Homestead Homebodies


Pickles, pickles, pickles......let make some pickles!


Changing the oil in our lawn tractor

Today while examining our potato crop we noticed a Colorado Potato Beetle. Time to spring into action!
We started by adding a little dish detergent to a bucket, then added some water.

These Beetles spend winter in the soil and emerge in May & June. They'll mate, then lay their yellowish eggs on the underside of the potato plant leaves making it difficult to detect without careful observation. The eggs will hatch within a few weeks and you will begin to see larvae eating the your plants.

There are a number of methods to deal with the potato bug.

First, it is important to always rotate your crops. This makes it more difficult for pests from the previous year that over-winter in your soil to find the plants they feed on.

You can lay down a layer of mulch such a seaweed or straw which may make it difficult for the beetles to find your plants thereby reducing their impact on your crop.

You can spread Diatomaceous earth over and around your plants which can help, or even use a bacterial insecticide such as BT which is harmless to the beneficial insects and humans alike.

We just pick them off and throw them into soapy water which seems to work well. The best option is probably some combination of all these options.

Have you found another method for controlling the Colorado Potato Beetle? If so, let us know in the comments.

Garlic harvest starts out ok......but then........Ouch!

Our Beets have done quite well this season. We may have left them too long, as they are quite large.
Today we're harvesting them. This is a relatively easy task as they remain close to the surface and give up their grip without much effort. It didn't take long to fill this container.

Now it's time to give them a quick rinse to remove most of the dirt, then, we cut the greens off and separate them. Just look at how big this one is!

With a basket full of Beets, and another full of greens we're not done yet. We'll eat a few, give a few to the chickens, and use the remainder to mulch our tomatoes.

It's getting close to lunch, so we'll pick some lettuce from one of the cold frames and enjoy a garden fresh salad with our appears we'll enjoy some ball playing well.

Scarlet runner beans, cabbage, eggplant, spinach, chard, kale, watermelon, winter squash, zucchini, basil and more are growing in this large garden.
In this one we've got tomatoes, beets, carrots, beans, cucumber, potatoes and onions.
This bed is almost entirely garlic.

Today's chores will be devoted to feeding a few of the crops in another garden.

We start with the corn. Last season we had planted beans here which help fix nitrogen in hopes of providing this years corn a great start. As you can see, it appears to have done just that. Corn loves nitrogen so we are fertilizing with a 21-7-7 mix to ensure healthy stocks and hopefully a fantastic yield.

Next we move on to the peppers using a 5-10-10 fertilizer. This will give them a much needed boost after enduring a late season frost which set them back quite a bit. Once applied we loosen up the surface where we've placed the fertilizer and give each plant a good drink.

Although we lost a few to frost this year, we still have about 20 tomato plants. The six in this garden will also be fertilized today. Just like the corn and peppers, we sprinkle the fertilizer, loosen the surface, then give them a good drink.

Now that the tomato's, peppers, and corn have all been fed, someone is telling us that all work and no play is not the way!

Cherry Tree Timber!

Every now and then you can expect the unexpected on the homestead. Today we awoke to this, a large portion of one of our Cherry trees lying on the ground. As you can see it had fallen from high, fortunately we were not under it at the time!

It appears this branch had been rotting, and after a little rain and wind could hold on no more.

Sadly it had an abundance of fruit that would have been ripening soon had this not happened.

Time to clean up. Using a chainsaw made reasonably quick work of dismantling this massive limb. Of course steel toed shoes, hearing and eye protection ensured safety during the process.

Once all the debris had been piled up all that was left was this one large log that we will use to border a new garden something like what we've done here.

In our Province there are strict burning regulations so we check to make sure we're in compliance and then we begin burning. It's a family affair as you can see. All we were missing was a few wieners and a long stick!
It wasn't long before the fire was burning well, and not long after that it was pretty much just embers.

Recently while out for a hike in the woods we were lucky enough to spot what many refer to as the "Mushroom of Immortality"!

The Reishi mushroom, "Ganoderma lucidum" or "Ling Zhi" in Chinese, have been used throughout history and are considered an "adaptogen" known to help with inflammation, hormonal imbalance, energy, and even damaged blood vessels.

These mushrooms are rarely found....out of 10,000 trees only 2 or 3 will have Reishi growth. They can be found in old growth Hemlock forests on fallen trees. They're also found an dead but still standing trees.

Having been used for over 4000 years it is one of the most researched mushrooms around.

