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Pasture Deficit Disorder

Minor Drainage Issues on a Homestead

A Wanna Be PioneerNo matter where you live, you might have to deal with water drainage issues from time to time. (To clarify, I'm talking minor drainage issues. If you are having flooding issues, you need to seek out the experts, like an engineer. And depending on where you live, permits may be required on some types of drainage work.)

While it's on the the Pasture To Do List to add rain gutters to our house, it's well, you know ... on the list. Not having gutters yet has created some (minor) runoff issues in heavy rain events. We have the edges of the yard up against the house lined with rock to help prevent erosion from the water that flows off the edges of the roof. The rocks help keep the water flowing downhill and away from the house. However, we noticed the side yard was now often under water. Also, water flowed from that side yard and the front of our house towards the chicken coop. In heavy rains, there will be a couple of inches of standing water in those areas.

So we endeavored to install some French drains to help pull the water away from the house and towards the pasture and away from the coop in the chickens' (aka Tiny's) yard.

To install these French drains, we dug a narrow trench about one foot deep. (In an area where it could flow downhill.) We laid a 25-foot piece of perforated drain pipe that is covered with a sock. These cost about $25 at our local home improvement store.

french drain pipe 

Then we back filled the trench with pea gravel. Water seeps through the gravel into the pipe and downhill. The sock helps prevent the pipe from filling up with soil.

The photographs below are the first French drain we put in at the back corner of the house. It runs under the backyard fence and out into the pasture.

PDD french drain 6

PDD french drain 5  PDD french drain 7

These next photographs are of the second French drain we installed in the chickens' yard. You can see they were "helpers" going through all the spoils of our digging and looking for worms and grubs. The chickens think it's high times any time they see us with a shovel in hand. ;)

PDD french drain 2

PDD french drain 1  PDD french drain 3

These types of drains have worked really well for us to redirect water coming off our house or sheet flow from big rain events. Now, instead of having standing water along the side of our house or in the chicken yard, water is moved out to the pasture. And we'll take all the water we can get in the pasture.

Until next time, worms rock, bees rule and chickens are my Zen.

Pasture Deficit Disorder - Because Life in a Pasture is the Only Cure

You can also visit us at our website, or on Facebook.

Fencing for the Homestead

A Wanna Be PioneerI've written about fencing before ... when we were first getting started on our homestead. We’ve done a lot of fencing projects around here since we bought this property. And depending on the application, there are a ton of options available. We had relatively good barbed-wire fences around the perimeter, except for when trees fall on the fence. Why is it that a tree that falls never falls harmlessly in the other direction, but always on the fence? Must be Murphy’s Law.

Soon after moving in, we wanted to start building a backyard. We needed to be able to let our “city dogs” outside to do their “business” unattended, without having them run wild on our 10 acres … or everyone else’s acres for that matter.

We found ourselves staring at every fence we passed by. We came up with a vision of what we wanted it to look like, and designed and constructed it ourselves. That first phase of the backyard was really hard work. We were in a drought, so the ground was really dry and hard. And the backyard happened to be over nice hard clay. Ugh. It was S.L.O.W. going, digging those post holes. And let me tell you, we dug every one of them by hand (we being my husband). We buried 8-foot treated 4x4 posts 2 feet deep and concreted them in. Then we added three “rails,” which were 8-foot treated 2x4s, and stained the posts and rails with a semi-transparent cedar-colored stain. Finally we wrapped the outside with 5-foot tall welded wire fencing. We used a pneumatic stapler to attach the wire to the posts and rails.

Using this style of fence, we built our backyard, chicken yard and front yard. We also just finished fencing off the driveway and the chicken yard to the front fence to create a “cow-free” zone and our future orchard.

Backyard without gates

Fence around front yard 

Above top, our backyard before we added gates and, above, our front yard is completely enclosed. We've planted jessamines to create some screening for privacy and blooms for the bees.

We have several different types of gates. We have pedestrian gates that are approximately 4 feet wide that we built ourselves to match the fence. We also have several farm (tube) gates so we can get equipment, tractors, trucks or trailers in the yards and near the house if necessary.

Single 6 ft. farm gate 

PDD Pedestrian Gate 

Double farm gates

Red Brand Cattle FenceWe have done plenty of fence work around the perimeter too. We started by shoring up weak areas in the barbed wire before we got cows. We have since decided that cattle field fence was going to be our best bet with Longhorns, so we’ve been adding that right over the barbed wire fence. Cattle fencing (at left) has smaller openings close to the ground that gradually get a little larger towards the top, so the hooves and legs can’t get stuck through the fence. That cattle fence has eliminated a lot of problems with badly behaving young bulls on both sides of the fence!

What kind of fencing works best on your homestead?

You can also follow our homesteading adventures at our website, Pasture Deficit Disorder, or on Facebook.

Until next time, worms rock, bees rule and chickens are my Zen.

