Saturday, December 26, 2015


Christmas has come and gone.  we are enjoying the wait for a new year.  plans are being drawn for new year projects and we await the next set of workawayers scheduled for march.  the work away program has been such a joy for us this year.  so many young people from so many countries,  so many different foods and customs and slang sayings.  its been a real joy for us to host these people and give them a chance to see southern Arizona.

the aquaponics are still on hold in our living room until the fish can be relocated to warming tanks.  the temperature here has been crazy for winter.  very little fall just straight to teens at night.  not good for tilapia, they require above 48 degrees, so we have large aquariums that we are enjoying in the house.  the fish love playing in the air bubblers, we made them some tubes to go back and forth in and that seems to be fun for them.  they are still growing and should have several pairs ready for breeding in the spring.

some of the workawayers  have stayed on for the winter but are doing their own thing for the holidays.  some are in Prescott playing in the snow, and one went to Mississippi for a month, and we are home minding the farm.  we think we will have lambs soon,  the sheep are so big they must be pregnant.  time will tell.  the bunnies were bred again this week, and we have dogs everywhere.  the new chickens are laying well,  what a surprise,  we keep them well fed to push up production and its working.

as for me I'm waiting on warm sunshine so my feet will thaw out.  i don't like cold.  I'm ever thankful its a short winter season here.  my big project this week is putting this leather sewing room in some kind of order so i can get busy.  have some things i want to make and no space.  when you live in a small house room is at a premium.

hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will enjoy great plans for their new year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

busy week

we have six work away people out here at the moment.  everyone is so busy but the to do list is getting checked off really fast.  one of the couples have decided to stay for awhile but the rest move on with their lives next week.  its been crazy nuts around here with the strange weather.   we couldn't get the tilapia moved fast enough from the big pond and the weather got a large amount of those,  the rest are in very large aquariums in the house for a few months.  the grow tanks got scrubbed down and four large grow beds for the veggies got installed.  its almost replanting time.  everyone has been excited to help with the aquaponic system,  most came here just to learn that system,  they also got good info on expanding one of these system and how to clean, prep, and build from scratch one of these system for themselves.  most of our help is from France and Germany right now and they intend to set up systems back home.

 the weather here is about a month and a half ahead of schedule.  we are in the teens at night.  this is the stuff we don't usually see until January.  leaves the question what will we get then.  right now at night lots of blankets are your best friend.   and of course the wood stove.  still beautiful thru the day.  we shed coats and jackets about eleven then go find them again when the sun starts fading into the mountain about five o'clock.

all of the workers have had a large range of skill.  the garden is planted.  one built a new bunny hut. we have newly  built gates.  the hay is getting cut and stored for the sheep and we are still expecting lambs soon.  the plan  is new chickens and a couple goats for milking and maybe a feed calf.  i'm pretty sure that is the only way we will ever see beef out here again.  the price at the store is crazy out here for beef.  we cleaned out the freezer this week,  time for butchering.  the drive got trimmed up and the holes from monsoon filled in and even some pretty landscaping was done at the drive entrance.  will be pretty in the spring when we can add some flowers to it.  and maybe best of all some one organized all the tools.  now we can find a screwdriver when we need it.  they even found the missing hammers.  be still my heart.

hope everyone has a great winter and its what you hope it will be.


Monday, November 2, 2015

nov 2 2015

wow been a busy fall season.  we have had many work away helpers and a lot of things got finished that we have been working on for quite a while.  we even had one guy that stayed on for awhile so we could take a vacation to Indiana to see family.  that was a bonus for us.  not easy to do  with our schedules, especially considering he had to handle both of our jobs each day.  i think now he knows why i never get caught up.  thank you Dave.  fall plants are starting to produce,  winter crop is coming up and i brought back lots of new seeds to try.  gonna be a busy greenhouse.  new aquaponics grow trays made and to be installed in the next week so i'll be ready for winter growing inside.   the fish are growing and still increasing in quantity.  we might need to do a pond clean out before winter and that will give us a better count on the number of fish still in the big pond.  signs of late fall setting in and winter isn't too far off.  i have a new set of lists for the winter months and a change of season for the to do list.  living off grid produces its own set of changes out here, we will be bringing in wood for the wood stove, and the solar panels have already been adjusted for the change of placement of the sun.  we will have rough winter winds and everything will need to be stashed or anchored.  the days will be shorter and the jobs are many.  we still have help coming and that will help us prepare for spring, our busiest time.  most of our winter jobs will depend on daily weather, rain, wind, cold, and darkness. weather can change up the schedule on any given day.  the hunters are moving into the area for fall hunting.  seems odd to see travel trailer parked on the blm land but its a short season, wish them luck.  the coyotes getting noisier at night and the dogs are busy keeping them away from the homestead.  we have a new ram, pretty boy is his name.  he is snow white and the girls seem to like him.  the other ram jumped the fence twice while we were gone and he has been sentenced to the old goat pen.  he hasn't figured how to get out of that yet.  much to catch up on today, starting with emptying the car and restocking groceries.  wishing everyone a great week.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


