who's still here?

clarysage1717(s.central pa z6)August 19, 2003

Who's here, and what would you like to talk about? This is a great forum with information that isn't really duplicated elsewhere........I know it's a busy time of year for all of us who actually do the things that are discussed here, and that's probably why the postings are so infrequent. Is anyone else, like me, hanging around in the hopes that discussions will pick up?


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lilgasunshine(z7 Ga)

Hi Katie. I'm still hanging/lurking around here. Check in almost every evening to see whats been posted. Am hoping discussions will pick up soon. Hubby and I plan to move next year to more acreage, and build a cordwood home. If anyone is interested in cordwood, go to Google, or your search engine,and type in Daycreek Journal. Alan has a wonderful site on cordwood building. Passive solar is also in our plans on this house. We will also grow our own veg garden; which we do now, and have chickens, milk cow, and who knows what else. Hubby and I were both raised on a farm, and we are not spring chickens, so, this was back in the day of when they still used outhouses. We are retired now, children all grown and away from home, and we are just eager to return more toward living closer to the earth. lilga

    Bookmark   August 19, 2003 at 10:27PM
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clarysage1717(s.central pa z6)

Now, Lilga, I have to ask this: what do your grown children think of your plans? I'm not making the big-scale changes you and your husband are contemplating, but I still get a lot of rolled eyes and sighs when I start a new homesteading project.

It is funny how things come around, though. I've somehow raised two techno-geek sons, and for years I despaired of them ever sharing my more earth-bound passions. But the recording engineer who absolutely had to live in a big city now speaks wistfully of green fields and mountains, and the SuperYuppie Civil Engineer, who had absolutely zero interest in growing things, has become passionate about land use and plans to get a master's in environmental engineering. So mom's genes may come through in the long run after all!

But I still get a lot of teasing about staying up all night to can peaches or scrounging around roadside ditches for elderberries, and there was quite a bit of hooting when I brought home a magazine about raising alpcas. Funny though - guess whose house their friends all want to hang out at.

Are your kids supportive, or like mine, mildly amused?


    Bookmark   August 20, 2003 at 3:01PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Hi! I usually spend my time over at the farm life forum but would be very interested in this forum too if the discussions picked up a little.

We have 32 acres with a seasonal stream, some woods, lots of second growth bush and old pastures. We have chickens (Speckled Sussex) and will be getting some rabbits this fall and want to put in a much larger vegetable garden next spring.

Strictly speaking we are not homesteading in the sense of living off what our land can produce, but I am interested in homesteading skills to enhance my quality of life.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2003 at 9:22PM
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clarysage1717(s.central pa z6)

Maggie, I doubt if a lot of us on the web are 'strictly' homesteading.......if we were I suppose we wouldn't be on the internet. I think you're on the right track, with your comment about using homesteading skills to enhance your quality of life. There are a few cutting-edge high-tech things I embrace for that very reason, and I do so unapologetically while still continuing to can food and bake bread. For me, it's less about strictly adhering to a particular time period's practices and more about providing the kind of life I want for my family.

I've got Speckled Sussex too, and the rooster is calm and gentle to the point that he's fairly useless at protecting the flock. After two or three psycho roosters (other breeds) I don't mind this guy being so laid back, but I'm wondering if that's a characteristic of the breed. Do you have a S. S. rooster?

And what kind of rabbits are you getting? If I can get the right kind of exhaust fan in my greenhouse so it doesn't heat up so much in there, I'd like to keep a few rabbits in there. But I've got to get the temps regulated first.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2003 at 7:53AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Katie, We've only been back in the country for about eighteen months, so we are still trying to get things the way we want them. The chickens are a new venture - just about twelve weeks old so they roos are just beginning to mature. They seem pretty gentle. Nice friendly birds, aren't they?

Regarding rabbits, I would like to get a good meat breed, maybe Californians...I like the dark points on ears and nose. But I expect it will have to be whatever is availbable locally. They will be meat rabbits in any case. We built the chicken house large enough to keep a few cages in the entrance room.

I thought of overwintering rabbits in the greenhouse, but I certainly wouldn't want to keep them there once the weather warms up...they suffer so easily from heat stress. Do you have a big shady tree where you could put hutches in the summer and just move them into the greenhouse when it gets really cold? I have a huge weeping willow tree that always has shade under it...if I can be confident that predators can't get at them, I think it would be ideal for them in the sunmmer months. Although there might be mosquitoes...are they a problem for rabbits? So many factors to consider...

    Bookmark   August 22, 2003 at 9:48AM
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clarysage1717(s.central pa z6)

Maybe that's what I should do, just plan on summer quarters for the rabbits outside of the greenhouse. Because even if I get exhaust fans rigged up, a power outage - and HEY, we've been having those this summer! - would be disastrous.

