THE STORM CALLED “SANDY”

October 30, 2012

Well we weathered the storm here on the homestead. Like most places on the east coast it rained and the wind blew. Lucky for us no trees were blown down and no flooding to speak of. Around 4a.m. in the morning is started snowing and it has continued all day. The ground temp never got quite cold enough to freeze so the snow never accumulated more than an inch.

20121030-193140.jpg

But, there was enough snow to cover the solar panels. A couple of years ago, we got a extendable squeegee and it worked just fine for the chore. We have also been working a lot on the sap evaporator. We built a heavy duty stand to hold the raw sap, plumbed the 100 gallon tank to the evaporator flue pan and will be putting up the smoke stack and flashing as soon as the weather gets better.


A BLOG READER COMES TO VISIT PHF

May 17, 2012

Thursday

Linda

We had a wonderful visit today with one of our readers, Luann Barbagallo, who stopped by to pick up two pints of syrup and to see just what PHF was all about.

Luann and her family are starting their own homestead in a nearby county. I’m not sure what pearls of wisdom we had to offer as Luann has twenty years of gardening, canning and raising milk goats under her belt. That experience will go a long way in starting a homestead. I hope to keep in touch Luann, you never know, we may need some milk goat advice when we finally get to that stage.

We showed her how the off grid system worked and then took a tour of the farm, stopping by to see the princess piggies. The girls were on their best behavior and allowed Luann to view the pig palace set up. She was interested to see what methods we use to raise our pigs since she and her husband will be purchasing their own feeder pigs in just a few days.

We showed her the smoke house where we smoked eight hams last fall, because if your going to raise pigs you have to have a smoke house. She whole heartedly agreed.

In the past few years we have come to know several homesteading families and one of the nice things about it is that we all share ideas. Everyone has abilities that can help another. We are all folks who choose to live a simpler lifestyle, who choose to leave the whirlwind world of consumerism and depend on our own ingenuity to provide for ourselves.

It was a great experience to meet someone from our blog family of readers. Luann, thank you so much for stopping by, we thoroughly enjoyed your visit. Wish you lived a little bit closer. You and your husband are always welcome.


THOUGHTS OF SOLAR AND WIND

January 17, 2012

Tuesday

Linda

A soup of ominous gray clouds covered the sky as Sonny and I drove toward home from Ohio. I gazed out of my side window at the landscape dotted with farms, one connecting to the next as far as you can see. It reminded me of Delaware, my birth state, before the developers raped the farmland and covered it in a cheap coat of houses. Except for a few farms that have held out, there is nothing left of the many peach and apple orchards,or the small family run dairy and vegetable farms. In southern Delaware crops have been replaced with production chicken houses. As you can tell, it is a bit of a soar spot for me, so I gaze out of the window at the flatlands of Ohio and reminisce about my childhood.

As we pass miles of farmland set with nineteenth century farmhouses and barns, Sonny and I discuss how they could possibly benefit from the energy of a  windmill. Solar and windmill power is not the cure all for our nations energy problems, and not everyone can or wants to live off grid, but I think that solar panels and windmills could certainly take some pressure off the power grid. They could all be used in conjunction with each other.

One would think that in a wide open landscape such as Ohio, and I can only speak for the area we were driving through, that there would be the potential for plenty of wind. Even solar panels could be a good choice in areas where there are few trees. Its a bit more difficult in places where the sun has to rise above a high hill or mountain range. It is doable though as we have seen here at Pot Hole Farm. We just get less hours of sunlight to charge the solar panels.

Unfortunately for many who are interested in solar panels and windmills it is  still a costly investment. As the price of electricity rises and the power grid becomes overloaded and feeble with age we may not have many choices left. I think its naive to think that we can continue to add to the power grid we have now and think that it will be able to handle the load. All we need is a summer of sweltering heat and the on switch of air conditioners. We might find ourselves with rolling blackouts and empty pockets. Or worse.

