Country Living Series

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday Roundup

Seems like the days fly past since once again it's time for our Friday Roundup, where we all pitch in the things we did during the week -- big or small -- that contributed toward self-sufficiency.

We've had a productive week, even working through an early and nasty heat wave (highs in the low 90s, ug). Here's what we got done this week:

• Our cow Victoria (the dark red animal) had her calf out in the pasture, a little bull (here Polly is sniffing at him).

Victoria is an experienced mama so I wasn't worried. We'll have to capture the little guy and castrate in a few days. Meanwhile Younger Daughter named him Jerky. As in beef.

• Our Jersey Giant chicks arrived at the post office.

Considering the breed is giant, the chicks are sure tiny. But they all looked healthy (we also have one "mystery bird" the hatchery threw in for free).

We set up a box with food and water (and later a heat lamp).

After dipping each one's beak in water (to teach it how to drink)...

... they settled into their new home.

So far they appear to be a very calm breed. The chicks are less "hysterical" when we change their food and water.

• Don worked like mad through that hideous heat wave, finishing up the fence area he tore out last week in order to re-do it properly. He mixed concrete in the tractor bucket...

...straightened all the poles, and set them up.

He took a trip to town and splurged on ten cattle panels (sometimes called hog panels). They're expensive, but we're love them because they're sturdy, long, and portable (meaning, we can move them from place to place as needed). We try to buy a few every year, so this is our year's allotment.

Then he installed the panels to the poles. He wants to fasten boards top and bottom to lock the panels in place (and prevent the animals from pushing them either at top or bottom), but he delayed this step because of the heat.

Doesn't it look great?

• He also set up the cattle panels in a clever gate system to span the driveway and make a "chute" between one pasture and the other, which means we don't have to rotate the cattle around the entire property before putting them in the woods. At sunset the day Don finished the fence, we tried out the system. We can even close the gate at the end of the driveway so the animals can crop the grass growing along the road.

Here Brit is waiting impatiently for Don to open the fence.

The animals all respond to our universal "Bossy bossy bossy" call, and milled around the fence until we opened it up.

Victoria made it through the gate just fine, but little Jerky (only 24 hours old at this point) got lost, so I heaved him up and carried him across the driveway.

But Don's new gate system worked flawlessly. Within moments the cows were on the cooler wooded side of the property, which offered them shade from the broiling temperatures (although as of this writing, the heat wave has broken, whew).

• This isn't really preparedness-related, but I noticed this group of ravens gathered on a distant treetop.

We've been having ravens all over the place lately. Don't know why.

• I skimmed all the cream from the milk which had accumulated in the fridge, and made three pounds of butter (which I froze).

• A neighbor made about a dozen trips over with his trailer to get compost to work into a large garden area. Don loaded it with the tractor.

He cleaned out a lot of our compost, which is great since we now have room to re-pile more as it comes.

• The girls picked strawberries. Third time this week. The berries are starting to ripen fast.

• We got the drip system up for the ancillary vegetables -- bell peppers, cayenne peppers, broccoli -- that I started in the house.

Then I got everything planted. I don't think the broccoli will make it, though.

Here are the cayennes.

• Didn't get photos, but we got the corn tires topped with compost. The next step is to get the drip system in place, and plant seed. It's awfully late to plant corn, but I have enormous confidence that the short-season open-pollinated variety we tried last year, Yukon Chief, will yield successfully. Last year we planted on June 5 and harvested on August 29, and got 600 ears. I'm hooked on this corn variety.

That was our week. What have you done?


  1. * The garden is planted, and the chickens haven't gotten in yet to un-plant.
    * A few more rabbits made it to the freezer, and the one doe we tested resisted the buck's advances quite emphatically, demonstrating that the new buck did his job the first time around, and more rabbits are on the way.
    * Thanks to a gunsmith friend I've determined my Really Big Rifle (not all that big, but biggest in my collection) actually does work quite well, if I can tame my flinch.

  2. Did you chop up some grass to go with the chick feed?

    I was always told that, if raising chicks away from adults, to chop some grass up (with scissors) to mix into the food. Supposedly it teaches them to eat plants when older.

    1. When you first get them you never know how long that yolk they absorbed lasts so it's important to get easily digestible food into them. They can add things like grass clipping later.

