Friday, February 27, 2015

Good Neighbors...a Homestead Must

I was reading one of my favorite blogs [e-i-e-i-omg] the other day and it brought to mind a very important but not often mentioned part of homesteading. Neighbors.

If your not out west in wide open, less populated country your going to have people next door and all that entails. Even in less populated country when your neighbors are seldom seen they can still have a huge impact, both good and bad.

On my old farm my closest neighbors were a mile away and I had three  within five miles. We shared fences for the most part and that can be a trial at times but we usually worked it out. One of my boundary fences was with a neighbor who lived twelve miles away and checked fence rarely. Not a good situation. My Father always said "Good fences make good  neighbors" and that old adage is so true, but there is a lot more to being and having good neighbors than that.

Tolerance and helpfulness seem to be two words that can make  huge difference in how you get along.  Fencing is a good start though.

First of all find out how the community your homesteading in works its perimeter fence requirements. I am used to a simple but effective method established way back when in country that was surveyed on a grid system. Sections of land, divided into quarter sections of land. On a square. This made it quite easy to see what part of the perimeter fence you were responsible for.

So let me explain or try to.
Standing in the center of the quarter section, face the south fence. The 1/4 mile on your right hand is your responsibility and the 1/4 mile on the left is your neighbors. This is what I am used to.

Here though a lot of people do not have perimeter fence and nothing is surveyed  on a grid. When we started to look for land I was horrified at the shape of properties and how weird some of the perimeter descriptions were.
So we are going to have to learn what is expected of us when dealing with fences where we move.

We plan on introducing ourselves to our new neighbors as soon as possible and are asking about neighbors when we talk to the people who's land we look at.
There is a lot to learn from people who live in an area, they know the farm stores and services you will need and often have someone to recommend when it comes to things like plumbing and building.

I have always been willing to trade work and produce with neighbors. They often have things, skills or services to barter with. My skill set as a cattlewoman saw me helping neighbors a lot at calving time, pulling calves and doctoring. My tractor and post hole auger saw use with corral building and those helpful things got me help in return when I needed new metal roofing on the house or had the Dodge 4x4 stuck way out on the field. Over abundance in my garden got traded for things like  baked goodies and the like.

Being a good neighbor means respecting your neighbors privacy and not forever hanging around or dropping by. Not that socializing is frowned on but there is so much to do on a homestead too much visiting uses up valuable time when other things need doing. Often visiting takes place at the feed store or maybe the vet's office or getting a tire fixed.

Evaluate what you have to offer your neighbors and be prepared to lend a hand if asked or if there looks to be a need. Keep your fences in good shape and your livestock home, not munching in your neighbors garden. A good neighbor is an incredible resource so take the time to get to know yours and know what it takes to be a good neighbor and be one. It will pay off in ways you have not imagined.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Waiting, Weather and Childhood memories found.

We are waiting for little things to clear with the land sale. The deal has closed thank goodness.

The weather is being weather. Does no one understand the word AVERAGE? All the talk about more snow than average makes me crazy, after all the average is made up of both low snowfall and deep snow fall, you need both to get an AVERAGE!

Then this neat thing came up.

When I was a little girl on the farm way back when my mother made a drink in summer she called Ginger Beer. It was a special treat on hot summer days when we helped out in the hayfield and my father drank a lot of it to keep hydrated in the heat and under hard working conditions.

I remember the taste....sweet, tart and gingery. It was amazingly refreshing and would quench your thirst and not leave you wanting to drink too much. I grew up having no idea of how she made it but I remember the taste!

I have bought bottle after bottle of ginger beer and ginger drinks to find that elusive taste with no luck and here with us snowed in and time on our hands Ralph sent me an article on a Drink called Switchel. It was labeled as a drink for digestion as it is made with cider vinegar and honey and of course ginger.

I shrugged as Ralph asked me to make some to see what  it was like. I made the first batch and I gasped as I took the first taste. I recognized it in a mothers Ginger Beer!
I was amazed and delighted and just so pleased to have finally found this  taste of childhood.

Now is it a good as I remember it....well yes. We have enjoyed it this week, I send a bottle or two with Ralph in his work lunch. It quenches your thirst, does not contain any High fructose corn syrup and refreshes so well!

Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Ginger to taste [I use thin sliced ginger root from our home grown Ginger]
2 quarts water

Serve cold or over Ice.

A wonderful bright drink and oh the memories. The smell of fresh cut hay, the poking of stubble on bare legs, the field mice and the feel of hot summer sun on my back!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Homestead: Fruit and Nut trees Part 2

 We want several varieties of peach and pear, both for pollination and taste. Then there are other ore unusual fruit that we just want to try, like Medlar. This list will have to be flexible as there is just too much selection and depending on our eventual land purchase we may have room for more trees of less trees according to space.


Frost peach is a delicious yellow freestone that tastes like an Elberta. Slight red blush over greenish-yellow to yellow skin. Frost is heavy bearing, excellent for canning or eating fresh. Showy blossoms. Highly resistant to peach leaf curl.
Semi-dwarf on Citation rootstock.
  • Zones: 7-9
  • Chill hours: 700
  • Harvest: July 10 - July 25
  • Looks: Skin is a light red blush over yellow, freestone flesh.
  • Personality: Delicious, excellent for eating fresh or canning.
  • Facts of note: Favorite in colder regions. Showy pink spring blooms on a heavy bearing tree. Naturally resistant to peach leaf curl.
  • Pollination: Self-fruitful.

Extremely vigorous trees requiring regular pruning and thinning. Needs fertile, well drained soils. Tends to bloom early and may be difficult to crop in late frost areas. Plant several varieties for continued supply, as ripe fruit does not store well.

Pineapple Quince

Pineapple Quince is a tender pale yellow fruit with white flesh and slight pineapple flavor. Used for jelly preserves, and as an addition to applesauce. Pineapple quince makes a lovely landscaping tree, with rose-pink blooms and twisted branches for winter interest. Developed by Luther Burbank.

Growing Considerations for Pineapple Quince

USDA Zone: 5,6,7,8,9,10
Pollinate with one of the following: Self-Fertile
Mature Size: 12-15 ft. summer prune to maintain 8 ft. tree
Recommended Spacing: 12-15 ft. summer pruned 8 ft. spacing
Ripens: October
Rootstock: Quince
Water Requirement: 8-15 gallons per week May through Sept.
Years to bear: 1-3 years


Royal Medlar

Royal medlar trees are a classic European garden favorite. They are revered for their ornamental value and for their delicious, unique fruit. Royal Medlar fruit is about 1-2 inches in diameter, soft brown in color and born from large, beautiful white flowers. It has a texture and flavor reminiscent of cinnamon-applesauce and can be eaten fresh, cooked, roasted or in pies and jelly. Medlar Fruit is hard at harvest time and must be allowed to ripen for a few weeks in a cool, light place where it becomes soft and juicy. This process is called bletting.

Growing Considerations for Royal Medlar trees

USDA Zone: 5,6,7,8,9,10
Pollination: Self-Fertile variety
Fruit Storage: Fair
Mature Size: 8-14 ft.
Recommended Spacing: 8-14 ft.
Ripens: Late
Uses: Fresh eating, dessert, jams, drying
Rootstock: own
Water Requirement: 8-15 gallons per week May through Sept.
Years to bear: 1-3 years



MOORPARK England 1760 [Apricot]

In 1542, during the time of Henry 8th, his gardener brought apricots to England from Italy, and the biggest growing breakthrough was achieved by Lord Anson at Moor Park in Hertfordshire, producing the European favorite variety called the Moorpark apricot. Moorpark is a long time favorite of connoisseurs for its exceptionally rich flavor and aroma. Reliable producer in favorable climates. Ripens over a long period of time, spreading the season. Small tree grows 8' to 10' ft.

Growing Considerations for Moorpark Apricot

USDA Zone: 4,5,6,7,8,9
Pollination: Self-Fertile
Mature Size: 12-15 ft. summer prune to maintain 8 ft. tree
Recommended Spacing: 12-15 ft. summer pruned 8 ft.spacing
Ripens: late
Rootstock: Marianna
Water Requirement: 8-15 gallons per week May through Sept.
Years to bear: 1-3 years

FORELLE Germany 1600's [Pear]

The Forelle pear is thought to originate in northern Saxony. Introduced to the states by immigrants in the 1800's. A singularly handsome and distinctive fruit, yellow with a crimson blush and trout-like speckling (lenticles) from which comes the name Forelle, the German name for trout (keeps better than trout!). The fruit is buttery without all the juice. And it has a faint but discernible cinnamon spiciness. The Forelle pears flesh is melting, aromatic and rich flavor. The tree is very productive, but not cold hardy.