Pasture Deficit Disorder - Because Life in a Pasture is the Only Cure

A Fort for Our Barn Cat

A Wanna Be PioneerI know, I know.  We've heard it before ... "You do know your animals are spoiled, right?" or "Man, if I were an animal, I sure hope I'd get to live at your place!"

But when you have a barn cat (best dog we have, by the way), and she doesn't even have a barn, where's a respectable mouser supposed to go?

Two Socks Pasture Manager 

When Two Socks adopted us two years ago, we needed to find a safe place for her to sleep. We had a small utility table that was one of hubby's first wood-working projects. We also had some leftover pieces of siding, so we enclosed the bottom shelf and put a tote inside with some paper shreds and some straw. And Two Socks took up residence right outside the back door. As the weather turned colder, we upgraded her "bed" to a huge dog crate we had on top of the table with a dog bed and some hay inside. She made a nice little nest. Problem was, with all the openings in the dog crate, it was susceptible to the weather – especially rain.  So naturally we covered it with a tarp. That worked for over a year.

Leading up to the recent, and very unusual, really cold snap we had last month, hubby wanted to build something a little more weather-proof for our faithful girl (aka the Pasture Manager).

We still used the big dog crate with the bed inside, but we enclosed it in her very own cedar-sided kitten fort.  A barn kitty's gotta have a barn, right?  Even if it's a mini-barn.

Kitten fort

Oh, and that box on the "lower level" with the paper shreds?  Yeah, that's right ... the chickens have taken it over as the exclusive, private nest they can sneak off to. So now we have to check the nests in the coop and the "nest" in the old kitten bed in the backyard for eggs each day. Guess I shouldn't complain ... at least they're not laying them all over in random places!

Until next time, worms rocks, bees rule and chickens are my Zen.

You can also visit us on Facebook, Pinterest and PastureDeficitDisorder on Instagram.

Pasture Deficit Disorder: Because Life in a Pasture is the Only Cure

Pasture Deficit Disorder Is Our New Blog Name

A Wanna Be PioneerWe haven't been around as much as we would have liked, so you may not have noticed that we changed our blog name from Wanna Be Pioneer to Pasture Deficit Disorder. 

Even before it was officially our land, we couldn't stay away from this little pasture we now call home. It kept drawing us back. And soon after we bought it, we realized that anytime we drove away from it, we couldn't wait until we would return. 

pasture deficit disorder/pasture before

pasture deficit disorder/pasture now

One day, I printed a gorgeous photograph of our dramatically revived pasture and posted it on my bulletin board at work with a note that said, "I'm suffering from PDD (Pasture Deficit Disorder)," and thus, our new blog name was born.

pasture deficit disorder/tractor and sunrise

pasture deficit disorder/sunset

While our name may be new, we still channel that Wanna Be Pioneer spirit in learning to do for ourselves, preserving food, gardening and raising animals.

Until next time, worms rock, bees rule and chickens are my Zen.

You can also visit us at on our website, Facebook, or Pinterest.

Pressure Canning Corn

A Wanna Be PioneerWhile I wish we were growing all our own produce, we're just not there yet. But that doesn't mean we can't put up produce to preserve for months down the road. When we find a good deal, we buy in bulk.

Earlier this summer, we found corn on sale for eight ears for $1, and we knew it was time to strike. We bought two cases – 96 ears. Our usual practice was to shuck the corn, blanch it, cut it off the cob, put it in freezer bags, vacuum seal it and store it in the freezer.

This year, for the first time ever, we decided to can it. Being a low-acid food, you need to use a pressure canner to can corn. We have a great pressure canner. Brand new in fact. We've used the pot as an extra water bath canner before, but we hadn't pressure canned anything. I have to admit, it's a little intimidating. But I'm still here to tell you about it! HA!

Outside corn setupThe shucking and cutting off the cob all took place outside under a canopy. Ripe sweet corn has a lot of juice and sugar. For us, it is SO much easier to hose down the folding tables outside than to have to wipe every single sticky surface of your kitchen.

Back inside, we added some water and brought it to a boil for 5 minutes in batches – about 16 cups of corn in each pot (we had two pots going on the stove). Then we "hot packed" it (as opposed to raw pack) in pint jars and topped it with boiling water. And into the pressure canner it went.

We use a camp stove outside for all our canning. We have found that it comes to a boil much faster than on the stove inside. And it also doesn't heat up the kitchen by working outside. The only drawback was sitting outside (and it was HOT) to babysit the canner.

With the first batch, it took quite a bit of adjusting to get the heat just right. You want the pressure weight to bobble one to four times a minute, but not constantly or else you'll lose too much water inside the canner. That's the one drawback to the camp stove – the dial for the burner is just not that precise. But eventually we got it settled with just the right amount of heat. Corn takes a while – 55 minutes. We did two batches in the canner and ended up with 27 pints of corn. Rather than go another round in the canner, I put the last 24 pints in freezer bags.

Now that we've successfully pressure canned something, we look forward to using it much more in the future.

