Friday, January 31, 2014

January 31, 2014 Hunt for a Camper

After an on again off again search for a camper or travel trailer over the past five years, we are once again looking for one.  The camping bug has not faded.  Although, with our "elderly" years we have grown accustomed to wanting our coffee in the morning.  In a coffee pot.  That is plugged into a socket.  We also like water out of a faucet at our campsite. 

Jace and I have both done primitive camping in the past.  Now we are older and crankier.  We also have an 8 year old who can whine a lot.  Like, put a sock in it, a lot.  The sock I just wore for the 5 mile hike will do just fine.

We think we may have found one.  At least we're in the reasonable area.  I'm thinking of it as finding a starter home.  There's some things Jace just won't do.  One of those is buying a 1976  trailer that needs a complete remodel on the inside. 

There's some things I won't do.  I won't do teardrop campers, or any camper that small for 3 people.  I don't like pop-ups with the canvas sides.  There's no real sense of privacy and very minimal actual floor space.  We were standing in one and we could hear all the loud noises going on around outside.  Who could sleep through other noisy campers?

We have decided on a self-contained traveler trailer.  It has walls and provides a sense of privacy.  It also has a bathroom with a shower/bath combo.  This is important, too.  Nothing beats being thoroughly clean after a long day out in nature.

The next choice to be made was over towing weight.  We couldn't pick one that was too big to tow.  It still needed to be big enough to give a sense of having some space.   Those RV manufactures try really hard to accommodate all those concerns.

For today we ended up choosing a 17 foot model.  It has a queen size bed on one end.  At the other end is the eating area which converts to a full size bed.  The table is removable so it can function as a living area.  The bath has a toilet and sink.  There's also a full size shower with a semi tub.  It comes with a fridge and a microwave.  Also has kitchen sink and stove.  Most importantly, it has an electrical outlet for plugging in the coffee maker.

We started the process late in the day so we won't know about any of the approval or signing papers till tomorrow.  It gives us a chance to really think about our decision before signing on the dotted line.  If all works out, then we should be bringing it home on Wednesday.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30, 2014 Sanding the China Hutch Begins

0800  I'm up because today should be nice.  I let Lizzie out and the skies are still cloudy and gray.  I'm showing 44 degrees on The Bird thermometer.  Google weather shows 39 degrees reaching 63 around 2 pm.  It's also showing partly cloudy, so there should be some sun and no rain.

There's lots of things I want to do today.  There will never be enough time.  Rowan has to finish this week's homeschool work so I'll be inside for that.  I'll see if I can take care of laundry, dishes, housecleaning during this time.  I might be able to sand the china hutch for a little while.  After that I want to be outside!  I charged up my camera battery and I'm hoping to take some better pictures.  Maybe I'll get a good one of the chickens.

Last night I finished reading One Acre Homestead by Sara Simmons McDonald.  There are a lot of useful diagrams for figuring out where to put things.  Then there's math.  Lots and lots of math.  Actually it isn't too bad, mostly for pasturing chickens and other animals.  My chickens have a fenced area and aren't free range.  They would be gobbled up lickety-split.  Something I did learn was I am only using one third of my acre.  The middle third.  The house is in the middle of that so I'm technically not even using a third of the land.  It's more like half of a third.  Most of the outside areas are connected because who wants to walk ALL the way over there for one thing and then WAY over there for something else.  Unless it's the compost pile.  Then it can stay way, way over there.

Rowan is awake now.  She sounds croupy.  This may change all the plans for today.

0115  There's been no sun.  The temp is around 60.  I'm not feeling like working today.  I have been busy looking on Craigslist.  I've had an inspiration to buy a camper.  Now I just need to find one.  The internet is full of camper makeovers and you would think these old ugly campers are just laying around everywhere.  Craigslist proves this is just not true.  There are very few.  I've looked at over 3,000 and probably only found 5.

This is how far I got with sanding today.  Not too bad.  Further than I thought I would get.  Now I have a good idea of how long this will take.  Pretty much forever.

Here's a pic of the chickens.  They are getting so big.  I'm amazed at how fast they grow.

