It's that time of year again!

If you haven’t started your tomatoes and peppers yet it’s not too late to get them going!  Cole crops too!

Here are some pictures from the greenhouse:

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Elderberry cuttings,  some paw paw seeds,  and some wild cherry seeds:

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Radishes planted in the ground in the greenhouse:

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The greenhouse is getting kind of full,  I really need to figure out some way to make use of the vertical space in there a bit better. 

– Fin

Updates aka Where the Heck Have I Been

It’s been awhile. 

Fate keeps saying “you should write a blog post!” He’s right,  I should. That’s what I keep thinking anyway. Then I just don’t. 

I have a whole back log of things I want to write about.   Some successes, some failures,  some modifications made.  The reality is,  I don’t know if I will get around to writing about all of them before something else comes along and bumps it off the list. 

It’s been a hard year. 

I’ve been suffering from some pretty major depression in the last several months. There are a lot of things I’ve been wanting to do that have gone undone due to that this summer.  Which is just shitty since we’ve had some pretty amazing weather this summer (with the exception of the heat warnings this last week.)

My dad,  since my grandma died last November,  had been sick quite a lot.  He has been off and on having this pretty serious rash pop up over his body for the last year us as well.  It seemed like since last November he’s caught every little thing that has gone around:  cold,  flu,  you name it,  he got it.

Then in April he started peeing blood.

Not in the red tinged pee category either,  he was peeing straight up blood,  with clots even.

He’s been to multiple doctors at this point,  had just about every test under the sun,  and everything comes back clear of cancer and everything else they test for.  The only thing they are seeing is that he has some irritation in the tubes that lead from the kidneys to the bladder.  There is nothing physically wrong that they can find. 

Recently he went back to his primary physician for a recheck on his blood work to see how his cholesterol levels are doing.  In that blood work came the news that his kidney levels are poor. 

In fact,  so poor that they have diagnosed him with stage 3 kidney failure. 

And they don’t know why his kidneys are failing. 

He has yet another specialist appointment to go to soon,  another different one.  I guess we will see what happens with that one.  In the mean time he went to see a naturopath in Springfield, MO.   She did some testing and was able to come up with the issues he’s been having with out him telling her at all.  She recommended some diet changes and supplements for him,  which he’s been taking,  and it seems like it’s helping.  It is amusing to me that he’s now a believer in the things I’ve been saying for so long just because he heard a “professional”  say them,  but hey,  I’ll take it.  Anything,  along as my dad gets better. 

My dad and I are very close.  We do a lot of things together,  both at my house and at his.  Gardening,  canning,  estate sales,  tons of stuff.  This summer we haven’t done any of that,  since he’s been sick.  We’ve done a bit of canning here lately since he seems to be having some good days,  but everything else is still on hold.  I really miss it,  and him.

I really hope he is on the mend and they can figure out what the hell is going on with him.  Don’t get me wrong,  I’m extremely grateful it’s not some sort of cancer,  however I wish they could pin down what it is.  That’s been one of the scariest parts,  just not knowing why.  

There have been other shitty things this year that have added stress,  but that’s the biggest one.  I sincerely hope the end of 2014 is better then the beginning. 

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I’m not going to say that I will get back to posting on a regular schedule again,  however,  I am going to try to be better about it,  especially as I’m trying to force myself out of my depression.   I’ve figured out how to get my pictures easily shared between my phone and my tablet finally,  so that should help.   Part of my frustration before was the fact that my phone,  which takes decent photos,  wouldn’t play nice with my tablet,  which takes terrible photos, but I use to write blog posts.   It always turned into a frustrating process that was easier to just not do,  and therefore,  I just ended up not posting anything. 

I’m planning on starting a posting series on the blog about nail polish.   This isn’t something that will take over the content,  just something that will fairly regularly appear.  There are tons of really awesome blogs out there about all the different kinds of nail polish,  and this will not turn into one of them.  I’m planning to do nail polish “wear testing” reviews.  I haven’t been able to find anyone out there blogging about doing all the physical things I do talking about how good or bad all the different nail polishs preform under…. Stress testing,  if you will.  Maybe I can save someone who is as hard on their nails as I am some money on polish that just wears off in the first day you use it.

I will make an introductory post soon detailing why I started wearing nail polish again after all these years and some of the things I’ve learned to save time but still get nice polished nails. 

There’s no reason you can’t hold down a very physical job while still being a bit girly. 

-Fin

Cornish cross v2.0 and Chicken plucker v3.0

We raised up some cornsh cross chickens this spring.  The last time we raised cornish cross was almos the last time ever for raising them, for me anyway.  They were disgusting.  Absolutely disgusting.  We raised them up in a chicken tractor, ala Joel Salatin, but on a smaller scale.  I’m not sure if the tractor was too small, moved too little, or who knows what but they spent all their time laying around eating and pooping.  They were covered in their own shit when we went to butcher them  The smell was just down right nasty enough to make you gag when they hit the scalding water.  I refused to do them again like that, in fact, I couldn’t even eat the meat and ended up giving it away.

