Category Archives: Outdoors

Closer to Bacon

We are inching our way closer to being ready for pigs.  As of now I am planning on picking up the pigs early next week.  Things have been slowed down because a couple of the little ones have been sick.  Even so, we are still getting some work done, the latest of which was getting the gate hung, pounding T posts in between the wood posts, and fixing the corner where the wooded posts were slightly too far apart.

The boys have been a big help.  I do my very best to make sure I let them know when I am going out to do a project and to let them help in some way.  Lately that has even included working the cameras for making YouTube videos.  Always learning, teaching, or both(or at least attempting to).

Here’s the video from hanging the gate.


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Putting up Hay for the Winter

It has been a dry summer, so much so that the grass hasn’t been growing much at all.  Because of this the sheep and cow are currently eating hay and I will probably have to give them another bale soon.  I’m not sure hay prices are going to drop so I wanted to get some hay now.  I was able to find someone who could deliver 10 bales yesterday, so I pulled the trigger and had it delivered.  Delivery was the best option for me, I could only fit four round bales on my trailer, if I really work at it so it would take me three trips to get the ten bales he was able to deliver.  At over an hour and a half round trip, it was money well spent.

I used the tarp with which they transported our house.  It kept the inside of the house from blowing away on the highway and is over 70′ long and probably 12′ feet wide.  When they were leaving after putting the house together they asked if I wanted to save the tarps or throw them away, I definitely wanted to keep them so they have been stored under the house since then.

This should hopefully be enough hay for the winter.  We currently have 13 bales, one of which I will give to the animals while the grass grows back, and if we are lucky we will get a couple more bales when they bale our field in the fall.

If you’re interested, here is the video of me moving it with the tractor.

I Go Ga-Ga for my Kids, Literally

When our oldest son and I went to camp with our church earlier this summer there were lots of games and activities for the kids to partake in during their off time.  The one game that most of the kids gravitated towards during that time was a game called Ga Ga Ball.  Apparently it has become pretty popular around the country, but I wan’t cool enough to know about it.

When we got home, B1 wanted to build our own Ga Ga Pit, the “arena” in which you play the game.  Giving the kids more reasons to be outside playing, I was in.  But with all the traveling we had been doing in the weeks after, building a Ga Ga pit got put on the back burner.  Well, B1 was hoping to have some friends over this weekend and he really wanted to try and get the pit built before they came over.

My original plan was to build the pit just like they had at the camp, with posts sunk in the ground and dimensional lumber between them to create the “octopit”, another name for a Ga Ga Pit.  Since we didn’t have time, and I wasn’t sure where I would want to locate a pit permanently, I came up with an alternative plan.  I would use pallets that we had for the sides.  I figured it should work.

So B1 and I got to work Saturday late morning.  B1 used the yard trimmer to cut the grass down low where we were going to locate the pit.  We then brought over 8 of the best pallets we had left, ones that didn’t have slats missing or nails protruding.  Then we set up the pallets and tried to get them into as regular an octagon as we could by eye and used some scrap two by fours to cleat the tops of the pallets together.  In a regular pit, with dimensional lumber and posts, the kids would just climb over the sides of the pit to get in, and then those kids who have been knocked out sit on the sides and watch the rest of the game.  With this pit being constructed of pallets I didn’t want them to be climbing the sides, pallets just won’t stand up to that kind of wear.  So I had to create a door.

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I had thought about using hinges, but where hinges would attach to the pallets the pallets just aren’t that strong structurally so I scrapped that idea.  The next idea I had was to cut a left over two by four and use it to make legs to hold up the pallet and hold it against the ball hitting it.  The two by four I had wasn’t long enough to cut in half and still use so I headed back to the scrap lumber pile.  While I was there looking for another two by four, I saw some balusters that I had left over from when we built our front deck, and I figured they would work perfectly.  I cut them to length and screwed them on and they worked great.  I may need to find a way to strap the top more securely, using shock cord or something, but it works for now.

