Archive for the ‘Journal’ Category

It’s December already and many changes have happened here on Deberosa II. 

First of all – a new tractor arrived yesterday!

Massey Fergusson 1529

This is a bit beefier than the Mahindra I had before, although it’s about the same size.  The bucket teeth and hooks were added and much stronger than we had before.  The tires are filled with fluid already.  The three point hitch is much stronger.  This tractor has a 9 by 9 syncro shuttle transmission that will take getting used to but didn’t seem too difficult.  We’ll get the tiller and brush hog in the spring.  Right now it will be moving chips and plowing snow and hauling stuff around the homestead.

In addition we added a new puppy to the farm – Sheila is a purebred English Shepard.  She is a fiesty little girl and really loves to herd just about anything – Jake, us, visitors, chickens and the cats. 😉 

English Sheppard farm dog.

8 weeks old.

She is being trained to work with the birds at this point:

We harvested a home grown turkey for Thanksgiving.  Processing was a chore because we are not set up at nicely but the bird turned out fine in any case!  It was a triumph just to be sitting at a table with home grown food after this major relocation!

It was a lovely fall here – damp but warm.

This month we will be organizing the farm into a business.  Not sure what all it will involve, but right now we are thinking of raising Guinea Hogs and growing nursery plants, some veggies and blueberries.  Haven’t decided for sure yet – so send along ideas for cottage industries that may work here!



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Two months has seen alot of changes here on Deberosa II.  

We built two poultry coops, one with a nest box for the egg layers and one for the other poultry – although they all pile into one at night!

Ready for new poultry!

Ready for new poultry!

The red and green paint came from a going out of business sale, but I like it.  The coops have a solid bottom and are very easy to clean since they are up off of the ground.  The chickens like to dust themselves in the dry dirt under the coop and it doesn’t get all nasty.
Other news is I noticed some tree people doing chipping across the road.  Went over to talk with them and find out what they did with all those chips.  It turns out they have a very hard time finding places to put the chips!  So for most of the summer as they clear power lines up and down the road they use our top field as a dumping place for chips and storage place for equipment some weekends.  This is a great start for the flower beds that have been neglected.  Also with the grass catcher on the mower we are constructing compost piles by layering the green grass clippings with wood chips and whatever else is around to throw in.
Our new wood chip and compost project.

Our new wood chip and compost project.

In addition we put in three raised beds with a square foot gardening fall garden.
First we put down a layer of moving boxes then the frame and then the mixture of Peatmoss, compost and vermiculite or perlite in equal amounts. 
Raised bed for herbs and greens

Raised bed for herbs and greens

Raised beds for fall garden

Raised beds for fall garden



As you can see we have started to mulch around these beds with the wood chip supply.

We also are refilling the freezers with the wonderful produce availble in this area.  That includes sweet corn, peaches, and a quarter of a Highland cow from a farm down the road.  We will also get pork and free range chickens and turkeys from them until we get our own set up again.  Highland beef is wonderful!  The best I’ve ever had.  We never got to try the Dexter cattle.

In addition we found 8 blueberry bushes to plant.  Got 4 of them in so far with lots of mulch from the wood chip supply.


Blueberries - hard to see in the thick layer of mulch!

Blueberries - hard to see in the thick layer of mulch!

Kurt dug holes at least one foot deep and two feet across.  I put 1/4 back of peat moss and 1/2 bag of compost in the hole, filled it with water to soak in and then finished with some of the dirt that came out in the first place.  This hopefully will give the berries a good start.  Then surrounded them with more moving boxes and topped with a thick layer of wood chips.

Martha also got a new house!

Nice new house for Martha and Jake when we are away.

Nice new house for Martha and Jake when we are away.

The guineas are now free ranging – they tended to pick on the hens and turkeys in the fenced run plus they are here for tick control.  So far they have been circling the property all day eating bugs so this is good.  There is a flock of 13 guinea fowl.  In the back ground of this picture you’ll see a deer!  They are becoming more brave.  The conglomeration of stuff outside the shed is our effort to sort what came from Washington – which was alot!

