Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye TWENTY13. Hello TWENTY14.

2014 is here. Are you like me, wondering "where did 2013 go so quickly?" It's a good thing I have this blog to help me answer that question or might I not remember all that transpired in the last 12 months. Although, this blog is only 10 months old, so February and January are blurred memories. Except at the end of February, I do remember the very hard landing I took after taking an unscheduled dismount off my Arab gelding's back. Ouch! Somewhere during my recovery I started thinking about this blog...and how much I looked forward to walking again and being out of pain.

My first post went live on March 16, 2013. I chickened out with a short post and a photo.

I enjoyed reading back over the year's post to see all we accomplished as a family. Please be my guest to look back over the year at Stable Road Homestead.

March

We showed you how to make codling moth traps for your fruit trees

April

The Fix-It Month poem brought a few laughs
You met, Yeller, our Strawberry-loving Labrador Retriever

May

Celebrated Mother's Day and remembered on Serviceman and women in the US Armed Forces.

June 

We celebrated Father's Day and our son graduated high school.

July

The harvest began for apricots, grapes, and lettuces.
During the BIG HEAT WAVE, we took off to the lake to do some fly fishing.

August

Deer hunting season...There was nothing to "write home about", if you know what I mean...

September

We tracked a bear and harvested an abundance of apples, thanks to the codling moth traps we set out at bud-break in March.
Stable Road Homestead joined in The Homestead Barn Hop, hosted by The Prairie Homestead and New Life on a Homestead.
 

October

October was a busy month:
I wrote a review (non-paid) about Twisted X All-Around boots, which I like a lot.
We harvested Icicle Radishes and planted garlic--for the first time.
We began our experiment with growing in SmartPots.
Our Yellow Labrador, Bodie, turned four.
We joined other family members for a week on the North Coast.
We introduced you to one way to remove the "pickle smell" from a great big pickle jar so it can be reused to store whatever you like.
I closed out the month with a week of jury duty service.

November

We assessed our To Do List and felt pretty happy (and a little tired) with what we accomplished in 2013.
We helped neighbors move and adopted their 4 Barred Rock hens, who graciously give us two eggs a day.
We gave thanks for His grace and provision.

December

Winter came in hard in December. The Big Snow Storm sent a tree through the top of the horse shelter. The horses were not hurt, thank God.

Your Top 3 Favorite Posts

  1. What I Like About Line Drying Clothing
  2. Homestead barn Hop 134
  3. Grateful the Horses Weren't Hurt

Your Least Favorite Posts

 ...Did I Say the Freezer is Full?
This post is a follow-on to a post about filling the chest freezer with meals, home-raised/home butchered meat. The point was...the freezer didn't stay full long enough and I need to improve the plan for next time.

Winter to Spring
A photo-only post that contrasts a cold, gloomy snowy winter day with the cold-but-sunny brilliance of spring buds on the Crepe Myrtle.

7 Projects to Complete Before Summer Strikes
I'm happy to report we made progress on this project list. The old pond is now filled with gravel and decomposed granite. The next step is to add the quartzite stones, seating and fire pit.

The carpets were cleaned in time for Thanksgiving. One day we hope to have wooden flooring again.

What Would You Like to Learn About in 2014?

Now it's time to hear from you. What is it you would like to know more about in 2014? Please let me know!

Thanks for joining us at this week's Homestead Barn Hop. Don't forget to stop in to say "hi" to Prairie Homestead and New Life on a Homestead, both of whom graciously hostess this blog hop.

Hens



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It took 35 years, but I finally got the one gift I needed most.

"There are three things you'll learn about heaven one day:
  1. Who's there
  2. Who's NOT there
  3. That you're there
Nervous laughter erupted from the people who made up the congregation that day. I laughed along with them, but not because I was nervous. No, on that day I knew with full confidence that I will be in heaven one day, and yes, that's a miracle. And, maybe a little funny....

You see, I spent most of my life in the dark, avoiding God, running from Him, even mocking Him. But, on that Christmas Day, the day we celebrate the birth of the One who came to save us from a life of destruction, I laughed out of a deep sense of relief knowing--really knowing, that I will be there, in heaven, one day.