Growing Considerations for Forelle pear tree

Bloom: Early
USDA Zone: 5,6,7,8,9
Pollination: Pollinate with B.P. Moretini, Bartlett,Pineapple
Fruit Storage: Excellent
Mature Size: 12-15 ft. summer prune to maintain 8 ft. tree
Recommended Spacing: 12-15 ft. summer pruned 8 ft.spacing
Ripens: Late
Uses: Fresh eating,dessert,baking
Rootstock: Semi-dwarf OHxF 333
Water Requirement: 8-15 gallons per week May through Sept.
Years to bear: 2-4 years

There is such a wonderful bounty to be had from your own fruit, beautiful flowers and shade and shelter for waterfowl and chickens. A super place for your beehives and somewhere to sit on summer evenings to get relaxed and rested for the next day's exertions.
We are enjoying the research into the orchard and the trees we will need. The land purchase gets closer every day. Take care God Bless you all.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Homestead: Fruit and Nut Trees....Our selections

Here is a partial list of our selected fruit and nut tree varieties.  I am sure this will be adjusted a lot before they all arrive!


In Europe red walnuts (blood walnuts) have been around since the 18th century. The Robert Livermore walnut is truly a unique walnut with dark red meat that has appeal for both specialty markets and backyard orchardists. Robert Livermore walnuts taste great and the color provides festive look for the holidays. Robert Livermore walnut produces medium, well-sealed nuts and has a medium to high yield. Typically an early October harvest.

Growing Considerations for Robert Livermore Walnut tree

Bloom: Midseason USDA Zone: 6,7,8,9,10
Pollination: Self-Fertile, but more nuts with another Walnut variety planted within 1/4 mile radius
Fruit Storage: Excellent Mature Size: 30 to 50 ft. summer prune to reduce height. Tree
Recommended Spacing: 30 to 50 ft. summer prune to reduce height. Ripens: Late
Uses: Fresh eating,dessert,drying Rootstock: Black Walnut
Water Requirement: 8-15 gallons per week May through Sept. Years to bear: 2-4 years
*As noted by University of California Scientists and other qualified professionals the most successful trees often have caliper from 1/2" to 5/8" and usually establish faster than smaller and larger planting stock. 

  100 grams of Walnuts will give you 167% of your daily copper needs.
100 grams of Walnuts will give you 27% of your daily protein

Independence Nectarine

Prunus persica 'Independence'

Independence nectarine has a freestone, large oral fruit that is gold, blushed with a brilliant cherry red. One of the best nectarines because of its rich, tangy-sweet flavor. Independence ripens very early in the season, well ahead of Redhaven peach. Height:  10 to 14 feet.  Spread: 10 to 14 feet. Hardiness zones: 5 through 8. 
Bloom Character
Thin early for size
Thin heavily for size
Fruit Characteristics
Growth Rate/Habit
Spreading habit
Average vigor
Early to bear
Very productive
Harvest Period
Early season
Early summer
Other Attributes
Sub-acid flavor
Very juicy
Site Requirements
Full Sun
Winter hardy
Skill Required
Easy to grow
High dessert quality

Nectarines are self-fertile and can be planted by themselves. Treat a nectarine just like peaches when growing. Thin early and agressively for good size. Prune every year to maintain vigor. You should seek to get between 1-3 feet of new growth a year. Over, 3 feet and you are probably fertilizing too much..


 Dixon Cling Peach

 Dixon peach is one of the earliest heirloom clingstone peaches, meaning the flesh adheres to the pit when ripe. Considered one of the best flavored yellow clingstone peaches.  Also excellent dessert peach.  Comes highly recommended to us from an old peach farmer and pomologist in the valley. In addition to being used in canning and preserves, cling peaches can also be used in peach pies. Because they are less juicy, the result will be a less runny peach pie, which can be a pleasant benefit for cooks who struggle with watery peach pies. They have orange flesh color with no red, and a distinctive taste somewhat reminiscent of apricots. Non-melting (clingstones) types have flesh that remain firm in the canning jar and in purees such as baby food.

