Sunday, October 31, 2010

More Space

The plans of buying the Dino dirt for the gardens at $40.00 a truck load all change when my dad called and said he had some compost/dirt just as good and it was free.
Three very full truck loads later and we ware now ready for the winter. All three girls jumped in to help with the shoveling while I ran the wheelbarrow and the wife ran the rake.
During all the fun an old friend stop by and even her six year old girl jumped in and helped out by making sure I dumped the dirt in right places, it was really cute.

After a rough start this morning, I was still able to build one more 16' raised bed giving me a total of five. I also made the wife a little herb garden area to play with this spring.
I still have three more raised beds and a green house to build in the garden area then that phase
will be done.

My three girls are the best. No way would I trade them for boys. Come to think of it, I don't think I know of any boy their age that can out work a one of them.

I feel a little better now having expanded my planting area and now improving the soil, but I still need to get the rain water system finished.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another One

It's another long week with long hours. It is really hard to have to time to get home, eat, shower and then blog.
These hours won't last long so if you could just bare with me for a little while things will be back to normal.
This weekends plans are Gardens.
I plan to get a pickup load or two of what they call Dino Dirt from the city land fill and fill the raised beds up for winter. I also have the material to probably make a couple more beds and if I am lucky, have the time to run back down and get another load.

On the other hand, the middle girl just told me she needs basketball shoes for this season and from what I seen last year, they do not make cheap basketball shoes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What About Them Crickets?

I have had several people ask me, "What About Them Crickets?" Well, let me tell you about them.

When I first started research on how to raise crickets I thought, my gosh it takes a lot to raise them little things. If I was raising crickets commercially for a profit it would be a little harder than how I do it now. I would have to have a climate controlled room with incubator boxes set up with the whole works.
Just like the worms. If I was selling them, one day I plan too, I would have to have a little better set up than what I do now. Right now, harvesting them is a slow and labor intensive process. The main problem with the worms right now is this winter. I have yet to figure out how to keep them from freezing. I do not have power to the big barn yet so I cannot just put a light on them and call it good, but I'm working on it.
The crickets are in the mini barn and the same problem exists. I really do not want to run another heat light just for crickets. I have a reptile warming rock I might try out but I don't think it is big enough to warm all of them at the same time.

I started out with 60 crickets from the pet store. I put them in a 55 gallon fish tank with a couple of inches of peat moss covering the bottom so they can lay their eggs in. I feed them ground up chick starter and water them the same way I do the chicks, with a small rimmed baby water. Even though I have open water, I have not had any drown. I also put a hand full of hay in the corner so the babies have a place to hide from the adults so not to be eaten.
I guess I started them around four or five months ago and now when I pull off the sheet covering, the whole bottom is full of them. I bet there are at least 1000 or so in there. I can't feed them fast enough.
They are mainly used to feed the baby chicks. The crickets give them the extra protein they need without having to get chimerical supplements plus it develops the chicks natural ability to hunt and scratch much earlier than if they were pen raised.

I'm telling you, there is nothing funnier than throwing a hand full of crickets into a brooder full of week old chicks. At first the chicks are scared of them and don't know what to do. After a minute or so they get curious and sneak up on them just watching. The crickets start to get nervous with all them eyeballs looking at them and make the mistake and jump. That is when a chick will finally reach down and grab one in it's mouth, look around for a split second and take off running. It does not even know what it is running for and the funny thing is, the rest of the chicks take off after it and they don't even know why they are chasing after the one that does not know why it's running.
I'm telling you, it's better than watching a bug light. They will run in circles chasing one another for as long as the cricket stays in a chicks mouth. I have never seen anything like it. I should charge admission.

Monday, October 25, 2010

If I Were Rich, I Would...

Have you seen that show, I think it's called "Off The Grid"? It came out sometime in the 90's and stars that guy off of "Survivor Man. The show starts off with him and his wife building a cabin in the woods back when they were young and first married. Now they have kids and want to show their children that way of life and relive the whole off the grid life style. During that show he says over and over how the common man can do just what he is doing and everyone should try it.

