Category Archives: General

Cleaning Up

The septic has been covered again with screened topsoil this time so it won’t be full of rocks the next time it has to be dug up. The rocky soil removed will get used elsewhere to fill in holes and level off areas where it won’t matter. Today we also took a truck-load of trash from the pile off to the dump. Until my folks moved nearby we hadn’t had access to a truck to help get rid of all of the trash we’ve gathered here on the property. There’s still more to be removed, but we’ve made a start at cleaning it up at least.

We’re also working on figuring new coop plans for the chickens.

Tansy Ragwort

We’ve been doing a bit of work around the place. This is a case of there’s always so much to do that it can be difficult to decide where to start. Right now the upcoming project is getting the septic pumped. I’ve been clearing the path from the front gate back along the house and today worked on filling some holes so it’s more level (still have a lot to do).

Filling holes with Mr. Blue Sky
Filling holes with Mr. Blue Sky

The dirt (with grass roots) came from a section of our path that I was leveling off. Basically trying to get it clear and easy for the pumper to get the hoses back to the tank. When that’s done I’ll uncover the tank and set up the pumping. It’s been just about five years since we moved in, so time to get it done.

tansy-ragwort
Tansy Ragwort

We noticed this year that there were a bunch of tall flowering plants and discovered that they were Tansy Ragwort and listed as a Noxious Weed. It’s also on the Thurston county list. A couple patches had sprung up in the chicken yard and on the hill. I cut the stems and dug up the roots. I felt bad for the bees that were obviously attracted to the flowers but we plan to try and remove many of the invasive species and plant either native plants or food-producing plants. We’re still learning about the plants. I need to study more, learn to identify the plants that don’t belong and work on bringing in the plants that do. It’ll take time.

Almond Milk

Today I made a batch of almond milk. First time I’ve done that, and it was really easy! I put the almonds in yesterday to soak, and this morning dumped them into the blender with  four cups of water, and a minute later poured it out into one of those fine mesh produce bags (thanks to the Rawtarian for the suggestion!) to strain out the pulp. I’m going to use the pulp later to make cookies! Yum!

After making the milk I mixed up a bowl of chopped almonds, walnuts, raw pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes and raisins. I poured over some of the almond milk and had a fun crunchy bowl of muesli.

Spring

Spring is here according to the calendar but our weather seems to be confused. This week we’ve had snow and hail and this morning we woke to a layer of frost on everything. Last week we had a dry day, not sunny but at least not raining. We took advantage of it and got some yard work done.

I emptied out some of our Earthboxes and filled them with fresh soil and was able to plant some strawberry and mint plants. I’m planning on getting some seeds started in the other planter. While I was working with the planters, Ryan used our new (electric) lawn mower and got the front yard all mowed.

New strawberry and mint plants, garlic coming up in the other planters.

Yesterday evening the weather was nice for awhile so he went out and mowed the section behind the house. The chickens were very happy with the newly cut grass. Speaking of chickens we never did find any sign of Mango. We trimmed all the other hens wings so they can’t get over the fence.

Hoping to get more work done on the garden soon.

Going Primal, & Missing Mango

The Primal Blueprint I haven’t felt good in quite a while. Achy, fatigued, moody, just not all that great. I’ve also been putting on weight, getting up to the heaviest that I’ve ever weighed at 174lbs. I’ve been a fan of going barefoot — made a huge difference for my plantar fasciitis — but I haven’t really been exercising much. After a recent photo, just seeing how much weight I’d gained in my face and body, I decided to look more into some things I’d heard about including more nature-based exercises, and a diet of healthier eating. That all led me to look into folks like Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson, both of who advocate for eating based on what our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have eaten before agriculture developed. Plants and animals, but not grains and sugar. After reading some of the content online we ended up starting with Mr. Sisson’s The Primal Solution. We took the plunge with our shopping and spent most of our money on food from the vegetable/fruit and meat sections of the store. Still lots to learn, but the results in others like the Unconquerable Dave are encouraging.

