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Tomato Planting, Sourdough Baking & DIY Ceiling Project

Tomato Planting, Sourdough Baking & DIY Ceiling Project

Hey everyone, welcome back to Backroads Homesteading! Today was another vibrant day out here, filled with gardening, bread-making, and some unexpected guests from nature.

We started our day planning to plant some lovely tomato seedlings given to us by our friends Jason and Tara. With our trellis ready to support their growth, we’re excited about the bounty of tomatoes we’ll harvest this year. We’re planting them a bit further apart this time to ensure they grow upwards rather than outwards, which helps in preventing any spoilage and maintaining good airflow around each plant.

In the midst of our planting, I decided to multitask by recording an audio podcast. For those of you who love tuning into our talks, check out our podcasts on Backroads Homesteading. We’ve got a whole series available that you can download or stream during your commute or while you’re gardening!

While gardening, we tackled some bread-making as well. I tried my hand at a sourdough loaf using a starter from Terry – and let me tell you, it turned out deliciously warm and comforting. It’s these small victories in the kitchen that make homesteading so rewarding.

Our work didn’t stop at the garden and kitchen. We moved on to some DIY projects, trying to get the ceiling up in Link’s room. We’re working with natural wood and figuring out installations for low-profile can lights. It’s a learning curve, but each step teaches us something new.

Interestingly, while working we encountered some curious salamanders and a toad, reminding us that we share this space with many other creatures. It’s essential to observe and respect these little fellows, ensuring our homesteading activities don’t disrupt their habitats.

By the end of the day, we managed to install new lighting and planned out the ceiling fan installation. Tomorrow promises more tasks, with a mini-split installation and flooring on the agenda. It’s busy here, but that’s how we like it.

If you enjoy peeking into our daily life and ongoing projects, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more updates. We appreciate you joining us on this journey and look forward to sharing more of our adventures. See you in the next video!

Mega Chicken Tractor, Barndominium Upgrades, Planting, Homestead Hacks! How To Homesteading Builds

Mega Chicken Tractor, Barndominium Upgrades, Planting, Homestead Hacks! How To Homesteading Builds

Welcome to another exciting journey on our homestead! Today, we’re diving into a variety of projects that keep our rural life vibrant and fulfilling. From upgrading our chicken tractor to enhancing our barndominium and planting seeds, we’re embracing the challenges and joys of homesteading.

Checking On Covered Plants: Navigating Frosty Mornings

One of the challenges of early spring gardening is dealing with fluctuating temperatures, especially those chilly mornings that bring unexpected frost. To protect our tender seedlings, we’ve been diligently covering our plants at night.

As the sun rises and the frost begins to melt, it’s a critical time to check on our covered plants. The first step is to assess the overnight impact. Even with protection, frost can sometimes sneak through, so we carefully inspect each plant for signs of frostbite or wilting. It’s a relief to see that, more often than not, our efforts pay off and the plants have made it through the night unscathed.

Next, we focus on the soil. It’s important to ensure that the soil hasn’t frozen, as this can hinder root growth and nutrient uptake. A gentle touch reveals that the soil is still soft and moist, a good sign that our plants are in a healthy environment.

As we uncover the plants, we’re greeted by the vibrant greens and budding leaves of our resilient seedlings. It’s a beautiful sight that reinforces the importance of our protective measures. We take this opportunity to check for any pests or diseases that might have taken advantage of the covered environment. Thankfully, all seems well.

This daily ritual of covering and uncovering plants is a testament to the care and attention required in gardening. It’s a reminder that, with a little extra effort, we can protect our plants from the unpredictable elements and help them thrive in the early stages of growth.

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Planting and Gardening

With spring in full swing, our focus has shifted to planting and gardening. We’ve started with tea seeds and watermelons, carefully potting them and monitoring their growth. We’re experimenting with different potting techniques to find the best method for healthy root development.

We’ve also introduced a new labeling system using a thermal printer. This allows us to include more detailed information on the plant tags, such as optimal pH levels and planting dates. It’s a small change, but it’s already proving to be a valuable tool in keeping our garden organized and efficient.

One of the most exciting developments has been the splitting of our worm bucket. This is part of our ongoing effort to improve our soil quality through vermicomposting. By increasing our worm population, we’re able to produce more nutrient-rich castings, which are then used to enrich our garden beds. It’s a sustainable cycle that not only benefits our plants but also reduces waste.

Using a Thermal Printer: Streamlining Garden Organization

In our continuous quest to improve efficiency and organization in our garden, we’ve recently incorporated a thermal printer into our labeling system. This small but mighty tool has revolutionized the way we keep track of our plants.