The door panel
The legs to keep the door panel upright, they work pretty well

We were able to play some games Saturday afternoon and it worked just fine.  There may need to be some fine tuning, but considering I used things I already had around, the cost of the pit was a couple bucks in screws.  If you check the YouTube channel, I will be posting a video on the construction of the pit sometime this week.  Better yet, you could subscribe to the channel and share the video with your friends.

Until next time…

A New Video…Segment?

While I was out working on the pig pen, I realized that some people may not know the different types of fencing I was talking about so I made a quick video.  I am thinking of making it into a series, A Homestead Minute.  Quick little videos that explain something that I probably didn’t know just a short time ago, that others might be interested in learning.  Let me know what you think.

Odds and Ends

The weather has turned hot again.  We had three nice days, lows in the lower 80’s with low humidity.  Unfortunately we are back to highs near or into the 90’s with high humidity.  All that is to say working outside is no fun at all in that weather.  I am what you would call a sweat-er, and when it’s humid I sweat by the bucket full.

I have been able to get some things done over the last few days.  I am getting close to having the pig pen ready for our piglets.  I got the hog panels up and stapled to the fence posts.  I still need to pound some T posts in between the wooden posts.  I also need to hang the gate and strap a section of the hog panel onto that gate, but we are getting close.  I hope to have a video of my progress up on YouTube shortly.

I also got a small start on getting a tree off our path through the woods.  The boys and I went down there with hand tools and cleared out the area around the tree so I can get down there with the chainsaw and get that tree cut up.  It has been on the path since late last fall, so this is long overdue.  The boys really want it off there so they can take the golf cart through the woods.  There will be a video on the progress on that project coming shortly as well.

Other than that it is mostly trying to stay cool and keep the animals as comfortable as possible as well.  Checking waterers several times a day to make sure they don’t overheat.  With the heat we have been using the pool almost every day, definitely worth the Craigslist purchase.  It has also allowed B2 and G1 to become so much more comfortable in the water.  They have gone from not wanting to put their faces in the water to being very comfortable, to the point where they are talking about joining their older brother on the swim team.  It has been nice to be home, and not be re-packing for another trip.  As much as I love traveling, and visiting friends and family, being home is really nice as well.

Until next time.

Quad Parade, with Video

As I mentioned in my last post, when we were at my Aunt and Uncle’s house last weekend, the kids were able to ride quads.  My uncle has really done a great job of creating a “school” for the kids to go through to learn all the ins and outs of riding and controlling a quad.  I think he did it out of necessity for his grand kids, and it works just as well for his grand-nieces and grand nephews.

You need to be 7 to ride the quads solo, and G1 knew that going in, so she was really excited to be able to ride herself.  She drives the golf cart around our property all the time, I have trained her on that, so the concepts of gas and braking are not new to her.  This was evident in how quickly she picked up riding a quad.  My uncle was impressed with her abilities.

The boys also got a refresher course on riding.  B1 was a little rusty in shifting, but was able to knock off the rust very quickly.  Once everyone was comfortable riding, we were off to ride around my aunt and uncle’s property.  They have 40+ acres and have created a trail system for riding around it.  I was able to get some video, it’s a bit shaky as I was doing it while riding, but it was a ton of fun.  The last clip is me taking video off the back of the golf cart.

Until next time

Back From Vacation

As most of you probably know, I don’t talk about where I will be ahead of time, it’s just not something I do.  However, I’m happy to tell you about it afterwards.

This past weekend the family and I traveled to the great state of Wisconsin, place of my birth, and location of the majority of my extended family.  We left after my wife was done with work on Friday, and spent the night at my parents’ cottage.  It shortens the drive to WI by a couple hours.

