Leigh Tate

author & gardener
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since Oct 16, 2019
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goat cat forest garden foraging chicken food preservation medical herbs writing solar wood heat homestead
My dream has always been to live close to the land. My goal is simpler, sustainable, more self-reliant living. In 2009 my husband and I bought a neglected 1920s-built bungalow on 5 acres, which we've gradually built into our homestead.
Southeastern U.S. - Zone 7b
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Recent posts by Leigh Tate



Previously published as How To Make a Buck Rag, this PDF eBook has been updated, expanded, and reorganized. Covers everything you need to know about preparing your goats for breeding, the role of minerals in goat reproduction, detecting heat and rut, what to do about "silent heats," how to manage the breeding event, how to determine pregnancy, and calculating kidding dates.

Chapters
Introduction
The Birds, The Bees, and Goats
How To Prepare Your Goats for Breeding
How To Know When a Doe Is In Heat
How To Know When a Buck Is In Rut
How To Make a Buck Rag
How To Use a Buck Rag
Managing “The Deed”
How To Determine Pregnancy
How To Calculate Kidding Dates
What's Next?
Special Thanks

Includes
Glossary
Resources

More in The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos by Leigh Tate at Permies Digital Market

9 hours ago

William Bronson wrote:Do pole beans and cumbers produce through out the heat of the summer?
I know climbers vines persist,  thats all I've ever been able to grow, never any actual cukes.



My summers are typically in the upper 90s, and yes, I can get pole beans and cukes if I water them well during dry spells. They might be worth experimenting with.
11 hours ago
William, how tall do you want your shade plants to grow? I'm trying something similar with pole beans and cucumbers to provide some shade.
14 hours ago

Jason Walter wrote:Thanks yes ive seen these suggestions but I see nothing about quantities for a single plant. The bag direction might as well be in french


I agree, bag directions are often too generalized for specific applications. I've added this thread to the composting and soil forums, in hopes that you'll get information that will be helpful for your plant, soil, and region.
1 day ago
You need to add a source of nitrogen such as compost, well-rotted manure, fish emulsion. Some people add fresh grass clippings or coffee grounds, but I'd research these before adding, to make sure you get the best amount for your particular plant. Too much fresh nitrogen can be a problem too. The other option would be slower, but to plant a ground cover around the tree such as clover.
1 day ago
textiles
instruction, regulation, insurance, safety, etc

“I noticed that he was freshly shaved and all his buttons were firmly sewed on, and that his clothes were darned with that meticulous care which makes a mend invisible.”

   -- Jean Giono
       from “The Man Who Planted Trees” as we first encounter the hero, Elzéard Bouffier

Mending shoes, upholstery, tents -  creating clothes, mattresses or even a full, proper yurt from scratch - these are all skills that are part of the foundation of being a well-rounded homesteader.  

Everything in this aspect requires natural materials preferring local/home-grown/harvested materials over anything purchased from a store.  Natural fabrics or thread include cotton, wool, silk, linen/flax, and nettle. Natural materials for buttons or closures include mother-of-pearl, bone, horn, glass, metal, wood, and cloth.  Synthetic materials are not allowed - even if they are recycled or repurposed.


sand badge

mend a hole - quick darning
sew a patch
make a small pillow
make twine
weave a basket
stickwork - pick one:
  - knit or crochet a hot pad
  - crochet or knit a dishcloth


straw badge

required list (complete all 7 BBs)
start a button jar (harvest buttons from old shirts)
harvest fabric scraps for future sewing projects
sew on a button
create a textile toolbox or hussif (sewing kit)
mend a hole - invisible mending (pick one)
  - re-create knit fabric (possibly a sock) with knit-stitch darn
  - reenforce woven fabric where it is thinning or starting to make a hole
  - invisible mending a small hole or tear in the fabric
  - add a patch to torn fabric so that it is invisible from the outside (kaketsugi)
sewing machine maintenance
make a small loom capable of weaving a belt

