Posts Tagged ‘farm’



Wanna Take a Tour of our Farm? C’mon, lets take a walk!

This is where we lived for Two years while working on the Big Barn, the small addition on the right was a battery box. Right behind it, the Ducks and Chicks are housed...lets go meet them!


Meet the Ducks and Chicks! The Ducks are named Merry and Pippin...they're always in trouble! We're fairly certain one of the chicks is a hen, she'll be named Mrs.Wynners. (I know, we're morbid, wait 'till you hear the Rooster's name)


Awwww! They love each other!


Lets check out the Gardens now! Well, this is actually the compost...I have volunteer peas and pumpkins coming up!


My Baby Carrots! They were DELICIOUS! I keep harvesting them before they reach full "carrothood", there just too good to leave in ground!


Yarrow...good for wound healing, and the treatment of colds and viruses, I have A Lot drying for the shop as we speak, with more to come as you can see!


The last Radish...we're seeing how big it will get...


I made a wonderful Rose Vinegar for sunburns last year from this rose...Make the same way as garlic vinegar. To use, Soak a rag in half water, half vinegar and lay cloth on Sunburn to alleviate pain and turn the burn into a tan!


Now we'll take a walk down the path we cut behind the house, everything is left wild for the local critters until we turn the area into an orchard, we always see rabbits, deer, racoons and plenty of birds down here!


To the right is this beautiful wild vetch, the pea-like pods are poisonous, but this plant provides vital nitrogen to the soil structure, as well as beauty to the landscape.


Just behind the vetch is a large Privett shrub, though invasive, it too provides vibrant blooms and food and shelter for wildlife. I've heard rumors its medicinal but havent had a chance to research this further...


As we continue down the path, my favorite flowers appear right in front of the semi-dry pond bed. A simple wild daisy, it's simplicity is it's beauty!


This is one of the many wild willow trees that populate the property, Im fairly sure this is White Willow. White Willow bark is medicinally similar to asprin; pain relieving, fever reducing, etc, The difference is no Stomach bleeding! Im very excited to have these trees...


This is the Lower Barn, soon to be workshop/studio/forge! It needs alot of work, but hey, were accustomed to that by now!


This is Grandmother Willow-who-is-actually-an-Oak, the inspiration for RavenOak Medicinals...the Ravens and She have an agreement, they get to hang out on her limbs as long as they fertilize the ground below with their droppings!


The guardian of the Oak...surprisingly not covered in Raven Poo!


A view thru the Oak leaves...That's the little building up there and you can just barely see our solar panels to the left. The driveway is to the right...thats where we're headed next.


Up here to the right of the driveway is the baby Oak Grove, a No-Mow Zone. Though we will not see the full maturity of these babies, it is still pretty cool to know our grandchildern will bear witness!


Our pecan started as a stick in the ground! The nuts it produces are very large!


Say Hi Bo-Bunny! (He likes to graze the clover under the Pecan)


The last stop is my messy front porch, we wont go into the house, its not fully done yet. That's Mint growing up through the cracks there, Oh! and meet Churches! Rev. Churches Chicken is his full name and he loves biscuits and my Garden. Dont worry if he chases you out of the driveway as you leave, he does that to everyone!

Well Im glad you could stop by, it’s too bad you couldnt see everything! We didnt get to the Frog Filled Pond Bed, The Stream behind it (I’ll be growing Ginseng back there one day!) Oh, and the Pine Forest, My Grandmother’s straw and mud cottage she’s building next door, The Front and Side Fields…soon to be an apple orchard and vineyard,and the Slab behind the house, its going to be a Huge Greenhouse someday! Oh, Well, maybe next time! I’ll invite you in for some coffee and some Peanut Butter cookies, maybe it wont be such a construction zone then! See Ya’ll next week!

