Chop Wood Carry Water Plant Seeds is a blog about Self-Sufficient Homesteading. How can we live by creating a sustainable bio-diverse world, instead of by consuming and destroying the only one we have? What kind of teaching have you got if you exclude nature?

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Painting continues; this time Im not only painting the cottage but the garden fourniture as well.
cottage with a new coat of paint
Chicks are starting to lay 3 eggs pr day :) and they seem happy digging in the grass

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Gathering Wood Chips

I walked my dog the other day through a near by shrubbery and discovered 3 piles of old seasoned wood chip. Someone duped it there. So I motivated myself to move as much of it as possible.

I will use wood chips and hay to cover the soil around my kitchen garden veges, berry bushes, apple trees, perennial plants and herbs. I even plan to cover the soil in our green house with this black seasoned wood chip covered in Mycorrhiza :) Wood Chips introduce Mycorrhiza to the soil which in turn feed the plant's roots with nutrients from the chips. Wood Chip is also known for its ability to keep the soil moist minimizing the need for irrigation. When there is too much rain it sucks it like a sponge. It encourages earth warms and myriads of microorganisms which in turn balance each other. This keeps the pests at bay. The wood chip turns to compost with time. One thing is important to remember; NEVER dig the wood chip into thee soil because it will deplete the soil of Nitrogen!!! Just apply a 5cm layer on top of the soil and let the microorganisms do the rest.
 Lovely Black Gold :)
 As you can see it is covered in shrubbery and I will need to keep an open eye to remove any roots from the wood chips
The white stuff is Mycorrhiza
Gathering like a Hamster ;)

We Have Won !!! Germany votes for a ban on Neonicotinoids!

Berlin - In the debate over the protection of bees, Germany has indicated its willingness to support a partial ban of certain pesticide, before the crucial EU vote takes place on Monday April 29th.

"The federal government will agree to the neonicotinoids ban when voting on Monday in Brussels," said the spokesman of German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner (CSU).

The prerequisite for this is mainly "a clarification from the EU Commission that Germany, in the areas that go well beyond the European standard of protection, can retain a higher level of protection for bees."

The European Commission wants to ban the use of three neonicotinoids pesticides manufactured by the German company Bayer and other manufacturers like Syngenta, for the cultivation of corn, sunflower, canola, and cotton for two years, since these chemicals are suspected of causing bee deaths.

For the duration of the ban, the use of these pesticides for winter crops and plants that attract bees will not be allowed. The earlier vote of the EU Council of Ministers in March, produced a stalemate, partly because Germany abstained during that vote. The decisive vote for the EU will take place at the Appeals Committee on Monday April 29th.

German Agriculture Minister Aigner's spokesman explained that Germany abstained in March so that the current proposal of the European Commission could reassure the Federal Government "that it would not interfere with the existing high level of protection for bees in Germany". Germany had already significantly restricted the use of these controversial pesticides, called neonicotinoids, in 2009. These higher national standards, used in Germany, will not now be lowered as a result of EU legislation, and was guaranteed by the EU Commission.

Environmental organizations had expressed grave concern that Germany could block the EU proposal to ban the pesticides under pressure from the agricultural industry.

"The accusation that Germany would block the protection of bees, is completely absurd and baseless," replied Aigner's spokesman.
Source; original article written in German

Friday, April 26, 2013

Roundup, An Herbicide, Could Be Linked To Parkinson's, Cancer And Other Health Issues, Study Shows

April 25 (Reuters) - Heavy use of the world's most popular herbicide, Roundup, could be linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson's, infertility and cancers, according to a new study.

The peer-reviewed report, published last week in the scientific journal Entropy, said evidence indicates that residues of "glyphosate," the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, which is sprayed over millions of acres of crops, has been found in food.

Those residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc. Samsel is a former private environmental government contractor as well as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body," the study says.

We "have hit upon something very important that needs to be taken seriously and further investigated," Seneff said.

Environmentalists, consumer groups and plant scientists from several countries have warned that heavy use of glyphosate is causing problems for plants, people and animals.

The EPA is conducting a standard registration review of glyphosate and has set a deadline of 2015 for determining if glyphosate use should be limited. The study is among many comments submitted to the agency.

Monsanto is the developer of both Roundup herbicide and a suite of crops that are genetically altered to withstand being sprayed with the Roundup weed killer.

These biotech crops, including corn, soybeans, canola and sugarbeets, are planted on millions of acres in the United States annually. Farmers like them because they can spray Roundup weed killer directly on the crops to kill weeds in the fields without harming the crops.

