Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eggmobile, Take II

Remember this movable chicken tractor (or "eggmobile") we made for the laying hens last summer?

It's worked for us for a season, but like so many things we try, we're ready to revamp the design to something that's lighter and easier to move.

For one, the tires blew out in the extreme heat last summer, so we've more or less been moving it around on the rims.  Since the wheels are an odd size and tires are expensive, we haven't replaced them.

Another issue with this design is the fact that we have to drive it up on ramps every time we move it so that the chickens can go underneath for shade.

And the clincher?  Since it's only on one axle, we have to prop it up on wooden blocks so it doesn't tip.  And until we began using my father-in-law's tractor a couple weeks ago, this involved Byron physically picking it up slightly, me (never quickly enough) sliding the blocks underneath, and then Byron setting it down.  We think this process contributed to him throwing his back out the other weekend.

I'm still sketching out ideas for the new design, and we hope to re-use materials from this tractor for the new one.  For one, we're putting the new one on skids so we don't have to deal with wheels anymore.  And I'm going to design one with a metal roof, and one with a lighter-weight "hoophouse" roof out of PVC, wire, and a reflective tarp.  Who says I don't use my architecture degree??

Do you dismantle and re-design farm structures as much as we do??  Or do you have an eggmobile/chicken tractor you use and absolutely love?  If so, do tell!  I have ideas, but there's always something more clever out there.  We have about 19 hens + rooster.

I'm linking up with Rural Thursdays at Two Bears Farm and A Rural Journal.  Enjoy all the excellent posts!

Rural Thursday Blog Hop

Monday, March 26, 2012

If You Give a Mom a Peach...

...she'll want an entire bushel.

If she gets an entire bushel, she'll want to can the peaches.

If she cans the peaches, she'll want to compost the scraps (including the pits; you see where this is going don't you??).

If she composts the scraps, she'll spread the compost in the garden.

If she spreads the compost in the garden, she might end up with this:

and this:

and this:

If she ends up with baby peach trees, she may want to pot them.

And if she pots them, she'll eventually want to plant them.

If she plants them, in a few years she'll have a peach orchard.

And if she has a peach orchard, chances are she just might want another peach.

{The End}

I'm linking up to the Homestead Barn Hop!  Lots of these posts look really good!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We Bought Nazguls in the Tractor Supply Parking Lot

Did you know you could buy Nazguls?  We didn't, until a couple weeks ago.  I thought they could only be found in Middle Earth or in grandiose and somewhat erroneous Hollywood flicks; never did I imagine they could be bought and sold.

But you can, indeed, buy Nazguls.  As it so happens, we bought some last fall.  We thought we were buying guineas, but the past couple weeks have proven otherwise.  For the longest time, they were roosting with the Barred Rocks, but ever since we began rotating the chickens onto fresh pasture again, they have become confused and have returned to roosting in the oak tree at the back corner of the house.  And you know what they do when they roost?  They screech, just like (you guessed it) Nazguls.

They screech when we turn the lights on.  They screech when we turn the lights off.  The screech as I'm doing the dishes.  They screech when Byron and I try to talk.  They screech at 2 a.m.  They screech at 3 a.m.  They screech at...well, you get the idea.

And during the day?  They knock on the door.  Imagine me, home with my kids, hearing a knock at the door and thinking a friend has stopped by.  But instead, I see this:

Go back to Middle Earth.  Please.
Tolkien never wrote about Nazguls possibly being the antidote to squash bugs, but they did expertly slay some termites the other day when Byron dug up an old stump.  So for the interim, I will endure being the not-so-proud owner of Nazguls, and hope they break bad on some garden pests this summer.

If they don't, I may have to call in Eowyn.  Unless you have any advice as to how to quiet a guinea Nazgul.

I'm linking up to Rural Thursdays at Two Bears Farm and A Rural Journal!

Rural Thursday Blog Hop

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Like Big Books

I like big books with a cup of coffee.

