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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!

Backroads Homesteading: Navigating Cold Snaps, Leaky Roofs, and Chicken Escapades!

Backroads Homesteading: Navigating Cold Snaps, Leaky Roofs, and Chicken Escapades!

Welcome back to our homesteading journey here at Backroads Homesteading! I’m Ryan, and I’m thrilled to share with you the latest happenings on our little slice of heaven. From our adventurous chickens to some unexpected weather challenges and even some monumental document signings, we’ve had our hands full. So, grab a warm drink, and let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of rural living.

Chickens on the Wire: A Balancing Act

Our feathered friends have been providing us with endless entertainment lately. They’ve taken to perching atop their chicken wire enclosure, displaying an impressive sense of balance. It’s fascinating to watch them navigate the flimsy wire, each with their unique approach. One of our hens, in particular, stands out. She loves being up high and is always the first to approach when called. Her bravery and leadership qualities shine through, as she fearlessly runs toward danger while the others scatter. It’s these small moments of joy and amusement that make homesteading so rewarding.

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The Frosty Surprise: Protecting Our Plants

Just when we thought we were clear of the cold, Mother Nature threw us a curveball. With a sudden drop in temperature, we found ourselves scrambling to protect our plants from the impending frost. It’s a stark reminder of the unpredictability of the weather and the importance of being prepared. We covered our plants with blankets, hoping to shield them from the cold. It’s a temporary solution, but sometimes that’s all you need to get through a tough night.

Soil Struggles: The Transplanting Process

We’ve encountered some challenges with our watermelons, cucumbers, and squash. Poor aeration and soil quality were taking a toll on their health. We decided to switch them over to a Pro Mix, and the difference in their happiness is noticeable. It’s a clear example of how crucial it is to monitor your plants and respond to their needs. Observing color changes, smelling for any unusual odors, and checking for wilting are all part of the daily routine here. It’s the little details that make a big difference in the long run.

Tea Time: Experimenting with Tea Leaves

I’ve taken a new interest in growing tea leaves. Currently, I’m experimenting with SOI black tea and small leaf varieties. The key is to ensure they don’t dry out, which can be a bit of a balancing act. But it’s an exciting venture, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop. In addition to tea, I’m also working on growing Goji berries. I’ve learned that having two different types for cross-pollination leads to a higher yield, so I’ll be sourcing some new varieties soon.

Leaky Roofs and Roofing Woes

Our homestead hasn’t been without its structural challenges. We’ve been dealing with some leaking issues in our lean-to. Despite resealing and rescrewing the roof, water seems to be wicking back underneath the metal. We’re exploring different solutions to prevent further leaks and damage. It’s a frustrating issue, but we’re determined to find a fix. We can’t finish the lean-tos until we resolve this, as even a small leak can lead to bigger problems down the line.

Gardening Challenges: Peas and Corn

Our peas and corn have faced some setbacks with the recent cold snap. We’ve had to use makeshift solutions like beach towels and blankets to protect them from frost. While the peas seem to have fared okay, the corn took a hit. We’re optimistic about replanting and experimenting with early planting to be first to market. It’s all part of the learning process, and we’re embracing each challenge as an opportunity to grow.

Dealing with Deer: A Homesteader’s Dilemma

One of the ongoing challenges we face is managing the deer population on our property. They’re beautiful creatures, but they can wreak havoc on our crops. We’re considering various methods to deter them, including fencing, letting our dogs roam freely, and even using rotten eggs as a natural repellent. It’s a delicate balance between respecting wildlife and protecting our livelihood.

Tree Removal: A Tough Decision

We’ve had to make some tough decisions regarding tree removal for the safety of our structures. One particular tree, planted too close to our pole barn, poses a threat as it matures. While we hate to remove trees, sometimes it’s necessary to prevent potential damage. It’s all part of maintaining the health and safety of our homestead.

Equipment Maintenance: Prepping for Work

Proper equipment maintenance is crucial on the homestead. I’ve been mixing up new premix for our chainsaws and gearing up with safety equipment for some upcoming work on the fence and clearing the back pasture. It’s important to have reliable tools and equipment, especially when you’re working in a rural setting.

Composting and Future Garden Plans

I’ve been experimenting with composting, using a mixture of greens and browns to create nutrient-rich soil for our garden. We’re excited about our gardening plans and the potential for a bountiful harvest. We’re also considering setting up a farm stand in the future to sell our produce and support our local community.

Join Our Journey

Thank you for joining us on this adventure. Homesteading is a journey filled with ups and downs, but it’s incredibly rewarding. We invite you to join our free e-newsletter at backroadhomesteading.com to stay updated on our journey and become part of the family. We’re looking forward to sharing more of our experiences with you.

As we wrap up this post, I’m reminded of the resilience and determination that homesteading requires. It’s a lifestyle that demands patience, hard work, and a deep connection to the land. But it’s also a lifestyle that brings immense joy, fulfillment, and a sense of accomplishment. Here at Backroads Homesteading, we’re embracing each challenge and celebrating each victory, no matter how small. We hope you’ll continue to follow along as we navigate the backroads of homesteading.

Until next time, happy homesteading!

