[NeighborWoods] Puddle Love

[NeighborWoods]

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

Welcome to the NeighborWoods! Puddle Love. Fawn and white runners and Khaki Campbell ducks enjoy the last open puddle before the polar vortex sinks in.

[NeighborWoods] Fawn White runner and Khaki Campbell Ducks

Fawn and White runner and Khaki Campbell Ducks

New Product! Triple Wood Cutting Board & Rolling Pin

Triple Wood Cutting Board & Rolling Pin

Oh my gosh are these beautiful! We love cutting boards and rolling pins and handcrafted, artisan quality wood products. We are very excited to have these ready for you to use during the holiday baking season and to give as gifts. They are fantastic!

wooden rolling pin and cutting board

Triple Wood handcrafted rolling pin and cutting board

Jerri’s been busy. She designed our new handcrafted Triple Wood Rolling Pin and Cutting Board and she’s having them made in Tennessee. She’s created two more American designed and made products. The rolling pin is comfortable in your hand. They are made with maple, cherry and walnut hardwoods. No two are exactly alike because of the natural grain of each wood.

Seasoned with 100% organic Non-GMO coconut oil which brings out the natural beauty of the wood.  We chose coconut oil for its natural ability to inhibit bacterial growth without adding any coconut scent to your baked goods.

hand crafted wooden rolling pin

Triple Wood rolling pin

The Triple Wood Rolling Pin is 17″ long and 3″ wide. Its rolling surface is 9″ long.

wooden cutting board, handcrafted cutting board

Triple Wood cutting board

The Triple Wood Cutting Board is 14″ long by 10″ wide. It’s 1.5″ thick. It’s sturdy enough to handle any task. Slice bread, cut cheese and meat or even cut into those heavy winter squash using the cutting board.

Both pieces are easy to care for.  Wash only with warm lightly soapy water, air dry and reapply oil of your choice.

All of our products add beauty to you kitchen as well as functionality.  This set makes a great gift!  You may purchase them separately or save money by ordering both pieces at a special price.

[NeighborWoods] Wood Duck

NeighborWoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog so we can visit you.

female wood duck hen

The visiting wood duck.

This female wood duck has been eating bird seed with the other wild birds, and she hangs out with our pet ducks. She spends time in the pond and she perches in the bare hardwood trees.

Homestead Planning – Where Do You Want to Live?

Homestead Planning – Where Do You Want to Live?

The easy part of homesteading is deciding it’s the lifestyle right for you. The definition of homesteading has changed over the years. The first homesteaders had fewer choices and different decisions than most of us. Where do you want to live? What you need to live the lifestyle you desire has a lot to do with that decision.

What kind of area are you considering?

  • Remote
  • Small town
  • Tiny town
  • Just outside the city limits

Remote living is great if you don’t want to be near a lot of people. What’s your definition of a small town? Is it 1000 people? 400 people? 20,000 people? Be sure your real estate agent knows what you’re thinking. Do you want to live in town on a larger than normal lot? Maybe you’d be more comfortable on a small lot just outside the city limits. What you from the experience and as your lifestyle will help you decide where you want to live.

If you decide to settle in town you’ll want to know ahead of time that your lifestyle is acceptable in the community. If you want to garden, have laying hens and hang your clothes on the line to dry you probably don’t want to live in a community with a home owners association that forbids these activities. You’ll probably be able to find a town that allows these “old fashioned” activities.

suburban garden

You can grow food in a suburban garden by getting creative in where you plant.

What public services do you need? A few things to consider:

  • Schools
  • Fire department
  • Ambulance
  • Trash pickup
  • Recycling
  • Public transportation
  • Groceries and hardware
  • Gas

How close do you need to be to health care? That includes dentist, eye doctor, primary care provider, hospital, clinic, lab and specialist. Everyone tries to be safe and not get hurt but life happens. If you need stitches or heaven forbid, more than stitches, how far are you willing to travel? How quickly can an ambulance get to you?

Living remotely

How remote is too remote? Hundreds of thousands of acres of forest and a few houses – remote living.

Personally, I live 30 miles from a hospital in one direction, 50 miles in the other. The ambulance service could take 20 minutes to get here. If you’re going to live some distance from heath care you should at least take CPR and First Aid training.

Cell phone reception and internet service are something the first homesteaders never had to consider but being a huge part of every day life for  most people these days, do you want it? Need it? Are you going to be a hard core homesteader who disconnects? I’ve helped friends look for land many times and every single time, cell phone reception and the ability to not only get online but the need for high speed internet has been first or second on the list of necessities. Many homesteaders work from home now and really can’t do without dependable high speed access. If you don’t need it at your house but want access to it you can look into availability at the local library or small town mom ‘n pop store.

