April showers have finally arrived and our rain barrels are already both at capacity. It has not even rained that much but between the two barrels they collect over half the rain that falls on our roof, and that adds up to enough collected water to fill up our two barrels. The last few rain showers we have had not been major, less than a couple inches total. Even so, I’ve noticed the water flowing out of the overflow valves on our barrels.
Seeing all this rain water leave our barrels made me realize that it was time we started utilizing this water more effectively. Originally we thought we’d just be using the collected rain to water our plants and garden. During the spring when it is raining a lot the barrels are filled up quickly and the garden does not need watering because the rain takes care of that for us. That just left a couple gallons a week used on our indoor plants, hardly making a dent in the 60 gallon rain barrel capacity. Continue reading
Our chicks are now approximately five and three weeks old (if you recall we have two varieties: Araucanas and Golden Comets). We recently made another trip to the local feed store to get some more chick food. The twenty-five pound bag we purchased when we bought the chicks is almost all gone already, so we purchased another three twenty-five pound bags of non-medicated chick food. This should last them until they are ready to go outside and eat “layer” feed.
Chicks Enjoying Their Perch
The chicks have all been developing very quickly (relatively of course, since we have no prior reference, being new to chickens). We’ve noticed that they have all been roosting a lot more on the perches we put in their brood box. They are also a lot bigger and have a lot more feathers. The Araucanas are almost completely feathered with almost no down visible anymore. Continue reading
It seems like a right of passage to post your first AR Build’s parts list on some forum or website. All my “firearm buddies” have been bugging me to see my list from the moment I said I had made a final selection. I’ve decided to include the prices I paid so you can get an idea of what cost is involved in this endeavor. At this point I believe everything in this list will get me to the point of a fully functional firearm, I THINK I should be able to get it all assembled without any specialized tools that I don’t already have, making this a pretty close to complete AR Build list.
As I mentioned earlier this is just enough to get me started with a fully functional AR-15. Right off the bat you’ll notice there is no optics system. I plan on getting one eventually but still have not done the research to determine what my needs are and what products best meets those needs. So rather than prematurely purchasing an optics system, I’ve opted to wait until I’ve had a chance to send some rounds through the AR, then make a decision.
Finally, in strict adherence to the Internet convention of making sure the build list is as cryptic as possible to the novice AR builder I will leave my post at that. At least I have links, prices, and pictures! That’s better than 95% of the build lists I’ve seen. But, if you have any questions please post a comment with your question and I’ll be happy to answer it the best I can!
A key component of our homestead is security. We do many things to work towards securing our homestead such as maintaining our fence, planting thorny plants around the fence, and other things that are planned but yet to be revealed. But one of the most critical components of our security plan is ensuring all members of our homestead are responsibly armed at all times. This does not mean everyone is always carrying a gun per-say. It means that depending on the situation, we aim to bring the appropriate tool for the job. In practice this means you’ll never find Martha or I without a handgun on us or in short reach anytime we are at home, away from the homestead we carry what we can legally (we can go into this discussion in a separate post later), in a scenario where we need to hunt for food we may bring a bow or appropriate rifle for the game we are seeking, and in an event where we may need to defend our homestead from others you may find us with shotguns and …
That last and … is the part we wanted to address with this AR build. Books have already been written talking about the history and uses of the AR platform, specifically the AR-15, so I will try and point out just a few of the features that brought us to this weapon system for our homestead. The first is that it addresses that “and …” need for defending the homestead in both close quarter combat scenarios as well as being capable of performing for longer range engagements, and can also be used for hunting game of a variety of sizes. Secondly, the AR-15 is an extremely popular firearm which means there is an abundance of components, tools, accessories, and resources available for one to call upon in the assembly, maintenance, modification, and use of the firearm. Continue reading
Yes, this week’s Wishful Wednesday came early. I’m just too excited about this new development to make you wait to read how its progressing!
One thing Martha and I appreciate most about our move from California to Virginia was the huge increase in our gun rights. California is a bastion of gun control and a perfect example of gun control’s racist and prejudicial history and its utter failure to reduce crime and improve public safety. I could probably write a book about how useless gun control laws are, but I don’t have to because its already been done. While Virginia is nowhere near perfect in terms of respecting our self-defense rights, its much better than what we had before and we do appreciate it!
Part of our appreciation of our newly found rights and freedoms is a desire to exercise these rights and expand the choices we have for personal protection in our firearm collection. In California we limited ourselves to handguns due to space restrictions in our old place of residence. However, since settling in our new homestead we have expanded our collection with long-guns (and more handguns of course), but we don’t yet have an AR-15 style rifle. I won’t go into the details of why we have settled on the AR-15 platform for this project, but for the purposes of this post, a major reason is the AR-15 platform’s ability to be heavily customized and completely assembled from parts by ourselves.
