Friday, June 28, 2013

Corn, Already?

I was really surprised when I was walking through the corn and squeezing the ears that I found some ready to be pulled. I figured another couple of weeks at least.

This year we planted a sweetcorn called peaches and cream and as you can see it is not worm resistant, but I am use to that as long as they leave me some.We tried all the natural ways to keep the worms out, but so far nothing completely works except engineered corn or harsh chemicals and we don't use either those. 
We just cut the ends off then process the rest, no big deal.

This first harvest round will already be enough to feed us for several meals and we have a couple more rounds to go. We do not grow a huge crop of corn, just enough for about fifty meals for two people. I guess we could grow more and make our own cornmeal and all that, but that is a lot of garden room I don't have and a lot of corn to grow.
For every pound of cornmeal, it takes about 50 square foot of garden space. That's about a 7'X7' plot. If you are wanting to store fifty pounds of cornmeal for the year then you would need about 2,500 square feet of corn. That is about a 50X50 plot of corn. For some that's not a lot, but for my space it is.

Plus, some of the corn never makes it into the house. It seems like every time I walk through the gardens I graze, sampling whatever I can find. I really love fresh husked corn eaten in the garden.

Before I go,
I wanted to welcome Mike Marlow to the Modern Day redneck family. This guy has a great looking web site with a large amount of information. So if you get a chance please run over and check out Mike Marlow's Family Preparedness & Survival Blog

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Oldest Girl Doing Her Thing

By now everyone knows the oldest girl is back from college for at least another month and a half. While she is here, she is always willing to help me with whatever project I am doing at the time. She has really been a big help so far and I will miss her when she goes back.

She has two more years of learning to do before she transfers back home to get her masters or better. She started off in a dorm and found out real quick that was not for her. Then she moved to an apartment and the same happen in about the same amount of time. I guess it's hard to grow up in the country and then be thrown into city living like that. Now when she goes back in August she will be moving into a real house with a real yard where she is planning on having a garden and a chicken or two for eggs.
Her major need is furniture. We all know that college kids don't have much of anything and what they do find on the side of road is wore out and ready for the dump.

Instead of going through the expense of buying new like some kids do with rich daddy's, she decided to make her own, so she went down and raided the barn.

She found an old night stand and hideaway sewing machine a friend of mine gave her years ago, then sanded and painted them both.

Here is the cool part, she rebuilt the sewing machine cabinet it into a vanity with mirrors and working lights. She kept the old leg switch so she can adjust the intensity of the lights when she is fixing her face and hair.

When closed it will double as her desk. 
She also found a big desk at a garage sell for free and cut it down to a bench. Then she stuffed the top to make it a pillow where she will sit at her window and read.

Now she is looking to make a bed. She is wanting an old fashioned rope bed, but I don't think that will be comfortable enough for her. In a few weeks I will have enough corn husks to stuff it with but that may be going too far back in time.

I am really proud of her for reusing old junk and making it into something usable again. All she actually bought was a light and gallon of paint for all this. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Walking In The Garden

I had time last night to take a quick walk through the garden. It is such a nice and relaxing area. In the middle of all the stresses of life, just a couple of minutes with nature, your maker and your own two hands does wonders for the soul.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Condiment Caddy

I found something like this on Pinterest and thought it was something I could use so I built it.

It's a Condiment Caddy that holds whatever you need so you don't have to take up table space. Plus you can have two or three of these things at the bigger parties so everyone can find their forks, napkins and whatever else you choose to put in it.
It's a very simple build that will keep people out of your house rummaging through drawers looking for a spoon. And you will never again have to hear the question, "Wheres the forks?"

No big deal, I just thought is was kinda neat. This will come in handy on the 4th.

That's all I got for now.

Rabbit Tractor

With some help from the wife and the oldest daughter, I was able to get the Rabbit Tractor project completed this weekend.

If you have been reading MDR for a while then you know every project I do starts in my head then a while later gets onto paper. From there it gets redesigned several times before any materials are acquired. Sometimes it will sit in my thoughts for almost a year and then once I figure out all the details, I start it.
The Rabbit Tractor project was no different. This started as a thought several months ago and was redesigned at least twenty times. Material lists were made and even a budget line item was created to fund this project.