It’s a lot to think about. Make a list. What do you need? What do you want? What can you do without?

firewood

Homestead Planning – Cooking & Heat

Homestead Planning – Cooking & Heat

A young couple asked me the other day what we thought about in our homestead planning. I had to admit we hadn’t done enough homestead planning because we didn’t know what we were in for. It wasn’t long after we moved out here to the woods that an ice storm hit. We were fortunate to lose our power for only 12 hours while parts of the state were down for three weeks. We quickly learned that life is a lot easier when you have a way to cook a hot meal,  make coffee or heat water for tea and hot chocolate, and have water.

You’ll want to be able to stay warm. Electric heat is useless when the power goes out. We have a propane furnace (similar to natural gas) for backup if we’re away but it doesn’t work without electricity to start it. Our heat source is a wood stove. The power can go out all winter and we’ll still be warm.

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If you’re going to burn wood you’ll need a solid supply of firewood. As a general rule of thumb a well managed woodlot in the northeast will provide a cord of firewood per acre per year without over harvesting. That doesn’t mean you’ll cut one cord on each acre. Overall the amount will work out to that amount. If you don’t have a woodlot or don’t have time to put up your own wood you’ll need to secure it some other way. You might find deals on Craig’s List or local barter boards. Tree length wood in my area this year was $185 a cord in tree length. Wood that was cut and split and ready to stack was as high as $240 per cord. And advantage of wood stoves is their flat top. You can heat water and cook if necessary.

Starting a new homestead, firewood
Propane and natural gas heaters are popular. They are convenient and do a good job of heating a home if you an appropriate sized heater. Unlike firewood, they are clean. Pellet stoves provide the nice, warm, cozy heat of a wood fire without the mess and extra work. You might need a battery to run the blower on a pellet stove while the power is out.

We’re warm and have water now. A hot meal is a wonderful thing during a storm. One of our favorite meals during short outages is grilled cheese sandwiches cooked on the woodstove. If you need a good meal after shoveling snow, removing trees that have blown over or just plain want a good meal during a storm, you need to be able to cook properly. A propane or natural gas stove and oven will keep you well fed. Modern stoves and ovens usually light with an electric spark. You can light the burners with a match but the oven would have to be lit every time the temperature dropped. If you can’t or don’t want to do without an oven you should buy a stove with pilot lights, small flames that burn from the fuel source and ignite the oven and burners.

There are plenty of other things you need on a new homestead. These things will help you be less dependent on the grid and more comfortable when the lights go out. Losing our water was an eye opener and we spent the rest of the winter tightening up our homestead planning.

How to Plant Garlic

How to Plant Garlic

In Planning Ahead to Plant Garlic we wrote about preparing the soil before it was time to plant garlic. The time has come. Here’s how to plant garlic! It’s a little consuming but it’s not at all difficult. You’ll need part of a day when it hasn’t been raining. You want the soil to be moist but not wet. Garlic needs time to settle into the soil and establish roots but not so much time that it can sprout before the soil freezes.

You’ll need:

  • Garlic
  • Dibble or dowel
  • Straw
  • Compost or fertilizer

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Sort through your garlic bulbs ahead of time. Separate the bulbs into cloves, discarding any that are spoiled or too small. Starting with large, healthy bulbs will get your future garlic harvest off to a good start.

how to plant garlic

Discard cloves that are too small or diseased

Amend the soil. Garlic is a heavy feeder. Add a two to three inch layer of compost to the soil and work it in. Or, add three pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer to a 100 square foot area to the soil and work it in.

Mark two inches on the dibble or dowel to eliminate the guessimating. If you’re like me you’ll carefully poke the dibble in the recommended one to two inches at first, then you’ll realize how long it’s taking and just start poking. “Close enough” ends up too deep. As long as my dibble is marked I’m good to go.

Poke one to two inch deep holes in the amended soil, three to five inches apart. Rows should be 12″ to 18″ apart.

The pointed end of the clove is the top. The flat end is the root end. Drop one clove in each hole. I’ve found it faster to poke all of the holes I can reach at once, plant the cloves, then cover the hole than it is to do each one step by step by step. Do whatever works best for you, the garlic doesn’t care as long as it lands right side up.

How to plant garlic cloves

Garlic cloves

Cover the holes and water the soil deeply. This is the first and last time you’re going to water the soil this year so be generous with the water.

Spread a six inch layer of straw over the rows. The straw helps to insulate the soil and prevent heaving caused by frost. I mulch the space in between rows as heavily as I do the actual row. Garlic doesn’t like competition from weeds. If there’s going to be high wind or it’s not going to rain within a day or two I water the straw to weight it down and hold it in place. A slow spray will allow the water to soak in without running off.

If you can’t find straw you can use hay. Hay might add a few seeds to the soil but it will prevent more seeds from germinating so it’s worth the trade off. I tried mulching with leaves one year. It seemed fine in the fall but the cloves had a hard time breaking through the matted leaves in the spring. I had to pull them back to free the bulbs.

And now you wait. You shouldn’t have to do anything with your garlic until spring.