Life on the Farm In Pictures

Sheep shearing several weeks ago. The sheep were getting hot with their three or four inch thick wool coats still on.

New kittens and their mother on the porch of Melody’s log cabin playhouse.

Sheep grazing in the silvopasture demonstration plot.

Chestnut Blight Inoculation Evaluation in the Chestnut Orchard

Earlier this year, several hundred of the chestnut trees in our chestnut orchard were inoculated with two different strains of chestnut blight. Last week a group from the American Chestnut Foundation came and evaluated the inoculations. We were pleased that many of the trees showed good resistance to the blight. The trees with the weakest resistance will be cut down and the trees with the strongest resistance will be kept for further breeding purposes.

This tree is an example of good resistance to the blight inoculation. The cracks in the bark are an indication that the tree is fighting the blight and is “walling off” the blight to keep it from spreading.

This tree has blight around the crotch of the tree from a naturally occurring source. It looks like the blight is really bad, but the tree actually has good resistance in the way it is fighting the blight. The chestnut orchard is an interesting project, and our family is learning a lot from caring for it. We are looking forward to what happens in the future.

Sawdust Toilet – A Homesteading Solution

Here is an idea to put in the back of your head in case you ever need it. When we first considered being curators for the Maryland State Park system and restoring this house, one problem was that the house only had one bathroom and there are eight people in our family! I looked on the internet about composting toilets and they run $2,000+, are ugly, and take up a significant amount of space. In addition, I did not like the idea of composting that stuff inside my house. Then I came across the sawdust toilet concept. It is cheap, odor free, and the composting is done outside. We have used it for the past six years and are pleased with it.

We use it similar to the old fashioned chamber pot concept and just use it for #1. The difference is that the carbon in the sawdust keeps down the odor. After each use, or in the morning, we add a fresh layer of sawdust to cover everything up. If there is some smell, we just add more sawdust. We have a sawdust toilet for the boys, one for the girls, and one in the master bedroom. When the buckets are full, we dump them on a compost pile.

Can you find the “bathroom”?

Here it is! I built a box to hide the buckets and toilet seat.