Mid-Summer Homestead Update.

We wanted to take a little time to show you what we have accomplished since our last update. We’ve made some real progress. I especially, am results driven and things don’t always look like they’re progressing fast enough. But when I take a reality check and consider this was nothing but young forest and thick brush and wasn’t even accessible by road until sometime in May, I’m pleased with what has transpired thus far. I’ll elaborate and write specific posts to provide more information on all this stuff but this gives you a good sense of our progress. We feel considerable pressure to keep pushing since winter is fast approaching. Here’s our mid-summer homestead update.

The Beginning

The Beginning

Our Garden Soil Needs Improving

As you know, we got a late start on our garden and it was a question whether we would even be able to plant anything this year. So whatever we get, if anything, is really a bonus. Regardless, it’s a good test of soil and climate conditions which will give us a sense of what we’ll be up against for our garden next year. We have been able to assess soil conditions via a simple soil test kit. Our kit tests for nitrogen, phosphorus and potash as well as soil acidity. We suspected it would be acidic which proved to be the case. It is also grossly deficient in the other 3 elements.

Somewhat Pathetic Garden

Somewhat Pathetic Garden

We made the decision to build our new home with ICF (insulated concrete forms). We had the excavator pile the top layer of soil and plant debris from the house site in separate piles and not mix this with the excavated soil from lower levels. That way we can slowly recover all the rich soil from around the tree stumps and other plant roots. It is a hard chore but we are working the piles down. Loading either the wheel barrow or ATV with this prime soil, we are currently dumping it into the asparagus patch. Eventually some of the retrieved soil will go into our other garden areas.

Johanna Recovering Topsoil from the House Site

Johanna Recovering Topsoil from the House Site

House Foundation Excavation and Footer Forms

While the excavator dug the house foundation, a friend helped for a half day with some of the form work. It took me several more days to complete the forms and get everything level. I also built a concrete trough or shoot to help funnel the concrete from the truck as far into the foundation area as possible. That trough sure made life easier since less wheelbarrowing of concrete was required. We hired an experienced crew to help me wheelbarrow the concrete into the forms, but nevertheless it was a lot of work.

Digging the House Foundation

Digging the House Foundation

Two concrete trucks came in carrying a total of eleven cubic yards. That’s a lot of material. The footings are 20 inches wide X 10 inches deep. The majority of concrete was placed via wheelbarrow. Load after load after load. We had three of them going in assembly line fashion. In about 2 1/2 hours all the concrete was in the forms.

Concrete Footing Forms

Concrete Footing Forms

Footings are Done

Footings are Done

We continue to enhance the soil in the asparagus patch and I’ve been able to thoroughly rototill the area. Nothing is easy. Many passes were made before I was able to break up the hard pan and rid the whole area of rocks. Johanna has done a lot of digging and our combined effort should be rewarded in a few years with a productive area of this delectable spring vegetable.

Well Worked Soil for the Asparagus Patch

Well Worked Soil for the Asparagus Patch

A Good Start on Our Winter’s Firewood

As I mentioned earlier, we are feeling the heat to get prepared for the upcoming winter. One that will likely find us sheltered in this tent. That means having a copious quantity of dry firewood on hand. We have an ATV with a small dump body. It’s about the only practical way for me to get into the woods and harvest firewood. We are targeting anything dead, whether standing or blown over. There’s lots around. We figure we can’t have too much. If it’s not used this year, it will be ready for next year. Presently we have about 5 cords split and stacked with plans to get more.

Cutting Firewood

Cutting Firewood

A Good Start on Our Firewood

A Good Start on Our Firewood

Perhaps 20% of what I haul in needs to be manually split. It’s great to be swinging the splitting maul to whack wood. The task brings me back to my days at the old Maine homestead when I first had to split wood. When wood flies off the block, split into two pieces with one swing, I derive a great deal of satisfaction. It’s more of a chore when a tough knotty piece requires a half dozen blows before it surrenders and splits. But that too is satisfying once it yields to the repeated pounding.

I will tackle each of these topics in more detail in subsequent posts. For now, this is a good synopsis of what we have been up to for the last 4-6 weeks.

Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!

Ron and Johanna

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