Tag Archive for Maine

Quick Little Update

This year has been a bit of a chaotic one, but in a good way. We started off our growing season with the massive project of re-doing the fencing around both of the gardens. Originally it was a mess of pulp-wood posts and hodge-podged fencing that was constantly falling in due to snow load and getting pushes out of place by the groundhogs. Brand new cedar posts and welded wire fencing fixed that. We now have a fence secure enough that we can use it as a trellis and actually did use it as a make-shift clothesline while ours needed to be replaced.

The garden itself has preformed admirably thus far! We’re up to 7 quarts of snap beans in the freezer, a batch of salsa, sauce, and ketchup from our own tomatoes, enough zucchini for stir-fries and a few loaves of zucchini bread for the freezer, roughly 80lbs of potatoes from the 12lbs that went in, and more than enough fresh produce to have kept our bellies happy over the course of late-summer. I did purchase “ugly seconds” tomatoes from a local farm to make additional pasta sauce and salsa with. I also found a wicked deal on cucumbers (40 lbs for $25) to stock the shelves with pickles and relishes.

On top of what our own garden has been producing and the deals I’ve found via local farms, blueberry and strawberry picking season was also I huge success as this year we weren’t impeded by the hunt for a new vehicle in the midst of it all. Up next is apple picking season, which has just started, and then what I hope will be an annual trip for a trunk full of pumpkins.

Chicken wise, the basement chest freezer is half full of poultry. We have enough for at least one roasted chicken a month, and given that each bird provides a week’s worth of meals for the four of us, I’m more than happy with that!

In another month, however, we’ll have to make a decision as to which of the new six roosters to keep over winter as an assistant to Greenleaf, our head rooster. We have a couple young cocks we’re keeping an eye on, so we might end up with two. As long as the fox doesn’t snag any more birds, we’ll also have five new hens to add into the flock for the winter. We lost seven hens total this year – five to the fox, two to illness – which is higher than most years, but still fit within the 25% margin that we try to work with. (We always try to keep a flock 25% larger than we absolutely need so that when losses do occur, and they will, it’s not such a blow.)

Schemes and dreams are already in the works for next growing season as we’re currently ahead on firewood and has reserved energy from not having to stress about that. I’ll post more in the future about our goals for next spring, but right now I’ll say that we might be working out a farmstand here at the homestead to bring in a little extra and we might be adding a porcine or two for meat raising. While next year remains simmering on the backburner, the fall garden is slowly filling in, a new placement for the blueberry bushes and irrigation for said plants is in the works, and garlic cloves are waiting impatiently to be planted.

This isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

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So many people were holding out hope that the local news stations were pulling a fast one on the people of Maine. Here’s the thing: It’s only March. Yes, it’s the last day of March and tomorrow is April, but you can’t bag on a lack of snowstorms until after April 15th, especially when this month has been so cold compared to normal. (If I recall correctly, they said it’s the fifth coldest March on record.)

What’s that mean for this homestead? Not much. We’re only getting 2-4″. That’s a dusting, enough to annoy the chickens and make things pretty. I’ll indulge in once again not being able to see dog shit piles and broken fences. One small breather before the craziness of prepping season begins.

SoulShine Soap Company

SoulShine Soap Delivery
Over the past few years we have worked towards removing chemicals from our daily lives, specifically when it comes to what we put on our bodies through soaps, laundry detergents, and the like. We stopped using dryer sheets close to a decade ago, which was easy as they don’t really do anything at all aside from coat you clothes in petroleum based chemicals. The next step was to swap to a fragrance and color free detergent. Check. Then we moved to a natural based detergent. What could be even better than fragrance, color, and chemical free detergent?

How about if is was local?
As in, the same state you live in local?

I came across the perfect detergent: SoulShine Soap Company. Started as a side business on a small farm in Maine, SoulShine Soap has a wonderful selection of products. One of the newest items that they have is their powdered laundry detergent. For $18.00 you receive a bag of delicious smelling dry laundry soap in your pick of lavender, lemongrass, or orange scent. (I went with lemongrass – it smells like lemon candy. I’m in love with it!) This bag will fill up quart canning jar, plus some. As for the claim that the bag holds over 70 loads, I can attest to that! It’s been over a month since we bought our batch of detergent, we’ve run close to forty loads, and we’re only a fourth of the way through the bag! Regular laundry, dog-smell embedded sheets, cloth diapers…you name it, this stuff works on it! I have been truly amazed by how mild, yet powerful, this laundry soap is.