As A Child

I grew up thinking that heaven is the place where everyone goes when they die. No one had ever taught me about God, who creates each person one at a time, for a special purpose. No one had taught me about His Son, Jesus, who gave up His life so that I can have mine. No. I didn't know any of this. I didn't know that in order to live a life of meaning and purpose, that I needed a saving faith in Christ Jesus; that through Him and Him alone will my life matter; that through Him only will I enter into heaven when my purpose here is fulfilled.


The Rest of the Riddle

The rest of the pastor's riddle is equally intriguing.

We think we know who will be in heaven: all the perfect people, right? All the people who attend church each week, say their prayers, don't swear, and give generously. And "mean", "evil" people will certainly not enter into heaven. Right? But, that's not what God wrote in His book we call The Bible. He says we are saved by grace through faith alone; not by works. All we have to do is believe Him, apologize for our poor behavior, and change our ways. It's so simple.

Don't be fooled in thinking you know who will be in heaven. Or who won't.

I thought all along that I would die one day and go to heaven. Just like that. I had no reason to think otherwise. I didn't know I had broken ALL of the commandments. (Commandment? What's a commandment?) and that "hate" is the same as "murder" in the eyes of God. Who knew? Not me.

Little did I know that by simply not trusting God and believing in His Son, Jesus, that I was on a fast-track to hell. I was! It's true. I had no idea that God wants "none to perish" and will do whatever it takes to see each of us enter into a life of eternal peace and joy with Him.


Pursuit

God never stopped pursuing me. It's a miracle that He didn't give up on me. He waited patiently for me to come to Him. He waited 35 years.

Is He waiting for you? Are you like I was many years ago, thinking at first that "I'm good" and would  go to heaven? Or later on when I thought church is for perfect people and "they don't have a seat for me in there"? I'm not perfect and I'm not good. But, Jesus saved me and I will one day meet Him in heaven.

Are you a parent? Then you probably know what it's like to wait expectantly for a child to be born or t return home. You are God's child and He is waiting for you. Go to Him now. Are you ready to believe Him, apologize for your poor behavior, and change your ways?

 

The Gift of Salvation

It's Christmastime and there's a wonderful gift waiting for you to open today. God's free gift of salvation is waiting to be opened by you. The gift has no value until you open it.

Open it now. Don't wait.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Homestead Barn Hop #139

Welcome to today's barn hop!

We're so glad you braved the wicked cold weather to join us. Speaking of cold, here's what happened around our homestead when Canada sent down its arctic blast.
homestead barn hop linky

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Grateful the Horses Weren't Hurt

Did you see the photo journal of the snow storm yet? Here's the rest of the story:

The snowfall was taking a break and the sun was just coming up over the ridge as I headed down the stable road with buckets horse grain. I absolutely love walking through untouched snow. It's so perfect, pristine. There's something so blissful about it. I was marveling about that when I realized my "pristine" snow had been "touched" already by another...But, no one's been out yet today but me, I thought. And, what I saw looked like horse prints. Odd. I took a few more steps eyeballing the prints as I went trying to make sense of them. [Yes, I was a little slow because I hadn't any coffee yet :( ]. Something caught my attention. There was my horse...standing on the wrong side of the fence! What? Why?

Here's Why

The weight of the snow plus a few strong gusts of wind sent this great big oak limb down on top of Favor's stall, scaring him into flight mode.
I think he ran from the noise, down the hill and either leaped over or skid through the back fence. The fencing connections were broken and the T-posts were pushed over.

From his tracks I can tell that he headed right back to the gate to get in. When he wasn't successful at one, he tried the next. I'm sure he didn't want to be separated from his barn buddy, and he certainly didn't want to be separated from all that hay. I also think he was out there about half the night and I'm thankful he wasn't hurt (that's a praise for Finish Line fencing!) and didn't get lost. 

