Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The First Time We Saw the Land in Four Months

There had been so much rain for...months.  The road was not passable.  We kept checking back.  And then, last week, unexpectedly we were able to get down the road again!  The last time we saw it, the whole shoulder of the road all the way to the ditch had been scraped clean down to sand.  We had sown a couple of POUNDS of various seeds I'd kept over the years.  We had no idea what we'd find because the floodwaters washed a lot of them away.  But as we neared the property...I became like a little girl again.  The pics can't pick up these without "orton-ing" them color-wise, but it was the only way to somewhat capture it on camera...

JOY!!!!  Flowers waiting like a celebration as we lay eyes on the farm for the first time in soooooooo long!!!

Thanking Jehovah!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

I Need Your Suggestions About This Website

It's that time again.  I'm feeling the need to purge and organize and overhaul this website.

I'd LOVE your input.  Should I take down the blogroll? It's been up there, obviously, since 2007 and is longgggg. 

You guys are so good at websites yourself, are familiar with homesteading blogs and so on, and know what you like.

I still do not want to include ads on the page, even though I'm not averse to a wish list sidebar if it ever comes to that.

ANY ideas you have, just shoot them out here.  They will not hurt my feelings!  I might or might not use the suggestions, but I will definitely consider any and all of them.

Thank you in hit me with  your best shot  :-D

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fascinated by Alternative Beehives

Photo source unknown
(This picture was sent to me by my kindred spirit Teri, who is always in tune with the things that make my heart sing!)

We've ordered a good beginning beekeeper book and we are learning what we can through blogs (Hey, Warren!) and books and online information before approaching someone here locally to mentor us when we start our first hives. 

Bees can be so exciting!  Watching honeybees busily glutting on goldenrod and purple loosestrife out at the farm is something I think I could really do for makes me so happy to see them with plentiful nectar forage, zooming here and there and feasting.

We met a nearby landowner who has hives and who I know will give us the benefit of his expertise in the event we get some of our own hives...hooray!!

I'm writing this short post in order to have a link to alternative hives I haven't heard that much about, and so I can find the links faster. 

The two I find very interesting right now are the Tim Rowe Rose hives and the Oscar Perone hives.  I have a book about the Rose hives and I am really interested in his system and finding anyone who has tried them.
Here are a few videos introducing this method:
First Rose Hive video
Second Rose Hive video
Third Rose Hive video

I am also interested in knowing more about the Perone hive, which mimics a hollow log concept, some parts of which are not designed to be removable.  They say it is designed to have a really large population of bees and takes 2 or 3 years before being fully established enough to have excess honey for human harvest.  Nicole at The Pantry Book built an observation Perone hive and I'm following her experiment with great interest:  PERONE HIVE LINK

There's also a youtube video that goes into some detail about its design and operation.

OK, that's it...just wanted to have these links pinned here for convenience.  If you keep bees, I'd love to learn from any advice you would like to share! 

Dan's GREAT 40x4x4 Raised Beds, Ft Myers Area

This post is SO late!

And I owe HUGE apologies to Dan, the builder of these awesome raised beds!  How do I begin to apologize for a nearly 4-month delay??

These pictures were all taken in July.  July, I say.

Over the past few months we've had multiple internet access difficulties and technical problems.  While the moment is ripe, I'm GOING to post these pics that should have been posted in JULY.

In July, we cobbled together the finances to get a piece of equipment that, we hope, will allow us to clear some of the land without the need for renting the big machines.  We'll eventually have to do that, but it's very costly.  Every now and then we'll do a craigslist search of certain items on our Needs list to see if there's a real bargain to be had.  Riding mowers, bush hogs, tractors and the like are still out of our range even on craigslist.  But under Brushcutters, we found a listing for an old walk-behind with an older German engine and never-used replacement blade.  The price was right so we made the drive to Ft. Myers to see a man named Dan.  He really didn't want to sell, but needed to, and after Jack checked it out the deal was done and we loaded it up.

It had begun to rain.

Little did we know it would not stop raining pretty much for the next three months.

Here's a pic of the brush cutter.  We put $100 or so of repair into it, just what Dan had told us it would need to keep on keeping on.  It was an incredible deal for something that cut like a mini-bush hog that new would have been priced in the four digits and well out of our range.

In chatting we found out Dan was a farmer most of his life and now where he lives he's still growing enough food to put up a prodigious amount for fresh and freezer.  We had brought him cuttings of moringa and chaya, and even though it was raining, we really wanted to see the raised beds he had mentioned building.  In the drizzle and the soppy field, this glorious sight awaited:

These are his 40 foot long and 4 foot wide, 4 feet high raised beds.  I mean there are raised beds and then there are THESE...this one is obviously about to be spread with another layer of fertilizer.

They were simply beautiful!  But that's not all.  In these pics, they are between harvests.  Dan raises starts of whatever will go here first and then plants them.  But they are designed like big 40 foot long grow pots.  You know those all-in-one containers that have food, water, soil, all in a kit?  He did just that, but on a bigger scale.

Down inside these beds, they are angled with a water reservoir (if I understand correctly) and moisture barriers where water and wood don't need to touch.  It's designed to drain efficiently without water waste, and has a built in drip system, all put on a timer.  You plant, set the timer, and do other things.  Lest the photos look out of proportion, these beds came up to my waist!  The posts alongside are there for support, and the beds are designed to alleviate a lot of bending when planting and harvesting.  I just really loved the innovation and detail in these!  It's a whole garden, even though there was an in-ground garden just beyond them.
Here Dan is kind enough to pose in the rain with his handiwork.  His full freezer of every kind of vegetable attests to the success he's had with this system.  It's especially worthwhile because in Florida summers the weather can be anything from drought to deluge.  These beds really make for more accessibility and are so useful.

When asked if he builds for others, he stated he certainly would, from ground up to finished product, for a very fair price.  In a state with a large elderly population and variable weather, and huge suburban areas, I can imagine just one of these huge raised beds, designed to be mostly hands-off as far as maintenance and watering, would go far to feed a family.  I have Dan's permission to list his phone number here in case anyone within driving distance of Ft Myers, Florida, would be interested in contacting him for more information about having one, or more, built.

Dan:  239-785-9329

Please call him...these are so worth seeing and having more built!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Surinam Cherries

Unexpected harvest of Surinam cherries from the small bush we planted years ago , which has never fruited until now!  We have so few plants growing from the past that this was quite a surprise.

Also, one papaya tree fruited and one recently ripened on the was sweet and delicious!  Last year's harvest was prolific but we could never get to ripen well and had to eat them green (cooked).

So nice to have actual edible fruit from this little Surinam cherry bush, even if it's just a handful