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It was warm enough yesterday for my two little bunnies to have an outdoor foray! I was also able to complete the first raised bed/Rabbit Tractor, therefore the bunnies will now have a new outdoor home, while helping me complete the cottage garden of my dreams! (or at least help me grow some food for my table:)Keep in mind this is only a temporary set-up, I intend to plant Jerusalem Artichoke (otherwise known as a Sunchoke), which is a perennial vegetable, in this particular bed. When I figure out the measurements of the annual veggie beds I will build a tractor to fit them.
Now, as promised, pics of the cutest little bunnies on earth, the completed garden bed, and a little information on the care and keeping of bunnies!

I have no idea if this is Freya or Thor, they look just alike!


One of the first things you should focus on is the Health of your rabbit. A Healthy Rabbit has clear eyes with no discharge, notice how this one’s eyes are so clear they act as a mirror reflecting me taking a picture of him. The bunny should have a clean soft coat with no crusty build-up on it’s feet, no discoloration in the ears and nothing, ummm…unsanitary stuck to its behind.

They both loved being outside!

One easy way to tell if your Rabbit is eating enough is to pet it! Stroke your rabbit from its head to its tail, running your hand right dow the middle of it’s back. Try to feel it’s spine. The spine should feel smooth and rounded on a rabbit with a healthy weight. If it feels sharp and pointed, the rabbit is too thin. If you cant feel the spine at all, the rabbit is too fat! Adjust the amount of food accordingly. Its good for both your cute little bunny and you if you do this each day at feeding time, your friend gets some extra attention, and you get an overall health report.

Animals in general are great escape artists! Though you may wish your rabbit could run wild in your back yard, its a good idea to provide a safe cage or pen instead. There are many predators who would gladly make a meal of your adorable little balls of fur! Just make sure the pen's wire spacing is small enough to prevent what you see in the picture. (Dont worry, I caught her!)

Heres a great recipe for an all natural, very nutritious rabbit food thats cheaper than the pre-packaged, ‘no idea whats in it’, rabbit supplement:
Equal Parts:
* Unsweetened dried fruits like raisens, cranberries, mango pieces, apples. (stay away from bannana and pineapple, the first being very hard on their teeth, the second being to sweet)
*Unsalted sunflower kernals, removed from shell.( Ive been debating on this, because salt is an important part of bunnie’s diet, just not the iodized version usually coating them)
*Unsalted nuts, removed from shell
*Unsalted, unsweetened granola or rolled oats
*Little bits of dried alfalfa, dried greens
I purchase all of this at my local Ingles in the bulk section, though it would be better if you lived near a Whole Foods or local Natural Grocer…you’d probably get it cheaper! You can find the alfalfa in the herbal section.
Dont forget, all of this stuff is great for humans too (including the alfalfa, its full of micronutrients), so go ahead and make some trail mix while your at it (I suppose you could salt yours:)

The finished temporary Rabbit Tractor. They moved in yesterday and seem to be enjoying their new home. The Garden bed is about 7ft. long by 2 ft. wide, thats 14 square foot of play room.

Give your Rabbits lots of room to play! A good rule of thumb is one square foot to each pound your rabbit weighs. Our rabbits weigh about 4 pounds each and we’ve provided about fourteen square feet of  play room. Theyll probably get more with our next raised bed.

If your moving your rabbits, to keep it from being to traumatizing, have some yummy greens and their water all setup beforehand. When I put Freya and Thor into their new home they went straight for the greens without a second thought!

As you can see, my rabbits main Diet consists of wild greens and roots. I’ve heard the proper diet should be commercial rabbit food, commercial rabbit supplements, and more commercial rabbit stuff. I don’t have that much money, and if I’m going to raise rabbits to eat, I’m most likely a citizen concerned with what goes into my food. Therefore I’m not going to feed unrecocnizable pellets to my future food source. Take your cues from the wild rabbits, here are some of their favorits:

All of this stuff probably grows wild in your yard. The top is Yellow dock Greens.