With over 400 known bioactive compounds including Beta-Glucans, Polysaccharides, Triterpinoids, and Sterols, some of the researched benefits of the Reishi Mushroom include:

Respiratory support
Reduced inflammation
Immune system support
Lower blood pressure
Neutralizes free radicals
Cancer prevention - Preclinical studies have established that the Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide (GLPS) fractions have potent anti-tumor activity, which has been associated with the immuno-stimulating effects

You can read the abstract [HERE](

As you can see, today were cutting our Reishi to make a tincture. Once they have been cut and placed on trays we put them into the dehydrator for several hours until completely dried. Whatever we don't use for our tincture will be saved in jars, vacuum sealed and made into tea.

Our tincture is made by breaking the dried slices into smaller pieces, we place them into a large jar and submerge them in Vodka.

This will sit for between 4 and 8 weeks and will then be ready to be made into a dual extraction.
By bringing some water to a boil, placing the mushrooms from the tincture into the boiling water and simmering for about 2 hours and then mixing the alcohol tincture and the water extraction together we will have a nice supp..

An update on our new chicks!

One for the blackbird.....

A weekly update on our Homestead happenings!

Today on Homestead Homebodies we show you how to make an easy DIY garden bed!

Weekly homestead wrap up!

This year we decided to give our backs a break and purchased a garden tiller. We ordered from Amazon and got a Sunjoe! More about this later.

Our first task was to till the garden that will be used for Potato's, Onions, Cucumbers, Beets, Carrots, and Tomato's. We tilled both ways to ensure a thorough job as we had previously only tilled our gardens by hand. This was really easy to do with the tiller, why hadn't we done this a long time ago?

With the garden tilled, we set up the tomato tower and moved on to the garden behind the garage that will be planted with corn on one half, and beans on the other!

Because this went so quickly using the tiller, we extended the garden behind the chicken coup to about twice its previous length.

Here are all three after we finished. This only took about 2 hours in total using the tiller and would have taken day's for us doing it by hand.

The tiller we purchased is a Sunjoe TJ603E electric tiller. It has a 12amp motor, operates at 340 rpm, and will till a path 16 inches wide and 8 inches deep faster than you can walk to the garage to get a shovel!
It's wheels come with a three position adjustment to determine the depth you will till. The handles fold for easy storage and are at the perfect height. It also has 6 angled, steel tines to that held up to a lot of rocks and clay soil.

It comes with a two year warranty.

So, if you have been thinking about getting a tiller don't wait. This little one saved the day and two backs!

Last summer we decided to remove the rail at one end of the deck and build some stairs. After watching several videos on how to, we gave it a try. They came out great but we discovered a lot of rot when we removed the rail and new we had to address it soon.

We started by cutting a pair of 2 x 10's to length for each section of rail to be built. We then went to and printed of a measurement chart for baluster spacing. Then all we had to do for each section was measure and mark the placement for each baluster. Next we secured two balusters to help keep the structure square. This was followed up with the installation of the remaining balusters.

Once all five sections were completed it was time to move on to staining them. Having them suspended on the horses made it quick and easy. Once completed and dried we moved them to the deck for installation.

Installation wouldn't start for a while. First we had to remove the old rails. You can see how rotten they were in these pictures. The support posts also had some rotting which required repairs. After using a wire brush to clean all the rotted areas we started by spraying them with PC-Petrifier. This product makes the wood harder than the surround wood. Next we mixed a two part epoxy called PC-Woody and filled all the areas that need repair.

Once finished and cured we primed all the support posts. The following day we painted. Then we installed the rails. We also wanted a handrail all the way around, so we measured, cut, stained, and installed them.

Here is the finished project.

Today on Homestead Homebodies we return to repair the rotted wood problems that came up in our video titled "Railing Roadblock". After quite a bit of research we decided that PC-Woody offered the best solution for us.

We started with their PC-Petrifier which is a liquid wood hardener. This can be poured, brushed, or sprayed.
First we used a wire brush and removed all the loose, rotted wood from each area that required repair. We then put the PC-Petrifier in a spray bottle and saturated each area. After it had dried we applied a second coat. This product on its own is amazing as all the soft rotted areas became hard as rock. We waited 24 hours for this to fully cure before moving on.

Next we used PC-Woody two part epoxy. This was easy to use. We mixed equal parts until thoroughly blended, and then used a plastic a trowel to reshape the areas that required repairs. This setup in about 24 hours as well.

Once these repairs were completed we used a wire brush and a scraper to remove any loose paint or debris from the support posts and face of the deck. We followed this up with a coat of primer all around.

Once the rain here stops, we'll paint it and finally get the new rails put up!