You're going to love the Speckled Sussex. They're very even tempered. We've had good experiences with them and the Arancaunas, and the Red Sex Links were sweet but staggeringly stupid. The Polish chickens were outrageously freaky looking - think David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase - and prone to chicken hysteria. (If the neighbor's dogs visited, the Polish chickens wouldn't lay for days). The ruffled bantams look like those little teddy-bear creatures in the Star Wars movie - Ewoks?

The only prob with the Sussex roo is that he crows randomly all night long. He has clearly never read the manual.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2003 at 8:36PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

So, Katie, when does your rooster sleep??? Lollll

I've read that sometimes roosters crow at night because they see light or hear a noise, such as from a passing car. The book suggested that keeping a low light on all night and a radio playing softly minimizes the contrast and may keep him from crowing so much. Mine aren't crowing yet so I can't speak from experience.

I was wondering what kind of a run you use for your chickens. Or do they free-range? We got a deal on some used chainlink fence and I'd like to use this to make a 40 foot by 50 foot yard for them, but it is only four feet high and I am wondering if it will keep them in. At present they just have a small "playpen" attached to the chicken house, but it is a makeshift arrangement just until we can get the fencing installed.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2003 at 7:41AM
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clarysage1717(s.central pa z6)

Well, when the fence holds them, it's a pen. When there's a hole in the fence, they're free-range. :)

The chicken house was once a small shed, one of many buildings we found here when we bought the place twenty years ago. We cut out a square at ground level in one wall, which gives the girls access to a chicken-wired yard, that's draped over the top with additional chicken wire. This is not a great plan. The chickens dig in the shady area near the edge of the fence and work their way out, and things dig their way in. Something that's sunk a half foot or so underground, with a curve away from the yard itself so monsters can't dig under, would be much better.

My preference would also, if I started over, be to have a more mobile setup so they're only trashing one area at a time. Once the chickens get down to bare soil, you end up in a wet summer like this with erosion issues, at least on our slope. I tried dividing their run in half and planting grasses on the section they weren't using, and we'll see what happens when I switch them over.

They will get out over a four foot fence unless you clip their wings, and that's something you need to do from time to time as the feathers regrow. But more importantly, hawks will swoop in if there's no cover, or raccoons, skunks, possums, etc will climb in. The draped chicken wire we're using as a 'roof' is heavy and collapses in the snow. I'd like to try orchard netting to see if that will work, because it seems so much easier to use.

They usually get a few hours out every day, but I can't let them free-range all the time. They poop all over the house deck, they fling new transplants around the garden, they trash the greenhouse. And one hen likes to roost on the roof rack of my truck, which would be fine, except her behind hangs down over the windshield, and, well, it's not pretty.

And no, the darn rooster never sleeps. There's no light, absolutely none. We've cut all the security lights at night to see if that would stop him. The opening for the yard run is away from the house and road, so it's not reflected vehicle lights. Now, this rooster didn't make one peep the night the possum got in and killed some chicks. So I doubt he's crowing because he's alarmed. I think he's just psychotic.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2003 at 12:48PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Your chickens sound most unco-operative, Katie! But I guess it's just a case of chickens will be chickens...

I'm going to have to do some fast thinking about what I'm going to do about their yard. They have two good trees so they do have some cover and we can put an awning on their porch which should make their entrance safer...but I really hoped they would stay in their yard, mostly anyway. Might have to try the wing clipping, although I'd prefer not to.

I'll price the orchard netting and also a netting made especially for chicken yards but if it is too expensive we may have to see how things go without it.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2003 at 3:37PM
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clarysage1717(s.central pa z6)

Well, they ARE un-cooperative in some areas. But the little darlings eat Japanese beetles by the hundreds, so I can't complain.

Where in Ontario, Maggie?


    Bookmark   August 24, 2003 at 8:47PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

I live in Prince Edward County, which is just south of Trenton and Belleville - that little piece that sticks out into Lake Ontario. It is almost an island - connected only by a huge bridge near Belleville and a swing-bridge over the canal just south of Trenton. Our climate is ruled by the effect of Lake Ontario -- more temperate than inland but also more unpredicatable. The land is limestone-based, very green and rolling with some hardwood forest and a lot of farmland. It was settled by "Loyalists" (rebels to you!) in the 1790s or thereabouts.

Where in Pennsylvania do you live?