Finally, here it is and it's nothing like I had planned, let me explain.

The idea for this is the same concept as a Chicken Tractor by moving it around providing the rabbits with continued pasture and at the same time fertilizing. The cage will have to be moved every couple of days to insure fresh grass. This initial design was going to be made out of wood and was going to be too heavy to move with the lawn mower, so I designed a wheel lift system to help it along.
Here's where it all changed. I told the wife I was ready to pull the trigger on this and Saturday morning we went and bought some meat rabbits. After that, I was going to the store to buy the material to make the movable cage (rabbit tractor).
That's when the wife decided to ask me, "Why don't you use the kennel panels?" I just smiled, bless her heart, she tries.   
My design was set and I was really wanting to build this huge heavy monstrosity I have spent so much time designing. It was going to be the state of the art in rabbit hutches with automatic this and easy to handle that.
I decided to entertain the thought of using the kennel panels because number one, we already had them. So with help from the wife and the oldest daughter we went to the barn and drug them all out, laid them on the ground and started brain storming.

This is what we came up with, a six sided rabbit cage on wheels. There's nothing fancy here but, then again I think it will work out better. I can at least walk in this one compared to the other design where I was going to have to crawl.
After we put two of the rabbits in there as a "Just in case they get out" trial run we saw that they loved it. They were still in there this morning so I think this may actually work.
Total cost for the first design was $400.00
Total cost for this design was $58.00

 Here is a picture of the watering system I made so I would not have to fill up so many little bottles everyday. I am hoping the tarp I have for shade will keep the water cool enough.

This pen will be able to hold eight does. When they are ready I will bring them to the buck. When they are a week from having babies I will put them in another pen until the babies are ready to be taken off and then they go back out to the colony. I have not figured out what I am going to do with all the babies yet. I hope to sell or eat them before I have to house them for too long.
I never really had to worry about it with show rabbits, they all sold quick enough.

We ended up driving for almost an hour and a half to find these rabbits. There is none around here so I am hoping this low feed cost way of raising them will pay off and I can establish a small market up my way.

Other than that, we had a full weekend. I made the neatest little thing to use at outdoor parties. I will show that tomorrow. Plus, the oldest girl needed some furniture for her house when she goes back to college in August so she raided the barn and refurbished, redesigned and reused some old stuff just taking up space. You will not believe how good this stuff looks. I will show those this week as well.

Until then, have a good one,

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Full "To Do" List

The weekend "To Do" list started off small and easy earlier in the week. I am not so naive that I thought it would stay that way, but I was hoping.

The Mini Farm is growing again and with that so are the things to do. We have spent a lot of time playing around and all that did was put off the things that needed to done. A procrastinator I am not, but I sure liked not "Having" to do as much. Instead I did what I wanted to do.
We added some new little chickens, a rare breed the wife says, for a new market. They should be laying in a month or so. Plus we added some heavy breed chickens again to keep the market we already had. More little goats are in the pasture and chicks are hatching out everywhere. We also have some turkeys in the incubator and are waiting to see how that turns out.  

People are coming by for tours again and I am happy to have them. The place looks amazing.

The gardens are going better then ever.This picture is of the cucumbers climbing the outside of the garden shade. Last year this alone was more than I needed in pickles, relishes and everything else we could think of. As a matter of fact I just ran out of sweet relish this week from last years harvest.

Tomorrow I go and pick up some meat rabbits. We have always raised and sold show rabbits so this time I want to do something different. They will be going into a Rabbit Tractor and will be pasture raised. I hardly ever see meat rabbits for sell around here so I am hoping to start a small market for them. 

I also found a couple of nice little things on Pinterest I was wanting to build this weekend. At lunch today I stopped by the big box store and picked up a couple of items to help me do just that. I will show the pictures of the finished product when they are done.

Other than that, I have a major amount of maintenance to get done this weekend, wasps to kill and some organizing of a few things that are driving me crazy. 

Enjoy,the weekend

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Little Things

 I just finished making the wife's outdoor serving trays.

