Sunday, February 22, 2015

Busy Filming Beekeeping Videos

I had a wonderful visit with a local beekeeper this weekend.  I took along my video camera to record the experience in an effort to retain more than my memory would have allowed.

It ended up being such a tremendous amount of information that I have chosen to edit it into a YouTube mini series.

It contained about 49 minutes worth of beekeeping gems so I cut it into three segments for brevity.

If you are interested,  head over to YouTube and search for me: OrangeJeepDad to see my list of videos.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day on a Budget

Red roses from CostCo were only $15
I caught myself making a reservation at the top restaurant in town for Valentine's Day.

Hostess: "Will 8:30pm do? It is all we have left."
Me: "Sure. That will be fine."
Hostess: "Great. I'll pencil you in. We are having a special just for Valentine's Day. For only $59, you get a choice of salad, a main meal and a desert."
Me: "Um, ok."

And I hung up...stunned. Why in the world am I making a reservation that will cost me $120 for a meal for two...and that doesn't even include a tip?

Traditional pink pancakes on V-Day paper plates
I thought of all the things we could buy with $120.

Fast forward to Valentine's Day. After sleeping in, I began cleaning the bathroom. I cleaned our toilet and the girls'. I cleaned the bath tub, both sinks and mirrors. Anything that I could picture Wifey saying "I really don't want to clean that today." is what I cleaned.

As I cleaned the bathroom, I began looking at the old step stool that her father had made decades ago. It is quite dilapidated with many splashings of paint mixed about. It had certainly stood the test of time and held up very well. Not a morning goes by during the week that each little girl takes her turn standing atop the stool and getting their hair done by mommy.

I thought it would be a nice gift of my time to refurbish the old stool for all who use it. I video taped the refurb and put it on YouTube. I chose a nice bright red paint to signify Valentine's Day and the girls were quick to jump on it once I brought it back into the bathroom.

Valentine's Day ended up costing me a total of $25 ($15 for roses and $10 for paint) and there was plenty of joy to be had.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tree Question

Flower found a tree with berries in the parking lot at my work. Turns out, there are a lot of them in the parking lot but we don't know what they you?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Free Family Homestead Activity at Home Depot

Building flower pots for free at Home Depot
One of the things you eventually struggle with when raising children is how to keep them busy (or not bored) while teaching them something fun at the same time. This post reminds some folks who already know of the little gem but also informs the unknowing of a great way to spend a Saturday morning together with you children while learning some skills and walking away with a prize.

As far as I know, most Home Depots have a Saturday morning "hands-on" workshop for kids. They provide simple pre-made projects that can be assembled in under an hour and all supplies (and clean up!) are provided completely free to the public.

This project's apron pin
We have taken advantage of this wonderful program in Arizona and Idaho. We've helped our little ones build bird houses, monster trucks, flower pots and many more fun projects that are ours to take home and use or display in all their amazing glory.

This past Saturday, we took our three little girls and built a flower pot from a kit. All materials: wood, screws, nails, hammer and paint were provided. Best of all, the girls were given miniature Home Depot orange aprons just like the ones that the employees wear.

Upon completion of each and every project, every child gets a lapel pin for their apron to show they've completed the project. As the years go by and the projects become completed, the kids earn quite a collection of neat little collectible pins.

With each project also comes just a little more earned skill at using tools, paint and the accompanying techniques needed to use them. On this little pot, my girls learned to choke up on the hammer just a little to gain better control of the fulcrum power. They learned how to hold an object from the inside while painting the outside and I taught them how to hammer a nail back out of the wood when driven in too far (among lots of other tricks).

Simple to follow instructions
Have a sick kid at home who can't make it with his or her siblings? Politely mention it to the HD attendant and they have never denied us from taking an extra kit home for the child who couldn't make it.

As far as I have seen, these are always held on Saturdays and typically run for at least two hours...usually three. You can show up as early or late as you want during that time frame and HD is happy to allow you the time you need to finish.