I like big books with a cup of coffee and no interruptions.

I like big books and I cannot lie.

I cleaned up my nightstand just for you.
Thought I'd let you know that I like to read for about ten minutes before I fall dead asleep.  And that I'm still alive.  And that I don't always read books this big.  See those skinny Sherlock Holmes novels tucked toward the bottom?  I hid them because I'm trying to stay away from fiction.  When I read The Hunger Games series a couple months ago, my floors collected two inches of dirt and my kids were washing out their own underwear.  Okay, maybe not that bad, but it was bad.

This week I've been chasing cows, watching kids, testing kids, stressing over Sally Fallon-style grain soaking (more on that after I smack myself in the head with Nourishing Traditions a couple times), and doing lots of heavy farm chores since Byron threw his back out this weekend.  So actually, he's the one who's had the tough week!

And maybe I'll get some brain and muscle tone between these two passions.  Who needs that Biggest Loser chick when you've got a farm???

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Out to Pasture

To say we've had a mild winter in the southeast is an understatement.  It's been virtually non-existent.  And because of this, I feel like I've been in spring denial...willfully ignoring the seeds sitting on the counter and the million other things I need to do to prepare for the season.

Until last week, when the promise of spiking temperatures slapped me out of my wintery slumber.  The chickens were still in the hoop house, and we had to get them out on pasture because that hoop house works.  We'd had to open the door when it got into the 50s during the day, unless we wanted fried chicken for dinner!

So on Sunday I planted some spring veggies: snap peas, lettuce, Swiss chard, cilantro, and arugula - which my nephew swears will take care of the evil nematodes that ate my watermelon roots last year.  Then Byron and I moved the chickens from the hoop house out onto pasture.  Since we keep them in an area enclosed with electric netting and move them to fresh grass every couple days, we clipped their wings so they wouldn't escape from their area.

Happy to be on pasture again.

The cows had already been out on pasture for a couple days.
And yesterday I hooked up and levelled the rain barrel system.  The "receiving" barrel gets heavy and tends to tip back when it's full, so hopefully this treated board will do the trick.  I'll have to check for leaks after the first rain.

We also learn from our mistakes.  For instance, we should have buried the boards around the perimeter of the hoop house into the ground a bit, because a couple weeks ago the chickens managed to dig underneath in several spots and escape.  We jimmy-rigged the gaps, but need to amend it, especially if this is going to be our brooder in a couple months.

Are you ready for spring?

Join in the Rural Thursday blog hop at Two Bears Farm and A Rural Journal!

Rural Thursday Blog Hop

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Fruit (and Vegetables) of Our Labor

Back in September, I posted about the food we'd put up for winter.  Click here to take a peek.  I was trying to organize my cabinets a bit the other day, and thought I'd tally what we have left, figuring that would give me a good idea of what I need to can/grow/freeze either more or less of for next year.  So here goes:

Apple Butter
: 8 pints (began with 16)
Apple Sauce: 12 quarts (began with 27)
Grape Jam: 5 pints (began with 8 pints, 1 half-pint)
Peaches: 11 quarts (began with 28 quarts)
Peach Jam: 8 half-pints, 5 pints (began with 10 half-pints, 5 pints)
Pickles: 10 pints (began with 23 pints)
Strawberry Jam: 3 pints, 2 half-pints (began with 4 pints, 4 half-pints)
Tomatoes: 5 quarts (began with 12 quarts)
Tomato Bruscetta: 4 half-pints (began with 9 half-pints)
Tomato Sauce: 1 pint, 1 half-pint (began with 7 half-pints, 2 pints)

Chicken: We have 4 left, and have had to buy some until our broilers are ready in mid-July.
Corn: 1 1/2 gallon size bags (began with 6)
Green Beans: 4 gallon size bags (began with 7)
Grapes: GONE
Grape Syrup: 4 2-cup containers (began with 7)
Peaches: GONE
Pesto: I still have a ton of pesto, and the thought of counting all those little cubes terrifies me.  Italian dinner at my house, anyone??
Pumpkins: Still have about 6 cups or so frozen.  I've been using it in bread, and in cookies over the holidays.
Tomatoes: 3 gallon size bags
Zucchini (shredded):  8 6-cup bags (began with 11)

Butternut Squash:  I have two left.  I had 16, but gave a couple away and some didn't do so well in storage so I gave them to the chickens.

