Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: homesteading

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.

The Meme Has Ruined Prepping

Kevin Felts political commentator

Sites like Facebook and Pinterest changed the face of survivalism. Over the past few years there has been a gradual shift from real prepping, to reading memes. Looking at a meme and pictures satisfies our desire for instant gratification.

There was once a time when people were truly interested in prepping. Survivalist joined forums, read blogs, made YouTube videos… etc.

Today, people are happy to just look at memes and invest as little time as possible in prepping.

For example:

Post a meme on Facebook, and it may get thousands of likes and hundreds of shares.

Post a link to an article, and it gets nothing. After all, an article would require people to do this thing called “read”, and this other thing called “thinking.” Who has time to read or think when the meme can explain everything?

Why should we read about gardening, when all we have to do is look at memes?

Why should we read about raising chickens, when all we have to do is look at memes?

Real Life Prepping

Shifting Gears On The Farm

Mahindra 4530 4-wheel drive tractor

As hunting season winds down, it is time to start working on the farm. During November and early December I try not to make too much noise. This means no chainsaws and no tractor. Why? Because people on the hunting leases next to the farm are sitting in their stands. My dogs roam those hunting leases, and I would like for the people to not shoot my dogs.

So after hunting season ends, it will be time to start working on fencing in a few acres on the back of the property. A rough estimate is around 7 – 9 acres that will be fenced in.

What kind of livestock will be kept?

I would like to get some goats, hair sheep and a few calves. The calves are to be raised and sold at auction. There is not enough land to raise full grown cattle, so I am looking at a calves. For milk it will be goats and sheep.

Starting With Solar Power

Solar panel with emergency radio

I finally bought a solar panel. In all honesty, I do not know why I waited so long for. It is a Nekteck 20 watt solar panel and I see this as a starting point for bigger and better things.

Before I bought the solar panel I asked myself, what purpose will the panel serve? I decided to go with a foldable solar panel with USB outlets for recharging flashlights, AA batteries and radios. Something to keep flashlights, lanterns and radios charged in a power outage. For right now, the focus is being able to have light and staying up to date on news when the power goes out.

The plan is to have two foldable solar panels – one for charging USB battery packs, and the other panel for charging cell phones, radios and flashlights. Hopefully, the next foldable solar panel will be a 40 watt.

The next project is going to take a little while, and will be about supplying the house with water off 12 volt batteries and solar panels.

Running Water

Starting Livestock Fence Project

Fence post

2017 is the year I fence in several acres for livestock. I have been talking about this for several years, and this year is when I take action to put the project into motion.

One of my favorite books about medieval life, which is Life in a Medieval Village by Frances and Joseph Gies, talks about how people valued small livestock. Cattle were mainly for milk production, which was used to make cheese and butter.

In medieval times there was no way to preserve meat for long periods. If a 500 pound cow was butchered, a large amount of meat would rot and go to waste. Based on that, I am going to focus on small livestock and just a couple of cattle.

I would like to have around 6 or 7 acres fenced in for goats, sheep and a couple of cattle.

Just outside the livestock fence I am working on a wildlife habitat area for deer, squirrels and rabbits.

Pole Barn

Tractor Mounted Log Splitter For The Farm

Tractor mounted log splitter

Landed a tractor powered log splitter for the farm. This is something I have wanted and needed for a very long time. An older gentleman had a log slitter he was no longer using. It had been left uncovered for so long the hoses and seal on the ram had dry rotted.

The splitter works with a pump that slips over the spline of the tractor PTO. The hoses going to and from the pump were dry rotted through and were leaking.

There is a place in Jasper Texas called East Texas Mill Supply. They can make up a new hose in a matter of a few minutes. That is where I took the hoses.

Hydraulic oil was drained out of the tank and replaced with new.

The pump wanted to turn with the PTO shaft, so a chain was rigged up to hold it in place. The pump was supposed to have what is called a “torque bar”, but it was not on the pump. Rather than contacting the original owner and bothering him, I am rigging up something that will work. It just needs to be something to hold the pump in place while the PTO shaft turns.

Spent Day Cleaning Out Chicken House

Chicken house

My chicken house is a mess so it is time to do some cleaning. About a year and a half ago I set up a water barrel system inside the chicken house and is a 35 gallon drum going to a stainless steel pan with a float. The chickens have been getting on the drum and pooping all over the top of it. When I fill the drum up chicken poop is all over the place.

Then there is the metal trash can I store feed in. It is next to the water barrel and close to a corner of the chicken house. The chickens get into the corner and lay eggs, right where chickens get on the feed barrel and poop.

There is barely any room between the feed can and the wall, but enough room for the chickens to get into.

I decided to rearrange everything.

The water barrel is getting moved outside.

The feed can is getting moved away from the wall. Now I can get in there and clean out.

The chickens are getting a laying box put in the corner.

Lessons learned

Building a Railroad Track Anvil

Homemade railroad track anvil

Rather than buying an anvil, I decided to build one out of a piece of track and tie plate I found in my grandfathers old barn. The barn is maybe 75 – 100 years old and has various pieces of farm equipment in and around it.

There are various examples on youtube of railroad track anvils. A lot of them involve drilling or cutting holes in the base of the track and then securing it to a stand. Why not weld the track to a tie plate, and then bolt them to a stand? Seems to me having a wider base of the tie plate would distribute pressure while beating on the track.

I wanted something besides your typical piece of railroad track welded, chained, or bolted to a stand. I wanted something that when people see it they say “that is cool”. I wanted something that was semi-portable. So that when I build my pole barn I can move the anvil and stand to the barn.

Tools For Homestead Cleanup Day

Old metal bathtub to be hauled off

In the next few weeks some of my family members and some of my friends are meeting at the homestead for a cleanup day. The area we are cleaning up has not been used in close to 30 years. During that time various family members dropped off unwanted trash, such as a hot water heater, large box fan, tin, fence wire,,, and other odds and ends.

Pine trees, sweet gum and oak trees have been growing in this same area.

We have three things to take care of – clean the brush out, cut some small trees down and pull the metal trash out so it can be hauled to the recycler.

Stihl chainsaw with 18 inch bar

Chainsaw fuel and bar oil

Axe

Splitting maul

8 pound sledge hammer

Machete

Chains for pulling logs with the truck

Files – for sharpening axe and chainsaw

There is an oak tree down in the back of the field. The plan is to cut a 2 feet section of the trunk for a chopping block.

As we cut down some of the small pine trees, they will be cut into sections that can be split and thrown on the fire. Split wood burns better then non-split wood.

Selecting A Chicken Breed

Wondering what is the best chicken breed for your flock is? Victoryfarm made an outstanding video about some of the chicken breeds they raise.

Some of the chickens discussed in the video:

Barred Rocks
Rhode Island Reds
Hybrids

My experiences with the Barred Rocks and rhode Island Reds have been opposite of his. My Rhode Island Reds seem to be a little more fussy then my Barred Rocks.

Both of my Barred Rocks are pretty tame, and only 1 of my Rhode Island Reds is tame.

I have raised Barred Rocks twice, and both times they have been hardy during the winter time.

This is my first time raising Rhode Island Reds, but so far I like them My grandmother raised a lot of Rhode Islands when my dad was a kid.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018