Repair Time

After I returned Favor safely back into the stalls (not too hard to do with buckets of grain in my hands), Homestead Boy 2 and I gathered up the tools to repair the section of fence. When my husband returned home, he, a friend/neighbor and our sons went to work cutting up the tree limb, removing it from the shelter, and beginning the process of repairing the damaged stall section. 
 
Phew! Big job! We're not quite done yet, but we're close.

We're Thankful

  • We are grateful to our friends and neighbors. 
  • We're thankful the horses weren't hurt and 
  • that the stall can be fixed; 
  • the damaged fence was an easy fix; 
  • for getting a head start on next season's firewood [ ;) ] and 
  • that we no longer have to worry about that limb falling on the shelter....
 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Wrangler: Gathering up the week's events

This Friday post is coming to you a day early because Canada is sending us the best it has in the way of a BIG.COLD.STORM. Chances are good that the trees will bring down the power lines, leaving us with electricity tomorrow or the next day. So we're wrangling in the week's highlights today!

Meet the Barred Rock Girls

We are having so much fun learning to care for our new laying hens. Our family has been raising Cornish Rock Cross (meat birds) for a few years, but we haven't--until now--brought laying hens to our homestead.


We adopted 4 Barred Rock hens last weekend from friends who needed to re-home their beloved chickens in a hurry. "The Girls", as I like to call them, are settling in nicely to their new home. One or more of them decided the dog crate we brought them home in makes a wonderful nesting box. Each afternoon, when I bring them their plate of sliced fruit and fresh veggie scraps, I peek inside the dog crate to find one tan-colored egg. We have a traditional nesting box for them, but they seem to prefer the dog crate. Go figure.

The Barred Rock Girls like to bathe daily. CRCs never bathed, so this is a new revelation for me. Fortunately, I came across City Boy Hens' post at this week's Homestead Barn Hop, I learned the importance of dust bathing. So, of course, I put together a nice dust bath for them...which they haven't yet used. But, I can tell they are "bathing" in other areas.

It seems to me the Girls would like to get out and about little more. CRCs don't have that same zest for adventure. Unfortunately, we won't be able to do anything about giving the girls more outdoor space until early next, when the storm passes. Then we'll extend their outside run and cover it with netting to keep the predatory birds from snatching them up into thin air.

The Barred Rocks hens are light eaters compared to Cornish Rock Cross, whose very mission in life is to eat, gain weight, then...gulp, be eaten. Incidentally, I'm looking to learn more about diet for the Girls. They came with a bag of Purina Layena, but I confess I'm not a Purina fan. I'm searching for alternatives. If you have laying hen feed brands or blends you like, please let me know.

Best of all, we get eggs; big, beautiful eggs, with sunset yellow yolks. What a blessing they are.

The Storm

Since we had some warning that The Big Freeze is moving in, we took time throughout the week to prepare for it:
  • My husband and son added a wind break to one side of the horse shelter
  • The horses are blanketed
  • All exterior pipes and hoses are off, drained, disconnected, and wrapped where needed.
  • The wood box is filled
  • The gas generator is ready to go
  • All the laundry is done and the dishwasher is emptied.
  • The emergency lighting supplies are squared away
  • Today we go to town to buy some extra food that can be easily cooked on the woodstove. (The last time Canada gifted a storm like this to us, the road shut down for 5 days and so did the electricity.) 
  • Checked the water supply in case something really crazy happens and we lose water too.
  • Put the tire chains and chainsaws in the vehicles. Storms of this sort tend to knock down a lot trees which block the roads. If we have a chainsaw, we can usually cut our way through.
  • Each afternoon at dusk, I cover the garden beds with simple bed sheets, then uncover them in the late morning when the air is warmed. (If it were wet and rainy, I'd use something else, like Agribon.)
God bless you and have a wonderful weekend.

Deluxe Canning Giveaway


Our homesteading friends at New Life On A Homestead are having a fabulously generous giveaway going on right now!

