Woodhaven Place

Your Neighborhood Farm

Category: Homestead (page 1 of 4)

Marble Money: How Our Family Handles Allowance and Chores

Marble Money: How We Handle Chores

It’s been a challenge for our family to implement any sort of chore system over the years. Part of the problem is that the systems I have tried rely heavily upon me for successful implementation.

  • I’ve tried chore charts (kid sees card, completes card, flips it over when done).
  • I’ve tried bribery (“Hey, I’ll give you 25 cents for XYZ”).
  • I’ve tried just assigning tasks willy-nilly and saying you’re-part-of-the-family-so-do-it.

While each have worked, it really required ME being mindful and constantly remembering that this system needed to be used. I didn’t like that. In a word? I needed my kids to have OWNERSHIP.  Continue reading

Growing Peas: Varieties, Method and Trouble Shooting

What do you do in mid-March if you live in southwestern Ohio?  I plant peas!!!  Yes, I plant them, from seed, in the ground.  The fact is, peas will germinate in soil as cold as 40 degrees. Early peas taste great, get you out working in the garden when most folks are still dreaming of planting vegetables, and they do a fantastic job of prepping beds for future crops. Like all legumes, peas can take nitrogen directly from the air with the help of nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria.

Types of Peas

Vine length varies from one variety to another, and long-vined peas need a taller trellis than compact varieties. Both compact and long-vined peas are available in four types, which vary in pod and seed characteristics. Although I only grow one type of pea, I will explain why later, I am giving you information on all four varieties. Continue reading

LollyBaba’s Old Quilt Cleaning Method

 

My mother is an avid quilt rescuer — and I say rescuer (and not collector) on purpose. She is not looking for pristine show quality quilts. She wants the ones that have been forgotten in a attic, loved to pieces, or are being thrown over furniture in a moving van. She has developed a fantastic method to clean these old dirty quilts and I asked her to write this post and share it with everyone.

LollyBaba’s Old Quilt Cleaning Method

After retiring I needed something to fill my days other than going to the senior center and playing cards all day.  I come from a long line of quilters, however my hand sewing skills are not great.  When I hand quilted the first time my mother said “those are not quilting stitches, those are basting stitches.”  She was correct, my stitches were entirely too long for a quilt.  However, I still wanted a way to connect with the generations of quilting women in my family. Continue reading

Review of 6 Books Every Parent Needs To Own

You remember that game called Desert Island? (You know — the one where you pretend you’re stranded and can only take three things with you?) I detest playing that game (and not because I think it is a waste of time). Rather, it’s unrealistic. The point of the game is to name your three most precious items you couldn’t live without. But let’s be real: if I’m on a desert island, the last thing I’m really going to want is some precious memento. Give me a knife, a field guide to non-poisonous plants, and Robinson Crusoe to help keep me alive!

But I have given great thought to my book collection. When we recently sold our house, I packed away 90% of our book collection. There were only a few books that got to stay out for 6 months. Which made me think: if I lost all of our books in the move (or worse, we had a fire), what would be the first 6 books I would immediately purchase again? Continue reading

Top Ten Farmer Gifts For The Female FarmHER

“Women make do.” That’s what we do and the garden is no exception. When something does not work, we make it work because at the end of the day, things need to get done. As ladies have twisted, pulled, pushed, and toiled in the soil over the centuries, we have done so largely with the aid of tools designed for men.

Over the last few years, we have been given some fantastic farm related gifts and have tried out dozens of products. There are more and more companies making things specifically for hard working women (including work clothing!).  Continue reading

Osage Orange Tree or Monkey Balls

They look like green brains, lying in clusters along roadsides, from September through December. They are the joy of many squirrels and the bane of every homeowner trying to mow in the fall. Continue reading

Rosies: My Review of Work Wear for Women

I never thought I would say this but I have a love affair with overalls, specifically my Rosies. I wear my Rosies so much that I had to buy a second pair for when my primary pair are in the wash.

They are the most functional pair of clothing I own and I recommend them to everyone. If you are a back yard gardener or a full time woman farmer you need to own a pair (or three!) of these overalls.

