SPRING-WINTER CHORES

March 24, 2013

Sunday

Linda

The date on the calendar may say its spring time, but we are already getting prepared for next winter.   Our first year making maple syrup taught us that the evaporator is an insatiable beast when it comes to its favorite fuel. Wood. The furnace consumes the wood logs in the same manner a dog scarfs  a chunk of steak and then looks for more.

We hope to get about ten cords of wood stored and set aside for the evaporator. Our house is heated by a wood stove too, so we will need to cut another three to four cords for it.

There is a stand of trees in our east pasture that we have wanted to clear out, so that is where we have begun our wood harvest. Sonny fell one tree yesterday and then another today. We cut the trunks up into rounds and have temporarily stacked them on the wood racks. Later we will use the log splitter to split them and then replace them in the racks to dry over the summer. They should be ready to use by next winter.

Wood rounds waiting to be split.

Wood rounds waiting to be split.

The weather is still cool and perfect for wood cutting. Better to get the majority of it done now before the temps rise. Its no fun cutting wood when its sweltering and the last thing you want to think about is fire. Thats homestead life.  You are always preparing for the season ahead.


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.


TWO MORE GUINEAS DOWN

April 24, 2012

Tuesday

Linda

Last night as we closed the chicken coop up for the night we left five guineas resting comfortably in a tree just behind the pole barn. This morning we had three milling around the yard and two were MIA. The raccoons had attacked us with yet another midnight raid, but we were ready.

The night before last we put out a catch cage filled with savory delights to lure in a hungry raccoon, consisting of a can of sardines and a bowl of dog kibble drizzled with fish oil. That should make any raccoons mouth water. Unfortunately he was smart enough to figure out how to get the scrumptious delicacies out without tripping the cage door. I think he just stuck his paws in and pulled out what he wanted through the bars. It must have filled him up and probably his family members too cause they left the guineas alone that night.

Last night we reset the traps, putting out a marshmallow trail to entice the greedy little bugger inside. We also covered the back of the cage with a feed bag and pushed it against the wall. We only have the one cage right now.

This morning we found a prisoner locked inside. That was great, but we still lost two guinea casualties and the raccoons are up on us by seven. This guy had to have had a troop of raccoons with him to be able to kill two more guineas. There is absolutely no sign of the two. So tonight we will set the cage up again and try to place it in a little different location. We really need to get a few more cages. If things keep going this way we will have no guineas left.


NEW ACCESS ROAD

April 14, 2012

Saturday

Linda

Bill Guinazzo has proven himself to be an expert in the art of road grading. We noticed the nice job he did on making an access road on his own property and asked if he would do the same for us. We didn’t have access to one of the pastures that connects up to the neighbors hay field other than crossing the creek and its too difficult to get the tractor across it. Of course no one lives there and the only time you see anyone there is during the hay season.

We have permission to cross the field only after the hay has been cut so that we don’t pack it down or destroy the grass. Lost bales of hay equals lost money. That limits our use of our adjoining pasture, so Bill cut in a road that leads off the main gravel road directly onto our property.

Nice job Bill.

Back up the hill.

Now Sonny will be able to keep the pasture bush hogged and we have the potential to fence it in for goats.

The nice thing about living out here is that each one of us has skills that can help another, whether its construction, planting gardens, canning or making roads. There is all kinds of knowledge floating around these hills and all you have to do is ask for help. Its a code of neighborliness that was here long before any of us recent transplants showed up. Its a nice feeling to know you can count on one another.

Speaking of that, John and Sonny are planning another project here at PHF. We are going to build a lean too addition onto the right side of the pole barn. Now that we have more farm equipment than will fit in the pole barn we had to expand. We can use the extra space to park the tractor or the Kobota RTV and the four wheeler.

Sonny and I ran to town this morning to pick up the building supplies. Now, this afternoon John is going to taking us to see a guy who is selling his bee keeping equipment. It doesn’t hurt to go see what he has to offer. Right now our bees seems to be doing just fine, but we want to have another hive available for them to expand into.

 


New Garden Tiller

March 27, 2012

Tuesday
Sonny

We got our new garden tiller today.

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SNOW DAY FUN…PHF STYLE

February 19, 2012

Sunday

Linda

This winter has been extremely mild and has felt more like spring than winter. Our daffodils are sprouting up and I noticed yesterday that one of our crocus plants is in full bloom with a crown of mustard yellow flowers. Old man winter may be in a romantic mood this year but his heart was on the frosty side last weekend when he blew six inches of snow across our hillsides. It was a perfect time for Harold and Clarissa to come out for a visit and the snow was perfect for some winter fun…Pot Hole Farm style.

Harold and Clarissa wrestled Duke into his blue snow suit and boots. Duke was pretty good about the ordeal, but I still think his parents deserve a gold medal for patience. All you parents out there know what its like to push boots on a kid’s feet who doesn’t want wear them. Once dressed Duke floundered on the bed attempting  to pull himself up. He reminded me of  Ralphie’s little brother from the movie “A Christmas Story”  when he fell in the snow on the way to school and couldn’t get up because his snow suit was so bulky. Duke finally gave up and imploringly looked at his parents to pick him up. The whole snow suit ordeal would soon be forgotten once he was outside and ready to play in the snow.