Here is a link that might be useful: Prince Edward County, Ontario

    Bookmark   August 24, 2003 at 9:01PM
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I'm still here! I haven't posted anything because I didn't have anything to post. :)

This summer has been by turns exhilarating, aggravating, fun, disappointing, and educational. I got the raised beds assembled for square-foot gardening (picture me IN A T-STORM with my air compressor under a tarp, wielding an air hammer with a vengeance), but the dirt was so long in coming that I didn't get anything but some tomatoes planted. I moved a 7y/o maple sapling, mostly by myself, and it survived(!) I got some other projects done, and with the bubelahs (8,6) going to school, I expect to do more.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2003 at 11:13PM
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clarysage1717(s.central pa z6)

Roger/Lori, with 8,6 year old bubelahs, you have a built in excuse for 'not getting things done', although anyone who gets raised beds built during a thunderstorm deserves a medal.

Maggie, I see you're just off the good old 401, which I've managed to avoid the last few times I've been in Ontario thanks to the wonderful ETR. My family's originally from northern Ontario, near Thessalon. There is a growing part of me that would love to live there and so I'm curious about anyone managing to homestead-sort-of (which would describe what I do) in the North. But you're in a fairly temperate zone really, aren't you? I'm always amazed at the beautiful vineyards and fruit farms between Niagara and Mississauga. I mean, I'm in zone 6, and on the cold side of zone 6 due to our elevation. And we're about eight, nine hours south of you; it takes me 8 to hit Tonronto.

I'm near Harrisburg in Pa, outside of a very small town. We don't have a cool website to direct visitors to; there wouldn't be much of anything to put on one! My three acres is having an identity crisis at the moment. The first goal was a commnity-supported-farm in which we would sell shares, providing weekly deliveries /pickups of garden produce. This fizzled when I realized the 'we' in my previous sentence was more of a 'me' when it came to the actual work, and when I finally comprehended that such diversity meant no breaks, ever, never; the two weeks in the summer at the northern Ontario cabin just could never happen. Shifted from there to Christmas trees, which require intesnse bursts of labor but do allow the luxury of occasional travel, and the trees have been doing great for us. Then a friend bought the entire stock of an iris farm, moved it to her place, and promptly had a midlife crisis and lost interest, so now I'm sort of in the iris business.
I have an agent marketing my mystery novel series, and if all goes well, I can drop the day job, work my big garden here for the family, sell trees and wreaths at Christmas and live trees to landscapers, sell iris online, and write in between. To me, this is the definition of the perfect life. What's yours?


    Bookmark   August 25, 2003 at 8:23AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Yes, Katie, we are considered Zone 5b, not that much colder than your area. The Lake really moderates the temperatures and gives us more precipitation than further inland.

I've been to Northern Ontario but not at all recently and I think we went through Thessalon -- that was the same trip when the bear walked over my tent just north of Nipigon!

You should check out the Far North Gardening forum if you haven't already done so. They deal with gardening in Zones 1 to 3.

My "perfect life" is not so different than yours! I write too, have done since I was ten. I have a children's chapter book, The Bears of Bluebell Wood, based on my original teddy bear characters which is ready to start making the rounds of publishers. I also handcraft antique-style teddy bears and I am hoping to open a theme garden with gift shop so families can visit the bears in their own cottage - complete with antique and vintage props. My friend Brian plans an open air antiques/flea market here so the two projects would work well together. Coupled with the storybooks, some internet sales of bears and antiques perhaps and our homesteading efforts we hope to be able to earn a modest living here.

If we can pull it off and I can live and work here in the country I will be very happy indeed.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2003 at 11:11AM
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clarysage1717(s.central pa z6)

Oh, Maggie, I hope it works out for you. It sounds idyllic.

You went past Thessalon if you used Route 17 West from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie. We aren't really in Thessalon, actually about 20 k away, but there's nothing closer to use as a landmark! Beautiful country up there.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2003 at 7:07PM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Thanks, Katie...I hope so too because if not it will be back to the salt mines...a day job, that is!

And yes, the area around Thessalon and Sault Ste. Marie is beautiful...and dramatic compared to the mere prettiness of Southern Ontario. But, oh! those winters.......Brrrrrrrrr!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2003 at 10:01PM
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I jump in and out of this forum. Most of my time is spent on another forum, but I really like reading the posts here.

I try to live the homestead life as much as possible. I'm a long ways from independent living, but it's a dream I keep.

I think I was born 100 years to late. I like riding horses more than riding in a car. I like doing old time things like spinning wool, raising my own food, and real cooking. I wouldn't miss A/C, microwaves, and other modern things if IÂd never had them.

One of my current projects is learning to store as many food items as possible without the use of electricity. Our power goes out quit often and has been out for up to 2 weeks. It's amazing how we adapted in the dead of winter.