for the rest of this badge, you need 31 points

repairs list (minimum of 3 points required)
patch or darn a blanket (prettily) - 1/2 point
mend a hole in a coat - 1 point
mend a hole in a shirt/sleeve - 1/2 point
mend hole in pants or skirt - 1/2 point
mend a hole in a pocket - 1/2 point
mend pinhole tears in fabric - 1/2 point
mend damaged lining fabric in a garment - 1/2 point
mend a hole in a quilt - 1/2 point
mend a hole in a blanket - 1/2 point
mend a hole in a sweater - 1/2 point
mend/darn a hole in a sock - 1/2 point
mend a hole in a shoe or slipper - 1/2 point
mend a hole in a hat - 1/2 point
mend a hole in a mitten/glove - 1/2 point
fix a worn buttonhole - 1/2 point
remove lint or pills from clothes - 1/2 point
hem trousers or skirt - 1 point
turn trousers into shorts (with hem) - 1 point
add pockets to skirt or pants - 1/2 point
replace the elastic or drawstring/repair or replace a damaged waistband on pants/skirt - 1 point
alter the waist on skirt or pants to fit - 1 point
replace or repair the crotch in a pair of pants - 1.5 points
cover a stain with a pretty patch to make the garment look nice again - 1/2 point
add a gusset to a garment (eg underarms or in the crotch) to make it fit better - 1 point
let out a shirt to make it bigger (possibly adding a panel) - 1 point
let out trousers or a skirt to make it bigger (possibly adding a panel) - 1 point
take in a shirt to make it smaller - 1 point
take in trousers or a skirt to make it smaller - 1 point
add belt loops or suspender buttons to a pair of pants/trousers - 1/2 point
remove damaged or unwanted embroidery from a garment without damaging the garment - 1/2 point
Unravel old sweater into yarn for other projects - 1 point
hem drapes/curtains (so that both curtains are the same length)  - 1 point
sew the handles back onto a cloth bag, reinforcing as necessary - 1/2 point
fix hole or stitching in leather gloves / mittens - 1 point
fix hole or stitching on leather shoes / sandals - 1 point
fix hole or stitching on a leather bag / briefcase / suitcase / laptop bag - 1 point
fix hole or stitching on a leather coat - 1 point
repair stitching on a leather belt - 1 point
full leather maintenance on shoes, boots, or sandals - 2 points
  - the kind of leather and the technique used for maintenance
  - inspect areas that need pre-repair to prevent needing full repair
  - describe and repair the  issue
  - clean leather
  - waterproof or condition technique  
  - see https://permies.com/t/149367/ungarbage/shoe-lost-soul-fix-glue
full leather maintenance for leather gloves / mittens - 1/2 point
  - the kind of leather and the technique used for maintenance
  - inspect areas that need pre-repair to prevent needing full repair
  - describe and repair the  issue
  - clean leather
  - waterproof or condition technique
full leather maintenance for leather bag / briefcase / suitcase / laptop bag - 1/2 point
  - the kind of leather and the technique used for maintenance
  - inspect areas that need pre-repair to prevent needing full repair
  - describe and repair the  issue
  - clean leather
  - waterproof or condition technique
full leather maintenance for leather coat - 1/2 point
  - the kind of leather and the technique used for maintenance
  - inspect areas that need pre-repair to prevent needing full repair
  - describe and repair the  issue
  - clean leather
  - waterproof or condition technique


upholstery list (minimum of 2 points required)
repair a small hole in a couch, love seat, or padded chair - 1 point
patch a hole in a couch, love seat, or padded chair - 1 point
repair a tear (over 2”) in a couch, love seat, or padded chair - 2 points
  - add qualification: not just a tear in a seam
add new fabric over the worn fabric on a padded chair - 1 point
add a permanent upholstery cushion to a chair or stool - 2 points
repair a small hole in a fabric seat in a car - 1 point
patch a hole in a fabric seat in a car - 1 point
repair a tear (over 2”) in a fabric seat in a car - 2 points
  - add qualification: not just a tear in a seam


