Ted’s essays

bargain basement boot rack

We have muck boots for ourselves, family, friends and guests – anyone who happens by to work or play in our chicken yard, creek, snow or mud. Mostly the collection has been standing in the alley between our house and garage. One such friend recently discovered a mouse nest in one of the boots we were loaning out. Turns out more than one boot was thusly violated. Fortunately this particular guest is an earthy guy who was not put off by this violation, but the ICK-factor was something we could not tolerate. My wife sent me links to several boot rack models she wanted so the boots would be unwelcome to mice, keep them dry, visible and ready for […]

Darby Blizzard of ’21

Epic snowfall for the Darby area with 15 inches on Sunday followed by 6 inches on Monday. A bit much for the equipment we have here to deal with normal snowfalls. In the video at the bottom I show how to read the weather satellite clips and what they tell us. […]

hammered by early winter blizzard

Two weeks ago I was photographing Autumn in The Bitterroot. It is typically a short season, but we do not normally, naturally get much snow until Thanksgiving – a month or so from now. The Blizzard of October 23-24, 2020 will stand out for a long time. I can count on a number of light snowfalls my Sportsman plow will push away along with the gravel that worked its way to the surface over the summer. Not this time. Thirteen and a half inches is WAY MORE than my little plow can push anywhere. This season started with the snowblower as my only snow management choice. It had two problems dealing with the overload. One was the gravel beating […]

Autumn on our homestead

With four days of rain predicted and reasonable certainty that both the summer and the Indian Summer are history, I saw this morning as my last chance to seed the areas my construction projects this year laid bare. I have been trying to buy or borrow a real harrow to work the seeds under cover, but nothing worked out. So I made my own along the lines of cheap, scrappy farm yard stuff. Old boards. Fence scrap. Screws. Chain. Ingenuity. It worked just fine. It has been almost a decade since I sold off my 20-year business, The Gentleman Farmer with tractors, implements, good-will and customer list. Our Bunkhouse homestead demanded a snow plow so I have a Polaris […]

rack for long-handled tools

I have made several versions of this. My new one is based on heavy-gauge steel hog panels, also known as livestock panels. I had, have some scraps kicking around that needed repurposing. The photographs are actually celebrating my moving the tool rack from the “Tool Port” to the adjacent “Car Port”. Since my diminutive Honda CRX is occupying a full-sized parking space, there is plenty of room for the tools which were contributing to the overcrowding in my tool shed. Last year I repurposed a plastic strip door, but snow blew in and made a hash of it. Since I never walk or drive through that opening, I disabled the strip movement, making it solid so I could put […]

terraforming my homestead

flat spot at top of our hill – future radio installation? I have also heard it called “hardscaping”. I simply called it “tractor work” for the 20 years I did it commercially. My vision was one of the reasons I was successful at it. I could visualize re-formed landscape better than most. Exceptionally skilled driving was another part of it. I appear to have lost very little of either in over a dozen years since I sold The Gentleman Farmer. I have been gaining control of our little homestead over the last few years, but have not had much impact outside the fenced yard until this month. I resolved the drainage / snow-removal issue that turned the floor of our […]

Stone Soup Kitchen

TEOTWAWKI, The End Of The World As We Know It is upon us. We are in the early stages, but the normal we had a year ago will not return in our lifetimes. We had a warning in Spring and have been granted a short reprieve, but it would be foolhardy to squander the next month. Every analysis I read and see indicates The Change will get worse, soon… much, much worse, and frightfully soon. I share much of that at this website and will continue to do so. Meanwhile, most of us agree that we have at least one good month to build our pantries. Few expect supplies to be as plentiful and easily accessed past October. Hardly any […]

Ma Nature to the rescue

With a year-round creek running through our yard we do have a wasp infestation problem. It was overwhelming with nests all over our house, out buildings, just about any structure in our yard, and the barn/shop rafters were full of them. We hired professional big guns to bring some level of balance to the situation. I put out some wasp traps as soon as the insects began to move this spring (that is supposed to get the queens before they start reproducing), but the intended targets just laughed at me. We scheduled a date for the eradicators next month. As much as I dislike chemicals, I like even less being assaulted as I go about my daily business. This week […]

planting moon

The moon over Montana will be full on Thursday, March 7th. Bob Cannard, my organic gardening mentor encouraged us to plant on every full moon. He did not touch on whether or not he believed it cosmically favored the plants themselves. His expressed reasoning was that it organized us to do regular plantings whether that was seeds, starts, bare-root, or transplants. Get something started every full moon and you will always have a good garden. From long before there were computers, televisions and electric lights, people on nature-driven cycles have called the first full moon of May, “The Planting Moon”. Whereas in some environments planting and growing year-round is possible, here our growing season is short, but its days […]

honeydew

I enjoy my carnivorous plants a heckuva lot more than flypaper, to understate more than a little. The wonderful folks at California Carnivores provide insect control for me year after year. My honeydew from a couple years ago is still among the living – and presumably happy campers in my home. Officially known as drosera capensis, my honeydew is highly photogenic and wonderful for keeping little flying insects in check. Peter D’Amato, founder and principle at California Carnivores told me the little dewdrops at the end of the leaf hairs are ounce-for-ounce the stickiest substance known to man. Once an insect lands on one of these leaves it’s stuck. The leaf then curls up around, and digests the insect parts […]

if an egg a day is good …

My wife cannot imagine breakfast without eggs. Even with her awesome wheat, nut, blueberry pancakes, maple syrup, bacon and sausage, there still has to be an egg on top. I cannot imagine a homestead without chickens. Even in a downtown tract home I had one. Now my flock is around 20. I feed them organic, non-GMO because we expect to eat the eggs and want a healthy product. I also supplement with a bit of oyster shell calcium and ample grazing space. The girls love it. Our springtime egg production is up to over a dozen a day. I will let a broody hen reproduce sometime this year to refresh the flock. After two years, production falls off rapidly, […]

playing in the mud

Sean called his Darby Adult Ed class “Mud Made Mankind”. He gave us a wonderful introduction to working with clay, glazes, potter’s wheel and much more. We found ways to mold clay that didn’t work. We found ways that did. He was a wonderful teacher, cheerleader and assistant. I entered the class with a specific project in mind. I didn’t care if was the only creation I made, but I was focused on getting this one done. As you can see here, we pulled it off… and I do mean WE … Sean was a big help in many ways. I have a carnivorous pitcher plant that seems to like its home, rewarding me with a fly-free laundry room […]