Winter Homestead

We recently took the last weekend trip up to our future homestead for this year, to put everything to bed for the winter.  Since we don’t live up there yet, and especially since we don’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle to travel over deep snow or muddy roads, we will only venture up there a few more times (weather permitting), until early next spring. It has rained up there a little and our water storage tank is starting to collect a bit of water.  The mushrooms are springing up all over the place and some kind of critter is enjoying them as a snack!  Partially eaten mushroom

The artichoke plants got a heavy blanket of leafy mulch.  First, I placed a scaffolding of branches around the artichokes, so the oak leaf and pine needle mulch won’t crush the tender artichoke leaves.  Then, I raked up wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of oak leaves and pine needles and tossed them over and around the plants, about 1-1/2 to 2 feet thick. That should hold them until next spring.  An added bonus is that artichokes like slightly acidic soil, and as the mulch breaks down it will add a slight acidity and other nutrients to the soil!Mulching artichokes for winter

The gazebo had to come down also.  The gazebo is one of the first things up in the spring and one of the last items to come down in late fall.  We love sitting in the gazebo on our anti-gravity chairs, reading books or magazines after a hard day of working on the future homestead.  The entire gazebo is screened to keep us safe from the hungry mosquitoes or nasty wasps!

The fruit and nut trees in the orchard have lost their leaves, so it was time to spray them with a dormant spray.  I have a hard time trying to figure out a balance with sustainability and organic issues when it comes to my fruit trees. To spray, or not to spray, that is the question!  You see, the cherry trees got attacked by a voracious caterpillar last year, the apricots got spider mites and the peaches got leaf curl.  So what would you do?  I decided to go ahead and apply dormant spray – especially since there aren’t any leaves or fruit on the trees at this time.  It’s either do that, or have the trees suffer and perhaps not produce any fruit at all or, worse yet, die.  I prefer to eat fruit from live trees.  Of course, anything sprayed on the trees when they have leaves, blossoms or fruit will be eco-friendly and organic!  If anyone out there has a better solution, please tell me!  Any opinion or advice on this subject is always welcome!Dormant spraying fruit orchard

The soda can heater was reattached to the trailer.  This device prevents the trailer from freezing inside fairly well.  Of course, if there isn’t any sun for a few days the soda can heater will not work.  However, as soon as the sun cracks through the clouds, this puppy cranks up the heat!  If you would like to see how we made our soda can heater, click HERE.  We did drain the water pipes in the trailer – just in case!  It’s easier that way.Soda Can Heater

The windows in the outhouse, trailer and shed were locked down and doors were bolted.  We also loaded the truck with more firewood to take down to our current home in the valley.  We love wood heat as it heats to the core!  We don’t have much firewood left in this pile, but we will need to get another truckload of it in January when we come up to burn a brush pile and work some more on our back road.  This is the wood left over from an incident that happened to us a few years back when our entire 30′ x 330′ easement was harvested of all trees so that electrical lines could come down our private road, past us  and to the house at the end of the road, through a grant given by and executed by the USDA.  Unfortunately, that house was not built with permits and was also not up to code (even though I had advised the USDA of this fact long before the logging was done), so the power poles or lines never went in!  If this ever happens to you, just know that it is impossible to fight our government for negligence unless you have a lot of money!  I refuse to be bitter about this, but a lot of valuable timber was cut from our property against our wishes and unfortunately no one will take responsibility!  At least we were able to keep some of the wood for firewood!Stacked Firewood

Another year has passed on our future homestead and we are happy with the projects we tackled this year. Next spring we will put the finishing touches on the outhouse, finish our new back road to complete the loop on our property, and begin clearing for our garden and chicken coop!  And maybe, quite possibly, start building our house!

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