2016-05-09 Garden Pictures

Grabbed the camera and went for a walk around my beautiful gardens and snapped pictures of what grabbed my eye. I just love how our place is creatively evolving โค

 

 

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The Goat Barn: Start to Finish

Well, we aren’t quite finished yet, but the barn is functional and in use. Milkyway (our very pregnant doe- first time) is enjoying her cozy stall. We have some painting yet to finish, already used a gallon of paint on it, and probably need at least another 1/2 gallon to finish. Then there is the trim around the big picture window, we need to build the milk station, and some shelving inside for storage. I love this barn, it’s well insulated (for a barn) and built perfect for my tiny goats and I. ๐Ÿ™‚

We used 45 free pallets to build the walls of the barn and stall. We used free 4โ€x12โ€s for the floor, and big free 8×8โ€™s for the posts to keep the floor up off the ground, free plywood as siding and free metal for the roof. So including concrete for setting the posts, screws, nails, lag bolts, paint, hinges and latches, we are into this thing less than $100. Oh yeah! Iโ€™m amazed at what we can build for almost nothing, and this barn will last many years.

So now for the photos of the project, from start to where we are now.


Day 1 โ€“ Setting the posts for the floor. 2016-03-06 โ€“ we put up the framingโ€ฆ this was SO HARD, as these timbers were very heavy, awkward and hard to get nails or screws through.

 


Day 2 โ€“ 2016-03-09 โ€“ Center support and posts, put in lag bolts securing the frame to the posts. Laid the boards in place and nailed them down. Ouch! lol


Day 3 โ€“ 2016-03-10 โ€“ We ran out of nails before we could get all of them done, so here we are, nailing some more.


Day 4 โ€“ 2016-03-11 โ€“ Pallet prep dayโ€ฆ ugh, this was tedious, and hurt Timโ€™s back, but he got it done! More than 40 pallets, made uniform for the walls.


Day 5 โ€“ 2016-03-13 โ€“ Making corners with the Pallets, and starting the walls.


Day 6 โ€“ 2016-03-16 โ€“ More wall building, and framing in the doors.


Day 7 โ€“ 2016-03-17 โ€“ Finishing building the walls, and put up the stall.


Scabs โ€“ this is how we attached the bottom level of wall pallets to the upper layers.


Day 8 โ€“ 2016-03-19 –ย  Started putting up the pen.

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Day 9 โ€“ 2016-03-20 โ€“ Framing the roof.


Day 10 โ€“ 2016-03-22 โ€“ Insulating the walls where the stall is, to keep goat kids draft free, and then siding!


Day 11 โ€“ 2016-03-23 โ€“ Roof on, siding up, stall functional.


Day 12 โ€“ 2016-03-29 โ€“ Paint

 

So we have a little ways to go yet. So Iโ€™ll update the post as we go. Thanks for reading, and looking.

Rabbit Colonies: Colony V

Now we are excited! Today we got the colony out in the yard ready for rabbits to live in, and we moved in our Mother of all breeders and two of her granddaughters into it! Today was the first time her cute little feet have touched the earth! It feels so good to finally have her out of a cage, she has sure earned it. We are calling this one ‘Colony V’, because the doe of whom I speak is named Violet, and ‘V’ is my nickname for her. Her granddaughters are Poppy, and Rowan. This is a big step for us, moving the breeders out of hanging cages into these super fun colonies where they can have happier lives.

 

Off-grid Chick Brooder

(Update: 2 October 2015) A friend of ours raises meat chickens and got us a super deal on 25 chicks that were just a few hours old (fresh from the incubator)- just couldn’t pass it up, so we built another off grid chick brooder made to house 20 chicks. We brought them home 29 September 2015, and so far so good. They are strong little buggers, and are doing great with out a heat lamp. In the morning we bring them out to the orchard in the warm morning sun and let them out into their run, to play, eat and drink all day. In the evening when the fall temperatures begin to plummet, we shoo them into the enclosed nest box and bring them in the house for the night. Repeating each day. We are amazed at how tough these chicks are, at night in their little nest box we have a thermometer, it stays around 75F all night, and in the morning they are bright eyed and ready to play outside. This experience is inspiring us to make permanently placed brooders out on our south facing slope so we can raise our own layers from chicks starting early spring. We’ll see how this experiment progresses.

