Category Archives: Outdoors

Forest Walk with Kids

Well even though the weather yesterday here was miserable for trick-or-treating all but the 19 month old went out for at least a little while.  Our oldest wanted to go out longer so we braved the blowing rain and he managed to fill his bucket with candy.  My sister-in-law, brother-in-law, their boys, my mother-in-law, and a good friend of ours all came over for dinner and handing out candy and I think a good time was had by all.

The day before I had to go out to the homestead to sell something I had listed on Craigslist.  It was the perfect fall day, with temps around 60, mostly sunny, and a slight breeze.  The kids enjoyed playing outside and since I figured this would be the best weather we would get for the rest of the year we went for a walk through the woods.  The kids wanted to take the golf cart, but I convinced them we would see more wildlife if we walked.  We saw a bunch of squirrels and birds, but to the dismay of the boys no deer.  It was a very relaxing walk, and I need relaxing right now.  I love walks like that.

This maple isn’t on our property but our neighbors, I love when maple trees turn

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I look forward to this being our backyard and being able to do this everyday if we want.

Lifeproof Waterproof Case for iPhone 5s Review

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I think I had mentioned a while back that I had gotten my iPhone 4s wet.  The earpiece didn’t work so all calls had to be made on speakerphone.  Not only that but only certain sounds would play.  I held out until the new iPhone came out, but it was definitely time for a new phone.  I decided to splurge on the 5s over the 5c.  I use my camera phone for almost all my pictures on this blog, and most of the pictures we take of the kids at this point as well, so the better camera alone was worth the upgrade.  This time around I wanted to get a waterproof case for it.  Sprint gives you a discount on all accessories when you upgrade your phone so I decided to get the Lifeproof waterproof case.

I didn’t like it much from the get go, but I wanted to give it a chance.  The screen protector is wavy and doesn’t fit the screen of the phone well.  Often I would find myself having to press the screen protector down into the phone to actually make contact with the screen.  The worst part was that it made me sound like I was in a tunnel to everyone with whom I talked.  Apparently this is a common problem.  The waterproof membrane that covers the microphone gets air behind it so the fix is to blow on it for several seconds.  This seemed to work for a little bit, but it became apparent that it would need to be done on a regular basis.  The biggest positive for the case was that it didn’t greatly increase the footprint of the phone and it was really light.  After having it for a week and a half I have decided to see if I can return it.  It really is more of a hassle than it is worth.  I will be doing a review on the new case with which I have replaced it.  So if you are looking for a light weight, small footprint, waterproof case, you might want to give it a try, in fact if I can’t return mine I might have one for sale.  Otherwise, I would suggest looking at another case.

Watering and Wrapping the Orchard

I was able to sneak out to the homestead Friday morning for a few minutes and water and wrap the trees.  The reasoning behind wrapping trees is to keep mice and voles from stripping off the bark and killing the tree.  On the way out I stopped by Lowes to pick up some tree wrap.  This time procrastinating paid, literally.  The tree wrap they had left was on clearance for $.75 for a roll of 50′ normally priced at $2.50 a roll.  I grabbed four rolls and was on my way.  When I got to the homestead I turned on the well pump and filled up three 5 gallon buckets about three quarters of the way and loaded them onto the back of the golf cart.  Let me tell you, no matter how smoothly you drive(or try to drive) five gallon buckets slosh around a lot on the back of a golf cart.  So instead of ending up with a wet bum, I carried them.  I needed the exercise anyways.

The orchard is dead center in this picture. That is what I like about this fencing, from the street it is almost invisible.
Here is the orchard by daylight. You can see how far I got with the golf cart before abandoning that idea.

After watering the trees I opened the fences and starting wrapping the trees.  The fences where I had left a long tag end were easy to use leather gloves and unbend the wire and open the fence.  Only three pieces broke off from the bending.  I had bent all of the pieces around, but I think I will just bend a few of them and alternate to slow down the breaking off of the wire.  I was able to get five of the trees wrapped before I needed to leave.

Here a tree has already been wrapped and watered
I tried to capture how the fence opened up and swung out of the way in this picture, but capturing depth with wire fence is extremely difficult

I came back that evening and wrapped the other two trees.  Those fences I needed a pliers for because the end of the wires wasn’t very long and I couldn’t easily manipulate them with my hands.  They also happened to be the two fences that I hadn’t rolled back on themselves to take out the wire’s “memory” so they didn’t stand nicely where I put them.

Working by flashlight
I think this picture shows better how I opened up the fences
These were the three pieces that broke off, not bad really

So now that the trees are wrapped I shouldn’t have much more to do for them this year.  We even got a nice soaking rain Saturday evening so the trees should be in good shape.  Because I think the fences are going to be enough protection for the trees I may not even add the scare tape to them.  I can always add that later, so we will see.  I may try to water the trees a few more times before the ground freezes and then I will have to wait until spring to see how I did.


Anticipation of Peace

I was out at the homestead tonight finishing up some things with the trees, which I will have a post on later.  But I was struck by the peace and relative quiet while I was there.  It was just after dark and it healed my soul to just stand there in the dark, listening to the country sounds and looking at the stars that aren’t visible in the suburbs.  I say relative quiet because I could hear dogs barking in the distance, cows mooing a couple parcels over, a pack of coyotes yipping and howling, and the dead or dying leaves rustling in the wind.  Staring up at the sky I saw three satellites floating overhead.  Two of which were dim enough that they wouldn’t have been visible at my current house.

This is one of the reasons we are moving to the homestead.  The peace and quiet.  Not that lives won’t be busy, because they will be.  Not that there won’t be problems or worries, because they will occur.  But to attempt to live a simpler, more self sufficient life.

