Friday, November 19, 2010

Getting back up on my feet, Thanks Friends!! Flowering peace sign!!

As I find a better way to deal with the death of my parents, I found strength in other places in my life I never dreamed of. How I, as the rock of of family, that they were my rock in the toughest of times for me. My parents would not want me to feel sorry for myself and stop living my life. They would want me to pull up my boots straps and drive on and be a good leader/husband/brother/father. Easier said than done, but I have been able to fight off any sort of mental depression and work through these senseless murders.
I would credit my way of life a positive ledge to lean on during these times as things still need to be done around here as the seasons change. I also am planning to replant my cold frame to grow veggies in the winter. I also wanna show and teach you a great cheap remote solar lighting idea this winter.
Thanks for your continued support, I plan to get back after the holidays. Thanks to all my Kindle subscribers and hang in there. Thanks to all  my on line friends and followers of my blog... To all of you, you have helped me get through these dark days, thank you so much.....
Please be at peace with each other and mother earth.... And so I planted with my parents in mind a snow crocus peace sign in my yard.

I hope the flowers bloom late winter and they pop up when snow is still on the ground!!! It is the sign of the times!!!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I have some great things to share, please hang in there with me.

As I have let time slip between postings, my life has been nothing less than up side down. But things are getting back to what I would call as normal as it could be.

I have several great new ideas to share for remote solar lighting on a budget, and I do mean remote. I think you might wanna hang tight for this one, the weight of this project makes it great for camping or doing a trail on your homestead so folks can walk it at night.

I also have done some bartering and some other neat things I want to share.

 Here is a picture of some work I have commissioned a local artist to do for me. The idea was to make me a custom Totem for each of the four seasons. This is Old Man Winter, I was surprised he had gotten him finished so quickly I would have him made Autumn first.
 Hang in there with me folks, I will be back on a regular bases very soon!!!

Continue to pray for us, and love your Mother Earth!!! Peace Jay!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Where Do I Live? An Odd Town With 218 Other People, Funny Read

That's right!!! where the woods are full of Kung-Foo fighting bears!!

A place where mullets are out dated (sort of)

A place where the animals love everyone (thou you might be on the menu)

A place where if you wanna stop and dance, nobody's looking

A place where if your not careful you could get
on the cheek

And I think I now Hate snow!!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Springtime Warning, Early Spring Late Frost

If you happen to be in a area of the country that has a early springtime like I do remember to watch the weather patterns and prepare yourself to cover your garden/plants to protect from a late frost.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cold Frame Growing Your Own Food In Winter To Be Self Sufficient.

So as you have read I have been using a cold frame to grow some veggies. I think I built it correct but note that it sure does need watered quite often about every other day. I have tried to get my head around why but sometimes you just gotta get on with it.
I think I am doing pretty good with the garden soil as the test came out between 6.3-6.8 so I am pleased. I didn't test the more clay areas, that is a waste of time and I will plant and put fertilizer down when I grow there.
The bottom picture shows my Swiss Chard, something I have never grown before and perhaps will need to post a question on the forum. I don't want to crowd the buggers.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

First Pic Of My Garden 2010 In Zone 5a, Being Self Sufficient Thoughts

Well this year the soil looks very nice and all my hard work over the past three years is paying off. Like anyone else I expected more from the soil in the past years as I did so much work to get it to be so much better. I was pleased this year with most of the garden looking better than ever, except the upper right portion where I ran out of organic stuff last year and the year before. I had forgotten two years in a row, but the area is pretty small and still able to put some plants in.
I got my shallots, onions and next years garlic in already and hoping the weather will continue to head to warmer spring/summer days.
When we started our farm and decided to become more self sufficient, we didn't know what we faced or how life was going to be. The amount of pride that I have about the quality of my living is enormous as well as the wonderful food that we eat.
Finding local meat was a small challenge, but once I started reaching out to locals, they were ready to help. Now that I have established those relationships and fitting in with the community, I find myself realizing just how many people around me are living their life as self sufficient as they decide to do. There is a notable difference in attitudes among the people here compared with folks living in the city. Not as people, but as a general group. Folks here know the winter challenges we all face as well as a short growing season. I find that folks here are more willing to listen, help and offer direction if you ask.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Update Bramble Hedge Rows, Year Two, Fruit Tree And Nut Tree Warning!