What better way to expand our firearm collection and skill set, than by building a versatile self-defense and hunting rifle in the AR-15 platform? Yes, doing this build may not get us the AR-15 the cheapest way and yes there are lots of great local AR-15 manufacturers near us. But for our first AR-15 I want to be able to really appreciate and understand as much about the firearm system as possible. Building also allows us to realize much more customizations in the firearm since we won’t be paying for a gunsmith to make the modifications. While we may certainly purchase fully assembled AR-15s in the future, we want this first one to be OURS!
I look forward to our journey selecting the components and assembling our first AR-15 and will be sharing our progress with you in future posts!
If you have had any experiences with your own builds you’d like to share, we’d love to hear about them!
It finally happened, we are totally caught up on our beekeeping progress with our website!
Today we did an inspection on both hives and instead of snapping a bunch of photos we decided to make a video of the experience.
We’ve split the video into two parts, the first of our Lexington hive, and the second our Concord hive. The Lexington hive is looking very strong with lots of comb filled with capped brood, larva, eggs, nectar, pollen, and even some honey! Our Concord hive is the weaker of the two but still relatively well off with a decent amount of capped brood, larva, eggs, nectar, pollen, and some honey.
Please enjoy these videos as we do talk a lot more in the video about the inspection process and more about the details of our two hives. We’d love to know what you think of our hive inspection and if you have any questions feel free to post them here!
Our little chicks are doing quite well in their brooder. We change the water a few times a day as they do get shredded paper (and occasionally poop) in it. We also replenish the food as needed.
The chicks walk around the box, hop up on the roosts, cluck, and just hangout. We take them out one at a time and hold them while we watch TV. I want them to be used to being handled, and to be friendly. When we hold them they are anxious at first, but get quite relaxed. As a stroke a chick her eyes will close, and she’ll be quiet. It’s quite enjoyable for me, too.
Chick Sleeping With George
The chicks are getting more and more feathers. At times they look silly as their pin feathers come in. I’m kind of sad that the Golden Comets aren’t these cute little yellow fluffballs anymore, but their feathers are quite pretty. We haven’t assigned names yet as it’s kind of hard to tell one fluffball from another. As their feathers are coming in, it’ll be time to name them soon. Look forward to a post with a picture of each lovely lady and her name!
We moved into Independence Homestead at the beginning of the summer in 2011, so almost a year ago. Last year was spent improving the inside of the house and settling in. While we did routine maintenance on the yard, that’s about all we did outside. The prior owners were obviously not gardeners, so we started with a pretty minimal setup. In the backyard there was lawn, an evergreen tree, and a rosebush. None of that was maintained. The positive aspect to this situation is that we are starting with pretty much a blank slate. We can create whatever we want!
Last year as the leaves were falling, we decided that we would create garden beds along the fence around the yard. We would keep the center as grassy lawn. In the areas that we were changing into beds, we turned up the dirt and buried all the leaves we raked up. Over the winter these leaves have decomposed, enriching the soil with organic matter. Continue reading
After we came home with our chicks, it was time to assemble the brooder box. We had everything we would need, but we hadn’t put it together yet. While it’s often recommended that you have everything ready to go before bringing home the chicks, I’m glad we waited until we had the chicks. We were better able to consider the size of the chicks in our plans when they were there in front of us. Plus it took about 5 minutes to assemble everything, so it’s not like the birds were in the traveling box for an inordinate amount of time.
First Brooder Box Light Setup
We had saved some cardboard boxes in anticipation of using them as the brooder box, but we quickly realized that all the boxes would be too small. We had an unused Rubbermaid bin, and it was large enough to be the brooder, so we setup that. We laid down newspaper, and then covered it with shredded paper. It’s important that chicks have a textured surface to walk on, or they can develop leg problems. So just laying newspaper would have been bad, but the shredded paper made it great. We also set in the food container and the waterer we made, which is described below. We also setup some lights since it’s important the chicks be kept warm. A couple regular houselamps with 100 watt bulbs did the trick. We set them up right at the edge of the bin so they were as close as possible. Continue reading
Once we decided that we were going to have laying hens for eggs, we had to get them. We had to wait until after our Spring Break trip to get the chicks as we didn’t want to find a sitter to care for them for a week. When we returned, we called around to the local feed stores to see if they still had chicks, and if so what breeds. The two major feed stores in our area are Southern States and Tractor Supply Co. I called Tractor Supply first. The lady who answered the phone knew they had chicks, but wasn’t sure of the breed or the price. I then called Southern States, and that guy was much more informative. He was able to tell me both breeds they had, the highlights of each, the age of the chicks they had, and the prices. Since Southern States was also closer, we decided to go there since the breeds were good layers, and we knew what we would get.
Let me take a minute to describe the breeds of chicken we acquired. We bought 6 chickens total, 3 Aracaunas and 3 Golden Comets. The Aracauna breed is notable because they lay blue eggs. I thought that would be a really neat thing to have, and we would be enjoying something that is not commercially available. They are also supposed to be very good layers overall with a good annual output. Continue reading