Wednesday Update

Just a quick update on the goings on around the ‘stead.  I’ve been busy doing spring cleaning around the property.  The trees I cut down over the winter left a lot of branches that need hauled away or burned.  I prefer hauling them away but some junk wood needed burned, so I burned some branches as well.  Mowing is a never ending chore that I continually put off.  Some of my grass is waist high because I put it off so long.  I could bale it if I had a tractor and baler!  But I only have a push mower, so that makes it more fun…

About half of the garden is in.  I’m falling behind in my schedule because of rainy days and other chores.  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cauliflower, cabbage, were some of the latest plantings.  They all seem to be going through a bit of transplant shock or I didn’t harden them off enough before planting.  Some tomatoes had new growth so I think they will pull through.  I need to plant beans, pumpkins, corn, popcorn, whatever other seeds I have at the house, along with a second round of greens and radishes for staggered harvests.  I did finally get new cherry trees and grape vines from Lowes after losing some over the winter.  They still need to go in the ground, though.  Potatoes, blueberries, raspberries, and the seeds I planted a couple weeks ago all seem to be doing good.

This past weekend I traded the black rabbit buck I got as part of the three “does” I bought for a New Zealand white doe and bought one of her sisters as well.  They are only about two months old so it will be a few months before they can be bred.  When they are ready I will breed them to the red NZ buck.  I still haven’t decided what to do with the only doe of the three.  Maybe I should ask the person I got the two new does from if we can breed her to one of their bucks?  They live close so it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

A busy week and weekend lie ahead…  Work at the CSA tonight and Thursday.  Friday will be a travel evening after work back to my parent’s house in NW Ohio.  Saturday is a good friend’s wedding.  Sunday I will be coming back to the Rural Side, hopefully getting some work done around the house.  Monday is Memorial Day so I don’t have to work, which as a contractor means I won’t be getting paid at all, but the day will most likely be spent working around the house again.

In other news, I have launched my first business.  Still working on getting the name out and getting my first customer.  I’ll post more about it soon.  For now, check out the website for Cincinnati Backyard Farms (still a work in progress)

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Edible Landscaping

A blog post I read this morning mentioned that parts of the tulip are edible.  So I looked up what parts are edible and I find that the petals and the bulb are edible.  The petals taste like beans, lettuce, or nothing according to a couple sources.  The bulb doesn’t taste very good, could possibly be poisonous and would really only be used in a survival type situation, like World War II, when the Dutch were forced to eat them.  I have a few tulips in my yard but I haven’t tried eating them (mostly because I don’t know where the dog has gone to the bathroom!).

Another example I do enjoy eating from every spring is the Eastern Redbud tree.  I learned from a college professor that the flowers on the Redbud are edible.  To me they taste somewhat like soybeans.  There is a nice Redbud in our backyard and I will stop to sample them if I am hiking in the woods.

Eastern Redbud Tree

Eastern Redbud Tree

I’m looking for other edible plants, flowers, etc. that can be planted to add to the beauty of the landscape as well as provide something edible.  I would like to find plants that many people grow that they may not know are edible.

What edible landscaping plants do you grow?

Hard Work

I think most people don’t enjoy hard work anymore.  I’m the opposite.  I hate sitting at a desk all day.  I would much rather be working outside, gardening, farming or construction.  This weekend I had two days of hard work.  The kind of days where you are so tired you want to go to bed early.  Where you fall asleep the moment your head hits the pillow- or before if I happen to relax on the floor while watching a movie, which happened Saturday night.

Saturday I worked at the CSA for about 6 hours.  It was one of the most productive days that I have been there.  The farmer, coordinator, the other intern and I were all there along with a couple other volunteers.  We were all moving around non-stop, cleaning, organizing, potting seedlings, mixing soil, putting up brackets for hose storage, removing trash.  I was there for almost six hours and, besides driving my truck to get rid of some of the trash, didn’t sit down.  I got home from the CSA and did a few things around the house before watching the Kentucky Derby.  We then went fishing until it was almost dark, came home, watched 12 Years a Slave and went to bed.

Sunday I started off by making a peanut butter and radish sandwich, a favorite of mine that I learned from my mother.  Heather thought I was crazy when she saw me making it!  After taking care of the animals and doing a little work around the property I went down to help with the plant sale at the CSA.  It wasn’t too busy so after a little while with the four of us sitting around, the farmer decided we should plant some tomatoes in the greenhouse.  So three of us planted about 65 tomatoes.  Then we started weeding the rest of the greenhouse.  It was rather warm in the greenhouse and sun was shining so that really took some energy out of me.  However, as soon as I got home I felt like cutting up some logs and splitting firewood.  I did that for about an hour.  I figure if I do a couple hours once a week or fifteen minutes a day I will have the piles split so they can season in about a month.  I decided while splitting wood to build a new four section compost bin next to the fence with some of the pallets I had collected.  Two of the sections are ready to use but it still needs finished up.  I finished the day off building a little feeder for the cornish chickens.

After work today, I moved some manure from a pile next to the garden to the new compost bins.  I really should have taken it easy because my back was hurting after going to the chiropractor this morning.  When I went to the chiropractor this morning, my neck hurt from sleeping weird last night but my back felt fine.  When I left my back hurt but my neck felt fine.