* Dandilion Greens and Roots
*YellowDock Greens and the occassional small root piece
*Cleavers( though these tend to irritate the human mouth if eaten raw, it doesnt seem to affect the bunnies, they love them!)
* Chickweed
*Grasses, anything that looks good to you!
Be sure not to use anything that is sprayed with chemicals, and make yourself a salad while your at it!

Gratuitous Cute Bunny Pic!


They make great lawn mowers!

A  Healthy adult rabbit can survive temperatures well below zero, but they are most comfortable at teperatures around 50-69 degrees F ( 10-20 degrees C)  You should always protect outdoor rabbits from winds and precipitation because nothing really likes to be wet and cold!  For southern climates, one way to beat the heat of the summer is to fill up an old water or cola bottle, freeze it  and place in the pen. The rabbit will lounge up against it during the warmest moments. Its also polite to provide your furry friends with some shade!            
And to the most awsome pic of all, Rabbits and Kitties!

The rabbits and cats had created a game in the house in which the rabbit would chase the cat, touch it with its nose and run. The cat would then chase it, swipe at it, then the rabbit would be "it" again. This is them getting re-aquainted!

Rabbits are a great begining choice for small farms and homesteads. They can be raised for meat production, fiber, as lawn mowers, and just plain easy to care for pets!  Plus they make great Easter presents for your children, they bring joy and teach the responsibility of caring for an animal, something I think is greatly lacking in the future generation’s education.  Rescue one from a farm auction, purchase from registered breeders, support your local 4-h and buy from a child who raised them  for a fair, any way you go, you will be supporting your local community and yourself at the same time!

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Been sitting like this for 2 days now...

Two steps forward three steps back…

     I threw around this title for the blog for a while, it seems a lot of the time this is the pace of our winding journey on this farm! Take today for instance…the plan was to finally wire in our super awesome high efficiency fridge so I could do a little grocery shopping, maybe make a healthy meal tonight instead of spending so much money eating out like we have been doing. But I suppose we haven’t learned one of the key lessons of this property, planning ahead backfires most of the time:)!
     Instead, we spent the entire day trying to fix our truck! On the way to the Grill this morning to get some of the best breakfast around, the temperature gauge spiked, we pulled over and couldn’t find the problem. Well, after plenty of jugs of water, a lot of running around in a borrowed vehicle to find this part or that tool, and a snapped bolt, guess where we are? Why still at the grill of course, and it is now 9:00 in the evening! Apparently the truck really wasnt broken until Bear tried to fix it! Add to that slipping and falling on the ice on my way to the store and this equation turns into a pretty unlucky day!
     Note to self: stop making plans!;)
Oh well, opportunity time! This place just happens to have free Internet and I’ve been talking to a truck driver by the name of Jay, a Vietnam vet, for the past 3 hours who owns an organic strawberry farm in Florida that is watered by a recirculating water wheel system . This system also provides part of his electrical needs. Hmmm…I’ve got both a pond bed just waiting to be filled and a stream down below it, perhaps we could make something like this work, watering the future ginseng beds! This occurrence proves two things, first of all, never be angry when your plans get disrupted, something just as productive and helpful could pop-up! Second, you never know who your going to meet at a truck stop bar, just don’t judge them by the way they look because they might have the solution to a problem you didn’t even realize you had, especially the guys who strangely resemble Willie Nelson!
January 14, 2011

