You wouldn’t think here in Idaho we would get the best homesteading tips from a bloke in Australia, but we spent all day Saturday watching one of our favorite You Tubers, Mark from Self Sufficient Me, while the wind terrorized the valley again.
As usual, we learned a ton of useful information and at the same time we were highly entertained by Mark. He’s like the Russell Crowe of homesteading and is just fun to watch.
While we live in practically polar opposite climates, his advice and experience definitely applies to what we’re doing here which is trying to live as self sustaining as possible on our little one acre homestead.
As the wind howled outside, we took notes and made lists of things we needed to get going – or growing, rather. Then we spent Sunday and Monday getting to work.
First, though, we had to deal with the wind damage. We had watched in horror from our second story window as the neighbors lost roof shingles, wooden play sets and a couple of sheds. We actually got off pretty lucky compared to them as the wind only knocked over our windmill, of all things.
Can you believe it actually blew the entire top section with the blades right off?! We’ve had that windmill for years now and never had a problem until now. Luckily we hammered the bent blades back pretty easily and we’ll get it back up and running again soon.
We were surprised it took out the windmill but left the empty bird feeders intact. We’ve been following the advice of our local wildlife experts who asked everyone to stop filling their feeders for a few weeks:
In an effort to reduce the potential transmission of salmonellosis locally, Idaho Fish and Game recommends that those who have bird feeders in their yards temporarily discontinue all feeding of wild birds for at least a few weeks.
“Although stopping feeding may seem like it will harm birds, in reality, they use feeders as just one source of food and will quickly disperse to find other food sources and in so doing, reduce transmission of this disease at feeding sites,” says Idaho Fish and Game’s Regional Diversity Biologist Tempe Regan.
Even in years where disease outbreaks don’t occur, regular deep-cleaning of bird feeders is important to minimize any kind of disease spread.
“If you enjoy feeding birds, sanitation is critical and it is your responsibility to ensure your feeders are not facilitating disease transmission,” Regan says.
So while we wait to refill them with seed, we’re saving up some husky fur along with some string and other bits of nest building materials to put in them. I wanted to do something to keep them coming back.
I miss seeing all the little feathered visitors like this Northern Flicker who was a regular customer.
I also ordered a few grapevine balls to do the same with.
Speaking of birds, we got a little help prepping the pumpkin and watermelon raised garden beds:
The pups wanted out to help, too, but I’m pretty sure they’d much rather hunt than garden.
We broke out the rototiller and added a new bed for corn between the dog pens and the livestock.
We’ll need to go over it again a few times before planting, removing rocks and adding some compost in. We live on top of an ancient riverbed so it’s easier to grow in raised beds but with enough help and hard work, we can also grow right in the ground here.
Speaking of compost, we built two new compost bins using some wooden pallets.
Rather than grow flowers in these beds next to the chicken coop, we decided to turn it into our herb garden this year. After binging on Mark’s videos we both agreed that while flowers are nice, we want to use our limited space for growing food instead. We’ll probably plant some strawberries in them, too, since there’s plenty of room
We added a few new raised beds and used the Hügelkultur method to prep them including these two tomato planters made from fire rings we bought at Home Depot.
The tractor tire will be used for planting onions:
Mark uses Birdies raised beds and we want to get two of the bigger ones for carrots but they are out of stock at the moment. In the meantime we’re collecting as many plastic pots as we can so we can do some hanging planters on the duck pen and we’re also going to dig up a couple other areas to grow things like giant sunflowers for the birds.
Our onion starts are ready to go in this week and the thyme and rosemary will go in soon after.
The pumpkin seeds have been sewn and so have the watermelons.
We are waiting for the automatic vent opener and the thermometer for the new greenhouse to be delivered so once we get those we’ll switch to using it instead of doing it in the house. We did get the new brick floor in over the weekend, though.
We tackled that on Saturday morning, before the winds came. We also made sure to secure the plastic around the hybrid willows we planted last fall for a windbreak.
They should grow 12 to 15 feet tall this year so we’re excited to see them fill in the back part of the property. We’ll definitely propagate them and plant new ones and maybe sell a few, too. Willow is also great for a root starter for other plants.
So overall it was a quite productive few days, despite the wind storm. We still have a lot of work to do, like seeking and destroying all the wasp nests we can find so there are less of the murderous little boogers out there threatening to kill me.
I am also working on my DIY fertilizer and pesticide spray recipes, which I’ll get into in a future post. I’ll probably be posting less as we move into growing season. It takes much longer for me to recooperate than the average person, thanks to my wonky immune system, so I have to pace myself with everything.
I did manage to get to my immunologist yesterday, though, and he refilled my EpiPens, ordered some blood tests and decided that I’m on the best course as far as the mast cell stabilizing medicines I’m using and the mast cell friendly lifestyle I’m living. Having been sick from birth and finding no answers despite a lifetime of going from doctor to doctor, I am soooo grateful to him for finally figuring out what is wrong with me.
I owe Dr. Dave my life, limited as it may be.
Someday I’ll have to tell the story of how I ended up nearly dying from wasp stings just before finding Dr. Dave and getting diagnosed. Until then, I have gardening to do!! 🙂