A New Pallet Composter

 We've been meaning to throw together a new compost bin for a while now, but we just kept falling short on time to get the project done.  The other night we called around and went to go pick up a few old pallets from local businesses.  We came home, unloaded them, and screwed them together to form a nice compost bin for the chicken run, and goat area.  

This is a basic and simple design that anyone can make and it doesn't require anything fancy! Just a few pallets, screws and hinges.    

I think one of my favorite parts of the new design is that the goats can't get into the bin and pull things out of it.  It keeps everything nice and contained. Love that! 

As you can see, the chickens like the new build too! Gives them a place to sit up high and check out the surrounding area. They also have a great view of the creek and can keep an eye on.  The goats don't even seem very upset that they can't climb on top of it, so we're calling the whole deal a huge success.

...now I think we just need to build two more like this!

Spotting New Growth, In January...

It may just be the end of January, but I'm noticing small pieces of GREEN popping up all over the homestead... 

 The other day I stumbled upon some bulbs that had broke through the surface of the raised beds along the fruit trees...  I couldn't believe it! When I start to see these small green leaves lift from the soil or mulch my heart automatically gets so happy. 

 One reason I'm so excited about Spring this year, is because we are growing about a 200% increase in perennial flowers and vines.  Our gardens are going to be so full of bright and colorful flowers, and I'm anxious to start enjoying all of that. 

 Our garlic bed is really doing well. I sometimes close my eyes and can see so perfectly those tiny bulbs of garlic forming magically under the soil. Harvesting these will be so much fun.  

 Some flowers over-winterized nicely and we're starting to see signs of bright color there too! 

So much new growth happening right now.  Have things started to pop up out of the ground or bloom where you're at? Go ahead, take a walk through your property or neighborhood and focus on the small details of places you normally would overlook. I bet you can find some little miracles of life if you look hard enough.

Pacific Science Center, Seattle

The baby and I were in need of getting out of the house. It seemed like we had been working so hard on things around the homestead we were starting to get "coop fever".  It was time to get out! Farm guy had a class in Seattle he had to attend, so we took that as an opportunity to travel into the city with him and spend the day touring the Pacific Science Center, in downtown Seattle. 

 I knew Noahh would LOVE the butterfly room, and honestly, that's where we spent most of our time.  She could have spent all day in there, had I let her. She was so calm around them, which I wasn't expecting.  Normally she's a little spit-fire, running 100 mph, but when she got into the butterfly room, she turned into this calm and peaceful toddler....

 She sat quietly admiring each of them as they fluttered by her. It was really sweet to see. 

 She made some new friends too! ...and she had no problem chatting up a storm with everyone she crossed paths with.  She hung out around the fish pond and counted the fish. 1-2-3-....

 Another area of the center that she enjoyed the most was the water area.  She was in heaven splashing and making waves with her hands.  She refused to wear a waterproof apron, so she was obviously SOAKED at the end of our play date.

 We enjoyed some of the outside exhibits since it was a clear day out.  The weather was perfect for a stroll around the Space Needle, so that's where we headed next. 

 Noahh fell asleep as soon as we left the science center, so I was able to enjoy a walk around the Space Needle by myself, which was actually quit enjoyable.  I love walking in such beautiful weather. 

No matter how many times we've visited this area of downtown Seattle, it never gets old.  It does make me appreciate our quiet and peaceful little homestead though. I enjoy visiting the city for special trips or events but for the most part, I've really grown to adore quiet and slow-paced living.

How to Start Your Seeds Indoors, Successfully!

Starting your seeds indoors is a great way to get a "jump start" on your garden. By starting your seeds indoors a few weeks before your last frost, you should have plenty of small seedlings ready to be transplanted into your garden beds once planting season begins.

 January is here, and for us and our family that means it's time to break out the seed bank, and start organizing what we have so we can start planting!  As you can see here, in our planting calendar for zone 8, there are quite a few things we like to get started in January. 

 Farm guy was kind enough to bring in the shelving from storage and get it set up for us.  