Today on Homestead Homebodies it's time to set up our rain barrels for gardening season.
We start by removing a length of downspout, and leveling out the gravel base. We place some lumber, set the first barrel on it and install the connector. This is followed up with more lumber and the second barrel. We also attach an over flow hose that will steer water into an underground drain we installed.

Here you can see how the barrels are attached and here is the overflow hose.

Next we screw on the lids, attach an angle to the downspout and were all set for watering the garden this summer!

We also hooked up the garden hose and picked up our daily but dwindling supply of eggs.
We stained the rails for the front deck, stained the rear deck and removed the old, rotted rails from the from deck.

With all of this weeks chores completed, it's time to play with Candy who has been waiting patiently with the ball in her mouth.

Today on Homestead Homebodies we're looking at replacing our deck rail as it was not pressure treated and is showing signs of rot. We also plan on repainting the support posts and deck facing.

We started by measuring the existing rails, then quickly cut and assembled 5 new sections of rail.

Believing we were all set to go, we removed the end rail and discovered that painting the uprights and facing was not in the cards for today. Unfortunately, it wasn't just the railings that had begun to rot but also the support posts where the rails had been attached.

So, onto plan "B" for the day - finish last weeks deck project by disassembling the old rotted deck. This took a little patience, a lot of muscle, and some tedious nail removal! But, we got it done in short order.

It's now time for lunch, and a fresh April garden salad is on the menu. So is discussing the best way to resolve the problem on the front porch. Once we do that, we'll post a complete video from start to finish.

When we bought our home there was an unresolved water issue behind the garage causing the walls to rot.
I removed an addition built on to the back of the garage, dug a 100 foot trench and installed a drain to solve the water issue.

This meant we had a lot of reclaimed wood, so we built a deck.

That was a few years ago. The reclaimed wood was not pressure treated and has since rotted, and the deck is no longer safe. So today we're building a new one!

Candy was excited and said she would help, so, I went to the hardware store late in the day and purchased some lumber knowing I would have a helper.
The first order of business was to remove all our winter sowing jugs off of the deck. This took just a few minutes, so we removed the old deck to make getting started in the morning a breeze!

Here you can see the 4X4 structure the deck will sit on.

Once we gathered all the tools we would need, we marked a front and rear bearer to fit the existing 4 x 4 structure we are building this on. These were then both set at the house side of the deck. Next, we laid out the stringers and marked each one. Because the 4 x 4 structure this will be sitting on is not square, this seemed like the fastest way to put this together.
Next, we cut all the stringers. Then, we moved one bearer to the front and once each stringer was lined up with the measurements marked on the bearer we screwed them into place.

Here we used the scrap ends cut off the stringers to support the structure while it was turned around. Once turned around, the rear bearer was attached just like the front one and the deck was turned around for a perfect fit.

Next we laid out the deck boards. Once cut and fitted, all we had left to do was screw them down.

This entire project took only a few hours of work, but will provide many of hours of relaxation!

It takes us about 45 minutes to drive to the family feed store, but there is rarely any traffic and the scenery is beautiful!

This excursion was not without purpose, today we are looking for seeds.
Upon arrival you definitely get the feeling your homestead can be helped in numerous way here!

Our first order of business is to head right in to the seed greenhouse. The seeds here are reasonably priced as you can see here: two sizes to choose from $1.00 or $3.00.

They have a really great selection and you can help yourself. Today we are looking for Corn, Squash, Cucumber, Watermelon, and Cabbage. They have numerous varieties of the seeds we are looking for and careful consideration beforehand made selection quick and easy for us!

They also carry retail seeds you might find at your local supermarket how ever we were looking for specific varieties.

Walking around the property will get you thinking about projects you hadn't even considered as they carry a variety of items most farms need. They carry fence posts and straw, they sell chickens and chicken accessories. And feed for every type of livestock you might have.

Although Candy didn't want to leave just yet, we found everything we were looking for so it was time to head home.

One thing about coming home for us, we never get tired of the beautiful view of the ocean as we head downhill for the last mile to our house.

Throughout the winter we've waited patiently for the warm sun to return.

It has finally made an appearance as can be seen by the abundance of flowering bulbs in the flower and herb gardens. Even a few shrubs appear to have made it through the winter unscathed!

The temperature is above freezing today so we've opened the cold frames up. Lets take a look inside!
These spinach and lettuce plants have survived the winter and will be eaten soon. Even a few herbs have made it through!

We took the windows out of the barn for the chickens and they were delighted to get outside for some fresh air and the chance of catching a bug!