There aren't many FREE activities left these days so this event is certainly worth mentioning. It is a great skill building and family bonding activity that I hope stays around for a long time.

Do you know of another gem like this that you can share in the comments. Good clean fun like this is hard to find these days.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Contest! $50 Amazon Gift Card - DIY Electric Dog Fence Topic

(Want a $50 Amazon Gift Card? Read on to find out how this post can help you get one.)

Freedom zones can be expanded with add-ons.
It’s been a while since I’ve held a contest and now that I’m in my new Idaho homestead, it feels like a great time to have another one! Everyone who comments and/or shares this post on any social media venue gets put in a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card! The contest ends March 1st at midnight and the lucky winner will be drawn using a random number generator.

What’s all the hoopla? Why, Lucky of course. He’s generated quite a bit of comments recently as I post about getting him settled into our new homestead here in southern Idaho. The property we’ve settled on has no perimeter fence and I’ve been working on different methods that will keep him from running over to the neighbors’ houses while allowing him his freedom to be a dog. Or as Joel Salatin might say, to let him experience his “dogness.”

I’ve decided on an electric fence for Lucky. Through the comments on my blog from you loyal subscribers (all three of you!) and my own research, I’ve determined there are six reasonable uses for a DIY electric dog fence.

If you have dogs, keeping them safe and out of trouble is always a top priority. Dogs thrive on having the freedom to run and explore for the good of their physical and mental health, but in some cases they can’t do so without restriction (ie., irritating the neighbors). Electric dog fences are versatile and reliable methods of containment in most cases and they’re relatively easy to install on your own. A DIY electric dog fence can be used in many different ways, and here are some of the ways you can take advantage of them.

Create Custom Dog Zones
One of the great things about electric dog fences is how versatile they are. Our three acres is perfectly rectangular…but our house sits cattywampus (crooked) on the property. Traditional fences are rigid and typically meant for rectangular yards or 90-degree angles. If I ran a fence line in parallel with my house, it would look awkward on my property. An electronic dog fence is easily installed in any shape or angle, allowing you to fully customize your dog’s zone. In small yards, this can let you maximize the space your dog can use, without being restricted by oddly shaped property lines or structures that would interfere with the path of a traditional fence.

Protect Your Chicken Coop
When I had my chicken coop in Flagstaff, I had to protect my flock from Lucky. He would dig under the fencing and swipe large swathes of feathers off their backs…if they were lucky enough to get away from his massive paws. Whether they have the urge to hunt or just want to play, dogs can easily injure or kill chickens (Lucky 4, Chickens 0). A fence around your coop to keep your chickens inside is often not enough to stop your dog from digging under or jumping over it. An invisible fence placed around your chicken coop will keep your dog and chickens separated. If you use electricity in your coop, an electric fence can share the power source. You can also purchase a solar panel for less than $100 to power the electric fence.

Guard Your Gardens or Flower Beds
Dogs that love to dig can wreak havoc in gardens or flower beds. Lucky can dig holes big enough to hide a lawn tractor in. If it’s a challenge to stop your dog from entering your garden, an electric dog fence might be the right solution for you. You can run wire around any sized garden, and your dog’s e-collar will emit a mild static shock if they get too close. You can even use a wireless dog fence in your garden, and some units are even disguised as rocks. An important thing to remember, of course, is that an invisible fence will not stop other critters from going in your garden.

Enclose Large Properties
For people with large properties, an electric dog fence is an excellent option. Some electric dog fence systems can enclose up to 100 acres at a time. Installing your own electric dog fence can save you thousands of dollars and the savings are even more significant over larger areas. With an underground dog fence, you don’t have to deal with evening out the terrain. You also don’t have to regularly survey your fence for damage, because an electric system will notify you if any portion is broken.

