Archives for category: Farm

The Knee wins, the rest looses!

Oh my I knew health was everything, but wow does having a knee injury impede one’s efforts!  The back yard has been overrun with weeds, the orchard needs tending, the garden and other vegetable plantings are still alive, but there is no progress made on anything.  In general it is a very frustrating experience to have to spend $$$ on a house keeper, only manage one load of laundry a day, and sitting is now required after cooking dinner. 

To be completely honest I have fully realized that I do not want to live on this much farm when I am older and all the injuries of my youth come back around as constant companions.  I believe I understand my Mamma’s odd gate and the noise her knees made getting up out of a vegetable bed. 

I plan to shift my focus to those activities not so physically uncomfortable.  One example is to further develop the space immediately around the house  where the walking distance to tend is much less. This is Zone 1 space in permaculture, which has been ignored due to planned remodeling and the depressingly low quality of the dirt.  I will not even call it soil at this point. 

If anyone has suggestions for “lazy gardening” I would love to hear them!


Our house is heated with wood…and as a result of the cold temperatures we have been burning more than usual.  The wood box is getting filled up every day, not to top it off for the night but because it is empty or almost empty!  (I will take a picture and add later).  This means I am also having to empty the ashes every 3 or 4 days instead of every 10 to 14 days! 

The rules about stove pipes do not work in our favor – our stove pipe is so long that the gases that leave it are cold.  This means when the temps drop into the twenties there is an odd gas burn off somewhere in the pipe and the wood will not fully fire, leaving much more ash then when we burn and overnight temps are only dropping into the 30s. 

Keep warm!  I am so thankful that we have a ready and available supply of wood, and are in good enough shape to process it into firewood.

Even though we live in California, we live in the mountain foothills and and a cold snap here means overnight lows in the 20’s.  Such extreme temperatures mean some extra chores (breaking ice crusted water bowls) and planning for the farm.  One of the ways we protect the infrastructure related to water and irrigation is the use of buried boxes for the hose bibs and other access points.


This shows a bury box where the valve for the orchard irrigation can be turned off in the winter, then the sprinkler system can be drained.

Not all configurations can be buried this way, so for those we use heat tape.  Here the tape plugs into an exterior weather rated electrical outlet mounted on the pump house.


We did not know, or think of this, as portions were added so have had to do some retrofitting to protect pipes in winter.  Stay warm!

It is Christmas Day, blessings, joy and love to all.  Here on the homestead that includes care for the critters.  There have been many rain storms this month and the mud and wet is getting boring.  Earlier in the month we were able to get a shelter up in the pasture and in the chicken run and all this rain has given opportunity to observe how the design has held up in the field.  Though the winds were high during some of the storms the wind-blown rain was mostly kept out but did expose some flaws needing attention.  The chance for repairs came today – the time $$$ weather window was looking good in the morning.

At the pasture shelter a small adjustment to reshape an overlap joint and adding tar may have done it – we will find out after this current storm.

At the chicken coop the conditions were wetter, and with some development of mold – icky!  The doors that allow access to the nesting boxes were suffering from wind-blown rain getting behind them and collecting in the bottom of the boxes.  The wood had not been protected – one of the draw backs from installing it in winter, and I got sidetracked.  Today an L channel was added to create a dam to force the water out instead of letting it collect in the nesting boxes.  And, the entire exterior was coated in green goo (a wood treatment product to prevent fungus).

I hope it works, my fear is that it will not.

If anyone has other methods for protecting wood I would be interested in hearing them!

Today I am struck by how many versions I have of “Work Clothes”.  For the Monday through Friday daily routine I fulfill many roles on the farm, and weekends have their own version.  Regardless of the day of the week, I go through at least two versions and most days there are 3.

In the morning the work clothes are comfortable pajamas.  These clothes are plenty well matched to the job of rekindling the fire or checking e mail, even cooking breakfast.  The morning chores are calling so the pajamas are traded for the farm work clothes and out the door to feed the critters breakfast.  Upon return from the back forty, again changing and this time into work clothes for the cubical farm where the desk job patiently waits.

I try to be frugal and re-use as many sets of work clothes for a given set of activities as I find practical.  As items are not longer up to the desk job they get demoted to farm ware.  I am very thankful that my employer has gone the casual route so blue jeans and t-shirts are OK. I do have one rule for my work clothes – my pajamas never get to be the clothes worn for farm chores of any kind!

I wonder if this is why I have such negative feelings about the chore laundry?  I try not to make a set last as long as possible, otherwise there would be 3 sets going to the dirty clothes every day and that would be a complete waste of laundry resources (propane, electricity, water, my time…).  Maybe my disdain for laundry has another source.

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