We were like a bunch of kids when we saw the snow piled on the hill across from the house and ideas were thrown back and forth on what we could use to slide down it. A toboggan would be the best mode of transport, but unfortunately we don’t own one of those. A trip to the garage was in order to find a substitute. How about one of the metal trash can lids on the feed cans? Nah, they have a handle and if we tear them up we won’t have a lid anymore. How about some cardboard? Don’t have any. Then I spied the chicken feed bags we had stashed in the corner. The labels on the outside were shiny and slick. Perfect for sliding.

The air was clear and cold as we trekked up the hill, our feed bags clutched in our hands. Moisture from our breath swirled passed our child like smiles and crystalized into the air. With pink cheeks and gleaming eyes of anticipation we crested the hill. The games were on.

Harold held his feed bag in front of him, took a few running steps and did a belly  flop. He sailed down the hill, snow flying up and over him as he cleared a trail.

Go Harold Go!

Clarissa followed close behind, gracefully doing a belly flop onto her feed bag and riding it like a magic carpet down to the bottom.

Here comes Clarissa!

I was not about to belly flop for fear that I would just bounce right back up, so instead I sat on the feed bag and pushed off. I ended up sliding down on my back, feet in the air, sliding out of control until I was flying backwards.

WAHOOOOOO!

The sounds of my screams echoed through the holler sending every coyote in the neighborhood scrambling for the protection of its den. Sonny was a little out of practice since it had been years since he slid down a hill, but he still managed to look smooth… for an old man. Sorry there is no picture of Sonny, but he was on Duke duty at the time and the photographer.

Duke got to take a ride with his mama and daddy. He wasn’t a bit afraid and sported a big smile between his apple red cheeks. It was too cold for him to be outside for very long and Clarissa took him in to put him down for his morning nap. He had no complaints and went right to sleep. Now it was free time for the rest of us big kids. Sonny challenged us to see who could go the farthest. We slid down on our stomachs, in sitting positions and Indian style. It didn’t matter how I started out I always ended up backwards. Harold was the victor and slid the farthest.

We made a feed bag toboggan by splitting the feed sacks long ways so all of us could sit on it and slide down together. Then Sonny stuck his feet into a another feed bag to make the front. Off we went down the hill ending in a pile at the end. It looked like a four car jam up.

The moral of this long story is that your never too old to act like a kid. We had a great day and our spirits were uplifted from it. So play in the snow, kick a ball, swing on a tire swing, or eat a PB&J under a weeping willow tree. It will do your heart good.


COUNTRY ROADS

January 22, 2012

Sunday

Linda

Its been another beautiful day back here in the holler. There was snow on the ground but the sun soon melted most of it away. A little sunshine sure makes a body feel alive especially when the January temps hit a balmy forty degrees. Mother Nature has duped us into believing its spring instead of the dead of winter. The sap in our limbs has warmed a bit and the golden rays of sunshine has prompted us to leave the den for some much needed fresh air.

This was a perfect day to use the solar oven. Sonny carried it out of the root cellar where its stored and placed it in a position where it would get the most sun. We put a couple of sweet potatoes inside to bake. They along with a salad would make a tasty lunch.

While our sweet potatoes were baked by sun power we took a little walk down the road that leads to our house. Our best mates Ruby and Moby came along too. Even they get weary of confinement and lack of exercise.

We started on our leisurely stroll with Ruby and Moby leading the way of course and reminisced about the blackberries we picked last spring along this very road. The bushes are dormant now in winters sleep, the vines withered and dry.

With the leaves gone from the brush we could see a leaning stack of old white bee boxes near an out building of the ghost farm. Ancient apple trees with their unpruned twisted limbs stood watch. The old farmhouse with its peeling white clapboards and rotting porch looked tired, but I can just imagine what it might have been in its heyday. A flurry of activity. The bee boxes would have been in use collecting the yellow gold of honey. The scent of lilacs and apple blossoms would ride on the breeze that blew across the laundry hanging from lines strung on the front and back porches.

The lowing of cows could have been heard by the lady of the house as she baked bread. Her husband would have been busy fixing a tractor tire in the barn or setting up his gear to make hay while the children swung from the tire swing that still hangs from an old sycamore tree.

Gas was used to run the lights and the refrigerator, not electricity, and surely a wringer washer is still waiting for the next load. The family is gone now. Only a tired run down farm remains along with rusted farm machinery, broken bee boxes and the clothes line still strung on the front and back porches. Its a sad sight, because it could still be renewed for a another family, but I believe that its time is winding down.

We past the ghost farm and strolled down the hill until we came to the old school house. Its another reminder of past generations who raised their families in this holler. Its cut stone foundation leans and the tin of the roof is rolled back in spots. Its a reminder that time marches on and makes one wonder what will become of our farm when we are gone. Will the PV arrays still stand? Will the house become broken down, the porch swing idly swaying in a breeze? Even so, the signs of life will still be here. The sounds of contented hens, Ruby snoring under the walnut tree and the hum of a dulcimer will forever echo in these hills.

Sweet Potatoes in the solar cooker.

Country roads.

Moby by the trickling water.

 

 


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