Update on the farm truck situation…

   Yes, there is still a truck situation! Meaning the truck that wasn’t broken until someone tried to fix it is still sitting behind the shop with it’s hood sticking up;). It’s getting pretty darn hard to see that stupid silver lining I keep preaching to myself, especially since any birthday plans(see, there’s that word again) I may have had are thrown out the window!-( is currently smiling through her teeth)- Bear’s uncle seems to believe there’s a curse on the road we live on ( he lives three houses down from us) and I’m almost inclined to agree with him:)! As I explained before, everything seems to be extra difficult when dealing with progress on our road. For a small example I will cite the four, yes four broken tillers sitting in our lower barn,three of which were used in a light sandy loam! There are also two broken riding lawn mowers and at least a dozen parts to several different weed eaters, all used to try to control the great fields of weeds and grasses since day one!  However, I’ve found that manual labor, such as a shovel or swing blade, works perfectly fine!  Though I would be inclined to think that maybe I have broken a mirror or walked under a ladder with three black cats crossing my path at once, the bad luck doesn’t seem to be confined to only the Farm. It’s followed Bear’s uncle to his new house and several of our neighbors as well, to say nothing of the past examples when Eve was still the owner! 
    Either way the luck of the land goes, we are determined to preserver!  Instead of a tiller, I will use a chicken tractor, instead of a mower, I will get goats! Perhaps the universe is still just trying to steer us in the right direction…away from fossil fuel driven machinery. I bet an electric mower would work just fine:)!

With determination I leave you with a quote:
 “Nobody trips over mountains.  It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble.  Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.”  ~Author Unknown


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See, you already feel warmer dont you?;)

One fact I haven’t mentioned yet about our newly renovated home is that we are completely off the grid, meaning we have four solar panels and a bank of batteries supplying all of our power, without being tied to the power pole. Sadly that many solar panels is still not enough to run a conventional heating system, let alone multiple space heaters. Nows the time for a tid-bit of electrical knowledge, the heating element of most electrical appliances such as a hot plate, a space heater, or a coffee maker uses an enormous amount of power! To give a small example, one eye on an electric stove uses about 1200  Watts of power! This is equivalent to about 20 sixty watt light bulbs burning at once!  
       So, space heaters are a no-go…what to do now? When we were in the little building, heating 120  square feet was quite simple, our small wood stove borrowed from Bears grandmother,Eve, was more than sufficient to keep the uninsulated space nice and toasty throughout the night. In fact most nights it over performed, to point of opening doors and windows in the snow to vent the stifling hot air! But now that we are living our first winter in the 2100 sq.ft. Big Barn, we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s really darn cold! Creativity time again! We found an old beat up wood heater that is bigger than our first one at a salvage yard for super cheap, repaired the missing rope insulator around the stove door with a large “rope” made of tin foil and are currently using large pieces of hardwood pallets found abandoned at the truck stop down the road. The smaller slats are better for starting the fire and burn very hot, the thicker support pieces are used to keep a longer, slower burning fire going throughout the night. 
     If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, the following tips might help you keep warm:
Pallets for your wood burning stove can usually be found at such places as dumpsters at truck stops, gas stations and dollar stores…try to stay away from large stores like wal-mart and home depot because it it actually illegal to take anything from in or around their dumpsters! I would elaborate on my feelings about taking trash from these places constituting theft but we will save that for another post:) try to stay away from any pallets smelling like pine because these are either made of pine, which will clog up your flue with a lot of creosote, or they are treated and will not only put harmful carcinogens into the atmosphere if burned, but could also put the harmful smoke into your house on a good downdraft! Oh, and just to be safe, (and polite) be sure to ask the business if you can have their used pallets.

     Another semi free heat producer is a candle, well, lots of candles! Amazingly, one candle puts off about 1 btu of heat a second. Now this doesn’t seem like much but burn a lot of them in a small enough area and you will notice a difference! Try to find beeswax or vegetable wax candles if possible because petroleum based candles will also put harmful pollutants into your home if you burn enough of them. Not only will you be fairly warm, you will have the wonderful glow of candlelight to enliven your evenings with your sweetheart!;)

As I said before, our electrical situation prevents us from using electrical space heaters, but we’ve discovered a beautiful invention called a propane heater! While this device uses a fossil fuel and almost drives us farther away from energy independence it is a great thing to have in a pinch! The device is simply a small circular heater attached to a 20 gallon propane tank, the ones used on a grill, the heater apparatus costs about $40 and can be found at a Lowes or Home Depot. Just ask for a potable propane heater,and make sure it say indoor/outdoor use.  Now the only problem with these types of heaters is that they sometimes run out of propane…which is exactly what happened this morning:) at times like these, the only way to stay warm is to leap out of bed, then jump around like a frog saying “oh crap! Where’s my pants!? Oooo it’s cold…brrrrrrrrr!!!” after that you have to leap into the car and go find some breakfast in a nice warm diner!
      That’s all for this post! Check back later for more in depth examination of staying warm on a budget, we’ll research the wattage of an electric blanket, the most efficient placement and use of a wood stove and building your own solar space heater,all of which we plan on doing ourselves…when we get around to it!;)