such big changes here at the homestead.  we have had many visitors and a great deal of help getting the fish and grow beds under roof.  the baby fish have been sorted for growth size and put in tanks to correspond with growth rate.  the mature breeding pairs are busy doing what they do.  and summer is winding into fall.  fall planting in the garden is in full swing, and winter areas are getting prepped for  winter crops.  last week i replanted the lettuce, chard, spinach, kale and green beans to the aquaponics.  trying green beans for first time due to crop failure in the garden.  we had a very bad summer season.  no one knows why but wide spread out here in the desert.  i even added some fresh sweet peas to the ponics and they are blooming.  the greens will help supplement the house late into fall and by then we will be enjoying the fall plants.  the weather has been crazy.  august heated up like June out here and took us back to 100 degree range, not a happy occurrence for the garden, however it set off a new round of monsoon.  trade off i guess.  the rain has helped the plants but hurt the solar.  like everywhere, you deal with what you are given.  the greenhouse is busy starting plants for new grow beds for the fish system and for the garden.  once again I'm running out of greenhouse room.  this last round of high heat has made everyone eager for some cooler temps.   fall will be a welcomed change this year.  we have landscaping about to begin and some new fencing for the sheep.  turns out they never get full of grass, so we just move them around.  and lucky for me the ram is locked in the pen for future duration,  its not nice to put the hand that feeds you on the ground, again. hope summer treated you well and fall is even better.  deb

Thursday, August 20, 2015

this week in august

still waiting on new baby lambs.  due anytime.  we are due for multiples this time.  the big bad ram got sent to the pen.  he was very bad this week and put me on the ground again, and literally butted everyone on the property.  so he can wait out fatherhood from behind the fence.
we had great help this week and the aguaponics are completely installed and the plants from the greenhouse moved into the grow beds.  we have two grow beds and a nice raft system in place.  i had some plants in the garden struggling with the unusual heat we are having so i pulled them and relocated them to the grow bed and by noon they looked like totally different plants.  the small fry fish are growing fast and many have been moved to the fingerling tank.  tomorrow we will probably move the rest of the tiny minnows to their first big tank instead of the aquarium.  and so it begins.

i caught a very large bird in the pond a couple days ago.  i startled it and it took off.  I'm pretty sure it was a great heron.  haven't seen it since but we are watching out for it.  i think it was fishing.

we have had a guest here from New Zealand for a couple weeks.  his help has been fantastic.  we are so far ahead of schedule with the fish system we might actually get the garden planted for the fall and winter crops on time.  our guest is heading off to a road trip,  his last before heading home.  we have a new guest coming the first of September to help with the garden prepping and planting.  we also have some good friends that live down the road and they just got back from Iowa, visiting family for a couple months.  we had several people here this week to visit.  it was wonderful.

goodnight. deb

Sunday, August 9, 2015


yeah new building is up and roofed and ready to be plumbed.  finally all those baby tilopia will have a place to call home.  we have hundreds and so many more we are still trying to catch in the pond... very busy fish summer and new babies every day.  will expect new minnows until weather cools down.  i have been reading some articles about large fish farming and the poor containment and feeding of tilopia for general  consumption to the public. i even read a post on my facebook site.  i didn't like the way the articles imply that all tilopia are raised the same.  they absolutely are not all raised the same.. i recommend that you buy your fish from a farm that you have the option of inspecting.  know what they are fed, look at the breeding tanks. ask about the crazy hormones that turn all the fish to larger males.  do your research and know your grower.  in the meantime we will get ours ready for the markets and do it the right way.  done with my rant for the day.  happy fishing.