This information is from their website:

"At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond is officially here! In honor of my DVD’s premier release, I wanted to give all of you a chance to win some of my favorite canning products!
Here’s what one lucky winner will receive…
  • 21- 1/2 Quart All American Pressure Cooker/Canner  ($362 value)
  • Tattler Reusable Lids: 6 dozen regular & 6 dozen wide mouth  ($131.85 value)
  • At Home Canning For Beginners & Beyond DVD ($19.95 value)"
 Head on over to their homestead to ENTER to WIN this generous giveaway.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

One Proud Chicken Mama

Introducing...our first egg. Isn't it cute!

There's a whole long story behind how we got the four Barred Rock hens, which we'll tell you all about later this week. But, we are so excited to see that one is laying. We just had to share the good news with you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Homemade Custom Paint Color

Today's the Homestead Barn Hop! We are so glad you decided to join us.

I don't exactly know how long ago I painted the blotchy squares of assorted colors on my kitchen wall; it was sometime over the summer, I think. Anyway, as I buzzed about thinking what I needed to do to get ready to host Thanksgiving dinner, my miss-matched wall colors stood up and said "Hey, remember us?"

Time to Paint the Wall ONE Color

Since I haven't fully worked out my paint-color scheme, I searched the clearance shelf at the hardware store for a color I could live with temporarily. What I found was a selection of
White. 
Off-white. 
Base tint for white. 
Gray. 
No colors except one really bright green that I knew I couldn't

Then it hit me:  I can try creating my own color using the various partial-cans of paint I have in the basement. Why not? It certainly won't cost me anything but time. And what's going to become of all that paint anyway? I might as well put it to use, right?

In the basement I found four kinds of interior paint--some interior, some exterior, a paint mixer, an old white plastic bucket.

Mix, mix, mix.
I need black. 

Back into the basement I go to locate that little can of black paint I bought last spring.

Drizzle. 
Mix. 
Drizzle. 
Mix again. 
Too light. 
Dump. 
Mix. 

Now, that looks like a color I can live with.


Next, I...
  • Washed the walls with a cold water-white distilled vinegar mix. 
  • Let them dry. 
  • Rolled on a coat of Glidden Gripper Gray Primer. 
  • Applied my new one-of-a-kind paint.



Voila! My previously multi-colored kitchen wall is now a deep shade of green.The new color brings out the warmth of the oak cabinets.

I love this color! In fact, I had enough paint to paint a wall in our mudroom, too.

I hope this post is an encouragement to you to take a chance with paint and try something new. Remember, if you don't like it you can change it any time. It's just paint ;)
Some people love to paint. Others don't. Which category do you fall into?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Your homestead doesn't need perimeter fencing

...but, ours sure does!

We have pasture fencing for our horses, and sheds and runs for our chickens and dogs, but we don't have perimeter fencing for the property. Why? Well, the high cost of fencing 10 hilly, semi-forested acres keeps this to-do way down on the list.

But, today the horses decided to go on a run-about down the road and onto the neighbor's property. Typically, when my husband lets them out of the pasture to graze on a nearby hillside, they stick around. But, something got them going today.

Off they went, chasing each other around the woodshed, leaping over the log splitter and then heading on down the road. Fortunately, our horses don't like unfamiliar territory, so they stopped when the realized they were trampling on new ground.

Now you would think that I knew this was going on. But I didn't. I was sitting at the computer communicating through email about Thanksgiving dinner with one our 10 guests. I didn't hear or see a thing. (I guess our windows insulate for sound better than I realized.)

What happened? My hubby brought the horses out to do a little ground work with them then let them  graze on the upper hill. But there wasn't enough grass to keep them occupied so off they went looking for it. Well, for some reason, this took my husband by surprise. Usually, the equine follow him around like puppies; never before have they decided to go on a run-about. But, I guess there's a first time for everything.

The next thing I know, my son is telling me that the horses are out and dad needs my help. Out? I think to myself. Out where? I glanced through the dining room window and through the trees spied my Bay Arab gelding prancing around the trees at the neighbor's gate.

Oh no. Out I went.

We have wonderful, helpful neighbors. Two folks stood in the road to block that route, while another grabbed a bucket of grain to draw them in. I blocked her road while my husband quieted the two jail-breaks and grabbed their leads.