With all these good things happening, there is a lot a lot of work to be done. The winter winds have blown over our "Tomato Tower of Power", the compost needs to be turned over, and the vegetable garden will need to have the fall compost dug in.

We had very little snow this winter and as a result the crows have decimated our lawn searching for grubs. This may take more than just a little grass seed.

There are plenty of tree limbs that have fallen and will need to be picked up and moved to a burn pile.

The flower gardens still have a little snow on them, but the early spring weeds are beckoning already!

Even our dog Candy wants us to work, so she can play. She can cool off on a patch of snow, but, a bath is in the works for her after getting muddy!

So, we have a lot of work to do to get up and running for planting season, but we're ready....are you?

Today we are canning beans at the Homestead.
We start with 4 lbs of dry beans. We sift through them to make sure there are no rocks like this one! Once completed, we add some filtered water to a pot and soak the beans over night. By morning they'll look something like this.
We drain and rinse, then add them to a pot of water and bring to a boil for 30 minutes.

While waiting for the beans to boil we get started on the sauce. We add 4-1/2 quarts of Tomato juice to a pot and bring it to a simmer. In the meantime we mince 4 Tbsp of Onion and gather 8 Tbsp sugar, 4 tsp salt, 1 tsp allspice and 1-1/2 tsp of cayenne and stir it into our sauce.

Once the beans have boiled and the sauce is simmering we add boiling water to our lids. Using a slotted spoon, we fill the jars 3/4 full of beans. Next we add sauce to the jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace.
We wipe the rims, apply the hot lids, screw on the bands, and put the jars into the pressure cooker. This pressure cooker holds 18 stacked pint jars so we place 9 on the bottom, separated by a rack, and add 9 more.

Next, we heat the pressure cooker and allow the steam to vent for 10 minutes. Finally, we add the weight and raise the pressure to 10 lbs for 75 minutes.

When time is up, remove the cooker from the heat and let the pressure drop on it's own. Then remove the lid and wait 10 minutes before taking the jars out. If you listen closely, you might hear one or two seal as they cool.

Today on Homestead Homebodies, we show you how to make a winter soup that's fast and easy!

We start by adding some olive oil to a soup pot over medium heat. We chop an onion and add it to the pot once the oil is hot. A sprinkle of salt will help the onion cook faster.

We are using a soup mix that includes yellow and red lentils, peas and rice, as well as some barley. We add one cup of the mix to the pot followed by 6 cups of beef broth. You can use chicken stock or vegetable bouillon as well.

Once our stock has been added, we put in two jars of tomato's we canned from our garden.

Now it's time to add some additional flavoring. We started with some dried dill from our garden, a few shakes of cayenne, some cumin, turmeric, garlic powder, and a really good stirring.

Bring it to a simmer for about 90 minutes, and you're done!

Today on Homestead Homebodies we will show you how we make a healthy spreadable butter using just two ingredients.

We will combine equal parts of salted butter and extra light olive oil.
The butter must be at room temperature in order to incorporate it into the oil.

We will be using a food processor and some containers to put the finished buttery spread into.

After putting one cup of butter into the food processor, the power is turned on and half of the olive oil is poured into the top opening where it will slowly drizzle into the spinning butter.

After a quick scrape of the bowl, the remaining half of the oil is added. You cannot add the oil all at once or it will not blend properly. When the oil is incorporated, the mixture will be liquid.

The mixture is poured into glass bowls and the process repeated with another cup of butter and another cup of oil. We usually blend 2 pounds of butter which equals 4 cups, and 4 cups oil, making a total of 8 cups of buttery spread. This will harden up in the refrigerator and keep for several weeks.

We use this in cooking and on toast. It tastes great and is more healthful than pure butter due to the addition of monounsaturated fatty acids in the olive oil. If you do not like the taste of olive oil, you could use avocado or grapeseed oil.

In late winter it is time to prune our fruit trees.
First all dead or damaged branches should be removed, along with any suckers coming from the base of the trunk. Branches should be pruned back to the larger limb they are growing from. We don't want to leave any small stubs.

This is our plum tree, which is on its third year.
We have decided to remove a few of the low branches that get in the way when we cut the grass.
To allow sunlight to reach all the fruits, we will remove some branches from the middle. This also helps to retain a desirable vase like shape.
We're also removing the branches that cross over another one.
Here is our finished tree.

Next we will prune the peach tree. Because this tree is planted on a slight incline and has tended to grow some large branches on the low side, there is too much weight pulling on that side of the tree.

We have decided to remove the two heavy branches on the low side.


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We left the rat race and have found a better, more relaxed lifestyle through homesteading. Please enjoy.