Well I wanted to post an update for you folks who are wondering how my hedge rows were doing. Drew/Erin purchased their first blackberry plant and so I wanted to tell them yay and show them what they can expect next year.
First off, a warning of mixing fruit trees with nut trees. In my country wisdom book I read last year a chemical that is given off by nut tree roots system which spreads to the surrounding soil and doesn't allow fruit trees to produce buds/blossoms. I had said I would look that up, however time has limited me today to follow up on that research. However it is a survival defense for the tree so that it can allow its own seeds to fall and reproduce with any fruit tree taking up the space.
Second when pruning your brambles be sure to either trash the cuttings or burn them. If you don't your inviting all sorts of problems including fungi/rust issues.

The close ups are of my Darrow plants, on the lower end I do have some Chicksaw as well. Chicksaw has thorns, sharp, narrow ouchy ones that poke and draw blood. It produces a fine tasting berry though, my fav to eat fresh.
Country Wisdom book has some very good  instructions on how to raise berries. I credit them for me getting a nice harvest the first year and this years harvest is going to be wonderful. I do side dress my plants 3 times a year with 100% organic fertilizer and start to trim the main new stalks when they get 4-5 feet long. This alows for as many branches to grow for the next years harvest.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hedge Rows Grapes/Brambles How To Video

Sustainable Future? Are You Ready? One Step Forward!! Plant A Pot Of Veggies!

Some might read my blog and see the hard work it takes to become self sufficient, and I know I have only tipped the top of the iceberg. I know that I can only live a certain level of self sufficiency, but I have never regretted getting started. I can tell you that my struggles have been many, whether through my own mistakes or lack of understanding what is going on because I did not educate myself enough.
I wonder what the future holds for my children as adults? With a yearly boom of the population 88 million people, can the earth handle this amount of human life in say 30 years? If mankind keeps heading down this road we are on now, I fear that the earth will die in the next 30 years.
I wonder how many people have at least decided to have 2-3 meals a week without meat and have more than one/two servings of veggies per meal? I also wonder how many people have started their own sustainable future by growing a garden for the first time this year? If empty pockets in the seed display are a sign of people gardening this year, the future looks great as noticed when I passed the seed display the other day. I am by no means a vegetarian, I like to gnaw on my bones, but my point is a healthier choice of living better.

The day I opened my freezer, and all the food within was grown/gather/fished/hunted by me and my family members, the feeling was undescribable. Though I struggle with the weeds as I learn to become more weed free every year, I found that all the home processing/blanching/freezing/canning was a reward I did not truly understand till that day.
Take a gallon size container and grow a tomato plant for fresh tomatoes, once you eat your first one, you will be hooked!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fun Game For Earthday 2010, What Is Your Carbon Footprint?

One on of my fav sites is a new game, even though I am more than 60% self sufficient I found my carbon print to be eye opening. I can tell you that it more than made me think about how I can become more self sufficient, I need to do more to help our Mother Earth. Of course I am glad that I decided to start my changes some years ago, just wish I had done it sooner.
I hope that you and others wil understand and educate yourself how we need to save the world from our own destruction. I think that we need to do more, I need to do more, do you need to do more?
 This Is a fun way to see your carbon footprint 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Working The Soil In The Garden, Blight Warning!!

I have been working the soil in the garden for four years now, and its starting to get just where I want it. I would like it less clumpy reason the I added gypsum to break down the clay. I also have added tons of stuff to make new soil to grow plants. The fact that I see Robins in there almost all day long tells me there is plenty of worms in there.

Now, if you happened to get the blight as I did last year, remember not to plant your tomatoes in the same spot for the next 2 years. The blight spores are holding in the soil and it takes some time to kill them off. If you plant same place again than your maters will certainly be affected again this year by the blight and you will be passing it down wind. I was nothing less than disgusted last year when the plants I worked so hard to raise were killed. I was ill prepared last year and by the time I had educated myself, my plants were already starting to die.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Here Is A Rare Garden Soil Secret, 100% Natural For Your Soil, CHEAP!! Green House Up!!

