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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Homesteading Updatery

For the past week we've had a crew doing the dirt work and building foundation forms for what will become Greg's shop.

As we watch these men work in triple digit heat we are torn. It's all we can do not to get in there and help, which is kind of silly because we are paying a hefty amount for this work crew.

It's a strange position we're in.

This is the first time in our lives we've ever hired people to do work we would otherwise do ourselves. Greg built his last shop nearly all by himself. That shop was a testament to his skill and strength.

But this time, 20+ years later, it's a job for younger men. They can do in a few weeks what would take us months to do on our own.

Still, I don't like to see people toil like that in this heat. We bring them ice and constantly ask them if there's anything we can do for them, but they always politely refuse.


Garden and chickens: I've been using soaker hoses to water the garden but it's still putting out too much water, so we switched over to sprinklers. Some veggies, like melons and tomatoes need a lot of water, but others can manage on less. We're still experimenting. You can see by the photo the very nice irrigation system Greg put together. It can accommodate both sprinklers and soaker hoses.

I put in a fall garden this week. And since we allow the chickens to free range during daylight hours, we decided to put up one of those plastic fences around the garden to keep them from n
ipping at my seedlings.

I'm happy with it. Works like a charm.

On the egg laying front, we still only have
two hens laying right now. The others should be starting within a few more weeks. Greg built two sets of nesting boxes. One condo and the other a one-story job. I'll show you more pictures later, but here's a pic of the 1 story nest boxes that we put up only last night.

It's all coming together, one step at a time.

Anyone else putting in a fall garden? How do you water; by hand, sprinklers, hoses? I'm always looking for alternatives. it me, or do you think it's been unusually hot this year? We got hotter sooner here in Texas and it wouldn't surprise me if we broke a record for triple digits this year. How about where you live?


Liz Fichera said...

As much as I'd love to picture Fall in my mind, I can't. It's still in the triple-digits here and will be till mid-October. I envy your garden!

Dru said...

I love living vicarously through you as you tender your garden and animals.

Have a good Wednesday.

Maria Zannini said...

Liz: It's triple digits here too. I'm pushing my luck a little starting this early, but I'm hoping now that the irrigation is in place I will be okay.

Here's hoping for cooler temps soon.

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: Come on down, Dru! That way you don't have to live vicariously. LOL.

Lynn Colt said...

Unfortunately, I inherited my family's brown thumb, so no garden for me? And also I live in an apartment :)

It does seem hotter this year than others (I'm in DC). I can't wait for fall, when I can take my walks outside again!

Maria Zannini said...

Lynn: Don't feel bad, I can't begin to tell you how many gardens I murdalized before I got the hang of it.

I am definitely looking forward to fall. I love the crispness in the air.

Falen (Sarah) said...

i'm so so jealous of your chickens. I want chickens so bad. SO BAD!
No fall garden for us. I'm in MN so the fall is typically a no go for growing things. But we have our summer veggies and they are doing awesome. We're going to collect peas for seeding next year.

Usually we get enough rain for watering, but ocassionally we'll water garden and lawn together with a sprinkler. And yesterday it was 93 degrees, so the garden had to get some hose water.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: You are made of sturdy stock if you live in Minnesota. I've been to MN. The winters can be brutal.

I hope you post pictures of your harvest on your blog.

I can drool for your veggies and you can pine for my chickens. LOL.

Krista D. Ball said...

Personally, I love to see young, shirtless men tolling in the heat. :D Though, being from Newfoundland, a girl isn't allowed to sit back and watch, so I'd be out there working, too. It's a hard life, slaving next to hot, sweaty, shirtless...

Oh, sorry. I think I've been slush reading too much erotica lately.

Maria Zannini said...

Krista: ROTFL! You took me off guard.

Now I can't go back there.

Lia Bal said...

Triple digits? Here in Chicago we only get up to the mid-nineties and that makes me pant like a dog. It could be the humidity too though. I hate the humidity. You go outside and it just feels sweaty and murky instantly. And it’s been raining ALL summer this year too. Even today, it’s been thunder storming all morning.

I like your yard. I wish I had a yard that big and nice.

Wendy Ramer said...

In South Florida summer is always in the 90s, yet we've never hit 100 degrees (unless you count the heat index). Our lack of heat wave is balanced by our risk of hurricanes. Oh, wait, you get those in Texas too. Maybe Florida isn't so bad after all.

Maria Zannini said...

Lia: Growing up in Chicago is what MADE me come to Texas. LOL. I love the wide open spaces. No more vertical living for me.

I miss the city though. There's nothing else like Chicago.

Maria Zannini said...

Wendy: The one thing you can say about Texas is that it's big enough to have four different climates.

Greg still lives on the coast and we still bear the scars from Hurricane Rita.

PS Greg's from Florida too. He always tells me how balmy it is.

Marguerite Butler said...

I definitely have a fall garden on my mind, but won't start it for another month.

I've got a brooder full of little guinea fowl that hatched early this am and a new baby goat. Whew. Busy here.

And my son's 4H broiler chicks arrive on the 20th. We've ordered 50 new chicks. I must have lost my mind.

