Tag Archive | homesteading

Busy Summer, Aquaponics part 2

We have had such a busy summer that I have not had a chance to write.  But busy is good sometimes, especially when it involves planting, harvesting, building and other farm activities.  In the last month we have finished the first half of our aquaponics system, finished the bunny barn, harvested and replanted the garden, raised bunnies and started more baby chicks.  I am going to try and write about each one of those things over the next week.  Wish me luck!

First, I wanted to take a moment and think about the people in Colorado.  There is a blog that I follow that is about a homesteading family in the mountains in Colorado.  They have left their homestead, had to find new homes for all their animals, and are told that they can not go back to their house for 6-9 months.  I can not even imagine!  Reading about what they are going through really puts me in my place… I have nothing to complain about!  My house is not perfect, my kids drive me nuts sometimes and there is always work to be done… But praise God I have a house, kids and work.  Please do not become numb to the suffering of others.  If nothing else, it helps us keep our lives in prospective.

OK, I dried my tears and now I am ready to tell you about the great things we have done this summer.  We have finally finished our aquaponics system!  Eventually we would like to have two systems up and running, but we are very excited about the one right now!
For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about let me tell you about my system.  It started with a 275 gallon pallet tank, this is the home for our fish.  We currently have just pond gold fish in there because they are more tolerant of our errors and the learning curve.  In February the gold fish will be replaced with tilapia.

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There is a pipe that the top of the fish tank that overflows into a gravel plant bed.  In the gravel bed we have tomato plants, and beans.  The gravel bed is a flood and drain system.  Meaning just that, it fills up with water and then it empties.  The process repeats itself all the time, keeping the roots of the plants wet.

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When this bed drains it empties into a sump bed or a deep water culture bed.  Currently, this bed just has a couple feeder fish in it to keep up with the mosquito larva.  But normally this bed would have a floating foam raft with lettuce and other greens growing in it.  I will post a picture of that when I have it in the system, right now I am still starting the seeds.  We had a batch of bad seeds and I had to start over, it was very sad.   In the bottom of the sump bed there is a pump that pumps the water back up and into the fish tank… and the process starts all over again.

Image You can see the black pump in the water and the white PVC pipe going up the side of the tank.

Most of you can stop reading here, but for our aquaponics friends I will let you know what supplies we used.

~The bed liner is Dura Skrim 20 WW 6’ x 50’ from Global Plastic Sheeting.

~The pump is ActiveAqua Pump 500 GPH from the Aquaponics Store.

~The net pots for the floating rafter were also from the Aquaponics Store.

~The Grow media is ViaStone from the Home Depot.

~The tank is off craigslist.

~The greenhouse is 12×10 from Harbor Freight.

If you have any specific questions let me know.  We are very happy with it and we look forward to what it is going to do through the winter.

The first weekend in August, Love it!

The weather has been amazing for August, which has been wonderful and has allowed us to be very productive.  

Our bunnies are getting big and it is time to wean them off their mommies. We have turned our unused chicken coop into a bunny nursery.  There is enough room for all 15 of the babies to be able to run and play until they are full grown.  We will be removing the bunnies from their mothers gradually over the next week.  So far it is going great and everyone is enjoying the extra space and room at the water bowl.

The kids picked the rabbits that they are going to be showing for 4H.  These rabbits will get a lot more one on one time than the other rabbits.  We want them to be used to being handled as well as used to noises and other animals.  Everyone in the family is enjoying the extra cuddle time.

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This weekend we also worked on the aquaponics system.  Building it is taking longer than we really wanted it to, we were hoping to have it up and running over a year ago, but the supplies was more expensive than we thought.  We are also struggling with getting ideas from our heads, to paper, and than to final product.  We are learning communication skills that are beneficial to our marriage.  I think the important part is we are still married and still making progress on the system, both wins in my book.  We are now at the plumbing stage, very frustrating, but hoping to take small steps everyday and keep moving closer to our goal.  I will be starting seeds indoors this week for the system, so it needs to be up and running in less than two weeks.  I have confidence that we are that close!

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This weekend I also experimented with making gluten-free pop tarts.  I used the pie crust recipe from my last post and filled them with the jams that I have made this spring and summer.  I baked them at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until golden. They are amazing.  I can’t wait to bake some cinnamon ones!  It was crazy easy and super tasty.  We have already eaten them all and I need to make another batch.  

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As far as harvesting veggies goes, we are still going strong with peppers.  The tomatoes have slowed down quite a bit and so have the cucumbers.  We had our first ever cantaloup today, it was wonderful.  We should have let it sit on the counter a day to soften even more, but we ate it in one sitting so it must not have been that bad.  

Time for me to go have my tea and relax for the night.  I hope everyone has a great week.