Traditionally, labeling plants involved writing on plastic or wooden tags with a marker, which can fade over time or become illegible due to weather conditions. With the thermal printer, we can now print clear, durable labels that withstand the elements and provide a wealth of information.

The beauty of using a thermal printer lies in its versatility. We can customize the labels to include not just the plant name, but also additional details such as optimal pH levels, planting dates, and care instructions. This level of detail is invaluable as our garden grows and we juggle the needs of various plants.

The process is simple and efficient. We design the labels on a computer or smartphone, and the printer quickly produces them on heat-sensitive paper. The labels are then easily attached to plant stakes or pots. The thermal printing technology means there’s no ink to smudge or fade, ensuring that the labels remain legible for the entire growing season.

Integrating a thermal printer into our gardening routine has been a game-changer. It’s a small investment that pays off in saved time and improved accuracy, allowing us to focus more on the joys of gardening and less on the administrative tasks.

Planting Tea Seeds: A Journey into Herbal Cultivation

Embarking on the cultivation of tea plants is a new and exciting endeavor for our homestead. Tea, with its myriad of health benefits and soothing properties, is a wonderful addition to our garden.

The process begins with selecting high-quality tea seeds. We chose varieties known for their robust flavor and adaptability to our climate. Before planting, we soaked the seeds in water, a crucial step that helps to soften the outer shell and encourage germination.

We carefully prepared planting cups, filling them with a mix of soil and perlite to ensure good drainage and aeration. The tea seeds were then gently placed on the surface of the soil, with just a light covering of soil on top. Tea seeds need light to germinate, so we made sure not to bury them too deeply.

Patience is key when growing tea from seed, as germination can take several weeks. We kept the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, and placed the cups in a warm, bright spot to provide the ideal conditions for germination.

As the seeds sprout and grow, we’ll monitor their progress, ensuring they receive the right balance of light, water, and nutrients. Eventually, these seedlings will be transplanted into larger pots and, in time, into our garden where they can flourish and contribute to our sustainable lifestyle.

Planting tea seeds is more than just adding another crop to our garden; it’s an exploration of new flavors, traditions, and the art of tea-making. We’re excited to watch these plants grow and look forward to the day we can harvest our own leaves to brew a cup of homegrown tea.

Worm Farming: A Key Component of Our Homestead

One of the most rewarding aspects of our homesteading journey has been our foray into worm farming. Not only do worms play a crucial role in soil health, but they also provide a sustainable way to manage organic waste.

Our worm buckets have become an integral part of our gardening routine. By splitting the worm buckets, we’ve effectively doubled our worm population. This increase is vital for producing more worm castings, which are a fantastic organic fertilizer. The process is simple: we feed the worms kitchen scraps and other organic materials, and in return, they produce nutrient-rich castings that we can use to enrich our garden beds.

Observing the growth and reproduction of the worms has been fascinating. We’ve noticed a significant increase in baby worms, indicating a healthy and thriving environment. This is a good sign that we’re providing the right balance of food and habitat for our worm population to flourish.

We’re also experimenting with different methods to protect the worms and their habitat. In our first worm bucket, we used silicone to secure the screens, but found that it didn’t stick well to the plastic. So, we switched to using pop rivets, which seem to be a more effective solution for keeping flies and moths out while allowing air to circulate.

As we continue to expand our worm farming operation, we’re looking forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on our garden’s productivity. The worms are not only helping us reduce waste, but they’re also playing a crucial role in creating a more sustainable and self-sufficient homestead.

Sealing Roof Leaks: Ensuring the Integrity of Our Barndominium

Maintaining the integrity of our barndominium’s roof is crucial for protecting our home and possessions from water damage. Recently, we’ve encountered some challenges with roof leaks, particularly where the metal roofing panels overlap. To address this, we’ve embarked on a mission to seal these leaks and prevent future issues.

The first step in this process was to identify the source of the leaks. We noticed that water was wicking back under the overlapping metal panels during heavy rains. To combat this, we decided to install J-channel along the edges of the roof. The J-channel is designed to redirect water away from the seams and into the gutters, effectively preventing it from seeping underneath the panels.

In addition to the J-channel, we applied a high-quality sealant along the seams and edges of the roofing panels. This sealant forms a waterproof barrier that fills any gaps or cracks where water might penetrate. It’s important to choose a sealant that is compatible with the roofing material and can withstand the elements, ensuring a long-lasting solution.

We also made sure to inspect and clean the gutters and downspouts, as clogged gutters can contribute to roof leaks by causing water to back up and seep under the roofing material. Regular maintenance of the gutters is an essential part of preventing roof leaks.

