Sunday, March 27, 2011

Our First Worm Bin

This is something we have wanted to do for along time on the farmstead. It was one of those projects that just seemed to get pushed to the back of the list every time up until 2 weeks ago. My son is finishing up the second grade in our homeschooling so it was a perfect opportunity to wrap it into the end of a year science project.

We decided to go with the simple storage bin idea that has been around for ages now. The reasoning was #1 price, as the total cost for all 3 bins were under $20. The next being a fairly simplistic idea so he could do it himself. With a little help from me, he did almost everything which was rewarding for both of us. :)

I won't bore you with the building details as there are already countless youtube videos and websites that outline such projects already. However, I will add a few things that I wish we would have done.

1- Add some sort of screen liner to block the air holes up. The fruit fly's and gnats are causing havoc! From what research I have done it doesn't look they will be harmful, just awfully annoying!

2- Let the worms get adjusted for a week or two before adding food. The food is starting to stink before they are able to consume what's there (maybe too much added).

3- Finally, I would have tried to find a local source for worms. Doing the mail order thing is fine, no probs but if we purchased from someone local I feel we could have gained some first hand knowledge and perhaps a friend. :)

It was a fun project to do with him and can't wait to start our bee's next week. My little man is getting so big. I try to enjoy every moment we have doing this stuff together. :) Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring in full swing here on the farm!

Well another weekend has ended and my aching body is in need of something that smells mentholated. It never fails that the days seem shorter then my to-do lists. For every single item crossed off, I always find myself adding more in it's place. It's like bellying up to one of the yummy Las Vegas all you can eat places, u end up adding waaaay more food then you can handle at one sitting.

It's no different when Spring hits here on our farm. My want to get done lists and my need to-do lists are waaaay too long for me to finish. But hey! That's what makes this homestead stuff fun right? It's the fun projects that we want to do and the not so fun chore things that need to be done in order to make the homestead run efficiently.

One of my many, many things I worked on this weekend is the deep litter chicken coop floor. I wanted to share this with you since it works awesome for us! First thing you will need is the obvious,chickens and a chick run or coop. The other is a good source of carbon material such as leaves (what we use) hay, straw etc... A limited amount of garden tools will make the job easier as well. Things like a wide leaf rake, wheel barrow and a way to pick up your brown carbon stuff are the simple basics.

Once you gather all your good composting materials, you will want to spread it in your run or coop area. I like to build it up at least 6" deep. Others that do this say the deeper the better. Once your material is down you will find that your birds will go crazy as they scratch and peck through it all. After a few months of the birds doing all the dirty work for you by breaking the stuff down, you will then want to transfer it over to your compost pile. This is a great time to add the greens and wet it down good. A few months of resting it should turn into a wonderful mix of dark garden goodness. It's a good idea to turn and water it a few times a week as this will aid in a faster decomp.

If you look on the WWW you will find all types of different ideas on how to do this and what other folks do for deep bedding. None of it's wrong or right! Just try a method that you like and get those birds to go to work for you and your garden. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mmmmmm it's strawberry time!

Yes, it's the time where butterflies start to pop out, gardens are on everyone's mind and strawberry season is here in the South! So much yummy delicious flavor packed into a red berry and so many ways to eat it. I think it's one of the most versatile berries out there. Ice creams, jams, muffins, toppings, syrup, in cereal etc...

This is the time where we clean out our fridge from the left over frozen strawberry's of last years harvest. They will soon be replaced with a bountiful crop of fresh U-pick berries from a local farm near by. We have tried to grow our own in the past but it seems that our local squirrel population really hates us! Our kids love picking the berries! It seems that for every 2 that go in the bucket one ends up in their little belly's. :)

Our favorite thing to do with last years frozen harvest is to make jelly, jam or ice cream topping. I will list a few easy steps on how you can do this with a few simple tools from your kitchen.

Step 1 - Pick the berries! (or use your left over freezer harvest)

Step 2 - Wash the jars and lids

Step 3 -Wash and hull the fruit!

Step 4 - Crush the fruit

Step 5 - Measure out the sugar

Step 6 - Mix the berries with the pectin and cook to a full boil

Step 7 - Get the lids warming in hot (but not boiling) water

Step 8 - Add the remaining sugar and bring to a boil again for 1 minute

Step 9 - Skim any excessive foam

Step 10 - Testing for "jell" (thickness)

step 11 - Optional: Let stand for 5 minutes and stir completely

Step 12 - Fill the jars and put the lid and rings on

Step 13 - Process the jars in the boiling water bath

Step 14 - Remove and cool the jars - Done!

Above is just a short step by step process. For a more detailed view on how to do jelly's, jams etc... Please visit the reference site I have given below. It's a fantastic food storage and prep website.
The pics here are from our canning operation. :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ammo Buff's

I enjoy sitting at the reloading bench and tinkering with a few pet loads now and then. As I sit there I often wonder about all the different calibers out there and what they would look like side by side. Ha! Wonder no longer. :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I'm Back!

After a long break it looks like I'm back and ready to give blogging a try once more. :)