Monday, September 12, 2016

Use What You Have!

My friend Brent really wants backyard chickens.  He bought a used coop that ended up just being a nightmare.  I went over to his place to help him work on it and it didn't take long for us to realize that there was no way to fix the thing in the few hours that we had!  We decided to take a drive to see if there was a new one in town that he could buy.  After seeing the prices there was no way I was going to let him go down that road!  Going into debt for fresh eggs is ridiculous!  

I had him tow the coop to my house where I could work on it over the course of a couple weeks and I'm really pleased with how it turned out! 

Here are some before and afters:




Thursday, August 25, 2016

Loom It!



Like anyone who loves fiber arts I am always fascinated by looms and the projects made with them.  I've never taken the leap to purchase a loom but, after seeing an idea on Pinterest, I decided to make a pin loom to try my hand at it. 

You go into a project like this not realizing just how damn tedious it's going to be to hammer in all those tiny nails lol! 
 
It was worth it though!  This type of weaving is hella enjoyable...It reminded me a bit of those potholder looms from when I was a little girl.  I'm not sure what I'll use it for but I can see that it will, at the very least, be a way for me to utilize the novelty yarns that I just had to have but that can't be knit or crocheted with!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

So Cool!

One of the things that I love about gardening is how aware it makes us of where our resources come from.  I felt this when I grew the luffa gourds last year.  I had always known that luffa came from the inside of a certain gourd but it never occurred to me that it was something that could be grown locally.  Earlier this year I went to a seed exchange and one of the items that I received was a small bag of sesame seeds.  I looked at the seeds and then at the man who had given them to me... I guess he could see the disbelief on my face because he grinned and said "RIGHT!?!"  

There are a few things that I want to try that are outside of the norm.  Tobacco and peanuts are on the short list. Sesame seeds, however, had never crossed my mind.  But...I thought I'd give it a shot and LOOK!!!!



Do you see all of those pods along the stalk?  Each one of them holds dozens of sesame seeds! 


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Soap!

Making my own lye soap has been on the to do list for years... the one thing that got in my way was my fear of working with the lye. I'm not very graceful and I spill...a lot!  The thought of doing so with lye is terrifying.  BUT... sometimes you just have to get over it and move on so that's what I did!  AND I LOVED IT!   Online soapmakers have told me that once I tried it I'd be hooked and I can honestly say that they were right...I cant wait to make the next batch!   
 
 
I wanted to start with a basic soap that I didn't have to fiddle with dye and scents.  I chose an Oatmeal and Honey Goat's Milk recipe. 
 
 
It has ground oatmeal inside of it which should make for a fantastic exfoliating soap.

 
I love how it turned out!  Now comes the long wait to let it cure before I can use it!


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Gravity Powered Chicken Compost


When I was determining where to put the chickens on our property it was important to me that they be in a place where they could get sun and shade.  It was also quite important that they be put in a place that allowed us to utilize our available space wisely. 

The area that we eventually chose is a steep hill.  I haven't done the math to see how steep it is but I can tell you that it was steep enough to be a pretty big pain in the ass to mow!!  Not only was this part of the yard the perfect place to put the chickens, it was ideal because we would no longer have to mow there! 

About a year into keeping chickens I was reading a blog post on Milkwood that outlined their plan to use a steep chicken run as a gravity compost set up.  I knew immediately that this would work in our run.  I pulled several downed trees from the woods and put them crossways in the coop. 

This photo is taken with me standing at the first row so that one is not shown.

 
The entire thing has worked great.  When I clean out the coop I leave everything in a pile at the top of the run.  Over time, the chickens scratch through it and during the normal use of the coop, the material slowly makes it's way down the run.
 
The logs have been in the run for almost 2 years.  Today I went to the very bottom and cleaned out the compost at that level. 
 
The compost was over 8 inches deep!  Now, that's not to say that it's completely composted, the top 3 inches still had small bits of straw in it.  But, for the most part, it was good to go!
 
 
The bottom level is roughly 5 ft by 5 ft.  I took 20, yes TWENTY, buckets of material from it!
 
This picture shows the space after it was cleared of the compost.  Our ground has a VERY heavy clay content...you can see where I scraped down to it on the lower left hand side.  I probably could have gotten another bucket or two if I had wanted to get really nitpicky about it and scrape the entire area.


 
 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

An Unhappy Garden

When you live the majority of your life in one climate and later move to a different one there are many changes to deal with. Aside from culture shock, the most significant thing that I have experienced is a disconnect from what has always been a very intrinsic awareness of seasons. Planning, seed starting, planting, fertilizing, and harvesting all happen at relatively the same time each year.

When you move to a different planting zone, all of those times change.  Over the past 10 years I've learned to compensate for that through trial and very unfortunate error.  However, this year has brought with it a challenge that I haven't faced before and the solution is going to have to be dramatic. 

My raised beds get too much sun!  Crazy talk, right?!  Impossible!  But...it's so true!  Do you see this?  This is a VERY unhappy garden:
  
When you plant a garden in Zone 4, which is the zone that my people grow in, the season is short and there is a need for as much sun as possible.  When I planned this garden space I reveled in the fact that it would get full sun almost all day long.  I neglected to take into consideration that this is Zone7.  7b in fact.  It's a hot mother out there!  Full sun is not going to cut it when you're on the top of a mountain in the soul crushing heat that is an Arkansas summer!
 
My poor plants are paying the price for my oversight and I've been making plans to remedy that.  I knew that I'd have to replace the raised beds in the next few years because I made them with repurposed lumber that has definitely seen better days.  I'm still planning on exactly what I'm going to replace them with but I do know that they will be irrigated this time as well as having some pvc hoops that I can put a sun screen on in the hottest part of the year.  That and the addition of some fruit trees should make a huge difference.
 
 
 
 


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Fun!!!


My friend Katie has two amazing kids and I love them like crazy!  I wanted to make them some softies and knew right away that I would do a pink bear for her little girl.  I wanted to do either a lizard or a dragon for her little guy but he couldn't choose between them so we went with both :-)

All patterns are available on Ravelry

 


Her son did the honors of naming each animal.  The bear is Girl Bear, the dragon is Spikes, and the Chameleon is Corndog LOL!

Girl bear looks different now than pictured because I chickened out about using the plastic eyes for a baby... She's not as cute with the crocheted eyes but definitely safer!