Archive for the ‘Homestead’ Category
Years ago, we fought a losing roach battle for many months. Finally, we got rid of cockroaches for good. Short of burning the house down, we could not figure out what to do. We found two things very effective for exterminating the roach population living in our mobile home: diatomaceous earth and a poison gel.
Get rid of roaches with gel poison
You can get rid of roaches quickly if you get serious about the problem when you see the first one. Of course, seeing one roach indicates that you probably already have a hundred. After trying all the products in the pest-killing department, we found a paste poison made by Combat. It comes in a little tube (like a small caulking tube or a big syringe). Squeeze this poison gel in little cracks and crevices where roaches like to build their nests. When they pick this stuff up, they bring it back to the nest and everybody dies. Roaches love it and you can kill of a whole nest quickly.
If that was the only nest in your home, you are now roach free. If you have had roaches for a while, look for more roach nests in any area where there is warmth: around LED lights in microwaves and coffee makers, in vent hoods, under refrigerators, under sinks, buy water heaters and washrooms, and in bathrooms. They will usually set up house within a short distance to a water supply. If you have leaks or standing water anywhere, get rid of it. We had to go through two or three tubes of the Combat roach gel until we defeated our invaders.
Keep rid of cockroaches with diatomaceous earth
This stuff deserves its own blog post. Diatomaceous earth is a white powder full of microscopic razor blades (it comes from a sea creature formation). It will not hurt you unless you inhale it, but it is bloody murder for roaches. When they and other insects walk across the diatomaceous earth, they will get cut up and “bleed” out their body fluids. You will know it is working when you see slow crawling roaches and dead ones lying in the middle of your floor.
Use this to get rid and stay free of roaches for a long time by simply sprinkling the powder anywhere a roach might travel. Pull out your refrigerator and other large appliances and sprinkle this evenly on the floor. No need to heap it up, just give a light dusting. Spread it up onto mopboards and wall trim (if it will not be seen). Sprinkle this liberally under your kitchen and bathroom sinks. If you are building a home, sprinkle it on all your subflooring and inside the framed walls so you never have a bug problem. You might even be able to sprinkle this under your home or around the parameter for the house. You can find diatomaceous earth at some pool supply stores and our local feed store sells it in 50 pound bags.
If you have trouble keeping your livestock inside the fence, you probably are not feeding them enough. Sheep, goats, pigs, and even horses, donkeys, and cows will fly the coop if you do not feed them enough. It should not take much of a fence to keep cows. Five strands of barbed wire fencing will keep cows in indefinitely, as long as they have plenty to eat. Go by an overgrazed cow pasture and you will see the fence leaning over where the bovines have pushed their heads through, trying to get the proverbial greener grass on the other side of the fence.
Use quality fence materials
Some of the best fencing is the sheep and goat fencing rolls. These rolls stretch 330 feet and have 4-inch-by-4-inch openings. This tight-weave fence is tight enough to keep goats from getting their heads through and stuck. If you use the cheaper field fence (also called hog wire), you will keep smaller pigs in, but goats will get their heads stuck if they have horns. Some goat owners walk their fence line daily to pull out the goats’ heads. Save time and frustration and prevent an animal from getting dehydrated by getting the right fencing material to hang on your wooden posts or metal T-posts. For particularly troublesome animals you may try the 2×4 wire made for horses since they cannot climb it. If you buy 2×4 wire, get the woven type not the cheaper welded version, as it will break apart after a few years. One of the best sources for fencing products is Red Brand, but the price is a bit higher than others. Make sure you keep any wire fence tight by building quality H-frame ends.
Hogs will get through any fence that is not set in concrete. If they can get their nose under it, they will push through if they get hungry. Many homesteaders build their hog pens with hog panels (very thick wire) and concrete floors.
Downsize your herd or flock
If you have trouble keeping your animals in with good fencing, you have to either start buying them hay or downsize your flock. In our area, we can have a drought from July through August and have to start feeding hay. One year, my neighbor had to start feeding hay in August and kept feeding all the way through to April the next year. One of our goats decided she did not want to eat any more of the brush we were trying to get her clear, so she developed the ability to run, jump, volley off the middle of the fence, and jump over the fence. She should have been a gymnast. We sold her the day she jumped into the garden.