I certainly don’t have all the answers to our power quandaries, but I think solar and wind could be good alternatives. In the future I would like to see businesses with a few solar panels on their roofs. If you think about how much power an office building uses in a day a little sun power couldn’t hurt.

The skies may turn dark and cloudy, but the sun will eventually shine. Good for making electricity and good for the soul.


MERRY CHRISTMAS

December 24, 2011

Saturday

Linda

SEASONS GREETINGS FROM POT HOLE FARM!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year that brings you much happiness and health. For all of you out there dreaming of living off grid or just living a more sustainable life we hope that our blog will be of help to you in the coming year. Sonny will be giving more updates on the solar hot water heater installation and you can still refer back to previous blogs on our solar panel installation and other learning experiences we have had with starting a farm. I have no doubt that there will be plenty of humor in our future as well. There always is no matter what we are doing. So enjoy life, keep things simple, love and take care of your family and be prepared for whatever the future might sling our way.


Solar Hot Water project

December 22, 2011

Thursday

Sonny

Well today with the help of John we started phase 1 of the Solar Hot Water project.  A couple of months ago I ordered everything for the project from the Alt-E Store and have just been waiting for the time to get started.  We finally have enough firewood to get us through the winter so now it was time to get moving on the other projects.

Lucky for us each of the two hot water panels weighed only about 100 pounds each. We were able to move the Kubota RTV up near the mud room roof and get each panel in the bed, leaned up on the rain gutter.  We then climbed on the roof and lifted each up.  Next we secured four mounts per panel and used roofing tar to ensure no leaking from the roof.

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Soon we will get started on Phase 2. This will be fitting the 3/4 copper pipe from the panels to the holding tank and on the the existing gas hot water heater.


LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE

August 30, 2011

Tuesday

Linda

While hurricane Irene hurled her wrath up the East Coast last weekend, the weather at PHF was beautiful.  We attempted to work on some long overdue projects in between making phone calls to check on family members who were caught in her angry grasp. Prayers were answered and we are relieved that they all fared well.

On Friday John and Sonny worked on step three of building the smoker. It is beginning to take on shape, even though at this stage it looks more like a hunters blind or a kids play house. You are able to see now how the doors will fit across the front and where the grates will sit at the base of the enclosure.

Step three completed.

Also on Friday our solar hot water heater and panels were delivered. As of yet we are not sure when we will install it. Sonny plans to place the panels on the mudroom roof. At this point I am not sure how it will all work. That is a blog for him to write. The delivery service unloaded everything right there on the driveway. Sonny used the Kubota to move it over near the woodshed. He drove the Kubota and I held onto the box to keep it from banging into the tractor and possibly doing some damage to the panels. They are pretty tough though. It appears the Kubota tractor has come through for us again. I don’t know what we would do without it. It has become such a staple here on PHF.

Keep it steady.

Sonny and Harold have begun to bush hog the pasture that sits on the right side of our property. Its the same area as the infamous tree that got caught in the crook of another. Harold obtained some good experience using the bush hog and I believe is now an expert. They didn’t get it finished, but it is amazing to see how much bigger the pasture is than we had imagined. They still have to remove a few tree logs before finishing.

I haven’t complained much on the blog about how the shower Sonny and I installed in the bathroom has been a thorn in my side. All I can say is that it has been a real festering wound for me. Here’s a little advice for all of you that are planning to install a new shower. Do not purchase one that has umptine pieces and parts that have to be sealed together and get one that has a sturdy base. Ours leaked continuously and we were unable to successfully troubleshoot the area that the water was oozing out from.

Well our son and his wife came to Mama’s rescue and have offered to help us put in a new one. We have picked a fiberglass style that is much sturdier than what we had put in originally. We wanted one that was all one piece, but had to settle for one that is two pieces so that we can get it through the door. Harold is also going to install Roma Stone flooring like he installed in his house in Texas before they sold it. Thank goodness he has experience.

