Domain Expiring–Blog Shut down

Hello everyone,

I wanted to thank you all for joining us on our journey. We will be continuing to homestead, but I’m afraid we don’t have the time or the financial resources to continue running this blog. I’m sure it’s been fairly obvious that I haven’t had time to be writing here and now with my pottery studio up and running again, I have even less time.

You’ve all been wonderful to talk to and I’ve enjoyed sharing our journey with you. Hopefully some of you learned something along the way.

There is a possibility I will be continuing this blog for pottery only, but the fact is that art does better on social media like Twitter and Instagram and blogs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. If I want my business to succeed and make money, I have to go where my work will be seen the most.

Thank you again for all your wonderful support over the past couple of years. You’ve been amazing!

Ben

Why is everything spiraling out of control?

I’m not sure what to do anymore. Justin and I are extremely tight with our money and we never spend it needlessly. Even with his job and me selling from the bakery, selling my pottery and doing freelance illustration (yes I work all three of those jobs constantly), we can’t seem to catch a break. This summer has just been a string of bad luck. So much so that we’ve had to cancel our own wedding reception because we can’t even afford to have people out.

Things that have gone wrong since we moved here:

  • Well pump went bad
  • Internet issues for Justin to work from home
  • Water heater pilot and thermocouple went bad
  • Oven went out
  • Second Oven went out
  • Washer went bad twice, then scrapped
  • Squirels in the attic
  • Wheel Bearing went bad
  • Bathtub is cracked and possibly leaking, although I keep resealing it
  • Clothing line came out of the ground twice due to wet conditions
  • Lawn Mower went out multiple times
  • One car is useless due to dead battery and repairs needed (still paying for it)
  • Both sets of brakes on one car went out
  • Yellow Jackets have started boring holes in my kitchen wall

Things that we still need:

  • 4 new tires for my car before winter
  • $800+ worth of pellets before winter
  • A heater for the back of the house before winter
  • To replace the one cracked bathtub and the flooring (rotten due to leakage)

Needless to say I’m at my wits end.

Now, today, with the bees boring into my kitchen wall (I’m spraying them), I  can’t even cook for our major sale this weekend. I already missed last weekend because our second oven went bad already. We’ve gotten it replaced, but now there are yellow jackets everywhere.

It just doesn’t matter what we do. Every single time something goes right (like my kiln), everything goes even more wrong. I got my kiln for $100 and bam! Broken oven just before a sale and then bees boring into the kitchen wall. I should have known better. Anything that could possibly bring us the slightest happiness with bring more destruction with it. It’s been like this for years and years, but it just keeps getting worse.

I have no idea what to do. And I know that “hoping it will get better” isn’t going to happen. If it weren’t for our farmers market friends, we would have eaten nothing but potatoes and rice for the past 2 months because of all the repairs we’ve had to do. We can never catch a break.

Pottery Studio Week 1

Hey all!

Well I feel like I’m actually accomplishing something! I’ve been getting a bit of work done in the studio while still running on minimum supplies and tools, but I’m making progress.

The worst part so far has been the never ending supply of insects. We’ve had nothing but extremely hot, dry weather so the flies are out in force. The local farmers spraying liquid manure all over everything isn’t helping either. I’m being eaten alive by flies.

I did order in some mason stains to make colored slips (like on these bowls), so now I have white, black, dark brown and purple. Hopefully I got the ratios right and they’ll turn out once I glaze them later next week.

For now I have to work on minimal supplies until I start bringing in some cash. I’ve only got 2 glazes at the moment for Cone 6, which is where I regularly fire. I’m working on getting a third right now, but Tin Oxide is $30 a pound.  I’ve also only got a couple shelves for my kiln, so I can only do very small firings. New kiln shelves are in the $40-$70 range depending on the size.

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But I’m working through it. My work won’t have a ton of variety in glaze and color until later when I’ve build the glazes back up. I’ll do the best I can with what I have. After getting this 3rd glaze up and running I’ll need to make a clay purchase, 150lbs should get me through a while.

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All the work pictured in this article will be up for sale on my Etsy in a couple of weeks or less. I’ll let you know when they are done. If you feel the need, please support an artist getting up and running again! Thank you!

Ben

The Pottery Studio

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It’s finally here!! I’m back in production after almost 2 years of no pottery!! Ever since that monster of a prof I had at EMU drove me out of her program. Well joke’s on you! I’ll be a successful potter without her approval.

There is still a shelf to be moved, glazes to be made, but it’s functional already, I was working in there tonight on some little salt/pepper dishes for the farmers market!

