Another clueless, airhead model

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Homesteading prequel

Iced over Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) and Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata).  Thawed and thriving.

All indications are that unless I win the lottery I will be condemned to stay another 5-6 years in Dungpileton.  In the meantime I am honing my homesteading skills with projects that will benefit me after I escape.  There are hundreds of homesteading blogs and websites to choose from including a site called Instructables -  Not entirely for homesteading but many projects are about self-sufficiency.  One such project was constructing a bee hive out of a plastic food storage 55-gallon drum.  Once in a while I scavenge a plastic drum which I know have contents which were safe to work with. After cutting the barrel in half I scrubbed it clean enough for bee habitation. This project came from  For this project I used plastic honeycomb frames which were surprisingly inexpensive from  It took a little modification to make them fit in the barrel and I recommend using a jigsaw blade made for paneling.  They came with a light coating of bees wax so I added another layer to further help the bees start the comb making process.  The first chance of occupancy will come in the spring when scout bees report back to a traveling swarm that my hive is suitable to live in. 

Partitioned for small starter colony.

Extra layer of beeswax will increase likelihood of a large honeycomb.

The polar vortex and subsequent sub-freezing days have force most of my yard plants to die back however, the lowest temperature of 20 degrees had little to no affect on plants that emerge at this time.  e.g. hedge nettle (Stachys drummondii) and spiderwort (Tradescantia ohioensis).  The only vegetable that didn't survive were peas.  This winter is my best crop of lettuce, broccoli, spinach, artichoke and Kohlrabi.


Red Broccoli

Kohlrobi (should have been harvested earlier but still tasty when steamed)
This morning I spied one hummingbird on the sugar water feeder.  Probably a ruby-throat.  I have a number of songbirds taking from the  suet but they often have to wait for the marauding flock of grackles to finish.  Only the yellow-bellied sapsucker and bluejay are big enough to eat from the bird seed feeder and suet at will.  

Homemade Suet:

4 cups lard
2 cups raisins
1 cup crushed walnuts
2 cups corn meal
2 cups honey or mollases
4 cups bird seed

Melt lard then mix in the rest of ingredients.  Pour into pan and refrigerate.  Cut to fit in suet cage.

Grackles (note stalagmite on water dripper)

Wilson's Warblers?  Feeding on homemade suet

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Lastly, I buried cuttings of potatoes in October.  The above ground vegetation died back after the second freeze but after digging around I found several egg shaped tubers.  My most successful crop yet. I've read the potato industry sprays a rooting inhibitor on store potatoes so this may explain why I have not had good crops in the past.  Next time I'll use certified seed potatoes.

Next projects: solar panels and solar death ray.

Doobie II.  The black killer Ninja assassin cat.