Tag Archives: apple

Good Day, Happy Livestock

This morning the kids and I headed outside early and got to work finishing strapping the fence to the T posts.  I think there were about 16 yet to be done.  After that was done, I ran the electric wire along the top of the fence and got all the insulators set.  By that time, it was near lunch so we went inside.

After getting HSB#3 down for a nap, I went out and got the electric wire connected to the system we already have.  I also cut the field fence that was over the spot I had installed the gate and zip tied the piece of fence onto the gate.  At this point, all that was keeping the livestock from greener pastures was getting my temporary fence up to keep them from the whole pasture.  I plan to partition it off into three sections and rotate them through that, and a portion of the pasture they have already been in.

Several months ago I had purchased fiberglass moveable electric fence posts and some polywire.  Once I got that set up, it was time to let the livestock in.


I am using a jumper to electrify the poly wire on one end, and have wrapped the poly around the permanent aluminum wire on the other.  I started with only two strands, but it became quickly apparent a third was needed.

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Once the livestock got over the shock that they were allowed someplace new, they got straight to eating.  Before the sheep or Oreo could cautiously test the poly, Bullseye got excited and ran right through it.  I don’t even think the shock registered until he was on the other side, and he didn’t take long coming back to Oreo.  It was at that point I added the third strand.  Since then, we have seen several sheep and Oreo test the fence and jump back, so I am hoping it will work for it’s intended purpose.

The animals enjoying fresh grass

This is what a happy cow looks like.

After that was done, I moved the pallet run in about 30 feet.  I needed to move it so that I can section off part of the pasture to let it rest.  I was going to use the tractor, but I’m not sure it wouldn’t have broken it, so I leg pressed it a side at a time, several feet at a time.  In the picture below, the bare spot on the right is where the run-in was, and the right side of the pasture is where I will use temporary electric fence to keep the livestock out of.


After a late dinner, I got to planting the trees that arrived from Stark Bros.  For the price they were, I am very happy with how they look.  Some of the cheap trees were actually their “supreme” trees and had a decent caliper trunk.  I got two cherry trees and three apples planted.  I will get the last five apples planted tomorrow, if I can move.

Until then…


Long Weekend – Speed Round

I have so busy I haven’t taken the time to sit down and write a blog, so I am going to write a speed round blog post to get caught up.  These topics may or may not be in order.

The grafting experiment has been a mixed bag.  Only a few of the grafts have so far seem to have taken.  I think this is because I had to store my scion wood for so long until I was able to graft.  I am going to try and graft as many more as I can, but I will just plant the rest of the root stocks.  The root stocks seem to be find and growing once planted so I can plant them now and then use them in the fall or next spring.

The root stock sprouting


We have some great friends who gifted us some mint and chive plants.  I up potted them and put them on the front porch so that the chickens wouldn’t eat them.  The kids love snapping off chives and mint to chew on while playing.

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The calf had us worried yesterday.  It was really hot, and he wasn’t staying in the shade and ended up panting quite a bit.  His eyes were always clear and his ears were attentive so we just kept an eye on him.  By today, he was running around and playing with the sheep.

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In front of our house I have been adding plants since we moved in.  To date I have planted lilacs, both large and mini Asian lilacs, a magnolia, and a couple apple trees.  In an effort to remove grass to cut, we started looking for ground cover.  I really don’t want to rely on wood chips, at least long term.  I’d rather have something that will spread and cover the area.  I got a few native plants, monkey grass and ajuga, but it is going to take a while for them to spread to cover the area.  I ended up getting 50 strawberry plants that were on sale from Stark Bros and am going to see how they work as a ground cover.  This all seemed like an awesome idea, and then the chickens rounded the corner of the barn.  Not sure if the plants will last, we will ever see any berries, or if this will work, but the plants were inexpensive and it only took a couple hours to plant them.  If it does work, we will have strawberries right out the front door.


The turkeys continue to grow at an almost alarming rate.  I forgot how quickly they grow, but I also forgot how messy and smelly they are in the barn.  As the weather has warmed and they have added feathers, we move them outside during the day and only bring them in at night.  It is amusing watching three week old poults puff up their feathers and flare their tail like they are full sized Toms.


I finally found time this weekend to pick up my brother in law’s post hole digger so HSB1 and I drilled the holes for the posts for the new pasture.  We were able to get the 7 holes done pretty quickly.  We then decided since we had some more time, we would drill the holes for the new chicken run and the pig pen.  We ran into a problem as we started the pig pen.  The auger just wouldn’t dig.  We couldn’t figure it out, and no amount of pushing, pulling, or hoping was making it work.  We even tried moving and trying another location.  As I was looking at the auger, I noticed a rock stuck in the cutting blade that was preventing it from drilling into the ground.  With that setback solved we quickly got the rest of the holes dug.  The pig pen will be 64’x32′ and I plan to use hog panels.