Some of you will know that I already owned the wheel, the benches and the shelves, but I’ve been in desperate need of a kiln after we were forced to sell ours off to survive the winter. Well, thanks to my amazing friends at the farmer’s market here in Portland, they put me in touch with a lady who was retiring and downsizing to start traveling. She has had this kiln for years and never touched it. She paid $100 for it and that’s all she charged me. I practically stole it from her.

Let me explain for those of you that aren’t kiln savvy. The kilns I sold were not completely functional (though I had never plugged them in) and their shells alone brought in almost $300 for the two and they would have fit inside this one. This kiln is the industry standard size (interior 29″ deep, 23″ wide) and retails now, with a digital controller, for $2700. This kiln is 20+ years old but in MINT condition and I could easily sell it for $800 or more to the right buyer. Needless to say, I got a helluva deal on it!

Now I’m starting to work through the 100lbs of clay that I still have in working order and reconstituting old clay for reuse. I need to make some more money, but I should be able to turn out mugs by the end of the month without too much trouble, although my glazing will be quite limited. The more I sell, the more glazes and colors I can add to my pottery.

We’ve been selling well with pottery at the farmers market, but I’ll have to pull in a bit more before I can purchase supplies. Once I save up the money, I’ll drive an hour and go pick them up. I’ll also be pulling a few initial “needs” from ebay so I can get into production. I can’t really afford it right now, but I’m not passing up this opportunity.

The only big problem on the horizon is heating the garage in the winter. It’s not insulated and I don’t have a heater for it, but we’ll see how things go. If it gets too bad, production will have to stop during winter. My best thought at the moment is to heat with the kiln, but that’s a big power sucker and I can’t be in there during the firing of pottery due to fumes.

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Oh well, I’ll work out the kinks as I go!

Ben

Egyptian Walking Onions Available

Hello All!

Wanted to let you know that the Egyptian Walking Onions are available on my Etsy shop! There is a very limited amount, so grab them while you can!

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I’m asking $5 for 10 bulbs. I’ll send extras with every order as well!! These won’t be available again until next summer! Once you get them in the mail, plant them immediately for a harvestable crop next year!

Here the link to the listing: http://etsy.me/2a9dKXR

Enjoy!

Ben

Let’s Play Catch-Up!!

Hey Everyone!

Well, it’s been a little over a month since I last posted and for good reason!! It’s been absolutely crazy around here! Before I show you what the garden looks like, I’ll update you on what’s been going on.

As you can imagine, all of May was dedicated to planting, rototilling new gardens, planting some more and more planting. We have 4-5 functioning gardens now, all with different things (which you can see below!)

At the beginning of June farmer’s markets started up, so Baker Ben is back to work, baking in 90F heat. We’ve been doing alright so far. We did have one really awesome day so far, but the rest have been a little iffy.

On June 13th (I think) we picked up the newest member of our family!! Meet Toby!

He is 10 weeks old now (he was 8 when we got him). He’s a border collie/labrador mix with the collie showing outward as you can see. We think he’ll make an excellent homestead dog! In the little time we’ve had him we have solidified crate training, 4-5 commands and housetraining is 1.5 days without an accident so far! He’s doing really amazing! Plus he’s super fricken cute!!

On the flipside of that, we had some bad news. My dad had a heart attack and was hospitalized on June 19th (father’s day). He’s still in the hospital now, but he’s doing much better and they are considering a multiple bypass surgery for him. His prognosis looks good as far as we know. We’re still working through all that.

So, with all that going on, I need you to forgive the next pictures, we have a lot of weeds. The front gardens are almost totally weeded (except for leaving some clover behind as nitrogen fixers), but the back gardens are really putting on grass seedlings. I’m going to attempt to do one whole garden tonight, but this heat has been killer. On top of the 13th consecutive months of record highs this year, it hasn’t rained more than 30 minutes in almost 2 weeks here. Our entire yard is one match away from going up in flames.  We’re watering every single day, it’s getting bad. Next year we will be bringing in an entire truckload of wood chips if I can manage it.

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This is the east garden. We have strawberries (this drought is killing them off), tomatoes, kale, broccoli, turnips, celery, asparagus and we will have beans eventually (they didn’t come up).

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This is a strip we did in the orchard. We planted comfrey, vetch, buckwheat and couple patches of squashes as well. Oh, and jack o lanterns!!

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This is the patch of jack o’ lanterns!

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This is our patch of Egyptian Walking Onions. I will be harvesting the little bulbils soon and offering them up for sale. If you would like some, please let me know so you can be put on a list, I won’t have many to sell. They are perennial, cold hardy, a bit spicy and each plant puts on little bulbils that all become new plants! I’ll be selling 10 bulbils for $6 with $3 shipping in the US.

