Tag Archives: homesteading

Bates Farm Bonanza

We would like to say thanks to all the people who came to celebrate with us this weekend in body and/or spirit. If you couldn’t make it, or don’t live anywhere near us and didn’t know about it, here’s the scoop. Continue reading

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Saturday’s Hail Storm in the Midwest

Well, it’s a good thing I posted the “before” images of the garden last week, because things aren’t looking so good this week. Some pretty severe thunderstorms moved through the midwest on Saturday, some towns near us reported golf ball and even baseball sized hail. We were lucky to only see nickel to quarter-sized chunks of ice, but it came in three rounds, along with a great deal of rain and one episode of winds so strong I really thought it might be the approach of tornado. Continue reading

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Farm Sitting and Cute Baby Goats

Last week we had the opportunity to farm sit for some wonderful friends so that they could take a little vacation. I know I’ve mentioned these friends before because we have swapped farms on several occasions. We’ve traded farms at Thanksgiving and Christmas for the past two years as well as watching over things for each other for a weekend here or there throughout the year. It has been such a blessing because as anyone who has ever managed or lived on a farm knows, it’s nearly impossible to get away. You can’t exactly ask just anyone to “please check the mail and, um, could you milk the cow while you’re at it?”
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Beekeeping- How to Make a Super

It’s been a while since I talked about our little apiary, probably because once a hive is established, it seems to require very little attention, so long as it remains healthy. You can read about how we got started with beekeeping in the Hobby: Beekeeping post. Today though, I’ll share a picture tutorial of how to build a Super.

A Super is one of the layers of a hive. It’s essentially a box with no top or bottom, and into the box you place frames. A hive usually starts with two Supers and as the bees fill the frames, new supers must be added or the hive will swarm. Continue reading

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The Circle of Life

Well, our Angus cow finally had her calf. Sadly it did not survive. I’m not really sure what happened. My best guess is that the birthing process took too long and he did not get enough oxygen, or did not get it soon enough. The reason that I make this assumption is that he (it was a little bull calf) looked healthy, was fully developed, and it was cool enough that heat shouldn’t have been a problem. He was born during the night on Sunday night. On Monday morning my son and I noticed a black mound in the pasture. I glanced around and did not see any cows nearby, nor did the mound appear to be moving. My heart sank. Continue reading

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Time to Start Garden Planning!

For the last two years my target date for direct seeding has been April 15th. This is a little later than most people around here, but far earlier than my raised-in-Northern-Michigan mind thinks that spring should arrive, so, April 15th it is. That means that right now it is time to order seeds!

My favorite seeds come from Seed Savers Exchange. I prefer to browse the catalog, but they also have a website at www.seedsavers.org. Seed Savers Exchange offers organic and heirloom variety seeds for virtually every herb, flower, and vegetable that you could ever want to grow. Continue reading

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Too Many Roosters

The only problem with hatching our own baby chicks last summer is that we now have too many roosters. When you order day old chicks from a hatchery you have the option of ordering all female, all male, a straight run (which means whatever you get- like hatching your own), or any combination of hens and roosters that you choose. How anyone is able to tell the gender of a newborn baby chick is beyond me, but that’s how it works.

According to several of the books I’ve read, it’s best to have one rooster for every ten to twenty hens; if you want one at all. You don’t need a rooster to get eggs, but you do need a rooster to get fertilized eggs. The hens are also happier with a rooster around. A good rooster will help protect your egg layers…until you get too many. Continue reading

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My Least Favorite Chores

1) Clearing the Fence Line- Imagine that it’s summer, a sunny ninety degree day, the humidity a stifling eighty-five percent. Imagine that you are working in this heat in jeans, a long sleeve shirt, gloves, and knee-high farm boots, all to protect you from the gallon of urushol that waits patiently for you to brush against one of the many reaching vines of poison ivy. Now imagine that you have a thirty-five pound child strapped to your back. Are you there? Continue reading

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Some Unexpected Visitors

Don’t you love it when a great story falls into your lap, or, in this case, walks into your yard?

Sunday morning I woke up before the sun, made my green tea with honey, and started editing my newest novel.

Not too long after this my husband emerged. He had just settled down on the couch with his coffee when suddenly he leaned forward and made a noise that let me know that all was not right with the world. Continue reading

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Hunting For Golf Balls

Living on a farm is not all chores and chasing animals. On nice afternoons my son and I often find time to play baseball, fish in the pond, climb trees, or go hunting for golf balls.

Golf balls?

Yes, golf balls.

What does this have to do with living on a farm?

Well, on some farms perhaps nothing. On our farm, however, hunting for golf balls has become a regular past-time. Continue reading

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