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With all the warm weather I wanted to get the sheep sheared.  The boys were anxious to shear them as well, so the other night I got all set up to try and get a few sheep sheared.  Not thirty seconds in, the shears broke.  Several teeth broke off the comb part of the shears.  I have since ordered replacement parts off Amazon, so hopefully this week will find the sheep cooler.


Lastly, I have been trying to be diligent with regards to watering the newly planted trees, the replacement trees that replaced the ones that have died since last season, the landscape plants, and the garden plants that are still in pots.  The new orchard trees are doing great.


That is all for now, I am sure there will be more soon.


A Candle Burnt on both Ends… and Grafting

I haven’t posted with much frequency lately.  That is mostly because I have been burning the candle at both ends so to speak.  As you all know, spring is a busy time most everywhere, and the Homestead is no exception.  I still need to get more pasture fenced in, get a lean-to for the animals built, and plant the garden.  Not to mention a million other smaller chores.

With all that said, I still have root stock and scion wood in the fridge and I am afraid it is no longer viable.  To test that theory I have made a few trees.  I grafted one tree a few days ago, and then ten more Sunday night, late.  We will see if they survive.  I am hoping that the root stock is still viable and that I can at the very least plant that in a nursery area and get new scion wood later this year.  Time will tell.

The first tree
The next ten


New Life

The new life that occurred today was of the plant kind. We are still waiting for new animal life here on the homestead.   But let me begin at the beginning of the day, which was actually last night, remember the post about our ram freaking me out?  When I finally got in bed, I remember thinking, “If I can just sleep until 8.”

No dice.  At 7 o’clock I was awoken to a scratching coming from my daughters’ bedroom ceiling.  Our 4 year old had woken me up in the middle of the night to help her get back to sleep and I sometimes end up falling asleep in their room.  At first I thought the scratching was our 6 year old scratching the wall in her sleep.  It wasn’t.  So I bounced, or dragged, myself out of bed, threw on my boots and headed out to investigate.  As soon as I opened the door I saw a bird leaving the soffit near the girls room.  Apparently a windstorm a bit back had blown a piece of the soffit down and a pair of birds thought it would be a good nesting site.  I grabbed a ladder and observed for a bit.  After I was convinced that the birds were not in the house, I replaced the soffit.  Hurray!

By this time HSB2 had woken up and wanted to play catch.  So at 7:30 Sunday morning we played catch, shortly thereafter HSG1 joined us.  Then the baby was awake and wanted to play outside.  So we decided to take a short walk down our street.

After the walk was over all three kids wanted to help finish assembling the last bench I needed to make.  I can’t remember if I mentioned it last night, but I am very happy with the way the benches turned out, and how they match up with the picnic table.

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Next it was on to planting.  When we visited Greenfield Village last week we got 5 butterfly bushes and 4 Concolor firs, as the Forest Service was giving them away.  So I got the fruit trees I picked up last week and the Concolors soaking in some water to prepare them for planting.  While I was preparing, my wife and the two girls planted the butterfly bushes in the back of our house where we have our wildflower patch.  HSB2 and I then replaced some dead trees with the new Concolors.

For free trees, they were pretty nice size and quality


The one thing I wanted to make sure I got done today was getting the apple and pear trees in the ground.  I changed plans from where I had originally thought I was going to plant them to a spot behind my nut trees and nearer so I can take care of them better.  I only have cages for five of them currently, so three are unprotected.  It shouldn’t be a problem now, but I will plan to fence/cage them before fall.  In case I hadn’t mentioned the varieties of fruit, I got two apples each of Liberty, Gingergold, and Wolf River, and then two Kalle Pears.  Some day in the not too distant future, I should be buried with fruit.  At which point one of my friends this weekend told me we will be making fruit liquor, Apple and Pear Brandy sound mighty fine to me.

Eight new fruit trees in the ground

At some point in the afternoon we got out the golf cart and the lawn tractor.  HSB2 wanted to cut grass and the chickens seemed glad that he did.  We finished the day with a family trip to Dairy Queen.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, we were able to spend copious amounts to time together as a family, and we were productive.  I would say it was very close to a perfect day.

The chickens seemed to appreciate the newly cut grass

Good Wood, Dog Crate, and Peeing in the Car

I think I had mentioned that I am planning on trying my hand at grafting some apple trees this year.  I have already ordered root stock.  A local orchard was kind enough to give me free scion wood if I would come pick it up when they were trimming.  Well, they were trimming this week.  Since last Sunday they were trimming each day for a few hours.  Today was the last day they would be trimming and fortunately I was able to get over there.  The kids and I stopped by and met the owner of the orchard for the first time in person, we had talked several times on the phone.  She is a gem of a woman, and I hope this is the beginning of a long relationship.  She was so kind to the kids traipsing through the orchard and more than generous to give me bundles of 9 different varieties of apple trees.

