Homesteading Update

Well today we had some storms move through dropping about an inch of rain, in addition to last weeks two and a half inches. The winter rye grass is now growing good. Lately I have been battling the gophers and I’m not too sure who is winning at this moment. We are WAY past trying to scare them off or poison them. We are now trapping and killing the little pests with a variety of traps. It is working but they are getting smart and figuring out how to push dirt into the traps to either set them off or clog them up. Maybe they aren’t smart and are just a dumb gopher but sometimes I still feel like I am playing some sort of strategic war game with them.

I have had some time off work the last week and will for another few weeks. With my time I made a several page list of things that need to be done around the homestead to prepare for this winter. There is wood to chop and stack for next winter, pipes to insulate, and plenty of things to build.

Last week we made some more applesauce and canned some pears and apples in heavy syrup. They are absolutely delicious. I just wish that it wasn’t so much work to peel and core apples by hand and that we could do more. It also takes quite a bit of time to do. This next week we are looking at making and canning some more salsa and spaghetti sauce.

This week I installed some new lights in my shop to brighten up the place. I also installed some floods on the front of the house so we can see the dogs at night when we let them run around.

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I installed three of these super bright lights.

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Before.

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After. You can tell more of a difference in person.

An exciting update on my hand powered water well pump project. I have finally been able to connect it into the plumping in the well house and I am happy to say I can pressurize my household water supply to 30 psi, which although is low, it is still enough to flush a toilet or shower with. With just two minutes of pumping I was able to store enough water in my well’s pressure vessel to run the shower for three and a half minutes! Sure it is not a long shower but in an emergency situation it will still be nice to be able to take, one and if someone was outside pumping we would have unlimited water use. That hand pump really has turned out to be better than I imagined. It has a 5 GPM output rate which is great for a hand pump!

In the wonderful world of amateur radio, I recently have made many contacts throughout North America on various HF bands. My rig only puts out 5 watts and I only work SSB so these contacts lately have re-sparked my interest in the hobby. Last night I pulled an old ground plane antenna that I built from a couple pieces of wire and PVC pipe and decided to put it up. The antenna wires were all bent up from the move so I just straightened them by hand and made them look “right”. I used a 10′ section of PVC pipe and added another 3′ section to it, then mounted the whole thing on my fence. In all the antenna can’t be more than 20′ in the air. I hope to get it much higher in the coming weeks so I can get better coverage but already the antenna is far surpassing my expectations. Today a cold front moved through and brought with it some good weather for VHF propagation. I was able to get into a repeater that is on top of a very tall hill over 145 miles away with only 5 watts! That is one of my furthest distant contacts I have been able to make on 2 meters. Soon I will post an article on my homemade antennas.

Our chickens are doing great. They have been let out daily and since we have started doing that they have become a lot less fussy. There is still some picking as they try to figure out the pecking order but it is not bad. Our Blue Andalusian rooster is crowing like crazy and starting to get a little annoying but he is definitely the most mature and best looking one in the bunch, not to mention the top of the pecking order. Kallie and I want to keep him around because we think he will protect the flock. Speaking of protecting the flock, we have had several visits from the hawk. Last week I walked outside and heard a weird squawking  coming from the chickens. One of the Cochins was making the noise and all the birds were huddled together in some brush under a tree. I walked down to them and as I got close to them the hawk flew out of the tree above them. I am just glad that the chickens are smart enough to know danger and how to protect themselves from it. They are not full grown yet.

Some Bramas foraging for food.

Some Bramas foraging for food.

Well I think that is all for now although I know I am forgetting stuff. We will keep you updated as we get our long list of chores done.

-Dale

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