We always have such a sense of accomplishment when we put up food. Especially canning them, since once they are done, no energy is required to store them – a distinct advantage over frozen foods. Now if we were going to put up enough cans of corn so that we never had to buy any for a year, we would need a lot more than this! But it's a great reminder of our ancestors who only ate what they raised and put up foods all spring and summer long to get them through the winter. We have tremendous respect for them and their way of life!

jars of canned corn

Until next time, worms rock, bees rule and chickens are my Zen.

You can also visit us at our website, on Facebook or on Pinterest.

Easy Refrigerator Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles

A Wanna Be PioneerHello, GRIT friends. I'm sorry I've been AWOL for so long! But I'm back with a tasty and super easy recipe for you, and I hope you'll enjoy it.

I've made a batch of these with cucumbers I purchased because the ones I was growing weren't ready yet. They disappeared so quickly, I had to make another huge batch – this time with my own homegrown cucumbers. You can buy pickling cucumbers in grocery stores or farmers' markets. These pickles are in high demand at work and with our family!

jar of pickles Please note this recipe has not gone through the canning process and must be kept refrigerated.

Spicy Bread and Butter (Refrigerator) Pickles

1  1/2 to 2 pounds pickling cucumbers
1 sweet onion – I used half of one
Several garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons pickling salt, divided
Approximately 1 cup white vinegar, divided
Approximately 1/2 cup cider vinegar, divided
1  1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

Wash and slice your cucumbers a uniform thickness. Slice onions to desired thickness. I used half an onion and sliced it in 1/4-inch slices and separated the half rings. Peel and slice garlic.

Combine cucumbers and onions in a very large bowl. Sprinkle with half the pickling salt and toss to mix well. Add the remaining salt and mix well. Fill the rest of the bowl with as much ice as possible. Crushed or small cubes work well. Let cucumbers sit with ice for 1 1/2 hours. This step helps them stay crunchy.

cucumbers salted and ready for ice

After 1  1/2 hours, rinse cucumbers very well to remove salt.

Meanwhile, in a large, non-reactive pot, combine 1 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup cider vinegar (I use Bragg's with the mother). Add sugar to the vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar melts. Add pickling spice, other spices and garlic, and return to a boil. Add cucumbers and onions and bring back to a boil.

Here's why I say approximately on the vinegars. I didn't have enough liquid to mostly cover all the cucumbers. So I added a big splash of white vinegar and a smaller splash of cider vinegar so the cucumbers were mostly covered in the liquid.

Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until cucumbers just start to get some translucence to them, stirring occasionally. You don't want them to get mushy.

Remove from heat and, with a slotted spoon, spoon pickles into pint jars. I got four pints. Then ladle – careful, it's still hot! – liquid over the pickles in the jars. You want liquid to the top of the jar. Let cool before covering with lids and storing in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Until next time, worms rock, bees rule and chickens are my Zen.

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First one! Adventures in Raising Chickens

I've already freely admitted that I now totally get being a "crazy chicken lady"!  Yeah, it'll be great having fresh eggs - you can't get them any fresher than that.  But before owning chickens, I never understood how therapeutic they are.  No matter how bad a day I've had, my girls never cease to ease all my troubles.  They all come running when I show up after work with their daily treasure trove of fruits and veggies.  What a greeting!  Just watching them in all their chicken-ness never fails to soothe my soul and reconnect me with our beloved pasture and this way of life we have chosen with intention.

Two weeks ago, it was Saturday, and I was tending to chicken chores inside the coop and hubby was taking the partial covers off the windows since the threat of rain had passed [with no rain to show for it :( ].  I noticed that three of the four nests had been arranged...with enthusiasm.  And to my sheer delight, one of them contained an egg!  Our very first egg!  The egg was small, and whomever laid it had pushed all the hay out of the nest, so the egg went into one of the holes of the milk crate.  It almost looked like it was sitting down in a little poached egg cup.  I shrieked my husband's name...and quickly realized my mistake.  He was on a ladder outside the coop...not a good time to shriek and scare him.  So I added quickly, "We got our first egg, we got our first egg!" 

 first egg 1  

 First egg 2
I've read lots of blogs and facebook posts when people proudly announce finding their first egg.  But now I truly understand all the excitement is about!

We were having eggs Sunday morning, so we cracked that puppy open.  It was such a little fella, it wouldn't make much of a meal on its own.  And look what we found:
  double yolk
Despite being little, it was a double-yolker!!  I wish we knew who laid it.  I'm guessing it had to be one of the goldies (golden laced wyandottes).  When we bought our chicks, two of them were a little older than all the others we picked out (we took all three of the goldies and all three of the plymouth barred rocks they had, plus six production reds).  While all the girls are all the same size now, those two have a couple of weeks of maturity on the others.  It shouldn't be too much longer before they are all at laying age.  And I can't wait to be collecting eggs every day.

 Follow our homesteading adventures at

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