Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Category: Homesteading

Farming Gardening and Homesteading

Washed Out Roads In Rural Areas

Washed out roads in rural areas

Washed out roads in rural areas have the possibility of disrupting daily life for weeks, and sometimes for months.

One of the problems facing rural counties is the amount of tax money allocated to them for road maintenance and upgrades. Believe it or not, there are thousands of miles of dirt roads all over the United States. Rather than putting in bridges over creeks, culverts are used.

Well, culverts only allow X amount of water to pass through them. When the flow of water exceeds X, the water starts to back up. Eventually, the water will find a way around the culvert. This typically means the water goes over the road, which causes erosion.

With enough time, the flowing water erodes the road away.

Washed Out Roads

Wild Plum Crop Looking Good For 2018

Wild plums, the American Plum

The wild plum, also known as the American Plum, is a plum native to the Americas. It grows wild in sandy soil and is drought tolerant.

Here on the farm there is a batch of wild plums in a pasture and have been growing there for years. This year looks like they are going to produce a good crop.

I do not know if it was the harsh winter of 2017 – 2018, or the very sweet spring, but whatever happened, the wild plums here on the farm are doing pretty good.

Some of the trees have 5 or 6 plums on one branch.

There is a spot on the farm I want to cultivate more of these trees at. So when the plums ripen I am going to harvest the seeds and plant them where I want the other orchard at.

The only bad thing about wild plums is they need full sun. If they get shaded, chances are they will die back. Some pine trees grew up in the north side of the wild plum patch, and the plum trees around the pine trees have died.

2018 Spring Garden Has Been a Bust

Cajun Spicy Bell Peppers

The spring garden for 2018 has fallen flat on its face, and it is my fault. To fully understand what happened we need to back up a few years.

Several years ago I held a New Years bonfire. The bonfire was made from pieces of timber left over from cutting trees from the property. There was a large section of Sweet Gum, pine tree limbs… etc. piled up maybe eight feet tall. After the bonfire was lit, it burned for several days.

Once the New Years bonfire had finally died out, there was a pile of ash almost three feet tall and eight – ten feet across. The pile was so tall a tractor was used to level the pile out. Once the pile was leveled out, a tractor disk was used to mix the ash into the soil.

Fast forward a few years. I figured the ash had time to dissolve into the soil, but I may have been wrong.

What Does Potash Do?

How To Use a Garden Tiller to Till Manure Into a Garden

Load of chicken manure in a wheelbarrow

Using a garden tiller to till manure into the garden is a labor of love. It would be easier to pick up a bag of 13-13-13 fertilizer and spread it into the garden, than it is to shovel, spread, and then till.

In a way, tilling manure into a garden makes a full circle. The feed the animals ate came from the ground, so why not return it to the ground.

April 12, 2018 I tilled three wheelbarrow loads of chicken manure into the spring garden. Some of the seeds I put down in March did not take, so I redid the rows with manure, and planted fresh seed.

I also tilled chicken manure into the garden along the peppers and tomatoes, then raked the soil up around the plants. We are expecting terrible storms in the next 48 hours. So I worked the soil up around the plants to protect them from being damaged by the wind and rain.

To Till Manure Into The Garden:

Planted Two More Brown Turkey Fig Trees

During the spring of 2018 I decided to put two more Brown Turkey Fig trees here on the farm. This gives me a total of five fig trees. Three are in the chicken yard, and two are outside the chicken yard near the chicken house.

Planting the first set of fig trees in the chicken yard came with some problems. For one, they were a long ways from a water source. To water the trees, about 100 yards of water hose had to be strung together. They were also planted in sandy soil which did not hold very much water.

The two Brown Turkey Fig trees planted in 2018 were planted near the chicken house. the clay layer is around 12 – 14 inches below the surface, the the soil holds water better than the sandy soil. Also, the fig trees were planted where they could use manure in the chicken house as fertilizer.

Two More Brown Turkey Fig Trees

Planted Some More Pepper Plants

Garden salsa pepper plant

Decided to go ahead and get some more pepper plants in the ground. The local Walmart has their garden plants on sale, so I thought why not? I bought five more pepper plants for $2.94 each.

Peppers usually do a good job of withstanding the Texas summer heat. All they really need is plenty of water and they usually bear until the first frost.

For fertilizer I am using aged chicken manure from under the brooder house mixed with dirt. Also, under the plant is a fresh chicken yard egg. Using eggs as fertilizer is a little experiment I am doing this year.

More Pepper Plants

Rethinking Buff Orpingtons For My Prepsteading Chicken Flock

Buff Orpington Chick

There have been some events which have caused me rethink the Buff Orpingtons for my prepsteading chicken flock. Buff Orpingtons have been part of my chicken flock for around four years, and during that four years I have noticed a common trend.

When new chicks are bought from the local feed store, they are brought home and put in a six feet X eight feet brooder house. The house has perches, plywood walls, screened in floor, heat lamp… everything the chicks need to be safe.

The chicks are usually kept in the brooder house for around six weeks, and then put in the main chicken house. A lot of it depends on outside temperatures, and how feathered out the chicks are.

Buff Orpingtons

Garden Update: Contender Snap Bean Sprouts and Peppers

Contender snap bean sprouts

Contender snap bean sprouts are breaking through the soil and pepper plants are getting established. Some the peppers have died, and some are not looking too good, which is to be expected.

The pepper plants were planted in a garden spot around 100 yards behind the house. Just a couple of days after planting we got around 8 inches of rain overnight. I suspect a couple of the plants drown during the rain. Some of the pepper plants look nice.

One of the things I love about spring is the garden. Seeing sprouts break through the soil is a wonderful sight. They symbolize rebirth after winter is over.