USDA Zone: 6,7,8,9
Pollination: Self-Fertile
Mature Size: 12-15 ft. summer prune to maintain 8 ft. tree
Recommended Spacing: 12-15 ft. summer pruned 8 ft.spacing
Ripens: Late
Rootstock: lovell
Water Requirement: 8-15 gallons per week May through Sept.
Years to bear: 1-3 years

 Louise Bonne of Jersey pear
 Louise Bonne is an old French pear variety, with a surprisingly modern "bi-coloured" appearance - the yellow/green skin usually has an attractive red flush. As a bonus the blossom is also more attractive than most pear varieties.
Louise Bonne was rated by the Victorian fruit enthusiast Robert Hogg as "A most delicious pear" - a description which is just as valid today. The flesh is sweet and melting, with a pronounced pear flavour.
Judging the right time to pick can be tricky, but keep a close eye on it from late August onwards (in the south of the UK, a bit later further north) and pick the pears when they are flushed but still quite hard - then ripen in a fruit bowl.
USDA Zone:5,6,7,8,9
Fruit Storage:Good
Fireblight Resistance:moderate
Ripens: Midseason


FRENCH PRUNE (D'Agen) 1856

 Traditionally the French plum was dried and kept over a long period of time when refrigerators did not exist and winter meant months with few fruits or vegetables. Prunes were almost as precious as salt and were used to bargain wages during the 15th century. The French Prune was introduced to the states by Pierre and Louis Pellier, brothers who went to California for the Gold Rush, started a nursery business near San Jose in 1856 with plum cuttings they brought from France. Today they are sought by connoisseurs around the world. The French prune is very sweet, rich flavor with tender, fine-textured flesh. Medium-sized prune plum of red to violet purple skin over amber flesh. Delicious for eating fresh, baking, chutneys, and drying. Long-lived and self-fertile.

USDA Zone: 5,6,7,8,9
Pollination: Self-Fertile
Mature Size: 12-16 ft. summer prune to maintain 8 ft. tree
Recommended Spacing: 12-16 ft. summer pruned 8 ft.spacing
Ripens: Late August
Rootstock: lovell
Water Requirement: 8-15 gallons per week May through Sept.
Years to bear: 1-3 years


BLACK REPUBLICAN Oregon 1860 [Cherry]

The Black Republican cherry is relatively small in size, with a rotund shape, deep purple color, firm flesh and intense black cherry flavor. Although it was highly regarded by many growers, it lost favor because of its smaller size and tendency to be slightly astringent when not fully ripe. It is a parent of the Bing cherry, which has long superseded it in commercial cultivation. In the past, the Black Republican was favored for use in black cherry ice cream and yogurt because its color and flavor carried through. Complex and earthy, the rotund, deep purple fruit has notes of herbs, rose and almond. In some cases it still may be found frozen for industrial food productions. Only rarely is it available fresh. This variety is an old variety that needs to be saved for the future.

USDA Zone: 5,6,7,8,9

Pollinate with one of the following: Bing, Black Tartarian, Napoleon, Rainier, Lapins, Stella, Van
Mature Size: 12-16 ft. summer prune to maintain 8 ft. tree
Recommended Spacing: 12-16 ft. summer pruned 8 ft.spacing
Ripens: July
Rootstock: Colt
Water Requirement: 8-15 gallons per week May through Sept.
Soil Requirement: Soil must drain quickly for sweet cherries
Years to bear: 1-3 years


There are such amazing varieties of fruit and nut trees out there. Every time I see a place with flowering shrubs and trees in their landscaping I always wonder why more people don't use fruit trees instead of ornamentals.These trees have  beautiful blossoms and then you get the added benefit of food...home grown and so fresh it hurts! With health concerns and the use of herbicides and pesticides in Industrial fruit production the addition of fruit and nut trees to your garden and farm is a huge benefit to your health and food sources, they are good for the bee population ad they are beautiful. We look forward to our orchards! The rest of our list will be in part two of the Fruit and Nut Blog....see you tomorrow.