  3. Last year you said you planted Yukon Chief. Are you planting another variety this year, or was Yukon Gold a typo? Thanks for all the info!

    1. Yep, that was a typo. It's Yukon Chief and I've corrected it in the post above. Thanks for catching that!

      - Patrice

  4. Thought on your excess milk. Anyone local raising pigs? Even with the cream skimmed many folks love feeding excess milk to their meat pigs.

    1. i thought ricotta is made from skim milk?

  5. We had a heat wave where we live, also, so we worked in the mornings, ate lunch and had siesta, then worked again until almost dark. I am unsure if it was the heat or the working until almost 2200 that has caused me to forget much of what we accomplished, lol.
    I squeezed the pocket book to buy t-posts enough to go along the driveway to make a "west pasture". Very loose on the term "pasture".
    I had more success gardening in Wyoming, but I think it was the heat that caused me the most problems. Tomatoes are very stressed. But the onions are continuing to prepare to flower, the carrots are doing the same. Hope the wind does not beat me to the seed! The strawberries are producing but the voles are coming through the fence (we have about 8 inches of gravel under the soil) and the birds are eating through the two layers of netting. Still we have eaten our fill several mornings at breakfast and they are small but delicious. The potatoes have loved the heat and I piled more straw and peat moss on them. I have volunteer something, either pumpkin or some other winter squash in a corner of the garden.
    Our Jersey Giants are growing and after I shut them out of the baby pen inside the coop, I went in near dark that evening and moved the confused but sleepy birds to the new roost. They startle like some children do but once set onto the roost, immediately began making the sweet little noise that sounds like chicken snoring. The roosters are named Abraham (the father of many) who is quite quiet, calm and heavily built; Henry, who is the character, but is already protective of the girls, running at anyone or thing that should not be making them squawk. He greets me almost every time I make it to the pen or area they free range. The third is Jack, and he runs around with Henry but is not truly friendly. I love my birds.
    We spread rejected hay onto the garden for mulch.
    Not enough to cause me to feel accomplished, but not so little I am embarrassed.

  6. Your new fencing is totally awesome! Pretty babies too!
    Well, I got my grandaughter a sewing machine for her birthday. I consider this an important prep! She will be 11 this month. She already knows how to hand sew and is thrilled (seriously) with the machine. She has already made several pillows as gifts, a couple of purses and totes, and is planning to make a pet bed. For one thing she is not on her KINDLE when she is on the machine. She is using creative, problem solving skills and saving money on gifts and useful items.
    I"m surprised ( I shouldn't be...amused might be a better word) at the reaction of family and friends. "A sewing machine? Really? Wow!" and 'does she use it?" To many in this generation of gadget geeks a sewing machine is an antique, outdated mystery, like a spinning wheel. They are truly curious about what she does with it, and very pleased that she is doing something besides watching youtube and face-booking.
    I couldn't get my tractor started but figured out the weed eater. Cleaned up property as best I could with that,
    Pulled unproductive plants and replanted with other stuff.
    Dehydrated cabbages and celery.
    Blessed a client's home and gave a housewarming gift that reminds them to pray everyday. This, I also consider a very important prep!
    Reminded all clients that apple sauce and bananas can often be used in place of EGGS which they are finding are becoming expensive exponentially. Taught them how to make oat milk, for things like cereal, is cheaper and can be made on demand. Suggested clients grow tomatoes on their porches.
    I am inspired daily by something I read early on, I think by JW Rawles "the more prepared out neighbors are, the safer we all will be"

  7. "We've been having ravens all over the place lately. Don't know why."

    It's probably mamas with their babies. Ours is here with three this morning. If you're able to hear them you can tell the difference in the adult's voice and those of the youngsters, which are higher and less varied in their repertoire and vocalizations.

    Our ravens are our buddies. They alert us when there are coyotes nearby or when things "aren't right" somehow. They're smart, loyal friends who love our company when we work outdoors. They can be playful and are quick to learn.

    Congratulations on those new cattle panels. Those are precious around here, too. We used one to make a catch-chute, and it's worked out really well for critters and humans alike. And they're able to stand up to a butting ram when need be. Can't beat that.