Guineas and deer

Guineas and deer





The poultry inventory other than guineas at this point is 3 Bourbon Red turkeys – unfortunately it looks like they are all Toms!, One Salmon Favorelle Rooster and two hens, 7 barred rock pullets, 4 Red Sex Link Pullets, 2 Americana Pullets and the flock of 13 guinea fowl.  Already we are getting 6 eggs a day.

Poultry Flock


That’s about all that’s new for now!



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New Beginnings

Since I posted last much has changed on the homestead.  I found a new job, but it’s on the other side of the coutry in SW Virginia!

Deberosa went on the market last week and hopefully it sells quickly.  If you are looking for a homestead visit www.sellingmasoncounty.com/12

I am entertaining all offers!

The good news is that there is a Deberosa II in the works in VA.  More on that as the deal progresses but hopefully it will be on 20 secluded acres near my new job.

I consider myself fortunate to have found a job in this economy and it’s a good job with good people.  So even though the homestead must move 3000 miles, it will be started again with many more and different lessons so stay tuned!



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Welcome 2009?

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  The year did not end well and 2009 will present many challenges and risks for us. 

But to review what we wanted to accomplish in 2008, we didn’t do too badly:

*  Fence around the wood shed for the Dark Cornish Chickens.  – DONE

*  Move the turkey carport to the back yard area and put in blueberries where it used to be.  – DONE

* Fence off the field garden and plant most in cover crops this year. plus purple bush beans and squash. – DONE

* Build a straw bale garden in the back yard for greens. – DONE

* Rebuild the hoop house and plant it with tomatoes and basil again.  – DONE but the crop was poor due to the cool summer and a rat infestation!

* Move herbs into a new bed that ’s better mulched. – Sort of DONE

* Finish the perimeter fence, cattle fence around the acre of brush for Daisy and T-Bone to clear and a space for a couple of pigs.  – DONE

*  Organize the garage and clean out and organize the barn!  – Well, maybe someday!

* Improve my skills at preservation, we should be getting grapes this year.  Grapes did not ripen due to the cool summer but I did more canning, freezing, and drying than in the past including grinding grains for bread making.

* Put in a bed of Doyles Blackberries and Tripple Crown Blackberries.  – The Doyles Blackberries are in but the Triple Crown Blackberries never grew – beware discount nurseries!

* Get Daisy bred by June some how! DONE – didn’t happen until November but she should have a calf in 2009

* Late next year it will be time to say goodbye to T-Bone.  It won’t be easy but it’s a part of the cycle here.   Animals raised on small farms have far better lives than one the factory farms.  T-Bone is still hanging around in case she may be fertile. 


We have been eating almost solely from the homestead by late 2008.  Pork, turkey, chicken, veggies and fruits.  

But then the bad news – my job ends in June 2009.  They are moving the operations to India.  Looking for a job in this economy is dismal and 2009 is filled with unknowns at this point.  It may be necessary to terminate Deberosa if relocation is necessary.   Survival will be the goal of 2009.

As if that is not enough we’ve had one of the worst winters on record and it’s only early January.  It started with record cold, then 18 inches of snow followed by several inches of rain.  The rain soaked snow was too much for the lower half of the barn and it has collapsed.  The snow slid off the main barn onto the lean to’s and they collapsed – the new lean to only fell as far as the plywood wall fortunately so the cows still are sheltered.  The chicken coop has a skewed door but it still stands also.  Everything else seems to have held and most of the heavy wet snow has left.  However tonight it started snowing again!  For an area far more used to damp rains this is quite a nasty set of storms. 

So we enter 2009 with the specter of unemployment and storm clean up.  Surviving will be the biggest goal for this year, perhaps the groundwork laid for the past 5 years will be  utilized in the coming months.