I made WAY too much jelly.  Despite using it in yogurt and in pancakes.  Despite pawning some off on friends and relatives for Christmas.  And pesto...way too much pesto.  Also, because it was my first time making pickles, they didn't turn out as well as I had hoped.  However, my daughter, of all people, loves them.  The shredded zucchini I've been using for breads, but I think I put up much more than we needed.

I still find myself buying some fresh vegetables and fruit over the winter, so we didn't get into the canned stuff as much as I would have thought.  I think if I work on a little more variety - and a cold frame in the garden - that will help matters.

The pasta sauce I made turned out really well and was very convenient for our weekly homemade pizza nights.  I also plan on freezing much more fruit since Byron makes smoothies every morning and I've had to buy and freeze bananas to compensate.  I know, I know.  I'm a sellout.

I'm linking up with Homestead Revival's AND The Prairie Homestead's Barn Hops!  Click on either link to check out these, and other, fantastic blogs.

About the Blog Formerly Known as Green Acres

In the past few days, I posted about giving my blog a makeover, and for the most part, accomplished what I set out to do.  You can read my senseless drivel here and here.  However, in regard to the URL, I've decided to leave it.  I don't want to lose followers, and although I'm not so cheap that I can't stomach coughing up $10 per year to buy a domain name, I question whether or not the price will remain that low in the years to come.  So you can find Green Legacy Farm at

As always!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Still Under Construction...

As you can see, I've worked a few things out in the past couple days.  Generally, I'm much happier with the layout.  And as for the photo montage, I don't know if it's uber-cool, but it is uber-done.

I am still debating simply changing the URL in blogger settings to somehow reflect the new name, Green Legacy Farm.  Apparently, this can lead to follower loss, and I don't want to lose any of you!  Or I can buy a domain name, and Blogger promises that you can tag along.  Funny how that works, don't you think?  At any rate, this is something I'm going to be switching in the next couple days, so keep your hard hats on!

A special thanks to Amy @ Heritage Homemaker for her advice and tips!  Check her blog out here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Under Construction!

Remember right around New Years I posted about re-naming and re-designing my blog a bit?  Well, my first attempt has proven to be pretty sad, as you can see.  I also have a million things to do today.  But since my membership hit fifty recently (thank you SO much for following me!), I decided I needed to give it a go.  Here are the changes I've made:
  • The name of the blog is now Green Legacy Farm, not Green Acres
  • My name is Laura @ Green Legacy Farm, not Greenacresmama
  • I've been (very unsuccessfully) messing around with layout
And here are the changes I plan on making as soon as I can figure out how:
  • Ditch the tiger lilies for an uber-cool photo montage
  • Change the URL to reflect the new name.  This frightens me, because I don't want to lose you!  Any advice on how to do this without sending my blog into a cyberspace black hole?
So for now, the URL is still 

Thank you so much for being patient with me!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Good Read or Two

It's not a book recommendation this time.  Since we're in that nebulous time between winter projects and spring busyness, I thought I'd share a couple articles I read recently.

Okay, I know I post about this guy a lot, but honestly, he's spot-on.  The first is by Joel Salatin, addressing the issue of food elitism and the guilt some of us may feel over spending more of our income on food.  I've been wrestling with this a bit lately, as I browse websites loaded with testimonials on couponing and saving megabucks at the grocery store.  Sure, there's a place for coupons, but I keep thinking that with the time it takes to do the actual clipping, organizing, keeping abreast of sales...not to mention the hours (and gas) used to make multiple trips to multiple grocery stores...I'm here planting, canning, freezing, and cooking fresh food.  So if you need to be encouraged in your endeavors to eat local, click to read "Rebel With a Cause: Foodie Elitism."