bedding list (minimum of 2 points required)
sew two sheets and two pillowcases (for twin size bed or larger) - 1 point
duvet cover - 1 point
patchwork quilt - 10 points
  - each “patch” must be 18” x 18” or smaller
  -  for a twin size bed or larger (65" x 90" or larger)
  - with an insulating layer (that won’t shift and go lumpy)
  - must be lined
quilted pillowcase - 2 points
  - each “patch” must be 10” x 10” or smaller
  - must have at least 12 patches
  - quilted on one side
  - must be lined
quilted baby blanket - 3 points
  - minimum size: 30" x 30”
  - each “patch” must be 10” x 10” or smaller
  - with an insulating layer (that won’t shift and go lumpy)
  - must be lined
make a firm, four-button pillow - 2 points
make a bolster pillow - 2 points
make two pillows for sleeping (natural stuffing) - 3 points
create a camping cot-sized mattress (tick) stuffed with natural materials - 3 points
  - use materials like wool, cotton, bedstraw, straw, feathers, seed husks (like this one)
  - about 3 to 5 inches thick
make a mattress with compressed stuffing
  - At least 4” thick
  - twin size - 20 points
  - full or larger - 25 points


weaving list (minimum of 3 points required)
weave a belt - 2.5 points
  - create a simple buckle out of two metal rings or use an existing buckle
  - be sure to finish the ends and make the belt long enough for you to wear
weave a leash for a dog, goat, or other animal - 2 points
weave a camera strap - 2 points
weave a cotton or linen hand towel - 4 points
  - at least 16” x 20” after finishing
weave a small bag or purse - 3 points
weave a baby blanket (30” x 30” or larger) - 4 points
weave a blanket for a twin size bed or larger (65” x 90” or larger) - 5 points
basket weaving - seedling protection basket - 2 points
basket weaving - trash basket - 2.5 points
basket weaving - grocery basket - 6 points
  - bottom of the basket must be large enough to fit a dozen eggs in a carton, laying down and a jug (gallon?) of milk standing up, fine enough weave that a chili pepper won’t fall out
basket weaving - harvest basket - 5 points
repair caning on a chair (small repair) - 1 point
replace caning on a chair (pre-woven caning) - 3 points
cane a chair (not pre-woven caning) - 6 points
repair weaving on a chair - 1 point
weave the seat of a chair or stool - 6 points
  - add source: https://www.wickerwoman.com/wp-content/uploads/image/binding-cane-stool-twill.jpg


spinning list (minimum of 4 points required)
make a simple drop spindle - 1/2 point
prepare 8 ounces of wool - 3 points
  - add qualification: post-processing weight
prepare 4 ounces of cotton - 2.5 points
  - add qualification: post-processing weight
prepare 4 ounces of flax strick - 2.5 points
  - add qualification: post-processing weight
degum 100 silk cocoons and make hankies or caps - 4 points
reel silk from 100 cocoons - 4 points
spin 8 ounces into yarn (singles) - 2.5 points
  - add qualification: wash and block
spin 8 ounces into a plied yarn - 3 points
  - at least 200 yards
spin twine - 1 point
  - more than 50 yards
  - minimum of 2 plies
twist rope - 2 points
  - more than 25 yards
  - minimum of three plies
  - multiple strands per ply


