Country Living & Penny Pinching

Getting back to "Little House on the Prairie" living

Tag: garden (page 1 of 2)

2016 Homestead Management Printables

***This is a review for the 2016 Homestead Management Printables that Quinn over at Reformation Acres put together. I was not paid for this review and all of the thoughts are my own. If you just want the meat of the review scroll down until you see stars.***

For those that have been following from the beginning you know that the beginning wasn’t that long ago. October 2015 (the end to be honest) was when our blog started. Before that we only had chickens for a couple of months and a somewhat of a sad garden and now we have dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, goats, better plans for a garden and the pigs will get here in a couple of months.
With the chickens there was not much record keeping to do. They were little, had no eggs and I knew about how much feed I would need a month and I just budgeted accordingly. Now there is production flowing out our ears. Baby goats due in a month which means milk coming in, almost every chicken is laying, half the ducks are sitting on eggs, and it seems that I have been really bad about record keeping.

Now in my defense I really was trying but using a pen and lined paper was just not cutting it. I felt like things were missing, everything was getting put together when it should be separate, there was no direction to my unorganized chaos and there needed to be. That is when I stumbled upon a heaven-sent printable package over at Reformation Acres Quinn has made a full scope homesteading printables package. When I first saw it I thought it would have the basics, chickens, goats, pigs and cows. Then upon further investigation it also has gardening printables and my FAVORITE PART……..

a seed sowing calendar!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last years garden was so sad even though I tried to plan well for it. I believe that if I had these printable and sowing calendars then things would have gone a lot smoother. Knowing the exact dates of when to soak seeds and start them indoors and harden off and transplant them is such a load off of my mind that I don’t have to figure it all out I feel really confident that this year we will be a much happier garden and gardener. If you want to know about our garden adventures click over here to read about that.  Otherwise I will keep going.

****the meat of the review****

There are pages for all of the animals we have, so we are able to document expenses and production with no hassles and there are even pages that make the Hubby not too happy….there are ones for meat chickens… cows…. rabbits…. and bees….Oh those pages are just calling to me “Please start raising us so you can write down all the expenses and production” haha yes I know I am a bit crazy and I am trying really hard to just stick with what we have now and get good at it then expand but these printables are so cute and fun and I really love beef and honey…I’ve only had rabbit once out on the trail but I want to start them anyways!

 

So long story short 2016 is going to be an organized year thanks to these fun and clear printables that Quinn put together. Now I know that I am all about penny-pinching and spending money is not something I like to do but when it comes to something that will truly help the homestead out and is very reasonably priced I just can’t say no. For the time and effort that Quinn at Reformation Acres put into these printables I gladly paid the high price (just kidding) of $5.99. I would pay that price just for the seed sowing calendar that is included.

Now I know that not everyone has all the crazy amount of animals that I do, or the amount that Quinn has, but even if you are starting out with a garden or a few chickens these printables can work for you and maybe even encourage you to start adding more ways to help you get back to the basics of living.

Building the Compost Pile

Calling all pallet lovers! This compost pile is for you. Gather up those pallets, look behind stores and Craigslist. They are out there and ready to be found. Thankfully we have great neighbors who lent me their tools and coached me on using them. Five pallets, long screws, a power screw driver, and helpful neighbors is a recipe for success.

all set up

all set up, as you can see I was not concerned about them being different sizes

We made a three sided square with three pallets standing up so the slats were horizontal, screwed the corners together. Then added the other two pallets to make two, three sided squares that shared a side. Look at the picture and it will all make sense. Once we attached them, that was that, the next step was to add material that needed to be composted.

this is the back of the pallets where the screws were put

this is the back of the pallets where the screws were put

Now there are two compartments to work with. All of our compostable material goes in one side and when we are ready to stir it, the compost gets moved from one side to the other. Added benefits are that it’s on concrete so I know I’m getting just compost when digging it out and the chickens get immediate access to all of the food scraps and bugs. But dirt is always good to because its easier for the bugs to just crawl straight from the ground into the pile.

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Remember…NO PROTEIN or DAIRY! We keep a bin on the kitchen counter for scraps and take it out every morning when we let the chickens out. I found this awesome picture on pinterest, the link is in the description.

great list of what is and isn’t compostable

Now with all the compostable materials the chickens LOVE the compost area. My only problem is the spread it out super fast. IMG_3752

The next addition to the compost structure will be a board at the front blocking the chickens from spreading the waste everywhere. For now though this is them enjoying their compost heap.