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These two images are the North Garden. We have tomatoes, kale, peas, beans, broccoli, sunchokes, peppers, cucumbers and artichokes here. This is the one I plan on weeding tonight. We also ran our chicken tractor over this area so it’s rich in nitrogen as well!

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These two patches are the West Garden. This is all our sweet corn, squash, broom corn, and lima beans. It’s so dry right now even though it’s on top of our septic system. I may have to water it.

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This is another variety of sunchokes. I will have them for sale after this year as well! this is part of a small flower patch in the south-west corner of our property.

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One of my students didn’t plant her bed, so I planted it! This has become my “demonstration” bed for the student gardeners I have. I have tomatillos, tomatoes, bush beans, carrots, lettuce and turnips in this one.

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This is some Datura (Angels Trumpet) we accidentally brought from the city compost pile. If anyone knows how to save seeds from these, let me know! I’d love to have a few of them around, they are gorgeous!

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As you can see ,the front yard garden is well weeded, but looking a little brown right now. I have some major mole, ant and squirrel issues that I’m going to address soon. But the hay is helping hold in moisture and things here are doing much better than anywhere else.

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I bought two of these “Issai” kiwi this year. It’s a hardy variety that produces small, berry-like kiwi that have very thin, non-fuzzy skins. I’ll be taking cuttings of these to sell as well. They are doing really well right now!

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This is the view off our front porch. It’s working so far, but we’ve got to get a lot more rain before it starts to look nice and green. I’m sure you noticed the color of our grass. Even my poplar trees I put in last year are dying because of this drought. We’ve gained a lot of ground, but we’re starting to lose some now.

 

WHEW! That’s everything so far. We’ll update more as we go. I apologize for taking so long, but there was just no helping it.

Happy Gardening!

Ben and Justin

Sunday on the Homestead

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Hello from the Goldenrod Homestead!

Well, we’ve had an extremely busy weekend, so I’ll give you some updates!

13187787_10156821185055524_1127592572_nNew Stove!

As I mentioned in my last post, our stove went to hell this past week, leaking propane all over the house. Needless to say, we had to replace it and thanks to an overage on our mortgage escrow, we had the money to get a brand new used oven!

We spent the better part of 6 hours getting it, converting it to LP gas, getting the old one off the gas pipe and replacing the connector hose and fittings with the wrong tools. It was more difficult than it needed to be, but we were slightly unprepared and I don’t have hardly any tools. All mine were too small for this job.

 

The Garden:

As you can see, our garden is really starting to get going! The trees are putting on leaves fast and all of them are blossoming. Check out the double cherry blossoms!! There are 1000’s more this year since I pruned the tree heavily last year!

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<– This is what the tree looked like last year when it bloomed. Pretty pathetic huh?

Well, who says trees don’t like to be pruned! It obviously helped out a lot!!

Seriously, most gorgeous tree ever. I want 20 more.

 

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All the plants on the table are coming up well and doing really well. I’ve bought a few cell packs of plants here and there from the local nursery (bell peppers, sweet potatoes and celery) just because mine are being super slow or didn’t come up at all. We’re getting ready to do some major transplanting soon and planting into the garden itself.

Lonely Quail:

DSCF0290We had one lonely quail born this morning. We actually incubated 13 eggs and only one fully developed and hatched. I actually broke open the other eggs and there was nothing past day 4 or 5 in development if any at all.

I contacted the seller of these eggs (most were unfertilized) and got replacements. They should hatch in about 18 days. We’re really trying to boost our Coturnix Quail flock, but, of course, we’ve had another major hiccup in production. Typical around here.

BLUE EGGS!! And Bye-Bye Roosters.

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LOOK AT THEM! Aren’t they gorgeous!! That’s right! We got 4 eggs today! We’ve been steadily getting 1 brown egg a day. Then suddenly, about three days ago, we started getting 2 brown eggs per day.

Finally, today we got our first blue eggs! And two on the same day!! It was a busy day in the nest boxes to say the least. So happy we’re finally getting them!

13150001_10156821185245524_2052332988_nAlso today, my dad stopped over and butchered our two excess roosters. After a lot of thought, we decided to butcher our Wheaten and our Blue Splash Wheaten Ameracauna roosters. For a few different reasons:

  1. Our Barred Rock is the largest rooster and will most likely produce large offspring if we wish to hatch our own meat chickens.
  2. Our Barred Rock rooster is extremely docile around us, but incredibly protective of the hens. He also never “force mates” with them (tearing feathers and drawing blood). He only mates with them when they posture.
  3. Both roosters we slaughtered were extremely rough with the hens, they were constantly mating with them and usually getting one hen at the same time. They also didn’t always grab neck feathers to mate, they would grab wings, combs, feet, whatever they could get a hold of.