No signs of the potatoes yet, but that is no big deal. It may take the potatoes a few more days. When the potatoes were cut, I made sure each eye had plenty of meat on them. The potato chunks provides nutrients so the roots and sprouts can get started.

Snap Bean Sprouts

Being a Good Country Neighbor

Cow in field

Part of being a good country neighbor in a rural area is treating people and their property with respect. There is an old saying, “People in glass houses should not throw rocks.” Here in the country, just about all of us have something to lose. Chances are most of us have chickens, ducks, dogs, cattle, goats, horses… etc. It would be a shame for my neighbor to shoot my dogs, when we both have chickens and dogs. It could just as easily have been his dogs that found my chickens, as my dogs found his chickens.

A few days ago I was walking to the back of the property with my dogs, when I spotted one of my neighbors cows. Not wanting the dogs to go after the cow, I took them back to the house and closed them up.

Planting Pepper Plants With Homemade Organic Fertilizer

Planting pepper plants

Let’s take a few minutes and talk about planting pepper plants and using homemade organic fertilizer. If there is one plant in my spring garden that has a special place, it has to be pepper plants. Because of that, pepper plants need some tinder loving care.

Pepper plants need nitrogen to grow big and tall, then they need potash (potassium) to grow peppers. Those are the first and third numbers on a bag of fertilizer. The middle number is bone meal (phosphorus), which promotes root growth.

Around the farm I have chicken manure, and some potash from the smoker. These were used to mix up some homemade potting soil, which will be used as organic fertilizer.

Aged chicken manure from the brooder house was mixed with potash and some topsoil in a wheelbarrow.

Planting Pepper Plants

The Story of Buster My Black Mouth Cur Farm Dog

Buster black mouth cur farm dog

On the Saturday morning of March 10th, 2018 I went to open the chicken house, and my Cur dog was not with the other two. Zoey, Ellis and Buster usually run together. Zoey and Ellis were home, but Buster was not.

He was not home before Saturday night. When dark rolled around, I was very concerned.

Sunday, I spent 3/4 of the day looking for buster. The rest of the day was spent getting ready for Monday.

Monday, got up and wrote some articles for alloutdoor, spent the rest of the day looking for Buster. Did a hiking trip through the area where the dogs usually prowl.

Monday night I was an emotional train wreck. Blaming myself for not having him fixed… etc.

6:30 Tuesday morning Buster was at the front door. Back leg looks like it was clipped by a vehicle. Nothing bad, just some road rash.

He is probably the most affectionate dog I have ever owned. He loves to snuggle in the bed, and will sometimes sleep with his head on my shoulder.

What Is a Prepsteader?

Kevin Felts blogger and political commentator

What is a prepsteader? It is someone who combines prepping and homesteading. However, the complete answer is a little more complicated.

To see the whole picture we need to go back to at least the 1970s, or maybe the early 1980s. What we consider prepping today was everyday life during the cold war.

During the Cold War, people lived under the constant threat of nuclear war. Because of that people kept a stockpile of food and other supplies. After all, you never knew when the bombs were going to fall.

When the Berlin Wall came down after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States entered into a short lived period of peace. For the first time since the end of World War II we were at a true peace.

The came along Waco, Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City Bombing. When it came out that Timothy Mcveigh was part of a survivalist group, the name survivalist became taboo almost overnight.

Survivalism In The 1990s

Spring Is a Beautiful Time of Year

Spring time sprouts on a fig trees

Spring is a wonderful time of year. Everything is blooming, birds are migrating, leaves are coming out, and farm supply stores have their plants in stock. This is one time of the year that is special to a lot of people.

The cold wet weather of winter is yielding to the warmer temperatures of spring. Old man winter is not finished though as March is an active time of year. The back and forth between cold and warm weather may remind observers of young boys having a shoving match on a school playground.

Eventually though, as sure as the sun sets and rises, old man winter must yield to spring, and spring must yield to summer. Before the oppressive summer heat sets in, maybe we should get outside and enjoy the warmer weather?

The winter of 2017 – 2018 will be one for the record books. Most of the nation has been cooped up in our homes for weeks on end. Our only ventures outside have been to go to work, home, buy groceries.. and the absolute necessities.

Difference Between GMO, Hybrid and Heirloom Seeds

Spring plants at a local outlet store.

What are the differences between genetically modified organisms (GMO) sometimes called GM, hybrid and heirloom seeds? Some people think hybrid and GMO are the same thing – they are not the same.

GMO – Genetically modified organisms. The seed has been modified on the genetic level. For example, a scientist may splice the gene from a fish into a corn seed. In nature that could never happen.

Hybrid – Cross pollination between two related species. For example, cross breed a horse and a donkey and you get a mule. A mule is a hybrid between two closely related species. In the plant kingdom, closely related plants can cross pollinate. If the seeds from a hybrid are saved, the seeds may be sterile. If the seeds do grow, the plant may not be like its parents.

Heirloom – Pollinated by its own species. Saved seeds will bear true to form. The seeds can be saved from this plant, and replanted over and over.

Watch The Dogs And I Walk Around The Farm

Puppy on a nature walk

Dogs and I went for a walk around the farm and made a video about it. I was looking for oak trees that may have blown over during a recent storm. The roots of oak trees run close to the top of the soil. When the soil becomes saturated, and then we get some high winds, there is a chance an oak tree will uproot an fall over.

Once we find a tree that has blown over, it is just a matter of cutting the tree up and splitting it for firewood. Unfortunately, we did not find any blown over trees this trip.

Pine trees on the other hand, they have a deeo tap root that is supposed to be around half as deep as the tree is tall. Because of the tap root, pine trees rarely blow over. If the winds get high enough, a pine tree is more likely to snap in half than blow over.

Nature Conservation Area

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018