Archive for July, 2010

30
Jul
10

Working on our Water Well…

We spent the entire day Saturday working on our well.  We have a foreign matter of some sort floating in our water.  It’s clogging our exterior filter, our faucet heads, and decreasing the flow in our Berkey water filter so something had to be done.

Since our well was install a million years ago it had an actual metal pipe instead of a flexible plastic pipe to bring the water to the surface.  In order to pull our well and clean it out Randy had to open up a hole in our well house roof and borrow a bucket truck to pull the pipe out of the ground and through the roof.

See the little step stool so I could get my stubby self up on the back of the truck to help run the bucket.

You just can’t find good help with clothes around these parts!

Here comes the pipe.

It was pieced together in 25 foot sections, give or take.

Here is the first piece.

The second piece.

And finally, the third piece.

This was my job.  I was in charge of tilting the bucket which cannot be done in the bucket and has to be done by this lever on the back of the bucket truck.  See how it’s clearly marked…..I nearly dumped Randy out of it on a pratice run : )

The well was cleaned and the metal pipe was replaced with the flexible pipe.  However, now we are having issues with sand in our water and still small bits of tree root.  Getting well service people to come to your house takes and act of Congress in our neck of the woods, so we are patiently waiting for someone to come take a look.  We may have to dig a new well so we (and I use the term “we” here very loosely) are researching different solar wells and hand pumps.  We hope to use a solar well for our home and have another well dug with a hand pump installed east of our house for water livestock and some lone flowerbeds on that side of the property.

**Soapbox Warning.

More and more people are having trouble locating water here in Kansas.  Could it be the incredible number of irrigation systems dumping thousands of gallons of water a minute onto fields?  In the rain, in the blazing heat of the day, and on the windiest of days these systems run to bring water to crops better left to farmers in the North (corn, soybeans, etc.).  We are the breadbasket state and should maybe consider sticking to wheat which will grow just fine without the use of these systems.  How nice it would be to step outside and not here the roar of an irrigation system engine off in the distance.

I’ll share more details on our first step to taking our house off the grid if and when we get someone out to investigate the situation.  We have a feeling the well service company we may use is from an older generation and might frown upon our ideas to use solar and good ol’ fashioned elbow grease, but hopefully that is not the case.

Have a wonderful day!

28
Jul
10

Flowers and Bad Little Kitties…

The flowers are in full bloom around our farm. 

We have more butterflies, bees, and dragonflies than I have ever seen.

Probably due to more fruit and flowers than our farm has ever seen.

Passionflower…we got starts of this plant from our neighbor.  We planted it under an old gas tank out by our wildflowers and sunflowers.  It is an aggressive vine that can easily take over if not controlled.

Sunflowers

These sunflowers are out near our wildflowers.  They are 6-12 feet tall and just beautiful.  There are so many genetically modified seeds out there (thank you Monsanto) affecting a plant’s ability to drop seeds that will germinate the following year.  We decided to buy organic seeds in hopes that some seeds would make it back  into the ground and come up again next summer.

Here is our naughty little cat, Pudgy.  He’s looking toward the cat door where he is supposed to be headed so we can lock him up for the night.

“Eh, I’m not ready to go in yet!”

Pudgy was a tame sweet kitten when we first brought him home.  As he got older he got wild.  We can pick him up if we catch him at the food bowl, but you better hold on tight.

When all the other cats are locked up for the night, Pudgy likes to lounge on this chair and refuses to go into the pool house where they are locked up safe and sound.  Every so often he pushes us to the limit and gets locked out for the night.  He then has to resort to sleeping under the pool deck.  The following evenings he tends to be the first one in the pool house….remembering vividly his night out in the “wild.”

Have a great day!

23
Jul
10

Foraging and Scottish Highland Cattle…

The past few weekends I have been doing a little foraging around our homestead.  I spent the morning weeding our wildflower area and decided the dandelion greens would be a nice addition to a salad.  So I ran inside to grab my basket and collect a few.

I have read a lot about the benefits of dandelions in Dandelion Medicine by Briggite Mars and online. 

“Dandelion root ( Taraxacum officinale ) stimulates bile production, thus improving liver function, which when sluggish, can contribute to fatigue. Dandelion root improves digestion and increases vitality.” 

All of us could probably benefit from a little liver cleansing these days.  Toxins in the air, soil, and everywhere else cause a burden on our system trying to eliminate these toxins from our body.

I also got to crawl around in these thorny things.  These are sandplum bushes and they grow wild in Kansas.  Everywhere you look (that the township can’t get to and spray) there are sandplums growing.

The plums themselves are tart and not great for eating right off the bush, but they make the best jelly and wine.

So I soaked them, washed them, and bagged them up in 2 1/2 gallon freezer bags and tossed them in deep freeze.  When fall rolls around and our house in nice and cool I will fire up the stove and get to making jelly and wine.  Right now it’s just too hot to mess with them.