Enter learning about fodder, fermented feed, and paddock shift.

After the dog attack and slaughter of most of my flock of laying hens I ordered some more this spring, buckeyes of course.  I love my Buckeyes.  I’m impatient, so wanted to get them ASAP in the spring, however the only way that was going to happen was if I ordered minimum of 15.  I definitely did not have room for 15 laying hens so I decided to order 5 sexed pullets and 10 meat birds to try out things I had learned about raising meat birds.  I lost 2 of the meat birds in the first couple days after they came in the mail (they sent 11 meat birds) but raised up 9 happy, healthy, non-smelly , running around, sumo wrestler meat birds.

How did I do It? In my suburban >. 3 acre back yard,  no less?

Half their daily ration was fodder, the other half was fermented chicken feed from my local(ish) feed mill, soy free and organic of course.  They went outside during the day starting at 2 weeks old, and at 3 weeks they were outside full time.  They were shifted around my yard every couple of days until they were 4 weeks old and then they were put in the rabbit barn (at night) where they roosted(!) on the hay bales in there.  I had no idea meat birds wanted to roost!  Every week a new part of the intensively planted “pasture area” was opened up to them for scratching, pecking, and running around.  Yes, I said running.  Did you know Cornish cross could run?  They are fast little boogers too!  They look like little sumo wrestlers running around the yard.  I should have taken some video, it was super cute to watch.  They had solid, normal looking chicken poops, no diarrhea at all.  No poopy feathers, no smell to their bedding, no smell at all, not in the brooder, not in their coop, just none.  These were real chickens. They acted like real chickens.  I really enjoyed having them around.

We butchered them just before 10 weeks old, however we could have done it at 8 weeks and ended up with the same weights,  they didn’t grow at all between 8 weeks old and 10 weeks old ( i weighed them live the same way I weigh my rabbits: a cloth bag and a fish/luggage hanging scale.)  Carcass weights were 4.5 lbs on average.  Very nice beast size and huge thighs.  The meat was tender, juicy, and so flavorful.  Completely amazing.   I used 2 bags of chick starter (100lbs) and around 50lbs (maybe, it’s hard to tell, I grow so much fodder for all the animlas) of mixed wheat and barley for fodder, however this was split between the 9 meat birds and the 5 replacement layers so it wasn’t just the meat birds that this amount fed.  Man, they loved their fodder.  I fed them enough chick starter in the morning around 9-10am that by late afternoon they had some, but not a lot, left, and by evening they were empty.  In the evening they got their fodder.  They spent 90% of their day pecking and scratching and dust bathing, basically just being chickens.

I am extremely happy with my results of raising these Cornish cross birds and will be doing it again in the future.  I really, really enjoyed having them around,  and in fact,  kinda miss the funny little clowns.   I’m curious to be a bit more scientific on charting how much I feed them since the 5 replacement layers were added in on the feed cost.  It was crazy to me how much bigger the Cornish cross were then the buckeyes at every stage of growth.  Heck at 10 weeks one of the roosters from the Cornish cross started crowing!  I must have stood there with  my mouth hanging open for 5 minutes the first time I heard it.  I think it was the same rooster that was starting to get mean.  Next time I will butcher at least a week earlier, probably two, if the grow out rate is the same.

We used the drill chicken plucker , modified to not fly off the table like before, to pluck the birds:

All of the information about the modifications are in the video.  It worked great!

-Fin

DIY Tye-dye Shoelaces

I couldn’t find what I was looking for,  so I made my own!

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They are made out of 15 foot of paracord.  I dyed it with rit dye mixed with boiling vinegar,  1:1.  I made a loose wrapping and tied it with some string,  then dipped each side in dye for about 5 min per side.  Then I dried them in the dryer after rinsing them well.  I cut them in half and melted the ends,  then laced them in a “spider-web” lacing design.

The lacing design is from this site.  That’s an awesome site about laces and lacing.   The whole project took me less then half an hour and I was able to do exactly what I wanted with my laces.  I was getting tired of black boots with boring black laces,  now I have awesome laces!

Dosn’t everybody need awesomeness in their life?

-Fin

Chicken Feeder

I built my own chicken feeder out of a 4 foot piece of 5 inch pvc pipe and two end caps.  I had my brother cut all of them in half, then I glued the end caps on with JB weld and sealed it with some silicone to keep the feed from getting caught in between the glued part.  I made an L – shaped holder out of some of the scraps of wood left over from my fodder rack, and some stuff I found laying around.  I always keep scrap wood around, it always ends up coming in handy.

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I used some 2 x 4’s on the outside as well since the wood that is the chicken coop walls is pretty thin:

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Here’s the whole thing:

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It works out really well to feed the chickens.  I put their fermented feed in one side and the fodder in the other.  They always eat the fodder straight away, then come back for the fermented feed over the course of the rest of the day.

It’s a total hack, but I’m extremely happy with how it’s working for me.

-Fin