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Art-earnative Life Farm Blog or Vlog 365

Day 22 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Some progress on the gardening!

I planted a number of grow bags a few weeks ago, and they are doing well.  A dozen more grow bags and a few pots are ready to get planted.

The main reason that I am doing grow bags and pots is simply that I don’t have any decent soil on the property. It’s all sandstone gravel. While I’m thankful that our rains will not turn our growing area into a quagmire, it makes gardening harder.

The rabbit cages all need to get cleaned. This will get mixed with soil and some aged compost. Rabbit manure is not “hot”, so it can get used directly in the garden.

I have quite a bit of vegetables I still want to plant, and the fiber and dye plants need some more general areas.

I did plant a half-dozen “Three Sisters” groupings in some tires south of the camper trailer. The big part here was to keep anyone from parking there out of sight of the house. It’s also an experiment.

I’ve never tried “Three Sisters” before. Corn to provide support for beans to climb, beans to provide nitrogen, and squash to shade the ground and conserve moisture.

I probably wildly over-planted the tires, but there is quite a bit of space for the squash vines to run.

I planted¬† winter squashes – Blue Hubbard, Striped Cushaw, and Pie Pumpkin. Beans included Vermont Cranberry, Jacob’s Cattle, and Lima beans. The corn is a heritage type sweet corn that was unlabeled in my storage. I’m hoping it’s a red corn, but I’ll be happy with what I get..

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Art-earnative Life Farm Blog or Vlog 365

Day 21 of 365 Blog or Vlog

I’ve got a lot of ground to make up here!

I got 27 chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery two weeks ago . I’d ordered 25 of their Heavy assorted straight run. It was 5 each of several of their heavy breeds, and they included 2 “extra” chicks.

McMurray got hit with the avian flu, losing an entire barn of rare breeds the week before mine were due to hatch. The Brahma chicks I was hoping to see in the assortment got held back by the hatchery to rebuild their breeding flocks. When I watched their update videos, you could see that they were just shattered by the loss.

Oddly, I am actually more confident ordering from McMurray when I see how much they care about this. The transparency of their updates and strong health practices are a big part of this, but the fact that they care is the most important part of my confidence.

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Art-earnative Life Farm Blog or Vlog 365 Homestead

Day 14 of 365 Blog or Vlog

New trees getting planted

We just got an order of trees that I had paid for last summer.

I was getting rather frustrated with the claims of shutdowns creating delays in shipping. I won’t be ordering from that supplier again., but I need to get these tiny trees planted.

I’ve used markers and tags for plants, paint, and even cut open soda cans written on with ballpoint pen to make a dented label. I’m trying a different option this time.

I have a number of these wood rounds. They do seem particularly appropriate for making plant labels, especially using a wood burning tool.

There are a dozen tiny trees – crepemyrtles, dogwoods, hawthorns, crabapples, and redbuds.

My knee is not up to much physical work today after a fall yesterday. I think I can use some already filled large pots as nursery pots for the trees. I need to finish these labels, and on to another project.

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Art-earnative Life Farm Blog or Vlog 365 Fiber and Fabric Homestead

Day 10 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Updating from older blog

by Ameda Holmes

It seems to be quite ordinary to have multiple projects going at once. Whether it has to do with the multiplicity of chores that need to be done on a developing homestead, updating and repairing clothing, decor changes to the living spaces, improving organization, and creating items for sale, the project list sometimes seems to be getting longer as items are completed.

This doesn’t bother me at all. The production measured against my project list is quite satisfying. I did discover that I do have to create lists in order to keep from getting overwhelmed and confused. While I have received dismissive comments to the effect that the detail in my lists is unnecessary, I have found the detail is not only satisfying as it gets checked off, but needful actions don’t get overlooked.

There is a daily chore list where individual items just get a check mark as completed. Making the bed, feeding animals, doing dishes, taking out trash, etc.

A weekly list includes items such as dealing with leftovers. For example, freezing meals for the next week, making stew from left over meats and veggies. Baking bread, any cleaning and organizing projects, and mending, laundry & putting clothes away. With the guys working on remodeling and painting projects away from the homestead during the week, there is a need for portable meals to avoid additional expense.

A monthly list consists of the bills and due dates. While not actually projects, this is a very important part of our household organization. It is also where we schedule spending for materials and equipment.

While most of the homestead construction projects are on the shoulders and strength of the male half of this partnership, I do have input on appearance, priority and problem-solving. I also have some personal projects that are within my strength and energy level. This is a longer term list, as the time / money / energy equation gets continually updated.

A few items on the current list include:
Porch / greenhouse / dining room on the west side of the house. The entry stairs and first 8’x10′ porch are mostly completed.
We have a pile of reclaimed corrugated plastic roofing for this, and hopefully we have enough for the greenhouse as well.

A 16’x16′ deck / porch on the east side of the house that will eventually (hopefully this winter) get enclosed for my studio space.

An enclosed storage room under the south end of the house. The house mover left the several-hundred-pound trailer tongue under this area. Rahn got help to manhandle this out around the tie-down straps and help to dig out the sand to level the area prior to it getting enclosed.