stickwork list (minimum of 3 points required)
knit or crochet:
a jayne cobb cunning hat - 2 points
an adult hat - 1 point
a scarf - 1 point
a pair of mittens - 2 points
a pair of gloves - 3 points
a pair of fingerless gloves - 2 points
a pair of socks (must be knit) - 4 points
a pair of slippers - 2 points
a (functional) grocery bag - 2 points
an adult size, boring, long sleeve sweater - 9 points
a baby blanket (30” x 30" or larger) - 4 points
  - show off your skill
  - give us cabling, colorwork, or other fancy stitches not all garter stitch or stocking stitch
a blanket for a twin-size bed or larger - 5 points
  - (65” x 90” or larger)
  - show off your skill
  - give us cabling, colorwork, or other fancy stitches not all garter stitch or stocking stitch


sewing list (minimum of 3 points required)
sew a buttonhole - 1/2 point
a zokin (Japanese cleaning cloth with decorative stitching) - 1/2 point
  - see https://permies.com/t/zokin
three cloth masks - 1 point
a cloth diaper - 1/2 point
  - hemmed cloth for diaper
a cloth feminine pad - 1 point
four cloth grocery bags - 1 point
a pressing ham - 1 point
  - must be cotton or linen and wool fabric
  - must have a fully compressed filling (about 2 pounds of wood shavings)
a tool roll to fit the tools - 2 points
a doll or animal - 1 point
  - sew and stuff with natural materials
  - 4 limbs, head, and a body
full-bib apron - 2 points
quilt a Christmas stocking - 2.5 points
sew a simple circle or tube skirt - 2 points
5-gore skirt - 3 points
lined 5+ gore skirt - 4 points
  - knee-length or longer
  - pockets
walking skirt with flat-lining - 5 points
  - knee-length or longer
  - at least one pocket
pants - 2 points
  - drawstring or button front
  - lounge/PJ pants okay
jeans - 4 points
  - button or zipper fly
  - flat fell seams
  - knee-length or longer
  - denim
  - belt loops
overalls - 5 points
  - flat fell seams
  - reinforced bottom and knees
t-shirts - 1.5 points
shirt - 4 point
  - woven cloth
  - button front
pair of panties/boxers/briefs - 1 point
a bra - 2 points
stays (pre-Victorian corset) - 15 points
  - must fit
  - must include cording for vertical support
an underbust corset - 20 points
  - must fit
  - must include busk, lace opening, at least 10 bones or cording for vertical support
an overbust corset - 25 points
  - must fit
  - must include busk, lace opening, at least 10 bones or cording for vertical support
bathrobe - 2 points
  - pockets
housecoat or dressing gown at least knee-length - 3 points
  - designed to protect clothes and keep you warm at home
  - pockets
quilted or lined housecoat or dressing gown - 5 points
  - "quilting" in a housecoat refers the stitching that puts the layers together not patchwork
  - a quilted housecoat could have outer layer, possible filler, but not always, and inner lining, then some stiched diamonds that put the layers together to stop them shifting and create air pockets for insulation
  - see image (https://sewguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/quilting-stitches.jpg)
  - pockets
hip-length or longer coat or jacket - 5 points
  - pockets
lined hip-length or longer coat or jacket - 7 points
  - pockets
quilt a jacket, pants, or skirt - 8 points
  - each “patch” must be 10” x 10” or smaller
  - knee-length or longer
  - half sleeve or longer
  - must have at least TWO pockets
  - must be lined or have a backing layer
  - no raw seams
  - see image to include


wax or oil cloth list (zero points required)
create 3 wax or oil cloths for food storage - 1 point
create wax or oil cloth and use it to make a lunch bag - 1.5 points
transform 1-yard cotton or linen cloth into oilcloth - 2 points
  - write a few words on your method
sew a shoulder bag from oilcloth - 2 points
  - has at least two compartments
  - adjustable straps
sew a rucksack from oilcloth - 5 points
  - has at least 2 internal compartments
  - two pockets/bottle holders on the outside
  - adjustable straps
sew a poncho from oilcloth - 3 points
sew a raincoat from oilcloth - 8 points
  - knee-length or longer
  - lined
  - pockets
  - example - greatcoat
  - sleeves optional