Last weekend we were at the flea market and she came across some she wanted to buy. Eighteen bucks each for scrap wood nailed together was a little out of the price range for me and we passed.
So she said "You can make me some."
And that's what I did. She wanted three different sizes so they stack for easy storage. I decided to give them a burnt finish for that nice rustic look.

The wife put on the clear glossy finish to make them look professional and I think she did a great job.
The small one is big enough to hold a bottle of wine and two wine glasses for that romantic late evening out on the swing.

Now on to the next item on the list. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tomatoes And Children, The Gardens Of Life

At the beginning of the growing seasons just like most of y'all, I am always excited to start the gardens. Several weeks before, in the greenhouse we start about three times as many tomatoes plants as needed just in case some don't sprout or if they do, they don't make it till transplant time. In the end we always have way more plants than needed, same with the peppers.
For me, it is hard to discard the plants I don't use. It may be because I have cared for these little ones from seeds and want to see them succeed even though the ones I have chosen to plant will give me more food than I can use.

So what ends up happening every year is this, A tangled up mess of tomato vines without any order.
When I plant, I try and give enough space as I can so they can grow and become what they are. The small plants, when put outside look so vulnerable and weak, what if they don't make? It would leave a void so I plant more just in case and watch over them to insure success, protecting them from the elements.
It starts off just fine with me going out everyday and training the vines to go where I think they need to go. I do what I think is right and head them in the right direction, weaving them in and out, tying them back and keeping them out of harms way. Some are stubborn and want to go out on there own. I try and persuade them to follow the right path because I know where they are growing will never work. I have ran this race before and I know they will be stepped on, broken, produce bad fruit and even die if I am not there to protect them and help them along their way. I know they all have to grow and become what they are, but there are easier ways to do it other than the way some do. I am not the perfect gardener, I have made mistakes and will continue to do so. I also know some of the plants have to experience suffering and misery to understand and adapt to become great, but not mine. I care too much to watch it happen. 

The end result is some of the plants grow strong and independent towering over the others. They are the ones where little training is needed and produce some of the best fruit. They need little of your time and still grow in the right direction.These are the ones where you almost take for granted and expect them to do great. Only if they were all this easy.
Then you have the ones that are smothered and overcrowded. Every time you turn your back they grow in a different direction not intended for them. You spend most of your time and energy trying to guide them back to where they are suppose to be, but as they get bigger and older they go where they want if you like it or not. By this time the web they have weaved is so tangled and matted down you cannot reach in and give them a helping hand. No matter how hard you try, you are met with resistance and it's a fight. Even though you show them the right path to grow and they know that it's the right way, it's still a fight and they go another path. But there is fruit, you can see it, It's there, only if you can reach it. It's just so far back in all that mess you can't. So you sit and you wait, hoping and praying for just one more moment where they will need you once again, the whole time wondering where you went wrong.

Your Momma and I love you Boppy with all our heart and we always will. Our front porch light will always be on if you need to find your way back home.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

My Bad!

Ever since I started this blog I have wrote about the happenings in my life including the good and the bad. Even though it may be embarrassing to me I try and hold no punches when it come to telling it like it is. I talk about what worked and what failed on the Mini Farm, the feast and the famine times, good luck and bad luck and even the ups and downs.
I have been persecuted for some of the things I have wrote that may have embarrassed some friends and family. I have had folks come to my house with print outs of the blog demanding I explain my actions. I have been asked by family members not to mention anything about any of the family's business. I have been in situations where at gatherings someone would turn and ask me not to put this on my blog. I have been told not to post pictures, names or anything that may insinuate who they are or what they have done. I have had to go back and edit posts taking out phrases and instances because I have offended someone.
I think it is funny how when people read about what they say to me and their actions, they automatically find offense that I would write such a thing about them even though I was the one offended in the first place. 
I usually throw out the freedom of speech thing and "if you don't like it don't read it" statement, but that never works. This is why this blog has only been about me and the Mini Farm for the past few months with only one or two posts a week. I sure don't want to say the wrong thing on here even though the truth is hard to swallow for some.