With much anticipation, this weekend I received my issues of Grit and Small Farm Today magazines. Those two and Mother Earth News are the most read things in the house. It is a fight to get to read them first and most of the time I have to hide them just so I can read the nice, new, non dogeared, non marked up and cut out publication.
These two issues seemed like they were written by the same people because they kinda covered the same topics. Don't get me wrong, it was a good thing. One talked about raising chickens and turkeys and the other talked about processing and marketing them with both magazines leading to the idea of self sustainable living. They too say that anyone can do this and gives a piratical side of needing money from a outside source or a job to get it all going and then the money to stay afloat while the lifestyle or business gets big enough to sustain all the expenses.

Now I can buy that plan and I even think it is doable given the right product is marketed in the right location. That's even the business plan I am doing as a matter of fact and reading these two magazines showing normal people getting it done gets me fired up.
What I can't buy is the fact this guy on this Off The Grid show does not even have a product to market and spent almost a half a million dollars so he does not have to pay a $300 electric bill every month and then tells me I can do the same thing.

But then again, if I were rich and had the money to build a place that far off the beaten path and with human contact only when I wanted it and not in my face all day, I would do it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mixed Up Weekend

What a weekend. We stayed busy but nothing got done, I bet you know just what I'm talking about. Everyone has those types of weekends from time to time. It primarily consisted of cleaning out pens and trying to improve the overall operation.
It did not help that it came a monster rain most of the day Saturday, but all that did was push me into the barn to kinda do some much needed reorganizing.

All in all we hatched 18 chicks out of 48 eggs. If you do the math that is a 37.5% hatch rate. Not as good as we were hoping for but it's what we got. We are still using still air incubators with automatic turners. If I can remember right, years ago we used the big self turning GQF forced air incubators and never got a hatch rate below about 85%.
I have the plans for a DIY forced air and even though I have talked about it before, this shows why I need to go ahead and get it done. I priced it out and I can built one for about $100.00 which is a far cry from buying them new at $600.00

We spent this afternoon with some family that could not make it to the cook out last weekend so we decided to have another one just for them, (any excuse to cook out, right). The only difference was, this time we only did hamburgers.
This was their first time here at the mini farm so they got the grand tour and even though it was muddy, they loved it.

I wanted to give a big howdy to Anna, the newest member of the Modern Day Redneck family. Let me know if you need anything or need me cover a topic you want my point of view on. Thanks for joining.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Will I Ever Learn?

Next month we have been here a year. In that year we have only met one person out here in our little community. There are about forty homes with each having two to five acres and we do not know any of them.
So the wife and her friend Rhonda came up with an idea of having a "Winter welcome, get to know your neighbor fish fry" next month, at our house. I was not to keen on the idea at first but ended up wanting to do it.
I made up some fliers this week and last night the wife and Rhonda went door to door passing them out. When they returned I was alarmed when the first thing they said was "There are some real weird people that live here, I don't think this was a good idea".
All we were trying to do was get to know some of the people we see every day but never talk too. They said that some of the people that have lived here for ten years just laughed and said we were crazy for doing it.
The bad thing is, with everyone having fliers, we are now committed. Now my anxiety about this is up and I have been racking my brain on how to get out of it.
I think we are just going to have to bite the bullet and go through with it and hope for the best, or rain. You would think I would have learned not to do that kind of stuff by now.

On a lighter note, the eggs are hatching. We have four so far and surly more are to come.

The wife sold a rooster today which makes me very happy and you will not believe this, she also sold some crickets. Yea, no kidding, I was floored. I now have a regular customer and making money on crickets. Who would have thunk it?

Pics of the new chick tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Long Week

So far this week the only daylight I have seen has been while I was at work. That makes for a long week plus, it hinders me being able to do anything on the mini farm.

The wife and the youngest did candle the eggs in the incubator last night and out of 48 eggs, 38 are fertile. They are scheduled to hatch tomorrow or Friday.

Still no baby goats but any day now.

I know it's not much but it's all I got. Maybe this weekend will bring good weather and a good start on the next project.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back to Business

After a week of being lazy with no production, it is back to business now.
With the chicken business up and running we are looking at some projects that need to get done by next spring.
The main one is getting the big barn set up as the breeder barn so we can leave the mini barn and it's area just for that, mini things. But, the wife is eye balling a new adventure.

Have you ever heard of or seen Sebastopol Geese?

These things are a real oddity and the wife fell in love with them. The problem is, you can not find them hardly anywhere and that is why she wants them so bad.
After a lot of searching the wife found some eggs but she will have to wait till spring to get them. So we are going to start off with just a few hatching eggs to see what happens from there and see if she can find a market around here for them.