dye list (zero points required)
dye 2 lbs (dry weight) using no-mordant dyeing - 2 points
  - can be cotton, wool, silk, or linen - cloth, yarn, or fiber
  - use dye from natural sources including rhubarb leaves, stinging nettles, arbutus bark, or avocado pits
  - prepare the fabric, yarn, or fiber for dyeing - clean and organized
  - test for dye fastness - warm wash with soap and something white after it’s dyed and if the white is still white and the color is still there, then woot!
  - write a few words about the choice of dyestuff and why it doesn’t need a mordant
  - https://permies.com/wiki/157744/fiber-arts/dyeing-natural-materials-notes-natural#1236231
dye 2 lbs (dry weight) using natural mordant dyeing (alum okay) -2.5 points
  - can be cotton, wool, silk, or linen - cloth, yarn, or fiber
  - use dye from natural sources including beetroot, onions, carrot tops ...
  - prepare the fabric, yarn, or fiber for dyeing - clean and organized
  - test for dye fastness - warm wash with soap and something white after it’s dyed and if the white is still white and the color is still there, then woot!
  - write a few words about the choice of dyestuff and why it works for this fiber
  - https://permies.com/wiki/157744/fiber-arts/dyeing-natural-materials-notes-natural#1236231
dye 2 lbs (dry weight) using fermentation method - 4 points
  - can be cotton, wool, silk, or linen - cloth, yarn, or fiber
  - use dye from natural sources including indigo, lichen, kakishibu (persimmon), or woad
  - prepare the fabric, yarn, or fiber for dyeing - clean and organized
  - test for dye fastness - warm wash with soap and something white after it’s dyed and if the white is still white and the color is still there, then woot!
  - write a few words about the choice of dyestuff and why it works for this fiber


felt list (zero points required)
felt a pouch or purse - 2 points
needle felt a figure - plant, animal, mythical, etc. - 1 points
wet felt a scarf - 1 point
wet felt a hat - 2 points
wet felt 3 wool dryer balls - 1 point


leatherwork and fur list (zero points required)
leather thimble - 0.5 point
leather belt - 1 point
wallet - 3 points
  - one compartment for cash
   - at least two places for cards
hatchet or ax head protector - 1.5 points
   - belt loop & closure (snap?)
knife sheath - 1.5 points
  - belt loop
  - way to hold the knife in - snap
  - won’t dull the knife (ie, stupid metal “sewing”)
  - the knife won’t easily cut the stitching
work gloves - 5 points
apron - 2 points
  - bib and bottom (full coverage)
  - at least one pocket
watch strap - 1 point
simple leather-bound notebook - 2 points
pruning shears holster - 1.5 points
  - way to affix to belt
tool pouch or roll - 3 points
tool belt with two pockets - 3 points
  - integrated belt and pocket(s)
simple soft-soled shoes/slippers - 3 points
handbag/satchel - 3 points
  - two compartments
  - adjustable strap
  - closure on pockets
backpack - 6 points
  - has at least 2 internal compartments
  - two pockets/bottle holders on the outside
  - adjustable straps
  - straps/rings to tie things onto
camera bag - 5 points
  - has compartments for camera, at least one lens, memory card or film canister, camera cleaning supplies
  - fits camera - camera cannot move around
cured fish skin wallet - 4 points
  - one compartment for cash
  - at least two places for cards
  - a few words about your choice of fish

wood badge

seed list (make one item, starting from seed, from the list below)
  - some of these BBs can be a twofer with animal care BBs
long underwear (top and bottom or both in one) for cold weather
long sleeve woven shirt - button or pullover
short sleeve or sleeveless shirt
sweater or cardigan
ankle length trousers, overalls, skirt or dress
apron with bib or substantial tool belt
winter coat (to keep you warm and dry all day at sub freezing temperatures)
8 pair of socks
foundation garments (pick one):
 - 8 pairs of men’s underwear
 - 2 pair of panties, drawers, shift, combinations and 1 support garment (bra or corset - extra credit for corsets)


