New Happenings for 2015

First off… sorry to all for being so lame on the blog posts.

A lot has happened since our last post so I will try to catch you up.

We added an 8′ x 10′ entry way to the dome, nothing fancy and not yet completed, but it is a vast improvement.

Our list for 2015 was supposed to be small, but it’s looking like we’ll have a full schedule of happenings.

Here are the highlights:

  1. We are going to be raising honey bees,  (to be delivered end of April) 3 lbs. or 10,000 Carniolan honey bees. So we need to build their new hive home this month.

  2. We ordered and will be planting (300) 2-year-old Caragana shrubs (aka Siberian Pea Shrubs) around the parameter fence.

  3. We’ll be adding an additional 1200 feet of field fencing, and electric fencing. And developing two pasture areas for a few Icelandic sheep to be purchased in 2016.

  4. We getting 2 Heritage Berkshire pigs in March. We got 90% of their shed built and will be fencing off sections of the property for them to begin rooting.

  5. We getting 32 chicks in March. They will following the pigs in the paddocks to remove the bugs, weed seeds, and flatten out the soil in preparation for pasture seeding and mulch. Some will be kept for layers, and some for meat.

  6. Building the underground greenhouse.

So.. that’s the highlights. That’s the adventure that awaits us for 2015. Stay tuned, because it’ll all be blog-worthy…

Get rid of Yellow Jacket Wasps

Last summer we had quite a few yellow jackets pestering us. This summer started out no different.They like to gather in the crack of the shed door, and a few other places around the house.

We looked at traps, but who wants to spend +$20 every four-six weeks…

So… we searched for a simple cost-effective solution… and found one… at… wikiHow.

How to Keep Yellow Jacket Wasps Away

Pretty simple, and brilliant really

Crumple up a brown paperbag
Hang it where yellow jackets gather
It says,

Wasps are territorial so they will not make a nest where one already exists.

And… it’s true… so far.

We haven’t seen ANY yellow jackets in the shed area for the past three weeks.

So this summer we’ll make and deploy a few more “No Vacancy” decoy nests (more artistically appealing, and sturdier)  around the yard and hopefully keep these pesky pests away for good. We’ll keep you posted.

Vortex Smortex

Currently in Montana it’s a brisk -10°. That’s was today’s high.

This morning it was -25°.

You have to adapt and improvise.

We are happy to report that we managed to stave off major frostbite on the hens, and they are still producing eggs as of this post. January alone they kicked out 168 eggs, or 3.5 dozen a week. The musses found a great pickled egg recipe online if anyone wants it. And she substitutes Apple Cider Vinegar instead because it’s milder.

And also this winter we’ve been feeding the hens oyster shells for calcium, and wheat grass for chlorophyll, which makes their yokes… a pretty sunny yellow, and gives them something green to munch on. 🙂

Like Squirrels Gathering Nuts…

Abby & Mombasa Approved

SANY0024

Mombasa lounges while we work…

Mombasa

Mombasa

Abby in hot pursuit of a Pack Rat in the Wood stack…

Abby Pack Rat Hunter

Abby Pack Rat Hunter

Today’s snowstorm… about one foot at the moment…

Snow

We covered the coop with plastic a few weeks back and added another layer of straw for insulation… they don’t seem to mind being “cooped up” with the snow, wind, and it being a high of twenty-one outside…

Cooped Up

Something you don’t want to see after two lightning strikes…

Something you don’t want to see after two lightning strikes…

This…

west-fireWhich, once we figured out it was just over the hill a little under a ¼  mile west of us, in steep thick brush and a lot of dead trees…. we jumped in the truck with our shovels (after calling 911) and found the area (which was about the size of a football field) ablaze. So besides praying heavily and keeping an exit to our backs… we beat down the fire line that was moving down toward our property. We were able to slow it down enough to buy us some time until…

heli300 gallons of Missouri River arrived… the pilot went back and forth for three hours.

Then the volunteer fire crews arrived…

crewAnd we let them do their job and moved on to the fire that started just south of the house…

south-hill

This was 75% contained by the time we arrived a few hours afterward. Left of the photo required another hour of water-drops from the other helicopter. (If you were to go to the bottom treeline and pull back… that’s our view from the house.) Our southern property line ends at the bottom treeline. If it burned downhill another  100 yards, we’d have a big mess on our hands. We’re keeping an eye out for any flare-ups… especially west of us.

Yes… God was with us today. Thank you Father!

Our First Pullet Egg

Our first pullet egg arrived on July 24th delivered by one of our Leghorns.

So half of our crew have started producing, and we have moved on to the laying mash. So far they are enjoying the free-range experience, dining on bugs, flax seeds, and various veggies.

wtrWe also erected our garden watering crane. Having a round garden called for some contraption that allowed the hose to be free of snagging and ripping out squash and getting caught on other various garden items.

It was constructed with (2) 10′ steel fence posts, slid into a buried larger pole so it will turn, and half-inch pipe toward the back for supports. I added a section of white flex hose to keep the garden hose from kinking. All in all, it works pretty good, and the Missus is happy about not taking out any tomatoes during the watering process.

Summertime

It’s summertime here in the mountains. Not as many projects being completed, but progress is moving along slowly.

We finally solved our Solar charger/inverter circuit breaker tripping every time we plugged in our used RV refrigerator, and/or every time we started the generator to charge the batteries in the evening. The culprit was the 30 amp circuit breaker, we had connected, which was supposed to be a minimum 125 amp fuse. (Obviously we didn’t read the teeny-tiny 4 pt. fine print on the charger/inverter label.) So we sent away for this Gold ANL Fuse holder with a 1 ft. 2 gauge wire and 150A fuse on eBay for $15.

Gold ANL Fuse HolderIt’s a lot bigger than the photo depicts it. But it did the trick, and now we can charge the batteries through the charger/inverter instead of going directly from the generator.

We also rewired the entire system with thicker 6 gauge wire, and a few 2 gauge wires to boot.

Our solar power setupSo we are slowly making progress in the solar power department.

Abby is enjoying the summer… except for the heat and the horse flies. She loves hanging out under the shed and sunning herself on the auxiliary potato bed.

Abby soaking up some summer sunThe chickens are growing fast. They have adjusted to the Montana way of living, and we have finally started to let them free range… and they venture out of the chicken yard with great caution.

fieldtripWe are hoping to see our first eggs coming soon. I predict 7/26. The Missus predicted 7/14… oh, the anticipation…