Sealing roof leaks is a critical task that requires attention to detail and a proactive approach. By addressing these issues promptly, we can protect our barndominium from water damage and ensure its longevity. It’s a reminder that regular maintenance and vigilance are key to a well-functioning homestead.

Homestead Hacks and Tips

Homesteading is all about innovation and making the most of what you have. In that spirit, we’ve come up with a few hacks and tips that have made a big difference in our daily routines.

One of our recent projects was constructing a chicken run with raised beds. This dual-purpose setup not only provides our chickens with fresh grass and bugs to forage but also protects our vegetable beds from pests. It’s a win-win situation that enhances the productivity and health of our homestead.

We’ve also been experimenting with different planting methods. For example, we’ve tried soaking some of our seeds before planting to encourage faster germination. It’s been encouraging to see some of these seeds sprout and begin to develop their first taproot. These small experiments help us learn and adapt, ensuring that we’re always improving our gardening techniques.

Another tip we’ve found useful is using scrap materials to create functional homestead equipment. For example, we used scrap rebar to make an axle for the back of our chicken tractor. This simple addition has made it much easier to move the tractor around our property, demonstrating that you don’t always need to buy new materials to solve a problem.

Canoe Garden Fixes: Addressing Drainage Challenges

Our canoe garden, a unique and aesthetic addition to our homestead, recently faced some drainage challenges. After a series of torrential downpours, we noticed that the drainage holes in the canoe were clogged, causing water to accumulate and stress the plants.

To address this issue, we decided to add more drainage holes to the sides of the canoe. While we initially hesitated to make these modifications, the health of our plants took precedence. Using a drill, we carefully added new holes above the existing waterline, ensuring that any excess water could escape more effectively.

We also inspected the base of the canoe to assess the drainage situation. Despite having a layer of rocks at the bottom for this purpose, it became clear that the arrangement was insufficient for heavy rains. We realized that a more porous material or a better configuration might be needed to improve drainage.

The smell of the water was another concern. A foul odor can indicate anaerobic conditions, which are harmful to plant roots. Fortunately, we caught the issue in time and were able to aerate the water by adding more drainage holes, preventing further damage to the plants.

Fixing the drainage in our canoe garden was a learning experience. It reminded us of the importance of regular maintenance and the need to adapt our gardening strategies to the whims of the weather. With these fixes in place, we’re hopeful that our canoe garden will continue to thrive and bring beauty to our homestead.

Creating a Raised Bed Chicken Run: Innovation in Action

One of our recent projects has been the creation of a raised bed chicken run. This innovative setup serves multiple purposes, providing our chickens with a safe and enriching environment while also protecting our vegetable beds from pests.

The concept is simple yet effective. We constructed raised beds for our vegetable garden and then built a chicken run around them. The chickens have access to the area between the beds, where they can forage for insects and enjoy fresh grass. This not only keeps them happy and healthy but also helps control pests naturally.

The raised beds are designed to be high enough to prevent the chickens from jumping into them, protecting our vegetables from being pecked at or trampled. At the same time, the proximity of the chickens to the beds means they can still contribute to the garden’s ecosystem by providing natural fertilizer through their droppings.

Building the raised bed chicken run required some planning and effort, but the results have been incredibly rewarding. It’s a sustainable solution that aligns with our goals of creating a productive and harmonious homestead. The chickens enjoy their spacious run, and we enjoy the peace of mind knowing our garden is protected.

This project is a testament to the creativity and innovation that homesteading demands. It’s about finding solutions that benefit both us and our animals, creating a balanced and thriving environment for all.

Converting the Chicken Coop to a Chicken Tractor: A Mobile Solution

Our journey in enhancing the functionality of our homestead led us to convert an existing chicken coop into a mobile chicken tractor. This transformation was driven by the desire to provide our chickens with fresh foraging opportunities while naturally fertilizing different areas of our land.

Step 1: Assessing the Existing Structure

The first step in this conversion was to thoroughly assess the existing chicken coop. We evaluated its size, weight, and overall condition to determine if it was suitable for conversion. The coop needed to be sturdy enough to withstand movement but light enough to be easily transported.

Step 2: Adding Mobility

The key to converting the coop into a tractor was to add mobility. We decided to use scrap rebar to create an axle for the back of the coop. This axle would support solid rubber tires, chosen for their durability and ease of maintenance. The tires were positioned to provide enough clearance for the coop to move smoothly over uneven ground.

Step 3: Constructing a Bumper System

To ensure the stability of the axle and to protect the coop during movement, we constructed a bumper system. This involved attaching wooden beams to the back of the coop, which would hold the axle in place and act as a buffer in case of any collisions.