I’m glad to say that isn’t the only thing that we bought in our order from SoulShine. I picked up a stain stick (which even works on toddler induced blueberry stains), two different soaps, and some of their lip balm. Aside from the great quality of the products, I was also excited to find a handwritten thank you note from ordering from them, and the entire package was cushioned with cloth scraps, a fantastic idea that I might have stolen for packing some holiday gifts.

I can’t say enough about this company! They have made a customer for life here in Norridgewock.

Tornados, Chickens, and Camping, Oh my!

Tornado Warning July 15, 2014 (http://rockycoastnews.blogspot.com/)

Let me start off by saying there is almost no such thing as “standard” weather in Maine. We have a saying up here: Wait a minute, it’ll change. The weather is a constant shifting force no matter what the year. Yesterday proved that as we had our first tornado warning while living in our home. One in six years? Not too shabby.

Wait? A tornado warning, in Maine? I don’t buy it, you say. Tornadoes don’t happen here. Well, darling, they do. Mostly they never make touchdown; tornadoes blip up on the radar, are recorded, and then investigated. Those that touch down average an F-1. (For a really good list of tornadoes in Maine from 1950 to 1912, go here.) It was still unnerving to read this pop up at weather.gov and to see similar on our cell phones:

AT 645 PM EDT… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN GRAY MAINE HAS ISSUED A

*TORNADO WARNING FOR… SOUTHERN SOMERSET COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL MAINE… SOUTHEASTERN FRANKLIN COUNTY IN WESTERN MAINE…

*UNTIL 645 PM EDT…

* AT 603 PM EDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO 11 MILES SOUTHWEST OF MADISON…OR 6 MILES EAST OF FARMINGTON…MOVING NORTHEAST AT 30 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO MADISON…NORRIDGEWOCK AND SKOWHEGAN.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… WHEN A TORNADO WARNING IS ISSUED BASED ON DOPPLER RADAR…IT MEANS THAT STRONG ROTATION HAS BEEN DETECTED IN THE STORM. A TORNADO MAY ALREADY BE ON THE GROUND…OR IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP SHORTLY.

IF YOU ARE IN THE PATH OF THIS DANGEROUS STORM…MOVE INDOORS AND TO THE LOWEST LEVEL OF THE BUILDING. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. IF DRIVING…DO NOT SEEK SHELTER UNDER A HIGHWAY OVERPASS. THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. GET UNDER A WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS AVAILABLE…SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING IN AN INTERIOR HALLWAY OR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO COVER YOUR BODY AND ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. IF IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES…EVACUATE THEM AND GET INSIDE A SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. IF NO SHELTER IS AVAILABLE…LIE FLAT IN THE NEAREST DITCH OR OTHER LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

The tornado picked up on radar wasn’t too far from us. Not to mention shortly after our phones were pinged with a note from NOAA that there was a tornado noticed on radar right above Norridgewock. At this point we were already in the basement.

I didn’t tell you? The above is the second warning we got. The first one came in at 5:30 and was only to last until 6pm. But we live in Maine. Why get in the basement? Doesn’t that seem a little….over the top?

Let me share two videos with you. The first is a clip of a neighborhood in Rochester, Minnesota, about a month after an F-1 hit. The second is an animation of the destruction at different F-cats. Maine has been recorded as having anything from F-0s to F-2s.

A reminder: F0 to and F2 in Maine. Pieces of the house gone and trees bashed around. We live in a highly wooded area, which means one thing: shrapnel. While we have no trees near enough to land on us in a clean fall, there are plenty of big pines and willows with widow makers that would probably be chucked around and our home is full of windows. Needless to say, we decided to follow the advice of the Angels of Preparedness.

I rushed out, shooed the layers into their coop, and locked it up. (People who say you can’t herd chickens are full of it.) I did a quick check on the meat birds in the tractors and raced inside. We got Christine (lovebird) under the kitchen table. Jacks (rabbit) went into the closet in his room, cage and all. Ashes and Diamond came into the basement with us where the brooder boxes and chicks already were.

Little Mister thought our “camping” trip was a blast. We read, we had snacks, played with baby chicks, watched an episode of Wild Kratts on Dada’s phone, and had successful potty breaks. (Yes, I grabbed the potty on the way down. It was purely selfish: I didn’t feel like squatting over the sump pit if I had to pee.) We got to watch the cat get into everything as he explored an area he’s not normally allowed in and Diamond enjoyed a nap on the nice, cold floor.

Might we have gone a little above and beyond? I think not. Even if we did, it was a fun experience “camping” in the basement for an hour or two.