The next article is a post from a blog I ran into, called Cold Antler Farm.  The post, entitled  "Apartment 3A Farm!" encourages people who want to farm, to matter where they are!  I know several people who want more land, but have wisely resigned to staying in their neighborhoods because of the slow housing market.  Two families we know are actually using their front yards since these get more sunlight!  My friend Jen just told me she's shifting some ornamentals to make room for fruit-bearing bushes and trees, and some other friends are putting in raised beds and have started diligently composting.  Anyone wanting to live a bit more sustainably will find this to be an encouraging read!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What I Haven't Done

When we made the decision to homeschool our two children, we knew a few things we'd be up against: questions of socialization, the loss of a second income, having to choose curricula.  The first two, though decidedly un-American, we've dealt with.  My kids are not shy recluses, though I admit that my daughter is something of a history geek who has announced that she prefers Colonial history despite Byron's efforts to get her interested in the Civil War.  I don't have a problem with that.  And the second has somehow worked, by the grace of God.  Remember that fish-and-loaves miracle?  Well, let's just say Jesus never changes and though we're not taking lavish Disney vacations, we always have enough.

The third is where I continue to struggle.  Folks, there are A LOT of options out there for homeschoolers, and at times it can be overwhelming.  And part of the struggle is finding what works for your children, who (guaranteed) are not going to learn the same way you or their siblings do.

Take Akea, for instance.  We're on reading program #???.  She's an auditory learner who can memorize anything from Shakespeare to Robert Frost...and she could probably pass a high school history SOL test.  But throw a word at her that she's never read before, and she falls to pieces.  I, on the other hand, am a visual/kinestetic learner, so I have literally cried over the past two years in trying to find a way to teach her to read without shelling out thousands of dollars that we don't have for a private tutor.  At seven, I thought she'd be at least plowing through Shakespeare Magic Treehouse books, but even those are a struggle for her.  And it's been a struggle for me, too.  I've taught older kids, but had been told teaching a youngster to read is simple.  Sorry to say it, but in our case, that's delusional.

I also thought we'd have started a foreign language program by now, but that's been put on the back burner.  AND I thought I'd have time to teach her some drawing skills, go on field trips once a week, and do weekly history and science projects.  We are a part of Classical Conversations, and I thank God for that program.  And though we've done several lapbooks this year, it's been a struggle to find the time to do those, because above all, I want her to be able to read the books she loves so much.

So what are we doing?  Well, I dig the whole phonics thing.  Really, I do.  I found a wonderful program called All About Spelling that focuses on phonics and presents the information in logical, bite-sized ways.  And don't let the "spelling" part fool you.  This is very much a program that can be used to teach reading, though they have come up with All About Reading recently.  I've started that with Charlie and have been very pleased.

Last week I added in something else that I think is helping her tremendously.  At my sister-in-law's recommendation, I got a couple Mr. Pudder and Tabby books from the library.  At Byron's suggestion (he is also very auditory), she sits down with one and reads a chapter.  On a scrap piece of paper, she writes down words she can't decode (read).  I then transfer them onto flashcards, using my best wanna-be-elementary-school-teacher handwriting.  We have a pretty big stack from just one book, and we go over them daily.  Phonics purists may cringe, but you know what?  It's working.  It's strengthening her visual memory.  And being the nerd that I am, I point out phonics rules to her, though I think for the most part they go in one ear and out the other.  Maybe it's a Machiavellian approach, but she's reading those books beautifully. 

I'm including this in the Rural Thursday blog hop because like homesteading, homeschooling is a bit of an "opting out."  And I'd love to meet others who have similar struggles/solutions/ingenious suggestions.

Rural Thursday Blog Hop