The next morning we headed to WI to visit those who were available on my dad’s side of the family.  As an aside, I hate Chicago.  There is a very real possibility I will never drive through that city again.  Traffic is never good, among other reasons to hate it.  After passing that forsaken city, we were able to see my grandmother’s new apartment and then head to my Aunt and Uncle’s house.  It is one of the places we frequently stay when we visit WI, and because of this the kids especially enjoy spending time there with them.  It doesn’t hurt that they have 40+ acres, a pond, and four wheelers.  This year, HG1 knew she was old enough to ride the four wheelers so she was excited to go to my uncle’s four wheeler school.  He sets up cones and obstacles and has them master certain concepts before allowing the younger ones to turn up the speed on the four wheeler, and the older to ride the bigger quads themselves.  I didn’t have to pass the course.  I was able to get some cool video on my phone while we were riding, which I hope to get up in a YouTube video soon.

The next day we visited with my Mom’s side of the family after going to Mass in the morning.  This aunt and uncle have a great setup for family parties which allows for areas for the kids to play, adults to visit, and comfortable seating no matter the weather.  The highlight for me was watching a game of “red light, green light” that even the adults got in on.

Monday morning we were able to have breakfast with some of my very best and long time friends.  While they are not blood relatives, they are most definitely family and loved accordingly.

That afternoon we got back to my parents’ cottage and were able to spend the evening in the lake enjoying the bath like water.  We swam again Tuesday morning, before heading home to get ready for a short work week.  When we got home, there were a couple packages waiting for us including a thermal cover for the pool, and HB#2’s newest purchase.  He used some birthday Amazon gift cards to buy a remote control truck.  It is one that should last a little longer as it is a step above toy, but still a step below true hobbyist.

This past weekend away will end my streak of not being home for any weekend the month of July, spanning five weekends.  As much as I love traveling and seeing friends and family, it will be nice to get some things done around the Homestead.  The garden is being taken over by weeds, so I hope to get that under control and give the grazing animals some treats.  I also have a project that needs to be built for in the house, which I will be posting on.

I’ll leave you with a picture of one of my favorite places.

Until next time…

Pool Setup

I got the pool set up a couple weeks ago and I made a point of trying to video as much of it as possible.  That meant multiple video clips and pictures needing to be edited together.  Consequently, this is my first YouTube video that is more than a one take clip.  I’ve got no where to go but up with regards to quality.

The pool couldn’t have been set up at a better time.  Since we have gotten it up, the temperatures have been in the mid 80’s to over 90 on a regular basis.  The kids have enjoyed swimming in it daily (when we aren’t on vacation), and I have too.  I already am thinking about how I could put a door wall in the back room, add a small deck, and a much bigger above ground pool.

Gettin’ Guinea With It

American Guinea Hogs that is.  As many of you know I have been wanting pigs for awhile.  The breeds that I have been looking at were Mangalitsa, American Guinea Hog, and Idaho Pasture Pigs.  I ended up learning more about the AGHs at the Mother Earth News Fair and finding a breeder near me that could get me two boars and two gilts that are from different litters.  I am going to buy them registered, so that I can sell breeding stock if there is a demand for it.

The plan is to keep the friendlier of the two boars, and butcher the other for bacon.  Mmmm…. bacon.  And other pork of course.  One of the main reasons I decided on the AGH was that they pasture well, are a lard pig, and are significantly smaller than other even heritage hogs.  An AGH boar will top out around 300 lbs, give or take, where many other breeds could be 600-800 lbs.  The downside is that they get to butcher weight slower, but the taste is said to make up for it.  They are included on the slowfoodusa ark of taste.  I have put a deposit down on them and will be able to pick them up sometime in the next few weeks.

In the meantime I have listed most of our sheep and Oreo for sale.  In fact, I will be calling someone back about Oreo later today.  Selling her quickly would pay for the pigs, and make the pasture last significantly longer.

I am still trying to spend more time on the YouTube channel, and if you haven’t checked it out, please do.  Homestead Dad YouTube.  I am hoping the videos continue to get better and more polished, but it is obviously a work in progress.

Always moving forward.  Until next time.