Get quality fencing material (for sheep and goats) like this.
Grown and produced in Japan, we are honored and delighted to offer this exceptional product, Mr. Itaru’s Special Green Tea Blend, “Gen Mai Cha”. The secret to getting great health benefits from green tea comes down to a single, simple concept…use the highest quality green tea leaves in order to maximize consumption of health promoting compounds. The search to provide the finest green tea to our patients at D’Adamo Naturopathic Associates culminated with our finding this special green tea. “Gen Mai Cha” literally translates as brown rice tea. It is a traditional favorite in Japan and combines toasted brown rice with the finest premium green tea leaves.
The history of green tea in Japan begins with the introduction of tea by Zen Buddhist monks in the 9th century. Because of its relative scarcity, only monks, members of the imperial court, and eventually, wealthy landowners were able to enjoy this prized beverage. The famous Japanese “tea ceremonies” evolved as a means of sharing this exclusive beverage. In the 18th century, novel processing and growing methods resulted in the introduction of green tea and its spread into all corners of Japanese society.
Green tea is actually the same plant as its more well-known cousin black tea; however, special processing retains a far greater antioxidant profile in green tea leaves, resulting in a far and away superior beverage for supporting health. Numerous scientific studies now document the tremendous benefits of drinking green tea. Some of the numerous health benefits of green tea include:
- Green tea provides powerful antioxidant polyphenols (estimated as 25X the antioxidant activity of vitamin E and 100X that of vitamin C)
- It promotes growth of friendly intestinal bacteria
- Green Tea decreases toxic bowel metabolites (like polyamines)
- Promotes cardiovascular health, prevents blood cell aggregation and improves cholesterol metabolism
- Inhibits toxin and carcinogen producing enzymes like ornithine decarboxylase
- Epidemiological evidence suggests regular consumption of green tea reduces the risk of many cancers
Mr. Itaru’s Blend is mildly caffeinated, but it is important to realize that many of the anti-cancer properties of green tea are lost if it is de-caffeinated.
MAKING GREEN TEA:
When making green tea it is not necessary or desirable to use boiling water. Moderately warm to hot water is best. Tea leaves should be placed in the water for about 30 seconds (45 seconds at the longest) and removed. Superior quality green tea should look light green when prepared in this manner.
Most do-it-yourselfers do not know how to install flooring, especially vinyl flooring (what used be called linoleum). Vinyl flooring installation has become easier than ever now since you do not have to have to glue it down or use complicated tools to install it.
Tools you need for installing roll flooring
– Utility knife (like a Stanley with a changeable blade)
– Framing square (the big kind that measure 16” by 24” in an L shape)
– Tape measure (a simple 25’ tape will do fine)
– Pencil (sharpened, of course)
– Vinyl flooring (enough for the area you will be doing)
– Building paper (a roll of red rosin paper or sturdy construction paper)
– Masking tape (the cheap tan-colored stuff will work fine for this project)
– Double-sided flooring tape (made especially for vinyl floors)
Prepare the floor
If you are working with an old floor, consider leaving it there. If the new vinyl you are buying has a foam backing, it will cover up the bumps and grooves underneath. If the old floor has rips or holes, consider pulling it up. Unfortunately, many old vinyl floors have glued holding them to the plywood floor. This can be an exhausting removal project. On the project you see pictures from here, we started to take up the old floor but it was too heavily glued. We scraped and tapered it down around the edges, leaving the bulk of the old floor in the middle. The new floor covers it so well, you would never know.
At this point you will want to remove the commode (if in a bathroom) or refrigerator and stove (if in a kitchen) and whatever else the floor will need to go under.
Measure the floor
With your tape measure, you want to make two long measurements: one across, the other the length. For our church kitchen, the largest parts of the floor spanned 11’6” by 19’6”. So, we bought a piece of flooring 12 foot by 20 foot. At this point, you do not want to roll out the new floor and try to carve it around the cabinets. This is where most homeowners make a disaster of their project from not knowing how to install a vinyl floor best. Set the new roll of flooring in the garage or other safe place for now.