Ryan

Cold Hard Truths

Cold Hard Truths

It’s been a busy time filled with various projects, from setting up a new chicken coop to smoking our first ham and tackling some home improvement tasks. Let’s dive into the details of our week and share some insights and experiences from our homesteading journey.

Setting Up the Chicken Coop

Our week started with getting the chicken coop ready for our feathered friends. We moved the coop inside and set up the chickens temporarily to get them acclimated to their new surroundings. Em has been diligently checking on them to ensure they’re comfortable and adjusting well. It’s always a joy to see them exploring their new home and settling in.

Smoking Our First Ham

One of the highlights of the week was smoking our first ham. Although we didn’t raise the pig entirely on our homestead, we were involved in most of the process, making it a special experience. We used the East Oak smoker, a budget-friendly option we found on Amazon, which worked surprisingly well for our first attempt.

The marinade for the ham was a simple yet delicious combination of brown sugar, molasses from Roy’s place, and some honey mustard dipping sauce. The result was a tasty ham that, while not perfect, was certainly enjoyable. There’s room for improvement, but for a first attempt, we were pretty pleased with the outcome.

Preparing for Spring Planting

With the threat of freezing temperatures seemingly behind us, we’ve moved our produce out of the pole barn. This week, we also invested in some cattle panels to set up a trellis system for our beans, peas, and tomatoes. However, we mistakenly got the more expensive horse panels, which put us over budget. Despite this, we’re excited to see how the trellis system will support our plants as they grow.

Maintenance Work on the Pole Barn

Maintaining our pole barn was another task on our list this week. We’re replacing the roof screws on the main building and the original lean-to. Over time, the sun and weather can degrade the rubber washers on the screws, leading to leaks and deterioration. It’s important to replace these every few years to keep the roof in good condition.

Home Improvement: Spraying Knockdown Texture

We also tackled a home improvement project by spraying knockdown texture on the walls. It’s been a while since we’ve done this, so it was a bit of a learning curve to get the right consistency and technique. The knockdown texture adds a nice finish to the walls, covering up any inconsistencies between drywall pieces. We’re pleased with how it’s turning out and can’t wait to see the finished result.

Spending Time with Friends

One of the joys of homesteading is the community of like-minded individuals we get to interact with. This week, we spent some time with friends on the ridge, helping them build something for their homestead. It’s always great to share stories, enjoy good food, and support each other in our homesteading endeavors.

Looking Ahead

As we wrap up this week, we’re excited about the projects and challenges that lie ahead. Homesteading is a journey filled with learning, growth, and the satisfaction of building something with our own hands. We’re grateful for the support of our community, both online and offline, and look forward to sharing more of our adventures with you.

Thank you to everyone who has liked, shared, and subscribed to our channel. Your support means the world to us. Don’t forget to check out our newsletter on BackroadsHomesteading.com and follow us on Facebook and X for more updates on our homesteading journey. Until next time, happy homesteading!

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!

Fencing The Homestead | Bucket Driver/Puller Tool

Fencing The Homestead | Bucket Driver/Puller Tool

Hey everyone, Ryan here from Backroads Homesteading, and I’m thrilled to share our latest adventure in upgrading our homestead’s infrastructure. Today, I’m diving into how we’ve tackled the daunting task of fencing – a critical project for any homesteader, gardener, rancher, or farmer out there.

Our journey began with the realization that we needed a more efficient, less taxing way to install fences around our property. Like many of you, we started with a manual post pounder, which, while effective, isn’t exactly a friend to your hands or your time. In our search for a better solution, we stumbled upon a game-changing tool that I had to share with you all: the Buckte T Post Driver and Puller.

This innovative system from Bucket Driver, based out of Oklahoma, caught our eye primarily because it didn’t have much in the way of reviews, and we were curious to see if it lived up to its promises. The setup is brilliantly simple yet effective. It attaches to the bucket of a tractor – and with a few adjustments to ensure the base is flat, you’re ready to go. This device not only drives posts into the ground with the tractor’s bucket but also allows for the posts to be pulled out, thanks to a clever mechanism that grips the T-posts securely.

We had some initial concerns about whether our tractor was up to the task, but the Bucket Driver system is designed to work with a wide range of machinery. A minimum of 20-25 horsepower is recommended, which means most tractors, skid steers, and even front-end loaders can handle this system with ease. And if you’re worried about compatibility, Bucket Driver has thought of that too – offering different brackets to accommodate various bucket thicknesses.

One of the most appreciated features of this system is its ability to adjust to the angle of the bucket, ensuring the post remains straight during the driving process. Additionally, the post puller feature is a game-changer for us. It’s an affordable, efficient way to remove old posts or adjust your fencing layout without additional equipment.

During our test run, we found the installation process to be straightforward. The included washers help level the bottom of the device on the bucket, but we found we didn’t need them. The device attaches securely to the tractor’s bucket, and its swivel feature is a real work-saver, accommodating posts facing any direction.

The true test came when we started driving posts into the ground. The recent rain had softened the soil, making our job a bit easier, but the Bucket Driver system proved its worth by significantly reducing the time and effort required to install each post. We spaced our posts about 20 feet apart, mindful of avoiding underground utilities (always call 811 before you dig!).