Here are some pictures of the brooders and our cute little chicks.

(Posted: 27 September 2015) This is our off grid chick brooder.

In about a week or so we’ll be getting 10 meat chicks that are one day old, and will need to keep them warm. Most people now days (in America at least) just put chicks under a warming light for at least the first week or so till the chicks are able to keep their own temperatures on their own. Being off grid poses a challenge, as heat lamps are energy hogs and take around 16 or so amps per hour to run, that would deplete our batteries in no time. Tim found some info online on how to make a box brooder. Here is the link: http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/aq628e/aq628e.pdf

So we made this brooder with materials handy onsite, it isn’t exactly what is depicted in the pdf above, but close and made with what we had on-hand.

We built it out of ply wood, used wire screen for the bottoms, and top of the run box. Made an insulated lid for the nest box, then lined the nest box with pink insulation board, we plan to put hay in the bottom before the chicks go in. Painted the whole thing black to help with heat absorbtion, and also to keep the plywood from rotting too fast. Next we plan to get some little hinges to attach the run lid, and some little latches to keep the nestbox lid from coming off, and also little latches to attach the nestbox itself to the run so it can’t be knocked over by a critter. So this is an experiment, we’ll see how it goes. Wish us luck!

Update from August 22nd to September 3rd, so much to post about!

Following are pictures from as far back as 8/22, lots of farm critter pictures, and then pictures of our family visiting (they arrived the evening of 8/24)! We were spoiled with Grandpa Steve and Grandma Sandi, they drove out their super cozy and new RV and camped in our driveway for 10 whole days! We had a wonderful time with ya’ll, and miss you two so much! The same evening that the grandparents got here, Tim’s brother, Tom and his wife Katie and their two adorable munchkins (Hannah & Tiberius) got here too. Tom and Katie stayed in a motel the first and second night close by so they spent much of the first couple days with us, then they went to explore Ohio and go to Cedar Point. I’m thankful we got to see them, it was so nice to see their faces and get some good hugs, even if the time spent together was so very brief. I felt like we got to really spend quality time with Steve and Sandi, it was so wonderful having them blend in with our daily life, help us with chores and Steve even helped Tim build another awesome spacious rabbit cage, completing our 4 phase grow-out Rabbitat!

Quarantine Poultry Coop & Pen

I nabbed this post off of my husband’s facebook page, as he says it so well.

So as I mentioned the other day we came across a deal that was to good to pass up, ten young hens and a pair of young Royal Palm turkeys for $65. So we had to jump on it! The problem was the price was all I had in available cash and as you may know you can’t just dump new poultry with your existing flock, you must have a quarantine coop and run and of course I have not set that up yet. To get the deal we had to pick up the birds today as the person we got them from is moving today and could not take them with her.

So Tuesday, Gage and I ran into town and loaded as many free pallets as we could fit in the van and trailer. Sadly, by the time I got home and ready to work I only had about an hours worth of daylight and didn’t get much done. So today, Jamie and I got right on the job this morning in hopes to complete the job before the lady called and said we HAD to come NOW, sadly, we did not. Luckily we have a couple of large cages made for large dogs that we were able to transport and keep them in while we finished the coop. Then it started raining…dabnabit!

We went and picked up the birds and went back home and jumped right back on the project. We mostly completed the coop…at least got it secure enough to put the birds in tonight just as it was getting dark (I sure miss summer daylight hours!). We had to tarp the roof until we can get some metal to finish it off and tomorrow we will fence in the new run area. Here’s some pics of what we did today. I’m so lucky I have such a great partner like Jamie, today would have been a pure failure for me without her.

Now, we just have to put sheet metal on the roof to finish it, and a few more final touches to the run. Eventually we want to enclose the run like we did to the other coop, and then create a bigger pen for them to come out into during the day. I had to clip the turkey’s wings today too as the male tried to fly out, lol!

Rocky Hollow Rabbitry: Growth & Plans

We are growing!