Bring in the construction paper, and unroll it in the area where the new flooring will go. Get it close to the wall and up under the cabinet toe areas, but it does not have to touch. In fact, try to keep the paper about an inch away from all the edges of the floor. This paper will be the pattern for when you install the vinyl flooring. On the kitchen floor in the picture, we had to run about three widths of paper, which we taped together. Cut around cabinet edges and other protrusions, keeping your cuts within an inch of all interruptions. You may have to cut strips of paper to fill in doorways or other odd spots.
Once you have laid out the paper and taped it together, cut half moon circles in the floor. Stick a piece of tape through the slice to hold down the paper to the old floor so the paper pattern does not float around while you make your marks.
Once the paper lies in place, set the long edge of your framing square against the wall or cabinets and scribe alongside with your pencil. This will put a mark exactly 2 inches from the finished edge. Keep moving your framing square, being sure to always use the long side, and trace the outline of the whole room. When you go to cut out the new flooring, you will hold this same tool on the same line and cut the outside edge with your knife. This will save you from hacking your way around walls and corners, trying to work with the flooring in place (a sure-fire disaster).
Transfer the pattern
Find a large flat surface to lay out your new flooring such as in the garage or even in the driveway. For the church kitchen, I carried the new flooring to the church gymnasium and let it lie flat there. Once that is in place, detach the paper pattern off the old floor (just loosen the tape in the moon-shape cuts). Roll it up and carry it to the new flooring (which should be showing the finished surface—do not attempt to cut it upside down). You can probably reuse the same anchoring tape (in the moon-shape holes) to stick it to the new flooring. If your new floor has a straight pattern (woodgrain, tile) line up your longest edge with one of those straight patterns. Or, hold the longest line on the pattern 2” from the edge of the roll. This will give you a perfectly straight line to start with. Unfortunately, our project did not allow us to use the factory edge in any spot.
Now, grab the same framing square you used to make your marks, and set it against the pencil mark you made. Now cut on the opposite side of the square (not the pencil mark) and this will give you a perfect finish cut that will snug right up to the wall or cabinet in the room. If you are working over another finished floor, protect it from knife marks by putting another piece of roll flooring or a few layers of construction paper under it. Do not do this over carpet unless you lay down sheets of plywood for a solid surface to cut against.
Just a few minutes of careful cutting will leave you a perfect duplicate of the room’s footprint. When finished, remove the paper and roll it up. Now, roll up the new flooring and carry it to its destination. Sweep thoroughly to be sure absolutely no dirt remains in corners or anywhere it will leave bumps in the vinyl surface.
If you have uneven flooring with chunks missing or knotholes, buy a flooring lever. This product works like drywall mud for the floor, but it is waterproof. Spread it smooth and evenly and let it set until has cured completely (usually 24 hours). Do not worry about cracks or shrinkage as thick vinyl flooring can span cracks as big as 1/4 inch.
You can buy flooring up to 15’ wide. Anything larger, you will have to seam down the middle. Join the two pieces of flooring with double-sided tape. First, however, make sure the pattern of your floor will match up at the joint to look like one solid piece (ask the sales clerk to help you find some that does). Wood-grain flooring works very well for a floor that needs a seam. When laying out the pattern, join the two pieces of vinyl with masking tape; only put the double-sided tape under the two pieces once you have set them in place (you do not want to have to carry two taped pieces from one room to another).
Put the flooring in place
Carefully unroll the cut flooring and jiggle it into the corners. If you have followed the instructions correctly, you will have a masterpiece floor in the easiest way possible. Pull back sections where heavy appliances will go and put an X of double-sided tape. Add a strip of double-sided tape in front of the sink or other high-traffic area. Cut out your air vent holes now by slicing an X into the hole (you can feel it through the flooring) and pop the vents into place. Where the flooring meets another floor surface (in the doorway for example) buy a flooring edger (a.k.a. floor transition plate) and tack it down. Now you can see why a floor like this does not need glue with all the vents, tack strips, and appliances holding it in place.
For the best laser printer, you will have to try the Okidata. Walking through an office supply store, I started pushing the demo button on all the printers. I was just tire kicking, not planning to buy anything. Then I pushed it—the big red button on the Okidata printer. Out came a shiny picture of paint cans. I was shocked. This laser printer put out a photo quality picture on normal paper. I could not believe the glossy quality from such a common-looking printer. I pushed the button again to be sure it was not just a fluke. I decided I had to have it.