Back to the homestead we went. Safe and sound.

I think adding a perimeter fence just bumped up a few notches on our list of to-dos.

Do you have horses? Do you have a perimeter fence? Have your horses made a getaway before? What did you do to get them back?


Friday, November 22, 2013

The Wrangler: gathering up the week's events

  • My youngest son is healed from having all four wisdom teeth extracted. His surgery was quick and uncomplicated, so he was back to normal fairly quickly.
  • My oldest son brought home a cold virus for all of us to share :( Most of us are feeling better. 
  • I've been testing paint colors on a few of my interior walls. I haven't found one I like yet, though I haven't dedicated myself to the effort. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it occurred to me that it would be nice if the wall in the kitchen was one color. I went into the basement to see if I could mix together a color I can live with temporarily using paint on-hand. Voila! I came up with a nice green that now covers the wall behind my cooktop!
  • My meteorologist neighbor said to tie down everything and get out the oil lamps because a big wind was on its way. Gusts up to 70 MPH were expected. We prepared for a big wind...that didn't come...but the power went out...during the middle of the wash cycle.
  • I spent all day Thursday shopping for Thanksgiving. There will be 18 friends, family and neighbors coming here for dinner Thanksgiving afternoon.  We're looking forward to a great day of fellowship.
  • The wood cabinets throughout the house are cleaned and oiled. I used Old English oil that has a touch stain already added to it. The cabinets look almost new.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

13 Things to Be Grateful for This Fall


brilliant colors
fresh apples
cool temperatures
leaves for mulching
cedar wood fires
bubbling soups
fresh warm bread
rain
Thanksgiving get togethers
pie
Jesus
bird dogs
flannel

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Making Progress on Our BIG List

We are making progress our are gi-normous list of things to do before it rains. Can you tell what's been done since you visited last time?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Homestead Barn Hop 135 Mix Up

For some reason Blogger wants to mix-n-match my post for today's Homestead Barn Hop. The photo for "Why I Like Line Drying Clothing" is being pulled in with "When the Going Gets Tough..." I've made two attempts to correct it, but to no avail :(. I'm sincerely sorry for the confusion!

If you haven't made it to the Barn Hop yet, there's still time. Get out there and have fun!

What I Like About Line Drying Clothing


Hot summer sun = fast dry time;
as fast as 10 minutes
Everything smells so good
No wrinkles = no ironing
Clothing lasts longer
No laundry lint = low dryer-fire risk
The dryer will enjoy a longer life
3 loads dry at once
Less $$ to the power company = more $$
for fun stuff!
The view!

It's Monday! Come to the Homestead Barn Hop

Saturday, November 9, 2013

When the Going Gets Tough...

...the tough go fly fishing.

Tired of sitting around after one and half days of rest post wisdom teeth surgery, my youngest invited me fishing. I thought I'd just let you know...in case you're beginning to think that homesteaders do nothing but work. We also fish ;)

Fishing licenses are up to $48 here! What does a license cost in your neck of the woods. (Alabama, you have it good with a $12 price. Lucky!)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Beautiful, Versatile Orach Red {Mountain Spinach}


Orach-Red or Mountain Spinach (Atriplex Hortensis)
We have a new leafy vegetable in our garden this season: Orach Red. Isn't she beautiful?

Growing Orach Is Easy

I started this year's bunch from certified organic non-GMO seeds in August. (All of our seeds this year are certified organic, non-GMO.) Orach likes moderately fertile soil, plenty of organic matter, and moderate water.

Orach Red is a hardy annual with beautiful purple-magenta-red leaves and stalk. Its zippy purple-ish  is dazzling, but I really like its ability to tolerate more heat than regular spinach. When our warmer fall temps cause green spinach to bolt, Orach will keep calm and carry on!

Orach Red grows fairly rapidly--and tall. It's just a about 4 inches tall in the photo above, but it might grow to be 6 feet at maturity. Think about that if you decide to plant some in the spring.