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The fall harvest is starting on Deberosa.  Here is today’s pick from the garden:

The Purple bush beans have been producing well with two large batches in the freezer and the next large batch ready for processing.  Carrots are doing well, beets are coming on along with many turnips.  The zuccini, summer squash and cucumbers are only just getting started and the tomatos are finally starting to ripen.

Three pigs also were harvested.  First “Big Pig” and “Squirrely Pig”.  They ended up with hanging weights of 230 pounds and 150 pounds respectively.  “Squirrely Pig” was the only gilt.  We kept half of each.

Also “White Pig” went to the butcher.  He weighed in at 187  pounds hanging weight.

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August 2nd

On the homestead the weather has been perfect.  Been waiting around for a guy to come and fix the barn roof as a side job but he didn’t show.  I am sure he will at some point though so no big deal.
Got the corn all weeded, it’s looking real good.  Will mulch it good next.  Moved the cows again – Kurt drug a piece of fencing over their former area to break up the manure and I will throw some new pasture seeds there to build up that area for next year.
Been baking today too – Amish Friendship bread.  It’s from a starter but no one wants the starter so now I am overrun!  I’ll freeze a bunch of it if I can get ahead of Kurt eating it. Wink  I goofed up the first batch – only put in one cup of flour instead of two, grrr!
We have more chicks!!!  One buff in the barn showed up with 15 chicks!!!  Another dark cornish has 12 more and one outside the fence has another 12.  Also have two sets with 6 each!  That’s in addition to the first batches of chicks in June.  I don’t even know how many I have now but it’s alot!
Went to the farmers market – got my raw goat milk and goat milk shampoo bars.  Also got some Walla Walla onions that are amazing!!!  THis is from some friends of ours – learned her secret to growing onions here.  They need full sun and lots of heat – who knew.  She started seeds in February – put them out in April and gave them lots of water.  They were huge!  I bought three for our use.
THe next week is supposed to be warm – I am hoping the garden will really take off.  I have tons of green tomatoes, the start of zuccini, and the beans are flowering.  It’s looking more hopeful and now it’s a race to frost for here.
That’s about it!

August 10th

We got a good rain storm on Saturday.  Went to the county fair and met some fellow homesteaders, talked pigs and cows with them.  We were sizing up the pigs to estimate out big ours are.  “Big Pig” has to be nearing 300 pounds now and “White Pig” is getting close to that.  The smallest of the originally 3 “Squirrely Pig” is getting a good size too.  However we learned that the guy we’ve been calling to do the slaughter is booked until October!!! No wonder he doesn’t call back.  We asked around and there is another place farther away that we plan to try to get to because these pigs will be gigantic by then!  Something will work out and we’ll know better next time.
Harvested the multiplier onions today and they worked out pretty well.  The beans will be ready in a couple of weeks.  Put the new turkey poults out in the pasture.  And the rats must have taken the poison because I got about a half dozen tomatoes from the hoop house!  
Jake got one rat in the coop I use to feed the Dark Cornish chickens  I was in the coop at the time when the comotion started and the rat zoomed by my foot!  Then it went out the door and Jake dispatched it quickly.  We took him out at dusk to check for more – he almost got another one.  Can’t really put poison in that area with all of the young chicks that would fit in the tube.  
That ends another busy summer weekend. Wink
Oh – forgot – I also baked my first two loaves of bread! 