Roundup is also popularly used on lawns, gardens and golf courses.

Monsanto and other leading industry experts have said for years that glyphosate is proven safe, and has a less damaging impact on the environment than other commonly used chemicals.

Jerry Steiner, Monsanto's executive vice president of sustainability, reiterated that in a recent interview when questioned about the study.

"We are very confident in the long track record that glyphosate has. It has been very, very extensively studied," he said.

Of the more than two dozen top herbicides on the market, glyphosate is the most popular. In 2007, as much as 185 million pounds of glyphosate was used by U.S. farmers, double the amount used six years ago, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data.

Comfrey and ... Comfrey

Comfrey is the organic gardener's best friend :) its THE Green Manure plant which is very rich in nutrients. One can simply use it as mulch and let the earth warms pull it into the soil or one can make a compost tea. 
This plant is also called "Knitbone" and was used in the olden days for healing broken bones and joints. I made a Comfrey Salvae to treat my "Tennis Elbow".
In Sweden we have lots of wild Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) and this variety can be very invasive if planted near the kitchen garden. The most popular Comfrey variety is the so called Russian Comfrey Bocking 14 (Symphytum x uplandicum) because its not invasive as other Comfrey varieties.
I have two types; 
Im only guessing here but this one might be the Common Comfrey
and this one I collected up in Värmland from Kretsloppshuset's herbal garden. I'm not sure if this one is the Bocking 14 ... it could also be the Rough/Prickly Comfrey (Symphytum asperum).
If you can identify these please do post a comment :) Thank you

Painting the Oak Cottage with Falu Red

We bought this cottage 5 years ago and we never painted it even though the recommendation is every 3 years. The wood was starting to look very dirty with mold and algae growing on it so I first scrubbed the walls with water and a little bit of soap. Once the walls have dried I was ready to start painting, all I was waiting for is a warm sunny day which came yesterday.
So I did just that :) I painted like I never painted in my entire life :) I managed to pain two sides of the cottage  with the traditional Swedish Red paint also called Falu Red. This paint is water based and dries in 2 hours on 14'C.

The white frames around the windows are painted with oil paint and need much warmer weather to dry so I'll wait and only finish the red parts.
Today is rainy and cloudy but Sunday will be sunny so I hope to finish the rest.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Local Recycling Plant is a treasure chest

I needed some more compost soil and sine my local recycling plant is offering free compost soil there I went :) While I was there I saw a huge amount of old windows! I collect windows for building green houses and for covering cold frames. So I came back home with lots of top soil and 6 windows :) very happy indeed :)
 I even found one small chicken house door
Update on the chicks;
They are doing great and are very relaxed :) Their feathers are still damaged but in about max two month new feathers should replace the damaged ones. I get 2 eggs per day. They go out when its sunny but when cloudy and windy as today, they rather retreat into the house. Seems like they like the sitting stick ;)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April news from the Oak Cottage / Ekstugan

 The bee hives are ready for the upcoming bee season :) During the winter I have built 4 long Kenya Top Bar Hives and 4 short ones of the same kind for making nucleus colonies and as a bait hives to catch swarms with. The last piece to fix was this sign; Bee Yard :) Now its just waiting for the bees to arrive in the start of May. I ordered 2 whole colonies which will come on 10 frames each. For more info on natural beekeeping in Top Bar Hives subscribe to my beekeeping blog
 As you can see the Pop-Corn is doing great. Soon enough I will be planting it beside the South facing wall of our cottage to keep it warm.
 My wife have found the first Tick this year. It was on our dog Bailey. We don't use any kind of anti-tick treatments like Frontline or Xspot because they are pesticides. I rather cut down his tick fur so I can easily spot the Tick and remove it manulay. In case the Tick is already in his skin I use the tool in the photo. I used many tools sold for Tick removal but these are by far the easiest to use and most effective.
 In this shot you can see two Tomato sorts which I planted at the same time. As you can see the Black Cherry (left) is growing superbly while the Money Maker (right) is developing very slow.
 Bailey is getting more and more used to the presence of our newly acquired Hens :) He calmly sits beside them and observes their behavior. While doing this his tail is waving showing clearly that he sees them as a part of our flock. The Hens are not afraid of him and that is a huge advance when teaching the dog to be calm around them. For some reason the Hens reduced egg laying to only 2 a day. The isolated Hen is still not laying.
 I decided to plant the Lettuce out into the cold frame. I also planted Spinach and more Lettuce seeds in between the grown plants. Bailey is monitoring if everything is done properly :)
I've covered the raised beds with fleece so to protect the young plants from direct sun and to contain the moisture a bit. Today I planted most of the flowers; Calendula, Borage and various summer mix flowers.
 I think I have ruined the Turnip and Swede Turnip. Yesterday was a very sunny day and the suns rays burned the young sensitive leaves. The Kale and Broccoli are growing fine yet are placed in the same spot. Anyway, today I planted more Turnip seeds and placed a fleece on the window do diffuse the sun light. Lets see how this goes.
I also planted Squash, Spaghetti Pumpkin, Greek Oregano, Basil and Indian Cress. The potato of a sort Sarpo Mira is in the white box. Thi sort is known for its potato blight tolerance. We cultivated them last year and they haven't got potato blight at all, not even a little bit :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Soil preparation