Another aspect we loved was the ability to repurpose old, slightly bent fence posts. This not only saved us money but also aligned with our commitment to sustainability. The Bucket Driver system allowed us to drive these recycled posts into the ground with ease, breathing new life into materials that would otherwise go to waste.

For those interested, we’ve included affiliate links. These links support our homestead at no extra cost to you. We bought this product at retail price, just like anyone else, and I must say, the investment was worth every penny. Not only does purchasing directly from the manufacturer save money, but you’re also getting a high-quality, American-made product with excellent customer support.

In conclusion, the Bucket Driver and Puller system has been a revelation for us here at Backroads Homesteading. It’s made our fencing project much more manageable, saving us time, labor, and resources. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to install or upgrade their fencing. It’s a stellar example of American ingenuity and manufacturing at its best.

Thanks for joining me in this post. If you found this information helpful, please like, share, and subscribe for more tips and tricks from our homestead to yours. Until next time, this is Ryan, signing off.

Protecting The Homestead

How to protect the homestead.

It’s another beautiful day, and as the sun rises, our thoughts are firmly on the future of our homestead. Our mission is clear: safeguard our fields, our animals, and our dreams. These lands are more than just dirt and grass; they’re the foundation of our livelihood and the promise of a sustainable future.

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Protecting our homestead is an undertaking that demands our full attention and dedication. Our commitment to growing food, raising livestock, nurturing bees, worms, and enriching the soil forms the backbone of our daily lives. Yet, without proper protection, all our efforts could be in vain. The presence of predators and the constant challenge of keeping them at bay necessitate a robust defense strategy. It’s a reality that has led us to invest significantly in fencing, a decision not made lightly given its implications in terms of time and financial resources.

Our approach to safeguarding the homestead is multifaceted. We’re experimenting with a variety of tools and technologies, including a solar fence energizer and various types of electric fence setups. Our goal is to find the most effective solutions to protect both our livestock and our gardens. This includes the strategic placement of electric wires and the innovative use of physical barriers to deter deer, known for their tricky depth perception. By staggering fence lines, we aim to create a deterrent that keeps our strong local deer population at bay.

The challenges we face are not small. From managing a herd of 10 to 20 deer to clearing brush and barb wire, every task is a step towards a more secure and productive homestead. Our plans are ambitious, ranging from repurposing land for sheep pastures to relocating chicken coops closer to the farmstead, all in the pursuit of a well-protected agricultural area.

With the arrival of spring signaled by the geese heading north, we’re reminded of the cycles of nature and the importance of preparation. Clearing trees, dealing with underbrush, and setting up electric and barbed fences are all part of our daily rhythm. The introduction of technology, like the battery-operated chainsaw, has made these tasks more manageable, allowing us to efficiently maintain our land.

Beyond the physical work, there’s a significant emphasis on community and relationships. Whether it’s negotiating with neighbors for land use or envisioning agritourism opportunities, we understand that successful homesteading is as much about people as it is about the land. We’re looking forward to hosting interns, engaging with local students, and opening our doors to those curious about the homesteading lifestyle.

Our journey is a testament to the learning process, a constant balance of ambition and practicality. While we may dream big, we’re always ready to adapt, learning from each challenge and opportunity. Whether this homestead remains our forever home or a stepping stone to larger ventures, our commitment to sustainable living, community building, and environmental stewardship remains unwavering.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. Your support, whether through watching our videos, sharing our story, or subscribing to our channel, means the world to us. Together, we’re not just protecting a piece of land; we’re nurturing a way of life that respects the earth and fosters a sense of community.

Burning A Fence Line

We tackled phase two of our project: creating a burn line along our fence line. With the help of the Burnomatic – the ultimate torch, we initiated this process about a week ago. We strategically burned a path down the fence line, trimmed the grass short on both sides, and then, as luck would have it, the heavens opened up, drenching the area thoroughly.

The aftermath of the rain was perfect; the grass along our freshly burned line wilted away, leaving a clear path. We then ignited a controlled grass line fire, allowing it to slowly follow the pre-burned path. This method proved to be fuel-efficient, allowing the fire to consume the dead grass at a measured pace.

However, this isn’t a task for the faint-hearted or inexperienced. Controlled burns require a deep understanding of the environment and conditions. For starters, the grass needs to be short, the wind minimal and predictable, and the ground saturated from recent rains. The importance of monitoring the burn cannot be overstated – this is not a set-and-forget situation.

I strongly advise against attempting this without proper experience or guidance. In fact, partnering with knowledgeable folks or involving your local fire department is a wise move. Controlled burns, when done correctly, offer a swift means to clear fence lines but demand respect for the forces at play.

Our goal was to prepare the ground for our upcoming project – installing a seven-strand electrical fence. The burn line ensures that the base of the fence is as close to the ground as possible, ideally within a six-inch margin, to prevent any undergrowth from contacting the fence.

To sum up, burning a fence line is a practical, efficient method to clear vegetation, but it’s essential to approach this method with caution, knowledge, and respect for the potential risks involved. Work safe, and happy homesteading!