Tim has added a new structure downslope from our original rabbitry structure, but it is twice as big. Each of the 3 equal sections of both buildings holds up to 8 cages. We have 2 of the 3 sections filled with cages, so we just need to get the wire and other materials to build the remaining 8 cages and we will be finished with construction on our rabbitry. Once finished that will be 24 rabbit cages. Weee-doggies! Haha!

Due to recent health issues with our New Zealand Whites (see the โ€œsnuffles postโ€), we have decided to buy some crossbred Californian/New Zealand Whites from a trusted breeder to add to our herd, as we have read that the crossbreed rabbits tend to have better immune systems then the purebreds.

I also added a couple pictures of our coop progress, the comfrey is coming in nicely, the rainbarrel system works great, and we are now getting on average 22 eggs per day from our ladies.

Rocky Hollow Pallet Chicken Coop

 

UPDATE! We are almost ready, with just over a week to go. We go to the SWAP to pick up our chickens on June 5th.

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Getting this one up, pallets are fun to build with.

Where we left off today, we stacked rocks around the back and sides where there was any gaps between the bottom of the skids and the ground. Then in a spot in the back where the water would run down the hill, and would end up running under the coop we piled up a bunch of clay, dirt and some rocks to divert water around the side of the structure.

2014-04-18 Progress as of yesterday afternoon, Timmy has put on another siding panel since then.

Another Satisfying Day on the Farm

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Tim and I are a FANTASTIC team! We got a dump truck load of 2″ creek rock dropped at the two entryways of where we want our U-shaped driveway and are about half way done spreading it out to cover it in this base layer. We made the mountain of gravel into a driveway!! Well half of a driveway, but it felt so gratifying driving our van off the property on our hand graveled driveway. One can take a great deal of pride in a hard day’s work, andย  Our friend, Bruce from across the street used his 4×4 to drive over our newly spread rock to tamp it down and help it settle, thank you, Bruce! He also busted out the chainsaw and cut down some of the tree stumps in our clearing too! We are so blessed! The kids are really warming up to our new friends too, funny how fast Bruce and Amanda are already feeling like family. Marlee even let Amanda hold her! And Rynae seems to have really taken a shine to, Bruce. She was following him all over the place, and he even carved a heart into one of the stumps for her ๐Ÿ™‚

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On another awesome note, we scored 3 big boxes of red potatoes from Home Town Market here in Gravois Mills for free! We plan to use most of them as seed potatoes, some for compost and eat the good ones ๐Ÿ™‚ Home Town Market has a bunch more red potatoes

2013-03-30 Building our Bee Box, indoor fun on a rainy day!

What a fun activity this was for daddy and the kids today Smile

I missed the first box as the boys were helping more, the kids were so cute today. We really wanted to make it out to the property today, but it rained all day. Itโ€™s stopped now, but itโ€™s already after 6pmโ€ฆ better luck for tomorrow!

 

“The Humanure Handbook” Book Recommendation/Review

“Albert Einstein once remarked that the human race will require an entirely new manner of thinking if it is to survive. I am inclined to agree. Our โ€œwaste disposalโ€ systems must be rethought. As an alternative to our current throw-away mentality, we can understand that organic material is a resource, rather than a waste, that can be beneficially recycled using natural processes.” – Joe Jenkins

“We have to stop thinking of human excrement and organic refuse as waste. When we do, then weโ€™ll stop defecating in our drinking water and stop sending our garbage to landfills.” – Joe Jenkins

For all those interested in Sustainability, Self-Responsibility, and being a beneficial Earthen Organism (compared to most human people especially in the West, who live like parasites to Earth) I recommend reading “The Humanure Handbook” by Joseph Jenkins. Joseph has been composting his own (and his family’s) “humanure” (human feces) and utilizing it as a valuable resource that adds rich fertility to his soil, for the better part of 3 decades! And according to him, he and his family have been enjoying vibrant health. He writes from his heart, and from the confident place of experience and accumulated knowledge, he also has a great sense of humor, I really enjoyed reading this book.