Hmmm, maybe I should be gardening now!

James Garcia Jr said...

Thanks for sharing, Maria. It is always interesting to see what others are up to.
We have been between 95 and 105 or so this summer here in sunny California. We live in the central valley, near Fresno. Usually, it is a lot hotter and for a lot longer period of time. We've been lucky.
Our family just snuck over to Monterey for three days (central coast). That's Cannery Row for John Steinbeck fans. It was great.
Take care and good luck with everything.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I agree with you about being hotter than normal in TX this year. Everyone's air conditioners are blowing out and it's not even mid-August yet.

Maria Zannini said...

Marguerite: You are insane, woman!

I can't wait to see pictures. And don't leave anything out about the baby goat.

I am waiting until next year to get goats, so I'll be glued to all your experiences.

Maria Zannini said...

Jimmy: I had no idea California got that hot. I always thought you guys had mild weather.

Maria Zannini said...


Ref: Everyone's air conditioners are blowing out...

Knock on wood, ours is still doing good. I can't imagine having to deal with this heat without AC.

Sherri said...

Our heat started a bit late this year but I think its hotter than past years. I want to put in a fall garden since my first try was a massive fail but I'm having to head north to care for the parental units and am not sure I'll get it in before I leave.

Marianne Arkins said...

Usually we don't HAVE to water. This year is an exception, so I water by hand because normally it isn't an issue, so we had nothing set up.

:::grumble, stupid weird summer weather, grumble:::

BTW, that nesting box looks good enough to rent out. Maybe I could stay there if I come to visit?

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: You're further south than I am. You might be safe to start a fall garden in September.

I am waiting a few more days before I put in the cauliflower and cabbage.

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: You are so lucky to have regular rainfall. I know sometimes it's a pain, but it's better than going without.

Ref: boxes
I'll tell you a funny story about the nest boxes. They were supposed to be a set of four. Greg and I were so busy chatting and joking around, we forgot the fourth divider and built it Taj Mahal size.

We didn't even notice our mistake until it was up. :headdesk:

Chickens don't mind sharing though. I'm sure they'll double up.

Claudia said...

The nesting boxes are adorable. I'm looking forward to seeing more pics ;)
Unfortunately, I'm a city slicker so no garden for me. I do have plants inside my apt. which I do take care of. I have a green thumb. At least, we have lots of green space in our neighbourhood and our "mountain" in our backyard.
BTW, do you name your chickens? LOL! It's only fair since they'll have lovely homes.

Maria Zannini said...

Claudia: It took so long for me to develop my green thumb. Greg used to make horrible fun of me.

Ref: chickens

We named a couple of them. Vicky is our victim chicken. She was wrongfully picked on by the bigger birds so we called her Victim. Eventually, to give her a little dignity, we changed it to Vicky.

Then there's Eagle and Little Eagle. They're Americaunas, but their coloring is very eagle-like.

I know. Not very original. But if they have names, there's little chance they'll be dinner.

melissa said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. Thanks for your posts. I am now a follower here. I will be back. :-)

Maria Zannini said...

That is so sweet, Melissa. Thank you! I'm following you right back.

melissa said...

You're welcome!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Who, that's a serious garden. I'm a little jealous.
It's hot here in NJ. The air conditioner just went back on but we're not in the triple digits.

Maria Zannini said...


Ref: that's a serious garden.

That little thing? LOL.

It's a good sized garden (20 x 40 feet). Next year I plan to grow corn and soybeans in a field out back to give me more room for other veggies.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Wow, lots of comments. Let me see if I've got this straight...if it's hot enough, you can grow sweaty, shirtless, young men in your garden?!?! And I've been wasting my time on tomatos and peppers. Who knew?

(Do you plant them as babies?)

Maria Zannini said...

Linda, you are bad, bad, bad. LOL.

What am I going to do with you?

For all I know, you and Krista are flying down here now. I better warn those guys!

Linda Leszczuk said...

Hey, you're the one with the garden full of sweaty shirtless guys.

Oh my, I think I'm having a hot flash.

Stacy said...

Hi Maria - Your garden is great! Inspiring too - I'll show the photos to my little itty bitty garden and hope that it grows bigger for next year.

I have four chickens - bantams - (seems I do everything smaller, if I had construction workers, would they be smaller too, I wonder?) - and they love to share the nesting boxes. I have four nesting boxes and they all stay each night together in the same one! Chickens are a good source of giggles - they always make me laugh.

Kait Nolan said...

Oh it's been absolutely MISERABLE and ODIOUS outside (I realize odious isn't a term one often uses about the weather but it's a good word and should be used more often). We've cracked triple digits every day in actual temps for the last 2 weeks here in Mississippi, and the heat indexes have been setting records. 117 earlier this week. I WANT WINTER :cries:

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: Men are not safe around you. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: We bought six acres of woods and a little pasture. Our plan (our hope) is to create a permaculture of plants and animals that can sustain us.

These are still baby steps, but it's getting there.

Maria Zannini said...


I cannot wait for cooler temps!!

But 117! I think you had it worse than us. I think the highest heat index we had here was 113.

But really, once you get past 95 degrees, it's all hot, isn't it?