and over on (not so) Urban Hennery, we’ll do biweekly highlights from the participating blogs, focusing on each region:  Sage for the West, Jen for the Southeast, Miranda for the Northwest, Emily J. and Ryan for the Northeast, me and Susy for the Midwest, Emily S. for the South. Make sure to check our individual blogs as well for our own Dark Days efforts. If you’re signed up for the Challenge, you’ll be getting an email with an address to let us know what you’re up to!

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I (Xan) focused more on frozen than canned goods this year. My biggest deficit is greens; I’m hoping my local year-round CSA will have local frozen peas!

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Here at Chiot’s Run the larder is more filled with things I don’t have to actively preserve: carrots, potatoes, beets, celery, etc. Each year I focus more on growing things for a longer harvest season so I don’t have to spend as much time canning/preserving during the season. I grow greens for harvest in the cold winter months, usually spinach, mache and kale. I’m lucky that there are also a lot of local farmers now focusing on cold weather crops. We have a great farmer’s market that should make my Dark Days Challenge Meals a little easier!

We do focus on filling our freezer with local meat. I just purchased a half a hog from a local farmer that I’ll pick up next week. Mr Chiots is also a hunter, so each year we end up with a few deer in the freezer thus venison is our primary source of red meat.

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Up here in the Northwest, without a personal garden and within a temporary apartment, I will be heavily utilizing the local Winter Indoor market to supply us with fresh produce this year. I luckily have friends with chickens to supply us with eggs, and i’ll most likely do a lot of bartering for fresh veggies with my handcrafted soap. I love being able to barter for local goodies instead of paying with cash – it is so rewarding to trade quality commodities without having to visit the bank! One thing you will always find in my cupboards, though is homemade and canned chicken or turkey stock. My pressure canner may take up an entire closet, but it’s worth it to me to have it around to supply us with nourishing stock all through the year. I also added something fun to my preserved foods this year: dried local apples. Yum!

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november collage

So many of us are working our way toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. With that in mind we here at NDiN wanted to share some general guidelines of what to plan for on a monthly basis. Whether you’re a gardener, a beekeeper, a forager, or you keep animals, hopefully our monthly guides will help you plan ahead for the month. Depending on your exact climate you may find you need to adjust your schedule plus or minus two weeks or more.

  

Although many of the outdoor chores are completed for the year, it’s not time to slow down. Gardeners are beginning to dream up next year’s spring and summer crops and for most of us there’s always leaves to take care of. For some of us there’s even a bit of snow. As we get closer to the holiday season it’s easy to become consumed with gatherings and preparations, but it’s important to remember those seasonal aspects of every day life. Keeping ahead of the weather, taking care of outdoor animals, cooking with seasonal foods, and staying warm are key this month.

Indoors:

  • If you store foods like squash, potatoes, and carrots for winter use be sure that you rotate for freshness. Also be sure to occasionally check for any spoiling or critter damage.
  • If  you haven’t already done so, be sure to check the batteries in your fire detectors.
  • Check garage door for air leaks if  you have an insulated unit. Also check household windows for any drafts. Catching these now can save you lots of money over the winter.
  • If possible, set up a “craft/wrapping area” out of immediate view for holiday activities, possibly in a separate room. This should help keep clutter down in main areas of the house helping to keep it tidy and help reduce holiday stress.

 Outdoors:

  •  Trim any trees now that most of the energy has gone to the root systems of most plants. It’s also not too late to plant some trees so long as your ground is not frozen. Fruit canes can also be cut back depending on the variety.
  • When outdoor gardening chores finally slow down, clean, sharpen, oil, and put up all tools for the winter.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Make sure all hoses and water barrels have been drained and put up until spring.

 Garden:

  • Clean up rotting plant materials to help keep your gardens healthy. Decomposition is great, rotting is not.
  • Till chopped leaves directly into garden beds where they’ll stay warmer and decompose faster over the winter.
  • Garlic and other bulbs like tulips can still be planted in zones with milder winters.

 Animal Husbandry:

  • Keep barns and other animal shelters clean to help prevent illness and discourage wild critters from nesting. Change hay often, keep tools cleaned up, and be sure to keep water free of ice.
  • If you keep an area warm for animals occasionally check for fire hazards. Examine wiring on extension cords, heat lamps, and portable heaters. Keep bedding away from heat units and keep a fire extinguisher inside larger buildings.
  • It may not be too late to have sheep and goats mated in your area.
  • Cold weather days are best for slaughter and processing. Keep an eye on weather and plan accordingly.
  • Put a light out for an extra two hours in the evening for your chickens. It will help keep their coop warm on colder evenings and promote more egg laying.