It was almost disappointing when the lines were repaired, we all went back to tv, computer, etc. Everyone went their separate ways again. I miss the closeness we had developed without electricity in our lives. The only thing I don't miss is hauling in clean water, but if we'd had a hand pump that wouldn't have been necessary.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2003 at 8:21PM
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lilgasunshine(z7 Ga)

Hi Katie, and everyone else. Sorry I havent replied earlier. Been out of town visiting grandkids. Katie, I do get a lot of the "eye rolling", and those looks like "Well Mom's on one of her tagents again". But for the most part, they humor me. I do have one son who's very "down home", and he's all excited about this cordwood home, so he's a lot of support and fun and interesting to converse with about this house. My sons grew up on 40 acres in the Ozarks of Missouri back in the 70's, so they know about cutting and splitting and heating with wood. We even had a huge wood cookstove, and a outhouse the first year we lived there. Unfortunately, we sold that place and moved to Tn. and became used to all the convinences of town life then. So, the "children" do think we are a "little crazy" for wanting to "do all that hard work" again, but they'll be around to visit and help, and maybe they'll even benefit once again from a little "back to the basics". I'm sure it will at least be a "different and a learning" experience for the grandkids when they come to see us. lilga

    Bookmark   August 26, 2003 at 10:03PM
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Off & on as time allows.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2004 at 7:12AM
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FarmerDave(Z6 KY USA)

I've been gone for awhile but think I'll start dropping in again. This is a very good forum with people living the homesteading life and those like myself who are living it in our hearts and minds.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2004 at 11:04AM
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Maggie, I think that part of Ontario had a lot of immigration from prince edward island also. I noticed driving through southern ontario that a lot of the towns had the same names as little towns in PEI, and many of the same family names. A fellow I know in PEI told me that the majority of the exodus over the years went to Ontario and Massachusetts.

In fact, it's hard to find somebody up there who doesn't have relatives in both those places.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2004 at 7:37AM
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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

That's interesting, Pat... I'd never heard that, although my mother was born in the area and I have relatives here (none in PEI though). I'll have to notice when talking to people if the east coast connection surfaces. I'm interested in that kind of thing.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 10:14PM
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madspinner(z7 WA skagit)

I stop by, but it seems it is usually pretty slow here, so I don't stop by as much as the other more active forums.

I live on 25 acres in northwest Wa state in a small valley. We have chickens, a few sheep, and a llama. We are planning on raising either pigs or steer for meat next year. I'm a pretty lazy homesteader... I like to pretend but don't get everything done I'd like to. That's ok though, as the great part is I can do it when i want to. I'm a terrible housekeeper as well, something I think no real homesteader would allow. I'd just rather do the fun stuff.

Currently time to pick blackberries to make pies, and can pie filling and jam... won't be long till it's time for the apples and plums. I havn't gotten my raised veggie beds done this year (you wouldn't believe the rocks we have, I thought raised beds would help) so no veggie harvest this year. Next year I hope to put in an herb and veggie garden. Of course, I plant new fruit and nut trees every year. I want to plant blueberries next year too! And rasberries.
Most of my gardening effort goes to my ornamental garden... so I'm a pretty poor homesteader indeed! I'm in love with Old fashioned varieties of roses, as well as waterlilies, iris, and peonies.

We have a pond, so I can catch bass when I feel like it. There is a river also, and if you are quick enough when the salmon run, you can grab a few before they get too bad (they pretty much start to rot alive when they spawn... and we are pretty far up the river... so you have to be picky.).

    Bookmark   August 15, 2004 at 6:48PM
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pony65(Zone 5)

I've only recently stumbled across GardenWeb, and just this moment found the homesteading forum. :)

My DH and I have a homestead frame of mind, but we're not at the dream goal yet. But someone said this morning, "The journey is part of the gift." So, we're enjoying where we are right now, which is on a half acre in north suburban Chicago. 16 raised 4'x4' beds, a few fruit trees, some raspberry bushes, only livestock are one big dog and 4 cats, shelves set up as temporary indoor greenhouses, plans to build an outdoor one this Fall... I preserve our food by canning and dehydration.

The six year plan includes a move to 40 acres in WI that we're paying on until we can clear up things here (wipe out debt, etc.).

    Bookmark   August 15, 2004 at 8:51PM
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suehi(z7 Ga)

Hello, I am new to this site, but have been checking the homesteading forum to see if something new comes up. Are there any people here from Georgia? particularly, the Athens/Commerce area. I am trying to figure out the best woodstove for cooking and heating for our climate. I would love to here from any homesteaders in this area, but would welcome any information and personal experiences on starting up one.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2004 at 1:35PM
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