It is quickly becoming that time of year where we are having to add some heat to the house. Currently, we are just opening our bedroom windows to glean the heat from the greenhouse. Soon, we will have to stoke up the wood stove at night. Having a lean-to greenhouse on the south side of the house has worked very well for us. You can see in the picture that we are drying the cayenne peppers in there. Drying the produce, drying clothes, and getting some sun in the winter months for vitamin D has made it so useful that we haven’t yet gotten around to growing plants in there! Maybe this year. . .
Recently I wrote to my favorite Facebook Group Homesteads and Sustainability about whether we should bother to use cover crops, as the earth seems so good at providing itself with just the right plants to turn the top dirt into top soil. Never was it more evident than across the place where we dug this summer to put in a water pipeline. The volunteer plants, Senna Obtusifolia, seem to have nitrogen fixing capabilities. Despite all of its uses in folk medicine and food, such as in cassia gum, or a coffee substitute, it has become known as an obnoxious weed. The group pointed out that while nature is good at providing the plants that it needs, if you choose a plant in the same group, you might get more out of it such as a forage for animals or a food source you would rather have. Also, planting seeds tends to hurry the process along.
I recently ruined my cell phone (and it was only about ten years old) by carrying it in the same bag as my water when I was going to stain the calf barn. When I found a new one (my first smart phone that will still work on my $80 per year pageplus plan), I decided I needed something else to carry it in and pulled my hiking bag out of the camping equipment. It was a great way to be able to function hands free while mowing. I had made it out of the end of a shirt sleeve with a tab on it to slip onto your belt.
We are in the process of turning our old greenhouse into a storage shed. I am picturing it with a metal roof with a solar charging station for my golf cart with room for the trailer and a few other items. I am having to rid it of thousands of blackberry vines and passion fruit vines, but I hope to be able to add the metal roofing by next weekend. Then we have to get the old golf cart running again. I found a service manual online that I hope will help with this. How hard can it be? Compared to our other equipment it seems to have so many fewer parts. . .Cross your fingers for me!
Our two pigs, Freckles and Red, are growing up a storm and are in their third pasture rotation. We are experimenting with feeding them goat feed since it was what they were using when we got them, as well as has a higher protein percentage with a lower cost. I was also recommended to feed them Bull rations, and will check on that next time we need to buy feed. We have had them since 9/3, and they are only on their 5th bag of feed, as they are eating so much from the pasture. We are thinking they will be ready by March 3rd, but we’ll see.
We got a new barn kitty from one of our friends at church. The kittens were abandoned at her house and she was looking for homes. Meet Merlin! We kept him inside the first week, and for the last few days have been transitioning him outside, trying to get he and Guinevere used to each other (no worries – she is spayed). He is so cute, but was beginning to show his velociraptor tendencies to the furniture. Tonight might be his first night outside in the barn.
In our journey to self-sufficiency, we have yet to add a dairy animal to the farm. With the help of our friends Joe and Michelle Sroka, I was able to try out milking a cow to figure out whether it would be a good fit. Thanks to Joe and Michelle and your very patient cow!
Additionally, I have been working on a new business to help fund the farm and have just gone live with the website: www.affordabledecor.net Check it out! I also added a new capability for people to be able to follow this blog by getting an email when I update. The link is in the upper right hand corner.