The book starts off pointing out the highly inefficient and problematic current system that deals with the majority of peoples human excreta in the Western World. This “Waste Management” system is based on a fearful, and in my opinion ignorant misinterpretation of a valuable resource of “humanure” and, based on this misunderstanding is the biggest polluter of Water, Air and Soil, on Earth, that gets worse with each passing day. A system that labels human excreta as “waste” (many other cultures on Earth think of human excreta as a valuable renewable resource that gives back fertility to the land when properly thermophilicly composted… Google: hunzakuts people- they are famous for their vibrant health, longevity and their ancient wise agriculture practices). Then the book describes many different styles of composting toilets, the difference of the “compost” at the end of its cycle and the process of how to properly compost any excreta to kill all pathogens and turn turds into rich healthy compost, with out creating any “waste”, pollution or odorous mess. The simplicity is so refreshing and empowering.

I feel sad when I think of going on water only because people in our egotistical and ignorant culture like so much to just shit in our MOST SACRED and Important Natural Resource, Water. WATER! Just for the “convenience” of being able to excrete and flush and walk away, not caring where the shit goes. This “taboo” subject is one many people don’t want to face. We need to grow the hell up, and wake up to the damage this cultural psychological retardation (a.k.a. “fecophobia”) is actively doing to our SHARED Planet and ONLY Host!! (unless you have a spaceship we have no where to go!) Where our feces and urine goes after we “flush it away” is a disturbing journey that effects the Planet and all Her inhabitants with pollution because it is handled in such a STUPID, irresponsible totally unnecessary, wastefully expensive way! (i.e. waste water treatment centers and septic tanks- any thing that dumps raw shit into water like creeks or allowed to pollute ground water should be banned… no it should be common f*%$ing sense?! RIGHT?! I don’t want to be poisoned by peoples crap and urine! Do you?).

Be aware Fecophobes, its time to awaken to the TRUTH that can save Humanity from being targeted by Earth’s Immune System as a pathogen and eliminated from Her skin. There is no waste in Nature! Our own fear of Human Excreta is the cause behind such irrational irresponsible behavior, and the whole of the planet is the One paying for it. Humanure is a natural byproduct of the human organism consuming foods grown from the Earth, in soil that is mixed with fecal matter from other creatures, that the plants eat and bear fruit, that we eat. Why is it ok to spread raw horse, cow or chicken shit on our soil for fertilizing plants for eating, but humanure is called “waste” and is instead carelessly and most likely ignorantly used to pollute our planet? The human fecophobes just keep on “flushing away” our raw polluting poo out to sea for Nature to deal with? This practice has proven to be KILLING so many species and ruining habitats that will take the Earth great effort and time to heal, not to mention poisoning our drinking water causing various diseases and illness for humans, animals and plants, all species are effected by this insanity!

I’m angry at myself for being so blind and irresponsible for so long as well. Its hard to live in this urban community that still uses “traditional” water flushing sewer systems and peeing and excreting in the clear water in the toilet. I am even more motivated and excited to get out on our land and start anew! Away from all this established madness and insanity.ย  I want to BE the Change so much… what helps me get through still having to use the flushing loo here in the city, I just imagine and pretend I’m on the farm whenever I have to go, and visualize actually going in my customized composting excreta collector. I’ve already drawn out a desired design! Created from readily available materials, low cost, efficient, sanitary, odorless and even attractive!

To say the least I am inspired! I feel like I’ve reached a new depth of joining the Circle of Life, and Being the Change by desiring to take FULL responsibility for all the I choose, be, think, do, consume and excrete. Hallelujah! Ha ha ha!

Compost is just part of natural “organic” or eco-friendly farming, its also the link that has been broken in the human’s integration into the circle of life. We act as if we are separate from Nature, and live like that… look at the damage this way of thinking has caused on our little planet. I am having a fabulous experience of educating myself on the proccess of re-integrating into Nature. I want to be part of the solution, part of Healing the Earth. I feel like I’m learning a new language, a new way of seeing the world.ย  Getting to know my Microbial Kin, and how to responsibly and creatively encourage the beneficial ones to surround my self and family, resulting in vibrant health, higher/happier vibrations, miracles, connectedness with the Earth and My Soul. Truly a Spiritually Binding Experience. Something as “simple” as adding fertility back to the soil, brings me closer to my Creator. I desire with excited anticipation to be using all that we are blessed with, creating zero waste like the indigenous peoples did for a millenia (and still do in cultures like the Hunza’s) and learning to recognize value in the most unexpected places.