 Wildlife:

  • Most animals are starting their winter cycles, including hibernation and building up of nests. You can assist your neighborhood critters with a few little tricks. Continue to feed birds; make your own suet cakes for freezing weather to help fuel up birds; offer some peanuts and corn to squirrels; leave a few piles of leaves or stones or a piece of corrugated metal for frogs and lizards to burrow in; set out water for all animals and keep it free of ice.

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September collage
So many of us are working our way toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. With that in mind we wanted to share some general guidelines of what to plan for on a monthly basis. Whether you’re a gardener, a beekeeper, a forager, or you keep animals, hopefully our monthly guides will help you plan ahead for the month. Depending on your exact climate you may find you need to adjust your schedule plus or minus two weeks or more.

 

September is the time of year that we begin to feel the crisp air of Autumn moving in. Evenings are chilly even though afternoons can be very warm. Autumn fruits are beginning to ripen and the thought of spiced cider seem to warm spirits. September is the time for clear skies, bonfires, and wrapping up Summer’s last duties. It’s a big month for tidying up the garden, so hold back those nesting instincts for another month and enjoy the clear, bright skies and cool air.

Indoors

  • Be sure your root cellar is ready to accept produce. If you’re using boxes with sand or sawdust make sure they’re clean, sanitized, dry, and critter-proof.
  • Be sure your deep freezer is cleaned out. Remove past date items and make room for Fall’s harvests.
  • Complete any chores that require you to keep your windows open. Painting, cleaning carpeting, cleaning ovens and so forth should be finished before it gets cold during the daytime.
  • Wash items that require long, outdoor drying times or those that can only be taken care of outside. Litter boxes, garbage pails, sanitary pails, area rugs, pillows, and so forth should be washed while the remaining warm air can help with drying.
  • Air out winter clothing, blanketing, and other items you may have kept in storage over the warm seasons.
  • Be sure your fireplaces are in working order before you need them. Check that wood stacks are staying dry and are easy to get to.
  • Check fire and carbon monoxide alarms before lighting up your furnace or fireplace for the first time.

Outdoors

  • Be sure your cold frames and greenhouses are airtight and ready to go for the cooler nights. Daytime temperatures can become very hot in these locations, so be sure to open and close windows as needed. Consider investing in a self-opening elbow for your windows. They can save many trips back and forth throughout this fickle weather.
  • Leaves will begin to fall soon. Make sure your compost bins or piles are ready to accept fresh materials.
  • Give one last inspection to your windows and doors in case you didn’t get to them last month. Be sure that they’re air tight and sealed before cold weather really sets in.
  • Change air filters on furnace.

Garden

  • Herbs can be cut and dried for saving. Remember to bring some in to create a window garden for a fresh Winter source of Summer’s flavors.
  • Seed saving and dead-heading can begin once again. Remember to allow some of your perennial seeds to self-sow by leaving only a few “dead heads” or by sprinkling some seed. Save some seed for finches (they adore Echinacea) and other seed lovers. Too many dead heads can lead to disease.
  • Don’t prune rose hips yet if you plan on saving them for jellies or medicinal purposes.
  • Bring in your more sensitive plants as the nights get cooler. Stevia, ginger, and other tropicals don’t like colder weather. Many other herbs can stay outside until the first frosts.
  • It’s a good time to take cuttings of woody plants and shrubs.
  • If you’re planning on dividing or planting bulbs for next year now is the time to do it! Also divide shrubby herbs like lemon balm, oregano, mints, sage, fennel, tansy, and marjoram.
  • Harvest frost-sensitive plants and Winter keepers before your first frosts. Put green tomatoes in paper bags to ripen slowly and use later. Potatoes, onions, and other keepers should be kept in a cool dark place.
  • Cut back dying foliage. Burn diseased foliage as soon as possible. Healthy plants can be put into compost as long as they are seed-free. As fun as it is to have a surprise potato plant sprout from the compost bin, you don’t want those plants (or weeds) to use up all that energy you’ve been saving for your garden!
  • Green manures for cool seasons can be sown.
  • Strawberry runners should be rooted and transplanted by the end of the month.
  • Shrubs and trees, fruiting or not, can be planted now that the cool weather is setting in. Fall is an excellent time for transplants since most trees are storing or spending energy in and on their root systems.
  • Speaking of fruiting trees and plants, remove mulch and prune those that need it.

