Welcome to this week’s homestead update.
We still don’t have a date for when the bees will be delivered. The instructor in my bee class said that she thinks they won’t be here until after April 20. That is annoying to me because my big magnolia tree is almost in full bloom. My neighbor has quite a few Bradford pear trees and they are covered in blooms. And the Forsithia bushes are ready to open their blooms. My bees are missing all these blooms. I’m starting my hive a month later than I should start them. That means that I’m going to have to feed them sugar syrup to build up the cluster. I don’t want to do much feeding, but the late start doesn’t really leave me much option.
I planted my lettuce mix in the garden. I wasn’t entirely happy with the mesclun mix that I bought several years in a row. That had oak leaf lettuce in it and I didn’t like the texture. So this year I went through the catalog and picked lettuces that I thought I would like. So my custom lettuce mix this year consists of Red Giant mustard, Schweitzer’s Mescher Bigg, Australian Yellow, Red Deer Tongue, Pablo Batavian, Devil’s Tongue and Drunken Woman loose leaf lettuces. I went by appearance for most of these, but a few are varieties that I like in my lettuce. I guess I’ll find out if I like this mix once we harvest some salads.
I also planted carrots in the same bed as the peas. I planted a single row of Danvers 126 carrots in each bed. I haven’t been very lucky growing carrots in my garden. I have yet to have a good harvest. I seem to have some sort of worm in there that eats black holes through the carrots. I figured this was because I fill the beds with straight compost and it may not be completely finished. But this year’s carrots are in one of my oldest beds, so that shouldn’t be the problem this year. I’ll get this figured out sooner or later.
Over the weekend, we had some water coming up through a drain. I used the shop vac to suck out the drain, but it kept coming. We brought in a plumber on Monday and he said it looked like septic issues. Had the tank pumped and he said that it looked like a collapsed drain pipe and I should have that replaced. So today I had the septic repair folks come in.
Another shot of the septic work
Now a part of my yard is dug up now and I’m $750 lighter. But I have a new drain pipe. They found yet another problem, though. My house empties into a dry well. That is almost full, the water level is about 2″ down from the drain pipe. He recommended that we go with a drain field instead of a new dry well. It’s going to cost us another $5000 or so. This really sucks, but that’s one of the trade offs when it comes to moving away from where there is public utilities. He did say I have a year or so, so I can plan for it and get some estimates.
That’s what happened on my homestead this week.
Posted in 13 Skills, beekeeping, weekly
Tagged bees, flowers, food, garden, harvest, household, planting, repairs, trees
I was given the honor of receiving an electronic copy of Jason Akers’ book, The Scrounged Homestead. All I had to do was agree to review it. So I jumped at the chance.
For those that don’t know Jason, he runs The Self-Sufficient Gardner blog, podcast, forum, etc. He has a homestead in Kentucky and has been homesteading for quite some time. I know that he grew up exposed to homesteading or small farms. So he’s a great one to write about the subject.
Jason is something of an expert on scrounging materials for use on the homestead. But some people have the wrong view of what scrounging is. Right up front he spells out exactly what he means by scrounging. There’s nothing negative about it and I see it as the embodiment of real recycling. To him, scrounging is locating materials discarded by someone else that can be used on the homestead, and making something useful out of someone else’s trash. Continue reading
Roma Food Strainer and Sauce Maker
This year I really stepped up my tomato production and processing. I made a bunch of tomato paste using the old-fashioned food mill that my mother gave me. That was a lot of work. I had to pre-cook the tomatoes to soften them. Then it was a lot of elbow grease to press the tomatoes through the sieve. I decided right then that I wanted to get a new sauce maker. I bought a Roma Food Strainer & Sauce Maker. So here’s a brief review of this tool. Continue reading
As regular readers know, I have several beds of green beans planted. They are producing fairly well, but I don’t have enough plants to can all the beans we need for the year. So like last year, I have to buy some green beans this year.
A bushel of green beans
My wife took my son to the welcome back day. On the way home, she stopped at the farm stand down the street. We know our farmer and know that she doesn’t spray constantly. She does spray, but not a lot. My wife came home with a bushel of green beans and plans for me to can these over the weekend. My daughter and wife Continue reading
Last week I posted about how I make salsa and tomato paste. Both of those start with peeling tomatoes, so I figured I should post how to do this. I would guess that a lot of the folks reading this blog already know this, but since I didn’t know it until a couple of years ago, it needs shared.
Cut the X
First step is to cut a cross into the blossom end of the tomato. There is no need to cut deeply into the tomato, make it just deep enough to cut through the skin. This line is where we will begin peeling the tomato once it is ready. Continue reading
Back in May, I posted about wanting to cut some chemicals out of our lives. One of the steps in doing this is to make some laundry soap. A couple of weeks ago, I made up a batch of homemade laundry soap. There are some blog posts around the Internet about how to make laundry soap, but since we are finally using the soap, I should write-up how I made it.
There are just 3 ingredients involved.
The Borax and washing soda are easy to find. I have seen these in every grocery store I’ve ever looked in. The Fels-Naptha was the difficult one to find. I checked several grocery stores and had resigned myself to buying it online. But I stopped in Walmart to pick up some items and figured I’d look for it. I was shocked to find it in the laundry aisle. So I bought 4 bars of it. Continue reading
Monday I talked about how I make iced coffee. As promised, today I’ll tell how I make the strong cold brewed coffee used in that coffee drink.
There are several reasons that I use cold brewed coffee for my cold coffee drinks. First, it makes a smooth coffee that seems less acidic than regular hot coffee. Second is that I can make the coffee concentrate and store it in the refrigerator until I’m ready to use it. I don’t have to heat up the kitchen on a hot Summer day to make my cold drink. Finally, I use far less energy making cold brewed coffee than hot coffee. I don’t use any energy making the coffee and since it is already room temperature, I don’t use as much energy cooling it in the refrigerator. Continue reading