Good To Eat

As an edible, we treat it just like common green spinach, adding the tender young leaves to add to salads and sauteing the large leaves. Orach Red has a slightly nuttier taste than green spinach, which I like. But, I like spinach. Period.

JUST FOR FUN: Drop a leaf into a boiling pot of rice to change your white rice to pink.

And, It's Good For You

We care about what we eat, right? You'll be happy to learn that Orach is rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, carotene, proteins, carbohydrates and anthocyanin (a coloring substance present only in the red variety). It also facilitates digestion, purifies the blood, helps cleanse the kidneys and the gall bladder; all this is according to something I read on The Web.


For the Food Preserver

Orach Red can be blanched and frozen like ordinary spinach, so I read. I haven't tried it.

For the Decorator in You

Floral designers often use large Orach leaves in their floral displays. I can already picture a tall glass vase filled with beautiful Orach Red on my Thanksgiving dinner table. 

Homestead Barn Hop #134





...So you asked, what's going on at my homestead today....Remember, you asked:

Done

Store the hoses for the season
Laid 100' weed-block fabric
Created the budget for November
Call the family about Thanksgiving dinner

In Progress

Finish tying up the twigs into fire-starter bundles
Finish breaking on the concrete in the old pond
Mulch the beds with straw
Building a row cover frame for frost/freeze protection
Sort the old color prints
Finish fencing 2nd pasture
Preserve the last basket of apples

To Do

Plant onions
Organize the homestead newsletters
Worm the horses
Fix carpet cleaner
Stain east deck
Start digging the HUGE holes for the three wild plum trees
Build 3 sets of steps out back
Replenish the decomposed granite in the stalls.
Lift up and replace stall mats
Install wind break on Favor's stall

It's a barn hop! Hop on over to the neighbor's place too!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Plant Garlic After Your First Frost

[10/31] OK. 15 garlic cloves are now tucked in to their beds. My husband is bringing up a bale of straw later to put over beds. The garlic will need protection from cold and frost from now until late spring.

[10/30] Oops.I almost forgot: it's bath time.

[10/30] Instead of tucking garlic cloves into a nice warm bed, I'm going to give them a bath first. Soaking the garlic (I'm planting Early White) before planting it will ensure a better harvest in the summer.

Now is the perfect time to plant garlic, shallot, onions. I'm heading out to the garden right now to plant A.LOT.OF.GARLIC.

Be right back with photos ;)

Monday, October 28, 2013

It's Civil Service for Me this Week

http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Barn-Hop.jpg
If you caught my Facebook post, you already know I'm occupied serving as Juror #1 for local civil case. The judge promised that it would be completed in 3 days. So far so good. The case is done; all evidence presented, rebutted, and filed. Now 12 of us must come to agreement. Hmmm. How long will that take?

I miss my homestead. My work is here. But, don't get me wrong: I'm honored to be able to serve on a jury. No other countries in the world hold trials like we do in the USA. It's a privilege to be a part of the process...But I miss my home, my family, seeing the sky, exercising our two Labrador Retrievers in the mornings, checking on the garden, then the horses in the middle of the day; making meals for everyone, overseeing the schoolwork, and so on.

So instead of pulling on my work jeans and stall boots this morning, our first true fall-weather day, I put on my "town clothes", drove 21 miles to the court house, parked in the little lot, walked throw the metal detector while sending my bag through the screening device, then took my seat in the juror box. I'm happy to be able serve. But, there are no windows. No fresh air. No ability to stand when I want, or leave when I want, or eat when I want...I miss my homestead.

I'm optimistic that we the jury can come to a decision tomorrow so the following morning I can return to enjoying my hot coffee while watching the next storm roll in, making a fire in the wood stove, dirty ranch jeans, and stall boots.




Saturday, October 19, 2013

American Pie...Nostalgia

"...And the three men I admire most,
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
And they were singing..."

White Icicle Radishes





Also known as Lady Finger, these White Icicle Radishes are fresh out of the garden.