 This is the kitchen garden area which was not managed in at least 10 years. I tried to dig the soil today but the amount of roots is epic and I gave up after 2 square meters. I don't feel well about using unsustainable tractors and especially not the notorious rototillers which kill all the earthworms. When first time breaking the soil which was never managed it is great help to till it so I will be asking my neighbor to do it with his tractor. After that I will be covering the soil with hay and wood chips to suppress the weeds. Soil which is always covered needs no tilling nor digging and it supports myriads of microorganisms and earthworms which create a very porous soil and turn the cover material into fine compost soil.
I brought some more compost soil from my local recycling plant (which is for free). I had to buy organic chicken food so thought to make use of the petrol used to drive there since the shop is in the same direction as the recycling plant. Before placing the soil into the raised beds I cover the bottom with newspapers to suppress the weeds. Then soil on top of that and the soil will be covered with hay and wood chips to preserve the moisture and encourage microorganisms and earthworms. 
Soon enough I will be planting more seeds so stay tuned :)

Chicks playing in the grass

video update;
My Lagotto was very excited for the first few days when around the chicken. But today he managed to relax and have a nap beside the isolated chick :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Washing the outside walls

Today was 17'C nice and warm. Perfect time to start preparing the walls for painting before the Wasps start building nest under the roof (its hell painting with wasps buzzing around the head). First I have to wash away the dirt and algae, let it dry well and then apply a new coat of fresh paint.
 It already looks like new
The old paint is washing away (see the floor)
I washed two sides today. Will try and finish the other two sides tomorrow.

New Chicken Coop

If you followed my previous posts you know that I moved one Hen out of the Chicken Tractor because the other hens were aggressive towards it. I moved it into Bailey's dog house (I don't think he minds it).
 After just 2 days ... :)
 This is the isolated Hen. As you can see I made her a nest box in the corner and a sitting stick. She seems to be interested in the new nest box. I still didnt get any eggs from her, probably because she was under stress.
This is the new chicken coop attached to the dog house where the isolated hen lives. Chicken is a social animal and for that reason I will keep her coop near the chicken tractor so she can at least see and hear the other chicks.
The Lohmann Hens in the chicken tractor are calm now. No aggression amongst them.

Home made Soap

I have made a new batch of home made soap. This time I infused olive oil with Calendula flowers.
I used;
500g Organic Rapeseed oil
455g Organic Olive oil
155g Coconut Fat
30 drops of Organic Lavender Essential Oil
and a pinch of crushed dry Calendula flower petals.
The soap must cure for 4 to 6 weeks before it is safe to be used on skin!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fire Wood Arrived

I ordered 10 cubic meters of fire wood for next winter. This wood is wet and must dry for at least 3 month before it can be used. Must move it all into the shed for drying away from rain;

Does anybody want to give me a hand ;)

Veggie Update

 Pop-corn front, Sunflower middle and Black Cherry Tomatoes back
 I planted 5 Cucumber seeds and all of them germinated :)
The Lettuce and all the Cabbage family is doing well
It is time to plant the rest of the planned seeds. Stay tuned!

Got 2 Eggs Today

I've got the hens yesterday and so far things dont look so good. I noticed lots of aggression in the coop. I know they have to establish a packing order but this I felt is too much.
Here is a short video;
After some more observation I realized that one chicken is getting most of the aggression. 4 Hens were hitting that one chick and that is when I saw the difference; 4 Hens are the dark brown Lohmann and this one was much lighter, it sure was different. They were hitting so hard that she started bleeding from the head and I knew I had to remove her. They didnt allow her to come near the food or water. She was hungry and shaking.
I had nothing at that moment so I placed her into my dog's house and closed the door until tomorrow. I will have to make a small coop just for her tomorrow;
alone but in peace, now she can eat and eat as much as she wants
Not all is bad :) we've got 2 eggs today :) actually it was 3 but they ate one.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

All Hail the Hens !

