Saturday, May 16, 2015

Catching up for the week

It's been a week since Mother's Day and a few things have happened on my mini homestead.

A predator took two of my younger juvenile chickens overnight one night. I went out to do morning feedings and to milk the goat when I saw piles of feathers around one of the chicken cages. This was one of those I'd been moving around the front yard so they could have fresh green grass every day.

Piles of feathers next to the chick cage

The predator moved the cage almost 4 feet from where it was next to the peach tree

I had to make a decision about the current practice of them being in the yard, so I moved them into where the milking doe lives and placed all three cages a few inches from the fence where Molly Dog lives. That way she can scare off any predators and the chicks will be safe. It's worked out well so far.

We moved the 6 medium age roosters into a large pen where the tom turkey used to live. I sold him so that pen was open. They have lots of room in there, plenty of bedding, and good places to roost at night.

The same day I found the chicks missing, I also discovered my mama hen with the 14 chicks was missing, along with 4 of her brood. Then, that evening at milking time, I heard the free range chickens squawking and screaming. I ran out to where they were ranging in the woods and they came running to me and to the safety of the chicken yard. Another chicken, my black hen, gone missing.

I gathered up the fuzzy chicks that were left from the loss of the mama hen, got them into a safe cage and set it in the chicken coop. I hooked up a light for them, for heat, and gave them a rabbit water bottle for water. They are now doing fine but I had really hoped the mama hen could raise them naturally.

It has rained every day and the ground is soggy everywhere. It's hard to garden, even in raised beds, with so much rain. I got the doe goat pens raked out to get rid of wet hay and manure. Piled all that in a new compost heap for the garden. I'm having to run out between rain showers to get chores done.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day 2015

We just got home a bit ago from an outing to another town where we met up with quite a few family members for a nice Mother's Day lunch. We ate at a favorite buffet style restaurant so everyone was able to get exactly what they wanted to eat, plus have the many dessert choices available.

The town is about an hour's drive from our house, through the back roads I'm so familiar with from living in the area nearly my whole life. We met up with my Mother, my sister, one of my daughters, my sister's three children, and various and assorted grandchildren, nieces and nephews. It was such a great dinner. The food was ok but the fellowship was amazing.

When everyone was through eating, we all adjourned to the parking lot where the lively conversations continued, kids played on the sidewalk, and lots of pictures were taken. My son took the picture below of all the Mamas in the family that came. A few were missing, and we wished they had been able to come.

Down front in the wheel chair is my mother who is 93 years old. The woman in the bright pink shirt on the right is my sister, I'm in the center with the flowered shirt, and my sister's daughter is on the left. Back row, left to right, is two of my sister's granddaughters, one of my sister's daughters-in-law, another of my sister's granddaughters, my sister's other daughter-in-law, and my older daughter.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Planting peppers

I just don't buy chemical fertilizers. I try to use natural materials for the soil. Things I have all around me. For instance, today I moved 2 garden buggies worth of soil, decomposed leaves, and old rabbit manure from an area next to my rabbit hutches over to a raised bed garden I created last year using logs and firewood. I had filled it with mulch and more soil (dug up just like today), and chicken manure.

I already have tons of old, wet newspapers on hand for overlaying the garden beds as a weed barrier and to compost into the soil. I also have some old, wet hay to top it all off with. I know that hay has seeds and sometimes it can cause problems in the garden beds because it "plants" grass and weeds. But, it's what I have already so I use it anyway.

Below are a few shots of what the bed looks like during the amending and adding, and after it's been planted. After planting, I put about a tablespoon of epsom salts in beside each plant, the using a bucket, I watered them all well.

This is the dirt I hauled to the grow bed.

Here you can see the layers of newspapers I put on the bed. That corner did get covered.

Pictures from each end to show the thick layer of hay over the newspapers.

After all 17 pepper plants were planted. Front to back, 6 jalapeno, 6 cayenne, and 5 sweet banana.

Closer shot of 2 of the jalapenos.

Mini Homestead water well video

While we have a temporary fix for our water problems, it can't stay this way. We are running water from son in law's outside spigot over to our newly installed outside spigot to put water into the pipes of our house. It uses his water, which he has a water bill for, and it causes us to not have any garden hoses to use in the gardens or to water the animals. I've been hauling buckets of water from our water storage tank for the animals. I'm glad I topped it off recently!

Water well problems

About a week ago, we began to experience some problems with our water well. It began as greatly reduced flow to the point that it was barely a trickle coming out the end of the garden hose. We were also beginning to see flecks of dirt or something in our drinking water in the house. We started pouring it through a coffee filter to get the flecks out. Then, it began turning really dirty looking.

I talked to my son-in-law about the issues. He and my son began working on things, starting with putting in a new well switch and pressure gauge. The gauge has little to do with water flow other than telling you what pressure it's at when the switch kicks on and off. They also replaced the spigot that was in the well house because it was pretty corroded. Sometimes the water pressure would build up, but then it would drop again and it looked like the water was running BACK into the well from the water lines or pressure tank. There was a definite vacuum pull on the open end of the water hose.

None of the quick, cheap fixes worked, to our dismay, so the next step was to "pull the well". In other words, unbolt the well cap and pull out the water lines and well pump. Because my son has come down with some sort of bug, I helped son in law with the pulling. It wound up being about 100 feet of water line out of the well before he got to the pump, which was crazy dirty and muddy.

He rigged up a way to put the pump into a garbage can full of water, then hooked the power back up to it to see what happened. It pumped for a bit but didn't really get up to pressure. It stopped. Then it pumped again and sounded awful. Even from under the water you could hear lots of grinding going on, and it wasn't really pumping much water at that time.

So, the conclusion is that we need a new well pump. Son in law thinks he has one lined up for little or no cost, but if that one isn't up to specs for our well he'll have to buy a new one next week.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Aww baby chickens!

For the first time since she hatched the eggs, the mama hen was off the nest so I could get a better look at her babies. They aren't really all hers, but she thinks they are.

She started out with 16 eggs under her and it looks like all but 3 hatched. Of those that hatched, one or two were green eggs, which means those will be at least half Easter Egger, Araucuana, or whatever you call them.

There are several different colors of chick -- yellow, black, yellow with a few black flecks, and a couple that are several tones of brown or red.

Friday, May 1, 2015

New chick housing

I got the 6 half grown roosters into an old rabbit tractor so now we can move them around the yard. Then we divided the other 10 chicks into three cages -- two are converted guinea pig cages and the other is a medium animal kennel with bird netting on the inside. Now they can all peck and scratch at grass and dirt, which is what chickens are supposed to do.

The rabbit tractor takes two people to move but it covers a fairly large area so we can move it every other day or so. The other three cages I can move by myself, so I just move them around the yard to where ever the grass is getting high and let them have fun with that.

So far, it's working out pretty well and I'm happy with it. What do you think?