This is the peaceful view I had from the orchard.  Had I caught it a few minutes earlier there would have been more to see, but I love it for what it is, peaceful.



When I said that my soul was healed it really did remind me that no matter how busy life gets, or how many things pile up on the to do list, just taking a breath and enjoying creation can bring things back into perspective.

Orchard Phase One… Complete!

So I was able to borrow my dads truck on Friday while my mother-in-law watched the kids so I could go pick up some apple and peach trees.  I decided to use only trees from Tractor Supply as they are cheaper and more convenient to pick up.  I still hope to buy some of the good trees from a nursery next spring, but with everything on my plate that wasn’t in the cards this year.  So after picking up a 150′ roll of remesh to use as fences for the trees I stopped at Tractor Supply and picked up two Fuji, a Gala, a Cortland, and a Yellow Delicious apple tree.  I also picked up one Reliance Peach and one Redskin Peach.  All of the trees are of the dwarf variety so they shouldn’t get more than 10-15′ tall.

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It was Sunday afternoon before I was able to find time to try and get the orchard planted.  I dug the holes and then set the fences as I was able to drag then fence sections down.  To cut the fence sections I rolled out 20′ and used bolt cutters to make clean cuts in the wire.  I specifically only bought 7 trees because I knew that I wanted to use 20′ of fence so I would be left over with 10′ of fencing(which I might use to as a trellis for some concord grapes).  The first couple fence sections I rolled out didn’t have too much “memory” since they weren’t rolled as tightly.  By “memory” I mean the desire of the wire to return to it’s rolled state.  Despite not having much “memory” it was still difficult to wrestle around the trees with one person.  After the first two fence sections I started rolling the sections back on themselves to make them straighter.  This helped immensely with regards to placing them around the trees.

You can see the 1x board that I used under the roll to stop it from rolling back towards me. The patio umbrella weight was perfect to hold the loose end.

As you can see I was doing this myself so I needed to utilize some weights to hold the fencing in place.  Every fence section was harder to roll out since that part of the fence had been rolled tighter.  It took me three hours to plant the seven trees, cut the fence sections, drag the sections down to the orchard, set them in place, and stake them.  I was pretty happy with that speed.  If you were to do this with two people I think it would go more than twice as fast.

Here I already have four trees planted, two fenced, and all of the locations staked out.
Reverse angle of the last picture

Using all the math I could remember I believe a twenty foot section of fence creates a circle with a diameter of about 6’4″.  That is if they were perfectly circular, which they aren’t.  After starting to roll the fence sections back on themselves they were much easier to get into place and work with, the first couple sections wanted to keep rolling up into smaller circles so I was ending up with a heart shape.

The mosquitoes were out in force which made the work less enjoyable, but it was nice to get all the trees planted at one time and not have to find more time to get it done.  Now that I have done it once I think I could easily quicken the pace at which the trees get planted.  Hopefully, I can add several trees to the orchard next spring.  Our oldest son wanted me to plant a couple pear trees this fall but I couldn’t justify the expense of another roll of remesh for two more trees right now.  All said, I planted all seven trees and fenced them for around $265, which I didn’t think was too bad.  The fences should last several years or more, and could be used on future trees as well.

By the light of the golf cart headlights. You can see each fence is staked at 180 degrees with two oak stakes.

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Packing and Orchard Planning

So in an effort to try and be as ready as possible to move when we finally get things ready out there, I have been trying to move as many of the things that we are keeping but don’t use on a daily basis out to the homestead.  I was very fortunate in that this week my mom offered to watch the kids for several hours three days in a row.  This allowed me to pack and move several loads out to the homestead.  I also allowed me to get some things done at the homestead I haven’t had time to do.

When I got out to the farm I was greeted by these guys.

These two guys were sitting on the barn, while the others were circling.

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It always amazes me the size these birds possess.  I believe they are turkey vultures.  There were five or six circling around the front of the property but I never found any dead animals so maybe they just caught a good current of air.

One of those things I was able to accomplish was moving the straw bales we used for the hay ride out of the barn.  My wife has allergies and they just don’t need to be in there.  So I moved them outside and made them into an archery target area.  The eight bales worked out perfectly to make this…


I have it covered with a tarp when not in use.  I used two bales to make a shelf in front to set my target on, and then the other six bales as the backstop.  I turned the top two bales on their side to get a little extra height above the target.  As of yet I haven’t been able to use it since I pinched a nerve in my neck or back this past weekend.

The last thing I got done was to mow down some of the field in the location I want to plant my orchard.  It should be close enough to our future house to make it convenient but far enough away that it shouldn’t be disturbed when we decide to build.  The location also puts them out in the open, which should hopefully keep the deer wary of being near them.  During hunting season they may allow me to protect my trees.



I had thought about borrowing my brother-in-law’s post hole digger to auger the holes for the trees, but the soil at this location is nice and easy to dig in.  Rather than take the time to get the p.h.d. and hook it up to the tractor, I will just dig the holes by hand.  I haven’t decided how many trees to plant this year.  I am going to need to fence around each tree to keep the deer from eating them, so that is an added cost.  My plan at this point is to buy a few nice trees from a local nursery, then roll the dice on a few more from Tractor Supply.  I would love to get all nice trees, but with the cost being triple(and probably rightly so) I will split it this year and then maybe add some more in the spring.  I am looking at Honey Crisp from the nursery, and Gala, Fuji, and Cortland apples, Reliance and Redskin Peaches, and Moonglow pear.  Maybe not all of those, but some combination.  I might even plant a grape vine or two of Concord grapes.

We are still waiting on our permits.  I was told it could be 10-14 days and I know they had a furlough day last Friday with Columbus Day off but I am hoping to hear something this week.  Once we have the permits in hand I hope that progress will move along quickly.  In the meantime, packing and planning is what I can do.