Animals

  • Put in your orders for Winter supplies of food, straw, and hay.
  • Give a good cleaning to coops and barns to try to avoid housing mice and other small, unwanted critters.
  • September and October are good months for building. If you’re planning on adding to the animal family next year, consider any outdoor units that may need to be added.
  • Repair coops, lean-tos, stables, and other shelters before cold weather sets in. Keep your animals happy and warm at night.
  • Start considering mating sheep and goats for Spring kids and lambs. They’re both on about a 150 gestation cycle so a late month conception would lead to a late February birth.
  • With birth also comes death. Start planning for cold weather slaughters. Animals are best harvested when the weather is below 40 degrees. The cooler the better, especially if you’re inexperienced or have a lot of work to do. Research your product and begin gathering needed items. Mise en place. Have stock pots, seasonings, casings, sharpening stones, recipes, packaging, and tools all ready prior to harvesting.

Wildlife

  • Continue to feed your hummingbirds and other songbirds. Migrations will begin this month and you may have a few unusual visitors to your feeders.
  • Like us humans, wild critters are beginning to stock away for the colder seasons. Allow seed heads to remain on natives and refrain from too much tidying up of acorns and other nuts, seeds, and berries. Skunks, squirrels, rabbits, birds, and other small animals need to fatten up to keep warm through the Winter.

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august collage

So many of us are working our way toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. With that in mind we wanted to share some general guidelines of what to plan for on a monthly basis. Whether you’re a gardener, a beekeeper, a forager, or you keep animals, hopefully our monthly guides will help you plan ahead for the month. Depending on your exact climate you may find you need to adjust your schedule plus or minus two weeks or more.

August brings on the Dog Days for many of us:  Harvesting and preserving is at full-speed; Some of us are still foraging (elderberries anyone?); And many of us are wishing for cooler weather. Are you on track with what you should be doing?

Home:

  • Since you’re busy filling up your freezer with all those goodies to get you through the winter, be sure to pull your units out and vacuum the condenser coils and airways. Doing so will give your freezer/fridge a longer life and reduce your energy bills because of energy efficiency and therefore be better for the environment.
  • Clean up ceiling fans. If you’re like me you have your fans on as often as possible to help keep air flowing throughout the house. Be sure to clean off those blades and get rid of those bunnies forming. I’d hate to see one of them get flung in someone’s drink.
  • If you preserve and can any of your food you need to pay special attention to your drip pans, heating elements, back splash and exhaust. Remove electrical elements and/or drip pans. Soak the drip pans in hot, soapy water and scrub well. While you’re at it, pull out the fridge and give the sides a good cleaning, sweep underneath, and remove any grunge from the exhaust hood.
  • When’s the last time you checked your smoke alarms?

Outdoors:

  • Check window and doors for drafts while it’s warm. You don’t want to be adding insulation or sealant while it’s cold outside.
  • Does your compost pile need to be aerated and/or watered?

Garden:

  • Remove budding and flowering weeds and any sick plants.
  • Start planning for a late season garden with cabbages, broccoli, and kales. If you’re a northerner consider your onions and garlic for next year’s harvests.
  • Remove thatch and heavy clippings, but allow your perennials to go to seed. Collect any seeds you’ll want to start indoors next year.
  • During these hot days make sure to keep birdbaths and water dishes filled up.
  • Do you need to think about softwood cuttings of shrubs?
  • Think about a coldframe design. First frosts will be upon a majority of us within about two months!

Animals:

  • Spring chicks are becoming mature. Consider your nesting designs and build one now if you’re not prepared. You may want to put out some fake eggs in your nests to fool hens into laying in nest boxes.
  • Allow natives to seed without deadheading. They’re a good source of food for critters.
  • Do you need to consider cold weather housing for any of your animals? Cool nights will be here sooner than you think.
  • It’s honey time for many beekeepers. It’s time to put in your orders for honey. If you’re a beekeeper do you need to start feeding to get hives built up for winter? Many of you are busy slinging honey, be sure to have enough supplies on hand.