Step 4: Testing and Adjustments

With the mobility features in place, it was time to test the newly converted chicken tractor. We attached it to a three-point hitch on our tractor to see if it could be lifted and moved easily. The initial test revealed that while the coop was mobile, some adjustments were needed to ensure smooth movement and stability. We fine-tuned the positioning of the tires and reinforced the bumper system.

Step 5: Final Touches

The final step was to add some practical features to the chicken tractor. We installed a new latch door for easy access and built a perch-style walkway for the chickens to enjoy. We also planned to add a rainwater collection system to provide a sustainable water source for the chickens.

Conclusion

Converting our chicken coop into a tractor was a rewarding project that aligned with our goals of sustainability and efficiency. The mobile coop allows us to rotate the chickens’ grazing areas, reducing the need for commercial fertilizers and providing the chickens with a varied and natural diet. It’s a win-win situation that enhances the health of our land and our flock.

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Weathering the Freeze: Spring Updates from Backroads Homesteading

Weathering the Freeze: Spring Updates from Backroads Homesteading

Spring is a time of renewal and growth, but it’s not without its challenges. As homesteaders, we’re always at the mercy of the weather, and this spring was no exception. We faced an unexpected freeze that put our plants at risk and tested our resilience. However, with some quick thinking and adaptation, we managed to protect our crops and move forward with our plans.

The Low Tunnel Solution

One of our major projects this spring was the construction of a low tunnel. This simple structure, made from galvanized electrical conduit and covered with plastic, provided a much-needed shelter for our plants during the cold snap. It’s a cost-effective solution that we’ll continue to use in the future to extend our growing season and protect our crops from frost.

New Additions to the Flock

Spring also brought new life to our homestead in the form of a flock of laying hens. We chose a mix of breeds, including Onyx Californians and Rhode Island Reds, to ensure a good variety of eggs. We’re also expecting some Cornish Crosses soon, which we’ll raise for meat. Building the chicken tractors for these birds has been a fun project, and we’re looking forward to modifying our coop to accommodate our growing flock.

Socializing Chicks and Dogs

Introducing our dog, Maddie, to the chicks was an important step in ensuring harmony on the homestead. It’s essential that our animals get along and understand their roles. We’re pleased to report that Maddie has taken to her new friends well, and we’re confident that she’ll be a great protector of the flock as they grow.

Preparing the Coop

The coop that was on the property when we purchased it needed some work, but it’s proving to be a solid foundation for our laying hens. We have plans to add tractor tires to the base and build out a full cage for a run, complete with an automatic door. This will allow us to move the coop easily and give the hens fresh ground to forage on each day.

Building and Organizing

Sustainability is a core value of ours, and we’ve been focused on reusing and repurposing materials wherever possible. We’ve been organizing our building materials and planning for future projects, such as our greenhouses and planting areas. It’s a continuous process of improvement and adaptation, but it’s one that brings us closer to our goal of a self-sufficient homestead.

Embracing New Technology

I’ve been working on improving my recording skills with a GoPro to share our journey more effectively on our YouTube channel. It’s a different experience from using professional cameras, but I’m excited about the opportunity to connect with our audience in a new way.

Planting Progress

Despite the challenges posed by the weather, our planting is progressing well. Our potatoes seem to have survived the freeze, and our low tunnels have provided valuable protection for our corn. We’ve learned a lot from this experience, and we’ll be better prepared for future weather events.

Expanding Our Homestead

We have big plans for the future, including setting up an apiary and building soil with wood chips. We’re also starting our orchard with elderberries, blueberries, and apple trees. These projects will not only provide us with food and resources but also contribute to the biodiversity of our homestead.

Looking Forward

As we look ahead, we’re excited about the possibilities. We’re planning to add bees to our homestead, set up camping sites for friends and family, and continue developing our land. There’s always something to do on the homestead, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Spring is a time of hard work and new beginnings, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to share our journey with you. Whether you’re a seasoned homesteader or just starting out, we hope our experiences inspire you to pursue your own homesteading dreams. Thank you for joining us on this adventure, and we look forward to sharing more updates in the future!

Spray Foaming With Vega Purple Insulation

Spray Foaming With Vega Purple Insulation

Last week, when it wasn’t snowing and it was 70°+ degrees and full sun, I set out to try the Vega Bond SF001 Premium Single Component Self Expanding, Purplecoat Closed Cell Insulation Spray Foam, Acoustic Spray. It was a fun learning experience to see if this application would work for the rest of the construction projects. We need a lot of foam going forward!