Add an Extra Layer of Protection
Lucky and I watching the Super Bowl
Even the best electric dog fence cannot contain the most aggressive dogs and cannot keep other animals out of your yard. Because of this, electric dog fences are great as an extra layer of protection in an already fenced-in yard. Dogs who like to dig under or jump over fences will be unable to do so when an e-collar system is added. My neighbor has mad welding skills and was able to spend an entire summer building his on solid pipe fencing around the entire perimeter of his three acres. But he also lined the inside of the traditional fencing with electric to keep his animals from jumping on or leaning up against the fence. With a traditional fence and an electronic fence, your worries about your dog becoming injured - or a liability - will be alleviated. We’ve all heard stories about the neighbor who shot a dog because he was tired of the dog wondering onto his property.

Restrict Indoor Space – Yes, it can be done!
Electric dog fences are not just for use outdoors. They can also be installed inside to restrict the movements of your dog. If you need to keep your house cat and dog separate, for example, an electric fence can set the boundaries. Barriers specifically designed for indoor use allow you to block off access to certain rooms with easy installation. It’s as simple as placing a small strip or wireless unit in a doorway, and your dog can have free range in the rest of your home.

When choosing a containment system for your yard, there are lots of options to consider. For example, the PetSafe YardMax is one of the most popular choices for average-sized yards (based on Amazon customer feedback).  Other systems, like the Havanhart Radial, PetSafe Little Dog, and SportDog SDF, are great for specific situations.

Installing your own electric dog fence will save you hundreds - if not thousands - of dollars, and it can be done by anyone, regardless of experience. A DIY electric fence can be installed in just one weekend, and it only takes about 15 minutes per day for two weeks to train your dog on it. There are plenty of YouTube videos available that teach methods of training your dog to respect the fence before going live.

I encourage you to share your experiences with a variety of dog containment systems in the comments section. Commenters and those who share the post in social media qualify for a drawing of a $50 Amazon gift card! Let me know how you share this post and you’ll be in the drawing for the gift card. Again, contest ENDS March 1st, 2015 at midnight.


Published in partnership with

Joining 4H Club

Last night we had a two hour visit from our local 4H leader. I invited her over to discuss the details of joining and all the activities they do in our area. We discussed all the animals that can be raised and shown at the fair in September.

We also discussed some of the non-animal stuff like dutch oven cooking, sewing, crocheting, and more. After much debate, we've just about settled on raising some pigs for this upcoming season.

We'll buy them around May and care for them until September when the fair is in town. Luckily for us, the county fair is straight down a road not far from our house. It literally only takes us five minutes to get to the fair.

If I wrote the numbers down correctly, sounds like a pig can be had for around $100 at the approximate age of 3 months old. The feed should run around $200 for the four months we will be raising the animal. Then we can either sell it at the fair or process it with a local butcher for around $120.

This will be our first time in 4H and raising anything other than chickens. Any advice gladly accepted.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Wells Lamont Wool Socks Perhaps not the Best Homesteader's Choice

This will serve as my update on one of my favorite homestead wares: Wells Lamont wool socks.

Unfortunately, I have to report that after only one year of use they are showing severe signs of breaking down.

Maybe my hopes were a little high after all the good reviews I read on Amazon and other blog posts but I still think a good pair of socks should hold up longer than one year.

I bought a slew of these comfortable fellas after our house fire which was October 2013. Technically, you could say it's been a little over a year but I didn't post on this exactly when I started to notice the breakdown.

As you can see by my shotty phone camera, the heels are wearing out in a large area. The seam in that area is also stretching. I have had to mend (yes, guys can sew) one pair already.

I'm not ready to give them up becuase they are EXTREMELY comfortable. I wear them daily and I wear two pair for cushion.

Plus these aren't exactly the cheapest pair on the market either. My hopes that these would last a while was also fueled by their cost. I have around ten pair.

So, are they comfortable: yes. Do they hold up well with daily, regular use...doesn't appear so.

What do you think? Am I being unreasonable? Should a pair of socks only last a year and a half?

Have you found a better brand? Is there a special technique of washing to make them last longer?

I also have a pair of Carhartt thick socks that appear to be doing pretty well although they were purchased more recently. The cushion on the sole seems to be staying thick instead of matting down like most socks tend to do.