The picture is from
Go and check out how purty these things are.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The only focus this weekend was cooking. I fired the big smoker up for the oldest girls 18th birthday party and it was a blast.
We ended up having more people show up than we thought and still had plenty of food to go around. You could not ask for a better weather day to have a Fall BBQ.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Grown Already

Yesterday was my oldest daughters birthday. Eighteen years ago when the wife and brought her home from the hospital, we looked and looked to find the owners manual to this new thing we had that was now making a lot of noise and we did not know why.

She has grown into an exceptional young lady and on most days brightens any room she is in. She just applied for Texas A&M and with all her community service activities, school offices held and being in the top ten of her class I have no doubt she makes it in.

I have made many mistakes in her childhood and given the chance to redo them is gone now. I always said I was going to be there for my children, but quickly found that making a living got in the way of that. Talking with most people, they say they are happy their kids are grown and out of the house. If I had a choice in it all I would keep them around twelve years old so they can stay daddy's little girls and we can hold hands as we walk down the road. I know they will always be just that but it is different when they have a life of their own, making their own choices and raising their own family's.

So far the hardest day for me was when she turned sixteen and drove away alone for the first time without me to protect her. The next one will be when all her clothes are packed and she drives away to collage. Then the hardest of all is when I have to give her away at her wedding. I do not think I can do that.

For her birthday last night she gave a speech to the Fellow Christians Athletes and to about 200 people. The whole stadium sang her happy birthday and cheered when she walked off the staged after a heart felt speech on how God was moving in her life.
Thats what it's all about and that is the only thing that gives me comfort that she will do just fine.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Taking Off A Couple Of Days

We had a massive storm blow through Monday night and made things a little to muddy to get anything started. Plus after a few hard weeks of non stop projects I wanted to take a day or two and regroup and rest a little.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Can't Believe It

This morning I was able to sleep in till 7:00 and it was great. I woke up refreshed and ready to go. Just one thing, It hurts to walk. My knee is still bothering me so I decided to take it easy today and recoup so I did not get as much stuff done as I would have liked but I did get enough done to be satisfied.

Fist thing was to finish the little mini chicken runs. As soon as I cut the little doors those little things ran outside and started acting like chickens, hard to believe right.

After that I spent over an hour cleaning up from the marathon chicken projects I have been doing. Three different projects had created piles of scrap wood and loads of tools strode all over the place. After it was all reorganized, I strung it all out again to go ahead and rebuild the rabbit area. I stacked the pens this time to give more room for feed storage. Now I have one large doe pen, a buck pen and a birthing pen all on the same wall. Now all I need it another buck.

And that's it. I am done. I can't believe it, I am now between projects. Though I still have some ongoing projects like the large rain water system, the large barn sectioning and oh yea all the fencing, and I almost forgot I need to build a more efficient worm farm and I still need to get started on the DIY incubators I really need and the gardens, oh my do I need to get more built and ready for next planting season.
But still, I feel a scene of relief knowing my "have too right now" ones are done.
Have a grate week!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Just A Half Day

What a day to get hurt. I hurt my knee a little before noon today and I could not continue to work it hurt so bad, but at least I got a half day of work in before it happened. Maybe tomorrow it will be better and I can finish what I started.

I was able to get the goat shelter welded up, tarped and in place this morning. All it needs now is some hay for a nice little bed and we can call this one done.

The wife and the youngest helped out on building the mini chicken roosting houses inside the mini barn so we got them done and checked off the list.

And lastly, we set up the kennel panels and wired them in to see how they looked for the little mini chicken runs. Tomorrow I hope I can finish this. I still need to cut the holes in the side of the barn and attach the panels to the wall. It shouldn't take more than an hour or so to call this one done as well.
Not bad for only a half days work. I Just wonder what could have been done if I could have worked all day.

This poor baby is so big. I could not even imagine what shes going through.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Moving On

The goat pen is done. The wife let the little goats out in the big pen today and they went a kicking and a jumping. She said it was cute.
Tomorrow the plan is to get the old horse shelter I made from a trampoline frame and reconstruct it for a goat shelter. It shouldn't be to hard, I hope.
By the way, the nanny still has not had her babies yet. I was way off on this one.

The other project for the weekend is to start on the mini chicken runs. The plan is to come off the side of the barn with the kennel panels and make three runs. Each panel has a gate so the wife can move from one run to the other with ease. Then I have to build the little boxes inside the barn for them to roost in.