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July 2nd

Around here this seems to be the season for farm tours!  After a blistering hot weekend where you barely moved it went back to the 70’s.  Friends with grandkids came out to visit – hold the baby chicks that a hen just came out of the barn with, feed the pigs, cuddle the kittens and go home with a handful of peacock feathers.
Then we got to tour a neighbor’s farm today!  What fun!  She called this afternoon – had a trailer load of hay to get rid of – fresh cut for 4 dollars a bail!!!  THey are bringing it by tomorrow morning!  That’s perfect – just enough for two small cows and delivered to boot.  Part of the deal is veggies this summer- I can deal with that!  Well, she has cattle on her 40 acres. SHe’s a widow in her 70’s on this farm.  We went out to the back 40 to see the cattle as I had not seen them before.  A registered herford bull and white faced angus cows, plus a couple of pinzgauer cows.  6 calves and boy did they look nice – 5 heifers and a bull calf that was a beauty – typical pinzgauer markings of the white tail and stripe down the back.  If we end up on 20 acres they would make a ready made herd…
The other cool thing is that I wasn’t there 30 seconds and I notice she has a whole stack of tin laying on the ground. Plus one of those street sweeper cylindrical brooms that are great cow scratching posts!  She says – you want that stuff?? Make me an offer!  We plan on building a lean to on the back of the barn and I have spare parts for everything except the tin roof!  Plus Daisy loves to scratch on trees and the broom is perfect for both her or for pigs I imagine.  I’ll be comeing back with an offer on both and see what else she has!  This is a very old homestead with a million treasures just laying around!
Then a Mexican family stopped by for chickens.  Bought two roosters, and two hens and two dozen eggs.  They’ll be back for veggies later in the year and they also told me the meaning of the word Deberosa – my farm name which I have on a sign out by the road.
The garden is finally growing.  I’ve got to take more pictures this weekend.  Half of the first pig is sold – we are keeping the other half so only have two more to go in September.  The pigs figured out how to diconnect the float on their water tank!  It must have run most of the afternoon and made a wonderful mud hole for them right back in the evergreens where they like to hang out – very spoiled pigs, and a far better life than packed in a shed in a factory farm!  I am going to miss them, but have to keep reminding myself of their real purpose.  It will get easier I am sure as they get even bigger and eat even more!
This weekend will be getting the hay organized in the barn, Kurt is going to rewire the breaker box in the well house so that when we lose power we can just plug the well pump into the generator.  In the past he actually had to unwire and rewire the pump! Plus it will be time to start weeding and mulching now that the plants are starting to grow a bit.  Still far behind but the first tomatoe will be ready in a couple of days in the hoop house.
We are also going to take a ride down to see the 20 acres that is for sale near here.  On the way is the feed store so we’ll stock up on feed for another month.
One other none homestead event – a former co-worker of mine won one million dollars in the lottery this weekend – go figure! I guess you have to buy tickets to win though. Wink 

July 5th

Yesterday one of the two tons of hay we got went into the barn.  Tomorrow the rest will go in.  It’s going to fit fairly easily in the main part of the barn.  We did get all of the old straw and hay mucked out for compost and mulching before putting down plastic or tarps, then pallets and then stacking the hay 5 layers tall.  That should easily last the two cows for the winter.
I did get my first tomatoes of the season – yeah!  I did some weeding between rain storms. The corn is growing now but getting smothered by volunteer tomatoe plants – at least they are easy to pull out and lay back down for mulch.  However while doing this I had an audience.  The corn patch has a strand of hot wire along it that has been very effective keeping the cows out so I didn’t pay much attention as I am bent over picking weeds.  Then I turn around and T-bone has one leg over the fence!  I yell for Kurt – he discovers the breaker has been flipped but not before T-Bone completes her move to the corn patch and heads straight for the tallest corn plants. Now I can’t get her out because the wire is hot!  She snarfs up one plant and I shreik and get her to the side a bit, yelling for Kurt to come open the spring gate!  We get her out but I lost a few of the tallest plants. GRRR.  Now they are blocked to the front – need that area to muck out the barn anyhow.
After that I took a break, sitting on the back of the hay trailer at the back of the barn and – there goes a rat!!!  Kurt joins me with the BB gun.  Not one rat, two, three, four – bunches! Back and forth from the weeds to the corner of the hen house.   I think we hit the biggest one but not very much luck!  So we rigged up one of those barrel traps.  It’s a board to the top of a garbage can with 1/3 full of water.  Across the top of the can is a stick and on the stick is a couple of toilet paper rolls covered with peanut butter.  Rat goes up board to stick – reaches out to get peanut butter but it spins around and dumps rat into the water.  We’ll find out tomorrow how well it works. Wink
The good news is we cleaned out most all of the barn to put in the hay and did not see a single mouse or rat or sign of them inside the barn – yeah!  
Well, tomorrow will be more work and I hope some pictures.