for the rest of this badge, you need 135 points
New items from Straw are allowed

wardrobe list
Complete a full outfit
  - using the straw BBs from the sewing, stickwork, felting, leatherwork lists.
  - if you made the items to get your Straw badge, you don’t need to repeat.
  - including the following:
    - undergarments
    - socks
    - light top
    - warm top
    - pants or skirt
    - jacket
    - apron

complete the dye list

complete the bedding list

shoe list (minimum of 12 points required)
  - shoes for this list include a hard sole and do not use petroleum-based materials
pair of shoes - 12 points
pair of boots - 12 points

big upholstery list (minimum of 25 points required)
couch - 35 points
  - describe how your couch won’t end up lumpy
  - natural wood frame
    - zero glue, plywood, particle board, wafer board, etc. in the frame
    - you can
      - build your own
      - re-use an existing frame (if it meets our standards)
      - hire somebody to build the frame (to our standards)
      - purchase a frame (if it meets our standards)
‘comfy chair’ (one person sofa) - 25 points
  - describe how your chair won’t end up lumpy
  - natural wood frame
    - zero glue, plywood, particle board, wafer board, etc. in the frame
    - you can
      - build your own
      - re-use an existing frame (if it meets our standards)
      - hire somebody to build the frame (to our standards)
      - purchase a frame (if it meets our standards)

small shelter list (minimum of 5 points required)
oilcloth tarp (at least 12’ x 14’) - 5 points
  - you have to make the oilcloth
recanvase a marquee tent, shelter frame, or easy up - 15 points
sleeping tent for 2+ people (at least 64 feet square footprint) - 10 points
10’x10’ open tent with removable walls or bug screens - 8 points

big shelter list (minimum of 25 points required)
yurt - 100 points
  - felt the walls and roof with wool
  - at least 400 square foot footprint
  - walls at least 5 foot high and much higher in middle
teepee - 50 points
  - at least 18 feet in diameter
canvas tent - 25 points
  - at least 14 feet by 14 feet and 7 feet tall at the walls
event tent (or event canopy with walls) - 45 points
  - could be a “medieval marquee tent”
  - four walls and two removable doors
  - minimum of 250 square feet
  - walls at least 7 feet tall

housewares list (minimum of 20 points required)
starting from yarn or raw fiber
showing a good choice of materials and methods appropriate for the goal.

towels
  - 2 kitchen/dish towels and 2 dishcloths - 15 points
  - 1 bath towel and 1 washcloth - 15 points
rug - 25 points
  - 24 square feet or bigger
  - Not fur/skin
privacy drapes - 8 points
  - 10 feet wide total
  - can be multiple windows
winter wool drapes - 8 points
  - 10 feet wide total
  - can be multiple windows

review your vegan winter coat - 30 points (zero required points)
  - one 4 hour stint of being outside in it at temperatures below freezing
  - 10-minute video review

iron badge

complete the wood big upholstery list
    - if you made a chair in Wood you now need to make a couch
couch
    - describe how your couch won’t end up lumpy
    - natural wood frame
      - zero glue, plywood, particleboard, wafer board, etc. in the frame
      - you can
        - build your own
        - re-use an existing frame (if it meets our standards)
        - hire somebody to build the frame (to our standards)
        - purchase a frame (if it meets our standards)
comfy chair
    - describe how your chair won’t end up lumpy
    - natural wood frame
      - zero glue, plywood, particleboard, wafer board, etc. in the frame
      - you can
        - build your own
        - re-use an existing frame (if it meets our standards)
        - hire somebody to build the frame (to our standards)
        - purchase a frame (if it meets our standards)