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Hello world…let’s see, where to start… Well with introductions I suppose:) my name is Gwenevere, Gwen for short and I along with my fiancé, Bear, own a farm…well, a soon-to-be-farm. The story of this little piece of property is a magical one,to me at least, and in it’s entirety would take up quite a bit of room so for this first post I’ll stick to the most recent and relevant history. we purchased our ten acres plus 3 barns, pond bed and stream in the fall of 2008 from Bear’s grandmother under owner financing, planning to convert one of the barns,The Barn as the family calls it, into a house,and while working on it, continue to live in our apartment until it’s finish. we estimated the process to take a little under a year, the barn had previously been renovated and didn’t seem to need that much more work. we were mainly re-renovating. well, as we all know, plans never go over without a hitch, especially with this place, and when all was said and done, a large amount of cash was stolen from us I.e our life savings, we couldn’t afford the property and our apartment at the same time, the economy crashed, leaving me jobless, and we ended up moving into a tiny 10 ft by 12 ft building with no electricity or running water that was on our recently purchased property. Add into the equation losing half our belongings to both an unpayable storage building bill and water/mold damage and we find ourselves in a pretty pickle! 
  Now I suppose most sane individuals would just sit down and cry after all this(and believe me, I wouldn’t blame them one bit:), but for some strange reason(perhaps my lack of sanity?) I didn’t cry, neither did Bear. We were, of course, angry…well that word doesn’t really describe what we felt after our money was stolen, but we didn’t completely freak over our unique situation. Perhaps it’s that survival instinct I hear about, or that moment of calm a mist the craziness, I’ve started calling it the moment of opportunity. When a person really does see that elusive silver lining in those clouds, we saw the opportunity immediately, I was even excited about camping out in what bears uncle called the “party pad”! Thousands of questions started zooming around in my head, catchphrases and terms I had heard before like homesteading, off-the-grid, living off the land and green building began to sound pretty darn interesting(of course I had no idea that the phrase “freezing my ass off” would come into my vocabulary at the time). And as soon as I mentally voiced these questions like “whAt the hell are we gonna eat?”, the answers would appear in the form of bears grandmother off handedly mentioning she had some veggie seeds we could have, then my mother serendipitously giving me a veritable library of gardening books, and both simultaneously saying, look, this weed is edible, and this one, and this one, and this one… Needless to say we both immediately  began to learn the art of “living off the grid”. We also began assessing the cost of our remodel, which of course, involved WAY more work than originally estimated, you see one corner of the foundation was falling in, the roof was completely shot, the wiring originally in the building had been sold for scrap and the windows were all gone. Once again, no crying hysterically after essentially buying four concrete cinderblock walls, one of which was on the verge of falling down, but that moment of opportunity kicked in once more! We just had to get creative! Of course money was still an issue and as soon as the “how are we going to pay for this” question left our lips, the magic struck again. Unbeknownst to me, my grandparents had created a  small  college fund, and it had begun to mature! Now this wasn’t a million dollars or some such nonsense but perhaps with that creativity and a lot of salvage work,I.e collecting aluminum and copper and using reclaimed building materials fished from construction dumpsters, we could finish The Barn and finally start on turning our giant fire ant mound, as we like to call it, into a working prosperous farm! 
   Though a little late in the making, seeing as how the house is almost done, I hope this blog will chronicle our strange and sometimes frustrating journey, while passing on a little 21st century homesteading knowledge along the way! Welcome to Winding Road Farm!

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