That day was seven years ago. I have only grown to love my Okidata glossy printer through the years. I have printed hundreds of thousands of pages, labels, booklets, and books on this machine. It has paid for itself many times over and boosted my public image at the same time. You see why I think the Oki color printers are the best laser printers in the business.
After trying a few toner refill companies, I gave up on cheap refills. Then I found uninetimaging.com. These people make toner refilling a noble profession. With their perfectly-matched toner, I get the same great printouts for less than a penny per page. The refill process is a snap with the Okidata glossy color laser printers. I also rebuild my own toner drum units, too. Uninetimaging.com sells the drums for this printer, and they last longer than the original drums from Oki.
I had owned my Oki printer a few months when I realized my need for a duplexing unit. I bought the optional duplexer so I could print on both sides of the page (essential for booklets and trifolds). I suggest you save a little money by purchasing your printer with a built-in duplexer.
The letters on the Oki model number tell everything. Take my Oki c5150dn for example. The letter C stands for “color.” The D stands for “duplexing” (printing on both sides). The N stands for “networking” so you can hook it up to a server and print from several computers.
Sizes and options
If you are printing for regular use, try the Okidata C6150dn or the Oki C5550n in the $600-700 range. For daily use, look into the Oki C5650dn in the $1000-1500 range. Most people will settle for something like the Okidata C6150dn, a great multipurpose unit that prints up to legal size (8.5 by 14) and does card stock and envelopes, too.
If you are doing industrial grade printing all the time, plan on spending $2000 or so. This Oki C830n unit prints tabloids and banners:
If the siding on you home or the planks on your deck have turned ugly gray, with weathering, you can get it beautiful and new again. People often attack weathered wood with a pressure washer. These beasts destroy wood before they clean it. A pressure washer will blast out the soft wood grains, leaving knife-like splinters sticking up. While they make the deck look good for a little while, they take down the stock and open up more surface area for mold to grow. You will have to keep pressure washing your faded deck or gray siding every year until the weather-worn boards waste away to toothpicks.
Instead, you can clean your log home, cedar shingles, board-and-batten, or clapboard siding with two simple and inexpensive ingredients. If you search online, you will think you have to buy a timber or wood cleaner around $100 for a 5-gallon bucket. These vicious chemicals might work for wood but will not do your hands any favors.
Clean your weathered wood for less than $25.
The first ingredient is an oxygenated bleach. I use OxiClean Stain Remover because my wife uses it on the laundry and it was easy for me to borrow. Mix half a cup to a gallon of hot water.
The next ingredient makes all the difference: Basic H. Shaklee products makes the hydrogen-positive product Basic H which we use for many things around our homestead (as insecticide, car wash, livestock wormer, and many more unauthorized purposes). Basic H seems to make any liquid more effective. If you are fertilizing or killing weeds, a little Basic H seems to double the strength of the product. Mix in about a tablespoonful of Basic H with your gallon of hot water and OxiClean.
Onto the Action
While the water is still hot, pour it into a garden sprayer. Get a garden hose ready and soak down the wall or deck you are attacking. Next, spray your Basic-H-and-OxiClean mixture on the weathered wood. It should foam up slightly. Only spray an area you can cover within a couple of hours. You can always spray more if you need to. Now, take a stiff-bristle, plastic scrub brush and vigorously scour every inch of the gray wood you can see. You should see it start to lighten up as you scrub. Use rubber gloves if you are doing a large area as the OxiClean may hurt your hands.
You could just dip your scrub brush into a bucket of this weathered-wood mixture, but this carries a lot of mold and dirt into the soapy water. The compound goes further if you just spray it on and scrub without carrying any junk into the source.
You will have to go over bad spots twice until the natural wood color shows through. Think of this as an aerobic workout to tone your muscles and burn fat. Do this in spring or fall as you would be miserable doing this on a hot day. Rinse off the scrubbed area when you are all done. Let it get some sunshine if possible to help it get thoroughly dry and even sun-bleach a little before you seal it. Stain and/or seal to the desired look you wish.
Say goodbye to that unsightly gray, faded, and weathered wood, and say hello to a brand new home when you use this low-cost remodeling trick.
What is winter squash?
