Ted’s essays

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 […]

Spring full moon

My organic gardening mentor encouraged us to plant on every full moon. Not so much that it favored the plants themselves, but because it organized us to do regular plantings whether that was seeds, bare-root, or transplants. Get something started every full moon and you will always have a good garden. In Montana that assumes you have a greenhouse. We simply have too much winter cold to allow year-round outdoor plantings. What a blessed place I grew up in where we could. Lovely Nature was unfortunately taken over by lazy minds. Today, March 9th is a full moon. That is my trigger to consider planting something. Other signals from nature: The little budgies have returned to our neighborhood. The glaciers […]

outsmarting an egg sucking chicken

An occasional problem on The Easter Egg Chicken Ranch is the egg eating hen. When one breaks open an egg in the nest and discovers interesting goo inside, she may never lose that interest. It is a high-order problem as there is no way I know of to figure out who the culprit is and remove the problem from the flock. This ugliness cropped up recently with a new batch of hens coming on line. My flock now stands at 2 great, peaceful, compatible roosters and 18 hens who know which rooster is the leader of her personal flock with no jostling or squabbling over position in the grand scheme of things. Ah, but how did I outsmart the egg […]

snow season snapshot

I start here with the pretty stuff. This twelve-second video clip is the view out my studio window when the fat, fluffy flakes fly. Regardless of the work it brings to keep the walkways and driveways clear for safe travel, this classic snow falling look is calm and peaceful to watch from a nicely heated home. Next up is a movie of the work portion this recent storm brought me. On prior occasions I was under-dressed for blowing snow. I geared up with mask, goggles, super mittens and, well, I was quickly overheated and had to shed some of what you see in this video. snow blowing from Ted Dunlap on Vimeo. When we took on this new homestead […]

dam + ladder

Beagle Brain, aka: Scooter, our Beagle/Lab cross, the BLAB, inherited the beagle willingness to follow her nose wherever it leads, whenever she can. Our containment fence was not up to the task. She would challenge it. I would fix it. Rinse and Repeat. FINALLY I shut her exit down while the rented backhoe was available with a dam and its backwater flooding where the fence crossed the creek. Yay! Success! BUT The tiny dam I rebuild every spring to enable my irrigation to draw from what little bit the upstream irrigators leave in Bunkhouse Creek posed no barrier to the little trout living in the year-round stream. My Scooter dam and culvert, however, did make a barrier… One I was […]