Saturday, May 30, 2015

Friday roundup

It's time for the Friday Roundup, where we all pitch in the things we did during the week -- big or small -- that contributed toward self-sufficiency.

Okay, technically it's a Saturday Roundup, but what can I say, we were busy yesterday.

Here's our week's tally:

• Don and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. I would argue that marital stability is one of the biggest factors contributing to a prepared lifestyle.

• We rounded up (three times) a cow that kept slipping over/under/around the pasture fence. It's been a couple of days now and she hasn't escaped, so I think we have the problem licked (for the moment). Sometimes failures (as in, fences) can be just as important as successes.

• Speaking of failures, we lost our beloved Snap to a coyote.

His loss -- and the increased watchfulness we have for our remaining flock -- reminds us it's time to make improvements. We're planning on building another chicken coop inside our yard and fencing it against dogs (and thereby against coyotes as well). We're expecting our Jersey Giant chicks next week and want to guard them against predation.

• I spent some time on the phone with a dear friend who's going through a rough patch and needed to talk. I don't know if I offered much by way of help just by listening, but I do know cultivating and maintaining friendships are critical in a prepared lifestyle. No one can go it alone.

• We noticed one of our little cherry bushes was infested with aphids. We don't want to use chemicals on the little buggers (though we will, if necessary, to save the bush), so we treated them with soapy water as an organic pesticide. Vigilance toward pests is necessary for self-sufficiency.

• We checked on, and fed, the bees. They're eating less syrup now that flowers are blooming, but we will feed until they no longer take syrup at all.

• We harvested a bit of lettuce from the garden. This is entirely volunteer lettuce, growing from blown seed from last year. It made a delicious salad.

• Don turned over the compost pile, both to aerate it as well as to bring to the surface the best stuff. A neighbor will be coming to get some so he can plow it into his garden space.

• We harvested the very first strawberry from the garden. Don and I split it. Delicious.

• I did a tremendous amount of weeding, still prepping the garden beds for planting. Times a-wastin', gotta get them veggies planted!

• I found this on the Art of Manliness website and thought it highly appropriate:

Now it's your turn. What did you do this week?


  1. Patrice - regarding the aphid problem - we went through heck last year with our pepper plants getting infested. we tried everything (except chemicals) and found that the best way to treat the aphids is this:

    cut up some tomatoe leaves and put them in a jar of water for a few days until it is pretty stinky. strain the leaves out and put the tomatoe water in a spray bottle and spray that onto the aphids every couple of days.

    using a hose - spray the aphids off of your plant - blast the little buggers with as much force as your plant can handle.

    lastly, lay coffee grinds around the base of your plant. this will keep ants away from the base of your plant and the ants carry the aphids up and onto the plant and protect the aphids from other predators. aphids produce a product (poop) called honeydew and the ants love it.

    i hope this helps.

  2. I reinforced garden fencing.

    I'm currently doing battle with a varmint who is the most tenacious I've run into in a long time.

    Whoever it is --- I think it's a robust raccoon --- has been trying like the dickens to claim my garden for his own. He's been trying to break down my fence with each fortification I make.

    Each morning I see new damage to the fence, but still no entry into the garden.

    HA! I am the human! I have tools and a bigger brain! That bandit is goin' DOWN!

    Just Me

  3. Patrice, you nailed it, even though you probably didn't mean to. None of your/our preps mean anything without the proper mindset for each circumstance, and the appropriate thoughts and actions going forward in each instance. This speaks volumes! I know people that have beans and rice, but not one lick of sense to forge ahead should the world we know suddenly become drastically different. All the prepping in the world won't matter at all if you don't get your head and heart right. People need to think about the 1800's versus how much data they have left on their smart phone plan. If you don't know how to take care of your daily needs, even the simplest, you will sink at the first wave. Something as simple as a cup of coffee in the morning with a bite of something to eat will be beyond the scope of most folks WTSHTF and yet we count on it to begin our day. Or tea. Or cereal with milk. Or toast. None of these grow on trees. My humble $.02.