In other news, one of our yellow chickens “Mango” has gone missing. We thought she might have made a nest in the woods and was sitting on eggs, but after lots of tromping around through the woods we haven’t come across any sign of her in the last few days. If she’s out there she’s really hiding and being quiet. It may have started that way and something with a taste for chickens came across her, or she may have foolishly jumped the fence into the neighbor’s yard with the dogs. It’s too bad.

Chicken Run

Our chickens roam around our 1.24 acre property and seem content to remain on our side of the fence. One time a chicken jumped the fence into the neighbor’s yard. He chased her with a big fishing net but couldn’t catch her — when I picked her up and brought her back to our yard I think she was happy!

Anyway, whenever we go outside the chickens tend to come running. Most of the time they aren’t far from the house, often they’ll go around the side yard and in the woods, but not so far that they can’t hear or see us.

Ren the Hen
Ren the Hen
This is Ren the Hen, coming out of the woods to see what I was doing (throwing chicken litter onto the compost pile). Later I took a stroll up the hill to go check on one of their nesting sites in the woods, hidden away in the top of an old stump, and they all came running up the hill after me. They’ll follow us all around.
Chicken Run
Chicken Run

Patti
Patti
Patti (the leader and the smartest hen) with Mariah (arguably the slowest of the hens), wondering what I’m going to do next.

List of Projects

Projects abound here at Woolly Dragon Farm. The writing business takes up much of my time but I try to find time to get in work on the place too. And I want to post more regularly to this blog. If I could only pack in a few more hours into each day it’d be easier, but I haven’t found a way to compress the local time stream yet.

At the moment there are several projects occupying my mind.

  • Organization — it’s a constant problem, but I’d like to get things more organized in the house. A two-year-old toddler makes that a difficult task, but I’d like to work on it and clean out some of the clutter. Some of it we brought with us when we moved and it is still sitting around. If it’s still in a box I can’t imagine that it’s anything that we need, but it takes time to get through it all.
  • Concrete demolition — when we moved in one of the first things we saw that we wanted to change was the concrete slab alongside the house. I’d prefer to have that be an extension of the front yard instead. I’ve actually started on the cutting of the slab along the house but that takes time too. Dusty hard work. After cutting I’ll have a go at it with the sledgehammer and see if I can break it up. The rubble might be used in drainage ditches, or beneath new animal housing for drainage. Or we could use it to create raised beds or flagstones, we’ll just see.
  • Animal Housing — speaking of animal housing that’s another task. We’ve got an old shed that half is the chicken coop but I’d like to replace that with a better coop for the birds. And then I’ll look at building housing for some Nigerian goats one of these days.
  • Office Shed — I’d like to build a little office shed building up on the hill, maybe earth-sheltered, but that’s more long term.
  • Garden — I want to do a lot more work on our garden too. Last year was not our best year for plants, I’m hopeful that this next year we’ll do a better job. Plus more ornamental beds.
  • Fencing — Along the side with the slab, I’d like to put a taller wood fence and then do a picket sort of fence around the front yard.
  • Flooring — We’ve actually started on our flooring replacement, taking up the old carpet in the living room. Now we’ve got to get the concrete cleaned, patched, coated and then we’ll do a colored stain.

That’s only a few of the projects that I’d like to tackle. Time and money, those are the biggest constraints. We work on things as we can.

Tree Down

Boy, we’ve been bad about posting to this blog! That’s what happens sometimes, I guess. What’s been going on around the homestead? Not a whole lot. General maintenance around the house mostly. The garden didn’t really do all that great this year. The ground needs a lot of work. Still, we got some things out of the garden. We’ll aim to do more this next year.

The chickens are all doing well. We’ve got far too many eggs but they’re really good eggs so that’s nice. We recently had a cold snap and snow! The chickens didn’t know what to think about that.

