Homestead Happenings

We went up to our future homestead this past weekend to work on our road, check on the fruit and nut trees, and enjoy a peaceful afternoon relaxing in the screened gazebo.  It was a pleasant, cool weekend and true to the weather report we got a few sprinkles on Sunday.

The walnut trees are doing well. In the picture below you can see the 300 gallon water tank behind them that we picked up off of Craigslist for a very good price.  The 300 gallon tank lasts about 3 weeks, which means each tree gets about 50 gallons of water each week. I suppose this is quite enough because they look really happy!

gravity flow irrigation

The gooseberries are forming quite well.  I have never done anything with the gooseberries on our property because, unfortunately, we have the VERY prickly type.  I have heard these can be made into jelly, I just haven’t tried yet.  Besides, I have been informed that gooseberries are the intermediary of a fungal disease that attacks white fir trees, so we are actually considering pulling them all out.  Perhaps I should try making a batch of jelly first to see if there would be a reason to keep them!

spiky gooseberries

The blackberries are also starting to size up.  Blackberry cobbler is a favorite of mine – warm out of the oven with a large scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.  YUM!  This year I may try making blackberry leather or I may try my hand at canning some blackberry pie filling.  Well……. maybe I should just live it up and try both!

green wild blackberries

I checked on our resident toad who has made a home under the apricot tree.  Yup – he’s still there.  Judging from the picture, he seems to have grown quite a bit as he now fills out the entire hole in the ground. Gee, no wonder I don’t see any insects around the orchard area!  But wait – you don’t think he’s stuck in there now, do you?

toad under the apricot tree

Speaking of critters, we found this critter nest along the side of the new road we are cutting into the north side of our property.  We haven’t seen anything coming or going, but whatever it is seems to have built itself a pretty cozy abode.  We haven’t had the heart to tear it down yet.  Actually…. well you see…….. it’s just that……..truthfully we are a little afraid of what may really be in there! A friend of ours suggested it’s just a wood rat’s nest.  If it is, that’s a pretty big wood rat!wood rat house?

The mystery plant in the compost pile has revealed itself as a cantaloupe, which is very cool because my hubby and I adore cantaloupe.  It has curly tendrils now and I know that I have thrown plenty of cantaloupe seeds on that pile in the past year.  Actually, we like just about any kind of melon, so if it turns out to be a watermelon (it’s possible) we will be happy with that also.  In our backyard garden at our home in the Sacramento Valley, we are growing two different kinds of melon (intentionally) that we have never tried before, both heirloom cantaloupe type melons, so I certainly hope they are good. The potatoes in the compost pile seem to be doing well also!growing melons in compost

The peaches are getting bigger and look quite healthy – except for the holes in the leaves.  I wonder what is causing that?  We inspected the leaves and couldn’t find anything, so we are hoping that whatever creature caused these holes has gone away now.  This is only the second year in the ground for this tree, so I’m not sure if we should leave all of the peaches on the tree.  We may have to thin them again next week. freestone peaches

This is the purple thistle plant we have growing here and there around the future homestead.  I have read somewhere that a certain purple thistle can be used instead of rennet to make cheese.  I am going to have to do some more research into that, because if it is true, wouldn’t that be a great find!  Another way I would not have to depend on a store, which is another step toward self-sufficiency!

purple thistle

I actually took quite a few more pictures, but I think this is enough for one post.  However, thought I would leave you with a picture of the mess our friendly neighborhood squirrel left behind on part of our driveway!   Actually, at the time I took this picture Mr. Squirrel was up in the tree eating another cone, with the pine cone bracts raining down on us below.  We stared up at him – he stared down at us. Then, just out of the blue the squirrel dropped the remainder of his cone and nearly hit me on the head!  I am quite certain he did that on purpose!  😉 squirel pine cone

Thanks for taking a tour with me on my future homestead!

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14 thoughts on “Homestead Happenings

    • I’m thinking we need to name our toad, especially since his residence has lasted for more than a month! I hear of people finding them in the strangest places! Thanks for visiting my site, Becca, come back soon!

    • Yes, we are pretty sure it’s cantaloupe, but there is a remote chance it could be watermelon! It will be fun to see what we get!

    • Volunteer plants are the best! These melon plants seem to be pretty healthy. After all, they are growing in nutrient rich compost! Thanks for the comment!

  1. You’ve got a lot going on around the place. Some of our blackberries are ripening a little at a time. I was able to make a cobbler last week. Keep us posted on the gooseberries. I know little about them.

    I’d love it if you join us Thursday at:
    The HomeAcre Hop

    ~Ann

    • Ann, I can’t wait for our blackberries to ripen! I am jealous that you have been making cobbler already! I am going to do some research on the gooseberries. I suppose if I heated them enough to get out the juice and then strained the pulp, I should be able to make jelly – right? At least I’m gonna try!

  2. great seeing whats going on in your garden!! I have a few thistles growing around our home myself!hahhaaha my husband just looks at me and shakes his head! I use it for drawing the bees in the garden.

    • Oh – I never thought of that! I guess they would draw in a lot of bees! When I told my husband to leave our thistle alone because I was going to make cheese with it – he seemed mildly interested (he loves cheese) but shook his head also! Hahaha – gotta love them! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Love your post

    I followed your link from A Humble Bumble blog hop.

    I planted tomatoes and peppers on my deck (even tho we live on an 80 acre farm) 🙂 But I wanted something simple this year.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Hello Cindra – tomatoes and peppers on the deck sounds wonderful! At least they would be easier to get to when you need some produce! I slipped over to your website and saw that you raise beef cattle on your farm! That’s a lot of hard work, and since I love beef I will say – Thank you!

  4. The disease you are thinking of is White Pine blister rust and it needs white pines and any member of the Ribes species (currants, gooseberries) to live. If you remove your gooseberries, but neighboring properties still have them, it won’t stop the disease. Best wishes! Great pics! Thanks for sharing on Wildcrafting Wednesday 🙂 Hope to see you again tomorrow at:
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/07/wildcrafting-wednesday-27.html

    • Yes, your are probably right – I would probably have to clear the entire mountain of the gooseberry to save our White Pine trees. But so far it doesn’t seem like any of our white pines are effected. Thanks for the reality check!

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