Okay, my southern friends, this is not something you fry. Everyone I meet south of the Mason-Dixon line tries to fry everything: potatoes, onions, green tomatoes, okra. Winter squash tastes totally different from yellow squash or zucchini, and you serve it differently as well. Winter squash looks more like a pumpkin, but summer squashes resemble cucumbers. Common winter squash varieties include butternut, buttercup, acorn, and Hubbard. One squash we love particularly is the Mooregold variety from the Shumway seed catalog. These folks deliver great seeds with great germination rates.
Where does winter squash grow?
The challenge we’ve had here in Missouri has been to keep winter squash alive through the hot summer months. Winter squash is primarily a northern thing (we are both from the upper United States) because it does not tolerate the heat well. However, with consistent watering, you can help your squash plants survive the summer and produce record crops if you live in a warmer climate.
How do you plant winter squash?
Having tried several methods, we are posting this to tell you what worked and what did not. First, squash needs well-worked soil. Till or dig deeply so that the soft roots can penetrate. If you can get the roots down deeply enough (8 inches or more), the squash can survive the heat better than a shallow-rooted system. However, if you have clay soil like ours, no amount of tilling can solve all your problems. So, we found a useful trick.
Squash feeds heavily, much like corn and other big producers. Winter squash absolutely loves horse manure. It probably loves all types of manure, but horse comes most available around here. Unfortunately, horse manure comes weedy, and even though it has composted, some seeds still survive. Squash, however, only needs weeding for about its first month—after that, the big leaves block out any weeds as it shade-mulches itself. Acorn squash leaves do not grow quite as large, but any healthy plant will produce good size leaves.
The more manure the better! If you pile the compost a foot thick, the plants go crazy. This gives it unlimited nutrition and plenty of room to spread its roots. We have seen vines run 20-40 feet long. I have piled horse and cow manure straight on hard-packed, clay ground and watched the plants thrive. Yes, they do penetrate the soil, too, because this “no till” farming method entices earthworms to work up from the ground into the manure. The worms aerate the soil and till it slowly while I do more important things, like push my daughter on the swing for the hundredth time. The manured plants produce squash ten to one against those planted in tilled soil and watered regularly.
You can start squash in peat pots and transplant early. We have found that grapefruit skins work well as free peat pots, and even the hard shell from last year’s winter squash can work as a biodegradable planting pot. They do not transplant well if you handle their roots like tomatoes or peppers. The fragile taproot can break, and you will kill the plant.
When do you pick winter squash?
Watch to see the vine drying out near the fruit. Here, we seem to have two seasons for our Mooregold and butternut squashes. We have to pick a lot when the hot spell comes on because the plant quits producing and you need to harvest what it has finished. Then as cool weather comes the plant rebounds (provided it did not die in the July and August heat wave) and will produce fruit all the way to frost. This year we plan to try something we heard on Farmer Boy (by Laura Ingles Wilder) and spray down any leaves that get frost on them. They say if you wet them down before the sun hits the frost, the leaf will survive and the plant will keep producing. We shall see. Leave a comment below if you have used this technique in any of your gardening.
How do you cook winter squash?
We just slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds to save for next year. Some of these winter squashes have very tough shells on them, so you may need a big knife and a strong wrist, otherwise try a powered knife like they sell for turkey carving. Then, fill a casserole dish with about a half-inch to an inch of water, turn the squash face down, and put it in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour on 350 degrees. A fork can turn the orange flesh easily when thoroughly cooked. Acorn squash and butternut squash will want butter and maybe even need some sweetener like brown sugar, if you use that. The reason I love Mooregold squash is that it needs nothing. Fresh cooked, I can eat it directly without butter, salt, or anything. God made it for eating, and I could consume it everyday.
How do you store winter squash?
Put it in your cellar. It keeps well in any cool environment and can last for months if kept clean and dry. Watch for mold or rot and clean out any offenders before the whole shelf of produce rots away on you. You may also cook it up and pressure can or freeze it. We have a hard time producing enough to keep all winter since we eat it so rabidly. Add winter squash to your diet and see what you have been missing. Once you are hooked, you won’t want to live on potatoes or rice again. We found it works as a great starch and vegetable, both to fill the kids and nourish as well. Our whole family loves this wonderful, God-given product.