 These shelves work great, p.s. they were purchased at Lowes for around $80.00. Totally worth it!

You'll need to decide what is the best location you have access to indoors for starting your seeds. Usually this would be a south-facing window with adequate outdoor light coming in. For an organized set-up, you can use shelves such as these. You can easily hang your lights from them and there is plenty of room for your seedlings at all stages of their growth.

You can also get away with starting your seeds in any room, even without a window, as long as you add the use of grow lights. This might be a good option for you if you don't have access to a south-facing window with adequate outdoor light. Double your success by using a south facing window and grow lights, or full-spectrum lighting.

By far the easiest way to start your seeds indoors is to use Seed Starting Soil Pellets. To use them, place them in a large tray. Fill the tray with enough hot water to cover the pellets. This will start to expand the pellets and get them ready for planting. Once the pellets are fully expanded, if there is any extra water remaining in your tray, gently drain.

Carefully tear open the top of the pellet to expose the entire surface area. Using the end of a pencil or other small object, put a small hole in the soil of each pellet. Plant your seeds as directed.

Cover your seed trays with either a plastic clear cover, or plastic wrap. Use whatever you have available to you. Try to not open the tray very often until your seeds have germinated. This will help the soil stay warm so all of your seeds will germinate. You might consider placing a thermometer near your grow station to help keep track of the room temperature. As soon as you remove the lid or top to your miniature greenhouse, room temperature will be important.

Keep your soil pellets moist but not soaking wet. If your pellets are too wet, and the temperature is warm as it should be, you could start to see mold growth.


Once all of your seeds have germinated, remove the tops to your trays. Keep the lights just barely above your seedlings. As your seedlings grow, adjust your lighting upwards. Always keeping the lights as close to the seedlings as possible without them touching. Also, as soon as all of your seeds have germinated, thin out each pod by snipping all but one healthy seedling. You probably started 3-5 seeds in each pod, but only one healthy seedling is necessary and overcrowding will stop the plants from developing as healthy as they could be.

As soon as your second set of true leaves have formed on your seedling, they are ready to be transplanted. If the threat of frost has not yet passed, you can move them into a larger container and continue growing them indoors or in a greenhouse if you have access to one.
Still need seeds? No worries...go here! 

Planning the New Patio Area

 The deck has finally been removed. Farm guy worked really hard all last week on removing it.  I'm totally impressed with how fast he got the job done, especially in the rain and freezing temperatures we've been having.  He would work from sun up to sun down on the weekends, but he finally got it finished. 

So now, all that is here is a big, empty area with nothing but dirt. (again, this makes for great muddy floors...)  Now that the deck is removed, we're able to see the space for what it really is and make a game plan on what will be going where. 

In this area, we're hoping to have a covered dining area. I want to be able to seat 8 here. A brand new dining table or patio set will go in this area nicely. It will be great to have a comfortable space to sit outside and dine, watch the kids play or just enjoy the gardens.   

 Over on this side of the new patio, we're going to build a big round rock fire-pit with plenty of seating around it.  I'd love to have this area seat 6. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect "chairs" for a fire-pit area.    We're leaving the lattice work, because although you can't see it now during winter, it's actually covered with the most beautiful clematis vines that have deep green foliage and pink flowers.  The whole lattice is actually covered in them, so it provides a little bit of privacy during spring, summer and fall.

One problem is, when we removed the deck, we removed the supports for the lattice, so Erick had to build new ones.  He's still got to build a "flower bed" or support for the one end of the upright lattice piece.  I'm hoping to plant raspberries in it once it is constructed.

So this weekend, we'll be hauling in about 5 yards of rock for this area and for in front of the new chicken coop we're building.   (That project will be posted soon too!  We're really excited about this one.  The chickens have been long overdue on a larger, more spacious coop.)
Lots of projects coming up this week! 
Rock delivery
Sand delivery
Fire-pit construction
New Chicken Coop
and shopping for chairs, patio furniture, & new shrubs and bushes for the area...

I think we'll be busy for a few days.

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