But don’t take my word for it. There’s good reason why Rosies are amazing.  Continue reading

Top Reasons to Rent-A-Chicken

Have you ever wanted to experiment with a new activity, but the upfront investment has prevented you from doing so?  This is exactly why farmers around the country have started programs like Rent-A-Chicken.  At its most simple, the program is a short-term agreement where the farmer delivers chickens and all the stuff that is needed to take care of them to a customer for a specified period.  Normally chicken rentals run for six months starting around April and ending around November.

Chicken rentals are a good place to start if keeping chickens is something that you have wanted to do but were not sure if it was right for you.  The two hurdles new chicken owners encounter are the start-up costs involved with raising chickens and the work of taking care of the birds once winter arrives.  We knew we wanted chickens, but these were the two things we were unprepared for.  With a chicken rental program, the customer skips all of the “work” and goes straight to egg laying birds.

Most people do not know that the cute little peepers that you get at the feed store will not start laying eggs for up to six months.  That is quite an investment in time and resources before you get any eggs.  During the first six months, the owner acts as momma chicken.  It is your job to brood, feed, water, and clean your babies.  Let us tell you having a box of baby chicks in your living room for six weeks was not a step we enjoyed our first time around.  Although it did make for a few good stories.

The other end of the spectrum is winter care for chickens.  If you are set up for it, it is not that big a problem.  Just keep in mind the number of eggs a chicken lays is determined by the number of hours of light they have each day.  Some breeds of chickens slow down egg laying to one egg every few days during the winter to not laying any eggs at all.  In addition to lower egg production, you have to make sure their water is not frozen and that they are protected from the cold.

The last thing that most people do not mention when they are explaining how great chickens are is how they molt.  Chickens molt, or lose and replace their feathers, every sixteen months or so.  During this process, they do not lay any eggs and boy do they look sad.

The important thing about livestock is taking the good with the bad.  These are the only hurdles we find annoying throughout the year, and we would not give up our chickens because of them. Having backyard chickens allows you to know exactly how the animals producing your eggs are treated.  Chickens not only produce eggs, but they are fun to watch.  Each hen has her own personality.  They love kitchen scraps, eat annoying bugs, and fertilize the yard.  Having chickens is a great way to teach children responsibility and how to care for animals.

With a chicken rental program, the renter gets all the good and none of the bad.  Hens that are part of the program are first-year birds that have started laying eggs.  The farmer gives you all the equipment that is needed to take care of the birds, so there are no additional costs.  The farmer will also pick up the birds before all the winter chores begin.  Also, there is always someone just a phone call away to answer any questions that arise during the hens visit.

If you want to get your feet wet without the commitment renting a chicken is what you are looking for.  Two hens will produce roughly a dozen eggs per week, and if you decide you want to adopt the birds permanently you can do so at the end of the rental.

IBC Totes and what you can do with them?

When we started down the homesteading / farming road there was one acronym that continuously popped up.  It felt like every post I looked at mentioned something called an IBC Tote.  The things people were creating with these containers were awesome, but what on earth is an IBC?  After some research, I came to find out that IBC stands for Intermediate Bulk Container and they are a standardized shipping container for liquids.

BCs are used to transport everything from oil and soap to syrup and molasses.  They come in two standard sizes 275 gallons and 330 gallons.  The footprint of the totes are the same as a standard full-size pallet.  The plastic container is surrounded by a metal frame that creates a very sturdy container.  This allows forklifts to be used to move them and allows them to be stacked several high during transportation.

Depending on what you intend to use the tote for depends on the type you will need to find.  Most things on a homestead or farm require a food grade tote.  Totes that held oil or some sort of solvent are often the easiest to find but are not recommended for use if you plan to store something in them your or an animal is going to ingest.

If your tote contained a food product there is a very easy way to clean them out.  Put half a bottle of Dawn dish soap in the bottom and fill the tote up with water.  After is is 100% full drain the water.  Next, put 2 pounds of baking soda in the bottom and fill it up and drain it again.  The soap will cut and remove the sugar or whatever was in the tote and the baking soda will neutralize the soap.  We used this process when we cleaned a tote to hold maple sap and it worked great.