There are few old tricks that can help you help your garden soil pretty cheap and all natural. What I started with 3 years go as garden soil was a top layer of soil, about 3 inches. The rest was clay and lots of stones, so from the first till I knew I had to add tons of organic materials. I would hate to guess how many tons of materials I hae foraged for, leaves, grass clippings, old mulch and mushroom compost.

I wish I had some follow up photos to share, but I tilled the garden and set my onions and shallots before the rain came. Than it was dinner time and a storm has moved in. But the soil color is getting better every year as well as my garden plants remain healthy and seem to be getting better every year.

Gypsum is used in soil to help break up clay as well as break the soil down to convert it into a finer textured soil to work with. It has no value so it won't change the acid/ph at all. It also helps to let air in for healthier soil.
Pound for Pound, Alfalfa Meal has the cheapest, most available nitrogen for your garden. For two years now I have added 4 50 pound a year into the soil. Mother Earth News covered this method last year it it is the cheapest most natural way to go. I paid 12.00 for a 50 pound bag. Consider doing it when it isn't windy outside as it is a meal/powder form of alfalfa. I will need to till the soil several more times before the Gypsum can do its job.
I did get the green house up with little effort, it took just a half an hour from start to finish, and I already have some seeds as well as plants. I plain to build a blueberry cage as well as consider getting my fence up in the near future before I can get some cold weather veggies in.
The plants in the cold frame are doing well, I sure hope I like swiss chard, we'll find out soon!!!!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Major Detour, Not Effected As Much As If I Wasn't Self Sufficient

Now with all the changes and big companies making folks buy what they want you to, and giving you food that is modified beyond what it once was. I understand like things in the test of time, man made items will fall to the earth if not dealt with.
A bridge which leads straight into the hub of the city center will be closed over the next 4 months. Depending on which part of town I need to get to, it will be a longer trip and several miles out of the way.
I suspect that my little country lane will become a hub and raceway to get to those back roads. On a busy day we might get 6 cars outside of the small handful of folks that live back here in the valley.
I have been hearing all kinds of folks angry that it is going to take so long and how much they will be effected by it. I myself like always, will continue to plan my trips into town as I always have. I also know of a old logging road that I could follow in my Hummer through the woods to get to the other side if I ever needed to. So for now my trips into town will be a few miles longer, as it is spring I will enjoy the view more than if it were winter. I do love springtime as the earth comes back to life!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cold Frame Veggies Are Coming Up!!!

So as you can see just in 9 days with night temps in the mid 20's to mid 30's and day time temps in the mid 40 to lower 50's we have food growing!!! My total cost for this project was about 32 dollars, I expect this will keep growing my veggies for a few more years without repairs, and may need to do some repairs then. I am excited!!!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fish Farming For Self Sufficiency In My Pond?

Considering I have a pond, deepest is 18 feet, about 140 feet long, on average 30 feet wide. I have large mouth bass that I sport fish for and release back into the pond. So why not put and feed some fish that I can harvest later on? I am considering crappie, yellow perch and catfish. I am also looking into some lake trout as well. Its just a new way I never considered in quest to being self sufficient.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Food Revolution What Are We Feeding Our Children? What's That?

My wife and I have been watching Food Revolution, and I am not only shocked by the "lunch ladies" ( as if I wasn't scared enough as a child ) but when they asked the first graders what the veggies were that Jamie was holding up they didn't know... I wonder how that could be, I mean kids didn't know what a tomato was, but they knew what a chicken nugget was.
When he made the "homemade" chicken nuggets, and the kids watched him as he ground up cartilage, fat, and scraps of meat, they agreed to eat it.
The second point being made was the children didn't know how to use knives and forks properly. Now my wife had a hay day with that as the lunch lady needed to proof the children in Europe learn to eat with knives and forks while they are very young. What parent doesn't teach their children how to use these items to eat with?

