Welcome to MY ADVENTURE OF DAILY LIFE. I have long since wanted and been encouraged to document the plethora of items I work on, learn, and in general tinker with. I travel and experience new things far and wide and love to share what I gain from them. Here I am sharing with you not just the amazing but the every day as well. They may not fall under the category of "daring adventure" but I am usually having a blast doing them. Enjoy!
Did you know that saffron comes from a fall blooming crocus! I didn't either but once I did, I was on the hunt for the bulbs. Turns out there are several places online to buy them. I have started with 20 and am looking forward to planting them on the next favorable moon day.
Planting by the moon has already made a noticeable difference in how things are growing. If you have tried gardening before and thought it was a miserable failure despite the best soils and consistent even watering, do not despair! Get yourself a copy of the Farmer's Almanac or visit their website and look for the plant by the moon section. Each day of the month has best days for doing certain things around your homestead, whether it be rural or urban. Once I started following this schedule, I have noticed I have better vegetable growth and less bugs!
My plan is to continue to grow a list of income producing plants, animals, or mushrooms, that we can purchase another set each year to help grow our income in passive or not so passive ways. Another great feature of this plan is that people are often open to trade as well and this can foster better relationships with your neighbors and expand your products as well if done right.
Picture credit: Wikipedia
When I was a kid growing up, we raised several pigs. I remember that our pig pen leaked pigs. My father built the pen with what was cheap and at hand, young beech trees for posts, scrap pallets and, slabwood from the sawmill. It never seemed to hold pigs.
Fast forward 25 years, and we decided that we are going to raise Heritage Hogs on our homestead. Looking at the experience, several things stand out. Where do you get Heritage breeds in Kentucky? We ended up getting 2 feeder pigs at 75-80 pounds from the livestock auction, one boar and one sow, no idea what breed.
How to keep them on our land, and where we want on our land? We have a hillside between us and our closest neighbour, that is a result of bulldozing her lot level years ago. It is nothing but goldenrod and berry briars, chest high. The idea was to use the pigs to clear the undergrowth, so we can plant food for them. The total area should be about 3 acres when we are done. First experience, is that when I was a kid, the hog pen was NOT large enough, and the pigs were always looking to get the stuff on the other side of the fence.
We decided on an electric fence. Wow, solar fencer, wish we had those when I was a kid. Tractor Supply stocks Zareba brand fencers and supplies for electric fence, with a coupon, a 5 mile fencer is a small one time cost, like $100. The posts are pricey as one time costs, but I’ve since found that I can buy them at our local salvage yard for $15 per 100 pounds! A lot of the posts are bent, but easy to straighten by bending them the other way in the tongue of my trailer. The insulators are cheap, a few dollars for a bag of 25. Since we planned in breaking the 3 acres into 5 lots and fencing them individually, so we can rotate the pigs, we used one line of posts as a common divider. This requires using “backside insulators”, just about as cheap, but not very durable, because they stand off the T-post further. They break rather easily, fair warning. The corner posts for the common fence can not be common, you have to split the fence at the corner posts and have an individual corner post for each lot, otherwise the backside insulator for the common corner post will be pointing way off from your fence line.
I used a brush cutter attachment for our weed eater to open a trail where I wanted the fence at and set the posts every 8 feet, drove them in with a driver that we bought off a CL storage sale, and almost instant fence. By the way, T-post drivers beat the Heck out of using a sledge hammer to drive posts. Word of advice, set your corner posts where you want them first, and then run a string between the corners, and drive your posts to the string, otherwise, you will NEVER get a straight line. So far, that hillside has raised the pigs from 75 to 250 pounds, provided 14 gallons of blackberries, has been stripes back and forth with the brush cutter, and planted with turnips in one lot. We actually expect to get more blackberries next year due to the briars being more accessible. After the one time cost of fencing materials and 1 fencer that we move from lot to lot, and bulk seeds, we could be raising 4 hogs next year on 3 acres and picking well over 14 gallons of blackberries!
Having 52 acres, means moving dirt, logs, fencing, posts etc etc. Knowing we would need a tractor, I started looking 2 years ago. Finally, just before I retired, we found one on CL. I had a $10,000 limit. What I found was not as big as I wanted, but….the price was correct. We got a 1984 John Deere 750 compact tractor. 30 years old, used and abused, almost worn out. It was advertised for $8,000, and had a new paint job. Once I looked underneath the paint, I knew we would have a lot of work to do, and I’ve been right so far.
Grandpa and I drove 2 and a half hours south past Knoxville, and I ended up paying $7,400 for the tractor. Why so much? It has a bucket, and a Quick attach backhoe! That backhoe has been a wonder, cleaning ditches, putting in water bars on our old logging roads, installing culverts…..
The tractor also came with a back blade and a 60 inch finish mower. The back blade has been great for grading the driveways, but only if I rides on the blade while Grandpa drives. The finish mower is seized up and is on the list to be disassembled this winter. However, once we removed the backhoe, we realized that everything was missing for the 3 point hitch, except the tractors hydraulic lift arms, after calling around, pricing, I went to Tractor Supply, and for around $200 +/- , we built a 3 point lift out of parts.
The tractor has obviously sat in the mud and water for a long time, looking at the shape of some of the metal exfoliation and pitting under the new paint, it had a rough life. So far we have rebuilt both backhoe swing cylinders, and both front loader bucket roll cylinders, as well as replacing a swing cylinder hydraulic hose and several hydraulic fitting o-rings. Also we replaced right side brake final drive pinion seal, and I had to split the tractor and replace the clutch throw out bearing. We had Keith at Morgan’s Equipment rebuild the hydraulic pump, because the seals were leaking hydraulic oil into the engine oil. The tractor still needs brake shoes, but at $121 each and needing 4, it can wait a bit. The latest was to disassemble and rebuild and shim all the sloppy worn connections in the backhoe controls, much tighter now.
We bought a 3 point carry-all that works well for carrying firewood, for $50 we can now carry wood in the bucket up front, and in the back. We also borrowed, long term, his 3 point discs, and have got a ton of work out of them, cleaning up Kudzu! Since Jen uses hay to mulch her garden, as do I, we buy hay by the round bale from a local farmer. After trying to move an 1800 pound bale by pushing it across a side hill to the garden with the front bucket, Grandpa and I decided we needed the correct tool for the job. We stopped by Morgan’s Equipment and Keith gave us a great deal on a new 3 point hitch bale spear, knowing we are planning on a cow, and now having goats, there will be many more round bales of hay in our future. The bale spear works great and keeps Grandpa out of dangerous situations with roundbales and side hills.