Thursday, March 31, 2011

Free organic seeds

You can get 25 seeds packages for the price of shipping. Organic seeds from Seeds of Change. Check it out!

Check out this link:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bob and The Flock!

Bob's bob is getting crazy! 
Some black coming through now.
Is this a scary picture or what?
Bob is really emerging as the leader here. Maybe the other chicks resect the hair? I love how ungroomed chicks look at this age. Little feathers poking out everywhere.  

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Increasing Plantable Area in a Raised Bed Garden

We need a bigger garden! Unfortunately, since we are renting this wonderful land we will not be able to expand our garden to our desired size of one whole acre! Instead we are trying to utilize the dead space between beds and in the corners of the garden. Anywhere the wheelbarrow doesn't have to drive through is a potential spot for more planting.
We were given these 5gallon pots by Kelsi's sister crystal. I believe they had shrubs in them, they work great for this exact thing! I placed them in this dead spot between two beds. We never use this space, so why not plant there? We are going to make this our herb garden. We have some horseradish roots to plant. Maybe I'll plant them here.
We also put some more of these giant pots around the base of 'Johnny the apple tree'. Seems like we are going to be adding a lot of plantable area this year by doing this exact thing. 

If you want to do the same and don't have any pots, I would suggest using old 5gallon buckets or looking on craigslist to find some old pots for free. It's better to reuse than to recycle! 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The greenhouse is taking off.

I finally got the door all fixed up for the greenhouse. We have been using a makeshift door for two weeks. Yesterday I got the new one installed. I bought the hard corrugated plastic instead of using the flimsy soft plastic again. Since the door gets abused and slammed by the wind often I opted for something more sturdy. 
It came together pretty well. 
These little lettuce and broccoli starts are starting to look pretty darn good!
Greenhouse 3-26-11
This was taken on Saturday, overcast day, slightly chilly. It's amazing how much warmer it gets in here with a real door!
We have also been cutting strawberry runners from the patch in the garden. We have been putting them into pots to sell.
Most of them are still sleeping from the winter. They are just turning green in the stems. Hopefully they grow as well as the 'mother bush'

Thanks for reading!

An Update on Juliette

Juliette is slowly improving. She still needs her rest and she has been getting a lot of it. She has a cough and runny nose still. We have been unhooking her IV and letting her outside whenever we can go with her. She has been barking at her favorite squirrel tree, chasing the chickens and helping me in the garden. 
The IV fluids make her cold and she shivers, so we put blankets on her.
She gets pretty tired outside and lays down to rest often. It is really nice to see her outside even if she is just resting.

Garden Helper
Yesterday I worked in the garden for hours and she was outside with me the whole time.
Garden Helper
Hi dad!
Garden Helper
Lots of smells in here!
Garden Helper
Garden Helper
"I'm coming"
Garden Helper

We took the IV out on Saturday night. We are keeping our fingers crossed that she wont need a new one for a long time.

Thanks for reading and thank you for all of your nice comments.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Beautiful Spring Day Spent in the Garden

This morning the sun was shining and it was decently warm outside. I decided to go work in the garden for an hour or so. Turns out, I spent a few hours instead! I loosened the soil and mixed compost into the beds, setup hoses, and much more!

This fall we tried something new. I believe it's called Green Manure; we cut down the plants when they were finished producing and left them in the beds they grew in.  We then covered the 'green manure' with wheelbarrow loads of compost from the chicken coop. This facilitates the decomposition of all of the green stuff.
This is really an easy way to use up all of your animal waste when cleaning out the coop every spring and fall.
Garden Helper
We loaded all 6 beds with compost, right over the plants we had cut down. In the photo below you can see the different beds that I have worked on. On the right: I have already turned the soil over and mixed it all in. Middle: Covered with compost as it has been since the fall. Left: mixed in; just needs to be raked smooth. I usually leave the beds as shown on the left for two or three days. I read that it can help aerate the soil and stimulate all of those wonderful soil microbes to multiply.
Garden Helper

I also spent a lot of time getting the drip irrigation hoses set out in the finished beds. We had a lot of issues last year with plants that needed a lot of water not getting enough. We lost half of our tomato plants because of this.
So, we are changing the pattern of the hoses this year to more evenly distribute the water. This is the layout I chose since the land is sloping down as the hoses run the length of the bed.

On another note: I want to talk about our improved soil quality. This will be our 3rd gardening season and each year we dump wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of compost and chicken waste into the garden. I have noticed that the size and the overall number of earthworms has increased dramatically. Our first year the worms were very small and scarce. Last summer there were more worms, but they were still pretty small. This year our worms are huge and plentiful!
The photo below shows how much humus and other organic matter we have mixed with our soil. 
As a benefit: all of this rich organic matter in our soil helps keep the soil in the raised beds from compacting, which is great for the root crops and for planting in general. When I take a handful of soil the soil and look at it, I can see why the worms are growing and and reproducing. There are hundreds of little bits of food for the worms in each handful

Thanks for reading! I hope you had sometime this weekend to enjoy your garden as well. Dirty hands! Dirt under my finger nails! Blister on my palm!