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While we were there, HSG2(our almost four year old) had an emergency bathroom event.  She couldn’t wait, she had to go now.  Fortunately we had just purchased an item for just such an event.  A small portable child’s toilet from Ikea.  Friends of ours have used one when their kids were small and they swore by it.  Saving several stops on long trips was enough for me to give it a try.  It came to the rescue today.

When we got back to the Homestead, I further trimmed the scion wood so that it would fit in the refrigerator and bagged it up with some wet paper towels.  Hopefully it stores until the root stock gets here.

Earlier in the day we picked up a Craigslist find.  A larger travel dog crate.  It will give our dog slightly more room in the back of the van when we are traveling.  I also plan to multitask it as chicken, turkey, piglet transport as the need arises.

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Finally, I have fully given the egg business over to HSB1.  The final step was for him to start buying feed for the chickens.  Today, while we were out, we went to the feed store so he could pick up four bags using money he has made selling eggs.  He has been very diligent about collecting eggs, storing them in cartons, and asking people if they want to buy from him.  I look forward to where this goes with him.

Until next time.

Drying Out

Sunday was wet, to the tune of over an inch of rain, wet.  So we are drying out today.  I am thankful that it was rain and not snow, but it does make a mess.  The pasture is soaked, and the entrance to the coop is a mess as well.  A couple dry days should help.  I am hoping that when the sheep and cow decide to lamb/calf it is dry, but there is no point in fretting over something that I can’t control.

Yesterday, between breaks in hard rain, I went out to check the animals and then walked around to check the garden area, orchard, and vineyard.  The garden looks good, if a bit waterlogged.  I will probably till it lightly this year before planting, and then hope not to have to till anymore.  We will see how that goes.  The orchard looks good as well, with only a little bit of rabbit/mouse damage.  Not anything like last year.  I’m hoping for a few apples and pears this year.  The vineyard also fared well over the winter.  I think if I transplant a few evergreen trees I can make room for another 5-8 vines.  That is if I can find time for moving everything.

Until next time.

Lots of Projects

As I think I have mentioned I have been tinkering with a lot of smaller projects since the completion of the chicken coop.  One of them, and the most current, has been an electrical outlet for the coop.  Since the coop is technically movable, I wanted something that reflected that fact.  I took a page from the coop I bought a year and a half ago and wired an outlet that could just be plugged into an extension cord.

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I know I have mentioned on this blog before that I have a very healthy fear respect for electricity.  I watched probably a half dozen videos on how to both wire a normal outlet, and how to wire an extension cord.  YouTube really is great.  I bought the box, the actual receptacle,  and the cord end.  We had the wire leftover from other projects.  I used a continuity tester to triple check to make sure I had everything hooked up where it was supposed to be.  I still have to install it, which in just require drilling a hole in the coop wall, and reconnecting the cord end.  I will probably wait until later this week when it isn’t in the single digits to get that done.

Another project I have been working on is an insulated cover for the yard hydrant.  It is a frost free hydrant, but if you remember last year the top part froze rendering it useless for a couple weeks.  I took a couple sheets of foam insulation I got from my dad and used some all purpose construction adhesive to glue them together.  I then spray painted them black to help absorb the sun’s heat.  The paint needed to go on thin, otherwise it melted the foam.  In order to keep the whole thing from blowing away, I punched a couple small holes in the top and looped some rope through and around the hydrant.  I the tightened the rope and held it with a clamp.  The fourth side I had planned on just closing in using a friction fit, but that didn’t work.  So I took a few bamboo grilling skewers and use those to hold it closed.  It seems to be doing the trick.

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The project that had been taking me the longest was a picnic table I made.  After searching around and looking at lots of different plans I decided on using a video from Ask This Old House.  It uses 8′ long boards and only uses pressure treated lumber for the legs.  It was fairly simple to make and feels extremely sturdy.  I’m actually thinking of offering them for sale on Craigslist.  It would be easy enough to make up a couple and keep them flat packed, IKEA style, and only assemble them when a customer wants one.

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You can see from the last picture it is already being used as a work surface.

I am also in the process of researching grafting apple trees.  After lots of reading, many more YouTube videos watched, and some research into costs, I am going to give it a whirl.  I found a place that sells the type of root stock that I want so I have already placed an order.  I was going to purchase scionwood as well, which is the type of wood that you graft onto the root stock, but on a whim I called a nearby family owned orchard that we have bought apples from in the past to ask if I might be able to help with trimming in order to “earn” some scion wood.  I was told there was no need for that and that I could have as much as I want.  Not only that, but they have 9 different varieties, many of which were on the top of my “want” list.  So that will be another post in the future.