White Icicle Radishes grow a slim 4"-6" root taper to a point and have a very slender taproot. The flesh is "crisp", mild (in case you don't like the "sharp" taste of some varieties) and, yep, you guessed it--white. The green "tops" are good to eat, so don't toss them to your chickens just yet. Add them to your salad, saute them, or toss them in a soup or stew.

Give Growing Radishes A Try

Radishes prefer well-drained soil with plenty of added organic matter. They have low nutrient requirements (one of the attributes that makes them easy to grow). But, they don't like a lot of nitrogen.

Cool weather is their favorite kind of weather. Start by sowing seeds directly wherever there is extra space in the garden. Some gardeners like to use radishes as row markers for slower germinating crops like carrots. I like this idea!

You can harvest the White Icicle Radish whenever it's large enough to use. Store them in cool, moist conditions. Ours usually go straight into the salad.

Radishes of all kinds are quick, reliable growers; a rewarding crop to grow for new  gardeners!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall Renovation with Smart Pots


Fall is a season of change and after experiencing a fairly disappointing summer harvest, we are  making some big changes for fall, winter and spring. The two major changes we're making include growing in Smart Pots and amending the beds--including the Smart Pots, with all new organic loam.

Why Smart Pots?

I learned that our wooden raised beds probably hold too much of the sun's heat (which was excessive this summer), hampering the plants' root growth ...and causing other problems, too. Smart Pots, I read, are made of a tough, felt-like fabric (polypropylene) that breathes and "air prunes" the roots to encourage growth. (See the study). The breathable fabric pots ventilate well and don't over heat. Nor do they hold in too much water if a heavy rain occurs..or the irrigation system takes on a mind of its own :/


When it comes to starting plants from seed or starts, the Smart Pots' black fabric quickens the warming of the soil, increasing germination rates and speeding up the growth process of the plants.

Another benefit is we can amend each pot individually according to the plant's needs. While in a large bed, all the plants experience the amendments--whether they need it or not.

SmartPots are lightweight (when empty) and portable. They can be moved from sun to shade or vice verse, or hosed off, folded and brought inside for the winter. They also last 3-5 years, which is about how long our wooden beds last.

Finally, they are well priced compared to wood which is expensive these days and Smart Pots come in a wonderful selection of sizes.

Normally, we gr ow our vegetables and fruit (except for fruit that grows on trees ;)  ) in wooden raised beds with bottoms that are screened to keep gophers out. Gophers can eat through Smart Pots so we emptied one wooden planter box and put three 30-gallon Smart Pots inside it to take advantage of the gopher screen (See the photo above).


We're Expecting Great Results

Since this is an experiment, (not highly scientific though) we are growing in our typical wooden raised beds and in Smart Pots. But, I'm very optimistic; I expect to see great crop production from the plants grown in Smart Pots. We planted lettuces in both our regular wooden beds and in the Smart Pots. It will be interesting to compare the results, even if  we aren't being truly scientific.

Where to But Smart Pots

If you're interested in trying Smart Pots, we bought ours from Peaceful Valley Nursery. You can order them from a number of places, including Amazon and Smart Pots themselves!

Don't forget to drop by.

Disclaimer: Stable Road Homestead is in no way affiliated with Smart Pots the company or Peaceful Valley Nursery. We receive no compensation from either company. We are customers. Period. These remarks and opinions are our own.

I forgot to say...

...follow us on Facebook :D


https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stable-Road-Homestead/614128168615927

Monday, October 14, 2013

Homestead Barn Hop #131: My Favorite Labrador Is Turning Four!

Bodie at 8 weeks. The first day we brought him home.
HIs first snowball.
Bodie's first duck retrieve.
The day he learned to drive ;)
Paladin (left) was a good Big Dog to Bodie. Rest in peace, Pal.
Yeller joined our family in April 2012. They're bros. now ;)
He's a goofball...
...but when he's working he's all business.

Happy 4th Birthday, Bodie!
I

Friday, October 11, 2013

Off the Homestead: A visit to Quail Ranch: Look who got skunked!

 Ooops! The Off the Homestead series begins Thursday. Monday (tomorrow) is the Homestead Barn Hop! How could I forget that? It'll be fun, Please stop by.