ps sheep are ready to deliver babies this week.  i cant wait.  nothing cuter that baby sheep learning about their new world and how to survive in it.  and lets face it nothing is cuter than babies running and playing on unsteady legs.  we should have multiples this time around and that will be fun,  as long as we don't have to bottle feed them.  they all have good mamas  so i'm hoping for the best.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

a new growing season

the little aquaponic system is scheduled to go big..  we are drawing up plans and supplies to have the system up and planted by fall.  the big pond is full of babies to help that happen and they need a place to grow.  and if they need to grow they may as well grow my green house too.  some of the winter plants will still grow in the garden but i will be able to grow greens and tomatoes and numerous other plants in the green house at the same time.  a solar water heater will help with the temperature problems and the sun will help do its job as well.  many of the longer term plants can be grown in tubs that i will water from the fish tanks.  this will lower the water level and make room for fresh water when it needs replenished.  its a great system and where else can you grow vegetables and fish and root plants all at the same time.  we have many visitors coming over the next few months to help with the installation of all the plumbing and tanks,  it will be a great learning experience for all of us.  and these are skills they will take back with them when they return to their own countries or states.  the tilopia have exceeded our estimations and we are still looking at catfish too.  fresh fish is unheard of in southern Arizona and the market seems to be there.  our Switzerland visitor has gone home and she got to see everything in the southern part of the state she wanted to see.  she came to us from the Navajo reservation and she learned  many things in both places.  she also spent some time in SoCal too on a horse ranch.  she has horses at home and i think she enjoyed her time in the states.

as for me I'm laid up until the nail puncture in my foot heals up.  hopefully it wont be long.  the antibiotics are kicking in and the big bad shot helped too.

i promise we are trying to fix the comment link.  in the mean time send email to  if you have questions or  you all have a happy happy day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


i leaned over the pond today to clean out some of the debris from the rain storm last night and found about two hundred baby tilopia.  wow breeding must have worked.  we pulled some to put in an aquarium in the green house in case the other adults eat the babies.  they have a good mama, she was hovering under them as they swam along.  if they get frightened they go to her mouth and she holds them there until they swim back out.  we have a couple bluegill in the pond too and not real sure what they would do. we have some round tubes in the bottom of the water for them to hide in when not in mama's care anymore.  its been fun watching the babies swim around their new tank.  they are little piggies and will need fed six or seven times a day, at least until fingerling's or able to feed themselves.

the sheep are loose in the pen again.  mohawk took one look at me and it was game on.  now i carry a big stick.  it looks like several are pregnant again.  should be twins this time. they are little piggies too.  they completely ate all of the grass down in their new pen so now they are back in ours.  the rain has been slow to reach us out here so the new grasses haven't had time to come up.  i hope the rain we got last night kicks that off.  the garden is exploding with plants,  some i don't even remember what i planted.  i prepped plums for jelly this week and zucchini for the freezer for breads.  some of the summer squash came in for eating and green beans are about to bloom.  the tomato are suffering from the hungry quail and the pack rats keep running away with the corn seeds.  its a zoo.  the green house is fantastic.  the aquaponics was a winning success, the items planted were lettuces, tomato, shallots, and Swiss chard, all doing great.  we are going to expand the system. and the new baby tilopia will help with that system.

we had company last weekend.  some people came out to visit and camp over night.  it was great fun.  the heavens provided a lightning show for all of us to enjoy.  there was no rain so they camped under the stars.  you know how sometimes someone looks familiar but you cant place them.  turns out one of our guests was on a television series. i guess that explains it.  they are coming back to visit in September.

have a new friend that lives down the road and we are going to see the new home they are building tomorrow.  that will be fun.

and last night we found out a guest is coming on Friday to spend some time with us.  she is from Switzerland and will be flying out later next week and will stay with us till then.  its been very busy on the homestead this month and enjoyable.

i will continue to post on the blog because i missed doing it.  if you want to follow along that is fine as well.  stop by and visit.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

i give

OK all, i have spent a great deal of time trying to make this blog work but i don't think any one really cares about it.  Maybe just too tired to comment or join so this will be the last blog that i post.  i guess the business owner will put something else in this space.  As for me Ola.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

new month

wow June already.  still working on replants in the garden due to the cold soil from may.  green beans some corn, gourds, squash and zucchini coming up.  also a few pickles and tomatoes working on a come back.  planted melons last week, replanted today because the quail and bunnies ate them.  the animals are desperate for food and i have a lots of seeds.  ill give them the first one but that's it.  cabbage is making heads and the cauliflower is about done.  all of the spring goodies like chard's, kale, lettuces are finished and already gone to seed. i have cans of seed everywhere.  new flowers for the pond are coming up in the greenhouse.  Barry has quite a few fig starts in the greenhouse also.  we use it as the nursery for all of the tree starts, so its full in there.