Needless to say, those roosters had to go. But it’s not all bad. Since they were beating up our hens a lot, we didn’t feel bad to see them go. They also provided us with two chicken dinners (being pretty young still) and provided us with tons of beautiful feathers that will be listed on our Etsy Shop soon. So if you are a jewelry maker, we’ve got lot’s of feathers for you! Some of them may also be good for fly-tying, but I didn’t quality check for a lot of things that are really necessary for fly-tying. I’m happy to say that our chickens were extremely healthy and had zero bugs in their feathers as well.

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Better feather photos coming soon!

Well, that’s what’s been going on here this weekend! It’s been a lot of work, but we’re doing well! We’ve got a lot more plant work to do this week and may even have a couple of gardens in completely. Here’s hoping at least!

Don’t forget to subscribe!

Ben

Dodged a HUGE bullet

Hey Everyone,

So, a month or so ago, we finally finished paying off that god forsaken well pump we had to replace. Awesome right? I’m glad it’s finally done.

We finished that only to do taxes and find out we owe $942 to the government because Justin’s work accountant messed up his paperwork and put him down for 3 dependents. We’ve fixed his paperwork, but we still owe all that money. We also took a full 1 year hit on the health insurance fines. We won’t talk about how asinine it is to charge people fees who can’t afford health insurance. (Yes we looked, they want 750 a month, more than our mortgage, for one person. We’ve talked to dozens of people, it’s always that high or we could pay $200 a month for absolutely zero coverage. We’ll just take the fine. Michigan insurance sucks.)

So, on top of finding out we owe all that money to the government, our stove started leaking propane badly this past week. The leak is inside the oven itself, so we have to replace that now as well. Another $200 at least if I buy a used one.

And, this month we had a bunch of extra money but were running out of literally everything in the house. We’re the kind of people that feed our animals before ourselves and make sure they have everything they need, so we are running out of food.

Today I woke up, in a terrible mood because of all this. After having a dream that I got a wonderful job at a ceramics studio that was perfect, I woke up to find out none of it was true. (I dream in hyper-realism, so it’s very convincing) Needless to say, I was feeling pretty shitty.

Well, I went out to get the mail and our replacement quail hatching eggs came along with a seed saving book I bought second hand for super cheap. There was another letter there from our mortgage company. And I thought, oh great, another bill since we just renewed our home insurance.

Turns out, we way overpaid on our Escrow last year and they sent us a check for $1300.

Hallelujah, the universe does provide.

Now we are being responsible adults and paying off all the taxes, buying the stove (still second hand) and purchasing ourselves some groceries. That will probably use up almost all of it. I’m happy to say though that another HUGE burden has been lifted off our shoulders (the taxes) and we can afford to not blow ourselves up with our crappy stove.

Now we can afford to start farmer’s market season with one goal in mind, paying off debt and increasing our sales revenue. We can also focus on building our permaculture nursery business without worrying about making money immediately.

Here’s hoping for a profitable season. I DO NOT want to go through another winter like the one we just had.

Whew.

Don’t forget to subscribe!

Ben

 

The Cold Is Finally Over

Hey all,

Well finally, the cold here is done until next winter. It’s not supposed to drop back into the 50’s again.

That means I can start putting all my plants in whenever I want to, which will be soon. We’ve already got the hay field planted, the strawberries and the asparagus. We just put in a huge row of raspberries and a few goji up against the house. We’re hoping to really start making some headway now, although the forecast is pretty rainy. I’ll have more pictures soon!

Other News:

We we’ve been smelling something terrible in our house and couldn’t figure out why. We weren’t sure if something died (like a mouse) in a vent or something. Well, we finally figured out last night that our stove has been leaking propane for the past 2 weeks. We pulled it out and turned off the gas and the smell went away. The leak isn’t from the hose either, it’s inside the oven itself. So that means we have to replace our stove now, how wonderful. It’s going to use up all the extra cash I have to get a used one, but I guess at least we won’t blow up.

We’re also finding out that raising meat chickens is SUPER expensive. I had no idea how much food they would eat. We’re supplementing everywhere we can, but they just eat a lot. It’s an interesting project, I’m just not sure if we’ll be repeating it or not. We probably will, but we need to be a little better off first I think. Maybe the chicken in the freezer will help us save up for the next batch.

 

Well, I’ll send pictures and updates soon! For now, my Instagram is updating the most, so you can follow us there @2boys1homestead!!

Don’t forget to subscribe!

Ben

Our adventure to self-sufficiency!