Saturday, November 20, 2010

M- After sitting idle all summer, I finally got the Suburban 12 I bought last winter running. Made some proper tire chains this morning and hooked up the plow/wheelweights I found and purchased last week. My neighbor, Jeff, was kind enough to lend his garden for testing the plow since ours had already been plowed this fall (see earlier post). His garden was in the soft bottom land and was tilled this spring. The soft dirt broke up easily and sure was fun to plow. The boys even gave it their seal of approval after they inspected it on their hands and knees! I still have a little adjustment to do on the plow, but it sure can dig. Now all we need is some snow so we can try out the snow plow!

Woodstove Upgrade

M-The old Fisher Baby Bear was a great stove, but it wasn't quite big enough for this house. I picked up this Vermont Castings Resolute off of craigslist a while back, but just got around to installing it. It puts out a good bit more heat and has no trouble getting the house up to 75 in the coldest of weather. The damper and thermostat on it are a little fiddly, but overall it is a good stove. I cleaned the chimney after buring a lot of yellow pine and there was very little creosote.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


M- Our apple trees didn't produce much this year, 4 apples if I recall exactly, so we picked up this 50 lb bag of apples for $8 from a roadside stand. We made applesauce, apple pies, apple cobler, and ate tons of fresh apples. The animals sure enjoyed the peels and cores!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Compost Pile

M- I decided to build my compost pile right in the middle of the garden so all I have to do next spring is spread it out and plant. I started with a load of bark mulch from our local sawmill. I would have preferred some older, more rotted, bark, but the fellow at the mill could not get to it the way they had piled the bark. I had a few frozen hides from our lambs and hog that no one wanted, so I put them at the bottom of the pile and proceeded to unload the mulch on top of the hides. Every 10-12 inches, I stopped and spread a high nitrogen fertilizer on the pile and watered it in. This, in combination with the hides, will supply the nitrogen necessary for the proper nitrogen/carbon ratio to really compost the bark well. I would have preferred all organic nitrogen, but it is a little hard to come by as more and more folks are hanging on to their livestock manure these days. A few days after the pile was built, it heated up and steamed for quite some time. We should have good compost come spring!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Celerate Good Times

Thanks to everyone who came out to BBQ on Silver Creek. The weather was fine and the food was good but the company was grand! We had a lot to celebrate and were so glad to share it with our friends and family. As usual, my photography is inadequate but you will get the idea.The guest of honor

This was the most photographed quest of the day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Garden Work

Until now, we have never mechanically tilled the garden. Over the past two and a half years, pigs have done it all. However, our pig that we raised in the garden last winter did a great job of rooting up the garden early on, only to pack it down tightly after a long wet spell. We planted in the packed dirt, only loosening a small spot for each plant and hoped that putting a layer of wood chips over the hard packed soil would help the worms do their job. As far as growth goes, the garden did just fine (we just had rain and insect issues). After the garden was done, we dug down through the woodchips to find that the layer of hard packed dirt was still there. Although it probably would have been fine to leave, we decide to till the garden. Even the tiller had a tough time cutting through the packed clay, so we traded some favors with our neighbor and good friend Jamie to bring over his 1950's Ford tractor and run his plow through the garden a few times to break things up a bit. The plow probably ran 12 inches or so deep and was able to break up in a few minutes what would have taken our 5hp front tine tiller several hours. After plowing, we ran the tiller around a little just to break up the clods and get into the corners where the tractor could not go.

We were very happy to see lots of rich dark dirt coming to the surface, even from 12 inches down.
After Plowing

Just a little of the red clay we started out with came to the surface.

After breaking up the clods with the tiller and raking a bit it looks pretty good. The plan now is to get several trailer loads of tree bark compost from the local sawmill, build a pile in the center of the garden which will be used to compost other materials through the winter, then spread over the garden before planting next spring.