Heather’s sister and her sister’s friend came out to fish in the pond tonight.  They caught several bluegill, one that was a pretty good size.  They are off getting ice cream, now.  They are supposed to bring me back some ginger ale for mixing with my whiskey, but I think I’m going to head to bed without it…

Chuck From the Rural Side

 

Invasive Honeysuckle

I have noticed that the Amur Honeysuckle, an extremely invasive species, have started to leaf out.  These plants were introduced into the US as an ornamental shrub and also promoted for erosion control.  See the Ohio DNR website for more information on the plant.

The hills around Cincinnati are covered in them where they have out-competed our native woodland species.  For me personally I am trying to rid my entire property of them, which is easier said than done.  They are shallowly rooted so pulling them up is the best way to get rid of them.  However, when you have a ten foot tall plant, the roots are well established so it is hard to do by hand.  For those I cut them off close to the ground and I try to go back to cut off any side shoots that reemerge.  I try not to use any chemicals around my property so persistence is the best way to get rid of them.  My neighbor to the East has said that he pulls them as well but he has 4+ acres, although he has a tractor with a bucket to help pull them.

I was recently talking to someone who goes out and cuts down the honeysuckle where it blocks the view from a hillside park in Cincinnati.  Some landscapers even advertise removal services, though I have never noticed anyone removing large amounts of it.  A tool known as the “Honeysuckle Popper” has been developed to combat the species.  I’m not going to spend $140 to help clear my property, but if I had more land I think it could be worth the investment.

Daylight Savings Time

This morning was rough waking up to it being dark out again.  The clocks sprung forward on Sunday morning, but of course I slept in yesterday so it was light out when I rolled out of bed.  Having light makes it easier to feed and water the chickens, who have greeted me each morning the past couple weeks hoping I would throw some scratch in to them.  This morning they were all still on their perches, sleeping just as I wish I still was.  But alas, giving up the light in the morning means more light hours in the evening when I can use them to get work done around the house.  I REALLY need to get my garden all cleaned up.  I only have a few more railroad ties to move out of the garden- of course they are the heaviest ones!  I’m debating on reusing them to make raised flower beds by the road or to give them away as I had originally planned…

I’ve also been trying to figure the drainage in our yard.  I decided to dig a hole yesterday to see what the sub-soils look like.  The top foot or so is a good layer of topsoil, which turns to a soft clay, then to a hard gray clay.  I went down about four feet and it was clay still.  I was hoping that there would be a more permeable layer down a few feet and I could make a dry-well.  The hole had about 6 inches of water in it already after an hour.  So I’m still trying to figure out a way to get decent drainage without having to spend a lot of money to put in drainage tile.

Tomatoes have also started sprouting!

Chuck From the Rural Side

2014 Goals

As we ring in the new year it is time to start thinking ahead to what I will be doing around the homestead in the coming year.  This has actually been on my mind since it got too cold to do much outside, but I had not sat down to write out my to-do list until today.  I actually made two lists, one titled “Personal Goals” which includes a bunch of things I want to do to make myself a better person and to help me get to where I want to be in the future.  For example, “Eliminate as Much Debt as Possible” is near the top of my list.  Since I first heard Dave Ramsey on the radio this topic has been on my mind.  This is the year I start in earnest on that goal, with one of the first steps being a comprehensive budget and Dave’s “Baby Steps”.  If this is one of your goals I suggest his website and radio program as a starter.

The second list is the one I will share here- Homestead Goals.  This list is comprised of many things that I want to do around house and property.  Some are necessities while others are things that would be nice to do.  Some will require budgeting and planning to accomplish while others are free or cheap to do and only require time and effort to do them.

Here is the list:

  1. Expand Greenhouse
  2. New Chicken Coop
  3. Fix Drainage
  4. Clean Pond Muck
  5. Build a Dock
  6. Build a Woodshed
  7. Split 3+ Cords of Firewood
  8. Remodel Bathroom
  9. Remodel Mud Room
  10. and finally…  25-50% of Food Requirements

Number one I have already been planning and got a bunch of free tempered glass to build the expansion with last year.  Two would be nice to do so that the coop is better and will not be in an area that floods when we get a bunch of rain.  Three should help to get the rain water from flooding my plants and yard every time we do get a bunch of rain.  Four is one I want to do a lot more work on than I have so far with the plan being to drain the pond (which doesn’t have any fish in it right now) and shovel out the muck and debris that has collected in there.  While the pond is drained I hope to do number five.  A woodshed that will keep our wood dry I view as a necessity- tarps just aren’t cutting it.  Seven, eight and nine are pretty much self explanatory.  Ten will be the focus of a longer post with how I plan to grow the majority of my food on the property but 25-50% should be a manageable goal, especially if I am able to get some meat chickens this year.

Flowers

When I bought the house last April it was still winter and we had snow.  From talking to the previous owner I knew they had done some landscaping around the place, planting flowers, hostas, and grasses.  Not knowing exactly what they had planted and where, I enjoyed all the surprises that popped up throughout the growing season.  Since it is again cold and snowy out I thought I would share some of the different colors of flowers I have seen around here.  Hopefully they will brighten your day and remind us all that spring is only a few short months away!

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One of the many types of daylilies

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Black-eyed Susan

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Anyone know what this one is?  The next picture is of it as well.  The flowers are on a six foot tall stalk and you can see the leaves some.  I would like to get more of these if I can figure out what they are called.

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These were late summer blooming lilies.  The flowers were only about the size of a quarter and I really like the color variation on these.