Saturday Sonny and Harold removed the old shower and flooring while Clarissa and I went to pick up feed. They had it completely gutted by the time we returned home. The floor was wet under the vinyl flooring and we finally found where the leak was coming from. It was coming from the area of the drain pipe. Now, this is another reason to get a shower with a sturdy base. I think the shower base we had was flexing when we stood on it allowing water to leak underneath. I have had fans blowing on the floor to dry it out before the men start to work on it this weekend.

Sunday and yesterday were down days for me as I had a little intestinal virus. I was able to lay on the couch all day (between bathroom visits) and watch episodes of my current favorite show that Sonny orders from Net Flicks. I figured rest was the best remedy. Today I feel pretty good and have started to can up the bazillion organic carrots that my bargain hunter daughter-in-law brought me. Thats ok this winter we will be glad to have them and I have no doubt in my mind that we will have some jars left for next winter. We have not been successful at growing carrots in our own garden.

Must be a sick day for Moby too. Oh wait, I think thats just a lazy kitty.

Sunday Sonny was able to go to Two Lynne’s farm and help them put up hay. He got some OJT on running the square baler and fixing it. No, he didn’t break it. It’s pretty common for the strings that tie the bales together to break or become jammed. A lot of these balers are well used but still have a lot life left in them. He enjoyed having a chance to get some baler experience and help our neighbors at the same time. Between my cousin John and Carol and Two Lynne’s Farm we might become decent homesteaders. Hopefully someday we will be able to pass on our experience to someone else. That’s how it works.

This coming weekend will be the Labor Day weekend. Here at PHF  we will definitely be laboring. So much to do…such little time. Life is good!


FIREWOOD AND BUSH HOG

July 31, 2011

Sunday

Sonny

Our son Harold and his family were down this weekend. He has been helping us get out firewood stockpile ready for this winter. Although we still have a long way to go we are getting a pretty good start cutting rounds. We will get the splitter out later towards fall and get them split up and loaded in the woodshed.

Cutting rounds

Let me tell you that the Kubota RTV we picked up earlier this summer has been a real help around here. We are able to just stack the rounds in the back and once loaded we can drop the tail gate and use the hydraulic dump.

Loading the RTV

When we finished up with that tree we changed mode and hooked up the bush hog for some field cutting. Last week we got the logs out of the field and cleaned up the brush so we were ready to go.

Kubota w/Bushhog

 

We will be doing it again next week also. Our primary heat is from out wood stove and we burn about 5 cords each winter. The great thing is having all our electrical power supplied to us from the sun, the solar panels have been working excellent for us and out battery bank keeps us in power for the nights.

 

 


Replacement Generator

July 9, 2011

Sonny

Saturday

We had been using a small underpowered 3500kw Champion generator as the backup generator for the last two years. We always had plans to replace it with a bigger one but just never got around to it until this weekend. The Primary generator is a 8kw propane Guardian and it takes care of all our charging needs for those long dark rainy weeks.

Generac 8kw

You see, nothing is the same living out in the boonies and living off the power grid.  We have solar panels for electricity, a primary generator but also a backup generator. Everything has to have a Plan-B to go with it.  Our heat is from out wood stove but we also have propane backup.  We have 4 wheel drive cars, and a backup 4 wheel drive tractor just in case the snow is too much. We have lights but have oil lanterns, Gas stove to cook on but we can also cook on the wood stove. We have Internet, Satellite TV and Satellite radio to know the weather. We even have multiple stove-top coffee peculators.  We even have a great refrigerator but we still built a root cellar.

It is just our way out here.  And to be honest, continue to learn lessons every day on PHF.


MAY GOINGS ON

May 8, 2011

Sunday

Linda

Wow, it’s hard to believe that we are already in the month of May and even harder to realize how long its been since my last blog entry. I have no excuses. Since the rain for the past weeks has put a damper on doing outside projects I have been spending my time doing a little Spring cleaning in the house. The walls and cabinets have been scrubbed clean of the winter wood stove residue and the glass of the inside windows is now gleaming. I washed the sofa slip covers and hung up Springtime fresh curtains. Now that those chores are completed I can spend most of my time outdoors where I really want to be.