I love seeing the color of the grass coming back, some of the trees are start to come out now as well. I have started some of my veggies indoors this week. My tractor broke down yesterday, I doubt its serous and I think it is the starter as I added alfalfa meal to the soil for some early added nitrogen.  I will need to use some funds from my SS to pay for the repairs.

I also have decided that planning my garden this year is the most serous than ever before. I often wonder about the real pioneers and as well as what made my mom be like she was. I remember she had so much knowledge about animals and plants. She could spot leeks, wild mushrooms and other good eats while driving along the side of the road.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Self Sufficient Living Get To Know Me, Making Ends Meet. Part 2

Tickled that I now own these stakes, along with the different types of hammers I have, I should be able to make all different things I have drawn in my sketch book. I am sure that there is going to be a learning curve, and things will start out a little rusty, but to me that is like taking on an adventure.

I have been really think of my next piece of work, a set of table candle sticks, the solid copper set I designed first, I also designed a set of oak and copper. Simplistic in style with lots of traditional Craftsman bells and whistles. I am thinking maybe using tray/bottom of the candle to be a Aspen leaf, hop to have time in the next few weeks to get those done!

I am excited about my recent burst of creativity, I don't know what copper forms/things are going to come from it, but I feel like there will be some of my best work to date.!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Self Sufficient Living Get To Know Me, Making Ends Meet. Part 1

So if your just joining me and if your interested, I want to tell you a little more about me. If you didn't know, I am self employed and I am a Coppersmith/Master Craftsman. I have never been sure how those titles should fit together, so they are just there on their own. Some of you might be scratching your heads wondering what a Coppersmith is and whats that all about. I am a tradesman/crafter who works the metal copper, making many different things. If you want to visit my site you will see all the wonderful items I have made through the years.
In the beginning, times were pretty lean/tough, but I just kept coming up with ideas and my work was getting out there. My work is all around the world, and has been in magazines many times.
Currently as I expand into a new level of my work, the artistic side, ideas and designs have begun to flow from me. Some years ago the creative side kinda got left behind when I got caught up with so much going on at once, and it wasn't until I visited Charles Rohlfs traveling exhibit did it come back to me.
I designed a rain chain some years ago, and saw that others were coping my design and ideas. Today if you google the metal peddler, a company is paying to advertise under my name. It did make me mad at first, and my wife reminded me it was a sign of success.
As I continue to read about Rohlfs, I find that we have some common interest as well as ideas and insight. I happened upon a man named Sam some years ago, a metal worker as well, industrial type stuff, who had in his shop what I would say was a gem to a Coppersmith of these days.
Covered in dust/rust in the back corner of his shop was a metal working stand that had all sorts of metal forming stakes on it. I asked if it was for sale, he said 800 dollars and I could have it. I didn't have the money at the time, however would return later over the last couple years to see if I could buy it. My guess is that he found out how much it was worth and decided not to sell it to me.
The wife asked what I wanted for my 40th birthday, I told her that I wanted that stake set. She said that was fine, she has always supported my ideas and works of art and such. So finally, I went down and told Sam I was turning 40 y/o this year and he had my present. I suppose he has fallen on hard times by the looks of his shop, and maybe he just knows I would/could use them.

So I wire brushed them and cleaned them up, these could not have come to me at a better time. My stuff will no longer just be drawings, I got to get it done. I can't express to you the level of joy I have to now own these. I will need to make Sam something at some point in the near future. I also have my wife to thank for letting me have such a present 3 months before my birthday!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pictures Of My Pantry And Root Cellar With Food Stores Left..

Sorry about the sizing of these photos, so its not going to be pretty, just keeping it real. So just short of April, harvesting season still 4-5 months away in the new garden, if I were living as a true pioneer, my veggie supply would be low. Back in those days, I am sure there were no hunting/fishing restrictions, and with that I would have planned accordingly. I also would have prepared better storage if I needed. So just for fun, I decided to let you see into my pantry.