A much larger rabbitry needs to be constructed to protect the bunnies from predators and extremes of weather. We lost bunnies to both this summer.

The current cages did get moved to where the new rabbitry will get constructed, and a start was made on the construction. More to be done here as well.

The garden:
First iteration of the garden is going to be in 5 gallon buckets enclosed by half-pallet sides. Most of the soil here is composed of sandstone gravel and clay. Very low in organic matter, so buckets of amended soil as we get larger amounts of compost made will do for now. We can get a nearly unlimited number of free pallets and buckets, and plan to get a chipper to chop up brush in the future.

When I was living in an apartment in Irving I had a successful container garden. The containers here at the homestead will be much larger.

Eventually most of the property will have gardens. Food is the first priority, of course. Some of the plants I want to grow for fiber and dye are quite decorative and will be sited with an eye towards enhancing the overall appearance of the property. I also want to get some wild blackberry starts to plant along the edges of the property, some fruit trees, and perhaps some nut trees.

I did get a dozen small trees from Arbor Day Foundation. I’ll be getting them sited this week.

The “Making” list has sub-headings of clothing, household, and trade goods. This is probably the largest list, though the homestead construction projects are individually larger items. This is also the list that gets longer as I work on items. I have a quirk where I’m working on a project, and a variant occurs to me. I’ll put it on the list and write down any details that pop up.

A couple examples of this:
I was knitting one of my favorite edgings on the lace wristers I was finishing. It occurred to me that I could use some of my acrylic yarn stash and knit panels to be mounted in reclaimed wood frames as fencing for the front yard. There was a FB post a few years ago where a knitter in the Shetland Isles made a fence around her garden using fishing net cord and over-sized needles. She used the same edging pattern as I was currently knitting.

Another variant of this was a project I did a few years ago as display panels. The panels I did then didn’t survive the multiple moves of the years between then and now, but I plan to get some of these done this week. Reclaimed lumber frames, and twine to make dream-catcher centers.

Other “Making” projects include clothing for both of us. I currently have several historical re-enactment items cut out that just need sewing.

I am also cutting up a number of old pairs of jeans and piecing them into fabric to be used for covers for furniture and a cowboy duster.

Reclaimed denim is also a great resource for the trade goods list. Little bags, medium bags, quilts, wall hangings, are all on the list to be done.

Then there is my sizable stash of fabrics, yarn, jewelry supplies, and the creativity that gets splattered around my work space.

An on-going item on the “making” list is regular time spent spinning yarns to be used in future projects. I can sometimes get some production done as part of public spinning demonstrations. Honestly, there is a lot more explaining of the process than actual spinning happening.

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Art-earnative Life Farm Blog or Vlog 365

Day 8 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Moving forward on the garden plan.

We were discussing a fast way to get started. Solving the time / money / energy equations can call for some very creative solutions.

Instead of spending money on grow bags or commercial raised bed kits, we realized that feed bags could be re-purposed as grow bags.

When time and energy permit, we will be building raised beds around groups of bags. At the end of the growing season the bags will be emptied into the boxes with additional soil and compost.

Yesterday I got seed potatoes, onion starts & garlic bulbs from the feed store. It is important to get seed potatoes that are not infected with potato wilt and not treated with the sprouting inhibitors commonly used on grocery store potatoes.

I prepped the seed potatoes this morning. What this entailed was cutting up the three pounds of seed potatoes into multiple pieces with one or two “eyes” apiece. While not a process that commercial farmers would use, this lets me multiply the number of potato plants

Now I have to let the pieces dry out and scab over before we plant them.

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Art-earnative Life Farm

Beginning With Meat Rabbits

 

California meat rabbits are a good choice for home meat production. Easy breeders, good litter size, and fast growth to harvest weight

We made some early mistakes in breeds of rabbits, housing and care. We are working on correcting them.

First off, our housing was inadequate. We lost rabbits in learning what works and what doesn’t.

A rabbit doe needs a large enough cage to have a nest box that will keep the kits sheltered and avoid kits being pushed out of the nest.

The cage itself needs to be predator-proof. Or at least in a building that can be made predator-proof.

Rabbits need to be protected from the Texas triple digit summer heat. They need a constant supply of water – and the quart size water bottles are not enough for more than a couple hours. An automatic watering system is a high priority. Shade, fans and even misters for the rabbitry all help. Our purpose-built rabbitry will have a window A/C unit.

As for our breed mistakes – we were given a few Netherlands Dwarf rabbits. These are very small. Much better suited to being a pet rabbit, we are finding other homes for the few we have.

Shasta is a Mini-Rex buck. He is slightly smaller than the California bucks, but he is of a very calm tempermant and is easy to handle. His fur is very nice, and we are hoping he will sire kits with useful pelts. I’d like to get a large Rex buck so we can breed for larger sized rabbits.

We did lose a couple rabbits to predators, and have one still running around as a yard bunny because the cages was knocked over and broken.

This may not seem like a large loss, but when a single breeding doe can produce thirty offspring a year at five pounds of edible meat each, this loss is substantial.

We’ll be building an indoors rabbitry before winter, and plan to breed all the does after first frost.

Below is an Amazon link so you can get the water spigots we used.