There are so many projects that need attention here at PHF that sometimes its overwhelming. Sonny and I sat down and made a list of everything trying to organize it by priority. Not an easy task because it all seems to be a priority but as they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Sonny took a weeks vacation this past week so that we could finish up the drain ditches, the wood shed addition, work on the garden, finish up the hog pen fence and about a thousand other things. Of course it rained the first part of the week and then he had a little mishap.

We had taken Festus, (Johns Truck) to Southern States Supply to get a couple of propane bottles filled. The tanks were filled and Sonny started to climb off the back of the truck when his heel got caught on the edge of the tow hitch. He fell like a sack of potatoes onto the asphalt and injured his right shoulder. I took him to the Urgent Care and the X-rays didn’t show any fractures, but his shoulder is still extremely painful if he tries to lift his arm too high. He will get a follow up done this week.

Sonny tried to get some things done, but trying to use a shovel or put the metal roof on the wood shed extension was out of the question, so was putting the green house back together. I am just grateful he didn’t break his neck.

We have four new additions to PHF. Yesterday we went to Two Lynnes Farm and came home with three Barred Rock hens and an Americana/ Cochin mixed hen. They are about eight weeks old and as cute as be. I can’t wait to see them tootling behind the rest of the flock but that will have to wait a few weeks. I promise to post pictures later. We also came home with some cabbage and brussels sprouts seedlings and two pint jars of Two Lynnes Farm Maple syrup. Can’t wait to try that!

My day has been a busy one. It seems as though it has taken me forever to put up the chicken wire around the bottom of the garden fence. The chickens weren’t free ranging last year but now they hop in and out of the large square openings of the cattle fencing like its a hop scotch game.

My fingers are soar from wire tying the chicken wire to the existing fence and let me tell you those raw, sharp ends of the fence can poke too. Wearing gloves just gets in the way so I will suffer the consequences of not wearing them. Now that the chickens can’t get into the garden I went ahead and planted the cabbage plants and two rows of Strike beans. Our friend Gary gave us some potato starts and I cut them in half so I can plant them tomorrow.

My fingers are soar and my hands are scratched, my back aches and my muscles scream but I feel good. I finally finished a job that needed to be done and the garden has its first plantings. We have four more beautiful hens that will give us eggs in a few months and it is a good feeling to know that we can feed ourselves. Well as long as the garden grows.


A WHEELBARROW AND A RAKE

April 11, 2011

Monday

Linda

Wild Violets

When you live on a farm you have to get work done while the sun shines and Pot Hole Farm is no exception. We had plenty of sun beams streaming this morning so I thought it was a good time to rake up the fallen branches and debris in the yard. A wheelbarrow and rake…what more could a girl ask for? With the warmer days and rain showers the grass has been growing like Rip Van Winkles beard. It’s time for the lawn mower to come out of winter storage to give the grass a well needed trim, but it won’t be today with a storm on the horizon.

I’m not the only one with this idea. When I rode down to the Country Store this morning to pick up some bread I saw two of my neighbors buzzing around the yard on their lawn mowers. It always reminds me of those clowns in the little car racing around the ring of the circus Big Top. I know I look like that too when I cut grass. No one goes at a slow speed.  We always have the mower in top gear cutting rows back and forth through the grass and making circles around obstacles. Sonny can lean down and pick up a stray dog toy and never slow up. I on the other hand would end up in the creek.

Of course I had my crew working with me today. Ruby, Moby and the chickens. The guineas were off working in another department, but I have heard rumblings of a strike. Those guineas are all union. Ruby pulled out more sticks as fast I could rake them up and the chickens and Moby inspected all my work. Slave drivers. I think I deserve a raise.

I think I better get the Quality Control Supervisors over here.

Looks like production is slow. Tell her to get a move on.

Break Time.


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