You may recall that we decided on Top Bar Hives for our homestead, but beyond the general category of hives we still had to pick an actual design and find or create some plans. Some of the options were all wood top bar hives that look like miniature Noah’s Arks. Others are designed to be built from scrap material available in 3rd world countries and/or areas affected by disaster. Continue reading
Monthly Archives: March 2012
Early on we decided that rain barrels would be a great addition to our homestead. Our yard is on a slope, and when it rained the water flow over part of the yard would be too much. Grass wouldn’t grow well in that area, and the ground would get really muddy. Part of the water flow comes from the gutters, and we realized that getting a rain barrel or two would lessen the water flow. We realized other benefits to having rain barrels would be lower water bills since we would use if for the garden, living an more environmentally friendly lifestyle, and have a water supply in case of emergency.
Local government has a strong rain water collection initiative, which made it easy to get rain barrels. We found all this out through a simple internet search, and then we were off on our rain barrel adventure! Continue reading
If you are at all like us, when you hear about beekeeping you think little white boxes stacked alongside a field filled with buckets of honey. It turns out those bee hives have a name: Langstroth Hives. They are great for large scale commercial beekeepers, as well as people who want the convenience of a wealth of products and accessories all designed to work with your hive. But did you know there are other options for beekeeping on your homestead?
Martha and I were talking one day about ways we can become more self-sufficient and got to thinking about bees. We knew very little about bee keeping initially (and are still by no means experts), but what we did know that bees help pollinate plants (so good for our garden), they produce honey (a tasty treat), and that they are facing some serious problems which are still haunting apiarists and scientific researchers. Not to mention they are a renewable resource that, given the right conditions, can pretty much sustain themselves and still provide useful resources for their keepers!
This series we are starting is our way of giving back to the community that we have benefited from along our journey of becoming beekeepers. We hope to share our experiences, insights, and gained wisdom in hopes that others can benefit from our work and become more prepared in their own homestead!
We’re going on one year in the homestead. The first summer was spent revamping the interior so that we could live our daily lives. This year’s focus has been the yard. Our philosophy is that we know we’ll be in this homestead for a while, so we should take the time to plant beneficial plants now and reap their benefits for years to come!
The yard had no landscaping to speak of when we bought the homestead, so it has been pretty much a blank slate with which to work. We are thoroughly enjoying fixing it up! We have planted a cherry tree, blackberry canes, and several berry bushes. We also planted the perennials rhubarb and asparagus. Continue reading
I want rain barrels! I’d love to catch the runoff from the roof. It would such a green thing to do, especially since rain barrels are usually reused food barrels! I’d feel safer having extra water storage. It would be an easy thing to do, too. Once we set up the rain barrels, we’re done with the work! Plus, catching the rainwater would help lessen the muddiness of the backyard. Less mud equals cleaner dogs, which is very nice. We could also use the extra water for some other projects we’ve been considering like paper making!
The windows in our house are mostly original. Last summer we replaced 4 windows, but those have been the only updates. The problem with our windows, besides that they’re not energy efficient is that they’re single pane windows with storm windows on the exterior. The storm windows have half screens. In theory they’re supposed to keep bugs out because between the storm window panes and the screen, there should be a sealed system. The problem is that bugs can get in! The system has too many moving parts and cracks, and it’s a bug nightmare. We are big fans of open windows, but that’s not a pleasant experience when bugs come in.
We found about this situation the hard way. Last summer, on a hot summer night we were painting an upstairs bedroom. We thought it’d be a great idea to open the window to get some fresh air and let out the paint fumes. With it being nighttime and us being in a lit room, the bugs were very attracted to us. After a short while, we noticed gnats all around the ceiling! Keep in mind this is with wet paint on the walls still. So we had to go around and kill all the gnats, many of which had gotten in the paint along the top parts of the wall. It was a mess. We had to repaint over some portions. The rest of the summer we painted with closed windows. Continue reading