We first came across the IBC tote when researching aquaponics.  We plan to set up a good size backyard aquaponics setup in our greenhouse once it is complete.  IBC totes appear to be the standard method of construction for the backyard aquaponics.  The general construction method requires cutting the IBC’s into two pieces.  The shallower top portion becomes the grow bed and the larger bottom portion is the fish tank.

Another popular use for IBC totes is rainwater collection.  A 55-gallon drum is great, but the can fill in just a few seconds with a good spring rain.  With the ability to stack totes up to 3 tall, when full this arrangement allows someone to store over 800 gallons of water in a 40″ X 48″ footprint.  There are many how-to articles out there, but this is one of the best I have found and it includes a parts list of everything needed.

 

The other uses for IBC totes are limitless.  There are instructions online to turn IBC totes into livestock waters, waste oil containers, compost bins, chicken coops, mushroom grow beds, dear blinds, hot tubs, I had a guy buy one from us that he turned it into an oil change catch tray for his tractors.

We have a plan to turn one of the more beat up totes into a permanent dust bath for our chickens.  Two more will be centrally located by the well in the garden as a water tower. Then there is a third that lives in the woods by the maple evaporator used to store maple sap.  Once we get the aquaponics system up and running I am sure we will find even more fun projects for these forklift size building blocks.

Frost Dates – Why are they important?

It is important to plant your garden seeds and transplants at the right time and the key is knowing when your area will see its last spring frost. Some garden plants taste even better after a little frost. Cool season crops such as cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and kale can tolerate planting zonesa light frost and will grow best when sown a couple weeks before the last spring frost. Peas and spinach, are so cold-hardy they can be planted “as soon as the ground can be worked,” which means that if the dirt is not frozen and you can get them in the ground go for it! For us, that date is around St. Paddy’s Day.

Warm season crops (i.e., squash, cucumber, and basil) will be killed by frost if your seeds come up too soon. Transplants (already started plants) such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants will be lost in that last annoying frost if set out too early. Heed the warning on seed packets that say, “Plant after all danger of frost has passed.”

Finding the average last spring frost date for your specific area may take some research.There are many U.S. maps that show last frost dates however it is hard to find your exact location dates. The best source is the National Climatic Data Center web site. Frost-date-chartChoose your state and  nearest city.  The site will show your average last spring (and first fall) frost dates, based on weather data collected by the National Climatic Data Center from 1971 through 2000 from that location. You can choose to plant between a 50/50 probability of frost after the given date, or play it safe and choose the 10%date, which means there is only a 10% chance of a frost after that date.Another great tool to find your average frost dates is the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Vegetable Garden Planner web site. The Planner will send you customized planting reminders for which crops need planting based on your frost dates and location.

Our west central Ohio50/50 probability frost free date is April 16th, however, I never trust that date. I am not going to chance losing my transplants by putting them out to early. Most warm weather seeds will not germinate in cold soil so waiting a week or two will not only help with germination but lesson your chance of having to scramble for grandmas old frost-cover-msheets to throw over your baby plants. We plant our transplants on Mother’s Day; if we are having a very warm year and the soil is warm I will direct sow seeds a week before planting transplants.

Very early spring (as soon as the ground can be worked)

  • onions
  • peas
  • spinach

Early springVegi_Planting_001.60152855_std

  • lettuce
  • beets
  • carrots
  • radishes
  • dill
  • cilantro
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • celery
  • kale
  • potatoes

After last frost date

  • beans
  • corn
  • melons
  • cucumbers
  • squash
  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • pumpkins
  • eggplant
  • basil

Light freeze (frost) – 29°F to 32°F—tender plants killed, with little destructive effect on other vegetation.

Moderate freeze (frost)– 25°F to 28°F—widely destructive effect on most vegetation, with heavy damage to fruit blossoms and tender and semi-hardy plants.

Severe freeze (frost)– 24°F and colder—damage to most plants.

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