The Hens are home now :) I just came back with them and they are placed into the Chicken Tractor until tomorrow when I will open the bottom door which leads under the chicken house into the outdoor coop area which is approx 3 square meters big.

They guy which sold me the hens said these hens are organic free range but I doubt that. He sold them on a parking behind one factory. All the hens are missing feathers and are picking on each other! I'm sure these hens were caged (my apologies if I'm mistaken). He also told me they are 14 month old but they could be older. I cant tell. What ever the case they will live a good life from now on.

Anyway, they have a nice home now. I will keep them in this chicken tractor for at least 2 weeks before letting them roam free. They need this time to learn that this is their new home and they usually do. I'm willing to see tall grass growing beside the rail way before letting them roam free because trains do pass very so often close to our home. The tall grass creates a very tick barrier. Even if I decide to keep them all the time in the chicken tractor I will be moving them around the property twice a day so they get fresh forage. This might well be the case especially because we do have lots of foxes and birds of pray around here and Hens are not as alert as a Cock would be. I will be looking to buy one Cock soon.
In this image one can see 5 Brown Lohmann Hens I acquired today. Note the missing and damaged feathers. These will soon grow back I'm sure but this damage indicates overcrowded living quarters (cages).
I welcome you into our home my ladies :)

I've got running water again!

This winter was very cold, especially the last two weeks in January (-18'C) and the whole of February. The soil froze deep enough to freeze the water pipe. I had no other choice but to pull the water out of our water well by hand in 2 x 10 litres buckets, which was fun but I do feel happy the water is running out of the taps again because now it will be much easier to wash the kitchen and clean the house as well as take proper showers rather than washing oneself in a bucket of warm water beside a fire place :) (charming).
I took a photo just in case Jens doesn't believe me ;) ha ha ha ...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Private letters reveal Syngenta and Bayer's furious lobbying against EU measures to save bees

The crisis of dramatic bee population decline has been a top issue in media and political debate in Europe. A wide variety of culprits are under scrutiny, including certain parasites, viruses, pesticides and industrial agriculture. But new scientific evidence from British and French research institutions, published in Science in early 2012, suggests that neonicotinoids pesticides in particular might be one of the main drivers. Syngenta and Bayer, two companies producing these substances, are waging an all-out lobbying war against the proposed partial ban of these substances by the European Commission following EFSA's (European Food Safetey Authority) opinion warning of the risk they pose to bees. Will the pesticide lobby succeed in convincing Member States to vote no to a ban?

Continue reading ...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chicken Tractor ready for the Hens and eating up the last snow

I placed two walls of my wire compost bin behind the main door. Like this I can easily refill water and food without the worry of chicks jumping out of the coop.
 I placed hay and dried Fern leaves into the 2 nest boxes. The Fern leaves are good at keeping pests at bay.
 I posted recently that I collected empty snail shells which I crashed and placed into the coop. I will also gets some tree coal and crush it into this dish.
I ordered five (14 month old) Lohmann Hens which I will get this Saturday. I will feed them with organic pellets. Originally I decided to keep only 3 hens in this chicken tractor but the price was so cheap I could not let it go and ordered 5 hens. Originally they cost 150 Swedish crowns per hen and I got them for 40 crowns per hen :) Anyway they will be moved to our new farm at the end of this year. I will move the chicken tractor around our yard 2 times a day so they get enough of fresh forage  I will also test an see how they behave when I let them out to roam free after 2 weeks of being closed in the coop. I've heard that it is very important to NOT let the hens out of the coop too soon, other wise they might just run away. After 2 week they will learn that this coop is their home and as soon it gets dark outside they will naturally retreat into it.
Our Lagotto loves eating snow! This is the last bit of it until next winter because the Spring has arrived :)

Seeds sprouting. plants growing

 Turnip, Broccoli, Kale and Swedish Turnip have sprouted :)
 Black Cherry Tomatoes are growing nicely 
 The Money Maker Tomatoes are not growing that well. After researching a bit I think I've watered them too much. I will let the soil dry out a bit before watering again.
In this image one can see Pop-corn (front)) and Sunflower (at the back) plantlets springing to life