We just got our 20’ pipe bender in the mail today. This allows us to bend our 20’ wide hoops for our hoop house/greenhouse. This will be an incredible investment for this coming winter season to extend our growing season, get our starts ready sooner, frost sensitive trees/plants and of course our larger scale Aquaponics. More announcements to come when we begin completing this project. The shipping container will serve as our potting shack and work space for greenhouse preps and management. We will have a door in the middle of the container for egress into the greenhouse.
Here is the newest design that we have been working on. We wanted our farm to have the feel of an urban farm & garden that brings you into it rather than a typical unattractive garden space that people tend to ignore. This farm & garden will serve at least three primary purposes. First, it will serve as the demonstration & Residential Research Facility for Blue Sky Agriscaping. This means we will always be testing new ideas and other things to see what works and what doesn’t, as well as host tours and classes. Second, we will grow food in an intensive yet elegant way to be able to serve as a Market Garden providing better-than-organic produce for our friends, local health-food junkies, chefs, restaurants, and more. Thirdly, it will serve as a tree and plant nursery to provide high quality plant stock for customers of Blue Sky Agriscaping and the general public.
There have been many iterations, and as you can see in the drawing we are only approximately 40% complete. Here are some of the things we are incorporating into the design:
Talk about scary times! As Krisann and I were working on removing a fence to build a new one we were in this area with some tall weeds. I was in short shoes and shorts and Krisann was in shoes and pants, neither of which were safe from a strike of a Copperhead. In the making of this video there were no humans injured, however, that is not the same for the snake. He did meet his match, luckily before he bit any of us and sent us to the hospital. Enjoy!
We just bought a Fiji and Gala Apple Tree for $10 each from a big box store. We are also announcing a bunch of new updates coming soon on several systems that have been or are being updated.
We wanted to share an update in case anyone could benefit from what we have learned in the past year or so. RATS ARE PESTS. By far they have been one of the worst “predators” on our homestead for many reasons.
It took a while to figure it out but they were wreaking havoc on our chickens, ducks, quail, and rabbits! They were consuming quite a bit of feed and possibly scaring our ducks as they have not been laying any eggs for months. They would average 40 eggs/month, about $40 in the last 2 months we have not been making.
They ate at least 50lbs of quail food that we had stored in the garage as well as eating it straight from their cage. We had to completely rebuild our quail cage costing us around $225.
They were eating all of the baby rabbits one by one; they would come back each night until they were all gone. They consumed 3-4 litters total. That’s around 25lbs of rabbit meat that’s not in our freezer, and at a cost of $6/lb, about $150. It’s been months since the rabbits have since gotten pregnant.
And who knows the cost of the amount of food they ate straight from the chicken coop, rabbit dome and quail feeder! I would guess at least $50 in food.
Each individual problem started at different times and took a lot of monitoring to see the connection to the same pest.
We got a cat to have poison-free pest control, and we got her fixed, that was about $50.
We removed the free feed from the chicken coop one month ago and now have the kids feed them every morning. We finally got a duck egg yesterday and another one today! Hopefully this success will continue.
We had to add 3 rolls of 1/2” wire mesh to the top of the rabbit dome (where the rats were crawling up the sides and in through the top which wasn’t meshed) to completely seal it off. This cost about $80, and we’ll have to get a new tarp for the roof, another $60. We have two pregnant does and fingers crossed we’ll no longer find mutilated baby bunnies.
We built a completely new quail cage with 1/2” wire mesh and a closing lid over the egg compartment.
Overall, the rats have cost us around $650. That is frustrating.
All this to say, if things don’t seem right with your animals, if they aren’t laying eggs or breeding like normal, and you’ve eliminated every other possibility, it may be pesky rats terrorizing your animals! Hope this helps someone down the road save a lot of time and money, as we wish we would have known a long time ago.
As we were out collecting some black soldier fly larva as a show and tell for a Gardening and Homesteading class I teach we found this large male Orb Spider weaving his web. Usually we find them after the sun is down and walking into it with your face in the dark... very unpleasant. Enjoy.
Love this simple firewood stand to get the wood off the ground to properly dry out. Found it on Pinterest and cost only $3.50 in blocks and free pallet wood.
Just a few 8x8x16 CMU Blocks, 4x4 lumber for the bottom rails and then some 2x4s for the vertical supports.
In the pervious couple years when we have had our Straw Bale Garden we have used soaker hoses. Soaker hoses do not have a long life span and degrade within a year or two if in the direct sun due to the UV radiation. We decided to upgrade our garden to a poly tube irrigation with drippers. This video demonstrates my son and I putting in all the poly tube and connectors then putting in 2 GPH drippers every 12". This will allow us to manage exactly how much water the bales are receiving as well as turn off the system when it is raining. Make gardening and farming fun!
We are excited to be setting up our 3rd annual Straw Bale Garden. We have been very excited with how it works for the past two years and are doing it again. This video is a quick demonstration of setting up the garden. This is based off of Joel Karsten's book on Straw Bale Gardens. I am also a certified Straw Bale Garden Instructor, you can visit my profile on the Straw Bale Garden website HERE. In Part 1 I will be setting up the cardboard as an underlayment that serves as a weed block and ten the bales. Part 2 will show setting up the rest of the cardboard, spreading out the straw and getting the bales all ready for the growing season. Enjoy!
In our last blog titled, Worm Hotel Vermicomposting... Composting with Worms I gave several reasons why a gardener would want to have a vermicomposter. The bucket style, or as I call, the 'Worm Hotel' is perfect for the typical backyard gardener that is wanting to create worm castings and make compost tea for their garden.
In this video we take it a whole other level by converting a 55 gallon barrel into a worm trough. I decided this was a better route for a few reasons, 1) this year we plan to really develop our farm. We live on an acre and are only using a small portion of it so far. We could really use a lot more worm compost tea and casting. 2) as we scale up and build out our farm we will begin doing a lot more tours, demonstrations, and classes. With those events happening we will be able to sell worm castings, Worm Hotels, and compost tea kits.
To learn more about the power of vermicomposting read this blog.