Snow Shocked Chickens

McCoy loves the snow and had fun chasing snow balls. Xander thought that was pretty funny, but wasn’t too sure what to think of his first real snow.

McCoy

Snowy Boy

Right before the snow came it was rainy and the tree in our front yard fell down — away from the house! It hit the fence instead. The ground was wet enough that it just pulled the roots right up.

Fallen Tree

I went out that morning and cut off the branches with our handsaw, and part of the trunk but didn’t have time to do the rest. Plus I decided that it’d take quite awhile to get through the trunk with a small pruning saw. The next day when we went to town we stopped at the store and bought a small, inexpensive, electric chainsaw that looked like it could do the job. Today I went out and cut the rest of the tree into more manageable pieces. The new chainsaw worked well and I didn’t have any trouble. The tree still needs to get cut into woodstove-sized pieces, but at least it’s off the fence. I also hauled the branches from out in front of the property over to our field for future disposal.

I want to start planning for the rest of the winter and next year. I think the next thing I’ll do is plant our garlic in the Earthboxes, and start figuring out what else we’re going to do.

Summer Wrap-Up

Leaves are changing. I’m seeing Fall colors appearing on trees and the nights are getting cooler. This morning a light rain is falling. August has been a dry month with only 0.13 in of rain this month. Average rainfall is just over an inch so things are pretty dry.

We’ve been on our homestead for over a year now! Hard to believe.

Chickens
Hi!
Our chickens are doing well. They’re giving us four eggs per day now, so about half of the chickens are laying. They get to spend most of the day roaming around the property. When we go out they come running over.

The garden ended up being a mixed bag. The lettuce did well, as did the carrots. The potatoes look like they grew well, but we haven’t dug them up yet so we’ll see. I harvested garlic and the bulbs were on the small side. Slugs ate the tomatoes before they could grow at all. The ground needs a lot of work. I’m going to work on building actual garden beds for the future. We still have carrots to harvest, lettuce going to seed and some broccoli that has produced a few small heads. Our strawberries gave us a few strawberries but I want to get more plants growing.

There’s always a lot of work to be done. The property got a bit out of hand this year. Lately I’ve been working on clearing pathways across the property and still have more of that to do. The other day I was clearing up around one of our hazelnut trees and disturbed a nest of yellow jackets! Three stings, the worst being on my right hand. My whole hand swelled up, turned red, itched and hurt. It’s getting better now.

We also need to get some firewood and prepare for winter. Time and money are always the biggest constraints. Still, we’re having fun. Last night we went up on the hill and sat up there while the sun set. Alexander played in the dirt. Nice time.

Photo Updates

We are so bad about posting! We’ve had a lot of sunshine the last two weeks. Too much! It got to be way too hot for a couple of days. Thankfully it has cooled down somewhat so today we were able to get things done outside. By we I mean Ryan, lol, I just took photos. First Ryan weed whacked some of the tall grass in the back yard. So that there would be a clear space to set up a pool. I know, last year we spent all that time taking down the pool and now we’re setting one up. This is just a little wading pool for Xander. Right now we aren’t even filling it halfway, just enough water for him to splash in.

Xander and the pool.

It was pretty warm out this afternoon. Since Poppy Seed and McCoy weren’t allowed in the pool they cooled off in the shade. This part of the yard hasn’t gotten weed whacked yet!

Poppy Seed and McCoy in the shade.
Poppy Seed and McCoy in the shade.

The garden is doing pretty good, at least some plants. The spinach bolted and bugs, slugs, or something killed off the tomato plants. But we’ve still got a lot of  lettuce, carrots, beets, potatoes, and other yummies.

Garden July 11th
Watering the garden.

The chickens are full grown now. We have started letting them run around the yard (when the dogs are inside). They love running free. They also love strawberries so we had to put some fencing around the planters. Unfortunately we didn’t realize their love of blueberries right away and by the time we did the chickens had harvested them all!

Chickens on parade.
Chickens on parade.

Soon they’ll be laying eggs! We can’t wait!