July 12th

It was hot here today – the garden is taking off and now the weeds are a battle.
We got the bedding all out of the lean to on the barn and into a compost pile.  In the morning you can see it steaming as it cooks away – it made quite a mound!  Next is the chicken house and we got a start on that before the heat set in.
Then we went to a garage sale – a disappointment, but somehow three new weaner pigs jumped into the truck. Wink  We got them at the same place we got the first set of pigs.  these are real weaner pig size, not the big ones like we got the last time so they should be ready the end of the year.  If we didn’t get these it would be September before we got the next bunch.  They are getting along fine with the other batch so that’s good.  We got all females and the farmer helped us pick the best ones in case we decide to keep one or two for breeding.  He rents out his boar and only lives a few minutes away.  Gee pigs are as addicting as chickens have been!
We are still eating fresh strawberries but this heat may mean the last of them.  During the heat of today we moved the contents of freezers around so that the second of three of them could be defrosted.  One more to go and it will be ready for fresh meat and veggies. 

July 28th


Still good if we hit 70 during the day.  A bit of rain, but not enough to prevent watering.
Been real busy this month – got the gardens mostly weeded and mulched – a big job!  Went on the annual tansy and thisle hunt and got most of that down.  Hauling in more hay for the cows since the grass has been poor this year and the cows have everything eaten down.  
The barn is almost clear of manure and it’s composting for next year.
Picking Berries but not much else from the garden!  It’s been a really bad year with the cold weather.  I am slightly hopeful that we’ll get some produce in a few weeks though.  Thinned the mangle beets tonight and gave them to the pigs – they thought that was great!
We got 9 new turkey poults – 2 naragenset, 2 royal palm, one blue, one wild turkey, two black spanish and one mystery white turkey.  All heritage breeds to go with my three red bourbon hens that all haved clutches of chicken chicks now because I lost my Tom turkeys last winter.  I still have more groups of Dark cornish chicks coming out of the bushes so there will be plenty of chicken for the freezer.  They are perfect to raise free rangle like they are – safely fenced in with Jake on guard.
The neighbor has an acre and a half field next to my property.  He pretty much leaves it go wild and it’s covered with ox eye daisy and queen annes lace.  The pollen drives Kurt’s allergies nuts.  Well last week the neighbor met me at the fence and wanted to know if I wanted to graze my cows on his field.  Turns out he is in construction and the down turn and a dead beat customer caused him to lose his tractor so no mowing for him.  We thought about it but decided the forage is so poor and the danger of not only keeping the cows in (he has little grandkids) but also stray dogs out that it would not be worth getting the poles etc. to do it.  However I offered to mow his field for him since I have a tractor and mower.  He was grateful for that so Sunday I drove my tractor over there and mowed the entire field – looks really nice now!  Plus the pollen count has reduced substantially.   I’ll offer again in the spring before everything seeds and my weed problems will be greatly reduced.  
Still waiting on more tomatoes, waiting on zuccini, and on all of the rest of the veggies.  I know they’ll all come in at once and it will be crazy again!
Zuccini and summer squash and patti pan squash and a few extra tomatoe plants:

Guinea’s checking out the newly mowed field:

Beets, cucumbers and flowers, plus some celery, lovage, cilantro and heritage rasberries:

Mangels, turnips, parsnips, carrots:

Corn (most of the “weeds” are volunteer tomatoes!)

Purple green beans (left) and soybeans (right)

Spelt (left) and ALfalfa(right)

Lots of tomatoe vines but no more ripe tomatoes!

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