The next book on my Wish List:

Spring Equinox & Green House FUN!

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Already sending up shoots, Beans, Spinach, Lettuce, Cabbage, Arugula, Kale, Broccoli, and Peas ๐Ÿ™‚

Eostar is just around the corner! Right around 3/19 to 3/22 the balance of the year is shifting as we observe the Spring Equinox. Eostar takes it’s name from a Germanic Goddess of Fertility and Spring! We celebrate this time when day and night are equal in length. Winter is waning and Spring is officially beginning! Such an exciting time, as we enjoy the fruits of our labor. Our new greenhouse is a favorite spot for me to be! It’s already full of life, baby seeds germinating and so many of them already sending up their tiny shoots! Also in our yard, Daffodils are in bloom, the Raspberries leaves are bursting forth, and the Lemon Balm is coming back with much vigor! In our green house we have straw bales that we have been fertilizing and waiting for them to come alive. The temp inside the green house is about 52 degrees, in the bales the temp reads 70.3! THANK YOU MICROBES!! All our little baby seeds are enjoying the wet, humid micro climate of the greenhouse while there is frost on top of the straw that is spread out in the garden beds surrounding the greenhouse… outside it’s about 38 degrees. I love our greenhouse! We are going to have SUCH a jump on planting once the time of frosty nights passes into warm Spring!

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The bales are alive with microbial activity! Helping to keep our greenhouse warm and insulated, and also getting ready for us to plant strait into the bales. I believe our precious pepper plants will have the honor of living in the bales once their seedlings are big enough! SO EXCITING!!

Drafting Our Dream Home into Spirit!

Ok, this is an exciting rite of passage for me! Since I was a young girl, and watched a family friend build his own home from the conception to manifestation, I’ve always wanted to create my own home! Up until recent years I haven’t known or felt the joy of deciding on a design… I loved looking at homes, all different kinds, but never *knew* which one I wanted to build for myself and family. I have wanted round walls and organic shaped surroundings for years, but only really knew of using wood for construction and knew the complexity and difficulty involved in making wood bend and curve the way I desired. Until hubby and I discovered Earthen Homes! Eco-Domes, Earth Bag Construction, Cob Sculpting! OH HEAVEN! My dream is manifesting before my eyes in better ways than I could have imagined even 1 year ago!

On Saturday (1/28) the family and I were playin the backyard, and after we spread out some straw and compost onto our garden beds, hubby decided he was going to use spray paint and outline an eco-dome on the lawn for fun ๐Ÿ™‚ OH it was FUN INDEED! Then shortly after we drew out a big one on the lawn, hubby got busy putting his artistic eye and building knowledge to work drafting our ideas into shape… it’s coming along, and this is the beautiful expression of our Dream Home so far ๐Ÿ™‚

Muse of the Day: Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture

Sepp and Veronica Holzer, Austrian mountainside permaculturalists from before the term was invented, at their farm the Kramaterhof, became well known only after publicity in 2000. Sepp Holzer narrates the history of synergistic ideas that have made his farm a high production combination of agroforestry, aquaculture, terraces and raised beds, water heat exchange, self-produced electricity, pig raising, and fish farming without toxic pesticides, herbicides, or having to buy additional foods to feed the pigs and fish. The Kramaterhof farm is more biodiverse than his surrounding “pine tree desert” landscape and it generates its own Mediterranean microclimate through ingenious techniques–despite being 1500 meters up in the Austrian Tyrol. The Tyrol, with some of the finest skiing in Europe, under Sepp’s care can grow lemons and kiwis. The film and his discussion provide a treasure trove of abstract techniques you can use. Learn how to integrate these techniques based on his 40 years of experimental expansion across 45 acres. He has turned marginal, erosion-prone mountain lands with poor, acidic soils into a stable Eden on Earth with rich soils, high biodiversity, and high productivity. This is done without irrigation, without expensive pesticides and herbicides, and without any imported fish, cattle, or pig feed. Instead it utilizes well chosen ecological cycles to expand production naturally. Sustainability and high productivity are elegantly conjoined.

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=235437896615994763&hl=en&fs=true