Would we get another kit to do more? I think so. This stuff works pretty well. Below, here’s what it looks like with the R19 insulation on top of the spray foam and then the radiant barrier and tongue and groove. Should look pretty good when done.

For those who follow our journey, you know we’re all about DIY and learning as we go. This project was no different, and I’m here to take you through the highs, the lows, and the sticky situations (quite literally).

We kicked off this project with the goal of tackling the radiant heat in one of our rooms. The radiant heat was intense, and after sealing some cracks, it was time to bring in the big guns—or should I say, the big cans of Vega (or VGA) foam insulation. This purple foam promised to be our savior, despite my initial struggle with the backlight during filming. Lesson one in spray foaming: camera angles matter, folks.

Applying the foam was a new experience for us. The instructions were clear—keep the can 12 to 18 inches away from the surface, and make sure to apply it during the correct temperature window. Our first attempt went pretty well, and I was feeling optimistic. That was until we decided to switch tips for better coverage in the corners. Spoiler alert: it got messy.

The new tip gave us more control but made starting and stopping a Herculean task. After a somewhat comedic struggle, we swapped for a flat tip, which significantly improved our technique. This little adventure taught us the importance of choosing the right tool for the job—spray foam is forgiving, but only to a point.

Spray Foam Unboxing Video

Taking a break and coming back for round two, I gained a newfound respect for professional foamers. The heat, the mess, the precision required—it’s not for the faint-hearted. But, as we progressed, the Vega kit proved its worth, equipped with everything we needed for the project. Buying the kit on Amazon came with a substantial discount for the second purchase, which will be a nice bonus.

We managed to cover a 12×12 room’s ceiling to a depth of 1 to 3 inches with 12 cans. The learning curve was sorta steepish; understanding the can’s pressure dynamics was crucial. The first few applications might test your patience, but it gets easier, I promise. And let me tell you, this foam grips like a dream. It adhered to every surface, impressing even a skeptic like me.

This project was a rollercoaster of emotions and foam. From the initial backlit confusion to the messy triumphs with various nozzles, it’s been a journey. The Vega Bond foam exceeded our expectations, and while we may have been novices at the start, I feel pretty confident in our foaming skills now.

To those contemplating a similar project, dive in. It’s messy, it’s challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. And to the professionals out there, consider this a tip of the hat. Your job is tough, and we’ve got nothing but respect for the work you do.

Until our next adventure on the homestead—be it back roads, DIY, or another round of spray foam—this is Ryan signing off. Keep tackling those projects, and we’ll see you in the next blog post.

The New Living Area

The New Living Area

With the framing done, we kicked off this adventure by tackling Link’s new room. It was all about pulling down walls, framing in a cozy nook, and prepping the back wall for the transformation that’s about to unfold. There’s something deeply satisfying about tearing down the old to make way for the new, isn’t there?

As we peeled back the layers of the house, we discovered some… let’s say ‘interesting’ choices in insulation from the previous owners. But no worries, we’re on it! We’re reimagining and reframing into the garage, optimizing every inch of space for our living quarters. And, of course, a little bonfire to bid farewell to the old materials. There’s something poetic about that, don’t you think?

Insulation? It’s the best job ever (if you don’t mind a bit of sarcasm with your fiberglass). But hey, it’s all part of the journey, and we’re feeling great about it. We’re not just building walls; we’re crafting the backdrop of our lives, complete with all the electrical nuances to make life easier and brighter.

And let’s talk about the power tools! Our first dance with a Milwaukee Saw left us with mixed feelings – but hey, that torque is undeniable. It’s all about finding the right tool for the job, and sometimes, that means a little trial and error.

As the structure took shape, we focused on the lean-to roof, sealing up the edges and pondering the perfect spots for those ever-elusive light switches. Inside, the nook stands completed, walls framed, and a hint of drywall magic in the air. We’ve even crafted a nifty storage shelf for Link’s room, ensuring his treasures have a home without cramping his style.

Now, the bathroom area is getting a special touch with a flush-up toilet and a cleverly concealed murator pump. It’s all about making the space functional and fabulous. And yes, we’ve had those moments of hindsight about the plumbing, but that’s all part of the homesteading charm, right?

As we wrap up this stage, we’re filled with gratitude for your support and excitement for what’s to come. We hope you’re enjoying the ride as much as we are. So go ahead, like, share, and subscribe, and don’t forget to hit that notification bell. We’ve got more building, more banter, and more backroads homesteading adventures on the way. Catch you in the next build video, where a little bit of faith and a whole lot of elbow grease is bringing our dream to life. And remember, Affiliate Links support our channel at no cost to you.