 Howdy all. 

On Monday Thursday we will launch a new series, "Off the Homestead". Meanwhile, we want you to meet our new little friend to find what kind of "adventures" he's encountered ;). Come back on Monday to read about the North Coast's Quail Ranch.

Meet my little buddy, Lasso of Quail Ranch. Lasso is a one-year-old Lhasa Apso mix who lives up to the breed's reputation for being "lively, playful, spirited, devoted, alert, steady, obedient, energetic, friendly, fearless, intelligent, and assertive." They left out: not afraid of skunks.
Lasso after his bath


It was pitch black outside, but Lasso was out and about barking up a storm that morning. We could tell he was after something. One whiff of the dawn air explained it all:  he'd found a skunk...or the skunk found him. Ugh. 

Bath Time

Welcome, once again, to country living where getting skunked is sometimes a part of it. Fortunately--for all of us, the kitchen and pantry at Quail Ranch held all the ingredients needed to restore our little wet, muddy, skunky fur-ball friend to his former non-skunky self: Dawn liquid soap, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide (3%) and warm water, and lotsa towels. This "delicious" combination of ingredients eliminates the skunk smell instantly. 

Here's how you do it:

Lasso is small enough to fit into the tub sink in the garage, which we filled half-way with warm water. If your pet is larger, fill a bucket with one gallon of warm water, mix in the ingredients, then scoop the mixture onto it and scrub. Here's what you will need:
  • A tub, deep sink or large bucket or two
  • Several old bath towels
  • Sponge or wash clothe
  • 1/4-to-1 cup baking soda per gallon of warm water
  • 1 pint-to-1 quart bottle hydrogen peroxide (We only needed a pint-size bottle. Use a small bottle for a small animal and a large bottle for a large animal.)
  • 1 drop Dawn liquid dish soap. (Use only one drop or you will spend the rest of your day rinsing the suds off your pet.)
  • Scrub/wash. Rinse. Repeat, if necessary. (One washing has always worked for me.)
Be careful to keep the mixture from the animal's eyes when you're washing and rinsing him. Using a sponge or wash clothe will help. 

All Clean Again

Lasso was a trooper; he endured his bath like a real sport. I know he liked the attention. I also happen to know that he's a veteran bath-getter and has met more than his fair share of skunks.

Interesting Note About Lhasa Apsos

Wikipedia tells me that the Lhasa Apso was bred as an interior sentinel in the Buddhist monasteries, to alert the monks to any intruders (and skunks) who entered.

Our hostess at Quail Ranch had never heard of this de-skunking concoction and was blessed by our readiness to get the job done for her.

Have you had to rid your critters of skunk smell? What works for you? Let us know!

Well, stop on by tomorrow so we can share more of our Off the Homestead adventure with you.

Disclosure: We have a personal relationship with the owner of Quail Ranch, but receive zero compensation for blogging about the ranch. Quail Ranch is available as a vacation rental.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Getting the "Pickle Smell" Out of Pickle Jars

My newest Great Big Glass Jar
Have you ever had a great big glass jar sitting around that once held pickles...and still smells like it does? You want to use it to store pasta, rice, or chocolate chips, but you can't get rid of that pickle smell, right? I know just how you feel.

Here's a simple way to get rid of that pickle smell so your Great Big Glass Jar can live on in your pantry, storing all your favorite dry foods:

Fill your jar three-fourths the way with warm water.
Add 1/4 cup baking soda.
Add 1 drop of Dawn dish soap.
Shake well to cover the inside of the glass.
Let it sit on the counter for a few days to give the baking soda time to neutralize the pickle smell.

The lid absorbs a lot of odor. You might need to use a dry baking soda scrub on the lid to completely remove the smell of pickles.

Rinse the jar and lid well.
Dry them both thoroughly before adding any thing.

Voila! You should now have a new Great Big Glass Jar that's free of pickle odor.

Give it a try and please let me know if it works for you.

Do you know another method for easily removing the pickle smell from containers? I'd love to hear about it.