Wow, I don't know how I got off on all that. This was really not what I was wanting to say in this post, but I am going to leave it in anyway. Apparently it needed to be said.

Starting over, I am not embarrassed to admit my mistakes.  Here, let me explain.
Last week I treated the rain water tanks. I usually treat them with one half of a chlorine tablet in each tank a month. For some reason I thought I needed a full one in each one this time. Two nights ago I went to take a shower and when I turned the water on is started burning my skin. The gasses were so bad it burned my lungs and got light headed and almost passed out. I got out of the shower and crawled to the door and opened it to get a breath of fresh air. I held my breath and went back in with my eyes watering and burning the whole time. I turned off the water, went and took another breath, blew out the lanterns, grabbed my clothes and went out. I was standing in the garden naked, dripping water with burning skin. I made my way in the house and into he shower to rinse off. This was a close call. It took several hours to recover completely from it all.
Where did I go wrong? I have been in the water business for several years and I am certified to treat water and deliver it to consumers. I know dosage rates, detention times, demand and residual levels like the back of my hand.
This is what I finally figured out. Venting, I do not have any vents on the storage tanks. Yes there is a two small holes to keep them from imploding when the water is pulled out, but they are not big enough for gases to escape. When I double dosed the water the gasses built up and had no place to go and with the heat it multiplied making it a super chlorinated water. Plus I started using a different tablet that I knew put off more gases than the others.
The tanks are now vented and the water is being circulated. This was something I knew about, but overlooked at almost a fatal expense.

There you go, an embarrassing, dumb mistake that I knew better to do. I wouldn't call it complacency, I would call it lazy.

I hope everyone has a great fathers day weekend. Mine won't be so good this time for reasons I won't disclose. I agree some things are meant to stay in the family.   

I'm out,

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Harvest Time

With all the partying behind us now, it is time to get back to work. Yesterday the wife went out and did the first big harvest of the year from the gardens.

This will be enough onions and carrots to last us all year. We still have some from last year we need to eat up and make room for this bunch.

The onions will be put in cheap panty hoes and hung up. The carrots will be cut up, blanched and frozen. Last year we sliced and canned them, but this year we are going to do it different. I am needing more shelf space so whatever I can put in the freezers the better. This is under half of what is still to come. The rest of the carrots need a little more time.

The garlic has already been harvested and stored, the corn will take another two to three weeks then it will be ready. The peppers are making, the tomatoes are just starting to turn and there are blooms on the cucumbers. The soil less potatoes are actually making potatoes now, who would have thunk it? This weekend I plan to rob some and see how they taste. 

The heat has hit us with force. We will have the first 100 degree day tomorrow with 98 for today. The good thing is we have been lucky enough to have had rain every couple of days for the last month so the rain water tanks are full.
As it stands at this moment, most everything is good even though I apparently can't cook BBQ anymore.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Epic Failure

Why do I put myself through it?
All the time it took and all the money spent for the graduation party is gone now. I felt it was a complete failure. Others say it wasn't, but they are just being nice.
On the menu was Ribs, Pork Butt, Chicken, Grilled Corn, Grilled Squash, Stuffed Mushrooms, Stuffed Peppers, Baked Beans, Potato salad, two or three more things and a table full of deserts.

You can pick up on something is wrong when people put their plates in the trash upside down. No, really believe me when I say it. Most folks don't want to be rude so instead of eating the food they will cover it in a paper towel and throw the plate in the trash upside down so no one will see them throwing food away.  

First off about twenty folks that said were going to be there didn't show. We still had a good crowd of around thirty five come by.
Second, I messed up the potato salad, I never mess up potato salad. The wife saved me by making a potato salad casserole out of my mess, it was a hit.
Next, people said the chicken was not done and threw it away. I checked and I thought it was. I smoked it
at 250 degrees for four hours, the meat gauge read 190 to the bone, the juice ran clear and so about twenty pieces of chicken were thrown in the trash. It was pink because of the smoke, not because it was not done.
This picture here was when I first put them on. They ended up looking so good.   

