Hello Pack! We have been busy working on spring and summer planning preps, getting some more indoor crop going underway, and working on our road…again. I am thrilled we are not getting ridiculously cold winter temperatures yet, but consistent rain has kept us living in a mud bog. I welcomed a few chilly days because it allowed the ground to harden, but then the thermometer rose again and there was a little more rain – so straight back to mud we went.
Bobby bought some more dwarf banana trees, so we set them up with a grow light to get them going. The youngest grandchildren were excited to help after I explained the plants would grow bananas on them. They love bananas. When I told them it would be “a while” until the bananas grew, I should have taken into consideration the concept of time of the four and under set. They stood at the table for about 10 minutes waiting to see the bananas appear.
I then showed them with my hand how tall the plants would have to grow before any bananas start to grow. They have helped in the outdoor garden enough to grasp how long it takes plants to “get big.” We use banana peels and sometimes even the whole bananas as a natural DIY fertilizer, and it always seems to work really well, especially with container and not ground plot plants.
I am also starting some more onions, lettuce, garlic, and potatoes inside. I am toying with the idea of growing potatoes in a container in the house over the winter. I have never attempted that before, but in theory it sounds like it just might work.
We spent the better part of one afternoon squeezing oranges we purchased from local FFA kids and make juice. Bobby’s arm and hand hurt for about two days after all of that tedious manual labor, but we were able to put up a lot of vitamin C filled juice. I am toying with the idea of trying to dehydrate some of the juice. I have heard of it being done, but have never attempted it myself.
I also strung up a lot of the peels to dry to use in medicinal remedies, for cooking and baking, and to make potpourri. I like to make homemade potpourri for Christmas presents but did not find the time this past holiday season, so I am getting a head start for 2019.
I figure any time I can make something for our home and family or to give as a present, I am saving money that can be used on preps… Besides, aren’t homemade gifts always so much better than store bought junk nearly always made overseas?
I didn’t notice how dusty my cast iron teapot on the wood stove had gotten until I snapped this photo – it cleaned up now. I like to keep water and healing essential oils going in the teapot during the winter to put some moisture back in the room. This delicious smelling mix took me all of two minutes to make and tricks folks into thinking I am baking every time they walk in the room. I simply filled the pot three fourths of the way full with water and then tossed in some orange peels, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla extract.
One of my most enjoyable winter preps is getting out a big pieces of cardboard or poster board and working on the spring gardening plan and other improvements to our survival homesteading retreat. It sparks a Christmas kind of feeling to get excited for our near future enhancements of our littler prepper patch of heaven.
I have now nailed down how and where I am putting the new chicken coop. Instead of building another tall walk in coop were are going to make use of the small duck hut we used when we were town preppers, two poultry brooders (one large for quarantine and one for chickens) and a freebie rabbit hutch. Retrofitting them with scrap lumber and hardware cloth to turn them into housing units and nesting space will be both a quick and highly economical project.
Their run will be huge and double-doored. By dividing up their run we can make the top of the pen area around the living quarters as secure as Fort Knox and then just go the cheaper and quicker route of using bird netting to put over the day run area.
I am still a huge proponent of free ranging, but there are times when it just puts the flock too much at risk – like during a SHTF scenario, and when you have both a fox (so large it has been mistaken for a coyote) and her baby running around your survival retreat. The bobcat we were dealing with appears to have moved on but now we have a momma and baby fox to contend with – but at least these animals are deemed nuisance predators in Ohio so killing them is an option.
This week’s questions:
1. Have you ever grown potatoes inside? Please share your tips or epic failure details.
2. Do you use bananas to help enhance your soil?
3. What is your favorite and most helpful DIY natural soil enhancer?
4. What did you do to prep this week?