Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winter Permaculture Projects.

When the world is looking like this.
 But we're all dreaming about this.
The perfect time to start implementing those permaculture ideas you've been jotting down. The first principle is to observe (and interact, but I'm going to call it plan because it's cold out there). Permaculture=balance and harmony. It incorporates the cycles of the seasons, plantings and animals that are a part of the whole system. During this time of year, when the plants have died back and you can see the landscape bare, is the perfect time to plan projects that will benefit your system. Looking for things like soil erosion from water runoff is a good start. If you have hills or barren pastures, or buildings that the snow melt can run off of and cause their own 'little' gullies, this is the time to plan for the fix. If you are fighting the wind, either in your house or protecting livestock, noting where you have the issue now while it's cold will help you make planting or adjustment decisions later. And finally pasture destruction due to livestock. You know what I mean, Those gates that you can hardly get through because that's where all the animals want to congregate. Or any slope that they have eaten off all the vegetation.
Water runoff from house, barn or shed roofs is a perfect place to set up a collection site.
Found this one on @twomenandalittlefarm. There are a million styles and ideas for water collection, any one is as good as another if it works for you. All you need to start is any container that will hold water and a way to divert the water from where it wants to go, to where you want it, like guttering. I think this falls under the second principle, catch and store energy. Setting up even one gets your plan moving forward, or if your more confident, there are great plans for multiples. In the end you could seriously cut you water usage that goes to garden or livestock. These can also be used as a .......heat source for greenhouses and if your feeling artistic, like this one, what a great way to block the view of anything that doesn't please you in on your property.
If your considering plantings for privacy, aesthetics, wind block or shade, fruit trees may be a great choice. Whether planted free standing or espaliered, they can serve multiple purposes at once. Grown on a trellis like this, they can become a beautiful, flowering wind block or privacy while also providing a food source for your family or livestock. Planted in a poultry pen, they can provide shade, food and cover from overhead predators (and be pretty..). Near a sunny summer window they can provide shade to help keep the house cool and in the winter, when the leaves fall, they still allow the sun in. Finally, if you have livestock, look at your pastures.
If your pasture isn't holding up to the traffic you have on it, this may be the perfect time to adjust numbers. Selling or butchering part of a herd or flock, adjusting the ratio of large to small animals on that pasture or maybe even considering switching from large breeds to smaller ones (Borer vs Pygmy goats/Standard vs Dexter cattle). A garden can become a winter home for geese or ducks, allow them to do the clean-up for you and fertilize along the way. If you're happy with your livestock numbers maybe looking into pasture rotation would work best. Even a fairly small pasture can be divided into sections and with frequent rotation, given a chance to recover.
As you look around and see things that you would like to work on, make a goal list. Look up information about a project and then mark a date on a calander when you should start it. This will be determined partly by where you live, partly by your schedule and partly by whether you have to collect supplies for the job. (Set up rain barrels, before spring rain...Plant apple trees in back yard , month that is best for planting trees.)
These are a few of my thought as I try to learn about Permaculture and incorporate it with Homesteading (Permasteading). The best part is, if you garden, plant flowers in your yard and/or have animals on your property, you already have your foot in the door. These principles are ones that you have been using all along, but now they are laid out and more people are sharing more in depth ideas for working on issues on a larger scale.
(contributed by @At Home With Sweet Pea)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pumpkin Diversity

I order most of my seed from Fedco Seeds, then save seed from each season to plant the next. Last year I decides to plant a new pumpkin, Rouge Vif d’√Čtampes Pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima). This pumpkin is very pretty and reported to be mild tasting.
I fed most of them to the livestock as I usually do. Pumpkin is very nutritious, and the seeds are an effective natural wormer.

A couple were held back to see how well they would keep since they are reported to be poor "keepers". These two have been in my kitchen since September.
Yesterday I cut the top off of one and was pleased to find it firm and fragrant. I scooped the seeds into coffee filters and set them in a sunny window sill to dry.

All of the recipes for pumpkin soup I have seen call for cream and instruct you to blend the ingredients smooth. I decided my soup would have the consistency of  vegetable soup. the night before I prepared a beef roast adding extra liquid, potatoes and carrots. The first "ingredient" I put into my pumpkin was the left over beef roast liquid and vegies. Then I added dried onions and tomatoes, garlic a bit of ginger, and enough broth to fill the pumpkin 3/4 full.

  I put the lid back on and put it into the oven in a pie plate at 350 F for 90 minutes. After a while I decided I should have added some rice so I partially cooked some mixed rice and added it to the liquid.

The soup looked and smelled wonderful when it came out of the oven.

I ladeled the soup into bowls scraping some of the pumpkin into each serving, and it tasted fabulous. I will definitely be planting and using these pumpkins in the coming year!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Mama, it's cold outside!

Since our Fainting Goat Does and Buck run together, we often have Kids during the winter months. With good shelter, a lot of hay/straw, and a nice heat lamp, they do just fine. But I always put little 'coats' on the kids for a bit of added protection. 
I make a simple and inexpensive Kid Coat from cast off or garage sale, long sleeve garments like sweat shirts, sweaters, and pajamas. Most slightly stretchy material shirts work fine. Something with a ribbed cuff is just perfect.
Here I have marked the lines to be cut with white chalk

Measure the sleeve to the goat (I just hold it up to her) from neck to tail plus a bit for good measure. The lines I have drawn here identify the cuts I will make. The back extends further than the 'belly' of the coat. With male kids I make the belly area short enough to keep the coat from getting wet when he pees.

Cut a notch out at the neck unless the neck is very loose.
I cut a notch out of the cuff, breaking the seam that holds the cuff to the sleeve, to allow the cuff to slip more easily over the Kid's head. If the material is looser, like a sweater or a sleeve that does not have a separate cuff, this cut is not necessary

Open the coat and lay it flat

I have found this simple little V cut for the front leg holes works quite well. It holds the coat in place, doesn't pinch the Kid and is very easily enlarged by extending the right side of the V.

Make the V cut with the right leg of the V the longest

A second V can be cut for the back legs, but I find the coat stays on just fine with just the front cut.

Next step is to hand the Kid and Coat to your grandson .

Taa Daa