    I sure wish we could arrange a Vulcan mind meld from Don to my husband wrt fence building. lol

    You guys had a really productive week. I'm impressed. And yes, the heat wave has broken here, too. But things are mighty dry and we're not getting our irrigation allotment, so that's a serious issue for us. If we weren't on a densely wooded property we'd be in a world of hurt for graze.

    A. McSp

    1. Love the Vulcan mind meld reference. Our youngest is of that bent. However, my husband and his sister are referred to as Klingon warriors, lol.

      someone who comments but is staying anonymous on this one.

  8. Love Black Jersey Giants. They do get hot. I would always find them under the bushes in a moist hole :)

  9. We all struggled through the rotavirus and are thanking God we are able to be alive after that battle. What a nightmare. But it truly helped me realize when the power was out what a mess we'd be in if the power was really out. So, we made a list. It's a starting point for more serious prepping besides just canning up stuff and growing our own meat. We were good in the food dept but lacking in lights, water, fuel. Where on earth can i find hurricane lamps!

    Learning in NY

    1. Cheap ones should be available at your local hardware store or, with diligent searching at the right time of year, WalMart. You can get better ones from Lehman's or similar.

    2. Got the beans, melons, and cukes in the ground and the garden composted and weeded (first round). Trying to diagnose why the lettuce is doing so poorly. Think I started too early.

      Scoped out some blackcaps coming up where I hope to be mowing for the kids' play area by July. I guess since I'd be moving them from one location on my property to another location on my property, I'm not stealing wild flora if I dig them up and put them somewhere else. We have a lot of them growing on the edges of our property, but I know a few tended rows would be easier to pick and more productive.

  10. Planted the late crop of black-eyed peas. The last thing to plant until the fall garden planting in mid-August. Picking lots of tomatoes and cucumbers. Will skin and freeze tomatoes for winter soups. Still cleaning and sorting things to make room for more important things. Love books but had too many for our space--will go back to the library used book sale that many of them came from. Stocked up on almonds and walnuts from Sam's. We freeze them and eat them as a snack-very healthy. As we feared most of our onion crop rotted in the ground. A real disappointment as we usually have our home-grown onions until late winter. The ones that didn't rot are rather small. The yo-yo hot and cool weather followed by a month of rain really did them in. The okra seems to be recovering from the long rainy period so have hopes for a good crop there.

  11. School is finally over and I can concentrate on some prepping now. I haven't been able to start the garden yet, so I ordered some seeds from Victory Seeds (thanks Patrice for mentioning them). I am going to try the corn, since we LOVE corn but I really hate the thought of it being GMO in the stores. I ordered 80 lbs of chicken from Zaycon, I am going to attempt to can some of that when it comes in in a couple weeks. Also ordered ground beef that will come in later this summer.
    I have some "gifted" money (inheritance) that I would like to designate some toward prepping. We live in the suburbs and can't have chickens or that would be top on my list. So, I'm looking for suggestions on what readers would do if they had say about $1000-$1500 to spend solely on preps other than food.
    This coming week is the first full week of summer break I plan on doing 1-2 times a week to work toward being more self-sufficient.

    1. check about the chickens. we live in a city where you can have up to eight chickens , no roosters. you can also have two beehives and a sheep or two or A COW DEPENDING ON YOU LAND SIZE! I DON'T SEE ANYONE TAKING ADVANTAGE TO THESE CHANGES BY CITY COUNCIL BUT IF WE HAD OUR OWN PLACE I CERTAINLY WOULD HAVE SOME CHICKENS.
      sorry abt. caps. big fingers.

    2. Yeah, there is nothing official on the books for those with under 3 acres. From what I have read its sort of a "don't ask - don't tell" situation. However DH says no for now.

  12. Weeded onions, hilled potatoes, tilled corn and pumpkins in back garden. Weeded peas and green beans, planted sweet chocolate peppers, golden cali wonder peppers, more cabbage, broccoli and watermelon in front garden. Then we worked on converting a metal pipe frame (round top) into a turkey run. Installed an ice maker in my daughters new refrigerator. That's about the week because it is super hot here in central Indiana. Rebekah

  13. Did you do a follow up on the new onions that your planted last year? I would like to know how they are doing.

    1. I am interested as well, along with the results of your first Yukon Chief harvest. Did you ever end up grinding any of it?

      Thank you for continuing to be an inspiration in so many ways Patrice!