I had lots of help when I was out in mom and dad’s pasture picking sandplums.

First there was just one curious bystander.

Then a couple more.

Then a little closer.

And a little closer.

Then it was just time to hang out, stare at me, and make me a little nervous.

The little guy wasn’t too sure it was safe.

But finally started creeping out from behind his mama.

Finally I had enough cow time.  They were really close to me.  Sniffing me.  Watching me.  And breathing down my neck.  I decided to pack it in and loaded up the four-wheeler to head back to the house.

See that little shaded area under the sandplum bushes??  That’s where I WAS standing.  They didn’t waste anytime taking over my spot once I was outta there. 

They really are the best little cows.  The Scottish Highlands are tame and gentle, but were just too curious for me that day.

22
Jul
10

Roxy…

When I went in the pool house to do chores the other evening this is what I found.

Sleeping Beauty

Life is so hard for this little kitty.  We’re fairly certain Miss Roxy has yet to catch a mouse on our farm.  Even the grasshoppers and butterflies are safe.

This is her…I’m-up-so-there-at-least-better-be-some-food-in-my-dish look.  She spends the better part of her days inside the pool house.  She has food, water, and a tower to sleep on.  What else does a girl need?

21
Jul
10

Coyotes on our farm…

Monday we got a phone call from a neighbor that a sheep had died in our pasture.  We had been battling intestinal parasites ever since we received inches upon inches of rain leaving a nice damp pasture for them to thrive.  We assumed we had overlooked someone and they had succumed to the infestation with the help of a 100 degree day.

Dad went to check it out and called back to let us know a coyote had killed one of our ewe lambs.  He was nice enough to deal with her so she didn’t lay out there all day until we got home from work to take care of her.  Randy had been letting the sheep out around 6:00 before he leaves for work.  It’s still fairly dark, but we felt confident they wouldn’t wander out far in the dark and hadn’t had any predator problems to speak of.  This particular morning this little girl was not only at the far end of the pasture, but had crossed the electric fence to the other side away from the llama and most of the flock.  She was a target.  The coyote scooted under the fence and nabbed her.

That evening we had a guy come over to set snares to try to catch the coyote.  Since the lamb had already been hauled off it was a long shot she would come back for it, but we were still hopefull.  We found where she had dung under the fence and the hunt was on.  Above the hole  you could see a bend in the fence where she had come back through the fence in a hurry, went to high, and ran her nose into the woven wire fence leaving a big nose print.  The lamb wasn’t eaten completely so between that and the nose print in the fence we thought she had gotten startled and bolted, but may be back for the remains.

It’s day 2 and no coyote has been caught.  We have to rotate the sheep to the other side of the pasture this weekend which will put them on the side the lamb was killed.  We were really hoping we would catch the coyote before we had to move them, but so far nothing.

I’m so thankful we have someone who wants to set snares and try to get the coyote for us.  Snares are awful and shooting a dog is not something we would enjoy at all.  The only thing that would keep us going if we were left to the task is the thought of our little defenseless lamb and what it went through when that same coyote killed her and the fact that coyote would kill again if given the right opportunity.

Wish us luck as we hunt down the killer!

19
Jul
10

Family Togetherness…

We had the whole family together over the weekend.  It is so much fun when we all get together.  Maybe a little overwhelming at times, but definitely fun.

We had big cousins!

We had little cousins!

We had parenting lessons!

We need to keep working on it though!

All in all it was a very fun day with lots of laughs.  Hopefully we can all do it again soon!

 

 

18
Jul
10

Stewart…

Thursday Stewart got into the backyard with our dogs.  We have absolutely no idea what would possess him to do that since the cats have been so good to keep away from the dogs.  Randy was home and heard the commotion and ran out to get the dogs off of him.  Stewart ran off and eventually bolted under the pool deck.  We tried pulling up boards to get to him, but could never find him.  He died of his injuries before we could get to him.

This little guy was wild, but adorable with little chipmunk cheeks.  One day he drug a nearly full-grown rabbit (still alive) home.  I chased him down in hopes of saving the rabbit, but he scooted under the pool deck before I could catch him.  He was a good addition to our farm and will be greatly missed.




Adopting one child won't change the world; but for that child, the world will change.

I am the wife to my wonderful husband and joint care giver to the many animals we have acquired on our small farm here on the prairie. This is a bit about our life on our farm. We are striving for simplicity and self-sufficiency, determined to become debt-free, trying to live in tune with the natural cycles of this earth, and challenging ourselves to transition to a diet based on traditional foods. It isn't always easy, and we don't always succeed, but it is a fun learning process. Join us as we stumble through learning how to provide for ourselves, get off the treadmill, and work toward a simpler way of life.

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