the aquaponics in the greenhouse have a few Swiss chard, lettuce and tomatoes plants in it.  the tomatoes are blooming right now, we will see how they mature.  its been a fun experiment.  the plants have the most beautiful shade of green to them,  I'm assuming its due to the water feeding system as opposed to soil.

the fish in the pond are getting more active from the warmer weather and higher water temperature,  its fun to watch them pop to the top for bugs in the evening.  the fish should be seriously thinking about breeding right now.  I'm just about done with anchoring the liner around the pond,  still need a few more wagons of rock to set on the edges and some dirt moved.  dug out this perfect rock for a back center piece, just need a few more people to get it moved to where i need it.  we have several plants to transfer out to the pond from the garden area and several of the trees Barry has been grooming for out there.

the new fruit trees have done very well.  all should be producing next year.  the tree stock has been a surprise to me.  the willows are doing great but i expected that.  the surprise has been the maple trees.  sugar and red are looking great and leaved and the hazelnut likes it out here.

well till next time sincerely deb, drop me a line lets chat.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

crazy week

still working on the pond.  getting ready to set in the flower beds on outer edges. need to make sure the drainage is right, we are known for monster rains during monsoon.

the spring garden is officially done.  just waiting for a few plants to finish seeding.  the replacements will include summer vegetables that i havent been able to fit in elsewhere.

still raising seeds in greenhouse, flowers for the pond and the summer veggie starts.  our weather here has been very odd this year.  we havent been able to stay in the eighties for a whole week yet.  good for us because it should be tapping out at 100.  cooler weather is easier to garden in, but we need the 100 degrees to build monsoon.  so, climate change, long spring, or just a new schedule.  we have to wait and see.

leave we a comment, lets chat.  deb

Sunday, May 3, 2015

babies everywhere

spring has sprung at the homestead.  wow the difference a week makes.  the new rabbit delivered three new babies this week and the turkey mamas produced five babies as a joint venture.  the turkeys laid all the eggs in one big pile and when ready to sit them they stole which eggs they wanted for themselves and formed three piles that were next to each other. they are still trying to sit the other eggs when not chasing the five hatching's. so the babies have three mamas trying to contain them at any given moment. its more than any baby should have to put up with.  they are up and moving and driving all the mamas crazy. the tom turkeys are still pouting outside the pen.   the rabbit is a mini Rex and papa is jacks 4-H rabbit, its breed is a mini too and the mama produced two fat black bunnies like her and one black and white bunny like papa.  they are fat and wiggly,  i don't expect them to be in the box for long, eyes will open this week then mama will be busy.  the new fish are enjoying the pond and we have started an aquaponic system with several of the fish for the green house.  I'm hoping the system will keep us in salad greens for the year.  it gets too hot for lettuce and greens to stay in the ground thru the summer here.  so we will try something new.  the chickens are free ranging and always under foot looking for food scraps.  they are misguided in thinking that every time i exit the house i have something for them.  oh and a new adventure, worms.  that falls in Barry's department, a girl has got to know her limits.  have a great week and send me a post or a comment. lets chat.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

busy week

last week we started the groundbreaking on the new pond.  its approximately 15 x 26 foot. and this week the liner was installed and water filled and it now has tilapia growing in it.  installing the pond has been a really fun project for me,  this wasnt the first pond i have installed, just the biggest.  this week i will work on rocking the edges and install the foundation for the rock wall that the pump will flow across.  the fish are settling in and jack, our resident ten year old,  is sure its just a swimming pond for him to play in.  actually its the beginning of another new business venture here at the barnyard.  its the prelude to an aquaponic system to raise fish.  the six inch fish will be large enough to breed next month and our system will need to be in place by then for the babies.

speaking of babies the new rabbit had babies on the 24th of this month.  she has them nicely bedded down in the nursery boxes and covered for warmth with fur she pulled from her fur.  too early to see how many babies but we can see them wiggling in the box.  should be out of the box by three weeks.

the site has been giving me fits with the comment section so i put the master on it this week and poof its fixed.  comments should come thru now.  he also installed some early pics of the pond and added that section to the headliner.  as you will see its hard to take a water picture without jack in it.