Peppermint is helping me dig in the garden.  Or she's protecting me from this vicious shovel.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29, 2014 More Gardening Stuff

0815  Better get up.  Doctor appointment today and I'm getting a new palm sander.  Hee hee. 

When I let Lizzie out it seemed like a fairly nice day.  Cold, but maybe some sun.  A little early to know for sure.  I hope the chickens are getting used to not being let out till around 9.  Is this bad?  I know they are getting big.  Chicken dinner coming soon.

Ok, I'm going to finish my coffee and read blogs.  I've been meaning to get a blog list up on this blog.  I'm also looking for new blogs.  I don't have a lot to read because the blogs I do read aren't posting much right now.  It seems to go in waves.

0200  I am back from my doctor visit.  It looks like I will live for much much longer.  Great news since it was just a check up.  One more doctor visit next week and I will have completed my yearly/biannual doctor visit routine.  I really loathe having to go see the doctor.  It's so boring.  I want to play.

Rowan and I stopped by Lowe's, ONLY for the palm sander.  We of course left with more than that.  

Spring is so tempting.  I'm becoming a temperature nerd due to the hoop house and now own TWO thermometers.  This one with the little birds attaches outside my kitchen window.  Jace wants a digital one.  I'm sure we'll get one.  Rowan needed new gardening gloves.  I got a peony bulb.  It says, "Guaranteed to grow."  Ha!  We'll just see about that.  A few packs of flower seeds, a blueberry plant, and some seed potatoes.

 I planted the blueberry in a 3 gallon container using a mix of soil, mulch, and bun poo.  Isn't the rug neat?  Jace put it into the hoop house.  It reminds me of glamping.

 I found this in the garden.  There's a couple more.  I'll need to decide soon what to do with them.  It's a kolrabi which I haven't grown before.

I found 7 of these.  This is a daffodil...I think.

I've found some new blogs which I hope to get listed soon.

Jace brought home a present!  I'll post it tomorrow. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 28th, 2014 Sanding the China Hutch Is Not Going As Planned

0830  Waking up back on the homestead.  I'm done with work till the end of the week.  The weather is 28 degrees and showing some freezing rain or snow.  It's 47 degrees in the hoop house.  It'll be an inside day here.  I'll be going out for an eye appointment.  I purposely scheduled all my doctor checkups during this time of bad weather.  It does look like Thursday and Friday will be nice days.

I need to work on the blog appearance.  It's on the same list as needing to put away laundry and needing to plant my okra seeds.  I did soak the seeds but now they are sprouting in the water.  I might need to redo soaking the seeds and planting.

I've been enjoying eating dried fruit that I keep stored in jars instead of their ugly plastic wrapper.

Onslo is a dog who thinks he's a bird because he made a nest with his blanket.  He's refusing to come out.

0315  My sanding project came to a halt.  I need to palm sand the china hutch I bought the other day.  I got everything ready and the palm sander does not work.  It's been sitting around for much too long.  Looks like tomorrow I will go get a new one.  I don't want to let this project wait too long or it won't get done.   

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014 "Real" Work

I'm posting this to fill in any gaps.  I didn't post Saturday because I was at my "real" job, the one which pays real money, without which I couldn't do any homesteading, for which I am thankful.

The only thing I did today was give the chickens their water and feed.  I'm trying a different routine for work days.  Whatever helps it go smoother.

I need to cull some of the chickens...soon.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 26, 2014 Back To Warm Weather

0930  Yes, I slept in and it was wonderful.  I've been getting up early for a thousand years and I decided I would sleep in today.

No pee pee/poo poo accidents from the dogs.  This day is going swell already.  Let the dogs out.  Onslo had to be carried out.

Went outside to let the chickens out.  It's not even cold outside.  The chickens are very happy to be released from their oven.

I checked on the hoop house.  Better unplug the heater.  It's 90 degrees in here!

0945  Drinking coffee.  My original plan was to do the minimum.  The bare minimum only and not take on any tasks today.  However, in light of the beautiful day today, I will have to go outside and enjoy the glorious sunshine.

I worked in this corner for a little while.  This is how most of the yard looks and has to be completely dug up and redone.

To the right is where I'll plant cucumbers.  I created this path in the middle so I can get around the cucumbers and to the back of the garden shed.  The rocks I used to line the edge were all rocks I dug up in this small area.