    Sorry to hear about Snap. Two of my beauties were murdered by a Fisher Cat recently so I am keeping a watchful eye since this is new for us. The Fisher Cat went UNDER the tiniest of air holes under the coop. All of my chickens have always been inside a 3ft high fence due to naughty neighborhood dogs and a plethora of hawks and coyotes. Honestly, the sky often looks like a hawk convention with up to 12 at a time circling over my girls so I resorted to putting bird netting over the top of my outside run to keep out the critters. I clip my netting on with clothespins - it does the trick for the majority of problems but they can't really free range like I would like. I would be chicken-less by the end of the day if I didn't pen them and net them. 8-(

    God Bless,
    Janet in MA

  4. I ate my first strawberry, added more dirt to the tater patch and dehydrated 2 quart jars full of russian onions (tops and bottoms). Powdered more orange peels and our basement was tornado warning tested. Definitely need to do some work down there before the next one. The good news is the flashlights all worked, as did the weather radio and cell phone alerts.

  5. As you probably know from the news, central Texas has had WAY too much rain. We have tried to salvage some of our onions which are either already rotting or are in danger of doing so. The snails are very active in the garden and have even come onto our porch to sample my potted plants. We have been trying to get things done in the house while we are mostly confined to the inside. I took five bags of donations to various places this week. We also spent some time with doctor and dental appointments--turned out to be a good time to do it since we couldn't do much else. The appointments had been made long ago so was a fortunate coincidence. I did more organizing on my sewing supplies. My closet contents are springing back and filling all of the space that I emptied when I took out things to donate. Our telephone was out due to the heavy rains which gave us a respite from robo-calls. I don't know why they keep us on lists as we hang up as soon as we realize what it is. Today we have had sunshine and should have several more dry days to hopefully save some of the garden and make it possible to plant and re-plant. The wheat crop here is almost sure to be a total loss as it is smutty and beginning to sprout. It is a terrible blow to the farmers--it had looked as though it would be a bumper crop until the rains began.

  6. Bought cabbages on sale for dehydrating. $.30 lb
    Made non-dairy ice cream. VERY CREAMY AND GOOD!!
    Harvested first 2 yellow squash.
    Ate first strawberry. Did not share. :o)
    Went to animal shelter, seeking noisy alarm system.
    Attempted to fix tractor myself, did not succeed.
    Went to bar seeking mechanic (( not really, but it crossed my mind!! )) LOL
    Spent time with Grandaughter discussing boy-crushes and looking for Bible guidance: "Love is patient, Love is kind" etc.
    Tried several new meatless recipes ( meat expensive, won't be raising livestock )
    Learned some very do-able home defense tactics.
    Prayed for family and friends.

  7. I purchased the book 'putting food by' finally. We attended a friends beautiful wedding... a young couple (early 20's). It does a heart good to see young love and it was a blessing to us to be there and celebrate two Christians joining together in covenant with God. And friendship is so important! We've been harvesting our own fixings for salad. Lettuce and radishes and onion greens. Helps knowing we can grow stuff ourselves. Moved the teenage chickens into the flock of layers. Moved the baby chicks into the chicken tractor for more room. Planted more radishes and spinach. Weeded the onions. We rewired electricity to a feeling fan. Electricity is scary stuff. Be safe with that. Husband moved the freezers up on blocks for condensation issues. Good freezers are so important! We hope the added air flow keeps them going longer. I purchased a few more religious books to add to our stash. Knowing your faith and creator and growing in faith and relationship with Him... pretty important for being prepared for our eternal resting place!

    Learning in NY

  8. I hauled rocks,.....and dirt,.....and rubble. Aren't you glad you asked? - lol - Some evidence is on my blog.

  9. I feel a deep need to clean out and cut back on things. How many blankets do you need. Two for each window, several for each bed, a few for the couch and some to make pallets with. The rest? donated to shelters, put on the curb for anyone to pick up. And they were gone quickly.

    Began to clean and rearrange shelves in basement. So much to donate. We are only keeping what is useful for us and family, and some to donate later.

    Gave away all the baby and little children's clothing.

  10. I weeded and mowed in between thunderstorms. And then weeded and mowed some more. And I'm still not done. And the 50 sweet potato slips arrived today... and I have no idea where I am going to put them, because someone planted WAY TOO MUCH GARLIC (is that even possible?).

  11. Major preps on hold lately. Hubby had several job interviews, I guess that is a "prep" - no job means no money for preps right? :-)
    Purchased some needed clothes on clearance today. Researched some items on the web, planning what to buy for when some unexpected money arrives in our account next week.
    Mostly just research, but knowledge is power right?

  12. Cleaned out the shed. This has served a couple of purposes: demonstrated to my hubby that we don't need to spend money on a new shed, just to make better use of the two we have; put all my garden tools where I can get to them easily; freed up a TON of space. When I get the new shelves up out there, we can finally stop tripping over empty canning jars.