the hen sitting the nest vacated in favor of free ranging the yard.  bummer,  20 bad eggs.  the turkeys are still sitting their eggs and the toms are still pouting outside the pen.  the sheep have finally been confined to their pen and they havent been able to escape.  yeah, not gonna miss that ram.  their new pasture has been fenced and the gate to it will be installed tomorrow, then they will be busy feeding for the summer.

working on several new leather pieces and hope to get pics of these items soon.  the fall gardens are being planted with indian corn, sunflowers, gourds and most of the tomatoes, some new strawberry beds too.  still putting out the melons.  and will hold off for a month on pumpkins and squash until just before monsoon,  that will give them a great start.  the spring greens are busy making seeds and the rest of the veggies are starting to get some size.

better sign off, come see us in the rainy state of arizona.   thats right,   i dont think i have ever seen it this green,  we tease that we could be the new tropical jungle soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

crazy arizona weather

big plans today. we are putting in a small pond and supplies arrive this week.  not quite ready but much closer than a week ago.  need to go check the bottom for hoof prints and any damage to the sides.. caught the baby lambs playing in it this morning.  they had so much fun chasing each other it wasnt fair to chase them out.  they are about four months old now and weened and full of energy.

new fences going up today for pasture and containment.  that will help a great deal.  they  have been free ranging around the house for a couple of months and its time to give them some early spring grasses to eat.  they will welcome it.

the turkeys are sitting on a couple dozen eggs and the same with the chickens,  should have babies soon and maybe some bunnies.

everything is on rush mode out here.  we have a lot to get done before monsoon starts in early july.  still planting and working on gardens,  the broccoli crop is now ready to eat and the lettuces are holding their own in the desert.

it you want to chat go to comments and leave a post.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

april 09 2015 welcome

morning everyone.  welcome to the new look for homestead barnyard.  we finally have enough of the gardens planted to take a much needed break to work on the web site.  we have a new look.  my computer guy has installed links directly to our etsy account in the product sections for the leather products and added a place to talk about what we are doing each week.   our hope is this will make it easier for our customers to navigate the site and travel around within the pages.

the gardens are tripled this year with the addition of the farmers markets.   the greenhouse was built in january for seed starts,  its been an important part of staying ahead with the seasons.  this last year was a mild winter as arizona winters go. but it was still too cold at night for seedlings and the greenhouse had us ready to plant as soon as the sun set its pace for spring.

our gardens are planted with heirloom seed and organically farmed.   im sad to say that we are already moving past the winter crops and into spring production.  im going to miss some of the gardens greens that we planted for the winter crop.  we had mustard greens, collards, red russian kale, curly kale, swiss chard, and some early spinach.  most of the greens are now producing the seeds we will need for the next winter crop.  the honey bees are doing their job to help make the seeds. arizona climate is very warm in the summer and some of the greens just cant take the heat for june, but the greenhouse let us prepare the next season of plants to replace them while the greens were feeding us and our market customers.

the garden expansion now has some of the root crop in the ground along with multiple types of  beans and cabbages, cucumbers, radish, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet corn, and the garlic.  the tomatoes are prepped in the greenhouse for placement in the ground.   i hope they will be planted next week.  the tomatoes seem to have consumed all of the shelving i could spare in the greenhouse.  at last count about ten different type will be planted.  im sure that will be another blog.

the fall garden is being prepped today and fenced for gourds, melons, and pumpkins.  i am looking forward especially to the fencing.  the sheep are in the process of getting a new pasture as well, with new fencing and more grasses to explore, however, they have been free ranging within the big fence until their new home is ready.  normally not a problem, but the ram seems to have taken issue with me,  he stalks me, he rams me, he makes nasty faces at me, he then has the gall to beg me for garden greens.  i hope he is fenced next week, im sure i will like him much better when he is behind bars again.  but he does make pretty little black belly sheep.

we have a lot of plans for this summer and i will blog about the leather products, soaps and other items we produce on a later post.  we also are starting a tree nursery,  and a few surprises for later in the summer.

let me know how your garden grows.  if you are just curious about arizona let me know.  i wanted this blog to open up communication with other people so we can all share information and ideas.  we will also talk about living off grid, and what it takes to be sustainable and self sufficient in the desert,  dont raise those eye brows, it can be done.  drop us a line, lets chat.

barry -aka my computer guy, the fence master and ram controller,  and deb-the leather maker and blogger.