I have read some interesting books about pantry construction and uses. Catherine Pond wrote a book a few years ago. It is informative, and show lots of pretty pictures of some of the most beautiful well used pantry's I have ever seen.
Pantry, The: Its History and Modern Uses 

Presented here is Jams on top back (straw, black, rasp, straw-rhubarb) on top right is the last of my dried mushrooms. Hanging in a plastic basket are the last of my shallots, the dried plant were once filled with red chili peppers, on the second shelf are dried pumpkin seeds, stewed bell peppers, salsa, deer meat, ketchup, and a general sauce.

So my freezers are still half filled with other veggies, and if I didn't have a freezer, I would have canned more veggies. My freezers contain only the food I grew, hunted, caught. However I did purchase some Rainbow trout to add to the mess DS and I caught last spring. We still have 11 pounds of cat fish we caught last fall.

So as for being SS this past year, I think I would give myself a B- because I purchased some tomatoes because mine caught that blight, and I still bought new materials for some projects.

My goal is not to be 100% off grid, my goal of self sufficient is to provide more than 80% of my families needs within my level of living. I believe I have saved close to 5,000 to 6,000 dollars by providing for myself in ways that I can.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dumpster Diving Waste Not Want Not

So guess what? Okay, I broke the law today. If you wanna get me in trouble, go ahead and call the Man.

So there I was minding my own business, driving the back way out of a shopping center, in the distance what do I see? Thats correct, some one throwing something useful away. It didn't take me but a split second to decide if this dive was going to happen. See I know the material quality, and what a awesome find to use for tarps!! These things are 10 times better than tarps, and useful for all kinds of things. So I waited, and when they shut the back door, I was faster than the duke boys flying over a bridge-less ravine. It was an all out snatch and grab, so as karma would have I said ten he!! marys while doing it just in case the big man up stairs didn't like it so much.

But for my troubles, lookie at what I got.... and they are 44 inch wide by 18 feet long, a total of 9 of these banners.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cold Frame Mistake, Still Almost 80% Free Materials!!

I made a huge mistake when building the cold frame. I took out a sliding glass window, so I framed that in thinking it would be nice to have for a cold frame. I built it on a hard level surface, moved it to the location I decided would work the best. Then I started loading the dirt in, I filled one side pushed it over to be level. So as I went to move the window over, it was stuck, so thinking about it, the frame must have twisted while under all the weight.

I didn't want to loose the glass, after some prying and moving, I was able to remove the glass. So I had to do some back yard engineering and figure out how to hinge it. So I had some hinges I bought at a auction last year, and was able to fit/screw those to the window metal frame than back to the box. It needed some work on it now as well. I had to use my first piece of new lumber that I paid to use on this project.

I took the cost of dirt out of my SS fund and mixed it with some of my own dirt from the tater baskets last year. I have put the word out on some containers that I am going to paint black, fill with salt water to absorb heat during the day.

Somehow I thought this project was pretty straight forward, and through doing it I learned a few things I didn't expect to happen. I was a bit snuffed by how to mount the glass and in the end figure it out after thinking it over a couple days. I will also need to seal the edges a little better. Personally, I don't think I know it all, but I am always willing to learn from my mistakes. The frame tweaking never occurred to me, also the reason I need to put a small seal around the window.

You wouldn't believe how much I am learning on my way to being SS, its not everyday, but more often than if I just lived like most of the population.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Free Seeds Leave A Comment

I have 3 packs of Silver Queen corn to give away, leave me a comment and email me your snail mail address and I will send it to you for free!!!!

92 days to grow/harvest

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Big Melt Is Here!!

Yesterday with all the snow melting, I inspected the pond area where I was concerned about it possibly over flowing towards the house. I cleaned out the drain and placed a small pipe down it as the water was bouncing around the top rather than flowing down. That seemed to work well, as all the water coming down the mountain from both the rain and melting snow. I am pleased at the rate of the melt as I was worried as it might melt the same rate as it did a couple years age and we had big troubles that year and it washed out both of my driveways. This years big melt pics looking down the driveway to the shop.
 Here is a couple from when the big melt happen a few years ago.