 

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June collage

So many of us are working our way toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. With that in mind we wanted to share some general guidelines of what to plan for on a monthly basis. Whether you’re a gardener, a beekeeper, a forager, or you keep animals, hopefully our monthly guides will help you plan ahead for the month. Depending on your exact climate you may find you need to adjust your schedule plus or minus two weeks or more.

Gardening:

  • Keep an eye on compost to ensure that it stays damp. Turn often to keep proper aeration, allowing bacteria and worms to do their job.
  • Stay on top of weeds while they’re small. They’re easier to remove before they develop strong roots.
  • Cut back pastures or meadows before weeds go to seed. It’s also time to trim back the foliage on spring bulbs.
  • Berry season is upon all of us – find local sources and research recipes for jams, pies, cakes, smoothies, and so on. Be sure to save some fruit in the freezer for winter time cravings!

 Outdoors:

  • Clean up bicycles and other recreational equipment. Make sure tires are filled properly and chains are clean and oiled.
  • For more southerly folks, it may be time to sharpen the blades on mowers again.
  • Reduce weed growth in gardens and paths by creating borders and keeping them tidy. Instead of dangerous chemicals consider alternatives: hand picking, mulching, smothering, or spray vinegar on undesirable plants to kill them.

Indoors:

  • Clean exhaust vents on refrigerators and freezers. Make sure there is plenty of circulation during the summer when they’ll be working overtime. While you’re at it, clean out you’re the vent and lint trap on your dryer to reduce the chance for a fire and to allow lots of air flow for faster drying. Consider hang drying on a line outdoors to save energy.
  • If you’re a July vacationer start preparing for your absence ahead of time. Arrange for pet care, house sitters, garden sitters and so on while you have plenty of time to look into options.

 Animals:

  • Check fencing for repairs. It’s a good time to paint fence posts and animal housing because of warm temperatures and less rain.
  • Watch for fleas and ticks and take the necessary steps to remove/prevent them.

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What projects do you have lined up for this month?

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 May collage

So many of us are working our way toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. With that in mind we wanted to share some general guidelines of what to plan for on a monthly basis. Whether you’re a gardener, a beekeeper, a forager, or you keep animals, hopefully our monthly guides will help you plan ahead for the month. Depending on your exact climate you may find you need to adjust your schedule plus or minus two weeks or more.

Gardening:

  • Skip trimming shrubbery if you notice any nesting. Let those birds have some solitude!
  • Plant annuals if you’re safe from frosts and trim back perennials if needed in warmer zones.
  • Continue to transplant tomatoes, peppers, cucurbits and other warm weather crops.
  • Tidy up bulb foliage if it begins to die back.
  • Allow columbine and foxgloves to go to seed and collect some for next year.
  • Trim back blooms on roses and day lilies to promote re-blooming.
  • Keep shears and trimmers clean and available for deadheading and pruning.

Outdoors/Yard:

  • Set up and clean bird baths.
  • Clean Patio Furniture.
  • Clean grill.
  • Repair/purchase water hoses and fixtures. If appropriate, make sure water barrel systems are in good repair and have no algae buildup.
  • Make sure gutters are draining properly by watching them during a heavy rain. If there’s any overflow or tipping, you may need to have them cleaned or repaired.
  • If needed, have your air conditioner checked. Clean any debris and trim back plants to allow maximum airflow.
  • Start clearing paths to wild berries and keep them accessable until harvests are done.

Animals:

  • Consider weaning goats and sheep if necessary.
  • It may not be to late to purchase chicks and other fowl from your local farmers co-op.
  • Watch for hummingbirds to return. Be prepared with clean feeders and simple syrup (four parts water to one part sugar).
  • Bees – make sure you can locate queens and that they are laying. Check for foul brood, varroa mites, and hive beetles. Is your honey coming in yet? Do you need to feed your bees? Watch for swarming.
  • Look into stocking your ponds with fish now that the cold weather is gone.

Indoors:

  • Change air filters and adjust thermostat a few degrees to save on electricity.
  • Clean ceiling fan blades and shades.
  • Invest in a good window/box fan.
  • If you don’t already have one, prepare an emergency kit with 3 days worth of supplies and locate your safe place for severe weather.
  • Locate and organize your picnic gear – get out there and enjoy the beautiful Spring weather at a moment’s notice!

*****

What projects do you have lined up for this month?

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