I planted this patch of 30 garlic cloves this past fall. Now it's not in the best place in terms of companion gardening. I want to move it. Can you transplant garlic? Or will it kill the plant? I looked online and couldn't find anything conclusive.

A cat bed: Halpern Homestead style.

Henry is a crazy cat. Exhibit #1
He sleeps in the bathtub too!
This is becoming a regular thing for him. 
It's hard being a cat at The Halpern Homestead. Wake up. Play outside. Take a nap. Catch a couple mice. Take a nap. Chase the chickens. Take a nap. Eat dinner. Go to sleep.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our dog, Juliette, is very ill.

We have had Juliette for nearly 4 years now. She just turned 4 on the 9th of March. We have known that Juliette has kidney disease since she was very young. We were told she may live for "several years". Juliette has recently taken a turn for the worst.  She started out not eating a few days ago which was ok for her, since somedays she just doesn't want to eat. Then she became very fatigued and tired. Yesterday she developed a cough so we decided it was time to get to the vet. When we got there she was running a high fever so they ran some blood tests and discovered her kidneys are failing because her kidney enzymes are very high, her blood cells are low which causes fatigue, and she has developed leukopenia (fancy term for: her immune system is weakened and she can't fight infections as well). The doctor starter her on IV fluids and we rushed her over to the pet emergency clinic with the IV running.
The emergency clinic held her all night, kept the fluids running and gave her antibiotics. Her temperature was up and down all night and into today. She appeared more lively this morning when Kelsi picked her up from the Pet ER. Then Kelsi had to take Juliette to the regular vet for her daytime fluids and monitoring.
I visited her this afternoon after my nursing school clinicals. We went on a short walk and she appeared to be more like herself. More smiles and wags. Just not quite herself yet. This afternoon the vet ran her blood work again and she is still abnormal in the same areas but, she has improved somewhat. They said we could take her home for the night.
She was happy to see us but, still very tired. She just laid around while we got our discharge instructions. We were allowed to continue the IV therapy at home because of my work and school training. So now Julies is resting on the couch while her IV infuses.
I think she is happy to be home. She is very sleepy still and we are hoping for the best. It has not been "several years" in my opinion and I am not ready to lose my best friend. I really hope that she pulls through. She is the best dog a small homestead could ever hope for. She protects her chickens, she protects her little sister, she eats all the leftover vegetables, and helps the cat hunt mice in the field. What more could you want in a dog?

Thanks for reading

 It hasn't been several years

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Greenhouse planting.

Kelsi and I spent yesterday afternoon planting in the greenhouse. It went really well. We planted hundreds of seeds in no time at all.
Planting in the greenhouse.

Planting in the greenhouse.

Planting in the greenhouse.

Planting in the greenhouse.
It's really starting to look like a greenhouse in here again.
Planting in the greenhouse.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Maxed out our photo storage.

Does anyone use a third party site for photo uploads on blogger? We have maxed out our space and it costs money to get more space. I was wondering what other options are out there? Any advice.


Snow Day? or Planting Day?

Today we woke up to this! I really wanted to plant today so I was really bummed to see this.
I wandered to the greenhouse with a pouty face hoping to get some work done even though it was pretty cold out.
Then I saw the thermostat! Look at those temperatures! With the prior plastic this would have never happened. So warm even when it was cold outside. Probably at least 15-20degrees warmer. (Both of those temperatures are on the inside; I put the thermostats in different places to accurately judge the temp)
So I turned my excitement into work mode. 
I loaded all of the beds up with generous heaps of our home brewed compost.
Then I tilled it in. We are ready to plant.
I also took some time to fill up all these starter pots. We are going to plant them this afternoon. Lettuce, chard, spinach, broccoli, and flower packs!
We'll let the greenhouse soak up some more sun and then we are going to plant like crazy. I should also study for my test on Monday. Ohh spring! So much fun stuff to do! Much better than studying! 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Greenhouse is covered!

Kelsi and I spent most of the day outside working on the greenhouse. We finally have it covered up.
The Sweet Label on the plastic.
We haven't fixed the door yet since we are going to put plexiglass over it instead. That's a project for another day. 
The plastic is more see through than the last. I wonder how that will affect the plant growth? 
All covered up! Feels good. A few final touches are needed but for the most part we are ready to start our greenhouse planting. Tomorrow if it is warm enough in the inside the greenhouse we will get the five greenhouse beds ready for planting. Hopefully we can plant this weekend.

For anyone out there thinking about building a greenhouse, learn from our lesson. Don't buy hardware store plastic. It's worth the extra money in the long haul to just buy the quality plastic. We spent hours last summer patching and re-patching holes that magically appeared. Then we spent hours taking all the brittle plastic off the frame so we can start over. 

Glad to finally have a greenhouse again though. It's one of my favorite places in the whole world.

Thanks for reading