That is what has been going on lately, I will try to be better about posting.  Until next time.


Homestead-life blog hop

Protecting My Trees While Others Go Down

As I write, the storm that was in the forecast is sleeting, raining, and icing outside my window.  This morning, before the storm blew in, I wanted to check off another task from my ever growing to-do list.

Before that chore, I spent some time with the three oldest kids and we shot the bb gun for a bit.  My original plan was to get the air rifle out, but Homestead Boy #2 wanted to shoot the bb gun.  It ended up being a better plan because it is quicker to load and fire.  With the three of them shooting, it made for more fun with more shooting and less waiting.

On to the chore I had mentioned.  I had noticed that some of the trees I planted this fall were being nibbled on by the local rabbits.  I had ordered some tree guards from Stark Brothers when I had ordered my trees, but I had yet to install them.  Knowing that what I ordered from Stark would not be enough, I picked up some different ones the last time I was at Menards.

The type from Stark Brothers is a spiral type that you spin onto the tree.  The type from Menards is more of a clam shell type that you just spread out and then put around the tree.  The ones I bought at Menards were a little bit longer than the others, and were actually a bit too long for some of these trees so I simply cut them in half.  Both of them are white, which avoids unwanted heat in the spring when you can actually crack the bark of your trees if they get to warm before the weather is ready for it.

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I was able to get all the newly planted trees protected.  Hopefully they will both work, but if not, I have set up a nice little experiment to see which performs better.

After the trees were done, at least the new ones, I took a bag of compost down to our compost pile.  After dropping that off, I decided to take a look at the marsh and see how full it was.  We have had a bit of rain, and it showed.  We have also had quite a few windy days, and that has knocked down some dead trees.  One of which is quite big, and sitting smack dab in the middle of my path.  Looks like I have some firewood to cut up.

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After the ice started I was able to get some minor things done in the house between cleaning chores.  I got a few pictures hung for my wife.  I installed a clothes hanging bar as well as a reading light in Homestead Boy#2’s bedroom.  The reading light took a bit of figuring.  It is a light from Ikea, and the mounting plate had broken.  I was able to find a piece of hardboard that I made into a mounting plate and seems to work fine.  That is good news, because Homestead Boy #1 has the same light with the same problem.

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Until next time…

Homestead-life blog hop

More Fruit

I removed two small bushes that weren’t growing much in the front of the house and replaced them with two Cortland apple trees I picked up from Tractor Supply.  Never enough fruit trees I guess.  In my mind, once these trees are established we will have an abundance of free food.  I won’t plan on spraying them, unless I can find something necessary and organic, so they won’t cost anything.  Any excess can be fed to livestock thus reducing our feed costs.  Grow baby grow.

The Garden Giveth, and More Ice Cream

I took a five gallon bucket of water down to the orchard to water the two trees we planted yesterday.  On my way back up to the house I figured I should check the garden and pick anything that was ready before the rabbits got to it.  I mostly harvested an assortment of tomatoes, but I also got a couple zucchini and a watermelon.  The watermelon wasn’t much bigger than a cantaloupe, but I figured if I didn’t pick it now, it would be the animals that got it before we did.  It was very good, and the kids enjoyed spitting the seeds out.  I plan to save the seeds and see how they do next year.

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While I was picking I checked on most of the rest of the garden.  Despite me tending to the garden almost not at all, we are still getting produce out of it.  Other than what I picked today, there are still a ton of tomatoes coming as well as a few more zucchinis.  We are also getting some gourds, and even a pumpkin or two.  I’m not sure if we are going to get any corn this year as we were late in planting it, but I’m still holding out hope.  The late planted sunflowers even look as though they may get a seed head on them yet.

The sunset was beautiful tonight, it looked as though the clouds were on fire.

My wife and kids again made ice cream tonight.  We have just been making vanilla, but boy does it taste good.

 Quick story… this afternoon while in the house I heard a quite loud jet noise.  Where we live we don’t have a whole lot of airplane traffic and what traffic there is normally flies quite high.  Our last two houses had quite a bit of airplane traffic over head so I may not have thought too much of the noise there.  I went out onto the front porch to see what was making the noise and one of the Blue Angel flight team was practicing directly over our house.  It was pretty cloudy so we could just catch glimpses of him.  The coolest maneuver we saw was him pulling the stick back and looping back the way he came.  There is a large aerial show near here this weekend so I won’t be surprised if we see cool airplanes all weekend long.  One year a stealth bomber flew in a holding pattern over our place, he must have circled three times.  It just so happened to occur on the day we were celebrating Homestead Boy #1’s birthday so I claimed I scheduled it, hehe.