I only had time to dig up a little more.  I'll keep working in this area.  I imagine planting grape vines along the fence line and maybe a fruit tree and some flowers. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

January 24, 2014 Ice Storm Results and a China Hutch

0730  Up with the coffee maker.  I thought Jace was up so I was actually tricked into getting up.  Let the dogs out.  They were naughty and made several piles of poo.  Not what I like waking up to.  But let's face it, if they are too chicken to go out in the cold, then they're going to poo on the floor.

0735  Poo cleaned up.  Still no Peppermint.  I let her out last night and it was sleeting.  I checked for her several times up until midnight.  I'm pretty sure she's a popsicle and we'll have to wait till Spring to get a search party gathered to find her.

I went and checked on the chickens.  Surprise!  The lock is frozen so I can't let them out.  Off to the hoop house to get some scissors to break the ice.  I check the temperature in the hoop house.  Yippee!  It's a balmy 40 degrees in here.  It's 27 outside.  Maintaining 13 degrees difference is great.  It rarely gets below freezing here and the whole purpose of the hoop house is to get plants started early and not having them freeze.  The hoop house held up fine.  There's ice on the outside of it.  I worry that this will have an effect on it, like it will shatter.

I make it back to the chickens and bust open that lock.  They are tweeting like mad.  Out of the door they come.  Don't they know there's ice all over the ground?  They really seem to have a mob mentality.  Not particularly intelligent and they all join in.  "Yes, let's all jump off this cliff."

0800  Having my coffee.  Lizzie gives 3 short barks.  I go check, and yep, there's Peppermint.  She doesn't look bad and is eager to come inside.  Now I can relax.  Stupid cat.  Off to more exciting things now, paying bills.




I went to town to the resale shop.  I was planning on going to a few different stores.  I'm searching for some chairs for my table.  I have some rickety cheap chairs that just aren't holding up well.  I don't mind nice looking used things.  

I've been searching for a China hutch for a loooooong time.  I've found the right one many, many times, but the price has been too steep.  I saw this and thought, "Here we go again.  At least $900 I'm sure."  Instead it was $300.  It's solid maple.  I'll probably never see one this nice for that price again.  I will also keep it forever.  So I bought it right away.  I've learned that if it's an item you know in your heart of hearts you will use and keep for a very long time, you should buy it right away, otherwise it WILL be gone when you come back.  Contrary to the picture, I will not keep my shoes on it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 23, 2014 Reinforced Hoop House

0700  Nope.

0715  Under protest.  Got up and let Lizzie out.  Coffee was already ready.  Drinking coffee and sitting with Peppermint.  She feels that I've been gone a very long time and she has missed me terribly.  Lots of meows.  Every. Time. I. See. Her.  She must have memory problems.  Probably from chewing on the computer.

I'm doing some shopping in a little while.  Jace has asked nicely for some horse liniment from Tractor Supply.  There could be a chance for some adventure there.

The real question here is why am I shopping today?  Because we're knuckleheads and I just saw the weather for tomorrow.  I thought this whole week was nothing but nice or a few clouds.  Turns out the Polar Vortex will be here tomorrow.  *Dum dum dum*(dramatic effect music)  I don't want to be out shopping tomorrow when the temps are freezing, possibly snow/sleet, and taking Rowan with me. 

Yesterday evening we added another layer of plastic across the roof of the hoop house for this event.  We're not sure of its' ability to stand up to sleet.  In a logical thought process I would think the heat generated inside the hoop house would melt any ice off the roof.

UPDATE:  I helped the warming process along this afternoon.  I ran an extension cord under the hoop house and connected a small heater.  I crawled around all the edges at the bottom of the hoop house checking for drafts.  I blocked them with scrap plastic, cardboard, wood and rocks.  I bought a thermometer at Tractor Supply and it's showing 49 degrees in the hoop house.  I'll recheck later to see if this is working.

Heater sitting on a cinder block to elevate it off the ground.  I'm nervous about the connection sitting on the ground so I tucked it into the hole of the cinder block.