    Worked out the finances and contracted to have the house re-roofed. I could technically probably just barely do the job myself. But... I really don't want to. I'll worry a little less knowing we've got a durable roof over our heads.

    Put the tomatoes, peppers, squash, and melons in. The melons are probably impractical, but my kids love them (thus encouraging them to willingly learn to work in the garden).

    Taught DS8 and DD6 to identify a few more edible plants. DS, his interest pretty much stops at raspberries. DD showed me she can identify sorrel, plantain, dandelion, and the berries without being prompted. Continuing to bang into their heads that the tall one with the ugly leaves and clumpy white flowers is poison hemlock and MUST NOT BE TOUCHED.

    Cleaned out the medicine cabinet and made a list of all the stuff I need to add to the big medical kit.

    Cleaned a whole roasting pan full of catfish Hubby caught ( and gutted-- God bless him!!!). DD6 watched. Her idea of participation at this point is poking the dead fish with a stick. A journey of a thousand miles...

  13. Many congratulations on your wedding anniversary.I agree with you completely about the importance of marital stability. Continued happiness to you both.

  14. The rain has given me a bumper crop of weeds, so I weeded and rototilled and weeded and rototilled again. Finally got some veggies in the ground - may have to weed again on Monday!!

  15. My time this week was taken up by maintenance activities, including cutting some grass (to keep ticks under control) and dealing with a poison ivy-choked tree I cut down.

    On bees and syrup: when I first installed bees in a hive, I noticed after a couple of weeks that they were starting to put the syrup in their comb for storage. I was happy they thought enough of it to want to keep it that way, but I pulled it at that point and let them fend for themselves. They were also storing honey by then, too--the color difference was pretty clear.

  16. wanting to share from our experiences on chicken feed, we have chickens and raise them for eggs, meat and for enjoyment of them. we found out from butchering them that some internal organs were not looking healthy, and we think it is because of the GMO corn in the scratch, we started making our own scratch, and buying whole milo and sprouting it( in winter time) and since we have done this all signs of internal organ damage have gone away. just thought we would share this with you, hope it helps and sorry for the rooster loss. we are trying a new breed to us, called a KOO-KOO, Mara, and so far we are impressed with them.
    have a great wkd.
    Mike and Shirley

    1. I had to dump out at least 150lbs of GMO chicken feed last year because the ladies wouldn't touch it and were starving. I figured that if I wouldn't eat it, and they knew better than to eat it, I would have to get them some proper food. Also, the pile of GMO feed that I dumped went entirely UNTOUCHED by the local wild eaters. That tells you somethingI Yes, organic feed is more expensive but my girl's health did a complete 180 when I changed to organic scratch and pellets. Even my 6 year old chickens 'freshened' themselves up and began laying again just like the old days. Previously I have never had a chicken reach the age of 6 so to find that all three of my remaining 6 year olds are thriving and laying and growing new feathers is a joy to me! Yes, they are an expense but I love my girls and the resulting eggs. Whenever I am putting down good $$ on a bag of organic scratch I find myself 'doing the math' and figuring out the my girls cost way more to feed and house than to actually purchase. But then again, it's also true of kids so I guess it's all good. ;-)

      God Bless,
      Janet in MA

    2. That's an amazing discovery about GMO scratch causing organ damage to your chickens. Thank you for sharing it!

      Just Me

  17. Congrats on the Anniversary! Finally got around to repairing our truck which had quit running two months ago. Now we're back to 2 working vehicles, 1 more left to repair!

  18. Kind of a weird week here in the UP of Michigan. We had about 5 inches of rain, nothing like Texas but a lot more than we needed. We do have flooding of creeks and streams. We had an inch of hail on Wednesday, Snow plows were out getting it off the roads.. Odd to see. I did manage to get the garden planted in spite of all the rain, I just hope it all doesn't rot.

    My forge is almost done. I may have been better off just buying one expense wise.

    this weekend has been dry but very cool. I hope the coming week is more normal.

    Carl in the UP

  19. Our biggest accomplishment, was signing the papers on our big farm so we could move to our little farm and start practicing what we have been on so much less. This week we lived without a dryer, or dishwasher or microwave or heat in our little caravan. We were tougher than we thought.

  20. I recommitted our life and farm to the homesteading and self-sufficient lifestyle. That was a big step.