make a different shelter than you made in the wood big shelter list
    - if you made a teepee in wood you have to make something other than a teepee now
yurt
    - felt the walls and roof with wool
    - at least 400 square feet footprint
    - walls at least 5 feet high and much higher in middle
    - purchased dimensional lumber is allowed, no kits
teepee  
    - at least 18 feet in diameter
canvas tent
    - at least 14 feet by 14 feet and 7 feet tall at the walls
    - reusing an old frame is allowed
event tent (or event canopy with walls)
    - could be a “medieval marquee tent”
    - four walls and two removable doors
    - minimum of 250 square feet
    - walls at least 7 feet tall
    - reusing an old frame is allowed

everything else in iron is made from raw materials grown or wildcrafted by the person
    - in the case of animal-based fabrics you are growing the food for the animal
    - wildcrafted leather is ok

complete the seed list

complete the wood shoe list
    - if you made boots in wood you now need to make shoes
Hard soled shoe
Hard soled boot

complete this housewares list
    - you don’t have to repeat the housewares item you made in wood
rug (minimum 25 square feet)
towels (make one of the following)
    - 2 kitchen/dish towels and 2 dishcloths
    - 1 bath towel and 1 washcloth
privacy drapes  
    - 10 feet wide total
    - can be multiple windows
winter wool drapes
    - 10 feet wide total
    - can be multiple windows
1 day ago
pep
This is a badge bit (BB) that is part of the PEP curriculum.  Completing this BB is part of getting the straw badge in Textiles.

For this BB, you will make two bed pillows for sleeping.

Common sizes for bed pillows:
- standard 20" x 26"
- queen 20" x 30"
- king 20" x 36"

To complete this BB, the requirements are:
- Make two pillows for sleeping
- Minimum standard size 20 inches by 26 inches
- Fabric must be a natural material (hemp, cotton, wool, linen, silk, etc.)
- Must be stuffed with a natural material such as buckwheat hulls, feathers, or wool

To document your completion of the BB, provide proof of the following as pictures or a video (less than two minutes):

- Describe the size pillows you will make and the materials you will use.
- Post a before picture of your materials.
- Post a picture of your pillow in progress.
- Post a picture of your completed pillows!

Related Articles:
How to Make a Feather Pillow
Make Your Own Buckwheat Pillow

Related Videos:

How to Make a Pillow Insert


How to Make a Feather Pillow


How to fill a pillow with down feathers
1 day ago
Jason, can you get your hands on some compost? That would be my preference if it was me. The cow manure would have to be well aged and not fresh. The yellow leaves seem to speak of nitrogen deficiency.
2 days ago
My husband and I have been working diligently on our pastures for a number of years now. I have some areas that have spotty growth with soil showing. I don't like bare soil, and the birds seem to love to eat the seed I broadcast, so I'm experimenting with Fukuoka-style seed pellets as described in The One-Straw Revolution.

The basic recipe is to mix clay and seed. I added some compost.

The idea is to coat the seed with the clay. I had to play with the clay and water amounts.

Then I spread it out in the sun to dry.

When they're done they look like this.

Then I took a bucketful out and hunted for bare soil.

The clay coating hides the seed pretty well!

I used a lot of different seeds and learned that this seems to work best with smaller seed, like grasses, clovers, and herbs. The larger seeds like corn, sunflower, squash, and field peas didn't coat as well. The wheat and oat seed were hit and miss.

So now I wait. I'm very hopeful I'll get good growth and fill in some of my pasture bare spots!
2 days ago
Joe, how's it doing now? It's been a couple months since you posted this, so I'm curious as to where your pasture stands now.

If it was me, I think I'd try to establish the best polyculture I could manage in those non-established areas. Personally, I'm not real keen on bermuda because of it's monoculture tendency, but you're right, it's very popular. One question is, what's available to you? I think bahiagrass and kleingrass are supposed to do well in Texas. For the legumes, what about alfalf and sericea lespedeza? Native grasses are always good.

Does your bermuda overwinter where you are? Or do you plant cool season perennials too?
2 days ago