Ye ole thermometer

I read on Garden Therapy a recipe for All Natural Orange Cinnamon All-Purpose Cleaner.  I made some and put it away.  I'll check back in a few weeks.  I also put it on my calendar and made a note of where exactly I put it.  Two weeks from now I may not remember.  "Great, it's ready.  But where is it?!"

Since the weather is so yucky there's a couple things I'm working on inside.  I'm making bread, even as we speak.  I do it the lazy a bread machine.  I bought a bread machine at Goodwill a few years ago.  I don't really like bread baked in a bread machine, but it's wonderful to use just for making the dough.  Throw all the ingredients in and come back an hour later, shape some loaves, and bake in the oven.  Perfect homemade bread.

The other thing I have to work on is cleaning out the freezer, which I AM about to go do, for real.  I got a very good deal on some meat and I don't have room for it.  There's also a lot of stuff in our freezers (2 of them) that no one is ever going to eat.  I will get to eat homemade bread as a reward.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 22,2014 Technical Stuff, Getting Up to Speed

0700  Wake up and give up going back to sleep.  Let Lizzie out.  Onslo pretends to be asleep because it's too cold for him to go out.  It's cold so the chickens will have to wait.  Start the coffee.

0720  Get coffee.  Listening to Placido Domingo.  I was thinking last night about how I wanted to write/arrange posts.  It may be easier to draft a post through the day and then post it at night.  This is why I'm posting the time to start with.  

0800 Let the chickens out of prison and start the day.

Some of these I have already finished.  Many things just won't apply to my homestead so I skip over them.  I can't have cows, goats, horses, sheep, llamas, camels or donkeys on this property.  

This is probably a hyacinth.  Or a tulip. or a daffodil.  I was lazy about labeling last fall.  It's still early for this to be coming up.  Maybe Spring will be here early.

I started planting seeds in the greenhouse today.  I didn't have any popsicle sticks for labeling but I did have a lot of plastic forks, knives, and spoons, and a sharpie marker!  I forgot I needed to soak okra seeds overnight so I didn't plant those.  Here's what I did plant:

Cosmic Carrots-outside
Chantenay Red Core Carrots-outside
Apple Melon-1 pot
Boule d'Or Melon- 1 pot
Charentais Melon- 1 pot
Fordhook Zucchini- 2 pots
Florida Market Eggplant- 1 pot
Japanese White Egg Eggplant- 1 pot
Long Purple Eggplant- 1 pot
Red Bell Pepper- 3 pots
Boston Pickling Cucumber- 1 pot
Marketmore 76 Cucumber- 1 pot
Marketmore Cucumber- 1 pot
Straight Eight Cucumber- 1 pot
Gypsy Tomato- 3 pots
San Marzano Tomato- 3 pots
Black Krim Tomato- 3 pots
Uncle Mark Bagby Tomato- 9 pots
Red Wonder Wild Strawberry- 2 pots (daughter spilled the seeds)
Purple Tomatillo- 1 pot
Marsh Mallow- 1 pot

Most of these were bought from Baker Creek Seeds. They are my favorite place to get seeds.  Others I pick up here and there at different places.  Most are organic.

Today's Weather:  partly cloudy, a mild wind, temperature in the mid 60's.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 21,2014 Introduction

Hi, my name is Julie.  I live in Central Texas.  I live on one acre of land.  It's technically barely over at 1.11 acres.  I feel like it's too small.  Being from Texas I must feel bigger is better.  Maybe my eyes are bigger than my capabilities.  They are bigger than my bank account, that's for sure.

The cast of characters for this blog:

Julie- homesteader extraordinaire
Jace- doting husband, compliant guinea pig,
Rowan- daughter, 8 year old homeschooler
Onslo- 6 year old Chiweenie
Lizzie- short for Elizabeth Belle, 9 month old miniature schnauzer
Peppermint- 9 month old white siamese cat
Rabbits- Lord Boone, Jane Doe, 5 meat buns
Chickens- 11 Speckled Sussex (7 are going to freezer camp)

No actual work was done today.  I'm off to a disappointing start here.  I thought it would be best to set this blog up on a day when things were fairly boring.  Most things do not take a large amount of time.  This is necessary due to homeschooling taking a prime portion of the day. 

The dogs were let out.  The chickens were let out and watered and fed.

The weather was clear and sunny with temperatures in the mid 60's.