I do not know how much I will get done because I still need to make one last run back over to and pick up some shelving units Scott gave me. I also have to get the place mowed and somewhere in there I need to sleep.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Little More Stuff

What I thought was going to be a quick in and out turned out to be a two hour ordeal. We just kept finding more and more stuff to throw on the trailer.
I am sure you are tired of me talking about all the great things this family is giving us but I can't help it. Scott and Stacie has welcomed me and my family like they have known us for ever. I hope one day I can return the favor they have done for us.
Thanks, guys.

Well, here they are. This is what I had to take to get the air compressor. The blue healer is Flaky and the Australian Shepperd is Bandit. I have them in a pen right now to let them get used to us and the chaos around us. They seam to be good dogs so far.

This is part of the last nights load. The truck bed was full as well. This load was water tanks, fence posts, lumber, metal pipe, wire, tin, t-posts, dog houses, feed buckets, heat lamps, a FFA show box and so much more. I tell you I was almost feeling like I was being greedy at the end but he just kept on saying "If you wanted it, take it."

This Saturday I plan to run back over and pick up some shelving units they do not want. Nice big heavy duty shelve too.

I had to show yall the redneck fence job I am doing. What ever works, right? This will buy me some time till I can build the real fence. Those goats are going to love all the room now.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Working In The Dark

I have to have some excuse for how the new fence looks so I guess I can tell everyone I built the fence in the dark. I did not get a chance to get any pictures before it got dark but I am telling you, I am embarrassed to say I put it up.
It is only temporary till we have the money to put up the permanent one but still. The price was right on the materials so it is hard to complain about that.
This pen will be the new pasture for the little goats. It is 10 times the room and a lot more grass so I do not think they will be complaining either.

Tomorrow the plan is to run back over to get the last load of stuff the kind people are giving us.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Got'r Done

I said I was going to do it and even though me and the family are wore out, we got the "tween" pen done. The chicks now have a new home. I tell you what, if it wasn't for the wife and kids I don't think it would have happen this quick. They were the biggest help. We had a little assembly line going. I would call out a measurement, Hannah (the middle girl) would mark it and the wife would cut it. Kylee (the youngest) helped out by nailing on the roll roofing like she has been doing it her whole life. It was a good build with quality family time to boot.

It is nowhere near full of chicks but at least both sides are being used. Right now I guess we have 30 in the left side at a month old and about 30 in the right side that is just a couple of weeks old. The eggs we set last week will be hatching in about two and half weeks so they will go streight to the brooder room.

We made it back to the people's house that are moving and blessing us with trailer loads of building materials. Let me tell you, these people are getting nicer and nicer every time we see them. Today I picked up 16 cattle and horse panels plus 13, ten foot chain link kennel panels. Man what a cool deal.
The kennel panels will be used to make mini chicken runs off the North side of the mini barn. That is the next project by the way.

When we finally showed up, after sitting on the side of the road for over an hour with a blown out trailer tire, the guy told me he had a deal for me. See, yesterday I was eyeballing his 30 gallon upright air compressor but knew I could not afford it. Well today he said I could have the compressor if I took his two dogs. One is a blue healer and the other is a Australian Shepperd. Man I want that compressor but I just can not justify have six dogs. I am torn! They are good dogs though.
I plan to go back this week to pick up a pile of 4x4's, 6x6's and butt load of 2 3/8 metal pipe that was left over from his fence. That pipe might turn into a pig pen and I already have plans for the rest.

Have a great week

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Another Haul

We got a call from from a friend last night about her sister wanting to get rid of some chickens. Of course we said heck yeah. The people getting rid of the chickens are moving back into the city and are letting everything that has to do with farming or raising animals go, cheap. So we jumped on the band wagon and went to pick up the chickens.
I tell you this, these people are some of nicest people we have ever met.
We started out with just the chickens but ended up with a truck load of stuff, all for free. The stuff they are wanting to sell we can't afford but I do not mind picking up the left overs. Tomorrow we are going back with the trailer. They are giving us 15 to 20 cattle and horse panels so we can section off the middle part of out little place here and let the goats out on the good grass. What a blessing these people have been.

After we unloaded the truck the wife and kids went right to work helping with the "tween" pen. We got it in the dry and it is now ready for shingles and paint tomorrow. Through the loving memory of Tony Cassise, we are now able to move forward and finish this project. Thank you very much.