Next, when I cooked ribs in the past I usually over cook them and they fall off the bone. This time I did things a little different and did the 3-2-1 method by smoking them for three hours, wrapping them for the next two and then finishing them off unwrapped and caramelizing the bbq sauce for the last hour. I thought they tasted out of this word, but some folks took one bite and trashed them.   

The pork butt was cooked to 175 degrees because I wanted to serve it sliced. At 190 it would have been dried up pulled pork. I found about four pounds of it in the trash because they said it was not done. I thought it had the best taste of all and was amazing. All because it was not burnt up I guess it was not done.

Next was my fault again. I was so busy trying to serve I forgot and left the squash and corn on the grill and did not serve it till it was to late. Thirty ears of corn and about forty packets of grilled squash went uneaten. That one is on me. The wife sent as much home to people as she could and the rest is in the ice box. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The beans were good. Not much of that was left. I guess it was the only eatable food there so everyone ate their helping of them.

The girls all pitched in and helped. They did a great job and had a good time. Even tho pealing potatoes is not fun, they made it that way. The one on the left is Boppy. She is the one that graduated Friday night. On the way to graduation she said she was nervous about graduating. I told her she needs to be nervous about tomorrow and she asked why. I said because it is the first day of the rest of your life. On the right is Wee. She really did not want to be pealing potatoes as you can tell from the look.  

A storm rolled in about 3:00 AM and woke me up. I didn't put everything up and spent the next few minuets running around in the pouring rain trying to pick up as much stuff as I could. I lost my shade cover and a few more things to the high winds and the down pour. They didn't say anything about rain. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.

I told Wee next year we are going to Chucky Cheese and will not be having a BBQ. This one will go down in the history books as an epic failure. I can count on one hand and have four fingers left over on how many times I put on a bad BBQ.
Other than that, the Mini Farm was a hit, the animals were spoiled. Everything looked great.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Around The Mini Farm

Last weekend the whole bunch of us hung around the house and got caught up on some of the things we have been lacking on due to too much playing and not enough working.
There is so many things that have to be done before the Graduation Backyard BBQ Party this Saturday. I have all the sudden found myself in a slight panic to get it all completed before then. Oh well, if it gets done it does, if not it don't.

Here is some pictures around the Mini Farm and the gardens,
The babies are no so small anymore.




These are the tomato plants in the Hydroponics system. They are growing so fast and I am already getting some little tomatoes off them. I wished I would have done this system a little bigger and added peppers to it as well.
Some of the herd. BO II and BO III are doing great and loving life now.

Here is the experimental potato bed I planted without soil and only in straw. Some came up and are doing well. The one thing I can see that is not working is the moisture level is too high down in the straw. I try and fluff it to get air down to the root so they do not rot but I don't think it's working to well.
Only time will tell.

I got more, but that's all I will bore you with for now. Have a great day.

Monday, June 3, 2013

We Finally Found Some

I was getting frustrated all weekend looking at the Giant Bird Hotel (Aviary) I built the wife a couple months ago with nothing in it. A lot of time and materials went into that thing and there it sat, empty.
We put a couple of little hens inside just to keep the grass down plus the rooster was using them way too often and tearing them up so now they have refuge.

The wife and I both have looked all over this part of the country for dove and pigeons and although we found some, they were either way far off or way too expensive. I came to the conclusion I wasted my time and money building this thing when the wife came walking in from the store yesterday evening holding a potato sack and wearing a smile.  

Meet Tammy Wynette and George Jones.
(Laugh all you want, I didn't name them. It was either that or Johnny and June)
They are Fantail Pigeons and are a welcome sight.  

George felt right at home and took his place on the nesting boxes.

Tammy on the other hand decided to hang low strut her stuff.

Even though they are pigeons and they are nothing but overhead, they made me smile when the wife let them loose. Finally, the aviary is being used for it's intended purpose.
We spent all that time looking for them and they were just down the road the whole time. 

All work and no play this weekend folks. Too much playing has put me behind on the Mini Farm. It was non stop doing this and that until I could not do it any longer and headed to the bath house for a much needed shower and shave then off to bed. I took a bunch of pictures of the gardens and will posting them tomorrow.

Until then,