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she does looked peeved though haha she is the only one who really sits still for a picture

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Also if you do not have much waste in your house ask for friends and relatives to help out. Make them buckets for them to keep outside with a list on the top saying what can and can’t be put inside. Then once a week stop by their house and collect all of the scraps. Then offer them a share of the compost when spring comes around. There are always ways to find stuff for the compost bin.  Have fun making black gold and saving the landfills from our excess.

What does your compost pile look like? Or what plans do you have for making one? Even people in an apartment can have a compost bin. More on that in another post though 🙂

Lessons From a First Time Gardener

 1. Research all of your options

I knew about raised beds and the old fashioned method, straight in the ground. There are many more ways than those. Permaculture, square foot gardening, containers (even for the big stuff), etc. different methods are everywhere. I will be implementing permaculture and square foot gardening next. They are opposites but I want to experience both to see which one is better and why.

straight in the ground and a short fence

straight in the ground and a short fence

2. Observe the wildlife

Look at all of the creatures of the sky and ground. Will you need a scarecrow, rubber snakes, gopher wire, short fence, tall fence, or no fence? I know its awful to wait but even watching your land for a week or two will give you some insight on the best ways to protect your garden.

3. Ask around

Good neighbors love to help. Some might even have extra materials to have/borrow. Now don’t get me wrong, all neighbors love to give advice but be wary of the naysayers who tried once and failed. They will have advice but it may only be what NOT to do. No matter what don’t poo-poo what the neighbors have to say.

4. Prepare the soil with out breaking the bank

According to experts my garden was not going to do well. The pH levels weren’t just right, the soil was on clay-y side, i had quite a few little rocks mixed in, and I did not perfectly measure out the fertilizer. Making everything ideal would have cost WAY TOO MUCH money. Just get out there, do your best with what you have, and there is always next year. My crops could have been much bigger if I had used the chemical fertilizer but we don’t want to use chemicals so we suffered through a smaller crop and learned more this year that should allow a bigger harvest next year.

5. Plant a garden for the Littles

Keeping kids out of a fenced garden is quite difficult unless…they have their own space. Giving kids their own garden responsibilities makes them feel good about themselves and helps them not step on your precious plants. I do recommend getting the dollar store fences to place around their garden so they know the borders and the house pets and even littler Littles don’t walk in the garden.

6. HAVE FUN!

Planting Eden (part 2) The Seedling Mystery

our first corn

It’s happened…CORN!!!!! Houston, the corn has sprouted. OMG we are so excited that something is growing. The oldest Little came running from the garden screaming “Come see, come see! There are plants ACTUALLY growing!” she says this as if it was completely unexpected, which in her case was probably true. As for me that’s exactly what I wanted to see happen. Although I did think I had a black thumb, especially after growing the seedlings inside failed. None the less we have multiple corn-growing.  My garden, the Littles garden, it seems to be sprouting everywhere. when people ask how the farm is going we like to reply with “We are corn farmers.”

Now don’t get me wrong we planted other seeds, these seeds did sprout, but as soon as they sprouted they were gone! The Littles had it happen in their garden too. The seeds sprouted one day, someone would come by and we’d show them our newly sprouted seeds but they had vanished. So we asked around because none of it made sense. We would tell the seedlings good night, wake up to water them and there was nothing. Houston, we have a problem.

Turns out this was one of the easiest problems to solve. No spraying, no chemicals, no hunting for bugs, all we needed to do was eat some tuna. What? Eat tuna? Yep, we used those tuna cans to put vegetable oil in them, slightly bury them in the garden and then wait and see…turns out, PINCHER BUGS (or as the Hubby says, Ear Wigs) love vegetable oil and because of the oil they can’t get back out of the can again. These pincher bugs were eating all of our seedlings. There were so many after just one night I had to empty the tuna can and refill it, this went on for about 3 days until it was only a few after each night.

Before moving out here I had never seen so many pincher bugs in one place in all my life. We have deemed the winter pincher bug season. They cover our entire back porch area where the carpet is, every pillow and blanket must get shaken before using it, dump your shoes for at least one bug is in each of them, and if there is a straw anywhere DO NOT USE IT! These bugs were everywhere, so why didn’t I think they would be in the garden as well? Who knows, consider it a city girls mistake.

Anyways, back to the garden. I placed the tuna cans throughout the garden, planted a few more seeds and viola! Houston we have take off! Seedlings sprouted and we were no longer only corn farmers.

*Caution* only place the tuna cans inside a fenced garden. After placing a tuna can filled with oil in the Littles garden so their plants could grow it took me a couple of days to figure out why their oil disappeared. The dog ate it! There was diarrhea EVERYWHERE. So beware, must keep out of reach of household pets.

Have any of you had this problem? What did you do to fix the problem with your seedlings?

Stay tuned for more pincher bug free goodness!!!

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